Braves name 22-year-old prospect Tyler Pastornicky starting shortstop

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Tyler Pastornicky came into spring training as the favorite to be the Braves’ shortstop and today they made it official, naming the 22-year-old prospect the Opening Day starter.

Pastornicky was acquired from the Blue Jays in the mid-2010 deal for Yunel Escobar and replaces veteran Alex Gonzalez, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent. Jack Wilson is hurt, so he beat out fellow prospect Andrelton Simmons for the job.

Simmons is headed to the minors, but could be in Atlanta later this season if Pastornicky struggles. And while Pastornicky’s lofty .314 batting average between Double-A and Triple-A as a 21-year-old last season makes struggling seem unlikely, he also managed just seven homers, 27 total extra-base hits, and 32 walks in 117 games.

Pastornicky rarely strikes out and has very good speed, which should enable him to post a solid batting average, but expecting him to hit .300-plus is obviously wishful thinking and his lack of power and patience are definitely weaknesses. Of course, the Braves lived with Gonzalez’s brutal .277 on-base percentage and measly .377 slugging percentage for the past season-and-a-half, so as long as Pastornicky plays good defense, steals some bases, and hits some singles they’ll probably be happy.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.