Here’s a look at the latest draft signings from around the game. Unless otherwise specified, the news comes courtesy of Jim Callis of MLB.com…
The Mariners wrapped up their 2020 draft signings by inking right-hander Connor Phillips on Monday, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Phillips, the 64th pick, signed for full slot value of $1,050,300. The Mariners acquired the selection they used on Phillips from the Brewers during the offseason in a trade centering on catcher Omar Narvaez. Phillips, previously with McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, entered the draft as MLB.com’s 94th-ranked prospect available. The 19-year-old is capable of reaching the high 90s with his fastball, though he’ll need to improve his offspeed offerings to realize his potential, per MLB.com.
The Pirates have signed fourth-round righty Jack Hartman for $60K (Twitter link). That sums checks in well below the $538,200 value of Hartman’s selection, No. 108. The ex-Appalachian State hurler pumps high-90s heat, possesses a high-spin curveball and is on track to be a reliever in the majors, Callis writes.
Brewers fifth-rounder Hayden Cantrelle has agreed to a bonus worth $300K (Twitter link). Cantrelle’s pick, No. 151, carried a recommended value of $353,700. The former Louisiana-Lafayette shortstop’s stock dropped in an abbreviated final season in college, in which the switch-hitter batted .136/.320/.237 in 17 games, but Baseball America still rated him as the draft’s 138th-best prospect.
The Diamondbacks have secured fifth-round righty Brandon Pfaadt for $100K, easily below the $360,800 slot value of the 149th choice (on Twitter). Pfaadt posted a 4.09 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 92 1/3 innings at Bellarmine University from 2018-20.
7:44pm: Hughes’ contract is worth a prorated $700K (about $260K over a 60-game season), DiComo tweets.
7:05pm: The Mets have signed reliever Jared Hughes to a major league contract, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com was among those to report. Financial details of the deal aren’t yet known, but Hughes will join the Mets’ 60-man player pool. The right-hander is a client of ISE Baseball.
Hughes, who will turn 35 on July 4, was most recently with the Astros, but he opted out of his minor league contract with them in March. He divided 2019 between the Reds and Phillies, with whom he combined for a 4.04 ERA/5.29 FIP with 6.81 K/9, 3.41 BB/9 and a bloated home run-to-fly ball percentage of 28.9 across 71 1/3 frames.
Last season was the first time Hughes was victimized by the home run ball over a large sample of work. He has long been adept at inducing ground balls, having done so at a 61.5 percent clip during a 519-inning major league career that has also included runs with the Pirates and Brewers. Hughes’ ability to keep the ball out of the air has led to a 13.9 percent HR-to-FB rate and a quality 2.88 ERA, despite an underwhelming K/9 of 6.07.
While Hughes has never flashed the most exciting skill set, he looks like a worthwhile flyer for the Mets, who are banking on a better performance from a bullpen that was a major disappointment in 2019. Along with Hughes, they’ve since added Dellin Betances and Brad Brach to the unit.
In the first trade since MLB’s transaction freeze has lifted, the Padres are set to acquire infield prospect Jorge Mateo from the A’s, Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN report (Twitter link). Oakland will receive a player to be named later in return. San Diego has announced the trade.
Long regarded as one of baseball’s more promising prospects due in no small part to his 80-grade speed, Mateo has yet to debut in the Majors. The 25-year-old was a central piece in the trade that sent right-hander Sonny Gray from Oakland to New York, but he hasn’t been afforded a chance in the Majors with either the Yankees or the A’s. He has, however, been on the 40-man roster of both clubs long enough to have exhausted all of his minor league options. In other words, he’ll have to make the Padres’ Opening Day roster or else be designated for assignment.
Mateo was one of several players in the mix for playing time at second base in Oakland, vying with Franklin Barreto, Tony Kemp and Rule 5 pick Vimael Machin for that role. Now in San Diego, he’ll once again be looking up at Jurickson Profar — a former ballyhooed prospect himself — and hoping to find his way into the mix for at-bats. Mateo does have a bit of center field experience as well, having logged 247 innings there back in 2017.
It’s easy to see why Mateo was so well-regarded back in 2015-16. He split the 2015 campaign between Class-A and Class-A Advanced at just 20 years of age and slashed a combined .278/.345/.392. He only homered twice, but Mateo added 23 doubles, 11 triples and an unheard-of-in-today’s-game 82 stolen bases in just 117 games. His stock dipped a bit with a mediocre showing in 2016, but 2017 saw Mateo bounce back with a .267/.322/.459 slash and 52 steals. A shortstop with that type of output piqued the Athletics’ interest, and the A’s sent Gray to the Bronx in exchange for Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian in a trade that now hasn’t really panned out for anyone involved.
Mateo’s numbers cratered in 2018, and while last year’s .289/.330/.504 slash in Triple-A were a nice rebound, the bounceback effort wasn’t quite as strong as it’d appear on the surface. That slash line translated to just a 96 wRC+ in the supercharged offensive environment in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (where Mateo’s home park in Las Vegas is particularly hitter-friendly).
Click here to read a transcript of Tuesday’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.
4:00pm: Minor League Baseball has formally announced the cancellation of its 2020 season.
12:15pm: The 2020 minor-league season will be canceled, according to a report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper and Josh Norris. While widely expected, the news comes as a major blow to the minor-league teams and many young players who were hopeful of continuing to chase after a coveted MLB roster spot.
This was already shaping up to be a rough campaign for the minors long before the coronavirus was on anyone’s radar. As 2019 came to a close, a tense and rather high-profile battle was already underway regarding MLB’s plans for cutting down on the number of minor-league affiliates.
Minor League Baseball’s effort to defend its member teams was greatly imperiled by the global pandemic. Public attention, for good reason, has been elsewhere. And minor-league teams have experienced a more-or-less complete halt to revenue.
A resumption of play might have helped. There were times when it seemed plausible, but any hope dissipated over recent weeks. Even as MLB and its players haggled over the terms for a big league resumption, a ramp-up of virus transmission in many parts of the United States served to increase the already great logistical challenges to a MiLB season.
We’ll see how the broader picture turns out. For now, it’s a rough situation for minors clubs that rely entirely upon in-person gameday revenue (and advertising associated with anticipated spectatorship).
The situation is obviously also detrimental to the players that are now sitting at home without a clear path to playing baseball in 2020. Some limited number of prospects — generally, those with clear paths to the majors — have been invited to participate in MLB summer camps and ongoing training. But those that weren’t named to 60-man player pools will have to get creative.
There is a potential indie ball outlet, but that’s not likely to provide many opportunities. The Baseball America team has reported that some players are participating in local amateur leagues, though the level of competition will obviously not be up to the typical standard.Fortunately, most MLB teams are committing at least to paying $400 weekly stipends to the minor-leaguers that are left in limbo. That’s a help, but hardly a full solution for those players that were not already cut loose from their organizations.
June 30: Meyer is taking his physical for the Marlins today and will receive a signing bonus of “about” $6.7MM, Heyman tweets.
June 10: It hasn’t been long since the Marlins made University of Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer the third overall pick in the draft on Wednesday, but the two sides have already reached an agreement, pending a physical, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets. He’ll earn a bit less than the $7,221,200 slot value of his selection, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
The 21-year-old Meyer was a member of the Golden Gophers from 2018-20, when he combined for a sterling 2.13 ERA with 11.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 148 innings. Meyer carries a 99 mph fastball and a devastating slider, according to Keith Law of The Athletic, who contends he’s possibly “the most major-league ready player in the draft” (subscription link). Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik agrees, having said (via Frisaro) that Meyer is “just about” ready for the majors.
Meyer is now the latest high-end pitching prospect in the Marlins’ system. Before the team selected Meyer, it already boasted fellow righty Sixto Sanchez, a 21-year-old who ranks as MLB.com’s 22nd-best farmhand.
The Tigers have agreed to terms with top overall draft choice Spencer Torkelson, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). He’s set to receive a hefty$8,416,300 bonus.
While he only topped the 1-1 draft slot allocation by a nominal amount ($1K), it’s still quite a notable number. Per Callis, this is the biggest draft bonus ever given. It’s also the first time a first overall pick has reached the full slot value since the current draft system (with prohibitive penalties for excessive spending) went into effect.
Torkelson entered the draft as the consensus top overall talent, so it came as no surprise when he went first overall. The Tigers have enjoyed quite a lot of good years from Miguel Cabrera, who may overlap in Detroit if Torkelson moves as quickly as many expect.
Over his three seasons at Arizona State, Torkelson carried a prodigious .337/.463/.729 batting line. He not only launched 54 home runs over his 628 trips to the plate, but walked more often than he struck out. As you might expect, Torkelson was more dominant than ever during the truncated 2020 season, solidifying his position as the top available player.
The greatest bit of intrigue on draft day came not with the calling of Torkelson’s name, but the Tigers’ announcement that they viewed him as a third baseman. Most anticipate the big slugger will end up at first base by the time he arrives in Motown. But the Tigers will at least give him a shot at settling in at the hot corner, where his monster bat could have even greater value.
Torkelson’s polish is all the more impressive given that he still hasn’t reached his 21st birthday. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how swiftly he forces his way up the farm system. No doubt the Tigers are hopeful that Torkelson will catch up to the many intriguing power pitchers already lining up for MLB opportunities.
Photo courtesy of Arizona State University Athletic Department.
The Padres and third-rounder Cole Wilcox are in agreement on a $3.3MM signing bonus, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (on Twitter). With the deal, Wilcox, a right-hander out of the University of Georgia, receives a record bonus for a third-round pick and absolutely shatters his slot value of $767,800.
Entering the draft, Wilcox was widely regarded as a potential first-round talent, but as a draft-eligible sophomore, he had some leverage working in his favor. Concerns over signability might’ve caused some clubs to pass, and the fact that Wilcox’s eventual bonus aligns closely with what would’ve been Top 20 slot money illustrates the difficulties other teams may have had in hammering out a deal. The Padres signed top pick Robert Hassell III nearly $900K under-slot, though, and they also “saved” $450K on third-rounder Owen Caissie and fourth-rounder Levi Weaver alike.
Wilcox, 20, ranked inside the draft’s 25 best prospects in the opinion of The Athletic’s Keith Law (No. 14), FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (No. 18), ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (No. 23) and the team at MLB.com (No. 23) and Baseball America (No. 24). Wilcox’s fastball reached 100 mph in a bullpen role and sat mid- to upper-90s as a starter, Law notes. He also has the makings of a pair of above-average offspeed pitches, with his slider ahead of his changeup by most counts (although Callis & Co. believe the opposite to be the case in their report).
As with any pitching prospect, there are some red flags — notably Wilcox’s at-times spotty command — but his 6’5″, 232-pound frame and arsenal of power offerings are enough for Padres fans to dream on as the organization adds yet another high-end talent to its minor league ranks.
The Angels are adding left-hander Reid Detmers, the tenth overall pick in last month’s draft, to their 60-man player pool, general manager Billy Eppler told reporters today (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger). That brings their player pool up to a total of 56.
Detmers, 20, was regarded as one of the most polished arms in this year’s draft class and is considered by many to be a potentially fast mover. He boasted a ridiculous 215-to-39 K/BB ratio in 135 1/3 innings with Louisville from 2019-20 and is lauded for plus command that’s well ahead of most of his draft peers. Detmers doesn’t have the power fastball and arsenal of plus secondary pitches to be considered a future ace, but most scouting reports tab him as a strong bet to be a mid-rotation arm. Detmers’ curveball, in particular, is a formidable offering that FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen called “arguably the best pitch in the entire draft.”
Obviously, Detmers being added to the Angels’ pool doesn’t mean that he’ll jump right into the big leagues. Most teams are including their most promising prospects on their 60-player pools in order to afford them some developmental opportunities at alternate camp sites. Players not on the active Major League roster will continue to train together and participate in simulated games with instruction from club personnel and minor league coaches, so it’s understandable that the Angels want Detmers to have that benefit.
Still, given the polished nature of his arm and the seemingly perennial injuries that plague the Angels pitching staff, it’s hard not to wonder whether Detmers could skyrocket to the big leagues and debut just months after being drafted.
After months of uncertainty surrounding the status of Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, general manager Brian Cashman said on a conference call today that the team is optimistic he’ll be ready for the rescheduled Opening Day (Twitterlinks via The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler). The Yankees are also optimistic that Giancarlo Stanton will be ready to open the year in the DH slot. LeftyJames Paxton is expected to be ready to go as well, and it’s possible that center fielder Aaron Hicks could be game-ready come Opening Day as well.
Judges entire injury saga has been bizarrely vague, but it seems an end is at last in sight. It took the club several weeks early in camp to diagnose a stress fracture in his rib, and only two weeks later did the team reveal that Judge was also found to have a collapsed lung. Near the end of March, Boone revealed that Judges injuries may have dated all the way back to last September. Even throughout the shutdown, updates on Judge lacked specific timelines and frequently pointed to additional imaging as the next step.
Stanton sustained a calf injury back in Spring Training, and Cashman indicated today that he’s quite specifically referencing a DH-only role with regard to the former NL MVP’s Opening Day readiness. The YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets that the club wants to evaluate Stanton in camp before making any declaration about his ability to play in the outfield.
Paxton is more than four months removed from back surgery and could be game-ready right now, according to Cashman. There’s a bit less certainty regarding Hicks, who is eight months out from last year’s Tommy John surgery. Hicks has already proclaimed himself ready to go for the season opener, though the organization is understandably taking a bit more reserved approach and will use “Summer Camp” (as the league has now termed it) to make its own evaluation.