Indians cut ties with former top prospect Andy Marte

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Once upon a time Andy Marte was considered an elite prospect.

While in the Braves’ farm system he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 50 prospects in four years, including top-15 spots in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

After hitting .275/.372/.506 with 20 homers and 64 walks in 109 games at Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2005 the Braves traded him to the Red Sox for Edgar Renteria and then a month later the Red Sox traded him to the Indians for Coco Crisp.

At the time there was speculation about whether a top prospect being traded twice in the span of six weeks should raise a red flag about his future, but it was tough to argue with Marte’s production in the minors while being very young for each level of competition.

Five years later Marte has hit just .218 with a .277 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage in 924 plate appearances as a big leaguer, never playing well enough to get even 250 at-bats in a season from the Indians. Among all the first basemen, third basemen, designated hitters, and corner outfielders with at least 900 plate appearances during that time Marte has the lowest OPS in baseball at .635.

And today the Indians decided they’d seen enough, dropping Marte from the 40-man roster and giving him the option to become a free agent or accept an assignment back to Triple-A. At age 27 he’s young enough to get another chance somewhere, but since 2006 or so there’s really nothing in Marte’s track record to suggest he’s capable of being more than a role player (and even that might be a stretch).

Right now Marte qualifies as one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2000s.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.