First-month minor league review – Pacific Coast League

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OPS leaders
1. Jay Gibbons (Dodgers) – .400/.405/.757 – 1163
2. John Lindsey (Dodgers) – .410/.465/.654 – 1119
3. Joe Borchard (Giants) – .366/.464/.646 – 1110
4. Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – .304/.466/.620 – 1086
5. Chris Lubanski (Blue Jays) – .307/.357/.693 – 1050
6. Brandon Boggs (Rangers) – .333/.437/.600 – 1037
7. Mike Baxter (Padres) – .338/.463/.554 – 1016
8. Brett Wallace (Blue Jays) – .289/.364/.629 – 993
9. Prentice Redman (Dodgers) – .311/.370/.622 – 992
10. Xavier Paul (Dodgers) – .361/.409/.574 – 983
– This list simply isn’t as interesting as the top 10 from the International League. Wallace is a top prospect and Paul, who is currently helping to fill in for Manny Ramirez in L.A., should be pretty useful, but most of the guys are vets taking advantage of big offensive environments.
– Of course, I do like Ka’aihue, who was promoted to the majors Tuesday thanks to Rick Ankiel’s injury. But I doubt he’ll get much of a look now. He has to hope that Jose Guillen continues to hit and turns himself into a desired commodity in trade talks.
Notable hitters
Mark Trumbo (Angels) – .311/.347/.556 – 903
Jack Cust (Athletics) – .267/.433/.467 – 900
Buster Posey (Giants) – .319/.420/.457 – 877
Chris Carter (Athletics) – .261/.364/.500 – 864

Hank Conger (Angels) – .282/.346/.479 – 825
J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays) – .264/.329/.444 – 774
Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks) – .216/.352/.405 – 757
Peter Bourjos (Angels) – .276/.316/.425 – 741
Michael Taylor (Athletics) – .235/.297/.441 – 738
Jay Payton (Rockies) – .284/.322/.395 – 717
Mike Carp (Mariners) – .203/.301/.405 – 706
Aaron Cunningham (Padres) – .250/.290/.398 – 688
Ivan DeJesus (Dodgers) – .261/.298/.352 – 650
Jason Castro (Astros) – .221/.369/.250 – 619
Michael Saunders (Mariners) – .195/.276/.208 – 484
– DeJesus missed all of last season with a broken leg, so his slow start is understandable. The Dodgers have mostly used him at second base this season, with Chin-Lung Hu playing shortstop for the Isotopes.
– Disastrous is the word that best describes Saunders’ April. He’d already be in prime position to push Milton Bradley to the DH spot and Ken Griffey Jr. off Seattle’s roster if he were playing up to his ability. But he’s been dreadful.
ERA leaders
1. Derek Holland (Rangers) – 0.93 ERA, 37/7 K/BB in 38 2/3 IP
2. Luke French (Mariners) – 1.41 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 32 IP
3. Bryan Bullington (Royals) – 1.63 ERA, 19/8 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
3. Eric Hacker (Giants) – 1.63 ERA, 31/5 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
5. Thomas Diamond (Cubs) – 1.65 ERA, 23/11 K/BB in 27 1/3 IP
6. Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) – 1.69 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 21 1/3 IP
7. Michael Kirkman (Rangers) – 2.12 ERA, 24/13 K/BB in 29 2/3 IP
8. Radhames Liz (Padres) – 2.14 ERA, 30/9 K/BB in 21 IP
9. Marco Estrada (Nationals) – 2.48 ERA, 25/8 K/BB in 29 IP
9. Jay Jackson (Cubs) – 2.48 ERA, 20/7 K/BB in 29 IP
– Last year, Holland made just one start in Triple-A before the Rangers called him up and added him to their pen. The team has handled him much better this year, and it looks like he’s about ready to fulfill his potential. He could well be the team’s best pitcher by this time next year.
Notable pitchers
Brandon McCarthy (Rangers) – 2.51 ERA, 18/5 K/BB in 28 2/3 IP
Will Inman (Padres) – 2.57 ERA, 16/13 K/BB in 21 IP
Vin Mazzaro (Athletics) – 2.59 ERA, 27/12 K/BB in 24 1/3 IP
Cesar Carrillo (Padres) – 3.24 ERA, 13/12 K/BB in 25 IP
Ryan Tucker (Marlins) – 3.57 ERA, 14/6 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Cesar Valdez (Diamondbacks) – 3.80 ERA, 25/5 K/BB in 23 2/3 IP
James McDonald (Dodgers) – 3.97 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 22 2/3 IP
Clay Mortensen (Athletics) – 3.98 ERA, 24/9 K/BB in 31 2/3 IP
Guillermo Moscoso (Rangers) – 4.30 ERA, 18/9 K/BB in 23 IP
Robert Ray (Blue Jays) – 4.55 ERA, 20/15 K/BB in 27 2/3 IP
Lance Lynn (Cardinals) – 4.56 ERA, 17/17 K/BB in 25 2/3 IP
Trevor Reckling (Angels) – 4.85 ERA, 16/17 K/BB in 26 IP
Madison Bumgarner (Giants) – 5.25 ERA, 16/8 K/BB in 24 IP
Rick VandenHurk (Marlins) – 5.33 ERA, 19/9 K/BB in 27 IP
Josh Lindblom (Dodgers) – 6.23 ERA, 25/6 K/BB in 26 IP
Scott Elbert (Dodgers) – 8.00 ERA, 22/14 K/BB in 18 IP
– McCarthy figured to be next in line for a spot in the Texas rotation at the beginning of the year and he got off to a promising start, but he’s again on the shelf with a stress reaction in his shoulder.
– What was expected to be a strong Albuquerque rotation isn’t providing pitching alternatives for the Dodgers. McDonald, though, has been decent outside of one start in which he suffered from cracked fingernails on his pitching hand. Also, Lindblom must be dealing with some bad luck. To go along with the strong K/BB ratio, he’s allowed just three homers in his 26 innings. Albuquerque is one of the toughest places to pitch in the minors.
Matt Reynolds (Rockies) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/0 K/BB in 13 2/3 IP
Ernesto Frieri (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 5 Sv, 17/7 K/BB in 12 IP
Zach Braddock (Brewers) -0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 22/4 K/BB in 11 1/3 IP
Ryan Webb (Padres) – 0.00 ERA, 1 Sv, 10/2 K/BB in 10 IP
Henry Rodriguez (Athletics) – 0.00 ERA, 3 Sv, 14/3 K/BB in 9 1/3 IP
Josh Roenicke (Blue Jays) – 0.00 ERA, 0 Sv, 8/1 K/BB in 8 2/3 IP
Henry Sosa (Giants) – 1.29 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/9 K/BB in 14 IP
Blake Wood (Royals) – 2.57 ERA, 5 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 IP
Carlos Rosa (Royals/D’Backs) – 3.14 ERA, 0 Sv, 11/7 K/BB in 14 1/3 IP
David Purcey (Blue Jays) – 3.27 ERA, 0 Sv, 15/10 K/BB in 11 IP
Chad Cordero (Mariners) – 4.63 ERA, 2 Sv, 10/3 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
Shane Lindsay (Rockies) – 6.17 ERA, 0 Sv, 18/14 K/BB in 11 2/3 IP
– Webb and Rodriguez just received callups. I had Webb down as a fantasy sleeper at the beginning of the year, only to be disappointed when the Padres didn’t give him much of a chance to win a bullpen spot.

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.