Sonny Gray Rumors

AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Schoop, Gray

The recent struggles of Yankees starters C.C. Sabathia (age 33) and Hiroki Kuroda (age 39) weigh on the minds of Red Sox management in regards to a possible Jon Lester extension, Peter Gammons tweets.  While the Sox are surely interested in keeping Lester in the fold through 2018, anything beyond that could be problematic given the history of guaranteeing big money to aging pitchers.  Lester would be 35 on Opening Day 2019, which could be why Boston’s most recent offer to the southpaw was a four-year extension.

  • The Blue Jays could make up their 2.5-game deficit in the AL East by making four changes, Paul Swydan writes in an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com.  One of those moves would be an upgrade at second base, and Swydan suggests that Rickie Weeks, Luis Valbuena, Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Espinosa could all be logical trade targets.
  • Chuck LaMar, former Rays GM and current Blue Jays special assistant of amateur scouting, recently scouted high schooler Alex Verdugo, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports.  Verdugo, recently ranked as the 41st-best draft prospect by Baseball America, is both a left-handed pitcher and an outfielder “who prefers to hit anyway,” according to BA’s John Manuel.  Toronto has the ninth and eleventh overall picks in the 2014 draft, as well as the 50th overall selection.
  • Jonathan Schoop is only hitting .231/.278/.374 in 97 PA this season, but MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski believes the Orioles‘ star prospect deserves more time as a Major League regular.
  • The Athletics drafted Sonny Gray one pick ahead of the Red Sox in 2011, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier notes that the Sox heavily evaluated the righty in the months leading up to the draft.  While Gray has already enjoyed Major League stardom, Boston still has to be pretty satisfied with its actual pick at #19 overall, as Matt Barnes is a well-regarded right-hander pitching at Triple-A this season and possibly in line for a late-season promotion to the bigs.

AL West Notes: Gray, Mariners, Luhnow, Ryan

Sonny Gray underwent surgery on his left thumb today and is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training, the Athletics announced via their Twitter feed.  Gray said he would still be pitching if Oakland was in the ALCS, despite the tear in his thumb's UCL that he suffered on a Prince Fielder line drive in Game Five of the ALDS.  The A's obviously want Gray fit for 2014 given how impressive the right-hander looked in his rookie season — Gray posted a 2.67 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 3.35 K/BB over 12 regular season games (10 starts) and then posted a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings in two postseason starts.

Here's the latest from around the AL West…

  • Eric Wedge and the Mariners have different accounts of why exactly they parted ways, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes it was clear that a change was necessary at manager given the differences between the two sides. 
  • Also in the piece, Heyman reports that the Mariners have Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo on their list of possible manager candidates.
  • The Mariners aren't likely to make a play for David Price this offseason, MLB.com's Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.  Seattle has been linked to Price in at least one rumor but Johns thinks if the M's are going to deal prospects for any major star, it will be for a big hitter.
  • Reid Ryan, the Astros' president of business operations and Nolan Ryan's son, tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he hasn't spoken to his father about joining the 'Stros now that the elder Ryan has stepped down as the Rangers' CEO.  Astros owner Jim Crane would be open to Ryan taking on a role with the team, saying "We have Reid here, and [Nolan] is certainly welcome as a family member to hang out with us. I like Nolan, and at some point, if Nolan wanted to do something, we're all ears."
  • In AL West news from earlier today on MLBTR, you can check out Charlie Wilmoth's Offseason Outlook entry on the Rangers, a collection of Rangers notes, and Steve Adams' free agent profile of A's closer Grant Balfour.

Rosenthal On Rios, Rangers, Dodgers, A’s

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has his latest edition of Full Count up. Let's run through some of the highlights…

  • Some teams considering a trade for the White Sox's Alex Rios might consider the remainder of his contract – $13MM in 2014 and a $13.5MM club option for 2015 – to be a benefit. According to Rosenthal, Rios ranks fifth in wins above replacement among all right fielders since the start of the 2012 season. That's ahead of both Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino, who were able to sign large free agent deals last offseason. Rosenthal says Rios could still be traded this month or after the season.
  • Rangers officials told Rosenthal that they had more conversations about major leaguer-for-major-leaguer trades leading up to the deadline than ever before in their push to acquire a bat for their struggling lineup, but nothing came to fruition. Texas made almost every player on their roster available in trade talks, including the newly acquired Matt Garza.
  • The Dodgers opted not to bid on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez because they were unsure of whether he profiled as anything more than a back-end starter or reliever. They also want to create opportunities for prospects such as Zach Lee and Chris Reed.
  • The A's decision this weekend to send Tommy Milone – the owner of a 4.39 ERA in 133.1 innings this year – to Triple A was aimed at adding another arm to the bullpen, as they don't need a fifth starter until Aug. 13. However, that Aug. 13 starter could end up being prospect Sonny Gray. The A's were originally considering putting Gray in the bullpen, but they could get left-hander Brett Anderson back within two weeks as a reliever, Rosenthal says.


Prospect Rumor Roundup: Trade Bait

The July trade deadline in Major League Baseball is less than two weeks away on the 31st. We don't exactly know who will be on the move, or how many trades will be completed, but we do know that a lot of minor league prospects will be changing uniforms within the next 13 days.

Below is a look at some of the prospects who could be on the move to new organizations looking to build for the future.

American League

Athletics: Oakland hasn't shied away from leaning on young players while in a playoff hunt and recent promotions for pitcher Sonny Gray and infielder/outfielder Grant Green could also serve a secondary purpose: showcasing. Gray, a right-handed hurler, was extremely successful in Triple-A and was lights-out during his one big league appearance before the All-Star break. He could develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter, or a high-leverage reliever. Green has played sparingly since his promotion but the former first round draft pick's versatility could be highly coveted.  

Indians: Cleveland has one of the top shortstop prospects in (untouchable) Francisco Lindor, which could make fellow infielder Dorssys Paulino expendable in the right deal. Just 18, his numbers don't look great but he's holding his own in Low-A ball at a young age and has shown signs of improvement in June and July.

Orioles: L.J.Hoes doesn't have a huge ceiling but the 23-year-old prospect can play all three outfield positions, as well as second and third base. Currently hitting .308/.405/.413 at Triple-A, he makes good contact and can run the bases well.

Rangers: It would probably take a very intriguing veteran player with more than one year of control but Texas' middle infield depth could allow the club to dangle shortstop Luis Sardinas on the trade market. The 20-year-old infielder is a slick defender with little-to-no power but the ability to hit for average and steal some bases.

Rays: Right-hander Alex Colome made three starts with Tampa Bay earlier this year and the organization's pitching depth could allow the right-hander to be offered in an attractive deal, but he's currently on the Triple-A disabled list with what has been called a "mild elbow strain." Second baseman Ryan Brett, 21, received a 50-game suspension last year, so that cloud is still hanging over his head, but the scrappy baseball player can really hit. He's currently batting .336/.392/.480 with 17 steals in 39High-A ball games.

Red Sox: Boston is in an enviable position with a fair amount of depth that can be used to help strengthen the big league product. The presence of top prospect Xander Bogaerts means that the club can comfortably move third base prospect Garin Cecchini or shortstop Deven Marrero, should the right deal come along, because Bogaerts could probably handle either position at the big league level. Cecchini swings a mean stick but he lacks the prototypical power that teams look for from the hot corner. Marrero's numbers have been respectable in 2013 but nothing to write home about. A team that really liked him in college, though, might be willing to bite. 

Tigers: The Tigers system is pretty thin, which could impact the organization's ability to make key moves via the trade market. Outfielder Danry Vasquez is highly projectable thanks to his frame and left-handed swing, both of which hint at future power. Just 19, he's aggressive but makes good contact given his limited experience.

Yankees: Catcher J.R. Murphy could be an attractive name on the trade market, if New York is willing to part with him knowing that Gary Sanchez is not that far behind. Murphy is an offensive-minded backstop who's improved his defensive game, especially with throwing out baserunners. 

National League

Braves: On the surface it seems like the Braves haven't really made the amateur draft a priority in recent years and that has hurt the organization's depth. The versatile Joey Terdoslavich's strong performance in Triple-A earned him a promotion to the big league level where he's possibly been showcased for a deal. The pop in his bat, along with his ability to switch hit and positional versatility could make him an intriguing trade target.

Cardinals: The Cardinals have some impressive middle infield depth and former first round draft pick Kolten Wong could become a casualty. The second baseman can hit, but converted third baseman Matt Carpenter has been nothing short of brilliant at the big league level. Any team that acquires Wong is getting a player who's very close to MLB ready.

Diamondbacks: If Arizona is looking to make a big splash at the trade deadline, the club has a lot of pitching depth to deal from, including (likely) untouchables Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs. It would take a special player coming over to Arizona to nab him, but lefty David Holmberg is an underrated talent that could help a lot of ball clubs. His ceiling is probably that of a No. 3 or 4 starter but he's been durable and isn't afraid to throw strikes.

Dodgers: Los Angeles is always rumored to have a lot of irons in the fire and the club is definitely looking to improve itself despite the massive payroll. Southpaw Onelki Garcia, signed out of Cuba in 2012, made just one appearances during the regular season last year. In 2013, he's been very good in Double-A thanks to his above-average fastball. He's mostly viewed as a future reliever but Garcia has made six starts. 

Pirates: To get value back, you often have to trade quality players. Pittsburgh has enjoyed breakouts over the past year in the form of infielder Alen Hanson, outfielder Gregory Polanco and pitcher Tyler Glasnow, among others, and that trio is probably safe at the trade deadline barring a blockbuster deal. However, pitcher Luis Heredia could perhaps be had at the right price. The right-hander is just 18 with three years of pro experience under his belt. He's a larger-framed pitcher and hasn't developed quite as hoped, suggesting a modest ceiling as a starter.  He's been passed on the depth chart by a number of guys like Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham and Glasnow.

Reds: Outfielder Jesse Winker doesn't wow with his tools but he gets the most out of his abilities and is one of the safer bets in Cincinnati's system to have a big league career. The 19-year-old prospect has modest power and doesn't steal bases so he's going to have to hit for average to provide value as a hitter — along with his willingness to take a free pass.

Rockies: Colorado doesn't have much in the way of tradable commodities, but the organization could cash in on the lack of catching depth around the game — much like the Yankees — with Tom Murphy. The second-year catcher, who's now 22 years old, has inexplicably been left in Low-A ball all year long despite overpowering the younger competition. He's by no means a finished product and has holes in his game but an OPS over 1.000 is going to attract some suitors.


Prospect Rumor Roundup: Future Promotions

If you're a moderate to hardcore baseball fan, you've probably heard of the term "Super Two" when top prospects and their imminent big league promotions are being discussed. Basically, it's an important business aspect of baseball that can cause your favorite MLB-ready prospect to spend a little extra time in the minors. For a refresher on the subject, check out Tim Dierkes' article from April and Ben Nicholson-Smith's post from February.

Now that you're up to date and understand why some players have been recently called up to the Majors, it's time to identify the next big-named prospects who could be promoted in 2013, following in the footsteps of the Rays' Wil Myers, the Mets' Zack Wheeler, and the Mariners' Mike Zunino.

Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox: Bogaerts, 20, didn't let his age stop him from dominating Double-A ball. One of the youngest players in the Eastern League, the shortstop hit more than .300 with strong on-base skills and power. The Aruba native earned himself a trip to Triple-A after less than half a season. A strong start to 2013 earned fellow shortstop prospect (and potential roadblock) Jose Iglesias a 25-man roster spot as the backup to oft-injured veteran Stephen Drew, but Bogaerts has a much higher ceiling. Iglesias is much more likely to end up as trade bait thanks to his high-level play — should Boston need to shore up its roster for a run at the playoffs. Drew is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Red Sox may want to give Bogaerts a chance to get his feet wet in the Majors by the end of the year to gauge if he's truly ready to assume the full-time gig in 2014.

Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers: Castellanos had a modest start to the 2013 season, but he's seen his offensive numbers improve each month with his OPS rising from .755 to .814 to 1.025. Also working in his favor for a call-up is the fact that he can offer competent defensive assistance at both third base and in the corner outfield. Miguel Cabrera isn't going to be bumped from his starting gig at the hot corner, but the emergence of Castellanos could allow the club to rest the veteran in the second half of the year in preparation for long playoff run. The prospect could also be a solid platoon complement to left fielder Andy Dirks, a left-handed hitter. It would also give Avisail Garcia — another rookie outfielder — a chance to spend more time in Triple-A. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wrote that Castellanos could be a key player for the big league club as it tries to secure a playoff spot in 2013.

Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics: Aside from Bartolo Colon, injuries have ensured that Oakland's starting rotation lacks pitchers with more than two years of service time. Due to the volatility of young pitchers, depth could become an issue for the first-place club in the second half of the year. Gray, a former first round draft pick, could offer some help after rebounding well from a disappointing 2012 season. The right-hander has averaged more than six innings per start in his 13 Triple-A appearances and struck out 83 batters in 82 1/3 innings of work.

Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox: Chicago is currently deploying an inexperienced starting rotation with the likes of Hector Santiago, Jose Quintana, and Dylan Axelrod. Johnson, a former second round draft pick, has dominated pro ball and his time at Double-A in 2013 has been no different. He currently has a 2.24 ERA with 74 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 84 2/3 innings of work. Johnson, 23, has a frame that suggests he should develop into an innings-eater and his pitching acumen could eventually help him develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter for the Sox. The California native could offer some assistance to the big league club in the second half of the season, and he has the highest ceiling of any starter in the Sox system at either Double-A or Triple-A. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune recently penned an article after speaking with Johnson, who said he's just taking it one day at a time and not worrying about a promotion to The Show.

Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians: After spending big in the offseason, Cleveland finds itself in a playoff hunt. With a big league starting rotation that features some rather large question marks with the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, and Carlos Carrasco, Salazar could become a key player at some point during the second half of the season. While splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, the Dominican right-hander has struck out 80 batters in 58 innings of work. If he doesn't figure into the club's plans in the starting rotation, his power arsenal and ability to pitch multiple innings could allow him to offer some assistance in the bullpen in the latter half of the year and even the playoffs. In a piece for MLB.com, John Wagner spoke to Salazar's Triple-A manager, Chris Tremie, who talked about the things that the young pitcher does well.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, Astros: Singleton's season got off to an inauspicious start when he was suspended for 50 games after violating minor league baseball's drug policy. Since returning, the 21-year-old hitter has appeared in just 10 games, split between Single-A, Double-A and now Triple-A. Thirteen of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases, and he's walked 13 times. Singleton has experience playing both left field and first base but has exclusively played the infield in 2013. Despite that, his clearest opening for big league playing time could be in the outfield where Trevor Crowe, J.D. Martinez, and (recently demoted) Jimmy Paredes have produced less-than-impressive numbers. First basemen/designated hitters Chris Carter and Carlos Pena have also had underwhelming seasons to date (and could become trade bait) but offer much-needed power. The playoffs are out of the question for 2013, but once outfield prospect George Springer joins Singleton in Houston, the club will have a strong middle-of-the-order core to build around.

Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals: Talented but undersized pitching prospects are slowly shedding the stigma that they're destined for future bullpen work at the big league level. Like Toronto's Marcus Stroman, the slender Ventura doesn't break the six-foot mark, but his upper-90s velocity — which tickles triple digits — has intrigued prospect watchers since he came over to North America from the Dominican Republic in 2010. After opening 2013 in Double-A, a recent promotion has brought Ventura one step away from the Majors. Should injuries strike — or should the Royals tire of the inconsistent performances from Luis Mendoza or Wade Davis — the 22-year-old Dominican could receive the call. Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City recently spoke to Royals Assistant General Manager J.J. Picollo who said the organization is looking to have Ventura become more efficient and keep his pitch counts down.


A’s To Sign Sonny Gray

The A's announced that they have agreed to sign first round draft pick Sonny Gray. The A's selected the right-hander 18th overall after he posted a 2.12 ERA wtih a 124K/46BB ratio in 119 innings for a Vanderbilt club that advanced to the final four at the College World Series.

Gray signed for a $1.54MM bonus, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). MLB's recommended bonus for the 18th overall pick was $1.422MM a year ago, according to Baseball America.

I spoke to Gray about his season and his repertoire back in FebruaryEarlier today, ESPN.com's Keith Law and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the sides were making progress.


Athletics Near Agreement With Sonny Gray

5:26pm: Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the A's are close to a deal with Gray (Twitter link).

12:04pm: Athletics first-round pick Sonny Gray is in Oakland today for a physical, tweets ESPN's Keith Law.  Law notes that once Gray is stretched out, the A's plan to send him to Double-A Midland.

The A's drafted Gray 18th overall out of Vanderbilt last month.  Slot for the pick is around $1.4MM, though Kaleb Cowart signed for $2.3MM as the 18th pick last year.


Keith Law’s Final Mock Draft

Keith Law of ESPN.com has written up his final projections for tonight's draft. Here are some of the latest highlights (Insider subscription needed):

  • The D'Backs select UCLA righty Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 pick, meaning two of the first three picks will be Bruins after the Pirates take Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall.
  • The Orioles, turned off by Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen's hefty contract demands, take prep righty Archie Bradley out of Oklahoma at No. 4. Dylan Bundy then falls to the Royals at No. 5, which Law says would be a steal, and Hultzen slides back to the D'Backs at No. 7, a "dream scenario" for Arizona. That could lead to tricky negotiations considering Hultzen's demands and the fact that the pick is unprotected after Barret Loux didn't sign last year, but Bauer and Hultzen  would represent quite a boon to the D'Backs' rotation in the near future.
  • The Mets meet their organizational mandate to take a pitcher at No. 13, selecting UConn righty Matt Barnes.
  • The Brewers, with an unprotected pick at No. 15, need to take a signable player, and may be looking at Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray or Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson.
  • The Red Sox probably won't spend too wildly at No. 19 and could focus on a high-probability player like Alex Meyer of Kentucky as they did a year ago with Kolbrin Vitek.

Draft Links: Rays, Astros, Indians, Diamondbacks

Earlier today we learned that the Pirates plan to select Gerrit Cole with the number one overall pick in Monday's amateur draft, the first of over 1,500 players that will hear their names called next week. We'll keep track of draft news thoughout the day right here, with the latest up top…

  • The Rays are ready to cash in on their glut of draft picks, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.  Tampa Bay is the first team to have twelve of the top 100 selections in a draft.
  • The Astros are trying to reach a pre-draft deal with Stanford lefty Chris Reed for the 11th overall pick according Frankie Piliere of FOX Sports (on Twitter), though they are denying that is the case (also via Twitter). Baseball America ranked Reed as the 60th best prospect in the draft on their top 200 list.
  • ESPN's Keith Law is hearing "quite a bit" about the Indians being connected to Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray with the eighth overall pick (Twitter link). Click here to see Ben Nicholson-Smith's Q&A with Gray.
  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic hears that the Diamondbacks may be willing to take a player with large bonus demands with the seventh overall pick. That pick is compensation for failing to sign Barret Loux last year and is unprotected, so they won't get another pick if they don't sign the player. For that reason, it's been speculated that they would take a player they know they can sign.
  • Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun puts a spotlight on high school righty Dylan Bundy, who is in the mix to be selected by the Orioles, number four overall. Jim Callis of Baseball America has Bundy going to the D'Backs and Danny Hultzen going to O's on his latest draft board (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox have a unique opportunity on their hands in owning four of the top 40 picks in the draft, writes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. Boston had five of the first 47 picks in 2005, selecting Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden and Craig Hansen. Pretty nice haul there.
  • The Rangers are showing strong interest in prep outfielder Brandon Nimmo from Wyoming with the 33rd overall pick, according to Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Nimmo has committed to attend Arkansas.

Draft Prep: Meet The College Righties

In a draft considered by experts to be deep in pitching, six college right-handers possess the talent to rank within the top 20 overall for ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein, and Baseball America.

Gerrit Cole, UCLA

Law has Cole going first overall to the Pirates in his most recent mock draft, while Baseball America has him falling to the Royals at #5.  Getting Cole is the "dream scenario" for the Royals at #5, according to Law. Cole, who was drafted out of high school by the Yankees in '08, boasts a mid-90s fastball, power slider, and above-average changeup.  Experts agree he has the ceiling of a number one starter, and Law says Cole "looks like he could pitch in the big leagues tomorrow if he'd sign soon enough to play."  He has, however, struggled with his command at times and hasn't delivered results on par with his abilities.  Cole is advised by the Boras Corporation.  He has been stingy on providing interviews, but MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke to him in March.

Trevor Bauer, UCLA

Law believes the Diamondbacks could consider Bauer at #3 if Danny Hultzen is gone, but projects him going to the Nationals at #6.  Law does not expect Bauer to make it past the Indians at #8.  BA went with the Nats in their mock draft.  Bauer has been worked heavily and has unorthodox workouts and mechanics.  He's said by BA to pattern himself after Tim Lincecum.  Bauer comes with lots of strikeouts, good velocity, a plus-plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a few other pitches too.  MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo spoke to him a few days ago.

Taylor Jungmann, Texas

Law projects the Brewers taking Jungmann at #12, with the Mets an option at #13.  BA guesses the Astros will take him at #11.  Law says the 6'6" Jungmann sits at 91-93 with a hammer curveball and strong command.  A few mild concerns have been raised about his delivery, and Goldstein questions whether he has "star-level upside."

Matt Barnes, Connecticut

Law notes that the Padres have interest at #10, which is BA's choice in their mock draft.  Barnes draws praise for his fastball and curveball, while questions remain about his command, mechanics, and secondary stuff.

Alex Meyer, Kentucky

Law names the Athletics at #18, the Red Sox at #19, and the Nationals at #23 as possibilities for Meyer, while BA takes the Angels at #17.  The 6'9" righty owns a mid-90s fastball and plus-plus slider, but Goldstein finds his performance inconsistent and all gurus say his command is lacking.  There is number one starter upside here, says Law.  Meyer, who turned down $2MM from the Red Sox as a 20th round pick out of high school three years ago, is advised by the Boras Corporation.

Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt

Gray could be Arizona's choice at their unprotected #7 spot, says Law, while the Padres could be a fit at #10.  He's mentioned the Cubs at #9 previously.  BA went with the Brewers at #15.  Gray is 5'11", but he pitches at 91-94 with what Law describes as a "knockout breaking ball."  The idea has been floated that Gray could end up a late-inning reliever.  Talking to Ben Nicholson-Smith in February, Gray said he prefers to start but considers himself versatile and enjoyed his time in the bullpen.