Two callups and an injury have opened up places in the Futures Game. Now we know who will be stepping in.
Fellow Diamondbacks prospect Tyler Skaggs will replace Trevor Bauer as a pitcher on the U.S. team. While now quite as highly regarded as his former teammate at Double-A Mobile, Skaggs does rate as one of the game’s 15- or 20-best pitching prospects. The 20-year-old lefty is 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA and a 71/21 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 innings in the Southern League this year. The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Angels two years ago in the Dan Haren trade. It will be his second straight Futures Game appearance.
Replacing the Rockies’ Edwar Cabrera as a pitcher for the World team is Angels right-hander Ariel Pena. The 22-year-old Pena is 5-4 with a 2.94 ERA and an 86/34 K/BB ratio in 88 2/3 innings for Double-A Arkansas. Some viewed him as a relief prospect entering the season, but he’s made gains with his command, particularly of late, and he might be a mid-rotation guy for the Halos in a couple of years.
Tigers catcher Rob Brantly is the other addition to the U.S. team. He takes the place of the Jays’ Travis d’Arnaud, who suffered a torn PCL in his knee while playing for Triple-A Las Vegas this week. Brantly, 22, has hit .303/.350/.417 between Double- and Triple-A this year, though he has struggled since his promotion. The Tigers likely jumped at the chance to showcase him; while he’s a decent prospect with a chance to be a starting catcher, he’s probably not going to fit in Detroit in any capacity, since he and Alex Avila are both left-handed hitters.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.