Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports hears that the Twins are still seriously pursuing free agent first baseman Mike Napoli. The two sides don’t appear close to a deal at the moment, however, and Napoli has also attracted interest from both the Mets and Rays over the past month. Still, Heyman adds, the slugger would bring a much-needed boost to the club’s lineup and his connection to both president Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine could give them a welcome advantage in negotiations.
Napoli, 36, is coming off of one of the worst performances of his career. He took a one-year contract with the Rangers in 2017 and slashed a meager .193/.285/.428 in 485 plate appearances, despite an impressive 29 home runs and .713 OPS. Outside of his power surge, part of his overall decline in value can be attributed to injuries, from a lower back strain to a stress reaction in his right leg. In December, it was revealed that the veteran infielder had played the entire season with a torn ligament in his right hand, which was later corrected through surgery.
Warts and all, Napoli still looks like a good fit for the Twins, who could utilize him at DH or stash him behind Joe Mauer at first base. Earlier this week, both MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said talks between the two weren’t “as intense as [was] being reported,” and Berardino pointed out that pitching remains the top priority for the club as they look toward the 2018 season.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.