First-month minor league review – International League


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.
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.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.