Sports Outside the Beltway

Sonnanstine Showed Flashes of Brilliance

I watched the game last night between the Rays and Jays (albeit on TiVo at 1:30am) and Devil Rays rookie Andy Sonnanstine looked a lot better than the 6 runs he gave up on 8 hits in 7 innings in his major league debut.

First off, it is very rare to give up 6 runs on 8 base runners (actually 7 because Lind was caught stealing). Three of those runs were on a 3-run homer by Lind too. Sonnanstine threw ten of his first 11 pitches for strikes and he had 4 strikeouts through the first 3 innings. He also gave the Rays their third straight start of at least seven innings. He didn’t walk a single batter while striking out 5. He threw only 90 pitches and 67 of them were strikes.

Sonnanstine threw from about 3-4 different arm alots. He does need to keep the ball down more to be successful. He may not over power you but he throws so many pitches, he’ll throw them in any count, and from different arm slots. Ask Alex Rios who struck out in both of his first two at-bats on 3 pitches each!

I like what the Rays are doing by giving the kids a chance to join th rotation. The rotation of Kazmir, Shields, Howell, Sonnanstine, and Jackson looks good. It could use another name change but that might have to wait. Anyway, look for Sonnanstine to build off of his performance and be a very good major league pitcher.


Jays Place Overbay on DL, Call Up Prospect Thigpen

TORONTO — The Blue Jays put first baseman Lyle Overbay on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken right hand Tuesday and recalled catcher Curtis Thigpen from Triple-A Syracuse.

Thigpen is one of Toronto’s top prospects and is athletic enough to make the Blue Jays consider moving him to the infield. He played four games at second base earlier this season.

In 44 games at Syracuse, he hit .299 with three homers and 16 RBIs.

Overbay is expected to miss four to six weeks. He was injured in Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox when he was hit by a pitch from John Danks.

Overbay was just beginning to come out of an early-season funk when he was hurt. In 55 games, he was hitting .256 with eight homers and 27 RBIs.

Pitcher John Thomson was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Thigpen on the 40-man roster. – The Associated Press

This is a pretty big blow for the Blue Jays but did they really have a shot this year? Let me get to my point.

Curtis Thigpen is a great athlete. Like the article said, he plays catcher mainly but is athletic enough to appear in 4 games at 2B. At 5’11 and 190 he’s not your typical catcher but he is the Jays catcher of the future.

In my opinion, the Jays should not play Thigpen at 1B in Lyle Overbay’s absence. Thigpen just turned 24 and needs to stay at catcher and harness his abilities behind the plate. He also doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman’s build and power.

Thigpen has only 25 career homers in 1096 at-bats in the minors but he has 65 doubles and 9 triples. He is more of a gap hitter. He does have the ability to develop more power and could be a 10-15 homer guy annually. He has a great knowledge of the strike zone with a BB/K ratio of 157/176 in his minor league career and a .374 on-base percentage.

If the Jays are serious about his development they should either leave him in AAA at catcher or let him catch for the big league club now.


A-Rod vs. The Prince: Who will Reign Supreme?

They play in separate leagues. They play across the baseball diamond from each other. They bat from different sides of the plate. One plays for a first place club, the other for a last place club. One makes $415K while the other is raking in over $27.7M and is possibly playing for a bigger contract. But the one thing they have in common is that they are both mashing like no other in the league. With 20 homers apiece, I present you with the case of:

Alex Rodriguez vs. Prince Fielder

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is having a huge offensive season. He is tearing up American League pitching to the tune of .292/.390/.636 with an OPS of 1.027 in 209 at-bats over 55 games. That includes 47 RBI and 49 runs on 20 homers and 12 doubles with a BB/K ratio of 28/47 and 6 stolen bases. Most of his stats come from one month, April, in which he tied the home run record with 14, hit .355/.415/.882 with an OPS of 1.297, and drove in 34 runs. His May wasn’t as glamorous: .235/.361/.422 with an OPS of .782 and 5 homers and 11 RBI. But he is turning it around in June. So far in 4 games he is .286/.444/.571 with an OPS of 1.016, one homer, 2 RBI, 4 runs, and 3 walks.

Milwaukee Brewers 1B Prince Fielder isn’t doing too shabby either. Much like A-Rod, Fielder had a killer month that counts for a lot of his stats. Fielder tore it up in May with a line of .321/.397/.755 and an OPS of 1.151 to go with his 13 homers and 28 RBI. His June is going well so far with a homer and a 5/0 BB/K ratio in 4 games. His 2007 numbers look like this: .294/.381/.633 with an OPS of 1.014 in 218 at-bats over 58 games. That includes 45 RBI and 37 runs on 20 homers and 14 doubles with a BB/K ratio of 27/44 but is 0 for 2 in the stolen base department.

When it’s all said and done they could both end up leading their respective leagues in homers. But only one, for now, is playing for a winning team. Who will reign supreme? Come October you will find out.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


Fantasy Report 6/2

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There are some new firemen in town. That’s right, there are some teams that have shook things up with the benching and promotion of relievers and a trade that has allowed a veteran his first shot at closing.


Rays Have Choices with 1st Overall Pick

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*Live from ESPN the 2007 MLB Draft*

“With the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select…

Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said they have narrowd their pick down to three finalists: Vanderbilt lefty David Price, Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters, and California high school third baseman Josh Vitters. “I’ve gone and had lunch or dinner with all three of them and the area scouts that are involved, and that’s where we’re at in the process,” Harrison said.

The Rays also aren’t worried about drafting someone who has to be on the “fast track”.

“I think that when you start talking about any of these amateur players being close or immediate help, I think you’re making decisions based on the wrong thing,” Harrison said. “I guess conventional wisdom would say, OK, I guess an advanced college player is a little bit closer to the big leagues than a high school player, but I don’t think you make that choice based upon thinking that guy’s going to be catching for us a year from now or whatever. I think you’ve got to get them in the system and let development take its course.”

If the Rays go with David Price, most experts say they will, he won’t be on the fast track to the majors but might pitch his way on quickly. Price has been very impressive for top ranked Vanderbilt this year. As of last week Price was 10-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 15 starts, he has only walked 29 and struck out 164 in 114 innings. Plus Price is not a Boras client. Price seems to be the best selection here.

“I think that our goal all along has been that we’re going to take the guy that we think’s the best prospect in the draft,” Harrison said. “That’s what we’ve narrowed this down to. “…Funny things can happen. … So to stand here and say, ‘That’s our guy,’ I think, is a little premature.”

With that said, could the Rays go after high school 3B Josh Vitters? Some scouts believe he has the most raw power (I think Micheal Burgess does), and most agree that he is the best overall hitter at the high school level. He can handle the leather and is a good athlete. What’s not to like? I can’t think of anything. The only problem is that the Rays have their 3B of the future in Evan Longoria and they currently have Japanese import Akinori Iwamura blocking him. I personally don’t see Vitters going to the Rays with the first pick. He will go in the first 4 picks though.

“My pick for the best player in this draft, Wieters is 92-94 mph off the mound, but he’s a prospect as a catcher: a switch-hitter who sprays the field with line drives and shows home run power from the left side, and a capable catcher with a laser arm.” – Scouts Inc’s Keith Law.

Why not Matt Wieters? I know, the first thing that comes to people’s minds when people discuss the problems the Rays have is pitching. So the obvious choice is to grab David Price. Right? Not so fast. If the Rays select Wieters, who could be up in the majors as early as September or by mid-June next season, the Rays could have a lineup from top to bottom that would look like this (asuming they re-sign Pena and Wigginton):

1. Rocco Baldelli – CF
2. B.J. Upton – 2B
3. Carl Crawford – LF
4. Ty Wigginton – 1B/DH
5. Delmon Young – RF
6. Evan Longoria – 3B
7. Carlos Pena – 1B/DH
8. Reid Brignac – SS
9. Matt Wieters – C
Bench – Akinori Iwamura – 3B/2B

That is a lineup that could bop with the big boys. Wieters is also a very good defensive catcher, timed around 2 seconds from home to 2B, sometimes under 2 seconds. He calls a good game, and is an offensive force. One scout said he is the closest thing to Joe Mauer at catcher around. Not something to be taken lightly. The one bad thing on his resume: he is a Scott Boras client.

The Rays aren’t as far away in their pitching as some people think. They have Andy Sonnanstine (6-3, 2.35, 65/13 in 65 IP) Mitch Talbot, Jason Hammel (2.85, 61/22 in 66.1 IP), Jeff Niemann (57/20 in 53.1 IP), and J.P. Howell (64/18 in 63.2 IP) in AAA. James Houser (3-0 2.39), Chris Mason (7-1, 2.39, 59/14 in 64.0 IP), Chuck Tiffany, and Chris Seddon in AA.

The best is in Vero Beach (HiA Ball) with two guys I think will be Cy Young contenders: Wade Davis (3-0, 1.69 and 58/16 in 58.2 IP), Jake McGee (4-1, 1.84 and 61/21 in 53.2 IP), plus Matt Walker and Michael Wlodarczyk. Then there is Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.79 in 29.0 IP with 24 SO), Heath Rollins (6-0, 1.04 and 66/14 in 60.1 IP), and Joshua Butler (3-1 2.41 ) in LoA.

Wow! That is a ton of pitching on its way for the Rays. The popular saying is “you can never have too much pithching” but how often does a Joe Mauer-esque catcher come along? I think the Rays should take a shot and draft their catcher of the future.

…Matt Wieters, catcher out of Georgia Tech.”

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


Rays Dukes Allegedly Threatened to Kill His Wife

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The wife of Tampa Bay Devil Rays rookie outfielder Elijah Dukes filed for a restraining order against her husband and said she fears for her life, The St. Petersburg Times reported Wednesday.

NiShea Gilbert, a middle-school teacher, said that Dukes allegedly burst into her classroom at lunchtime in April. A frightened Gilbert then ran to the principal and got a deputy, who banished Dukes from the school.

Gilbert told a Florida court that Dukes threatened to kill her and sent her a photo of a handgun to her cell phone.

Gilbert played a voice mail allegedly from Dukes for the newspaper. “You dead, dawg. I ain’t even [expletive]. Your kids, too.”

Gilbert has filed requests for protection twice in the last month, according to the newspaper. A hearing on her latest request is scheduled for May 30.

“I just don’t think I should live in fear,” Gilbert told the newspaper. “When [the Rays] go out of town, I come home. When they’re at home, I go stay with my mother. I shouldn’t have to live like that because he’s a baseball player.”

When approached by the newspaper before Tuesday night’s game, Dukes declined to comment on Gilbert’s allegations.

“I’m just going to play ball, that’s it,” Dukes told the newspaper. “I’ve got to go. I’ve got a video game to finish.”

Dukes is batting .231 in his first major league season with eight home runs and 13 RBIs.

Usually when you hear something like this you say “I can’t believe it”. Not this time. Sadly many people could’ve seen this coming.

Dukes, 22, has been arrested 6 times in the last 9 years. He has also been suspended multiple times by the Rays organization, including a season ending 35 game suspension 2 years ago.

Dukes needs help and he needs help fast. The Rays should’ve traded him (like I said) for some pitching help before he blew up again. The Rays have been way too passive about Dukes and a suspension should come out of this, showing the players in this organization that character should matter. This could hurt the Rays right now but it’s the right move to make.


Prospects You Need to Keep An Eye On

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Don’t you love prospects? Who doesn’t? Anyone from Brien Taylor to Alex Rodriguez have been top prospects. Some players have what it takes to dominate the minors and the majors while others end up as AAAA players or out of professional baseball all together. Below is a list of prospects you may or may not have heard of. These are all players that have done one of the above I mentioned: dominate the minors. All they have left to do is prove thier worth in the bigs.

I am not profiling guys that have any big league experience. No Alex Gordon, no Billy Butler, no Delmon Young, no Matt Garza, no Phil Huges… you get the point.

If you are in fantasy keeper leagues that allow you to have a certain number of minor leaguers stashed away I suggest you look closely at the list provided. Some of the players are you going to start tearing up the bigs this season, some will have to wait until 2009.

Without any more rambling I present you with a few prospects you need to keep your eye on.

3B Evan Longoria – Longoria is just 21 and only a year out of college. He has gone a combined .317/.393/.595 in 388 at-bats in his pro career. What is most astounding are his power numbers. Over those 388 at-bats he already has 28 homers, 22 doubles, 1 triple, 92 RBI, 73 runs scored, and a BB/SO ratio of 44/71 (including 25/27 this season). He is a plus defender at 3B with a good arm. He doesn’t have much speed but runs the bases well. He crushes lefties but he hits righties very well too. Longoria projects as a .300-30-110-5-100 middle of the order bat for the Rays. ETA: Sep 2007

SS Reid Brignac – In 128 games in 2006 he hit .321/.376/.539 with 100 runs 32 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers, 99 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. His only knock is he is an “ok” defender and struck out 113 times. He has improved significantly on his defense and scouts say he can play SS in the majors. He got off to a good start, hitting .298 with 4 homers in his first 114 at-bats. He’s slowed down sicne, going 7 for his last 40 with no homers in his first full season in AA but don’t be fooled, he is one of the youngest players in that league. Brignac projects as a .290-25-90-10-90 guy at SS. If you are in a deep keeper league and have minor league rosters I would stash him away if he isn’t already taken. ETA: Sep 2007 at the earliest and could be the big league SS for TB starting 2008

OF Jay Bruce – Bruce, 20, is one of my favorite prospects. He is a true RF, with plus-plus power and a strong arm. He needs to imporve on hitting lefties so he doesn’t become a platoon plyer but he is too good to allow this to happen. So far this year for the Reds HiA Florida State League (pithcer friendly league) team he has hit .340/.389/.642 with impressive power numbers: 9 homers 12 doubles and 5 triples in only 162 at-bats, driving in 30 and scoring 31 in 40 games. He hit .291/.355/.516 last year with 16 homers 42 doubles 5 triples 81 RBI 69 runs and 19 steals in 444 at-bats. But don’t let the steals fool you, he only has 2 so far this year and isn’t exactly a burner. Bruce projects as a .310-35-110-8 guy in the bigs. That’s no joke! Store him now if you can. ETA: 2009

OF Cameron Maybin – Maybin, 20, is off to a hot start: .317/.434/.486 in 142 at-bats with 4 homers, 6 doubles, and 3 triples. He’s also scored 31 and drove in 20 in 39 games with 13 steals and a 29/47 BB/SO ratio. He needs to cut the strikeouts down a bit but that is an impressive walk rate for a young hitter in a pitcher’s league (HiA FSL). Maybin is the Tigers CF of the future and is an impact bat with plus range and a good arm for center. Last year he hit .304/.387/.457 with 9 homers 20 2B and 6 3B in 385 at-bats, not to mention he drove in 69 and scored 59 and stole 27 bases. He is very young and still a little raw. The Tigers expect him to fill his frame out and when he does they expect some of those doubles to turn into homers. He could be a yearly .300-18-85-30-95 guy in the bigs. ETA: 2009

OF Justin Upton – Upton, who doesn’t turn 20 until late August, is the younger brother of B.J Upton. Upton was the first overall pick by the Diamondbacks two years ago out of high school. He did “ok” last year hitting .263/.343/.413 with 12 homers and 15 steals in 438 at-bats. This year he is tearing up anything that comes his way. He is now in AA at the ripe age of 19 and is hitting a combined .347/.439/.611 between HiA and AA. He also has 9 homers 7 doubles and 2 triples to go with 10 steals a BB/K ratio of 22/33 and 34 runs and 28 RBI in 144 at-bats. The D-Back believe he can be a #3 hitter and see him as a .310-25-100-25-100 player. ETA: SEP 2008

OF Travis Snider – Snider, 19, is tearing up Midwest league pitching to the tune of .366/.394/.557 with 2 homers 11 doubles and 4 triples in 131 at-bats. He has driven in 27 and scored 16 with 3 steals. His BB/SO ratio (8/27 in 33 games) needs to improve and will with more experience. Snider impressed in the Appy league last year going .325/.412/.567 with 11 homers 12 doubles and a triple in 194 at-bats with a 30/47 BB/K ratio. He also stole 6 and had 36 runs and 41 RBI. Snider is projected as a RF, with plus power potential and a good arm that will be fine in RF. The Blue Jays won’t rush him. He projects as a .300/25/100 bat. ETA: SEP 2009

SP Jake McGee – McGee, 20, is 3-1 in 8 starts in HiA ball with a 1.51 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched. He’s also struck out 45 and walked 17. Here is what is key though, only 27 hits allowed for a .182 average and no home runs allowed. Last year he posted a 2.96 with 171 SO in 134 IP and only 7 homers allowed with a .211 avg. McGee is a power pitcher and is a front of the rotation type starter. ETA: Sep 2008 at the earliest

SP Wade Davis – Davis, 21, is 2-0 in 8 starts in HiA ball with a 1.70 ERA in 47.2 IP, including a no-hitter. He has struck out 45 against 14 walks. Like McGee, he doesn’t allow many hits, only 31 for a .191 avg and only one homer against him. Last year he posted a 3.02 ERA and struck out 165 in 146 IP while allowing only 5 homers. Anothr power arm like McGee and also projects as a 1-3 starter. ETA: Sep 2008 at the earliest

SP Adam Miller – Miller, 22, is waiting for a spot in the Indians rotation to open up. He is currently 4-1 with a 2.45 in 44 AAA innings. He a has struck out 39 and walked 14 and only given up 2 homers. His numbers last year were 15-6 with a 2.84 and 161 K to 46 BB in 156.1 IP. He could be at the top of the Indians rotation for many years. ETA: Sep 2007

SP Homer Bailey – Bailey is possibly the best pitching prospect in all of pro ball, possibly better than Phil Highes. Bailey is 21 and doing quite well in AAA with a 3-1 record and a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 IP. His walks are up and strike outs are down (27/19 SO/BB) and that is the only reason he’s not in the Reds rotation right now. Even with the high walk rate he has only allowed 2 homers and a .194 avg against. His numbers last year were 10-6 with a 2.47 in 138.2 IP and 156 SO and a .198 avg against. ETA: no later than Sep 2007

SP Kevin Slowey – Slowey, 23, is a pitcher with great command and control. Some scouts still like to question his “stuff” but his numbers tell the story. So far this year he is 4-2 with a 1.46 in 49.1 AAA innings. What is most impressive is his 44/3 SO/BB ratio. That’s right, only 3 walks! He has a .176 avg against and only 2 homers against. Last year he posted an 8-5 record with a 1.88 ERA and 151/22 SO/BB ration in 148.2 IP with a .188 avg against. He should join the Twins rotation very soon. ETA: mid June 2007.

-stats are from games through 5/18/07


A’s sign Swisher to 5yr extension

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) — One day after flexing their offensive muscles, the Oakland Athletics secured the long-term future of slugger Nick Swisher.

The Athletics on Friday agreed to terms with Swisher on a five-year contract extension through the 2011 season with a club option for 2012.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The news came less than 24 hours after Oakland pounded a season-high six home runs in Thursday’s 17-3 rout of the Kansas City Royals. The A’s also established season highs for runs and hits (18) in the contest.

Ironically, the switch-hitting Swisher did not join in on the fun, going 0-for-2 with a walk before being replaced by Todd Walker in the fifth inning.

Despite his quiet outing against Kansas City, the 26-year-old Swisher is one of Oakland’s top power hitters. The outfielder is batting .286 with a team-leading six homers and 17 RBI this season, posting a .426 on-base percentage in 27 games.

A first-round draft pick in 2002, Swisher enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2006, batting .254 with career bests of 35 homers and 95 RBI. He is a career .249 hitter with 64 homers in three-plus seasons with the A’s. –

This is a wonderful move by the Billy Beane and the A’s. Nick Swisher was once considered the poster child of “Moneyball”, and will not have to live in the shadows of that book.

Swisher has real Big-League power, great plate discipline, and is a great leader on the field and in the clubhouse. Locking Swisher up for the next 5-6 years is indication that the team is serious about winning. They are building a new stadium in Fremont and they need a contender when they get in.

The A’s still have a few other things they need to do. Eric Chavez has been the poster boy for the A’s and has been a fixture in the lineup for years. He may not be around to see the new stadium. The A’s have these players locked up: Eric Chavez (2010, club option 2011), Bobby Crosby (2009), Alan Embree (2008, club option 2009), Rich Harden (2008, club option 2009), Dan Haren (2009, club option 2010), Mark Kotsay (2008), Esteban Loaiza (2008, club option 2009).

The A’s have a group of yongsters here, just arriving, and on the way: outfielders Travis Buck, Danny Putnam, Javier Herrera, and Jermaine Mitchell. Pitchers Joe Blanton, Chad Gaudin, Jason Windsor, and Dan Meyer. 1B/DH Daric Barton. Plus young catchers Kurt Suzuki and London Powell.

Billy Beane and the A’s have use a formula that has set this team up to win both now and in the future and Nick Swisher is a key part of the equation.


2007 MLB Mock Draft

For the first time ever, Major League Baseball’s draft will be on television this year, with ESPN2 airing it on June 7 from 2-6 p.m. It will consist of the first round and the sandwhich round and each team will get 5 minutes per selection. With that said, I decided to offer up my mock draft of what the televised event could look like. This draft is heavy on high school pitching talent and in catching talent, both at the high school and college level.

This is going to be a big draft for the San Fransisco Giants. They get the 10th overall pick plus 2 more in the first round. Then they have 3 more in the sandwhich round. This draft should help them revamp a worthless farm system. The Toronto Blue Jays have two first rounders and 3 sandwhich picks. Padres GM Kevin Towers was so brilliant by telling his players not to accept arbitration, he got 5 sandwhich round picks thanks to his ability to take advantage of the system. Very smart move!

Then there are teams like Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore that have 4 of the top 5 picks but don’t pick again until the 2nd round (possibly 66th overall). No need to worry, they should each get great picks at the top of this draft.

Without any further rambling I present you with our 2007 MLB Mock Draft!

With the First selction in the 2007 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select…

First Round

1 TB – David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
2 KC – Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri St.
3 CHC – Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep, NJ
4 PIT – Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress High, CA
5 BAL – Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
6 WAS – Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Secondary Du Versant, Quebec
7 MIL – Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
8 COL – Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch H.S., CT
9 ARI – Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell H.S., IN
10 SF – Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough H.S. Tampa, FL
11 SEA – Andrew Brackman, RHP, N.C. State
12 FLA – Jason Heyward, OF/1B, Henry County H.S., GA
13 CLE – Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth H.S., CA
14 ATL – Michael Main, RHP, Deland H.S., FL
15 CIN – Mike Koustakas, C/3B, Chatsworth H.S., GA
16 TOR(from TEX) – Beau Mills, CIF, Lewis-Clark State
17 TEX(from HOU) – Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
18 STL – Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell H.S., NC
19 PHI – J.P. Arencibia, C, Tennessee
20 LAD(from BOS) – Tim Alderson, RHP, Hprizon H.S., ARI
21 TOR – Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
22 SF(from LAD) – Nick Noonan, SS, Francis Parker H.S., CA
23 SD – Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving H.S., TX
24 TEX(from LAA) – Mitch Canham, C, Oregon State
25 CHW – Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee
26 OAK – Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun H.S., GA
27 DET – Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
28 MIN – Matt Mangini, 3B, Oklahoma State
29 SF(from NYM) – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami Springs H.S., FL
30 NYY – Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia

Sandwich Round

31 WAS(for Alfonso Soriano) – Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville H.S., VA
32 SF(for Moises Alou) – Aaron Poreda, LHP, San Francisco
33 ATL(for Danys Baez) – Nevin Griffith, RHP, Middleton H.S. Tampa, FL
34 CIN(for Rich Aurilia) – Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
35 TEX(for Carlos Lee) – Jake Arrieta, RHP, TCU
36 STL(for Jeff Suppan) – Kyle Russell, RF, Texas
37 PHI(for David Dellucci) – Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn
38 TOR(for Justin Speier) – Justin Jackson, SS, Roberson H.S., NC
39 LAD(for Lugo) – Peter Kozma, SS, Oswasso H.S., OK
40 SD(for Woody Williams) – Eric Eiland, OF, Lamar H.S., TX
41 OAK(for Barry Zito) – James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
42 NYM(for Roberto Hernandez) – Jack McGeary, LHP/1B, Roxbury Latin H.S., Mass.
43 SF(for Schmidt) – Nathan Vineyard, LHP, Woodland H.S., GA
44 TEX(for Matthews) – Kentrail Davis, OF, Theodore H.S., AL
45 TOR(for Catalanotto) – Wes Roemer, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
46 SD(for Dave Roberts) – Ryan Dent, IF, Wilson H.S., CA
47 NYM(for Chad Bradford) – Sean Doolittle, LHP/1B, Virginia
48 CHC(for Juan Pierre) – Travis D’Arnaud, C, Lakewood H.S., CA
49 WAS(for Jose Guillen) – Kevin Keys, OF, Connally H.S., TX
50 ARI(for Craig Counsell) – Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial H.S., TX
51 SF(for Mike Stanton) – Todd Frazier, SS/OF, Rutgers
52 SEA(for Gil Meche) – Eddie Kunz, RHP, Oregon State
53 CIN(for Scott Schoeneweis) – Tanner Robles, LHP, Cottonwood H.S., UT
54 TEX(for Mark DeRosa) – Greg Peavy, RHP, Hudson’s Bay H.S., UT
55 BOS(for Alex Gonzalez) – Jordan Zimmerman, P, U of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
56 TOR(for Ted Lilly) – Danny Rams, C, Guliver Prep, Miami, FL
57 SD(for Chan Ho Park) – Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
58 LAA(for Adam Kennedy) – Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian H.S., TX
59 OAK(for Frank Thomas) – James Adkins, LHP, Tennessee
60 DET(for Jamie Walker) – Devon Mesaraco, C, Punxsutawney H.S., PA
61 ARI(Miguel Batista) – Travis Mattair, 3B/IF, Southridge H.S., WA
62 BOS(for Keith Foulke) – Matt West, SS/3B, Bellaire H.S., TX
63 SD(for Alan Embree) – David Kopp, RHP, Clemson
64 SD(for Ryan Klesko) – Matt Spencer, OF, Arizona State


Smoltz signs extension with Braves news services

The Atlanta Braves have reached an agreement on a contract extension with pitcher John Smoltz, ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney reports.

As part of the agreement, Smoltz will receive $14 million in 2008. The deal includes a vesting option for the 2009 season that automatically kicks in if Smoltz pitches in at least 200 innings in 2008. There also is a team option for 2010.

Financial details for the 2009 season is not yet known.

I personally was glad to see this deal get done. I couldn’t imagine John Smoltz ending his career with another team. He was originally with the Tigers but never made it to the big league club. Smoltz was traded to the Braves on August 12, 1987 for starting pitcher Doyle Alexander. Alexander was a 36 year old that actually did great after the trade going 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts helping the Tigers win the AL East pennant. Alexander later went 0-2 in the ALCS with an ERA of 10.00 and 20-29 for the Tigers the next two seasons. Smoltz has won a Cy Young award, and is currently 195-138 with a 3.28 ERA, 2800 strike outs, and 154 saves and only 5 blown saves.

The Braves have currently surrounded Smoltz in the rotation with Tim Hudson and Chuck James, and a given him a great bullpen that includes Bob Wickman, Mike Gonzalez, and Rafael Soriano. The Braves also have future Hall-of-Famer Chipper Jones and young studs Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson, not to mention young veterans like Edgar Renteria and Andruw Jones.

Andruw Jones, more than likely, won’t be in a Braves uniform next year. Braves GM John Schuerholz knows what he is doing though. If he can’t retain Jones then he will replace him with some very good talent, possibly Rays CF Rocco Baldelli or Elijah Dukes.

Getting this deal done with Smoltz was huge for the Braves future. This shows that they are set on winning. Smoltz has stated that he wouldn’t mind going elsewhere if it meant playing for a team that is out to win it all. Smoltz and the Braves have made it clear that they both want to win. This deal also prove how good of a GM John Schuerholz truly is. Pure genius!


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