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Tuesday 20th Feb 2018

Back we are at the Hotpage, and with six weeks to go till the playoffs and football drafts looming. This is a fun time for certain to park in front of the tube as summer winds down and fall 2011 closes in upon us.

In Boston it appears the Red Sox might have post season designs, and Boston just advanced catcher Ryan Lavarnway who has made a splash with .273-0-2 totals over his first four games. Lavarnway was selected in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, out of Yale no less, and since was .285-75-283 over 364 games in the minors.  I like this guy for the future. I even like him for now.

I have long been an Anthony Swarzak fan, and the right hander has pitched well for the Twins this year over five spot starts and some relief over 62.1 innings, going 3-3, 3.25 with a solid 1.22 WHIP. A second round selection by Minnesota in 2004, Swarzak has been solid in the minors (52-49, 3.97 over 149 starts) and now 25-years old, Swarzak is poised to take his place in the Twins rotation. If you saw the right hander come in against the Yankees Sunday, with none out and the bags juiced in the second inning, and pitch out of the jam and allowing nothing over 2.2 innings, you should know what I mean.

I cannot count the number of times this year I almost wrote about the Astros Brian Bogusevic, but for some reason he always got bumped from the weekly list. At least until now. Houston’s first round selection in 2004, and now 27, Bogusevic is getting regular playing time as the ‘Stros seek to identify a new persona. With .28-26-171 minor league numbers, the outfielder has acceptable .366 on-base totals (170 walks to 300 whiffs) and at Minute Maid this year is now .286-3-11 over 79 at-bats.  With a huge amount of power or speed, it is hard to place Bogusevic as much beyond the role of fourth outfielder at this point, however.

Atlanta has already called up, and then sent down 21-year old pitcher Randall Delgado, but I was listening to his first ever major league start on Wednesday when the Braves played the Giants. Delgado went six innings of no-hit ball before serving a gopher ball to Cody Ross, though the right hander was deprived of a victory. Signed as a 17-year old from Panama, he is 23-37, 3.45 over 100 minor league starts, with a terrific 559 whiffs over 529.1 innings. Atlanta is so good at bringing forth arms, Delgado simply has to be on your radar no matter where he is pitching right now.

I worked the Athletics and Blue Jays game Saturday night, and saw Henderson Alvarez pitch six decent innings albeit against a team without huge firepower. Alvarez allowed seven hits and just one earned run which is not bad for a 21-year old. Alvarez is not overpowering, for though he has a 27-24 mark in the minors, the 4.02 ERA suggests a little, but not as much as the 294 strikeouts over 4.05 innings.

I also worked the Jays-Oakland game last Thursday, and witnessed both of Oakland’s Brad Ziegler spoils in person for the first time, and starting with Jordan Norberto, who tossed a solid inning, hitting the gun at 95 a couple of times, although he did allow a run. The 24-year old Panamanian has a terrific 469 whiffs over 429 innings, and projects in the Athletics pen. Norberto could be a nice safe end of season pick in an AL only format if you want to protect your ERA and WHIP totals, but want a chance at a win or two with some strikeouts.

But, the real surprise of last has been first sacker Brandon Allen who over the past two weeks is hitting .407-0-2 with a pair each of doubles and triples. The buzz in the Oakland booth when the team wound up with Allen rather than Lars Anderson from the Red Sox was that the team took seconds, but, maybe not. Allen has some pop, and one of his triples was nearly scored an inside-the-park homer save an error called on center fielder Adam Jones. Allen’s Oakland tear has raised his seasonal totals to .278-3-9, and not only has Allen provided solid defense, he has pretty good speed for a big guy (6’3”, 235 pounds). Allen makes a fine pick for the season on out in an AL format.

And, as long as we are discussing players named Brandon, Detroit brought back Brandon Inge who promptly homered his first game back, “raising” his totals for the season to .182-2-19. With a .304 career OBP, and 1170 strikeouts to 410 walks, that is not enough to offset 138 career homers (only good for a major league SLG of .338). Inge can be streaky, and give you a power surge, but he needs to get a regular chance to play and right now that is unlikely. Filler only, is Inge.

I am not sure if the rest of you remember pitcher Jerome Williams, who twirled the ball for the Giants in 2003-04, and then for a couple of starts in 2005 when San Francisco swapped the puka shell attired hurler to Chicago. From there Williams had an 0-2, 7.30 2006 on the north side, then 0-5, 7.20 for the Nationals in 2007, and then poof gone, but apparently not forgotten. Williams returned to the show Sunday as a starter, going seven innings, allowing six hits and a lone run while whiffing six more. Still just 29, if you need to take a chance in an AL format the Honolulu born hurler could be just fine on a team that generally plays well down the stretch.


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