- Left-hander Jake Diekman is getting closer to returning to the Rangers’ bullpen. Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that Diekman will begin a rehab assignment with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate on Thursday, during which he’s slated to throw 15 pitches. The 30-year-old southpaw was a key piece of the Texas bullpen in 2015-16 after coming over from the Phillies alongside Cole Hamels, but he’s yet to pitch this season due to a trio of surgeries he’s undergone to combat ulcerative colitis.
Here are some of the latest minor moves from around the game, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where otherwise noted:
- The Mariners outrighted right-hander Christian Bergman to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Bergman, 29, had the right to opt for free agency now or at the end of the season; given that he’s now listed on Tacoma’s roster, it seems he’ll wait and consider the latter option when the time comes. Bergman, 29, has thrown 51 1/3 innings on the year for Seattle, working to a 4.91 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
- Outfielder Daniel Robertson will return to the Indians on a minors deal after being designated for assignment and then released, the club announced. The 31-year-old has appeared in each of the past four MLB campaigns — each time with a different team. This year, he took 88 plate appearances for Cleveland, slashing .225/.287/.338. While it’s not clear whether Robertson will factor at the major league level again this year, the fleet-footed, high-contact 31-year-old could conceivably make for a useful bench piece once rosters expand in September.
- The Diamondbacks have added right-handers Andury Acevedo and Louis Coleman on minors deals. Acevedo, who’ll soon turn 27, was intriguing enough to land a 40-man spot with the Cubs a few years back, but has yet to show any consistency on the mound in the upper minors. As for Coleman, who threw 48 innings of 4.69 ERA ball last year for the Dodgers, he’ll return to Arizona after briefly testing the open market. He has worked to a 2.05 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 57 innings this year in stints with the D-Backs’ and Reds’ top affiliates.
- Heading to the Reds on a minors deal is slugging outfielder Adam Walker. He has bounced around via waiver claims and minor-league deals of late, seeing time in three organizations thus far in 2017. All told, he has compiled a tepid .185/.220/.410 batting line — with a dozen home runs but also 88 strikeouts against just ten walks — in his 241 plate appearances in the upper minors.
- The White Sox released infielder Grant Green, who had previously seen brief action in the majors this year with the Nationals. On the season, Green owns an overall .232/.306/.300 slash over 245 plate appearances at the Triple-A level with those two organizations. The 29-year-old was once considered a notable possible contributor with the Athletics and Angels, but has managed only a .248/.283/.336 batting line in his 353 trips to the plate in the majors.
- Six-year MLB veteran Collin Cowgill has been released by the Padres. Cowgill, 31, joined the organization on a minors deal over the winter, but never earned a crack at a return to the majors. He carries a .235/.297/.390 slash through 220 plate appearances
- Finally, the Rangers have released lefty Bobby LaFromboise and righty Jaye Chapman. The former has made 27 MLB appearances and shown some intriguing numbers at times, but struggled last year at Triple-A with the Phillies and was sidelined for much of the current season. The 30-year-old Chapman, meanwhile, is looking to work back toward the majors for the first time since his lone stint back in 2012. But he was hit hard in his 36 2/3 innings at Triple-A Round Rock, with a 6.63 ERA and 6.9 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram spoke to Adrian Beltre about the Rangers’ Wild Card hopes even after trading Yu Darvish prior to the non-waiver deadline. “I think we were a little disappointed trading one of the best pitchers in the last five years,” said Beltre. “…It was a little gloomy, but we had a little talk. … In this clubhouse, we are still grinding and believe we can get back in this.”
- The Rangers have reached a pivotal point in their schedule as they hope to position themselves for a Wild Card berth, writes Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. With a four-game series against a depleted Tigers roster and three games against the rebuilding White Sox, the Rangers have a favorable slate of games on the horizon. Texas is currently just 3.5 games out of the American League’s second Wild Card spot and is coming off a series victory over the division-leading Astros this weekend. The majority of the American League still has some degree of Wild Card hope remaining, and the final two weeks of August figure to play a large role in what August moves (if any) fringe Wild Card clubs will make before month’s end.
The Rangers have released infielder Pete Kozma from his minor league contract, as per John Blake, the team’s executive VP of communications (Twitter link). Texas designated Kozma for assignment and outrighted him off the 40-man roster in July.
Kozma was claimed off waivers from the Yankees at the end of April, appearing in 28 games for Texas and playing around the diamond at all four infield positions. For the season as a whole, Kozma has played in 39 games with the Rangers and Yankees but made only 51 plate appearances, largely serving as a late-game defensive sub or pinch-runner. Kozma only has a .378 OPS for the year, continuing his career-long status as a light-hitting utility specialist.
The Pirates acquired Gosselin in a minor trade this spring after the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment. Gosselin has split his time between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis this season, batting just .150/.190/.175 in limited duty in the big leagues and .266/.304/.336 at Triple-A. He can be optioned, but he doesn’t really play shortstop, giving him somewhat limited utility as a bench piece, and the Pirates likely thought he was expendable with the addition of Sean Rodriguez last week. The 28-year-old Gosselin has shown a bit of offensive ability in parts of five seasons in the big leagues, batting .272/.320/.368.
The Rangers claimed the 26-year-old Smith from the Mariners late last month. He’s hit .237/.326/.342 at the Triple-A level this season and has mostly played shortstop. He collected three hits in brief big-league duty with Seattle earlier this year.
- The Rangers don’t expect to reunite with Yu Darvish in free agency, suggests Heyman, who adds that they decided a couple days before the non-waiver deadline that they were going to trade the ace. Texas ended up dealing Darvish to the Dodgers right before the clock ran out. The Astros were a rumored Darvish suitor leading up to then, but they didn’t make a real effort to land him, reports Heyman.
The Rangers have claimed righty Jhan Marinez off waivers from the Pirates, per an announcement from Texas. Marinez had been designated for assignment over the weekend.
Marinez, 28, already moved from the Brewers to the Bucs this year after a previous trip through DFA limbo. He has seen extensive action in the majors over the past two seasons after sporadic time earlier in his career. All told, through 118 1/3 innings, Marinez carries a 3.50 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.
“Knocking Down the Door” is a regular feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.
The Braves were non-contenders in 2016 when they surprisingly called up top prospect Dansby Swanson from Double-A and inserted him into the starting lineup. Out of playoff contention late in the season once again, would they do the same with the 19-year-old Acuña, considering how Swanson has mostly struggled in his first full MLB season?
There is one notable difference between Swanson in 2016 and Acuña in 2017. Swanson was having a decent season in Double-A (.261/.342/.402 in 84 games) at the time of his call-up. Acuña has been absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball and seemingly getting better throughout the season during stints in High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. In 26 games since a July promotion to Gwinnett, the right-handed batter is slashing .347/.426/.574 with four homers, seven doubles, 13 walks and 22 strikeouts.
While the Braves will likely explore a trade for one of their current outfielders this offseason in anticipation of Acuña’s arrival as an everyday player in 2018, they could work him into the mix late this season with three-to-four starts per week.
The 23-year-old lefty was pitching in High-A less than a month ago, so a promotion to the Major Leagues soon after probably seems unrealistic. However, the recent trade of Francisco Liriano and the fourth disabled list stint for Aaron Sanchez has left the team’s rotation so thin that journeyman Nick Tepesch is being added to the 40-man roster to start on Wednesday to replace another journeyman, Cesar Valdez, who was placed on the disabled list after allowing 12 earned runs over his past two starts.
Meanwhile, Borucki has been outstanding since a promotion to Double-A, posting three consecutive seven-inning starts with a total of 18 strikeouts while allowing only one earned run, 11 hits and three walks in 21 innings. The former 15th-round pick, who idolized Mark Buehrle as a kid and is comparable in many ways, is already on the team’s 40-man roster and only at 119 innings on the season.
In six games since the July 31st trade that sent him from the Dodgers to the Rangers for Yu Darvish, Calhoun is 7-for-25 with four homers, pushing his season total to 27. Not only can the lefty-swinging Calhoun hit for power—he also had 27 homers and 25 doubles in Double-A in 2016—he’s one of the toughest hitters to strike out in the Minors. Hitting 25+ homers in the upper minors is notable, but accomplishing that feat while striking out fewer than 100 times is extremely rare. The 22-year-old struck out 65 times while drawing 45 walks in 2016. He has 36 walks and only 50 strikeouts this season.
The good thing about being traded to the American League is that Calhoun’s future position in the Major Leagues, whether it’s second base or the outfield, probably doesn’t have to be sorted out before he gets the call to the Majors. The kid can flat out rake. With Mike Napoli struggling—he’s 4 for his last 32 with 17 strikeouts— the Rangers could give Calhoun plenty of at-bats at the DH spot with an occasional look at second base or in left field.
After an impressive stint in Double-A earned him an early-season promotion to Triple-A in 2016, Crawford appeared to be on the fast track to the Majors. Of course, only the “light-hitting” Freddy Galvis appeared to be standing in his way at the time. But in an unpredictable turn of events, Galvis went on a home run binge while the 21-year-old Crawford, considered one of the top prospects in baseball, struggled during his first taste of Triple-A. Since last July, Galvis has homered 24 times in 706 plate appearances while posting an OPS over .700.
Crawford was never going to simply be handed the starting shortstop job, but any chance of a 2017 promotion was dwindling unless he forced himself back into the picture. His performance in July, and so far in August, probably fits that description. With an OPS over 1.000, 10 homers, six doubles, three triples, 21 walks and 27 strikeouts over that span, Crawford has earned a late-season look as the Phillies’ regular shortstop. Galvis, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season, has probably done enough over the past year to generate some offseason trade interest whether he plays regularly down the stretch or not.
With the Phillies committed to giving Tommy Joseph a full season to show what he can do as the team’s starting first baseman, it appeared that Hoskins, one of the most productive hitters in the Minors over the past three seasons, would probably have to wait until 2018 before getting a chance. But following the release of Michael Saunders, the trade of Howie Kendrick, and Aaron Altherr’s second trip to the disabled list, the Phillies’ outfield is looking thin enough that the 24-year-old Hoskins was given the green light to play left field for the first time in his professional career on Monday. He played there again on Tuesday.
While a slight increase in defensive versatility could be a key to Hoskins arriving in the Majors this season, maybe as soon as this week, it’s hard to imagine him not being the starting first baseman in 2018. Joseph is having a below-average season for a first baseman (.741 OPS, 16 HR, 97 K) and is currently in a 1-for-22 slump. Hoskins still has to prove that he can hit MLB pitching, but his current .280/.383/.571 slash line with only 75 strikeouts is a pretty good indicator that he will do just that.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Rangers announced that right-hander Keone Kela has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 5, with soreness in his right shoulder. It’s an inopportune time for an injury for Kela, who could’ve been in line to see some save opportunities (and thus pad his arbitration earning power), as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News suggests. As Grant notes, there’s no timetable for his return — Kela will be reevaluated when the Rangers return from their current road trip — and manager Jeff Banister said it would be “a challenge” to get Kela a look in the closer’s role later this year.
- Right-hander Ricardo Rodriguez’s contract has been formally selected by the Rangers, per a team announcement. He’ll fill the 25-man roster spot of Keone Kela, who hit the DL today due to shoulder soreness. Soon to turn 25, Rodriguez will be making his MLB debut when he first takes the mound for the Rangers, who signed him as an international free agent out of Venezuela back in 2010. Rodriguez missed the 2016 season after Tommy John surgery but has returned strong in 2017. As Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper wrote back in late June, Rodriguez blitzed through a span of 15 perfect innings out of the bullpen earlier this year, prompting Texas to move him from Class-A Advanced to Double-A. Through 47 innings this year, Rodriguez has a ridiculous 1.34 ERA with 11.7 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 (albeit against much younger competition least back in Class-A).