Carlos Correa Rumors

Astros Designate Matt Dominguez For Assignment

The Astros announced that they have designated third baseman Matt Dominguez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for top prospect Carlos Correa, whose promotion is now official.

It’s been a swift fall for Dominguez, who just one year ago was rumored to have been offered an extension worth roughly $14.5MM over five years (plus two option years for the Astros). He’s spent the entire season in Triple-A so far after serving as Houston’s regular third baseman for all of 2013-14 and much of the 2012 season as well.

Dominguez’s best season came in 2013 when he batted .241/.286/.403 with 21 homers in 152 games. Despite the lackluster OBP, Dominguez rated out well in terms of Defensive Runs Saved, leading to a 2.2 rWAR season. (Fangraphs’ version of WAR, which uses UZR in its equation, rated him at just shy of one WAR.) Dominguez’s glove has long drawn positive reviews from scouts, and he clearly has some power in his bat, as evidenced by the .168 isolated power (slugging minus batting average) mark that he posted from 2012-13.

Dominguez hit 16 home runs last year, but he saw his walk rate dip even further while his strikeout rate climbed to almost 21 percent. The resulting .215/.256/.330 batting line was enough that the Astros saw fit to acquire Luis Valbuena and sign Jed Lowrie to serve as upgrades on the left side of the infield. So far in Triple, Dominguez is batting .251/.289/.371.

Despite the struggles, Dominguez is still just 25 years of age. The former first-round pick won’t turn 26 until late August, and if a light were to turn on with another club, Dominguez could be controlled through at least the 2018 season. In fact, that number will soon jump to 2019. Dominguez entered the year with two years, 62 days of service, meaning he’d have needed 110 days of service this year to reach the three-year mark. However, there are just 119 days of the regular season remaining, so it seems unlikely that he’ll end up reaching that mark.

Because of his youth, big league track record, remaining remaining minor league options and upside, I’d personally be surprised to see Dominguez clear waivers. More likely, it seems that the Astros may try to trade him to a team in need of some help at the hot corner. The Giants have had some struggles at third base this season, as have the Tigers, White Sox and Brewers. The Indians just demoted Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A, though they may prefer to give Giovanny Urshela a tryout before moving on to other options.

Speculating a bit further, the Angels were said to be seeking a controllable young third baseman this winter, and while they acquired Kyle Kubitza from the Braves to give them an option, it’s at least possible that Dominguez intrigues them. And, in last year’s leak of trade notes from the Astros, the Marlins were said to have expressed interest in a trade for Dominguez, though Miami does have Martin Prado at the position now.


Astros Promote Carlos Correa

The Astros have promoted top prospect Carlos Correa, according to a team press release.  Correa will join the team tomorrow in Chicago for the start of a three-game series against the White Sox.  Righty Jake Buchanan is being optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move, and another move is coming tomorrow to open up a 40-man roster spot.

Carlos has performed extremely well at every level of our minor league system,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said in the release. “We feel he has earned this promotion and look forward to him joining our ballclub. Since he is just 20 years old, we do not have unrealistic expectations of Carlos. However, his performance on the field and his maturity indicate that he is ready to contribute on the Major League level.”

"FebCorrea was the first overall pick of the 2012 draft, a slightly controversial pick at the time given that Byron Buxton and Mark Appel were generally considered to be better picks.  Houston took Correa in part due to signability reasons, as he inked a below-slot contract and freed up more money for the Astros to spend on other prospects later in the draft.  In four pro seasons, however, Correa has made the Astros’ strategy look doubly wise, as he has hit .313/.392/.491 with 28 homers and 54 steals (out of 70 chances) over 1256 minor league plate appearances.  Preseason prospect lists saw the 6’4″, 190-pounder ranked as the third-best prospect in the sport by MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law, while Baseball America ranked him fourth.

The 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook describes Correa as “a plus hitter with plus raw power” who 30-homer potential in the big leagues, though he has yet to fully develop enough loft in his swing to fully unleash that pop.  One rival evaluator cited by BA compared Correa’s opposite-field hitting ability to that of Albert Pujols, though with less power.  Defensively, Correa was praised for almost everything (only his ability to turn double plays was considered average), particularly his “double-plus” throwing arm.  Off the field, Correa’s “makeup is off the charts, with a natural ability to lead and a goal-oriented mindset unseen in a player who just turned 20.”

Correa hadn’t even played above the high-A ball level before this season, yet a 1.185 OPS in 133 PA in Double-A quickly earned him another promotion to Triple-A, where he posted a .266/.336/.447 line over 107 PA.  While this Triple-A production isn’t quite dominant, Correa still projects as an upgrade for the Astros at shortstop.  Jed Lowrie will be out until after the All-Star break following thumb surgery, and Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez have combined for -0.2 fWAR this season.

Many predicted Correa would reach the majors at some point in 2015, though the Astros’ unexpected stint atop the AL West adds a different dimension to the promotion.  Correa will be expected to step in and contribute to a playoff hopeful, rather than the expected scenario of getting his feet wet in the bigs for a team most felt was still at least a season away from contending.  As Luhnow noted, the Astros aren’t expecting Correa to immediately become a superstar.  In fact, there’s not necessarily any guarantee that Correa will even spend the rest of the season in the majors, should he struggle and Lowrie returns as scheduled.  This is just my speculation, but if Correa is playing well when Lowrie gets back, Lowrie could replace Luis Valbuena at third base — Lowrie has appeared in 83 MLB games at third, though he hasn’t played the position since 2011.

From a service time perspective, Correa is likely to fall short of eventually earning Super Two status even if he spends the rest of the year in the majors, based on recent Super Two cutoff points.  Houston hasn’t been shy in calling up some of their top minor league prospects, as Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker and Michael Feliz have all made their MLB debuts in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports


Quick Hits: Indians, Correa, Astros, Gee, Reds

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Indians aren’t likely to option Jose Ramirez or call up Francisco Lindor, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. As Hoynes puts it, Ramirez often does something to help the team win despite a .184/.252/.245 slash. The club would like to see more from Lindor before considering a promotion. He’s currently hitting .265/.341/.383 at Triple-A. Mike Aviles is stretched thin covering for both Ramirez and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. The team could promote utility infield Zach Walters, but there’s no guarantee he would be an upgrade. As such, Ramirez will probably continue to play with regularity.
  • Astros top prospect Carlos Correa could be promoted as soon as their upcoming series against the White Sox, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Manager A.J. Hinch spoke with reporters about the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for the majors. With Jed Lowrie sidelined, the club has turned to a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar. The pair have not performed well. Given Houston’s place atop the AL West, there is some pressure to summon Correa. Since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s hitting a restrained .253/.324/.429 in 102 plate appearances.
  • The Astros have the highest bonus pool for the upcoming draft, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston can spend $17,289,200 because they have the second and fifth overall picks. GM Jeff Luhnow aims to have the “best yield” of any club. In the past, the Astros signed Correa to an under-slot contract in order to go over-slot for Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. They attempted to do the same last year with Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix, but Aiken’s failed physical ruined that plan.
  • The Mets have scrapped their six-man rotation, and Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN. Gee is unhappy with the move. He believes he’ll have less value to the team and on the trade market as a reliever. He’s owed $5.3MM in 2015 and is club controlled through 2016. The club was using a six-man rotation to limit the workloads of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. New York may also promote Steven Matz at some point. He has a 1.94 ERA with 9.08 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 in the hitter friendly PCL.
  • The next few weeks will decide if the Reds are deadline sellers, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The team is currently 23-31 and seven games back from the second Wild Card slot. If the club continues to scuffle, players like Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jay Bruce could be shopped. Cueto and Leake are free agents at the end of the season.


Heyman’s Latest: Astros/Hamels, Reds, Matz, Zobrist, Ackley, Soriano

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by examining the possibility of the Astros making a run at the PhilliesCole Hamels. Houston is seeking a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Hamels is on their radar, Heyman hears, even though he’s something of a long shot. The Astros are seeking a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, one person told Heyman, though Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated they’d be interested in any arm that could start Games 1-3 of a playoff series. The Phillies are said to be intrigued by outfield prospects Preston Tucker and Brett Phillips, among others, Heyman notes. Houston won’t part with top prospect Carlos Correa or impressive rookie right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., and they’d prefer to keep righty Vincent Velasquez as well. Heyman adds that it’s uncertain whether or not Hamels would approve a trade to Houston, with one source indicating that they didn’t find the scenario likely. If Hamels were to approve the trade, he’d likely ask that his 2019 option be exercised, and the Phillies would almost certainly have to pay down some of the $24MM he is owed annually, per Heyman.

Some more highlights…

  • The Reds are currently reluctant to sell any pieces according to rivals who have reached out to the team. That may simply be due to the fact that the team is set to host the All-Star game this year and doesn’t want to begin a potential fire sale before that game. However, other execs have indicated to Heyman that owner Bob Castellini prefers to see how his big-money investments in Joey Votto and others will play out rather than commencing a rebuilding effort.
  • Both Dillon Gee and Jon Niese remain widely available, as the Mets would prefer to add promising lefty Steven Matz to their six-man rotation. One scout that spoke to Heyman said Matz is better than any pitcher in the rotation aside from Matt Harvey, which is high praise, particularly considering Jacob deGrom‘s brilliant start to the season and the flashes of brilliance displayed by Noah Syndergaard.
  • The Yankees are interested in the AthleticsBen Zobrist as an option at second base and also still like Dustin Ackley despite his struggles with the Mariners. New York has been surprised by Jose Pirela‘s troubles to this point, and they still have questions about Rob Refsnyder‘s glove at second base. Heyman adds that the Yankees don’t expect to be big players on Cole Hamels this winter, and they were worried about Mark Teixeira enough this offseason that they checked in on Ryan Howard, though clearly those concerns have dissipated in light of Teixeira’s excellent resurgence.
  • The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Cubs are the three teams that Heyman mentions as most realistic options for right-hander Rafael Soriano. He calls the Cards “a surprise entry” into the Soriano mix, adding that the Jays have not given up the idea of signing him but will need to see what his price tag is now that he’s switched representatives.
  • The Mariners will probably see a need to add a veteran catcher after trading Welington Castillo to the D-Backs in order to land Mark Trumbo. Heyman spoke to someone close to the Mariners who described the team as “desperate” to add offense prior to the Trumbo deal, as they’ve received struggles from many of their outfielders and, surprisingly, Robinson Cano.
  • Red Sox higher-ups have an immense amount of respect for manager John Farrell, so while votes of confidence from ownership and executives often mean little, Heyman feels that Boston’s recent vote of confidence in Farrell has more weight behind it. However, Boston won’t be swayed by the fact that Farrell’s contract runs through 2017 if they do decide a change is needed down the line.
  • Both Dodgers right-hander Jose De Leon and Yankees shortstop Jorge Mateo have hired Scott Boras to represent them. The pair of prospects is well-regarded within each organization.

AL West Notes: Astros, Doolittle, Scioscia

The Astros employed a creative plan in the 2012 amateur draft, reports the New York Times. The club selected shortstop prospect Carlos Correa with the first overall pick. They then signed him to a $4.8MM contract – $2.4MM under slot value. That allowed the club to go over slot for Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz. Correa is perhaps the most highly anticipate prospect in the minors. McCullers is currently with the big league club and has made three starts with 10.80 K/9, 3.60 BB/9, and a 2.40 ERA. Ruiz was dealt to Atlanta as part of the Evan Gattis trade. Houston tried a similar tactic last season, but it backfired when pitcher Brady Aiken failed his physical. They’ll probably repeat their plan when they pick second and fifth this June.

  • The A’s have placed closer Sean Doolittle on the disabled list with shoulder imflammation, writes Jeremy F. Koo of SB Nation. Doolittle had a MRI on his shoulder this morning, tweets Joe Stiglitz of Comcast SportsNet California. The test revealed no new tear in the shoulder, just inflammation. The previously injured part of the shoulder does not appear to be damaged. Per Jane Lee of MLB.com (via Twitter), there is no timetable for Doolittle’s recovery, although he will take at least two weeks off according to manager Bob Melvin.
  • Angels manager Mike Scioscia is in the midst of a 10-year contract that expires in 2018. However, Scioscia can opt out of the deal following this season, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. He would forfeit $18MM in salary if he opted out. For what it’s worth, a move strikes me as unlikely although he could use the opt out as leverage to negotiate an extension. As Gonzalez notes, it’s not unimaginable that Scioscia could be wooed by the Dodgers or his hometown Phillies.

AL West Notes: Kazmir, Angels, Mariners, Correa

Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir left today’s start against the Tigers with soreness in his throwing shoulder, and manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the game that Kazmir is undergoing an MRI (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee). It’s not known at this time whether or not Kazmir will require a stint on the disabled list, but as an impending free agent and a potential trade target, that status of Kazmir is one that could have significant impact on storylines around the game in the coming months. To this point in the season, Kazmir has been brilliant, notching a 2.93 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate in 58 1/3 inning. Kazmir is earning $11MM in the second and final season of a two-year, $22MM contract.

Here’s more from the AL West…

  • Following the Angels‘ trade for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Marc Krauss could find himself headed back to Triple-A, but the team could also place Collin Cowgill on the disabled list, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Gonzalez’s notebook post looks at several roster situations for the Angels, including the team’s uncertain second base situation and the injury status of right-hander Mike Morin, who doesn’t sound to be returning anytime soon. Morin will miss “weeks, not days,” per manager Mike Scioscia.
  • The Mariners have been operating with a six-man bullpen for a couple of days as a means of delaying the need to make a decision on the team’s veterans, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Delaying a move by even a few days gave the Mariners time to further examine trade possibilities, Dutton notes, but they’ll soon need to add a reliever to the mix. Candidates include Lucas Luetge, Mayckol Guaipe and Kevin Gregg, though Gregg would require a 40-man roster move and force the team’s hand even sooner. Players currently at risk, Dutton writes, are Rickie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. It seems highly unlikely that the Mariners would do something as drastic as designating Ackley for assignment, but if they’re truly exploring trade possibilities, he’d likely have the most appeal of the four players listed by Dutton. One way to buy a bit more time would be to option Chris Taylor back to Triple-A to make room for a reliever that’s already on the 40-man roster.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that there will be no second-guessing on when the team should have brought up top prospect Carlos Correa, regardless of how the season ends. Luhnow says that despite Correa’s gaudy numbers at Triple-A, he’s still benefiting from the time there, as he’s being exposed to more offspeed pitches than ever before and being forced to make adjustments within at-bats. Luhnow said that even in an extreme scenario such as missing the playoffs by one game, there would be too many factors — managerial moves, daily roster decisions, player performances — to say whether or not promoting Correa early would’ve altered the course of the season.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Heyman’s Latest: Tulo, Soriano, Correa, Garza, Segura, Mets

The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the YankeesGiants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.

Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…

  • The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
  • Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
  • Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
  • Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
  • Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
  • It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
  • The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
  • In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.

Astros Notes: Correa, McCullers, Rasmus

The Astros sent Jon Singleton to Triple-A to begin the season in the wake of his lackluster 2014 numbers and a poor Spring Training, yet the former star prospect is doing his best to earn a return ticket to the bigs.  Singleton has 11 homers and an impressive .274/.386/.632 slash line over 140 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, highlighted by a two-homer, 10-RBI game last night.  While stats in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League have to taken with a grain of salt, Singleton’s production is certainly a positive sign.  Here’s some more from Houston…

  • The time is now for the Astros to promote Carlos Correa, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal opines.  While the Astros’ decision to give Correa more Triple-A seasoning is a reasonable one, Rosenthal argues that if Houston will just promote him in two weeks if he’s tearing up the PCL, the club should just get him to the bigs now.  Correa would instantly upgrade the Astros at shortstop and help the team maintain its surprising first-place status.
  • Righty Lance McCullers has also been promoted to Triple-A, and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart that McCullers could potentially be in the mix for a Major League call-up this season.  “The reality is if he’s pitching the way he’s been pitching, we could probably benefit from having him here.  There is a possibility he will be here,” Luhnow said.  McCullers was a top-100 ranked prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America prior to the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but his stock dipped a bit following an unimpressive year at high-A ball last year.  The 21-year-old rebounded to post an 0.62 ERA, 13.3 K/9 and 3.91 K/BB rate over 29 innings at the Double-A level this year.
  • Colby Rasmus is enjoying his time in Houston, the outfielder tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.  Rasmus is one of the more experienced players in the young Astros clubhouse, which seems to be a relief for him given how he wasn’t happy playing for the more veteran Blue Jays last season.  Rasmus said he felt judged “in the sense of how much (service) time you had, and the pecking order, just feeling comfortable in the clubhouse. I’m not going to go into any details, but I feel more comfortable in this clubhouse and in this environment.”

AL Notes: Correa, Hicks, Angels, Tanaka, Red Sox, Kazmir

Promotions are always interesting to keep an eye on this time of year, as teams look to balance future control and cost with developmental prerogatives and the needs of the MLB roster. One of the most-watched players, shortstop Carlos Correa of the Astros, will make his debut today at Triple-A after destroying the Double-A level at just twenty years of age. The next stop could be Houston, where the big league club playing well but dealing with a significant injury to Jed Lowrie. Meanwhile, the Twins have decided the time is ripe to give another shot at former top prospect Aaron Hicks, still just 25, who has struggled in his time in the majors but forced his way back with a .336/.415/.561 run through the highest level of the minors this year.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Angels, who have fielded a somewhat surprisingly unproductive lineup thus far, look in need of a bat, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. While GM Jerry Dipoto says that he expects at least some of the team’s group of established hitters to return to their usual contributions on offense, Fletcher says that the front office is ready and willing to pursue an acquisition over the summer. Given the team’s struggles against right-handed pitching, Fletcher opines that Brewers first baseman Adam Lind would make for a particularly sensible trade target. He ticks through a few other plausible options as the market begins to take shape.
  • Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is set to throw his first bullpen today since suffering a forearm strain, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted yesterday. At this point, it would seem to rate as a pleasant surprise if Tanaka is able to contribute more quality innings this year, though the club seems determined to give him every opportunity to return before pursuing more drastic options.
  • Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, the Yankees rotation has plenty of issues but still rates as the most complete outfit in the division. GM Brian Cashman continues to say that he believes Tanaka can stave off a Tommy John procedure. And as Sherman rightly notes, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova both appear on track to deliver useful arms in the relatively near future. If the club stays in position and has a need, of course, it should have no difficulty finding ways to add quality innings via trade over the summer.
  • The Red Sox staff, meanwhile, has been a source of near-constant hand-wringing and speculation for months. There are reasons to believe in improvement from the peripherals, as MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince explains, though as he notes the biggest reason for hope may lie in the club’s evident ability (and demonstrated willingness) to swing deals to add additional arms.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington continues to emphasize the organization’s commitment to delivering better results from its internal pitching options, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports“We knew we needed good pitching coming into the year to win games, and we still know that,” says Cherington. “I believe we’ll pitch better, and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already.” Cherington emphasized that he wants to see how things proceed with a new pitching coach (and new backstop duo) now in place. Regardless, as he notes, it would be hard to make a move now. “Not a lot of teams are in that (trade) mode,” said the Red Sox GM, “but there wouldn’t normally be this time of year anyway. We’re not really there yet. There’s not a lot of team-altering moves being discussed this early. Probably need a little bit of time on that.” In Lauber’s estimation, Cherington’s protestations notwithstanding, Boston must and will strike one or more trades and/or promote well-regarded lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for an infusion of talent.
  • One possible trade target for the Red Sox (and, of course, other teams) is Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Indeed, Kazmir’s strong recent track record and meager remaining commitment, to say nothing of the free-wheeling nature of Oakland GM Billy Beane, frame him as a popular source of trade speculation over the next few months. If the team decides to market him, which seems more and more plausible with each passing day for the 12-22 A’s, it will be fascinating to see what the 31-year-old returns in a trade.