Opening Day in the minor leagues

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With the minor league season starting today, Baseball America has released a list of where its top 100 prospects will open the season.
Among those skipping levels this year are Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon and Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles, both of whom are moving from low-A ball right to Double-A.
It’s not surprising in either case. Lyles actually probably would have spent a portion of last year in high-A under normal circumstances, but the Astros’ Lancaster affiliate in the California League is a horrible place for pitchers.
Also notable is that two of the Rays’ top prospects are starting the year on the DL. Both outfielder Desmond Jennings and shortstop Tim Beckham are dealing with wrist injuries. Jennings, who could be the team’s center fielder next year, is expected to join Triple-A Durham later this month. Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, is slated to play for high-A Charlotte once healthy.
Finally, Stephen Strasburg is set to make his debut for Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, with ESPNews providing live coverage.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.