Heyward named Baseball America minor league player of the year

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This afternoon Baseball America announced Jason Heyward as their minor league player of the year after the Braves farmhand and 2007 first-round pick batted .323/.408/.555 with 17 homers, 46 total extra-base hits, 11 steals, and a 51/51 K/BB ratio in 99 games between high Single-A and Double-A before finishing the year with a brief stint at Triple-A.
Those numbers are obviously great, but what makes them amazing is that Heyward turned 20 years old last month. He’s 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds with incredible physical tools and has hit .318/.391/.508 through 238 pro games, with plate discipline and strike-zone control that are extraordinary for such a young hitter.
He drew 30 walks while striking out just 21 times in 50 games between Double-A and Triple-A despite facing pitchers who were almost all at least 3-5 years his senior. Heyward is the clear-cut premier position player prospect in baseball and should give Stephen Strasburg a run for the top overall spot when various prospect rankings come out next spring.
Atlanta has a track record of aggressively promoting elite prospects, but during the past two decades only Andruw Jones in 1997 saw significant action with the Braves as a 20-year-old. Not coincidentally, Jones was Baseball America‘s minor league player of the year in both 1995 and 1996. Heyward seems likely to begin next season at Triple-A, but picking up where he left off could get him to Atlanta for good by the All-Star break.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.