The Dodgers’ Triple-A squad made a remarkable 334 transactions last season with 84 different players appearing in a game, writes Bill Plunkett of Baseball America. Director of player development Gabe Kapler implied that the big league club will continue to make frequent use of their minor league rosters as a way to shuffle depth around. Such a strategy can be particularly useful with back-of-the-roster pitching like spot starters and over-taxed young relievers.
- Cuba’s Ciego De Avila club will represent the island nation in the upcoming Caribbean Series, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. The tournament begins on February 1. International tournaments are a commonly used opportunity to defect and join the majors. The most notable players in attendance will be Yulieski Gourriel, his young brother Lourdes Gourriel, and Alfredo Despaigne. Badler calls Yulieski, 31, the top player in Cuba, citing a .494/.586/.861 line in 215 plate appearances. Lourdes better fits the role of prospect – he’s 22 with a .340/.400/.561 slash. Badler calls him one of Cuba’s top five players. Despaigne is the best Cuban slugger. He hit .258/.352/.462 in 409 plate appearances last season for Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines. While those are the biggest names to watch, there’s no telling which, if any, players will defect.
- MLB.com’s Jim Callis has unveiled his first base prospect rankings with the Astros’ A.J. Reed taking the top spot. Reed’s excellent first full season included some truly gaudy stats – 34 home runs, 113 runs, and 127 RBI. Callis notes that he still has to prove he can hit advanced left-handed pitching. Pirates prospect Josh Bell and Mets first baseman Dominic Smith are next up in Callis’ Top 10.