Author: Matthew Pouliot

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Astros vendor brings snow cones into bathroom stall, gets fired


This is on the short list of the most horrifying stories ever posted at HardballTalk.

An Aramark vendor at Monday’s Royals-Astros game at Minute Maid was caught bringing his tray of snow cones into a bathroom stall with him. has the video taken by a concerned onlooker.

Remarkably, this happened in the first game attended by Reid Ryan in his new role as Astros team president.

Said the unnamed fan who turned in the vendor: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This guy is taking a dump. There’s no doubt about it. What sane person could possibly think, yeah this is a good idea. I’ll just put the food that I’m about to sell on the floor.”

The Astros are already in damage control mode, noting that Aramark terminated the vendor immediately upon learning of the incident:

“The Astros share ARAMARK’s view on the importance of food safety and will work with them to ensure that our fans have a safe and outstanding experience at Minute Maid Park. We also commend the fan for his vigilance in pointing out the inappropriate actions of the vendor. The Astros personally thanked him and advised him of the swift action taken in regard to the employee.”

The NL All-Star starting lineup will outshine the AL’s

Justin Upton

OK, so there hasn’t been any actual All-Star ballot results released yet. That doesn’t mean I can’t do my fun little exercise here. What follows is my best guess at the All-Star Game starting lineups.

National League

CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
LF Justin Upton
RF Bryce Harper
3B David Wright
DH Carlos Gonzalez
C Buster Posey
SS Troy Tulowitzki

Ryan Braun and Paul Goldschmidt would have great cases as the designated hitter, too, but since the lineup is already righty heavy, Gonzalez makes more sense, I think. Shin-Soo Choo will also be a possibility if he keeps this up.

American League

LF Mike Trout
2B Robinson Cano
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
RF Jose Bautista
DH David Ortiz
CF Adam Jones
C Joe Mauer
SS Jhonny Peralta

The top of the American League’s lineup matches up fine with the NL’s, probably even bettering it. But the bottom doesn’t compare. Of course, I’m just guessing at Jones. Trout would seem to be a lock as a starting outfielder, but Bautista and Jones aren’t. Among those who could factor in are Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Torii Hunter and Alex Rios.

The NL also has an unfair advantage here in that it gets to pick its DH, while the AL has to live with whoever is voted on. That’s not a problem if Ortiz stays healthy, but it means Chris Davis, who ranks second in the AL in OPS and RBI and first in homers, gets ripped off. There’s also no place for Evan Longoria.

Shortstop is the real problem. With Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter hurt, Peralta has been the best of the rest, though maybe Elvis Andrus will get voted in over him.

Mike Trout hits for cycle in Angels’ rout of Mariners

Mike Trout

Saving the home run for last, Mike Trout recorded his first career cycle Tuesday as the Angels crushed the Mariners 12-0.

Trout struck out in his first at-bat of the night before singling in the third, tripling in the fourth, doubling in the sixth and homering in the eighth. He ended the game with five RBI, and he also picked up his ninth steal to go along with his ninth homer.

The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin pointed out that the 21-year-old Trout is the youngest player to hit for the cycle since Hall of Famer Mel Ott did so in 1929. It was also the perfect answer to Miguel Cabrera’s three-homer game Sunday in light of the subsequent revisiting of the 2012 MVP race.

After a slow start, Trout, the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up last season, is currently on pace for 32 homers and 32 steals, as well as 112 runs scored and a whopping 122 RBI. He’s hitting .343 in May to raise his overall average to .293.

Of course, as impressive as his numbers are, they’re still not a match for Cabrera’s this year. And his defense isn’t yet making up the difference, at least not according to WAR. Plus, any chance of Trout factoring into the MVP race will likely hinge on the Angels’ playing much better ball from here on in. At 18-27, they have a better record than only the Astros in the American League.

Anthony Rendon, Miguel Sano rate as 2013’s top minor league performers

Miguel Sano

The top of the minor league OPS leaderboard is typically littered with Triple-A veterans and A-ball players too old for their leagues. That’s still the case this year, but numbers two, three and four on the list are all top prospects.

Minor league OPS leaders (minimum 100 at-bats)

Scott Van Slyke (26 Dodgers): 1.236 OPS for Triple-A Albuquerque
Anthony Rendon (23 Nationals): 1.136 OPS for Double-A Harrisburg
Garin Cecchini (22 Red Sox): 1.135 OPS for Single-A Salem
Miguel Sano (20 Twins): 1.122 OPS for Single-A Fort Myers
Andrew Brown (28 Mets): 1.097 OPS for Triple-A Las Vegas
Chris Colabello (29 Twins): 1.089 OPS for Triple-A Rochester
Brett Pill (28 Giants): 1.085 OPS for Triple-A Fresno
Ji-Man Choi (22 Mariners): 1.073 OPS for Single-A High Desert
Ryan Court (25 Diamondbacks): 1.072 OPS for low-A South Bend/Single-A Visalia
Anthony Aliotti (25 Athletics): 1.069 OPS for Double-A Midland

Sano is now on the short list of the game’s best prospects. He hit two more homers in a doubleheader today, giving him 13 homers in 153 at-bats on the season. He does strike out quite a bit — 44 times this year and 144 times in 129 games in low-A ball last season — but he’s a patient hitter and he’s only going to get stronger as he matures. He just turned 20 earlier this month, making him one of the youngest players in the Florida State League. The big question with Sano is whether he’ll be able to stay at third.

Cecchini has also been a very pleasant surprise this year. Baseball America ranked the third baseman as Boston’s No. 7 prospect after he hit .305/.394/.433 in the Sally League last season. Now he’s probably a top-50 guy in all of baseball thanks to his increasing power; he has five homers in 134 at-bats after hitting four in 455 at-bats last year. Also, he’s playing in a pitcher’s league and walking (22) more than he’s striking out (20).

Then there’s Rendon, also naturally a third baseman, though one who is getting reps at second with Ryan Zimmerman in the way in D.C. He’s already been up in the majors once this season, and it’s possible an extended opportunity will come if Danny Espinosa continues to struggle.

The rest of the names on the above list aren’t quite so interesting, so here are the next 12, limited to players age 22 and under:

Zach Borenstein (22 Angels): 1.052 OPS for Single-A Inland Empire
Kevin Plawecki (22 Mets): 1.045 OPS for low-A Savannah
Rosell Herrera (20 Rockies): 1.032 OPS for low-A Asheville
Christian Yelich (21 Marlins): .995 OPS for Single-A Jupiter/Double-A Jacksonville
Stetson Allie (22 Pirates): .993 OPS for low-A West Virginia
Byron Buxton (19 Twins): .979 OPS for low-A Cedar Rapids
Chris Taylor (22 Mariners): .970 OPS for Single-A High Desert
Joc Pederson (21 Dodgers): .958 OPS for Double-A Chattanooga
Aaron Altherr (22 Phillies): .953 OPS for Single-A Clearwater
Andy Burns (22 Blue Jays): .952 OPS for Single-A Dunedin
Peter O’Brien (22 Yankees): .952 OPS for low-A Charleston
Yasiel Puig (22 Dodgers): .947 OPS for Double-A Chattanooga

Yelich, Buxton and Puig will all join Sano in the top 10s of most midseason prospects lists when they get published. Buxton was the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, but there’s a good chance he’d go No. 1 if the Astros had it to do over again. Along with his brilliant .317/.420/.559 line, the center fielder has 19 steals for Cedar Rapids.