Braves sign independent league standout Beau Torbert

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Beau Torbert spent four seasons playing in Houston’s farm system after the Astros made him their 17th-round pick in 2004, but the 6-foot-4 outfielder hit just .250 with one homer and a .642 OPS in 93 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2007 and was cut.

Since then he’s been playing for the independent league Sioux Falls Pheasants of the American Association, where Torbert won back-to-back MVP awards. This season he earned Baseball America‘s independent league player of the year honors by hitting .394 with 24 homers and 100 RBIs in 95 games.

And now the Braves have signed the 27-year-old Torbert to a minor-league contract with plans to send him to Double-A or Triple-A in 2011.

“He’s put up good numbers in the independent leagues,” general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “The numbers have improved each of the past three years. When you look at those kind of players that continue to improve and put up numbers, I think it’s worth taking a look.”

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.