Royals acquire Justin Maxwell from Astros

8 Comments

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Royals have picked up outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros. The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton confirmed the deal, adding that the Astros are getting right-hander Kyle Smith in return.

Maxwell gives the Royals another outfield option with David Lough having cooled off of late. With Lorenzo Cain primarily in center and Alex Gordon in left, Lough, Maxwell and Jarrod Dyson will typically battle for one spot in the lineup. Maxwell will probably play mostly against lefties at the onset.

Maxwell, 29, has hit .241/.311/.387 with two homers in 137 at-bats this season. Last year, he hit .229/.304/.460 with 18 homers in 315 at-bats for the Astros. He’s struggled with injuries his entire career, which has made it difficult for him to establish himself.

The Astros have taken a liking to Brandon Barnes in the outfield, which made Maxwell expendable. They also have top prospect George Springer likely to come up and play center field later this season.

Smith, a 2011 fourth-round pick, was 5-4 with a 2.85 ERA and a 96/29 K/BB ratio in 104 1/3 innings for high-A Wilmington this year. The 20-year-old was rated the Royals’ No. 12 prospect by Baseball America before the start of the season, and he’d probably moved up a few spots since.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
Getty Images
6 Comments

Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.