Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 30 - 21

March 2nd, 2015

Myworld did our last bit of shoveling for the winter. Tomorrow we will be in Florida to hopefully enjoy the sunshine for the month and watch a little spring training baseball.

30. Hunter Harvey RHP (Orioles) 6.37 - The son of closer Bryan, Hunter was the Orioles first round pick in 2013. His fastball is explosive like his father hitting the mid 90s, but sitting at 92-94. Unlike his dad, Hunter will be a starter utilizing a quality curve and change to give him three solid pitches for a rotation. Last year he made his debut in the full season league getting 17 starts and limiting the opposition to a .209 average. He popped a little above a strikeout an inning until his season ended early with an arm injury. The good news is the doctors did not believe surgery was necessary. Hunter should start the season at High A but the Orioles will be cautious with his innings and pitch counts until they are confident that his arm is healthy. A rotation of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey could be quite formidable in the next couple years.

29. Raul Aldeberto Mondesi SS (Royals) 6.43 - Another son of an ex-major leaguer who will fill a different role than his father. The Royals signed Raul in 2011 for $2 million out of the Dominican Republic. While his father intimidated the pitchers with his power stroke the son will intimidate pitchers with his legs and contribute to team victories with stellar defense at shortstop. The only tool lacking from the younger Mondesi is the power exhibited by his father. He was still a teenager last year while competing in High A, struggling with older pitchers to hit for a .211 average and .256 OBA. He biggest battle was a lack of patience as evidenced by his 24/122 walk to whiff ratio. Despite the offensive struggles he still showed a consistency at shortstop, committing only 16 errors. It would not hurt to see him repeat at High A to gain some confidence in his offense. The more he gets on base the more he can show case his premier speed.

28. Aaron Sanchez RHP (Blue Jays) 6.58 - Sanchez was a first round supplemental pick in the 2010 draft. Myworld watched him a couple years ago in the Arizona Fall League and he was the player we were most impressed with after we left Arizona. He throws hard, hitting the high 90s when working out of the pen and sitting at 92-96 when in the rotation. He also throws a quality curveball and change. The big issue with him is his lack of command. He generally walks around five batters per game, a killer for the bullpen when a starting pitcher reaches his pitch count by the fifth inning. Last year he did not have dominating numbers when he pitched in the starting rotation in AA and AAA, getting hit at a .281 clip in AAA. The Blue Jays still promoted him to the majors, using him out of the bullpen where his walk rate dropped and the opposition could hit him at only a .128 clip. It is expected he will start the 2015 season in the Blue Jays bullpen, though they have not given him the idea of still making him a starter. It is possible the Blue Jays could convert him to a closer by the end of the year if the hitters still have trouble hitting him in 2015.

27. Jose Berrios RHP (Twins) 6.62 - The first Puerto Rican to play in the major leagues was a pitcher (Hiram Bithorn). Surprising Puerto Rico is more known for developing position players, especially catchers and not pitchers. Jose hopes to make his mark as a pitcher. He was a first round supplemental pick in the 2012 draft, the highest pitcher drafted from Puerto Rico, the same draft that made Carlos Correa the first Puerto Rican selected as the first pick in the draft. Jose can toast the radar readings in the high 90s with his fastball, but generally sits at 92-94. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. Last year he rose three levels, finishing at AAA where he made one poor start. The Twins will start Jose in AA in 2015 where he started eight games with a 3.54 ERA. The Twins do not have a lot of talent in their starting rotation. Jose will be competing with Trevor May and Alex Meyer to be the first pitcher called up when the need will eventually arise to add some quality arms to the rotation. Of the three, Jose shows the greatest command.

26. Jameson Taillon RHP (Pirates) 6.67 - Taillon was the second player drafted in the 2010 draft after the Nationals selected Bryce Harper. His parents are Canadian which allowed Jameson to pitch for the Canadian team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. After a successful 2013 season it was expected Jameson would compete for a spot in the Pirates 2014 starting rotation as they fought for a second straight playoff spot. Before spring training ended he was one of a village of pitchers who missed the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery his fastball hit the mid 90s and he had an excellent curve. The Pirates will start him slowly in AAA and hope his stuff returns to pre-surgery form. This would make him a candidate for a mid-season promotion.

25.Andrew Heaney RHP (Angels) 7 - The Marlins drafted Heaney in the first round of the 2012 draft. The negotiations were contentious, with a last hour signing a result. Heaney did not help his cause with the club with a less than sterling 2014 major league debut (5.83 ERA). The Marlins traded him at the end of the year to the Dodgers for Dan Haren and Dee Gordon. The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. Heaney does not have overpowering stuff, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball. His secondary pitches with the slider and change are what will make him a number two type starter. With a good spring he has a chance to make the rotation. Garrett Richards is expected to miss the first couple weeks of the season and the Angels do not have a lot of options to throw out there. If he has success when Garrett returns the Angels will keep him in the rotation, but if he struggles like he did with the Marlins last year, a little more AAA time will not hurt.

24. David Dahl OF (Rockies) 7.17 - David was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2012. After hitting .375 in his debut season a lot was expected of him. The 2013 season was a nightmare, suspensions and injuries limiting him to just ten games. He recovered some of his mojo in 2014, hitting .309 with a .847 OPS in low A. Those numbers were not quite as impressive when promoted to High A. Dahl is above average in all five tools and is expected to play centerfield for the Rockies in 2017. His first step will be to master High A, where if he has success he will lead to a promotion to AA, just a step away from the major leagues. During this journey one can assume Dahl put up enough funds to buy himself an alarm clock so he does not repeat the travails of the 2013 season.

23. Henry Owens LHP (Red Sox) 7.23 - Henry was a first round supplemental pick of the Red Sox in 2011. At 6′7″ with a fastball in the low 90s he can be intimidating from the left side of the mound. He continues to average a strikeout per inning in his minor league career, rising to the AAA level in 2014. One area he improved on last year was his command where he dropped his walk rate from 4.5 per nine innings to a little over three walks per nine innings. He struggled a bit with right handed bats in AAA if a .245 opposition average can be called a struggle. The Red Sox will start his 2015 season in AAA where he will stand ready to be one of the first pitchers promoted if they have a need in the starting rotation.

22. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 7.58 - The Phillies have not had a lot of success with their first round picks. J.P. was their selection in the first round of the 2013 draft. He looks to be a keeper. The Phillies traded Jimmy Rollins and will have to tolerate the next two seasons with Freddy Galvis at short, but J.P. is on the rise. He’s got some sting in his bat with the instincts to play short. The only question mark with him is his lack of foot speed when moving to first base. Last year Crawford reached AA, hitting more homeruns than in A ball, but less doubles. So the gappers were sailing over the fence, but his slugging average was constant (.405 versus .407) because of a 20 point drop in average. Despite his lack of foot speed he still managed to steal 24 bases in 38 attempts. His most impressive number was his 65/74 walk to whiff ratio. He makes contact and can get on base with the base on balls. The Phillies will start his season in AA with no motivation to speed up his service time in this rebuilding season. Expect J.P. to make his major league debut sometime in 2016.

21. Daniel Norris LHP (Blue Jays) 7.63 - A second Blue Jay pitcher on this list, though Daniel throws from the left side and was a second round pick in 2011. His $2 million bonus was higher than the four players selected ahead of him in the first round supplemental portion of the draft and Tyler Beede, the first round pick did not sign. Daniel can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but generally sits at 92-94. He also has a good slider and change that complements the fastball. Last year he pitched at four different levels, getting one start and four relief appearances with the Blue Jays. In the minor leagues he averaged close to 12 whiffs per nine innings. That number dropped to 5.4 in the majors. It was still tough to make barrel of the bat contact off him. A good spring could find him in the Blue Jays starting rotation as the fifth starter, or he could pitch out of the pen. The Blue Jays may prefer to have him eat innings in AAA in preparation as a starter.

2015 Top Ten European Prospects

March 2nd, 2015

Myworld always begins our top ten country list with the European prospects. We don’t get a lot of major league hits with this list, but not a lot of pure Europeans make it into the major leagues. The list was made more difficult this year by the lack of players from Curacao. The top two players from the list last year, Xander Boegarts and Jonathan Schoop made the major leagues and are no longer eligible for this list. Donald Lutz also saw some major league action, but he did not play enough to lose his rookie status so he is eligible to repeat on this list.

With the World Baseball Classic and the under 21 tournament in Taiwan myworld has gotten a chance to see many of these players perform. So myworld is a little biased by those players who we have seen play.

1. Ozhaino Albies SS (Curacao/Netherlands) - With two players from Curacao/Aruba departing the list from last year Ozhaino comes out of nowhere to replace them to put himself on top of the 2015 list. He was signed by the Braves in 2013 and made his professional debut last year hitting .364 in rookie ball, with 28 walks and 23 whiffs. Those are the kind of numbers myworld can get excited about. He also had the speed to steal 22 bases in 27 attempts. On defense he committed 13 errors in 53 games, the kind of numbers you might expect from a 17 year old making his professional debut. Most kids that age would still be playing for their high school baseball team. He should start the season next year in full season ball. With Andrelton Simmons on the major league club Albies is still far enough away the Braves can make a decision on whether they let Simmons leaves as a free agent to allow Albies to move to short, or whether they find another position for Albies.

2. Martin Gasparini SS (Italy) - Martin signed with the Royals in 2013 for $1.3 million, the largest bonus payment paid out to a European player from the continent. The previous high bonus was paid to Max Kepler. Martin is also 17 with a lot of growing up to do, five months younger than Albies. He also played in rookie ball but did not put up the same kind of numbers as Albies, hitting just .228 with a more expected 4/34 walk to whiff ratio for a younger player. A total OPS of .581 shows he has a lot of work to do with the bat. On defense he also was not quite as sharp with 15 errors in 22 games, but he does carry all the tools to play shortstop. The Royals will probably have him repeat rookie ball where he will play with players equal his age in 2015.

3. Chris Reed LHP (Great Britain) - Chris was born in London but played baseball in high school in California. He also pitched for the Stanford Cardinal, drawing the attention of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who made him their first round pick in 2011. While he was a closer for the Stanford Cardinal the Dodgers have moved him to the starting rotation. He is a lefty who throws his fastball in the low 90s with a slider and changeup. Because he doesn’t throw hard he relies more on poor barrel of the bat contact rather than strikeouts, last year limiting AA hitters to a .226 average. He did get raked in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, putting up a ghastly 10.97 ERA with an opposition average of .378. The Dodgers will have him repeat AAA and hope for some success before they turn his blood to Dodger blue.

4. Aaron Altherr OF (Germany) - His father was a German soccer player but Aaron chose the sport of baseball after moving to the United States. At 6′5″ he has a large strike zone that has created his share of whiffs. Last year at AA he only hit .236 with 110 strikeouts, but he showed enough potential that he made his Phillies debut with 5 at bats but no hits. If he can consistently get his arms extended Aaron can hit for some impressive power but pitchers pound him inside to get weak contact or swings and misses. His arm is made for right field but he needs to improve with the bat to be given the opportunity to make it as a right fielder. The Phillies will start him again in AA to give him more opportunity to succeed.

5. Donald Lutz 1B (Germany) - Lutz was born in New York but moved to Germany as a child, learning and playing baseball in the German youth leagues. When he was promoted to the major leagues in 2013 he became the first player from Germany to play major league baseball who grew up playing all his baseball in Germany. At 6′3″ and 235 Lutz is a big guy who lacks the fluidity to play defense at first base. When Joey Votto got injured the Reds preferred to play Brayan Pena at first rather than give Lutz extended playing time. It makes one wonder what the long term prospects the Reds have for Lutz. Lutz can also play left field but his speed makes his defense there below average as well. About the only tool he has is power. He regressed a bit in a 51 major league at bat in 2014, hitting just .176 with a .523 OPS and a 4/33 walk to whiff ratio. The Reds will have him play in AAA to work on his defense and improve his ability to make contact. He has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns, but his batting average will be less than .250.

6. Max Kepler OF/1B (Germany) - Max is still hanging onto his prospect status, but it is dipping each year. The Twins signed him in 2009 for $800,000, which at the time was the highest bonus for a European player until Gasparini. He went to a high school in Fort Myers before making his professional debut in 2012. Imagine the high school baseball coach knowing one of his best ballplayers was not eligible to play for him because he had signed a professional contract. Originally it was thought Kepler could play centerfield, but his speed is a better fit at one of the corners. As he has bulked up the Twins have tried him at first base. At best he could end up in a left field/first base mix like Donald Lutz. The increased bulk has not led to increased power, with his slugging average dipping in each of his three subsequent years (.539, 424, .393). Next year will be a critical year for him. The Mariners will move him to AA and it will be critical for him to show them he can be a power source typical for players who occupy first base or left field.

7. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands) - His father was born in the Netherlands but moved to the United States when he was 17. Spencer was originally named as the catcher for the 2013 WBC team but had to be removed after Tommy John surgery forced him to miss most of the 2013 season. The Nationals drafted him in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Clemson. His defense and leadership ability give him the chance to be a major leaguer even if his bat comes up short. Last year in his full season debut he was able to hit .309 at Hagerstown with nine homeruns and a .852 OPS. Next year he should see time in High A Potomac.

8. Jonatan Isenia RHP (Curacao/Netherlands) - Isenia was talented enough to make the Netherlands roster for the 2013 WBC. He ended up with a UCL strain and limited to 13 relief appearances in 2013 rookie ball. Last year the Orioles moved him to the starting rotation where he performed well, limiting the opposition to a .178 average and striking out 9.68 batters per nine innings. He is not overpowering with a fastball in the low 90s. This could relegate him to a bullpen role once he becomes major league ready. The Orioles will have him make his full season debut for the 2015 season.

9. Lars Huijer RHP (Netherlands) - The Mariners signed him in 2011 for $170,000. This year he was traded to the Cubs for recently designated player Mike Kickham. He stands 6′4″, good height for a pitcher. This could add velocity to his high 80s to low 90s fastball. He also throws a change and curve. The Mariners threw him out to Low A where he handled himself well. It would have been a pretty good year if he could have gotten lefthanded hitters out (.301) which usually means his changeup is not good enough to fool the lefties. He also had a poor 34/44 walk to whiff ratio, walking over five hitters per nine innings. On the bright side he did limit righthanded hitters to a .183 average. If he can improve his effort against lefthanders and walk less hitters he might eventually fit in the back end of a rotation.

10. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic) - The Indians signed Cervenka to a contract in 2009. He made his professional debut in 2011. In those four years he has a .191 career minor league average, hitting only .181 last year in rookie ball. Myworld thinks the 2015 season will be a breakout year for him. He shined for the Czech team in the 21 and under tournament in Taiwan last year, getting a number of clutch hits to give his team a fifth place finish. Depending on how his spring training goes he could see some time in the full season league.

To review the top ten list from last year go to the link below

2014 top Prospects from Europe

Spain Wins U18 Torunament in Valencia

March 1st, 2015

The European baseball season begins with the Dodgers sponsored under 18 early bird tournament in Valencia, Spain. The Spanish Academy defended their championship by defeating Toulouse, France 7-3 in the finals. Spain finished the tournament 5-1, losing their only game to the Czech Republic 4-2 after they had clinched an appearance in the championship match by winning their first four games.

France got to the championship game by virtue of a walkoff 8-7 win over the German team to finish 4-1 in pool play. The only two games they lost in the tournament was to the Spanish team. The Germans lost two games by the score of 8-7, but were also trounced by Italy 12-3 in the opener. The Czech team took third place with their 3-2 record and their victory over Italy 10-8. Italy also finished 3-2. Germany was next at 2-3 while Sweden failed to win a game, stumbling to an 0-5 record. Their pitching staff made it tough to win a game, giving up double digit runs to their opponents in each game they played.

You can see the scores for the games at the link below:

Under 18 Valencia Tournament

Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 40 - 31

March 1st, 2015

40. Alex Jackson OF (Mariners) 5.43 - Alex was considered one of the best high school hitting prospects when he was drafted by the Mariners in the first round in 2014. History has shown us the Mariners have had trouble generating an offense in the last four to five years. Alex began his career as a catcher in high school but the Mariners moved him to the outfield to speed up his ascent to the major leagues. His lack of speed will keep him in a corner, but a strong arm could allow him to play right. He didn’t play in 2013 after being hit by a line drive in the face. The Mariners started him off slowly last year by starting him off in the Arizona rookie league where he hit .280 with a .820 OPS. The 2015 season is where he should make his full season debut.

39. Luis Severino RHP (Yankees) 5.5 - Luis was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 as a 17 year old for $225,000. The Yankees will have to make more of these signings in the next two years since they are subject to penalties for going over their 2014/15 international salary cap, restricting the team to a maximum $300,000 bonus for international players. At 6′0″ Luis is not a big man but that does not restrict his fastball to sit in the mid-90s, sometimes hitting the high 90s. This brings about comparisons to another diminutive Dominican Pedro Martinez. Luis also has an excellent change that he complements with the fastball. He rose three levels last year, dominating at every level. He finished at AA striking out a hitter per inning and limiting the opposition to a .213 average in six starts there. Luis could get a mid-season promotion to the Yankees in 2015 depending on how the tattered Yankee staff mends itself, with Sabathia, Tanaka, Pineda and Nova all missing time last year because of injuries. The Yankees will probably start him in AA but he could open some eyes with an impressive spring and earn a spot earlier than expected.

38. Kyle Schwarber C/OF (Cubs) 5.6 - The Cubs drafted Kyle in the first round of the 2014 draft. As the fourth overall pick he was the first position player drafted. With all their talented position players many thought the Cubs would try to latch onto a pitcher. After Kyle hit 18 homeruns in 82 games last season there are not a lot of people questioning the selection now. The big issue with Kyle is whether you keep him behind the plate or stick him in the outfield. He is not a good defensive catcher, but his speed would limit his defensive prowess in the outfield. His bat would progress more quickly if he was put in the outfield. Last year he finished the season playing 44 games in the Florida State League, slugging .560 with 10 homeruns. The Cubs will start him in AA this year, giving him every opportunity to make it as a catcher. With his power catcher is a position where his bat would be the most valuable. Mike Piazza made it as a catcher with limited defensive skills.

37. Eddie Butler RHP (Rockies) 5.6 - Eddie was a first round supplemental pick in the 2012 draft. He is one of a number of hard throwers percolating in the Rockies minor league system, whipping his fastball in the mid-90s with an occasional 97 on the radar gun. He complements the fastball with a good change and a slider that is still in the developmental process. Last year he made his major league debut, getting roughed up a bit for a 6.75 ERA and a .343 opposition average in two starts. Almost all of his starts were at AA (18). For as hard as he throws his strikeout rat per nine innings is very low (5.3). The Rockies will start Butler in AAA to begin the 2015 season where he got roughed up in his one start (10.13 ERA). The high altitude of Colorado Springs will prepare him for what he should expect when he has to pitch in Denver.

36. Jorge Alfaro C (Rangers) 5.73 - Alfaro was signed by the Rangers for $1.3 million in 2010, coming from Colombia to the Dominican Republic to get discovered. He has solid tools to become a good catcher, including a gifted arm that can rifle the ball to second in less than two seconds. His big problem is reducing the number of passed balls (23 in just 90 games), a major impediment for a major league callup. He does have good speed for a catcher so the Rangers could move him to another position, but his bat is more valuable behind the plate and he does have the tools for the position. He finished last season at AA hitting four homeruns to give him 17 for the year. He hit .261 at both High A and AA with slugging averages around .440. The Rangers will start him at AA in 2015 and if he can reduce the passed balls a mid-season promotion to the majors is in the cards. The Rangers have no premium catcher on their major league roster blocking his path to the major leagues.

35. Aaron Nola RHP (Phillies) 5.8 - Aaron will be part of the Phillies rebuild, a 2014 first round pick out of Louisiana State. It is an interesting last name acronym for coming out of New Orleans. His fastball sits at 93-95 with a slider/change combo. Coming out of college the Phillies have been aggressive with his minor league career, starting him at High A and with success promoting him to AA. He finished the two levels with a 2.93 ERA and a .240 opposition average. His numbers at AA were not quite as good as High A, especially his strikeout rate (5.6) and opposition average (.272). It would not hurt for the Phillies to start him at AA for next season. With the Phillies not expected to contend in 2015 it would be hard to see him making his major league debut this year. Injuries could change that, but losing teams do not like to rush service time.

34. Jesse Winker OF (Reds) 5.9 - Jesse was a first round supplemental pick in the 2012 draft. His slow foot speed will limit him to left field, but if you look at the last couple years of Reds left fielders Reds fans would welcome his power bat. In his three years with the Reds he has had OPS rates greater than .800 with slugging averages from .463 to .580. Last year he raked in the High A California League hitting .317 with a .580 slugging average. He experienced his first struggles when promoted to AA, hitting just .208 with a .351 slugging average in 21 games. The Reds will have him start the 2015 season in AA and if his raw power can break out there a mid-season promotion is a possibility. The Reds currently have no viable candidate to fill the left field position, so the arrival of his power bat would be a welcome addition.

33. Alex Meyer RHP (Twins) 6.02 - Meyer was a first round pick of the Nationals in 2011. The Twins acquired him by trading Denard Span to the Nationals. At 6′9″ with a fastball that sits at 95-98 and hits three digits on the radar gun quite frequently he can be a very imposing presence on the mound. The problem with a large height like that is there are more body parts that have to move in synch with the windup to get the ball located in a particular spot, giving tall pitchers command issues. That has always been one of the problems with Meyer. Last year he walked 4.4 batters per nine innings in 27 AAA starts while striking out 10.6. There was a chance he could have made his debut with a September callup, but shoulder fatigue in his last start forced the Twins to show caution with him and shut him down. With a good spring Meyer could force the Twins to seriously consider him for the major league rotation to begin the season. More likely they will wait for a mid-season callup. The one issue to watch with Alex is his shoulder issues. This is the second straight season he has been shut down because of a balky shoulder.

32. Mark Appel RHP (Astros) 6.12 - The Astros passed on Appel with the first pick in 2012, instead selecting Carlos Correa. When the Pirates could not sign him after making him the eighth pick in 2012 the Astros made him the first pick in 2013. Mark is another pitcher who can throw hard, sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball and mixing in a good slider with a change. Last year those pitches did not work so well in High A with the opposition hitting him at a .372 clip while his ERA rose to 9.74 in 12 starts. The Astros must have seen something in his starts, because despite his lack of success they promoted him to AA. There he pitched better with a 3.69 ERA and a .236 opposition average. Despite his lack of success at High A he did have a good strikeout rate and stands 6′5″, height pitching coaches love to see. The Astros will start his season at AA and depending how their season progresses a promotion to the Astros could be a possibility if management wants to show case him. A 2016 debut is more likely.

31. Braden Shipley RHP (Diamondbacks) 6.33 - Shipley was the Diamondbacks first round pick in 2013. He mixes in a fastball with mid-90s velocity with a change to get hitters out. His third pitch is a curveball. Defensively he has played shortstop so he brings athleticism to the mound. He pitched at three levels last year, finishing at AA. He saved his best for last, with a 3.60 ERA and .203 opposition average at AA Mobile. He strikes out a hitter per inning, but needs to improve on his command. The Diamondbacks could rush him by promoting him to AAA, but with only two years service time the Diamondbacks are in no hurry to get the clock ticking. They also have Archie Bradley ahead of him on the depth chart so he would need a second opening before they would slide him into the rotation.

South American Baseball Championships in Brazil

February 28th, 2015

The IBAF reports that the South American Baseball championships will open today in Mato Grosso, Brazil. The five countries competing in this tournament are the host Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. Surprising as it may seem, the team from Argentina has won the last three South American Baseball championships. Maybe that is because major league baseball steals the best players from Brazil and Colombia and leaves Argentina alone.

The winner will get to compete in the Pan Am championships in Toronto, Canada on July 11-19. The first day of action saw Brazil spank Peru 15-5 and Argentine rope Bolivia 21-0.

Pakistan Wins West Asia Baseball Cup

February 28th, 2015

Pakistan beat India 11-0 to win the West Asian Baseball cup played at the Pakistan Sports Board Complex in Islamabad. Iran downed Iraq 18-4 to take second place with a 2-1 record. India finished in third place at 1-2.

The Pakistan pitching staff did not allow a run in the three games they played. What was even more impressive was the compliment given by the Indian team on a very organized and secure tournament. They were even impressed by the hospitality shown them on the field. Perhaps the Pakistani government should contact those organizers to help them trudge through the chaos that exists in their own government.

Padres - 2015

February 28th, 2015

General - The Padres usually do not make much of a splash in the hot stove league. Limited resources and a small market encourages low salary structure, restricting them from signing or acquiring high profile players. Not this year. A.J. Preller came on and swooped up three new outfielders in Wil Myers, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton. The defense these outfielders provide will not help the Padres climb from their last place finish in fielding percentage last year, but they should make up for the runs they give up with their gloves with a bucket full of runs with their offensive output. Still on the Padres roster are outfielders Will Venable, Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin. That is six outfielders for three positions, though the talk is they may move Quentin to some first. They also revamped themselves up at catcher and signed an ace in James Shields. Those moves are certainly not what Padre fans are used to seeing. Last year the Padres finished last in hitting, runs scored and homeruns. The big stadium had a lot to do with the popgun offense. On the plus side the Padres were second in ERA and second in opposition average. Just as the stadium restricted the Padres offensive numbers, they also enhanced the team’s defensive numbers. With all that activity the Padre fans may feel anything less than a playoff appearance is not acceptable.

2015 Key Additions - Lots of them. They revamped their outfield with the acquisition of Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp. This outfield has the potential to hit 90-100 homeruns, depending on what the park will yield. The Padres helped their bullpen with the acquisition of Brandon Maurer, who is not to be confused with Brandon Morrow, trading one of their excess outfielders. Shawn Kelly was another player acquired to help their bullpen, acquired from the Yankees. Will Middlebrooks was acquired from the Red Sox to fill their third base slot. To add to their depth in the starting rotation the Padres signed the disappointing Brandon Morrow. Injuries have derailed his career to this point. They also signed James Shields to a big contract to give themselves an ace in the rotation. Catching was improved by acquiring Tim Federowicz in the Kemp deal with the Dodgers and on the same day the Padres acquired Derek Norris from the Athletics. With the departure of Evereth Cabrera the Padres signed Clint Barmes for shortstop depth, not putting all their faith behind Alexi Amarista. They changed players at virtually every position but first and second base.

Catchers - Gone are Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, who combined for 26 homeruns last year. The Padres will make due with Derek Norris, who struggles on defense, but draws walks with a .361 OBA. Norris also had 11 less passed balls than the duo of Rivera and Grandal in fifty plus less games, but lacks the arm to stop a running game. Tim Federowicz was acquired to be a backup to Norris. He is a solid defensive player, but last year provided little offense (.113) in 23 games. Wil Nieves was signed to a minor league contract to provides insurance if Federowicz struggles. Nieves is another defensive catcher who will not provide any kind of meat to the offense. His career has revolved around being a backup catcher.

First Base - Yonder Alonso needs to turn on the juice to hit more homeruns if he expects to stay at this position. Last year he slugged only .397 with seven homeruns, but he was restricted to just 84 games because of injuries. With a surplus of outfielders, and a plethora of injuries, the Padres may be inclined to move Carlos Quentin to first base. Last year he was restricted to 50 games, hitting only .177. He is a much better hitter than that. Alonso tends to struggle against lefthanders so this could end up being a platoon. A final player to compete for the position is Tommy Medica, who was able to carry the ball over the spacious park nine times. Tommy can also play left field, but the outfield is crowded as it is now. His biggest area to learn is patience, with a 14/75 walk to whiff ratio a bit on the high side.

Second Base - The Padres hope to get a better year from Jedd Gyorko. He is one of the few returning position players Padre fans will recognize on the roster. Last year was a year he wishes to forget, hitting only .210 with 10 homeruns. Those numbers fall far short of his 2013 figures when he hit .249 with 23 homeruns. If he continues to struggle the Padres may call on youngster Cory Spangenberg, who hit .290 in a sixty plus major league at bat. Cory lacks power but he was able to torch AA pitchers for a .331 average. Yangervis Solarte was a late season acquisition from the Yankees last year and played a few games at second base. His primary position is third base. After a hot start Solarte cooled off with the bat, hitting only .267 with the Padres. His tools are better utilized in a utility role, where he can even play shortstop for short spurts.

Third Base - Wil Middlebrooks was supposed to be the answer for the Red Sox at this position. It was one of the reasons they traded Kevin Youkillus to the Yankees. He hit only .191 last year, losing the third base spot to Xander Bogaerts after the Red Sox acquired Stephen Drew. Yangervis Solarte can retake the position if Middlebrooks continues his struggles. He lacks the power for the position, but plays a solid defense.

Shortstop - Alexi Amarista held his own at this position on defense after Evereth Cabrera experienced legal and drug problems. Alexi only hit .239 with a .286 OBA, but he provided a glue at shortstop, committing only 6 errors, half the amount contributed by Cabrera. Alexi battled against lefthanders so expect Clint Barmes to see time here versus the southpaws. Barmes is better noted for his glove and not his bat. With the Pirates he hit .245 with a .294 slugging average.

Left Field - It seems no matter where Justin Upton plays he is always considered a disappointment. That may never change until he leads a team to a World Series. Last year he hit .270 with 29 homeruns and 102 RBIs. Braves fans focused more on his 171 whiffs. At 27 years of age he is just hitting his prime so he should only get better. The spacious Petco Park may bring down his numbers, but he is still a force on offense. Carlos Quentin played left field last year for the Padres when he was healthy. The problem is he has rarely been healthy. He may see more time at first this year since Upton is capable of playing 150 plus games. Discount the .177 average Quentin hit for last year. He is a much better hitter than that. Returning players Will Venable and Cameron Maybin are also options to play here.

Centerfield - Their best defensive centerfielders are Cameron Maybin and Will Venable. The Padres did not trade for Wil Myers to sit him on the bench. He played some centerfield when he was in the minors with the Royals. He does not have the greatest range, but the Padres hope his bat makes up for his lack of defense. Last year he missed out on the second half of the season, but the first half did not have a lot to feel confident about. Myers only hit .222 with a .320 slugging. He will not be playing centerfield in 2015 putting up numbers like that. Cameron Maybin is another player who has had health issues the last couple years. He had superstar potential when drafted first by the Tigers a number of years ago, and was the principal player when the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. Now he will be limited to defensive replacement, occasional starter. Last year he had a soft bat, hitting just .235 with a .621 OPS. Will Venable may get a lot of playing time because he is the only lefthanded bat in the outfield. He played a lot of centerfield last year after the Maybin injury, but failed to replicate what was thought to be a breakout year in 2013. At 33 years of age it is hard to see Venable having that breakout career. He is what he is, a fourth outfielder who fails to consistently use his five tools to be an impact player.

Right Field - Matt Kemp will see time in right field. Last year he finished the season on a hit streak to finish with impressive numbers (.287, 25, 89) with a .852 OPS. His bat carried the Dodgers into the playoffs. With the disclosure of arthritic hips the Padres may feel a need to rest him to keep him fresh. Will Venable might be the first player off the bench to spell him in right, but Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin are also options. The challenge for Bud Black is to get all six outfielders fresh for the season by giving them consistent at bats. Rymer Liriano may have to spend most of his time in AAA this year. He did not shine when called up (.220 average, .555 OPS) last year and the Padres would prefer he get at bats in AAA than ride the bench in the major leagues as a fourth outfielder.

Starting Pitcher - James “Big Game” Shields got the Royals to the playoffs during the regular season (14-8, 3.21) but struggled to win games once the playoffs began. The Padres signed him to be their ace to get them to the playoffs. Anything that happens after that is gravy. Andrew Cashner has the stuff to be an ace. He needs to stay healthy for a full year to live up to that moniker. Last year he only got 19 starts but a 2.55 ERA confirmed his potential for ace hype. He also only walked a little over two batters per nine innings. Ian Kennedy won 20 games with the Diamondbacks a few years ago. He’s fallen far short of that in the last four years, but he can eat up innings (201). He led the Padres in innings pitched and still struck out a hitter per inning. Tyson Ross fell four innings short of 200. He also struck out a batter per inning and limited the opposition to a .230 average. At 28 years old he is entering his better years. Orlando Despaigne pitched well enough to win the fifth spot (3.36 ERA). He is one of many Cuban defectors sprinkling the major league landscape. Not a lot of pitchers have the stuff of Brandon Morrow. The problem has been his ability to stay healthy. To keep his arm fresh he may be best used out of the bullpen. Robbie Erlin is a pitcher that gave the Padres 11 starts, but they were not effective starts (4.99 ERA). The opposition hit him at a .293 clip. Matt Wisler had a poor ERA in AAA last year (5.01 ERA) but those numbers will be better when pitching in the coastal plains of Petco Park rather than the high altitude of El Paso. Josh Johnson had Tommy John surgery and will not be available until mid-season. The Padres may have to make some critical choices if he is ready to be used in the rotation. He didn’t pitch last year but in 2013 with Toronto he was 2-8, 6.20 ERA).

Closer - The Padres traded their closer from last year Huston Street in the middle of the season. Joaquin Benoit took over the reigns and saved 11 games with a 1.49 ERA. He limited the opposition to a .151 average and struck out 10.6 hitters per nine innings. Benoit has been given closer roles in the past (Tigers) and failed to produce.

Other relievers - Kevin Quackenbush picked up six saves for the Padres AAA team last year. He also picked up six saves with the Padres last year and will be the alternate closer if Benoit should struggle. In a setup role he limited the opposition to a .212 average, striking out a batter per inning. Dale Thayer, Alex Torres and Nick Vincent all had 60 plus appearances last year. Alex throws from the left side but walks 5.5 batters per nine innings. He also has better success retiring righthanded bats (.209) than lefties (.256). Thayer and Vincent have better control, but Vincent has an issue retiring the lefthanded hitters (.274). Shawn Kelly was acquired from the Yankees to fill a bullpen spot. He struck out over 11 hitters per nine innings. Brandon Maurer was acquired from the Mariners to add depth to the Padre bullpen. Neither of these two traded pitchers had ERAs under 4. That gives seven pitchers in the pen, eight if you count Morrow if he fails to make the rotation. That does not leave a lot for others to find a role.

Top 2015 Rookies - If Austin Hedges finds a modicum of offense he could find himself leading this Padres staff from behind the plate. The premium defensive catcher in the minor leagues must still be able to hit to be a starter in the major leagues. There is a lot of depth in the Padres rotation but Matt Wisler is the most ready of any Padre minor league starting pitcher. Rymer Liriano could have competed for a starting job in 2015 if the Padres had not traded for three former All Stars. Last year he hit 14 homeruns in AA. The Padres will have him improve his craft in AAA this year with a mid-season call up still a possibility. Injuries have prevented Casey Kelly from solidifying a spot in the rotation. Last year he was limited to four minor league rehab starts. The Padres will give him a long rehab look in the minor leagues. Second base is an open spot Cory Spangenberg can win if Jedd Gyorko continues his struggles. Cory does not have the power of Jedd but his defense and bat can be more consistent.

2015 Finish - Normally when you have a large park you build a team with players who have speed and play good defense. They tend to be more contact oriented when at the plate. The Padres were last in the National League in defense last year and did not add any players to significantly improve that. Because we like what they did we will pick them for one of the two National League wild card spots. One thing they seem to have after the signing of James Shields is depth at pitching. Let’s hope the below par defense does not cancel that out.

18 and Under Teams and Dates

February 27th, 2015

The 18 and under tournament will be played on August 28 to September 6 in Koshien Stadium in Japan. The United States has won the last two 18 and under tournaments. Koshien has a tendency to sell out their 47,000 seat stadium for their two big high school tournaments in the spring and the fall. The kids competing in this tournament will meet that high school age, so good attendance would certainly lift the baseball trademark as an international sport.

Below are the teams competing in the tournament with their world ranking in parenthesis:

Japan (1), United States (2), Cuba (3), Taiwan (4), Canada (7), South Korea (8), Italy (11), Mexico (12), Australia (14), Brazil (15), Czech Republic (20), and South Africa (29)

The 2013 roster for Australia featured Lewis Thorpe, Zac Sheperd and Lachlan Madden, all players who could make myworld’s top ten Australian prospect list.

Canada had Gareth Morgan, Josh Naylor and Demi Orimoloye, all top draft choices in the major league draft.

Cuba had Vladimir Gutierrez and Yoan Moncada. Yoan just signed for the Red Sox for a record $33 million bonus. Vladimir recently defected after making the Cuban team for the Series del Caribe and will sign a rich contract once he is eligible.

Italy trotted out Marten Gasparini, now a top prospect with the Royals who signed a $1.3 million bonus, the richest contract for any European.

Japan had Yuki Matsui, who is now pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles

And the championship United States team had Brady Aiken, who was the first player selected in the draft last year, but did not sign, Jacob Nix, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Astros, but did not sign because they could not agree to a contract with Aiken and Luis Ortiz, a first round pick of the Rangers.

There may be more that myworld could have missed, but in essence watch the stars of the future play today at Koshien stadium in August/September.

Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 50 - 41

February 27th, 2015

Not one foreign player in this list of ten.

50. C.J. Edwards RHP (Cubs) 3.9 - The Rangers didn’t draft C.J until the 48th round of the 2011 draft. He was the result of good scouting by the Rangers, discovered playing in an adult baseball league with his father. The Rangers eventually included the long limbed prospect in a trade to the Cubs to acquire Matt Garza. Edwards has the ability to whip those long arms forward to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. His curveball is a plus pitch and his slider can be used. A change was being developed. In his first two years he did not allow the opposition to hit greater than .200 against him. He had some troubles finishing the 2014 season, being limited to just ten starts. C.J. was still just as hard to hit, limiting opponents to a .180 average and giving up his second homerun in his three year professional career. The Cubs do not have a lot of quality pitchers in their system so they will take care of Edwards in 2015, having him repeat AA to ensure he is healthy. If he has success in AA he could see some time with the Cubs before the year is out.

49.Josh Bell OF/1B (Pirates) 4.12 - Josh was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, but paid a $5 million bonus, more than their first round pick. He is a premium athlete with all the tools to be an impact player. Early in his career leg issues, including knee surgery slowed his ascent up the minor leagues. With three talented young outfielders already in place, the Pirates have moved him to first base. They see that as his best opportunity to make the major league club. His speed is still good enough to play the outfield. Last year he dominated the Florida State League hitting .335 with an .886 OPS. There was a little drop off when he was promoted to AA (.652), especially with the power numbers (.309) where only two of his 27 hits went for extra bases. Josh will repeat AA to show the lack of power numbers was a fluke. With Pedro Alvarez playing first base for the Pirates this year, the Pirates can be patient with his development.

48. Kevin Plawecki C/1B (Mets) 4.4 - Plawecki was a first round pick of the 2012 draft. With Travis d’Arnaud handling catching duties Plawecki may need to find another position to get his bat in the lineup. He is not a superior defensive player so he needs to show the bat to play another position. Kevin does not strike out much with a 67/77 walk to whiff ratio entering the 2014 season. Plawecki continued to mash at AA/AAA, hitting .326 at AA and .283 at AAA. He continued to make solid contact, but his power numbers could be short for first base. Perhaps with time his defensive game will improve to make him useful as a catcher, or he will sacrifice some contact to get some loft in his swing to hit some homeruns. He will repeat AAA though his bat appears ready for the major leagues. Finding a position for him will be the next step. Last year, Lucas Duda looked pretty good at first base.

47. Austin Hedges C (Padres) 4.5 - The second round 2011 pick is considered one of the best catchers in the minor leagues. His defense is major league ready. Give him the Plawecki bat and he would be an All Star Unfortunately, his bat is far behind his defensive game. In 2013 a .270 average at High A showed promise that his bat was coming around. Last year he trudged along with a .225 average in his second year at AA. In 20 games there in 2013 he hit .224. It was a soft average with a .321 slugging and .268 OBA. The Padres will have him repeat AA to see if he can generate some offense in his third season at that level. A major league opportunity awaits him, even as a back up if he continues to struggle on offense.

46. D.J. Peterson 3B/1B (Mariners) 4.62 - D.J. was the Mariners first round pick in 2013. His brother Dustin was drafted the same year out of high school by the Padres in the second round. Kyle Seager currently has a strong hold on third for the Mariners. There is also some question whether D.J.. has the range to play the position defensively. A move over to first was initiated last year, but he still saw most of his time at third base, where he booted 17 balls in 90 games. D.J. has the power to play first. Last year he slugged 31 homeruns between A and AA. He had an impressive .996 OPS in OPS in 65 games at High A and a .808 OPS in 58 games at AA. The Mariners could start him in AAA, but there is no reason to rush his service time. Eventually, they may need more of a power bat at first base where only Logan Morrison currently blocks his path.

45. Tyler Kolek RHP (Marlins) 4.8 - Kolek was the second pick of the 2014 draft, but the highest pick to sign a contract. At 6′5″ 260 pounds he was also one of the largest first round picks. History has shown that bulk in first round picks does not guarantee success. Tyler can also whip his fastball across home plate in triple digits. The minor leagues is filled with hard throwing high school pitchers who never develop the secondary pitches to get them to the next level. Tyler stitched together eight starts in rookie ball. He was not unhittable, with lefthanders torching him for a .314 average. He also showed a bit of trouble finding the plate, walking five hitters per nine innings. The Marlins will probably start him at a full season league next year, fitting him in Low A.

44. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 4.83 - The 2013 first round pick will always be compared to fellow Georgian first round pick Clint Frazier as they rise to the major leagues. He will also be linked with Mark Appel because the Pirates got the pick to draft him for their inability to sign Appel the previous year. He has decent speed to play centerfield, but his arm is a little short so a move to left field would be his next option. The limited 2013 debut season was a success with seven homeruns and a .316 average in 48 games. Hamstring injuries last year limited him to just 40 games last year. He continued to show a potent bat in Low A, hitting .322, but he only hit .190 against lefthanders. His power numbers were down (.486) but it would be hard to repeat his 2013 season. Expect a repeat of Low A with a quick promotion to High A if he has some quick success.

43. Nick Gordon SS (Twins) 4.92 - Nick was the fifth pick in the 2014 draft. He is the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and the half brother of major leaguer Dee Gordon, who was also drafted as a shortstop but moved to second base. Nick does not have the stolen base speed of his half brother Dee, but he is the better defensive player. While he was drafted as a shortstop he was also a pitcher. There is no shortage of arm in his game. Gordon showed a lively bat in his debut in the rookie league, hitting .294 with a .338 average versus lefthanders. The Twins would like to see a little more patience in his approach (11/45 walk to whiff ratio in 57 games). There was some struggle at short as he booted eight balls in his 49 games but that should be lessoned with repetition at the position. Expect to see him start the 2015 season in the full season league.

42. Kohl Stewart RHP (Twins) 5.3 - Kohl was a 2013 first round pick who was also a pretty good quarterback in football. The Twins needed to shell out more than $4.4 million to sign him. His fastball sits in the low to mid-90s but his strikeout pitch is the slider. In rookie league ball in 2013 the opposition could only touch him at a .169 clip. It was a little rougher in the full season leagues where in his 19 starts he was tagged for a .233 average, .266 against lefthanders. His strikeout numbers also were hurt, going from one per game to just 6.4 per nine innings. Kohl had enough success at Low A that he should see High A to begin his 2015 season.

41. Matthew Wisler RHP (Padres) 5.42 - The Padres have managed to hold onto their 2011 seventh round pick who has transformed himself into one of the better minor league pitchers. The Phillies may have wanted him included in the Padres attempt to acquire Cole Hamels. Wisler can rise to the mid-90s with his fastball, but he sits in the low 90s, relying on the sink of his fastball to get hitters to pound the ball into the ground. He also shows excellent command of his pitchers, walking just over two hitters per nine innings. Last year Wisler rose to AAA, going from a pitcher’s park in San Antonio (2.10) where he had success, to a hitter’s park in El Paso (5.01) where homeruns are as frequent as tamales in a hamburger. Wisler will probably repeat AAA, but a good spring could get him in the rotation. If starting at AAA he will be one of the first pitchers promoted to the rotation.

West Asian Results

February 27th, 2015

Pakistan appears to be dominating the West Asian baseball tournament. The winner qualifies for the Asian Series to compete against Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Every game has ended in a shutout. Pakistan has won both their games 20-0 against Iraq and 12-0 against Iran. Their next opponent is India, who has lost to Iran 15-0, but beaten Iraq 20-0.

Iraq is the only winless team. They hope to change that with a win over their next opponent Iran. If India can beat Pakistan and Iran defeats Iraq you could end up with a three way tie for first. Knowing the political issues between Pakistan and India, this would probably be an entertaining game to watch, but myworld expects a 20-0 Pakistan win.

You can follow the results below:

West Asia tournament results