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Athletics sign Norge Ruiz to minor league deal

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Right-hander Norge Ruiz is set to receive a $2 million signing bonus from the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. The club signed the 22-year-old Cuban defector to a minor league deal on Friday and could see the right-hander in the rotation sometime next season.

Per Sanchez, Ruiz is ranked No. 3 on Major League Baseball’s top 30 list of international prospects. He last appeared with the Sabuesos de Holguin and Ganaderos de Camaguey in the 2014 Cuban National Series, pitching to a combined 3.26 ERA with a 6.9 SO/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. While he’s had difficulty with his command, he features a fastball that tops out around 94 m.p.h. and an impressive variety of off-speed pitches that should round out his repertoire when he makes it to the majors.

Athletics’ assistant general manager Dan Feinstein had positive things to say about the righty (via Slusser), who possesses the “makings of a quality major-league starter” and wields a big league change-up, another pitch that has earned Ruiz top billing among international prospects this year. Baseball America’s Ben Badler points out that the prospect comes with an actual price tag of $4 million, which could still be a steal if Ruiz lives up to the hype:

His bonus is $2 million, and since the A’s will have to pay a 100 percent overage tax for exceeding their bonus pool, the total cost for the team will be $4 million.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.