In a surprising turn of events, the Giants have opted to call up 2008 first-round pick Buster Posey to help out with Bengie Molina still struggling due to a strained right quad.
The Giants had indicated that Posey would finish the season in the minors and then get a break before taking part in the Arizona Fall League. The 22-year-old Florida State product hit .326/.428/.540 with 13 homers in 291 at-bats for Single-A San Jose and .321/.391/.511 with five homers in 131 at-bats for Triple-A Fresno this season. The Giants purposely kept him off their Double-A Connecticut affiliate, which plays in a terrible environment for hitters. His numbers have definitely been aided by playing in strong hitters ballparks in leagues that enhance offense, but his first full pro season has gone as well as anyone could have hoped.
Posey still doesn’t figure to have a particularly big role with the Giants this month. Molina’s injury has become a bigger issue than anticipated, but he’s expected back as the regular catcher before long. Posey will serve as protection there and as a pinch-hitter. His ability to make contact could make him very useful in that role, and he shouldn’t be dismissed as a postseason roster possibility just yet.
The late callup also serves as an audition for Posey. Molina is a free agent this winter, and while the Giants would likely be happy to bring him back for 2010, they shouldn’t match the multiyear commitments he could receive from other teams. If Posey shows enough in his limited time behind the plate, the Giants could be more open about turning the job over to him on Opening Day. That he’ll already have 33 days of service time may work in his favor. Teams these days find it pretty reasonable to keep a prospect in the minors for two months to guarantee they won’t have super-two eligibility. However, the Giants now would have to wait until July to turn to Posey. It might make more sense to simply bite the bullet and go with him the whole year.
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.