World Baseball Classic Officially Announces Qualifiers

January 28th, 2020

The World Baseball Classic has officially announced their qualifiers, both to be played in Tucson in March. The games will be played at the Kino Sports Complex.

Pool 1 (March 12-17) - Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan and South Africa

Pool II (March 20-25) - Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines and Spain.

The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the World Baseball Classic that will be held March 2021. All 16 teams who participated in the 2017 World Baseball Classic have qualified for the 2021 event. Those countries include the defending champion United States, Australia, Canada, Cuba, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Venezuela

Lara Wins Venezuela Series

January 27th, 2020

The Lara Cardenales defeated Caribes 4-2 to win the Venezuela Little League. Lara will represent Venezuela in the Series del Caribe. It will be the second straight season for Lara in the Series del Caribe.

A three run eighth proved to be the game winner. Yordanys Linares had the big two run single that broke the 2-2 tie. Ricardo Gomez worked a perfect ninth inning to close out the victory.

Caribes got back to back solo shots from Gorkys Hernandez and Gabriel Lino to score both of their runs.

Caribbean Leagues in their Finals

January 26th, 2020

One league is finished with first place finisher Santurce winning in five over Mayaguez. Satnturce rallied in the opener coming back from a 3-2 deficit. They score one in the eighth and got a walk off single from Ryan Casteel to win 4-3. Jan Hernandez opened the inning with a double and was balked to third to set up the single.

Mayaguez won game two, their only win in the series. They bashed out 16 hits in the 9-2 win. Henry Ramos went deep with a three run homer and Emmanuel Rivera rocketed a two run shot, one of his four hits in the game. Giovanni Soto tied up the Mayaguez bats to just three hits in his eight innings of work to give Santurce a 3-0 win. Santurce won their next two games 4-3 to take the series.

The other three Caribbean Series are ongoing. Licey destroyed the league champion Toros in the opener 17-2. 16 of their runs were scored after the fifth inning. Socrates Brito led the charge with four RBIs. Toros won the next two games, winning 6-3 in extra innings in game number two. Jeimer Candelario blasted a two run homer in the 11th to break the tie. Jorge Mateo hit a solo shot in the third inning, the first of his three hits in the game.

Mateo homered again in the third inning of game three, a two runs shot and league homerun leader Peter Obrien hit a solo shot in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie. Christian Bethancourt added a two run shot in the sixth to pad the lead.

Licey evened the series at two games apiece, Lisalverto Bonilla tossing five shutout innings. Licey jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and Toros scored two in the eighth to break the shutout. Licey wins 6-2.

The bats of Jorge Mateo and Jeimer Candelario combined to go 4 for 5 to give Toros a 3-1 game five win. Licey evened the series with a 5-1 game six win in a best of nine series.

Down Mexico way Culiacan struck first blood with their 6-2 win. The Tomateros sent four balls out of the park, Ramiro Pena, Joey Meneses, and Efren Navorro hitting solo shots while Dariel Alvarez hit a two run blast. Meneses hit another solo shot in game two with Culiacan winning 4-3 to go up in the series 2-0. Culiacan used 9 pitchers to pull out the victory.

Juan Pablo Orames shut down the Tomateros for seven innings in Mazatl├ín’s 7-0 win. Ricky Alvarez hit a two run homer and drove in four to lead the offense.

In the finals in troubled Venezuela the Caribes are up three games to two in their series against Lara. In the opener, Lara scored four runs in the eighth inning to win 6-2. Yordanys Linares drove in the last of his three runs to break the tie and Luis Jimenez closed off the scoring with a two run single.

The Caribes got six solid innings from Wilfredo Ledezma to win game 5-1. Another 5-1 victory in game three with seven innings from Felix Doubront. Lara evened the series with their 5-1 win, Nextor Molina going six innings of two hit ball.

Caribes jumped on top with their 3-2 win in a controversy filled game. In the top of the ninth the Caribes manager was ejected after Lara scored a run to tie the game 2-2. Caribes stormed right, Williams Astudillo hitting the walk off single to give Caribes a 3-2 win. More excitement in the ninth with the ejection of Cardenales catcher Yojhan Quevedo.

Lara took it to a game seven with their 6-5 walk off win in the 10th. Yonathan Mendoza getting the big hit to end the game.

Matanzas Wins First National Championship

January 22nd, 2020

One thing the defections have done to Cuban baseball is turn the league around. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. In 2017 and 2018 Granma won their first Cuban titles Last year it was Las Tunas. This year the Matanzas Crocodiles downed Camaguey Bulls in six, winning the sixth game 11-2. For Camaguey they had not won a championship so no matter the result it would have been the fourth consecutive year a first time champion would be crowned in Cuba.

A six run sixth broke the game wide open. Noelvis Entenza ensured the victory by throwing six shutout innings. He gave up two in the seventh inning, turned the ball over to Jonder Martinez and Jonder closed out the game.

Cesar Prieto and Erisbel Arruebaruena each hit solo homeruns for Matanzas. Erisbel was one of those players who defected, but could not make it with the Dodgers and returned to Cuba.

Changes to the KBO for the 2023 season.

January 22nd, 2020

The KBO has made a number of changes that will have an impact on their 2023 season and in some cases prior to 2023. Below are a list of those changes.

1) A salary cap. It will be set at 120 percent of the average salary of the top 40 highest paid players, excluding rookies and foreign players. Salaries will be used from the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Teams exceeding the cap will be fined and have their first round draft pick drop by nine positions from the following year.

2) Service time reductions. They will be lessoned by one year, eight years for those drafted out of high school and seven years for those drafted out of college.

3) Minimum wage increase. The minimum wage will be increased from 27 million won to 30 million won (around $25,000)

4) All three foreign players can play in same game. Starting the 2020 season all foreign players can play in the same game. The KBO allows a maximum of three foreign players per roster (usually two pitchers and one hitter). Previously, if a position player was in the lineup and a foreign player was pitching the second pitcher or position player could not play in the game. There will also be a $4 million cap to compensate all three foreign players. Beginning in the 2023 seasons teams can add an additional two foreign players (one pitcher and one position player) to their minor league teams. The annual salary for these minor league players may no exceed $300,000.

5) Injured list to be introduced. The KBO will adopt three injured lists of 10, 15 and 30 days.

6) Positioning cards can be used. Wrist bands or index cards can be used to determine where a player is to play for a specific batter. In the past only outfielders were allowed to use positioning cards.

7) Breaking first place ties. If two teams are tied for first place they will play a one game playoff to determine winner. If three or more teams are tied then head to head record will be used.

8) Seven game series formats. Instead of the 2-3-2 format the KBO will use the 2-2-3 format, with the last three games

Top Dominican Prospects in the National League

January 21st, 2020

The top two prospects from last year’s list, Fernando Tatis and Victor Robles made significant contributions to their major league teams. Another Padre Francisco Mejia, the fourth rated Dominican prospect lost his rookie status. Number nine prospect Sandy Alcantara started 32 games for the Marlins. That leaves four new spots with injuries knocking Alex Reyes off the list, though with all his time on the major league disabled list he may have lost his rookie status. Below are myworld’s top ten Dominican prospects in the National League.

1. Cristian Pache OF (Atl) - Last year he was the 7th rated Dominican prospect in the National League. What a difference a year of accomplishment can make. His defense is at the gold glove level and his bat has been showing some increasing pop the last two years. Pache did not hit any homeruns his first two years but nine in 2018 and 12 last year show the kind of pop that is there. He also peppered the gaps for a career high 36 doubles. He has the speed to steal bases, but after his 32 in 2017 he has failed to reach double digits his last two years. The arm is a rocket but with his defense there would be no need to move him away from centerfield. The batting average may hover around .250 but his defense should make him an asset to the Braves for a long time. That should start with the 2020 season.

2. O’Neil Cruz SS/OF (PGH) - Cruz was number 10 on this list last year. While he currently plays shortstop, myworld believes his 6′6″ height will eventually move him to the outfield. If he can stay at shortstop there would be no shortstop that could equal his power. A little too much swing and miss could limit his batting average and lesson his power numbers. A fractured foot last year also limited him to just 73 games. He was able to reach AA but hit only one homerun in over 120 at bats. The Pirates have always been patient with their prospects, trying to squeeze out every last year of prospect eligibility to their club. The injury and the Pirates conservative approach will keep Cruz in the minor leagues until 2021 at the earliest.

3. Ronny Mauricio SS (NYM) - Amed Rosario struggled on defense at shortstop last year for the Mets and Andres Gimenez is another defensive option. The most complete shortstop could be Mauricio. At 6′3″ he may eventually have to move to third if his body fills out. His lack of speed limits his range and if he continues to fill out that range could be further impacted. He has the hands and arm to play short. His bat is what gets the Mets excited. The bat should eventually hit for 20 plus homeruns, though he has yet to hit in double figures for power. He does show a lack of patience at the plate with a 4/1 strikeout to walk ratio, which could limit his average. Still a teenager Mauricio should be ready for High A in 2020 with a possible promotion to AA. Don’t expect him to see the Mets infield until 2021.

4. Brailyn Marquez LHP (CHC) - Lefthanders who can dial their fastball into the mid-90s are valuable commodities on any club. At 6′4″ Brailyn has the height to be a durable starting pitcher. Last year was his first year eclipsing 100 innings of work. A solid curveball and improving change give him three pitches to fit in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit him at .224, which is twenty points below his career minor league average. He also continued to strike out more than one batter per inning. One area he needs to work on is improving his control. Last year he walked about a hitter per two innings. The Cubs have not had a lot of success developing pitching. Next year he should see AA and if the Cubs can exercise patience he will not appear on the Cubs pitching rotation until 2021.

5. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Mia) - The Phillies signed Sixto in 2014, then traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for J.T. Realmuto. The fastball is explosive, cracking triple digits on the radar gun. His 6′0″ height makes his durability a question. He missed much of 2018 due to injury but averted the disabled list in 2019 to throw over 100 innings for the first time in his minor league career. He and Sandy Alcantara should make for an intimidating mound duo. Plus command of his fastball, curve and change trifecta should result in more swings and misses but he generally averages less than a whiff per inning. His 18 starts in AA should make him ready for the major league rotation some time in 2020.

6. Jesus Sanchez OF (Mia) - No relation to Sixto. Jesus got his start with Tampa Bay and then was traded to the Marlins a couple years ago for pitching help. Jesus has the potential to be a five tool player. His speed is not burner’s speed but it is enough to play centerfield. His arm is strong enough for right field, but with J.J. Bleday on the roster left field could be his eventual position. His bat lacks patience (39/100 walk to whiff ratio) which could limit his average to the .250s. His power is not massive but it should be enough to hit 20 plus homeruns. Despite his above average speed Jesus does not steal bases, failing to reach double digits in any of his minor league seasons. He should be in the Marlins roster sometime mid season of 2020.

7. Marco Luciano SS (SF) - Don’t know if the Giants can wait for Marco to be ready to replace the aging Brandon Crawford. They shelled out $2.6 million to sign him in 2018. Last year was his first season state side where he hit .322 in rookie ball. His 10 homeruns gave him a .616 slugging. That kind of power will not continue, but his bat is one of his strengths. The arm is there to stay at short but if his 6′2″ frame fills out too much he may have to move to third. Marco has the bat to make multiple All Star appearances. He will debut in the full season league in 2020 but is probably still three of four years from making the Giants. That will probably mean four years on this list.

8. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Was) - Not to be confused with the Luis Garcia on the Phillies. Teams have inquired about Luis, but despite their playoff run the Nationals kept Garcia off the market. With Anthony Rendon gone and temporary veteran replacements to cover second and third, Garcia’s time to wear a Nationals uniform should be soon. He lacks the power to play third and he will not usurp Turner from short. So second base could be his ultimate position. His minor league numbers have not been impressive (.257 average and .617 OPS) until you realize he is only a 19 year old trying to solve AA pitching. His speed is not great so if Luis hopes to make an impact his bat has to be in the neighborhood of .300 with double digit homerun power less than 20. National fans should see his major league debut in 2020.

9. Edward Cabrera RHP (Mia) - Make that a threesome. With Alcantara, Sixto and Cabrera in the rotation the Marlins should be scary. Cabrera is another arm that can hit triple digits, but for the most part will sit in the mid-90s. If he can refine his change to make it a more swing and miss offering he will fit in the rotation. If not he could be the Marlins closer. Last year he limited the opposition to a .190 average and struck out more than a hitter an inning. His eight starts in AA make debuting in the Marlins rotation in 2020 a slight possibility. Because 100 innings pitched in 2018 has been his maximum innings level, the Marlins need to leave him in the minor leagues to control his innings.

10. Geraldo Perdomo SS (Ari) - The Diamondbacks only paid $70,000 for him back in 2016. Advance three years and Geraldo has turned himself into a top level prospect. His tools should be sufficient to stay at shortstop, but as with any 6′3″ Dominican this could change as he fills out. The bat makes good contact with more walks than whiffs last year (70/67). There is not a lot of power in his bat so if he can keep his average in the .300 neighborhood he could become a useful starter. His lack of speed does not project for high stolen base totals. Last year he got 26 games in High A so he is at least a couple years away from the Diamondbacks.

Japan is Number one in Both Men’s and Women’s Baseball

January 16th, 2020

Japan has achieved the top rating in both men’s and women’s baseball. The United States is second in men and fifth in women. For men the United States team bypasses a number of tournaments such as the World Cup Under 23, and play amateurs in the Premier 12, which prevents them from accumulating the points that Japan earns. The United States women are hampered by the culture of forcing talented players to pursue softball, where it is a high school recognized sport, abandoning baseball. This eliminates talented female baseball players from continuing with the sport.

Below is the Top 12 Ranking for each gender.

Men’s Top 12

1. Japan (6,127 points)
2. United States (4,676)
3. Korea (4,622)
4. Taiwan (4,352)
5. Mexico (3,375)
6. Australia (3,249)
7. Netherlands (2,690)
8. Cuba (2,641)
9. Venezuela (2,624)
10. Dominican Republic (2,512)
11. Puerto Rico (2,013)
12. Canada (1,873)

The top 12 is significant since a team qualifies for the Premier 12 by being ranked in the top 12 for baseball.

The women’s top 12.

1. Japan (2,505 points)
2. Canada (1,947)
3. Taiwan (1,852)
4. Venezuela (1,736)
5. United States (1,524)
6. Australia (1,182)
7. Korea (955)
8. Cuba (947)
9. Dominican Republic (717)
10. Hong Kong (520)
11. Netherlands (500)
12. Puerto Rico (371)

In women’s softball the United States is ranked number one with Japan at number two. For the men in softball Japan is ranked number one. The United States is sixth, behind Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Significant Major League Roster Rule Changes

January 16th, 2020

The major leagues have established some significant rule changes that will have an impact on how teams build their rosters for the 2020 season. Below is a list of the rule changes.

1) Teams can expand their roster to 26 players, 27 when playing a double header.

2) Of those roster players only 13 can be pitchers. To be identified as a pitcher a player must have pitched in at least 20 innings in a major league game during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Myworld is not aware of a restriction on the number of position players a team can have on their major league roster, but to be designated as a position player he must have played in at least 20 games and accumulated at least three plate appearances in each of those games. This seems to eliminate games in which a player had less than three plate appearances, which means you cannot assume that because a player has appeared in 20 games and has 60 plate appearances he qualifies as a position player.

3) A position player cannot appear in a game to pitch until after the ninth inning or if a team is ahead or behind by more than six runs.

4) Pitchers must face at least three batters or finish an inning when they make an appearance on the mound. An exception would be made for a pitcher that suffered an injury prior to him facing three hitters. This appears to eliminate the lefthanded pitching specialist strategy.

5) When September rolls around you can only have a maximum of 28 players on the roster. This eliminates the September callup rule, but teams can still massage this restriction by using their full 40 man roster in September, just like they do in the regular season. They will have to find players who have options available and rotate players up and down in September, knowing that if a player is optioned down they cannot be called up for ten days unless for injury. Just like the regular season there could be a number of players designated for assignment as teams try to manage their rosters.

6) The amount of time players must spend on the disabled list has been raised from 10 to 15 days.

Under 23 World Cup Qualifying Round

January 16th, 2020

The Under 23 Baseball World Cup qualifying round will be held in Nicaragua and Honduras. Competing in the Nicaragua competition will be Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the hosts Nicaragua. In Honduras, other than the hosts the competition will be Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala and Panama. Absent from the competition are the United States and Canada. Even Puerto Rico is absent in the tournament.

The Under 23 World Cup will be held October 2-11 in Mexico. Mexico are the defending champions having defeated Japan in 2018 when it was played in Colombia. Other countries who have qualified to play are Germany and Czech Republic (European qualifier), New Zealand (Oceania - Australia dropped out), Taiwan, Japan and China (Asia Qualifier), Korea (wild card selection) and Mexico as the host.

Honduras is an interesting country to choose to be a host for a baseball qualifier since baseball is not a big sport in that country. If you want to grow the game you have to expose the countries not usually exposed to baseball. Not sure why the United States and Canada chose not to participate but the major and minor league pipeline availability probably has something to do with that.

Cuban Playoff Update

January 15th, 2020

They have gotten to the championship round in the Cuban playoffs. Camaguey swept Industriales in a best three of five while Matanzas allowed Las Tunas to win the opener before taking the next three to advance to the finals.

Leslie Anderson was the hero in game one with his homerun and four RBIs on a 4 for 4 day in the Camaguey opening day 9-8 win over Industriales. In game two Yosamar Cousin threw six shutout innings to win 7-5. The Camaguey bullpen almost let the lead get away, giving up five runs in the last two innings. Yariel Rodriguez quieted the Industriales bats for eight innings, giving up just two runs in their 3-2 win. Lazaro Blanco pitched the ninth inning to close out the victory.

Las Tunas won the opener 5-4 tallying a run in the bottom of the ninth to take the game. Matanzas took the next three to win the series. Freddy Alvarez pitched six strong innings to give Matanzas a 4-2 win and even the series. Yurisbel Gracial drove in two runs in the fifth with a single to give Matanzas a 3-2 lead. Tamichel Perez pitched three innings of shutout relief to close out the victory. Matanzas completed the sweep with a 11-6 win, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings. Again Gracial was the hitting star with four RBIs.

In the championship Matanzas has jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the best of seven series. Matanzas won the opener over Camaguey 5-3, with Javier Camero driving in all five runs with two homeruns to secure the victory. His grand slam in the seventh inning put Matanzas up for good.

Camaguey got eight innings of shutout ball from Yosimar Cousin to win 8-0 and even the series. Matanzas fought right back and got six innings of shutout ball from Yoanni Yera to win game three 6-1. Yasiel Santoya drove in two runs and scored twice to lead the offense. Matanzas won game four 5-3 to take a 3-1 series lead over Matanzas.