Royals’ prospect Mike Moustakas may skip winter ball

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It’s a painfully slow day news-wise, so while we patiently wait for Game 6 of the NLCS between the Giants and Phillies to begin, I thought I’d use this opportunity to bring you up to speed on a position prospect we’ll probably be hearing a lot about next season.

Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the club is considering having top prospect third baseman Mike Moustakas skip playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

“When we made that decision (to send Moustakas to winter ball) in July,” Picollo said, “it was to see whether he can handle better pitching. But I saw him in the last week of the season in Omaha, and he faced a soft lefty, a hard-throwing lefty, a power righty, guys pitching backward – and he handled all of it.

“So the things we wanted to see him do in the Dominican, he’s already done them. Some guys still want him to go. We’re still discussing it.”

Moustakas, 22, batted .322/.369/.630 with 36 home runs and 124 RBI between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha this season before he joined team USA for the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Baseball America recently ranked him as the top prospect in the Texas League for the 2010 season and the No. 2 prospect in the Pacific Coast League. Buster Posey, who played in 47 games with Triple-A Fresno before getting called up to the majors, ranked No. 1 in the PCL.

So, from Picollo’s comments, it sure sounds like Moustakas has nothing left to prove against minor league pitching, right? Probably not, but like Giants GM Brian Sabean did with Posey earlier this spring, look for the Royals to think of some sort of excuse before conveniently calling him up right around Memorial Day next season.

Steve Delabar among three suspended after testing positive

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Three players were suspended on Monday after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. They are: Indians pitcher Steve Delabar, Mariners pitcher Jonathan Aro, and free agent pitcher Jeffry Hernandez. Aro got a 50-game suspension while the other two were handed 80-game suspensions.

Delabar, 33, hasn’t pitched yet this season after signing a minor league deal with the Indians back in January. He spent last year with the Reds as well as the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League. The right-hander has struggled over the last few seasons.

Aro, 26, also hasn’t appeared yet this season in the minors. He’s worked mostly in relief. The right-hander appeared briefly in the majors with the Mariners last season and logged 10 1/3 innings in the show with the Red Sox in 2015. Aro went to the Mariners along with Wade Miley in the trade that brought the Red Sox Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Hernandez, 22, is a free agent and his suspension will be effective if and when he signs with a new team.

Phillies place Aaron Nola on the disabled list

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The Phillies announced on Monday that starter Aaron Nola has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 21, with a lower back strain.

Nola, 23, compiled a 4.50 ERA with a 15/6 K/BB ratio over his first three starts spanning 16 innings. He felt some back soreness during his last start on Thursday against the Mets, and it lingered when he had a side session on Sunday.

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury hears that the Phillies are likely to call up Nick Pivetta from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Nola’s place in the rotation. Nola was scheduled to start on Wednesday.

Pivetta, 24, was acquired from the Nationals in the Jonathan Papelbon trade in July 2015. At Triple-A so far, Pivetta has given up only two earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings.