United States Shuts Out Japan

July 19th, 2019

The United States collegiate national team went up two games to one on Japan with a 2-0 one hit victory. Reid Detmers went five innings and only allowed one hit. Cole Wilcox and Andrew Abbott completed the final four innings to complete the shutout. Heston Kjerstad gave the United States team all the runs they needed with his solo shot in the fourth. They added an insurance run in the fifth on an Alika Williams RBI single.

The United States and Japan have two more games to complete the series.

Port Tournament Down to the Finals

July 19th, 2019

The Netherlands holds two big tournaments played every other year. During the even numbered years you have the Honkball tournament played in Haarlem, Netherlands. Myworld was actually there a couple years ago to witness one tournament. During the summer months day time lingers a bit longer in the Netherlands so when a 7 PM ends at about 10 PM you are still walking back to your car or hotel in day light. The port tournament is held in Amsterdam during the odd numbered years.

Five teams competed in the Port tournament, Curacao, Japan, Netherlands, Taiwan and Team USA. The teams from Japan and Taiwan are composed of college level players or players who participate in the industrial leagues. The United States team is composed of minor league ball players, though the names of these players would not be familiar to many.

For the first round the final standings were 1) Taiwan 3-1, 2) Netherlands 2-2, 3) Curacao 2-2, 4) United States 2-2 and 5) Japan 1-3. The United States learned that being a minor leaguer holds no stock to how competitive you would be in this tournament, losing to Curacao 20-2. They committed six errors in the game that was halted after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.

Taiwan continued their dominance in the second round by defeating Curacao 7-6. The United States was again humiliated with a 13-3 loss to Netherlands. Lars Huijer got the win for the Netherlands by pitching five innings. In the Dutch League playing for Hoofddorp Pioniers he has been unhittable with a 0.80 ERA in 12 starts limiting the opposition to a .139 average. He has also whiffed 108 hitters in just 90 innings. The United States was able to tag Lars for six hits and three runs but their pitching let them down. Josh Collmenter got the start for the United States and was battered around for nine runs in just 2.1 innings. This was another game that was ended after seven innings because of the slaughter rule. The United States played and lost the two games that were ended early because of the slaughter rule.

In the second round Curacao will play Japan in a losers bracket game. The United States appears to have been sent down to the bracket to see who finishes fourth, which knocks them out of any championship hope. They will play the loser of the Curacao/Japan game. The winner of the Curacao/Japan game will advance to play the loser of the Taiwan/Netherlands game. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Tawain/Netherlands game for the championship. The only team that appears to have been eliminated from the championship game so far has been the United States.

Top Venezuelan Prospects National League

July 18th, 2019

There have been some graduations from the list put together last year. Rookie of the year Ronald Acuna had a pretty good year and is no longer considered a prospect. He was the top player on the National League list. Other than that no other graduating player. With all the internal strife in Venezuela the quality of prospects out of the country has dropped. The National League seems to have a lot of promising catchers. The top five players on this list appeared here last year. The bottom five are all new to the list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - After Acuna won rookie of the year last year Ruiz went from number two to the top spot. In his first couple years in the minors he hit over .300, entering the 2019 season with a .330 career average. His bat took a bit of a dive last year with a .268 average. The Dodgers kept him in AA for a second season and the hitting has continued to suffer (.245). Not noted for his power his slugging percentage has really dipped from .401 last year to .321. The bright note is his ability to make contact is strong (28/21 walk to whiff ratio) and his defense has not suffered. His arm is not strong so he will not control a running game but his ability to block pitches in the dirt is solid. If his bat had been strong myworld would have expected a promotion sometime this year. With the Dodgers in a pennant race it may not be until next year when Ruiz wears a Dodger uniform.

2. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - At one point Amed Rosario was the Mets shortstop of the future. Defensive struggles have the Mets talking about moving Rosario to centerfield, which would open up a spot for Gimenez at shortstop. The bat is not as strong as Amed but his defense is superb. If Rosario stays at short the Mets could always convert him to a utility player. Last year he carried a useable bat, hitting over .277. This year the bat has dipped to .232 in AA. Andres lacks the speed of Rosario but he still has the ability to steal bases (16). The biggest issue for Gimenez is the rise of Ronny Mauricio, coming up from A ball.

3. William Contreras C (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson carries his brothers pop with the bat and his strong arm. The bat has struggled a bit this year with a .263 average and .368 slugging percentage in the Florida State League but that is a pitcher’s park. Myworld only became aware of Wilson when he was at AA but at this point the older brother has more power. William may develop that power but it has yet to surge with regularity. His arm is strong enough to catch and he has the intangibles to fit behind the plate defensively. The Braves have Alex Jackson in AAA but William is the stronger hitter and better defensively. Alex may have more power. William may have to wait until next year to debut for the Braves.

4. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - The world continues to wait for the Espinoza breakout. He was one of the top minor league pitchers in baseball until Tommy John surgery felled him. He has not pitched since 2016, missing more than two seasons. Despite standing only 6′0″ his fastball hit the high 90s. Scouts compared him to Dennis Martinez. Originally signed by the Red Sox in 2014 for $1.8 million they traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox ironically complaining about the trade because of a perceived undisclosed injury to Pomeranz. A second Tommy John surgery in August of last year will delay Espinoza’s return until mid 2020.

5. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - The Phillies signed Ranger for the bargain basement price of $25,000 in 2012. He lacks an over powering fastball, sitting in the low 90s but a excellent change enhances the velocity of the fastball. Swings and misses are not part of his game with just 6.6 whiffs per nine innings. He also has excellent command of his pitches, throwing to the corners and hoping for soft contact. Last year he had some success at AAA (2.74 ERA), which led to a promotion to the major leagues. That proved to be a challenge with a 5.40 ERA and a ,339 opposition average. This year he started his season in AAA and that was a struggle (5.68 ERA and .281 opposition average). Despite those poor numbers he did get promoted to the Phillies where he worked out of the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation pitcher. If that does not work out he could still be used out of the pen as a middle reliever.

6. Francisco Morales RHP (Phillies) - Francisco was not the bargain as Suarez. He has a little more pop to his fastball, with his mid-90s velocity motivating the Phillies to pay $900,000 to sign him. Francisco has a plus slider but still needs more consistency with his change to give him a third pitch. Francisco has more swing and miss with his pitches. This year is his first season in full season ball and his swing and miss has not lessoned. He has given up some homerun balls (7) in just 62.1 innings, which is responsible for his high 3.90 ERA.

7. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets have had trouble finding a catcher. At 17 years old and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million Francisco will not provide any immediate answers. This is his first year of minor league baseball and the Mets have already promoted him to the rookie leagues where he has shown some pop with the bat with three homeruns in 15 games. He is also torching rookie league pitchers for a .404 average and a 1.189 OPS. He is still learning the tools of catching but the arm is strong so that is a start. If the bat continues to rake he could be one of the youngest players in full season ball next year. That is quite an accomplishment for one so young, especially at a position that is so demanding. Mets fans will have to wait at least four years before seeing him in a Mets uniform.

8. Jesus Tinoco RHP (Rockies) - Tinoco was the throw in player the Blue Jays included in the Troy Tulowitski trade. Jesus has a pretty good fastball and breaking ball combination. His change still needs work if he wants to be in the starting rotation. Coming into the 2019 season his career ERA was 4.75 with an opposition average of .286. There is also not a lot of swings and misses to his pitches. This year he has career numbers in AAA with a 4.34 ERA and a .259 opposition average. His strikeout numbers continue to be disappointing. Jesus made his major league debut this year with 7 bullpen appearances. He has been prone to the homerun ball in the NL (5 homeruns in 13 innings).

9. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Diego may be a stronger defensive player than Ruiz. He only signed in 2018 for $2.5 million and did not play last year. Only 17 years old Diego was recently called up to play in the Arizona Rookie League. His .200 average and 2/17 walk to whiff ratio is evidence that he has a long ways to go. A player to watch as possible trade bait with Ruiz and Will Smith ahead of him in the minors. Time will tell if the power will develop but at 6′2″ he has a large frame.

10. Israel Pineda C (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Pineda in 2016 for $450,000. He spent his first two years in short season ball hitting .277. He is still a teenager so there is a lot of development to do. This is his first year in full season ball and where his average has struggled (.212) but he has already hit a career high 5 homeruns. His arm is above average with the ability to throw out greater than 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year. The Nationals have a lot of young depth at catcher in the minor leagues so it will take at least five years before Israel makes his debut.

United States College Team Battling Japan

July 17th, 2019

The United States college national team is in the process of playing a three country series. In North Carolina they won four out of five games against Cuba. The one win for Cuba was the fourth game when they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win. In the four losses the Cuban team was held to five runs while their pitching staff gave up 27 to the United States bats.

The next series for the college national team was in Taiwan against collegians from Taiwan. The United States may have been jet lagged in the opener as they were limited to just one run in the 2-1 loss. The bats came alive the next two games with 12-5 and 10-6 wins. Taiwan salvaged a split of the series winning the final game in 10 innings 7-6.

The United States last series is against Japan. They could not blame jet lag on their 3-0 loss in the opener since they were coming from Taiwan. The United States could only manage four hits in the loss. In the second game Alec Burleson hit a walk off homerun to even the series, winning the second game 3-2. The United States leads the series against Japan 24-18 but they have lost 15 straight series in Japan. While they do have three more games, there are ties in baseball in Japan so the United States need to at least win two games to take the series.

Rookie Hits for Cycle in All Star Game

July 16th, 2019

It is pretty tough to hit for the cycle in a normal baseball game, but in an All Star game it is even more difficult. Most players who play in an All Star game will not get enough at bats to complete the cycle. That did not happen to the Hansin Tigers rookie Koji Chikamoto, who hit for the cycle in the second All Star Game.

Japan plays two All Star games. In the first game the Pacific League beat the Central League 6-3. Tomoya Mori hit a two run homerun in the second inning and Hideto Asamura and Hotaka Yamakawa went back to back with solo shots in the sixth to give the Central League a 4-1 lead. They went on to win the game 6-3 with both teams tacking on two runs in the ninth. Koji Chikamoto entered that game as a pinch runner and went 0 for 1 in the game.

Game two was a little different. Koji got things stared for the Central League with a lead off homerun in the bottom of the first. That made him the first rookie in Japan to ever lead the game off with a homerun in an All Star game.

The Central League then pulled away from the Pacific League with three homeruns in the second inning, hit by Tigers Fumihito Haraguchi, who led off the second inning with a homerun followed by his Tigers teammate Ryutaro Umeno who hit the first pitch he saw in the game for a homerun. Future major leaguer Yoshitomo Tsutsuhgoh, now of the Yokohama Bar Stars slugged a two run homerun and the Central League had a commanding 8-0 lead after two.

Chikamoto slugged a double in the second and added a single in the third inning to get three quarters of the way to a cycle with six innings to play. He hit another double in the fifth inning to go 4 for 4. Myworld may have tried to stretch that double into a triple to complete the cycle then. In the seventh he completed his cycle with a triple to finish the All Star game 5 for 5. The Central League also ended a five game losing streak to the Pacific League with an 11-3 win.

The only other player to hit for the cycle in an All Star game was Hall of Fame catcher for the Yakult Swallows Atsuya Furuta back in 1992.

While playing high school ball Chikamoto never played in the Koshien tournament. He played college ball, initially trying to make it as a pitcher, but finally settling on an outfielder role after arm injuries stunted his pitching development. None of the Japanese teams drafted him after college and he went on to play in the Industrial Leagues.

In the Industrial Leagues Chikamoto led his team to the championship hitting .524 resulting in him being voted the most valuable player in the league. In the 2018 draft the Hanshin Tigers selected Chikamoto as the third alternative pick during the first round after they lost the lottery picks for two other players. He made the team out of spring training and hit .268 with six homeruns and 20 stolen bases to make the All Star game. His 50 runs scored are tops on the Hanshin Tigers.

Rays Short of Perfection in Win Against O’s

July 14th, 2019

Myworld has witnessed two no hitters, a seven inning minor league game thrown by John Stephens and a nine inning major league game thrown by Max Scherzer. I don’t recall either of those games being perfect. Today Tampa Bay used two pitchers to pitch 8 innings of perfect ball. Ryne Stanek, a fireballing righthander whose fastball lights up the radar guns at 98 pitched the first two innings. Ryan Yarbrough a junk ball throwing lefty who stays in the slow lane at 88 pitched a perfect six. They each spell their first name differently, but they often act as a pair, with Ryne taking the first two innings as the opener before handing it to Ryan to take the next four to seven innings.

The perfect game was ended on the first pitch in the ninth when Hanser Alberto pushed a ground ball through the vacated right field hole, a spot where the second baseman should have been playing if he had not been on the left hand side of the bag in the shift. Stevie Wilkerson punched the second pitch of the ninth into center field for a cleaner hit. Yarbrough struck out pinch hitter Chance Sisco before departing. The Orioles would end the shutout on a Anthony Santander single but Emilio Pagan retired Trey Mancini on a strike out on a 96 mph fastball with two runners on to preserve the 4-1 victory.

Tom Eshelman got the start for the Orioles. Perhaps they should use the lefty fireballer Brandon Kline to pitch the first two innings for him and then bring in the soft tossing righthander Eshelman for the next four to seven innings. Tom’s fastball sits at 86-87 and does not even encroach on the 90 and up velocity meter on the radar. He pitched a decent game, being called up today after the trade of Andrew Cashner left open a roster spot.

The Rays were able to tag on a run in the second. They loaded the bases with no outs on back to back singles from Nate Lowe and Michael Brosseau and a Ji-Man Choi walk. Eshelman struck out Willy Adames looking on a 3-2 pitch. Joey Wendle lined one into right field where Trey Mancini made a diving catch. Nate Lowe was able to score on the out for the first run. A Mike Zunino whiff ended the inning and Eshelman had to feel good about getting out of the jam.

Austin Meadows buried a pitch deep into Eutaw Street to lead off the third. It bounced once and hit off the warehouse. Eshelman left with two outs in the sixth when Michael Brosseau hit a two run shot that just carried the right center field wall. After that homerun Michael had a .405 batting average with a 1.400 OPS in 38 at bats. Michael has a career .300 minor league batting average and was hitting .317 with a .590 slugging percentage and 15 homeruns in 68 games when the Rays called him up from Durham. He was not drafted, signed as a free agent in 2016 after the draft, playing four years at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The Bulls used him as a utility player and after driving in 57 runs to lead the International League the Rays decided to call him up. He has now hit three homeruns in his last two games.

The Orioles pen was able to shut out the Rays for the last 3.1 innings. Paul Fry even struck out the side in the seventh. But the Orioles could not overcome the perfection of the Rays through the first eight innings.

Game notes: The crowd was announced at 14,802 but it looked sparser than that…In the second Trey Mancini came up short on a diving attempt to rob Brosseau of a single. He did dive to rob Joey Wendle of a hit. Trey is better utilized at first base, but with Renato Nunez more a DH than an infielder and with Chris Davis at first base right field is the only place left for him. He catches what he reaches but his range is not great…Chris Davis is slugging .321. He went 0 for 3 today. Myworld can’t imagine the Orioles protecting Davis on the 40 man next year, not when they are rebuilding. They might as well just eat his $20 million plus salary and give the younger players an opportunity to get playing time…There has not been a combined perfect game in major league history. They have had combined no hitters but no combined perfect games. With the opener now used by more teams that will be the next event to be shattered.

Stevie “Wonder” Wilkerson Powers O’s Over Rays

July 13th, 2019

After giving up 16 runs the previous day the pitching staff redeemed themselves by holding the Rays to one run. After striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth Stevie Wilkerson redeemed himself by powering a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Rays.

The Orioles could not figure out Brendan McKay for the first five innings. They were able to get three hits off him, two of them in the fifth inning to put runners on first and third with no outs. McKay was able to strike out Keon Broxton and Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson did foul off four two strike pitches before swinging and missing at a 95 mile per hour fastball. Richie Martin grounded out to second to end the inning. So either the ineptness of the Orioles bats prevented them from driving in the run or the quality of McKay’s pitches were too much for the Orioles to handle. In three starts Brendan lowered his ERA to 1.69. But the three hitters he faced had a combined average of less than .200.

The Orioles started Aaron Brooks, his first in an Oriole uniform. He was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in early July. He did not allow a hit in his 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a big fly to the warning track to Joey Wendle in the third the Orioles pulled him to bring in Jimmy Yacobonis.

The Rays only got three hits all game. The first came from Mike Zunino, who powered a pitch into the left field bleachers, the first hitter Yacobonis faced in the game. Yacobonis also gave up singles to the next two batters. Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to first to end the inning. Yacobonis retired 9 of the next 10 hitters he faced, issuing a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows in the sixth.

Shawn Armstrong came on to pitch the seventh for the Orioles. He walked the only two hitters he faced. Richard Bleier came on to retire the next three hitters to bail out Armstrong. A ground ball by Zunino was bobbled a bit by Hanser Alberto, but he was able to get the throw to first in time to retire Zunino.

The Orioles were able to get two runners on in the sixth on two out back to back singles by Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino off Andrew Kittridge. Collin Poche came on to replace Kittridge and struck out Jonathan Villar to end the threat.

Poche came on to pitch the seventh. Anthony Santander tagged him for a leadoff single. With one out Stevie Wilkerson ran the count to 2-2. He again fouled off a couple two strike pitches. This time he came through with a shot into the centerfield bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Bleier walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth. This brought in Mychal Givens, who has been having trouble closing games. His last save was June 11. He retired all five hitters he faced, including getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play to pick up his seventh save.

Game Notes: It was the first game of a day/night double header. The Orioles lost the second game 12-4…Mike Zunino has a very slow bat. We were impressed how far the ball went despite his slow swing, but the ball he hit still carried over the fence. The slow bat could be responsible for him consistently hitting near the Mendoza line each year…Yacobonis has a nice fastball that hits the mid 90s. His big issue has been the homerun ball. In his last two years he has given up 15 homeruns in just 71 innings…Emilio Pagan has had an excellent rookie season. In his one inning of work he struck out two and had a pop out to the catcher, his fastball hitting 96…Pedro Severino was batting cleanup. Perhaps that was because he is hitting .316 against lefthanders. Myworld does not see that lasting…Keon Broxton struck out in all three of his at bats, dropping his average to .176. The Orioles need to find better…Anthony Santander was hitting .354 in Camden Yards…The Rays bullpen ERA of 3.65 is second best in the majors. They have only lost one lead after the sixth inning. Make that two…Bill Bundy went on the injured lost after giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Orioles also traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17 year old international prospects. That gives two other pitchers an opportunity to make the starting rotation.

Robot Umpires Make Their Debut

July 13th, 2019

The independent Atlantic League used technology in their All Star game to call balls and strikes. A real umpire actually stood behind the plate with an ear piece connected to an Iphone in his pocket and made the call after it was received from Trackman that relied on Doppler radar. It all sounds a bit complicated for one call.

The technology is not perfect as the home plate umpire can still over rule calls, or must be prepared to make a call if the Doppler radar goes down and a call is not made. Balls that bounce in front of the plate and cross the plate high enough in the strike zone could be called strikes and the human umpire can over turn those calls. Check swings can not be detected by the technology so humans are needed for that. If a pitch sails a foot outside the Trackman may not detect the pitch and the human umpire needs to call it.

There were some delays in calls. Some pitchers thought the Trackman called a higher strike, which they claim human umpires never call. The experiment was originally supposed to be used at the start of the season but some technical glitches had to be resolved. Now that it has been brought out in the All Star game the second half will use the robotic strike call until the end of the season.

There is no time table for when the major leagues will use the technology. A lot will depend on the success or failure of the robotic calls in the Atlantic League.

KBO All stars

July 13th, 2019

Offense is down in the KBO because of a switch to a slightly larger ball. The SK Wyverns are in first place at this point, six games ahead of the Doosan Bears. The team with the largest salary in the KBO, the Lotte Giants are in last place, eleven games behind the last wild card spot. The All Star teams are broken into Divisions named the Dream Team and the Nanum team with the players in bold the starters. The Dream team may have the advantage since they have All Stars from the Bears and Wyverns, the top two teams in the KBO. Below are the All Stars from each team.

Dream Team

Pitchers - Kim Kwang-Hyun (Wyverns/2.66 ERA), Kim Tae-Hoon (Wyverns/3.43 ERA), Ha Jae-Hoon (Wyverns/1.13 ERA), Raul Alcantara (Wiz/4.02), Rhee Dae-Eun (Wiz/4.37), Jung Sung-Gon (Wiz/4.46), Josh Lindblom (Bears/2.02 ERA), Lee Young-Ha (Bears/3.92 ERA), Jang Shi-Hwan (Giants/5.57 ERA)

Catchers - Kang Min-Ho (Lions/.223 ave., 11 HRS), Na Jong-Deok (Giants/.162 average), Park Se-Hyuk (Bears/.268),

Infielders - Jamie Romak 1B (Wyverns/.272 ave., 20 HRS), Kim Sang-Soo 2B (Lions/.288 ave., 5 HRA), Choi Jeong 3B (Wyverns/.291 ave., 20 HRs), Kim Jae-Ho SS (Bears/.298 ave., 2 HRS), Ryu Ji-Hyuk (Bears/.246 ave), Lee Hak-Ju (Lions/.273 ave., 6 HRS)

Outfielders - Koo Ja-Wook (Lions/.282 ave. 11 HRS), Ko Jong-Wook (Wyverns/.331 ave, 2 HRs), Kang Baek-Ho (Wiz/.339 ave., 8 HRs), Kim Kang-Min (Wyverns/.282 ave., 5 HRS), Min Byung-Heon (Giants/.337 ave., 5 HRS)

Designated Hitter - Jose Miguel Fernandez (Bears/.338 ave., 12 HRs)

Nanum Team

Pitchers - Tyler Wilson (Twins/2.55 ERA), Jung Woo-Young (Twins/2.81 ERA), Ko Woo-Seok (Twins/1.62 ERA), Kim Kang-Soo (Heroes/2.80 ERA), Eric Jokisch (Heroes/3.09), Moon Kyung-Chan (Tigers/1.57 ERA), Ha Joon-Young (Tigers/4.11), Drew Rucinski (Dinos/2.58 ERA), Won Jong-Hyun (Dinos/3.20 ERA)

Catchers - Yang Eui-Ji (Dinos/.356 ave., 13 HRs), Choi Jae-Hoon (Eagles/.295 average), Yoo Kang-Nam (Twins/.266 ave., 10 HRs)

Infielders - Park Byung-Ho 1B (Heroes/.277 ave., 17 HRs), Park Min-Woo 2B (Dinos/.336 average), Kim Min-Sung 3B(Twins/.251 ave., 4 HRs), Kim Ha-Sung SS (Heroes/.316 ave., 14 HRs), Jung Eun-Won (Eagles/.283 ave., 5 HRs), Park Chan-Ho (Tigers/.290 average)

Outfielders - Kim Hyun-Soo (Twins/.307 ave., 5 HRs), Lee Cheon-Woong (Twins/.311 average), Lee Jung-Hoo (Heroes/.329 ave., 5 HRs), Jerry Sands (Heroes/.319 ave., 18 HRs), Jared Hoying (Eagles/.295 ave., 15 HRs)

Designated Hitter - Lee Hyung-Jong (Twins/.280 ave., 8 HRs)

Top Venezuelan Prospects in the American League

July 12th, 2019

It is pretty clear that the Dominicans have the top prospects in baseball. Cuba is a distant second. The prospect wave from Venezuela has gotten smaller because of the humanitarian crisis there, but there are still enough players filtering out of the country to break it down into the two leagues, American and National. This list was put together before the season started so we are not influenced by their numbers this season. Six of the ten players in the American League are pitchers, something you would not see from the Dominican Republic, where they like to hit themselves off the island.

The players who graduated from the list created last year are Gleybor Torres, who was number one and Franklin Barreto who was number three. Barreto has not really won a full time job with the Athletics yet but is getting another opportunity to play with the major league club. A number of players dropped off the list as new players earned a spot to the higher rankings

1. Brusdar Graterol RHP (Twins) - Last year he missed making the top five. This year he is the best Venezuelan prospect in the American League. At 6′1″ he is not a big guy but his fastball sits at the lower end of the high 90s. He has two breaking pitches with the slider the most effective of the two. His change still needs some work. If he can improve his command and does not face durability issues he will fit in the starting rotation. If the change never develops or he has trouble staying healthy to stick in the rotation he could be used as a closer. This year he is limiting the opposition to a .188 average in AA. Last year he had success at the two A levels. His strikeout numbers are not impressive but he does get a lot of ground ball outs. Expect to see him in a Twins uniform before the season is done. He did miss the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch more than 102 innings in a season.

2. Franklin Perez RHP (Tigers) - Franklin was signed by the Astros in 2014 for $1 million. The Astros traded him to the Tigers as the primary player in the Justin Verlander trade. Since arriving with the Tigers Franklin has had trouble staying healthy. The pitches are there with a fastball reaching the mid-90s, two above average breaking pitches and a change that is good. Last year he only pitched 19 innings because of a lat strain and shoulder issues that cropped up after his return from the lat strain. This year he has gotten two starts and has thrown less than 10 innings. At one time he was the top pitching prospect with the Tigers, but Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are all surpassing him. Perez still has the nastier stuff, but you have to pitch on the mound in order to show that stuff.

3. Jose Suarez LHP (Angels) - The Angels always seem to be short of pitchers. At 5′10 and 225 pounds Jose would not give one an impression that he is a pitcher if you saw him at the grocery store. The left handed arm does not throw an overpowering fastball, usually sitting in the low 90s. His ability to control the fastball and mix in an excellent change up makes his fastball play better. His breakout season came in 2018 when he went from High A to 17 starts in AAA, which rose him into the top ten on this list all the way to number three. Success followed him in 2019 (3.18 ERA) which led to a promotion to the major leagues. There his lack of stuff proved less mysterious to major league hitters who spanked him at a .273 clip, while the minor league bats could only hit .200. If you are looking for a number five pitcher for your rotation Jose could be your man. If you want better pass him by.

4. Kevin Maitan 3B (Angels) - Kevin was once considered a superstar when he first signed with the Braves for $4.25 million. He was allowed to leave as a free agent because the Braves were involved in illegal international signing discretions. Once he was declared a free agent the Angels swooped in and signed him for $2.2 million. His superstar status has now slipped and now there are questions of whether the bat will play for him to reach the major leagues. His lack of range forced a move from shortstop to third base. The bat carries enough power to play third base, but the swings and misses and soft average (.214) does not allow that power to show up with much frequency. He still is only 19 years old but Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres were in AAA at 20 years of age and Maitan is still swinging and missing in A ball. This needs to be his break out season if he wants to make a similar jump.

5. Luis Oviedo RHP (Indians) - Luis signed for a generous $375,000 in 2015. He has a good pitcher’s frame (6′4″) and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. That will keep him on prospect lists. His secondary pitchers are good enough to keep him in the rotation and he throws strikes. If he can improve one of his breaking pitches and the change he could climb from a back or mid rotation starter to a number two starter. He has yet to throw more than 63 innings in a season but last year was his most successful one. He did get two starts in Low A and walked seven in just nine innings. This year he has already reached 83 innings in Low A with numbers that are not impressive (5.40 ERA, .244 average) but he is getting the work in. Don’t expect him to rise too quickly. He needs to find consistent success at the lower levels before they consider him for the majors.

6. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox) - Darwinzon is another big guy at 6′2″ and 245 pounds who must watch his conditioning if he hopes to continue his career playing baseball. Back in 2013 the Red Sox signed him for just $7,500. As the years passed his fastball was hitting the high 90s and the swings and misses were becoming more prevalent, putting him on the prospect radar. He has the breaking pitches and the change to make it in the starting rotation. What he lacks is the ability to throw the ball across the plate or hit his spots in the strike zone. That is one reason he might be best used in the bullpen. Despite his lack of success in the minor leagues this year (5.04) the Red Sox promoted him to the major leagues where he had one start and one appearance in relief. Finding the strike zone was still a challenge with six walks in just 5.1 innings resulted in an ugly 5.06 ERA. The Red Sox bullpen is a little erratic so he may be called up again to help out in the pen if he can show strike one is not a difficult pitch to make.

7. Luis Rengifo 2B/SS (Angels) - The Mariners signed Rengifo for $360,000. He was traded to the Rays where the Angels acquired him just before spring training 2018 for C.J. Cron. With the Angels he climbed up their minor league system hitting over .300 in High A and AA putting him in AAA where he hit .276. Luis does not offer a lot of power but he makes contact with a 75/75 walk to whiff ratio in the minor leagues last year. Luis does not have great speed but it was good enough to swipe 41 bases last year. After hitting .273 this year in AAA the Angels had a need for a middle infielder. With the Angels he has played most of his games at second base with the remaining games at shortstop. Luis is best used as a utility infielder. The tools are a little light to be a starter.

8. Luis Arraez 2B (Twins) - Base hits seem to come easy for this Luis. He lacks power and the speed is below average but his hits seem to find the grass. His career minor league average entering the 2019 season was .329 with a 98/114 walk to whiff ratio. Because of his lack of tools in other areas he will need to keep on finding the grass to stick in the major leagues. He missed all but three games of the 2017 season because of ACL surgery but came back last year to hit .310. This year he abused AA pitchers with a .342 average. A promotion to AAA did not phase him as he continued to hit (.348). No balls travelled over the fence in his more than 200 at bats, but it got him a promotion to the major leagues. There he hit .393 in close to 100 at bats, including two homeruns. The return of Marwin Gonzales from the disabled list and the hitting of Jonathan Schoop complicates his status as a major leaguer. But any hitter who has a .976 OPS in 100 at bats deserves a spot in the major league lineup. In the minors his walk to whiff ratio is 24/15 while with the Twins it was 10/8.

9. Bryan Mata RHP (Red Sox) - The Red Sox found another bargain when they signed Bryan for $25,000. At 6′3″ he has a nice pitcher’s frame. Adding some weight could put some more mustard on his low 90s fastball, allowing it to sit consistently in the mid-90s. Last year finding the strike zone was a bit of a challenge with 58 walks in just 72 innings at High A. He doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses but he limited the opposition to a .229 average. This year the Red Sox started him in High A where he seemed to locate the strike zone for just 18 walks in 51 innings and a 1.75 ERA. He was rewarded with a promotion to AA where in two starts the strike zone has gotten a little more elusive. If Bryan can locate the strike zone again the Red Sox could promote him this year to help in the bullpen. If not, you could see him late in 2020.

10. Everson Pereira OF (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Everson for $1.5 million in 2017. There is the potential for a borderline five tool player here. The arm rates as average but all the other tools are impressive. Last year the Yankees brought him up to rookie ball where as a 17 year old he was able to hit .263. There were a lot of strikeouts in his game (60 whiffs in 41 games) but the potential is there. This year he is playing in the New York Penn League, hitting .171 with a .257 slugging percentage. It will be a struggle early in his career but the Yankees have plenty of outfield talent to wait for him. Don’t expect to see Pereira in a Yankee uniform until September 2021 at the earliest.