AL West Minor League All Stars

December 12th, 2019

Below are the players identified by major league baseball as All Stars from teams representing the AL West. Not all these players are prospects but to be All Stars they had to have a pretty good year.

Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez OF/AAA - This year the Cuban defector was voted American League Rookie of the Year. Prior to that he destroyed AAA pitching with 23 homeruns in 56 games and a .343 batting average. Add his 27 homeruns in the major leagues gave him 50 for the year. His lack of defensive tools makes his best position DH but he can play the outfield or first base in a pinch.

Abraham Toro 3B/AAA - The 2016 fifth round pick also tore up AAA with his .424 average, but that was in just 18 games. His .324 minor league average led to a promotion to the major leagues where he saw a bit of a struggle (.218). But in AA he slugged 16 homeruns and hit .306. It will be tough for him to move Alex Bregman from third so another trip to AAA is in his future. His defense at third will not win any gold gloves and with a full infield he may have to move to the outfield where his speed is below average. A big year in AAA will make the 22 year old attractive in a trade.

Valente Bellozo SP/SS - Signed by the Astros in 2017 out of Mexico, even at just 5′10 Valente was impossible to hit in the New York Penn League. The opposition hit him at a .164 clip and he finished with a 1.39 ERA. He is not a hard thrower, sitting in the low 90s, but he gets hitters out with his secondary pitches (change and slider).

Kyle Tucker DH/AAA - The Astros first round pick in 2015 used up his rookie eligibility last year playing 22 games. Hitting AAA pitching was not a problem last year with his 34 homeruns. This time when promoted to the Astros he had some success (.269) as opposed to the previous year when he hit only .141 after hitting .332 in AAA. His lack of speed and average arm probably limit him to left field. He should have a starting role next year for the Astros.

Los Angeles Angels

Jared Walsh DH/AAA - Walsh was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft. Last year he had a breakout season with a .325 average and 36 homeruns. The previous year at three different levels he hit 29 homeruns and was one shy of 100 RBIs. His lack of speed makes first base his ideal position, but his left arm has the ability to throw low 90s fastballs. He could become a two way player.

Jeremiah Jackson 2B/Rookie - The 2018 second round pick had a nice offensive year for a middle infielder, slugging 23 homeruns. He hit .266 but his 96 strikeouts in just 65 games is a cause of concern.

Oakland Athletics

None

Seattle Mariners

Evan White 1B/AA - The Mariners signed their first round 2017 pick to a six year $24 million contract. He has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base and the speed to move to the outfield. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in 92 games. Evan has the power to play first base or in a corner outfield position.

Jake Fraley OF/AA - Jake needs his legs and his ability to get on base to be effective in the major leagues. He fell one homerun short of being a 20/20 player last year and hit .313 in AA. This got him a promotion to AAA and the majors. His arm is more suited to left field but he has the range to play centerfield.

Logan Gilbert SP/High A - The Mariners first round 2018 pick was a mystery to minor league hitters at all three levels, limiting them to a .198 opposition average. He was especially dominating at Low A where hitters only tagged him for a .118 average in his five starts. Gilbert could be a fast riser with his mid-90s fastball that can reach the upper reaches of the 90s.

Dayelson Arias Relief/Low A - The 22 year old Dominican was unhittable at the two A levels with a 1.15 ERA and a .146 opposition average in 44 relief appearances. He had a 15/80 walk to whiff ratio in 55 innings.

Jarred Kelenic OF/AA - The Mets 2018 first round pick was acquired in the Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. He has the potential to be a five tool player, combining to hit .291 with 23 homeruns and a .904 OPS at three minor league levels last year. His 20 steals made him a 20/20 player.

Sam Delaplane Relief/AA - The 23rd round 2017 pick used his two pitch mix to dominate at AA (0.49 ERA and .107 opposition average). A lack of a third pitch will keep him in the bullpen but his mid-90s fastball will get hitters to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 120 in just 69 innings.

Texas Rangers

Curtis Terry DH/High A - The 2015 13th round pick showed his pop in A ball hitting 25 homeruns at the two levels. His normal position is first base, the only position he has played in the minors. At 6′3″ he has the potential to hit for power but as a right handed bat the stakes are against him.

Blaine Crim 1B/Short Season - The 19th round pick from last year also plays first base. Last year he slugged 8 homeruns for a .954 OPS in the short season leagues. He is only the second player from Mississippi college to be drafted where he hit 11 homeruns and broke a season record with 21 doubles. He is from Mobile, Alabama, which has a rich crop of homerun hitters, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey just to name two.

Heribeto Hernandez OF/Rookie - Hernandez was a cheap $10,000 sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He showed some potential with the bat last year in the Arizona League hitting .344 with 11 homeruns and a 1.079 OPS. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner.

Demarcus Evans Relief/AA - The 25th pick of the 2015 draft found his stride last year with a 0.90 ERA and .119 average at two levels, rising all the way up to AA. He pitched 60 innings in relief and had an impressive 39/100 walk to whiff ratio. If he continues that success next year Evans could find himself in a major league bullpen.

Bruce Bochy Will Manage France

December 10th, 2019

There were rumors that Bochy was not headed for retirement after he left the Giants. Many thought he would be heading back to the Padres. Turns out half of that was right. Bochy is not retiring but he will be managing the French baseball team. He will manage he French team in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in 2020.

Bochy was born in France while his father was in the Army. Now that is a pretty cool way to spend your retirement years, hanging out in France managing their national baseball team.

Go to the WBSC website for the announcement.

KBO Gold Glove Winners

December 10th, 2019

The KBO handed out their gold gloves to the best player at each position. The players here are not considered the best defensive players at the positions but the best overall player. This year a record four foreign players were named to the gold glove teams.

Pitcher - Josh Lindblom (Doosan Bears) - His second straight gold glove. For 2020 he will be looking at his third try for major league success. He relies a lot on spin for his pitches so the Astros would be a favorite to sign him. 20-5, 2.50 ERA with 189 whiffs.

Catcher - Yang Eui-Ji (NC Dinos) - Finished second to Lindblom in the MVP voting. This is his second straight and fifth overall gold glove. His .354 batting average won the KBO batting title.

First Base - Park Byung-Ho (Kiwoom Heroes) - His major league career did not go so well, but a return to the KBO has rejuvenated his star status. Led the KBO in homeruns with 33. Like Yang his second straight gold glove and fifth overall.

Second Base - Park Min-Woo (NC Dinos) - First time winner hit .344, third in batting average.

Shortstop - Kim Ha-Seong (Kiwoom Heroes) - His second straight award. He led the KBO with 112 runs scored and was second in RBIs with 104 and steals with 33. Only hit 19 homeruns to fall short of back to back 20/20 years. He has asked to be posted for the 2021 season. He has adequately replaced Kang Jung-Ho at shortstop who had some success with the Pirates before running into character issues.

Third Base - Choi Jeong (SK Wyverns) - Traditionally, one of the top sluggers in the KBO. This year he was second to Park with 29. In 2018 injuries prevented him from having three consecutive seasons of 40 or more homeruns. This was his sixth gold glove.

Outfield - Lee Jung-Hoo (Nexon Heroes) - At 21 he has superstar written all over him. His .336 batting average was fourth in the league. This is his second straight time winning the award. Not a big power hitter or stolen base threat but at 21 he could develop.

Outfield - Jerry Sands (Nexon Heroes) - His 28 homeruns were fourth in the league and his 113 RBIs were topped by no player. In his first full season in the KBO he won a gold glove.

Outfield - Mel Rojas (KT Wiz) - His 104 RBIs were tied for second. Despite his 43 homeruns in 2018 in his first full season in the KBO he did not win the gold glove. The 2019 season saw him win his first.

Designated Hitter - Jose Miguel Fernandez (Doosan Bears) - His .344 average was second in the KBO. That was enough to give him his first gold glove.

Philippines Wins Southeast Asian Championships

December 8th, 2019

The Philippines was only challenged in their opening game by Thailand 3-2. After that they won their next three games by 12 or more. They got an opportunity to play Thailand again for the gold. This time the game was not close with the Philippines winning 15-2. Thailand scored both their runs in the fourth inning, but by then they were down 10-0.

Thailand got into the gold medal round by defeating Indonesia 6-4. Thailand scored a run in the fourth inning to break a 3-3 tie and were never behind in the game after that.

Singapore got into the bronze medal game by defeating Cambodia 9-1. It was the first game their pitching staff had held a team to less than 10 runs, but the Cambodian offense had been able to generate only one run in their first three games. In the bronze medal game Indonesia was able to establish an offense and beat Singapore 10-4.

Philippines Wins Southeast Asian Championships

December 8th, 2019

The Philippines was only challenged in their opening game by Thailand 3-2. After that they won their next three games by 12 or more. They got an opportunity to play Thailand again for the gold. This time the game was not close with the Philippines winning 15-2. Thailand scored both their runs in the fourth inning, but by then they were down 10-0.

Thailand got into the gold medal round by defeating Indonesia 6-4. Thailand scored a run in the fourth inning to break a 3-3 tie and were never behind in the game after that.

Singapore got into the bronze medal game by defeating Cambodia 9-1. It was the first game their pitching staff had held a team to less than 10 runs, but the Cambodian offense had been able to generate only one run in their first three games. In the bronze medal game Indonesia was able to establish an offense and beat Singapore 10-4.

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.