Rick Ankiel welcomed back to Nats on minor league deal

6 Comments

Amanda Comack of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals have re-signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Ankiel, 32, batted just .239/.296/.363 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in 415 plate appearances last season for Washington. He has one of the best outfield arms in baseball, but the former left-handed starter has struggled offensively since posting 25 homers and an .843 OPS with the Cardinals in 2008.

Ankiel will compete for center field duties in camp this spring with Roger Bernadina and Mike Cameron. The Nationals have been trying to find a long-term fix in center for the past couple of years, but they’ll continue to go with patchwork options for now.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.