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.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.