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Previewing Saturday’s Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League

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Bored without some baseball games in your life? Well, I have good news for you. Some of the game’s top prospects will be featured in tonight’s Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League, which will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET.

The annual Rising Stars Game has proven to be a stepping stone for prospects since the game’s inception in 2006, as Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com notes that 72.6 percent of participants have gone on to play in the major leagues. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Derek Norris and Mike Olt are among those who played in the game last year.

If we’re lucky, we might get to see Reds prospect Billy Hamilton run the bases tonight. The speedy 22-year-old set a professional baseball record with 155 stolen bases this year and is currently making the switch from shortstop to center field. Some other notable names to watch tonight include Tigers prospect third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos, Astros prospect first baseman Jonathan Singleton and Mariners prospect infielder Nick Franklin. Nationals prospect third baseman Anthony Rendon is a reserve for the East team while Mariners prospect catcher Mike Zunino, Cardinals prospect infielder Kolten Wong and Marlins prospect outfielder Christian Yelich are on the bench for the West. Cubs prospect shortstop Javier Baez likely would have participated, but he was recently forced to leave the Arizona Fall League due to a fractured thumb.

Jarred Cosart of the Astros is scheduled to start for the East team while Kyle Gibson of the Twins will get the call for the West squad, though they are unlikely to throw more than a couple of innings.

Below are the lineups for tonight’s game:

Rising Stars West: CF – Billy Hamilton (Reds), SS- Hak-Ju Lee (Rays), RF – Rymer Liriano, (Padres), 1B – Hunter Morris, (Brewers), 2B – Nick Franklin (Mariners), 3B- Cody Asche (Phillies), DH – Bryce Brentz (Red Sox), C – Tommy Joseph (Phillies), LF – Brian Fletcher (Royals)

Rising Stars East: LF – Brian Goodwin (Nationals), CF – Gary Brown (Giants), 1B – Jonathan Singleton, (Astros), DH – Nick Castellanos (Tigers), 3B – Kaleb Cowart (Angels), C – Austin Romine (Yankees), RF – Corey Dickerson (Rockies), 2B – David Adams (Yankees), SS – Chris Owings (Diamondbacks)

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.