Former prospect Figueroa passes away from lupus

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Jonathan Figueroa, a longtime minor leaguer who pitched in the Dodgers system, passed away from lupus at age 26.
The native of Venezuela was initially billed as a top prospect after a spectacular pro debut in 2002. He went 7-3 with a 1.42 ERA and a 105/39 K/BB ratio in 75 innings between the Rookie Pioneer League and the low-A Sally League. Baseball America rated him the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect that winter, placing him in between James Loney and Edwin Jackson.
Figueroa, though, never experienced much success after that, as shoulder and conditioning issues held him back. He went 1-8 with a 4.94 ERA in the Sally League in 2003, and he racked up ERAs of 7.00, 6.00 and 7.29 in subsequent seasons. He spent 2008 pitching in the indy leagues, and he went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in seven starts for Long Beach of the Golden League. He pitched in the American Association this year and was expected back with the Lincoln Salt Dogs in 2010.
Figueroa is survived by his wife and two children.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.