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Nov 16, 2012 8:47pm
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NEW YORK, N. Jonathan Babineaux Womens Jersey .Y. – The
Houston Astros are confident theyll get an impact player with the top pick in
the baseball draft. But without a clear-cut No. 1 prospect, its anyones guess as
to whose name will be called first Monday night. “At the end of the day, this
draft is filled with a number of players that are going to play in the big
leagues for a long time,” Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said, “and we need
to do our best to try to figure out which ones we want to be wearing Astros
uniforms.” The Astros have the No. 1 pick for the first time since taking
Phil Nevin in 1992 — one of five teams to pass on a young shortstop named
Derek Jeter, selected sixth overall by the New York Yankees. Nevin played in 18
games for Houston before being traded to Detroit and playing for five other
teams during a 12-year major league career. This time, the Astros hope to get a
franchise-changing player. “In an ideal world, youd have a player pick
themselves like that, one that was obviously separated like Alex Rodriguez or
Ken Griffey, or more recently with Harper and Strasburg,” said Astros scouting
director and assistant general manager Bobby Heck. “But the positive that comes
out of it is that we have options, we have choices.” Most major league teams
agree that theres no Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in this years baseball
draft. Theres not even a Gerrit Cole or Danny Hultzen, last years first two
picks, at the top of the class. “Its a below-average draft as far as drafts go,
and its certainly down from last year as far as depth and premium players in the
first round,” said Sean Johnson, Minnesotas West Coast scouting supervisor. “Its
lean in certain spots.” But there is certainly some solid talent available.
Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Florida catcher Mike Zunino, LSU righty Kevin
Gausman and Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton are expected to be among
the players picked early. “The top five guys, weve seen a lot,” said Seattle
scouting director Tom McNamara, whose team picks third. “I think its a good
group of top guys this year. You have some high school athletes, pitchers,
college guys.” Appel is considered the likely No. 1, which would mark the first
time that the top draft picks in MLB and the NFL (Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Colts) have come from the same school. Appel has a mid-90s fastball and is 10-1
with 2.27 ERA for the Cardinal. Zunino is a slugging catcher who has been
compared to Jason Varitek for his leadership and how he handles a pitching
staff, while Gausman is a fireballer who is one of the countrys top pitchers.
Buxton, from Appling County High School in Georgia, is a five-tool player whose
bat is considered the best among all draft prospects. “I think I can verify that
its thinner than some, but theres no excuse, though,” said Twins GM Terry Ryan,
whose team drafts second. “Youre going to hear about players that come out of
this draft and four, five, six years from now, there will be players that are
good major league players, that werent talked about. ... If we dont get any good
players out of this draft, then shame on us.” With the uncertainty about the
talent and several significant rule changes in place, teams face some intriguing
decisions and an unpredictable first round. Allotted spending caps based on the
number and placement of teams picks, and an earlier signing deadline are among
the changes clubs will navigate this year. The draft also is shorter now, pared
from 50 to 40 rounds. “Im old school,” McNamara said. “I wish it was 70 rounds.
You may find a guy in the 55th round.” Under baseballs new collective bargaining
agreement, teams will have a pool of bonus money from which to sign players. The
Astros, for example, have about $11.2 million to use as bonuses on their 11
picks through the 10th round. The Twins, who have 13 picks in 10 rounds, have
about $12.4 million to use for bonuses. Teams face a punitive tax and the
possibility of losing draft picks if they stray from the prescribed bonuses. If
a player doesnt sign, the team loses the amount for that slot. And if a player
signs for less than the slot, the team could shift that money to other picks.
For players selected in the 11th round and beyond, portions of signing bonuses
above $100,000 would count against the bonus pool. “I think its interesting in
the sense that it has some protections from the previous system that was much
more easily manipulated,” said Bobby Evans, San Franciscos vice-president of
baseball operations. “Theres certainly some elements set up that will guard
against manipulating a given players slot and where hes taken in the draft.”
Teams will now have only until mid-July to sign their draft picks, instead of
the previous mid-August deadline. That could affect clubs approaches in
targeting players who have a greater chance of signing. But it also could sway
high school players, who might choose to go to college instead. And because
multimillion-dollar signing bonuses will no longer be available in lower rounds,
more college juniors might opt to stay in school. “I think it does have
potentially some effects on high school players maybe being harder to sign them
unless theyre taken really high,” Evans said. “Because of the slotting dollars,
as they fall lower and lower, it will be harder to sign them at some of those
smaller slots.” Major league teams have been preparing for months to operate
with the changes, which Luhnow anticipates are here to stay — at least for now.
“I think were going to all learn how to operate under this current environment
and there will be some differences in terms of how clubs approach it,” Luhnow
said, “but this is the CBA, this is how its going to be for the ongoing future.
So were ready for it.” The first and supplemental rounds are held Monday night
at MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J., with the remaining rounds completed
via conference calls among the teams over the next two days and finishing
Wednesday. __ AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle, Jon Krawczynski in
Minneapolis, Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Kristie Rieken in Houston
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catcher J.P. Arencibias throwing error in the 10th inning as the Atlanta Braves
beat Toronto 4-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight victory. Matt Bosher Womens Jersey .J. —On the eve
of his 40th birthday, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur isnt expecting
the Philadelphia Flyers to show up bearing gifts for Game 4. Deion Sanders Falcons Jersey . —Minnesota
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is doubtful for Sundays game at Atlanta
because of a high ankle sprain. NEW YORK —Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon
insisted he was going back to his hotel to call his wife and finish an
engrossing novel. That game out in Oakland: not on the agenda. His team had
other ideas. David Price earned his league-leading 18th win with another superb
performance against the New York Yankees, and the Rays opened a key series
against their AL East rival Friday night by taking advantage of a fading
CC Sabathia and hanging on for a 6-4 victory. After being swept by the Orioles
this week to fall four games back of division co-leaders New York and Baltimore,
the Rays let loose—jumping around and clapping hands, Price said. They also
had every TV in the clubhouse turned to the Os and As. Oakland beat Baltimore
3-2 and the Yanks and Os remained tied for first in the AL East. “That was a big
game for us, facing CC and that lineup,” Price said. “We were up to the task.”
Out of the rotation since Sept. 2 because of a sore shoulder, Price (18-5)
boosted his AL Cy Young Award credentials with seven innings of two-run ball.
Striking out six and giving up five hits, the lanky lefty got a big lift from an
inadvertent deflection off an umpire and a fine play by second baseman
Elliot Johnson. Price improved to 7-3 against the Yankees. The Rays have won
seven of the eight games he has matched up against Sabathia. With Price out of
the game, Alex Rodriguez hit his 647th homer, a two-run shot off Joel Peralta in
the eighth that sent him past Lou Gehrig for ninth place on the runs list with
1,889 and scored Derek Jeter to make it 5-4. Jeter, serving as the designated
hitter for a second straight day because of an injured ankle, singled leading
off to wake up the 45,200 fans that were silenced by Tampa Bays rally against
Sabathia (13-6). Jeter had an infield single in the fifth to pass Willie Mays
for 10th on the hits list with 3,284. After a walk to Robinson Cano, closer
Fernando Rodney entered. The top reliever by ERA in the majors (0.66) struck out
Russell Martin, threw a wild pitch and walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez.
Curtis Granderson meekly grounded to end the threat and send many to the exits.
Rodney finished with a perfect ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances. “We had
two Cy Young candidates pitch for us tonight,” Maddon said. “Two guys at the top
of their game. It was fun to watch.” The Yankees lost for the fourth straight
time with their burly ace on the mound. Sabathia was sharp early, allowing only
a single through four innings. But he lost control of his breaking ball in the
fifth and was done after allowing six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings. “I
still believe in CC,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Theres a guy thats done
so many special things for us here. So I still believe in him.” B.J. Upton
homered off Cody Eppley leading off the eighth to make it 5-2. Michael Turner Jersey. Before the game,
Maddon bemoaned his ballclubs inability to get the clutch hits in support of a
stellar staff. The bottom of the order helped turn that around. Sabathia cruised
into the fifth, allowing only hit in the first, but Chris Gimenez led off with a
double for Tampa Bays second hit. Gimenez advanced to third on a wild pitch and
Carlos Pena walked. Johnson, the No. 9 batter, had an RBI single and
Desmond Jennings followed with a run-scoring hit. Another wild pitch put runners
on second and third and the third run scored on Evan Longorias double-play
grounder. “Its no secret our offence—were not big boppers. Weve got to
scratch and claw for runs,” Gimenez said. “Any time you can get three runs off
CC Sabathia is huge.” Granderson immediately pulled New York to 3-2 with his
38th homer, a drive that a just eluded the glove of a leaping Upton and bounced
off the top of the wall and into the Yankees bullpen in right-centre. With one
out Eduardo Nunez hit a hard grounder down the third base line that caught
umpire Jerry Meals on the right knee as he tried to jump out of the way—as he
came down, Meals smoothly motioned the ball was fair. It landed near the
shortstop. Whether or not the fans knew the ball deflected off the umpire who
made an incorrect call to end a Yankees loss in Baltimore a week ago, they booed
heartily when Nunez ended up only on first base. “I said to home plate umpire
Scott Barry That might be the best play he made in his life,” Gimenez said. “It
was much needed after the series we just had.” But the fans then broke out into
a sustained standing ovation when Jeter hit an infield single off Johnsons glove
at second base to pass Mays. “Its kind of tough to think about it now, but yeah,
its pretty special,” Jeter said. “Right now, theres a pennant race to think
about.” Johnson didnt miss next time, though. With two outs and runners on first
and second, Rodriguez hit a sharp grounder. Johnson, shifted toward second base,
made a diving stop in the hole and threw out A-Rod to end the threat.
Steve Pearce gave the Yankees the early lead a with an RBI single. The Rays
added a run in the ninth against Joba Chamberlain when Nunez, filling in at
shortstop, made an error on Longorias routine grounder. NOTES: Yankees LHP
Andy Pettitte (broken left ankle) threw off the main mound, and worked on his
pickoff moves and covering first base. Hes set to make his first start since
late June on Tuesday against Toronto. Hell be limited to about 70 pitches. ...
Rays INF Sean Rodriguez (broken right hand) is expected to be activated from the
DL Saturday. He took infield practice Friday. Rodriguez was hurt while punching
a locker at Triple-A Durham. ’ ’ ’ 

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