Cubs Notes: MLB Draft, Scouting info on Alex Jackson and Suk-Min Yoon; status on Mike Olt

Cubs Notes: MLB Draft, Scouting info on Alex Jackson and Suk-Min Yoon; status on Mike Olt
Alex Jackson

It's a slow news day but there's some interesting stuff around the web starting with Baseball America's look ahead to the MLB Draft...

  • Baseball America has the same top 4 players we've been talking about with NC State LHP Carlos Rodon, East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman, Texas prep RHP Tyler Kolek, and SS Trea Turner being the top 4 in that order.  The 5th player is also intriguing, SS/3B power hitter Jacob Gatewood.  C/OF prospect Alex Jackson comes in at #6.  You can see the rest of the order here and below is Kevin Gallo's scouting report on Alex Jackson.
Players Name:  Alex Jackson      
Position: C/OF/3B
Hometown: Escondido, Ca, 
School/When draft Eligible: Rancho Bernardo HS/ 2014.
HT: 6’2             
WT: 220lbs
Bats/ Throws: R/R
Body:   Has a stocky muscular frame with a board chest, shoulders and thick very strong legs.  His body is already pretty much matured not much room to grow.
Swing:  He has a slightly open stance with high hands.  Jackson has a combination middle leg kick with a slight hand draw.  He shows a shoulder rotation and excellent torque in his upper in lower halves.  Jackson also shows plus bat speed and also shows great lift which translates to plus power.  He does have some adjust with his swing path but he has a good change to have an above average hit tool.
Base running:  Jackson shows above average instincts on the bases.  He has been documented at 6.82 in the 60 yrds and that would place him at the low end of the above average range.    
Defense:   There is no doubt about Jackson’s arm it is a plus and may be a plus plus grade.  The question is if he can stay at the catcher position to the Major League level.  He shows good lateral movement behind the plate and the in the field.  He also shows very good blocking ability and a good quick release on his throws to the bases.  If you just look at this thing you would say he could stick behind the plate but is hands and receiving skills aren’t great.  Does that mean he can’t stay behind the plate no but it may take him a little longer than most.   He is athletic even to play the OF and has quick enough to at least give him a shot 3B.
Summary:  If Jackson can’t stick at catcher does it drop his stock?  Yes but not much he goes from a top 5 pick to a top 10 pick, if that tell you anything it shows you how good his bat is.  When the ball comes off the bat it sounds like being shot out of a cannon.   It is so loud that you don’t even have to be watching to know he is taking BP you can hear it.  It really doesn’t matter where he plays his Bat will carry him to the MLB.


  • I asked an industry source about Suk-Min Yoon, a pitcher the Cubs are reportedly pursuing and among the favorites to sign. His response was,

    He is more Koji Uehara than Hiroki Kuroda, maybe his slider and splitter can live around a 5, but not sold that he has the stamina.

    At best a 5 starter, more likely a middle to mid-late (7th inning) type arm.

    Never really impressed me when he pitched for team Korea, never saw him in KBO, so the amount of views are limited to me.

  • Encouraging article from Carrie Muskat on Mike Olt, who has been battling eye issues and appears to be doing well with his vision.  He's working out in Arizona but not playing baseball.  He's doing eye exercises to rebuild strength and using eye drops to help flush out allergens.  Olt will be battling for the 3B job next spring.
  • Patrick Mooney has an interesting article on Dave Martinez, who was the latest candidate to interview.  Mooney thinks Martinez would be the outside-the-box choice.
  • Bruce Levine has been covering the coaching situation of late.  Earlier he said that the Cubs would bring in 2 and probably 3 bilingual coaches.  Today he tweets that the front office will suggest that the next manager bring in Alex Cora as a coach because of his verbal skills and baseball IQ.
  • Brett from Bleacher Nation does an outstanding job following the Wrigley Renovation saga (among other things, of course).  Here's his latest.


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  • If Olt can get back on the path he was on it opens up a world of possibilities. He seems like the kind of guy that "good" teams have- good defender, tough guy.....

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Gives you some good ABs and some pop too.

  • I'm extremely leery of Yoon. Doesn't sound like an impact arm. His numbers aren't even that good in the KBO. All that points to him being relatively cheap though so that would be a plus. I prefer the big, corn fed, hard throwing country boys myself.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    From what I understand KBO is a very hitter friendly league with a lot of smaller ballparks.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Hope he skips the PCL then!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I don't like to go off of numbers from other leagues too much, but I think he can be a solid 7th inning arm from what it sounds like. Guess is he'd be in the bullpen but he can also compete for that 5th spot with Arrieta and Rusin. I don't think they're going to break the bank for him, but could a nice piece in the bullpen.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If the scouts like him that's good enough for me. I'd rather bring in a guy who'll be a significant upgrade versus a guy who's just going to compete for a job. Clearly not a big deal money wise so its not like he's going to kill us on a little two year Fujikawa/Lim-ish deal.

    I'm with you that the stuff is more important than the numbers but when you're talking about an Asian pitcher near his prime, you'd like to see all out domination in those inferior leagues. Anything less than that makes me nervous. You can never have too many arms but I'd rather not go looking for Carlos Villanuevas. I'll be a huge fan if he signs but until then I'm less than lukewarm.

    Disclaimer...a pitcher can be a totally different guy when he's allowed to lay it wide open for two or three or four batters instead of two or three times through a line up so I'm sure any stuff he has will play up in a 7th inning role.

  • Do you see the Cubs going for another position player if he is the best player available as they have been doing so far or going for need at pitching. I am a firm believer of drafting talent over need, but it sure would be nice to get some front of the rotation type pitching in our system.

  • In reply to Mick:

    BPA. Can't reach for need this high in the draft where you are more likely to have more defined opinions. I can see if it was the 20th pick and it was close, then maybe going for the pitcher...maybe. But I think it's BPA regardless.

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    I do wonder if Kolek is even on the White Sox radar. (REALLY annoyed we didn't split with them last season.) The signing of Abreu suggests they're in go-for-it mode again, and they've never had great luck developing high school guys. Turner or a fast rising college pitcher seems to fit into their timeline much better.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good point. The Sox don't invest a whole lot in development and they like college players who don't need as much development -- though lately they've gone for high ceiling raw talents like Hawkins and Anderson. I wouldn't completely rule out Kolek or perhaps even a surprise like Gatewood.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hawkins looked pretty awful, though.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They really rushed him. They still don't get it and I don't think they will as long as KW is still there.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree -- and if they realize that, they may pull back from drafting more high schoolers. Conjecture, I know.

    Gives me more faith in Theo and Co. when I see that.

  • I'm actually glad to hear that Olt has still been struggling with eye issues. At least we know there is a reason for his struggles and hopefully it can be fixed.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Which is worse an injury eye/brain(Olt) or wrist(Stewart)? Both could sadly be career ending.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    True, but so far Olt doesn't appear to be saddled w/ the same sour attitude.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Late on this, but I recommend reading the book, The Sports Gene by David Epstein. Vision is arguably a batter's greatest asset. A few chapters highlight tests done specifically on MILB players relating vision acuity and their potential success. First thing I thought of was Olt's vision troubles. I realized it really can't be underestimated on how serious of a problem his vision issues may be for him going forward.

  • Hey John, I'm interested in hearing more of what you think about the Cubs 2014 draft. I know its early, but my specific question would be that if they decide the best player available is a high school kid like Alex Jackson, do they go that route despite the idea that they probably prefer a more MLB ready arm. With the position players we have storming through, I wouldn't be opposed to getting a younger guy like Jackson especially if they think he can stick at catcher. Or a younger college arm if he shows more potential than say Hoffman or Beede. Seems like most fans would like to see another college guy just to meet this imaginary goal of 2015 contenders and that just doesn't seem logical to me. (First time commenting by the way)

  • In reply to frankien:

    Younger high school arm*

  • In reply to frankien:

    The Cubs will go BPA and always consider floor as much as they consider ceiling -- so I would lean toward a college player first and a position player all things being equal. Assuming things stay as they are Rodon and Hoffman will go 1-2 and having no idea what the Sox will do, the Cubs may be left with a choice of the top HS arm (Kolek) or the top college position player (Trea Turner) or the top high school bat (Jackson, Gatewood). Tyler Beede is the wildcard because I think he's a top 3 talent in terms of stuff and he's a college arm, which is appealing. My guess is that they'll go with Turner or Beede (if he learns command) with Kolek as a backup plan if Beede struggles. Kolek may have the best arm in the draft, but HS pitchers are always risky that high in the draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In trying to figure out what the white sox will do it will help to know if any of the top prospects have s. boras for an agent. I would guess if all 4 of the top prospects have boras for an agent, the sox won't pick any of them.

  • Catcher right now is a system weakness. So is top-end starters, but the odds you can hit on one of the recent draftees is there.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I don't believe he will stick at Catcher.

  • Best talent at whatever level is the best way to go. I hope Otto will over his eye problem and wins the job.

  • I was messing around, thinking of potential trades, and I know this is probably going to be hated but what do you guys think of this trade:
    Cubs Get:
    • Salvador Perez C
    • Kyle Zimmer SP
    • Yordano Ventura SP
    • Addison Russell SS
    Royals Get:
    • Jeff Samardzija SP
    • Welington Castillo C
    • Jake Odorizzi/Taylor Guerrieri SP
    A’s Get:
    • Raul Mondesi
    • Jake Odorizzi/Taylor Guerrieri SP
    Rays Get:
    • Starlin Castro
    First off let me start by saying this deal should only happen if 1) the Cubs and Samardzija can’t come to terms on a reasonable deal for both sides this offseason and 2) the Cubs go out and get Tanaka. If that scenario plays out I like this deal for every team involved and really like it for the Cubs. What do you guys think? who says no?

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    In reply to Matt:

    That's a lot of moving parts and contracts but the Royals sure are giving up a lot and basically depleting their system. Guerrieri is the wildcard. I don't see KC trading Zimmer or Perez, and I definitely do not seeing the A's trading Russell. In fairness, the other teams win though. But a starting catcher and arguably your top 4 prospects for Smardz, Castillo + an injured pitcher and a bubble prospect seems a bit steep.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think the Royals would look long and hard at this trade. Looking at the trade they made last offseason, how close they came to the playoffs last year, and their GM needing to make the playoffs next year, they might sell out the future a little bit to make the run they have been waiting for. Ventura is a little bit better than Odorizzi but both are MLB ready starting pitchers and I considered that to be a wash (although I have only looked at prospect boards and not actually seen either). So basically they are giving up Zimmer, Mondesi and a very slight downgrade at catcher for two years of Shark, which looks pretty similar to the deal they made last year. I think the A's are the only team that would hold this deal up.

  • In reply to Matt:

    I agree! If there is a team that is in position to overpay in a trade it is the Royals. I really hope we deal with them this offseason, we could bring in a haul.

    Question: How long does the FO go this offseason in trying to extend Shark before putting him on the trade block?

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    not sure it needs to be either/or - they can certainly work on parallel tracks, negotiating with his agent while fielding offers at the same time. In fact that's what they really should be doing - the climate on the on hand might affect their negotiating stance on the other. Get some really good offers, give Shark a take-it-or-leave it deal. Don't hear anything too tempting, give a little more to Shark. Or, Shark takes a very hardline stance, maybe take a trade you might not otherwise be inclined to do.

  • In reply to Matt:

    The Cubs have about 5/6 players who could be considered core players. You just traded 3 of them.
    This trade would set us back 2/3 years.

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    In reply to Matt:

    The A's get completely hosed in this thing and the Cubs get everything.

    This is homer nonsense. Sorry. Addison Russell isn't going anywhere. Especially for a couple of unproven pitchers.

    The only guy that Beans is even picking up the phone for is Price.

  • I'm wary of a high school pitcher, seems like so much can go wrong before they are ready for the bigs


    Please watch Harry talk about looking for a new manager. It sounds like he was talking about the current club.

  • In reply to Sandberg2014:

    I must be getting sentimental in my old age, I choked up.
    Geez, I miss him and Ronnie.

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    In reply to Bluekoolaidaholic:

    take a valium and sleep it off....

  • I'll still take talent over need.Whether that's a pitcher or not,just damn the torpedoes and full ahead.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    Agreed. Just get the BPA and let the rest sort itself out. The #4 pick is no place to be reaching for a need.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    At what position in the draft does one switch from getting the BPA to filling the team's current needs? Second round? Third round?

  • About 5 years ago there was an article in BA, about some American manager in the KBO who broke new ground, by NOT filling his batting order based on seniority. I know in MLB managers can leave a struggling vet in the middle of the order too long, but that sounds ridiculous.

  • Hey John, no long time since I've posted here.

    Great coverage as usual over all things Cubs. I'm really happy with how all the prospects are coming along, especially my boy K. Bryant who I was pushing for the Cubs to take way before it became popular.

    Similarly, I'm pushing for A. Jackson though I'm not as bullish on A. Jackson as I was/am on K. Bryant. I've heard the reports on whether he can stick at C, and I'm pretty sure he can with enough time and instruction and repetition. Even if he has to move to another spot I think his bat will be special. I've seen many videos of him in games and taking BP, and I like his simple balanced, yet powerful stroke.

    I also like T. Turner and I'm warming up to him, but only if he truly can stay at SS. I have my doubts. If he has to move to 2B or 3B I'm not sold on taking him at #4.

    Hopefully someone rises up the draft charts like B. Buxton or C. Correa or even A. Almora so that the Cubs will have more options.

    Lastly, I don't think the Cubs should take a pitcher unless C. Rodon were to miraculously fall to #4 (that would probably require him getting hurt which would make me leery of taking him in that case). I really like J. Hoffman and T. Kolek and D. Cease, but pitchers are just too volatile to take with that high a draft pick.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I really don't see Jackson as a top 5 pick. I have other ahead of him in the HS position players list. He is 3rd for me. I think there are a lot more at the top of this years draft class then last years and more to come. Don't pick a horse just yet.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good call on Bryant too. As for the draft, I think all things being equal, the Cubs prefer a position player --- but I don't get the feeling they're too keen on Jackson right now.

  • Nice piece on Olt. I'm hoping he's ready to claim the 3B job outright. Then we can use Valbuena/Murphy to platoon at 2B until Baez arrives.

    I like Barney, but I am done watching him whiff in a Cubs uniform.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think you meant you were tired of seeing him OPS below .570 in a Cubs uniform. He only whiffed 64 times in 555 PAs last season. :-P

  • Olt says he's not making excuses but I wonder if he's reaching a bit. He's an aging prospect desperately hoping not to be passed over. In that situation, I might say or try anything to stave that off for another season. I hope I'm wrong.

    If I am wrong and he rips it up next year, then wouldn't Claritin be considered a performance-enhancing drug?

  • In reply to CoolerbytheLake:

    I don't think so. Usually players are the opposite. They don't want to say anything until they feel they absolutely can't play.

  • Another Bryant HR, lol wow!

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Heard his 2B was HR and he was a robbed.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Said GR double on Gameday

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Someone that is there said he got robbed.

  • Looks like the Reds will trade Phillips this off-season. Might the Cubs be interested?

  • No, no, no to old and high priced

  • I doubt it.

  • I don't think so.

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    He would have been a great pickup if this team was a piece or two from being a real contender!

    With us being so far away, I would say it has about a 1% chance of happening.

    Although, I really like the idea of jedstein trying to bring in some professional hitters to the team

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You are right, of course.

  • Good stuff by AZ Phil today. Many of the recent draft picks are doing well in the instructs and Vizcaino has his velo up to 93-94. Also, nice to see Hannemann healthy and getting some missed AB's.

    Not Beeler's day :(

  • In reply to Buzz:

    I like Hanneman a lot.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Bad first inning. I think I jinxed him.

  • LOL, one pitch this time for that Bryant monster and another HR. Almost 3 today. Send him up!

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Bryant is really making a mockery of the AFL in the first week or so. If he were to continue at anywhere close to this pace, there are going to be some people thinking he may be up with the parent club well before Sept of next year.

    Nice to see Soler with a couple of hits as well. He needs reps to catch up.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yes indeed. Good all around game for the Cubs (less John's jinxed player article). Almora from what Gameday read had 4 line drives today, but 3 were out.

    BA had some good videos for those who are interested, like me, on some of the new Cubs prospects.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Can we start the season right now please!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Whos at 2nd and 3rd

  • Baseball America ‏@BaseballAmerica 1h
    Minors Update: Tyler Skulina, Rob Zastryzny Throw For Theo (VIDEO)

    Also has a video of Eloy Jiminez batting...

  • Turner sounds good and could be on the fast track like Bryant is. Would you deal Alcantara and make Turner your 2B? If Baez is in fact at 3rd...I'm sure all of this stuff would sort itself out

  • In reply to Javier Bryant:

    I think this is thinking way ahead and it's becoming commonplace that everyone makes it. People give a quick disclaimer of "Yeah I know not every prospect makes it" then jots down a 2015 super line-up. Don't be shocked to see Trea Turner in mock 2016 line-ups soon.

    Sadly that's what you're going to see if the Cubs draft a college player. The question of "Can they make it to the team in 2015/2016 in time to be contributors with the big four?" When only one player of the big four has even seen a pitch in AA. Everyone is now "fast tracked". Isn't one of the problems on the team that guys like Castro were fast tracked and didn't have time to grow, and fail, and learn fundamentals to become more polished? Castro was great when he came up, but I don't think spending a little more time in the minors could have hurt. I feel the same way about the big four. I don't see this rush to bring them up so soon because they aren't going to be instant saviors. I'd rather they have that extra half season or so in the minors.

    I'm hoping the Cubs draft best available player but I'm hoping that player is a high school player so he can get that time to grow and not have the pressure of being fast tracked in order to fit in with the current group of guys. Hopefully said player can come in with the next wave of future guys like Jimenez, obviously assuming he becomes anything. I kinda cringed when I read the post today that someone said Eloy could make it as a teenager because Harper and Griffey did it. I just think the expectations for all the prospects are extremely high, especially when the Cubs haven't had a position player 1st rounder pan out in 30 years, and yes I know Eloy wasn't drafted and Theo wasn't in charge of the past 30 drafts, just saying...

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    In reply to Yemi:

    Great post. 100% spot on.

    People get enamored with the talent, but not everything is about talent.
    I hope Baez spends the whole year in triple-A.
    I hope (at the fastest) Almora spends all of next year in triple -A
    And I hope Bryant and Soles spend the whole year in whatever minor league team is appropriate.

    I don't want to regret these players developments three years from now.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'd be shocked if Almora started higher than Daytona and finished higher than TEN in 2014.... I suppose anything is possible, but all the stars would have to align. He's played half a season in low A ball so far....

    Soler is a fringe Daytona/TEN guy depending on how he does in AFL & ST. He's missed a lot of time....

    I see Baez as a fringe AA/AAA guy to start the year. He does still have some things to work on.

    Bryant hasn't even seen a pitch in AA yet.

    Braynt & Baez are talented enough, and far enough along that they could "Force" their way up. Bu they would have to be destroying MiLB pitching. Keep in mind there's lots of CBA issues to consider about bringing them up early. So unless we are in the playoff hunt and they can contribute or they are just destroying MiLB pitching with nothing left to prove or develop... What's the point in bringing them up early? Soler could get a cup of coffee if he is feasting on AA pitching, only because he is already on the 40 man. Almora hasn't even seen a pitch in advanced A ball yet...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I should *duck8 when I say this, but another thing to consider is the Cubs record when any of these guys are ready. Theo would never admit to this, but if we're looking like a top 5 draft pick team, would we risk that for an extra month or two of Baez/Bryant (just in case that have a 'Puig' effect)? They could decide to bring them up in Sept for their debuts, thus ensuring super two status and a worse record.

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    In reply to djriz:

    Puig's presence motivated a team of very highly paid, star-caliber players into playing like they SHOULD'VE been playing already.

    Kris Bryant or Javier Baz getting called up aren't going to magically get Darwin Barney to hit the ball.
    This is a bad team because we have bad players. "Puig effect" really doesn't apply to Chicago.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think Almora is ready for Daytona. Wouldn't mind seeing Soler start in Daytona again because of all the time missed. I think Bryant is ready for AA and I also wouldn't mind to see Baez in AA to start next year.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Sorry, I was really unclear. (when i typed it it was really late :p)

    When I said "next year" for Almora I meant 2015. I'm assuming he'll split this year between Daytona and Tenn (which is why I said at the fastest).

    I think Soler can go to Tenn. Even though he missed time he played very well in Daytona and had a great approach. Soler was supposed to be further along than a draft pick when we got him because of his experience in international play.

    I'm pretty sure the FO has already said Baez will start in Iowa. I may be wrong. I agree he has some things to work on which is why I want him to spend the WHOLE year in Iowa, except maybe a two week cup of coffee in September.

    I wasn't fan of skipping Bryant a level when they did, but he crushed. Shows why I'm not a GM. But like it or not they do seem to be "fast-tracking" Bryant. And considering that he may be the best player in the AFL right now, it seems plenty just.
    So I think it's safe to assume he starts in Tennessee. I'm not a fan of moving him up to the pros even if he crushes in Tennessee, regardless. I think he needs to go to Iowa as well.

    And I really hate the talk of anyone "forcing" their way up. We really aren't good enough to get much benefit of moving guys up early. The only way I want to see an early promotion is if their numbers are REALLY obnoxious, and I doubt that.

    But I like to see the trepidation about putting these guys in the MLB already.:)

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    OH and I also hope they send Olt to AAA for a couple months even if he plays very well during the spring. I realize he's getting a bit old for a prospect but if his vision is improving I still think he could use some time in the minors to get some confidence back and return to form without the media coverage and tens of thousands of live fans.

    Olt is really the only guy I want to see brought up this year (not counting September cups of coffee) and around the draft would probably be a good time.

  • In reply to Yemi:

    I only said he could be fast tracked because he spent 3 years in college like Bryant. The whole thing is hypothetical anyway, since Turner could get hurt or have a bad year and end up hurting his stock. It's no where near a guarantee the guy ends up a Cub come June

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    Nice to see Turner 4th but I too am super nervous because he seems like exactly the kind if guy the White Sox usually draft.

    I think A Jackson can make this draft very interesting. I think he's a bubble top 5 guy right now but a big Senior year could break through that bubble.

    I've read that the Astros like him and while Rodon should be a clear #1, taking Jackson could allow them to work the same strategy as two years ago. If so, that could really blow up the draft. With the Sox taking Abreu, they may just offer Rodon's agent every cent they can WO/ losing a draft pick.
    I don't think the Marlins would pass on him normally but would they blow up their draft?

  • Also hope Olt turns it around. If anything he would be a real good corner bench guy that gives you some good ABs, or even become part of the core

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