Chipper and McCann think Heyward is ready

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Craig’s love for Braves prospect Jason Heyward is so strong that he’s forcing himself not to write something about him every hour of every day, so I’m trying to pick up the slack. He’s arguably the best prospect in baseball, after all. Heyward, that is. Calcaterra is slightly lower in most rankings.
Anyway, the latest Heyward hype comes from future teammates Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, who joined the list of people thinking that the 20-year-old outfielder is probably just about ready for the majors despite playing only 50 games above Single-A.
First, here’s Jones:

I saw Andruw [Jones] play a little bit in the minor leagues when he was a 19-year-old kid. He looked like Devon White playing with a bunch of minor leaguers. This Heyward kid looks like Fred McGriff with 20 more pounds on him out in right field. He is built. He is put together. And he means to do some damage when he walks to that plate.

Now here’s McCann:

He looks like a major-league ballplayer already. And his talent is something special. I think he’s ready. I’ve never seen a kid this good. He possesses some things I’ve never seen in someone who is 19 or 20 years old. He’s hitting the ball out 400 feet to left center. If he makes our team, he’s got a chance to be one of our best players. That’s the kind of talent he has.

And finally, here’s Calcaterra:

He’s so dreamy.

OK, so that last one is more like a glimpse into someone’s head rather than an actual quote. Close enough.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.