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Braves calling up 3B/OF prospect Austin Riley

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We’ve had a rash of prospect callups recently. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Keston Hiura, Nick Senzel, Michael Chavis, Carter Kieboom, Corbin Martin, Griffin Canning, Nicky Lopez. Others. Add another one to the pile: late last night the Braves announced that the were calling up third baseman/outfielder Austin Riley.

The “outfielder” part is relatively new — Riley is a third baseman — but with Josh Donaldson in Atlanta for a year, the Braves have had him working in the outfield so he might have a path to the bigs this year. Ender Inciarte‘s massive struggles at the plate this year — he’s hitting just .218/.300/.323 — were in the process of creating that path, and his leaving last night’s game against the Cardinals with back tightness finished the job. In all likelihood Inciarte will hit the injured list, Ronald Acuña Jr. will slide over to center to replace him, and Riley will play in left.

Riley, 22, is hitting .299 and has 15 homers and 17 walks in 37 Triple-A games this year. He has massive power potential and, while he strikes out a good deal, he has lowered his K-rate in the early going so far this year. If he hits, the Braves will find a place for him even if Inciarte makes his way back relatively soon.

 

White Sox, Rockies, “frontrunners” for Yasiel Puig

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Yasiel Puig, unexpectedly, remained unemployed for the entire offseason. But now, a week or so into spring training, it’s appearing as though he may soon have a job. That’s the word from Hector Gomez of Z101, who reports that the Rockies and White Sox have emerged as “frontrunners” to sign the guy.

Puig hit a .252/.302/.475 (92 OPS+) for the Reds before being traded to the Indians. Once in Cleveland his performance improved, however, as he hit .297/.377/.423 (109 OPS+). Definitely a down year overall, and a far cry from the sort of superstar performance he showcased when he first broke into the league, but he’s just 29 and still profiles as an above average big league outfielder, on defense and at the plate.

He’d certainly benefit from playing in the thin air of Colorado. He’d also look pretty spiffy in the White Sox’ lineup, though he’d likely have to assume a platoon role there. Which, given that he as better in that role toward the end of his tenure in Los Angeles, would not be the worst idea. He didn’t like it all that much, but at the moment, he needs to find a job.

Anyway, look for Puig to be off the market soon.