Stat of the Day – Double-A ERA leaders

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1. Travis Wood (Reds) – 1.38
2. Chuck Lofgren (Indians) – 1.48
3. Troy Patton (Orioles) – 1.62
4. Cristhian Martinez (Marlins) – 1.84
5. Zach McAllister (Yankees) – 1.91
6. Brad Lincoln (Pirates) – 2.05
7. Hector Rondon (Indians) – 2.08
8. Brooks Brown (Tigers) – 2.21
9. Casey Lambert (Cubs) – 2.32
10. Trevor Bell (Angels) – 2.34
11. Henry Sosa (Giants) – 2.40
12. Jordan Smith (Reds) – 2.45

13. Travis Banwart (Athletics) – 2.47
14. Chris Cody (Brewers) – 2.49
15. Aaron Poreda (White Sox) – 2.58
16. Reidier Gonzalez (Blue Jays) – 2.62
17. James Avery (Reds) – 2.65
18. Kasey Kiker (Rangers) – 2.74
19. Junichi Tazawa (Red Sox) – 2.82
20. Vance Worley (Phillies) – 2.83

– Extra credit goes to Bell, Banwart and Kiker, the only Texas League
pitchers on the list. Rounding out the top five for the more
offensive-minded of the three leagues are Rockies prospects Samuel
Deduno (2.98) and Esmil Rogers (3.00). Fellow Rockies prospect Jhoulys
Chacin, probably the league’s best pitching prospect, is at 3.49.

– Phillies prospect Antonio Bastardo is at 1.82 with a 39/7 K/BB
ratio in 34 2/3 innings. He misses qualifying because of some time
spent in the pen at the beginning of the season.

– Lofgren, considered one of the game’s top left-handed prospects a
couple of years ago, was left unprotected in the December Rule 5 draft
because of some massive command woes. He wasn’t picked, though, and
he’s turned his career around in a big way.

– One more little list. Here’s the top five in strikeouts:

Marc Rzepczynski (Blue Jays) – 63
Jake Arrieta (Orioles) – 56
Aaron Poreda (White Sox) – 55
Junichi Tazawa (Red Sox) – 54
Sean West (Marlins) – 50

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.