Monthly Archives: January 2020

Clint Conatser Jersey

September 21, 1952: The Boston Braves play their final home game at Braves Field. They lose 8-2 to the Brooklyn Dodgers. They close the season with a trip to New York City, losing 3 to the Giants, and then a loss to the Dodgers, a win over them, and a tie that is not replayed.

March 18, 1953: The Major League Baseball owners approve the Braves’ move to Milwaukee. You could do that in those days, move a team within a month of Opening Day.

There are 11 former Boston Braves still alive, 63 years after the move. I have arranged them in chronological order, by time with the Braves, not necessarily by age:

* Eddie Carnett, 99, from Oklahoma. Left fielder, he played 2 games for the Braves in 1941, before going into the service, got his discharge, and played with the 1944 Chicago White Sox and 1945 Cleveland Indians. If he lives to see October 21, it will be his 100th birthday.

* Mike Sandlock, 100, from Greenwich, Connecticut. Catcher, played 2 games in 1942, returned for 30 games in 1944, later played for the Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The oldest living former major leaguer.

* Harry MacPherson, 90, from the Boston suburbs. Pitcher, faced 4 batters on August 14, 1944, and got 3 of them out, without allowing a run — and never made another big-league appearance. He was finished at age 18, a situation that could only have happened with the manpower shortage of World War II.

* Clint Conatser, 94, from Los Angeles. Outfielder, 1948 and ’49. The last survivor of the Braves’ last Pennant team in Boston, of 1948.

* Johnny Antonelli, 85, from Rochester. Pitcher, 1948-50, then went into the Korean War. By the time he pitched for the Braves again, they’d moved. Traded to the New York Giants in 1954, won 21 games, the National League ERA title, and the World Series. Was also with the Giants when they moved in 1957, and closed his career back with the Braves in 1961.

* Del Crandall, 86, from the Los Angeles suburbs. Catcher, 1949-50, then went into the Korean War. By the time he pitched for the Braves again, they’d moved. An 8-time All-Star in Milwaukee, won 3 of the 1st 4 NL Gold Gloves for catchers, and starred on their 1957 and ’58 World Series teams. Later returned to Milwaukee as Brewers manager.

* Luis Olmo, 96, from Puerto Rico. Outfielder, appeared in the 1949 World Series for the Dodgers, then wrapped up his U.S. big-league career with the Braves in 1950 and ’51, before returning to the Caribbean.

* Dick Manville, 89, from Des Moines. Pitcher, tossed 2 innings on April 30, 1950, and had a brief return to the majors with the 1952 Chicago Cubs.

* Bob Addis, 90, from the Cleveland suburbs. Outfielder, 1950 and ’51. Briefly played in the Yankees’ minor-league system.

* Bert Thiel, 89, from Marion, Wisconsin. Pitcher, made 4 relief appearances for the Braves in 1952. Ironically, given his home State, never got called back up after they moved to Milwaukee.

* Gene Conley, 85, from the Seattle suburbs. Pitcher, made 4 appearances in 1952, the last season in Boston. Went into the service, came back to the Braves in Milwaukee, was the winning pitcher in the 1955 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, and pitched for them in the 1957 and ’58 World Series. Also pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox.

The last active player for the Boston Braves was Eddie Mathews, who was also the only player to have played for them in Boston, Milwaukee (all 13 seasons) and Atlanta (just the 1st season, 1966). He remained active until 1968. The last active player for the Milwaukee Braves was Phil Niekro, who lasted until 1987.

*

UPDATE: Mike Sandlock died on April 9, 2016, making Eddie Carnett the oldest living former MLB player. Carnett did live to see his 100th birthday, but not much more. He died on November 4, 2016.

Bob Addis died on November 15, 2016. Harry MacPherson died on February 19, 2017. Luis Olmo, who had also been a living former Brooklyn Dodger, died on April 28, 2017. Gene Conley died on July 4, 2017. Dick Manville died on February 13, 2019. Clint Conatser died on August 23, 2019, meaning that every player who had ever won a Pennant for the Boston franchise of the National League is now dead.

That leaves 3 living former Boston Braves: Johnny Antonelli, Del Crandall and Bert Thiel.
Posted by Uncle Mike at 3:19 PM
Labels: 1948, 1952, 1953, atlanta braves, bert thiel, bob addis, boston, boston braves, braves field, clint conatser, del crandall, dick manville, johnny antonelli, living former
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Kelvin Jimenez Jersey

A New York man is facing drug trafficking charges after authorities seized more than 3 kilograms of fentanyl from a truck he was driving in the parking lot of a Market Basket store in Woburn, Massachusetts.

The truck driver, Kelvin Jimenez, 28, of the Bronx, New York, was taken into custody Thursday by Woburn police detectives and members of the Southern Middlesex Regional Drug Task Force.

Authorities said that after receiving information that a large amount of fentanyl was going to be delivered to the Market Basket plaza, units were deployed.

As a result, Jimenez was arrested for trafficking and the truck he was driving was seized.

Police said the approximate weight of the fentanyl seized was 3,238 grams.

It’s unclear when Jimenez will be arraigned or if he has an attorney.

Larry Eschen Jersey

There’s no dearth of money in Major League Baseball.

The 30 clubs settled mostly one-year contracts with 99 arbitration eligible players for nearly half a billion dollars by Friday’s deadline for exchanging figures.

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets led the way in Friday’s spending of $498.5 million, all three teams booking deals in excess of $40 million each.

The above figures were assembled personally by hand via ESPN’s 2020 arbitration tracker.

None of the above clubs made the playoffs last season even though the three teams were among the top spenders in MLB, the Red Sox soaring far over the luxury tax threshold at a baseball tops $242.8 million. Three teams, including the Cubs and New York Yankees, exceeded the threshold of $206 million.

The Red Sox, who spent $46.21 million Friday, signed five players, including outfielder Mookie Betts to a record for an arbitration-eligible player deal of $27 million. Another outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., signed for $11 million.

Today In: Business
The Mets spent $44.38 on seven players, including $9.7 million alone for pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

The Cubs also signed six players for $42.65 million, including third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant at $18.6 million.

In other contract news from around the league, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed National League MVP Cody Bellinger for $11.5 million, a record for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Bellinger earned $605,000 last season.

The New York Yankees gave big raises to young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in their first years of arbitration. The slugging right-fielder went from $669,800 last season to $8.5 million, the catcher from $617,600 to $5 million.

Larry Eschen The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds gave big raises respectively to second baseman Francisco Lindor and pitcher Trevor Bauer, both players signing for $17.5 million each. The Indians traded Bauer to the Reds at last season’s July 31 trade deadline, while Lindor has been a focal point of constant trade rumors all this offseason.

The arbitration system allows most players who have three to five seasons of service time to exchange financial figures with their own teams. If they don’t settle beforehand the two sides go to a hearing where an independent arbitrator awards one or the other financial figure to said player.

At six years of service time, players can become free agents and sell their services to any Major League club.

Betts, for example, was a third-year arbitration eligible player who will become a free agent after the 2020 World Series, thus the reason for the record settlement. Betts, represented by super-agent Scott Boras, has resisted negotiating a long-term deal with Boston and said he will test the free agent market.

Betts has history on his side. In the past two signing seasons, Bryce Harper signed a 13-year free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million, Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for 10-years at $300 million with a five-year opt out, and most recently, Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels for seven years at $245 million.

The Angels last year also kept American League MVP Mike Trout for 12 years at $426.5 million, and the Colorado Rockies re-upped Nolan Arenado for eight years, $260 million with an opt out after five years.Larry Eschen

MLB is so awash in money that the top two pitchers on the current market signed early, Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees for nine years at $324 million and Stephen Strasburg returning to the Washington Nationals for seven years, $245 million when he opted out of his deal after his club defeated the Houston Astros in a seven-game World Series.

Friday’s contract action was just another example of it.

Larry Demery Jersey

Four weeks ago, major league teams declined to tender 2020 contracts to 53 players, including 40 who were arbitration eligible. This was on top of 83 players previously sent outright from the start of the offseason, meaning they went unclaimed through waivers. In total, that’s 136 players who were theoretically available to all teams to reserve if they desired.

While the number of non-tenders was higher than the past couple years (though not unprecedented either), this is largely nothing unusual. While roster churn has picked up in intensity over the last decade, the same types of offseason transaction cycles happened in the 2000s, 1990s, and even most of the 1980s.

In one respect it was quite striking to me. I’ve spent a fair bit of time the last couple months digging through the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail coverage of the Blue Jays from the late-70s birth of the franchise. And a recurring theme was just how hard it was for the front office to find players worth acquiring. By definition, those 136 players referenced above either project as marginal, or whose salaries are beyond their production. Nonetheless, there’s numerous established quality MLB players, and plenty of interesting young players worthy of opportunity, some of whom will go on to quality big league careers.

This was simply not the case back in 1976. Consider that when the Jays joined the American League, it was after a wave of expansion that has increased the Major Leagues by 50% from 16 to 24 teams from 1960 to 1969. Those teams certainly had it pretty bad, especially the four who joined at once in 1969, but at least then the echo of the Baby Boom was resulting in a surge of prime-baseball-aged population entering into the system. That takes time to work through, and then along comes another expansionary wave diluting things.

That meant there was a shortage of talent to go around. Salary arbitration had started just three years before, and while teams were not at all happy pleased with it pushing up salaries, it was a good decade or so before non-tendering became a thing. It was the dawn of free agency, but a much limited version and the expansion teams were frozen out the first year since the free agent draft was the day before the expansion draft. In any event, the Jays weren’t going to be players, and only signed one drafted free agent before 1984 (Luis Gomez, a light hitting shortstop).

Waivers? In September 1977, the Jays claimed 24-year old John Hale from the Dodgers, who had promising AAA numbers but hadn’t translated to the majors (.214/.314/.317 in 478 PA). He promptly refused to report unless the Jays would give him a guaranteed 1978 contract, and you can imagine how well that went down. Two weeks later he was sent on to Seattle for the $20,000 the waiver claim that cost them. The next Spring, the Jays claimed Larry Demery from Pittsburgh, who had thrown 260 innings with a 3.06 ERA in 1975-76. After they got a closer look at his ailing shoulder, they decided they preferred their $20,000 and the claim was reversed four days later. Small wonder they didn’t use waivers for a long time.

In fact, about the only way the Jays did add real talent was when they leveraged their financial resources. They got Ron Fairly from Oakland when Charlie Finley wanted to dump his salary. They sent $200,000 to Texas to acquire Roy Howell, who had signed a three-year to end a holdout but was stuck behind other starters. Well into Spring Training 1978, Rico Carty was surplus to Cleveland and the Jays took on his hefty $135,000 (the entire 1977 payroll was $858,000). Right before the season began, the Royals deemed John Mayberry expendable with and the Jays took on the remaining three years of his contract at a reported $200,000 per year.

But those were the exceptions, and otherwise the Jays were limited to castoffs to try and fill out their roster. Within the first two years, the Jays never had more than 38 players on their 40-man, and more typically 35 or fewer. It was so dire that Pat Gillick purported to have not done trades that he otherwise would have (ie, established MLB players for younger prospects) because they didn’t have anyone who could slot for the departed regular. To illustrate this point, I’ve put a story that I like at the end.

With that in mind, I got to thinking whether a team of non-tendered 2019 players would compare to the actual 1977 expansion Blue Jays. The latter, it may be recalled, won just 54 games though was better on paper with a runs scored/allowed that would suggest 58. Here’s the starting line-up I put together:

The salaries are the MLBTR estimated arb salaries, the WAR is a rough estimate of what I’d project in 2020 and actual 1978 levels. On balance, I think I’d prefer the non-tender group of position players. There’s some holes, but I think my projection of 10 WAR is reasonable, with some upside if a couple players bounce back. The $54-million price tag is hefty, but some could probably be had cheaper.

The thing about the 1977 position players is that despite totalled just 2 fWAR, they surprisingly didn’t lack for solid performers. There were five players who were essentially average regulars or better, and another three who were not below average but not black holes. They totaled about 10 fWAR, the problem is of the 21 players on the roster, only nine had positive fWAR. The other 12 cumulatively had 2,000 plate appearances, and some were just awful, in particular the middle infielders. This is where the lack of depth killed the Jays, and the rest of the non-tenders/outright guys would be better.

The pitching side is a different story:

While I can put together a decent bullpen, I really struggled to just out the staff with players who have started. Kevin Gausman would be decent, and after that…I’d be happy to get 500 innings. I could see getting 4-5 WAR out of those guys, but I’d be wary of giving it all back with the lack of depth and whomever pitched the other 300 innings.

Keeping in mind that the 1977 Jays started the year with nine pitchers, had 10 most of the year and used 15 in total so it was a completely different staff, pitching was the strength of the 1977 team, with 10 WAR. The core of that was the trio of Jerry Garvin, Jesse Jefferson and Dave Lemanczyk turning in 650 innings close to league average at preventing runs, about 7.5-8 WAR. They got nothing beyond that, and Pete Vuckovich was the only contributor out of the bullpen, but that’s still well ahead of the non-tenders.

Of course, all four were acquired in the expansion draft, though other than Garvin at 4th overall none were taken early (19th, 43rd and 47th picks). And to some extent, the three starters all being good was fluky, as each only had one other good season afterwards (which is why despite the emergence of Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy it wasn’t until 1982 that the pitching staff outperformed the 1977 group). It certainly wouldn’t be hard today to supplement the non-tenders with some cheap free agent veterans to stabilize the starting rotation, in depth if not quality. But that’s beyond the scope of this exercise.

Fernando Rodriguez Jr. Jersey

BY ERIN SHERIDAN Staff Writer
A Harlingen man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography appeared at the federal courthouse Thursday morning in Brownsville, where the prosecutors delayed the man’s sentencing for another 60 days.

Genaro Torres Alejo Jr. was charged with one count of possession of child pornography in an indictment handed down by a grand jury on June 25, 2019. Alejo pleaded guilty Oct. 1, 2019, according to court records.

The indictment charged Alejo with knowingly possessing material that contained multiple images of child pornography, including depictions of a prepubescent minor who had not attained 12 years of age.

The man was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

During the hearing, prosecutors representing both parties agreed to a 60-day continuance to identify victims and determine appropriate means of compensation for those affected.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. told attorneys that past cases have included victim impact statements and specific requests for retribution from identified victims.

Government prosecutors made note that an issue with the database used to identify victims had inhibited their efforts. Only one victim had been identified, but more requests were coming in, they told the judge.

According to a criminal complaint, Alejo was arrested May 30 after Homeland Security Investigations agents with the Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigation Task Force executed a search warrant at the man’s Harlingen residence.

Five days earlier, HSI agents identified an IP address in possession of image and video files of child pornography. They initiated an investigation, leading them to Alejo, according to the document.

The complaint stated that Alejo admitted to agents that he used his laptop to search for, receive, and possess images and video files of child pornography and that he had been doing so for two years.

An initial review of the laptop led to the discovery of the 200 video files, agents wrote.

[email protected]

Tyler Collins Jersey

The Royals have released outfielder Tyler Collins, according to Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (via Twitter). He was playing at the organization’s top affiliate on a minor-league deal.

Collins, 27, had seen MLB action over the past four seasons with the Tigers. He has had his share of opportunities, but has only managed a .235/.299/.380 slash in 552 plate appearances in the majors.

It seemed that Collins might have a shot at earning some time in the K.C. outfield mix, but he turned in a tepid performance in the Cactus League. And he never got going at Triple-A Omaha, where he has managed just seven base hits — all singles — in his 62 plate appearances.

Anthony Santander Jersey

Draft Anthony Santander as a fantasy bench player who could make an occasional spot start in next season. His 409.44 projected fantasy points puts him at #47 behind Gregory Polanco and ahead of Thomas Pham. He has averaged 2.87 fantasy points in his past 93 games. Our projected per game average is virtually the same. He is projected to average 2.72 fantasy points. His rank based on avg proj (#102) is worse than his rank based on total fantasy points. He is underrated if you compare his ownership based rank with his projection rank. At 46%, he is the #64 most highly owned outfielder. Anthony Santander is expected to improve on last season’s #64 fantasy position rank.

NEXT SEASON RANK (OF) PROJECTION FANTASY STATS IN 2019
#45 Brandon Nimmo (25% OWN) 416 FP, 2.85 per game 160 FP, 68 gp, 2.35 per game (#84)
#46 Gregory Polanco (24% OWN) 415 FP, 2.84 per game 94 FP, 41 gp, 2.28 per game (#90)
#47 Anthony Santander (46% OWN) 409 FP, 2.72 per game 267 FP, 93 gp, 2.87 per game (#41)
#48 Thomas Pham (98% OWN) 408 FP, 2.71 per game 432 FP, 145 gp, 2.98 per game (#32)
#49 Ryan Braun (74% OWN) 406 FP, 2.95 per game 368 FP, 143 gp, 2.57 per game (#63)
These projections power SportsLine’s Computer Picks and Fantasy Data. But for contest winning DFS optimal lineups by top experts like Mike McClure visit SportsLine’s new Daily Fantasy Hub.

ANTHONY SANTANDER WEEK 1 AND 2 FANTASY OUTLOOK
Anthony Santander is projected for 7.36 fantasy points in 3 games the rest of the week in week 1 which only ranks him as the #72 projected outfielder and not a fantasy relevant player. This is projected to be a better than average week with more fantasy points per game than he is projected to average per game the rest of the season. He is ranked above Michael Conforto but behind Bryan Reynolds the rest of the week. Week 2 will be better based on projected rank (#65). He is projected for 14.33 fantasy points.

WEEK 1 RANK (OF) PROJECTION ROS FP PROJ AVG
#70 Adam Eaton 7.5 FP 2.78 FP
#71 Bryan Reynolds 7.4 FP 2.92 FP
#72 Anthony Santander 7.4 FP 2.72 FP
#73 Michael Conforto 7.3 FP 3.09 FP
#74 Franmil Reyes 7.2 FP 2.95 FP
WEEK 2 RANK (OF) PROJECTION ROS FP PROJ AVG
#63 Kole Calhoun 14.5 FP 2.68 FP
#64 Randal Grichuk 14.4 FP 2.76 FP
#65 Anthony Santander 14.3 FP 2.72 FP
#66 Christin Stewart 14.3 FP 2.5 FP
#67 Ramon Laureano 14.1 FP 3.04 FP
FANTASY PROJECTIONS AND ACTUAL STATS
The tables below show projected stats (totals and averages) for the rest of the season and upcoming weeks. Below the projection are actual stats from last season.

ANTHONY SANTANDER FP HR RBI R BB SB
2020 Projection 409 30 83 71 37 3.9
– Per Game (151 Proj) 2.7 0.20 0.55 0.47 0.24 0.03
3/26 to 3/29 (2.8 Games) 7.4 0.56 1.5 1.3 0.67 0.07
3/30 to 4/5 (5.6 Games) 14.3 0.98 3.0 2.5 1.4 0.13
2019 Season 267 20 59 46 19 1
– Per Game (93 GP) 2.9 0.22 0.63 0.49 0.20 0.01

Jorge Polanco Jersey

In case you hadn’t heard, the 2019 Minnesota Twins set a record for most home runs by a team in Major League history with 307 long-balls.

In other news that you may have somehow missed, the Twins are reportedly still one of only three or four teams in the running to sign former American League MVP and Bringer of Rain, Josh Donaldson.

A marriage between the record-setting Twins and the dangerous Donaldson would be … smashing, to put things mildly.

Comparing last year’s “regular lineup” to a projected lineup for 2020 proves challenging, given manager Rocco Baldelli’s penchant for tinkering with his starting nine; the Twins only used two lineup cards more than twice. The top six players in those two lineups, which were used seven and six times, respectively, were as follows, pictured along with their individual home run totals.

Max Kepler – 36 HR
Jorge Polanco – 22 HR
Nelson Cruz – 41 HR
Eddie Rosario – 32 HR
C.J. Cron – 25 HR
Marwin Gonzalez – 15 HR

All of those guys except Cron will be back in 2020. Additionally, only one of those six players appeared in more than 137 games: Jorge Polanco, who played in 153 contests.

The other players who combined to make up the bottom-third of the Twins’ most commonly used lineups in 2019 were as follows, in order of dingers swatted over the fence.

Mitch Garver – 31 HR
Jonathan Schoop – 23 HR
Jason Castro – 13 HR
Byron Buxton – 10 HR

Schoop and Castro are gone, having signed with the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels, respectively. Garver famously demolished 31 homers while appearing in just 93 games due to a combination of injury and somewhat of a rotation with the now-departed Castro. And Buxton was once again felled by injury midway through the campaign, stepping to the plate only 295 times in 87 games.

If we do a bit of projecting, it’s fair to assume that of the seven above-mentioned guys who are still on the Twins’ roster today, everyone except the 39-year-old Cruz has a real possibility to hit more home runs than they did in 2019. Now, they won’t all hit more, but assuming relative health, some of them certainly will.

Also, did you notice anyone missing? Miguel Sano only appeared in 105 games due to his late start to the season and didn’t even make the above list of 10, and he was third on the team with 34 round-trippers.

Let’s take a stab at a lineup with Donaldson, who hit 37 home runs last year with Atlanta, again with their 2019 numbers.

(There’s probably an extra bench player listed in the below scenario, but remember that the active roster is expanding to 26 players in 2020. Cave would likely be the odd man out due to the positional flexibility of Gonzalez and, to a lesser extent, Astudillo and Adrianza.)

C Mitch Garver (R) – 31 HR
SS Jorge Polanco (S) – 22 HR
DH Nelson Cruz (R) – 41 HR
3B Josh Donaldson (R) – 37 HR
RF Max Kepler (L) – 36 HR
1B Miguel Sano (R) – 34 HR
LF Eddie Rosario (L) – 32 HR
CF Byron Buxton (R) – 10 HR
2B Luis Arraez (L) – 4 HR

Bench
UT Marwin Gonzalez – 15 HR
UT Willians Astudillo – 4 HR
C Alex Avila – 9 HR
OF Jake Cave – 8 HR
INF Ehire Adrianza- 5 HR

That lineup is … stacked. That’s six players who hit over 30 home runs a season ago, and it’s quite possible they’ll all challenge that number again. Polanco and a healthy Buxton would each hit north of 20 dingers, and Gonzalez would have a chance given semi-regular at-bats, too.

The other aspect of this that doesn’t fit the point being made but must be mentioned is that adding the slick-fielding Donaldson would also improve the Twins’ defense immensely.

We don’t have any idea how long the Donaldson process will drag on, with Washington, Atlanta, and possibly the Dodgers all still involved alongside the Twins. But the Twins have the best top-to-bottom lineup of the three teams, and potentially the easiest division with the dreadful Tigers and Royals nowhere near contending status.

If Donaldson chooses the Twins, look for another 300-plus homer season at Target Field. It’s an offense that should carry this team to postseason play once again, regardless of how average their pitching staff appears to be.

Blake Hawksworth Jersey

President Donald Trump wanted to get his hands on Air Force slugger Nic Ready last week.

“I want to feel this guy’s muscles,” Trump joked as he invited Ready on stage during his graduation speech at Falcon Stadium. Ready was alerted to expect a shoutout as Trump referenced his record-breaking performance last summer at the college baseball home run derby.

He didn’t expect that.

“I was told to just real quickly stand up, give a simple wave and then sit down and shut up for the rest of the ceremony,” Ready said. “Obviously the way it unfolded went a little different and he went a little freestyle off the script and decided to pull me up on the stage. Took me completely by surprise when he did that.”

It was a pleasant surprise, to be sure. His mom cried. He received stunned reactions from friends and he’ll have a story to share for the rest of his life.

With the Major League Baseball Draft beginning Monday, Ready is hoping to be pleasantly surprised again if a team similarly decides it wants to get its hands on the Falcons’ all-time home run leader.

Ready is not alone in that that hope among players in the Pikes Peak region as this could turn into the most prolific baseball draft the area has ever seen.

Pine Creek pitching phenom Riley Cornelio is rated as the No. 20 high school prospect in the nation by Baseball Factory and No. 86 overall according to MLB.com.

Assignments for Air Force athletes from the Class of 2019: Where they are going
The area has seen players taken early in the draft in recent years – Air Force pitcher Griffin Jax went in the third round in 2016 and Pike Creek’s Ryan Warner went to the Rockies in the third round in 2012. But never have potential picks like Cornelio and Ready been eligible in the same year for this area often stigmatized because of the cold weather that restricts the baseball calendar.

Cornelio said that stigma works to his advantage as a pitcher, as his arm doesn’t carry the wear and tear of some from areas that play year-round. Four or five scouts attended nearly all of his games this year and many more had the chance to see him play last year for Team USA’s under-18 squad.

He faced some of the top projected picks in this year’s draft, including Bobby Witt, Jr., Riley Greene and CJ Abrams, and he felt he fared well.

The No. 86 pick has a budgeted slot bonus of $699,700, a potential figure Cornelio might have to weigh against a scholarship to play at TCU.

“I think we have talked it over and that when that day comes, hopefully we’re going to make the best decision,” said Cornelio, whose advising team largely consists of his parents, John and Stephanie Cornelio, and Blake Hawksworth, who works with famed agent Scott Boras. “I don’t want to say anything too much right now with it only a day away, but we feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position over these next few days.”

Ready, whose father, Randy, played 13 years in the major leagues, is projected to go anywhere from the sixth to 22nd round and has already submitted paperwork to serve under the World Class Athlete Program. That program allows qualified athletes to serve on active duty with the assignment of training for a possible spot on an Olympic team. Ready could serve in that capacity through June 2020, when the team is selected for that summer’s games in Tokyo.

He didn’t use his chance meeting with Trump as an opportunity to prod the president further on his suggestion a month ago to Army football coach Jeff Monken that he might alter the policy and allow service academy athletes to defer active-duty service to pursue professional sports.

Ready, who will go to South Carolina as a logistics officer if his baseball plan hits a snag, joked that his brief handshakes with Trump didn’t allow time for policy discussion.

“I didn’t want to make any quick movements,” the third baseman who owns Air Force’s records in home runs and RBIs said. “You might get shot up there.

“If Trump wants to reverse that decision it would only help me out down the road.”

Air Force could potentially have two players drafted, as 6-foot-8 pitcher Jake Gilbert and his 96-mph fastball could draw enough interest to cause him to delay his pilot training slot to pursue the World Class Athlete Program.

The draft begins at 5 p.m. Monday with the first two rounds on MLB Network and MLB.com. Rounds 3-10 will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday on MLB.com, with rounds 11-40 being starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday on MLB.com.

Bronson Arroyo Jersey

Might as well start here given the luxury tax payroll situation. Technically, pretty much every player on the roster is a salary dump candidate, but something tells me the Astros won’t move Verlander or Bregman or Jose Altuve to free up payroll. As Yankees GM Brian Cashman likes to say, no player is untouchable, but some are more touchable than others.

Looking over the club’s roster, three Astros players stand out as potential salary dump candidates:

SS Carlos Correa: $7.4 million projected salary in 2020 (via MLB Trade Rumors)
RHP Brad Peacock: $4.6 million projected salary in 2020 (via MLB Trade Rumors)
OF Josh Reddick: $13 million salary in 2020
I think a Correa trade is very unlikely, but the rumors have popped up, and I would never completely rule out a deal. The Astros can slide Bregman over to shortstop, his natural position, and install Abraham Toro at third base, or perhaps move Yuli Gurriel back to the hot corner and plug Yordan Alvarez in at first base. It could work. I don’t expect it to happen, but it could work.

The Astros have Kyle Tucker, a highly regarded young player, available to step into the lineup to replace Reddick. Finding another outfielder is not the obstacle here though. Reddick is owed a good deal of money this coming season and he’s mustered only a 93 OPS+ the last two years. Why trade for Reddick when you could sign, say, Yasiel Puig and get similar or better production?

To unload Reddick, the Astros may have to attached a sweetener. The Diamondbacks gave the Braves righty Touki Toussaint to take on Bronson Arroyo’s contract a few years ago. The Padres took on Chase Headley’s salary to get Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees two years ago. The Mets are open to giving up Dominic Smith to dump Jed Lowrie’s salary. It’s been done before.

Houston is deep in pitching prospects — “As always, this system is loaded with homegrown pitching, some of which has come out of nowhere during the last 12 months,” wrote FanGraphs in their recent farm system analysis — and parting with an arm(s) to clear Reddick’s salary and open a lineup spot for Tucker is something the Astros have reportedly investigated this winter.

The Orioles stand out as a potential trade partner for Reddick. GM Mike Elias worked under Luhnow with the Astros and absorbing the final year of a bad contract to add young pitching to the system seems worthwhile for a rebuilding team. Of course, Baltimore doesn’t seem inclined to spend much money this year. Trading Reddick, even with a sweetener, will be easier said than done.

As for Peacock, he’s been a solid and versatile depth arm the last few seasons, but committing close to $5 million to a guy who may only be a long or middle reliever could be tough to swallow for a team on a self-imposed budget. Swapping Peacock for a prospect and replacing him internally (Bryan Abreu?) seems like the easiest way to get payroll under the $248 million threshold.