Astros Prospects Still Flying High

December 11th, 2017

The Houston Astros followed the Chicago Cubs blueprint in building for their World Series win in 2017. They traded veterans, acquired prospects and lost a bunch of games. Those losses gave them high picks in the draft and they acquired a number of other top prospects with those picks. They probably would have traded Jose Altuve if another team had expressed an interest in him, but he was a bit on the short side and still not an All Star. Once the George Springers and Carlos Correa’s developed into major leaguers the Astros reversed themselves and began trading some of their surplus prospects to take them into the playoffs. The organization is still stacked with prospects waiting for their turn to show the Astros what they can do.

Pitching is their strength, though they could trade a couple of those prospects to grab a more reliable veteran. Forest Whitley at 6′7 may be the best of the pitching prospects with his mid to high 90s fastball. He was the Astros first round pick in 2016, the 17th pick in the draft, climbing from Low A to AA where he combined to strikeout 143 batters in just 92 innings. Last year he only threw 91 innings so the Astros will gobble up innings in the minor leagues before they expose him to the toil of the major leagues. Expect him to see a role towards the end of the 2018 season.

David Paulino, another 6′7″ tower had settled into the rotation last year until a drug failure forced him to end the season early. With his character tainted it will be interesting what role he plays next year. His fastball also hits the mid to high 90s but he has had trouble staying healthy. That health and the drug suspension have limited him to a high of 85 innings in 2016 since signing in 2010. Last year he survived 43 innings before being suspended. Expect him to start the season in AAA to limit his innings and get his mojo back.

The hardest thrower may be Jandel Gustave, who regularly hits triple digits with his fastball. He blew out his elbow in April and missed all of 2017. With his lack of command and secondary pitches his best use is in the bullpen, but with his Aroldis Chapman type heat he could be their closer of the future. He will need to spend some time in the minors to regain arm strength after the surgery.

Other pitchers on the cusp are the 2017 first round pick J.B. Bukauskas, who stands only 6′0″ but still throws in the mid-90s. A college drafted pitcher with good secondary offerings he should rise quickly after beginning his career in short season. Expect a quick rise to AA in 2018. Cionel Perez is a lefthander signed out of Cuba. He does not throw hard but has a mixture of pitches to keep hitters off balance. Elian Rodriguez is another Cuban signing who throws hard but lacks command. A 30/19 walk to whiff ratio in 25 innings tells the tale on him, though the Astros shelled out $1.9 million to sign him.

On the position side Kyle Tucker is their top prospect. He is the younger brother of Preston Tucker who played briefly for the Astros. While Kyle has the potential to be an All Star Preston is more a fourth outfielder utility type. Preston has the speed to play center but the arm to fit in right. The power bat was explosive enough to slug 25 homeruns last year.

Colin Moran led the NCAA in RBIs, which led to him being drafted by the Marlins in the first round in 2013. His bat fell silent with the Marlins and they accepted their losses trading him to the Astros for Jarred Cosart. Last year Moran had a break out season with 18 homeruns in 79 games. This led to a promotion to Houston where after three games he fouled a pitch off his face and missed the rest of the season. Whether he can replicate his production last year is open to question, but Alex Bregman seems to have this position sewn up to begin the 2018 season.

Yordan Alvarez was one of many Cubans signed by the Dodgers. They traded him to the Astros for Josh Fields. Yordan has a left handed bat with the potential for power at 6′5″ and 230 pounds. His defensive tools for the outfield need work but at 20 years old the Astros can show some patience with him.

J.D. Davis is another third baseman who projects for power. Last year he hit 30 homeruns, with four of those swatted in the major leagues. His defense is not as strong as Bregman or Moran so he may have to wait his turn or move to first base to get his opportunity. His legs do not carry a lot of speed to fit in the outfield.

A.J. Reed and Teoscar Hernandez have seen too much time in the major leagues to be considered prospects. There is no room for them on the major league roster so expect them to bide their time in the minor leagues. A.J. Reed carries power at the first base position. Teoscar is a good defensive outfielder for centerfield who lacks power but has a good hit tool. A good spring may give him a roster spot as a fourth outfielder.

Myworld’s Top Rightfielders

December 11th, 2017

These are players with a strong arm who can hit for pop. We have excluded any player with a strong arm that also has speed to play center. Or at least we tried. We never thought Michael Conforto would get so much centerfield time with the Mets.

1. Eloy Jimenez (White Sox) - Easily the best of the group here. Average speed prevents him from being a five tool player and having the ability to play centerfield. He has a strong arm and the plus pop that should hit for 30 plus homeruns in the major leagues. The Cubs signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $2.8 million in 2013 but then traded him to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns playing in three different cities, hit .312 and slugged .568. A promotion to AA did not seem to phase him where he hit .353 with three homeruns and a .559 slugging percentage. The White Sox have Avisail Garcia for right field, but he is not a big impediment for a Jimenez promotion. Expect Eloy to be playing with the White Sox by mid-season 2018.

2. Kyle Tucker (Astros) - Kyle has been playing a lot of centerfield since being drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is more talented than his brother Preston who had a brief cameo with the Astros a couple years ago. Expect Kyle to make a longer stay. While his speed and instincts make centerfield a possibility, the speed is not of the burner variety and at 6′4″ he may lose a step as he bulks up. His bat does carry power as evidenced by his 25 homeruns split between High A and AA. He did steal 21 bases last year but expect those numbers to drop. The Astros outfield is still a bit crowded, though playing centerfield could be his first opportunity to make it with the Astros. Expect him to start the season in AA with a major league promotion in September, unless his numbers are so staggering the Astros need him to compete for the playoffs.

3. Kyle Lewis (Mariners) - A significant knee injury and surgery ended the 2017 season early for Kyle. How will it impact the speed of the 2016 first round pick is not known. His games in the Arizona Fall League were cut short when he appeared to experience some uneasiness in the knee. The arm is certainly strong enough to play right field if his legs are slower. The juice in his bat can carry the ball over the fence to all fields. Last year he hit 7 homeruns in 49 games, slugging .412 at two levels. The Mariners could start the season rehabbing him at Low A or having him play in extended spring training. Once his knee appears ready he could return to High A with the possibility to be promoted to AA. Don’t expect him in the major leagues before 2019.

4. Brett Phillips (Brewers) - The sixth round 2012 pick has one of the strongest arms in baseball. He also has the speed to cover ground in center. The Brewers have Lewis Brinson, a player with better defensive skills slotted for center. Brett doesn’t carry the power ideal for right so that could put him in a fourth outfielder category. Last year his power was good for 23 homeruns, including 4 in 37 games for the Brewers. There does seem to be too much swing and miss in his bats with 153 whiffs in 142 games. Brett had 34 of those whiffs in 87 at bats at the major league level. The 2018 season should see Brett start the season in AAA but a good spring could motivate the Brewers to take him to Milwaukee with them.

5. Dylan Cozens (Phillies) - The second round 2012 pick packs more power than Rhys Hoskins, though when he hit his 40 plus homeruns in AA a couple years ago it was played at the hitter friendly Reading park. The big challenge for Dylan is making contact, with 194 whiffs in 135 games last year. That resulted in a disappointing .210 average, which prevented him from joining Hoskins in the major leagues last year. Myworld expects some improvement next year as he repeats AAA and gets used to the better pitching at that level. His arm is not a cannon but it is good enough to throw runners out from right field. His average speed could actually force him to move to left. The Phillies are rebuilding so a good spring could create opportunities for him.

6. Aristides Aquino (Reds) - The Reds signed him back in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He didn’t get his first opportunity to play full season ball until 2015. Since that time he has been moving up a level each year. Next year should be AAA. There is power in his bat, though that power disappeared in major stretches in 2017. In 2016 he hit 23 homeruns with a .519 slugging. Last year he dropped to 17 homeruns with a .397 slugging percentage. He struggled to make contact last year with 145 whiffs in 131 games, resulting in his average dropping 60 points to .216 last year. Those struggles could see him repeat AA.

7. Harrison Bader (Cardinals) - The Cardinals outfield is crowded. The third round pick in the 2015 draft seems to have the best combination of power, arm and speed of those outfielders to slot in right field. Last year he slugged 23 homeruns, three of them at the major league level. His tool box is enough to give him the classification of a five tool player who exhibits attributes that are average or just above in all five tools. The one attribute he could improve on is patience. If he can narrow the 34/118 walk to whiff ratio that could put his average possibilities nearer the .300 mark. A good spring training could give him a shot at one of the outfield spots, but he has a lot of veterans ahead of him to surpass.

8. Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) - Alex was a second round pick of the Dodgers in 2014. He has a rocket for an arm, ideal for a rightfielder. His best attribute is his ability to make contact with a 52/50 walk to whiff ratio last year. The concern is his inability to show his over the fence power. His line drive stroke is good for gap hits, but adding some loft into his swing could turn some of those gappers into homers. That switch could impact his ability to make contact. His speed is not quick enough to cover the ground he needs for centerfield. Last year he saw some major league September action, hitting .174 in 23 at bats. Yasiel Puig currently has right field occupied so if Verdugo is to play next year he could have to fit in centerfield where the Dodgers lack a consistent bat.

9. Socrates Brito (Diamondbacks) - Socrates has had his opportunities but injuries have held him back. Injuries limited him to 78 games last year and no major league appearance. Socrates has the speed to play center and the arm to fit in right. The bat has not shown a lot of power so his best bet could be if he could win the centerfield job. His most likely role could be as a utility fourth outfielder. Last year in the 78 games he played his OPS was .785 with a .449 slugging average and a .291 batting average. At 25 years old, if he is going to make an impact in the outfield his time would be in 2018.

10. Austin Hays (Orioles) - The third round 2016 pick seemed to come out of nowhere to hit 33 homeruns last year. One of those homeruns came in his major league debut where he hit .217 in a September callup. The Orioles outfield situation is not crowded. Mark Trumbo plays right field but he should spend most of his time at DH next year. What myworld has seen of Hayes is a decent arm that can play in right field, not like the rockets of Verdugo or Phillips. While he showed power last year, whether he can maintain that against major league pitching is open to question. In the minor leagues he has shown the ability to hit in the .300 neighborhood. Time will tell whether the power and batting tools the Atlantic Coast Conference star has shown is a mirage or part of his daily repertoire. The right field job is there for the taking if he has a good spring training.

Others to Note

Khalil Lee (Royals) - The third round 2016 pick has a better arm for throwing out runners than the speed in his legs for catching fly balls. This does not mean he does not have the speed for centerfield, just that his overall tools may be better suited for right. Last year he slugged 17 homeruns in Low A, evidence of his power. He also struck out 171 times in 121 games, indicative of his capability to swing and miss at a lot of pitches.

Seuly Matias (Royals) - The 19 year old Dominican has perhaps the best arm on the Royals. His average speed and power in his bat makes right field the best fit.

Brandon Marsh (Angels) - At 6′4″ with a cannon for an arm makes right field the best fit for Brandon. His legs also are quick enough to cover ground in center. Can’t imagine him usurping Mike Trout from his position so we will fit the second round 2016 pick for right.

Tristan Lutz (Brewers) - The 2017 supplemental first round pick has the arm for right and the bat for the position. He also has decent speed to play center. The Brewers do have a crowded deck of outfielders. The Brewers can start Tristan at Low A and show patience with him as he develops his skills for the major leagues.

Austin Beck (Athletics) - Beck was a first round pick of the Atletics in 2017. He had a prevalence to swing and miss in his professional debut with 51 strikeouts in 41 games, limiting his average to .211. His arm was one of the best in the draft last year.

Angels in the Outfield

December 9th, 2017

The Los Angeles Angels have used a couple unique administrative procedures to stock up their farm system. One involved violations by the Braves with the international bonus cap that resulted in the Braves forfeiting the rights to 12 players. The Angels signed two of them, Kevin Maitan ($2.2 million) and Livan Soto ($850,000). The other involved the posting of a talented Japanese player, Shohei Otani, who is still in his prime.

The Angels won the Shohei Otani sweepstakes. Shohei could be one of the best outfield prospects in baseball with the chance to make the Angels outfield next year. He has big time power with the potential to drive fastballs over 400 feet. The problem is as a starting pitcher he also has the ability to throw fastballs at greater than 100 miles per hour. If you tracked the velocity of his fastballs over the course of the Japanese season and compared them to major league starting pitchers he would be the hardest throwing starting pitcher in major league baseball. Take that Noah Syndegaard. That major league quality fastball gives him one of the strongest arms in baseball for a right fielder.

The quandary? Where do you play Otani. While splitting time between playing outfield, at DH and pitching Otani has been prone to injury. Last year his starting pitching was limited because of an ankle injury that resulted from running the bases. He had surgery on the ankle over the off season and it should be healed by spring training, though it may limit him. He has also missed a few starts in previous years because of injuries that were the result of his two way play.

The Nippon Ham Fighters limited him to DH to avoid those injuries. They would not play him the day before he pitched or the day after he pitched. When he did pitch they would put him in the lineup and he would hit cleanup. With his signing Otani would be considered the top prospect in baseball, though that is a bit tainted because of his professional play in Japan and his age (24 in July 2018). While he is listed at 6′3″ some have said he may be closer to 6′5″.

Otani is not the only outfield prospects the Angels have. They used their draft picks the last two years on two talented outfielders. The most talented is Jo Adell, who was their first round pick in 2017. He has the speed to play centerfield and the arm to play right. There is some pop in his bat and combined with his speed he combined for 24 extra base hits last season, eight of them triples out of 66 hits in his first half season of baseball. He also pitched in high school and was clocked with a mid-90s fastball, but the Angels are using him strictly as an outfielder. His one big issue is his propensity to swing and miss with 49 whiffs in 49 games.

Another high draft pick is Jahmai Jones, who was drafted by the Angles in the second round in 2015. His dad played professional football and his siblings were talented football players as well. Jones is extremely athletic with the speed and the instincts to cover centerfield. He has the arm to play right, but it is weak when compared to Otani and Adell. He had the pop to hit 14 homeruns last year and slugged .447 between Low and High A. Jones has the ability to make better contact than Adell but with less power potential.

Another second round pick, this one in 2016 is Brandon Marsh. At 6′4″ he has the typical look of a right fielder. His arm is strong and he has the ability to pop the ball if he can get his arms extended. A stress fracture in his back forced him to miss all of 2016 and get a late start to his 2017 season where in 39 games at the short season league he hit .350 with a .944 OPS. Next year will be key for him where he will start the season in Low A playing a full season.

The Braves loss was the Angels gain when they signed two of their players after they were declared free agents. Kevin Maitan may be the best signing. When the Braves signed him for $4.25 million last year he was immediately considered one of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Some of that prospect luster has worn off and many think he will have to move from shortstop to third base. He also struggled a bit with the bat, hitting just .241 with 49 whiffs in 42 games. The power also did not register in games with a miniscule .340 slugging average. What one has to remember is Maitan is only 17 years old and last year was his first exposure to minor league baseball as a 16 year old. Most kids in the United States would still be hitting high school pitching.

The Angels also signed Livan Soto, who may have better defensive tools than Maitan for playing shortstop. Soto is not as strong as Maitan and may not carry as big a bat. Most projections for him are to fill in as a utility player at the major league level. Last year Soto hit .225 with a .254 slugging percentage, but again he was a 16 year old playing for the first time in the minor leagues. His biggest need is to build some strength on his 6′0″ 160 pound frame.

A couple other prospects to watch are two players drafted as catchers in the first round who may have to move from that position. Taylor Ward was the Angels first round pick in 2015. He was drafted for his bat but that has not developed as hoped. Last year he .258 with a .390 slugging. His arm is strong enough to settle at catcher but his other attributes need to get better. At one point there was thought he could move to first if catching did not work out, but his bat has not shown the power to be a fit at that position. They have left him at catcher and there are hopes his other defensive tools for the position improve.

Matt Thais was a first round pick of the Angels in 2016. He was immediately moved from catcher to first base, where his power is greater than Taylor Ward. While he only slugged .395 the Angels believe the power is there. Unfortunately, Thais has the speed of a catcher so if first base does not work a move to the outfield would make him a defensive liability.

Other than Otani, where the Angels could use some improvement in the minor leagues is with their pitching. They have spent most of their high draft picks the last couple years on bats. The arms are what need to be developed next. Griffin Canning was a second round pick in 2017 but he has not played yet. They have no real power pitchers that consistently throw in the mid-90s. They’ll need to find a couple of those if they want to contend. Otani is a good first step in that process.

Nicaragua to Host U-23 WBSC Championship; Panama Under 15

December 6th, 2017

Nicaragua will host the Under 23 WBSC championship in 2018, playing the games at the newly constructed 15,000 seat Dennis Martinez stadium at a date yet to be determined. Despite all the points awarded for this event the No 2 United States and No 5 Cuba will not be playing in the tournament. The United States did not play in the qualifying round, while Cuba did not qualify. Below are the teams who have qualified for the games:

Africa (1) - to be determined
Americas (4) - No. 9 Venezuela, No. 6 Mexico, No. 11 Puerto Rico, No. 16 Dominican Republic
Asia (3) - No1. Japan, No.4 Taiwan and No. 3 South Korea
Europe (2) - No. 8 Netherlands, No. 14 Czech Republic
Oceania (1) - to be determined
Wildcard (1) - No 13 Nicaragua

The Under 15 Hosts will be Panama. The teams competing in that tournament are:

Africa (1) - to be determined
Americas (5) - No. 2 United States, No. 16 Dominican Republic, No. 5 Cuba, No. 15 Panama, No. 18 Brazil
Asia (2) - No. 1 Japan and No. 4 Taiwan
Europe (2) - No. 20 Germany and No. 8 Netherlands
Oceania (1) - to be determined

Winter League Pitchers Making Waves

December 6th, 2017

Most of the top prospects do not usually pitch in the winter leagues because of the number of innings pitching coaches want to save for their arms. The top prospects may have a couple starts, but that is only for those pitchers who were injured for most of the major league season and the need to get some work. The winter league is filled with pitchers who had opportunities but failed and now are trying to attract any team from the NPB, KBO, CPBL or the major leagues. Below are the pitchers who are doing well, but keep in mind the hitters they are facing are mostly at the AA level.

Radhames Liz (Estrellas) - Liz did not have success in the major leagues, but he pitched well in the bullpen in the NPB. His fastball used to reach the mid-90s but tended to be too straight. He will be 34 entering the 2018 season and myworld does not know what he has left in his 95 mile per hour fastball. He started the Dominican season pitching over 30 innings of ball without allowing an earned run. In his last outing he finally gave up two earned runs to raise his ERA to 0.50 after seven starts. The opposition is hitting him at a .153 pace and he has a 8/31 walk to whiff ratio in 35.2 innings.

Yunesky Maya (Aguilas) - Perhaps he is more comfortable pitching in an environment where they have a Latin culture. He struggled in his starts in the major leagues and the KBO, though he did pitch a no hitter in the KBO. In 8 starts in the Dominican Winter League he is 2-1, 1.72, with the opposition hitting just .214 off him. Not overpowering and at 6′0″ he needs his command to have success against professional hitters. A 7/28 walk to whiff ratio in 36.2 innings is evidence to some command, but not a lot of swings and misses with his pitches.

Jorge Lopez (Aguilas) - The second pitcher on this impressive Aguilas staff and the one best identified as a prospect. At 25 years of age next season he has a good opportunity to fit into the Brewers starting rotation with a good spring. In the minors last year he only pitched 103 innings bouncing between starting and the bullpen. With Aguilas he has started 10 games with a 2.29 ERA and a .221 opposition average. A two start stretch where he gave up 8 runs in 10 innings put a bad spin to his ERA. A 12/40 walk to whiff ratio in 55 innings.

Roenis Elias (Aguilas) - The second Cuban and the third Aguilas pitcher on this list, Roenis is still gunning for a starting spot in the Red Sox rotation. He has had some success in the majors but last year was a struggle (6.96 ERA) pitching at four different minor league levels. Rib and lat injuries limited his innings last year. The Cuban has made three starts in the Dominican League with a 1.89 ERA. He has limited the opposition to a .191 average, but his command has been a bit off with a 7/19 walk to whiff ratio in 19 innings.

Mitch Lively (Mazatlán) - Mitch has pitched in the Mexican summer league the last couple years. In his last appearance he pitched a nine hit complete game shutout, allowing just one hit. That hit was given up in the first inning and he retired the last 22 hitters he faced. His last two outings Mitch has given up just four hits in 17 innings without allowing a run. He has pitched six or more innings in his last six starts, stringing together a 7-1 record with a 2.45 ERA in nine starts. There was one horrific start where he gave up 8 runs in just under five innings to taint his ERA. The opposition is hitting .217 against him and he has a 8/42 walk to whiff ration in 52 innings.

Anthony Vasquez (Culiacan) - Last year he pitched for the Tigers AA and AAA teams. At 32 years of age he has yet to pitch in the major leagues. In eight starts in the Mexican Winter League he is 5-1 with a 2.00 ERA. The opposition is ripping him at a .276 clip with a 11/46 walk to whiff ratio in 54 innings. Even in the minor leagues hitters had an easy time barreling his pitches for hits.

Guillermo Moscoso (Aragua) - The last time Guillermo pitched in the major leagues was in 2013. Last year he came out of a four year retirement to pitch in the Mexican summer league. He has added the Venezuelan winter league to his schedule and his innings have been dominant. In nine starts he has a 1.81 ERA, though the .243 opposition average is evidence that his pitches are not overpowering. He has yet to give up more than two runs in his 9 starts covering 49.2 innings.

Reinier Roibal (Zulia) - The third Cuban on this list two years ago pitched for the Phillies AA and AAA team. At 29 years of age he could still have some life in his arm. In nine starts Roibal has a 2.59 ERA with a .250 opposition average and a 10/40 walk to whiff ratio in 40.2 innings. Righthanders are hitting just .192 against him but lefthanders are stinging him at a .351 clip.

Venezuela Winter League All Star Game Won by Occidente

December 6th, 2017

A couple two run homeruns powered the West over the East in the Venezuela All Star game. Jairo Perez slugged a two run homerun in the second inning to give the West an early 2-1 lead. Luis Villegas extended that lead to 4-1 with a two run homer in the seventh.

Freddy Garcia got the start and the win for the West working just the first inning. The East took an early 1-0 lead in the first, fueled by an RBI double from Jose Castillo. Ariel Hechavarria accounted for the only other run for the East with a solo shot in the eighth.

Ronald Belisario picked up the save with his inning of work in the ninth.

Venezuela Downs Mexico to Win Americas Under 23 Championship

December 4th, 2017

Venezuela used a collection of minor league ball players to defeat Mexico and their roster of Mexican League summer players 3-1 to win the Under 23 Americas championship. Joscar Alvarez drove in all three runs for Venezuela with his three run homer in the bottom of the fourth. Julian Ornelas accounted for the only Mexican run with his solo shot in the second inning.

In the bronze medal game the Yadier Molina led Puerto Ricans shredded the Dominican Republic 17-1. Yariel Gonzalez went deep twice and drove in seven runs, one of his homeruns a grand slam that ended the game after six innings because of the 15 run rule.

All four teams qualified for the Under 23 tournament that will be played in 2018.

Chunichi Dragons Fail to Resign Alex Guerrero

December 2nd, 2017

An interesting free agent for major league baseball teams may be Alex Guerrero. He caused some headaches for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he played for them a couple years ago but seemed to be quite tamed while playing for the Chunichi Dragons. The Dragons made an attempt to resign him but could not get it done.

Guerrero showed some amazing power for the Dragons. He led all Japanese players with 35 homeruns, hitting .279. At one point during the season he hit homeruns in six consecutive games, falling one short of tying the NPB record for consecutive games with a homerun. While he may not be able to duplicate those numbers in the major leagues, they are still good enough that some major league team will be motivated to give him another major league opportunity.

Guerrero is the player who bit a portion of the ear off of Miguel Olivo in a dugout scuffle in 2014. He will be 31 next year so you would expect his maturity level has increased.

Mexico and Venezuela to Play in under 23 America’s championship

December 2nd, 2017

When Mexico lost their opener to Panama in the under 23 America’s championship it was a shock to most of the players and managers. This was one of the more talented teams that was put together. Mexico seems to have recovered. They will be playing Venezuela for the championship. Both teams have qualified for the world event along with Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic that will be played in 2018.

Venezuela eliminated the host Panama from the tournament and a hoped for qualification for the World Cup with a 5-3 win, especially hurtful after Panama had an opening day win over a talented team from Mexico. Mexico eliminated Cuba from any World Cup consideration with a 6-3 win. Mexico and the Dominican Republic finished tied for second in the super round but Mexico advanced to the championship because of their victory over them earlier. Venezuela had beaten Mexico 14-3 earlier in pool play.

The Dominican Republic will play Puerto Rico for the bronze. The Dominican Republic had beaten Puerto Rico earlier in pool play 10-5. Puerto Rico was tied with Panama for fourth place with identical 2-3 records but Puerto Rico advanced to the bronze medal game and World Cup qualification because of their win over Panama in head to head play to win the tie breaker.

Final standings:

Venezuela 5-0, Mexico 3-2, Dominican Republic 3-2, Puerto Rico 2-3, Panama 2-3, Cuba 0-5

The winless super round result of Cuba has to be a surprise and a testament to their drop in baseball talent. The above information was obtained from the website of the world baseball softball confederation website (wbsc.org).

Myworlds Top Leftfield Prospects

December 2nd, 2017

These are not necessarily the top outfield prospects. They are usually limited because they either lack the arm to play right field or are absent of the speed in their legs to patrol centerfield. One thing they do have is a bat and a crowded infield situation that a manager finds a spot for them in the lineup. Not included here are centerfielder types who end up playing left field because of an already crowded centerfield position like Starling Marte or years ago Mike Trout when Peter Bourgos was the Angels centerfielder.

1) Corey Ray (Brewers) - The 2016 first round pick of the Brewers has an average arm that could fit in right. His legs have the speed to cover centerfield, but it is not burner speed that covers wide patches of green. The Brewers hope his power bat will get him in the lineup. Last year an injury gave him a late start to the season and he struggled to make contact, hitting .237 with 156 whiffs in 112 games. The power was also not prevalent with a .367 slugging average. The year before in a half season he made better contact (54 whiffs in 57 games) but his other numbers were not much better (.247 ave. and a .385 slugging). He will need to do better with thee bat if he wants to play left. As a college drafted player he is 23 so the Brewers do not have the luxury of time to show a lot of patience with him. A promotion to AA is not deserved but will probably occur out of necessity.

2) Willie Calhoun (Rangers) - Willie was drafted in the fourth round in 2015 by the Dodgers. At 5′8″ he is small of stature but his bat carries a lot of wallop. The Dodgers used him at second base and were playing him more in left field when they traded him to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish deal. The Rangers stuck him out in left field where he flourished. His power bat made a statement in 2016 when he slugged 27 homeruns, though his slugging percentage was greater in 2015 (.519 to .469) but not as recognized because he played just half a season covering three different levels. After a slow start Willie turned on the after burners in 2017, blasting 32 homeruns, with a .572 slugging percentage in what is usually a hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. This resulted in his major league debut where his power was absent but in minimal at bats. Look for him to compete for the Rangers left field job next year.

3) Blake Rutherford (White Sox) - The Yankees made Blake their first pick in the 2016 draft. Last year they traded him to the White Sox in the Todd Frazier deal. The Yankees outfield is a bit crowded with prospects Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier forming the nucleus of their outfield for years to come so Blake was an extra piece. He does not have a rocket arm that you expect for right or the burner speed for center, but he could play both positions adequately if he makes it as a fourth outfielder. In a half a season with the Yankees shorter season clubs Blake raked, hitting .351 with a .570 slugging. He failed to replicate those numbers when promoted to full season ball, carrying only two balls over the fence (.348 slugging). His lefthanded bat has the potential for power once he adds some lift in his swing to allow balls to glide over the fence. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA.

4) Austin Meadows (Pirates) - A highly touted first round pick of the Pirates in 2013. His high school baseball rival in Georgia Clint Frazier has already seen time in the major leagues. Injuries have curbed the career of Austin, limiting him to just 81 games last year. In 2016 injuries limited him to just 87 games. His arm is fringy but his speed could allow him to play center. Because of his injuries, his play has been sporadic, but still good enough to be promoted to AAA. Last year Meadows strung together a career low slugging average of .384. With McCutchen ready to become a free agent after next year the Pirates could slide Starling Marte to centerfield and place Austin in left. In order for that to be accomplished Austin needs to improve his stock with the bat and stay healthy.

5) Tyler O’Neil (Cardinals) - Tyler was a third round pick of the Mariners in 2013. The Canadian born Tyler is the son of a body builder so he lifts weights as well, giving him biceps that can carry balls far over the fence. Last year he hit 31 homeruns, 19 of them with the Mariners AAA team and the remaining 12 with the AAA team of the Cardinals. In 2015 he had hit 32. That power comes with a number of swings and misses (151 in 130 games) but teams will take that for a power hitter. The Cardinals outfield is crowded but Tyler possesses power that few can match. His speed is below average and arm above average so a corner is the best place for him.

6) Jesse Winker (Reds) - It has taken some time for the 2012 first round supplemental pick of the Reds to germinate into a major league player. He lacks the speed or the arm to be anything but a leftfielder. First base might be his best position but with Joey Votto there he has no chance of finding major league time. Jesse does have a sweet left handed swing that should hit for a high average. It may not hit for a lot of power. Last year in AAA he only hit two homeruns with a .408 slugging. For his minor league career his slugging average sits at .455. In his major league debut last year he showed a little bit of pop in the hitter friendly Reds stadium, hitting seven homeruns for a .529 slugging. If he can replicate those numbers he will be the Reds starter in 2018.

7) Cedric Mullins (Orioles) - Cedric was a 13th round pick in 2015. His small 5′8″ stature may have resulted in teams holding back on him when selecting for the draft. A hot start to the season last year was stunted by a hamstring injury that forced him to miss two months. His bat did not sizzle after that, but he finished the season with 13 homeruns. He showed off his power with 33 of his 82 hits going for extra bases to produce a .460 slugging. He has the speed to play center but the arm is weak so left field is his next option. The Orioles will need some help in the outfield next year with Adam Jones eligible to become a free agent. Cedric should make his major league debut sometime by next season, judging by how short the Orioles outfield situation is depth wise.

8) Hunter Dozier (Royals) - The first round pick of the Royals in 2013 saw a lot of time in left field last year. The impending free agency of Mike Moustakas next year could seal Hunter’s position. If Moustakas is not signed Hunter could find a slot open at third. If he does sign, Hunter could battle with the disappointing Alex Gordon for left field starts. Oblique and hamate bone injuries limited his minor league play to just 33 games. In 2016 he made his major league debut (.211). The injuries and the struggle to make contact (37 whiffs in 24 games) stunted his average (.226) and prevented him from seeing more major league time. Hunter should compete for a major league role in 2018, though his limited playing time last year is a big impediment to that progress.

9) Jorge Ona (Padres) - Like the Dodgers, the Padres have gone out and signed a number of Cuban defectors. Like the Dodgers they are still waiting for success. With Jorge, there is some power in his bat, though an inability to make consistent contact led to many unproductive at bats. In his state side United States debut Jorge hit 11 homeruns at Low A. At 20 years of age the Padres can be patient with him. His lack of speed will restrict him to a corner. His arm is strong enough for right but myworld feels it is a better fit for left. With a little more experience he could rise quickly.

10) Christin Stewart (Tigers) - The Tigers are rebuilding and there is no better time for Christin to be coming up from the minor leagues. In 2016 he hit 30 homeruns. Last year he hit 28 at AA with a .256 average. There still is a little too much swing and miss in his swing, but few Tigers carry as much wallop in the bat. His lack of speed and a weak arm will keep him in left field or at DH. The Tigers could start him in AAA next year with a quick rise to the majors by mid-season.

Others Worth Noting

Christian Walker (Diamondbacks) - At 27 years of age his gentrification has made him less of a prospect. He did hit 32 homeruns and drove in 115 runs, production that is difficult to ignore. He played first base with the Orioles but always seems to be blocked at that position. With the Diamondbacks he is blocked by Paul Goldschmidt

Anthony Santander (Orioles) - The Rule V pick was sidelined until the summer by shoulder surgery. When he got healthy the bat was smoking (.382). Next year Anthony has a good shot of making the major league club, rotating between left field, first base and DH.

Yordan Alvarez (Astros) - The 20 year old Cuban is a big kid (6′5). That height carries arm length which gives him impressive power. Last year he hit 12 homeruns between Low and High A. His best position may be first base because of his lack of speed.

Brent Rooker (Twins) - Rooker was a first round 2017 pick who hit 18 homeruns in a half season of 62 games. He played first base at college but the Twins moved him to left field for his professional debut.