Top prospect Aaron Blair, acquired by the Braves in the Shelby Miller blockbuster, is a “strong possibility” to step into the Atlanta rotation on Sunday, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. While Mike Foltynewicz is another alternative, O’Brien notes that the start aligns better with Blair’s pitching schedule, and Blair has simply outperformed Foltynewicz this season. The primary reason to go with Foltynewicz over Blair would seemingly be to prevent Blair from gaining service time in an effort to avoid Super Two status, but manager Fredi Gonzalez tells O’Brien that such factors aren’t typically a concern for the organization. “I’ve been lucky, ever since I’ve been here that (delaying arbitration clock, avoiding Super Two) has never come out of anybody’s mouth,” said Gonzalez. Blair, 23, was the 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft and has allowed just three runs on 10 hits and five walks with 22 strikeouts through his first 19 innings at Triple-A this season. He rated comfortably among baseball’s top 100 prospects in the eyes of ESPN’s Keith Law (No. 39), Baseball Prospectus (No. 43) MLB.com (No. 54) and Baseball America (No. 60).
More from the NL East…
- Nationals center fielder Ben Revere is slowly progressing toward a return, writes MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman. Revere, who strained his oblique on Opening Day, has begun running in the outfield and taking light swings, he tells Zuckerman. Though he’s a left-handed hitter, Revere is currently taking right-handed swings, per his doctors’ recommendation, in order to protect his oblique. The fleet-footed 27-year-old is still several weeks away from a return, Zuckerman notes.
- Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera tells Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com that he has made a concerted effort to improve his plate discipline this season as he looks to cut down on his strikeouts. “Too many for a little guy, you know?” Herrera asked rhetorically in reference to last year’s total of 129 punchouts. Herrera is still striking out at the same rate in 2016 (24 percent), but as Lawrence points out he’s also walked 15 times (22.7 percent) and leads the Majors with 5.03 pitches per plate appearance. The positive trends are strong indicators for one of the players that could be a part of the next contending version of the Phillies’ lineup, Lawrence adds.
- Barry Bonds has excelled in his new role as the Marlins’ hitting coach, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan spoke to Marlins stars Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, each of whom offered praise for the first-year hitting coach. “I want to get better,” said Gordon. “So why not let him help me get better? That would be foolish and prideful of me to be that way. He’s only the best hitter ever.” Bonds has embraced 2015 hitting coach Frank Menechino (now his assistant hitting coach) and the knowledge of Marlins hitters that he brought to the table, and he’s a down-to-Earth approach in working to educate Marlins batters in the arts of swing mechanics and the mental approach to hitting. “We’re both aware that pitchers’ meetings are about us,” Stanton told Passan. “They want to get us out. We’re the ones they focus on not to beat the other team. How do you maneuver? How do you stay patient?”