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Eric Thames: “I love beer”

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Eric Thames has been the story of the young 2017 season.

After two partial campaigns in 2011 and 2012 with limited success, Thames took off for Korea where he became a superstar, hitting 124 home runs and 379 RBI in three seasons. He won an MVP award and a trip to the KBO All-Star Game. While understanding that KBO is a hitter’s league, he hit .317/.425/.676 with 40 home runs in 2016. In 2015 he was even better, hitting .381/.497/.790 with 47 homers and 140 driven in.

While it did not seem like Thames would land anything other than a minor league deal with an American team this past offseason, the Brewers offered him a major league deal, guaranteeing Thames $16 million. There’s a club option for 2020 at $7.5 million with a $1 million buyout. While that’s not a lot of money these days, it’s a pretty nice deal for a guy with only a KBO track record.

In the early going that investment is proving to have been a fantastic one, with Thames hitting .426/.491/1.000 while leading the league with seven homers and seventeen runs scored in his first 13 games. There’s still a lot of time left in April, but he’s the front-runner for NL Player of the Month.

He’s also winning over the hearts of Milwaukee fans. Or else he should be with quotes like this one taken from a profile of Thames in USA Today:

“I came to Milwaukee before I signed, checked it out, and after an hour I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love the Midwest. I love the hospitality of people. And Milwaukee has great beer.

“I love beer.”

His production will determine whether he stays a fan favorite, but stuff like that will determine whether he becomes a local legend.

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.