Crash Course: Weekly Round-Up for May 15-21

Hello and welcome to another edition of Crash Course! Apologies for the delay, however, while I typically don’t have very much going on (this weekly post as evidence) I just started a full time internship this week, and getting the paperwork all squared away took up some time this past week. As always, all prospect reports and rankings are my own, and I would like to thank Matt Eddy, all of the league transaction pages, MLB Trade Rumors, FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference for reporting the news throughout the week, now here’s your chance to get caught up.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Andrew Susac is up in the place of the recently optioned catcher Caleb Joseph down to Triple-A.
    • Susac has earned his promotion this season after slashing an outstanding .296/.424/.537 with three home runs. He should see a few starts a week.
    • As for Joseph, he will probably be back up at some point this season, but is certainly looking like an early non-tender candidate.
  • Lefty Donnie Hart was sent down on Sunday to make room for David Hess  (#23). It is essentially just a quick bullpen shuffle, and we should see Hart back soon. Personally, I see no reason that Hart shouldn’t be a mainstay in the O’s bullpen. He has been very reliable over the past few years.
  • The Orioles passed recently claimed third baseman Renato Nunez (#17) through waivers on Tuesday and sent him outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Outfielder Michael Saunders was released in a corresponding move.
    • This was the best thing for Nunez. I am maintaining my position that Nunez has the potential to be a very good seven hitter, however he just isn’t ready yet. When the O’s inevitably sell, Manny Machado and Danny Valencia are two pieces who seem like good bets to be traded, which would open up the door for a major league return, assuming Nunez makes some tweaks to his approach at the plate. The power is real, and I believe that he could be a 30-home run threat within the next year or so.
    • As for Michael Saunders, there has just been no indication that things are going to get better for him any time soon. Since his very strong first half with the Jays in 2016, not one peripheral statistic has suggested that he is on pace for a rebound. His BABip numbers are proportional to his average, and while it seemed as though he had traded speed for power in 2016, neither have been evident in two years now. The 31-year old hit just .161/.291/.253 over 103 plate appearances for the Tides this season, and could have to settle for a deal in the Independent Leagues.
  • Outfielder Alex Presley triggered an opt-out clause in his contract on Tuesday, and became a free agent after hitting .288/.362/.385 in Norfolk. Lefty Josh Edgin did the same thing the following day after posting a 4.34 ERA with 25 strikeouts and five walks over 18.2 innings.
    • There are a collection of guys who are sitting in the minor leagues right now, who could probably provide value for a major league team right now. Alex Presley is one of those guys. While his .263/.306/.388 batting line is unspectacular, it’s certainly decent enough for a bench player, and he has shown flashes of both power and speed.

Boston Red Sox

  • Steven Wright was activated from the disabled list on Monday, and Hector Velazquez was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for him.
  • On Tuesday, reliever Carson Smith was placed on the disabled list with shoulder subluxation and Bobby Poyner (#24) was recalled to take his place.
  • Tommy Layne was released from Triple-A Pawtucket this week. He hadn’t pitched yet this season and holds a career 3.61 major league ERA over 149.2 innings pitched. The 33-year old lefty could very well get another shot soon.
  • The Sox acquired lefty reliever Josh Taylor (#34) from the Diamondbacks to complete the Deven Marrero trade from March 24th.
    • Scouting Report: Taylor was an undrafted free agent who began his career in the Phillies system. He was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Jhailyn Ortiz money deal and has held his own since converting to a full time relief role. He’s a big lefty who has shown decent control in the past. Overall, he could be a LOOGY or a taxi lefty.

New York Yankees

  • Brandon Drury was activated from the disabled list on Monday, and was optioned to Triple-A Scranton.
    • This move is a mistake. While Miguel Andujar (#7) has a rather high average and has shown some nice power, he has been very poor defensively at third while walking three times in 138 plate appearances (equating to 2.17%). Andujar is close, but he still has some work that needs to be done and should be sent down to the minors to refine his approach.
  • Outfielder Clint Frazier was recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday, and reliever David Hale was designated for assignment for a third time this season and elected free agency. Once again, he re-signed with the Yankees, as if we didn’t see it coming when he elected free agency.
  • The Yankees released designated hitter Tim Lynch from Class A Advanced Tampa to make room for rising star prospect Garrett Whitlock (#8).
    • Whitlock is the best prospect in baseball that you have never heard of. He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2017 draft and has set the world on fire since coming to the pro’s. There’s a reason I bumped him from unranked to eighth in the Yankees strong system.
    • Scouting Report:Wow, this kid has been fantastic since being picked up in the 17th round of the 2017 Draft. The 21 year old has a mid-90’s fastball with some good offspeed stuff and excellent control. Over his first 54.1 innings pitched, he has posted a 1.82 ERA with a 10.9 K/9 and an astounding 1.2 BB/9. He could become a Top-100 prospect by the pre-season rankings next season.
    • As for Lynch, the nearly 25-year old first baseman has struggled in his second season in Class A Advanced after posting a strong .310/.368/.573 line with 13 home runs. It’s certainly quite surprising he was released, as he is riding a very low BABip this season, and has low strikeout rates despite good power. He’s a guy who front offices should take note of as a low risk lottery ticket.
  • The Yankees also cut ties with Daniel Camarena from Triple-A. I’ll admit, I am higher on Camarena based on his relatively consistent results throughout his minor league career, but he was genuinely awful this past season posting a 5.08 ERA over his first 39 innings in Triple-A.
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Tampa Bay Rays

  • Carlos Gomez wound up on the disabled list with a groin strain creating the path for top prospect Christian Arroyo (#5) to be recalled from Triple-A.
    • Scouting Report on Arroyo: Arroyo struggled a bit in his rookie season, however it’s impossible not be impressed with his Triple-A numbers. He’s a legitimate player in the near future and could hit as a two-hitter.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria landed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain and reliever Ryne Stanek (#22) was recalled to replace him on the active roster. He will provide an extra arm for the Rays.
  • Andrew Kitteridge was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Monday, and Hunter Wood (#37) was recalled from Triple-A in a corresponding move. Wood was sent down the following day to make room for Anthony Banda (#29).

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Dwight Smith Jr. (#10) replaced Anthony Alford (#3) as the Jays’ fourth outfielder on Tuesday.
  • On Wednesday, Deck McGuire, who had been called up on Sunday, was optioned to the minor leagues to clear a space on the roster for Danny Barnes.
  • McGuire was recalled again on Friday, however, to replace Jaime Garcia who went down with left shoulder inflammation.
  • Right-handed pitched Devin Malone was released by the Blue Jays on Friday after signing in March and never throwing a pitch in affiliated ball.
  • Outfielder Bryan Hudson was also released, however he seems likely to get another shot elsewhere. The 23-year old lefty outfielder has a career .265/.374/.311 batting line with 83 career stolen bases and while he has never hit a home run, that skill set is certainly valuable.

Chicago White Sox

  • Yoan Moncada was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, and Jose Rondon (#22) was sent down to make room for him on the active roster. In order to accommodate the transaction, recently acquired minor league outfielder Todd Cunningham was released from Triple-A Charlotte.
  • Rondon made it back a few days later to replace Nick Delmonico, who landed on the disabled list with a broken middle finger.
  • In the same announcement, Carson Fulmer was sent down to the minor leagues and replaced by Dylan Covey.
  • Michael Saunders joined the Sox on a minor league deal on Monday, and was assigned to Triple-A. He could see a call-up following the deadline.

Cleveland Indians

  • Outfielder Bradley Zimmer was placed on the disabled list with a rib contusion and was replaced by reliever Neil Ramirez. Ryan Merritt was placed on the 60-day disabled list to open a roster spot for him.
  • Melky Cabrera earned a call-up on Sunday and replaced Evan Marshall on the active roster. Alexi Ogando was designated for assignment by the Indians to clear a spot on the active roster.
  • Matt Belisle rejoined the Indians on a minor league deal. It seems likely that he was unable to find any major league offers elsewhere, prompting him to return to a team with a shaky pen and a probably need for reinforcements in the near future.
  • Josh Tomlin was officially bumped from the rotation and will now serve as a long reliever. Tomlin has been horrible this season, as he currently has a 7.84 ERA with a 9.14 FIP. He also leads the lead in home runs allowed with 15, or 4.4 per nine innings.

Detroit Tigers

  • Jeimer Candelario was placed on the disabled list with tendonitis in this wrist on Monday, and Dawel Lugo (#15) was recalled in his place.
  • On Wednesday, the Tigers made something of a roster shuffle, as the recently recalled Lugo was optioned to the minor leagues alongside right-handed pitcher Zach Reininger to make room for righty Artie Lewicki (#23) and lefty Ryan Carpenter. Carpenter was sent down the following day to clear a spot on the roster for Leonys Martin.
  • The Tigers released righty John Hayes from Class A to make room for left-handed relief prospect Felix Viloria (#35), who was promoted from Class A Short Season.
    • Hayes is a 25-year old reliever who has consistently posted FIP’s in the 3.80 range since being drafted in the 25th round of the 2016 draft. While he struggles a bit with control, he should find something elsewhere based on his ability to effectively eat up relief innings in the minor leagues.
    • Scouting Report on Viloria: Viloria is a 21 year old lefty reliever with a reasonably high ceiling. He has average control, which looks better based on the fact that his stuff is outstanding. I see him as a set-up man, however he’s still too far away to consider any more than a lottery ticket. Keep an eye on him.

Kansas City Royals

  • Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list on Monday with plantar fasciatis in his right foot, and Hunter Dozier was recalled from Triple-A to replace him on the active roster.
  • Chelsor Cuthbert also landed on the disabled list this week, with a lower back strain and was replaced by infielder Ramon Torres, who should see some at bats in his absence.
  • Michael Mariot will rejoin the Royals’ organization after being released by Padres. He will serve as minor league relief depth and could receive a call up after the trade deadline.

Minnesota Twins

  • Jake Cave (#14) is up with the Twins to replace Joe Mauer, who landed on the disabled list with a cervical strain and a possible concussion.
    • I’m a big fan of Cave. He’s a very well-rounded player who has a very good make-up and a high baseball IQ.
  • The Minnesota Twins released third baseman Nelson Molina from Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
    • Molina, 23, is a lefty swinging third baseman who was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft.
    • His 2018 numbers were on par with his career numbers, as he had been running a .234/.306/.273 line, which is only slightly worse than his career line of .243/.306/.309.

Houston Astros

  • In their first roster move of the month of May, the Astros optioned Jake Marisnick to Triple-A and recalled Tony Kemp in his place.
    • I don’t believe that this is any indication that the Astros are giving up on Marisnick, as he has excellent speed and a great glove. I believe he is simply being sent down to fix some kinks in his approach.
  • Derek Fisher landed on the disabled list with gastrointestinal discomfort and was replaced by J.D. Davis (#7).
    • I wouldn’t be too worried, everyone has bad shrimp every once in a while. He should be back and ready to go soon.

Los Angeles Angels

  • Kenyan Middleton landed back on the disabled list with UCL damage on Monday. Felix Pena was recalled from Triple-A in a corresponding move. Michael Hermosillo (#14) replaced him on Friday.
  • Jaime Barria (#6) was sent back down to Triple-A to give the Halos an extra bullpen arm while they await Barria’s next start. Eduardo Paredes was recalled from Triple-A and replaced by Ian Krol on Saturday.
  • Jose Briceno (#35) was recalled by the Angels to replace Rene Rivera who landed on the disabled list with right knee inflammation.
  • The Angels signed Eduardo Rivera (#45) to a minor league contract on Thursday and assigned him to Class A Advanced Inland Island.
    • Rivera was released by the Giants a few weeks ago and here’s what I had to say:
      • Rivera had spent his entire career in short season ball, however finally saw a full season promotion after finding success converting to a relief role. Unfortunately, all of his success came against players who were considerably younger and less experienced than he was. He has control and velocity, striking out 17 over ten innings with just four walks, but he throws it right down the middle. He could certainly get another shot, but I wouldn’t expect him to make an impact unless we see a change.
  • The Angels released former top prospect Vicente Campos from Double-A Mobile to accommodate relief prospect Daniel Procopio‘s (#33) promotion from Class A Advanced.
    • Campos has struggled since he received a cup of coffee in Arizona back in 2016. I would certainly take a shot on him, as I love the potential and I believe the fact that the Angels shuffled him between levels since acquiring him hurt. He has missed so much time over the past few years that it would make sense to give him a sense of stability.
    • Scouting Report on Procopio: Here we have another hard thrower with brutal control. Overall, I would say both his ceiling and floor are higher than the average fireballer based on polish, however at this point in time, I think we’re looking at a taxi guy with a set-up ceiling.

Oakland A’s

  • Trevor Cahill was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday and outfielder Jake Smolinski was optioned to Triple-A.
  • Back-up catcher Bruce Maxwell was placed on the restricted list for the weekend, as gun charges prevent entry into Canada. Josh Phegley was called up to take his place, and was sent back down following the series in Toronto.
  • In a Friday pitching shuffle, the A’s placed Andrew Triggs on the 10-day disabled list and sent down reliever Ryan Dull to make room for relievers Emilio Pagan and Josh Lucas (#24). Luckily for Dull, Brett Anderson strained his shoulder before he could pack his bags and leave Toronto.
  • Carlos Ramirez was claimed off of waivers by the A’s from the Blue Jays on Sunday. He will serve as minor league relief depth. Dustin Garneau was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster for him.
  • The A’s activated Stephen Piscotty from the bereavement list on Tuesday and optioned Kendall Graveman back to the minor leagues.
  • To accommodate Graveman’s addition to the Sounds’ roster, first baseman Slade Heathcott was released from Triple-A.
  • Jake Lumley was released from Class A Beloit this past week.
    • Lumley was a 33rd round selection in last year’s draft and had hit .304/.354/.343 since being drafted. He should get another deal somewhere else.

Seattle Mariners

  • Robinson Cano was placed on the disabled list with a broken pinky and Gordon Beckham was recalled from Triple-A. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Cano will be out for a bit longer than the time it would take his pinky to heal, as he was suspended 80 games for P.E.D. usage. If the Mariners make the playoffs, he will not be allowed to participate.
  • Christian Bergman rejoined the Mariners on Wednesday following an extra innings game against the Rangers on Tuesday. Erik Goeddel was designated for assignment to accommodate the move. Bergman was sent down the following night to make room for Ryan Cook and Goeddel was claimed off of waivers by the Dodgers.
  • The Seattle Mariners released left-handed pitcher Tyler Watson from Class A Clinton.
    • Watson, 24,was drafted by the Angels in the 38th round of the 2014 draft, released and signed by Seattle last season.
    • While he posted a 12.00 ERA in 2018, it was over just three innings pitched. His career numbers, while unspectacular, are far more serviceable, as he has a career 4.14 ERA over 180 innings as a lefty reliever.
    • While it would not surprise me to see him get a new contract, based on the fact that he’s a relatively young left-handed relief depth option, I don’t see him making an impact at the major league level at this rate.
  • Outfielder Zack Shank retired from Double-A Arkansas.
  • Everybody has been throwing around ideas for replacements for Cano, from free agents such as Brandon Phillips to trade candidates like Scooter Gennett. Here’s an outside the box idea: trade for Preston Tucker.
    •  Tucker has hardly played for the Braves since Ronald Acuna was recalled, and has posted very strong numbers this season. He shouldn’t cost more than future considerations, and could slide right into the line-up for the M’s sliding either Mitch Haniger or Guillermo Heredia to center field, and Dee Gordon to second, where he has been an all-star. We’ve seen what Tucker can do, and it’s an absolute sin that he hasn’t been given a legitimate opportunity despite earning it. Besides, Jerry DiPoto’s about due for a trade, as he’s coming up on two weeks since the Anthony McIver to the Twins deal.

Texas Rangers

  • Adrian Beltre was placed back on the disabled list after re-aggravating his hamstring injury and Hanser Alberto was recalled from Triple-A.
  • Matt Moore landed on the disabled list with knee soreness, and Ariel Jurado (#8) was recalled to replace him in a spot start. He was sent back down the following day to make room for Chris Martin who was activated from the disabled list.
  • Matt Bush is back in Arlington, spelling the end for Kevin Jepsen. Jepsen started off very lucky managing to escape trouble despite control issues. Unfortunately, it caught up to him quickly as he finishes his Rangers’ tenure with a 5.94 ERA. Bush pitched nine innings of 2.00 ERA ball in Triple-A striking out 14 compared to four walks, and could be back in the mix for saves with Keona Kela struggling.
  • Hometown kid Cliff Pennington was signed to a minor league contract on Friday hours after being released by the Reds. He could be up in Texas assuming they kick off the fire sale in the near future.
  • The Rangers released right-handed pitcher Yelfri Munoz this week.
    • He had posted a career 4.22 ERA with a 7.66 K/9 and a 3.24 BB/9.
    • He did not pitch in 2017 due to injury.
  • Reliever Cody Palmquist and shortstop Luis Marte were released from Double-A Frisco to make room for left-handed pitcher Wes Benjamin (#15), who was activated from the temporarily inactive list, and Yanio Perez (#11) who was activated from the disabled list.
    • Palmquist is a righty reliever who is able to get strikeouts based on his stuff, despite his fastball reaching up to the high 80’s. His control is his biggest issue.
    • Marte is a glove first infielder who has never really been able to hit. He has decent speed, as he has stolen 88 stolen bases throughout his career in the minor leagues, however that comes with a poor .243/.262/.330 line.
    • Benjamin is a 24-year old lefty who was selected in round five back in 2014. He has a career 3.86 ERA over 259 innings pitched and is considered more of a finesse pitcher who utilizes control to get the job done. There’s a chance that he could become a back-end starter.
    • Yanio Perez was signed last season and hit 14 home runs with just 100 strikeouts in 123 career games. He has been out for the majority of the season, however has walked three times in four games compared to just four strikeouts.

Atlanta Braves

  • The Jose Bautista experiment didn’t last very long, as he was released on Sunday. Dansby Swanson is back, though, which probably make the loss sting less for the Braves fans.
    • Bautista hit .143/.250/.343 over 12 games with the Braves. This could be it for the former Jay. If it is, in fact, the end, he finishes his career with 333 home runs and a solid .249/.361/.480 career slash line.
    • It’s still crazy to me that Bautista didn’t find success until he had already been in the league for seven years. Could there still be hope for Braxton Davidson?
  • In something of an indirect pitcher shuffle, Matt Wisler was sent down to clear a spot for Dansby Swanson, who was activated on Saturday, and Lucas Sims replaced Bautista on the active roster.
  • The Braves brought in left-handed pitcher Chad Bell off of waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
    • Bell will serve as left-handed relief depth for the Braves. While Bell insn’t anything special, he is a lefty with decent enough control which gives a player a few extra years by itself.
  • Mike Soroka (#4) was placed on the disabled list on Thursday with a shoulder strain and Max Fried (#21) was recalled to take his spot and replaced with Matt Wisler the following day.
    • As for Soroka’s injury, it is not considered to be exceptionally serious. The Braves are taking precautions, as Soroka is such a promising young arm.
  • The Braves signed left-handed pitcher Dan Lietz to a minor league contract.
    • Lietz was released by the Blue Jays in March. Overall, he doesn’t look like he’s much more than a relief depth option for the Braves who could make it to the majors as a taxi guy.
  • They also released a pair of left-handed relievers in Oriel Caicedo and Zach Rice.
    • Caicedo, 24, had been pitching in Class A Advanced. He’s a career 3.13 ERA pitcher who has excellent control (career 1.71 BB/9) and looks like a good bet to make it to the majors at some point.
    • As for Rice, he has a career 5.33 ERA and while he has good stuff and has a career 11.01 K/9, he struggles with control and walks about six batters per nine innings.

Miami Marlins

  • Junichi Tazawa got the boot in Miami after posting a 9.00 ERA this season and a finishes his Marlins tenure with a 6.57 ERA. According to Baseball-reference, he was worth -1.7 wins above replacement over the past two seasons. The Marlins are still on the hook for the remainder of his $7,000,000 salary, and any team can sign him for the league minimum once he’s released.
  • Tyler Cloyd was sent down to the minor leagues on Tuesday. While he did well in his five innings during the game against the Dodgers, his ERA was still 10.80, as he gave up a combined 16 runs over his last three appearances totaling 7.1 innings.
  • To replace both Tazawa and Cloyd, reliever Dillon Peters and starter Adam Conley were recalled from Triple-A. Peters was replaced by Odrisamer Despaigne on Monday.
  • The Marlins released right-handed pitcher Tyler Frowith from Class A.
    • Frowith is a second contract minor leaguer who was drafted by the Phillies and released.
    • Overall, he’s a career 3.27 ERA pitcher with excellent control (1.47 BB/9) while striking out a decent 7.57 per nine.

New York Mets

  • Yoenis Cespedes landed on the disabled list on Wednesday with a mild hip flexor strain. He was replaced on the active roster by Phillip Evans (#17).
  • The Mets shuffled the roster a bit on Tuesday, as Jay Bruce replaced Dom Smith after being activated from the paternity leave list, lefty Buddy Baumann replaced Jerry Blevins after he was placed on the paternity leave list, and right-handed pitcher Jacob Rhame (#32) was recalled to replace Corey Oswalt (#20) who was optioned to the minors.
  • Baumann was replaced by Chris Flexen (#24) on Saturday.
  • Blevins was activated on Friday to replace Juan Lagares on the active roster. Lagares will miss the remainder of the season to recover from toe surgery.
  • Jose Lobaton was shown the door on Saturday to make room for Tomas Nido (#12) who will step in as Devin Mesoraco‘s back-up for the time being.
  • In a pair of minor league signings, the Mets announced that they signed outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and infielder Christian Colon. To make room, Vance Worley was placed on the disabled list in Triple-A and Scott Copeland was sent to Double-A.
    • Both players had recently been released by Atlanta and will provide the Mets with minor league depth pieces with major league experience.
    • As for Copeland, he spent some time in Toronto, but was a largely ineffective swing. He’s depth.
  • The Mets continued to re-make their Las Vegas roster by signing Cody Martin out of the American Association and Joey Wong out of the Atlantic League.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • The Phillies made a few minor tweaks to the bullpen this past week, as Adam Morgan was activated from the disabled list and Jake Thompson was optioned to make room for him. Mark Leiter was activated from the disabled list as well, and immediately optioned to the minor leagues.
  • Victor Arano (#22) is back for the Phillies, as he replaced Yacksel Rios (#35), however Jerad Eickhoff could be much farther away than everybody had initially thought, as he was shut down from his throwing program on Monday.
  • Tim Berry was released from Triple-A Lehigh on Friday after struggling to a 10.38 ERA over 4.1 innings this season. Now 27, it could be the end of the line for the lefty.

Washington Nationals

  • It was announced that Matt Wieters will be out for the foreseeable future with a torn hamstring. While Pedro Severino (#14) will assume the everyday duties, the Nationals will almost certainly be on the look out for upgrades on the trade market.
  • Juan Soto (#2) earned a call-up on Saturday evening replacing Moises Sierra who was designated for assignment.
  • Howie Kendrick, who ruptured his achillies and will miss the remainder of the season, was placed on the 60-day disabled list, while Ryan Madson was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a chest strain.
  • Tim Collins had his contract purchased by the Nationals on Monday, and is set to make his first major league appearance since 2014. The diminutive lefty was a part of the three headed monster in the Royals’ bullpen back in the day also featuring Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland.
  • Mariano Rivera Jr. retired on Tuesday.
    • The son of the great closer Mariano Rivera was a day two pick by the Nationals back in 2015 and struggled mightily through his career posting a 4.62 ERA over 167.2 innings of relief with just 128 strikeouts over 167.2 innings compared to 45 walks. Best of luck to him

Chicago Cubs

  • While Randy Rosario (#20) was recalled from Triple-A on Thursday, he didn’t appear in a game, as Jason Heyward replaced him on the roster after being activated from the disabled list. David Bote (#39) was optioned to the minor leagues as well. He was also recalled as the 26th man for the weekend double-header, but once again didn’t stick.
  • Yu Darvish returned from the disabled list after battling the flu on Tuesday, and replaced Mark Zagunis (#5) on the active roster.
  • Jason Heyward was transferred to the 10-day disabled list for his concussion. It is unclear when he will return to action.
  • The Cubs released infielder Carlos Penalver and left-handed pitcher James Pugliese from Double-A to make room for second baseman Vimael Machin (#43), who was promoted from Class A Advanced, and Ryan McNeil (#45), who was activated from the disabled list.
    • I had Pugliese ranked #21 based on his very strong showing last season, however he struggled mightily this season. As a lefty reliever, he should be given another shot, but it remains to be seen if he will ever make an impact in the major leagues, as he is now 25 and will turn 26 in August.
    • Scouting Report on Machin: Machin has good plate discipline and has the potential to be a decent contact hitter, however he doesn’t have anything else in terms of tools. Overall, I see him as a replacement level player who could get an emergency call-up or so.
    • Scouting Report on McNeil: McNeil was a third round pick back in 2012, and while he had success in the lower levels, he has struggled upon reaching the upper levels. I don’t know if he will ever be an effective major leaguer, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he was an emergency call-up at some point based on his draft status.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Kevin Shackleford re-joined the Reds on Saturday to provide some extra bullpen depth.
  • The Reds made a lot of cuts in the minor leagues this week as outfielder Tyler Goeddel, utility player Cliff Pennington, righties Ben Rowen and lefty Jefferson Olacio were all cut loose.
    •  Tyler Goeddel was cut from Triple-A Louisville to make room for Brandon Finnegan who was optioned to the minor leagues following the Reds’ acquisition of Matt Harvey. Goeddel was a first round pick by Tampa Bay back in 2011 and selected by the Phillies with the first overall pick in the December 2015 Rule V Draft. While he struggled offensively in the major leagues, hitting .192/.258/.291 over 234 plate appearances, he always showed a rather decent glove and a plus arm from the outfield. The most concerning thing about Goeddel is the fact that his stolen base speed has essentially evaporated since 2015, which is odd seeing as how he is just 25-years old. After three consecutive seasons in which he stole 30 bases, and 28 the following year, he has combined to steal 20 bases from 2016 through 2018.
    • Rowen, 30, has typically been a very decent minor league depth option, however has struggled over his first 10.1 innings in Louisville posting a rough 9.28 ERA. He’s a submariner and has always exhibited very nice control. He should get another deal.
    • As for Olacio, he hasn’t pitched since 2015 and could be done.
    • Pennington exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and signed with Texas on the same day.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Ryan Braun was placed on the 10-day disabled list with some back tightness. It’s not considered a serious injury and he should be back soon. In the meantime, Ji-Man Choi is back in Milwaukee and hit a home run in his first at bat back.
  • Chase Anderson returned from the disabled list, and Freddy Peralta (#4) was sent down to clear a spot on the active roster. We will see Peralta again soon.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Austin Meadows (#1) received his call-up on Thursday to replace Starling Marte, who landed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.
    • Scouting Report on Meadows: Meadows’ bat stalled out a bit as he ascended through the system, but nevertheless, he still looks like a major league starter. While there aren’t many outrageous tools, he looks like a solid regular who hits in the 6 hole.
    • There’s no set timetable for Marte’s return, as oblique strains can be tricky.
  • Nick Kingham (#11) was recalled to make a start over the weekend, replacing Matt Moroff on the active roster, but was sent down the following day to make room for Josh Harrison, who was activated from the disabled list.
  • The Pirates released reliever Sam Street from Double-A Altoona.
    • Street was drafted by the Pirates in the 16th round of the 2014 draft.
    • This move made no sense to me, as he has a career 2.17 ERA while exhibiting solid control walking just about two guys per nine innings and striking out just under seven.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • The Cardinals had a bad week for injuries as they lost Adam Wainwright, Paul DeJong, Carson Kelly, Luke Gregerson and Matt Bowman to the disabled list.
  • Adam Wainwright (elbow inflammation)  was replaced by top prospect Jack Flaherty (#1), Luke Gregerson (shoulder impingement) was replaced by taxi squader John Brebbia, DeJong (fractured hand) was replaced by Yairo Munoz (#12), Matt Bowman (blisters) was replaced by Tyler O’Neill (#8) and Kelly (hamstring strain) was replaced by Steve Baron.
  • In what has proven to be the most competitive division in the major leagues, the Cardinals may need to find external upgrades quickly if they want to keep pace with the Brewers, Cubs and Pirates. They could be an early buyer on the market.
  • In a bit of good news, Cuban signee Hector Mendoza (#22) was promoted to Triple-A Memphis and could get his first look in the major leagues sooner rather than later. He is my second favorite player in the Cardinals’ system behind Austin Gomber (#4). I believe he has the floor of a mainstay reliever with the ceiling of a set-up man.
  • The Cardinals released catcher Jesse Jenner from Double-A Springfield to accommodate the promotion of outfielder Granden Goetzman.
  • Righty Noel Gonzalez was also released after struggling in his first four games at Class A. The 24-year old had been very solid prior to this season posting a 3.05 ERA over 20.2 innings pitched in rookie ball in 2016 and a 2.79 ERA over 29 innings pitched in Class A Short Season. I would certainly consider taking a shot on the young righty.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Star outfielder A.J. Pollock was placed on the disabled list with a thumb sprain and was replaced by Christian Walker (#25).
  • Walker was sent down three days later to make room for Jake Lamb, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list.
  • Jimmie Sherfy (#12) was recalled from Triple-A to replace Troy Scribner, who had been optioned to the minor leagues, and was sent back down when Clay Buchholz was recalled from Triple-A. Randall Delgado was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
  • The Diamondbacks released righty Jorge Despaigne from Class A to make room for second baseman Jancarlos Cintron (#46), who was promoted from the Arizona League.
    • Despaigne, now 27, was signed out of Cuba in 2016, but hasn’t pitched since that season.
    • As for Cintron, he has hit .250/.298/.369 since being drafted in the 24th round last season. Overall, he looks like depth for the moment. He doesn’t have much in terms of tools.

Colorado Rockies

  • DJ LeMahieu was placed on the disabled list with a left thumb sprain on Monday, and Pat Valaika was recalled from Triple-A to replace him.
  • Mason Melotakis (#24) latched on with the Rockies over the weekend and was assigned to Triple-A. He could be up in the major leagues in a lefty taxi-squad role by the end of the season.
  • The Rockies signed right-handed pitcher Frederis Parra (#24) to a minor league deal.
    • Parra was just released by the Cardinals at the end of spring training.
    • He’s a career 3.32 ERA pitcher who relies on his control to get batters out. He looks like a potential long reliever.
    • As with Rafael Bautista last week, don’t get too caught up on the ranking for Parra. I’m simply not very high on the Rockies system beyond the top ten.
  • Lefty Luis Guzman, righty Trey Killian and first baseman Collin Ferguson were all released by the Rockies this week.
    • The release of Ferguson makes little to no sense to me. Ferguson was drafted in the 17th round of the 2015 draft and has a career .261/.352/.444 hitter and has reached High-A.
    • He has exhibited very strong power in the past and looks like a guy who could be a very decent power bench bat for a major league club.
    • As for Killian, he was drafted in the ninth round of the 2015 draft, but has posted a career 5.82 ERA, and while he has decent control, walking just over three batters per nine innings, he gets hit very hard.
    • Guzman hadn’t been very great either. While he showed flashes including 59 innings of 3.97 ERA ball with 55 strikeouts and 12 walks in 2016, he had also had some awful showings including last season, in which he had posted a 24.30 ERA over three innings. In his fifth year of minor league service, he is well behind the curve in regard to development as he hadn’t even made it to full season ball.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • The Dodgers activated Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe from the disabled list on Tuesday and optioned Tim Locastro (#50) and Kyle Farmer to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
    • Both guys should be back up soon. I see Farmer as a semi-regular contributor with defensive versatility and a passable bat, whereas I see Locastro as a replacement level infielder.
  • Personally, I think Rich Hill should be permitted to pitch wearing latex gloves from this point forward, as he is back on the disabled list with blisters. Just a piece of advice for the Dodgers’ medical staff, Neosporin is magic cream. It got me through multiple stubbed toes, splinters, and blisters throughout my childhood.
  • Aside from this move, the Dodgers did a lot of bullpen shuffling this week. Tony Cingrani was activated from the disabled list, prompting Adam Liberatore to be sent down, and while Yimi Garcia briefly replaced Pat Venditte, it only lasted a day.
  • On Thursday, the team claimed reliever Erik Goeddel off of waivers from the Mariners and signed his brother Tyler to a minor league deal. Erik was assigned to the major league roster right out of the gate, and Tyler was assigned to Double-A Tulsa. To accommodate the move, Henry Owens was designated for assignment.
  • Joining Tyler Goeddel in Double-A Tulsa is lefty Chad Girodo (#30 in LAD) who was signed to a minor league deal on Monday.
    • The 27-year old lefty reliever was released by the Jays last week after spending his entire career with the organization since being drafted in 2013. He has a career 2.76 ERA in the minor leagues and received a cup of coffee in the majors, posting a 4.35 ERA over 10.1 innings pitched.
    • Scouting Report: Girodo is a sinker-balling lefty who has very solid control and regularly posts ground ball rates in the upper 50%’s. I see him as a LOOGY/taxi-squad arm who could help the Dodgers at any given moment. 
  • They also purchased the contracts of catcher Zach Taylor (Frontier League) and right-handed pitcher Logan Bawcom (Atlantic League).
    • This is Bawcom’s third stint with the Dodgers. He was drafted by the organization in 2010 and traded to Seattle for Brandon League. He re-signed with L.A. in 2016 as well, but left as a free agent. He was assigned to Double-A.
  • Rookie league outfielder Shakir Albert was released from the rookie leagues.
    • The 21-year old has a .261/.323/.405 career line in the rookie leagues, but doesn’t have much in terms of other tools. He could get another shot elsewhere, but at this point, he’s nothing more than a lottery ticket.

San Diego Padres

  • The San Diego Padres promoted outfielder Franmil Reyes (#15) from Triple-A El Paso. Initially, Carlos Asuaje was optioned to the minor leagues to accommodate the move, however the move was reversed hours later when lefty Joey Lucchesi (#3) was placed on the disabled list with a hip injury.
    • Reyes had been mashing in Triple-A El Paso with 14 home runs to go along with a very strong .346/.440/.748 line. He should serve in a bench capacity for the Padres out of the gate, but could play himself into a more important role.
    • Scouting Report: Reyes has excellent power and strike zone discipline. While I would expect his pre-promotion minor league numbers to come back down to Earth a bit based on an unsustainable BABip, I believe in him as a legitimate power threat with athleticism and a good Baseball IQ. He could be a starter, in my opinion.
  • Asauje was actually sent down the next week to make room for lefty Tyler Webb (#38).
  • Chase Headley was released on Friday, and righty Keaton Siomkin was also cut loose from Class A Advanced.
    • Headley was acquired from the Yankees in a salary dump that landed the Padres Bryan Mitchell. Headley struggled to an anemic .115/.233/.135 over his first month back in San Diego. He can be had for the league minimum, and shouldn’t be on the market for very long.
    • This is another minor league release that I don’t quite understand. Despite the fact that he is 26-years old, he has never shown anything to suggest that he can’t pitch in the upper minor leagues.
    • The undrafted free agent has a career 3.34 ERA with a decent 2.51 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.13 K/9.

San Francisco Giants

  • The Giants placed Alen Hanson on the disabled list with a hamstring strain on Monday and recalled Austin Slater (#4) from Triple-A.
    • Scouting report on Slater: “Slater looked very, very solid in his rookie year last year. He could see the lion’s’ share of time in left field while seeing a little bit of time in Center. He may well be one of the few bright spots on the Giants’ roster in 2018.”
  • Slater was optioned the following day to clear a spot for infielder Miguel Gomez (#22).
    • Scouting Report on Gomez: “Gomez is a solid utility infielder who should see a fair amount of major league at bats in 2018. The hit tool as a whole is solid and leads me to believe that he could play a similar role that Ryan Theriot played back in 2012.”
  • The San Francisco Giants acquired catcher Tanner Murphy (#20 in SF) from the Atlanta Braves.
    • Murphy,23, was a fourth round selection by the Braves in the 2013 draft.
    • Scouting Report: Murphy has a plus glove and an above average to plus arm, both good enough to get him to the big leagues as a back-up over the next few years. Offensively, he struggles with contact (.212/.311/.313) and has not tapped into his power potential that could make him a 10-15 home run a year guy, however he has plus strike zone judgement. I would peg him as a platoon catcher who could be ready for the majors by mid-season 2019.

Atlantic League Signings

American Association

  • Attention Major League front offices: L.J. Kalawaia was released by the Lincoln Salt Dogs despite hitting .326/.408/.431 last season for the Lake Erie Crushers of the American Association. He has plus speed and a very good contact ability. I see no reason that he should be unsigned, as I believe that he could be a starting center fielder. While he signed in the Frontier League, he can still be had for an inexpensive $4,000 purchase fee.

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