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Signed: LHP Jose Lugo, SS Chris Ahearn, OF Gavin Dickey (Lincoln (American Association))
Jose Lugo pitched to a 6.72 ERA with Triple-A Rochester last year, but his underlying performance suggests he's capable of more. He notched nearly two groundouts for every flyout last year, while striking out 84 in 86 innings. Walks continue to hold Lugo back. He hasn't recorded a rate of less than four per nine innings since pitching in short-season ball with the Twins. But a 27-year-old lefty who misses bats and generally keeps the ball on the ground is a nice find on the minor league market—even if his slider doesn't always slide. For Rule 5 draft buffs, you might remember Lugo's name from the ’08 edition. That year, the Mariners drafted but did not keep him.
Boston Red Sox
Traded: RHP Robert Coello to Cubs for 2B Tony Thomas
The Red Sox signed Robert Coello out of the independent Golden League about a year after they found Daniel Nava there. (Gold star for the pro scouting department.*) While the 26-year-old Coello doesn't overpower batters, he gets his share of swings and misses with a low-90s fastball that he cuts and sinks. He backs it up with a quality splitter and occasionally useful curveball. Boston designated Coello for assignment with the signing of Alfredo Aceves, but they got a fair return for him even with limited leverage.
Tony Thomas profiles as a utility player who can back up second base and all three outfield spots. He doesn't figure to hit for much power at the highest level, but the 24-year-old righthanded batter grades as average everywhere else. The Cubs' third-round pick in ’07, Thomas batted .276/.338/.485 with 11 homers and 15 steals for Double-A Tennessee last season.
* The Brewers currently have two indy league signees on their 40-man roster in Justin James and Brandon Kintzler. After this Red Sox trade, can any other organization say the same?
Traded: 2B Tony Thomas to Red Sox for RHP Robert Coello
Signed: 3B Tony Mansolino (Wichita (American Association))
Released: RHP Kyle C. Smith
Voluntarily retired: RHP Ricky Testa
Signed: 2B Jeff Dominguez
Released: RHP J.B. MacDonald
Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed: RHP Mike MacDougal, RHP Juan Rincon, 2B Aaron Miles
New York Mets
Signed: RHP Dale Thayer, LHP Justin Hampson (Long Island (Atlantic)), C Salomon Manriquez (re-signed)
New York Yankees
Signed: RHP Luis Ayala, RHP Fernando Hernandez, 1B Eric Chavez, OF Jordan Parraz (re-signed)
Removed from 40-man roster: OF Jordan Parraz
Like Jose Lugo with the Braves above, Fernando Hernandez once drew attention in the Rule 5, but did not stick with his drafting team. The Athletics rolled the dice in ’07 before returning him to the White Sox. Oakland did secure Hernandez's services for the ’10 season, signing him as a fee agent, and he delivered solid work out of the Triple-A Sacramento bullpen, where he notched a 53-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio and five homers allowed in 61 innings. Because he shows flashes of four pitches, Hernandez took four early-season starts for the River Cats, but things didn't go so well. He got rocked for 22 runs on 26 hits in 16 innings. The 26-year-old Hernandez sits at 88-90 mph with an average changeup and two average breaking balls, both in the same low-80s neighborhood as his change.
Signed: C John Suomi (re-signed)
Released: 2B Keoni Ruth
San Diego Padres
Signed: RHP Geoff Geary
Released: SS Gregorio Petit
Removed from 40-man roster: OF Oscar Salazar
The Padres cut ties with offseason signee Gregorio Petit before spring training camp opened. The slick-fielding Venezuelan hit .227 in 110 at-bats (but with 17 walks) in the Venezuelan League this winter and ought to be able to land a Triple-A gig elsewhere if he wants one. The battle to back up Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett (or play the middle infield in Triple-A) now falls to Everth Cabrera, Jarrett Hoffpauir and non-roster invitees like Kevin Frandsen, Andy Parrino and prospect Logan Forsythe.
San Francisco Giants
Signed: RHP Jeff Suppan
Signed: RHP Manny Delcarmen
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: RHP Chris Bootcheck (Yokohama (Japan))
Removed from 40-man roster: OF Leslie Anderson, OF Justin Ruggiano
As closer for the Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate in ’09, Chris Bootcheck ran up a ridiculous 55-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio (that's nearly 8-to-1) and ranked third in the International League with 20 saves. He tried his hand at Nippon Professional Baseball last year, but wound up spending about half the season in the minors. With parent Yokohama, he went 1-0, 4.62 in 15 relief appearances, striking out 25 and walking 7 in 25 innings—but also allowing five home runs. Needless to say, he wasn't NPB closer material, as the BayStars had hoped. But bringing the 32-year-old Bootcheck stateside is a worthwhile gamble for the Rays, especially given the mass bullpen exodus that included closer Rafael Soriano. Bootcheck will battle for a 25-man roster spot with a host of other veteran relievers with something to prove, such as Jonah Bayliss, Juan Cruz, Ricky Orta (first year post-Tommy John surgery) and Cory Wade.
But it will be an uphill climb for Bootcheck and Co. because a dozen other Tampa Bay relievers currently have 40-man roster spots: Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabral, Dane de la Rosa, Rob Delaney, Mike Ekstrom, Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon Gomes, J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Andy Sonnanstine, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell.
On the offensive side of things, Leslie Anderson and Justin Ruggiano head back to Triple-A Durham without spots on the 40-man roster—and for that they have Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to thank. But if Anderson and Ruggiano play well, as Elliot Johnson did last year, they could force the Rays to reevaluate their situations.
Toronto Blue Jays
Signed: RHP Vince Perkins (York (Atlantic))
The Blue Jays originally signed Vince Perkins, a native of British Columbia, as a draft-and-follow in ’01. The 29-year-old reached Triple-A for the first (and so far only) time in ’09 while pitching in the Cubs system, but he also spent all of last season and much of ’08 in the independent Atlantic League.
Signed: C Miguel Perez
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