Top Prospects Playing in the Dominican

December 12th, 2018

Below are the top prospects playing in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican parks tend to favor the pitchers so batting averages and slugging all tend to be low.

Estrellas Orientales (25-20)

Fernando Tatis Jr (SS) - He is hitting .265 with three homeruns and seven runs scored but he has scored 13 runs sitting at the top of the lineup. Fernando has also stolen seven bases in nine attempts. The concern is the .265 average is inflated by his .545 average against lefthanded pitching. Estrellas usually does not appear at the top of the standings but with the strong play of Tatis they are in first place. Expect Tatis to see the Padres lineup sometime in 2019.

Francisco Mejia (C) - Struggling a bit with a .232 average. He has only walked one time in 56 at bats for a .237 OBA. The bat is not producing a lot of power with only one extra base hit of his 13 hits for a slugging average of .250. Don’t be surprised if the Padres make him part of a trade deal for a veteran pitcher. The shine is coming off for this prospect the more he is exposed.

Domingo Leyba (SS/2B) - He missed the first part of the year because of injuries. Trying to recover some at bats he is hitting .215. Another player showing some lack of patience with just one walk in 68 at bats dragging down his OBA to .239. His best bet for next year is the Diamondbacks using him as a utility player. Expect him to try to find his bat in AAA next year. If he hits a callup can be expected.

Nestor Cortes (LHP) - The Yankees 24 year old Cuban lefthander is opening some eyes with his eight starts in the Dominican (2-0, 1.71). He has limited the opposition to a .177 average and struck out more than a hitter per inning. Not considered a top prospect, he could see some time in the Yankees bullpen next year after he starts the season in AAA. Lefties are only hitting him at a .063 pace.

Escogido Leones (25-20)

Diogenes Almengo RHP - Not really a high prospect, but the Orioles righthander is doing well in the bullpen (3-1, 2.28). Not a lot of swing and miss with his pitches and very hittable (.270 opposition average). He pitched in the bullpen last year for the Orioles and has been a slow riser up the minor league ladder. After four seasons in the Dominican Summer League and the short season leagues he finally got a taste of the full season leagues last year at 23 years of age. That is not young for a Dominican prospect.

Licey Tigres (24-21)

Dawel Lugo (3B) - He has a chance to make the Tigers rebuilding roster next year as a utility player but with a .234 average and 0 walks in 47 at bats for a .234 OBA he is not making progress in that area. His last game was November 21.

Albert Abreu (RHP) - The hard throwing Yankees righthander has had six strong starts with the Tigres (0-2, 1.35). Not a lot of whiffs but the opposition is only hitting him at a .186 clip. He should start the season in AA. His 11 walks in 20 innings is a cause for concern since command at times has been an issue for him.

Genesis Cabrera (LHP) - Genesis has an opportunity to see the Cardinals bullpen with a good spring training. He is warming up for that with a good winter (1.35 ERA). The opposition is hitting him at only a .163 clip with lefties 0 for 14 against him. He has a 2/20 walk to whiff ratio in 13 innings.

Toros del Este (21-24)

Sean Murphy (C) - He is scuffling with the bat (.185). While he has hit two homeruns his slugging average is only .272. Noted more for his defense than his bat he should start next year in AAA with a promotion possible if his bat shows some sparks. Only hitting .122 against right handed pitching.

Jorge Mateo (2B/SS/CF) - When he was a top prospect he was noted for his speed and his ability to steal bases. That has been absent the last couple years with just 25 stolen bases last year compared to 52 the year before. In the Dominican he is just 2 for 4. Jorge is showing a good penchant for getting on base with 10 walks and a .308 OBA, which is good when you consider he is only hitting .167. He does have sneaky power, but that power has been absent in the Dominican (.204 slugging).

Aguilas Cibaenas (20-25)

Victor Robles (OF) - Trying to set himself up for a starting nod with the Nationals in 2019. His numbers are a little vanilla (.265,1,6) with minimal power (.316 slugging). At the start of the 2018 season he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. His bat does not appear to have the same thunder as Soto but he is a much superior defensive player. He is hitting .306 against right handed pitching. If Bryce is not signed Victor should be the Nationals starting centerfielder next year.

Leody Taveras (OF) - Another outfielder whose glove outmatches his bat. The Rangers prospect is only hitting .229 with a .286 slugging average. In order for his gold glove to play in the majors his bat will have to progress more.

Andy Ibanez (2B/3B) - The Cuban prospect is getting beyond that prospect age at 25 years of age. For Aguilas he is hitting just .164 with a .224 slugging. The power needs to get better if he is going to play a corner.

Cibao Gigantes (20-25)

Eloy Jimenez (OF) - A Juan Soto waiting to happen with the White Sox for the 2019 season. The iron glove wicked bat outfielder is hitting .448 in the Dominican with two homeruns and nine RBIs in just 8 games. His OPS is an impressive 1.259. Myworld expects him to be the White Sox starting right fielder next year, after he spends what applicable time he has to in the minor leagues to meet his service time requirements.

Jose Siri (OF) - The Reds prospect has been displaying all his tools with three homeruns and 13 stolen bases. He is also hitting a decent .271 with a .424 slugging average. The swing and miss is a big concern for Jose with 35 whiffs in 34 games. The Reds will give him one more year in the minors but expect a September callup.

Seuly Matias (OF) - The slugging Royals outfield prospect has not really found any power in his bat. After hitting 31 homeruns last year in Low A he went homerless in 41 Dominican at bats, hitting just .220 with a slugging average of .244. His last game was November 27. Next year he should see most of his time in High A.

Rogelio Armenteros (RHP) - The Astros Cuban signing was dominant in his five starts in the Dominican (2-0, 1.17). He limited the opposition to a .154 average and did not allow more than a run in his five starts. The 24 year old is ready for the major leagues after starting 21 games last year in AAA. Expect him to start in the bullpen with injury issues giving him an opportunity to start a few games.

Taiwan Slugger Signs with Nippon Ham

December 7th, 2018

The Taiwan slugger Wang Po-Jung signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for three years and $4 million. There are also additional incentives to the contract that have not been disclosed. He becomes the first player from the CPBL to sign via the posting system. Though major league teams could have participated in the posting process they did not because of no formalized process in place with Taiwan for the acquisition of players. No information has been provided on the posting fee paid to the La Miga Monkeys, though it has been projected to be near $1 million.

The NPB has a limit of four foreign players on their major league roster, with no more than three of them being a pitcher or position player. Wang will count on that four player limit, meaning the Fighters think enough of him to use up a roster spot for his services over major league players.

Wang hit .414 and .407 in his first two full seasons in the CPBL, slugging 29 and 31 homeruns. His third season last year could be considered a disappointment as he hit only .351 with 17 homeruns. His slugging percentage dropped more than 100 points. He won the CPBL rookie of the year in 2016 and was voted MVP in 2016 and 2017. During his rookie year of 2016 he became the first CPBL player to record 200 hits during a season.

A sellout for Yankees/Red Sox in London

December 7th, 2018

For those of you thinking of buying tickets for the Yankees/Red Sox in London - forget it. The game is a sellout. As would be expected for all Yankee/Red Sox games the June 29/30 game in London was a sellout. Ticket prices ranged from as high as 385 pound ($491) to 30 pound ($38). The game is being played at the Olympic Stadium in London. While the stadium can seat 80,000, for baseball the stadium was reconfigured to hold 55,000.

The collective bargaining agreement allows an extra $60,000 to each player who participate in the trip. Now that is a big per diem. Major league baseball will also play games in London in 2020.

Iwakuma Signs with Giants

December 6th, 2018

Not the San Francisco Giants. The Yomiuri Giants. Hisashi lwakuma is returning to Japan after two injury filled years in the major leagues where he was limited to six starts in 2017 and no starts in 2018. Iwakuma had undergone shoulder surgery in 2017.

Like they did for Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners had offered Iwakuma a coaching role but he still had an itch to pitch. Iwakuma had a successful major league career going 63-39 with a 3.42 ERA. In 2013 he made the All Star team and finished third in Cy Young voting his second season in the major leagues. He had one no hitter, against the Baltimore Orioles in 2015.

In Japan Iwakuma has played for the Osaka Buffaloes and the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He won the Sawamura award with the Golden Eagles in 2008, when he also led the Pacific League in ERA. Iwakuma also played for three NPB All Star teams in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Iwakuma was posted in 2010, failed to come to an agreement with the Oakland Athletics and signed as a free agent with the Mariners in 2011.

In Japan Iwakuma also had issues with his shoulder and also had surgery on his right elbow in 2007. In 2008 he would go 21-4 to win the Sawamura award. Before leaving for the major leagues his Japanese record was 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA.

Diamondbacks Take Risk with Kelly

December 5th, 2018

Merrill Kelly has not played any major league baseball. Yet the Arizona Diamondbacks signed the righthander to a two year S5.5 million contract. There are also two club options that would extend the contract to $9.5 million or a $500,000 buyout if they do not want to exercise those options.

The Diamondbacks are hoping the three years Kelly pitched in the KBO transfers well to the major leagues. Miles Mikolas had success with the Cardinals last year after pitching in Japan. The Brewers got some contributions from Eric Thames after he destroyed KBO pitching for a couple years. The Diamondbacks are hoping for some success from Kelly, who last pitched outside of Korea in the minor leagues for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Kelly pitched for the SK Wywerns the last three years. In three seasons he started 90 games and finished with a 3.80 ERA. When you consider what a hitters league the KBO is those are pretty good numbers. This past season the Wyverns won the KBO championship with Kelly going 16-7 with a 3.60 ERA. He had his best season that year, striking out 189 hitters in 190 innings, though he has given up more than a hit per inning pitched in all three years.

His stuff is not overpowering, but he could have some success at the back end of the rotation. The Diamondbacks are a little short in the rotation after losing Patrick Corbin to free agency, Taijuan Walker to Tommy John and Shelby Miller to ineffectiveness. They are also trying to trade the contract of Zack Greinke. If Kelly can provide them 30 average starts he has done his job.

Top 14 Countries for Women’s Baseball

December 5th, 2018

There are not as many countries that participant in woman’s baseball. Japan is the most dominant, currently carrying a 30 game world cup winning streak. Canada, the number two rated team came the closest to beating Japan in the World Cup, losing 2-1 in a Super Round game. Taiwan jumped three spots after finishing second in last year’s World Cup. Most of the top United States players are encouraged to play softball because of a lack of baseball programs for women. They dropped a notch after failing to medal the last two years. Below are the top 14 countries for woman’s baseball:

1. Japan - 2000 points
2. Canada - 1300
3. Taiwan - 1297
4. United States - 1094
5. Venezuela - 989
6. Australia - 904
7. Cuba - 537
8. Korea - 500
9. Dominican Republic - 433
10. Hong Kong - 363
11. Netherlands - 311
12. Puerto Rico - 267
13. India - 104
14. Pakistan - 67

Puerto Rican League Update

December 4th, 2018

Below is an update of the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Santurce Cangrejeros (9-7)

Ivan DeJesus Jr 2B - He’s raking in Puerto Rico with a .393 average and 8 RBIs. His future appears to be more as a utility player if he keeps swinging the bat.

Heliot Ramos OF - The number one pick of the Giants is hitting .341 with a team leading 7 doubles. Only one walk in 44 at bats is a concern.

Damek Tomscha 3B - He is showing some impressive plate discipline with a 11/7 walk to whiff ratio. He is also hitting .304 with a .467 OBA resulting in a team leading 10 runs scored.

Fernando Cabrera RHP - Fernando has been virtually unhittable in his three starts (2-1, 1.29) with the opposition hitting him at a .169 clip. Only 8 whiffs in 21 innings so he has been allowing contact, but soft contact. The 37 year old last played in AAA in 2013.

Mayaguez Indios (9-7)

Kennys Vargas 1B - Vargas is looking for another team. His .333 batting average and 12/10 walk to whiff ratio shows the hitting skills are still there. His 10 RBIs are tied for the Puerto Rican lead with teammate Yariel Gonzalez.

Jonathan Sanchez LHP - Sanchez has yet to go more than 4.1 innings in his three starts but his 0.87 ERA shows they have been effective starts. A 1.55 WHIP and .282 opposition batting average indicate a lot of runners have been stranded. Sanchez last pitched in AAA in 2014.

Bailey Falter LHP - Bailey threw five innings in his last start, his longest in three outings. He has yet to allow a run in his 10 innings of work and has only given up two hits (.067 opposition average). The Phillies prospect could see their rotation in 2019 if he continues this success.

Carolina Gigantes (8-8)

Isan Diaz 2B - Playing with the Marlins Diaz is still trying to find consistency in his bat. A .231 average and .293 OPS indicates it has not been found in Puerto Rico. His 9 runs scored is tied for the team lead.

Giovanni Soto LHP - Soto has played a part in five of the Gigantes eight wins. He has two wins and three saves with a 0.90 ERA in seven appearances. A 7/8 walk to whiff ratio in 11 innings shows a struggle finding the plate.

Caguas Criollos (6-10)

Jack Lopez 2B - His .438 batting average leads the league. His 12 runs scored also tops any player this early in the season.

Vimael Machin 2B - A .400 batting average and .526 OBA is impressive. That OBA comes from an 11/6 walk to whiff ratio. The Cubs prospect has a 1.149 OPS with all five of his extra base hits coming against righthanded pitchers.

United States Pan Am Roster

December 3rd, 2018

There will be a number of first round picks on this United States Pan Am roster that recently won the gold. A couple sons of major leaguers that many may be familiar with their names. Posted for reference sake.

Pitchers

Riley Cornelio, Sammy Faltine, Ryan Hawks, Jared Kelley, Jack Leiter, Brennan Malone, Timmy Manning (LHP), Jacob Meador, Max Rajcic, Avery Short (LHP)

Catchers

Drew Romo,

Infielders

C.J. Abrams, Tyler Calihan, Yohandy Morales, Anthony Volpe, Bobby Witt Jr.

Outfielders

Dylan Crews, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Riley Greene

Japanese Slugger Tsutsugo Wishes for the Major Leagues

December 3rd, 2018

The Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has expressed his interest to be posted to the major leagues according to the Japan Times. Tsutsugo has already signed a $3.5 million contract for the 2019 season so any posting would probably not be until the 2020 season. The Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars would have to agree to the posting, but since Tsutsugo will become a free agent after 2020 they would have only one more season with him if he is not posted in 2019.

Tsutsugo is a leftfielder with good plate discipline and power. In 2016 he hit 44 homeruns and last year slugged 38. He has a career .287 batting average with walk totals reaching 80 or more the last three years. His defense is not great, perhaps along the lines of a Juan Soto so he needs to hit to be attractive. His lefthanded bat can take the ball to all fields. Tsutsugo will be 29 years old for the 2019 season.

United States Puts Exclamation Point to Under 18 Pan Am Championship

December 3rd, 2018

Myworld cannot recall such a dominant performance in a international tournament. The United States were in another league. After beating Panama in the Super Round 9-8 they got their chance to play them again in the gold medal round and won 17-2. Other than the 9-8 game no team got within seven runs. They outscored their opponents in the nine games 131-27, an average of about 12 runs more per game. It is the fifth straight Pan Am championship for the United States 18 and under team.

Bobby Witt Jr. was the big bat hitting for the cycle in a 4 for 5 day, driving in three runs. Corbin Carroll only collected one hit, but it was a homerun. He also drove in a team leading four runs. Tyler Callihan continued to be a hitting maching, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

With all the good hitting it is easy to ignore the pitching efforts. Jack Leiter pitched four innings of no hit ball, striking out nine.

In the bronze medal game Canada downed Nicaragua 5-3. LaRon Smith slugged a clutch two out two run homer in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie.

The United States, Panama, Canada and Nicaragua all qualify for the 18 and under World Cup that will be held in Korea in 2019. It will be interesting to see if the United States keep the same roster. Many of these players will be drafted in the first round of the major league draft. The United States won the last four 18 and under World Cup in 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2012.

Cuba did not get into the Super Round and failed to qualify for the 18 and under World Cup. The last time they won the event was in 2004.