Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day

Minor league home run leaders: Arizona’s Goldschmidt leads the way

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Here’s a list of everyone in the minor leagues with at least five homers headed into Monday’s action:

9 – Paul Goldschmidt (AA D’backs) – .345/.473/.845
8 – Jorge Vazquez (AAA Yankees) – .348/.361/.710
7 – Jaff Decker (AA Padres) – .359/.481/.859
7 – Ian Gac (A+ White Sox) – .300/.368/.700
7 – Kody Hinze (A+ Astros) – .323/.442/.710
7 – Chris Wallace (A Astros) – .419/.486/.903
6 – Michael Burgess (A+ Cubs) – .213/.262/.574
6 – Cody Decker (AA Padres) – .313/.323/.672
6 – Jonathan Garcia (A Dodgers) – .288/.354/.712
6 – Jeff Larish (AAA Phillies) – .279/.333/.639
6 – Bryce Massanari (A- Rockies) – .421/.492/.825
6 – Tommy Mendonca (AA Rangers) – .322/.349/.661
6 – Cody Overbeck (AA Phillies) – .350/.381/.717
6 – Marcell Ozuna (A Marlins) – .300/.394/.667
6 – Wily Mo Pena (AAA D’backs) – .420/.473/.820
6 – Anthony Rizzo (AAA Padres) – .420/.487/.768
6 – Clint Robinson (AAA Royals) – .397/.486/.778
6 – Joseph Terdoslavich (A+ Braves) – .245/.259/.642
5 – Denny Almonte (A+ Mariners) – .329/.329/.700
5 – Adam Bailey (A Astros) – .344/.359/.639
5 – Michael Bianucci (AA Rangers) – .300/.377/.567
5 – Alex Castellanos (AA Cardinals) – .276/.302/.621
5 – Andy Dirks (AAA Tigers) – .297/.370/.609
5 – Ryan Flaherty (AA Cubs) – .333/.394/.649
5 – Jacob Goebbert (A+ Astros) – .194/.278/.435
5 – Yasmani Grandal (A+ Reds) – .333/.458/.750
5 – Mike Jacobs (AAA Rockies) – .371/.467/.694
5 – Brendan Katin (AAA Brewers) – .209/.306/.628
5 – Donald Lutz (A Reds) – .345/.387/.690
5 – Jai Miller (AAA Royals) – .391/.491/.826
5 – Trevor Plouffe (AAA Twins) – .300/.367/.700
5 – Jerry Sands (AAA Dodgers) – .400/.422/.875
5 – Steven Souza (A+ Nationals) – .281/.305/.667
5 – Michael Spina (AA Athletics) – .327/.449/.691
5 – Trayce Thompson (A White Sox) – .239/.311/.493
5 – Tim Wheeler (AA Rockies) – .302/.392/.619

As one would expect, there aren’t a whole lot of top prospects in the group. Sands is, and he’s already been promoted to the majors. Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick many believed would open the season at Double-A, also qualifies. Wheeler may as well, if he keeps this up for a few more weeks. The 2009 first-round pick didn’t excel in his first year and a half in the minors, but if the power is for real, he could make Dexter Fowler expendable next winter. And then there’s Rizzo, the best prospect of all of them. For more about him, check out my Rotoworld column.

How about a sampling of what’s left…

– Goldschmidt, who was such a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this spring, is showing that his March success was no fluke. The 23-year-old also put up big numbers in the California League last year, but his 35 homers for Visalia came with a 161/57 K/BB ratio. This year, he has a 12/15 K/BB ratio through 17 games. The Diamondbacks should test him with Triple-A soon, but they have to make room for him at Reno, possibly by promoting Brandon Allen or Pena to the majors.

– I didn’t mention Decker in the Rotoworld column, but I probably should have. With the Padres getting nothing from the outfield corners so far, perhaps they’ll consider jumping him to the majors in June. I think he’s less vulnerable to being rushed than Rizzo is.

– Keep a close eye on Jonathan Garcia. The 19-year-old already has 13 extra-base hits in 16 games in the Midwest League.

– The Royals are eventually going to turn first base over to Eric Hosmer, but Robinson, who hit 29 homers in Double-A last year, is making a case for a crack at Kila Ka’aihue’s job in the meantime.

– Dirks is another player who really emerged in spring training, and he probably would have made the Tigers had Brennan Boesch not suddenly returned to early-2010 form. Austin Jackson has shown signs of life the last few games, but if he resumes slumping, the Tigers could send him to Triple-A and give his at-bats to Dirks and Casper Wells.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

Screenshot 2016-02-09 at 8.01.48 PM
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac
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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.