UPDATE: Royals have a 5-foot-7 strikeout machine in bullpen

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UPDATE: It’s official, he made the team as one of four rookie relievers.

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Tim Collins has become sort of a cult favorite among prospect buffs for his small stature and big strikeout totals.

He’s listed at 5-foot-7, might be an inch or two shorter than that, and struck out 108 batters in 71 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

And it wasn’t a fluke, as Collins also racked up 116 strikeouts in 77 innings in 2009 and 98 strikeouts in 68 innings in 2008. Add it all up and the 21-year-old left-hander has a remarkable 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his four-season pro career.

Whether or not his exceptional bat-missing ability will translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, but the Royals are apparently very close to giving him a chance to find out. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that manager Ned Yost “wants to open the season with two lefty relievers” and “there is no obvious second choice to Collins.”

Reds reliever Danny Hererra is the only pitcher 5-foot-7 or shorter to throw at least 50 innings in a season in the past 10 years. In fact, during the past 35 years the only 5-foot-7 or shorter pitchers to log 50 innings in a season are Herrera, Bill Simas, and Richie Lewis. Collins has much better raw stuff than most diminutive pitchers, as his fastball typically clocks in around 93 miles per hour, and his minor-league numbers are so spectacular that it’d be tough for the rebuilding Royals not to give him a shot. Whether or not he’s ready to thrive at age 21 is another issue, but it’d be fun watching him either way.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.