Phillies Notes: Asche, Hamels, Nola

The Phillies announced today that Cody Asche has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, indicating that the former third baseman’s transition to left field will continue at the Major League level. After being sent to Triple-A to work on the position, Asche batted .295/.358/.393 in 15 games. A corresponding roster move has yet to be announced, but the presence of Asche will further crowd an outfield mix that currently includes Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, Grady Sizemore, Jeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf. Veterans Sizemore and Francoeur have each struggled at the plate this season, and it seems fair to speculate that Asche’s presence could squeeze fellow lefty swinger Sizemore out of a roster spot.

Here’s more on the Phillies…

  • Cole Hamels is becoming a more attractive trade chip with each passing day, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has taken his share of flak, Lawrence opines that he’s played the Hamels situation “close to perfect,” as Hamels is the most attractive trade chip in a market filled with teams in need of rotation help. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir each hold their own appeal, Lawrence notes, but Cueto recently underwent an MRI after being scratched from a start, whereas Scott Kazmir had an MRI on his left shoulder after experiencing pain of his own. Neither test revealed structural damage, but the MRIs could create a bit of unease as teams look at the pair of rentals, Lawrence notes. He also reminds that Amaro and team president Pat Gillick expressed in Spring Training a desire to get more bats into a minor league system that has added some intriguing arms over the past year or so. I’m inclined to agree with Lawrence — it didn’t make sense late in the offseason or in Spring Training for Amaro to merely take the best offer he could get for Hamels, and he’s now in a position where multiple teams will need to show interest, thereby increasing the possible return by forming somewhat of a bidding war.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that “all signs point to the Red Sox” as the team on which the Phillies are focused in looking to move Hamels. Salisbury cautions that the interest may not be reciprocated, but he did speak to a scout who feels that the two teams can line up on a trade, even without including Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart. Salisbury runs down several of the names listed in their conversation, though they’re listed in a speculative nature.
  • Todd Zolecki of MLB.com feels that while Amaro’s comments about impatient fans “not understanding” the game were regrettable, there was merit to his message that the development of top prospects like Aaron Nola is a process that shouldn’t be rushed. Zolecki looks at top draft picks from the 2006-12 drafts and notes that highly drafted college pitchers have averaged 32.4 starts in the minors before establishing themselves as big leaguers. (The number jumps to 34.7 if Mike Leake — an exceptionally rare case who skipped the minors entirely — is excluded.) To this point, Zolecki notes, Nola has made just 20 minor league starts. While Stephen Strasburg and Tim Lincecum jumped to the Majors after 11 and 13 minor league starts, respectively, those two and Leake are more of the exception than the rule.

Sanchez’s Latest: Martinez, Fox, Arroyo

Just over two weeks remain in the current international signing period, which will come to a close on June 15. Following that will be a roughly two-week dead period before July 2 marks the kickoff of the the 2015-16 international prospect signing period. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez recently penned a piece looking at some changes at the top of the international signing class, and he also has a second piece centering around a particularly interesting player in the upcoming June draft. A few highlights…

  • Cuban prospects Eddy Julio Martinez and Yadier Alvarez have vaulted to the top of the upcoming July 2 class of international prospects, joining Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox in Sanchez’s Top 3 prospects. Martinez is technically eligible to sign during the current period, Sanchez notes, though a deal would have to come together quickly in order for that to become a reality. Some scouts have made the lofty comparison of a young Andruw Jones when evaluating the 20-year-old Martinez, according to Sanchez. He lists the Cubs, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants, Reds and White Sox as teams that have shown interest in Martinez. It should be noted that the Angels and Yankees would only be able to sign Martinez in the current signing period, as they incurred maximum penalties in 2014-15 for soaring past their allotted bonus pool and will be unable to sign a player for more than $300K. The Cubs, on the other hand, are ineligible to sign him during this period but could do so in the 2015-16 period, as their penalty for exceeding their 2013-14 bonus pool will then have been served. The Dodgers are the favorite to sign Alvarez — Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has previously reported that they’re believed to have an agreement worth as much as $16MM waiting to become official after July 2 — and have been aggressive on the Cuban market, adding Pablo Fernandez and Hector Olivera for a combined sum worth more than $70MM.
  • The Dodgers, Rangers, Reds, and Giants are among the teams most frequently connected to the 18-year-old Fox, Sanchez hears. McDaniel reported a little over a month ago that Fox had been declared a free agent and could sign in the upcoming period, and he’s since noted that the Cubs, Dodgers and Rangers were serious players for Fox. Fox tells Sanchez that he’s added about 15 pounds of muscle in the past year, which he feels has dramatically improved his game since appearing in the Perfect Game and East Coast Pro showcases last year. (Fox attended American Heritage High School in Florida for two years before returning home to the Bahamas and petitioned to be declared an international free agent.)
  • In the second piece linked above, Sanchez looks at the curious case of right-hander Octavio Arroyo, who was expected to be selected out of San Diego’s San Ysidro High School somewhere in rounds 15-20 in the June draft. However, Arroyo was recently deported to Tijuana, as his family incorrectly filled out his paperwork when moving him to the United States to live with his grandparents, both of whom are United States citizens. “The plan was for my grandparents to adopt me and get my paperwork, my residency,” Arroyo told Sanchez. “But I was denied. I don’t know why. I was told we filled out the paperwork wrong. We tried for three years, but I never got it.” Arroyo crossed the U.S./Mexico border multiple times while knowing that his paperwork had been rejected, and he was detained and deported in an attempt this spring. He’s still, however, eligible for the draft, but it’s uncertain whether or not he’ll be granted a work visa by the U.S. government. If no team selects him, Arroyo could sign as an undrafted free agent or sign with a Mexican League club, who could then sell his rights to a Major League team, Sanchez writes.

Rockies’ Top Prospect David Dahl Out For Season

Center fielder David Dahl, widely regarded as one of the two best prospects in the Rockies organization, will miss the remainder of the 2015 season after undergoing surgery to repair a “massive laceration” on his spleen, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter links). As Passan reported yesterday, Dahl suffered a serious spleen injury as well as a likely concussion in a truly frightening outfield collision. He will have to wear some form of protective padding for the rest of his career as a result of the injury, according to Passan.

Dahl’s father, Mike, told Mark Inabinett Mobile Press-Register that during a collision with second baseman Juan Ciriaco, his son was kneed in the spleen and was also hit in the face. “He probably has a minor concussion, I would imagine, because he doesn’t remember much about what happened,” said Mike Dahl.

The 21-year-old Dahl was the 10th overall selection in the 2012 draft out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala. Entering the season, he ranked as the game’s No. 22 overall prospect, according to Baseball America. Baseball Prospectus, meanwhile, ranked him 24th, while he was No. 27 per ESPN’s Keith Law, No. 31 on Fangraphs’ Top 200 and No. 59 on MLB.com’s Top 100. This will be the second season that Dahl has had significantly shortened by injury, as a torn hamstring limited him to 10 games in 2013.

A slow start in his first taste of Double-A leaves Dahl with a .269/.296/.379 batting line in 189 plate appearances this season, but he hit .299/.335/.492 with 14 homers and 21 steals in 119 games across two Class-A affiliates last year. All of that, of course, takes a back seat to the fact that Dahl appears to have avoided a number of potentially worse outcomes in a very precarious scenario. MLBTR wishes Dahl a speedy recovery and continued success once he is able to return to the playing field in 2016.



Minor Moves: Yoanis Quiala, Dan Black

Here are Friday’s minor moves from around baseball…

  • The Astros and Cuban right-hander Yoanis Quiala have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, reports Scout.com’s Max Wildstein. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros view Quiala as a starting pitcher, though he did work mostly in relief in his lone pro season in Cuba. The 22-year-old Quiala made 16 appearances (nine in relief, seven from the rotation) in the 2012-13 season in Cuba, totaling 52 2/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reported (Spanish link) back in November that Quiala had been granted free agency by Major League Baseball, adding that he can run his fastball up into the mid-90s. Given his age and limited experience, Quiala would be subject to international signing limitations. Because the Astros have already spent the vast majority of their 2014-15 budget, it seems unlikely that Quiala received a significant bonus; even $1MM would put Houston well over their allotted pool. Ben Badler of Baseball America ran down all of Houston’s significant expenditures in his April review of their international signings.
  • The KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed first baseman Dan Black, who had been playing with the Triple-A affiliate for the White Sox, Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration reports (on Twitter). Black, 27, is a former 14th-round pick of the White Sox (2009) that was hitting an impressive .324/.457/.568 with six homers in 34 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. He’ll be paid $300K, according to the Yonhap News Agency, and will be replacing former big league right-hander Andy Sisco on the Wiz’s roster. Sisco, who was recently released by the Wiz (according to the Yonhap), posted a 6.23 ERA with 42 strikeouts but 25 walks in 39 innings of work with the Wiz in what was his only KBO action to this point of his career.

West Notes: Kazmir, Crisp, Saltalamacchia, Halos

The Athletics had somewhat of a scare yesterday when Scott Kazmir left his start in the third inning and underwent an MRI due to shoulder soreness, but MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that the injury isn’t serious. Kazmir’s MRI revealed no structural damage, and the left-hander is expected to miss only one start before rejoining the Oakland rotation. It’s good news for the A’s on multiple fronts, as a healthy Kazmir will either be a key to a theoretical turnaround of their season or a highly desirable trade chip come July.

Some more news from the game’s Western divisions…

  • News on Coco Crisp, however, isn’t as encouraging for the Athletics, writes Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Doctors have recommended that Crisp receive an epidural injection to attempt to alleviate the chronic pain in his neck. The center fielder will be shut down from baseball activities for the next month or so, according to manager Bob Melvin. That, as Stiglich notes, would mean that Crisp would likely be out past the All-Star break, as he wouldn’t resume baseball activities until late June or early July.
  • The D-Backs are planning to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Triple-A Reno tomorrow, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter). Saltalamacchia signed a minor league pact with Arizona after being surprisingly designated for assignment and subsequently released by the struggling Marlins. Saltlamacchia has struggled some at Triple-A after a notable absence from playing in games — he was on paternity leave prior to his DFA, then waited 10 days before being released and another couple of days before signing — but he does have a pair of homers in nine games with Reno. The Diamondbacks will need to add Saltalamacchia to the 40-man roster before he can join the big league club.
  • The addition of Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t figure to be the only trade the Angels will make in the coming months, as GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that the search for offense will continue for the next few months. “We’ll be looking for the remainder of the trade season,” said Dipoto, whose team surprisingly ranks 26th in runs scored, 29th in OPS and 26th in wRC+. Dipoto specifically states that he’s not interested in trading the pitching depth he worked long and hard to acquire — presumably referring to Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Sean Newcomb. He also doesn’t sound like a GM ready to act rashly. “Quite frankly, you try to fix something now, you cost yourself pitching depth, and many different things that could happen along the way would tell you that was the wrong way to go,” he adds.

Brewers Outright Rob Wooten

Brewers right-handed reliever Rob Wooten has been outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs, according to the club’s transactions page.

Wooten, 29, appeared in four games for the Brewers this season, yielding eight runs on five hits and six walks. Never a flamethrower in previous seasons, Wooten’s fastball velocity dipped to 87.9 mph in his small sample of work in 2015. This season’s unsightly results aside, Wooten has some encouraging career peripherals, including a 48.1 percent ground-ball rate, a 3.21 FIP and a 3.61 SIERA.

Wooten becomes the second reliever removed from Milwaukee’s 40-man roster in recent weeks, as the team also outrighted former closer Jim Henderson‘s contract to Colorado Springs. Wooten’s outright brings the Brewers’ 40-man roster to 38.


Grant Balfour Leaning Toward Retirement

Right-hander Grant Balfour is leaning toward retiring after opting out of his minor league contract with the Rays, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The 37-year-old Balfour struggled with the 2014 Rays after having almost latched on with the Orioles on a two-year deal earlier that offseason. Medical concerns caused that deal to fall through, and Balfour eventually returned to the Rays on a different two-year deal later in the winter. However, his velocity was noticeably lower than in recent years, and his BB/9 rate spiked north of 5.0, resulting in a 4.91 ERA over 62 1/3 innings of work. He eventually lost the closer’s role to Jake McGee and appeared poised to pitch in a setup capacity in 2015 as he hoped to rebound.

Instead, Balfour struggled through 4 1/3 innings after missing much of Spring Training to return to his native Australia to be with his ailing father. Upon returning, he surrendered three runs in 4 1/3 innings and was ultimately designated for assignment and released before signing a new minor league deal with Tampa.

Topkin notes that Balfour had relatively encouraging bottom-line results with Triple-A Durham, allowing just three runs in 9 2/3 innings. However, he also allowed nine hits and four walks with velocity that again sat in the 90-91 mph range — a significant departure from the 93.4 mph he averaged as recently as 2013. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Balfour was “Similar to what he was [in the Majors],” when asked by Topkin. “No regression, but I don’t think he totally felt like he had got back what he was looking for,” Cash continued.

If Balfour’s career is coming to a close, he’ll finish with a 30-23 record, 84 saves and a 3.49 ERA in 539 2/3 innings. The hard-throwing righty averaged 9.5 strikeouts and 4.2 walks per nine innings over a 12-year big league career split between the Twins, Rays, Athletics and Brewers.


Angels Designate Marc Krauss For Assignment

The Angels have designated Marc Krauss for assignment, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The first baseman/outfielder had options remaining, Fletcher notes, but the team needed a 40-man roster spot for Alfredo Marte, whose contract was selected today. It was previously expected that Krauss would be optioned to Triple-A following the team’s acquisition of Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets.

Krauss, 27, appeared in 11 games for the Halos this season, batting .143/.211/.286 with a homer and two doubles. A former second-round pick, Krauss has been up and down with the Astros and Angels over the past two seasons, totaling a .603 OPS. Krauss has struck out in 28 percent of his plate appearances, but he’s shown some decent home run pop in that time, belting 11 homers in 392 plate appearances. He also has a strong track record at Triple-A, where he’s batted .267/.376/.434 in parts of four seasons.


Red Sox Designate Jeff Bianchi For Assignment

Amid a flurry of roster moves, the Red Sox announced that infielder Jeff Bianchi has been designated for assignment. That move creates room on the roster to add outfielder Carlos Peguero, who was acquired yesterday in exchange for cash considerations. Additionally, Eduardo Rodriguez has now officially been recalled, with righty Heath Hembree being optioned to Triple-A. The team has also recalled Robbie Ross Jr. and placed outfielder Daniel Nava on the 15-day DL with a sprained thumb.

The 28-year-old Bianchi picked up just a single plate appearance with the Sox before being designated for assignment. He’d signed a minor league contract with Boston this winter and found himself called up after posting a .302/.373/.340 batting line with Triple-A Pawtucket this season.

Prior to the 2015 season, Bianchi played parts of three Major League seasons with the Brewers. In 163 games and 402 big league plate appearances, he’s a .216/.251/.283 hitter with notable experience at second base, shortstop and third base.


NL Notes: Dahl, Adams, Dodgers, Uribe

Rockies outfield prospect David Dahl suffered serious injuries in a collision today and is undergoing surgery on his spleen, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). Dahl, the club’s top prospect according to Baseball America, likely also has a concussion and broken rib. Needless to say, the immediate concern is with Dahl’s personal well-being, and MLBTR extends its best wishes to him and his family.

  • Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams is set to miss most or all of the rest of the regular season, a topic that MLBTR’s Steve Adams and I discussed on today’s podcast. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the topic in depth, as well, in an excellent piece. He notes that there is not as much urgency as one might think: the team is playing well regardless, Adams was not exactly a driving force in the first two months, and Mark Reynolds is worthy of an extended look. That being said, if and when the Cardinals do look for an upgrade, Miklasz says the club should not limit itself either to left-handed hitters or to traditional first basemen. There’s plenty more of interest in the article, and I recommend a full read (and a listen to the podcast, of course).
  • The Dodgers‘ bullpen has been something of a revelation, but it is being taxed even with Kenley Jansen back for duty, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. Los Angeles starters are in the middle of the pack in terms of total innings, notes Saxon, who says that could be by design — at least in part. The team’s relief corps has shown some cracks, though its incredible start was unsustainable as a general matter. If the Dodgers’ front office is indeed dictating increased bullpen use for strategic purposes, that would also help explain the club’s rather notable hording of relief arms in recent weeks.
  • Now-former Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe, who was recently traded to the Braves, says that he never personally requested a deal, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports. “When I had the conversation with [Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman] I didn’t demand anything,” said Uribe. “I didn’t ask to play every day. I just wanted to know what my role was.” Friedman had indicated that Uribe’s agent had indicated that a trade to open playing time would be preferred. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that neither side has expressed bitterness and that there’s room for truth both ways. Friedman indicated that he had been conveyed something of a suggestion of a deal from Uribe’s representatives, rather than a demand of a deal from Uribe himself.

Twenty MLB Clubs Attend Yosvani Garcia Showcase

Cuban infielder/outfielder Yosvani Garcia held a showcase for interested clubs in the Dominican Republic yesterday, and 20 Major League clubs were represented, MLBTR has learned. Four teams from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball were present to watch the 26-year-old Garcia as well.

Garcia’s best tool is his speed, and he checked in at a 6.3 and 6.22 on his 60-yard dash in Santo Domingo yesterday. Major League Baseball declared Garcia a free agent earlier this month, and his age and experience make him exempt from the league’s international spending limitations.

In parts of five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, Garcia batted .280/.375/.352, showing little power to accompany his speed but a contact-oriented approach (14.8 K%) and a respectable eye at the plate (9.3 BB%). While his skill set differs from the ones that netted Jose Abreu, Yasmany Tomas, Yasiel Puig and Rusney Castillo their hefty paydays, recent contracts for outfielders with lesser power indicate that Garcia could still take home notable money. Daniel Carbonell received a $3.5MM guarantee when signing with the Giants last year, and this past offseason, Dian Toscano received a four-year, $6MM contract from the Braves. Garcia is being represented by agent Christopher Fanta of Pro Talent Sports Group.


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Jayson Werth Out At Least Two Months Due To Wrist Fractures

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will be sidelined through at least August after a CT scan performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. today revealed a pair of small fractures in his left wrist, reports MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. Werth “could return as early as August,” if his rehab goes according to plan, writes Ladson, though that suggests that August is somewhat of a best-case scenario. The injury appears to have been sustained when he was hit by a pitch on May 15.

How the Nationals deal with the injury remains to be seen. The team was without center fielder Denard Span for an extended period of time to open the season and elected to patch the hole with top prospect Michael A. Taylor, who performed well in Span’s absence. Certainly, with both Span and Taylor capable of playing a plus center field, it stands to reason that one of the two (likely Taylor) could slide over to left field and more than adequately handle the position from a defensive standpoint.

Taylor was only briefly optioned to Triple-A after Span’s return, and he remains with the club now, though he’s struggled as of late. It’s possible that infrequent playing time has given him trouble, but the 24-year-old has just two hits in his past 26 plate appearances and has struck out in 12 of those trips to the dish. Strikeouts have been an issue for Taylor in the past. Despite a strong .304/.390/.526 batting line in Triple-A last season, he punched out 144 times in 493 PAs (29.2 percent).

The Nationals have some other alternatives in house, including Tyler MooreClint Robinson and the rehabbing Nate McLouth. But, if Taylor struggles for a prolonged period, it’s feasible that the Werth injury could lead them to look outside the organization. Wrist injuries can often lead to offensive struggles even after they’ve healed, so it might make sense for the Nats to safeguard themselves against a temporarily power-sapped Werth as they assess their roster prior to a hopeful postseason run. I don’t expect a significant addition in the near future, though I do wonder if the club might take a look at recently designated Alejandro De Aza, provided the Orioles pay most of the roughly $3.55MM remaining on his 2015 salary.


Yadier Alvarez Not Eligible To Sign Until July 2

Major League Baseball has informed clubs that exciting Cuban righty Yadiel Alvarez will first be eligible to sign in the upcoming July 2 period, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). That means that Alvarez’s appeal for eligibility to sign in the current period has been denied. Of course, it also indicates that he will be able to sign immediately, unlike some other Cuban players, as Baseball America’s Ben Badler notes on Twitter.

Several clubs will not be eligible to sign players for more than $300K in the signing period beginning next year (and the one that follows): the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, and Angels incurred that penalty (among others) for exceeding their bonus allocations. Those clubs will be precluded from offering more than a minimal bonus to Alvarez, who is expected to command much more. Arizona, in particular, was said to have significant interest.

Ultimately, there may not be much practical effect: the current period ends on June 15. And Alvarez is said by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs to be eyeing a $16MM bonus with the Dodgers, who strongly implied they bowed out of the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes in part so that they could take full advantage of the upcoming July 2 market.

By reaching formal eligibility for the coming market, Alvarez will be available to the Cubs and Rangers, both of which sat out the prior two periods. Chicago is reported to have at least some interest in the young righty, in addition to the aforementioned Dodgers and the Nationals, Rockies, Blue Jays, Padres, Athletics, Cardinals, Twins, and Brewers. (All those reports, also, came via Sanchez.)

All said, there figures to be no shortage of interest in Alvarez’s services. As McDaniel explained back in February, the previously unknown Alvarez showed huge tools for his age at a showcase. With Moncada and Hector Olivera off the market, he’s clearly the next major Cuban talent to watch.


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Podcast: Replacing Matt Adams; David O’Brien On Braves

Host Jeff Todd is joined by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien to talk Braves. Among other things, O’Brien discusses Atlanta’s recent addition of Juan Uribe and Chris Withrow and its possible plans over the summer.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams also joins the show to talk about the Cardinals‘ decisionmaking following the loss of Matt Adams. Jeff and Steve canvass the first base options that St. Louis could explore now and over the summer.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Nick Kingham Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

Pirates prospect Nick Kingham underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, the club announced. He’ll miss all of this year and a significant chunk of 2016.

It’s always disappointing to lose a year of development and take on the risk of a surgery, of course, but the news is all the more difficult for Pittsburgh given that Kingham seemed close to the big leagues. As Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes on Twitter, Kingham was probably the Bucs pitching prospect who was best prepared to join the major league club this year.

While both Baseball America and MLB.com rated Kingham only the club’s sixth-best prospect entering the year, it’s a strong overall group of top-end prospects. MLB.com currently rates Kingham the #68 prospect in all of baseball, crediting him with three solid to above-average pitches. Overall, his value lies less in his upside than in the reasonable expectation that he’ll settle in as a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation starter. (Baseball America calls him a “solid No. 4 starter” in the making.)

A fourth-round pick back in 2010, Kingham progressed steadily and reached Triple-A for the first time last year. He opened 2015 back at Indianapolis for his age-23 season. Over 119 1/3 innings at the highest level of the minors to date, Kingham has worked to a 3.77 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.

Pittsburgh’s rotation has been excellent thus far, producing the second-lowest ERA in the league (just behind the division-rival Cardinals). With Charlie Morton back in action, and the team’s Triple-A rotation (including Casey Sadler, Clayton Richard, Chis Volstad, Adrian Sampson, and Wilfredo Boscan) all putting up good results at Triple-A, the club seems to have adequate depth as things stand.

Looking ahead at 2016, though, the loss of Kingham could sting. While only veteran A.J. Burnett is set to hit the open market among the team’s current array of starters, Kingham would have increased the team’s flexibility in structuring its roster. The news seems to make a Burnett return somewhat more likely, though we’re a long ways off from having any real idea how that situation will play out.