Phillies Acquire No. 1 Int’l Signing Slot From D’Backs

The Phillies announced that they have acquired the No. 1 international signing slot for 2015-16 signing period from the Diamondbacks for right-hander Chris Oliver, left-hander Josh Taylor, and the No. 9 slot.


East Notes: Ramirez, KBO, Red Sox

Matt Harvey is just the latest reminder that recovery from Tommy John surgery is a process, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes.  In his comeback campaign, the Mets pitcher has had flashes of brilliance but he has also struggled at times.

It’s definitely hard,” Harvey said after Saturday’s loss to the Dodgers. “It’s like one batter to the next batter, the arm slot, staying back, just trusting that my arm will stay healthy. It’s been a lot different than I thought it was going to be.

John Smoltz, who will be the first pitcher to have had the surgery to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has talked with Mets skipper Terry Collins about the best way to manage a pitcher coming back from TJ.  In time, Smoltz believes that Harvey will return to his old form.  Here’s more from the East divisions..

  • The Mets tried hard to pry Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox a decade ago and at one point it seemed like there was a good chance of a deal happening, as David Lennon of Newsday writes.  “We weren’t able to match up and give them enough,” former Mets exec Jim Duquette said. “They were looking for more younger players in return. We wanted them to give more money. We weren’t going to take the full freight on that one. I don’t think they thought [Lastings] Milledge was the right guy. That’s why we were trying to bring in a third team.”
  • Ex-Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond has been embroiled in a nightmare legal battle with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization League, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes.  The pitcher signed a guaranteed one-year, $700K deal with the KBO team in 2013 but he has yet to receive a dime of that money.  Richmond was good to go for the start of the season after suffering a knee injury, but he was turned away without payment.  RJ Hernandez, Richmond’s representative at Legacy, believes that this situation will dissuade other players from going overseas, particularly if the pitcher is unsuccessful in his suit.
  • For months, there has been talk about the Red Sox‘s need for an ace.  Right now, Clay Buchholz looks the part and he could be a big difference maker for Boston, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.

NL East Notes: Maybin, Nola, Latos

Phillies interim manager manager Pete Mackanin said that he sees closer Jonathan Papelbon as the most worthy candidate to represent his team in the All-Star Game, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

The save numbers aren’t there, but when you look at the other numbers, he’s been very efficient,” Mackanin said of Papelbon, who owns a 1.71 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. “He’s the first guy that comes to mind. I don’t know if there’s anyone else. He would be a guy that I would have to believe is under consideration.”

Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • Cameron Maybin was not viewed as a potential difference maker when the Braves acquired him via the April trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Padres.  However, over the past couple of months, Maybin is doing just that, as Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes.    In 281 plate appearances for the Braves, Maybin has hit .295/.364/.418 with seven homers.  The Braves have him under contract through the 2016 season with a club option for 2017.
  • As the Phillies‘ starting pitchers continue to struggle, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com if we’ll see prized prospect Aaron Nola sooner rather than later.  Of course, the Phillies’ starting five will be even weaker if ace Cole Hamels is traded in the next month.  In four starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, Nola has pitched to a 2.28 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.  Nola, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft, was ranked as the No. 39 prospect in the country by Baseball America heading into the 2015 season.
  • Dan O’Dowd of MLB.com listed Marlins pitcher Mat Latos as one of the most likely players to get dealt between now and July 31st.  With Jose Fernandez back in the fold, O’Dowd believes that the Marlins will look to recoup the type of quality talent that they gave up to land the impending free agent in the first place.  Late last week, MLBTR’s Steve Adams looked at Latos as a trade candidate.


AL Central Notes: Tigers, Chisenhall, Santana

White Sox Jeff Samardzija hurler  “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote yesterday.  Cafardo believes that the Royals, Tigers, Astros, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers are among the many clubs with interest in the 30-year-old.  Here’s more from the AL Central..

  • Brad Ausmus told reporters, including James Schmehl of MLive.com (on Twitter), that he’d “probably be surprised” if the Tigers were sellers around the trade deadline.  The 41-39 Tigers learned on Saturday that they’ll be without the services of Miguel Cabrera for six weeks thanks to a calf strain.  Detroit will certainly miss his bat as Cabrera currently leads the American League in batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.456) and OPS (1.034).
  • Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer wonders what’s next for Lonnie Chisenhall now that he has played 21 games for Triple-A Columbus since his demotion.  At present, it’s hard to say where the 26-year-old could fit on the Indians‘ varsity squad.  Hoynes wonders if the third baseman could attract some interest from teams looking for some left-hander power off the bench or simply a reclamation project with upside.  In 89 plate appearances for Triple-A Columbus, Chisenhall has hit .309/.371/.469 with two home runs.
  • The Twins figure to get a rotation boost with Ervin Santana returning from an 80-game suspension today, Mike Bauman of MLB.com writes.  Santana inked a four-year, $55MM deal with Minnesota in December but his Twins debut was put on hold after his PED suspension.  Santana threw 196 innings for the Braves in 2014, posting a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7% groundball rate.  There were signs that he was even better than those results would indicate, as FIP (3.39), xFIP (3.47), and SIERA (3.63) all liked his work.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Ray, Upton, Indians

On this date in 1987, A’s first baseman Mark McGwire became the first rookie to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star Game, as Leo Panetta of NationalPastime.com writes.  McGwire would go on to finish the season with 49 homers, establishing a new rookie watermark, beating the previously shared record by Wally Berger and Frank Robinson (39).  Here’s this week’s look around the baseball blogosphere..

Please send submissions to Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.


NL Notes: Strasburg, Mozeliak, Boras, Fernandez

Stephen Strasburg left the mound during the fourth inning of today’s Giants/Nationals game with an injury in his left side.  The Nats ace wanted to keep pitching but “given his season, so far, I don’t want to take a chance there,” manager Matt Williams told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.  Strasburg has already had one extended DL stint to recover from a strained left trapezius and he’s been dealing with neck and back soreness all year, which has undoubtedly contributed to his 5.16 ERA over 61 innings (though an ungainly .365 BABIP also hasn’t helped).  Here’s the latest from around the senior circuit…

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’s targeting starting pitching depth and a left-handed bench bat.  While the Cards’ rotation has been one of the best in the game this season, it’s also a pretty young staff with some pitchers who have had checkered injury histories, so Mozeliak said he has to “be aware of the potential hazards” and that “my job is to make sure if it doesn’t last, then how do you answer it?
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks the July 2 prospects already signed by the Cardinals (righty Alvaro Seijas and shortstop Raffy Ozuna, both 16 years old) and how the team has evolved its forays into the international market.
  • Scott Boras tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that he sees no reason why the Marlins couldn’t afford to keep Jose Fernandez, even with Giancarlo Stanton already locked up on a historically large deal.  “With TV rights and the general fund contribution and everything — every club, before they sell a ticket, they’re making $120 million,” Boras said.  “There’s a lot of revenue in this game to pay a lot of players and keep players at home.”  The Marlins believes that Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna both declined to pursue extensions last winter under Boras’ advice, but the agent said that his players make those decisions.
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein cautioned that his team may not make any huge moves at the trade deadline, telling reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune) that “if you look at the history of teams that go on and play in the World Series, very rarely is it (because of a) deadline deal.  We know what we’d like to do, but we’re realistic about what we might be able to do.”  Epstein also noted that some teams who are solely in the wild card hunt may not favor making a big push just to get into a one-game playoff; while he was “just speaking generally,” Epstein’s comments could relate to the Cubs themselves, who are 8.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.

AL West Notes: Wilhelmsen, Crane, Angels

The Mariners officially demoted Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A prior to today’s game in the wake of the right-hander’s recent struggles.  Wilhelmsen has been a fixture in Seattle’s bullpen for the last five seasons and served as closer prior to Fernando Rodney‘s acquisition, yet he had allowed nine runs over his last 6 2/3 innings of work (over seven games).  Wilhelmsen has a 4.68 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.55 K/BB over 25 IP this season, though a .413 BABIP may explain why is ERA is so much higher than his indicators (2.68 FIP, 3.50 xFIP, 3.32 SIERA).  Here’s some more from around the AL West…

  • Astros owner Jim Crane tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that GM Jeff Luhnow and his staff is “working hard” to find rotation help.  “If we can get the right move, I’m sure Jeff will pull the trigger.  He has the ability to do that if he wants to do it,” Crane said.  “It will depend on what kind of contract it is and how long it is and who it is and what we need, but I know it’s something a lot of teams are looking at right now.”
  • The conflict between Mike Scioscia’s coaching staff and Jerry Dipoto’s front office was “no clash of Ivy League nerds vs. old-school baseball men,” Grantland’s Jonah Keri writes.  Dipoto, assistant GM Scott Servais and pro scouting director Hal Morris were all long-time MLB veterans.  Keri suspects Servais could also soon leave the Angels given his issues with Scioscia and the coaches.  Keri’s piece outlines some of the disagreements between the Angels’ executives and coaches, including (as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported earlier in the week) seemingly routine team matters as how scouting information was being presented to the players.
  • In other AL West news from earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on some Angels/Brewers trade talks and speculation that Bud Black could be a favorite to be Anaheim’s new general manager.

Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays

The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott.  The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.”  Talks fell through after that.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…

  • Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services.  Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average.  Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
  • Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays.  Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
  • Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell.  (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.)  The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993.  “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes.  “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
  • Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help.  Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer.  Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
  • Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
  • “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire.  The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes.  The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers.  (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
  • Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said.  Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season.  Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling.  The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/4/15

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • Righty Ben Rowen has opted out of his contract with the Orioles and is now a free agent, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports (via Twitter).  Rowen’s contract gave him the option of opting out if he wasn’t on the team’s MLB roster by July 1.  Rowen has a 2.41 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six walks over 37 1/3 Triple-A relief innings this season, and he appeared eight big league games with Texas in 2014.
  • Earlier this week, the Twins signed veteran righty Scott Atchison to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page.  Atchison his the open market last week when he was released by the Indians.  Atchison posted a 6.86 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 2/3 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen this season, though with strong numbers in 2011-14, it’s a no-risk signing by the Twins to see if Atchison can regain his form.
  • Reliever Ronald Belisario, who was recently outrighted by the Rays, has cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Rays recently designated Belisario for assignment after he allowed seven runs in eight innings in a brief stint with the team covering two weeks in late June.
  • The Mariners have outrighted outfielder Julio Morban, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The move clears a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. Morban, 23, had a pair of strong seasons in 2012 at Class A+ High Desert and in 2013 at Double-A Jackson. He has struggled with injury throughout his career, however, and his performance has tailed off significantly in the past two seasons. He only recently returned from a two-month stay on the restricted list due to personal reasons.
  • The Mariners have released righty Justin Germano and lefty Rafael Perez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Both of them had out clauses. Germano confirms (via Twitter) that he will head to Korea to pitch with the KT Wiz. The 32-year-old was in the midst of a good season for Triple-A Tacoma, with a 2.83 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 89 innings. The 33-year-old Perez had been on loan to Quintana Roo in the Mexican League and had not actually pitched in the Mariners system.
  • The Rangers have traded outfielder Jake Skole to the Yankees for cash, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets. Skole, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, was hitting .218/.313/.335 for Double-A Frisco, consistent with his walk-heavy but generally unimpressive offensive performances throughout the minor league career.
  • Andy Oliver has opted out of his minor league deal with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 27-year-old Oliver has good stuff, particularly for a lefty, but has struggled with control problems throughout his career. He had a 3.86 ERA and 10.3 K/9 but with 7.7 BB/9 in 28 innings for Triple-A Durham. The Phillies took him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but he elected free agency after they outrighted him in April.
  • The Giants have signed outfielder Xavier Avery to a minor league deal, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. The 25-year-old Avery opted out of his deal with the Tigers this week after hitting .305/.371/.393 for Triple-A Toledo. The Giants have assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
  • The Orioles have signed Cuban first baseman Yaisel Mederos, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets. The 25-year-old Mederos hit .268/.343/.402 in parts of four seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He only hit 12 home runs in 531 plate appearances, although Kubatko notes that Mederos has power potential.

Rosenthal On Angels, Black, Parra, Samardzija

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal shares several hot stove items in his weekly “Full Count” video

  • Ex-Padres skipper Bud Black is well-liked by Angels owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and interim GM Bill Stoneman, and there has been “rampant” industry speculation that the Halos want Black as their next full-time general manager.  Several of Black’s friends, however, think he wants to manage again rather than run a front office.
  • Prior to Jerry Dipoto’s resignation, the Angels and Brewers were discussing Gerardo Parra and Adam Lind in trade talks.  No deal was ever close for Parra, however, and “ideally” the Angels want to add a bigger bat to the lineup.  Parra entered the day with a strong .303/.337/.466 line over 271 PA with Milwaukee, though he is known more for his defense than his bat (a .274/.326/.395 career slash line prior to this season).
  • Rosenthal describes Jeff Samardzija as “a perfect fit” for the Yankees.  Samardzija’s wife is from the New York area, Jim Hendry (the former Cubs GM who signed Samardzija) is in the Yankees front office, and Rosenthal feels the righty’s personality would thrive in the Bronx.  Acquiring Samardzija now would also presumably give the Yankees an edge in pursuing him as a free agent this winter.  This being said, Rosenthal notes that the White Sox haven’t decided to start selling yet and there haven’t been any talks between the two sides.
  • The Dodgers are looking for starting pitching depth and “don’t be surprised if they add multiple starters.”  Brett Anderson‘s long injury history makes him a question mark to last the entire season, while Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias are better fits as depth options rather than regular members of the rotation (though Bolsinger has pitched well).  Even getting a mid-rotation starter would help L.A., though “in a perfect world” the Dodgers would land an ace like Johnny Cueto.

Braves Still Shopping Chris Johnson

The Braves have continued to look for a trade partner for third baseman Chris Johnson, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in a series of tweets.  In addition to deals for Johnson himself, Atlanta has also made proposals that would include Johnson along with another (more desirable) player, akin to how the Braves managed to get Melvin Upton Jr.‘s contract off their books by dealing him to the Padres with Craig Kimbrel in April.  The Braves tried a similar “packaging” tactic with Johnson himself in offseason trade talks.

Johnson is hitting .229/.272/.313 with one homer over 103 plate appearances this season, and he also missed about a month of action recovering from a hand fracture.  If struggling at the plate in 2014 and 2015 wasn’t enough to lower his trade value, Johnson is owed roughly $3MM more in salary this season and $17.5MM through the 2017 campaign.

The Giants were one of the clubs who at least discussed Johnson with the Braves last winter but Rosenthal reports that San Francisco doesn’t have any interest now.  Rookie Matt Duffy has quite capably stepped in at third base in the wake of Casey McGehee‘s struggles, and since both Duffy and Johnson are right-handed bats, there would be little avenue for Johnson to find playing time in the Bay Area even if he was being acquired largely as a throw-in.

Rosenthal speculates that a deal of Johnson and Cameron Maybin for Jake Peavy and Angel Pagan would balance out the salaries, though that exact package was never discussed between the two teams.  It’s also hard to imagine Peavy waiving his no-trade clause to go to a rebuilding team, though the Braves are just a few games back of the Giants in the standings.

Though Atlanta is still in the wild card hunt, the team has made such a push to acquire young talent under president of baseball operations John Hart that it’s hard to see the Braves being notable buyers at the trade deadline.  The Braves could perhaps tie Johnson to one of those newly-acquired prospects in order to get him off the roster — the “buy a prospect” strategy that Hart himself used to recently acquire Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo‘s expiring contract from Arizona.  Maybin or closer Jason Grilli stand out as veterans who could be shopped and possibly linked along with Johnson in a trade.


Mets Notes: Trades, Conforto, Wright

The Mets’ inaction this season has been “inexplicable,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. The Mets have failed to address an injury-ravaged lineup, thus leaving Lucas Duda and an excellent rotation hanging out to dry. As a result, the Mets have scored only 25 runs total since June 16. As Olney points out, of course, there isn’t much happening on the trade market right now, with several weeks to go before the deadline and not many teams yet willing to pull the plugs on their seasons. But Olney suggests the Mets could at least find a depth-type player who might help, much as the Blue Jays did with Chris Colabello. They could also find help by being willing to take on a chunk of a bad contract. The team’s problem isn’t manager Terry Collins, Olney writes — it’s complacency. Here’s more from the Mets.

  • The Mets have decided not to promote top prospect Michael Conforto despite their need for offense, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. “At this point, he’s still in Binghamton and I would expect him to be over the near-term,” says GM Sandy Alderson. The Mets might be right not to see Conforto as a short-term fix for their sagging offense — he’s hitting .333/.414/.521 with Double-A Binghamton, but in only 133 plate appearances, and those represent his only experience in the high minors.
  • Injured star David Wright (spinal stenosis) is hopeful he’ll be able to return to action this season, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. “We’re getting down to the second half of the season now, and I feel like I’ve got one shot to get this thing right,” Wright says. Standing upright no longer causes him discomfort, although he has not yet begun running, and he will probably need several weeks to get back into baseball activities before he can return.

Cubs Designate Gonzalez Germen For Assignment

The Cubs have designated righty Gonzalez Germen for assignment and moved infielder Tommy La Stella (oblique) to the 60-day disabled list, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets. The moves clear space on the Cubs’ roster for two new additions, pitcher Clayton Richard (who will start for the Cubs today) and catcher Taylor Teagarden (who will fill in as a backup while David Ross recovers from a concussion).

The 27-year-old Germen pitched six innings of relief for the Cubs this season, allowing five runs while striking out eight and walking five. He’s also pitched 33 1/3 relief innings for Triple-A Iowa this season, posting a 3.78 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.

Gonzalez’s DFA marks the fourth time since December that he’s been designated for assignment. Following a strong season in the Mets farm system in 2014, he went from the Mets to the Yankees to the Rangers and then to the Cubs within a period of six weeks last offseason.


NL Central Notes: Cards, Taillon, Stephenson

The Cardinals‘ recent firing of scouting director Chris Correa in the wake of the organization’s hacking scandal is part of a broader problem of “brain-drain,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz writes. A number of top front-office minds left the Cardinals joined Jeff Luhnow in heading to Houston several years ago, and Correa himself replaced Dan Kantrovitz, who left the Cardinals following the 2014 to rejoin the Athletics organization. The investigation into the hacking scandal continues, so the Cardinals might have to withstand other front office departures. Team chairman Bill DeWitt is in a tough position — he’ll surely want to keep what’s left of his front office mostly intact, but if he doesn’t continue punishing any other hacking offenders, he’ll be seen as “soft on baseball crime,” as Miklasz puts it. Here’s more from the NL Central.

  • Pirates starting pitching prospect Jameson Taillon will have surgery next week to fix an inguinal hernia, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Travis Sawchik tweets. Taillon will miss two months, so the injury is likely to end his season. He had already missed the entire 2014 season after having Tommy John surgery and had not pitched in 2015, so he will effectively miss two years of development. Taillon was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, and his talent remains significant, but his injury problems appear to be denting his prospect status.
  • The Reds promoted top prospect Robert Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville, where he debuted Friday night, as MiLB.com’s Daren Smith notes. Stephenson pitched well for Double-A Pensacola, with a 3.68 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 78 2/3 innings, although he walked 4.9 batters per nine. MLB.com currently rates Stephenson the Reds’ best prospect and the 18th-best prospect in baseball, praising his fastball (which can reach into the upper 90s) and excellent curveball. (Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America largely agreed on Stephenson’s place in baseball’s prospect hierarchy, ranking him 16th and 23rd, respectively, heading into the season.) At Louisville, he’ll likely need to continue working on his control. “There have been a couple things we’ve been working on, but the big problem was that I was nitpicking too much and being too fine with my pitches,” says Stephenson. “The other thing was that I was rushing it a little bit, and when I sped up my tempo, I wasn’t able to repeat my motion and throw strikes. When I slow it down, I’m able to repeat my arm slot every time.”

Mets’ Alderson Expresses Support For Terry Collins

Mets GM Sandy Alderson says manager Terry Collins and is not to blame for the team’s current troubles and that the Mets have no plans to fire him, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. Alderson is traveling with the Mets on the team’s current West Coast road trip, but he says that’s unrelated to Collins’ status.

We’re a .500 team. We haven’t been moving in the right direction,” Alderson says. However, he adds, “[w]e’ve had a lot of people hurt for long periods of time. … We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have had to try to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair.”

The Mets’ front office also had a meeting Thursday, although FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal indicates that the meeting was routine and that the organization did not discuss Collins’ status. Rosenthal notes,  however, that the next several weeks will be important ones for the team.

The Mets were 15-5 in late April, but since then they’ve gone 26-35 and are currently just one game above .500. Veteran hitters like Michael Cuddyer and Lucas Duda have struggled lately, along with relievers like Carlos Torres and Alex Torres. Cuddyer, David Wright and catcher Travis d’Arnaud are among a number of Mets players currently dealing with injuries.