Indians stud prospect Carlos Santana homers twice in Triple-A debut

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Part of the reason why the Indians were willing to trade both Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach last season is that they have stud catching prospect Carlos Santana waiting in the wings at Triple-A.
Acquired from the Dodgers in mid-2008 as part of the Casey Blake deal, Santana was initially expected to begin this season on the disabled list because of a broken hamate bone in right hand suffered while playing winter ball. Instead, he celebrated his 24th birthday last night by going 4-for-5 with two homers and a double in the Triple-A opener.
For now Lou Marson is Cleveland’s starting catcher and at just 24 years old he’s a solid enough prospect in his own right, but when Santana is ready the Indians won’t hesitate to clear a path for him and that time may be right around the corner.
Prior to his big Triple-A debut Santana played 133 games at Double-A, hitting .289 with a .409 on-base percentage thanks to an outstanding 90/85 K/BB ratio. He also smacked 25 homers and 30 doubles in just 440 at-bats for a .536 slugging percentage. Toss in good defense behind the plate from a 24-year-old switch-hitter and Santana is one of the best and perhaps most underrated prospects in all of baseball.
If he can avoid a setback with the hand injury my guess is that Santana will be in Cleveland to stay in the second half, so the Indians have a few months to determine whether Marson fits better as trade bait or a long-term backup.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).