News and Notes: Margevicius, Brito, Sledgers, Murphy

April 1st, marks the official end of the first series for 28 of the 30 teams around the league, and in that short period of time, there were a significant amount of noteworthy events.

Perhaps the most important was the Padres’ calling up 22-year-old lefty Nick Margevicius to start on Saturday evening against the Giants. Margevicius represents the second player from the 2017 draft class to reach the Major League Baseball level behind Kyle Wright of the Braves. The 22-year-old lefty had been expected to begin the season in Double-A after posting a 4.30 ERA with a 3.37 FIP over 58.2 innings pitched in Class A Advanced last season.

All-in-all, the kid has been rather excellent, especially in the control department, walking just 1.23 batters per nine innings throughout his minor league career. Despite taking the loss, he actually performed quite well in his major league debut allowing just a single run over five innings, while also striking five out to no walks.

Just who is Margevicius? The Padres selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft out of Rider University. He is a finesse lefty who doesn’t have the best stuff out there, but has had some success in the strikeout department. He brings with him a fastball, that sits in the low-90’s, and a strong change with a curveball that needs some work. I would place his 80-grade outcome as a three with his 20 grade outcome as a taxi lefty swing who becomes a journeyman after a few seasons.

The most likely scenario, however (50), is that of a nice four/five. He seems like the type of guy who can force himself into a team’s long-term plans, despite a lack of notoriety, whether that be with the Padres or someone else.

The Padres have been very liberal with their prospects thus far this season, having already selected the contracts of top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack to begin the season on the Opening Day roster. This is a great strategy for ownership, as it could help them secure talent in the future, based on their “player friendly” public image. This is especially true with the unrest between the owners and players association in this day and age.

One promising young player, however, was not fortunate to benefit from the Padres approach this season, as outfielder Socrates Brito was designated for assignment to accommodate the move. Brito was claimed last week after being designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks. The Padres had the extra space on the roster, meaning they did not have to make a corresponding move. I’m a huge fan of Brito’s. The 26-year-old outfielder brings with him 20 home run/20 stolen base potential with a plus glove all throughout the outfield.

Another thing to mention is that, while many have questions regarding his bat, and contact ability, it should be noted that he has been unlucky in the major leagues thus far. Back in 2017, when he slashed .179/.196/.358, his BABIP was a well-below-average .191, and last season, when he hit .175/.227/.250, it was .194. I expect that to even itself out as he’s given more opportunities. My projections have him slashing .256/.296/.437 with 162-game rates of 31 doubles, nine triples, 16 homers, 75 RBI’s and 17 stolen bases.

Now, keep in mind, I don’t expect him to play anywhere near 162 games, but add his glove to those offensive tools and we’re looking at a major league regular. My biggest issue with him is his lack of plate discipline, which could very well be the difference between him being a fourth outfielder and a lead-off hitter. I fully expect him to wind up on another team’s 25-man roster by the end of the week. The Angels would make sense, as would a return to Arizona.

The Mariners will be without Hunter Strickland for at least ten days, as he has been diagnosed with a lat strain. He really messed up last night allowing three runs on what wasn’t even a complete inning, but in all fairness, manager Scott Servais should take the majority of the blame here, as Strickland was noticeably uncomfortable up there last night and should have been pulled after the first hit. He continued to stretch throughout the entire time that he was on the mound. While there’s no timetable for his return, I don’t expect him to be out very long.

To fill his roster spot, the Mariners called up righty David McKay. The 23-year-old reliever was picked up by Seattle prior to the 2018 season after being cut loose by the Royals due to very significant struggles in 2017 (7.21 ERA between 88.2 innings of Rookie and Class A ball).He was initially assigned to Class A Advanced by Seattle, and wound up spending the majority of 2018 in Double-A. He brings with him a fastball that tops out at 96, while typically sitting between 88-94, as well as a nice curve with some sink to it. He looks to me like a middle reliever long-term.

Also hitting the injured list is Rockies’ first baseman Daniel Murphy. Murphy signed a two-year contract worth $24 million over the offseason after slashing .299/.336/.454 in 2018 between the Nationals and the Cubs. The injury is being called a fractured finger, and there has not yet been any timetable for his return. For the time being, Mark Reynolds should see the majority of time at first base while either Pat Valaika or Noel Cuevas could earn a call-up to fill the bench.

The Rays acquired Aaron Sledgers from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations. Slegers is a 6’10” starting pitcher who typically sits in the low 90’s. While I’m not putting too much stock into it based on sample size, he lost 1.5 mph on his fastball last season. He’s a pitch to contact guy with decent control, but lackluster stuff. He looks like a swing. He’ll presumably head to Durham initially, where he will serve as a long reliever, and seems to be a perfect fit for the Rays’ “Opener” technique. My projections have the 26-year-old posting a 4.82 ERA with a 1.37 HR/9, 2.21 BB/9 and a 5.56 K/9. Anthony Banda was placed on the 60-day injured list to accommodate the transaction.

Finally, the A’s cut ties with infielder Cliff Pennington after bringing him in on a minors deal in mid-February. This is unfortunate news for the 35-year-old, but I can’t imagine that he’s out of a job for very long. Over Spring Training, he slashed .296/.333/.333 over 30 plate appearances. While he’s never been known to be a hitter, his glove is regarded as one of the best in the league.

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