After more than a week of flirtation with the Dodgers, a brief fling with the Braves, and then some footsie with the Yankees, Ryan Dempster has been traded. To the Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs get third baseman Christian Villanueva and RHP Kyle Hendricks.
There were rumblings this morning that the Rangers were involved, but many figured that it was simply a matter of the Cubs trying to leverage Dempster’s first choice — the Dodgers — into paying what they want. That didn’t happen, however, and late this afternoon word came down that Dempster had given approval for a trade to either the Dodgers, the Yankees or the Rangers. And Jon Daniels sealed the deal.
Villanueva is only 21 years-old. He’s hitting .285/.356/.421 with ten homers for high-A Myrtle Beach. His teammate, Hendricks, is 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 130.2 innings with only 15 walks. He’ll turn 23 in December.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.