Yunel Escobar of the Nationals, like many other Cuban ballplayers, followed a difficult path to the big leagues, as James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. It has not always been smooth sailing for the 32-year-old since he finally made it as a professional, of course, though he is settling in nicely in D.C., where he has played an important role on a team that is still missing Anthony Rendon. Escobar owns a .303/.358/.394 slash in 109 plate appearances thus far in 2015.
- Diamondbacks prospect Peter O’Brien — acquired in last summer’s Martin Prado deal — says he believes his shift out of a catching role has helped him to a strong start offensively, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic reports. It remains to be seen whether Arizona will look to move him back behind the dish at some point — he did finally don the gear for the first time this year recently — but it sounds as if O’Brien may be ready to embrace a more permanent change. “Catching is a lot of fun, but I really enjoy the outfield and I definitely think that my bat is my biggest strength,” O’Brien said. “I think that plays a little bit better in the outfield.”
- This year’s amateur draft figures to feature a lot of moving parts, and it’s still months away. But that didn’t stop Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel and Baseball America’s John Manuel from taking a shot at early mock drafts. The analysts disagree somewhat on the direction the Diamondbacks will take with the first overall pick, with McDaniel tabbing Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson (a shift from another recent post, reflecting the uncertainty) and Manuel pointing to UCSB righty Dillon Tate. Neither of those highly-regarded players would represent a big surprise in that slot, of course, as both have consistently been listed as amongst the consensus three best players available along with high school shortstop Brendan Rogers.
- MLB.com’s Barry Bloom checks in with Padres hurler Cory Luebke, who is diligently working back from his second Tommy John surgery and is hoping to throw live BP within the next few weeks. “I’m making progress,” Luebke said. “It’s been a long haul, but it’s the best place I’ve been in for the last few years. It’s exciting, but if I’ve learned anything it’s not to ride the roller coaster. Take a week at a time. But I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel a little bit.” Luebke is in the final guaranteed year of his four-year, $12MM extension, though San Diego holds successive club options ($7.5MM and $10MM, respectively, over his next two seasons).