Minor league K leaders: Edwar Cabrera, Shelby Miller at the top

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Here’s a quick look at the minor league leaderboard for strikeouts.

1. Edwar Cabrera (23 – Rockies) – 68 K – 4.14 ERA in 50 IP for low-A Asheville
2. Shelby Miller (20 – Cardinals) – 59 K – 3.15 ERA in 40 IP for high-A Palm Beach
2. Tyler Skaggs (19 – D-backs) – 59 K – 3.20 ERA in 45 IP for high-A Visalia
4. Matt Moore (22 – Rays) – 56 K – 3.54 ERA in 40.2 IP for AA Montgomery
4. Brad Peacock (23 – Nationals) – 56 K – 2.13 ERA in 42.1 for AA Harrisburg
4. Eric Surkamp (23 – Giants) – 56 K – 1.88 ERA in 38.1 IP for AA Richmond
7. Jake Odorizzi (21 – Royals) – 55 K – 2.45 ERA in 36/2 IP for high-A Wilmington
8. Josh Smith (23 – Reds) – 54 K – 1.91 ERA in 42.1 IP for low-A Dayton
8. Allen Webster (21 – Dodgers) – 54 K – 2.47 ERA in 47.1 IP for high-A Rancho Cucamonga
10. Chad Bettis (22 – Rockies) – 51 K – 3.26 ERA in 47 IP for high-A Modesto
10. Jose Cisnero (22 – Astros) – 51 K – 5.94 ERA in 33.1 IP for high-A Lancaster
10. Brad Meyers (25 – Nationals) – 51 K – 2.61 ERA in 48.1 IP between AA/AAA
10. Juan Nicasio (24 – Rockies) – 51 K – 1.90 ERA in 42.2 IP for AA Tulsa
10. Joseph Wieland (21 – Rangers) – 51 K – 1.62 ERA in 44.1 IP for high-A Myrtle Beach

– Cabrera’s name certainly isn’t very well known, and as a 23-year-old in low-A ball, he’s not nearly the same kind of prospect as the next few guys on this list. His fastball is a bit below average, so he’s not going to be taken very seriously unless he can do it at higher levels.

– After Cabrera come the big names.  Of guys yet to make their major league debuts (basically, a qualification that allows me to rule out Julio Teheran), Miller may well be the top pitching prospect in the game.  Skaggs is showing incredible potential as well, though his walk rate is a bit high.  Of course, he’s the youngest pitcher on the list.

– Moore isn’t quite dominating the Southern League the way I thought he would, mostly because he’s given up six homers.  He has an outstanding 1.03 WHIP, and he’s striking out five batters for every one he walks.

– Peacock and Surkamp could be factors this year.   Peacock, blossoming in his fourth year in the Nationals system, has picked up velocity and now occasionally hits the mid-90s with his fastball.  A debut in the second half is a possibility, and he could be part of a very exciting rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann next year.  Surkamp, another young lefty for the Giants, doesn’t have the fastball of either Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner, but with two excellent offspeed pitches, he projects a mid-rotation guy.

– A few other names worth mentioning: Detroit’s Charlie Furbush is the strikeout leader for pitchers who have spent all season in Triple-A.  He’s fanned 47 while amassing a 2.90 ERA in 40.1 IP.  2010 first-rounder Drew Pomeranz would have made the list if the Indians weren’t being so careful with him; he has 48 strikeouts in just 32.2 IP.  And the top reliever on the board is Boston’s Juan Rodriguez.  He has 43 strikeouts in 24.1 IP for low-A Greenville.

Report: Yankees could be in on Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado
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The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.

The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.

Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.