Jim Henderson

10 years to reach the majors, 10 days to become a closer

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That I decided to note 29-year-old Jim Henderson’s major league arrival with a blog entry two weeks ago was largely due to the fact that he was an Expos draft pick; if he had instead been selected by the Reds or Giants 10 years ago, I probably would have let it pass without comment.

Henderson, though, is turning out to be something quite a bit more than a novelty act for the Brewers. On Wednesday, he picked up his second save in 24 hours, throwing a hitless ninth inning to protect a 3-2 lead against the Reds.

In all, Henderson has pitched seven innings in his two weeks with the Brewers and he’s currently sporting a 1.29 ERA and a 10/1 K/BB ratio.

Henderson isn’t some wily veteran getting by on guile or a wacky delivery, either; he sports a legitimate mid-90s fastball, which is why he kept getting looks in the minors despite underwhelming numbers. If he had better command or a better slider, he would have reached the majors years ago.

So far, Henderson is showing improved command. I’m still not very impressed with his slider, but it looks a whole lot better when he gets ahead with his fastball. The Brewers probably aren’t really looking at him as any sort of fixture in the closer’s role, but with the way he’s throwing, there’s reason to think he could be a useful piece in the pen beyond this season.

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.