In his first start since May 29, Athletics left-hander Rich Hill returned from a groin injury to throw six innings of two-run, four-hit ball and rack up six strikeouts against two walks Saturday. Several playoff contenders sent representatives to observe Hill’s outing against the Pirates, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Incidentally, the Bucs were among the teams scouting him. In addition, four of the 36-year-old journeyman’s previous employers – the Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs and Yankees – as well as the Dodgers and Royals were in attendance to watch Hill, who could be the best starter dealt before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The free agent-to-be has been brilliant when healthy this year, recording a 2.31 ERA, 10.29 K/9, 49.7 percent ground-ball rate and 15.3 percent infield fly rate in 70 innings. Dating back to his four-start revival in Boston last September, the out-of-nowhere ace has put up a tremendous 2.09 ERA in 99 frames.
More of the latest pre-deadline rumors:
- Along with Hill, the Royals also have interest in Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick, according to Slusser. However, they do not wish to reunite with another A’s trade chip, third baseman Danny Valencia. Kansas City was a rumored landing spot as of last week for Valencia, who was with the Royals in 2014 and should draw plenty of attention from other teams as the deadline nears.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that the Blue Jays have been scouting the Astros’ system, though he didn’t specify which players interested Toronto. It turns out that one prospect who intrigues the Jays is Double-A right-hander Francis Martes, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Martes would be difficult to acquire, however, given that he’s among baseball’s premier prospects. Entering the season, Baseball America placed Martes 20th overall in its rankings. In its updated list, MLB.com has the 20-year-old at No. 36. In 63 2/3 innings this season, the hard-throwing Martes has logged a 4.10 ERA, 8.48 K/9 and 4.52 BB/9.
- While Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com expects the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker to garner interest leading up to the deadline, he doesn’t envision the Halos trading controllable starting pitching depth (Twitter link). The desperate-for-starters Red Sox – who roughed up Shoemaker on Sunday – would make sense as a trade partner if the Angels do make the righty available, opines Tim Britton of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). After a terrible first month of the season and a demotion to the minors, Shoemaker rejoined the Angels in May and has performed like an elite-level ace of late – Sunday notwithstanding. During an eight-start span prior to the Angels’ trip to Fenway Park, the 29-year-old amassed 57 2/3 innings, allowed 12 earned runs and piled up 68 strikeouts against a paltry five walks. As Gonzalez alluded to when mentioning team control, Shoemaker will make his first trip through arbitration during the upcoming offseason.