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Friday 23rd Feb 2018

As I write, I just returned from Sunday's terrific Giants/Braves game, so I have to hope all out there had an equally satisfying Sunday/holiday, irrespective of beliefs (well, I guess we all believe in baseball).

In perusing the transactions over the past week (something I do daily, and suggest you do too) there were so many interesting names, new and old, that I saw that today will be dedicated to that, starting with the Rangers reliever Cody Eppley, whose debut I watched via satellite. Drafted in the 43rd round of the 2008 draft, the 6'5", 205 pound right-hander was promoted this week to fill in while Neftali Feliz nurses his sore wing. Surely, Feliz is the closer on the team, but Eppley has been a closer through his minor league term, going 9-7, 2.39 over 173 innings, with 32 saves and 204 strikeouts to 145 hits and 37 walks allowed. During Eppley's first game he showed a solid mid-90's fastball, going two shutout innings with a whiff. So far, the Rangers elder statesmen, Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver, have each notched a save, but that cannot be even a short-term solution. Maybe Darren O'Day, gets a shot, but for the most part Eppley was made for the job. Not to mention the Rangers are for real, and will bring their young closer along slowly.

The Padres brought Wade LeBlanc back to fill in, and he pitched pretty well against the Phillies, giving up three runs over eight innings, but taking the loss. Leblanc is just a fill-in, and though he does pitch in a pitcher-friendly environment, I would be wary of picking the southpaw up. As a minor leaguer, Leblanc allowed a hit for each strikeout at 454 over 491 innings, not overpowering. In the majors things are worse, with 221 hits allowed over 213.2 innings, to just 154 whiffs. The lefty reminds me some of Kirk Rueter (and even Mark Buehrle to a degree) in being one of those guys who lives on being fine as opposed to overpowering, and while having one guy as a sixth starter like this in a deep league, he is probably otherwise best left alone.

The Brew Crew recalled outfielder Brandon Boggs, and the 28-year old promptly responded with an Easter home run. Spelling the injured Nyjer Morgan Boggs hit .266-67-292 over 2386 at-bats as a minor leaguer, and .210-3-41 over 363 major league at-bats. With and OPS of .686 in the majors (.315 OBP) it is similarly hard to recommend Boggs, save in the deepest of formats.

Not unlike Boggs is the Mets outfielder Jason Pridie, for both players--plus Leblanc, for that matter--have been in one free agent pool or another at some time over the past few years. And, like Boggs, Pridie homered on Sunday, his first ever as a big-leaguer. At .275-82-469 as a minor leaguer, over 4,075 at-bats, Pridie has numbers close to his Boggs, although Pridie does have 163 swipes making him a little better choice.

Staying in the outfield, I like Seattle's Carlos Peguero better than either Boggs or Pridie, however. A 24-year old signed out of the Dominican Republic, Pegeuro is a big guy (6'5", 245 lbs.) with .271-86-341 over 2098 at-bats in the minors, so he is clearly more productive than Boggs or Pridie. More important, Peguero is up since Franklin Gutierrez is down with gastroenteritis of some sort. As a Crohns disease sufferer of 45 years, I can tell you this is tough, and though Francisco's symptoms might leave, sometimes diagnosing--and relieving--such an ailment is hard to do, and I think Peguero will get some significant playing time.

Florida is pretty good at developing young players, and 23-year old Osvaldo Martinez is their latest promotion. A Puerto Rican, selected in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, Martinez is a selective hitter, with 163 walks to 223 strikeouts over 446 games, with .271-14-157 totals, and 50 swipes and 65 doubles and 220 runs. Martinez could play a role in the infield in the near future for the Fish, likely his at-bats will be sporadic for now. Note though that over 14 games he hit .326 last September in Marlinville.

The Braves are so good at identifying good arms, and they just added another. Cory Gearrin, 25, was a fourth-round pick of Atlanta in 2007, going 12-14, 3.35 as a minor leaguer. He also has better than a strikeout an inning with 235 whiffs to 182 hits over 217.2 innings (99 walks). For now Gearrin is help for a worn-out pen, so his sojourn to Turner Field could be short, but get him on your radar. If you can grab and stash, do so.

Pittsburgh made a couple of moves towards trying to solidify their shortstop gig, with Ronny Cedeno (.192-0-5) ineffective. First the Bucs promoted Pedro Ciriaco, the 25-year old who has .271-23-239 (what is it with having a .271 minor league average this week?) totals with 148 steals. Ciriaco is a free swinger with a minor league OPS of .655, which means he probably won't hit much better than Cedeno.

However, the Pirates also nabbed Brandon Wood on waivers this week. Yes, Brandon Wood who hit .321-43-116 with 53 doubles as a 20-year old. In fact, that year, 2005, I went to the Arizona Fall League, and settled into my seat for my first game just as Wood belted a home run. And, lest Wood be an example of just how hard it is to play at the major league level, with .163-11-33 numbers over 464 at-bats. If you need a middle infielder in an NL only format, you have no less to lose than the Pirates did in taking a chance. If Wood cannot cut it, he will simply not last, hence if he struggles, he won't hurt long. On the other hand, in a new league, with a new team, maybe some of that promise can be fulfilled after all. I mean, it happened to Russell Branyan.

Finally, the Royals are just pushing up great young players all over the place, and now they have promoted pitcher Louis Coleman. A 25-year old, Coleman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, and as a reliever has gone 11-5, 2.16 and 11 saves over 120.2 minor league innings. With 141 strikeouts to just 33 walks and 76 hits allowed (that's an 0.903 WHIP) Coleman joins a very good bull pen that is gaining experience. Watch out for these guys. They are going to bring winning baseball back to K.C.



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