Twins sign former top prospect Jeff Clement to minor league deal

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Once upon a time Jeff Clement was a top prospect in the Mariners’ farm system, but the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 draft has spent most of the past six seasons at Triple-A and the 29-year-old catcher/first baseman has signed a minor-league contract with the Twins.

Clement got just 24 plate appearances for the Pirates this year and has a grand total of 421 plate appearances as a big leaguer, hitting .218 with 14 homers and a .648 OPS. And his bat was supposed to be Clement’s strength, as the Mariners and Pirates both determined that he wasn’t good enough defensively to catch regularly.

Clement has consistently fared well at Triple-A, batting .280 with an .852 OPS in 535 total games there and posting similar numbers in 2012, but for a 29-year-old with limited defensive value that’s certainly not particularly impressive production. He’ll compete for a spot on Minnesota’s bench during spring training, but figures to begin the season in Rochester.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.