Top 50 European Teams

January 18th, 2017

Mister Baseball has the 2016 end of season top 50 European baseball teams. Myworld will list the top ten below. If you are curious about the Top 50 you can go to the Mister Baseball site. In parenthesis was their finish from 2015.

1. L&D Amsterdam (Netherlands) 32.92 (5)
2. Unipol Bologna (Italy) 32.75 (2)
3. Curacao Neptunus (Netherlands) 32.67 (1)
4. ASD Rimini Baseball (Italy) 30.75 (3)
5. Mainz Athletics (Germany) 27.17 (NR)
6. Draci Brno (Czech Republic) 25.58 (7)
7. Rouen Baseball 76 (France) 24.50 (8)
8. Vaessen Pioniers (Netherlands) 23.67 (13)
9. Kinheim H1 (Netherlands)23.17 (6)
10. T&A San Marino (San Marino) 23 (10)

Lara and Zulia face each other in Venezuelan Finals

January 18th, 2017

Both teams won their seven game series four games to one. Lara rolled over La GuairĂ¡ 2-1 in the fifth game to win their series. Zulia won a 1-0 pitcher’s duel to send Caribes home early.

The bullpen for Lara pulled it out, throwing 5.1 innings of shutout ball. Six different pitchers came on to pitch and limited the Tiburones bats to two hits. Hassan Pena retired the side in order in the ninth to draw up his third save of the playoffs. The Cardenales got clutch RBI singles from Luis Nunez in the second and Carlos Rivero in the sixth to give them all the offense they needed. The Rivero RBI single broke a 1-1 tie, while his second inning single set up the first run in the second moving Rangel Ravelo to second.

Jordany Valdespin drove in the only run for the Zulia Aguilas with his RBI single in the seventh and Carlos Hernandez shut down the Caribes offense for seven innings to give Zulia the 1-0 win. Silvino Bracho retired the side in order in the ninth, two of them on whiffs to give himself his third save of the playoffs.

Licey and Aguilas to Play in Dominican Republic Championships

January 18th, 2017

It will be a championship series similar to one featuring the Yankees versus Red Sox. Two teams who are bitter rivals facing off against each other. Licey, located in the capital of Santo Domingo and Aguilas located in the working class city of Santiago.

Aguilas had the easy run to the championship, finishing pool play 14-4. Licey was tied with Gigantes on the last day of pool play, both teams with 8-9 records. Aguilas assisted their hated rival by beating Gigantes on the final day 4-3. Kennys Vargas and Hector Luna each drove in two runs to give Aguilas the win. Ketel Marte drove in two runs for Gigantes, one with a solo shot in the fifth and another run with an RBI single in the seventh.

With the tying run on second base Al Alburquerque got the last out in the seventh and retired three of the four hitters he faced in the eighth. Kelvis Valerio came on to pitch the ninth and struck out the side to give Aguilas the win.

Licey downed their capital city rivals Escogido 3-1 to clinch second place. Juan Francisco hit a solo shot in the fourth to give the Tigres a 2-0 lead. Cesar Valdez pitched 5.2 innings of one run ball to hold down the Leones. Five different pitchers came in to pitch the last 3.1 innings with Jairo Asencio tossing the last inning to pick up his sixth save of the playoffs.

Escogido came into the round robin play 5-12 and did not have much to play for. Licey and Aguilas will start a seven game series on Thursday to determine who will represent the Dominican Republic in the Series del Caribe.

Breakout Prospects and Prospects to Watch NL Central

January 18th, 2017

Myworld continues to look at prospects who will have a major league impact in 2017 and other prospects to watch to see if they will find themselves on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States but were stars in Cuba. Today myworld takes a look at the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Breakout Prospect (Duane Underwood RHP) - The Cubs have relied on free agent signings or trading position player prospects to build a major league pitching staff. At some point injuries will force them to go to their farm system to fill their rotation needs. Duane is the most advanced and highest rated prospect on the Cubs radar having gotten 13 starts in AA. He throws hard, with a high to mid - 90s fastball with lots of movement. A good breaking pitch and change gives him the requisite three pitches to make it as a starter. What he lacks is command of his pitches, putting together a 31/46 walk to whiff ratio in 58.2 AA innings. As hard as Duane throws those strikeout numbers seem quite low and a .280 opponent average needs to improve to lower that 4.91 ERA. If the command does not improve the bullpen may be his calling.

Prospect to Watch (Eloy Jimenez OF) - Eloy is a five tool player who will probably lose some speed as he fills out, making right field a natural calling for him. In 2013 the Cubs signed him for $2.8 million. The Dominican slugger has improved his average and power each of the three levels the Cubs have played him. Last year he slugged .532 with 40 doubles and 14 homeruns for a .901 OPS in his first season at full season ball. Next year he will start the season at High A with a mid-season promotion to AA likely if he continues to have success. He should be ready for the major leagues by mid - 2018 if he continues to rake in the minor leagues. This year he will be listed in the top ten in a lot of prospect Top 100 lists.

Cincinnati Reds

Breakout Prospects (Amir Garrett LHP) - Last year was the first year he focused on baseball. In previous years his main focus was basketball while baseball filled his summertime activities. The 6′5″ lefthander whiz his fastball to the plate in the mid-90s. He complements that pitch with a slider and change that should develop more consistency now that his focus is on baseball. Last year he dominated at AA with a 1.75 ERA and a .184 opponent average. A promotion to AAA saw a little struggle with command. The Reds are rebuilding starting the process with a young rotation. Amir will probably start the season in AAA but a major league callup should be in the mix before the All Star break. A number one starter is his ceiling.

Prospect to Watch (Vladimir Gutierrez RHP) - The recent Cuban signing is not a big man at 6′0″. Reports from his workouts show a fastball that hits triple digits. In Cuba he worked mainly out of the bullpen, but like Raisel Iglesias, another Cuban reliever signed before Vladimir the Reds will try him as a starter. The experiment failed with Raisel as injuries moved him back to the bullpen. The Reds shelled out a $4.75 million bonus to acquire Vladimir so they will allow him to fail as a starter before they move him to the bullpen. He won the Cuban rookie of the year award in 2013/2014 and could be the best pitcher signed out of Cuba since Aroldis Chapman.

Milwaukee Brewers

Breakout Prospect (Josh Hader LHP and Lewis Brinson OF) - The Brewers are rebuilding so opportunities will exist for rookies to establish themselves in the major leagues. Josh has turned some heads as his fastball gets clocked in the mid-90s, transforming himself into a nondescript Orioles prospect traded to the Houston Astros to a decent prospect traded to the Brewers to a super prospect with the Brewers. Now he is ready to make his impact in the Brewers rotation. His command could see improvement, but hitters have a hard time making contact off him striking out more than 11 times per nine innings. He should be part of the Brewers rotation by the All Star break in 2017. Brinson is the Brewers best defensive alternative for centerfield in 2017. A .382 average in the high altitude of Colorado Springs has to be compared to his .237 average at AA Frisco. A little more development time in AAA is needed as he transforms himself into a power hitting centerfielder for the Brewers before the All Star break in 2017.

Prospect to Watch (Jorge Lopez RHP and Demi Orimoloye OF) - Both players struggled last year. In 2015 Jorge had what many thought was a breakout season resulting in two major league starts. The opposition barely hit above the Mendoza line against him and he struck out a batter an inning with a fastball slicing across the plate in the mid-90s. The 2016 season was a different animal with a 1-7, 6.81 ERA in AAA with a .312 opposition average. He seems to have bounced back pitching in the Caribbean Winter League in his home town of Puerto Rico, but the opposition there is far below major league caliber. The Brewers will be patient with him. Demi is one of those players with five tools if he could improve his ability to make contact. The projected first rounder slipped to the fourth round because of concerns with his ability to make contact. After having success in his first season of rookie ball after being drafted Demi stumbled in 2016 with a .205 average in the short season leagues. The Nigerian born player who moved to Canada at 10 months old may need a lot of time before he can reach his potential.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Breakout Prospect (Tyler Glasnow) - He fits all the criteria myworld likes to see in a pitcher. His height is a intimidating at 6′8″ with a fastball that comes at you in the mid to upper 90s. Minor league hitters have only hit above .200 against him in one AAA stay, a .220 average after 8 starts. Major leaguers found him a little easier to hit (.250) but his command was off (13 walks in 23.1 innings). That brief time in the major leagues should prepare him for making the opening day roster in the rotation in 2017.

Prospect to Watch (Nick Kingham RHP) - Nick was a highly touted pitching prospect for the Pirates last year who many thought would make the Pirates rotation. A rough start to the season resulted in Tommy John surgery and a delay to his major league opportunity. His 6′6″ frame and ability to reach the mid-90s with his fastball prior to his surgery put him in the elite prospect category. His recovery from Tommy John appears to be complete, allowing him to spend some time in the minor leagues on the mound in an attempt to reach his elite level status. Once he is ready the rotation should be crowded with Glasnow and Jameson Taillon sharing the top sport with Kingham, who is probably more a mid-term rotation starter.

St. Louis Cardinals

Breakout Prospect (Alex Reyes RHP) - Last year he missed the first part of the season because of a drug of abuse testing violation. If not for the suspension he would have made the Cardinals rotation out of spring training. Perhaps the hardest thrower in the Cardinals rotation, he hits 95 miles per hour with his fastball. After a couple starts he should make the rotation early next year. His fastball regularly hits triple digits and he can hold the heat into the late innings. At 6′3″ he could be more durable than Carlos Martinez. Alex saw success in his very limited 2016 major league debut. Command is the one tool he needs to improve on to have success in the major leagues. If his command falters he could find his role as a closer on the major league roster.

Prospect to Watch (Marco Gonzalez LHP) - The first round 2012 pick has been a disappointment. He saw some major league time in 2014 and 2015 but Tommy John surgery in 2016 put a blank to his season last year. The lefthander is not overpowering, with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. His big pitch was the changeup, which the Tommy John surgery should not impact. His major league numbers were spotty with a minimum quantity of strikeouts. The Cardinals will be patient with him and work him in the minors for the majority of the 2017 season. Depending on what kind of success he achieves he could return to the major leagues in 2018.

WBC Ticket Process Very Cumbersome

January 17th, 2017

Buying advanced tickets to the WBC is a very confusing process. Myworld is hoping our tickets will appear somewhere. With all the information required to complete the purchase myworld just made it under the minimum time limit set for purchase. When we tried to see our tickets the link was not yet enabled. It might be best to buy tickets the day of the game.

Currently, it appears you can only buy tickets in packages. So you either have to see all the games for that location, or a ticket package for one country. Myworld could not find a single ticket package. We chose the Dominican Republic ticket package because we planned on seeing two of their games. The other tickets we can sell or give away.

The sight requires you to have an account number with MLB and a password with them before you make your purchase. Of course, you can create an account, but this takes time as you wait for the email to come back confirming your account has been created.

Of course, I have never tried to purchase tickets from MLB online before, so perhaps this is a standard process they have for all their ticket purchases.

Granma Upsets Matanzas in Semi-Final Playoffs

January 16th, 2017

During the regular season Matanzas broke a record for most wins. At the beginning of the season they looked unbeatable, but chinks in the armor were beginning to show during the playoff round. The Granma Stallions advanced to the finals taking the last two games of the seven game series to eliminate the Crocodiles from the championship round, slaying the giant of the regular season. It is not the first time Matanzas has won the regular season with the best record but lost in a playoff series.

Granma tied the series at three games apiece with a 9-6 win in game six. Guillermo Aviles was the big bat in the game with two homeruns and five RBIs to lead the offense and give the Stallions an early 8-1 lead. The Stallions battled back to close the lead to 8-6 but it fell short.

Game seven was not much of a game with the Matanzas bullpen imploding in a 10 run fifth. The game only went seven innings with Granma winning 12-2. Lazaro Blanco pitched a seven inning complete game for Granma. The Crocodile manager seemed to give up on Yoanni Yera early with one out in the fourth after he had given up a run. The bullpen let the game get away from them in the fifth with seven different pitchers trying to stall the 10 run explosion.

Yoelkis Cespedes was the big bat with the grand slam in the fifth inning. Aviles, who was the leading run producer in the previous game switched hats and scored three times hitting in front of Cespedes. He scored twice in the fifth inning.

Granma now plays Ciego de Avila for the Cuban championship. If Granma should win it will be their first Cuban championship for their franchise.

Breakout Prospects and Prospects to Watch NL West

January 12th, 2017

Myworld continues to look at prospects who will have a major league impact in 2017 and other prospects to watch to see if they will find themselves on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States but were stars in Cuba. Today myworld takes a look at the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Breakout Prospect (Socrates Brito OF) - He had his opportunity to make an impact last year but stumbled with a .179 average in 79 at bats. Above average speed and minimal power makes centerfield an ideal position for him, but his arm is suited for right. In AAA he showed the ability to hit for average (.294) but he needs to improve his patience (13/65 walk to whiff ratio). His lack of patience was even more pronounced in the major leagues (2/23). Despite his speed he does not seem to rack up a lot of stolen bases. If he can establish a little more power he could fit in the seventh or eighth spot in the batting order but a poor OBA makes it difficult for him to win a leadoff role. With very little in the outfield Brito has an opportunity to establish himself this year if he can improve on his ability to get on base.

Prospect to Watch (Andy Yerzy C) - Myworld was going to put Peter O’Brien on this list but the Diamondbacks traded him after putting him on waivers. So we will take a look at the Canadian Yerzy, who impressed at the high school homerun hitting contest at the 2015 All Star game in Cincinnati, making it to the finals. This upped his draft stock with the Diamondbacks selecting him in the second round of the 2016 draft. Teams are always looking for lefthanded hitting catchers and when one shows the power as Yerzy the eyes light up. He is a clone of O’Brien, needing a lot of work defensively and his plate discipline is below average (4/38 at two levels) but there are tools there that the Diamondbacks can work with. And he hits lefthanded.

Colorado Rockies

Breakout Prospect (Jeff Hoffman RHP) - It is always tough for pitchers to succeed in Colorado. The 2014 first round pick got six starts at the major league level last year and fared well finishing with a 4.88 ERA. The opposition tagged him at a .287 clip and his 17/22 walk to whiff ratio was disappointing. Those numbers will have to improve if he is going to have success in 2017. He throws three very good pitches in a fastball, curveball and change, though his fastball has not gained the high 90s it had prior to his Tommy John surgery. Jeff was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round and the Rockies acquired him in the Troy Tulowitski trade. All Hoffman has to do is pull ERAs just above 4.00 and win games when Rockie bats score more runs than the opposition. After all, the altitude is not friendly to visiting pitchers either.

Prospect to Watch (Forest Wall 2B) - The Rockies drafted him in the first round supplemental draft in 2014. The defensive work at second base is below average but the bat is supposed to be good. There was some talk about moving him to centerfield but that has not come to fruition. If Wall is going to play his bat will be his ticket to the major leagues. Last year he hit .264 with a .355 slugging. That is not going to cut it with a below average glove at second base. In 2015 he slugged .438 at Low A with a better strikeout to walk ratio. He needs to bounce back to be a viable player for the Rockies in the future.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Breakout Prospect (Jose Deleon RHP) - The Twins want Deleon included in any trade for Brian Dozier. The Dodgers are reluctant to trade Jose. The 24th round pick out of Puerto Rico has given the Dodgers a number of reasons to want to keep him. His mid-90s fastball and excellent changeup give the Dodgers at least two reasons. There was a bit of a struggle in his major league callup (6.35 ERA and .288 opposition average) but his minor league numbers were dominant (2.61 ERA and .194 opposition average). Coming into the 2016 season he averaged 12.3 whiffs per nine innings. In AAA he struck out 111 in just 86.1 innings.

Prospect to Watch (Willie Calhoun 2B) - He is a small second baseman, standing just 5′8″, a little taller than Jose Altuve. The quick lefthanded bat managed to drive 27 balls over the fence in AA. This was a breakout season for him when you consider in 2015 he hit just 11 homeruns. He did show power in junior college with 31 homeruns in 61 games. It will be interesting to see if his small, powerful frame can continue to send balls over the fence. His defense is not exemplary and the fact he did not steal any bases last year says a lot about his foot speed. The Dodgers have yet to acquire Brian Dozier so second base is still an open spot for Willie.

San Diego Padres

Breakout Prospect (Manuel Margot OF and Hunter Renfroe OF) - It is tough for teams to compete for a playoff when they have two rookies patrolling their outfield. The Padres know they are in rebuilding mode and it is time to see what these two talented players can do. Margot has the greater set of tools with the speed and athleticism to play center field. His power is good enough to split the gaps. Last year in a September callup he hit .243 in 37 at bats. Five of his nine hits went for extra bases (four doubles and one triple), but he failed to draw a walk, giving him a low OBA. Renfroe is the slugger who mashed four homeruns in a brief 35 at bat September callup. He is a little more plodding than Margot, but he has enough speed to cover the outfield. His arm is one of his best attributes so right field appears to be the perfect position for him. The Padres have to hope this duo reminds them of when the Red Sox brought up Fred Lynn and Jim Rice as rookies.

Prospects to Watch (Josh Naylor 1B and Javier Guerra SS) - Josh Naylor was drafted in the first round by the Marlins. They traded him to the Padres shortly after he cut Stone Garrett with a knife that was classified as horse play but some reports have stated was a little more serious than that. Not a lot of players are packed with the power that Naylor possesses but there is also a lot of swing and miss to his game. Last year could be classified as a disappointing season for him with his 12 homeruns resulting in a ugly .407 slugging percentage. That is a little south of .500 that teams want to see from their first baseman. Slow foot speed would make a move to the outfield not wise. Guerra had an off season where his average dropped more than 100 points to a .202 clip. His OPS also fell below .600 and his walk to whiff ratio (34/141) was ugly. All of the tools exist for him to play a quality defensive shortstop, but the bat has to work to get him in the lineup.

San Francisco Giants

Breakout Prospects (Christian Arroyo SS. Clayton Blackburn RHP) - We can’t get really too excited about any Giant making an impact this year. Arroyo is more suited for a utility role. With Brandon Crawford staffing short his only opportunity to get a full time gig in the lineup will be at third base. Myworld doesn’t think he has the power for that position. A move to the outfield would not be to his advantage because of below average foot speed. He did have a career minor league average of .303 coming into 2016 but hit just .274 at AA, so he can hit. A more likely player to make an impact is Blackburn. The problem with Blackburn is his stuff is more back of the rotation starter. His fastball is in the low 90s with average breaking balls and change. What he does have is command with the ability to locate the pitches and miss the barrel of bats.

Prospect to Watch (Chris Shaw 1B) - We like his power bat, which could eventually move Brandon Belt to left field. The 2015 first round pick hit 12 homeruns in his rookie season in 2015. He slugged 21 homeruns last year, but struggled in he AA Eastern League only slugging .414. There is not any speed to his game so a move to the outfield is out of the question and his defense is a little stiff at first. Expect him to repeat AA. If he has some success first base may be his position in 2018, or he could become trade bait for another team to allow the Giants to stock up on veteran players in a playoff run.

Rangers Sign Cuban Yander La O

January 12th, 2017

Another player myworld watched in the Series del Caribe in Puerto Rico has signed with a major league team. Luis Yander La O signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers for the paltry bonus sum of $110,000. He played third base for the Cuban team, moving Yulieski Gurriel to second. Luis was a nice defensive third baseman but he had little to no power. We don’t anticipate him playing third base for a major league team. Not unless he can turn on some pitches.

Because Luis is 25 years old he is exempt from the international bonus cap. My comp for him would be a Henry Urruitia type of hitter, except Henry had a poor arm for a left fielder and as a left handed bat constantly hit the ball to the opposite field with little power, not something you want to see from your lefthanded bat who plays a corner outfield position. Luis hits right handed and probably has less power than Urrutia. Perhaps he has learned to pull the ball. The best bet for Luis to make it to the major leagues if he can show he has the skill set to play second base.

Part of his delay in signing is his changing agents. His first agent Bart Hernandez was recently indicted on trafficking charges. There could have also been a hope that some team would be willing to give him his lottery ticket, but when months of quiet was the norm for his contract talks he became more willing to agree to the lower bonus payment.

Puerto Rico - Caguas Advances to Finals

January 12th, 2017

Caguas will be advancing to the finals to play Santurce to determine who will represent Puerto Rico in the Series del Caribe. John Brownwell pitched seven innings of shutout three hit ball to give the Criollos the squeaker 1-0 victory and win the best of seven series four games to two. A little wildness by Hiram Burgos in the fourth inning led to the only run of the game. A hit by pitch, walk and infield single loaded the bases for Caguas. Ruben Gotay coaxed a walk to force in the run, the only run that would score in the game. The walk also ended the day for Burgos.

Mayaguez had an opportunity to score in the fifth after a leadoff double by Danny Ortiz. He was bunted to third and attempted to score on a fly out by Carlos Corporan. Right fielder Jorge Padilla threw a perfect strike home to prevent Ortiz from scoring the tying run.

Ricardo Gomez pitched the ninth inning to earn his third save of the playoffs.

Barreda Making Waves in Mexico

January 12th, 2017

Manny Barreda is a 26 year old right handed pitcher who the Braves recently signed who stands just 5′11″. He did not pitch last year in the minor leagues and he was cut by the Braves in 2015 after 32 games of relief in AA with a 3.38 ERA. The season ended with three horrible appearances in the Mexican Summer League where his ERA was 15.43 and the opposition hit him at a .364 clip.

Despite the poor results in 2015 the Tijuana team kept him for the 2016 season and he did quite well in his 25 relief appearances, limiting the opposition to a .212 average and sporting a 3.50 ERA. The walks were a little high with 24 in 54 innings, but that was always a curse for him in the minor leagues.

His winter performance in the Mexican Winter League has opened some eyes and got him signed by a major league team to a minor league contract. First there was his 9 inning no hitter in which he walked just one and struck out nine. The Braves signed him shortly after that performance. In his last two starts of the regular season he did not allow a run in 11 innings of work, including a six inning no hit performance in which he walked three and struck out nine. In 12 regular season starts the opposition has hit just .178 against him and his walk numbers have improved ever so slightly (31 in 69.2 innings).

The playoffs have started and in the opening game of the semifinals Manny Barreda continued his dominance. He threw eight innings of shutout ball in the first game of the semi finals to allow Los Mochis to defeat Culiacan 5-0. During the game he allowed two hits, walked two and struck out 10. It is his second win in the playoffs. In his first start he gave up four runs in seven innings but the team still managed to pull out the victory.

Manny Barreda might be a player to watch in 2017 in the minor leagues.