The Next Big Thing: Desmond Jennings

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Last week Rays outfield prospect Desmond Jennings was named MVP of the Double-A Southern League despite earning a promotion to Triple-A a month ago.
Last night, in his 29th game at Triple-A, Jennings tied an International League record by going 7-for-7 as the Durham Bulls clinched a playoff spot.
He had what baseball analysts typically refer to as a really awesome week.
Jennings was limited to just 24 games last season because of back and shoulder injuries, but the former 10th-round pick has bounced back in a huge way this year and is often compared to current Rays outfielder Carl Crawford.
It’s easy to see why, because like Crawford he’s a former standout football player who offers an amazing blend of physical tools that revolve around tremendous athleticism and blazing speed.
Jennings has hit .322 with 11 homers, 31 doubles, and 10 triples in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A, swiping 52 bases while being caught just seven times. In a recent Baseball America managers poll he was named the Southern League’s fastest baserunner, best baserunner, best defensive outfielder, and most exciting player, which certainly fits with the Crawford comparison.
One area where he has a leg up on Crawford is plate discipline and strike-zone control, as Jennings has an excellent 66/66 K/BB ratio in 563 plate appearances. By comparison, prior to this year Crawford had never drawn even 40 walks in any season, minors or majors. Any prospect whose ceiling can even optimistically be described as “Carl Crawford with plate discipline” has a chance to be a very special player.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.