The Orioles continue to contend longer than expected, and they made a bold move Thursday by calling up 20-year-old Manny Machado from Double-A. Though he played just two games at third base in the minors, Baltimore hoped the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft could provide some defensive consistency at the hot corner that Wilson Betemit, Mark Reynolds and Steven Tolleson could not.
Machado has done just that, playing errorless ball through his first four big league games. He has been more impressive at the plate, showing why he's on the short list of baseball's elite prospects. He delivered at least one extra-base hit in each of his four contests, batting .375/.375/1.125 with three homers. He went deep twice on Friday, surpassing Manny Ramirez as the youngest player ever to do so in his first or second major league game.
- Can you compare today's long-term outlook for Matt Harvey and Rick Porcello now that Harvey has reached the majors versus how they compared before the draft in 2007? I always have grouped the two together since they were two of the top high school pitching prospects out of the Northeast and both committed to North Carolina in 2007.
Harvey and Porcello entered 2007 as the top high school prospects in that year's draft, and they were going to room together if they both became Tar Heels. Harvey rated the slightest of edges before the season began, but Porcello passed him during the spring.
Porcello pitched at 93-95 mph and topped out at 98 with his fastball while showing a pair of quality breaking balls and feel for a changeup. Signability concerns dropped him to the Tigers with the 27th overall pick, and he signed a $7 million big league contract.
Harvey battled his command early in his senior season before snapping out of it, and he showed a 91-95 mph fastball and power curveball. Teams also worried about his bonus demands, so he fell to the Angels in the third round and ultimately opted for college.
Porcello went straight to high Class A and led the Florida State League in ERA in his 2008 pro debut, then jumped all the way to Detroit and won 14 games as a rookie in 2009. At the same time, Harvey was inconsistent in his first two years with the Tar Heels. Porcello looked like someone who'd be a consistent all-star, while it appeared that Harvey's future could lie in the bullpen.
Three years later, much has changed and Harvey has the brighter future. Porcello relies heavily on a two-seam fastball and has all but scrapped his curveball. The Tigers emphasized that he pitch to contact and work on offerings besides his curve after he turned pro, and he has morphed into someone who lacks an out pitch and rarely misses bats. He allows twice as many hits as he notches strikeouts, and at 23 is more of an innings-eater than a future star.
In his big league debut against the Diamondbacks on July 26, Harvey struck out 11—three more whiffs than Porcello ever has had in a major league game. Harvey can make hitters look bad with a 92-94 mph fastball that reaches 98 or a hard slider that peaks at 87. He still needs to improve the consistency of his command, but he has the ingredients to become a frontline starter.
- The Indians drafted High Point righthander Cody Allen in the 23rd round in 2011 and added him to their bullpen 13 months later, making him the second 2011 draftee (after Trevor Bauer) to appear in the majors. In his first nine appearances, he allowed just three hits and no runs while walking seven and striking out nine. How often has a player drafted that low made it to the big leagues that quickly? How did Baseball America rate Allen before the draft?
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before the 2011 draft, Nathan Rode ranked Allen as the 15th-best prospect in North Carolina, noting that he attracted scouts with his good curveball and also threw an 88-92 mph fastball, albeit with not much life. Allen reached Double-A in his first pro summer and dominated our Indians Draft Report Card
, where John Manuel credited him with the best secondary pitch and best pro debut in Cleveland's class, and also cited him as being the Tribe's best late-round pick and their draftee closest to the majors.
Signed for $40,000, Allen has seen his velocity spike since moving to the bullpen full-time as a pro. He's now working at 94-96 mph and touching 98 with his fastball, and he's throwing his breaking ball in the mid-80s. John has more details about Allen in his latest magazine column.
Allen's meteoric rise from the 23rd round of the draft to the majors in little more than a year is nearly unprecedented. He's just the third player selected in that round or later to be one of the first three members of his draft class to arrive in the big leagues, following Dusty Baker (Braves, 26th round, 1968) and Carl Willis (Tigers, 23rd round, 1983).
- How did Felipe Perez end up signing with the Diamondbacks? What kind of pitcher is he and where do you think he would've have gone in the draft based solely on talent?
Perez ranked 129th on the BA 500 before the draft, and he was the highest-rated player who went unselected. In terms of talent, he fit in the third to fifth round. A product of from Fairmont Prep in Anaheim, he's a projectable 6-foot-3 righthander who showed an 88-91 mph fastball and feel for three pitches during the spring.
Perez is also a top student who had committed to UCLA, so clubs didn't think they could persuade him to turn pro. The Diamondbacks continued to follow him during the summer, however, and were intrigued when his stuff ticked up a notch in the West Coast League, a summer college circuit. They signed him for $400,000, pending a physical this week.
Any player who's eligible for the draft and goes unpicked can sign with any team as a free agent, up until he attends his first class in the fall or a week before the next year's draft, whichever comes first. (This rule has existed as long as the draft has, and isn't one of the many draft changes resulting from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.)
As with players selected after the 10th round, any bonus money over $100,000 for a nondrafted free agent counts against a team's bonus pool. If Arizona had paid more than $404,415 to Perez, its total pool spending would have exceeded its $3,818,300 allotment by more than 5 percent, resulting in the loss of its 2013 first-round pick.
It's common for a few nondrafted free agents to sign every summer, often after they perform well in college leagues. Perez's bonus is higher than most, though not unprecedented. Bobby Kielty got $500,000 from the Twins after a big summer in the Cape Cod League in 1999.