Angels prospect Mike Trout likely to begin 2012 in minors

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The Angels’ decision to trade for Vernon Wells’ massive contract was bad enough when he was performing horribly, but now his presence on the team (and $21 million salary in each of the next three seasons) might keep stud prospect Mike Trout in the minors.

Sam Miller of the Orange County Register connected some dots between recent comments made by manager Mike Scioscia and MLB.com reporter Lyle Spencer, both of which suggest Trout will be spending at least the beginning of 2012 at Triple-A.

Trout is only 20 years old and jumped directly from Double-A to the majors, so some time at Triple-A isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, based purely on talent and likely 2012 value Trout would be in the Angels’ lineup on Opening Day.

Instead they’ll have Wells in left field, Peter Bourjos in center field, Torii Hunter in right field, and Bobby Abreu at designated hitter. Wells and Abreu will combine to make $30 million in 2012, while Trout could probably out-play both of them for $400,000.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.