Souteast Asian Games in the Philippines

December 6th, 2019

Five teams are competing in baseball in the Southeast Asian games. None of them are Korea, Taiwan or Japan. So that gives the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia an opportunity to prove themselves in the sport of baseball.

The two top teams appear to be the Philippines and Thailand. In the opening day match the Philippines just edged Thailand 3-2. They have remained undefeated in these events defeating Cambodia 12-0, Singapore 17-0 and Indonesia 14-1.

After losing to Philippines Thailand defeated Singapore 12-7 and Cambodia 14-1. The big match is when they play Indonesia on Saturday to determine who will play the Philippines in the gold medal rounds.

Indonesia had gone undefeated in their first two games beating Singapore 14-7 and Cambodia 8-1. They got crushed when they played the Philippines 14-1, falling behind early 6-0 after two innings.

Singapore and Cambodia are winless but will play Saturday for fourth place. The winner of this game will then play the loser of the Thailand/Indonesia game for third place. Singapore appears to have some offense, but their pitching has failed to keep a team from scoring double digits in runs. Cambodia has scored only one run in three games.

There are no boxscores for this event so it is difficult to follow the details. You can go to 2019seagames.com to follow the results.

Another Korean Player to be Posted

December 5th, 2019

The Doosan Bears have announced they will post 31 year old outfielder Kim Jae-hwan. It might not be the best year to post him. After having years with 37, 35 and 44 homeruns in 2016-2018 Kim slumped to hit just 15 homeruns last year, granted in a year when offense was down. His average also went from .330 to .283.

His first five years in addition to two years in the military Kim saw little action. It was in 2016 that Kim had his break out year, hitting .325 with 37 homeruns and 124 RBIs. After the 2011 baseball World Cup he failed a drug test for testosterone doping, with a penalty of being banned for ten games.

Kim is the sixth Asian to be posted or become a free agent, four from Japan and now two from Korea. The KBO has recently reduced the number of years a player needs to play before he becomes a free agent from nine years to eight.

AL Central Baseball America Minor League All Stars

December 1st, 2019

These are the All Stars selected by Baseball America for each of the classifications. They may not be the best prospects but they had some pretty good years. Below is the list of AL Central All Stars.

Chicago White Sox

Luis Robert (OF/AAA) - This Cuban will be one of the top five prospects in minor league baseball. He has all the tools, the speed to play center and create havoc on the basepaths, the arm to play right and the bat to hit for average and power. He could use better patience at the plate. His 28/129 walk to whiff ratio could get exploited by major league pitchers. Last year he hit .328 with 32 homeruns and 92 RBIs at three different levels.

Avery Weems (LHP/SS) - The sixth round pick from the 2019 draft out of Arizona put up some pretty dominating numbers, with a 2.09 ERA in 14 starts and 74 whiffs in 60 innings. Only one hitter slugged a homer off him as he is a ground ball machine. His fastball does not have great velocity but in this spin driven world he has the spin on the ball that makes it difficult to make contact.

Cleveland Indians

Nolan Jones (3B/High A) - The second round 2016 pick has the potential to develop some significant power. He only slugged .425 at High A but when promoted to AA it rose to .466. It is his plate discipline that is most impressive with OBAs of .435 and .370. His defense needs some improvement and because of his lack of speed the outfield would be a liability. So the Indians hope he can make it at third, otherwise a move to first would test his power.

Will Benson (DH/Low A) - At 6′5 the first round 2014 pick can generate some impressive power, including hitting four homeruns in one game. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in Low A for a .604 slugging. A promotion to High A resulted in some struggles (.189) that a little more plate discipline would improve. Last year he struck out 151 times in 123 games. His defense is best suited for the corners, with the arm to fit in right field. For a player drafted in 2014 and only advancing to High A is concerning.

Bryan Lavastida (C/SS) - The 15th round pick of 2018 displayed a solid bat last year with a .335 average. In his two years of minor league ball he is hitting .319. Drafted out of junior college and at 20 years old he may have been a bit too advanced for another season of short season ball. He has the potential to be a solid defensive catcher and is bilingual, a good trait for a catcher.

Ethan Hankins (RHP/SS) - A shoulder injury dropped him to the 35th player selected in the 2018 draft. He dominated at the New York Penn League (1.40 ERA) with a fastball that can hit the high 90s but sits at the mid-90s. After a promotion to Low A he got tagged around a bit (4.64 ERA) his opposition average going from .178 to .250. His breaking pitches need to improve so hitters do not sit on his fastball.

Detroit Tigers

Matt Manning (RHP/AA) - The Tigers 2016 number one pick is not even their top pitching prospect (Casey Mize). He did have a dominating season in AA with a 2.56 ERA, 148 whiffs in 133 innings and a .192 opposition average. At 6′6″ he is a skyscraper with a mid-90s fastball. He just needs to enhance his change and he could become an ace.

Drew Carlton (RHP/AA) - Relief pitchers drafted in the 32nd round as Drew was in 2017 are always suspect. The Tigers Erie rotation was filled with top ten prospects and who was asked to close the games but a player not on the Tigers prospect list. He saved 19 games, had a 1.46 ERA and limited the opposition to a .200 average. Since being drafted the Seminole has a career ERA of 1.74. Joe Jimenez had 30 saves in 2016 in the minor leagues so achieving saves does not guarantee major league success.

Tarik Skubal (LHP/AA) - One of the biggest surprises for the Tigers this year. The 9th round 2018 pick finished with a 2.13 ERA in AA, limiting the opposition to a .168 average and whiffing 82 in 42 innings, more dominating than he was in High A (2.58). His fastball can hit 97 but sits in the lower reaches of the mid-90s, plenty of juice for a lefthander. His improvement in his change would establish himself in the major leagues.

Kansas City Royals

Kris Bubic (LHP/High) - The supplemental first round pick in the 2018 draft out of Stanford posted a 2.30 ERA at High A. He also struck out a whisker more than a batter per inning and limited the opposition to a .215 average. He did all this with a fastball in the low 90s, but with a whacky delivery and effective change that made him tough to hit.

Adrian Alcantara (RHP/SS) - The Dominican was hard to hit with a .155 opposition average. This was an improvement from last year (.290). The twenty year old will face a key season next year, perhaps debuting at full season Low A.

Minnesota Twins

Devin Smeltzer (LHP/AAA) - The fifth round 2016 pick will not wow you with his tools but he does throw left handed and showed he could get hitters out in the rough and tumble AAA. His 3.63 ERA would not be so elevated if he did not give up 14 homeruns in just 74 innings. He showed enough to make his debut with the Twins for six major league starts.

Lewin Diaz (1B/High A) - The Twins traded Lewin to the Marlins mid-season for some relief help. Lewin mashed 27 homeruns. He hit 13 of those homeruns in High A with a .290 average and a .533 slugging percentage while with the Twins. At 6′4″ he has the length to deliver power. For a big man he makes good contact but his defense needs improvement if he does not want to spend most of his time at DH.

Trevor Larmach (OF/High A) - The 2018 first round pick hit for a nice average in the Florida State League (.316) and showed good gap power with 26 doubles and six homeruns. His lack of speed is not ideal for the outfield but his arm is strong enough for right field. A move to first base would require a bit more juice in the bat.

Cody Laweryson (RHP/SS) - The 14th round pick in the 2019 draft had a good professional debut with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts. The opposition could only hit him at a .168 clip. In one of his last starts he struck out 15 batters in six innings. At 6′4″ he relies on his fastball/change combination to keep hitters off balance. Next year in full season will be key to see if he can replicate those numbers.

Laos Opens First Baseball Stadium

November 29th, 2019

Baseball appears to be spreading in Asia. Laos started playing baseball in 2012. The first field for practice was a car park in Vientiane. Soon they will have their own stadium (Sapphavisa) and they will begin playing a league there from November 16 to January 11. The stadium will not officially open until December so it is unclear where they will be playing games before that. Car parks?

The league is supported by South Korea’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). Je Sung-uk, who introduced baseball to Laos in 2012 and Lee Man-soo have been instrumental in getting the league started. Lee was a catcher in the KBO, the Korean professional league.

The Laos Baseball Federation was founded in 2018. Khamphay Sisavanh is their current president. Lee is the Vice President. You can read more at the WBSC website (wbsc.org.)

Minor League All Stars for AL East

November 28th, 2019

Baseball America lists their all stars for each classification, AAA, AA, etc. Some prospects do not stay long enough in some leagues to even be considered as an all star. Other players have gaudy numbers but their tools may not support continued success in the major leagues. Below is the list of all stars in the AL East and myworld’s comments.

Baltimore Orioles

Zac Lowther LHP (AA) - myworld saw him pitch at Bowie and came away impressed. He was hitting 95 on the radar but at Bowie that can be a bit inflated. He has an innings eater build and he put up some good numbers. The opposition hit only 197 off him, he struck out more than a hitter per inning and he finished 13-7. The Orioles need to develop some winners in their organization.

Grayson Rodriguez RHP (Low A) - The Orioles first round 2018 pick dominated at Low A. The opposition hit him at .171, his slider/fastball combo was swing and miss (129/94 whiff/walk) and he was 10-4. He should be at AA next year.

Boston Red Sox

Trevor Kelley RHP (AAA) - A sleeper as a 36th round pick in 2015. The Tar Hell has a sidearm delivery that was a mystery to AAA hitters who batted just .216 against him. He finished with a 1.79 ERA and 12 saves. One of the Red Sox big weaknesses was bullpen, but when called up twice Kelley struggled (8.64 ERA), failing to throw strikes and getting hit at a .290 clip. His fastball has minimal velocity so he has to rely on command and deception for success.

Jarren Duran OF (High A) - The seventh round pick in 2018 has the speed to create havoc on the basepaths and steal hits in the outfield. The bat was totally unexpected as he hit .387 with a .543 slugging in High A. He also stole 18 bases in 50 games. A promotion to AA did not produce the same kind of offensive numbers (.634 OPS) so the jury is still out on his major league success. He could become a fourth outfielder that is used for his speed and defense.

Gilberto Jimenez OF (SS) - Another speed guy who signed for only $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic. A small frame that does not carry a lot of power, but he hit .359. Like Duran he needs to continue to show the bat and he will play.

Jorge Rodriguez LHP (SS) - A lefty signed out of Mexico for the bargain basement price of $37,500. Not a hard thrower but he shows command. Got six starts and five relief appearances (1.91 ERA) and got lots of swings and misses (58/47 whiff/walk). Next year will be his debut in full season.

New York Yankees

Canaan Smith OF (Low A) - A fourth round pick in 2017 showed a bit of pop with 11 homeruns and hit for average at .307. He lacks the speed to play center so if he slots in the corner the power will have to build. His 32 doubles could provide a glimpse that those gappers could carry as he matures. Good patience at the plate with 74 walks (.405 OBA).

Ezequiel Duran 2B (SS) - The Yankees mine the Dominican well, and Duran may be a bargain at $10,000. His bat seems to be explosive with 13 homeruns and a .496 slugging. There is still a little too much swing and miss to his game which left his average down at .256 and his defense will not get him to the major leagues. Expect him to get an opportunity in full season next year.

Tampa Bay Rays

Brendan McKay LHP (AAA) - In college the first round 2017 pick was noted more for his bat than his arm. The Rays drafted him as a two way player and it was his arm that got him to the major leagues. For his six starts in AAA he finished with a 0.84 ERA. In 13 minor league starts he was 6-0, 1.10 ERA. That success did not follow when promoted to the major leagues (5.14 ERA). His bat shows power, but barely stayed above the Mendoza Line (.200).

Joe Ryan RHP (High A) - His overall stuff does not shout out super prospect, but he can hit 95. His numbers at High A were impressive with 1.42 ERA and 112 whiffs in 82.2 innings. Opponents hit him at only a .161 clip. He did get three starts in AA with some success. He needs to improve on his secondary offerings if he hopes to achieve continued success as he rises higher. A bullpen spot could be in his future.

Wander Franco SS (Low A) - A super stud. Many think he is the top prospect in baseball. He had an easy time at Low A (.318) and even an easier time in High A (.339). He had a 56/35 walk/whiff ratio so he makes contact. His defense is compatible for short but he is still a couple years away.

Greg Jones SS (SS) - The Rays 2019 first round pick has Wander ahead of him at short. He did not show any problem in his major league debut hitting .335 with 19 stolen bases in 48 games. Speed is his game so a move to center field would make sense. A .413 OBA with 22 walks in 48 games shows leadoff possibilities.

Edisson Gonzalez RHP (SS) - The Panamanian is now a Blue Jay, traded for Eric Sogard in September. At 5′10″ Edisson is not an imposing pitcher, but he did whiff 77 in 62 innings. A career 2.72 ERA Edisson will probably settle into a bullpen role.

Toronto Blue Jays

Nate Pearson RHP (AA) - The first round 2017 pick has a triple digit fastball that sits in the upper edges of the 90s with a devastating slider. Nate made the overall all star team, but not a specific classification level though his 16 starts and 2.59 ERA were well deserving. Arm issues had the Jays be conservative with his innings (62.2). He should be an ace for the Jays rotation. Nate should make his major league debut in 2020.

Griffin Conine OF (Low A) - The son of Jeff could be a grinder like his father. A second round pick in the 2018 draft, Griffin is not blessed with super star tools, but he did manage to hit 22 homeruns. He also struck out 125 times in 80 games. He has the arm to play right but the lack of speed may force a move to first.

Adam Kloffenstein RHP (SS) - The third round 2018 pick has a good pitcher’s frame at 6′5″. He could chew up innings as he develops. His fastball zips across the plate in the mid-90s. Opponents only hit .205 against him in short season.

Lindblom KBO MVP

November 26th, 2019

Josh Lindblom was voted the KBO MVP. He finished 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 189 whiffs. He finished second in ERA otherwise he would have won the pitching triple crown. Last year Lindblom finished second in the MVP voting to his teammate Kim Jae-hwan.

He is the fifth foreign player to win the MVP award. The other foreign players to win the award are Tyrone Woods (1998), Daniel Ross (2007), Eric Thames (2015) and Dustin Nippert (2016). Interesting that like Lindblom all the players except Thames won the MVP as Doosan Bears. Thames won the award playing for the NC Dinos.

Lindblom also won the Choi Dong-won award, similar to the Cy Young, for being the top pitcher in the KBO. It is the second straight year Lindblom has won the Choi Dong-won award. The award has only been issued since 2014 and two other pitchers have won the MVP and Choi Dong-won award during the same season, Dustin Nippert (Bears/2016) and Yang Hyeon-jong (Tigers/2017)

The rookie of the year award went out to reliever Jung Woo-young (Twins), who finished 4-6 with a 3.72 ERA and one save, 16 holds. It was not a strong rookie crop in the KBO.

NPB Award Winners

November 26th, 2019

The Nippon Professional Baseball has issued out there awards. Below are the winners.

Central League MVP

Hayato Sakamoto SS (Giants) - .312, 40, 94 RBIs. Imagine major league teams with a shortstop who can hit 40 homeruns.

Pacific League MVP

Tomoya Mori C (Lions) - .329, 23, 105. Imagine a major league team with a catcher having the ability to drive in 100 runs.

Central League Rookie of the Year

Munetaka Murakami 1B (Swallows) - .231, 36, 96. Only 19 years old.

Pacific League Rookie of the Year

Rei Takahashi P (Hawks) - 12-6, 3.34 ERA

Sawamura Award (similar to Cy Young)

For the first time in 19 years no award was given. To be considered pitchers have to achieve minimal accomplishments. Wins, innings pitched, complete games, strikeouts, ERA, etc. The voters felt that no pitcher meant these minimums to receive an award. Since these numbers were established back in the iron man days when pitchers threw 160 pitches in a game, there has been talk of modify some of the minimums to take into account the new era.

Central League Best Nine

Pitcher - Shun Yamaguchi (Giants) - 15-4, 2.91. First time voted to the Best Nine. Will be posted for major league teams this year.
Catcher - Tsubasa Aizawa (Carp) - .277, 12, 63
First Base - Dayan Viciedo (Dragons) - .315, 18, 93. Cuban has found a home with his bat in Japan.
Second Base - Tetsuto Yamada (Swallows) - .271, 35, 98. Stole 33 bases to make him a 30/30 player.
Third Base - Shuhei Takahashi (Dragons) - .293, 7, 59. First Best Nine, but the vanilla stats shows a lack of quality at third base.
Shortstop - Hayato Sakamoto (Giants) - .312, 40, 94
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Carp) - .335, 28, 87. MVP of the Premier 12.
Outfield - Yoshihiro Maru (Giants) - .292, 27, 89
Outfield - Neftali Soto (Bay Stars) - .269, 43, 108

Pacific League Best Nine

Pitcher - Kodai Senga (Hawks) - 13-8, 2.79. 227 strikeouts. One of the top five pitchers in baseball. His first selection to Best Nine.
Catcher - Tomoya Mori (Lions) - .329, 23, 105
First Base - Hotaka Yamakawa (Lions) - .256, 43, 120
Second Base - Hideto Asamura (Eagles) - .263, 33, 92
Third Base - Takeya Nakamura (Lions) - .286, 30, 103. These are the stats you want to see from your third baseman.
Shortstop - Sosuke Genda (Lions) - .274, 2, 41. Stole 30 bases and scored 90 runs.
Outfield - Shogo Akiyama (Lions) - .303, 20, 62. Another player being posted for the major leagues.
Outfield - Masataka Yoshida (Buffaloes) - .322, 29, 85
Outfield - Takashi Ogino (Marines) - .315, 10, 46. Stole 28 bases.
Designated Hitter - Alfredo Despaigne (Hawks) - .259, 36, 88. One of the few Cuban stars who has not defected. The Cubans sub-contract him out to Japan and make money off his skills, instead of Alfredo making millions of dollars by defecting when he was in his prime.

Puerto Rico Site of 2020 Series del Caribe

November 25th, 2019

Puerto Rico will be the site of the 2020 Series del Caribe. The last time it was held in Puerto Rico was in 2015. Myworld was there to witness Cuba’s first participation in the event. They ended up Series del Caribe champions that year. Hiram Bithorn stadium will again host the event. The dates are from February 1-7, with the first five days being pool play and the last two days playoffs. Three games will be played each day with the first game starting at 10 AM and the last starting at 8 PM. Usually when you buy one ticket it will allow you to attend all three games that day.

Panama returns after winning the event last year in their first ever participation. There was some thought of Nicaragua and Colombia also participating but that is expected to happen in 2021. The teams participating in the event are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Each of those countries has their winter league season and the winning team from those winter leagues advances to the Series del Caribe.

Obregon Yaquis Win the First Half in Mexican Winter League

November 25th, 2019

The Obregon Yaquis won the first half in the Mexican Winter League. That earned them 10 points and a bid in the playoffs. In the Mexican Winter League you earn points based on your position in the standings after each half. The amount of points you earn determines your seeding in the playoffs. This year the top eight teams advance to the playoffs, meaning the lucky loser, or the losing team with the most wins in the playoffs advances, no long applies. Only the four winning teams in the first round of the playoffs advance. But with eight teams advancing to the playoffs it means that only two teams are eliminated.

Below are the standings and the points earned based on those standings.

Obregon 22-13 (10.0 points), Hermosillo 21-13 (9.0), Jalisco (21-14 (8.0), Culiacan (19-16 (7.0), Monterrey (18-17 (6.0), Mazatlan 17-18 (5.5), Los Mochis 15-20 (5.0), Guasave 15-20 (4.5), Mexicali 15-20 (4.0), Navojoa 11-23 (3.5).

A good source for baseball news from Mexico is baseballmexico.blogspot.com. Players from the Mexican League contributed to Mexico qualifying for the Olympics, defeating the United States team twice.

Piazza Named New Manager for Italian National Team

November 23rd, 2019

After being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, Mike Piazza is not taking it easy. He will take over from Gilberto Gerali as manager of the Italian national baseball team. In previous tournaments he has acted as hitting coach. This information was reported by Mister Baseball.

Italy has been struggling to make a mark on the international baseball scene. They are currently ranked 16th in the international baseball rankings, which did not allow them to participate in the Premier 12. They lost the European championship to the Netherlands in 2019, but that is not a surprise. The big shock was the heartbreaking performance in the European/Africa Olympic qualifier.

Despite hosting the tournament, Italy lost three games in the qualifier, not even coming close to qualifying for the one European Olympic spot. They lost their last game to Spain and then had a brawl on the field after the game was finished. Israel ended up qualifying for the Olympic games with a 4-1 record, winning a tie breaker over Netherlands, which was also 4-1. Israel is ranked 19th in the international rankings.

Perhaps the hiring of Piazza will provide a shot in the arm to Italy’s baseball program. It does appear to be on a bit of decline in the International Baseball rankings so Piazza is not taking over a program that is at the top of its game.