Tigers prospect Kevin Ziomek has retired from baseball, as was first reported by MLB Pipeline (Twitter link). Rated as one of the better arms in the Tigers’ system — ESPN’s Keith Law had him 17th this offseason, and he’s rated as highly as No. 4 on the Tigers’ top 30 prospect list at Baseball America in recent years — Ziomek missed the majority of the 2016 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. I’m told that the left-hander’s velocity simply never returned following the operation. Ziomek posted a 3.07 ERA with 299 strikeouts against 93 walks across 290 innings during his pro career. Best of luck to him moving forward.
More from the American League Central…
- Despite dealing star veterans over the winter, the White Sox players are expressing confidence in their ability to compete in 2017, as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago writes. The organization views that as a positive byproduct of the team’s hiring of manager Rick Renteria, but GM Rick Hahn said he’s planning to stay the course. “Our goal is to remain focused on the long term and building something sustainable,” says Hahn. While he notes that the front office won’t “proactively hinder their ability to contend if we feel it’s real and sustainable,” he notes that mid-season assessments will be made “objectively” and with a clear focus on “what’s best for the franchise in the long term.”
- The Royals’ decision to carry Terrance Gore on the 25-man roster out of Spring Training surprised some, but Kansas City manager Ned Yost lauded the game-changing weapon that is Gore’s speed when speaking to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. As Flanagan points out, the injury to Jorge Soler makes it easier to keep Gore on the roster for now, but he also notes that Yost was hoping to keep Gore even if Soler hadn’t been hurt. “He can win games with that speed,” Yost tells Flanagan. “It’s a huge weapon to have late in a game. I’m not saying we can keep that weapon all season, especially when we go to 13 pitchers. But for now, it made sense.” Flanagan also adds that improvements in Gore’s route-running capabilities could lead to him entering games as a defensive replacement while he’s on the roster.
- Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to Twins GM Thad Levine about the lack of roster turnover this offseason despite a 103-loss campaign in 2016 that led to Minnesota landing the first overall pick in the 2017 draft. Levine expresses optimism regarding the improving young talent that permeates the Twins’ roster and suggests that both he and first-year chief baseball office Derek Falvey view the 2016 season as an anomaly. Levine was heartened, he says, by the number of rival executives that spent the offseason trying to pry several of the Twins’ young players away in trades. “That speaks to the fact that they didn’t see it as a 103-loss team,” says Levine. “They saw it as more talented than that.” Catcher Jason Castro, who is new to the Twins in 2017 but no stranger to rebuilding/100-loss teams, opines to Graff that the 2017 Twins are “light years ahead of where they were in that rebuild process in Houston” when the Astros began their aggressive rebuild several years ago.
- Indians ace Corey Kluber had a callus on his pitching hand break open during his start during Monday’s season opener, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway say that the 2014 AL Cy Young winner will be ready to take his next turn in the rotation on Sunday. Kluber was tagged for five runs in six inning on Monday, though the blister/callus issue likely contributed to that problematic outing to some extent.