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As we work on catching up on things after a busy few days, here's the latest from the AL Central, which has been among the game's busiest divisions of late:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made clear today that the trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister were connected both to the signing of closer Joe Nathan and the need to lock up major players like Max Scherzer, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. "A very big part of what we were trying to accomplish [was] to get a closer," said Dombrowski. "And when I say that, sometimes you need some flexibility to make some other things happen, too. We do have some players that are on the verge of being free agents that are pretty big players for us, that you want to create some flexibility there to be in the right spot at various times."
- Dombrowski did, however, downplay the likelihood of a major new signing. "I would think that we would not be involved in the big [names]," said the GM.
In the wake of the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler trade, Dombrowski says Nick Castellanos will start at third base with Miguel Cabrera moving back to first, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The news confirms what had been suspected at the time, and jives with rumors linking Detroit to Shin-Soo Choo. It also confirms the broader market effects of the Fielder-Kinsler swap: that deal increased the amount of cash pegged for corner outfielders.
- Indeed, one such player, Carlos Beltran, is fielding interest from several clubs. He is very unlikely to get more than two years from the Yankees or Red Sox, however, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. It also appears that, if he wants to build up bidding for his services, Beltran may need to wait until Shin-Soo Choo leaves the market. Heyman reports that the Tigers, Reds, and Rangers are all very interested in Choo but also see Beltran as an option. While the Mariners are also involved and could be willing to spend big to lure the 36-year-old to the Pacific Northwest, Heyman indicates that the Royals are still perhaps the odds-on favorite to land Beltran out of the crowded field of suitors.
- After signing on for one more go-round with the White Sox, Paul Konerko plans to hang up his spikes afte 2014, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- The Twins' off-season trade talks may have been gummed up by the recent suspension of well-regarded prospect Eddie Rosario, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 22-year-old Rosario cracks the top ten of the Minnesota prospect list, per Baseball America (subscription required, and recommended), which is particularly impressive given the top-end talent ahead of him. With Brian Dozier emerging as an option at second, Rosario had been the most likely prospect to be dangled as trade bait.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he sees free agency as the more likely route to add MLB players at this point, even after picking up Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes on the open market. "I don't want to give up any of our players," Ryan said. "I'm not saying we won't make a trade. We might. But if you're going to get a quality starter, it's going to be difficult."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
As we learn of top prospect promotions over September, we'll try to keep tabs on them in a daily basis. Here are Sunday's promotions:
- The Athletics are set to bring up outfielder Michael Choice, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser first reported last night. Choice entered the season as the A's second overall prospect as rated by Baseball America, which praised his strength and bat speed. He currently sits as the 92nd overall prospect in the game on Mayo's list. The 23-year-old has delivered a .302/.390/.445 line and fourteen homers in 600 plate appearances over his first season at Triple-A.
- The Tigers have officially called up the team's top prospect, with the team announcing on Twitter that it has purchased the contract of outfielder Nick Castellanos. The former third baseman entered the year as a consensus top-50 prospect in all of baseball, and moved up to 11th overall in the mid-season ranking of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. As Mayo explained, the 21-year-old hits the ball to all fields and has solid pop.
The latest column from ESPN's Jayson Stark is jam-packed with trade-related information. Highlights:
- One National League executive predicted that the Cubs' Matt Garza will be the first pitcher traded; he's thought to be eminently available, as the Cubs are not comfortable with his asking price on a potential new contract. The Padres and Dodgers are among the teams pursuing Garza, reported Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports earlier today.
- The Astros are looking for volume in any deal they make, one NL exec told Stark. Bud Norris is an obvious trade chip for Jeff Luhnow and company, while I imagine Carlos Pena, Jose Veras, Erik Bedard, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Ronny Cedeno, and others can be had as well.
- The Dodgers are not actively dangling right fielder Andre Ethier. What's more, the team still views itself as a buyer despite being eight games out. They may be interested in adding a third baseman they can control for multiple years, implies Stark.
- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche could be dealt, hears Stark, in a scenario where Ryan Zimmerman moves to first base, Anthony Rendon moves back to third base, and Danny Espinosa gets healthy. LaRoche's name is not out there at present, however.
- The Brewers will "gladly listen" on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, as well as any position player other than Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun. I wonder if that means names such as Jonathan Lucroy and Norichika Aoki will be in play next month.
- Execs who spoke to Stark seem divided on whether the Brewers want to trade Yovani Gallardo, with one saying, "To be honest, I think they would love to move him." Click here for thoughts from Brewers GM Doug Melvin on the situation.
- The Phillies are talking to the Red Sox and Tigers about closer Jonathan Papelbon right now, one exec tells Stark, even if they say otherwise.
- Officials of three teams that have talked to the Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton are convinced owner Jeffrey Loria won't trade him this summer. In an April poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers, over 40% thought Stanton would be dealt this summer.
- Other teams say the Tigers are willing to surrender top prospects Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia if necessary. The team is focused on finding a closer.
- The Braves are "all over the bullpen market," which jives with a couple of other reports today.
- The Giants "have taken on a whole new fervor in the last week in their hunt for another starter." They've been connected often to Nolasco, but there are around 20 viable candidates out there of varying quality. The Orioles could make a move before the All-Star break, hears Stark, and they seem to be prioritizing starters over relievers.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Adam LaRoche | Andre Ethier | Aramis Ramirez | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Detroit Tigers | Giancarlo Stanton | Houston Astros | Jonathan Papelbon | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Nick Castellanos | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Washington Nationals | Yovani Gallardo
If you're a moderate to hardcore baseball fan, you've probably heard of the term "Super Two" when top prospects and their imminent big league promotions are being discussed. Basically, it's an important business aspect of baseball that can cause your favorite MLB-ready prospect to spend a little extra time in the minors. For a refresher on the subject, check out Tim Dierkes' article from April and Ben Nicholson-Smith's post from February.
Now that you're up to date and understand why some players have been recently called up to the Majors, it's time to identify the next big-named prospects who could be promoted in 2013, following in the footsteps of the Rays' Wil Myers, the Mets' Zack Wheeler, and the Mariners' Mike Zunino.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox: Bogaerts, 20, didn't let his age stop him from dominating Double-A ball. One of the youngest players in the Eastern League, the shortstop hit more than .300 with strong on-base skills and power. The Aruba native earned himself a trip to Triple-A after less than half a season. A strong start to 2013 earned fellow shortstop prospect (and potential roadblock) Jose Iglesias a 25-man roster spot as the backup to oft-injured veteran Stephen Drew, but Bogaerts has a much higher ceiling. Iglesias is much more likely to end up as trade bait thanks to his high-level play — should Boston need to shore up its roster for a run at the playoffs. Drew is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Red Sox may want to give Bogaerts a chance to get his feet wet in the Majors by the end of the year to gauge if he's truly ready to assume the full-time gig in 2014.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Tigers: Castellanos had a modest start to the 2013 season, but he's seen his offensive numbers improve each month with his OPS rising from .755 to .814 to 1.025. Also working in his favor for a call-up is the fact that he can offer competent defensive assistance at both third base and in the corner outfield. Miguel Cabrera isn't going to be bumped from his starting gig at the hot corner, but the emergence of Castellanos could allow the club to rest the veteran in the second half of the year in preparation for long playoff run. The prospect could also be a solid platoon complement to left fielder Andy Dirks, a left-handed hitter. It would also give Avisail Garcia — another rookie outfielder — a chance to spend more time in Triple-A. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wrote that Castellanos could be a key player for the big league club as it tries to secure a playoff spot in 2013.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics: Aside from Bartolo Colon, injuries have ensured that Oakland's starting rotation lacks pitchers with more than two years of service time. Due to the volatility of young pitchers, depth could become an issue for the first-place club in the second half of the year. Gray, a former first round draft pick, could offer some help after rebounding well from a disappointing 2012 season. The right-hander has averaged more than six innings per start in his 13 Triple-A appearances and struck out 83 batters in 82 1/3 innings of work.
Erik Johnson, RHP, White Sox: Chicago is currently deploying an inexperienced starting rotation with the likes of Hector Santiago, Jose Quintana, and Dylan Axelrod. Johnson, a former second round draft pick, has dominated pro ball and his time at Double-A in 2013 has been no different. He currently has a 2.24 ERA with 74 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 84 2/3 innings of work. Johnson, 23, has a frame that suggests he should develop into an innings-eater and his pitching acumen could eventually help him develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter for the Sox. The California native could offer some assistance to the big league club in the second half of the season, and he has the highest ceiling of any starter in the Sox system at either Double-A or Triple-A. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune recently penned an article after speaking with Johnson, who said he's just taking it one day at a time and not worrying about a promotion to The Show.
Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians: After spending big in the offseason, Cleveland finds itself in a playoff hunt. With a big league starting rotation that features some rather large question marks with the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, and Carlos Carrasco, Salazar could become a key player at some point during the second half of the season. While splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, the Dominican right-hander has struck out 80 batters in 58 innings of work. If he doesn't figure into the club's plans in the starting rotation, his power arsenal and ability to pitch multiple innings could allow him to offer some assistance in the bullpen in the latter half of the year and even the playoffs. In a piece for MLB.com, John Wagner spoke to Salazar's Triple-A manager, Chris Tremie, who talked about the things that the young pitcher does well.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B/OF, Astros: Singleton's season got off to an inauspicious start when he was suspended for 50 games after violating minor league baseball's drug policy. Since returning, the 21-year-old hitter has appeared in just 10 games, split between Single-A, Double-A and now Triple-A. Thirteen of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases, and he's walked 13 times. Singleton has experience playing both left field and first base but has exclusively played the infield in 2013. Despite that, his clearest opening for big league playing time could be in the outfield where Trevor Crowe, J.D. Martinez, and (recently demoted) Jimmy Paredes have produced less-than-impressive numbers. First basemen/designated hitters Chris Carter and Carlos Pena have also had underwhelming seasons to date (and could become trade bait) but offer much-needed power. The playoffs are out of the question for 2013, but once outfield prospect George Springer joins Singleton in Houston, the club will have a strong middle-of-the-order core to build around.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Royals: Talented but undersized pitching prospects are slowly shedding the stigma that they're destined for future bullpen work at the big league level. Like Toronto's Marcus Stroman, the slender Ventura doesn't break the six-foot mark, but his upper-90s velocity — which tickles triple digits — has intrigued prospect watchers since he came over to North America from the Dominican Republic in 2010. After opening 2013 in Double-A, a recent promotion has brought Ventura one step away from the Majors. Should injuries strike — or should the Royals tire of the inconsistent performances from Luis Mendoza or Wade Davis — the 22-year-old Dominican could receive the call. Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports Kansas City recently spoke to Royals Assistant General Manager J.J. Picollo who said the organization is looking to have Ventura become more efficient and keep his pitch counts down.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox | Chicago White Sox | Cleveland Indians | Danny Salazar | Detroit Tigers | Erik Johnson | Houston Astros | Jonathan Singleton | Kansas City Royals | Nick Castellanos | Oakland Athletics | Prospect Rumor Roundup | Sonny Gray | Xander Bogaerts | Yordano Ventura
Alfredo Aceves has irked his bosses in Boston, but shipping him to another team wouldn’t necessarily be easy for the Red Sox. One general manager told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that Aceves has next to no trade value. "Not if you know him," the GM said (Twitter link). Here are more links from around MLB…
- Lynn Henning of the Detroit News explains how the Tigers nearly failed to sign prospect Nick Castellanos after they drafted him in the summer of 2010.
- MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince looks around the AL Central to see if any of the re-tooled teams can challenge the Tigers in 2013.
- In a video clip on MLB.com, White Sox GM Rick Hahn discusses the organization’s approach to remaining competitive while undergoing cycles of team building. Hahn highlighted the importance of monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of division opponents while remaining realistic about one’s own organization.
- Turning to the team’s present situation, Hahn opined that Chicago is poised to compete in 2013 and discussed the team’s handling of young starter Chris Sale.
- Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan questions and analyzes Brian Cashman’s claims that the Yankees are committed to and successful at developing homegrown starting pitching. The piece details each team’s success at developing pitching in recent years.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Now that we’re midway through the 2012-13 offseason, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com checks in with executives, statistical analysts and oddsmakers to take a look at the teams that have improved themselves the most this winter. Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays are a popular choice for most improved team. Here are some more links from around MLB…
- The Marlins tried to trade for Mike Olt of the Rangers, Nick Castellanos of the Tigers and Jedd Gyorko of the Padres before signing Placido Polanco, Stark reports.
- The Mariners recently spoke with the Dodgers about Chris Capuano, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. However, it doesn't appear that those talks have progressed. Seattle could add a veteran arm after trading Jason Vargas to the Angels for Kendrys Morales, and the Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitchers.
- The Red Sox asked the Dodgers about Andre Ethier at the start of the winter and heard he was “not available,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). It doesn’t appear that the Dodgers will trade Ethier this winter.
- The Mariners also talked to the Dodgers about Ethier, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. However, talks failed to progress.
Between baseball's two Central divisions, at least six teams figure to be buyers, and more could emerge depending on how the coming weeks play out. The White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals could all add pieces prior to July 31, and here are some links pertaining to those clubs…
- The Tigers are telling teams that top prospect Nick Castellanos is unavailable in any trade "at least right now," according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports echoes that sentiment, tweeting that he'd be "very surprised" if the Tigers move Castellanos for a rental (Twitter link).
- The Cardinals were one of the teams in on Ben Sheets prior to his signing with the Braves, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who adds that the Cards continue to look for upgrades to their rotation.
- Cardinals top prospect Shelby Miller has struggled in 2012, but B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest quotes GM John Mozeliak as saying, "Clearly we're still very high on him" (Twitter link).
- The Indians announced that Trevor Crowe has been released from Triple-A Columbus (on Twitter). The former No. 14 overall pick is now 28 years old and has managed just a .736 OPS in parts of five Triple-A seasons. He batted .245/.295/.329 in three Major League stints.
The Tigers could use an upgrade at second base and they could also consider corner outfielders and starting pitchers between now and the end of the month. Here’s the latest on the Tigers, who have a 44-42 record after winning five consecutive games:
- Trade candidates such as Jed Lowrie, Darwin Barney, Marco Scutaro and Carlos Quentin would interest the Tigers, but it might be prohibitively expensive to trade for them, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News writes.
- The Tigers are probably willing to part with prospect Rob Brantly, Henning writes. Casey Crosby, Jacob Turner or Bruce Rondon could also be available, but the Tigers don’t want to discuss Nick Castellanos. The third base prospect, who was recently named MVP of the Futures Game, has taken fly balls in the outfield to increase his versatility.
- Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski says the trade market is “probably as tight as any” he has seen. The new collective bargaining agreement will also affect the deadline, since teams can no longer obtain draft picks for players acquired midseason. "The compensation issue will definitely have an effect," Dombrowski told Henning. "How much of a change? Only time will tell. I really don't know what's going to happen."
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports keeps hearing different things about the Tigers (Twitter link). He’s recently heard that Detroit will focus on pitching because the team’s decision makers can't find a second baseman they like.
The 34-35 Tigers trail the AL Central-leading Indians by 2.5 games, but owner Mike Ilitch remains confident in the people running his team, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press reports. “I know we’ve got the right foundation,” Ilitch said, “the right people in place.” Here are more notes on the Tigers from Sharp…
- Ilitch expects the Tigers to enjoy a boost in offense and leadership if Victor Martinez returns this season. “He was really our leader, and he’s starting to come around again,” Ilitch said.
- Sharp wonders if the Tigers would consider trading Rick Porcello for a veteran starter or a right-handed bat with power. GM Dave Dombrowski could make Porcello available now or in the offseason if Jacob Turner is ready for a full-time starting role in 2013. Porcello, 23, has a 4.95 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 80 innings this year and will remain under team control through 2014.
- Turner, Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia are as close to untouchable as minor league prospects get, Sharp writes.
It was on this day in 1966 that the Mets made one of the most infamous draft blunders in history, taking Steve Chilcott with the first overall pick of the June amateur draft. Chilcott became the first #1 pick to never play a game in the Major Leagues, while the A's fared a bit better with the #2 selection — Reggie Jackson.
Let's check out some news from around baseball as we prepare for some interleague action…
- Athletics GM Billy Beane said no decision has been made about releasing Manny Ramirez, reported Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News, though Beane also wasn't sure when or if Ramirez would be called up to Oakland. Ramirez has completed his 50-game suspension but has been hampered by a leg injury and isn't hitting well in Triple-A.
- In a radio appearance on 95.7 FM The Game, Athletics managing general partner Lew Wolff said that he wants to keep the team in the Bay Area and his ownership group has no plans to sell the A's. Wolff predicted that in five years, the A's would be playing in a new stadium in San Jose. (All links at to Twitter.)
- The Orioles have signed third-round pick Adrian Marin, as announced by Marin himself on his Twitter page. Marin is a high school shortstop who was originally committed to the University of Miami.
- The Rangers announced the signings of 18 draft picks, including all of their selections between the fourth and tenth rounds.
- The Tigers shouldn't trade top prospect Nick Castellanos in an effort to win this season at the sake of the minor league system, writes Jamie Samuelsen for the Detroit Free Press.
- ESPN's Keith Law examines how teams' first-round draft picks fit in among their organizations' other top prospects.
- The Twins have hurt themselves by not dealing veterans at the trade deadline in recent years and shouldn't make that same mistake again this season, opines Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Souhan does name a few players, however, he thinks the Twins shouldn't deal: Jared Burton, Glen Perkins, Jamey Carroll and Josh Willingham.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports takes an early look at the trade deadline in his latest Hot Corner video, naming the Twins, A's, Padres and Cubs as the few clubs who are clear sellers, with the Cubs "probably the biggest seller out there." Rosenthal also thinks the Astros will likely join this group as they want to get rid of their high-priced veterans, though Houston is playing well right now.
- In terms of potential sellers, Rosenthal names the Brewers, as they could look to move Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and/or Francisco Rodriguez if they fall out of contention. The Phillies "are kind of hanging on a precipice" in the tough NL East and unless they get more concrete news about the health of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, Philadelphia could become sellers as well and look ahead to 2013.
- Fredric Horowitz has been hired as the arbitrator between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association, reports the Associated Press. Horowitz replaces Shyam Das, who was fired in the wake of his decision to lift Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.