Kansas City’s Kelvin Herrera is MLB’s new hardest thrower

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Averaging a cool 99.1 mph with his fastball, Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera has taken over as the league’s hardest thrower since being called up last month.

Here’s the top 10, according to Fangraphs data:

99.1 – Herrera
98.6 – Andrew Cashner (Padres)
98.4 – Henry Rodriguez (Nationals)
96.8 – Nate Jones (White Sox)
96.8 – Alexi Ogando (Rangers)
96.7 – Pedro Strop (Orioles)
96.4 – Aroldis Chapman (Reds)
96.3 – Jason Motte (Cardinals)
96.0 – Esmil Rogers (Rockies)
96.0 – Craig Kimbrel (Braves)

The top starter on the list is Stephen Strasburg at 95.7. Obviously, Strasburg and a few other starters could average in the high-90s for an inning like some of these relievers, but they have to pace themselves to go six or seven innings.

Herrera, a 22-year-old righty out of the Dominincan Republic, generates his big velocity despite standing just 5-foot-10. He has a 3.31 ERA and a 15/3 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings since joining the Royals.

Interesting is that, to this point anyway, Herrera has used his fastball less than any other pitcher on this list, throwing it just 55 percent of the time. Cashner and Rodriguez are both over 70 percent fastballs. Chapman throws his 84 percent of the time.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.