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Athletics sign Norge Ruiz to minor league deal

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Right-hander Norge Ruiz is set to receive a $2 million signing bonus from the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. The club signed the 22-year-old Cuban defector to a minor league deal on Friday and could see the right-hander in the rotation sometime next season.

Per Sanchez, Ruiz is ranked No. 3 on Major League Baseball’s top 30 list of international prospects. He last appeared with the Sabuesos de Holguin and Ganaderos de Camaguey in the 2014 Cuban National Series, pitching to a combined 3.26 ERA with a 6.9 SO/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. While he’s had difficulty with his command, he features a fastball that tops out around 94 m.p.h. and an impressive variety of off-speed pitches that should round out his repertoire when he makes it to the majors.

Athletics’ assistant general manager Dan Feinstein had positive things to say about the righty (via Slusser), who possesses the “makings of a quality major-league starter” and wields a big league change-up, another pitch that has earned Ruiz top billing among international prospects this year. Baseball America’s Ben Badler points out that the prospect comes with an actual price tag of $4 million, which could still be a steal if Ruiz lives up to the hype:

His bonus is $2 million, and since the A’s will have to pay a 100 percent overage tax for exceeding their bonus pool, the total cost for the team will be $4 million.

Francisco Cervelli shines in his Braves debut

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Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates released Francisco Cervelli. Yesterday he was signed by the Braves. Atlanta gave him the start behind the plate and he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs driven in to help his new team to victory over the Mets. Welcome to Atlanta, Frankie.

Cervelli had been rehabbing from a concussion and hadn’t seen big league action since late May. He was ready to come back, though, and the Pirates — who are going nowhere — gave him his release so that he might join a contender for the stretch run.

The performance he put up last night, obviously will not be the norm for him going forward. But it’s also the case that his early 2019 batting line of .193/.279/.248 is not indicative of his talent level either. He posted an .809 OPS (122 OPS+) in 2018, and if he gives Atlanta anything even approaching his usual production it’ll help stabilize a shaky catching situation for the Braves.