Blue Jays call up 21-year-old prospect Henderson Alvarez from Double-A

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Henderson Alvarez began this season at Single-A, but 16 starts later the 21-year-old right-hander is in the majors after the Blue Jays called him up today.

Alvarez is stepping into the rotation spot that belonged to Carlos Villanueva, who’s on the disabled list with a strained forearm, and will make his big-league debut tomorrow at home against the A’s.

That’s a favorable first matchup for Alvarez, who had a 2.86 ERA and 66/17 K/BB ratio in 88 innings at Double-A.

Those are strong overall numbers and reports of his fastball hitting the upper-90s consistently speak well of his raw stuff, but his strikeout rate is nothing special and Alvarez had mediocre numbers at Single-A last season. Expect some growing pains initially.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.