After several years of dealing with a barren farm system, the Phillies have slowly been able to restock the lower ranks with some talent with plenty of upside. Pitchers Adam Morgan and Shane Watson are among those giving Phillies fans something to look forward to as the duo ranked sixth- and eighth-best in the organization, respectively, according to MLB.com.
But the Phillies got a double-dose of bad news yesterday, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported:
[Morgan] suffered a left shoulder injury [in May], which ultimately required surgery this month. Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said Morgan might not be back until August, at the earliest. Fellow prospect Shane Watson is scheduled to have right shoulder surgery shortly. He also is expected to be out until August.
Morgan was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2011 draft. He has been solid in three seasons in the organization, but suffered a shoulder injury in mid-May last season, sidelining him for two months. Doctors prescribed rest rather than undergoing surgery immediately. The Phillies put him on a pitch count. While the results were decent following his return (2.67 ERA in eight Triple-A starts), his strikeout and walk rates were worse (20-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30 1/3 innings) and he was giving up hits at a much higher rate as well (.347 BABIP). Morgan will turn 24 years old at the end of February.
Watson, a 20-year-old taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, made just 16 starts in what would have been his first full season in professional baseball. With Single-A Lakewood, Watson posted a 4.75 ERA in 72 innings. Following a start on July 4, Watson was given time off due to shoulder fatigue, but was eventually shut down for the season in August. Like Morgan, doctors prescribed rest rather than a surgical procedure. In both cases, the rest seemed to only delay the inevitable.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.