Previewing Saturday's Rising Stars Game

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afl.pngAs Aaron noted on Friday, Stephen Strasburg was scratched from Saturday’s Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League due to a strained muscle in his neck.
Bummer. But for those of you who are jonesin’ for some live
baseball, many of baseball’s top prospects will still be on display
tonight on MLB Network at 8pm ET.




Tommy Mendoza (Angels) will replace
Strasburg on the roster for the East team and oppose 2009
first-round pick Mike Minor (Braves), who starts for the West.




Rising Stars East lineup:
CF Jose Tabata (Pirates), SS Starlin Castro (Cubs), 1B Brandon Snyder
(Orioles), LF Grant Desme (Athletics), DH Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks),
C
Buster Posey (Giants), RF Domonic Brown (Phillies), 3B Joshua Bell
(Orioles), 2B Jemile Weeks (Athletics), RHP Mendoza (Angels).




Rising Stars West
lineup:

CF Dustin Ackley (Mariners), RF Jordan Danks (White Sox), 3B Mike
Moustakas (Royals), LF Chris Heisey (Reds), 1B Yonder Alonso (Reds), DH
Darryl Jones (Cardinals), 2B Lance Zawadzki (Padres), C Jason Castro
(Astros), SS Carlos Triunfel (Mariners), LHP Minor (Braves).

Full rosters can be seen here, although Mendoza replaced Strasburg, Bell replaced Josh Vitters (Cubs) and Brandon Erbe (Orioles) will replaced by a player to be announced.


Just a few quick items of note out of the AFL:



– Starlin Castro has been a
sensation for the Mesa Solar Sox, leading the league in batting at .424
(28-for-66) with one home run, nine RBI, five stolen bases and 13 runs
scored in 18 games. It’s dangerous to look too much into AFL numbers,
but the 19-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic
is already drawing comparisons to Hanley Ramirez and Derek Jeter.
He batted .299/.342/.392 with three home runs, 49 RBI, 28 stolen bases
and 56 runs scored between High Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee
this season. Look for him to rise on prospects lists over the winter.




– Grant Desme has been a monster for
the Phoenix Desert Dogs, leading the league with 10 home runs in just
79 at-bats. How well is he swinging the bat? Chris Heisey (Reds),
Brandon Laird (Yankees), Corey Brown (Athletics) and Russ Mitchell
(Dodgers) are tied for second in the league with five home runs.




– While Strasburg has garnered much
of the attention since being drafted by the Nationals in June, their
other first-round pick Drew Storen (No. 10) might be ready to make the
jump to the big club next season. After posting an impressive 1.95 ERA,
0.74 WHIP and 49/8 K/BB ratio in 37 innings between three levels in the
Nationals system in 2009, the 22-year-old right-hander has an 0.93 ERA,
two saves and a 9/1 K/BB ratio 9 2/3 innings in the AFL. He’s leaving
little doubt to the notion that he will be the Nationals’ closer before
very long.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.