Yonder Alonso, the catcher?

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Yonder Alonso headshot.jpgThat’s right. During the team’s winter caravan event on Saturday, manager Dusty Baker mentioned that the team has considered using prospect Yonder Alonso behind the plate. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com has the quote from the Reds’ skipper:

“That’s always a possibility,” Baker said. “We’ve entertained a few things, even the possibility of putting Alonso behind the plate. He’s built more like a catcher than he is anything. Imagine a left-handed, power-hitting catcher. A lot of that depends on our Minor League development people that spend time with the kids and the time training them.”

Save for a few designated hitter assignments here and there, the former 2008 first-round pick has exclusively played at first base in the minor leagues, so this is probably wishful thinking more than anything else. I’ve looked for any evidence of him playing another position during his time at the University of Miami, but have come up empty-handed.

Alonso, who turns 23 in April, batted .292/.374/.464 with nine home runs and 52 RBI during his first full year of pro ball last season, reaching as high as Double-A Carolina. He was recently ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America and is expected to rise rather quickly, so something will have to give with Joey Votto as the big club’s current first baseman. Many have speculated that Votto will eventually be ticketed for left field.
 

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.