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Hit Parade for Week 6

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Looking at matchups for the week ahead and considering other factors such as streaks, injuries and lineup changes, we sort all Fantasy-relevant hitters at each position into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."

These designations rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole. Injuries are shown in parentheses.

Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

All stats are updated through Wednesday, May 1.

Catcher

Most Added Hitters (as of 5/3)
Player Name % change
1. Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles 54
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies 39
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics 32
4. Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers 32
5. Russell Martin, C, Pirates 28
6. Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers 14
7. Ryan Raburn, OF, Indians 14
8. Omar Infante, 2B, Tigers 12
9. Luis Valbuena, 3B, Cubs 11
10. Matt Joyce, OF, Rays 10
Brian McCann seems to be on the verge of returning from offseason shoulder surgery, and from a Fantasy perspective, he couldn't pick a better time to do so. Not only is he aiming for Monday, giving him a chance to contribute for an entire week, but his replacement, rookie sensation Evan Gattis, is mired in a 10-for-56 slump. Of course, Gattis isn't going anywhere. With Jason Heyward out, he could move to the outfield on the days he's not catching. Still, with Gattis' struggles the Braves will likely be motivated to keep McCann's bat in the lineup as much as his surgically repaired shoulder will allow. Giving him a week to prove his health wouldn't be the worst move in Fantasy, but McCann is startable if you need him.

Worth a second look: Russell Martin, Pirates
Martin is certainly the hot hand at the catcher position, batting .422 (19 for 45) with six home runs in his last 12 games, but unlike previous hot hands Evan Gattis and John Buck, he might actually have some staying power. He's back in the NL, where he was an All-Star with the Dodgers not so long ago, and at age 30, he's not beyond recapturing that form, especially if he maintains his low strikeout rate. Plus, he has some cupcake matchups this week in Brandon Maurer, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Hefner.
Approach with caution: Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are just three of the left-handers on tap for the Diamondbacks this week. They're facing four overall. Montero, a left-handed hitter, has at times struggled against lefties in his career, producing a batting average 40 points lower and an OPS 100 points lower against them last year, and it's not like he's tearing the cover off the ball with a .194 batting average .542 OPS so far. If there was ever a time to sit the semi-stud, this is it.

No-brainers: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Yadier Molina, Wilin Rosario
Advisable starts: Russell Martin, Matt Wieters, John Buck
Shaky starts: Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann (shoulder), Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Montero, J.P. Arencibia, Evan Gattis, A.J. Pierzynski (oblique), John Jaso, Salvador Perez, Ryan Doumit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Iannetta, Tyler Flowers, Alex Avila, Welington Castillo
Strictly AL/NL-only: Nick Hundley, Jesus Montero, A.J. Ellis, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Castro, Devin Mesoraco, Rob Brantly, Derek Norris, Chris Stewart
Don't bother: Wilson Ramos, Kelly Shoppach, Martin Maldonado, Erik Kratz, Michael McKenry, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross, Yasmani Grandal (suspension), Ryan Hanigan (thumb), Francisco Cervelli (hand), Mike Zunino, Travis d'Arnaud

First base

Matt Adams, on the DL with a strained oblique, hopes to return Tuesday, which means he can get back to tantalizing Fantasy owners with a home run every third or fourth day when he's in the lineup. Or not. It's not like more playing time has opened up in his absence, and as can't-miss as he was before the injury, you can't expect him to pick up where he left off. He's an intriguing stash in NL-only leagues, but unless something unexpectedly changes with the Cardinals lineup, the thrill ride is most likely over.

Worth a second look: Yonder Alonso, Padres
After another discouraging start to the season, Alonso has picked up his production over his last seven games, batting .333 (9 for 27). And for once, the Padres don't have impossibly tough matchups this week. They're facing pitchers like Wade LeBlanc, Alex Sanabia, Ricky Nolasco, Jeremy Hellickson and Roberto Hernandez, making Alonso a potential utility option in mixed leagues.
Approach with caution: Todd Frazier, Reds
Considering he's already 27, Frazier probably isn't going to get much better than he was last year. Consider his current 5-for-40 (.125) stretch the inevitable regression to the mean. With Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada on tap for the Reds, it's unlikely to end this week.

No-brainers: Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols, Billy Butler, Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana
Advisable starts: Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Freddie Freeman, Allen Craig, Mike Napoli, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Cuddyer, Ryan Howard, Nick Swisher (shoulder), Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, Matt Carpenter
Shaky starts: Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier, Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt, Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, Justin Morneau, Michael Young, Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kendrys Morales, Garrett Jones
Strictly AL/NL-only: Justin Smoak, Ike Davis, Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, Mitch Moreland, Chris Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, James Loney, Lyle Overbay, Gaby Sanchez, Jordan Pacheco, Mike Carp
Don't bother: Matt Adams (oblique), Adam Lind, Greg Dobbs, Chris Parmelee, Todd Helton (forearm), John Mayberry, Joe Mahoney (hamstring), Kevin Youkilis (back), Mark Teixeira (wrist), Corey Hart (knee), Logan Morrison (knee), Mike Olt, Jonathan Singleton

Second base

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Red Sox MIN4, TOR3
2. Rays TOR4, SD3
3. Angels @HOU3, @CHW3
4. Athletics @CLE4, @SEA3
5. Rangers @CHC1, @MIL2, @HOU3
Neil Walker and Mark Ellis are both still technically day to day, but both have been out long enough that they're likely to wind up on the DL. Walker, who hasn't played since April 26 because of a cut on his right index finger, has been having trouble gripping a bat. Ellis, also out since April 26, has a quadriceps injury that has yet to improve.

Worth a second look: Howie Kendrick, Angels
Overlooked on Draft Day because of his relative lack of sizzle, Kendrick has emerged as one of the more trustworthy options at one of the game's shallowest positions, maintaining a batting average right around .300 and showing improved power from a year ago. I still don't think you'll be satisfied with him in the long run, but in a week he's facing Erik Bedard, Jordan Lyles, Bud Norris, Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod, give him a whirl.
Approach with caution: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers
He has to slow down eventually, right? I understand a second base-eligible player on a 40-homer pace might be too alluring for some owners to pass up, but I have a hard time believing Betancourt could change that much in his age-31 season. His career slugging percentage is .396. And considering he's reaching base at only a .297 clip even with this hot start, he has to keep homering to make any sort of Fantasy contribution. The five-game slate for the Brewers makes him easy to avoid this week, especially since Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos are two of the pitchers on tap.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips
Advisable starts: Martin Prado, Matt Carpenter, Jose Altuve, Howie Kendrick, Josh Rutledge, Rickie Weeks
Shaky starts: Jason Kipnis, Daniel Murphy, Dan Uggla, Jedd Gyorko, Yuniesky Betancourt, Danny Espinosa, Marco Scutaro, Omar Infante, Neil Walker (finger), Mark Ellis (quadriceps)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dustin Ackley, Darwin Barney, Kelly Johnson, Donovan Solano, Jeff Keppinger, Brian Dozier, Chris Getz (illness), Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Nelson, Ryan Roberts
Don't bother: Cliff Pennington, Eric Sogard, Daniel Descalso, Maicer Izturis, Aaron Hill (wrist), Brian Roberts (hamstring), Gordon Beckham (wrist), Logan Forsythe (foot), Jurickson Profar, Jemile Weeks, Kolten Wong

Third base

Aramis Ramirez faked us out last week, but barring a last-minute change of heart, he'll forego a rehab assignment to return from his sprained knee Friday, giving him a weekend to prove his health before you have to make a decision with him. Ryan Zimmerman, sidelined since April 17 with a strained hamstring, is also set to return Friday. Both players are typically must-starts when healthy, but with only five games on tap for each, you might opt to sit them in shallower leagues, particularly if they don't hit the ground running over the weekend.

Worth a second look: Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox
The switch is about to flip again. Middlebrooks has been the epitome of streakiness so far this season, and he's already showing signs of snapping out of his latest funk with three multi-hit games in his last five. He should continue the upward trend with Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Pedro Hernandez, Kevin Correia, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ on tap this week. Notice the four left-handers? Middlebrooks has a career .301 batting average and .881 OPS against lefties.
Approach with caution: David Freese, Cardinals
The lack of production is one thing, but Freese is actually beginning to lose playing time because of it, sitting out both Tuesday and Wednesday to, in manager Mike Matheny's words, "get some work done." The Cardinals are one of several teams playing only five games this week. If he sits even one of those games, he's unlikely to make a worthwhile contribution.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Chase Headley
Advisable starts: Hanley Ramirez, Martin Prado, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Carpenter, Manny Machado, Will Middlebrooks, Josh Donaldson, Aramis Ramirez (knee), Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring)
Shaky starts: Mike Moustakas, Kyle Seager, Todd Frazier, Pedro Alvarez, Brett Lawrie, David Freese, Michael Young, Trevor Plouffe, Jedd Gyorko, Yuniesky Betancourt
Strictly AL/NL-only: Lonnie Chisenhall, Juan Francisco, Chris Johnson, Luis Valbuena, Jordan Pacheco, Placido Polanco, Conor Gillaspie, Alberto Callaspo (calf), Jeff Keppinger, Chris Nelson, Matt Dominguez, Eric Chavez, Ryan Roberts
Don't bother: Greg Dobbs, Adeiny Hechavarria, Luis Jimenez, Anthony Rendon, Brandon Laird, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Luis Cruz, Kevin Youkilis (back), Alex Rodriguez (hip), Wilson Betemit (knee), Ian Stewart (quadriceps), Wilson Betemit (knee), Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rendon

Shortstop

Like the aforementioned Yuniesky Betancourt, Jean Segura is subject to less-than-favorable matchups against the Rangers and Reds in a five-game week. But unlike his Brewers teammate, his hot start is likely to last. He strikes me as simply a former top prospect fulfilling his pedigree. And given his profile as a high-contact player with speed to spare, he's less likely to fall victim to matchups anyway. Another couple weeks of multi-hit games, and he'll achieve must-start status, not that he's far off now.

Worth a second look: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
Lowrie has cooled considerably after an impossibly hot start, scoring fewer than 20 Head-to-Head points in every week but Week 1, when he scored 41. Discouraged, his Fantasy owners have taken to sitting him, his start rate dropping to 69 percent. But even though he hasn't homered or hit for a high batting average in his last 20 games, he hasn't fallen off a cliff either. He has seven doubles and 11 walks during that stretch. And with seven games this week against the Indians and Mariners pitching staffs, he's likely to come roaring back.
Approach with caution: Brandon Crawford, Giants
The inevitable course correction seems to have begun for this season's most notable overachiever. Over his last six games, Crawford is 2 for 21. The surprising power hasn't diminished -- his two hits are a home run and a triple -- so maybe not every aspect of his hot start is smoke and mirrors. Still, as a player known for being all glove in both the majors and minors, he likely has a ways to fall yet.

No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Zobrist, Hanley Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Jimmy Rollins, Ian Desmond
Advisable starts: Jed Lowrie, Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus, Josh Rutledge, Asdrubal Cabrera, Everth Cabrera, Alcides Escobar
Shaky starts: Erick Aybar, Andrelton Simmons, Stephen Drew, Brandon Crawford,J.J. Hardy, Danny Espinosa, Marco Scutaro, Alexei Ramirez, Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Marwin Gonzalez, Yunel Escobar (hamstring), Didi Gregorius (concussion), Eduardo Nunez, Pete Kozma, Brian Dozier
Don't bother: Adeiny Hechavarria, Cliff Pennington, Eric Sogard, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Luis Cruz, Clint Barmes, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Reyes (leg), Derek Jeter (ankle), Hiroyuki Nakajima (hamstring), Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton

Outfield

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Reds ATL3, MIL3
2. Brewers TEX2, @CIN3
3. Blue Jays @TB4, @BOS3
4. Mariners @PIT2, OAK3
5. Cardinals @CHC2, COL3
With injuries to Michael Bourn (finger) and Nick Swisher (shoulder), Ryan Raburn has gotten a rare chance to play every day, starting five straight games. And he's done his best to remind Fantasy owners why he was once an attractive sleeper with the Tigers, going 11 for 13 with four home runs over his last three games. You don't get any hotter than that. Swisher is expected back over the weekend, but Raburn may still get a chance to extend this hot streak with Bourn's timetable up in the air. Then again, given where Bourn is in his recovery, we may only get a day's notice before he returns, so locking in Raburn for a full week is a move better left for AL-only owners.

Worth a second look: Brandon Moss, Athletics and Shane Victorino, Red Sox
Moss isn't strictly a platoon player anymore, having started five of the team's eight games against lefties this season, but he's obviously at his best against righties. And seeing as he's produced in spurts this season, you've been waiting for a week like this one to get him in your lineup. Some of the pitchers on tap: Zach McAllister, Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders. Overall, he's facing five righties. As for Victorino, his starting rate has obviously dropped with his recent back woes, but assuming he proves his health over the weekend, you won't want to miss out on what's in store for him this week. The bottom-feeder Twins rotation and injury-depleted Blue Jays rotation over a seven-game period should lead to many, many runs scored.
Approach with caution: Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays and Matt Joyce, Rays
Long-term, I'm not sitting Cabrera. I understand the concerns after he was caught using PEDs last year, but seeing as his extra-base power was on full display in spring training, I'm willing to believe he's simply off to a slow start. But even if that's the case, I don't expect this week to be the week he snaps out of it, not with Matt Moore, David Price, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster on tap. Joyce actually has good matchups against the Blue Jays and Padres pitching staffs and has homered in four of his last five games. But since four of the seven pitchers on tap for the Rays this week are left-handers, I don't know how you can start him in Fantasy. More often than not, he sits against lefties, and even if he plays, you can't expect much from him. He has a career .194 batting average and .587 OPS against left-handers.

No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista, Bryce Harper (side), Jacoby Ellsbury, Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Yoenis Cespedes, Ben Zobrist, Matt Holliday, Alex Rios, Alex Gordon
Advisable starts: Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Beltran, Jay Bruce, Allen Craig, Martin Prado, Austin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Morse, Nick Swisher (shoulder), Carlos Gomez, Starling Marte, Brandon Moss, Matt Carpenter, Hunter Pence, Josh Willingham
Shaky starts: Shane Victorino (back), Angel Pagan, Nate McLouth, Jayson Werth (back), Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford (hamstring), Norichika Aoki, Vernon Wells, Daniel Nava, Lucas Duda, Domonic Brown, Lorenzo Cain, Andre Ethier, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn (hand), Ben Revere, Josh Reddick, Alfonso Soriano, Evan Gattis, Alejandro De Aza, Ichiro Suzuki, Chris Young (quadriceps), Denard Span, Carlos Quentin, Michael Saunders, Juan Pierre, Michael Brantley, Ryan Doumit, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Garrett Jones, Matt Joyce, Seth Smith, Cody Ross, Eric Young
Strictly AL/NL-only: David Murphy, Justin Ruggiano, Jon Jay, Ryan Raburn, Chris Carter, Travis Snider (side), Colby Rasmus, Nate Schierholtz, Nolan Reimold, David DeJesus, Kelly Johnson, Marcell Ozuna, Andy Dirks, Leonys Martin, Aaron Hicks, Drew Stubbs, Will Venable, Rajai Davis, Delmon Young, A.J. Pollock, Emilio Bonifacio, Raul Ibanez, Oswaldo Arcia, Jeff Francoeur, Chris Denorfia, Greg Dobbs, Craig Gentry, Jordany Valdespin
Don't bother: Jason Bay, Chris Parmelee, Robbie Grossman, Fernando Martinez, Jonny Gomes, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, John Mayberry, Stephen Lombardozzi, Gregor Blanco, Jason Heyward (appendectomy), Coco Crisp (hamstring), Curtis Granderson (forearm), Corey Hart (knee), Adam Eaton (elbow), Justin Maxwell (hand), Chris Heisey (hamstring), Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring), Dayan Viciedo (oblique), Peter Bourjos (hamstring), Ryan Ludwick (shoulder), Darin Mastroianni (ankle), Cameron Maybin (wrist), Logan Morrison (knee), Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras, Jackie Bradley, Yasiel Puig, Christian Yelich

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: Reported Cubs' offer to Jon Lester is not accurate
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Sources have indicated the reported six-year, $135 million contract the Cubs offered pitcher Jon Lester is not accurate, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Along with the Cubs, the Red Sox, Giants, Braves and Cardinals have expressed serious interest in signing the left-handed pitcher, reports CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Despite the various teams involved, Red Sox owner John Henry said he is ‘hopeful’ the Red Sox can lure Lester back to Boston, reports WEEI.com.


Pitcher Michael Roth elects to become free agent
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:45 pm ET) After being designated for assignment by the Angels, pitcher Michael Roth chose to become a free agent Tuesday, reports MLB.com.

In 2014, Roth made seven appearances and went 1-0 with a 8.76 ERA.


Red Sox designate Juan Francisco for assignment
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:24 pm ET) To make room on the roster after the signing of Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox third baseman Juan Francisco was designated for assignment Tuesday, according to the team's website.

The Red Sox recently claimed Francisco off waivers from the Blue Jays. In 2014, he hit .220 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI.


Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish cleared to begin throwing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:11 pm ET) An MRI revealed Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish suffered no damage to his right elbow and has been cleared to begin his normal throwing routine. The Rangers expect Darvish to begin throwing in early December.

Darvish was placed on the DL in August with right elbow inflammation and was later shut down for the season. Before being placed on the DL, Darvish went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts.


Report: Cubs have made 'significant offer' to Jon Lester
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:34 pm ET) The Cubs have made a substantial offer to free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester, according to CSNChicago.com.

"What I'm hearing is the Chicago Cubs have made a significant offer -- significant north of $135 million," David Kaplan of CSN said Tuesday during his "Kap and Haugh" radio show. Kaplan added the Cubs' offer is a six-year deal.

CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported Tuesday five clubs are seriously interested in signing the veteran left-handed pitcher. They are the Red Sox, Braves, Cubs, Giants and Cardinals. Lester is expected to make his decision sometime after Thanksgiving.


Free agent Chris Capuano considering playing in Japan in 2015
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:54 pm ET) Free agent pitcher Chris Capuano confirmed the rumors of his interest to play in Japan during the 2015 season, reports MLB Network Radio.

“There’s a lot of truth to it,” Capuano said, per MLB Network Radio. “It piqued my interest back in 06. We’re considering it.”

In 2014, Capuano went 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 12 starts for the Red Sox and Yankees.


Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman back to full strength
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he is back to full strength after being hobbled late in the season due to a Grade 3 hamstring strain, according to The Washington Post.

"It doesn’t hurt golfing or laying around the house," he said. "It’s good. I always have to continually change things because you have to evolve as you get older. It’s one thing I’ve realized. I’ll change some things up but I’ll be good to go."


Phillies invite five to spring training as non-roster players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:30 pm ET) The Phillies announced Tuesday they signed pitcher Paul Clemens, catcher Rene Garcia, catcher Koyie Hill, infielder Chris Nelson and infielder Cord Phelps to minor-league contracts. All five players received invites to spring training as non-roster invitees.

Farrell confident Red Sox are 'making every attempt' to sign Lester
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday that Boston remains in the mix to bring back starting pitcher Jon Lester, even though the Red Sox just agreed to big free-agent deals with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

"Like everyone else in the free-agent market, that’s to be determined. He’s earned the right to get to this point in his career," Farrell said, per WEEI.com. "I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that have a lot of interest in him and deservedly so. Confident that we’re making every attempt internally here and the hope would be to get him back here. We’ll get a better read on that in the coming weeks. … We’re probably a quarter or a third of the way through the offseason so there’s time and a lot of options still available to us and it will be interesting to see what ends up on our roster."


Padres VP of scouting: Reports on Grandal 'were all good'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Padres vice president of scouting operations Don Welke said he heard good things about catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit .328 with a .469 on-base percentage in the Dominican winter league. He also had seven doubles, two homers and 14 RBI in 19 games, while totaling 18 walks against 15 strikeouts.

"The reports were all good on Grandal," Welke said, per MLB.com. "He looked sharper offensively and defensively. You know he's doing good when quite a few teams express interest in him. I think he's got a chance to have a lot of impact."


 
 
 
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