Miguel Batista's new friend Miss Iowa will throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park tomorrow night

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Apparently the flowers Miguel Batista sent to Miss Iowa did their job, because we just received a press release announcing that Katherine Connors is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park tomorrow night.
Batista filled in for the injured Stephen Strasburg at the last minute Tuesday and afterward commented that the 40,000 fans in attendance probably felt like they showed up to see Miss Universe only to get Miss Iowa instead.
Connors is the reigning Miss Iowa and issued a statement in response, saying: “I know I can throw a pitch or two! The question is, can Miguel Batista walk the runway in a swimsuit?”
And so now the Nationals are taking her up on that offer (presumably without the Batista-walking-the-runway-in-bikini part).
In terms of the best performance throwing out the first pitch by an incredibly attractive woman, it’ll be pretty hard for Connors to top Marisa Miller throwing heat at Wrigley Field last season. Then again, Batista tossing five shutout innings as Strasburg’s replacement shows that anything can happen.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.