Stat of the Day: Triple-A OPS leaders

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PCL Top 10
1. John Bowker (Giants) – 1047
2. Sean Rodriguez (Angels) – 1017
3. Mitch Jones (Dodgers) – 1015
4. Randy Ruiz (Blue Jays) – 976
5. Allen Craig (Cardinals) – 921
6. Brandon Wood (Angels) – 910
7. Chris Shelton (Mariners) – 905
8. Dee Brown (Dodgers) – 905
9. Adam Heether (Brewers) – 902
10. Prentice Redman (Mariners) – 900
– Bowker’s season was truly exceptonal, as he finished with a 64/74 K/BB ratio to go along with his 21 homers and 83 RBI in 366 at-bats. Also, he wasn’t helped by his home park quite as much as some of the others here (he had a 1080 road OPS). For the Giants, though, he hit .205/.238/.385 with a 12/1 K/BB ratio in 39 at-bats. He was more impressive as a 24-year-old rookie in 2008, hitting .255/.300/.408 in 326 at-bats. There’s little doubt that he’s one of the Giants’ best hitters, though that’s not saying much. He deserves a real crack at the starting job in left field or at first base next year.
– They couldn’t crack the top 10 because of mediocre power numbers, but infielders Ruben Gotay (429), Esteban German (419) and Mike McCoy (.405) finished second, third and fourth in the league in OBP behind Bowker. Gotay worked a remarkable 102 walks in 371 at-bats and finished at .272/.429/.450. The Diamondbacks didn’t call him up, though. He’ll be a minor league free agent this winter, and one of the teams more focused on OBP could look at him as a potential backup. He’d make a lot of sense in Oakland. German is currently helping the Rangers at third with Michael Young out, and McCoy was also rewarded for his fine performance, though there’s little for him to do with the Rockies.
– Other notables: Jesus Guzman (Giants) – 885, Jeff Clement (Mariners-Pirates) – 871, Eric Patterson (Athletics) – 870, Jai Miller (Marlins) – 870, Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – 825, Mike Carp (Mariners) – 818, Eric Young Jr. (Rockies) – 817, Brett Wallace (Cardinals-Athletics) – 815, Blake DeWitt (Dodgers) – 775, Alcides Escobar (Brewers) – 762, Julio Borbon (Rangers) – 753, Brian Bogusevic (Astros) 707, John Raynor (Marlins) – 687
International League Top 10
1. Kevin Barker (Reds) – 927
2. Matt LaPorta (Indians) – 917
3. Shelley Duncan (Yankees) – 916
4. Brian Myrow (Pirates) – 915
5. Jordan Brown (Indians) – 913
6. Jeff Fiorentino (Orioles) – 896
7. Chris Richard (Rays) – 885
8. Jon Weber (Rays) – 879
9. Michael Restovich (White Sox) – 871
10. Don Kelly (Tigers) – 869
– LaPorta is the only player here currently up and playing regularly in the majors. Fiorentino, though, has a chance to audition for a bench spot in Baltimore with Adam Jones out and now Felix Pie sidelined as well.
– That Brown, the league batting average leader at .336, was passed over for a callup had a lot to do with the Indians wanting a look at Andy Marte at first base. Still, the 25-year-old deserved better. He was the Carolina League MVP in 2006 and the Eastern League MVP in 2007. He’s not nearly a top prospect, but he should be able to hold his own against right-handers in the majors.
– Next on the list were the Yankees’ Juan Miranda, at 866, and the Rays’ Matt Joyce, at 855. It was stunning to see the Rays decline to give Joyce a September callup. He hit .252/.339/.492 in 242 at-bats for the Tigers last season, causing Tampa Bay to trade Edwin Jackson for him, yet the Rays have given him just 32 major league at-bats this season.
– Other notables: Jeff Frazier (Reds) – 792, Neil Walker (Pirates) – 791, Austin Jackson (Yankees) – 759, Reid Brignac (Rays) – 744, Drew Stubbs (Reds) – 713, Michael Brantley (Indians) – 711, Chris Valaika Reds – (615)

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.

Report: Tyson Ross not expected to pitch in April

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park September 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:

We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.

Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.