Many people questioned why the Rays kept Desmond Jennings at Triple-A for so long, allowing the speedy outfielder to rack up 230 games and nearly 1,000 plate appearances in parts of three seasons in Durham, but now that he’s in the majors the 24-year-old rookie is thriving.
Jennings got some brief action in Tampa Bay last season, but through nine games since his call-up last month he’s batting .333 with six walks and five stolen bases. He’s gotten on base 19 times in nine games for a .463 on-base percentage and five of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases, which is good for a .576 slugging percentage.
He’ll eventually come back down to earth, but Jennings ranked 22nd on Baseball America‘s annual list of top prospects coming into the season and earned the long-awaited promotion by hitting .283 with a .374 OBP and 69 steals in 230 games at Triple-A. If/when the Rays trade B.J. Upton it figures that Jennings will take over for him as the long-term center fielder, but for now he’ll flank Upton as the Rays hope Jennings can be a poor man’s (or at least young man’s) Carl Crawford in left field.
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.