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Giovanny Urshela and Ryan Merritt honored as Minor Leaguers of the Year

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Tribe items

On Monday the Indians announced their top Minor League honors for the 2014 seasons. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela (just voted by LGT readers as the #4 prospect in the organization) was chosen for the Lou Boudreau Award, given annually to the farm system's top position player of the year, while Ryan Merritt was given the Bob Feller Award, which goes to the farm system's top pitcher. Both players were added to the 40-man roster earlier this offseason, and are expected in big league spring training next month.

Terry Francona answered fan questions while at Tribe Fest yesterday. He talked about how rare it is for a team to return as many players as the Indians will this season, he came out in support of instant replay and the possibility of a pitch clock, and came out against the possibility of banning the defensive shift (something new commissioner Rob Manfred said he'd like to explore).

Francona also said Carlos Santana is probably the team's "best leadoff hitter," but also said he doesn't plan to use him there, because he's the team's best cleanup hitter as well. Michael Bourn will almost certainly bat leadoff to begin the season. Zack Meisel looks at some of the lineup options.

Speaking of Bourn, he's been working with University of Houston track coach and former Olympian Leroy Burrell this offseason. To be an ideal leadoff man, Bourn needs to get on base at a bit higher clip. It would also help if he could get back to stealing bases they way he did before arriving in Cleveland. I tend to think it has more to do with his health and age than coaching, but it's nice to see him making an extra effort to try and rebound.

Around MLB

The Brewers have a new mascot, who's a throwback of sorts, and who may also give a few Milwaukee area children nightmares: Barrelman.

The Mariners have signed LGFT Franklin Gutierrez to a minor league deal.

The Yankees are trying to go back on their agreement to pay Alex Rodriguez $6 million for hitting his 660th home run (which would tie him with Willie Mays). Legally speaking, I can't see how they have a leg to stand on. Nathaniel Grow at FanGraphs has more on the subject.

Eno Sarris looks at how the number of fastballs a young hitter sees can be predictive, in terms of improved production. Sadly, no Indians appear on the list of the players most likely to break out.