The Indians call up Cord Phelps, start him at second base today

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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.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.