Robert Stephenson Rumors

NL Central Notes: Cards, Taillon, Stephenson

The Cardinals‘ recent firing of scouting director Chris Correa in the wake of the organization’s hacking scandal is part of a broader problem of “brain-drain,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz writes. A number of top front-office minds left the Cardinals joined Jeff Luhnow in heading to Houston several years ago, and Correa himself replaced Dan Kantrovitz, who left the Cardinals following the 2014 to rejoin the Athletics organization. The investigation into the hacking scandal continues, so the Cardinals might have to withstand other front office departures. Team chairman Bill DeWitt is in a tough position — he’ll surely want to keep what’s left of his front office mostly intact, but if he doesn’t continue punishing any other hacking offenders, he’ll be seen as “soft on baseball crime,” as Miklasz puts it. Here’s more from the NL Central.

  • Pirates starting pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will have surgery next week to fix an inguinal hernia, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Travis Sawchik tweets. Taillon will miss two months, so the injury is likely to end his season. He had already missed the entire 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery and had not pitched in 2015, so he will effectively miss two years of development. Taillon was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, and his talent remains significant, but his injury problems appear to be denting his prospect status.
  • The Reds promoted top prospect Robert Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville, where he debuted Friday night, as MiLB.com’s Daren Smith notes. Stephenson pitched well for Double-A Pensacola, with a 3.68 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 78 2/3 innings, although he walked 4.9 batters per nine. MLB.com currently rates Stephenson the Reds’ best prospect and the 18th-best prospect in baseball, praising his fastball (which can reach into the upper 90s) and excellent curveball. (Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America largely agreed on Stephenson’s place in baseball’s prospect hierarchy, ranking him 16th and 23rd, respectively, heading into the season.) At Louisville, he’ll likely need to continue working on his control. “There have been a couple things we’ve been working on, but the big problem was that I was nitpicking too much and being too fine with my pitches,” says Stephenson. “The other thing was that I was rushing it a little bit, and when I sped up my tempo, I wasn’t able to repeat my motion and throw strikes. When I slow it down, I’m able to repeat my arm slot every time.”

Ohio Notes: Youkilis, Stephenson, Anderson

The Indians have a day off while the Reds begin a four-game series with the Rockies tonight at the Great American Ballpark.  Here's the latest baseball news from the Buckeye State…

  • Cincinnati native Kevin Youkilis told ESPN Boston's Joe McDonald that if he were to leave the Red Sox, he would enjoy playing for his hometown Reds.  Youkilis is under contract through 2012, with the Sox holding a $13MM option for 2013 on "the Greek God of Walks."  Youkilis will be 34 on Opening Day 2013, so while $13MM is a bargain for a player with Youkilis' production, it's possible Boston might explore a younger, cheaper third baseman like prospect Will Middlebrooks.  The Reds have Scott Rolen's contract coming off the books after 2012 and could have a hole at third unless Todd Frazier or Yonder Alonso catches on at the hot corner.
  • There is a "greater than 50% chance" that Reds first-round draft pick Robert Stephenson will attend the University Of Washington rather than sign with Cincinnati, tweets Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA.  Stephenson, selected 27th overall by the Reds, had already committed to Washington and is "an academic type," according to Rogers.
  • With Drew Pomeranz and Alex White shipped to Colorado in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talks to several Indians executives about the pitching depth still left in the club's minor league system.
  • Perhaps one more young arm can be added to that mix — Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the Tribe have signed right-hander Cody Anderson, a 14th-round pick in the June amateur draft.  Anderson's bonus was worth $250K.  Callis describes Anderson as having "intriguing size (6-4/225) [and an intriguing] fastball" that clocks in between 92-96 mph.  Anderson had been committed to attend Texas Christian University. 

Law On Royals, Josh Bell, Dodgers, Mets

Draft junkies, you're missing out if you don't read Keith Law's latest chat at ESPN.  Insider is required to read it, and is well worth your money, but here are a few highlights.

  • With the fifth overall pick, Law sees the Royals taking a college arm or Dylan BundyLaw and Jim Callis of Baseball America projected them to take Matt Barnes or Gerrit Cole, respectively, in late May mock drafts.  MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo went with high school outfielder Bubba Starling in a mock draft published today.  Mayo mentions UCLA righty Trevor Bauer and high school shortstop Francisco Lindor as well, but Law says the Royals are not on Lindor.
  • One team that is in on Lindor is the Mariners at #2, as ESPN's Shannon Drayer tweets that they worked him out at Safeco Field.  However, Law says that while the Ms like Lindor and Starling, he doubts they'd pass on Anthony Rendon if the Pirates take someone else.
  • Law hears rumors that the Tigers and Red Sox are in on high school outfielder Josh Bell, a Boras Corporation advisee who sent a letter to the MLB Scouting Bureau saying he intends to honor his commitment to the University of Texas and does not want to be drafted.  Law hears a "widespread rumor" about the Tigers drafting Bell and offering $6MM, presumably with the #76 overall pick (their first).
  • The Red Sox don't know how the draft will change under the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, so they intend to take advantage of this year's draft, GM Theo Epstein told Ian Browne of MLB.com. Boston will select four of the first 40 players under second-year scouting director Amiel Sawdaye.
  • Law hears high school righty Robert Stephenson "very strongly" for the Dodgers at #16.  He also hears that the Dodgers can't go over slot with any pick, so hopefully Stephenson is comfortable with $1.8MM or so.  High school shortstop Javier Baez and high school righty Taylor Guerrieri have been projected for the Dodgers in various recent mock drafts.
  • Derek Fisher, a high school outfielder with "light-tower raw power" according to Law, will be a tough sign with demands of $2MM or more.
  • Silly numbers like Danny Hultzen's reported $13MM demand "just get ignored," says Law.  To get to know the University of Virginia southpaw, check out Josh Barr's article for the Washington Post.  The article says Hultzen has visited with officials from only the first six teams picking in the draft, and told those clubs what he'll need to sign.
  • The Mets are leaning toward a college arm at #13, writes Law.  Mayo went with Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray in today's mock.
  • For a look at each team's picks within the first 90, click here.