UPDATE: Strasburg allowed zero runs and only two hits Sunday over three innings of work against the Cards. He also fanned two batters and tallied six groundouts.
12:23pm: It is Stephen Strasburg Day again in south Florida, as the young right-handed starter is scheduled to make his second appearance of the spring this afternoon against the Cardinals.
Strasburg turned in two scoreless frames in his Grapefruit League debut last week versus the Tigers, hitting 98 MPH with his fastball and displaying a gorgeously sharp slider. According to CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, tickets for Sunday’s spring game are fairly tough to come by, and the Nationals are certainly hoping that excitement will carry over to the nation’s capital once the regular season begins.
Washington manager Jim Riggleman has yet to make a decision on where Strasburg will open the 2010 season and continues to tell reporters that the club is employing a “wait and see” approach. In other words, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick is in control of his own destiny. If he continues to rattle off scoreless innings we’ll see him in a big league uniform in early April.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.