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.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.