In the strongest sign yet that the Braves might finally be ready to bench Dan Uggla or perhaps even cut bait on the struggling second baseman, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that they’re calling up Triple-A second baseman Tommy La Stella.
La Stella is 25 years old and not regarded as a top prospect, but he’s consistently posted excellent on-base percentages in the minors and as a low-strikeout, low-power hitter he’s basically the opposite of Uggla’s skill set.
This season La Stella has a .293 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 47 games at Triple-A, with more walks (25) than strikeouts (14). He’s slugging just .359, but La Stella isn’t totally without power and has a .474 career slugging percentage with an average of 10 homers per 150 games.
Uggla, meanwhile, is hitting just .177 with two homers and a .511 OPS in 34 games and dating all the way back to the beginning of 2012 he’s hit .198 with 374 strikeouts in 324 games. Uggla is still owed $13 million for next season as part of a five-year, $62 million deal, but he’s well past the point of giving the Braves any reason to think there’s a turnaround coming.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.