AL East Predictions

March 22nd, 2019

1. New York Yankees

Strengths - Though the back injury to Aaron Hicks is concerning if he can recover this could be the best outfield in baseball. Aaron Judge and Hicks are solid two way players and a platoon of Bret Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton in left, with Stanton seeing the DH slot when not playing the field, could be the best in baseball. Last year the foursome combined for four homeruns over 100. The rival Red Sox may be better defensively but fall short offensively. If Hicks spends a significant time on the disabled list Gardner could move to center creating more playing time for the injury prone Stanton in the outfield and hurting the defense. The Yankees also did a good job of loading up their bullpen. Aroldis Chapman will be the primary closer but Zack Britton and Dellin Betances have had experience there. Adam Ottavino carved out six saves for the Rockies last year. The only concern is all four players are at the north side of 30.

Weakness - There could be a weakness at first. Greg Bird is having a nice spring but he has not proven himself at the major league level. Luke Voit had a special season last year but the Yankees have seen a lot of one and dones. The left side of the infield could be a hole defensively. Miguel Andujar could eventually move to first when Didi Gregorius returns to short, moving Tulowitski to third. It remains to be seen what Tulo has left and whether he can even stay healthy. Gleyber Torres could still see a lot of time at short with D.J. LeMahieu playing a lot at second. This team also seems prone to injury so depth is important.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The Yankees have a number of high level minor league pitchers ready to make a difference. Jonathan Loaisiga could be the first to get the call. He started four games for the Yankees last year. Michael King dominated in AAA (1.15 ERA) in six starts with a .147 opposition average. Albert Abreu, Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo are other possibilities. All five could also contribute in the bullpen. Thairo Estrada could see utility time, especially if Troy shows he can not stay healthy. Thairo is a sold fielding shortstop with a questionable bat. He is still trying to recover from a bullet wound he received in Venezuela a couple years ago.

Expected Finish - This lineup should score a lot of runs if clicking on all cylinders. If they can get to the bullpen with the lead after six innings the game is over.

2. Boston Red Sox

Strengths - Hard to go against the defending World Series champions. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox outfield is premium good. Mookie Betts may be the best player in baseball outside of Mike Trout. Andrew Benintendi has a boatload of talent and Jackie Bradley is a superior defender. They may not provide the offense of the Yankees but the defense is top notch. J.D. Martinez is the best DH in the American League and one of the more dangerous. He can also play left field. The starting pitching has the potential to be good with Chris Sale and David Price providing a one/two punch and Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez making it a solid five.

Weakness - The bullpen lost their closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly. It will be interesting how they sort out the roles. The blown saves will knock them out of first place. Behind the plate the Red Sox have little offense. Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez were once promising hitters when they were prospects in the minor leagues, but that has not transferred against big league pitching. Sandy Leon is the third catcher the Red Sox would like to trade.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The bullpen could use some help and Darwinzon Hernandez may be available by mid season. After that the farm system gets a little thin at the upper levels.

Expected Finish - With six teams tanking in the American League the Red Sox should still win 100 games and make the playoffs as a wild card team.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Strengths - The Rays invented the opener because they lacked starting pitching. This could again be an issue in 2019. They do have Cy Young award winner Blake Snell who they just signed to an extension. He may be the best pitcher in baseball. They also have a lot of youth in Austin Meadows, Willy Adames and Tyler Glasnow which could lead to some upside.

Weakness - Where’s the pop? Mike Zunino and Tommy Pham may be the only players with the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns. Austin Meadows is unproven but has shown some power in the minor leagues. The lack of run support could put pressure on the pitchers to throw shutouts in every outing. They also go into the 2019 season without any proven closer. Sergio Romo and Alex Colome combined for 36 saves last year but they departed via free agency.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The Rays are a prospect machine, trading veterans early when their tread is gone. Brent Honeywell was supposed to be in the rotation last year but lost 2019 to Tommy John. He will start the season in the minors and could be up by mid-season. The Rays will want to watch his innings. Brandon Lowe and Nat Lowe can provide some instant highs on offense. Brandon could be used in a utility role and Nate will provide big time power at first base.

Expected Finish - They will fall short of a wildcard appearance and fall far behind the Yankees and Red Sox in third place.

4. Toronto Blue Jays

Strengths - This is a team that may not be at full throttle tanking but they have no expectation on making the playoffs. They signed a number of veterans to fill out positions and could trade them as the season winds down, bringing up prospects from the minor league so they can eye the future.

Weakness - The starting rotation has promise but Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez had ERAs bordering 5 last year. This is a rotation that could benefit from an opener. A lot of pitchers whose best years are in the past.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Vladimir Guerrero will be ready to post himself at third in May. He is the best prospect in baseball and should be in the Blue Jays opening day lineup. Danny Jansen is a catcher who can provide some offense. Last year he played 31 games in the major leagues so he should take over the starting role in 2019. With a porous rotation Sean-Reid Foley should see some time in the rotation by May. He made seven starts last year but was prone to the long ball.

Expected Finish - They went into this season knowing they had no chance to make the playoffs. They will finish far behind the Rays with double digit wins above the Orioles.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Strengths - When they were losing at least they bashed homeruns. That is in doubt now. If Chris Davis can resurrect his career he would attract some fans to the park. Hopefully those that do come to the games will see the hustle of youth.

Weakness - The Orioles used to win games with defense. That will not be on display this year. The starting rotation had a major league worst 5.48 ERA last year. That could go higher this year with the poor defense and the average to below average arms.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Rule V pick Richie Martin will play shortstop. His offense was a surprise last year but his defense also took a hit. Last year he made 16 errors in just 96 games at AA. It won’t take Austin Hayes long to get called back up to play right field. Last year foot injuries limited him to 66 games. Drew Jackson is a second Rule V pick who the Orioles appear to be keeping on the major league roster, He will fill a utility role around the infield. Hunter Harvey could make an appearance by mid-season but don’t be surprised if it is in the bullpen. Keegan Akin is a solid lefty who will be given an opportunity before the year is out. The Orioles have to show something for the Manny Machado trade so expect opportunities for Dean Kremer in the rotation and Zach Pop in the bullpen. Even Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz could find himself in right field by mid-season, moving Hays to left.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Marlins and Royals for the number one pick in 2020. They finished last year with the worst record, breaking a record for number of losses during a season. Two straight years with the number one pick is how one resurrects a franchise.

Reds Looking for Playoff Chase

March 22nd, 2019

Last year the Cincinnati Reds had the fifth best minor league system as rated by myworldofbaseball (admittingly not the most analytic measuring device). Some of the players who appeared in the Top 100 from last year were Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Taylor Trammell, Jessie Winker and Tyler Mahle. The trades for Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig telegraph that this may be a different team in 2019 with a new goal, competing for a playoff spot rather than tanking for a high draft pick.

In 2008 the Reds had the second best farm team. Only one of those players still play on that team. Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are now elsewhere. Joey Votto is still a Red. From 2008 to present the Reds won the Central Division in 2012 and were a wild card in 2013. They failed to make the playoffs after that.

If they can find a position for him the top prospect for the Reds is Nick Senzel. The first 2016 pick has an impact bat but his best positions are occupied by more veteran players. Last year his season was limited to 44 games because of vertigo issues. This year the Reds hope to use him in centerfield. Third base is his natural position but the Reds signed Eugenio Suarez to a long term deal. Nick has decent speed to cover the centerfield territory in Cincinnati. At some of the larger parks his range could be more challenged. If they can fit his bat in the lineup that should give the Reds 20 plus homeruns per year and a solid offensive contributor. Though the Reds sent him down the Scooter Gennett injury could open a spot for him, though he had been playing centerfield in spring training.

Last year Taylor Trammell was voted the MVP of the Futures game with a triple and a homerun. The triple hit the top of the wall and Taylor had gone into his homerun trot, otherwise with his speed he could have had an inside the park homerun. The 2016 supplemental first round pick has the speed to play center, but his lack of a throwing arm could limit him to left. There is pop in his bat and the speed in his legs to become a 20/20 player. He should spend the 2019 season in AA.

The Reds 2018 first round pick Jonathan India is another third baseman. Drafted out of Florida he should rise quickly so a search for a new position for him could begin in a couple years. Currently they have him slated for third. Last year he played 27 games in Low A. He runs well, has a good arm, played some shortstop in college so his ultimate use could be as a utility player. The bat has some pop and he appears to make decent contact. He had a 15/12 walk to whiff ratio in Rookie ball but that changed to 13/28 at Low A. That could be where the Reds begin his 2019 season with a quick promotion to High A by mid-season.

Jose Siri is a multi-tooled outfielder. He has excellent speed to cover ground in center and steal 20-30 bases. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns. His arm is also strong enough to play right field. Where he struggles is making contact. Last year he struck out 123 times in just 96 games, while walking just 28 times. That could stunt his batting average if he fails to show more patience. Injuries last year limited him to 96 games. He should open the 2019 season in AA where he ended the 2018 season. A callup to the major leagues is possible by mid-season if he can control the strike zone and hit his pitches.

Aristides Aquino can still provide power. Last year he hit 20 homeruns at AA. A 35/112 walk to whiff ratio has kept his average down and dropped his prospect status. His outfield defense can be a little spotty so he needs to hit if he wants to play.

Two Cubans the Reds signed that have a chance of contributing this year are Jose Israel Garcia and Alfredo Rodriguez. Jose is not to be confused with the Cardinals Jose Adolis Garcia. Jose Israel is an infielder who may lack the power to play corner. He also had an alarming 19/112 walk to whiff ratio at Low A which won’t help his batting average. The range and speed exist to play shortstop but for the Cuban junior national team used him mostly at second.

Alfredo has the smooth tools to play shortstop. The Reds shelled out $7 million to sign him in 2016. The concern with him is whether he will ever develop the bat to hit in the major league. Last year he barely hit above the Mendoza line with a .210 average. A hamate bone injury limited him to just 46 games, depriving him of the much needed at bats he needs to improve his hitting.

On the pitching front Hunter Greene is their best pitcher. The 2017 first round pick has a fastball that consistently hits triple digits. Unfortunately, the pitch is a little too straight and opponents hit him at a .251 clip. He also needs to work on developing more consistency with his secondary pitches. An elbow injury shut him down after 18 starts last year, but so far he has avoided surgery. The Reds will watch him closely in 2019, perhaps starting him at extended spring training before promoting him to a full season league later in the season.

Tony Santillan is a big guy (6′3″, 240) with a hard fastball that hits just above 95. He also has a slider and a change that sits at 85. What has changed his game is his improved control. He reduced his walks, dialing down his fastball a bit, which also made him a little more hittable. Last year the second round 2015 pick gave up 13 homeruns in 149 innings. Tony appears durable and will eat up innings at the back end of a rotation.

Vladimir Gutierrez is another Cuban player who signed in 2016. The Reds paid a $4.75 million bonus to acquire him. At 6′0″ he is not a big man but his fastball can light the radar in the high 90s with a good changeup to make the pitch appear even faster. Vladimir throws strikes and could see time in the Reds rotation this year after having success at AA last year (4.35 ERA in 27 starts).

At some point in time Tyler Stephenson could catch them. The 2015 first round pick has some pop in his bat, but he has been slow to develop any consistency. His defense has improved to the point that he is an above average defensive catcher and his arm is strong to control a running game. At 6′4″ he has a lot of length to be a catcher but he sets a low target. Tyler will start the 2019 season in AA and could be with the Reds by 2020.

Brothers Got Balls

March 22nd, 2019

In Taiwan the four teams have come up with their slogans for the 2019 season. The defending champion LaMigo Monkeys are “Conquer”. The Uni-Lions use the phrase “Lion” to coin the phrase “proud as a lion.” The Fubon Guardians use the phrase “All Grit.”

The phrase that is turning the most popular is the Chinatrust Brothers who use the primary slogan “Brothers Got Balls.” They also have a secondary slogan “Chiallenge”, which is a play on the word “Challenge” and one of their retiring players Peng Cheng-Min (Chia Chai).

You can view the posters going to the cpblstats.com website.

Korean Opening Day Starters are Foreign

March 22nd, 2019

Korean pitching is improving in the KBO. In 2017 all ten opening day starters were foreign pitchers. Last year nine opening day starters were foreign pitchers. This year that number has whittled down to eight.

Kim Kwang-Hyun, who was posted to the major leagues a couple years ago but never signed, will start for the defending champion SK Wyverns. KBO 2017 MVP Yang Hyeon-jong will start for the Kia Tigers. After those two the other eight teams will rely on foreign pitchers to start on opening day. Below are the opening day starters for the other teams.

KT Wiz - William Cuevas
LG Twins - Tyler Wilson
NC Dinos - Eddie Butler
Samsung Lions - Deck McGuire
Doosan Bears - Josh Lindblom
Hanwha Eagles - Warwick Saupold
Lotte Giants - Brooks Raley
Nexen Heroes - Jake Brigham

KBO clubs are limited to carry just two foreign pitchers on their roster. They can carry three foreign players on their roster but the third is a position player. No KBO club carries two position players and one pitcher to fill their three foreign player limit.

AL Central Predictions

March 22nd, 2019

This is perhaps the worst division in baseball now that the Cleveland Indians have lost a number of players through free agency.

1. Minnesota Twins

Strengths - Myworld likes their new pickups. Jonathan Schoop has something to prove in 2019. He is not the player he was last year. Marwin Gonzalez can provide depth at every position and is bound to also bounce back from a difficult 2018 season. Nelson Cruz is a 40 homerun machine, though with his age he is not the player he once was. C.J. Cron is an improvement from what they had at the position last year.

Weakness - Hoping for bounce back years from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano is asking a lot. They are gifted players but appear to have flaws in their game that prevent them from reaching their potential. The bullpen lacks a closer so that could hurt in the later innings. After Jose Berrios their starting rotation appears a little slim.

Prospects to Make an Impact - While the farm system is rich it is filled with too many players who have yet to play AA ball. Nick Gordon could see time at middle infield, especially if Schoop continues his struggles. Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves could contribute to the starting rotation. Gonsalves started four games last season and dominated at AA and AAA. He is not overpowering so his lack of command (22 walks in 25 innings) resulted in failure when called up to the major leagues.

Expected Finish - In a weak division they will hang on to win with a record that will only be a couple games over .500.

2. Cleveland Indians

Strengths - They still have the strong pitching with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. Mike Clevinger proved a solid replacement for Danny Salazar. The left side of the infield with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez is probably the best in baseball. The Indians have to hope the calf injury to Lindor does not linger well into the season.

Weakness - As good as the starting pitching is they will get little offensive production from their outfield. Losing Mickey Brantley to free agency left the outfield with nothing. If Hanley Ramirez makes the team as a DH that will move Carlos Santana to first base and Jake Bauers to the outfield. Some pop will be sacrificed for defense. If Bauers stays at first the collection of Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin will be lucky to hit 30 homeruns between the three of them. The bullpen has been hurt by the loss of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Like the Twins they will be spending much of the season searching for a closer.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Triston McKenzie could be in the rotation but his early season injury will delay things. He is one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues. If first base wasn’t so crowded Bobby Bradley could get some opportunities. He will have to settle for another 20 plus homerun season in the minor leagues. The outfield could get a shot in the arm from Dan Johnson. He was over shadowed in the Nationals system by Juan Soto and Victor Robles. Last year injuries limited him to just 96 games.

Expected Finish - Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will provide plenty of production but they will need help from the rest of the lineup. The starting rotation can keep them close through six but after that the losses will mount.

3. Chicago White Sox

Strengths - The rebuilding is over so expect a number of prospects to be sprinkled in as the season progresses to add some spark to the team. The rotation has promise with Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito adding another year of education to their major league careers. Daniel Palka could be a rising star in left field. The White Sox will hope he improves on his 27 homeruns from last season but the bats around him are weak. Once Eloy Jimenez gets promoted in May he will have to move to right.

Weakness - The starting eight appears punchless. Myworld once liked Yoan Moncada but his struggles to make contact may keep his numbers down. He is moving to third base where he must reduce his 217 strikeouts to raise his average above .250 and hit 20 or more homeruns. Up the middle the White Sox are weak. Centerfielder Adam Engel, middle infielders Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson and catcher Wellington Castillo are not players who will lead you to a playoff party.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Eloy Jimenez will be promoted in May and should provide more punch to the lineup. The White Sox need to hold him back for another month to get one more year out of him. He is not good defensively but he is one of the top hitters in the minor leagues. Dylan Cease and Kodi Medeiros could find themselves in the rotation. In 2014 Kodi was a first round pick of the Brewers. Tommy John surgeries will delay the rise of Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning.

Expected Finish - Rebuilding teams always seem to start winning a year early. Myworld still thinks they are a year away with most of their top prospects ready to contribute by 2020.

4. Detroit Tigers

Strengths - There is always Miguel Cabrera. If he can stay healthy he will produce, though with limited bats around him he may not get the pitches to hit. For a rebuilding team they have a pretty decent top four in their rotation with Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Boyd and Moore and Tyson Ross. This will keep them ahead of the Royals. Losing Michael Fulmer to Tommy John knocked it down a notch and left them without a critical trade piece. Soon they will be replaced by Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, and Alex Faedo.

Weakness - The infield has two Pirate rejects in Jody Mercer and Josh Harrison which says a lot. The bullpen lacks a closer and will give away a lot of games. They have two backup catchers who will share playing time behind the plate.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Christin Stewart will be there starting left fielder. He could hit 20 plus homeruns but he does not play a good defense. If the Tigers were not tanking this year you would probably see Daz Cameron see more centerfield time. He is more talented than the players they have on their roster to begin the season. Jake Rogers may see another year in the minor leagues but he is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. Another year of service time would not hurt. The Fulmer injury could give Spencer Turnbull an opportunity in the rotation. He is having an excellent spring and started three games for the Tigers last year.

Expected Finish - While they are tanking they still have too many talented players to make a free fall. Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos will drive in some runs and the starting pitching is serviceable.

5. Kansas City Royals

Strengths - Hmmm. They have the potential for a good middle infield in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. Adalberto surprised many with his 14 homeruns and .276 average in just 75 games after hitting just .170 the previous year. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question. If not then you just have Merrifield and if the Royals can not sign him to an extension they will trade him.

Weakness - The starting rotation will get battered around. Having a pitcher named Homer Bailey tells it all. You may see a lot of openers in this group just to prevent the starters from seeing the top end of an opposing lineup three times. Third base is a hole with the departure of Mike Moustakas. Losing Salvador Perez to Tommy John is a punch in the gut to their offensive production.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With Salvador Perez out for the year rookies Meibrys Viloria and M.J. Melendez will see some time behind the plate. Viloria saw some time there last year and is having an excellent spring. Melendez may be the more talented prospect but needs more seasoning in the minor leagues.

Expected Finish - They will be competing with the Orioles and Marlins for the first pick in the 2020 draft.

Top 100 - 40 - 31

March 21st, 2019

The Braves dominate this ten with 30 percent of the players, all of them right handed pitchers. The Dodgers and Mets both have a duo of position players that will impact their future lineup. That accounts for 70 percent of the players.

40. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) - The Braves 2017 first round pick is having such a strong spring that he may force his way into the rotation. Last year he appeared in four games in relief. His low to mid 90s fastball and curve are good one-two punches but 43 walks in 109 innings is a cause for concern. Even in his six inning major league debut he had a 6/5 walk to whiff ratio. Another half season in AAA would be ideal. He was the first player in the 2017 draft to get promoted to the major leagues.

39. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres may be a better defensive shortstop than Ahmed Rosario, but that is like trying to argue over which of two models is the most beautiful. Since Ahmed did not do anything to disappoint Andres will have to move to second. Offensively he does not appear to be a difference maker in the lineup. His power is lacking and except for his debut season in the Dominican Summer League he has not hit over .300 in his two years playing in the States. Robinson Cano has the next couple years at second base so Gimenez will play one more season at AA/AAA. A September callup is in the cards and a utility role may be his assignment in 2020.

38. Alex Verdugo RF (Dodgers) - Alex Verdugo may hit for average. Myworld looks at his tools and sees a fourth outfielder. The arm has the strength to play right field but his ability to hit for power is lacking. He also feels a bit of entitlement to the right field job after only hitting .260 last year with a .706 OPS. That is not the kind of production playoff teams look for in their corner outfielders. Perhaps he will mature and earn his position in right field with solid production. The Dodgers traded their two corner outfielders from last year, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp so there is an opening for Alex to take.

37. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan has the chance to be a two way player. He has the arm and defensive tools to be a solid defensive catcher. He also has the bat to hit for average and power. He has a .309 minor league career average and slugged 12 homeruns last year. The Dodgers do not have any catchers on their roster who can prevent Ruiz from taking over the position once he is ready. Trusting a rookie catcher with playoff implications on the line is tough so he will start the season in AAA and could be promoted by mid-season if injuries or struggles give the Dodgers no choice to salvage the 2019 season.

36. Peter Alonso 1B (Mets) - In the Futures game myworld witnessed a jaw dropping homerun that landed on the pavilion at Nationals Park. Only Albert Pujols has hit one there. The second round 2016 pick is not a defensive specialist at first base and has a propensity to swing and miss. His batting average will probably float around the .250 range but when he hits the ball it will travel a long way. Last year he slugged 36 homeruns between AA and AAA. Dominic Smith has been a disappointment at first base and also plays a poor defense. Both are having excellent springs. If push comes to shove Dominic has the most experience which will mean Alonso has to spend at least a half season in the minor leagues. Eventually he will beat out Smith for the first base job and if the National League adopts the DH the Mets could keep both and DH one.

35. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) - Ian Anderson was a first round pick of the Braves in 2016. He has a lively fastball that can hit the mid-90s with a curve to buckle knees. The walks could be reduced but High A hitters struggled with a .198 average against him. Drafted out of high school he is still a couple years away from being considered for a rotation spot but at 6′3″ he has a good frame to be a durable starting pitcher. Ian got four AA starts last year and will probably start the 2019 season there. The Braves have no reason to rush him with their surplus of pitching.

34. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves) - Dave Stewart did not think he would ever become a major league pitcher and sent him to the Braves with Bronson Arroyo to reduce salary. In his defense Toussaint did have trouble finding the plate but those issues appear to be rectified. Touki made his major league debut last year and is the favorite to win a spot in the back end of the rotation in 2019, especially with Mike Foltynewicz starting the season on the disabled list. Touki was born in Florida but his parents come from Haiti. The Diamondbacks wasted a first round pick for him in 2014 to get nothing in return.

33. Joey Bart C (Giants) - Joey “Bay Area Rapid Transit” Bart has a perfect name for San Francisco. With Buster Posey declining in his catching skills Bart is in a great position to take over that spot, especially now that the Giants are close to that tank and rebuild mode. Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018. The bat will hit for big time power as his 13 homeruns in rookie ball prove. His arm is strong enough to control the running game. The other intangibles will develop with experience. Joey will start the 2019 season in a full season league. As a drafted college player he should move up the ranks quickly.

32. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in 2018, just as he was dominating in spring and the talk was that he was earning a spot in the Athletics rotation. The 2016 first round pick has an explosive fastball that is clocked in the high 90s. At 6′7″ and throwing lefthanded that is a keeper. He needs to improve on his third pitch (change) and enhance his control to make it as a starter. Also, after missing all of last season the Athletics will be patient with him as he eats up innings in rehab. Myworld does not expect to see him in the Athletics rotation until 2020.

31. Brendan McKay 1B/LHP (Rays) - The Rays are hoping to make the 2017 first round pick a two way player. Currently his arm is way ahead of his bat. During his college days his primary position was at first base and he was used as a reliever. Facing minor league pitching he has only been able to hit .221 with a .366 slugging. That will not cut it as a first baseman in the major leagues. It could make him a third or fourth pinch hitting possibility. His left handed arm has been a pleasant surprise with a fastball in the low 90s with an excellent feel for the strike zone. Joe Kelly found his arm rising higher up the minor league level than his bat could keep up and eventually focused on pitching. The same may apply to McKay as his arm outpaces his bat. He could start next season in AA but his bat may not be ready yet for that level.

Top European Prospects

March 20th, 2019

It is a down year for European prospects. Most of them are still toiling in the Rookie Leagues or had poor years (Tom de Bok and Sven Schuller). Even the Bahamas seem to churn out more prospects than Curacao. Most of the prospects from this list have parents who are of European ancestry. Spencer Kieboom the tenth rated prospect graduated last year as did Dovydas Neverauskas the number three rated prospect from Lithuania. Both struggled in the their time in the major leagues, Kieboom hitting .232 and Dovydas finishing with an ERA at 8.00. He gave up 9 homeruns in just 27 innings. Kieboom will reach his ceiling as a backup catcher while Dovydas could see another opportunity at the back end of the Pirates bullpen.

Below are the top prospects from Europe and apologies if it does not look too European.

1. Carter Kieboom SS/2B (Netherlands/Nationals) - The younger brother of Spencer took all the baseball tools, plus he plays a more glitzy position. His father played baseball in the Netherlands and they moved to the States when they were young allowing Spencer and Carter to play baseball in the States during their youth. This spring Carter hit two homeruns off Justin Verlander. He is starting to show an impressive hit tool. Last year between Low A and AA he slugged 16 homeruns. With Trea Turner occupying short he may have to move to second base. Look for Carter to start the season in AA with a full time job with the Nationals in 2020.

2. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - His Wikipedia page says he is of Lithuanian origin so we will include him on this list as we did last year. He dropped from number 1 to number 2. At 6′0″ he is a bit on the small side for a righthander. His fastball can ride towards the plate in the mid-90s and he complements it with an excellent slider. A car accident in spring training led to back issues, limiting him to 14 starts last year. He got one AA start where he pitched six one hit shutout innings. With the five High A starts J.B. finished with a 1.61 ERA with the opposition hitting him at a .138 clip. If healthy he should start the 2019 season in AA where he will work on harnessing his command. If he does not make it in the rotation he could be an impact pitcher in the bullpen.

3, Dean Kremer RHP (Israel/Orioles) - His parents have Israeli citizenship though Kremer was born in California. He was one of the players the Dodgers traded for Manny Machado. Not an overpowering fastball, sitting in the low 90s, he may best be used out of the bullpen. The Orioles used him in the starting rotation where he limited the opposition to a .228 average. His 178 strikeouts led the minor leagues last year so his curve ball gets a lot of swings and misses. Drafted in the 14th round in 2016 he averages 11.4 whiffs per nine innings. Dean could see some time with the rebuilding Orioles in their rotation late in the year but myworld suspects the bullpen will be his best home.

4. Shervyen Newton SS (Curacao/Mets) - The Mets appear to be overloaded at the shortstop position with Ahmed Rosario in the major leagues, Andres Gimenez ready to make an impact in 2019 and Ronny Mauricio and Luis Guillorme also playing the position. Newton signed in 2015 for $50,000 but did not appear in the States until last year. He played in the Dominican Summer League his previous two years. Newton showed a good bat at the Rookie level, hitting .280 with a .408 OBA. At 6′4″ he may outgrow shortstop, especially with his lack of speed. The power could be there to move to third. Next year he will be 20. A full season league will be open for him to break out into the spot light.

5. Hendrik Clementin C (Curacao/Reds) - Hendrik had a break out season last year with his 18 homeruns at Low A. Whether he can continue to hit for that power will be answered in 2019 when he applies his craft at High A. The Dodgers signed him in 2013 and traded him to the Reds for Tony Cingrani. At 6′0″ and 250 pounds he needs to watch his weight. The defensive tools are there to be an average catcher, but if the bat plays that could turn him into a starter.

6. Ray-Patrick Didder Utl (Aruba/Braves) - Like Curacao, Aruba is a possession of the Netherlands. Didder was signed in 2013. While playing in the minor leagues he has played at every position but catcher and pitcher. He is athletic enough to play the middle infield and centerfield. If the Braves can turn him into a Marwin Gonzalez clone that could be a plus. The speed is there for him to steal bases and cover ground in centerfield. The bat lacks power and will keep him limited to hitting .250. The 2019 season will see him in AA. If his bat can play he could be up with the Braves some time this year.

7. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - The first true European. He was signed by the Indians and labored as a back up for his first couple years in the minor leagues. Last year he showed some pop in his bat with 15 homeruns. Myworld thought the Orioles would call him up but perhaps the 2019 season will be his major league debut. Martin will be turning 27 this year so his time as a prospect is getting short. Catchers take more time to develop their craft. At best Cervenka will not be more than a backup in the major leagues, which he could see sometime in 2019.

8. Marcus Solbach RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Marcus was originally signed by the Twins and pitched in their minor league system way back in 2011. The last two years he has been pitching Independent ball in the Canadian American Association. Last year he was named pitcher of the year in the Australia Baseball League, finishing with a 0.43 ERA in six starts. That convinced the Dodgers to sign him. At 27 and at 6′5″ he could be used out of the bullpen.

9. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - Marten signed with the Royals back in 2013 for $1.3 million. He was originally a shortstop but his inconsistency in the field forced the Royals to put him in centerfield. His one big tool is his speed, but it does not work well when stealing bases (82 out of 122). The bat is soft with a career .222 average and .315 slugging. The 2019 season could be his last in the minor leagues where he will become a six year minor league free agent. If his bat does not show some production it will be hard to convince another team to sign him.

10. Alberto Mineo C (Italy/Blue Jays) - Albert was originally signed by the Cubs but now plays for the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays acquired him in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft. He bats lefthanded and hit .462 in AAA last year, but that was in only 13 at bats. His career average is .256 with very little power. The defensive tools are there for him to possibly make it as a back up in the major leagues but the bat will need to play more. In High A he hit .294 so that is an improvement from his Cubs years. His three homeruns were also a career high. Next year he should be playing at AA where at 24 he still has some time to develop as a major leaguer.

AL West Predictions

March 20th, 2019

With the start of the major league baseball season tomorrow in Japan, myworld thought we would begin our predictions, beginning with the
AL West. There are still some talented free agents out there so teams can still improve if they want to spend the money.

1. Houston Astros

Strengths - This lineup will hit. Except for catcher and first base the other positions will play above average on offense. It also has depth, especially around the infield. Losing Marwin Gonzalez hurt but they hope Tony Kemp will fill his role. Yuli Gurriel and Almedys Diaz can also play three different infield positions.

Weakness - While the starting rotation is still pretty solid losing two starters, Dallas Keuchel to free agency and Lance McCullers to injury, hurts their depth. Colin McHugh is being moved to the rotation after having success in the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation starter, but in the bullpen he was the setup guy. That is a minus. Robinson Chirinos has hit 35 homeruns the last two years but compared to their other position players the catching position is a bit too much vanilla.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With holes in the rotation Forrest Whitley could be the Dodgers version of Walker Buehler last year. Expect him to be up by mid-season. The outfield is a bit crowded with George Springer, Mickey Brantley and Josh Reddick but Kyle Tucker has some game changing tools. Last year he only hit .141 but he will be better next year. Astros need a lefthander out of the bullpen. Eventually they will need to callup Cionel Perez. Josh James and Framber Valdez could be used out of the bullpen or in the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - A potent lineup and two starting pitchers who can dominate a lineup give the Astros the AL West and possibly a visit to the World Series.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Sttrengths - Having the best player in baseball in Mike Trout is a good start. It has been a couple years since the Angels made the playoffs so having Trout in the lineup is no guarantee. With Justin Upton in left they need a bounce back season from Kole Calhoun to make the outfield quiet formidable. The defense on the left side with Zach Cozart at third and Andrelton Simmons at short will save a lot of runs for the Angels pitching staff.

Weakness - Teams make the playoffs with a good rotation and the Angels do not have one. They lack an ace unless the newly acquired Dark Knight Matt Harvey has a rebirth. Trevor Cahill is the only arm in this rotation who saw his ERA south of 4 last year. If Albert Pujols plays more than 100 games this lineup is in trouble. The one time slugger had an OPS of .700 and that is not what you want from your DH.

Prospects to Make an Impact - An injury to Jo Adell will put him on the disabled list to start the season but if Calhoun struggles as he did last season expect him to be put in the outfield. He is a five tool player. If the rotation struggles as is expected Griffin Canning could make his debut at the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - They could win enough games to make the Wild Card but the rotation needs to stay healthy and Mike Trout needs to have an MVP like season. Shohei Ohtani needs to bounce back quickly from his Tommy John surgery and occupy the DH spot.

3. Oakland Athletics

Strengths - The corner infielders Matt Chapman at third and Matt Olson at first may be the best in baseball. The two combined last year for 54 homeruns and could improve on that in 2019. Khris Davis at DH gives this lineup a threesome with the possibility of hitting 30 plus homeruns each. Myworld expects Jurickson Profar to have a break out year now that he has a set position at second base.

Weakness - The rotation is young and lacks an ace. Sean Manaea could fill that role but he will be out until after the All Star break. They will need to replace the 37 starts they lost with the departure of Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill. Proven commodities are not available.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The starting rotation should see Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk become 40 percent of the rotation. Puk is still recovering from Tommy John and like Manaea will probably not be available until after the All Star break. Sean Murphy could be their catcher before the season is out. Eventually the Athletics will have to find a position for Jorge Mateo. Expect him to play a utility role, filling in at centerfield and in the middle infield.

Expected Finish - It will be hard for Blake Treinen to repeat his closer performance from last year. That will be the difference from making the playoffs and falling short with a third place finish.

4. Texas Rangers

Strengths - Joey Gallo should hit a lot of homeruns, but he needs to improve his average. Whether he plays left field or centerfield will all depend on the offense of Delino Deshields. Not a lot to see here with one of many teams choosing to tank for the 2019 season.

Weakness - The retirement of Adrian Beltre gives them a hole at third base that Asdrubal Cabrera will try to fill. Starting pitching will let this team down with a collection of arms that have seen their best years in the rear view mirror.

Expected Finish - Battling with the Mariners for the basement of the AL West.

5. Seattle Mariners

Strengths - Mitch Haniger is a player you would come to the ball park to see play. Yusei Kikuchi will try to replicate his numbers in Japan to the major leagues. After that it gets bleak, unless you like watching a DH like Edwin Encarnacion hit 30 plus homeruns.

Weakness - Losing Kyle Seager to begin the season could have a negative impact on the defense, putting Ryon Healy at third and playing a couple DHs in Dan Vogelbach or Edwin Encarnacion at first. Losing teams don’t need a closer and the Mariners lack one.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Rangers for the last spot in the AL West. Whoever trades their most assets first before the trading deadline reaches will get to the bottom first.

Top 100 - 50 - 41

March 17th, 2019

The Reds have two prospects on this group of ten, but one is injured and the other is not tested.

50. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick had one of the hardest fastballs in the minor leagues. It reached 103 and sat in the high 90s. Unfortunately it was relatively straight and batters hit him at a .251 clip at Low A with six homeruns in just 68 innings. After 18 starts he was shut down in July with an elbow injury for the remainder of the season. No Tommy John but myworld cringes whenever we hear elbow issues. Success has been difficult for Greene with a career 4.95 ERA in his two half seasons. If everything goes well with his elbow he should be ready for High A but at some point he will have to start showing some success.

49. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - A poor man’s five tool player. Jesus should hit for 20 plus homerun power once he reaches the major leagues. The batting average has consistently finished above .300 at every level he has played except last year in AA when he only hit .214 in 98 at bats. The speed exists to play center field but it is absent for stealing bases. The arm has enough juice to slide over to right if another centerfielder is found. Expect Jesus to repeat AA to find some success. He could see the Rays sometime in September this year and next year be their starting centerfielder.

48. Jonathan India 3B (Reds) - Jonathan was the first round pick of the Reds in 2018. He plays the same position as Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds recently signed to a long term contract. The Reds top prospect Nick Senzel also plays that position and the Reds are trying to find another position for him. That scenario could hold true for Jonathan but he still has some time to play third base in the minors before experimenting with other positions. The tools are there for him to play third, but he has also played shortstop at Florida and has the tools to play second. His bat hits for power and should spray the gaps for a .270 plus average. Last year he reached Low A so expect him to rise quickly. His fringy speed could allow him to play left field, but his best fit is in the infield.

47. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) - An injury will delay the start of the 2019 season for the 2015 first round pick. The righthander does not throw hard, sitting in the low 90s, but he is all arms and has some maturing to do. At 6′5″ he only weighs 165 so a little bit more girth could put more velocity on his fastball. For such a gangly frame Triston has excellent control. His curveball is a quality pitch and he can get swings and misses with his change. While he did not blow away hitters there was a lot of soft contact against him, with opponents hitting just .191. There is some durability concerns because of his thin frame. Last year the Indians did not start him until June because of injury issues. This will be the second straight season his season is delayed. Once healthy he should start the season in AA.

46. Cristian Pache CF (Braves) - The Dominican has the speed and defensive chops to be a gold glove centerfielder. The hope is that the bat develops so he can hit at the top of the lineup. He needs to show a little more patience at the plate in order to improve his OBA (.327). His speed has also not resulted in a lot of success stealing bases (50 for 77 in three years). The power is lacking so he needs to rely on his speed game to make an impact. His first two years Cristian went homerless but last year he carried nine balls over the fence. Next year he should repeat at AA and with some success move up to AAA. With Ender Inciarte in centerfield the Braves do not have to rush Pache.

45. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charles was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. His defense is also gold glove caliber for third base, but his power could be lacking to play the position. Last year he slugged .444 with the 31 doubles accounting for most of his power. Ke’Bryan makes good contact and should hit for a high enough average. His speed is not great but he did steal 39 bases the last two years. The Pirates are a little crowded at third with Moran and Kang so Hayes should see a full season in AAA in 2019.

44. Yordan Alvarez LF/1B (Astros) - The Cuban has some big time power, hitting 20 homeruns last year. Finding him a position could be a challenge. At 6′5″ his arm is not strong enough to play right field but he has enough speed to fit in left. He still needs a lot of work on his routes in the outfield so a move to first may be in his future. His lefthanded bat has the ability to hit to all fields with no issues hitting for average when facing lefthanders. Kyle Tucker is currently ahead of Alvarez for the next left field opportunity so Yordan will start his 2019 season in AAA. If the power in his bat dominates AAA expect him to make his major league debut this year.

43. Justus Sheffield LHP (Mariners) - The Yankees traded away their 2014 first round pick to acquire a pitcher with more experience in James Paxton. A short term gain could end up a long term loss. His left handed arm can dial the fastball up to 95 and his slider is a hard pitch. He needs to improve his change to get more separation in velocity to prevent hitters from always looking for the hard stuff. The Mariners may start him in AAA to begin the season but expect an early callup to the major leagues. Sheffield and Kikuchi are two good pieces for building a rotation.

42. Chris Paddock RHP (Padres) - Like the Atlanta Braves, the Padres have a number of starting pitching options. The 2015 eighth round pick of the Marlins was acquired for Fernando Rodney. He has had nothing but success in the minor leagues with his ERA sitting at 1.82. He did not pitch in 2017 because of Tommy John surgery but bounced back last year tossing 90 innings. He is not overpowering, with a fastball sitting in the low 90s but his command of the fastball and his quality change made a number of hitters look like fools. In seven AA starts he finished with a 1.91 ERA with opponents hitting him at .171. A good spring could see him start at AAA with a major league promotion occurring quickly if he can have immediate success. Because of the recent Tommy John surgery the Padres will have to watch his innings.

41. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - The Cuban dominated the Naccional Series in his last season, putting up Triple Crown numbers before defecting halfway through the season. The speed is there to play centerfield and the bat should hit for power. His big issue is staying healthy. Thumb injuries cost him significant time last year, limiting him to just 50 games. In close to 200 at bats he failed to hit a homerun in 2018. The White Sox will like to see what they have got with a healthy Robert. Next year he should start his season in High A where the White Sox hope he improves on his .244 average and 8/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Yankees Build Prospects to Trade for Veterans

March 16th, 2019

Last year the Yankees had the fifth best minor league prospects. In 2017 they were third. They use their prospects to trade for veteran players who can take them to the playoffs. Last year the top 100 prospects for the Yankees was Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Miguel Andujar, Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo. Sheffield was used to acquire James Paxton from Seattle. Torres and Andujar contributed to the Yankees 2018 playoff appearance.

The last year the Yankees were in the top ten in prospects was in 2008, when they were fourth. The names from that list is evidence that prospects are not sure things. Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson did not become tier one type players.

Pitching may be the Yankees biggest strength in their minor leagues, with a number of arms that can get the ball to the plate in the high 90s to triple digits. Jonathan Loaisiga may be their top pitching prospect. The Nicaraguan flashes a fastball in the mid-90s with an occasional high 90s thrust. Last year he skipped Triple AAA to get four major league starts (5.11) but struggled to throw strikes, walking 12 hitters in just 25 innings. He also has a tendency to give up fly balls, not a trait recommended for Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have seen a couple injuries to their starting rotation this spring so a spot may open for him, but it would be best if Loaisiga started the season in AAA.

Albert Abreu is a hard thrower who struggles to stay healthy. The fastball hits the high 90s and his curve and change are good secondary pitches when he throws them for strikes. That can be a challenge for Abreu. Elbow issues also put him on the disabled list during mid season. He got 13 starts in High A but then threw five innings of no hit ball in his only AA start. That is where he will start the 2019 season.

Deivi Garcia is the newest Yankee starter to arrive at the scene. The Dominican is not tall at 5′10″ but can still throw the fastball at the lower edges of the mid-90s. His curve and change are solid pitches and he gets the ball over the plate. He started at Low A but his success got him promoted to one AA start. That is where he will start the 2019 season where he hopes to continue his career minor league strikeout rate of 12.4 whiffs per nine innings and an offensive batting average of .183.

Michael King had the best season for Yankee pitchers. At three different levels he finished with a 1.79 ERA with a .202 opposition average. The 2016 12th round pick does not come with dominating stuff but he does find the plate. His fastball sits in the low 90s with a good slider/change combination. He would fit best at the back end of the rotation. King will start the season at AAA where if he repeats his 1.15 ERA in six starts it will get him some time in the major league rotation.

Clarke Schmidt was the Yankees first round pick in 2017. Clarke has a number of pitches in his arsenal (slider, change and curve) but his fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s. After pitching all last season in the Rookie Leagues Clarke will open the 2019 season at the full season leagues where the Yankees will try to get him to eat up innings.

Domingo Acevedo may be the Yankees most imposing pitcher. He stands 6′6″ and fires his fastball in the high 90s, sitting along the northern edges of the mid-90s. An inability to stay healthy has not allowed him to burn up innings, which may put him in the bullpen. Also, for a pitcher who throws as hard as Domingo, he does not get a lot of swings and misses, averaging less than a whiff per inning. Domingo will be 25 for the 2019 season so this is his season to make the major league club by mid-season, starting with the rotation in AAA.

The star of the Yankees outfield is Estevan Florial, not that the Yankees need another outfielder. A broken wrist in spring training will delay the start to his 2019 season. Last year the Haitian born player was sidelined by hamate issues, forcing him to miss two months. The five tools are there to make him an impact player, with the speed to play centerfield and steal 20 plus bases, plus the arm to play right field. The power is there as well. If he can cut down a bit on his strikeouts that batting average will rise. After a little rehab Florial will start the season in High A.

Everson Pereira is the next outfield prospect rolling along the Yankee assembly line. The Venezuelan signed for $1.7 million in 2017. The power falls short of Florial but the speed is there to play centerfield. Last year he played in Rookie ball as a 17 year old. Everson has more maturing to do. Next year he could open in Low A.

The Yankees have a penchant for acquiring catchers. Anthony Seigler is their latest version, a first round pick in 2018. High School catchers are tough to project since it takes a number of years for them to master the nuances of the catching craft. Defense should be his strong suit but the hope is the bat will develop. Last year he showed good patience at the plate with a 14/12 walk to whiff ratio, hitting .266 with one homerun. Next year he could start the season in a full season league.

There is not a lot of room in the infield for Thairo Estrada. Last year he continued to be bothered by his bullet wound, suffered during a robbery in Venezuela. He played in just 18 games. His defensive game at shortstop is smooth and there is some ability to swing the bat. The power will fall short and last year he failed to walk in 78 at bats. Expect him to start the season in AAA. An improvement in his patience could result in a callup as a utility player, if Troy Tulowitski has not taken over that role after the return of Didi Gregorius.