Aiken, Correa, Appel Trio Showing the Dangers of Building Through MLB Draft

The past few weeks have been challenging for the Houston Astros, and that's being kind.

At 37-54, not only is the big league club once again sporting the worst record in all of Major League Baseball after a brief respite in May, but there also was that controversial and embarrassing leaking of reported trade discussions that came with this season's trade deadline merely a month away.

Worse than all of that, however, is the fact that the tear-it-all-down-and-start-from-scratch-again Astros, who went 15-14 in May for their first winning month since September 2010, have been faced with severe struggles and significant injuries to their most prized prospects.

Houston, though, isn't the only team to have such problems.

The Astros, who became the first franchise in MLB history to have three consecutive No. 1 overall selections—losing 106 games or more each of the past three seasons will do that—now have to worry that the players chosen with those very picks suddenly aren't the can't-miss kids they appeared to be.

First came problems for Mark Appel—No. 1 overall in 2013—as the right-hander out of Stanford battled minor ailments, including tendinitis in his right thumb, and failed to adapt well to the Astros' tandem-starter schedule they use for developing pitchers. In that format, pitchers throw every four days instead of five and are followed by another starting pitcher.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old has been better of late, but he's still stuck with an ERA of 8.91 through his first nine starts (32.1 innings) at High-A.

While Appel was bottoming out by allowing 10 runs in just 1.1 innings in an awful outing at the end of May, Carlos Correa—No. 1 overall in 2012—was looking just about ready to advance to Double-A at the tender age of 19.

That's when disaster struck. Again.

Correa, a shortstop, was triple-slashing .325/.416/.510 at the time he suffered a broken fibula as his spike got caught while sliding into third base on a triple in late June. The injury, which required surgery, not only ended his season but also brought his promising development as one of the sport's very best prospects to an abrupt and painful halt.

The latest on the bad news front for the Astros, which Jon Heyman of CBS Sports broke Monday afternoon, is that Brady Aiken, the high school left-hander who was taken at the top of the draft barely a month ago, has a problem with his elbow ligament:

Making this Aiken scenario that much more of a gut punch, Heyman writes the following: "The Astros are said to have discovered the issue at a medical exam done just prior to when they were expected to announce a deal."

To be clear, this does not mean that Houston won't still sign Aiken by the July 18 deadline, only that the club has indicated that the initial agreed-upon signing bonus of $6.5 million now will be reduced. Heyman cites sources who claim the Astros are offering $5 million in the wake of this discovery.

Just recently, Aiken had this to say, via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, upon arriving in Houston with the intention of signing a pro contract prior to any concern over his elbow: "I know all the fans and everyone are looking forward to this, and I'm looking forward to it this just as much as they are. I'm more excited than they are, probably, to be honest with you. I'm really excited to see what the future holds."

All of this goes to show that the future doesn't always hold promise. When it comes to building from within with prospects, even the very elite ones like Appel, Correa and Aiken, the only thing that's predictable is that they—their performance, their health, their development—will be unpredictable.

This is why rebuilding in baseball is often such a long, patience-testing, frustration-filled process: The progression from failure to success is never linear, even with a carefully thought-out and executed plan like the Astros have in place.

Just think about other MLB franchises that have gone through—or are still going through—what the Astros are attempting to do by picking, growing and nurturing talent from the ground up.

It took the Kansas City Royals years under general manager Dayton Moore's seemingly never-ending "process." Even with former top prospects like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon before them, only just last season did the club post its first winning season since 2003. At 46-42 so far this year through Monday, the Royals are chasing after what would be their first postseason appearance since 1985.

The Baltimore Orioles went through a dead decade-plus from 1998 through 2011 without a .500 season, let alone a playoff berth, before all those high draft choices—theirs and those acquired via trades—paid off in the form of Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Chris Tillman.

And sure, the Chicago Cubs look loaded, what with newly acquired Addison Russell added to a pile of position-player prospects that includes, among others, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, the club's top selections in 2011 and 2013, respectively. But that core won't break into the bigs until 2015, and it might not come together until 2016 or 2017, at the earliest.

Time is one factor that can be tricky to estimate. So, too, is performance, as the Boston Red Sox have seen this year, what with young supposed-to-be studs Xander Bogaerts (.675 OPS) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.613) going through serious adjustments in their first full seasons in the majors.

No wonder the team itself, fresh off a 2013 championship, enters play Tuesday in last place in the AL East, in part because so much was put on those perhaps-too-young shoulders.

And of course, there's injury, which is the most impossible factor to project and the most troublesome to endure. Ask the Seattle Mariners about this one.

Although they're in the thick of the playoff race as is, imagine how much better they'd be were it not for losing chunks of time from right-hander Taijuan Walker and lefty Danny Hultzen, a pair of first-rounders from successive drafts (2010 and 2011) who have been dealing with ongoing shoulder problems.

Speaking of prospects and injuries, there have been disabled list stints galore in 2014. Focusing on top-25 prospects alone, according to Baseball America's preseason Top 100, the following names have spent time on the shelf this year:

  • Byron Buxton (Twins, No. 1)
  • Miguel Sano (Twins, No. 6)
  • Carlos Correa (Astros, No. 7)
  • Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks, No. 9)
  • Taijuan Walker (Mariners, No. 11)
  • Francisco Lindor (Indians, No. 13)
  • Addison Russell (Athletics/Cubs, No. 14)
  • Dylan Bundy (Orioles, No. 15)
  • Noah Syndergaard (Mets, No. 16)
  • Jameson Taillon (Pirates, No. 22)
  • Kyle Zimmer (Royals, No. 23)
  • Eddie Butler (Rockies, No. 24)

That's 12 prospects—nearly half of the Top 25—on 11 different teams, so clearly the Astros are not the only organization that has been hit hard on the farm in one way or another this year. But given how much time—and how many losses—they've invested in returning to relevance, their recent misfortune is starting to stick out.

That doesn't mean general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have made poor decisions or done anything wrong. Rather, it goes to show that between timing, performance and injuries, a lot can—and often does—go wrong when a baseball franchise tries to tear down and push the reset button.

Can the Astros still have success with this approach they've taken, this path they're on? Certainly. Heck, it's even likely. But that must be qualified with "at some point in the future."

And with all that's happened with Appel, Correa and now Aiken over the past few weeks, that future might be a little further off than expected.

 

Statistics are accurate through July 7 and come from MLB.comBaseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com, except where otherwise noted.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11

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MLB System Check 2014: Seattle Mariners’ Top Prospects

The Seattle Mariners Systems Check video offers a quick overview of the team's farm system, addressing its strengths and weaknesses and how it can improve moving forward.

The video also provides a breakdown of the Mariners’ top prospects for 2014, right-hander Taijuan Walker, third baseman D.J. Peterson and left-hander James Paxton, including each player's ETA in the major leagues and potential long-term role within the organization.

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Brady Aiken’s Injury Doesn’t Ruin Pitcher’s Huge Upside

It seems like quite the roller coaster, going from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft to being told that your pitching elbow didn't pass the team's physical. That's what Brady Aiken is facing, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The lefty from San Diego with the All-American looks may have an all-too-common elbow issue and could be facing Tommy John surgery in the near future.

Beyond the shocking headline and the $1.5 million difference between what Aiken was going to get and what the Houston Astros want to pay him now—which is admittedly quite the difference—this isn't that worrisome. Tommy John surgery simply doesn't scare teams the way it once did, and in many situations it barely moves the needle. If anything, the Astros may see the physical issue as a way to save money more than a reason to be particularly concerned about Aiken.

One indication is the reported $5 million offer. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Astros could offer Aiken (or player that does not pass the physical) as little as 40 percent of the original bonus, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. That would be $2.6 million or almost half of what the Astros actually have offered. The agreed to $6.5 million is under the slot value, so some reports have the needed offer higher, at 40 percent of the $7.9 million slot.

Confused? Don't be, because at either value, it's clear that the Astros came in knowing they could get a good young pitcher at a below-slot value, once again appearing to go cheap in the draft. With both previous No. 1 picks, Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, the Astros signed them well below their slot value. They were able to use the extra money to sign other players, so it's not a purely cheap strategy.

Aiken did have a heavy usage pattern in the last two seasons. He pitched two full seasons at Cathedral Catholic in San Diego, as well as playing for the Under-18 National Team and participating in several showcase events. This isn't uncommon, but there wasn't much of an offseason for Aiken leading up to the draft either.

For what it's worth, Aiken's personal trainer is refuting reports, as noted here in the Houston Chronicle. It should also be noted that Paul Flores is not a certified athletic trainer as he was initially identified in the Chronicle article. It was corrected. While Flores could speak to Aiken's physical conditioning, there is no note in his bio of medical training. As with the Chronicle, both the Astros and Aiken's agency refused comment on the issue.

One scout I spoke with gave me his report on Aiken, done early in the scouting process:

"He has a distinct 'back and uphill' motion. That indicates a soft core. Easily correctable, but it will change the timing. We normally see this with adolescent pitchers who are growing into their bodies. I would be curious to know more about his conditioning and overall strength levels. The Hamels comp is pretty solid, but Hamels doesn’t have any of these flaws and didn’t as a HS senior."

The comparison to Cole Hamels is an easy one. Any good lefty from Southern California is going to get that, but in this case, it's not a bad one given their similar motions.

The "back and uphill" motion is not necessarily a negative. Work done by Alan Jaeger, a top pitching consultant, points to this type of move, seen in the picture of Hamels here, as something of a positive. The front shoulder is slightly higher than the back shoulder, though they level out at release. There haven't been biomechanical studies to prove this move is good or bad, but it is common and shows no correlation to elbow injuries.

However, two teams that I spoke with said that they had concerns about Aiken. "We didn't red-flag him," said one scouting official from the AL, "because we knew he wasn't getting to us. If he had, the workload he had in high school and showcases was a bit worrisome. Maybe he'd have passed, but we'd have checked."

Another scout, who watched Aiken closely heading into this year's draft, had another concern. "There were a lot of stories about the kid being a workhorse, but he's skinny and developing. I don't know how all his crossfit [stuff] fits into baseball. It's too new and our strength guys don't like it for our major leaguers. Did he hurt himself pitching or playing with ropes?"

The Astros are in good position to make a sound medical judgment. Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff is an orthopedist for Houston and has become one of the few surgeons that teams trust to do Tommy John surgery. It is unlikely that the Astros would have ignored Mehlhoff's opinion in this process, though it is not known officially whether Mehlhoff is involved. 

If Aiken does have a compromised ulnar collateral ligament, he would hardly be the first or even the best pitcher in this situation. Lucas Giolito, another hard-throwing Southern California kid, was a top pick of the Washington Nationals a couple of seasons back. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked Giolito as the top pitching prospect in the game.

Giolito's mechanics were very questionable. (Giolito's father, Rick, heartily disagrees with my assessment.) Giolito almost immediately tore his UCL and headed for surgery. He's back and dominating Single-A as expected, so the loss of a year of development doesn't seem that bad compared to his upside if he can stay healthy.

Several pitchers over the past few years have followed a similar pattern. One pitcher that was watched closely this year was Bryce Montes De Oca. The Kansas fireballer missed his junior year after spraining his elbow and having Tommy John surgery. He came back very well in his senior year, and while he was used judiciously, his fastball tempted many teams. He ended up going in the 14th round to the Chicago White Sox, largely because of high bonus demands rather than the injury.

All this comes from the experience of the Los Angeles Angels. Former scouting director Eddie Bane, now a special assistant with the Boston Red Sox, thought enough of a high schooler who was facing Tommy John surgery to take him in the 14th round for about $700,000. Bane believed that Dr. Lewis Yocum, then the Angels' team physician, could get Nick Adenhart back on the mound. The Angels ended up with a great young pitcher who was tragically killed before he could reach his full promise, but the gamble definitely paid off for the team.

Compare this to Mark Appel, a right-hander who just a year ago was the consensus best pitcher in the draft. He had almost no injury concerns coming out of Stanford and got regular comparisons to Mike Mussina. He's had trouble adjusting to the Astros development system and dealt with thumb injuries in his first full season, so there's never a guarantee.

That development system, which is a modified tandem system, could help protect Aiken when he comes back. The team is conservative with its usage and workload patterns, so Aiken will have plenty of protection both before and potentially after surgery. 

Even if Aiken needs Tommy John surgery immediately, this is hardly a major problem for him or for the Astros. While the return rate from Tommy John surgery is not perfect, it's conservatively marked in studies at 85 percent. Aiken has a lot going for him physically and on talent, so this is likely to cost him money, not his baseball future.

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Odds of Possible Boston Red Sox Trades Actually Happening

For the past few weeks, this author has written a number of articles about the Boston Red Sox, their possible trade targets and the thought that this team would turn their fortunes around during the 2014 MLB season.

Many of these forecasted transactions were intended to fix some of the various flaws Boston has encountered this year—primarily within the outfield.

During all of these, the hopes that the Red Sox could "right the ship" were at the core of the discussion.

This discussion put Boston into a buyers' market, projecting the team would add a player, or two, on or before the July 31 trade deadline to help bolster its roster. The Red Sox had—and still have—a plethora of prospects under development in the minor leagues with which to utilize in a potential trade.

But Boston's most recent homestand—six games that saw the Red Sox go 1-5, including being swept by the lowly 38-48 Chicago Cubs—might have been the final indication that this season is all but lost. This aspect is further described by Joe Meehan of FanSided.

Granted, there is still plenty of baseball left to be played, and we have seen teams turn around their fortunes in short order. Yet one cannot overlook the fact that the 39-49 Red Sox sit in last place within the American League East—a full nine games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles.

It is time for general manager Ben Cherington to accept the inevitable; the Red Sox need to concede this season and focus on what the organization can do to put a better team on the field in 2015 and in years to come.

As tough as that realization is, it may be the best option for the franchise at this point during a lackluster, disappointing season.

This may shift the focus on Boston being a buyer at the deadline into a seller. There are a number of pieces that could be moved which, in turn, could bring in a number of talented prospects to better build this franchise for years to come.

Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com put together an excellent summary of some of these pieces that could be moved on, or before, the deadline. He lists, among others, guys like pitchers Jon Lester, Koji Uehara and Jake Peavy as potential trade candidates. 

Also listed are position players like Jonny Gomes, A.J. Pierzynski and Stephen Drew.

In this article, let us take a look at four of the top trade candidates that Cherington could send away in the coming weeks—Lester, Uehara, Pierzynski and Drew.

We shall evaluate why each player is a candidate, which teams may have interest and the odds of a potential deal happening.

 

Jon Lester: Starting Pitcher

Statistics

Contract: Six years at $42.75 million, expiring in 2015

Lester may be one of the hottest commodities on the Red Sox' roster heading towards the deadline. Thus, we shall first evaluate the chances of him being moved.

By this point, Red Sox fans are well aware of the lack of a contract extension for Lester this season. We also know that Lester has indicated he does not want to discuss the possibility of an extension until the conclusion of the 2014 season, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Lester owns a 9-7 record this season along with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.148 WHIP. The 30-year-old is still pitching at a playoff-caliber level, which means teams would be interested in adding his services if the were was right.

This begs two significant questions—would the Red Sox be willing to part ways with their No. 1 ace, and would teams be willing to offer a package that's enticing enough to Cherington and the team's front office?

It is tough to envision a trade taking place within the American League East. While Heyman acknowledges the New York Yankees as being possible suitors if and when Lester becomes a free agent, Boston does not want to aid a division rival at any point in the near future.

Thus, we can rule out an inter-divisional transaction from taking place.

But other playoff contenders would be interested. According to Tyler Drenon of SB Nation, the trade market is highly influenced by what may happen with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price. He writes:

The same teams pursuing Price would likely show interest in Lester. The Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Pirates, Angels, Mariners and Royals have all been mentioned as potential Price suitors. No matter what happens with Lester and the Sox, there's sure to be a lot of posturing between now and the point at which a transaction is made.

Drenon also lists the possibility that the Red Sox hold onto Lester and see where contract negotiations go. Holding onto him would obviously be the most popular option. If Lester does depart, Boston will assuredly receive a first-round draft pick in 2015 earned by meeting the qualifying offer.

This would be the preeminent question facing Cherington as the deadline approaches. Should he feel that Boston could get more via a trade, then moving the lefty is feasible. If a possible deal does not look enticing enough, we'll have to wait until the offseason.

***

Odds: 5-1. Boston would be asking for a number of ready-to-go prospects in exchange for Lester's services, which would make the possibility of a move more difficult for a number of other contenders. Additionally, the Red Sox can sit on a potential first-round compensatory pick if Lester walks. There is also the possibility of an offseason extension.

 

Koji Uehara: Relief Pitcher

Statistics

Contract: Two years at $9.25 million, expiring in 2015

Replacing a No. 1 ace is a difficult thing to do. Finding a replacement for a closer is much more reasonable and easy.

This is especially the case when considering Boston's incumbent closer, Uehara.

At 39 years old, it is safe to assume that Uehara has only a limited amount of baseball left in his body before age finally takes its toll.

There is no doubting Uehara still has significant value—a 1.30 ERA with a 0.744 WHIP and 18 saves in 2014—but closing out games is of little value to a team that is quickly dropping out of contention.

Unlike Lester, the Red Sox must understand that Uehara's age will be a primary factor. A contract extension would make sense in Lester's case if that were the direction Boston wanted to go, but giving a 39-year-old a multi-year deal makes little sense during a rebuilding period.

While teams would be wary of Uehara's age, they would be attracted to the statistics he has put up over the past two seasons. Additionally, playoff contenders are always looking for bullpen help as they enter the postseason stretch. Uehara could fit that bill for a number of teams in this situation.

Edes points out a couple of possible trade partners, citing the Angels, Giants and Tigers as teams who could be interested in adding bullpen help.

The Red Sox would not be able to command as high a trade package as they would with Lester, but they also would not be gambling away a key cog to the pitching staff. As stated, Uehara's time is limited, and Boston should attempt to get something valuable in return.

But as Lou Merloni of WEEI points out (h/t CSNNE.com), moving Uehara would be the truest of indications that the Red Sox have become sellers at the deadline.

***

Odds: 2-1. Boston's only reason to keep Uehara at this point will be directly related to whether or not the team gets back in the race. This possibility is looking bleaker as the trading deadline looms. If the Red Sox continue to fall out of contention, do not be surprised if such a deal happens.

 

A.J. Pierzynski: Catcher

Statistics

Contract: One year at $8.25 million, expiring in 2015

Moving a player like Pierzynski would be another plausible option given the fact that he was brought in on a one-year deal prior to the 2014 season, filling the void left by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. 

Like Uehara, Pierzynski is an aging veteran with perhaps only a handful of productive years left in his body. Unlike Uehara, Pierzynski's 2014 performance has not exactly been overwhelming.

In his first year with the Red Sox, the 37-year-old backstop is hitting .253 with four home runs, 31 RBI and an OPS of .633—surprising numbers considering his career .300 batting average at Fenway Park prior to the 2014 season.

Pierzynski essentially becomes expendable at the end of the season when considering Boston has two catching prospects working their way up through the farm system—Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors points out that Pierzynski could be an easy commodity to move because of this, citing the desire to get Vazquez some major league experience.

Now the only question is what teams would want his services.

The trade market for catchers is an interesting one. Playoff teams typically have solid rapports between pitching staffs and their backstops. These rapports are often critical elements to their success. Still, there are teams out there who could use some help.

Matt Collins of SB Nation points out two AL East rivals who may be interested in a possible trade for Pierzynski—the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore is without Matt Wieters for the remainder of the year after he suffered a season-ending injury.

The Blue Jays have Dioner Navarro, but he has put up better numbers than Pierzynski and offers better defense, per Collins.

Collins also lists the Los Angeles Dodgers as potential candidates given the injury sustained to incumbent starter A.J. Ellis. But Ellis has since returned and, like Navarro, offers good on-base numbers and better defense.

This essentially leaves the Orioles as the only legitimate option for a Pierzynski trade offer. The Red Sox would ideally like to get something—anything—in return for his services, but given the nature of the market, such a deal would not command much in return.

***

Odds: 5-1. Pierzynski is perhaps the easiest commodity to move from the Red Sox's vantage point, but there are few teams looking for help behind the plate and even fewer that would be willing to offer up anything substantial. The odds are in favor of Pierzynski simply walking via free agency at the conclusion of 2014.

 

Stephen Drew: Shortstop

Statistics

Contract: One year at $10.1 million, expiring in 2015

"Ready or not, here comes Stephen Drew," was the statement made by Alex Speier of WEEI.com back in June after Boston re-signed the shortstop earlier this summer.

Drew was brought in as reinforcements for a Red Sox infield that was suffering the lingering effects of an oft-injured, underwhelming Will Middlebrooks and defensively challenged Xander Bogaerts.

Since returning to Boston, Drew is hitting a paltry .141 with a .429 OPS—numbers that unquestionably drive down his trade value.

Sure, Drew is still shaking off the rust of having been off a major league roster during spring training and for the first couple months of the 2014 season, but the numbers don't lie.

So do the Red Sox regret re-signing him and potentially hindering the development of Bogaerts?

According to OutsidePitchMLB.com, they do—citing sources within the organization. But according to Peter Gammons' comments on the Dennis & Callahan Show (h/t Conor Ryan of WEEI.com), Boston doesn't regret the transaction when considering the entire context of the situation.

We'll let the fans and other pundits be the judge of that, but one cannot overlook the fact that the future resides in Bogaerts and not Drew.

Bogaerts' development at shortstop will take time. Many rookies can struggle with this adjustment, so we should not jump to conclusions so quickly. But we can take away the notion that Drew is hindering Bogaerts' future at shortstop simply by taking away opportunities for maturation.

Okay, so moving Drew makes a lot of sense from Boston's future prospective, right? 

Well, there are a couple of problems that get in the way.

First, Drew's statistics drive down any asking price, as we've already indicated.

Then there is the contract. At $10.1 million, Boston would have to eat a sizable portion of his deal in order to come close to enticing potential suitors—an argument made by Edes when it comes to moving Drew.

However, Edes does mention that Drew's defense provides a little upside.

So which teams would be interested?

According to OutsidePitchMLB.com, the only likely landing spot would be with the Detroit Tigers, who would probably offer very little as far as a return goes.

But in this case, addition by subtraction may be the key.

It may be best, and most realistic, for the Red Sox to "bite the bullet" on Drew's return and accept whatever ramifications that may follow.

***

Odds: 6-1. Drew simply doesn't command a huge market at this point during the season. Enough can be said by the lack of interest he drew from other teams before re-signing with Boston. If Drew is moved—and that's a big if—only the Tigers seem to be of interest. 


Trades are extremely difficult, complex maneuvers to predict. We can all speculate which deals may happen and what chips will be used in exchange. 

But the reality is that few deals offer up the best-case needs for both parties involved. In short, one has to give up something to acquire something else.

For the Red Sox—assuming they become sellers—a fire sale of aging veterans on short-term contracts may produce a decent return in prospects and young talent. Unfortunately, names like Lester and Uehara are plausibly the only commodities that could garner something substantial in return.

A Lester trade would be a tough transaction for Boston to swallow. The ramifications would be long discussed. Uehara would be easier to handle, and a Pierzynski or Drew deal would shortly become an afterthought.

In the end, we will not be able to grasp what the Red Sox' future holds until the team decides whether or not it has conceded the 2014 season.

But that decision is looming.

 

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Contractual information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox. 

Follow @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

 

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Report: Madison Bumgarner Says He Wants to Hit in Home Run Derby

Put him in, Tulo. Madison Bumgarner wants to hit it deep.

According to the San Jose Mercury News Alex Pavlovic (via Dan Wohl of MLB.com), the San Francisco Giants starting pitcher is lobbying NL Home Run Derby captain Troy Tulowitzki for a spot in the lineup.

Pavlovic tweeted Sunday that the 24-year-old from Hickory, North Carolina, told reporters he had put in a request to Tulowitzki but had yet to hear back.

Wohl points out that while Bumgarner could be joking, he’s a big boy capable of some serious power at the plate.

MadBum isn’t the first pitcher to campaign, seriously or otherwise, for a spot in the Derby,” Wohl writes. “But there’s reason to believe that if given the chance, the 65, 235-pound Bumgarner could put on a legitimate show. The country-strong North Carolinian crushed a grand slam in April.”

Bumgarner and teammate Hunter Pence are the two Giants selected to represent their team at the 2014 All-Star Game this July. The young lefty is 9-6 on the season with a 3.09 ERA and 120 strikeouts. Unfortunately, the back-to-back All-Star won't participate in the game.

According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Bumgarner is slated to start two days before the July 15 game at Target Field and says his first priority is helping the Giants win.

“Any time I get a chance to help [the Giants] out here, obviously it takes precedence over anything else,” Bumgarner told Shea. “Having my name mentioned with the rest of those guys and getting that recognition, that means everything in the world.”

There’s nothing that suggests Bumgarner couldn’t pitch his game and be ready to take a few huge swings at the Home Run Derby, which kicks off Monday night at 7 p.m. CT.

I, for one, believe at least one pitcher should get a chance at the Home Run Derby. The hardworking mound-dwellers of the National League deserve representation, and if it can’t be Bartolo Colon, Bumgarner is the next best option.

 

Pitchers are people too, you know.

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Brady Aiken Injury: Updates on Astros Draft Pick’s Elbow and Recovery

High school phenom Brady Aiken, whom the Houston Astros drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in June's MLB draft, reportedly has an elbow ligament injury that may wind up costing him a significant amount of money in his contract negotiations and could delay the start of his pro baseball career.

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported the injury Monday, noting the Astros are using it as a negotiating tactic:

Will Carroll of Bleacher Report weighed in on Aiken's injury and the Astros' team physician:

Paul Flores spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about Aiken's health following the reports:

“As far as I know, he’s absolutely healthy,” said Flores, who said he has no knowledge of any of Aiken’s dealings with the Astros. “He’s strong, he’s healthy — everything is just like before. But I don’t know the business aspect of baseball.”

Astros scouting director Mike Elias declined to comment.

A month ago, Aiken and the Astros saw eye-to-eye on the signing-bonus amount, and Aiken came to Houston for a physical in June with his family in tow and a press conference expected. It didn’t happen, and all along, a medical issue has been widely believed and whispered to be the barrier between Aiken getting the deal finalized.

Flores, who runs CrossFit East County in El Cajon, Calif., said he’s working with Aiken on a hybrid in-season, off-season workout regiment: using strength training a little more than might be normal for in-season workouts, but not to the same extent as would be done in a standard off-season program.

“There’s nothing that he’s unable to do,” Flores said. “He’s fit.”

Flores keeps Aiken in shape, but is not his pitching coach.

Houston's slotting value allotted by MLB for Aiken is $7.92 million, per Baseball America. Heyman reported last week that the two sides had a tentative agreement on a $6.5 million bonus—a surprisingly significant amount below the slotting value for the No. 1 pick—but word became mum when something amiss showed up in Aiken's physical.    

Emboldened by its newfound leverage, Houston has dropped its offer to $5 million. That would be $1 million below what the Miami Marlins gave to Tyler Kolek, who was taken with the No. 2 overall selection. The Chicago White Sox have not come to terms with third pick Carlos Rodon, but they may wind up paying him more than the Astros are offering Aiken as well.

One of the more polished prep arms in recent memory, Aiken came out of Cathedral Catholic High School in California expecting to instantly make his mark in the minor leagues.

"I'm really excited to take this next step in my life," Aiken told Mark Berman of Fox 26 in June, when he traveled to Houston to sign a deal. "It means a lot. It means the Astros really invested in me and they're really looking forward to having me do what I can do for them."

The Astros' decision to play hardball with him because of the injury may make him rethink that stance. He is committed to play locally at UCLA and still has his scholarship available until he signs a professional contract. It's possible that he and his family will take the offer as a sign of disrespect and have him honor his commitment. If Aiken goes to college, he will not be eligible again until the 2017 draft, per MLB's collective bargaining agreement. 

The Astros and Aiken have until July 18 to get this situation hammered out. Although there is no word on how significant the damage is to his elbow, it's enough to make Houston lop $1.5 million off an already below-market contract. As the two sides head into the stretch run and Aiken considers his next few years, this could be a tense negotiating process.

At the very least, the Astros seem to be having a little buyer's remorse just one month after making Aiken their next franchise arm.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB All-Star Game to Feature Self-Serve Beer Stations

You can pour a little, or you can pour a lot. 

The DraftServ is all about options, and the self-serve beer stations are up and running at the Minnesota Twins' Target Field in preparation for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that the machines are the product of a partnership between Anheuser-Busch and global concessionaire Delaware North, which conspired to create a station where sports fans can pour their own beers.

Jerry Jacobs Jr., a principal of Delaware North, says the DraftServ was designed to give consumers a controlled, hands-on drinking experience.

"It's a way to engage with the customer and allows the fan to have greater control of what they’re drinking," Jacobs told Rovell. "There's obviously some novelty value to this, but it also allows people to pour what they want. If they want half of a cup, that's all they will pay for."

The DraftServ will charge fans by the ounce, costing 38 cents per ounce for Budweiser and Bud Light. Shock Top Lemon Shandy and Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale are listed at 40 cents per ounce.

Buying from the station won't be like operating a vending machine, however. Rovell reports that fans will have to show identification and register for a preloaded card with $10, $20 or $50 worth of beer money on it. Each station will be monitored by an employee tasked with conducting follow-up ID checks on customers that look under 30 and to prevent fans who "appear inebriated" from purchasing beer. The DraftServ allows a customer to use the card to pour up to 48 ounces of beer every 15 minutes.

In addition to the new self-serve stations, Rovell reports that Delaware North will test out some new products during the All-Star Game.

Among the items listed are a lobster corn dog and a "Hangover Burger" with two patties, bacon, American cheese and a fried egg with mayo, ketchup and Sriracha sauce.

So if you're planning to treat yourself to 48 ounces of American Diesel every 15 minutes during the All-Star Game, you might want to take one of the aforementioned burgers to go. You'll need it.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Adrian Rondon to Rays: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

The Tampa Bay Rays have had a disappointing season so far, but there might be reason for optimism, as shortstop Adrian Rondon has signed with the team.

Rondon, currently Baseball America's No. 1 international prospect, signed a contract for a reported $2,950,000 on Monday, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler provided more details on what this means for the Rays organization:

Rondon became eligible to sign today, his 16th birthday, and has earned widespread praise from scouts for his offensive potential at a premium position. The signing puts the Rays well beyond 15 percent over their $1,998,100 bonus pool, which means they will have to pay a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and won’t be allowed to sign any player for more than $300,000 in the next two signing periods.

Not such a bad Sweet 16 gift for the young prospect.

Rondon, a 6'2" infielder out of the Dominican Republic, is one of the youngest players in this year's class of prospects. Though not much is known about him statistically, he blossomed while playing in the International Prospect League.

Baseball America provides Rondon's scouting report, as well as a pro-player comparison:

Rondon also has the attributes that should allow him to stick at shortstop. He’s more of a steady defender than a flashy one, with speed and arm strength that both grade out as 50-55 tools on the 20-80 scale.

... Scouts highest on Rondon think he could make a rapid rise, along the lines of Starlin Castro.

While Castro has experienced some ebbs and flows throughout his career thus far, he was already an All-Star shortstop for the Chicago Cubs at 21 years old. If Rondon can match that with the Rays, they'll certainly have a great prospect for the future.

Bill Chastain of MLB.com provided his thoughts on the deal:

In a division where the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are constant forces and both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have experienced recent success, acquiring Rondon for the future could wind up being huge for the Rays.

With 31-year-old Yunel Escobar currently mired in a season where he's hitting a career-low .244 with just four home runs and 22 RBI, Rondon might have a spot in the near future. But at only 16, it's difficult to see him truly making an impact in the next few seasons.

If Rondon can make a quick ascent through Tampa Bay's minor league system, he has a chance to join young players such as Chris Archer and Wil Myers in the majors. Thanks to already having a good core intact, the Rays have time to make sure he materializes.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Snubs of 2014 MLB All-Star Game Rosters

The annual announcement of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game rosters doubles as a coronation for deserving players and debate among fans for which stars were unfairly left out in the cold. When the sport descends on Minnesota's Target Field next week, most of the best and brightest players in the game will be showcased for fans.

Despite the combination of smart fans, peers and an extra vote to elect one more player from each league, snubs are inevitable. Baseball is filled with talented athletes in the midst of excellent seasons on a yearly basis, and sometimes players who have better stats and are more valuable overall are left off in favor of less-deserving stars. 

By next week, injuries, Final Vote results and roster changes could make this list look instructive. Don't be surprised if a handful of our snubs do end up finding their way to Minnesota. For now, though, a list of snubs emerge for the Midsummer Classic.

Begin Slideshow

Deal Of The Day Ending Soon: Summer Blockbuster Mac Bundle Ft. Path Finder 6 & Fantastical

Screen-Shot-2014-06-18-at-12.25.01-PM-740x286

Guys, the Name Your Own Price Mac Bundles are awesome. You can get 10 award-winning apps for very little money. Technically, as little as you want to pay, although if it’s less than the current average of $11.89, you only get three: DiscLabel, SyncMate Expert 5, and Tangerine! But anything above that price and all 10 are yours, which is a $400 value. The list of apps is impressive.

Path Finder 6
Access & Manage Your Files In A Flash

Fantastical
The Mac Calendar You’ll Actually Enjoy Using

Flux 4
Powerful Mac Web Design Made Easy

Gemini
The Duplicate Finder – Mac App Store Best of 2012

Logoist
Develop Professional Quality Images With Ease

Tunes Cleaner
Delete Duplicate Songs & Revitalize Your iTunes Music Library

MacX iPhone DVD Ripper
Rip Any DVD to Your iPhone, iPad & Other Apple Devices

DiscLabel
One Step To Professional-Looking Labels

SyncMate Expert 5
Sync All of Your Devices & Online Accounts Right to Your Mac

Tangerine!
Create Amazing Playlists For Any Situation Or Activity

This deal ends tomorrow evening, so if there’s even one app in that list that you’ve been thinking of getting, now’s the time.

[ Summer Blockbuster Mac Bundle Ft. Path Finder 6 & Fantastical ]

The post Deal Of The Day Ending Soon: Summer Blockbuster Mac Bundle Ft. Path Finder 6 & Fantastical appeared first on OhGizmo!.

McDonald’s Thinks Their Fast Food Isn’t Fast Enough, And Are Working On An App To Fix That

mcd

Apparently, being able to get a burger served to you in less than a minute just isn’t fast enough in the eyes of McDonald’s. The company is running a very limited pilot test in 22 locations in Columbus, Ohio, where a new application called McD Ordering is supposed to make the ordering process even faster and more streamlined. The way it works involves you placing, and paying for your order in advance through the app, which then generates a unique QR code. Simply present that code once you’ve reached the restaurant and the food will be handed to you. The system is meant to cut down on errors and, well, interaction time with potentially less than pleasant McDrones.

It’s not being advertised anywhere, but apparently 10 orders a day or so are being placed at the moment. The app is free on iOS and Android, but the mixed reviews apparently stem from customers not being aware of which locations they can use it at.

Our only gripe with the idea is that McDonald’s food has a very narrow freshness window, which is likely to be missed as your paper bag patiently waits for you to make your way to the location. If they integrate a GPS-powered zone warning, whereby the McD’s workers receive your order only once you’re a certain distance away from the restaurant in the hopes it’ll be ready just as you walk through the door, then maybe this can work. Otherwise, enjoy your stale Big Mac.

[ BusinessInsider ] VIA [ Geek.com ]

The post McDonald’s Thinks Their Fast Food Isn’t Fast Enough, And Are Working On An App To Fix That appeared first on OhGizmo!.

From The Archives: This Ring Is Carved Straight Out Of A Diamond — 150 Carats’ Worth

diamond3

This article was originally published on March 22nd, 2012. -Ed.

The above is not a gadget, nor exactly new, but it is all kinds of amazing. It’s the creation of Mohamed Shawesh, President and CEO of Shawish Jewelry. It could be called “the world’s first diamond ring” and it wouldn’t be a lie. Every other “diamond ring” out there is really a “ring of gold, studded with diamonds.” This on the other hand, well, is a ring that’s been carved entirely from a giant diamond. Using lasers and traditional diamond cutting and polishing techniques, the ring weighs in at an impressive 150 carats. A year went into its making and its design is copyrighted, much like the shape of the Coke bottle is. It’s expected to sell for $70 million, though it was recently on display at Baselworld, leading us to believe that it has found no buyer. Yet.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 12.19.15 PM

[ Company Website ] VIA [ BornRich ]

The post From The Archives: This Ring Is Carved Straight Out Of A Diamond — 150 Carats’ Worth appeared first on OhGizmo!.

Scouting Reports for Chicago Cubs Players in 2014 Futures Game

One of the highlights of All-Star Weekend is the Futures Game, an event where fans can see some of the game's future stars. There are undoubtedly players at every position who will be playing that same weekend in the MLB All-Star Game eventually. For teams like the Chicago Cubs, it's a time where fans can get excited for the future, as their team's eventual stars will be in action on national television. 

The Cubs' top two prospects (before the acquisition of shortstop Addison Russell) will be playing in the game and will be able to show the rest of the league where the Cubs may be headed in the next few years.

Those two players, third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Javier Baez, will try to show off their talents as they inch closer and closer to the big leagues. As they move more toward the ultimate goal of playing for the Cubs, here are updated scouting reports for the two players the Cubs hope will be playing on All-Star Weekend as members of the Cubs in the near future.

 

3B Kris Bryant

Bryant has been the best hitter in all of minor league baseball this season, already realizing his power and average potential in Double-A and Triple-A. Combined between the two levels in 2014, Bryant is hitting .355 with 30 home runs and 80 RBI. Those are eye-opening numbers and are actually better than the lofty expectations that were heaped on him when he was drafted.

Player HR RBI BA R SB
3B Kris Bryant 30 80 .355 76 11

Coming out of the draft in 2013, Bryant was widely considered the best college hitter, as he hit 31 home runs in his final season at the University of San Diego. The total of next closest power hitter? Twenty-one.

For a couple years, Bryant has been blowing prospects and fans away, especially now that he's on pace for 48 home runs and 129 RBI this season. Based on his dominance in the minor leagues, it's not out of the question that the budding star could be the Cubs third baseman on Opening Day in 2015. 

 

SS Javier Baez

It would be a good bet that Baez is the best No. 2 organizational shortstop in baseball. After the Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for top shortstop prospect Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily, it seems Baez may be on the move. Russell is a more pure shortstop, so Baez's plus arm may move him into right field eventually. 

This season started as a disaster for Baez, but he's turned things around lately. His overall numbers still aren't where he and the Cubs would like them to be, but he's getting closer to being major league-ready.

His slash line of .241/.310/.448 is less than impressive, but again, he's rebounding from an extremely slow start. He has some of the greatest power potential in the entire minor leagues and could be showing that off for the Cubs somewhere at the start of 2015.

Player HR RBI BA R SB
SS Javier Baez 13 50 .241 46 15

As long as he can cut back on his swing-and-miss issues, Baez is well on his way to being an everyday player for the Cubs in the near future.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2014 MLB All-Star Roster: Highlighting Obscure Selections for Midsummer Classic

If a few of the selections for the 2014 MLB All-Star roster left you scratching your head, then join the club.

All-Star rosters are always a tricky thing to project. The managers of either side have a say over the pitching and some of the final bench spots after the fan and player votes are calculated. This makes for some interesting choices.

Omar Infante's selection back in 2010 is a perfect example. Sure, the guy had very good numbers, but good enough to be an All-Star? Most would say no.

There are a few players who shouldn't be playing in the Midsummer Classic on July 15, but will be for a variety of different reasons. Here they are.

 

Josh Harrison

Josh Harrison doesn't even have a starting spot on his own team, but he is going to represent the National League in Minneapolis.

Sure, he has pretty good numbers. He's slashing .298/.335/.453 with five homers and 25 RBI. He also has nine steals and 12 doubles. The guy is a good hitter.

With that said, he doesn't have a definite position and there were many others who could have gone ahead of him.

Literally any of the five players—Anthony Rendon, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Upton, Justin Morneau or Casey McGehee—from the NL Final Vote were more deserving. If Harrison were in the the NL Final Vote instead, that would make much more sense.

Leaving it to the fans is OK, because if they want to see him, then everything will work itself out.

Alas, this was a pick made by NL manager Mike Matheny. It was a pick he didn't need to make.

If he's citing versatility, then he doesn't really have a case. Both Dee Gordon and Matt Carpenter play multiple infield positions, and if it gets to the point where you need another outfielder, you can always turn to Hunter Pence or Charlie Blackmon.

Harrison is extraordinarily valuable to the Pirates. There's no denying his worth to the team. Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about his efforts on a nightly basis:

Not every player can start Friday against the Phillies at third base for Pedro Alvarez and bat sixth, Saturday at second base for Neil Walker and bat fifth and Sunday in left field for [Starling] Marte and bat second. Harrison contributed to the win Sunday by banging a triple to right-center field in the second inning off Phillies starter A.J. Burnett and scoring the Pirates' third run. He has hit .307 in his 49 starts. The team's record in those games is 30-19.

Team value doesn't always translate to all-league value, though, and that's why this is a questionable pick by Matheny.

 

Charlie Blackmon

Charlie Blackmon's overall numbers are very impressive. He's slashing .291/.339/.457 with 12 homers, 47 RBI and 16 steals. It's not all good, thoughespecially when you consider these stats:

The outfielder earned his spot on this team months ago when he was one of the most productive hitters in baseball. While still solid, he's far from that player now, which is what raises debate over his selection.

There were other outfielders who could have gone ahead of Blackmon. Upton or Ryan Braun would have made some sense, and even Billy Hamilton wouldn't have been a bad pick.

This isn't to knock Blackmon at all. The guy came out of seemingly nowhere after playing well in limited time last season. The Colorado Rockies are sure happy to have him atop the lineup, but the National League's team would be better suited with somebody else.

Blackmon will certainly see time in this game after Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez get their innings, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against the best pitchers the American League has to offer.

 

Kurt Suzuki

Both the NL and the AL are carrying three catchers with them to Minnesota. The NL catchers—Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy and Devin Mesoraco—are all deserving of their spots.

The AL catchers are a much less impressive group after starter Salvador Perez.

Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki are the No. 2 and No. 3 catchers, respectively. Given the weak group at the position, it's puzzling as to why manager John Farrell didn't skip taking a third catcher to take another deserving player.

Perez can give you multiple innings, and so can Norris. Suzuki might not even play.

Suzuki has been good this year, but far from great. He's hitting .306/.363/.400 with two homers and 34 RBI. Those are solid numbers, but they aren't All-Star-worthy.

It's not even as though he was the only Minnesota Twins selection. Glen Perkins made the pitching staff, and he is far more deserving.

Ian Kinsler, a snub and someone who wasn't even in the AL Final Vote, deserved this spot far more than Suzuki did. If teams are playing to win the game and grab home-field advantage for the World Series, then managers should play this game more aggressively.

Why take three catchers? This isn't a multigame series. It's one game. Nine innings. One or two catchers can take care of it. There's no need for a third.

 

All-Star Game roster information courtesy of MLB.com.

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Tigers Rookie Eugenio Suarez Turns into Easy out at Home After Face-Planting

Scoring off Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price is no easy task, so when you get the opportunity to cross the plate against him, you better take advantage of it.

On ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the turf monster prevented Detroit Tigers rookie Eugenio Suarez from scoring from first on a double by Austin Jackson in the seventh inning:

Unfortunately for Suarez, this doesn't fall into the category of "rookie mistake." It's just an embarrassing moment for the first-year shortstop.

Tampa Bay went on to win 7-3, so Suarez's blooper didn't have much of an effect on the outcome of the game.

[MLB.com]

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Reds of Week 14

A three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place San Diego Padres preceded an emphatic series victory against the first-place Brewers. If there were ever a week to illustrate the roller-coaster ride of Reds baseball in 2014, this past week would suffice.

Joey Votto may once again be headed to the disabled list, so the Reds will turn to their greatest strength, the starting pitching, to help keep the team in the playoff hunt. You'll notice as much in this week's list. 

Despite all of the bumps, the Reds have put themselves right in the mix. As the final week of the first half begins, the Reds sit just six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and only three back of the final wild card slot currently occupied by the Washington Nationals.

But that's conversation for a different piece. Here are the top 10 Reds who most contributed to an awkward 2-4 week with a feel-good ending. 

 

All stats courtesy of ESPN.com/MLB

Begin Slideshow

Where’s Waldo? Somewhere On This Shirt

Where's Waldo Shirt

 

Where oh where could Waldo be? Most of the time, it takes a lot of persistence and a sharp eye to spot Waldo from among the crowd on a page in one of his books. But what about on this oh-so-colorful shirt inspired by none other than Waldo? Waldo can be found (or rather, searched for) in all sorts of places around the world.

This time around, Waldo takes his adventure underwater, given that the shirt is blue and all. It doesn’t help that red-and-white stripes are everywhere–from the fishing boats to fishes and numerous dudes sporting the striped pants.

Up for the challenge? You can get one of these shirts for $22 from 80s Tees.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ TIWIB ]

The post Where’s Waldo? Somewhere On This Shirt appeared first on OhGizmo!.

MLB All-Star Voting 2014: Leaders, Results and Reaction for Midsummer Classic

Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is one of the best summer traditions in sports. The voting for the 2014 edition has now closed, and the players lucky enough to be selected have been announced.

Baseball is one of the few sports in the world that focuses so much attention on the people who actually pay the bills (the consumers) during this process, and many of the players participating in this year’s event were voted in by the droves of MLB fans across the country.

When the All-Star Game takes place July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, these will be the rosters for the American League and the National League:

 

Starting Lineups

According to MLB.com’s official Twitter account, the starting lineups will look like this:

 

Breaking Down the 2014 All-Star Game Rosters

Baseball fans love the All-Star Game due to the historical significance of the event and the festivities that surround it, and the AL and NL rosters for the 2014 edition have fans and experts buzzing.

The best part of the annual game is how MLB gets the fans involved. With the ability to decide which players make the game, those casting their votes now have a vested interest in the Midsummer Classic and will pay closer attention.

As MLB’s public relations Twitter account shared, there were millions of votes for both leagues:

One of the most consistent vote-getters in this process is New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter. Despite the clear drop in production in his advanced age, the fans still love his style of play and his attitude toward the sport.

After being told about getting voted in once again, Jeter spoke to Erik Boland of Newsday about what the honor means to him in his final MLB season before retirement:

Another player who made the All-Star Game is Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Not only did he make the team, but according to Matt O'Donnell of 6ABC, he also has put himself into an elite category both on the team and in the league:

One of the biggest shocks for this year’s All-Star Game is the recognition Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is receiving. With a .310 batting average, 16 home runs and 58 RBI, the young player deserves the honor.

Arizona’s official Twitter account shared just how dominant Goldschmidt has been since 2012:

While the voters got most of the top players onto the roster, there is always talk about the snubs who were not included. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports rattled off a few of his own but added why they didn’t make the team:

Regardless of whether you agree with every player on the rosters or not, the fans and the league got the majority of the decisions correct. With serious star power throughout both lineups, the resulting battle on the field should result in a must-watch game.

The players take the All-Star Game seriously now due to the World Series implications—the winning team earns home-field advantage for their league in the final series—and the depth and the quality of the athletes on both rosters will make for a heated matchup.

The top stars in the league are already ultra-competitive. Adding the World Series caveat will only make the best in MLB work even harder, especially if those players believe their team could be in contention for the championship.

 

Stats via MLB.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB All Star Voting 2014: Leaders, Results and Reaction for Midsummer Classic

Major League Baseball's All Star Game is one of the best summer traditions in sports, and the voting for the 2014 edition has closed. The players lucky enough to be selected have been announced.

Baseball is one of the few sports in the world that focuses so much attention on the people who actually pay the bills (the consumers) during this process, and many of the players participating in this year’s event were voted in by the droves of MLB fans across the country.

When the All Star Game takes place July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, these will be the rosters for the American League and the National League:

 

Starting Lineups

According to MLB.com’s official Twitter account, the starting lineups will look like this:

 

Breaking Down the 2014 All Star Game Rosters

Hardcore and casual baseball fans love the All Star Game due to the historical significance of the event and the festivities that surround it, and the AL and NL rosters for the 2014 edition have fans and experts buzzing.

The best part of the annual game is how MLB gets the fans involved. With the ability to decide which players make the game, those casting their votes now have a vested interest in the Midsummer Classic and will pay closer attention.

As MLB’s public relations Twitter account shared, there were millions of votes for both leagues:

One of the most consistent vote-getters in this process is New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter. Despite the clear drop in production in his advanced age, the fans still love his style of play and his attitude toward the sport.

After being told about getting voted in once again, Jeter spoke to Erik Boland of Newsday about what the honor means to him:

Another player who made the All Star Game is Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Not only did he make the team, but according to Matt O'Donnell of 6ABC, he also has put himself into an elite category both on the team and in the league:

One of the biggest shocks for this year’s All Star Game is the recognition Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is receiving. With a .310 batting average, 16 home runs and 58 RBI, the young player deserves the honor.

Arizona’s official Twitter account shared just how dominant Goldschmidt has been since 2012:

While the voters got most of the top players onto the roster, there is always talk about the snubs who were not included. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports rattled off a few of his own but added why they didn’t make the team:

Regardless of whether you agree with every player on the rosters or not, the fans and the league got the majority of the decisions correct. With serious star power throughout both lineups, the resulting battle on the field should result in a must-watch game.

The players take the All Star Game seriously now due to the World Series implications—the winning team earns home-field advantage for their league in the final series—and the depth and the quality of the athletes on both rosters will make for a heated matchup.

The top stars in the league are already ultracompetitive. Adding the World Series caveat will only make the best in MLB work even harder, especially if those players believe their team could be in contention for the championship.

 

Stats via MLB.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com