MLBits: Drafting Is Hard, Montas Flirts with No-No, Guardians Savvy Trades, Judge Chasing Maris, More

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MLBits: Drafting Is Hard, Montas Flirts with No-No, Guardians Savvy Trades, Judge Chasing Maris, More

Chicago Cubs

Happy Friday!

Here’s your friendly reminder that scouting is VERY difficult.

Reevaluating the 2017 MLB Draft Class

MLB Pipeline released a fun read yesterday, in which they ranked each club’s best draft pick that they signed from the 2017 MLB Draft. It was really interesting to see that many weren’t the top selection by the club.

For example, MLB Pipeline went with third-rounder Keegan Thompson as the Cubs’ top selection in 2017 instead of their first-rounder Alex Lange. Lange was a College World Series hero for LSU leading up to that draft and looked at as a sure-fire prospect who would end up in a major league rotation by this time, surely.

Instead, Lange was traded to the Tigers by the Cubs in the Nick Castellanos trade. Lange has 65 relief appearances for the Tigers in the past two seasons. While his 3.18 ERA over that span is good, he’s failed to come close to meeting expectations on draft day.

This exercise is a friendly reminder of a couple of things. First, it’s tough to scout. Second, it takes a long time to evaluate a draft class honestly. We’re five years removed from this draft class and just now starting to have a clear picture of who the real winners and losers were.

Sure, you’ll have some can’t-miss blue-chippers, but the rest is a crapshoot. Only one player taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft has made an All-Star appearance (Taylor Rodgers). The top pick that year, Royce Lewis, just made his major league debut this season and is now sidelined with a torn ACL. Five years after being the top pick in the MLB Draft, Lewis has 41 big league plate appearances and won’t step foot on a field until late 2023 or Opening Day 2024.

Anyways, here’s the full story:

Frankie Montas Flirts With a No-Hitter

Frankie Montas took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, allowing his first base hit to Adam Fraizer with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. All in all, Montas tossed eight scoreless innings allowing two hits while striking out eight and walking a pair.

After being held hitless through seven and two-thirds the M’s broke through in the ninth inning with a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead over the A’s, and in not-so-ironic Oakland fashion, Oakland lost the game despite the stellar performance from Montas.

Montas’ performance and the A’s still losing the game rehash the fact that Montas will almost undoubtedly be traded before the August 2 trade deadline. Montas is working on a decent campaign despite a 3-7 record, posting a 3.21 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP to go along with 9.3 K/9 in 15 starts for the lowly Athletics.

Who Montas will be dealt to remains less of a certainty than the looming trade itself, but either way, he’s only be throwing for the A’s for a little more than another month.

Guardians Savvy Front Office Behind Surprising Season

Ken Rosenthal reveals that the White Sox nearly landed Mike Clevinger from the Guardians. Rosenthal’s sources say that the Guardians considered trading Clevinger to their division rivals for Dane Dunning and Nick Madrigal but preferred the package that San Diego offered in the end.

That worked out pretty well for Cleveland. Josh Naylor (141 OPS+), Owen Miller (103 OPS+), Cal Quantrill (103 ERA+), and Austin Hedges are all playing everyday roles for the Guardians, who have won seven consecutive series and have emerged as a legitimate threat in the AL Central with one of the youngest rosters in baseball.

Meanwhile, Clevinger missed the 2020 playoffs for San Diego with a sprained elbow, then missed the entire 2021 season after offseason Tommy John surgery. Clevinger has had multiple stints on the IL in 2022 and owns a 3.52 ERA in just five starts this season for the Padres.

Cleveland is the early winner in that deal. They’ve also done well in the Francisco Lindor deal with the Mets. Andrés Giménez is outperforming Lindor this season, and Ahmed Rosario is holding his weight by hitting near league average and contributing to Cleveland’s success this season.

So, as the trade deadline looms and an attractive target like Shane Bieber remains on Cleveland’s roster, Ken Rosenthal (rightfully) cautions other teams about trading with Cleveland president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff this summer.

Odds and Ends …

  • Aaron Judge has 27 home runs and it’s only June 24. Can Judge make his way into the Yankees history books by chasing down Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961?
  • Judge didn’t go yard last night, but he did drill a walk-off single to help the Yankees top the Houston Astros in an AL Postseason preview:
  • Meanwhile, Aaron Judge and the Yankees have settled on a salary for this season, his final under contract in New York. For more on the slugger’s impending free agency – including why he would NOT sign with the Cubs – check out the latest right here.
  • Dansby Swanson finished his Wednesday with a home run and picked up where he left off on Thursday with two more home runs in his first two at-bats against the San Francisco Giants. Swanson was 3-for-4 with two homers and a single, and his slash line in June is at .354/.424/.561 with four home runs and a 174 wRC+. The Braves topped the Giants on Thursday afternoon and moved to a sizzling 18-3 in June.
  • Oneil Cruz is out here DOING THINGS! The flavor of the week? Maybe. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Plenty of fun discussion in Jayson Stark’s latest Weird & Wild column over at The Athletic:
  • Baltimore’s outfield defense was a black hole of doom last night for the White Sox. Austin Hays (one night after his six-inning cycle) made one of the best catches of the year, and Cedric Mullins looked like a track star on multiple occasions running down deep drives into the outfield. I’m not sure yet whether this outfield is the greatest thing ever or I’m just used to watching first baseman and Eloy Jiménez cover two-thirds of the Sox outfield. The O’s are in town all weekend, so I’ll get back to you.
  • I can’t even imagine Framer Valdez’s frustration after Anthony Rizzo fouled off 11 pitches to force a 16-pitch walk last night.
  • Rizzo’s 16-pitch walk was the longest plate appearance by a Yankees hitter since pitch counts began being tracked in 1988!

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.