Former top prospect Humber reaches bottom of barrel, signs with Royals

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Philip Humber was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft following a brilliant college career and went from the Mets to the Twins as part of the four-player package for Johan Santana, but just two years later he could manage only a minor-league deal from the Royals after being cut by Minnesota.
Humber twice cleared waivers after the Twins dropped him from the 40-man roster during the season and really hasn’t been the same since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in 2005, showing nothing since the Santana deal to suggest that he can be a useful major leaguer. He coughed up 14 runs in 21 innings for the Twins, allowing opponents to bat .329/.430/.518, and posted a 4.96 ERA in 254 innings at Triple-A.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Humber pitch in the big leagues again and maybe he can even find a niche as a long reliever for the lowly Royals, but as a 27-year-old who cleared waivers twice in the past six months and could manage only a minor-league deal from one of MLB’s worst teams as a free agent it’s safe to say that any pretense of upside has vanished. College stud, third overall pick, top prospect, part of the Santana trade package … and zero big-league wins.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.