The Rundown: In Praise of El Mago, Cubs Draft Two From Hart HS, Mariners Are Sneaky Good

I love me some Javy Baez. Phil Rizzuto (via Meat Loaf) was like the Nostradamus of baseball announcers, right?

“OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth. There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle. Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He’s rounding first and really turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw, and what a throw! He’s gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he’s out! No, wait, safe – safe at second base, this kid really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to the plate, here’s the pitch-he’s going, and what a jump he’s got. He’s trying for third, here’s the throw, it’s in the dirt-safe at third holy cow, stolen base! He’s taking a pretty big lead out there, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher glances over, winds up, and it’s bunted, bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze play, it’s gonna be close, here’s the throw, here’s the play at the plate holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!”

With a third of the season in the books, El Mago is the top ranked offensive player in the National League per CBS Sports.

Jim Hendry left the Cubs with a fantastic parting gift when he drafted Baez. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Cubs should trade their second baseman over the past few years but I am certainly glad he’s stayed here in Chicago. He’s must-see TV and the most dynamic player in baseball. If the Cubs pursue either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper this winter, I am sure Baez will be one of the team’s selling points. Who wouldn’t want to play with this guy?

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs are number one in offense, defense and base running, and their pitching staff is second in all of baseball with an ERA+ of 131 and tied for first with eight shutouts. They’re 33-23, but their pythagorean record is a gaudy 37-19. This is a good team that may be about to put it all together. With a run differential of +93, only the Astros are better (+122).

The Cubs selected Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner with their first pick in MLB’s Rule 4 draft yesterday. Todd Johnson breaks it down here and takes a look at their second round picks here.

Two of the Cubs draft picks went to Hart High School in Los Angeles. Senior outfielder Cole Roederer, a UCLA signee, was drafted No. 77 overall, and former Hart pitcher Paul Richan from San Diego went No. 78. Just this past weekend, four Hart grads pitched in the major leagues on the same day — Trevor Bauer, James Shields, Tyler Glasnow and the Cubs’ Mike Montgomery.

The Cubs-White Sox rivalry has certainly lost a bit of its bite in recent years but Forbes analyzes each team’s draft picks over the past 54 years to determine which team has drafted better historically. The White Sox had the 4th overall pick yesterday and selected Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal.

How About That!

Bleacher Report grades the first round of yesterday’s draft.

Raise your hand if you were unaware that Seattle leads the AL West by a game over the Astros. The two teams start a three-game series tonight. I raised my hand. The Mariners may be the sneakiest team in baseball this year.

Aaron Judge struck out eight times in yesterday’s double-header with the Tigers. That’s never been done before. He won’t make today’s top three list.

The Astros selected Seth Beer with the 28th overall pick yesterday. I am confident jersey sales will easily cover his signing bonus.

Monday’s Top Three Stars

  1. Casey Mize – The right-handed pitcher from Auburn was drafted first overall by the Detroit Tigers. Mize, who had long been considered the favorite to go in the top spot, has arguably the best swing-and-miss pitch in the draft with his splitter and he can touch the upper-90s with his fastball, too.
  2. Luis Severino – The Yankees right-hander dominated an overmatched Tigers lineup in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, giving up just one earned run (two overall) while fanning 10 batters over eight innings of work. He surrendered only four hits and didn’t walk anyone.
  3.  Jefry Marte – The Angels first baseman went 4-for-4 with a home run in a 9-6 win over the Royals. It was just the second game of his career with four hits.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • The Yankees aren’t very happy with ESPN right now. They plan to boycott the behemoth network if it moves a day game against the Blue Jays to a night game on July 8th. New York has to travel to Baltimore for a double header the next day. ESPN often asks for TV interviews with players prior to the game and special access. The Yankees would just say no to all requests, a source said, if the July 8 game remains on the Sunday night schedule.

They Said It

  • “First and foremost, it’s just his ability on the baseball field. A talented player who can really swing the bat … high contact. We think there’s actually more power in there in terms of extra-base hits, in terms of lifting the ball. But we really love what he can do at the plate. He’s a multi-tool athlete with incredible makeup. He’s a leader on the field. He’s a leader in the dugout. He’s incredibly passionate. He’s all about winning. He’s exactly what we’re looking to bring into the organization.” – Jason McLeod regarding Cubs draft pick Nico Hoerner
  • “This is a guy who can handle the bat. He can play two positions up the middle and could fill in at third base if they needed him to. Being able to swing the bat and play multiple positions is a valuable asset these days.” – Jonathan Mayo on Hoerner.

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meat Loaf

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