Twins minor leaguer Paul Bargas dies of cancer

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This is truly awful: Twins minor league pitcher Paul Bargas has died of brain cancer. He was only 23.

Bargas was a 13th-round pick of the Rockies in 2009 and pitched at low Single-A in 2010. The Twins traded for him after that. He had to leave spring training in 2011 with what was first termed a “neurological condition,” but later diagnosed as cancer. He tried a comeback this past winter, but he never pitched in a game again.

The Twins released a statement earlier today:

“Paul had been battling a rare form of cancer for over a year and on Tuesday night he lost his battle. Paul was an incredible young man who displayed a phenomenal ability to stay positive through all of this and we at the Twins feel honored to have known him.”

Chip Scoggins of the Star-Tribune wrote a column about Bargas last winter.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.