Prospect hounds and Indians fans will find this interesting: Cleveland called up infield prospect Cord Phelps today, and started him at second base in the game going on right now against the Twins. He grounded out to second in his first at bat.
Phelps was a third round pick in the 2008 draft. So far this year at Columbus he has hit 299/.391/.488. Throughout his minor league career he has shown a good eye and gap power. A switch hitter, Phelps is particularly effective against right-handers. Given that the Indians’ usual second baseman Orlando Cabrera is decidedly not, we can probably assume that there will be a platoon there for a good while.
To make room for Phelps, the Indians optioned Shelley Duncan back here to Columbus. Which, on the merits probably isn’t fair to Duncan, but makes a lot of roster sense given that he has an option left. And hey, my daughter will be happy that he’s back in town, so there’s that.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.