What does signing early get you? On the fast track to the big leagues. Just ask the number three pick of this June’s MLB draft.
Trevor Bauer, the quirky right-hander from UCLA and the Golden Spikes Award winner, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the third overall pick. He signed on Monday July 25th and the Diamondbacks brass didn’t rule out Bauer reaching the big leagues in September. They also didn’t rule out him competing for a spot in the rotation during spring training.
“Bauer signed a four-year major-league deal guaranteeing him $4.45 million with a signing bonus of $3.4 million. If he were to begin next season in the big leagues and stay there through the end of the contract he would earn about $7 million.”
Bauer with the Golden Spikes Award trophy
Bauer began his professional career in Visalia in the High-A California League on July 30th (four days after signing his contract). He made three starts there, totaling nine innings. He allowed seven hits and three runs while walking four and striking out 17. He moved up to Double-A Mobile, where he started on August 14th. In that start, he allowed five hits and no runs over five innings. He walked one while striking out eight.
The Diamondbacks are currently in first place in the National League West and with the loss of veteran Jason Marquis (broken leg), Bauer may be pitching in some meaningful games down the stretch.
Another quick signing was in 2009. Drew Storen, the tenth overall pick out of Stanford, signed the very next day and was in the big leagues less than a year after signing with the Washington Nationals. He is also currently their closer (with 31 saves).
Most of the players who have their agents haggle to the very last second, don’t make their professional debuts until the Arizona Fall League or the following season’s spring training. Ask any of the guys who signed way before the deadline, and they will say that they had an advantage over the others who waited because they got the newness and adjustments of pro ball out of the way early. They also had a chance to get to know their organization and their teammates.
Tonight until midnight will be busy with over 20 of the first 33 picks from this June’s MLB draft still not signed. Midnight is the deadline and we will know tomorrow who will be joining the professional ranks and who may be headed off to college or Indy ball.
If you watched any of the NCAA Baseball Tournament or College World Series this year, you probably saw Kenny Swab manning centerfield for the Virginia Cavaliers. Swab is a normal catcher, but was athletic enough to move to center so that Virginia could maximize their offense (John Hicks caught most games down the stretch).
Swab was drafted by the KC Royals in the 21st round in this June’s draft. He was drafted as a catcher. After spending the second-half of his spring in the outfield for Virginia, Swab signed not long after the Cavaliers’ exit from the CWS. He has transitioned back behind the plate in the Appalachian League for the Burlington Royals. When he isn’t catching, he serves as the DH (or gets the night off). He has just three errors so far during his first professional season.
Burlington has played 50 games so far this season and unfortunately are in last place in the East Division of the Appy League (19-31). Swab has played in 23 of Burlington’s 50 games. He is hitting .241 with three doubles, one homerun, seven runs scored, and 12 RBIs.
In his last ten games, Swab is hitting .333 with ten RBIs (so he seems to be heating up). Over his last five games (so far in August), he is hitting .444 with eight RBIs. He hit his first professional homerun on Thursday August 11th.
Swab has also proven to be a clutch hitter in his early professional career. He is hitting just .190 with the bases empty. However put a few baserunners on, he goes crazy. Swab is hitting .297 with runners on base and .370 with runners in scoring position.
The Royals have just promoted their catcher of the future, Salvador Perez, to the big leagues in the past few days. Swab could be his platoon partner in the big leagues in the next few years.
McCormick Field at dusk. You probably can't see it, but one of the ads for a nearby radiology clinic says "Umps' heads examined free." (Photo credit: Megan Wells)
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending an Asheville Tourists game at McCormick Field in Asheville, North Carolina.Â The game was the second of a double-header with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Marlins’ class A affiliate (the Tourists are a Rockies farm team). Â The Tourists took the first game, but the Grasshoppers were able to rally for a 5-3 victory to split the double-header.
Gary Brown during his CSU Fullerton Titan days. (Photo by Matt Brown)
Gary Brown is a speedy man. He has stolen 39 bases so far this year and has only been caught 14 times. One of the things that immediately stood out at draft time was his incredible speed. It’s not an uncommon thing to go to a San Jose Giants game to see the outfielder run, whether it be to make a catch or heading for home on the base paths. He’s sure to make an impression on you using his speed.
Though, that’s not to deter from his hitting abilities. He is currently batting .317 with the OBP/SLG/OPS slash line of .386/.466/.853. Not too shabby at all there.
On the season, Brown has hit 24 doubles, 6 triples, and 8 home runs. Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook describes him as “an above-average hitter, though he has some lower-body movement in his swing that could hamper him.” I would imagine that he could be a decent leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to make contact.
On the non baseball end of the spectrum, fans get to see a side of Brown through the magic of social networking.
As part of the increasingly popular pastime among Giants minor leaguers, Brown is on Twitter for fans to follow. His tweets are often absurd and irreverent, as is the pictures he posts from his phone. There is also his hilariously entertaining love for Taylor Swift, which has come to much talk among the minor leaguers.
He also displays his skills as an infomercial salesman, having advertised FAST in a can while a student at CSU Fullerton. Seeing as he is quite the speedy guy, it only makes sense that he would be the salesman for this product.
Already making a name for himself in High-A, fans have much to look forward to as he climbs the ranks.
Baseball America did a piece on draft day memories of past draft picks a few weeks prior to this Juneâ€™s MLB Draft. That gave me the idea to write a little piece of my own.
Sam LeCure of the Cincinnati Reds (through Paul Kuo, Director of Public Relations, Beverly Hills Sports Council) was kind enough to provide his memories. He was rehabbing with the Louisville Bats (the Reds Triple-A affiliate), but was activated by the Reds as I was writing this post.
Via RedLegs Baseball Blog
LeCure was one of the countryâ€™s top starting pitchers in 2004 as a sophomore at the University of Texas (9-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 23 starts). He was named a second-team All-American that season and pitched in the College World Series. After being ruled academically ineligible for the 2005 season, LeCure had to wait out the draft.
â€œHaving been ineligible my junior year, there was a lot of questions surrounding my status. My advisor at the time, Dan Horwits, felt confident that I would be selected in the top 5 rounds. Being unfamiliar with the goings on of the draft, I had no clue, so I trusted his judgment, and was taking the necessary steps academically to make sure Iâ€™d be eligible to pitch the following year.â€
Since he wasnâ€™t able to pitch for Texas during his junior year, LeCure was pitching in the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate league, at the time of the draft.
â€œAt the time of the draft, I was pitching in the Northwoods League for a team in Brainerd, MN, so I could have some competitive innings under my belt prior to the draft. I was actually playing golf with some teammates there when I got the call.â€
Today, the first round of the MLB Draft is televised live on MLB Network, with the rest of the rounds broadcast live on MLB.com. Back in 2005, it was done via a conference call. â€œA member of my agency texted me to let me know where Iâ€™d been chosen and by whom,â€ Sam said.
LeCure was drafted in the 4th round by the Cincinnati Reds. So how did Sam celebrate? â€œI â€˜celebratedâ€™ by calling my family and my girlfriend at the time. The next day, I drove to St. Louis and flew to Florida to be there for my sisterâ€™s wedding. So it worked out nicely that I was able to spend that time with all of the people that were important to me.â€
For some, the decision-making process (to stay in school or to sign a professional contract) can be a complicated process. For Sam, it was an easy decision.
â€œThe decision process was fairly easy for me because regardless of the money involved, I knew that baseball was my dream and I wanted to pursue that as soon as I could. Financially, I probably could have returned to school and played another year, and if I continued the success that I had enjoyed in prior years, would likely have been drafted in a higher round. At the end of the day it came down to me wanting to play, and I obviously wasnâ€™t the greatest student, so I though it would be in my best interest to get my career underway, which in hindsight, was the right decision, much like we (my support group) felt at the time of the draft.â€
To me, it seems like the right decision as you can find Sam LeCure relieving (or maybe even starting) for the Cincinnati Reds.
*You can find Sam on Twitter @mrLeCure. He’s a great follow and very fan-friendly!
Are we ready, folks? This is the event we’ve been waiting for!
As each draft pick is named, I’m going to add them to a running list here on the site. The most recent picks are going to be at the top, just to make sure you don’t miss any! The draft itself is starting at 7 pm EST, so it’s going to be a nice, long night here at Stardom in Infancy!
Since we’re going to be sitting around a lot, at the very least we can keep in shape with my favorite public television exercise program for old people.
Feel free to comment as this goes on! Share with us! We’d love to hear your insights about the draft!
Matt Purke, a sophomore left-hander from TCU, was a first round draft pick in 2009 by the Texas Rangers out of high school. The Rangers financial problems caused MLB to veto Purkeâ€™s contract, so Purke moved on to TCU.
That decision has been fruitful so far for the lefty. In his freshman season, Purke went 16-0 in helping the Horned Frogs reach their first ever College World Series in Omaha (he made the All-Tournament Team). He threw 116.1 innings while striking out 142 batters. He earned Baseball America Freshman of the Year honors.
Purke went into his sophomore season expected to battle UCLAâ€™s Gerrit Cole and Riceâ€™s Anthony Rendon for the first overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the draft. Instead, injuries have shortened his season and dropped him on many draft boards. He battled a blister early in the season and went down with bursitis in his left shoulder on April 16th. However his numbers were still stellar: 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts.
Now heâ€™s back. Purke returned to TCUâ€™s rotation on Thursday May 19th in the Horned Frogs final regular season series against Mountain West foe New Mexico. Purke allowed just one hit over three innings while striking out four. He threw 42 pitches. Purke again faced New Mexico in the MWC tournament and allowed just one run on four hits over four innings. He walked two while striking out four in the Horned Frogs eventual loss. He threw 78 pitches.
With TCU hosting a regional beginning Friday night as they face Oral Roberts, it will be the final chance for Purke to impress the scouts and move right back up the draft boards. Purke does have leverage, as he is just a sophomore and could just as easily return to TCU for his junior season and possibly be the number one pick in 2012.
*Check out the video from TCU of Purke and see the goggled, hat cocked to the side lefty who likes to listen to Ke$ha.
University of Virginia left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen has quickly moved up MLB draft boards over the last month. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who own the number one pick, have had scouts at his last few outings (though insist they have two other collegians in mind). Keith Law of ESPN now has the Pirates selecting him number one. This may surprise some. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is the best collegiate hitter, but many are beginning to seriously question his health. UCLAâ€™s Gerritt Cole is considered to be the best collegiate pitcher, but many question why Cole hasnâ€™t dominated college hitters. With the other college players struggling, Hultzen has dominated.
He has focused more solely on pitching in his junior season more so than any other year. Hultzen is a two-way player, though he has just 95 at-bats this season. He is hitting .337 with 29 RBIs and just nine strikeouts (to 15 walks). Hultzen has yet to make an error this season. He is just an all-around athlete.
Heading into his start on Friday night against North Carolina, Hultzen is 9-2 with a 1.42 ERA. In 82.2 innings (12 starts), he has struck out 121 to just 13 walks. He has also only allowed 2 homeruns. Opponents are hitting a paltry .191 against him.
He throws a four-seam fastball (91-93 mph), a slider (which is considered a tick above major league average), a changeup, and a curveball. He will throw any pitch in any count and commands both sides of the strike zone. Hultzen could move quickly through the minor league ranks for whatever team drafts him, especially with him focusing just on pitching.
Hultzen may not be the splashy pick, but he may be the safe pick for the Pirates. He has a good head on his shoulders and is smart (he’s an Academic All-American). Some say that Hultzen will fit in nicely with the Baltimore Orioles and fellow lefties Brian Matusz and Zach Britton. The Oâ€™s hold the fifth pick. Others have the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected Hultzen out of high school, picking him with the third pick.
There is no consensus number one pick, or top 5 (or even top 10) pick this year, so it will be interesting to see who hears his name first on June 6th. Also, Virginia is ranked number one by Baseball America, so keep an eye out for him. He may be pitching in Omaha during the College World Series.
Many have trouble separating the myth from fact when it comes to high schooler Bubba Starling. Does he regularly hit homeruns off light posts? Some think some of his homeruns STILL havenâ€™t landed. Some say he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Others say he can throw a football 50 yards from his knees.
His high school baseball coach believes the legend and the reality are the same. His mother doesnâ€™t understand why people talk about her son as if he was a god.
Many travel to watch the 6 foot 5, 193 pound senior in high school take batting practice, especially now with the MLB draft less than a month away. Heâ€™s a five-tool centerfielder and some scouts consider him to be the best three-sport athlete since Dave Winfield. With some of the college talent possibly sliding in the draft due to injury (Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke) or inconsistency (Gerritt Cole), Starling has moved up many draft boards.
Starling has signed on to play quarterback at the University of Nebraska and he plans to also play baseball (he also played basketball in high school). His advisor is Scott Boras. These commitments may be the huge turnoffs for some big league clubs.
Will a team dangle enough money in front of him? Well, his parents want him to go to college because he is naÃ¯ve and wonâ€™t be forced to grow up overnight. Starling also has NEVER failed.
â€œthereâ€™s not a lot of guys that run as fast as him and have that power potential.â€
Starlingâ€™s father is out of work and thatâ€™s a reason why Nebraska seems so good. Itâ€™s a guaranteed free college education and an expense the family wonâ€™t have to worry about. The baseball payday may come, but who knows? Starling himself admits that Nebraska sounds good at the moment. However he has always dreamed of playing for the KC Royals. Right now, Nebraska is winning the race over baseball, but the draft hasnâ€™t begun. Everything is just speculation.
With a new CBA expected during the winter that may cap draft pick bonuses, ALL high picks will most likely aim high when asking for bonuses. Starling is no different, and he can afford to with a free college education to fall back on. Rumors are that his signing bonus could be between $5 million and $6 million.
The KC Royals are the most logical destination for Starling in this Juneâ€™s draft. 1. Heâ€™s a local kid and it would be a great PR move for the Royals. 2. Theyâ€™ve dealt with Boras before (Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow, Eric Hosmer, and Christian Colon). 3. They need a prospect with power potential. 4. They have the #5 pick and the consensus is he will go there (unless a team higher decides to gamble on Starling).
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