Mariners call up shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, demote Dustin Ackley to minors

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Seattle shortstops are just barely out-hitting National League pitchers this season and the Mariners have finally decided to do something about it. Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that they’re calling up Triple-A shortstop Nick Franklin.

Franklin ranked as a top 100 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com coming into the season and has been fantastic at Triple-A, hitting .324 with a .440 on-base percentage and more walks (30) than strikeouts (20) in 39 games.

He’s actually played more second base than shortstop in Tacoma, which suggests the dropoff defensively compared to slick-fielding Brendan Ryan would be pretty huge, but Ryan has hit just .198 in 181 games since the beginning of last season. It’s also possible that Franklin will play second base because …

To make room for Franklin on the roster Divish says the Mariners are demoting former No. 2 overall pick and one-time stud prospect Dustin Ackley to Triple-A. Ackley had a promising rookie season in 2011, but has hit just .221 with a .599 OPS in 198 games since then while serving as Seattle’s regular second baseman.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.