Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was named Baseball America’s top prospect this morning, edging out 2009 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg. This afternoon, Heyward proved why.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Dave O’Brien, the 20-year-old went to town in batting practice today, denting a Coca-Cola truck and smashing a team executive’s sunroff with measuring-tape shots over the outfield wall at Champion Stadium.
“He’s strong as an ox,” hitting coach Terry Pendleton said after the workout.
“Every ball was just scalded,” added manager Bobby Cox.
A 6-foot-5, 245-pound McDonough, Georgia native, Heyward batted .323/.408/.555 with 17 homers, 46 total extra-base hits and 11
steals in 99 games between high Single-A and
Double-A last season. He finished the year at Triple-A with a .364/.462/.364 batting line in 13 plate appearances. It’s safe to say the kid is probably ready for the major leagues and the Braves will certainly be tempted to add him to the Opening Day roster. Cox even hinted at the idea earlier this month.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.