MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Breaking down MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects

Breaking down MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects

There's a new prospect rankings out on MLBPipeline.com. Please, go take a look at the 2015 Top 100 Prospects now. It will undoubtedly elicit opinions and critiques.

That's why the list is created, after all -- to get people talking and debating about who is and who isn't on the list. It might even start with the No. 1 guy on the list, Byron Buxton. He was a no-brainer a year ago, but after an injury-filled campaign in 2014, there are some who worry about his ability to stay healthy. MLBPipeline.com isn't concerned, and neither are the Twins.

More

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

A cut above: Best tools of Top 100 Prospects list

Buxton's speed, Bryant's power, Giolito's fastball and curve the best of the best

A cut above: Best tools of Top 100 Prospects list

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant slammed 43 home runs to lead the Minor Leagues, and he reached Triple-A in his first full professional season. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton didn't even play 43 games last season while battling injuries to both wrists and a concussion.

So why did Buxton beat out Bryant for the No. 1 spot on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list? Because while performance matters, so do tools. And no prospect has better all-around tools than Buxton.

More

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Speakers to pay tribute to Banks in memorial service

Former teammates, family, Chicago mayor among those giving remembrances

Speakers to pay tribute to Banks in memorial service

CHICAGO -- After a public visitation Friday at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Lou Brock, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be among the speakers today at the funeral service for Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

The memorial service at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street in downtown Chicago, will begin at 10 a.m. CT and will include remembrances, readings and tributes. The list of speakers also includes Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. A simulcast of MLB Network's coverage will stream live on MLB.com and cubs.com.

More

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fans from all walks of life stop by to salute Banks

Mr. Cub brings people together at church viewing

Fans from all walks of life stop by to salute Banks

CHICAGO -- For one day -- a bitterly cold, wind-whipped day on Michigan Avenue -- Fourth Presbyterian Church served as the Friendly Confines. And given that the casket at the altar contained a man who always had a smile for those he met, a man who even total strangers considered a close friend, this goodbye, this visitation service, was a fittingly public one, open to one and all.

And so Cubs fans and, yes, even some non-Cubs fans entered those doors, walked past that closed casket -- draped with a No. 14 flag and flanked by a large photo of Ernie Banks flashing that perfect smile of his -- and paid their respects to "Mr. Cub." There were celebrities and dignitaries here, sure. Team chairman Tom Ricketts, Sen. Dick Durbin, Cubs greats like Andre Dawson, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and Jose Cardenal were all on hand in the early portion of the eight-hour viewing.

More

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Biggio up close with history during HOF visit

Recently elected Hall of Famer given behind-the-scenes tour in Cooperstown

Biggio up close with history during HOF visit

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The chance to hold a baseball bat swung by Babe Ruth was something Craig Biggio was going to enjoy as much as he could, even if it meant picking it up three times while smiling from ear to ear.

That was one of many awe-inspiring moments for Biggio, the longtime Astros second baseman who, along with his wife, Patty, was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday as part of his orientation in advance of his induction on July 26.

More

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Puig looking for redemption vs. rival Cardinals

Outfielder's young friend won't let him forget playoff loss

Puig looking for redemption vs. rival Cardinals

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig is really close with a particular family in Los Angeles, and that family has a 10-year-old Cardinals-loving boy who has made it his mission to exasperate the Dodgers' eccentric outfielder.

"He's driving me crazy," Puig said in Spanish. "I have to kick him out of that family. He has four blue things of mine in his room, and he tells me it's because he feels sorry for me, sorry for the Dodgers. He has everything else red -- the comforter, the sheets, the ceiling, everything. His room is red. And he says the best city in the United States is St. Louis."

More

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cuban infielder Moncada clears government hurdle

U.S. Treasury letter should clear way for signing with MLB club

Cuban infielder Moncada clears government hurdle

David Hastings, the agent for Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, received a notification from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Friday night stating that his player may be generally licensed as an unblocked national, according to new guidelines for a general license amended Jan. 16, 2015.

This should seemingly clear the way for Moncada to sign with the Major League club of his choice.

More

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Mr. Cub gone but never forgotten

Former teammates, legion of fans among those reflecting on Banks' beloved spirit

Mr. Cub gone but never forgotten

CHICAGO -- Lions in winter, Fergie Jenkins and two of his former teammates, gray-haired Glenn Beckert and Jose Cardenal, sharp in a black leather jacket, settled into the third row of pews at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Friday afternoon.

They were not in a hurry.

More

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Which SB team had better first pitches?

|
Which SB team had better first pitches?

As we approach Super Bowl XLIX, we remember the moments when a few members of the Patriots and Seahawks osmosed through the cross-sports membrane and found themselves in the world of MLB. Today: the art of the first pitch.

Though the Patriots may win when it comes to number of Super Bowl trophies, the Seahawks have them beat in terms of first pitches. Since Kam Chancellor's toss in 2012, Seattle has been racking up mound appearances.

Continue Reading on Cut4

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Chicago says farewell, thanks to beloved Mr. Cub

Chicago says farewell, thanks to beloved Mr. Cub

CHICAGO -- He came in from the suburbs, went straight to Wrigley Field. It's a trip Mike Feinstein made many times in his youth. He was in just the third grade when his mom (and parents, please don't try this at home in 2015) would give him a few bucks to take the No. 97 bus -- the Skokie bus -- to the "L" and the train to the ballpark, where, for 50 cents, he could watch his hero, Ernie Banks, play a baseball game.

But Feinstein is 66 now, and on this day there was no ballgame. There was, instead, a public visitation service for Banks about to take place a few miles south of here. That was Feinstein's next stop. And as he stood on the corner of Clark and Addison and looked at that building that housed some of the happiest moments of his youth, he saw the words on the marquee that broadcast the hard reality of life and death:

More

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yanks reportedly add veteran arm Baker on Minors deal

Yanks reportedly add veteran arm Baker on Minors deal

The Yankees signed right-hander Scott Baker to a one-year, Minor League contract on Friday, according to multiple media reports.

Baker has appeared in just 28 games in the Majors during the past three seasons, making just 11 starts, but could get a chance to prove himself as a starter in 2015. The club has not confirmed the deal.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

What if Ichiro had joined the 1998 Mariners?

|
What if Ichiro had joined the 1998 Mariners?

Ichiro Suzuki -- one of (if not the) greatest hitters of the last 15 years -- is officially a Marlin. The outfielder signed a one-year, $2 million deal to join Giancarlo Stanton and the Fish, where he'll likely be the odd man out in an outfield full of talent and youth.

The last 14 seasons have been an absolute treat for fans in Seattle, New York and aross baseball who have looked on in wonder as Ichiro slipped out of the batter's box a bit early and slapped 2,844 hits onto his MLB resume. Perhaps the only thing more interesting about Ichiro's game, though, is the mystery surrounding what might have been.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Salvy ready for another wild ride with Royals

All-Star catcher played the hero in club's win over A's to open 2014 postseason

Salvy ready for another wild ride with Royals

KANSAS CITY -- It doesn't take Royals catcher Salvador Perez long to pinpoint his favorite moment from the club's magical playoff run last season.

"Everything!" Perez said, breaking out in his familiar smile.

More

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red Sox, righty Ogando agree to one-year deal

Red Sox, righty Ogando agree to one-year deal

The Red Sox continued adding to their bullpen on Friday, agreeing with Alexi Ogando on a one-year contract reportedly worth $1.5 million.

Ogando posted a 3.12 ERA across 156 appearances (48 starts) from 2010-13 with the Rangers.

More

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers contingent honors Wounded Warriors

Current players join Lasorda, Cey and Hershiser at luncheon

Dodgers contingent honors Wounded Warriors

LOS ANGELES -- Todd Liebman served his country for 22 years, until 2007.

"And then the Army told me I couldn't play anymore," Liebman said, smiling in his wheelchair from the Bradley Room of City Hall on Friday afternoon.

More

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Biggio family begins preparations for induction weekend

Biggio family begins preparations for induction weekend

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Craig Biggio's visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday was more than just an opportunity to celebrate the greats of the game. Biggio and his wife, Patty, also had some business to take care of.

After touring the Hall of Fame and meeting with the media, the Biggios spent the second half of the day huddled with Hall staff to discuss the logistics of the July 24-26 induction weekend. Biggio, the longtime Astros second baseman, will be inducted alongside John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.

More

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I'd just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish -- now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.  

More

Statue draws Mr. Cub's legion of fans to downtown Chicago

Statue draws Mr. Cub's legion of fans to downtown Chicago

CHICAGO -- The statue is not new. It was unveiled outside Wrigley Field in 2008. Fans have had ample opportunity to see it, touch it, take photos of it. But until last week, they had nearly as much opportunity to see Ernie Banks himself, visible public figure that he was. But Banks is gone now, and only the statue remains.

So here they were on a windy winter Friday afternoon, visiting the statue in its new and temporary home at Daley Plaza, the city's main civic artery. The statue will rest here through Saturday, and it has relegated "The Picasso" -- the 50-foot, untitled sculpture that anchors the plaza -- to second-fiddle status.

More

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves finalize one-year deal with Gomes

Braves finalize one-year deal with Gomes

ATLANTA -- The Braves officially announced the completion of their one-year deal with outfielder Jonny Gomes on Friday afternoon.

Gomes agreed to the terms of a one-year, $4 million contract (which also includes a $3 million vesting option for 2016) on Jan. 22. The Braves confirmed the completion of this deal after reviewing Gomes' physical and creating a 40-man roster spot by trading right-hander David Hale to the Rockies.

More

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies sensed Wilson's winning attitude early on

Football star impressed Colorado with demeanor, skills on diamond after 2010 Draft

Rockies sensed Wilson's winning attitude early on

DENVER -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's triumphant and tearful television interview with FOX Sports' Erin Andrews had just finished when Colorado Rockies special assistant to the general manager Danny Montgomery picked up the phone and let his own feelings flow.

"[Russell] is giving me chills," Montgomery said. "A true angel. Holy cow."

More

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller 'stoked' to begin next chapter of career in Atlanta

Right-hander chronicles personal journey during stop on Braves Caravan

Miller 'stoked' to begin next chapter of career in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- As Shelby Miller prepares to embark on his new experience with the Braves, he is ready to distance himself from his days as a headstrong young pitcher who was slow to heed the advice he received from Adam Wainwright and some of his other former Cardinals pitching mates.

"I've had my ups and downs like a lot of players have," Miller said. "I've learned a lot of things the past two years. I feel like I'm more poised and more prepared for this season."

More

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Royals looking to make minor tweaks for '15

Yost isn't tipping his hand as to who is the club's No. 1 starter

Royals looking to make minor tweaks for '15

KANSAS CITY -- Coming off the greatest Royals season in nearly three decades, manager Ned Yost obviously is eager to get to Spring Training in a couple of weeks.

It's just that once he gets there, Yost knows he won't be searching for all that many answers.

More

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Castrovince: Wrigley Field will always be Banks' home

|
Castrovince: Wrigley Field will always be Banks' home

On the weekend Chicago bids its official goodbye to Ernie Banks, the Wrigley Field renovations continue.

It's a strange sight, to say the least. The building where Banks worked his magic and frequently reminded us what pure joy the game of baseball can bring to our minds and our hearts has been ripped, in some corners, down to its core. And perhaps you've heard the reports of the scurrying rats that have been forced to look for shelter elsewhere in Wrigleyville.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Large crowd turns out for Banks' visitation service

Thousands gather at Fourth Presbyterian Church to reflect on Mr. Cub's life, lovable personality

Large crowd turns out for Banks' visitation service

CHICAGO -- Thousands of Cubs fans took their turn standing in front of the altar Friday at Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church, paying their respects to the greatest and most beloved Cub of all time.

Ernie Banks -- Hall of Famer, "Mr. Cub" and possessor of a childlike zest for baseball and life until his dying day -- was remembered during a public visitation at the church on 126 East Chestnut St. from noon-8 p.m. CT.

More

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Banks' legacy includes Presidential Medal of Freedom

Mr. Cub honored due to baseball prowess, civil rights role and positive outlook

Banks' legacy includes Presidential Medal of Freedom

CHICAGO -- U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley has known Ernie Banks at various stages in his life: as a 10-year-old fan, a county commissioner and now a congressman for Illinois' 5th District, which includes Wrigley Field and the surrounding area. Quigley was also in Washington, D.C., in 2013, when Banks was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"It struck me that when I saw him at the White House, he treated everybody, whether they were a congressman or a 10-year-old fan, the same way -- like they were the most important person, the most important fan at Wrigley Field," Quigley said Friday.

More

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cain and Salvy are reunited and it feels so good

|
Cain and Salvy are reunited and it feels so good

After a magical season that finished in the World Series, there is probably only one thing Lorenzo Cain didn't want to repeat in 2015: Salvador Perez's endless Instagramming. Of which Cain was the unwilling star in roughly 85 percent of them: 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Miggy, Goldy sit atop MLB Network's rankings at first

Abreu, Votto and Freeman round out the top five heading into 2015 season

Miggy, Goldy sit atop MLB Network's rankings at first

There are a number of great first basemen across the Major Leagues, which provides some healthy debate when identifying the best player of the group.

Who's the best right now? MLB Network gave that title to Miguel Cabrera as part of its annual rankings of the top 10 players at each position.

More

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Orioles, Pearce reach agreement to avoid arbitration

Orioles, Pearce reach agreement to avoid arbitration

The Orioles avoided arbitration with first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce on Friday by agreeing to a one-year deal. The deal, reported to be for $3.7 million, leaves the Orioles with three pending arbitration cases.

Pearce, who will turn 32 in April, gets a raise from $700,000 after a breakout 2014 season in which he batted .293/.373/.556 with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs in 102 games. In 290 games spread over the previous seven seasons, he had produced a .694 OPS and 17 homers for four different clubs.

More

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams reflects on joyful memories of Banks

Former teammate, close friend was with Mr. Cub for 'greatest moments'

Williams reflects on joyful memories of Banks

CHICAGO -- Billy Williams stood in front of his old friend Friday morning at Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church, where thousands of Chicagoans and Cubs fans came to pay tribute to Ernie Banks.

Williams, Banks' teammate of 13 seasons and a dear friend, stood silently at the front of the church where Banks' body lay in a closed casket, covered with a blue pinstriped flag featuring his name and No. 14. It was then, Williams said, he truly realized his close friend was gone.

More

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs add Wall, Castillo on Minor League deals

Bucs add Wall, Castillo on Minor League deals

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Josh Wall and catcher Wilkin Castillo were signed to Minor League contracts on Friday by the Pirates, who also added them to the list of non-roster players invited to Spring Training.

Wall, 28, re-signed with the Bucs, who had claimed him on waivers from the Angels last May after he had made a couple of appearances for Los Angeles. A former second-round Draft pick (2005, Dodgers), Wall pitched seven years in the Minors before making his big league debut in '12 with the Angels.

More

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.