The Blue Jays are finally ready to reward top catching prospect J.P. Arencibia for the astronomic numbers that he has posted this season at Triple-A Las Vegas. With John Buck needing a stint on the disabled list due to a laceration on his hand, the 24-year-old Arencibia had his contract purchased on Wednesday afternoon.
Arencibia was drafted in the first round of the 2007 first-year player drafted and has flashed solid power numbers at nearly every minor league stop. This year he’s managed a Pacific Coast League-leading 31 home runs in 379 at-bats, along with 79 RBI and a total of 71 runs scored.
The Jays are hoping he will carry some of that “pop” with him to Toronto, where he is likely to start behind the plate for Friday’s series-opener against the Rays. If Arencibia proves capable of handling major league pitching in his first tour through the bigs, the Blue Jays could let John Buck walk this winter.
Buck was signed to a one-year contract this offseason and has produced at a better-than-expected rate, but Arencibia is cheaper and already more talented. We’ll get an abrupt chance over the next two weeks to see if he is also more productive.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.