Minor News And Transactions – March 21

The Nationals name Dante Bichette roving hitting instructor joining Keith Moreland and Darnell Coles.
Wow, I hadn’t given it much thought but time has marched on since the late 90s. Only Vinny Castilla remains from the Blake Street Bombers, and at 38, he’s gotten by because his bat speed was once unbelievable. But he should hang them up this year, as I’d be shocked if he was capable of anything resembling his old self with the Padres. The altitude and the park dimensions will surely end a career that should have been halted after 2005. No?

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Angel Guzman is in the running for the final rotation spot, vacated by the loss of both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood to begin the year. My feelings on Guzman have been expressed previously , although I’d be surprised if it’s an automatic. With the club not in need of a fifth starter to begin the year, it’s far more likely they look at the more experienced Rich Hill, leaving their previously injury-prone prospect to get into a groove at Triple-A Iowa.
Jae Kuk Ryu — another forgotten pitching prospect in the Cubs system — is also competing for the spot according to the report. But given he’s only worked six innings thus far, and hasn’t been above Double-A losing time with an elbow injury in 2004, that seems improbable. He has posted a decent 7/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the few outings this spring, and he’s a guy I still like. But be warned I’m probably the only one….

Joey Devine – The 2005 first-rounder is looking very good this spring training striking out 15 in nine innings while walking three. Most, including myself, like him for closer by the end of this year. Armed with a fastball that can tilt upward of 97 mph, and a slider that can occasionally looks a little like a Jeff Nelson Frisbee toss with more velocity, I don’t think there’s much disputing his long-term role as a closer is on the horizon. A highly touted prospect since high school, he’s the NC State record holder for career saves with 24, and is the only reliever in school history to record 10 or more in a season twice. Of note is a right-handed three-quarter arm slot, a motion that historically hasn’t been difficult for major league left-handed hitters to pick up on. He may have some struggles in the early stages of his career.   

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