No, it’s not Brandon Hicks. It’s Utility Man! Who I just had the pleasure of meeting out on the concourse here in Nashville.
His real name is Ben Youngerman, and he can be hired for your minor league game and — according to his manager, anyway — birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. He’s here, along with with many other entertainers, as part of the minor league trade show. He and his brethren — all sons of Max Patkin, really — use the Winter Meetings to sell their services to the owners of your local minor league nine. When you see some of these guys at the ballpark next summer, it’s likely because they made deals here this week.
Gotta say, I like Utility Man. Everyone around here is dragging tail this morning, bu he’s chipper and on point. This is his website. See him in action here:
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.
Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.
Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.