Twins name Francisco Liriano fifth starter

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As expected the Twins announced this afternoon that Francisco Liriano will be their fifth starter, with his first outing coming April 9 against the White Sox.
Liriano’s name was tossed into the closer mix with Joe Nathan out for the season, but he never seemed interested in a switch to the bullpen and Ron Gardenhire made it clear that he also preferred to give the 26-year-old southpaw another chance in the rotation.
Liriano was a mess last season after initially showing some promise in his 2008 return from Tommy John surgery, going 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA, but he dominated the Dominican Winter League this offseason and continued to thrive this spring while battling Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins for the fifth-starter gig.
Making his final start this afternoon Liriano tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts compared to three hits and three walks, slicing his overall spring ERA to 2.70 with a 30/5 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. Reviews of his raw stuff has been equally positive, so while he may never be the unhittable phenom who burst onto the scene in 2006, as elbow surgery fades further and further into his rear-view mirror it looks like Liriano may once again be an impact pitcher.

Ronald Acuna tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

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ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.

After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”

Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.

Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.

For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.