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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Odrisamer Despaigne Rumors
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.
Monday was Kyle Blanks‘ first home game as a member of the Athletics, perhaps finally ending a very long stretch of suitcase living, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. When Blanks was playing for Triple-A El Paso at the start of the season, there was construction at El Paso’s stadium, so the team played on the road. Then he got promoted to the Padres, where he lived in a hotel. Then he got traded to the A’s right at the beginning of a road trip to Cleveland, Tampa and Toronto. “In El Paso, we were on the road for 25 days and then came home,” Blanks says. “Then I went up to San Diego, so I’ve been everywhere. I’m just trying to decompress and take a deep breath.” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Padres have promoted Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who they signed in early May, to Triple-A El Paso, according to MiLB.com. Despaigne was impressive in two starts for Double-A San Antonio, posting a 1.17 ERA while striking out 12 batters and walking five in 7 2/3 innings.
- Despite the Mets‘ recent release of Jose Valverde and firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, manager Terry Collins is “in no danger,” Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Collins received a two-year extension at the end of last season.
- Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard has been placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes. The Mets say they believe the injury is “mild,” but Syndergaard is headed to New York for further examination. Syndergaard, 21, was a key part of the R.A. Dickey trade following the 2012 season. He currently has a 4.02 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas.
Here are some notes out of the National League:
- Kevin Frandsen returned to Philadelphia for the first time tonight after his surprising, late-spring departure from the Phillies. Now with the division-rival Nationals, Frandsen told reporters, including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, that he enjoyed his time in Philly but was “blindside[d]” when he was outrighted. Frandsen said that he took a “leap of faith” in declining his outright assignment (and giving up his $900K salary), but that “a bunch of teams” called when he became available.
- The Padres‘ signing of Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne was indeed delayed by the need for a visa and physical to seal the deal, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Echoing a scouting report obtained by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, GM Josh Byrnes said that Despaigne profiled as a creative, deceptive, “old generation” Cuban hurler. Brock says that San Diego’s new arm will start out at Double-A, in part to avoid the high-scoring PCL to start his career, but could well rise to the majors this year.
- If and when he joins the big league club, Despaigne may benefit from the one area in which the Padres have paced the bigs this year, according to Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan (in a piece for FOX Sports): an expansive strike zone for San Diego pitchers. The club leads the league with 52 called strikes than expected, thanks largely to the receiving efforts of its backstops. That was an area of priority for the club, as it put resources into improving the skills of incumbents Yasmani Grandal and Nick Hundley while adding Rene Rivera due in large part to his abilities behind the dish.
- The Braves are set to activate hurler Gavin Floyd from the DL this weekend, after the veteran righty worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. Of course, the expectation when Floyd signed his $4MM, incentive-laden pact with Atlanta was that he would join the rotation. That seemed all the more likely when the club suffered a shocking run of injuries to key starters. But with Mike Minor back from his own rehab stint and the team’s current starting five firing on all cylinders, MLB.com’s Joe Morgan writes that Floyd could open in the pen.
The Padres have officially announced the signing of Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne to a minor league contract that is reportedly worth $1MM. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported last month that the two sides were finalizing a deal, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the hang-up was likely over Despaigne’s need to get a visa.
Back in March, Dierkes spoke with a high-level scout to get a report on Despaigne, learning that he has four average offerings that he can deliver from a number of different arm slots, leading the scout to point out his ability to deceive hitters. That same scout also told Dierkes that Despaigne “knows how to pitch,” suggesting a good feel for the game. Despaigne recently changed agencies, switching from Jaime Torres to Charisse Dash of DPX Sports.
The 27-year-old Despaigne posted a 3.65 career ERA in eight seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional and was much better in his final season, posting an ERA of just 2.58. It’s unclear exactly what role he would fill with the Padres in the long-term, but the scouting report received by Dierkes seemed to suggest that Despaigne is on a big-league track, be it as a back-end starter or a middle reliever. Despaigne was also connected to the Diamondbacksand Twins at various points this offseason.
MLB.com’s Corey Brock first reported (on Twitter) that the $1MM minor league deal was official after Despaigne had received his visa and passed a physical.
6:04pm: The deal is a minor league contract that does not promise Despaigne "huge money," reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Despaigne must still secure a visa and pass a physical.
11:12am: The Padres are nearing a deal with Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter).
Dierkes recently spoke with a high-level scout to get a report on Despaigne, learning that he has four average offerings that he can deliver from a number of different arm slots, leading the scout to point out his ability to deceive hitters. That same scout also told Dierkes that Despaigne "knows how to pitch," suggesting a good feel for the game. Despaigne recently changed agencies, switching from Jaime Torres to Charisse Dash of DPX Sports.
Despaigne, who turns 27 in April, posted a 3.65 career ERA in eight seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional and was much better in his final season, posting an ERA of just 2.58. It's unclear exactly what role he would fill with the Padres in the long-term, but the scouting report received by Dierkes seemed to suggest that Despaigne is on a big-league track, be it as a back-end starter or a middle reliever. Despaigne was also connected to the Diamondbacks and Twins at various points this offseason.
Cuban free agent Odrisamer Despaigne has changed agents from Jaime Torres to Charisse Dash of DPX Sports, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Dierkes also recently provided a scouting report on Despaigne. It's unclear where the righty will fit on a big-league pitching staff, but he figures to help a big-league team in some capacity. Despaigne, who turns 27 in April, had a 3.70 ERA in 293 games in Serie Nacional in Cuba.
Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne joined infielder Aledmys Diaz in a 90-minute February 13th showcase in front of more than 50 scouts at the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. At the time, agent Jaime Torres told Sanchez, "We'll field offers shortly on Despaigne."
Diaz, an infielder, was expected to sign before Despaigne. He inked a four-year, $8MM deal with the Cardinals on March 9th. Despaigne remains unsigned, and hasn't shown up on the pages of MLBTR since the showcase.
I talked to a high-ranking international scouting official to get a scouting report on Despaigne, to perhaps shed some light on why he hasn't signed. The official has seen Despaigne three or four times in person and has seen him dating back to 2010.
The picture painted by the official was not particularly exciting. "I would say his stuff is average across the board. He's got feel and he's got deception, and he knows how to pitch. The biggest thing going for him is his ability to mix and match and change slots and change arm angles. He probably throws four different pitches from different slots and different angles. He never gives guys the same look, and he throws a lot of strikes. But he doesn't have anything plus." The official considers Despaigne's pitches to be fringe-average or slightly above-average, depending on the day.
The official went on to explain where Despaigne might fit in with a Major League team. "I see him as a middle inning type of guy. He's going to have to really throw a ton of strikes to have success. He's really no different than a lot of six-year free agents and non-roster invitees that are out there right now. I think he fits in well to a bullpen probably as a middle inning reliever and potentially a long guy or a No. 5 starter." I asked how Despaigne compares to the Phillies' Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban pitcher who signed a three-year, $12MM deal in August. That deal was drastically reduced due to injury concerns, which have carried into spring training. The official has always projected Gonzalez as a reliever as well, but feels the Phillies pitcher has "much bigger stuff" than Despaigne.
Despaigne is no different than a lot of pitchers currently on the roster bubble in spring training, opined the official, which could explain why he remains unsigned. An eight-figure contract for Despaigne appears unlikely, but it does seem that he'll pitch in the big leagues in some capacity.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market…
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players — outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz — each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
The White Sox have received positive reviews for their accumulation of young talent over the last year. But with that youth movement comes a lot of roster questions, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, who provides an excellent early look at a spring that should be worthy of close attention. Here are some more scattered notes from the day:
- For the Angels, another new starting pitching acquisition is highly unlikely at this point, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "None of the deals made sense for us, whether trying to access veteran starters through trade or free agency," said Dipoto. "And we didn't want to do anything that didn't make sense for us." Dipoto says that he is comfortable with his team's starting depth and likes its upside.
- The Twins will be among the team's attending a showcase on Thursday featuring Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz and righty Odrisamer Despaigne, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The pair is expected to sign in short order, says Wolfson. Diaz, in particular, could be an interesting participant in the marketplace.
- Dominican July 2 prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara is reportedly said by some scouts to have agreed to a $3.2MM signing bonus with the Brewers. Lara's trainer, Jaime Ramos, told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that "there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him," including the Brewers, Royals, Yankees, and Twins. Whether or not Lara lands in Milwaukee, explain Sanchez and his MLB.com colleague Adam McCalvy, the Brewers appear set to embark on greatly increased levels of international spending and player development efforts. (The team's largest international bonus awards to date are just $800K.)
- Pitcher Carl Pavano is progressing in rehab and plans to throw off of a mound in a week or so, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 38-year-old, who did not pitch professionally last year, hopes to put on a showcase in the near future.
The Rays and Athletics have done the most this offseason to solidify themselves as top teams, New York Daily News' Bill Madden writes. The Rays addressed all their major needs by re-signing James Loney and adding Grant Balfour and Ryan Hanigan. The Athletics replaced Balfour with Jim Johnson and Bartolo Colon with Scott Kazmir, and they further improved their bullpen with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty. The Yankees also added plenty of talent, Madden notes, but they still have serious issues in their infield. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Padres, Braves and Mets are among the teams interested in Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently noted, it's unclear what it might take to sign Bello, but he is not as highly-regarded a prospect as players like Jose Dariel Abreu and Yasiel Puig. Sanchez had previously connected Bello to the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays.
- The Diamondbacks have interest in Cuban pitchers Odrisamer Despaigne and Raciel Iglesias, Sanchez tweets. Despaigne was recently cleared to sign with an MLB team.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he does not expect to give extensions to arbitration-eligible pitchers Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard, MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets.
- The Nats were briefly connected to free-agent closer Grant Balfour before Balfour signed by the Rays, and they probably would have traded Drew Storen if they'd managed to sign Balfour. But Storen isn't bothered by that idea, Ladson writes. "You don’t take it personally, it part of it. It’s flattering that other teams want you, too," says Storen. "You look at it from all angles. [The Nationals] are a great team. Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s just part of the business. Nothing new."