Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker impresses over five innings in MLB debut

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Baseball America rated pitcher Taijuan Walker the #18 overall prospect going into the season, putting a lot of expectations on the 21-year-old entering his fourth year of professional baseball. He pitched well enough with Double-A Jackson, though, to warrant a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. There, he averaged better than a strikeout per inning and posted a 3.61 ERA over 57.1 innings.

The Mariners promoted him and scheduled him to make his Major League debut tonight against the lowly Astros, giving fans a brief glimpse into the future. Though Walker didn’t have his swing-and-miss stuff going — just six of his 70 pitches were swung at and missed — he allowed just one unearned run on two hits and one walk over five innings. He was pulled before the sixth in favor of Carter Capps.

The Mariner offense gave Walker five runs of support: they scored twice in the fourth on an RBI single by Dustin Ackley and an RBI ground out by Abraham Almonte (also making his MLB debut), and three times in the fifth on an RBI single by Kyle Seager and a two-run single by Ackley.

Red Sox acquire reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tyler Thornburg #37 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during the ninth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on September 22, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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The Brewers and Red Sox have struck a deal. The key part of it: reliever Tyler Thornburg is heading from Milwaukee to Boston. The entire package is not yet known, but there are simultaneous reports that Travis Shaw and two minor leaguers, Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, are heading to Milwaukee.

Thornburg, 28, is coming off of a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.15 ERA while striking out 90 batters in 67 innings across 67 appearances. Thornburg assumed closer duties and saved 13 games for the Brewers after Milwaukee traded Jeremy Jeffress to Texas. Thorburg will presumably return to a setup roll in Boston behind Craig Kimbrel. The Brewers will likely go with Corey Knebel as their closer in 2017.

Shaw played third base, first base and some outfield for Boston last year but saw his production dip upon being exposed to everyday play for the first time as a big leaguer. The Sox are reportedly going to give Pablo Sandoval a shot to claim the third base job once again this spring, rendering Shaw superfluous.

 

Claire Smith becomes the first woman to win the BBWAA’s Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.

Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.

Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.