Indians waive former top-10 pick Jeremy Sowers

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Once upon a time Jeremy Sowers was considered a big part of the Indians’ long-term plans, as the former sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft breezed through the minors and went 7-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 14 starts as a 23-year-old rookie in 2006.
Unfortunately he’s been a mess ever since, posting ERAs of 6.42, 5.58, and 5.25 while splitting the past three seasons between Cleveland’s rotation and Triple-A, and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians have placed him on waivers.
Despite being a top-10 pick Sowers never had a particularly high ceiling, but he was billed as an MLB-ready middle-of-the-rotation starter with “polish” and “command” coming out of Vanderbilt. Instead he’s turned out to be merely a soft-tossing southpaw with a high-80s fastball, amazingly hittable changeup, mediocre control, and non-existent strikeout rate.
In the three years since his promising debut Sowers has gone 11-26 with a 5.63 ERA and .291 opponents’ batting average in 312 innings, which along with underwhelming raw stuff is why the Indians were willing to cut a former top-10 pick loose before his 27th birthday. And why he may go unclaimed on waivers and remain in the organization after losing his spot on the 40-man roster.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.