The Mariners fired director of pro scouting Carmen Fusco yesterday. The move reportedly came because he didn't inform the club that minor league righthander Josh Lueke, part of the Cliff Lee trade with the Rangers, had been charged with rape and sodomy in a May 2008 incident in which he eventually plead no contest to a charge of false imprisonment with violence. Lueke's acquisition led to controversy in Seattle, where the team has worked with groups opposing violence toward women.
Multiple sources have disputed Mariners general manager Jack Zdureiencik's contention that he didn't know the extent of Lueke's legal troubles when he made the trade. (Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times did an exhaustive story on the subject, which can be found here.) Yet Fusco took the fall for the move.
Which begs the question: If Lueke is so toxic that his acquisition necessitated that someone get fired, why is Seattle holding on to him? The answer, apparently, is that he has an upper-90s fastball. The Mariners couldn't look any more hypocritical.
There are only three possible No. 1 overall picks, and none of them are named Matt Wieters. There's David Price, the top choice in 2007 and the potential American League Cy Young Award winner this year, and rookie outfielders Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton. I'd still take Price first, because ace lefthanded starters are harder to find than superstar outfielders. I'd go with Heyward over Stanton because I think he'll be a better all-around hitter.
Before I put the list together, I thought it would be more impressive than it turned out. The catching depth is impressive, but the 10th and 11th players have to come back from Tommy John surgery and the list starts to get murky shortly after that. Only 12 actual first-rounders made my retroactive first round, which included only players who signed an not guys like Drew Storen, who turned down the Yankees as a 29th-rounder:
|1. David Price, lhp, Rays (first round, No. 1 overall)|
|2. Jason Heyward, of, Braves (first round, No. 14)|
|3. Mike Stanton, of, Marlins (second round, No. 76)|
|4. Matt Wieters, c, Orioles (first round, No. 5)|
|5. Mike Moustakas, 3b, Royals (first round, No. 2)|
|6. Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Giants (first round, No. 10)|
|7. Matt Moore, lhp, Rays (eighth round, No. 245)|
|8. Rick Porcello, rhp, Tigers (first round, No. 27)|
|9. Freddie Freeman, 1b, Braves (second round, No. 78)|
|10. Jordan Zimmermann, rhp, Nationals (second round, No. 67)|
|11. Jarrod Parker, rhp, Diamondbacks (first round, No. 9)|
|12. Brett Cecil, lhp, Blue Jays (sandwich round, No. 38)|
|13. Danny Duffy, lhp, Royals (third round, No. 96)|
|14. J.P. Arencibia, c, Blue Jays (first round, No. 21)|
|15. Devin Mesoraco, c, Reds (first round, No. 15)|
|16. Tommy Hunter, lhp, Rangers (sandwich round, No. 54)|
|17. Nick Hagadone, lhp, Red Sox (sandwich round, No. 55)|
|18. Julio Borbon, of, Rangers (sandwich round, No. 35)|
|19. Chris Withrow, rhp, Dodgers (first round, No. 20)|
|20. Jake Arrieta, rhp, Orioles (fifth round, No. 159)|
|21. Casey Crosby, lhp, Tigers (fifth round, No. 181)|
|22. Austin Romine, c, Yankees (second round, No. 94)|
|23. Travis d'Arnaud, c, Phillies (sandwich round, No. 37)|
|24. Matt LaPorta, 1b, Brewers (first round, No. 7)|
|25. Mitch Moreland, 1b, Rangers (17th round, No. 530)|
|26. Derek Norris, c, Nationals (fourth round, No. 130)|
|27. Jonathan Lucroy, c, Brewers (third round, No. 101)|
|28. Todd Frazier, of/3b, Reds (sandwich round, No. 34)|
|29. Matt Dominguez, 3b, Marlins (first round, No. 12)|
|30. Ben Revere, of, Twins (first round, No. 28)|
The Rangers stand out for having the most players on the list (three), as well as the lowest-drafted player, No. 530 overall pick Mitch Moreland. Eighteen teams are represented in the retroactive first round, including 11 with multiple players. The next four players who just missed the cut were Red Sox lefthander Drake Britton (23rd round, No. 714), Padres lefty Cory Luebke (sandwich round, No. 63), Brewers righthander Cody Scarpetta (11th round, No. 341) and Phillies outfielder Michael Taylor (fifth round, No. 173).
The Diamondbacks drafted Loux sixth overall in the 2010 draft, but a failed physical scuttled an agreement on a reported $2 million bonus. The morning after the Aug. 16 signing deadline, the two sides agreed that the Texas A&M righthander would become a free agent. Under MLB rules governing unsigned picks, Arizona will receive the No. 7 overall choice in 2011. Loux became eligible to sign with any team on Sept. 1.
However, there's no hurry to sign Loux and a source told me that no deal is imminent. Interested clubs will want to dig into his medical history, and it also figures that he would throw for them.
Loux missed two months with shoulder tenderness as a high school senior in 2007 and came down with bone chips in his elbow that had to be surgically removed as a Texas A&M sophomore last year. The Diamondbacks' concerns reportedly centered around the wear and tear on his shoulder and elbow, rather than a specific injury. He held up throughout the 2010 college season, going 11-2, 2.83 with 136 strikeouts in 105 innings.
Loux is a quality prospect, but he was not the sixth-best player in the 2010 draft. Baseball America rated him the 35th-best prospect available, and Arizona took him at No. 6 in part to save money. MLB's bonus recommendation for the sixth slot was $2.34 million.
Scouts like Loux' frame (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and fastball (it sits at 90-92 mph, touches 95 and looks even quicker because he throws with little effort), but he doesn't have a plus second pitch. Given the concerns about his health, I suspect he'll sign for a bonus around $750,000. I'm just not sure who will land him and how quickly that will happen.
Alderson has ridden a roller coaster since signing with the Giants as the 22nd overall pick in the 2007 draft. In his first full pro season, he led the high Class A California League with a 2.79 ERA as a 19-year-old. In the middle of his second, his velocity started to drop and he went to the Pirates in a trade for Freddie Sanchez. In his third, he posted a distressing 6.03 ERA and got demoted back to high Class A.
There's no consensus on how exactly it happened, but Alderson's stuff has declined. When he starred in 2008, he had a lively 88-92 mph four-seam fastball, a plus curveball and a progressing changeup. Now his fastball dips as low as 83 and rarely cracks 90, and while he throws his secondary pitches for strikes, they're nothing special and don't miss bats. He still has good control but it's not quite as sharp as it once was.
Health isn't a factor, as Alderson hasn't missed a start as a pro. He always has had a complicated delivery that featured some herky-jerkiness and recoil. While the deception helps him against hitters, it's possible that the stress in his delivery has cost him some arm strength. The Giants and Pirates have tried to smooth out his mechanics, and Pittsburgh has tried to add some extension out in front, and working on those changes may have worked against Alderson.
Whatever the reason, Alderson isn't the same pitcher he was in 2008, or even when the Pirates acquired him in mid-2009. Unless he finds a solution, it's difficult to envision him making it to the majors.