Quick Hits: Balsley, Surprises, PEDs, Nationals

Longtime Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley is a key cog in San Diego’s efforts to take the next step, according to a fantastic profile from MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Former ace Jake Peavy credits Balsley as a critical element in his development, and a long list of other current and former Friars have likewise benefited from his tutelage. Most recently, reclamation project Tyson Ross has effected a turnaround due in part to Balsley’s efforts.

Here are a few more notes from around the league to round out the evening:

  • The biggest surprise in the season’s early going is clearly the struggling Diamondbacks, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Other players and teams leading the list include Charlie Blackmon, Dee Gordon, the Brewers, and one of the offseason’s riskiest signings in Jose Abreu.
  • While the news on the PED front has thankfully been fairly quiet this season, multiple minor league ballplayers have been disciplined. Baseball America maintains a regularly updated page documenting those suspensions — a useful resource for fans looking to understand the issue in its broader context.
  • The Nationals have promoted or traded many of the organization’s best internally-developed talent in recent seasons, but have stockpiled a solid array of talent at their Class-A affiliate, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Led by top prospect Lucas Giolito, the Hagerstown rotation includes a series of intriguing 2013-draftees in Jake Johansen, Austin Voth, and Nick Pivetta.

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