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U.S. crushes World team in Futures Game

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When the Futures Game rosters were announced last month, the difference in the pitching staffs appeared dramatic; the U.S. was littered with big-time arms featuring first-round pedigree. The World team just didn’t match up.

So, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that the U.S. beat up on the World’s second-tier pitchers Sunday in running away with a 17-5 victory.

The World squad was able to take an early lead. Shortstop phenom Jurickson Profar (Tex) homered off Jake Odorizzi (KC) in the first, and Jae-Hoon Ha (ChC) hit a two-run blast off Gerrit Cole (Pit) in the second. Ha’s shot was a big surprise, as the defensive-minded center fielder came in with just three homers on the season. A sac fly from Oscar Taveras (StL) made it 4-0 in the top of the third.

From there, it was all U.S.A. Billy Hamilton (Cin), the fastest player in the minors, showed his wheels with a two-run triple hit over the head of Ha in center. Here’s the video. Ha misjudged the ball initially, and Hamilton seemed to think it’d be caught off the bat. If he had gone full bore from the start, he might have turned into an inside-the-park job with his speed.

The U.S. squad kept racking up singles and doubles from there before Nick Castellanos (Det) homered in the sixth to make it 15-5.

Ariel Pena (LAA) took the worst of it for the World team, giving up eight runs in one-third of an inning. Julio Rodriguez (Phi) gave up Castellanos’ homer and allowed three runs — two earned — in his innings. Chris Reed (LAD) gave up four runs — two earned — in an inning. The most impressive World team pitcher was starter Yordano Ventura (KC). He hit 100 mph a couple of times on the fast Kansas City gun and retired all three batters he faced.

The U.S pitchers weren’t exactly dominant. All seven guys to work a full inning gave up at least one hit. After Odorizzi and Cole allowed their homers, Danny Hultzen (Sea) surrendered another run in the third. Dylan Bundy (Bal), the one guy everyone wanted to see, gave up three hits in the fourth, but escaped with a scoreless inning. Taijuan Walker (Sea) looked the best of the bunch today. He allowed one hit while working a scoreless seventh. Matt Barnes (Bos) finished the game. After entering with one down and none on in the ninth, he threw two pitches and got two outs.

The offensive star was Castellanos. The third-base prospect had two singles and a walk to go along with his home run. Chris Singleton (Hou) also had three hits. Hometown hero Wil Myers (KC) played the entire game and went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Many of the Royals fans in attendance would probably like to see him step in for Jeff Francoeur after the break.

For the World team. Profar went 2-for-3 with the homer before stepping aside for Francisco Lindor (Cle). Since the World team was overloaded with shortstops, Jean Segura (LAA) played second base, his old position, and went 2-for-3. Ha ended up 2-for-2 before being replaced.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.