Reds flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman is almost ready to return from facial fractures, but in the meantime the Hardest-Thrower In Baseball title belongs to someone new.
Here are the leaders in average fastball velocity after one month of the season among pitchers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs:
Yordano Ventura 96.7
Nathan Eovaldi 96.0
Garrett Richards 95.9
Gerrit Cole 95.6
Jose Fernandez 95.4
Ages of the five starters with the fastest average fastballs: 22, 24, 25, 23, 21. And apparently being named Garrett/Gerrit helps, too. My crush on Yordano Ventura is well-documented in this space, but suffice it to say that the Royals rookie is living up to the hype, velocity-wise and performance-wise, leading all starters with both a 96.7 mph fastball average and a 1.50 ERA. He’s a bad, bad man.
Kelvin Herrera 97.1
Carlos Martinez 97.0
Jordan Walden 96.7
Jake McGee 96.7
Trevor Rosenthal 96.2
Just for some context, Chapman averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball last season. St. Louis places setup man Carlos Martinez and closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top five velocity list and Jake McGee of the Rays is the only left-hander in either top five.
Oh, and the softest-thrower in baseball? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 82.0 mph, followed by slop-slinging southpaws Mark Buehrle at 83.2 mph and Bruce Chen at 83.9 mph.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.