Jeff Francis agrees to stay with Reds, but will be at Triple-A

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Jeff Francis chose not to opt out of his minor-league contract with the Reds, hoping to stick around in camp beyond his opt-out date and win a big-league jump. Instead he’ll remain in the organization while beginning the season at Triple-A, where the 31-year-old left-hander hasn’t pitched regularly since way back in 2004.

Back then he was a stud prospect for the Rockies, but injuries have taken their toll on Francis and his career ERA is 4.78 in 1,066 innings. Coors Field being his home ballpark for most of that time certainly didn’t help, but Francis actually has a higher ERA (5.06) on the road and went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA for the Royals last season.

Now he’ll bide his time at Triple-A, waiting for the Reds to need a fill-in starter at some point.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.