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Chuck Myron, lead writer for our sister site Hoops Rumors and occasional MLBTR contributor, has co-written an excellent book called Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft. Authors Myron and Alan Maimon have created a must-read for any baseball fan hoping to understand why so many of the best young players fail to make meaningful contributions in The Show, and so many teams make the wrong choices on draft day. Please check out Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft; we think you'll like it. Note, also, that if you are planning a trip to Florida for Spring Training, you can meet Chuck and Alan at either of two scheduled book signings. The authors will appear at two Barnes & Noble locations in mid-March: in Clearwater on March 14 at 7pm and in Fort Myers on March 15 at 3pm.
Moving on, here are some notes from around the league for your Thursday evening reading…
- Engel Beltre and Michael Choice will both be fighting for roster spots in Spring Training, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, but Beltre is the favorite to stick due to the fact that he is out of options. The Rangers aren't likely to let him go, and while Choice could help as a right-handed option in a DH platoon, Texas is wary that such a limited role could hinder his development.
- In an effort to prove Mike Trout's sky-high value without relying on advanced metrics, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs adds the 2013 production of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (using standard stats such as singles, doubles, triples, homers, steals, etc.) and subtracts Mike Trout's numbers. Cameron finds that the result is surprisingly similar to Eric Young's 2013 totals. Because Young was acquired for a replacement-level arm, Cameron suggests that acquiring a partner to match the output is nearly free. In the end, he suggests that Trout is worth more than Choo and Ellsbury combined.
- In a subscription-only piece, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus looks at how the players he ranked in his Top 50 stacked up to the expected average annual value he laid out prior to the offseason. Anderson concludes that he underestimated the market for back-end starters, setup men and veterans with perceivable upside remaining. Because of that last category, he wonders if names like Asdrubal Cabrera and Chad Billingsley could see larger paydays than many are expecting next winter.
- Sticking with Baseball Prospectus, Phil Hughes tops a free list of nine players that the minds at B-Pro expect to see show improvement in 2014. Also appearing on the list are Matt Cain, CC Sabathia and Brett Lawrie, amongst others.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier breaks down the numerous Spring Training decisions facing the Red Sox, including homegrown prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. and reclamation project Grady Sizemore fighting for center field (Speier writes that it's Bradley's job to lose). Within the piece, Speier wonders if spring struggles from Middlebrooks would make the Red Sox reconsider their stance on Stephen Drew.
Could the Athletics be stealth contenders for Masahiro Tanaka? A Major League executive tells Bill Madden of the New York Daily News to "watch out for Oakland" as a suitor for the Japanese right-hander. "They’ve got as much money as any team and they like doing these big international things — as with their signing of (Yoenis) Cespedes and the fact they were second to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman five years ago," the exec said. Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com explores the possibility of Tanaka joining the A's and thinks the executive might've just been speculating, but while he feels it's unlikely the A's can outbid the field for Tanaka, Stiglich notes the A's have already made some surprising moves this winter "so no sort of Tanaka speculation should come as a complete shocker."
Here's some more from the AL West…
- Speaking of Tanaka, ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) opines that "he would be absolutely perfect for" the Astros. Tanaka is young enough that he'll be in his prime when Houston will theoretically be able to contend, and the Astros can afford to make a big contract offer since they have so few long-term payroll commitments.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks down the question of whether the Astros should trade or extend catcher Jason Castro. There's clear value to keeping a cost-controlled, power-hitting catcher on one-year deals through arbitration, and yet without an extension, a trade becomes more logical the closer Castro gets to free agency.
- Trading for outfielder Michael Choice "was the best move made by the Rangers this winter," opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan as part of a reader mailbag. Sullivan sees Choice as a candidate to help the team in 2014 and take over as Alex Rios' replacement in 2015. Texas acquired Choice as part of the deal that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland last month.
- The Rangers drafted Jameis Winston in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News talks to Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller and other club personnel about how serious Texas was about signing Winston and still letting him play football for Florida State. Winston, of course, is quarterbacking FSU against Auburn in tonight's national championship game and says he aims to be a two-sport star a la Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Winston is next eligible for the MLB draft in 2015.
- In other AL West news from earlier today, the Mariners will need approval from ownership before going ahead with any more big moves, and the M's signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal.
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post
Here are some hot stove items from Peter Gammons in his latest piece for his namesake website, GammonsDaily.com…
- Gammons adds the Phillies to the list of teams who "have taken a run" at acquiring Brett Gardner from the Yankees. Philadelphia is one of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have checked in on Gardner — we've seen the Tigers, Reds, Indians, and Giants also linked to Gardner earlier in the offseason. Both Yankees president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman have said they admire Gardner's play and aren't willing to move him, though Gammons feels that Cashman "won’t move [Gardner] until and unless [Cashman] has to for starting pitching." This is just my speculation, but Gammons' phrasing could be a hint that the Yankees could shop Gardner if they fail to land Masahiro Tanaka.
- The Rangers, Red Sox and Rockies are three of "at least a half-dozen teams" who have asked the Padres about Chris Denorfia. Colorado's interest has presumably dried up due to their acquisition of Drew Stubbs. San Diego GM Josh Byrnes isn't willing to discuss trading Denorfia as long as he feels the Padres can be contenders, and Byrnes thinks his club's offseason moves could put them in the playoff mix. The Rangers also showed interest in Denorfia last July before the trade deadline.
- Mets assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi recently claimed that his team was happy with Ruben Tejada as a starting shortstop and that the free agent shortstop market wasn't to the Mets' liking, but Gammons hears otherwise from an NL general manager. The GM believes the Mets are concerned about their inexperience up the middle (Tejada at short, Juan Lagares in center and Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate) and are only seeming disinterested in Stephen Drew as part of negotiations with agent Scott Boras.
- If Drew re-signs with the Red Sox, Gammons doesn't expect Boston to deal Will Middlebrooks, as the team still values his power.
- The offseason's most interesting overlooked deal is the Athletics/Rangers swap that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland and Michael Choice to Texas, Gammons opines. Gentry is a right-handed bat who can spell Coco Crisp in center or replace him in case of injury, and "the A’s think Gentry’s comp is at least Peter Bourjos," Gammons writes. Choice, meanwhile, gives the Rangers a corner outfield bat who can spell Shin-Soo Choo against left-handed pitching.
As we learn of top prospect promotions over September, we'll try to keep tabs on them in a daily basis. Here are Sunday's promotions:
- The Athletics are set to bring up outfielder Michael Choice, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser first reported last night. Choice entered the season as the A's second overall prospect as rated by Baseball America, which praised his strength and bat speed. He currently sits as the 92nd overall prospect in the game on Mayo's list. The 23-year-old has delivered a .302/.390/.445 line and fourteen homers in 600 plate appearances over his first season at Triple-A.
- The Tigers have officially called up the team's top prospect, with the team announcing on Twitter that it has purchased the contract of outfielder Nick Castellanos. The former third baseman entered the year as a consensus top-50 prospect in all of baseball, and moved up to 11th overall in the mid-season ranking of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. As Mayo explained, the 21-year-old hits the ball to all fields and has solid pop.
Jake Peavy was scheduled to start for the White Sox in Cleveland tonight at 6:05pm central time, but the Sox will instead make history by promoting the Majors' first Brazilian native pitcher, Andre Rienzo, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn will be entertaining offers for Peavy, according to Gonzales. Gonzales notes that even if Peavy is not traded, the Sox will "get a chance to evaluate Rienzo on the major league stage." Peavy is definitely not starting for the White Sox tonight, confirms Scott Miller of CBS Sports. The latest:
- The two sides are exchanging medical records according to Olney, and a deal is close, reports Rosenthal.
- The Red Sox are in serious talks for Peavy, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Red Sox and White Sox are discussing Peavy, and the trade talks "have legs."
- Earlier, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio reported that the Red Sox are no longer pursuing Cliff Lee. It seems as if their focus has shifted to Peavy.
- The Diamondbacks don't necessarily have to unload multiple contracts to fit Peavy into the payroll, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, they're still looking at moving Ian Kennedy, who could draw interest from the Angels, given the fact that Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is a former D'Backs executive.
- Despite interest from the Red Sox, A's, D'Backs, and Cardinals, the sense is the White Sox are coming down on their asking price for Peavy, tweets Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
- Arizona would be a comfortable destination for Peavy, the righty told reporters including Mark Gonzales today.
- If the A's are to make a deal for Peavy, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle sees outfielder Michael Choice as the potential centerpiece. Otherwise, they could add a reliever. GM Billy Beane says this is the "lowest trade inventory I've seen in years."
- The D'Backs have emerged as the front runner for Peavy, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
- The Diamondbacks could make a deal for Peavy if they get a cash adjustment, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, who notes the strong history with Peavy and GM Kevin Towers.
- The D'Backs may kick the tires again on Peavy, hears Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The White Sox are now listing Peavy for tomorrow's start against the Indians, for what it's worth.
- The price for Peavy remains a top 50 prospect in a three or four-player package, hears Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman does believe Peavy will be traded, ranking the most likely landing spots as the Cardinals, Red Sox, and A's.
- There are no current discussions between the Cardinals and White Sox on Peavy, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. And the D'Backs say they no longer have interest in Peavy with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill soon returning, adds Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Yesterday, we heard the White Sox were trying to move Peavy prior to tonight's start. However, the market for the righty's services became muddled as the Athletics seemingly moved on and the Sox started telling teams they plan to keep Peavy. Their decision not to start him tonight seems to indicate otherwise.
The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:
- Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
- Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot.
- Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
- Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
- Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets.
- Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
- Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
- The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.
If you're a fan of top prospects and rookies, then this Quick Hits post is for you. Here are today's links…
- Oakland's 2010 first rounder, Michael Choice, is wowing scouts in Arizona, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network hears from a trusted scout that Choice has the bat speed, strength and athleticism to become a "monster" (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old third among Oakland's prospects heading into the season.
- One GM says the Royals are so deep in talent that they can still be in it in 2013 if a couple of their top prospects miss, according to Gammons (on Twitter).
- Neftali Feliz has said he's most comfortable closing games, but Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he'll continue stretching the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year out to see if he can make it as a starter, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter).
- The Giants and last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, agreed to a one-year deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He tweets that the deal is worth $575K. That's about $150K more than the Giants had to give him.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Brett Lawrie has looked “very good.” The Blue Jays, who acquired Lawrie for Shaun Marcum over the winter, like the infielder’s work ethic, tools and drive.
The A's drafted Choice tenth overall in June out of the University of Texas-Arlington. BA praised Choice for his power and wrote that some scouts believe he may be able to stick in center field. Choice and Christian Colon are the only top ten picks to have signed so far.
Ever since the A's called Rick Monday's name 45 years ago, teams have relied on the MLB draft to stock their systems with talented young players. Today, teams have the chance to draft the next Joe Mauer (1st overall, 2001), the next Carl Crawford (52nd overall, 1999) or the next Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999). Or, they could end up with the next Matt Bush (1st overall, 2004).
Here's this year's draft order, from River Ave. Blues, to be updated after each selection (links go to MLB.com):
- Nationals – Bryce Harper
- Pirates – Jameson Taillon
- Orioles – Manny Machado
- Royals – Christian Colon
- Indians – Drew Pomeranz
- Diamondbacks – Barret Loux
- Mets – Matt Harvey
- Astros – Delino DeShields Jr.
- Padres – Karsten Whitson
- Athletics – Michael Choice
- Blue Jays – Deck McGuire
- Reds – Yasmani Grandal
- White Sox – Chris Sale
- Brewers – Dylan Covey
- Rangers – Jake Skole
- Cubs – Hayden Simpson
- Rays – Josh Sale
- Angels – Kaleb Cowart
- Astros – Michael Foltynewicz
- Red Sox – Kolbrin Vitek
- Twins – Alex Wimmers
- Rangers – Kellin Deglan
- Marlins – Christian Yelich
- Giants – Gary Brown
- Cardinals – Zack Cox
- Rockies – Kyle Parker
- Phillies – Jesse Biddle
- Dodgers – Zach Lee
- Angels – Cam Bedrosian
- Angels – Chevez Clarke
- Rays – Justin O'Conner
- Yankees – Cito Culver
Click here for the results of Compensation Round A, picks #33-50.
Major League Baseball's amateur draft will be held from June 7th-9th, so we're going to introduce you to some of the top players available between now and then.
At times it seems like nothing excites a team more on draft day than a power college bat willing to sign for slot money, so it should be no surprise that Texas-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice has worked his way into the mix for the top half of the first round. He offers the best of both worlds – a good scouting report and gaudy stats.
Baseball America ranked Choice as the 11th best prospect in this year's draft class while ESPN's Keith Law had him 19th (sub. req'd for both). MLB.com's Draft Report says that he has "big-time raw power to all fields," but notes that his swing mechanics will have to improve in the future. He's a good defender that will likely move to a corner down the road despite his above average speed. The MLB.com link offers video.
Choice has put up ridiculous numbers with Texas-Arlington this spring, hitting .383/.568/.704 with 76 walks to just 54 strikeouts. Although he has a good approach at the plate, his walk total has been boosted by lots of intentional and unintentional-intentional walks because of the generally weak lineup around him.
Every recent mock draft has Choice going within the top ten picks, though Law reported yesterday that the Padres have narrowed their options for the ninth overall pick down to two players, one of whom is Choice. It seems very unlikely that he'll get past that pick.