Nick Bitsko was originally slated to be part of the 2021 draft class, so when the young righty took some extra courses to graduate high school after his junior year and thus become eligible for the 2020 draft, the Rays didn’t have a ton of fresh information available, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays were limited to a three-inning showcase last August, “plus a 50-pitch March bullpen session at a small indoor facility and an hour-long Zoom call last week,” yet were still impressed enough to make Bitsko the 24th overall pick, just days before Bitsko’s 18th birthday.
Working largely off limited video from Bitsko’s high school games, some throwing-session footage posted by Bitsko himself online, and cellphone footage shot by scout Zach Clark during the bullpen session, the Rays became comfortable in the right-hander’s ability. Clark is still the only Rays employee to speak to Bitsko or his parents in person, as Bitsko’s next meeting with team officials came during the online conversation. “I think the Zoom call sent it over the top for our guys,” Clark said. “Listen to Nick talk about pitching, preparation, what he’s done in the past, you’re like, ’Man, it’s really hard to believe you’re talking to a 17-year-old.’ ”
More from around baseball…
- Of the Yankees’ three veteran impending free agent starters, Masahiro Tanaka is “the favorite to return” to the Bronx in 2021, George A. King III of the New York Post opines. Tanaka will turn 32 in November, though James Paxton shares almost the exact same birthday and will carry a much more checkered injury history into the open market, while J.A. Happ turns 38 in October and is coming off a rough 2019 season. Of course, there’s nothing stopping the Yankees from re-signing only one of these hurlers, and there’s also nothing to say that New York couldn’t let all three walk. The latter scenario seems less likely, however, as that would leave the team with quite a young and unproven rotation mix behind Gerrit Cole, unless the Yankees acquired another veteran starter.
- Fangraphs’ David Laurila recently caught up with Daniel Moskos, the fourth overall pick of the 2007 draft and currently the pitching coach for the Yankees’ A-ball affiliate in Charleston. Despite his lofty draft status, Moskos’ MLB career consisted of only 24 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2011 before elbow problems and a Tommy John surgery took their toll. After bouncing around the minors, the Mexican League, and independent ball, Moskos followed the lead of several pitchers in recent years by visiting the Driveline facility to try and get his career on track. As it turned out, it led to a career change entirely, as Moskos retired in order to take a job as coach and trainer at Driveline. That position led to a lot of interest from other organizations about coaching roles, leading to Moskos being hired by the Yankees last November.
- While teams are now eligible to begin signing undrafted free agents, some notable players who weren’t selected have opted to go back to school rather than take a $20K offer. The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino reports (Twitter link) that right-hander Tommy Mace will return to Florida for his senior year, which isn’t surprising given that Mace was a consensus top-75 prospect as per this year’s draft projections. (The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked Mace as the 46th-best player in the class, with Fangraphs not far behind in placing Mace 47th.) As Tolentino notes, another good year from Mace could make him in the top-15 range for the 2021 draft.
- Infielder Darren Baker will also forego a free agent contract and return to Cal next season, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Baker, the son of Astros manager Dusty Baker, was rated 184th in Baseball America’s draft prospect rankings.
I have a baseball problem. It’s obvious that the MLB is done as we know it and yet I’m still checking this site everyday, imagining, hoping, and praying for an impossible reversal to the current vector.
Tanaka would be smart to return to Japan now so he can re-establish himself as the best pitcher in the history of their league.
I think saying MLB is done good is jumpping to conclusions way too early.
Have you been reading whats going on? The players are going to show up to whatever season Manfred puts in place. Its going to be a wacky 2020 but things will be back to normal in 2021 so “done as we know it” is a ridiculous stretch.
At the end of an empire’s run, a new world order rises. How do we know an empire is done? Massive unpayable debt spike. Unfathomable disparity between the haves and have nots. Either protracted external military conflict or domestic revolution. Check, check, check. Mate.
Baseball, funny as it is, had a chance to be our Saviour. But it’s too late now. Could’ve Gone back to work months ago. Put tens of thousands back to work directly, hundreds of thousands indirectly.
No, MLB baseball is done and it’s not the only thing.
that’s well overdramatic
Lighten up Francis.
This is incredibly dumb. The have nots of baseball are just fine with tanking. The players are not going to have some kind of uprising that ends the sport. Free agency has become a lot better and the idea that they will quit a job that pays them more than 99 percent of the population is comical. Thats the exact type of people who DONT cause revolutions in histroy, you really thought you were on to something with that Rome nonsense.
LOL given how many times the Sundance network has been showing Stripes. Wish I had thought of the response …
ghost of dave kingman
And Caesar wept as there were no more worlds to conquer
Might not be that crazy. You’re totally right about the short game but it’s clear that the players saying “tell us where and when” is setting the stage for probably the most brutal CBA battle in 20 years. That strike did a ton of damage to the league — it recovered by some metrics, didn’t recover (in terms of losing fan share to the other major leagues) by others. It’s possible the big change isn’t 2020 but 2022 and beyond.
Hunger Games. The Who We Won’t Get Fooled Again. Caesar taking over Rome.
The players and they’re tortured existence will flip over the table just to get a better hand. And in the process, scatter everyone’s chips, even their own, and ruin the game. the smart gamblers will go to a new casino that doesn’t put up with such childishness.
MLB players are not about to start a revolution that will end the largest form of professional baseball in America. Strike? Maybe, but that’s a whole lot different from what you’re talking about.
Also, what torutered existence? It’s not the major league players suffereing here. It’s the minor legue players, and I highly doubt major league players are about to go full Julius Caesar before seeing if they can reach an agreement with the onwers and comishiner.
Owners get their billionaire status from our capitalistic system.
What happens when the system breaks irrevocably?
You act like America is going to be a-okay in a few months, or even years.
The difference between now and the social and political unrest in the 60s and 70s? Back then our country wasn’t drowning in national debt and we had a thriving middle class.
Wait till a few teams go bankrupt trying to pay these outrageous salaries. Will they bailout baseball teams? Wait till a few teams try to restructure salaries just to stay afloat. Will a guy coming up, with serious skills take his talents to Korea or Japan for guaranteed contract in a stable league and stable society?
The trolling was good for a couple messages, then it got too lengthy and boring, ejemp.
Exactly. The 60s were a tough time. What we have right now is the worst of the social issues of the 60s combined with the depression fear of the early 1930s AND the pandemic the late 1910s with a little bit of 1950s McCarthyism sprinkled in. It’s like Time Life is selling a greatest hits of the 20th century all rolled up into one year. All we need now is some whiny emo songs of the 1990s to pull it all together.
Sid Bream Speed Demon
Written like a true millennial. Between them and the next group, Gen Z or whatever it’s called, there has never been a more pampered group of people that have somehow convinced themselves that they have it hard. A whole upbringing of being told that you matter and that you can do anything while not preparing you mentally to do anything. Truly pathetic.
manfred is 100% on mlb returning
No, the MLB isn’t done as we know it, that’s hyperbole. C’mon Karen, man up.
You realize mlb revenue has been increasing, even since 2017 when it first passed the $10B threshold. This year will obviously be a hit and a potential strike would cause another hit, but this “fall of an empire” storyline is quite overly dramatic. Baseball will weather COVID and even a strike. Look at the Turner deal that just got done. It seems that you are creating this story in your head to make it seem like the game will suffer because it is losing you as a fan. It’s not that deep.
I’m currently making a pitching mound, and watching the draft coverage gave me a little more ambition to get it finished and to start ramping up my bullpens again. Bitsko looks like a guy that took his stuff seriously too. Taking vids of himself, talking himself up in meetings, and ultimately performing well. I think that the Rays got a guy that, while he may not be the best guy in the draft, he can still form into a better pitcher, and sounds willing to.
It does feel different. As someone in my early 20’s I’ve grown up competing with the vast majority of my age group that baseball is just as fun as the NFL or NBA. Today, most people my age could probably name 20 current players from those two leagues, but may be hard pressed to name 10 current MLB names. I also know that most nights I can turn on an NFL or NBA game when their seasons are going on but have to rely on national broadcasts once a week to watch a baseball game. There’s also the fact that you need a bunch of equipment and people to stage a pickup baseball game. It was easier growing up to grab a football, basketball, or soccer ball and make do with a limited number of friends. Terrible marketing and television deals from baseball’s management are indeed killing the game.
There’s plenty of “older” fans to preserve baseball’s immediate future for the next 10-20 years and probably enough in my age bracket to still keep it around, so the MLB isn’t in danger of “dying” or anything. But the fact is the NFL and NBA have surpassed it and the NHL and MLS are growing in popularity. Baseball is going to end up stuck in the same place it prices itself on: “the national pastime”
I hated typing that. I love baseball and it will always be my favorite sport. The only saving grace this may have is bringing in new management that understands the issues, but seeing the owner’s position, I think we’re stuck with Manfred for the foreseeable future.
Maybe its time to turn a blind eye to steroid use again.
To me, baseball’s future seems a lot like horse racing or boxing. It’s peak popularity remains in the past, but it’s not going anywhere. It might scale down, but it’ll survive for quite a while. Especially given the popularity of the sport in Latin America. Of course it’s very possible that in the future you will have the San Jose A’s, except they are located in San Jose, Costa Rica instead of San Jose, California.
If Venezuela (and a few other countries) ever gets its government under control, I could see that area becoming the spot for baseball.
Boxing and horse racing IS baseball’s future at the current pace.
Those were the two big sports in 1950. Baseball, football, etc. were niche interests in comparison.
Baseball has a 10-15 year window to avoid irrelevance and they are doing nothing to stop it. Quite the opposite.
That’s nonsense, baseball was the top sport.
Yes no drug testing during offseason coming up. Let them juice. MLB come back in 2021 with HR Derby nightly. Judge will be healthy with HGH. Would hit 90 homers.
Unrelated but I’ve always wondered something.
Who replaces the first or third base coach after they are ejected? Is it the bench coach? I looked it up and found nothing.
The utility man, he does everything.
Depends on if they’ve played “Upgrade Your Team”. If before, the interpreter takes over. Make the next question harder, Francis.
No set rule. I have seen the manager take over several times.
dynamite drop in monty
They sometimes draw a random seat number and a fan gets the chance to do it.
If game on ESPN then ARoid will come down and be miked up coaching on the bases.
The league and players association has turned its back on America when we need it the most. I have been a fan for over 50 years my family and I are done with baseball!! I will save my baseball memories to pass along to family to let them know about when baseball was there for us. We are done. Thanks for the memories.
“It’s not personal it’s just business.” ( Don Vito Corleone). I understand this when it comes to owners and players, so I will return when there is baseball ( I even got a new 59fifty Yankee hat). Disrespecting the flag is not about business, but a personal statement by millionaires that I find personally offensive, so I am not returning to the NFL ( 40 years of being a Steelers fan is over, and my next hat will be a 59Fifty Arizona State Sun Devils hat.
dynamite drop in monty
No one cares.
I’m curious, however, if you find it “offensive” when people wear american flag socks or American flag flip flops/bandanas etc …. or is that acceptable as long as those uppity blacks are remembering their place to you?
wild bill tetley
Monty, that’s the funniest thing you’ve ever wrote on here. You truly are a comedic genius.
and yet, you and the whiner didn’t answer the question.
typical for you types.
Tanaka has over 2300 in innings in that arm between both pro leagues. That’s a lot and while the extra rest may help him, he’ll probably get a multiple year offer especially to return home. Money might not as important to Tanaka as compared to others. The Yankees will have to make a decision as he’s the only one likely to return absent Paxton choosing a pillow one year deal given the expected free agent market in the off season for most players.
Old User Name
Pillow contracts are for players who need to reestablish their value. Everyone knows Paxton. He’s a very good to great pitcher who gets injured. A lot. Nothing he can do to change that in one year.
Tanaka is definitely most likely to stay with the Yankees and I hope he does. His post-season stats are outstanding, especially as he slots number three in the rotation.. That is after Severino returns, of course.
Tanka has also been pitching with a partially torn UCL all this time. He’s a TJ surgery waiting to happen. It’s a miracle they’ve made it this far with him. Why would you want them to double down on him? They should let all 3 of them walk. Sign one younger SP in free agency, and trade for another with the glut of position players they have that are about to run out of options.
Old User Name
Tanaka being a TJ surgery waiting to happen is funny. He’s no more likely to need it than anyone else ay this point. He’s proven he can handle NY, is a good veteran presence and wouldn’t cost a lot to resign.
You know you are getting old when the person you clearly remember as a 3 year old bat boy in the World Series is now old enough to go into pro ball. Well, I guess since he is going back to college, I can put off that old feeling for 12 more months.
Everyone is feeling things really hard tonight it seems. Will be funny to link back to this thread in a year or so when baseball is back to normal. Yall are Y2K-ing hard
wild bill tetley
Tampa going with a young pitching prospect gives them 3-5 years to groom and prepare him for the big leagues. Given their recent history of pitching development this could be a good pick.
As for the people up top talking about the game of baseball as we know it, keep in-mind the salaries for players skyrocketed immediately after the strike in 1994. The fans lost, the players won. Is it the end for baseball? No. However this does not help the sport. They are not trending upward.
I dont see very many talented prospects taking the $20k when in a year they could be drafted & sign for more $$.
Baseball will be back at some point but obviously there is a big enough divide between the owners & players on many issues.
Except some will have to wait 3 years if they go to college. I think they can get out of the 3 year deal if they go the JUCO route, but that can be riskier.
Wouldn’t Tommy Mace be returning to Florida for his junior year since baseball players did not lose a year of eligibility?
No offense to Danny Moskos the person, but…
That might have been the worst draft pick in MLB history and stands as the best reminder of what a terribly run franchise the Pirates are and have been for 30 years. (Huntingdon and Nutting is the golden era compared to Littlefield and McClatchy).
A reliever at #4 overall?
Maybe if you had a stacked system with every other position covered, sure. But, they had nothing.
Taking Moskos at #4 meant passing on Matt Wieters who went #5. Passing on Wieters led to them drafting Tony Sanchez at #4 in 2009. According to Eric Longenhagen at FG, if the Pirates hadn’t cut an underslot deal with Sanchez they would have drafted a guy named….Mike Trout.
So, Moskos was already the worst pick ever based on his position and the Pirates’ needs, but throw in the butterfly effect part where it might have legit cost them Mike Trout and….yeah.
Moskos is far from the worst. Take Steve Chilcott. He was taken first overall by the Mets in 1966. The A’s picked next and chose Reggie Jackson. Matt Wieters or Reggie Jackson? That speaks for itself.
Chad Mottola was also a worse draft pick than Daniel Moskos, he was taken 5th overall by the Reds in 1992. Oh yeah, the Yankees picked next and chose Derek Jeter.
Mace is obviously doing the right thing. If you were highly rated (and he was) and have a viable alternative for a year, take it. Right now, baseball is in chaos. Minor leagues are going to see contraction, and the owners are looking at every possible expense to cut. Wait a year, see how things shake out, try to stay healthy, and you will be in a lot better job market.
dynamite drop in monty
I WANT A KEG OF BEER
Baseball is done, the pandemic is not done. Why people think that opening beaches and tattoo parlors and having sports on TV is going to accomplish anything is beyond my pay scale. Figure out what we need to deal with the pandemic and put people to work doing those things. Holy infrastructure Batman! Why aren’t there a ton of projects and jobs on putting America in better shape? Why can’t everyone get tested? Who is running this mess? Good lord.
I was hoping to see the effect of the new strength and conditioning program, and the new pitching coaching staff, but then the pandemic set in.
I like Tanaka and I like how he pitches when it counts, but that elbow is ready to blow. The guy I would gamble on is Paxton, because with the new staff changes, he could be better insulated from injuries. When he’s right, he’s very good.