Alcides Escobar has "the eye of the tiger"

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The Brewers are quite excited by the season their young shortstop Alcides Escobar had down in Venezuela this winter. He hit .393 and won the batting title.  But it’s not just the hitting that impresses them:

Club officials were particularly impressed that Escobar – a noted
free-swinger – drew 14 walks in 45 games to finish with a .440 on-base
percentage.
“I’m really happy for him,” said Nichols. “He had the eye of the tiger down there.”

Let’s not get too excited. His Venezuelan walk totals translate to roughly 50 walks over the course of a 162 game season, which isn’t much better than he did in AAA last year (though an improvement over his partial season MLB rates).  Fifty walks in the bigs last season would have ranked roughly 95th out of 154 qualifiers, which is Yadier Molina territory. And, just like you figure he won’t hit .390 in the majors this year, you can figure he won’t walk 50 times here either.

So, sure, be happy that there was some improvement, and be excited about a guy who looks like he’s poised for stardom someday soon, but don’t count on Escobar living up to that “eye of the tiger” stuff for some time.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

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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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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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.