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MLBits: Top Draft Prospects, Kang May Miss Significant Time, Molina Wants Apology, More

MLB News and Rumors

I’ve been doing some writing over at our sister site, The Ten-Yard Line, which covers the Chicago Bears, and the more I’ve done over there, the more I’ve realized just how much bigger the NFL Draft is compared to MLB’s.

And it’s not just in terms of overall organizational importance. The amount of immediate impact at the top level, the coverage, the mock drafts, the draft prospect scouting – it’s like an entirely different world.

Which, first of all, if that interests you, you need to check out the work Luis has been doing, because it’s been fantastic.

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But second of all, that reminds me: there is an MLB Draft coming up in a couple of months, isn’t there? And unlike last time, the Cubs actually have a pick in the first round (two, sorta!)

  • So to kick off today’s MLB check-in, I want to share with you Baseball America’s top 100 Draft prospects for 2017, and remind you that the Cubs have both the 27th overall pick, as well as the 30th – because Dexter Fowler left for St. Louis. After that, they pick again at 67, rounding out their three top 100 picks – not bad at all. According to Baseball America, the 27th best player in the draft is high school outfielder Garrett Mitchell, so that’s who the Cubs get. I kid, of course, as these things are enormously fluid, subjective, and subject to change. It’s never too early to start checking out this year’s group though, now that the Cubs are actually going to be able to land a player or two that you may have been following in the run-up to the draft.
  • Bad, but not entirely unexpected, news for Pittsburgh, as it looks like Jung Ho Kang will not make it back to the States on time:


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  • In fact, according to multiple reports (including this one from Sports Illustrated), Kang has been denied a visa to work in the United States after his DUI troubles in Korea, and may not make it back for any/all of the 2017 season. That would be a significant loss for the Pirates, who received 6.1 WAR from Kang over the last two years (in only 229 games).
  • If you’re unaware, Adam Jones (of Team USA) made some comments about Puerto Rico’s pre-planned celebration party for the World Baseball Classic championship (which they did not ultimately win), and Yadier Molina wasn’t thrilled about those comments (rightfully, I might add). You can never know everything in these situations, but from my perspective, team Puerto Rico simply made arrangements for a party (and some t-shirts) to celebrate if they won. I … don’t see the harm in that. And given 1) how common that seems to be (at least anecdotally), 2) the fact that it may have genuinely meant a lot more to Puerto Rico than it did to the U.S., and 3) Team Puerto Rico almost single-handedly made that tournament fun … yeah, I’m on Molina’s side (not something I thought I’d ever say!). I don’t think Jones needs to “publicly apologize,” though, because, well, come on. But should Jones have left it alone? Absolutely.
  • Earlier this spring, a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger forced Cy Young winner Max Scherzer to start the year out a little late (and miss the World Baseball Classic). And now, that will push him out of the running for Opening Day. Scherzer still pitch during the first trip through the rotation, but it’s looking like he’ll come in for the third game of the season. He’s started in both of the past two Opening Days for Washington. Other than the couple-game delay, he’s probably fine.

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  • In other injury news, Reds righty Raisel Iglesias hurt his elbow and hip … falling in the shower. It’s not less serious an injury, but it’s certainly one of those frustrating “Seriously, dude?!” things. With that said, as a man who has fallen *out of* the shower while singing along to the radio too vigorously (that’s a true story – I’ll let you guess what I was singing along with), I can empathize. It happens. Iglesias won’t pitch again for a few more days (bone bruise is the official diagnosis), and is a question mark for the Opening Day roster. But, if you couldn’t tell by my levity, it seems he should be just fine after that.

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  • On the more serious injury front, current Giants (and former Brewers) reliever Will Smith will reportedly undergo Tommy John surgery. Although some non-surgery options were available, Smith didn’t want to risk missing the 2017 and 2018 season. Which, aside from the competitive impact that’ll have on the Giants (it’s definitely non-zero, especially for a reliever), we’ve come such a long way medically, haven’t we? Players are now *opting for* TJS as opposed to the alternative, because the success rate is so high. Smith was projected to be worth about a win in 2017.
  • Over the course of the winter, fringe big leaguer Richie Shaffer’s contract was the property of five different teams: Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians. That, of course, is thanks to the insanity associated with being DFA’d. And at Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan uses his case (which is not too uncommon) to express just how “messed up” that entire process can be. Shaffer talks about how one year prior to his original DFA-ing, he was in the future’s game, and how much of a ego-hit that designation can be. “Baseball’s an odd business. The game is pretty simple, but the business is strange,” Shaffer said via Passan. “Once you get DFA’d once, there’s almost this perception that you’re a guy who can be DFA’d. Essentially, the next person who picks you up gets you for nothing, so you’re just as expendable to the next team because they got you free.” Remember, these are people, not just numbers! (Recall, the Cubs had a similar situation going on this offseason with several claims of lefty David Rollins, who eventually cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Iowa.)

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  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan does for the San Diego Padres what every projected-for-last-place-team hopes someone smart like him would do: figure out a potential path to the playoffs. Although their chances of reaching the postseason are ridiculously slim (0.1% as of today), teams have surprised before with similar projections. So using only realistic options, Sullivan tries to see just how it could happen.
  • 16 years ago today, Randy Johnson exploded a bird on live TV with his fastball. And despite all the press it’s gotten over the years, I still don’t think we fully appreciate how absolutely ridiculous it was:

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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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