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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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- Hyun-jin Ryu To Undergo Shoulder Surgery
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High school shortstop/second baseman Kyler Murray tweeted today that he is withdrawing from the MLB draft. Murray was ranked 32nd in this year’s draft class by ESPN’s Keith Law, 34th by MLB.com and 15th by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Rather than enter the draft, Murray will instead head to Texas A&M not only as a highly touted baseball recruit, but also as one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits.
As Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill notes, Murray is expected to compete to be the Aggies’ starter. Multiple reports have noted that a shoulder injury which limited Murray to DH for much of the year made him tough to peg, but the consensus appears to be that he had a shot to go in the first round and, had he been committed solely to baseball, perhaps quite high up in the first round.
Of note is that Murray is not merely telling teams not to draft him, as Josh Bell did in 2011 before signing with the Pirates for $5MM. Rather, he has completely removed himself from the draft pool, as McDaniel tweets, meaning that he will not be eligible to be selected by any club. Murray will likely be eligible for the 2018 draft following his junior season, provided he does not shift his focus entirely to football.
Yesterday, the Twins promoted outfielder Eddie Rosario from Triple-A Rochester, with Oswaldo Arcia headed to the disabled list due to a right hip flexor strain. (TwinsDaily.com’s Seth Stohs first tweeted word of Rosario’s promotion.) In Rosario, the Twins are recalling a former fourth-round pick that ranked in the organization’s Top 10 prospects per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law. Rosario, in fact, was considered a Top 100 prospect by B-Pro heading into the 2014 season, but he served a suspension for a drug of abuse and didn’t hit much in his return to Double-A. After a promising stint in the Arizona Fall League this past season, Rosario is off to a slow start in Triple-A, but he still, interestingly, gets the call over Aaron Hicks. The 25-year-old Hicks has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Twins in an attempt to establish himself as their everyday center fielder, but the former first-round pick and top 30 prospect has looked overmatched in the Majors. However, he’s hitting quite well to open the year in Triple-A, making it somewhat surprising to seem him passed over. It may only be a short-term look, though I’d think that given Jordan Schafer‘s struggles, there’s at least a chance for Rosario to impress enough to stick on the roster once Arcia is healthy.
Here are some more notes from the American League…
- The Rays are increasingly concerned with righty Alex Cobb after he suffered a setback this weekend, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Cobb, 27, had started to throw again after suffering a forearm strain this spring. Now, per Topkin, Cobb will be shut down for several days and could eventually be a candidate for platelet-rich plasma treatment or even surgery. Cobb has contributed 309 2/3 innings of 2.82 ERA pitching over the last two seasons, making his fate critical to the team’s hopes this year.
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos says he does not expect any significant trade activity until after the draft, as Ben Nicholson-Smith reports on Twitter. That is obviously the usual course of events, in spite of some discussion that this year could see earlier activity. Toronto is looking up in a tightly-packed AL East after a rough start to the year from its pitching staff. While an early move holds some facial appeal, however, a significant addition would likely require a premium return.
- It is indeed early, but not too early for the White Sox to begin planning for a summer sale, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines. Chicago rode into the year on a wave of optimism, even if projection systems never bought the team as an obvious playoff club, but is off to a dreadful start. With multiple holes on the big league roster, says Cameron, GM Rick Hahn should be ready to be nimble in cashing in assets. In particular, Cameron suggests that marketing free agent-to-be Jeff Samardzija before other appealing arms join the market could be the best way to maximize his value.
The Angels signing of Josh Hamilton has set the franchise back in ways other than financial, opines Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. During the 2012 offseason, the Angels decided to invest their payroll in Hamilton rather than make a serious bid to retain Zack Greinke. The five-year, $125MM contract forced GM Jerry DiPoto to cut corners when building his pitching staff for the 2013 sesaon and eventually he had to deal bats like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick to acquire young arms (Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney) over the next two offseasons. Shaikin posits the Angels’ lineup is a Mike Trout injury away from being devasted.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- With public criticism mounting against White Sox manager Robin Ventura, first baseman Jose Abreu came to the defense of his skipper, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. “If the people want someone to blame, it’s the players, not Robin,” Abreu said.
- Twins Rule 5 pick J.R. Graham is here to stay, manager Paul Molitor tells reporters, including Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). “He’s going to be here all year,” the manager said. Graham threw two scoreless innings to close out the Twins’ 13-3 beating of the White Sox this afternoon.
- The Rangers will have a logjam at first base once Mitch Moreland recovers from his elbow surgery, but they won’t be able to move some of the surplus to the outfield because of the injury history of Moreland and Kyle Blanks, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Moreland says there was only one bone chip (a little bigger than the size of a watermelon seed) that needed to be removed from his elbow, tweets FOXSportsSouthwest.com’s Anthony Andro.
- Indications are the continuing waiver wire saga of outfielder Alex Hassan (who has been claimed five times over the past seven months after being picked up by the A’s yesterday) will prompt the MLBPA to make this an issue during the next round of collective bargaining, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The concern is the procedural movement hampers a prospect’s development, a sentiment echoed by Hassan. “You’re just behind,” Hassan said. “Do I prefer to be claimed by another team and have to break my lease and have to move my family and have to go find another apartment and take another short-term lease and get settled — and have to perform right away, knowing you’re the last guy on the 40-man roster? Or would it be better to stay where you are and get some stability and hopefully play well enough to where you might earn your way back up there? I don’t know the answer to that.“
A conversation with Minor League teammate Shawn Hill and an email to a St. Louis-based surgeon Robert Thompson in 2013 saved the career of Royals right-hander Chris Young, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Young was unknowingly suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome — a difficult-to-detect shoulder condition in which nerves are pinched between the collarbone and top rib. Young described his symptoms to Hill, who first suggested thoracic outlet syndrome as a possibility, having suffered through the condition himself a year prior. Young had difficulty even turning his head side to side and often felt numbness in his fingers and hands. The surgery to alleviate the pain led to a 2014 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award for Young, but the 6’10” righty found little interest on the free agent market this winter. He expressed confusion to McCullough that just three teams showed significant interest, though fatigue at the end of the season and a subsequent 8.35 ERA over his final five starts may have had something to do with that, he acknowledged. Young notes that he eventually vowed to prove himself to big league teams this year. “…I had to remind myself to step back and say, ‘You know what? If I don’t like it, go perform better than I did last year.'”
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Twins Double-A right-hander Adrian Salcedo was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a PED and a stimulant (which USA Today’s Bob Nightengale identifies as Tamoxifen and Heptaminol, respectively), and GM Terry Ryan expressed disappointment and frustration in the situation to the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino: “We met about it all spring. This is one where I guess it doesn’t matter how much you try to educate players. It happened, and it will happen again, unfortunately. No matter how much we preach and no matter how much the penalty, there are going to be people that are going to try to take advantage of the situation.” Salcedo is the second 80-game suspension in the Twins organization over the past month, though the first was far more detrimental to the organization, as it was issued to right-hander Ervin Santana, who signed a four-year, $55MM contract this winter.
- Taiwanese right-hander Chih-Wei Hu, signed by the Twins for $220K in 2012, is seeing his prospect stock rise dramatically early in the year, writes Baseball America’s Josh Norris. Perhaps the most interesting note on Hu is his usage of a palmball — a pitch not often seen in today’s game. Norris notes that the pitch acts more like a splitter than a changeup but has changeup-like velocity, sitting in the mid-90s.
- Though Terry Francona wouldn’t say he is questioning T.J. House‘s slot in the rotation, the Indians skipper did note that House’s pronounced struggles this season are troublesome, writes Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel. House’s five earned runs in three innings last night further ballooned an already concerning ERA to 13.15, and the lefty has walked nearly a batter per inning in four starts this season. Meisel wonders who might step into the rotation, noting that Zach McAllister looks more at home in the bullpen. He speculatively lists Triple-A veterans Bruce Chen and Shaun Marcum as options, noting that each his pitched well in the upper Minors this far.
Here’s the latest from around the league:
- Commissioner Rob Manfred would prefer for the Athletics to remain in Oakland, writes Bill Shaiken of the LA Times. The A’s are currently waiting to learn if the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will remain in the city or move to Los Angeles. Manfried also suggested that public financing would be helpful. “We want to remain loyal to [small market fans], but those markets also have to participate in providing the kind of facilities necessary to keep a Major League Baseball team.
- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez won’t let the club’s slow start affect his decision to retire, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Milwaukee is quickly falling out of contention in the tough NL Central. Ramirez is off to a slow start, but you have to imagine he’ll be a trade candidate this summer. Assuming he’s dealt, he’ll have an opportunity to finish his career with a contender – it just probably won’t be the Brewers.
- The Twins remain among the teams interested in free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson believes the fit is much better with the Tigers and Blue Jays. While Minnesota could definitely use some relief reinforcements, the club doesn’t figure to contend this season. As such, they probably view Soriano as a piece they could trade at the deadline.
Righty Jason Frasor was offered a one-year deal by the Twins this winter but decided to go back to the Royals when Kansas City got involved, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The 37-year-old also added an interesting take on the process of free agency: “When you become a free agent and you’re a 37-year-old middle reliever, there’s not as many teams that come calling as you would think or hope. But that’s all right. I just needed one team.”
- Veteran Tigers reliever Joe Nathan suffered a setback in a Triple-A rehab appearance today, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Nathan came out after experiencing severe pain after the tenth pitch of his outing. Both Nathan and the club have stayed quiet this evening as to whether any more has been learned, but at a minimum it seems unlikely that he will join the team as quickly as had been expected.
- Cody Allen has struggled thus far, but the Indians are not contemplating a closer change, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. “Cody is about as trustworthy and dependable as anyone we have,” said manager Terry Francona. The Cleveland pen has been poor by any standard thus far, and is not exactly teeming with alternatives. MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that the team passed on an opportunity to upgrade there over the offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether that becomes an area to target if the Indians stay in contention over the summer.
Rohlfing, 26, represents depth for a New York club that is dealing with an injury to Opening Day backstop Travis d’Arnaud as well as backup Anthony Recker. He has never hit much, but does offer some defensive versatility, having spent time both behind the dish and in the corner outfield. In parts of two seasons at the Triple-A level, Rohlfing has slashed .236/.334/.344 over 357 plate appearances.
Tigers right-hander Shane Greene tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog that it “felt like I got dumped” when the Yankees traded him in the three-team Didi Gregorius trade this season. Greene says he’s pitching with a chip on his shoulder this offseason as he looks to continue proving himself. Manager Joe Girardi tells Jennings that it was tough for the Yankees to part with a young starter like Greene, but they felt it was necessary to get a potential everyday shortstop in Gregorius. Greene adds that he entered the offseason knowing that his trade value was perhaps at its peak: “If they were going to make a move, I was probably going to be one of the pieces. … I know it’s a business. I’m not a complete idiot, so I knew if something was going to happen, my name would be at least talked about with the situation over there. I’m excited to be here, and that’s all that really matters.”
More from the AL Central to kick off Wednesday morning…
- Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he’s not sure he’s ever seen a player undergo such a drastic turnaround in an offseason as the one Mike Moustakas seems to have gone through. The former No. 2 overall pick is hitting the ball the opposite way frequently, and he’s hitting left-handed pitching in this year’s small sample as well. Yost joked that after all the faith that the Royals organization has shown Moustakas, “It’s almost like you want to stand up on this table and scream, ‘I told you so!'” Moustakas has worked with hitting coach Dale Sveum to re-work his swing, and the results are apparent to him and his teammates. Eric Hosmer noted that he’s never seen Moustakas hit the ball to left field as often as he does now.
- Had the Royals successfully reeled in Torii Hunter as a free agent this offseason, they likely wouldn’t have signed Kendrys Morales, GM Dayton Moore told the Star’s Vahe Gregorian. Moore and his staff considered Morales the next-best free agent bat after Hunter signed, and though he had a dismal 2014 season, the Royals attributed it to not beginning his season until June 8 as he took a long route to circumventing draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer. The Royals judged him based largely on his 2012-3 seasons, which looks to have paid off thus far. Morales is hitting .351/.413/.544 through 63 plate appearances.
- The Twins have once again constructed a pitching staff — specifically a bullpen — that cannot miss bats, and that deficiency is already costing them, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twins relievers faced 26 Royals batters over the past two games and combined to strike out just one hitter — an unthinkably low rate in today’s game of specialized bullpens. Twins relievers are averaging just 5.18 K/9, which is dead last in baseball and ranks nearly a full strikeout worse than the 29th-ranked D-Backs (6.08).
While the season is still very young, the changes to Anthony Gose‘s swing are showing up in his results at the plate, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wonders if his revamped mechanics will lead to a surprising offensive season from the 24-year-old speedster. Upon being traded to the Tigers, Gose and Detroit hitting coach Wally Joyner worked to lower the positioning of his hands prior to the swing, and Gose is also swinging with more of an upward plane. Sullivan also points out that Gose is doing a better job of keeping his weight back, and he provides GIF breakdowns of Gose’s former swing versus his new cut. It had become clear that the old version of Gose wasn’t ever going to hit much, Sullivan writes, and while the reworked swing may be little more than “a new way to fail,” he writes that Gose’s upside with the new mechanics is greater, and the team’s recent success with reclamation project J.D. Martinez lends further reason for optimism.
A few more notes from the AL Central…
- Shaun Marcum accepted his outright assignment to the Indians‘ Triple-A affiliate earlier today, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, and the veteran knew at the time of the call-up that he’d likely only be on the roster for one day. “He knew coming in that it was going to be one [game],” manager Terry Francona told Bastian. “After he pitched so well, we were trying to figure out maybe a way to get around [designating him]. I think after talking through it, it’s not a fun thing to do, but I think it’s probably the right thing to do.” Marcum fired five innings of one-run ball Sunday for Cleveland, striking out four hitters against three walks (although two of the free passes were intentional). Those five frames marked his first big league work since 2013, and by accepting an outright to Columbus, Marcum will be able to serve as depth for the Indians again in the future should a need arise.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan again expressed disappointment when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Ervin Santana‘s suspension. “People are going to test positive because kids are kids and men are men,” said Ryan. “…You shouldn’t make that mistake. … If they take something, they ought to know what it is. That’s all, regardless of where you bought it or if it came from a reputable drug store or nutrition store or wherever. They’ve been educated pretty well about this program, and they know they’re going to get tested. They ought to know what’s going in (their bodies).”
- The White Sox haven’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s contest yet, but before South Side fans get excited, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports that the nod will not be going to top prospect Carlos Rodon. Manager Robin Ventura has said someone on the active roster will make the start. While Hector Noesi has made just one outing, off-days have allowed the Sox the opportunity to skip him in the rotation, with Jose Quintana taking his spot. Of course, the fact that Noesi struggled badly in his lone start — six walks and four hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Twins — and may be skipped in the rotation suggests that his grasp on a rotation spot isn’t necessarily all that firm. For what it’s worth, Rodon whiffed nine hitters against two walks in five innings of two-run ball in his Triple-A debut this season.
Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com runs down the laundry list of less-than-productive pitchers who have logged significant innings for the Twins in recent years after being acquired via trade, claim, or free agency. It is, as Mackey notes, not a happy read for Minnesota faithful.
Here’s more from the American League:
- The Rangers have lost another pitcher to Tommy John surgery, as righty Lisalverto Bonilla will need the procedure, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Bonilla, 24, threw 20 2/3 innings (including three starts) for the injury-ravaged Texas club last year. He has split his time as a professional evenly between starting and relief, and looked like a useful depth piece for the club.
- Rangers outfielder Ryan Rua, meanwhile, has a fracture in his right foot, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. He will be in a walking boot for at least three weeks, and will obviously need some time after that to get back up to speed.
- The Orioles learned today that they will be without lefty Wesley Wright for four to six weeks, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. He will require rest, but not surgery, after an MRI found shoulder inflammation. Baltimore has another southpaw in its current pen mix in Brian Matusz, along with lefty closer Zach Britton, and can also call upon T.J. McFarland from Triple-A.