Brewers acquire Juan Francisco from Braves, call up Scooter Gennett

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Atlanta designated Juan Francisco for assignment last week and today the Braves traded him to the Brewers for minor leaguer Thomas Keeling. Milwaukee also called up second baseman Scooter Gennett from Triple-A.

Francisco has been exclusively a third baseman in the majors, but given how awful the Brewers’ production has been at first base he should see time there until Corey Hart returns. Part of that lack of first base production, 36-year-old Alex Gonzalez, was released to make room on the roster for Francisco. If nothing else Francisco adds some left-handed power to the mix, but he’s also a career .254 hitter with a lousy .299 on-base percentage and 164/29 K/BB ratio.

Gennett could push the struggling Rickie Weeks at second base, although he’s hardly a top prospect. At age 23 he was hitting .297 with one homer and a .719 OPS in 50 games at Triple-A and Gennett had similar numbers with a .293 batting average, five homers, and a .714 OPS in 133 games at Double-A last season.

Keeling is a non-prospect and the 25-year-old former 18th-round pick has a 6.26 ERA as a pro.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.