Tot ziens, VandenHurk
Well, the Indians designated Henricus VandenHurk for assignment today because they acquired right-handed relief pitcher Jairo Asencio from the Braves and needed to make room on the 40-man roster. So VandenHurk gets to stay in camp and see if he gets traded, claimed, or cleared waivers. Spannend, he?

Earlier this week, the Indians also released Christian Guzman and reassigned Fred Lewis to minor league camp, leaving 41 players on the roster. Also-rans released from minor league camp on Wednesday include: right-handers Josh McKeon, Will Krasne, Nick Sarianides and Drew Rucinski; infielders Chase Burnette and Chin-lung Hu; and outfielder Brian Heere. Every time I mention the players who’ve been cut, I must resist the urge to say something like “In other news, the dreams of the following players were crushed today…”

Bienvenido, Asencio
Jairo Asencio is a 27-year-old RHP (turning 28 on May 5) who was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 2001. He was signed as a free agent by the Braves in 2007 and made his major league debut on July 12, 2009. He was on the Braves restricted list for all of 2010 because, when he originally signed with the Pirates, his name was Luis Valdez. Yes, this does sound familiar. The Indians say they’ve done their due diligence on Asencio and that his visa and immigration papers are in order, so I’ll take them at their word. (Once bitten, twice shy, etc.)

I’m trying to figure out why the Braves gave him up. He’s had a good Spring Training and it seemed like he was a leading contender for the Braves’ bullpen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s David O’Brien says that because Ascenio is out of options, if he wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, he would have had to clear waivers before he could be sent to the minor leagues. Braves General Manager Frank Wren said the Asencio has “always been a one-inning pitcher” and that they need a multi-inning guy. So apparently Atlanta decided to give him up for between $25,000-$30,000 rather than potentially lose him to waivers and get nothing for him.

It’s hard to tell if the Indians are really interested in Asencio (Antonetti said the team’s scouts have been interested in him for a while), or if they’re just grasping at straws. Going by Spring Training numbers, Nick Hagadone and Jeremy Accardo seem to be the front runners for the two remaining bullpen spots. Asencio has a 3.27 ERA with 12 strikeouts and a 1.45 WHIP over 11 innings in Spring Training for the Braves. Hagadone (2.53) and Accardo (1.00) have lower Spring Training ERAs. Asencio and Hagadone have only pitched a handful of innings in the majors; here’s how their AAA numbers compare:

Asencio  2.64 ERA 1.159 WHIP over two seasons (126 innings pitched)
Accardo 2.65 ERA 1.286 WHIP over six seasons (149.1 innings pitched)
Hagadone 3.35 ERA 1.179 WHIP over one season (48.1 innings pitched)

Overall, Asencio looks like a pretty good pickup. The Indians are supposed to make the next big round of roster cuts tomorrow. Let’s see what happens. How about Asencio and Accardo rounding out the bullpen?

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