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Rick Kranitz named Braves new pitching coach

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The Braves have named Rick Kranitz as their new pitching coach. Krantiz was recently let go as the pitching coach of the Phillies in an oddly-timed move that raised some eyebrows. The Braves, meanwhile, fired their pitching coach, Chuck Hernandez, just after the season ended.

Atlanta has a number of near-ready starting pitchers who are likely to break into the majors in 2019. It’s always hard to determine what, exactly, makes a good pitching coach, but Krantiz was given a good degree of credit for the emergence Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin in Philly, and the Braves no doubt hope he can help matters in Atlanta.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.