Top prospect Anthony Rizzo to be in Padres’ lineup Thursday

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Dan Hayes of the North County Times has confirmed the speculation about Anthony Rizzo’s impending arrival, citing a team source who says the stud first base prospect will be in the Padres’ lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Nationals.

Rizzo was already in San Diego to have his injured thumb examined, but the Padres have been coy about whether he’d stick around and moving Brad Hawpe from first base to right field was some pretty obvious writing on the wall.

Rizzo, who was acquired from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade this offseason, forced the earlier-than-expected call-up by hitting .365 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, and a ridiculous 1.159 OPS in 52 games at Triple-A as a 21-year-old.

That production is well beyond anything he’s done in the past, as Rizzo entered the season with an .850 career OPS, but Baseball America ranked him as a top-75 prospect even before this year’s explosion and he’s definitely the Padres’ long-term replacement for Gonzalez at first base and in the middle of the lineup.

Between his arrival and Nick Hundley’s return from the disabled list San Diego’s pitiful lineup is getting a whole lot stronger after scoring an MLB-worst 3.4 runs per game through 62 games.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.