Pirates send top prospect Gregory Polanco to the minors

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Gregory Polanco was always a long shot to make the Pirates out of spring training and today the team officially ruled him out, optioning the 22-year-old top prospect to the minors among the latest batch of roster cuts.

Polanco was impressive in camp, but has just 70 games of experience above Single-A and wasn’t especially productive at Double-A last season. He’s expected to begin this year at Triple-A, where he’ll play right field and try to convince the Pirates he’s ready for a midseason call-up.

In the meantime the Pirates will likely go with a Jose Tabata-Travis Snider timeshare in right field, alongside Starling Marte in left field and Andrew McCutchen in center field. Tabata is actually only three years older than Polanco and has shown that he can be a solid all-around player, but whenever Polanco is deemed ready there won’t be much blocking his path to Pittsburgh.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

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.