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.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.