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Houston Astros will visit the White House


Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports that the White House has invited the Houston Astros to visit president Trump later this year and that the Astros will make the trip. It may be as early as spring training, actually, as the Astros do not visit Baltimore until the last series of the season and do not play the Nationals in interleague play this year.

This would not have been a story at all in years past, but since Donald Trump took office a number of athletes, such as the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, and one professional championship team — The Golden State Warriors — have either declined Trump’s invitation (Trump said they were “disinvited,” but did so after they said they would not come) or said they would not go if the occasion presented itself.

Earlier in the offseason the Astros as a team said they were undecided, but several individual players said they would go if asked. That group included World Series MVP George Springer and ace Dallas KeuchelThird baseman Alex Bregman, who has been sharply critical of Trump, said that he’d follow whatever two of his teammates decide, saying “I’m going to do whatever Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa do.” Beltran is retired now. Both he and Correa have been critical of the Trump Administration’s response to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. There are always some no-shows for presidential visits. It would not be shocking if Bregman, Correa and Beltran, who would likely be invited along given that he was a leader on the World Series-winning team, are among the no-shows.

The rest of the Astros, however — at least most of them — will be here.

Ronald Acuna tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

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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.