The latest out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee was noncommittal when asked by reporters (including CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury) if he'd like to stay in Philadelphia even if things don't turn around: "I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win." Lee did go on to say he preferred to win in Philadelphia, but avoided discussing the possibility of pitching for another team.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com reported yesterday that Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sox deliberated on the decision, but with Jose Iglesias sticking on the roster, the decision was made to move Baseball America's No. 8 prospect up a level. The shortstop hit .311/.407/.502 in 56 games at Double-A Portland.
- The Red Sox and Phillies are both interested in Dominican prospects Rafael Devers and Luis Encarnacion, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required). Devers and Encarnacion are thought to be two of the best hitters on this year's July 2 market, and Badler expects both to sign for over $1MM. Badler says that early reports on Devers liken him to Hank Blalock as a teenager.
- Evan Drellich of MassLive.com adds that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is placing a large emphasis on this year's international market, and confirms with team sources that there is heavy interest in Devers.
Baseball America's Jim Callis reports that the Braves have signed secound-round pick Victor Caratini for an under-slot bonus of $800K (Twitter link). Caratini, the No. 65 overall selection in the draft, signed for $59K below the assigned pick value reported by BA earlier this year. He is advised by Melvin Roman of MDR Sports Management.
Caratini is a catcher/third baseman out of Miami Dade Junior College, though in their Top 500 scouting report (subscription required) Baseball America wrote that if he went in the first five rounds it would be as a catcher. Callis notes in his tweet that Caratini boasts gap power and a plus arm strength.
Caratini ranked No. 124 on BA's Top 500 and ranked as the draft's No. 92 prospect according to Keith Law of ESPN (Insider required). Law's report on Caratini only discusses him at third base, noting that he has a good feel for hitting and a chance to stay at the hot corner.
The Padres have acquired Pedro Ciriaco from the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later, tweets Peter Gammons of the MLB Network. The 27-year-old infielder was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Monday. Because he is out of options, Ciriaco will need to be placed on San Diego's 25-man roster.
Ciriaco hit .293/.315/.390 in 272 plate appearances for the BoSox last season, but batted just .216/.293/.353 in limited playing time this year. The signing of Stephen Drew and the emergence of Jose Iglesias made Ciriaco expendable to the Red Sox.
San Diego recently lost Jedd Gyorko to the disabled list, so it makes sense that the Friars were on the lookout for infield help. In 370 Major League plate appearances, Ciriaco is a .287/.315/.398 hitter. He has extensive experience at third base, shortstop and second base, but Ciriaco also played all three outfield positions and first base as well during his Red Sox tenure.
The Reds have signed Zach Duke to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. According to the Triple-A International League transactions page, Duke was assigned to Triple-A Louisville, and catcher Konrad Schmidt was released to clear roster space.
The Nationals re-signed Duke to a Major League deal this past December, but the former Rookie of the Year candidate was ultimately designated for assignment and released after allowing 20 runs in 20 2/3 innings. Despite his left-handedness, the 30-year-old Duke has actually allowed a .386/.413/.477 line to opposing left-handers from 2012-13. He's walked just two of the 46 lefties he's faced though and hasn't allowed a home run.
The 28-year-old Schmidt spent his entire professional career with the D-backs prior to this season. He reached the Majors on two separate occasions but only saw 17 plate appearances. He has a career .271/.323/.409 batting line in 218 games at the Triple-A level.
With our original draft tracking post becoming just a shade unwieldy, let's start a new list of today's notable second and third-day draft signings. (As before, all recommended bonus slot information is courtesty of Baseball America.)
- Third-round choice Carlos Salazar has agreed to an above-slot deal with the Braves, says Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). While the precise amount of the bonus is not yet known, Salazar was taken with the 102nd choice, which came with a $505,700 bonus recommendation. A high-school right-hander who has hit 97 with his fastball, Salazar was a consensus top-100 draft prospect. (Baseball America had Salazar at number 93; ESPN's Keith Law put him at 81; and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo placed him at the 70th slot.) Salazar is being advised by Reynolds Sports Management and Dave Meier.
- The White Sox have signed fifth-round pick Thaddius Lowry for a $400k bonus, Callis tweets. The right-handed Texas high-schooler has flashed upper-mid-90's heat. The Sox went $90.8k above slot to ink the converted catcher.
- Catcher Stuart Turner has signed with the Twins, reports Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. The third-rounder's bonus is not yet known. His draft position (78) comes with a recommended $703k bonus. Turner is regarded as an exceptional defender who delivers lots of contact but does not consistently barrel up the baseball.
- Fourth-round righty Andrew Mitchell of TCU has signed with the White Sox, tweets Callis. According to Callis, Mitchell has one of the draft's most impressive curveballs and has touched 98 on the gun, making him a "steal in the 4th." Mitchell's $413k bonus is exactly slot.
- The Astros have signed fourth-round pick Conrad Gregor, who is advised by CAA, report Brian McTaggart and Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com. While it is not yet known what bonus the former Vanderbilt first baseman/outfielder is set to receive, the recommended slot for his 107th overall position is $481,900. He is the highest draft choice of the Astros to have signed thus far.
Today's minor moves:
- The Twins have released right-handed reliever Anthony Slama to make 40-man room for recently-signed righty Cody Eppley, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Slama has not seen MLB action since 2011. He struggled to a 13.50 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate this season, including an unsightly 0.64 K/BB ratio.
- The Blue Jays outrighted Andy LaRoche to their Triple-A affiliate after he cleared waivers, according to a press release. Toronto designated LaRoche for assignment two days ago to clear a roster spot for Chien-Ming Wang. The 29-year-old appeared in just one game for the Jays this season and went 0-for-4.
- The Mariners announced that they have outrighted Brandon Bantz to Triple-A Tacoma. The catcher was DFA's earlier this week after playing in just one game for the varsity squad.
- The Diamondbacks have sold right-handed reliever Warner Madrigal to Japan's Chunichi Dragons for an undisclosed sum, the team announced in a press release. The 29-year-old had been solid this year at Triple-A Reno, where he sported a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings of work and maintained a 10.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
Here are Thursday's notable signings from Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America) ...
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with Scottsdale Community College lefty Stephen Tarpley, the team's third-round choice, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (via Twitter). Tarpley, who reportedly touches 95 with his fastball, was signed for just $500 under the recommended $525,500 bonus for the 98th overall choice.
- Third-round draft choice Brandon Dixon has signed with the Dodgers for the slot recommendation of $566,500, tweets Callis. The University of Arizona third baseman could become a corner outfielder, according to Callis, and is noted for his power potential.
- The Dodgers have signed fourth-round choice Cody Bellinger, a high-school first baseman, for $700k, tweets Callis. Los Angeles pried Bellinger away from the University of Oregon with the largest over-slot signing to date (by percentage), nearly doubling the recommended $409k bonus. Bellinger is being advised by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
- The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with their fourth round pick, left-handed high-schooler Evan Smith, according to Callis (on Twitter). Smith, who stands at 6'5", has reportedly touched 93 with his fastball. $96.1k
- Cody Dickson, a "projectable" left-hander out of Sam Houston State, will sign with the Pirates for $375k, Callis says on Twitter. The fourth-round pick's bonus falls $54,200 under the slot recommendation.
- The Reds have signed fourth-rounder Ben Lively for $350k, Callis tweets. The righty mixes four pitches, including a 90-93 MPH heater. His signing bonus comes in at a modest $17.9k under slot.
- The Rockies inked fifth-rounder Blake Shouse for $353,900, his exact slot allocation, according to a Callis tweet. Per Callis, the two-way player sits in the low-to-mid 90's with his fastball and also features a hard curve.
- Third round pick Patrick Murphy signed with the Blue Jays for $500K, Callis tweets. The Arizona high school right-hander missed the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In the past, he has displayed a 93 mph fastball and solid curveball. Murphy is advised by Jonathan Pridie of Sosnick Cobbe.
- The Yankees signed third-rounder Michael O'Neill for $501K, according to Callis (via Twitter). The Michigan outfielder is quick and could wind up in center field.
- Rangers fourth-round pick Isaiah Kiner-Falefa signed for $202K, per Callis (on Twitter). The Hawaiian high school shortstop is a solid defender with a contact-oriented approach. He signed for nearly $184K under slot.
- Catcher/right-hander Tanner Murphy, a fourth-round pick of the Braves, agreed to a $250K bonus to forego his commitment to Southern Illinois, Callis tweets. Murphy has power in his bat and a strong throwing arm behind the dish, and he's also been clocked at 92 mph on the mound. He signed for a healthy $125K below slot.
- The Angels have signed third-round pick Kenyan Middleton for a bonus of $450K, tweets Callis. Middleton is a two-sport athlete out of junior college in Oregon who touches 95 mph with his fastball and features a tight slider as well. He signed $91K under slot.
- The Rays have signed fifth-round selection Johnny Field for a bonus of $250K, Callis reports (on Twitter). Field, an outfielder out of the University of Arizona, will convert to second base and provides most of his value with his bat. He signed for nearly $45K under slot.
The Rockies have locked up supplemental second-round pick Alex Balog for the recommended slot bonus of $795,200, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. (As usual, please see Baseball America for all bonus slot values.) Balog, a righty out of the University of San Francisco, is being advised by Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.
The 6'6" Balog was rated higher than his number 70 draft slot. Baseball America placed him as the 32nd overall prospect; ESPN's Keith Law placed him at number 64; and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo had him at 44th. Mayo believes that Balog has three offerings of major league quality, with a sinking fastball accompanied by a sharp slider and crafty change. Callis calls his 90-95 MPH fastball "heavy," while Law qualifies his relatively lower rating by noting that a more consistent showing would increase Balog's stock. Nik Balog, Alex's brother, is a first baseman in the Orioles' system.
The Phillies have agreed to terms with their second-round pick, catcher Andrew Knapp, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. The University of California catcher, who is being advised by Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports, will receive a $1,033,100 bonus that matches the suggested slot value for the 53rd overall pick (per Baseball America).
Callis tabbed the switch-hitting Knapp as the best college catcher in this year's draft. Baseball America, ESPN's Keith Law, and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo all concurred with that analysis, and ranked Knapp (respectively) as the 71st, 65th, and 56th best overall draft prospect.
As Mayo explains, Knapp is relatively raw as a backstop since he did not play the position in his first two college seasons. But with a solid arm and the potential to hit at a high average and for power, Knapp stood out among a weak class of college catchers.
Knapp's father, Mike Knapp, was a career minor leaguer who spent most of his time behind the dish. Younger brother Aaron is following the footsteps of his father and older brother to attend Cal as an outfielder.
The Pirates have unconditionally released veteran right-hander Jose Contreras, the team announced via press release. The 41-year-old signed with the Bucs this offseason after working back from Tommy John surgery.
Contreras struggled to get big league hitters out upon arriving in Pittsburgh. He surrendered five runs in just five innings, allowing seven hits and six walks. For his career, Contreras logged over 1100 big league innings, most of them as a starter. The Cuban had a solid 2010 campaign for the Phillies after converting to the bullpen, but has yet to throw more than 14 innings in a season since that time.