Jason Kipnis, who already has a streak of homering in four straight games in his very young career, went 5-for-5 with a homer and four runs scored Wednesday in the Indians’ 10-3 win over the Tigers. It was his sixth homer in 16 games as a major leaguer.
Kipnis became the first rookie to finish with five hits and four runs scored in a game since Mark Reynolds (May 25) and David Murphy (Aug. 22) both did so in 2007. Andre Ethier also pulled off the feat on May 19, 2006. No other active player had such a game as a rookie.
It’s also the earliest in a career that any player has had a 5-for-5 game since Houston’s Josh Anderson had one in his ninth game on Sept. 16, 2007. Reynolds was in his 10th game when he did it earlier in 2007. Austin Jackson did it in his 23rd game on April 30, 2010.
Finally, with the homer tonight, Kipnis became the first player to collect six homers in his first 16 games since Chris Davis and Taylor Teagarden did so for the Rangers in 2008.
Kipnis has struck out 20 times already and his defense has looked a little rough at times, but he certainly appears to be here to stay. The converted outfielder has showed enough promise at second base to remain there for at least the beginning of 2012, and if he needs to move to left field at some point, he’ll likely have the bat to pull it off.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.