Edgmer Escalona Rumors

Minor Moves: Keys, Escalona, Coello, O’Sullivan

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Marlins have outrighted center fielder Brent Keys to Triple-A Jacksonville, according to the club’s transactions page. Miami designated Keys for assignment over the weekend when they acquired lefty Donnie Joseph from the Royals.
  • The Yankees have signed right-hander Edgmer Escalona to a minor league deal, according to the club’s transactions page. The hard-throwing 27-year-old rejected an outright assignment from the division-rival Orioles and elected free agency a couple weeks back. Curiously, the Orioles transitioned Escalona to their Triple-A rotation, where he made the first three starts of his professional career. He didn’t fare particularly well, posting a 6.10 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. He has some MLB experience with the Rockies and averaged 94.2 mph on his heater from 2012-13.
  • Escalona will take the roster spot of righty Robert Coello at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, after Coello opted out of his minor league deal, the team has officially announced (hat tip: Donnie Collins of the Scranton Tribune-Times on Twitter). Coello posted a pristine 1.69 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings, but he also walked a troubling 21 batters in that time.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (via Twitter) that right-hander Sean O’Sullivan has accepted his outright assignment with the Phillies. O’Sullivan was outrighted yesterday after being designated for assignment last week and had the option to elect free agency.

Edgmer Escalona Rejects Outright, Elects Free Agency

The Orioles have announced that right-hander Edgmer Escalona has rejected his outright assignment and elected free agency instead.

Escalona, 27, signed a Major League deal with the O’s this offseason despite lacking a significant Major League track record. He opened the season on the 60-day disabled list as he recovered from an impingement in his right shoulder but was activated and began pitching for Triple-A Norfolk in late May.

Curiously, after making three relief appearances, the Orioles transitioned Escalona to the Tides’ rotation, where he made the first three starts of his professional career. All 262 of his minor league appearances and all 70 of his Major League appearances had come out of the bullpen prior to that point.

Escalona didn’t fare particularly well in the Norfolk rotation, and he leaves the Orioles’ organization with a 6.10 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. He struck out 14 batters in that time and showed solid command, yielding only five walks.

Prior to his time with the Orioles organization, Escalona had spent his entire career with the Rockies. In exactly 100 innings at the Major League level, he has a 4.50 ERA with 6.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate. Escalona’s strong 94.2 mph average fastball velocity from 2012-13 likely enticed the Orioles. That marked a significant uptick in his velocity from 2010-11, but unfortunately for the Rockies, the increased velocity also came with a 5.80 ERA in 68 1/3 innings of work, which likely led to his departure from the Rockies organization.

Minor Moves: Despaigne, Wolf, Stinson, Escalona

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Padres are set to promote Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. They’ll need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to make space for him. Despaigne, a Cuban pitcher who the Padres signed to a minor league deal in May, had two good starts for Double-A San Antonio before posting a 7.61 ERA in five starts for Triple-A El Paso. He did, however, post 11.0 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings there. Despaigne will start in place of Andrew Cashner on Monday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests (via Twitter). (The Padres are merely being “conservative” in scratching Cashner, Heyman says, although he does not give an exact reason why Cashner won’t be starting.)
  • The Orioles have signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract and he will pitch three innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. The deal is pending a physical, tweets MASNsports.com Roch Kubatko.
  • Right-hander Josh Stinson has accepted his outright assignment by the Orioles to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets Kubatko and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.
  • The Orioles have outrighted right-hander Edgmer Escalona to Triple-A, tweets Hall. In a separate tweet, Hall reports Escalona is still processing the move and will consult his agent as to whether to accept the outright or declare free agency. The 27-year-old has appeared in six games (three starts) for Norfolk this year posting a 6.10 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 20 2/3 innings.
  • The Cubs added left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, the club announced.  Wada has been pitching for Iowa all season but, as Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets, the Japanese southpaw had an opt-out clause in his contract, so putting Wada on the 40-man allows the Cubs to keep him.  Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, Wada has an impressive 2.81 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 14 Triple-A starts in 2014.
  • The Phillies released outfielder Tyson Gillies, the team announced.  A career .284/.364/.411 hitter over 2060 minor league PA, Gillies struggled at the Triple-A level over the last two seasons.  Gillies joined the Phillies from the Mariners organization in December 2009 as part of the trade package (along with J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont) that Philadelphia acquired from Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.
  • The Tigers shifted right-hander Luke Putkonen from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-recalled Pat McCoy, the team announced.  In another corresponding move, Ian Krol was put on the 15-day DL to make room for McCoy on the 25-man roster.  Putkonen only pitched 2 2/3 innings for Detroit and five total minor league innings this season due to elbow problems, and he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks after recently undergoing surgery.
  • Per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, there are six players in DFA limbo: Kevin Slowey (Marlins), Josh Outman (Indians), Evan Reed (Tigers), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jake Dunning (Giants), and Roger Bernadina (Reds).

Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.

Orioles Designate Mike Belfiore For Assignment

The Orioles have announced via a press release they have designated left-hander Mike Belfiore for assignment. The move, along with placing right-hander Edgmer Escalona on the 60-day disabled list, clears roster space for the addition of outfielder Delmon Young and right-hander Evan Meek to the 40-man roster.

Belfiore made his MLB debut last September for the Orioles throwing 1 1/3 innings against the Red Sox allowing three hits, including a pair of home runs. At Triple-A, the 25-year-old made 37 relief outings posting a 3.18 ERA, 9.7 K/9, and 3.4 BB/9. The Diamondbacks made Belfiore the 45th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, but shipped him to Baltimore in 2012 as the player to be named later when they acquired Josh Bell

Orioles Sign Edgmer Escalona

The Orioles announced, on Twitter, that they have signed right-hander Edgmer Escalona to a one-year, Major League contract. The 27-year-old is represented by agents Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro.

The 27-year-old Escalona pitched to a 5.67 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 39.9 percent ground-ball rate in 46 innings for the Rockies in 2013. The Venezuelan hurler hasn't had much big league success but has averaged 94.2 mph on his heater over the past two seasons.

It's worth pointing out that Escalona had pitched to a 3.38 ERA with a strong 27-to-7 K/BB ratio through his first 32 innings. On June 9, he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning and hit the disabled list with elbow inflammation. That injury likely contributed to the sky-high 10.93 ERA he posted over his next 14 frames before being designated for assignment.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette explained to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that Escalona has been starting in the Venezuelan Winter League and has added a third pitch — a split-fingered changeup — that scouts have raved about. Kubatko quotes Duquette: "We feel like he's developing pitches that he needs to be successful in the big leagues. He's got a weapon for left-handed hitters now," (Twitter links).

Escalona has a 2.10 ERA with a 25-to-11 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings in Venezuela this winter. He is the second bullpen piece that Duquette has signed to a Major League deal this week, as the team also picked up lefty Kelvin De La Cruz on Monday despite the fact that he has no Major League experience. With the Escalona signing, the O's now have 33 players on their 40-man roster.

Kubatko first reported the agreement (Twitter link) and also was the first to report that Escalona would receive a Major League deal.

Minor Moves: Edgmer Escalona, Dan Johnson

We'll keep tabs on today's minor moves right here …

  • The Rockies have outrighted 26-year-old righty Edgmer Escalona to Triple-A Colorado Springs, the club announced on Twitter. Escalona, who was designated for assignment last Friday, struggled to a 5.67 ERA with Colorado this year. 
  • The Yankees have released first baseman Dan Johnson, according to the International League transactions page. Sweeny Murti of WFAN was first to report the move (on Twitter). After signing a minor league deal over the off-season, Johnson has posted a strong .253/.379/.447 line in 559 plate appearances at Triple-A this year. The 34-year-old last saw big league action in a short stint with the White Sox last year, and has a career .237/.338/.412 triple-slash over 1,551 MLB plate appearances. 
  • Three players remain in DFA limbo: Jason Kubel of the Diamondbacks, Russ Canzler of the Pirates, and Aaron Harang of the Mariners. You can keep tabs on designated players via MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Rockies Designate Edgmer Escalona For Assignment

The Rockies tweet that they have designated pitcher Edgmer Escalona for assignment. In related moves, the team also activated Jhoulys Chacin from the bereavement list and promoted pitcher Rob Scahill.

Escalona threw 46 innings in relief for the Rockies this season, posting a 5.67 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He has appeared in parts of four seasons with the Rockies. Escalona had a 1.54 ERA in mid-May, but his numbers suffered immensely thereafter, culminating when he gave up five runs in a blowout loss to the Braves on August 1.