First-month minor league review – International League

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OPS Leaders
1. Steve Pearce (Pirates) – .349/.452/.605 – 1057
2. Dan Johnson (Rays) – .304/.375/.674 – 1049
3. Chris Carter (Mets) – .348/.408/.607 – 1015
4. Carlos Santana (Indians) – .300/.446/.550 – 996
5. Mike Hessman (Mets) – .297/.353/.637 – 990
6. Chase Lambin (Nationals) – .333/.385/.583 – 968
7. Dustin Martin (Twins) – .311/.400/.554 – 954
8. Justin Ruggiano (Rays) – .330/.419/.527 – 943
9. Jason Donald (Indians) – .323/.440/.500 – 940
10. Tyler Flowers (White Sox) – .286/.398/.543 – 940
– Santana is the elite prospect on the list and he could take over as the Indians’ catcher sometime around June 1, but Donald has a chance to beat him to Cleveland, possibly as a replacement for the slumping Luis Valbuena.
– Flowers is the other top prospect on the list. The White Sox would likely be better off right now with him DHing and Andruw Jones starting over Juan Pierre. However, it makes more sense to let him keep catching in Triple-A in the hopes that he’ll be the long-term replacement for A.J. Pierzynski.
– Carter deserved to make the Mets over Mike Jacobs this spring and he could still be of use now as a replacement for Frank Catalanotto. Unfortunately for him, too many teams like their bench players to be former regulars.
Notable hitters
John Mayberry Jr. (Phillies) – .300/.387/.511 – 898
Jose Tabata (Pirates) – .340/.404/.456 – 860
Chris Valaika (Reds) – .341/.380/.459 – 839
Hank Blalock (Rays) – .347/.407/.431 – 838
Jordan Danks (White Sox) – .276/.366/.471 – 837
Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) – .260/.333/.500 – 833


Freddie Freeman (Braves) – .277/.330/.479 – 8009
Chris Heisey (Reds) – .241/.307/.430 – 737
Josh Bell (Orioles) – .253/.282/.434 – 716
Dayan Viciedo (White Sox) – .267/.283/.422 – 705
Jesus Montero (Yankees) – .238/.304/.381 – 685
Fernando Martinez (Mets) – .239/.286/.394 – 680
Danny Valencia (Twins) – .267/.309/.356 – 665
Josh Reddick (Red Sox) – .187/.225/.413 – 638
Ruben Tejada (Mets) – .243/.288/.324 – .612
Juan Francisco (Reds) – .189/.208/.365 – 573
Todd Frazier (Reds) – .180/.311/.262 – 573
Brandon Snyder (Orioles) – .198/.303/.267 – 570
Josh Thole (Mets) – .180/.246/.279 – 525
– It looks like the White Sox made a mistake pushing the 21-year-old Viciedo up to Triple-A in his second year in the U.S. He wasn’t very impressive in hitting .280/.317/.391 in Double-A last season, and it would have made sense to let him conquer the level before promoting him. What little damage he’s done in the International League has come against lefties. He’s hitting .224/.234/.316 with a 21/1 K/BB ratio in 76 at-bats versus righties.
– Ike Davis got off to a fabulous start, of course, but the Mets have to be very disappointed in how the rest of their Triple-A prospects are progressing. Martinez, especially, has been a disappointment after such a promising spring. He’s walked just once in 71 at-bats, and it’s actually HBPs that have boosted his OBP.
ERA Leaders
1. Chris Resop (Braves) – 1.40 ERA, 32/14 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP
2. Jake Arrieta (Orioles) – 1.50 ERA, 30/19 K/BB in 36 IP
2. Andrew Kown (Nationals) – 1.50 ERA, 15/8 K/BB in 24 IP
4. Armando Galarraga (Tigers) – 2.30 ERA, 28/6 K/BB in 31 1/3 IP
5. R.A. Dickey (Mets) – 2.33 ERA, 22/5 K/BB in 38 2/3 IP
6. Ivan Nova (Yankees) – 2.43 ERA, 32/12 K/BB in 37 IP
7. Jeremy Hellickson (Rays) – 2.57 ERA, 35/7 K/BB in 35 IP
8. Sam Lecure (Reds) – 2.67 ERA, 25/10 K/BB in 30 1/3 IP
9. Alfredo Figaro (Tigers) – 2.76 ERA, 21/9 K/BB in 29 1/3 IP
9. Dillon Gee (Mets) – 2.76 ERA, 27/4 K/BB in 29 1/3 IP
– With Chris Tillman struggling to find any consistency, Arrieta is probably going to be the next pitcher added to Baltimore’s rotation. He doesn’t have the upside of Tillman or Brian Matusz, but he could be a nice long-term No. 4 behind those two.
– Gee is expected to be the choice to join the Mets rotation if anyone is needed. I’m skeptical that he’ll make it in the majors as a starter, but he is worthy of the opportunity. With his control, he should at least be able to give the team some innings.
Notable starting pitchers
Matt Maloney (Reds) – 3.05 ERA, 28/2 K/BB in 20 2/3 IP
Aroldis Chapman (Reds) – 3.12 ERA, 30/13 K/BB in 26 IP
Jeff Manship (Twins) – 3.48 ERA, 13/3 K/BB in 20 2/3 IP
Carlos Carrasco (Indians) – 3.49 ERA, 25/14 K/BB in 28 1/3 IP
Travis Wood (Reds) – 3.77 ERA, 32/8 K/BB in 31 IP
Chris Tillman (Orioles) – 3.98 ERA, 24/7 K/BB in 31 2/3 IP
Brad Lincoln (Pirates) – 4.76 ERA, 18/9 K/BB in 28 1/3 IP
Lucas Harrell (White Sox) – 5.00 ERA, 15/11 K/BB in 27 IP
Zach McAllister (Yankees) – 5.52 ERA, 24/8 K/BB in 31 IP
Shairon Martis (Nationals) – 6.20 ERA, 20/10 K/BB in 24 2/3 IP
Daniel Hudson (White Sox) – 6.56 ERA, 28/10 K/BB in 23 1/3 IP
Brandon Erbe (Orioles) – 6.66 ERA, 18/12 K/BB in 24 1/3 IP
Michael Bowden (Red Sox – 6.86 ERA, 12/13 K/BB in 19 2/3 IP
Hector Rondon (Indians) – 9.13 ERA, 22/9 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Collin Balester (Nationals) – 11.57 ERA, 10/13 K/BB in 21 IP
– I really like Rondon — I probably would have ranked him as the circuit’s fourth-best pitching prospect behind Chapman, Tillman and Hellickson at the beginning of the year — but he’s already given up eight homers this year. That’s just three fewer than he allowed in 146 1/3 innings in a 2009 season split evenly between Double- and Triple-A. His command has also gone downhill in a big way, so it’s possible he’s hurt.
Relievers
Jay Sborz (Tigers) – 0.00 ERA, 7 Sv, 10/4 K/BB in 9 1/3 IP
Scott Mathieson (Phillies) – 0.71 ERA, 4 Sv, 12/4 K/BB in 12 2/3 IP
Anthony Slama (Twins) – 1.10 ERA, 6 Sv, 20/7 K/BB in 16 1/3 IP
Craig Kimbrel (Braves) – 1.20 ERA, 6 Sv, 21/5 K/BB in 15 IP
Daniel Schlereth (Tigers) – 1.46 ERA, 0 Sv, 15/12 K/BB in 12 1/3 IP
Mark Melancon (Yankees) – 1.76 ERA, 3 Sv, 15/5 K/BB in 15 1/3 IP
Robbie Weinhardt (Tigers) – 4.15 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/3 K/BB in 13 IP
Jess Todd (Indians) – 4.50 ERA, 2 Sv, 15/8 K/BB in 12 IP
– With Billy Wagner apparently out of the picture for 2011, Kimbrel is even more interesting as a fantasy prospect. He may well take over as Atlanta’s closer at some point during 2011, if not right from Opening Day.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Joe Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.