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Sonny Gray Rumors
- The Pirates announced that they signed five amateur free agents: Nicaraguan right-hander Adolfo Flores, Dominican right-hander Juan Mendoza, Panamanian position player Edgar Munoz and Venezuelan outfielders Anthony Claudio and Keybel Escobar. Claudio "resembles a young Magglio Ordonez," according to Pirates Latin America scouting director Rene Gayo.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today says Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder could get a $200MM deal in free agency if he keeps hitting like this (Twitter link). Fielder leads the NL with 41 RBI and has a .285/.380/.548 line 216 plate appearances into the season.
- There's only a slim chance that high school right-hander Dylan Bundy will be available when the Cubs select ninth overall in next month's draft, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). If Bundy and high school outfielder Bubba Starling have already been selected, Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray could be an option for the Cubs.
The buzz about the MLB draft is intensifying and understandably so – the big day is less than two weeks away. Here’s the latest:
- Baseball America presents its top 200 draft prospects. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is first on the list and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy leapfrogged UCLA righty Gerrit Cole to take the second spot on BA’s list.
- Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranks his top 100 draft-eligible players. Cole (#1), Rendon (#2) and high school outfielder Bubba Starling (#3) top his list and Bundy comes in fourth.
- Two UConn Huskies, Matt Barnes and George Springer, are gaining momentum, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Cole, however, is losing momentum.
- In his latest chat, Jim Callis of Baseball America says he thinks Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray can start or become a dynamic closer.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com previews this year's draft-eligible middle infielders, starting with high schooler Francisco Lindor, an outstanding defender who can hit for average and some power.
- University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong told Mayo that he doesn't mind at all when people doubt him because of his size (he's 5'9"). Wong says he has spoken to fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino about dealing with the draft.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the White Sox should get some "pretty good players" even though their first pick is the 47th overall selection. Chicago could end up taking a position player this year, according to Laumann.
A year ago, the Nationals had already decided to select Bryce Harper first overall. If the Pirates have decided on this year's top selection, we haven't heard about it, but we can pass along these updates about the 2011 draft:
- An American League scouting director told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he believes in Sonny Gray's ability to pitch well when it matters. "If you need to win a game," the scouting director said, "you want Sonny Gray pitching for you. He's that kind of guy."
- As Jonathan Mayo shows at MLB.com, relatives of well-known sports figures like Dante Bichette, Scott Boras and Wayne Gretzky are eligible for this year's draft.
- Anthony Rendon headlines Mayo's list of top corner infield prospects at MLB.com. Rendon has four plus tools and can run better than people give him credit for, according to Mayo. However, the third baseman has dealt with two injuries this year.
- As Mayo explains at MLB.com, the Cron family features a pair of prospects: Utah first baseman C.J. Cron and high school catcher Kevin Cron. Their father, Chris, made it to the Major Leagues with the 1991 Angels and the 1992 White Sox.
- Peter Gammons of MLB Network suggests the Mets may well select UNC shortstop Levo Michael with the 13th overall pick (Twitter link).
It's far too early in the spring for teams to have their draft boards finalized, as Keith Law pointed out at ESPN.com this week. With nearly two months remaining between now and the draft, a lot can change, but that doesn't stop Law from passing along the latest on the early intentions of some teams with high picks:
- Law hears that the Mariners will take either Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon with the second pick in the draft, depending on which player is available after the Pirates select first overall.
- The D'Backs, who pick third, covet Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, according to Law.
- The Orioles are 'extremely likely' to take a college pitcher with the fourth overall pick. They could take Hultzen or Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley.
- The Royals (5th pick) are also likely to take a college arn and they're interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes, Hultzen and Bradley.
- The D'Backs (7th pick) and Cubs (9th pick) have Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray high on their internal rankings, according to Law.
As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series debuts today with one of the top college pitchers in the nation.
Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray has "the best curveball in college baseball," according to Baseball America, and ESPN.com's Keith Law suggested last week that he has an outside shot of being the first overall pick this June. According to Baseball America, some scouts wonder if Gray's future is in the bullpen. But with an above-average curve, a 93-96 mph fastball and a change-up, he could become a starter like Mike Minor and David Price, two Vanderbilt products who were selected in the first round.
Gray talked to MLBTR about his size, his curveball and Roy Halladay. Here's a transcript of our conversation: