30 Teams in 30 Days - Atlanta Braves

March 29th, 2017

Myworld missed a bit on this division. We had the Marlins right for third place but you would have to reverse the Nationals and Mets at the top of the division and the Braves and Phillies at the bottom of the division to make it perfect.

Overview - They are moving into a new stadium and they have signed a number of veteran pitchers. That will not extricate them from the bottom of the division. Last year they finished last in slugging percentage, last in homeruns and 29th in runs scored. A full season from Matt Kemp will help the offense, but that only gives them two power hitters. Dansby Swanson is still an unproven rookie, but if he wins the rookie of the year award as many predict that will help the Braves at the top of the lineup. Once the innings have been controlled for the younger pitchers you will see the Braves either try to trade the veterans they acquired or waive them to give their younger pitchers an opportunity.

Strengths - The one big strength the Braves have is Freddie Freeman. A few more men on base and he could have driven in more than 100 runs. He plays a solid defense, should be more protected in the lineup with Matt Kemp hitting behind him and provides leadership to the younger players. Shortstop should be well taken care of with rookie Dansby Swanson starting the season there. The Braves lack alternatives should he struggle, unless they promote Ozzie Albies, who they are grooming to fill the second base slot next to Dansby. If Ender Inciarte can stay healthy he can cover a lot of ground in centerfield and provide the Braves with a solid 1-2 punch ahead of the power hitters Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp. Matt Kemp will provide some power in left but he is far from the player he was with the Dodgers. His defense has tumbled and his hitting is no longer as feared as it once was. He will still hit the ball a long way and with the top of the order getting on base this could be a 100 RBI season for him.

Weakness - Myworld is not enamored with the two 40 year old arms R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Dickey throws a knuckle ball so his arm could be ageless, but like Kemp he is far from his days when he won a Cy Young with the Mets. Colon finds ways to get hitters out but he gave up a lot of hits last year and doesn’t miss bats. Jaime Garcia is another arm the Braves are relying on but he has had trouble staying healthy. He started 30 games last year but with a 4.67 ERA. Adonis Garcia did hit 14 homeruns last year but at 32 he does not provide a lot of upside at third base. Brandon Phillips was acquired to strengthen second base but he is another player on the down side of his career. In right field Nick Markakis drove in 89 runs but his power has disappeared. A .397 slugging percentage is not what you want to see from your corner outfielders. The bullpen lacks a closer, but that is never a priority with a team recognizing they will not be winning a lot of games. Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino have both had closing opportunities and have both struggled to find success in those roles. The best closer may be Mike Foltynewics, who will be used as the fifth starter. Mauricio Cabrera is another hard thrower who has closer stuff but he will begin the season on the disabled list. Expect him to earn that role by mid-season if he can get healthy.

Breakout Prospects - Dansby Swanson is the most obvious choice. He is the favorite to win rookie of the year in the National League. The Braves are hoping for a .300 bat with double digit homeruns and close to gold glove level defense. Ozzie Albies should join him soon from the second base side. The acquisition of Brandon Phillips delayed Albies arrival but expect Phillips to be traded to a contender by mid-season opening up the spot for Albies. Travis Demeritte has some interesting tools, especially carrying a bat loaded with power. He still swings and misses a lot but if Adonis struggles at third Travis could be called on to replace him. Where the Braves hope to really cash in is with their younger pitchers. The Braves acquired a number of veteran pitchers to allow their younger pitchers to gain more experience at the minor league level. Sean Newcomb may be the first youngster ready to be promoted. Sean throws from the left side with a fastball in the mid-90s and a curve and change that should play against major league hitters. Lucas Sims should be able to help from the right side but he needs to prove that he can throw strikes.

Prospects to Watch - There are a lot of them, especially from the mound. Touki Toussaint was acquired from the Diamondbacks. Myworld loves his 6′3″ frame and high 90s heat, but throwing strikes has always been a challenge for Touki. Kolby Allard and Max Fried are number one draft picks who throw from the left side. Both are trying to recover from injuries, Allard from his back and Fried from his elbow. The hardest thrower of the bunch may be recently acquired Luiz Gohara from the Mariners via Brazil who has trouble throwing strikes but consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. His conditioning could also be a problem. Mike Soroka comes from Canada and is another first round pick. He is probably the least overpowering of this group with a fastball in the low 90s but his secondary pitches are quality and he commands his pitches well. On the position side Kevin Maitan appeared on many top 100 prospects lists but he has yet to have a professional at bat. He was signed by the Braves out of the Dominican for a $4.25 million bonus last year. Ronald Acuna is a potential five tool light outfielder. He dominated the Australian baseball league last year as a teenager. Rio Ruiz was given a nice signing bonus for a fourth round pick by the Astros but he has fallen short of his hype. He needs to pick up on his career if he expects to meet his promise.

Expected Finish - Too many players on the down side of their careers as they wait for the young players to percolate up. They will fight with the Phillies for the last place spot, but trading all their veterans toward the end of the season will cinch the fifth spot for them.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 10 -1

March 28th, 2017

Myworld finally finishes our top 100 list. It took awhile to post the top ten. Next in line are the organizational rankings for the major league farm teams.

10. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 8.85 - J.P. did not have a good year from an offensive perspective, hitting just .244 in AAA with a .318 slugging percentage. He does have a smooth glove and makes solid contact, walking almost as many times as he whiffs (232/243). The Phillies current shortstop Freddy Galvis also has a smooth glove so J.P. will have to show a better bat if he wants to replace Galvis. The power may be less than Galvis but the overall consistency with the bat and glove may tip the job to Crawford. He lacks the speed to steal bases but the Phillies hope his high walk rate will be enough to make him a successful leadoff hitter.

9. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) 8.87 - The Rockies currently have Trevor Story at short but his 27 homeruns would make him a nice fit at third. A lot will depend on how Rodgers handles short as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he hit .281 with 19 homeruns at Low A. The 2015 first round pick also has the power to move to third. Brendan won’t give you tremendous range at short, but he will give you consistency, though he did make 16 errors in 70 plus games in Low A last year. Look for Brendan to start the season in High A. His bat will determine if he gets a promotion to AA.

8. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) 8.87 - The Cubs have another big bat lying in wait in Low A. Last year the Dominican hit .329 with 14 homeruns in Low A, stitching together a .901 OPS. Eloy would be a five tool player if he carried a better arm. If his speed does not allow him to play center field he will move to left. The speed is not burner so there will not be a plethora of stolen bases. What will separate Eloy from the others is his power accompanied by a high batting average.

7. Cody Bellinger 1B (Dodgers) 9.12 - Combine a glove that should win gold gloves with a bat that should produce 30 plus homeruns a year and you could have an Anthony Rizzo type of player. Adrian Gonzalez is currently occupying first base for the Dodgers so Cody is getting some playing time in the outfield. His speed is good for a first baseman and he has a strong arm, but he won’t win any gold gloves in the outfield as he will do at first base. In an 11 at bat debut at AAA he hit three homeruns and hit .545. This is where he will start the 2017 season. At AA he socked 23 balls over the fence for a .843 OPS.

6. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) 9.13 - The Mets have been dealing with the redwoods of Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Once they see the ground Amed can cover in the dirt Met fans will realize what a true shortstop can do. Last year he hit .324 at High A and AA with five homeruns. He will not show a lot of power but if he can hit above .270 his defense will justify his play at short. Expect him to start the season in AA. Myworld was impressed by what we saw from him in spring training. The dilemma the Mets face in a couple years is they have another gold glove fielding shortstop in Andres Gimenez, who will make his United States debut in 2017.

5. Gleyber Torres SS (Yankees) 9.58 - The Yankees acquired Torres in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Torres spent the season in High A. With Didi Gregorius at shortstop the Yankees can show patience with him. When he is ready he will show tools far greater than Didi, with the bat and with the glove. The power began maturing last year with a career high 11 homeruns. He shows enough patience at the plate to take walks, putting together a .354 OBA. The only tool in his game that is not above average is his speed, which is considered average. Torres should start the season in AA in 2017.

4. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 9.72 - He would not be on this list if not for a 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse that delayed his start to the major league season. He should appear on this list next year after learning he will undergo Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2017 season. His fastball explodes to the plate in the high 90s, occasionally hitting triple digits. His breaking ball and change are also plus pitches leading to 10.2 whiffs per nine innings in a 46 inning major league debut. The Cardinals were hoping he would team up with Carlos Martinez to give them two fireballers to head their rotation. Time will tell how much his pitches will be impacted upon his return in 2018.

3. Dansby Swanson SS (Braves) 9.73 - The Diamondbacks made Dansby the first pick in the 2015 draft. They made a horrible trade, giving him away to the Braves as one of three players for Shelby Miller. Dansby went from High A to the Braves major league roster last year, hitting .302 for the Braves. He appears to have beaten out Ozzie Albies for the Braves shortstop job. Miller struggled with the Diamondbacks for a 6.15 ERA. Dansby will be the starting shortstop for the Braves next year. His defense is smooth, his offense should contend for batting titles and his all around game should make him an All Star.

2. Yoan Moncada 2B (White Sox) 9.8 - He was number one on this last year but his struggles in his major league debut dropped him down a notch. Now he has traded his Red Sox for White Sox. There is no question that Moncada will hit, but 12 whiffs in 20 major league at bats indicate he still has some issues to work on. Perhaps trying to learn a new position (third base) impacted his bat. The White Sox will keep him at second. His bat should hit for power and average and his speed could translate to 30 plus stolen bases. As he matures he could eventually be a 30/30 player (homeruns/stolen bases). Expect Yoan to start the season in AAA with a major league callup possible once he achieves consistent success.

1. Andrew Benintendi OF (Red Sox) 10 - Andrew should win batting titles with enough power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He also has the speed and range to play centerfield but the Red Sox have that position covered with Jackie Bradley. Andrew will fit in left field. If he finds success in the major leagues maybe his next goal will be to find world peace. There doesn’t seem to be anything Andrew has trouble achieving success at. Starting the season Andrew will be favored to win the Rookie of the year award.

Opening Day in KBO Will See Rotation of Foreign Pitchers

March 28th, 2017

Don’t know if this is a testament to Korean pitchers, but opening day for the KBO begins Friday and all ten teams will start foreign pitchers to begin the season. Below are the teams and their starters for opening day.

Doosan Bears (Dustin Nippert) vs Hanwha Eagles (Carlos Villanueva)
Nexen Heroes (Andy Van Hekken) vs LG Twins (Henry Sosa)
NC Dinos (Jeff Manship) vs Lotte Giants (Brooks Raley)
SK Wyverns (Merrill Kelly) vs KT Wiz (Donn Roach)
Samsung Lions (Zach Petrick vs Kia Tigers (Hector Noesi)

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings

30 Teams 30 Days - Chicago Cubs

March 27th, 2017

Overview - These are the defending World Series champions. It is not hard to pick them to win this division. They have lost Dexter Fowler and that puts a hole in centerfield and at the lead off spot. The team is young so the upside is still apparent. The pitching was number one in the major leagues last year but the loss of Jason Hammel could put another chink in their armor. They hope to replace him internally with Mike Montgomery. The big question that will be facing the Cubs next season is where to put Kyle Schwarber. He is more a DH playing in a league without a DH so left field or an occasional catching assignment will be enough to get his bat in the lineup.

Strengths - When John Maddon sets the lineup he really does not have a set positional pattern. Kris Bryant will see most of his time at third base. He can also play a corner outfield. His 39 homeruns and the Cubs division win got him the MVP award last year. The Cubs need a spot to play Javier Baez so when Bryant plays a corner outfield the Cubs will use that opportunity to play Baez at third. Last year Baez showed his versatility by playing every position on the infield. The Cubs could use his bat in the lineup. Shortstop is capably handled by Addison Russell. His batting average was low last year (.238) but his defense was strong and he slugged 21 homeruns with his 95 RBIs third on the team. The veteran Ben Zobrist can also play any position, but second base is his main spot. He hit 18 homeruns with 76 RBIs, fourth on the team. Anthony Rizzo could have also won the MVP when you look at his numbers, finishing fourth in the voting. He drove in more runs than Bryant (109 versus 102) and equaled him in just about every other statistical category. Kyle Schwarber provides a solid bat in the outfield but his glove is shaky. He missed almost all of last season due to a knee injury. Jayson Hayward is a gold glove winner in right field but his bat has never met his promise. Combine the skills of Schwarber and Heyward and you would have a superstar. Starting pitching is strong with the first three starters. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks all finished in the top ten in Cy Young award voting. They each won 16 or more games. The bullpen lost Aroldis Chapman but they hope to replace him with Wade Davis. Davis is coming off an arm injury so there may be a little drop off. Hector Rondon has closing capability and it will be interesting to see how long Koji Uehara will stay effective. At 42 years of age with a fastball not near 90 he still strikes out more than a hitter per inning.

Weakness - Not a lot of weaknesses. The loss of Dexter Fowler leaves a hole in centerfield. They signed Jon Jay to replace him but his skill sets fall far below that of Fowler. It also lessons their bat at the leadoff spot. Albert Almora Jr. is a prospect who can also play the position but he is not proven. His defense is excellent but his bat has been light. A third option would be to move Jason Heyward to center and allow Ben Zobrist to play the outfield. This would open a more permanent spot for Javier Baez at second base.

Breakout Prospects - A number of young players are already in the Cubs starting lineup leaving little room for prospects. Albert Almora Jr. has an opportunity to squeeze into centerfield as a result of the departure of Dexter Fowler to the Cardinals. No one questions his glove, which many consider gold glove caliber. The bat has always been light, last year hitting .303 but with a .317 OBA in AAA. Rob Zastryzny is a lefthanded starter who could see time in the bullpen or fit into the fifth rotation spot if Mike Montgomery struggles. He is one of those lefties that relies more on deception rather than power. Alec Mills is a right handed arm who can fill the back end of the rotation. He lacks overwhelming stuff and needs to locate his pitches well to get hitters out.

Prospects to Watch - Eloy Jimenez has the potential to be an All Star, with excellent power, a solid arm for right field and the ability to hit for average. The only tool he lacks is speed. Ian Happ is a man without a position, bouncing back and forth between second and outfield. His bat should play if a position can be found for him. Dylan Cease and Duane Underwood are two hard throwers who can hit mid to high 90s with their fastball. Injuries have slowed both in their progression to major league opportunity. Jeimer Candelario is a hit machine who plays the same position as Kris Bryant. Defensively he could require a move to first, but that position is occupied by Anthony Rizzo. A trade is more likely for him to get playing time.

Expected Finish - Myworld does not see a lot of competition for them and a first place finish is pretty certain. How far they can travel in the playoffs is the biggest concern.

30 Teams in 30 Days - St. Louis Cardinals

March 24th, 2017

Overview - Every year the Cardinals lose a starting pitcher to injury. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and now Alex Reyes. They were supposed to have Reyes last year but an 80 game drug suspension delayed his arrival. Now Tommy John surgery will force him to miss the 2017 season and the Cardinals hope Lynn coming back from Tommy John will make up for the loss. Lose one pitcher get another back who was absent the previous year. Last year they missed the playoffs losing Jayson Heyward to the Cubs. This year they hope to stick it to the Cardinals by signing Dexter Fowler away from the Cubs to play centerfield for the Cardinals. Now they just have to look for a starting pitcher.

Strengths - Signing Dexter Fowler did two things for the Cardinals. It strengthened the centerfield position and gave them a leadoff hitter. It also gave the Cubs a weakness in centerfield. That still may not be enough to catch the Cubs. The Cardinals also have a lot of depth in the infield, with a number of players getting used to different positions. Johnny Peralta will get used to playing third while Aledmys Diaz tries to repeat his production from last year at short. Matt Carpenter moves to first to make room for Kolton Wong at second. If either Wong or Peralta struggles Jedd Gyorko and his 30 homeruns still needs a position to play. The one strength of the Cardinals is their depth. Stephen Piscotty can move from the outfield to first if they need to move Matt Carpenter back to second or third. A lot of moving pieces to accommodate injuries or slumps. Yadier Molina is getting older but he can still play the position at catcher. He was voted the WBC Classic catcher of the tournament. The power may be less but he will still hit .300.

Weakness - The loss of Alex Reyes puts a chink in the rotation. Adam Wainwright may be the ace on paper but he needs to improve on his 4.67 ERA to keep the ace role away from Carlos Martinez. After those two the rotation is filled with question marks. Michael Wacha needs to resurrect his rookie performance and Lance Lynn is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Mike Leake has to do better than his 4.69 ERA. The Cardinals are even considering moving ex-closer Trevor Rosenthal into their rotation. Seung Hwan Oh replaced Rosenthal as the closer mid-season with great success. Before leaving Japan Oh was on a decline. Cardinals fans should not invest too much hope in his continued success as a closer. If he struggles the only alternative is returning to Rosenthal, who lost the position last year to Oh.

Break out Prospect - Luke Weaver is a replacement in the back end of the rotation if one of the starters continues his struggles. He struggled last year in his major league debut but he is the Cardinals top pitching prospect now after the injury to Alex Reyes. Marco Gonzales is another possibility for the rotation but he missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals will want to be patient with him and wait until at least after the All Star break before putting him in the rotation. Sam Tuivailala has a high 90s fastball, ideal for a closer. The Cardinals would prefer to start him in a set-up role but by midseason he could be their closer if Oh stumbles. Carson Kelly is a strong defensive catcher who failed to hit in his major league debut (.154). With Yadier behind the plate his best hope for a catching opportunity is an injury. Jose Martinez gives the Cardinals depth in the outfield. Don’t be surprised if he gets 300 at bats next year hitting over .300.

Prospects to Watch - Delvin Perez was supposed to be a top five draft pick but a positive drug test dropped him to the Cardinals. The Puerto Rican is compared to Carlos Correa. He may have less power but his glove could be better. Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader are two outfielders the Cardinals will have to make room for in 2018 or be offered as trade bait. Bader provides the power while Sierra shows the speed. A couple young arms are percolating in the minor leagues. Dakota Hudson was the Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He throws hard, hitting the mid-90s but sometimes he doesn’t know where the ball will cross the plate. Jack Flaherty is another first round pick, but in 2014. His fastball is not so overpowering but he relies on a change to make it look better. Sandy Alcantara was signed out of the Dominican Republic. His fastball is equal to Reyes, hitting three digits. Expect him to make a name for himself in 2017. Randy Arozarena and Jose Adolis Garcia are two Cuban outfielders who could make an impact if they have success in the minor leagues. Garcia is the brother of Adonis and could provide some power. Arozarena is probably more a fourth outfielder type who could play centerfield. The Cardinals could start both in AA or AAA.

Expected Finish - They have too many games to make up to catch the Cubs despite the acquisition of Fowler. If they get enough offense to make up for their depleted pitching staff they could make the wild card.

Foreigners in CPBL

March 24th, 2017

In the China Professional Baseball League they are allowed three foreigners for each of the four teams. All of the teams have signed pitchers to fill their foreign quota. Since Taiwan seemed short of quality pitching in the World Baseball Classic you would think they would want to place a restriction on the foreign players, i.e. two pitchers and one position player. This would help them develop more pitchers.

Below are the names of the foreign players on the four teams in the CPBL. The season begins March 26.

China Trust Brothers

Bryah Woodall
Bruce Kern III
Nick Additon

Fubon Guardians

Chris Seddon
Mike Loree
Scott Richmond

LaMigo Monkeys

Darin Downs
Zack Segovia
Zeke Spruill

Uni-President 7-11 Lions

Bruce Billings
Mike DeMark
Alfredo Figaro

For compete rosters you can go to CPBL English at the link below:

CPBL rosters

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Pirates

March 23rd, 2017

Myworld hopes to slug through the final eight teams before the season starts. We’ll also provide our top ten overall prospects plus finish our all country or regional top prospects now that the WBC is over.

Overview - Pirate fans were getting used to appearing in the playoffs, but getting past the wild card game has become a bit of a challenge. Last year they got back to finishing below .500, missing out on the playoffs after three consecutive appearances. Pirate fans are hoping this losing streak won’t be as long as the last one. A lot will depend on the production of Andrew McCutchen. He had a down year last year and to improve their defense and possibly improve his production the Pirates will be moving Andrew to right field. They also will be missing Jung-Ho Kang, who has had three too many DUIs in Korea and is having a hard time getting a visa to play baseball in the United States. They also have a young pitching staff that is susceptible to injuries. At least the farm system is in good shape so they should not have to worry about another 20 year losing streak.

Strengths - The Pirates probably have the strongest outfield in the major leagues. It should get stronger defensively with the move of Starling Marte to center field and Andrew McCutchen to right field. Gregory Polanco will take his strong arm to left field. What kind of offensive production is there will depend on a resurgence of McCutchen. If last year is the beginning of a veteran slide then that will down grade the outfield. There is depth with Josh Bell having the ability to play here and Austin Meadows percolating in AAA. They do have the potential for two aces in Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon. Both players are still green and have injury histories but if they can act as aces as the season progresses the Pirates will do well. Another ace in the cards could by Tyler Glasnow, but he has got to learn to throw strikes. He misses bats with the best of them.

Weaknesses - Josh Harrison had an off year, putting together a .699 OPS. If he continues down that path the Pirates will try either Allen Hanson or Adam Frazier at the position. Hanson at least has some speed to steal bases and Frazier showed some pop. Neither is a defensive equivalent of Harrison. Josh Bell is more an outfielder than a first baseman, but the Pirates outfield is crowded. There is some concern Bell will not have the power you expect from the position, slugging only .406 in a 150 at bat trial in the majors last year. In AAA his .468 slugging would be short of adequate for the position. The trade of Mark Melancon leaves the Pirates without a closer. They have some pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Jared Hughes who have played that position but have fallen short of being consistent. This could get ugly. If no one seizes the job it could be another below .500 season. The back end of the rotation is rather ordinary. Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault and Drew Hutchinson are not pitchers myworld thinks about when looking at playoff teams. They are all competing for the last two spots in the rotation.

Breakout Prospects - To hold down costs the Pirates will rely more on younger players. They will have a number of prospects vying for major league playing time. Tyler Glasnow could make the rotation if he can improve his command. The 6′8″ righthander hits the radar guns in the high 90s and sits in the mid-90s but he has no idea of the strike zone. Steven Brault has a little more command but his fastball is not as overpowering. He is a lefthander who relies on his secondary pitches to get hitters out (slider and change). If Andrew McCutchen is traded expect Austin Meadows to make his debut. Austin has had trouble staying healthy, but he has a potent bat. This would cause Polanco to move back to right while Austin takes left. Josh Bell will get most of the starts at first base, but the Pirates have John Jaso and David Freese too spell him against tough pitchers. Josh may lack the power to play first in long term. Allen Hanson is out of options and could be used in a utility role, getting time at third, second, short and in the outfield. He came up as a shortstop but his current position is second base. Elias Diaz is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors but his bat is light. He battled injuries last year and needs to have a healthy season.

Prospects to Watch - Mitch Keller has rocketed up the prospect charts with an increase in velocity that puts his fastball in the mid-90s. If he can continue that the Pirates will move Keller up to at least AA this year. He had an 18/131 walk to whiff ratio last year. Kevin Newman is primed to take over the shortstop job from Jody Mercer. He doesn’t overwhelm you with tools but he can play the position. Not a lot of power here but the potential to hit for average. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie and the Pirates first round pick in 2015. Hayes broke out his power last year hitting his first six minor league homeruns. Nick Kingham is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. If not for the surgery in 2015 he would be one of those pitchers competing for a rotation spot. The Pirates will be patient with Nick and monitor his innings in AA and then AAA. A September callup is possible. Dovydas Neverauskas is a pitcher to watch because if he does well he could be the first Lithuanian to play in the major leagues. He has pitched strictly in the bullpen in the minors, collecting 11 saves in the last two years. As a bullpen pitcher his fastball can sit in the mid-90s.

Expected Finish - With no bullpen and a young pitching staff myworld predicts the Pirates for third, missing out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.

WBC All Classic Team

March 23rd, 2017

Below is the World Baseball Classic Team. Scouts have to be drooling at the numbers Balentien put up. He broke the single season Japanese homerun record a couple years ago but has been battling injuries the last couple years. It would be interesting what kind of numbers he could put up in the major leagues, though he is best used as a DH.

We also have an alternate World Baseball Classic Team. These are some players that also deserve some mention and may have been more deserving of the named team.

C - Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico) - .333, 2, 6, .917 OPS
1B - Eric Hosmer (United States) - .385, 1, 5, 1.115 OPS
2B - Javier Baez (Puerto Rico) - .296, 1, 5, .789 OPS
3B - Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico) - .333, 3, 9, 1.250 OPS
SS - Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico) - .370, 2, 4, 1.049
LF - Wladimir Balentien (Netherlands) - .615, 4, 12, 1.793 OPS
CF - Gregory Polanco (Dominican Republic) - .579, 1, 2, 1.461 OPS
RF - Christian Yelich (United States) - .310, 0, 3, .823 OPS
DH - Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico) - .435, 0, 5, .997 OPS
SP - Marcus Stroman (United States) 1-1, 2.35,
SP - Kodai Senga (Japan) - 1-1, 0.82, 11IP, 16 K’s
RP - Josh Zeid (Israel) - 1-0, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 10 IP, 10 K’s

Other players deserving of recognition:

C - Seiji Kobayashi (Japan) - .450, 1, 6, 1.055 OPS
C- Ryan Lavarnway (Israel) - .444, 1, 6, 1.287 OPS
2B - Hayato Sakamoto (Japan) - .417, 0, 1, 1.023 OPS
3B - Yurisbel Gracial (Cuba) - .435, 1, 4, 1.174 OPS
SS - Brandon Crawford (United States) - .385, 0, 6, 1.005 OPS
SS - Didi Gregorius (Netherlands) - .348, 1, 8, 1.037 OPS
LF - Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba) - .474, 3, 6, 1.531 OPS
LF - John Andriolli (Italy) - .316, 3, 7, 1.192 OPS
CF - Jurickson Profar (Netherlands) - .464, 1, 4, 1.266 OPS
RF - Chih-Hao Chang (Taiwan) - .400, 1, 5, 1.067 OPS
DH - Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh (Japan) - .320, 3, 8, 1.113 OPS
SP - Jason Marquis (Israel) - 1-0, 0.93
SP - Danny Duffy (United States) - 2-0, 1.13
RP - Miguel Lahera (Cuba) - 0-1, 0.00, 1 save

United States Pummells Puerto Rico for WBC Championship

March 23rd, 2017

Marcus Stroman had a choice. His mother was born in Puerto Rico so he could have played for the United States team or the Puerto Rican team. He chose the United States team. His mother supported his choice using social media as a venue to announce her support. She was quite disappointed with the vulgar comments she got from Puerto Ricans criticizing her for supporting her son’s choice.

The first time Stroman faced Puerto Rico he gave up hits to the first six hitters in the lineup to fall behind 4-0. He took the loss with Puerto Rico defeating the United States team 6-5. The second outing was much different. He did not give up a hit the second time he faced the Puerto Ricans until Angel Pagan led off the seventh inning with a double. By then the United States had a 7-0 lead. Sam Dyson came on to replace Marcus Stroman and as Marcus came off the mound he was very animated, pounding his chest. Could it have been vindication for all the vulgar comments his mother received for supporting her son? Whatever it was, he was voted the MVP of the tournament as the United States went on to beat Puerto Rico 8-0 to win the championship.

Dusty Baker was also a bit critical of the paucity of at bats Jim Leyland was giving his second baseman Daniel Murphy. He thought it would have been better for Murphy to stay with the Nationals to get his at bats. Leyland stuck with Ian Kinsler at second base for the championship game. Kinsler came through for Leyland in the third inning, following a Jonathan Lucroy single with a two run homerun into center, just above the leaping grasp Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez to give the United States an early 2-0 lead.

Kinsler helped add on to that lead in the fifth with a lead off single. Adam Jones drew a walk. Christian Yelich has been getting a number of critical hits this tournament and he added to the list with a single into right field that scored Kinsler. Joe Jimenez came on to replace Seth Lugo. Andrew McCutchen tacked on another run with a two out infield single that scored Christian Yelich to give the United States a 4-0 lead.

Puerto Rico could do nothing against Marcus Stroman. They had a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning but he was quickly erased on a double play hit by Yadier Molina. Other than that Stroman retired the Puerto Ricans in order in every inning through the sixth, facing the minimum 18 hitters. His pitch count was at less than 70 so if he continued to retire the hitters in order he may have come close to his 95 pitch count. Only one no hitter has been thrown in the WBC and that was by Shairon Martis pitching for the Netherlands in a game called after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.

Stroman wasn’t really needed to pitch anymore after giving up the leadoff double to Pagan. The United States had erupted for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and had taken a commanding 7-0 lead. They scored all their runs after the first two hitters had been retired. Nolan Arenado, who had struck out in all four of his at bats yesterday and his first two at bats in this game, came through with a single. Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch and Andrew Mucutchen walked to load the bases. J.C. Romero replaced Jose Berrios on the mound. He could not stop the bleeding with Brandon Crawford ripping a two run single to center field. Giancarlo Stanton ended the scoring with a RBI single off Hiram Burgos.

The United States again scored one more run after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer and Andrew McCutchen all ripped singles to increase the carnage to 8-0.

The United States bullpen kept the Puerto Ricans scoreless through the last three innings, giving up just two more hits, Angel Pagan getting two of the three Puerto Rican hits in the game. The attendance for the game was 51,565 with many of them draping American flags over their shoulders and chanting “U-S-A” throughout the game. It appears the WBC has finally gotten an audience.

It was not easy for the United States to win the championship. On their path to glory they had to beat the defending champions the Dominican Republic to escape from their pool and qualify for the final four. They then had to beat an undefeated two time champion Japanese team to advance to the finals, a Japanese team that had previously beaten the United States in a final four back in 2006. Finally, they had to beat an undefeated Puerto Rican team to win the championship, a team that had beaten them earlier in pool play and a team who seemed destined the championship was theirs to take.

For Puerto Rico it was their second loss in the finals of the WBC. This team was more talented than the underdogs that appeared in the finals in 2013. It is a young team that should be geared to battle in the next WBC in 2021.