Evan Gattis, Jackie Bradley among top performers in the minors

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Here’s a minor league leaderboard for you: top hitters by OPS:

Brad Eldred (Det, AAA, 31, 1B) – .348/.408/.857 – 1.265
Evan Gattis (Atl, A+/AA, 25, C/OF) – .361/.441/.770 – 1.211
Wil Myers (KC, AA, 21, OF) – .344/.420/.712 – 1.132
Jackie Bradley (Bos, A+, 22, OF) – .389/.507/.575 – 1.082
Steve Pearce (NYY, AAA, 29, 1B) – .361/.444/.631 – 1.075
Anthony Rizzo (ChC, AAA, 22, 1B) – .351/.416/.657 – 1.073
Matt LaPorta (Cle, AAA, 27, 1B) – .336/.413/.645 – 1.058
Nathan Freiman (SD, AA,  25, 1B) – .324/.374/.684 – 1.058
Ronnie Welty (Bal, A+/AA, 24, OF) – .352/.381/.667 – 1.047
Oscar Taveras (StL, AA, 20, OF) – .328/.375/.672 – 1.047
Brady Shoemaker (CWS, A+,  25, OF) – .357/.426/.611 – 1.037
Scott Van Slyke (LAD, AAA, 25, OF) – .336/.411/.623 – 1.034
Darin Ruf (Phi, AA,  25, 1B) – .383/.438/.595 – 1.032

I was going to take out the older players and just list the youngsters, but it wasn’t necessarily: most of these guys are on the young side. The starts by Myers, Rizzo and Taveras have gotten plenty of attention already, and those three are the best prospects on this list. Gattis’ story is also one everybody should know. He’s played 15 games at catcher and nine in left field this year as the Braves try to figure out how he might fit in.

Bradley is another worthy of notice; a disappointing junior year at South Carolina caused him to slip in the draft and the Red Sox took him with their third pick, which was 40th overall. He’s putting up his numbers in a pitcher’s league and has 11 steals to boot. The Red Sox will probably want to test him with Double-A soon. If he keeps this up, it’ll take some of the pressure off the need to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury prior to free agency.

And then there’s LaPorta, who might be due another look in Cleveland with Casey Kotchman floundering. The Indians could really use another power right-handed bat to complement all of their left-handers. LaPorta, though, has a history of reverse platoon splits: he’s hit righties much better than lefties as a major leaguer. The same thing is going on in Triple-A this year, too.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.