Daily Dose: Braun ruins Hanson's debut

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Tommy Hanson’s much-anticipated MLB debut was a bust Sunday as
Milwaukee got to the 22-year-old right-hander for seven runs, including
three homers. Ryan Braun took Hanson deep twice, as the NL’s top
pitching prospect discovered that big-league hitters can do plenty of
damage on 95-mph fastballs. Despite the poor outing, Hanson actually
looked impressive between the long balls.

He struck out five and walked one in six innings, regularly working
at 93-95 miles per hour with his fastball and throwing his breaking
ball for strikes quite a bit. His pitches also had far more movement
than most mid-90s fastballs, although that got Hanson into trouble a
few times when the ball sliced back over the plate. His debut obviously
didn’t go as planned, but Hanson remains an ace in waiting.

Prior to being called up he posted a 1.50 ERA and 90/17 K/BB ratio
in 66 innings at Triple-A, and Hanson had a 2.41 ERA and 163/53 K/BB
ratio over 138 innings between high Single-A and Double-A last season.
Put it together and he’s racked up 253 strikeouts while allowing just
125 hits over 204 innings since the start of 2008, with the only real
blemish being–as shown Sunday–a high fly-ball rate.

While the Brewers and Braun welcome Hanson to the show, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* San Diego and Arizona played a crazy game Sunday afternoon, as the
Padres forced extra innings by scoring five runs in the bottom of the
ninth only to see the Diamondbacks’ bullpen toss a no-hitter for nine
innings during extra frames. San Diego eventually turned to utility
infielder Josh Wilson to pitch the 18th and Mark Reynolds took him deep
for a three-run homer as Arizona prevailed 9-6.

Amusingly, Wilson pitched for Arizona in a blowout earlier this year
before being claimed off waivers by San Diego. “When he pitched for us
he threw all fastballs, so you figure he has some kind of wrinkle,”
Reynolds said. “He threw a curveball up there and I laid off some high
fastballs, and he left one out over the plate and I was able to barrel
it up.”

* Vince Mazzaro debuted last week with 6.1 shutout innings against
Chicago and followed that up by holding Baltimore scoreless for 7.1
innings Sunday. Mazzaro used some smoke and mirrors in his debut,
managing just one strikeout with four walks, but totaled five
strikeouts with zero walks Sunday. Despite his great start, I’m still
skeptical about his missing enough bats to be a mixed-league asset now.

* Ricky Nolasco rejoined the Marlins’ rotation Sunday after a brief
demotion to Triple-A and pitched well versus the Giants, allowing three
runs in seven innings. He earned the trip back to the minors by going
2-5 with a hideous 9.07 ERA over nine starts, but with a 37/13 K/BB
ratio he pitched much better than that and was hurt by some awful
defense behind him. That may not change, but he’ll be solid.

AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay improved to 10-1 with his third
complete-game win of the season Sunday … J.D. Drew missed both weekend
games with a shoulder injury that required a cortisone shot … Miguel
Cabrera left Sunday’s game after aggravating his hamstring injury and
replacement Clete Thomas ended up hitting a game-winning grand slam …
Kevin Slowey served up three homers Sunday to snap his streak of five
straight Quality Starts … Nelson Cruz missed the cycle by a single
Sunday and is now tied for the AL lead with 17 homers … Rich Hill had
seven shutout innings in his last start, but failed to make it out of
the first inning Sunday while walking four … Marcus Thames (ribs) came
off the disabled list Sunday and should get regular starts … Evan
Longoria (hamstring) pinch-hit Sunday with a game-ending ground out off
Mariano Rivera.

NL Quick Hits: Chipper Jones went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers
Sunday, driving in five runs … Livan Hernandez shut out the Nationals
for seven innings Sunday and is now 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA after last
season’s 6.05 mark … Ubaldo Jimenez had eight innings of two-run ball
Sunday, whiffing nine and walking one … Casey Kotchman (shin) went on
the disabled list Sunday, leaving Martin Prado to start at first base …
Rich Harden (back) was scratched from Sunday’s rehab start due to a
stomach virus … Stephen Drew had four hits Sunday and has boosted his
batting average from .190 to .248 over the past 11 games … Tim Lincecum
took a one-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday before giving up two
runs … Andrew McCutchen notched three hits Sunday, making him 6-for-16
with four RBIs …Out since Wednesday with a strained hamstring, Willy
Taveras pinch-hit Sunday and then stayed in the game defensively.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.