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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

Oh what fun is the trade deadline, but since tonight marks the end of this year's cycle, let's put off looking at some of the spoils till next week, especially since there was a cluster of call-ups and returns of players we have indeed been anticipating for what seems like years.

Let's start with Tyler Skaggs, the Diamondbacks #1 selection in 2009, who was then swapped to the Angels in a 2013 deal that involved Mark Trumbo, Adam Eaton and Hector Santiago. Between 2012-14, Skaggs tossed 181 innings, going 8-11, 5.07, with a 1.298 WHIP. He missed all of last year as a result of Tommy John surgery, but at long last, Skaggs returned last week, perhaps not just fixed, but ready to pitch as anticipated when the lefty was the 40th overall selection. Still just 25, Skaggs has twirled 12.3 frames this past week, with 13 whiffs and no runs allowed. He was 3-2, 1.67 over seven starts with Salt Lake this year, and looks like he is ready to indeed pick up the gauntlet along with the next generation of starters.

The Astros have handed third base over to Alex Bregman, another first-rounder, just last year by the Astros. The #2 pick overall last year, selected out of LSU, has done nothing to dispell the high selection, going .294-4-34 with 13 steals over 66 games last year after signing, and climbed from Double-A to Triple-A this season, notching a .297-14-46 mark over 80 games before Minute Maid beckoned this week. Note the 22-year-old posted a .388 OBP (78 walks to 64 strikeouts), and though Bregman has started slow, the 'Stros should give him every opportunity to prove he belongs.

Next, Raul Mondesi, of the Royals, son of Raul Mondesi (formerly of the Dodgers), was advanced to the big club this week and has broken out quite nicely, going .300-0-2 his first week. Signed at just 16, the second sacker climbed from High-A Wilmington (.243-1-4) to Northwest Arkansas (.259-9-17), and then to Omaha (.304-1-9) before the final rung of Kauffman early this week. Mondesi, who turned 21 last week, swiped 96 bags over five seasons, but only walked 111 times to 453 strikeouts (.297 OBP), which is a cause for caution. You may also recall Mondesi is the first player ever to make his MLB debut in the World Series as the Royals used a rules quirk to make him playoff eligible last fall.

The Rangers recalled slugger Joey Gallo, yet another first-rounder. The third sacker struggled last year over 36 games, going .204-6-14, with just a .301 OBP (15 walks to 57 strikeouts). He began this season at Round Rock, going .246-19-47, but with an improved 53 walks to 91 strikeouts (.381 OBP), meaning maybe he is ready a la Skaggs.

The Phillies get Aaron Altherr back after the outfielder tore a tendon sheath in his wrist during spring training. This was tough for many owners who targeted Altherr, after he hit .242-5-22 with six swipes after an August call-up last year. Altherr is big (6'5") and fast with 134 swipes over three seasons in the Minors. Because of the spring injury, Altherr might be ignored or written off by now, but the outfielder has gone .300-1-3 with a swipe during his first three games back and is a good play to plug a hole and offer some power/speed in a shallower league. And, Altherr makes a nice play for next year, too.

Minnesota recalled shortstop Jorge Polanco to fill the hole created with the swap of Eduardo Nunez. Polanco has hit .288-6-53 with 19 swipes this year over 117 minor league games, mostly at Chattanooga. Just 23 years old, he has a minor league record of .286-34-293 with 317 runs and 60 steals. Polanco also has a decent eye (216 walks to 339 strikeouts for a .346 OBP) and should get a chance to start with Eduardo Escobar providing his requisite support all over the diamond.

I did not mean this week to be so American League focused, but that is where the interesting players appeared. Finally, we get to the return of Luis Severino to the Yankees, who are indeed deconstructing. Severino was a big pre-season target, but after eight starts and an 0-6, 7.05 line, he returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where the 22-year-old went 7-1, 3.25 over ten starts. The Pinstripes could throw Severino back into the rotation to take his lumps and get the hang, and chances are in a shallow league he is likely floating in the free agent pool and could be ok plugging a gap.

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