Royals put Felipe Paulino on disabled list with elbow injury

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Felipe Paulino looked like a candidate for a mini-breakout this season after throwing 125 innings with a 4.11 ERA and 119 strikeouts following a trade to the Royals last year, but instead the 28-year-old right-hander was placed on the disabled list with elbow soreness.

Manager Ned Yost indicated to Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that the injury is not considered serious, but Paulino has a history of elbow problems and it means both Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy will be in the Opening Day rotation while he recovers from what is officially being called a right forearm flexor pronator strain.

They’ll join Opening Day starter Bruce Chen, plus Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar, which is a group that plays a big part in me being skeptical about the Royals’ chances of finally contending this season.

(And just because I’m still a child, this out-of-context quote from Yost about Paulino made me chuckle: “He’s a real tight-bodied guy.”)

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

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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.