Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Dodgers Continue to Build Through Prospects

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

The Dodgers have won the National League West the last six years. They must be doing something right, though they have not won a World Series since 1988. In 2016 myworld rated them as having the second best prospect class with Corey Seager, Julio Urias, Jose Deleon and Grant Holmes. The last two years myworld has put them in the ninth spot. Last year the Dodgers who made Top 100 lists included Walker Bueler, Alex Verdugo, Yadier Alvarez, Keibert Ruiz, Yusniel Diaz, Jeren Kendall, Mitchel White, Starling Heredia and Edwin Rios. That is almost a starting lineup with a couple starting pitchers.

Myworld would probably rate Keibert Ruiz as their top prospect this year. Catchers who can provide some offense are not easy to find. He can also hit from both sides of the plate. His defense is solid, his arm is strong and the intangibles appear to be there. A 26 percent success rate on the caught stealing front is evidence of an average arm. His bat has the potential to hit for double digits in homeruns while hitting for a relatively high average. He will not be an automatic out as it appears most catchers are nowadays. Last year he played in AA so expect a full year in AAA with a possible September callup.

Gavin Lux would rate next on the list, and this is a bit of a surprise. The 2016 first round pick appeared to be somewhat of a bust after hitting just .244 in 2017 with issues throwing the ball accurately. His errors at shortstop were still pretty prevalent last year, but with Corey Seager planted at short the best position for Gavin may be second. His bat showed a little more life last year with a .324 average and 15 homeruns between High A and AA. Another full season in AA and he could be ready for the Dodgers by 2020.

Jeter Downs could be a steal from the Reds. Named after Derek Jeter, the Dodgers acquired him by saying goodbye to Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in a trade with the Reds. Jeter still has some progressing to go, but plays the same position as Gavin, so where he fits is a question mark. He did hit for marginal power (13 homeruns and .402 slugging) in Low A and showed good speed with 37 stolen bases. His range and arm probably fit best at second base, but if his bat plays he could cut it in a super utility role.

Edwin Rios strikes out too much and is pretty stiff to stay at third base. First base may even be a challenge. His speed is non-existent so playing the outfield is not in the cards. What Edwin has is the ability to hit the ball hard when his bat makes contact. A 23/110 walk to whiff ratio is a red flag but he did hit .304 in AAA. The best thing the Dodgers could do for him is to trade him to an American League club where he could play DH.

Will Smith is another possible catcher for the Dodgers. He was also a first round pick in the 2016 draft. His bat may not be as consistent as Ruiz, but the pop is there, enough so that the Dodgers used him for 43 games at third base. There was a bit of a struggle in AA where he finished with 9 errors and an .880 fielding percentage. The bat is powerful enough to slug 20 homeruns between AA and AAA. The tools are there for him to catch, with an above average arm and soft hands. A .138 average at AAA means he has more seasoning to do at that level before he suits up in a Dodgers uniform.

In the outfield myworld is not as high on Alex Verdugo as many are. We think he will end up being a fourth outfielder. His bat does not seem to hit for the big time power that teams look for in their corner outfielders. Last year he did hit .329 in AAA but against major league pitchers it dropped to .260. The one big criticism with him is his lack of fire to want to be the best. He seems content on being average.

An outfielder who has power is D.J. Peters. His big issue may be an inability to make contact. Last year he struck out 192 times in 132 games. He did slug 29 homeruns, good for a .473 slugging average. At 6′6″ there is that Aaron Judge comparison, but his defense is not as strong. The arm exists to play right field. If Verdugo does not pan out Peters is ready for 2019. Don’t expect an average over .250 but 40 homerun seasons could be possible. He will see most of next year in AAA and the question is whether Steven Moya or Aaron Judge are the best comparisons.

Jeren Kendall is the antithesis of Peters. The 2017 first round pick is packed full of speed, but is not a punch and judy hitter. He had enough pop to blast double digit homerun totals. The speed will allow him to fit in centerfield and steal 40 plus bases. Like Peters he has trouble making contact with 158 whiffs in 114 games resulting in a disappointing .215 average. Despite the low average the Dodgers will probably promote him to AA.

Starling Heredia is a potential power/speed package that was signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. After hitting over .400 at two different rookie levels in 2017 in 110 at bats, Starling could not find himself over .200 in 203 at bats at Low A last year. The 2019 season will be a pivotal year for Starling.

The Dodgers always seem to develop ace pitchers. Last year it was Walker Buehler. This year look for Dustin May and his mid-90s fastball. At 6′6″ he has good height, which is usually a problem for finding the plate. Dustin has no problem throwing strikes. He needs to develop a little more consistency with his curve, cutter and change, but the requisite pitches are there for him to fit in the rotation. Another half season in AA could make him ready for the Dodgers rotation in 2019 if he achieves success in AA/AAA.

Mitchel White was a second round pick in the 2016 draft who also has good height (6′4″) and a good mid-90s fastball. His best pitch may be his slider. A lack of command made him a bit hittable in AA with hitters tagging him for a .273 average. He has had Tommy John surgery right before competing for college and a myriad of injuries have limited him to less than 100 innings, except for last year when he logged in 105.

Dennis Santana is a converted shortstop and a bargain signing ($170,000) out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. As a shortstop he had a good arm, but after he showed his bat was lacking after his first year the Dodgers converted him to the mound. His fastball can rise north of the mid-90s but his poor secondary stuff could make him fit best in the bullpen. Last year hitters struggled making contact off him, hitting him at a .183 clip. He did get one poor appearance (12.27 ERA) in the major leagues but he hopes for more in 2019. Expect the Dodgers to find some room for him in the bullpen by mid-season next year.

Yadier Alvarez is a Cuban who the Dodgers spent $16 million to sign. They have not had much success with their Cuban mega signings. Yadier has a lot of flash with his fastball reaching triple digits. His biggest problem is finding the plate with 43 walks in 48 innings last year in AA. He has a good slider, which when combined with his fastball could make him a good closer. The lack of a third pitch will make it difficult for him to make it as a starter unless he can find the plate more. The Dodgers will probably put him in the bullpen in AA for 2019.

Top Dominican Prospects National League

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The National League list is pretty similar to the list from last year. Only Juan Soto graduated to the major leagues. The last three players from the top ten dropped out, though Jorge Guzman was close. Adbert Alzolay was limited by arm injuries and Jhailyn Ortiz struggled to make contact. That left room for four new additions.

1. Fernando Tatis SS (Padres) - He replaced Victor Robles, who appeared atop this list last year. Tatis showed the tools he could play shortstop defensively with a strong arm and good range. He needs to show a little more consistency with his fielding, committing 12 errors in 83 games at shortstop. His bat should be productive, with the power to hit 20 plus homeruns. While he hit .288 in AA he needs to make better contact (109 whiffs in 88 games) if he hopes to hit for average in the major leagues. A broken left thumb in late July ended his season early, limiting him to 88 games. Expect him to make his major league debut by mid-season next year. He should make a bigger impact in the major leagues than his father, Fernando Sr.

2. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - If not for an elbow injury early in the season he may not have been on this list. When the Nationals were short of outfielders he was on the disabled list. Juan Soto was called up and Robles lost out on an opportunity. Victor got a major league opportunity later in the year and acquitted himself well, hitting .288 with three homeruns for a .525 slugging average. The five tool player has not shown the power yet in the minor leagues but it should arrive making him a 30/30 player. His routes in center need work but his speed makes up for mistakes. His arm is also super sonic. Expect him to be the Nationals centerfielder breaking camp.

3. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to acquire J.T. Realmuto. Jorge Guzman can still hit triple digits more consistently than Sixto, but Sixto has a lot more command of where his fastball is crossing the plate. Myworld would expect more K’s with his velocity, striking out just 45 in 46.2 innings. A little more improvement with his secondary pitches (curve and change) would make him an ace in the rotation. The one area of concern is his small 6′0″ stature, but he has a strong build. Elbow issues limited him to just 8 starts last year. The Marlins will probable have him start in High A to test his arm health and promote him to AA by mid-season where he will join Guzman to make for an electrifying rotation.

4. Francisco Mejia C (Padres) - Last year Mejia was on the American League list. Few catchers have a stronger arm. His other defensive tools have been holding him back. Balls have a tendency to visit the back stop when Mejia is behind the plate. Last year the Indians put him in the outfield where his lack of speed makes him a defensive liability. Because his bat is so potent, with the ability to hit for average and power, the Padres may not have the patience to wait for Mejia to develop his defensive tools behind the plate. Last year they used him extensively behind the plate, but they have one of the better defensive catchers, Austin Hedges starting for the major league club.

5. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - His time will come. His major league debut was supposed to have occurred three years ago. Suspensions and injuries have prevented him from seeing significant major league time. With his lack of innings the Cardinals may use him out of the bullpen this year to prevent his arm from eating up too many innings. He did have a fastball that sat in the upper 90s. Whether that can continue over sustained time after Tommy John surgery is open to question. He does have three pitches to be an effective starter, but command of those pitches has always been a challenge. Expect him to be used by the Cardinals out of the bullpen to start the season. By the end of the season if the Cardinals need a starter they may ease him in.

6. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - The Phillies would have preferred to make Medina the pitcher sent to the Marlins in the Realmuto trade. Medina does not throw as hard as Sixto Sanchez, but he can get it up to the mid-90s, sitting comfortably at the higher ends of the low 90s. His command is better than Sanchez, with a slider/change combination to complement his fastball. A .245 opposition average was a little more than what the Phillies would have liked for a pitcher with his explosive stuff. He will start next year in AA and could get a glimpse of the major leagues before the season ends.

7. Christian Pache OF (Braves) - Christian is a potential gold glove centerfielder. Currently Ender Inciarte blocks his major league path but a couple years of minor league seasoning will prepare him best. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in centerfield, but it is absent for stealing bases (7). There is some raw power in his bat, but that has yet to really show itself in games. Last year he slugged 8 homeruns in the Florida State League for a .431 slugging percentage. Taking a few more walks would enhance his offensive game, making him a top of the lineup hitter.

8. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - Trea Turner blocks his path at shortstop. The tools are there for him to play the position with a strong arm and good range. Last year he reached High A so the Nationals have some time before deciding his position. A contact hitter whose power currently is limited to the gaps. As he matures more power could come. He seemed to handle High A pretty well last year in a 49 game performance so the Nationals could bump him to AA where he would be one of the youngest players.

9. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy has a wicked fastball that can hit the mid-90s. He made his Marlins major league debut with six effective starts, limiting the major leaguers to a .214 average. The Marlins acquired him from the Cardinals for Marcell Ozuna. The secondary pitches are there to make him a starter. The command of those pitches still need work. That may explain his low strikeout to innings pitch ratio (96 whiffs in 127 innings). With the Marlins he walked 23 hitters in just 34 innings. A good spring could have him make the Marlins starting rotation out of spring training.

10. O’Neil Cruz SS/OF (Pirates) - At 6′6″ he could become the tallest shortstop in the major leagues. Many feel that because of that height he could move to the outfield or first base. The bat will play anywhere. That height packages big time power, with the potential for over 30 plus homeruns per year once he fills out. If shortstop does not work out he carries an arm suitable for right field. Last year he played 103 games at Low A. Expect him to start the season at High A

Astros Have too Much Fuel to Tank

Friday, February 15th, 2019

The Astros brought tanking into vogue, building a roster set to lose 100 games per season to achieve a high draft pick the next season. That strategy could become a problem for baseball as now half the teams in the major leagues would prefer to tank rather than play to mediocrity. Cities left with teams tanking will see a decline in attendance and at some point major league baseball will have to establish a policy to discourage tanking. But the Astros would not be the team they are now without tanking.

The highest prospect rating the Astros got was in 2014 when they finished second to the Cubs, who also defined tanking. The players who appeared on the Top 100 that year were Carlos Correa, George Springer, Mark Appel, Jonathan Singleton, Mike Foltynewicz, Lance McCullers and Delino Deshields. Last year they were rated tenth. The following players from last year who appeared in the Top 100 rankings are Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitely, Yordan Alvarez and J.B. Bukauskas.

The biggest star prospect this year is Kyle Tucker, who is appearing on a number of lists as a Top five prospect. His brother Preston Tucker played for the Astros. The two are built very differently. Preston is shorter with Popeye forearms. Kyle is taller and leaner and carries all the tools needed to be a star. Preston has the tools to be a journeyman or fourth outfielder in the major leagues. Kyle has the power to hit 30 plus homeruns per year (24 last year) with the speed to steal 20 plus bases and play centerfield. With a strong arm right field will be his ultimate position as his speed is just marginal to be a standout centerfielder. The 2015 first round pick struggled with his opportunity in the major leagues last year (.141 batting average) but the Astros have an opening in the outfield that he could win with a good spring. The tools are there for him to be another impact player for the Astros in 2019.

The Astros acquired Yordan Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields during their tanking period. While he plays left field his best use may be as a firstbaseman or designated hitter. His speed and arm are not great for outfield play. What the Cuban has that all teams look for is a potent bat that will make an offensive difference in a lineup. The bat can hit for big time power (.615 slugging in AA) and average (.325). At 6′5″ he has that typical build teams look for in a corner outfielder but without the defensive skills. A promotion to AAA brought a little struggle (.259 average and .452 slugging) so expect him to see significant time in AAA before finding the Astros roster.

Myles Straw could be that diamond in the rough that was drafted late (12th round 2015) but could bring huge rewards. His greatest tool is his speed which allows him to play a gold glove centerfield. What he lacks is power and the ability to punish the ball. Teams can play him shallow. Last year just 24 of his 150 hits went for extra bases resulting in a slugging average of .353, .317 in AAA. What he does have is speed, which led to 70 stolen bases and the ability to get on base (.291 average and .381 OBA). Those results gave him a cup of coffee in the major leagues last year. Myles would like to increase that major league time next year.

The Astros are not so strong in the infield. They have 2018 number one pick Seth Beer to play first base. Designated hitter is his best position, though the Astros could use him at first base. His lack of speed and weak arm leave no other position alternatives. Drafted out of college, if his bat works he should rise quickly. Last year he reached High A hitting .304 with a .496 slugging average through three levels.

With Carlos Correa at shortstop the best Freudis Nova can hope for is a spot as a utility player. Fortunately for the Astros he is only 19 and they can be very patient with him. He has all the tools to stick at short with a good arm and range but may have to move to second or third if Correa is still with the Astros when Nova has shown he has the bat to play in the major leagues. Last year in rookie ball he hit .308 with a .466 slugging average. Plate discipline could be an issue with his 6/21 walk to whiff ratio.

On the pitching front Forrest Whitely is listed in the top ten on most prospect ranking sheets. At 6′7″ with mid-90s heat and a hard breaking curve he can be an intimidating force on the mound. Last year he was issued a 50 game suspension for violating major league baseball’s drug policy so that hindered his development and limited him to just eight starts. The 2016 first round pick was dominant in those starts with a .160 opposition average. Too many walks hurt him (11 in 26 innings) leaving him with a rather lofty 3.76 ERA. If he can stay drug free he should see the Astros rotation sometime next year.

Cionel Perez is the typical Cuban lefty who throws an arsenal of pitches from multiple arm angles. His fastball also carries some pop, sitting in the low 90s but occasionally hitting the mid-90s. The Astros used him for 8 games in relief last year and that will be his ultimate role when he reaches the major leagues. He could be an emergency starter if the need exists, but retiring lefthanded hitters will be his ultimate role.

Corbin Martin has gotten some publicity for his fastball hitting triple digits. He might be most noted for being the second round pick the Astros received from the Cardinals for hacking their system. The curveball, slider and change are there for him to be a starter, including a fastball that clicks the radar guns consistently in the mid-90s. He also shows excellent command of his pitches. Last year he pitched in AA (2.97 ERA). Expect him to start the 2019 season in AAA and stay there until needed for the rotation.

Josh James has good size (6′3″) to fit in the rotation. A 34th pick in the 2014 draft, signed for $15,000,he could be the biggest bargain in the Astros farm system. He did not really distinguish himself until last season when he produced a 3.23 ERA and limited the opposition to a .191 batting average, striking out 171 hitters in just 114 innings. This got him a promotion to the major leagues where his success continued. His fastball hitting the mid-90s was his biggest pitch. There are still command issues so if he struggles next year the bullpen is always an option.

J.B. Bakauskas was the Astros first round pick in 2017. His small stature (6′0″) leave many thinking the pen is his best option. A mid-90s fastball and solid slider see the possibility of a starting pitcher. Last year he pitched at five different levels finishing with a 2.14 ERA and .199 opposition average. He struck out 71 hitters in 59 innings. He was limited to just 14 starts because of a back injury delaying his season by three months. Next year he should have an opportunity to pitch a full season to address any durability concerns. Reaching AAA should be his goal.

Cardinals Looking for Playoffs in 2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

The acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt is proof of that. In the 21st century the Cardinals have had only one losing season, but it has been four years since they last made the playoffs. If they are in the hunt for 2019 expect them to trade prospects for veteran players that will get them to the playoffs. They fell just outside the top ten last year so they have some prospects to trade. In 2013 they were top of the class with Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Kolton Wong, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Last year their top ten included Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader. Carson was traded to acquire Goldschmidt while O’Neil and Bader combined for 21 homeruns in the outfield and Flaherty picked up eight wins.

The player they keep waiting for is Alex Reyes. He was supposed to be in the Cardinals rotation three years ago, a year or two before Carlos Martinez. Injuries and drug suspensions have only given fans a glimpse of his prowess. The durability issues will probably restrict Alex to a bullpen role in 2019. Whether they consider expanding him to the starting rotation is probably far into the future and will depend on how his arm holds up. He can hit triple digits with his fastball and it comes with greater velocity in shorter spurts. He does have a quality curveball and change, giving him three pitches to start, but his command is still inconsistent and the long term health of the arm is still in question. Expect him to start the season in the minors and if his health holds up he should be in the Cardinals bullpen by mid-season.

Dakota Hudson saw some time in the Cardinals pen last year. He started 19 games in AAA. He will start the 2019 season in the pen and be insurance in case an injury happens to a starting pitcher. Hudson does not have overpowering stuff but has two quality breaking pitches to complement his heat. Last year he had a 18/19 walk to whiff ratio in 27 innings. That needs to improve if he wants continued success in the major leagues. His breaking stuff does induce ground balls so double plays get him out of tough spots.

Genesis Cabrera had an eye opening winter season. The lefty could provide an alternative approach to recently signed free agent Andrew Miller out of the bullpen. Last year he started 25 games with lefthanded hitters barely above the Mendoza line hitting against him. The Cardinals may promote him to AAA to start or they could insert him into the major league bullpen with a good spring. His fastball can reach the mid-90s and he locates his pitches well. Expect him to start the season in AAA in 2019 but he could be promoted quickly if the Cardinals have another need for a lefthanded arm in the bullpen.

The Cardinals always find a player who comes from nowhere to throw triple digits. Jordan Hicks came up last year. The 2019 version could be Junior Fernandez. His control is poor and his secondary pitches are not challenging, but he does throw heat. The strikeouts are not as prevalent as one would expect from one who throws so hard but he is only 21 years of age. The improvement of a second pitch or the development of another pitch could make him a break out star.

Daniel Poncedeleon gives one thoughts of the Fountain of Youth. The fact he made his major league debut last year after being beaned in the head in 2017 and having brain surgery is a miracle in itself. His stuff is more as a back end of the rotation starter. The fastball hits the mid-90s but the secondary pitches are very average. Last year he got four starts and seven relief appearances, finishing with a 2.73 ERA. In AAA the opposition hit him at a .197 clip and major leaguers also struggled batting .205. He will probably start the season in AAA but a good spring could force the issue.

On the position front third base looks solid. Nolan Gorman was their first round pick in 2018. He showed some pretty impressive power with 17 homeruns in just .237 at bats. There was a bit of a struggle after he was promoted from rookie league ball to Low A with his batting average dropping from .350 to .202. Defensively he was solid at third base. If he can stick there he could be an impact player at the position.

Elehuris Montero may not have the raw power of Gorman but his bat does carry some juice. Last year he slugged .504 with 16 homeruns sharing his time at Low and High A. At 6′3″ he may outgrow third base and his speed does not make the outfield a viable alternative. His bat will play at first but one of his best attributes is a strong arm, which would be wasted at that position. Next year he could start his season in the Florida State league with a quick promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

Delvin Perez was supposed to be the next Carlos Correa coming out of Puerto Rico. The Cardinals used a first round pick for him in 2016. His draft attractiveness dropped after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. His bat has been a big disappointment as well. In his third season he hit his first homerun but he finished with a slugging average of just .272. The defensive tools are there for him to stick at shortstop but he won’t get there if he doesn’t get the batting average farther north of the Mendoza line.

Max Schrock has bounced around with three teams. Originally drafted by the Nationals he has been traded to the Athletics and to the Cardinals. The bat sprays line drives to the gap but his lack of power and below average speed leaves him a bit one dimensional. He needs to hit .324 like he did in 2017 and not .249 as he did last year. The bat makes solid contact.

The Cardinals continue to be loaded in the outfield. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Cuban prospect Randy Arozarena. Last year his Cuban compatriot Ramon Laureano was a low level prospect for the Athletics before making a splash with them by mid-season. Randy hopes to plagiarize that story line. The bat may be a little short on power to profile well in a corner spot, but the speed exists for him to defend centerfield well. He will need injuries to decimate the Cardinal outfield to get a chance next year, but if he opens AAA hitting .396 as he did last year in AA the Cardinals will make room for his bat.

Jonatan Machado is another Cuban toiling at the lower levels of the minor leagues. His power and arm will not impress major league scouts but his speed carries a wow factor. He needs to gain strength to be able to find the gaps. Last year 16 of his 75 hits went for extra bases for a slugging average of just .291. His smallish 5′9″ frame is not a good predictor of future power to come.

Jose Adolis Garcia is a third Cuban outfielder to watch in the Cardinals system. He is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia but stands a few inches taller than him. He won the MVP in the Cuban professional league and departed for the major leagues after that. Last year he made his major league debut, hitting just .118 in 17 at bats after hitting .256 with 22 homeruns in AAA. His arm is above average making him an ideal rightfielder, something the Cardinals have in a surplus.

Andrew Knizner was a reason for the Cardinals to trade Carson Kelly. Knizner will not match the defensive tools of Kelly but at least his bat is expected to provide production. Last year he hit .313. The power was absent and at 24 years of age you have to wonder if it can develop. Defensively his arm is accurate and can stymie a running game. Andrew is a battler behind the plate.

Athletics Future Looks Bright

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The last time the Athletics appeared in a World Series was in 1990. A year prior they won the World Series. In the American League only the Orioles (1983) and the Mariners (never) have a longer drought. Yet if you look at their young roster and the players in the farm system the future looks bright.

In 2015 the Athletics had the worst farm system in baseball. That has changed over the years, rising up to 12th last year. Players who made top 100 prospect lists last year include A.J. Puk, Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielen.

When the Athletics made the playoffs they usually did it with pitching. They have a pretty good one/two punch in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Luzardo was acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trades. The Nationals had drafted Luzardo in the third round despite having undergone Tommy John surgery. Jesus has blossomed with the Athletics with three top of the line pitches, a low 90s fastball that can ride the plate in the mid-90s, an excellent change and a knee buckling curve. After dominating in A ball (1.23 ERA) and AA (2.29 ERA) he had a little blip in AAA (7.31). He strikes out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a batting average south of .200 at High A and AA. Expect him to repeat in AAA to stall his service time and gain confidence in retiring higher level hitters.

A.J. Puk was poised to join the rotation last year until an elbow injury resulted in Tommy John surgery prior to the close of spring training. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 out of Florida. At 6′7″ the lefty has an intimidating presence on the mound with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can hit the high 90s. Not surprising that with his long limbs he has had issues finding the plate. His slider is a good secondary pitch but he lacks a quality third offering. This could result in a move to the bullpen, but with a quality arm like Puk that is a last resort. The 2019 season should be a rehab season as the Athletics monitor his innings. At best he could see a September callup.

The Yankees gave up on their 2015 first round pick James Kaprialian, trading him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Since being drafted in 2015 James has only pitched 29 innings, missing the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to his surgery his fastball had been clocked in the high 90s. Whether he can continue that post surgery is open to question. Good secondary offerings could have him slip in the middle of the rotation. Expect the 2019 season to be a rebuilding year and an attempt by the Athletics to give Kaprialian some innings.

Grant Holmes is another first round pick (2014) the Athletics have taken a chance on. He did not do much for the Dodgers after being a first round pick and they included him in a trade with other prospects for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. The stuff is there with a mid-90s fastball and curveball and change mix. The control can be a little spotty with walk rates near one for every two innings. Last year shoulder problems limited him to two starts. At 23 years of age entering the 2019 season the time is soon for Holmes if he wants to make a career in the major leagues.

On the offensive side there is concern they will not be able to keep Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Murray. Football has prevented him from developing his baseball tools. His speed is lightening quick, enabling him to play centerfield. The bat also shows potential for raw power, giving him an opportunity to be a rare five tool player. Despite being a quarterback his arm is not that strong, so if centerfield does not work out there is always a spot in left field. Myworld predicts the Athletics will lose Murray to the bright lights of NFL football. It is a bit more glamorous than minor league parks.

Jorge Mateo has dropped down in his prospect status but myworld still loves his tools. The Athletics just need to find a position for him, or make him a super utility player. Last year was a wasted year as he struggled at .230 but he still excited with 16 triples and 25 stolen bases. A lack of patience at the plate brings imbalance to his walk to strikeout ratio (29/139). The 2019 season could be his opportunity to make a major league roster. Jorge has sneaky power and can run with the wind.

Lazaro Armenteros was the next wave of Cuban superstar prospects. With a little more exposure some of his flaws were made more apparent. A weak arm could restrict him to left field. There are a lot of strikeouts in his swing. With those flaws comes impressive power and blazing speed that could create havoc on the basepaths. If he can make it as a power hitting centerfielder it will be a plus for Oakland.

One of the better defensive catchers in baseball is Sean Murphy. He has an arm to discourage basestealers, handles a pitching staff well and keeps the ball from rolling to the back stop. All he needs to do is hit and he will slide into the Athletics major league lineup in 2019. Another half year in AAA would be good. Expect him to be catching for the Athletics by mid-season.

Sheldon Neuse was another player the Athletics acquired from the Nationals in the Jesus Luzardo trade. Myworld thinks his line drive swing could sit him in the .300 neighborhood. The concern is third base is his best position and he will not usurp Matt Chapman from his spot. His lack of speed makes the outfield a risk. Despite his line drive swing his 172 K’s need to be reduced. That will make hitting .300 in the major leagues difficult. Expect him to be used as trade bait for a veteran player that can help the Athletics in their playoff run.

We like the name more than the tools but Skye Bolt did mash 19 homeruns last year, rising all the way to AA. He also stole 19 bases so he was one short in both areas from being a 20/20 player. The speed is there for him to play a quality centerfield. A role as a fourth outfielder could be in the cards.

Angels Look to Restock to Keep Trout

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

The last time the Angels were near the top ten in prospects was in 2011 when Mike Trout was second on the list to Bryce Harper. They hope to find some players in the near future that can guide the Angels in the playoffs to motivate Trout to stay with them past 2021. Trout has been in the top five in MVP voting the last five years but the Angels have fallen short of the playoffs in all those years except one. Last year their 13th place finish on the prospect list was their highest since 2011 with Shoei Ohtani finishing at the top of the list and earning his ranking with his performance last year. Jo Adell, Kevin Maitan and Jahmai Jones joined Ohtani on many of these top 100 lists.

The Angels biggest strength is the outfield with Jo Adell, their first round pick in 2017 at the top of the list. He is a five tool performer who could supplant Trout in a couple years in centerfield. The expectations are he will hit for average and power with the speed to steal 20 plus bases per year. That speed will also allow him to cover centerfield and win gold gloves in the process. The arm is strong enough to move to right if Trout is not ready to move. Last year he made a 17 game debut in AA so he still has a couple years in the minors before the major league team gets to see him. In the minors he hit .290 with 20 homeruns and 15 stolen bases. Expect him to see a September callup sometime in 2019.

Brandon Marsh is another talented outfielder with an arm easily suited for right field. There is speed in his game but not at the level of Adell. At 6′4″ he has a frame that can send balls into orbit if he can extend his arms. The large frame leaves a big strike zone making Marsh prone to the whiff (158 K’s). The good news is there is enough plate discipline for him to coax 73 walks last year. Back issues limited him to just 39 games his first two years after being drafted second in 2016. Those seem to have been resolved after he played in 127 games last year.

Jahmai Jones is a third talented outfielder that the Angels moved to second base last year. The speed is there to play centerfield, but the need at second base is greater than a third outfielder. In 2017 the second round pick in 2015 hit .282 with 14 homeruns and 27 stolen bases. The change in positions seemed to have impacted his bat as he only hit .239 with 10 homeruns and 24 stolen bases. His defense still lacks fluidity but the arm is strong for turning the pivot. He just needs to improve his reads on angles but that comes with experience.

As if they did not need outfielders the Angels drafted Jordyn Adams in the first round of the 2018 draft. The tools are less exciting than Adell, Jones and Marsh, with some doubting whether he will hit for power but his speed is top notch allowing him to play wide receiver for his high school football team. That speed will cover an extensive amount of real estate in centerfield but a weak arm could move him to left, where his bat would not be as attractive.

The Angels were able to steal two international players from the Braves. Kevin Maitan was made available after the Braves were found guilty of international signing violations. At one time Kevin was considered one of the top prospects in baseball. As he has become more visible his blemishes have stood out. His stocky build will force him to a move to third where his bat will have to play. The power is there but an inability to make contact drops his average down a few points. He had a second straight season in Rookie ball where his average stayed below .250 (.248). Next year should be his first year in full season ball where his tools can be fully evaluated.

Livan Soto does not come as highly rated but his defensive tools are better for him to stick at short. A smaller frame gives his bat minimal power but he has good speed and the ability to make contact. The strength could pick up as he matures. Last year at the rookie level he slugged just .349 but his 24/24 walk to whiff ratio gave him a .385 OBA. He could also make his full season debut next year.

The Angels acquired another shortstop Luis Rengifo from the Rays last year, trading them C.J. Cron. Like Soto, the Rengifo package was supposed to carry very little power, but last year he broke out to slug .452 with seven homeruns, 30 doubles and 13 triples at three different levels. He finished his season at AAA, hitting .274 after hitting over .300 in A and AA ball. The speed is impressive resulting in 41 stolen bases. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but he also saw time at third and second making a super utility player an option for the 2019 season. Myworld also was impressed with his 75/75 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to make his debut with the Angels next year.

Matt Thaiss was drafted in the first round in 2016 as a catcher. His defense behind the plate did not stand out so the Angels moved him to first. There was some question whether his power would play there but last year he hit 16 homeruns and slugged .467. His lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield so he must continue to hit for power to justify playing him at first. The 2019 season for the Angels is crowded at first and DH so expect to see Thaiss play a full season in AAA an injury away from making his major league debut.

The pitching front is a little light. Griffin Canning may be their top prospect, reaching AAA last year. His 6′1″ frame is a bit small for a righthander but his fastball flashes across the plate in the mid 90s with a quality changeup making it appear faster. He also carries two breaking pitches (curve and slider) that also show above average potential. With the way the Angels pitching staff is always plagued by injuries expect to see Canning in the rotation by mid season 2019. Last year the opposition hit him at .170 in AA but when promoted to AAA that rose to .294. A little more seasoning in AAA would be good.

The two Joses, Soriano and Suarez are other starting rotation possibilities. Suarez throws from the left side whose best pitch is the changeup. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good command. While there is a lot of swing and miss with his stuff (142 whiffs in 117 innings) the opposition also hit him for over.280 in AA and AAA. Soriano throws righthanded and hits the mid 90s with his fastball. That big velocity also comes with less command of the plate and his 35/42 walk to whiff ratio rings up concerns. If he fails to find a third pitch he could end up in the bullpen.

The Angels closer for next season could be Ty Buttrey. The Angels acquired Ty from the Red Sox last year for Ian Kinsler and in 16 major league appearances he gave the Angels four saves. His fastball was hitting triple digits but a lack of control plagued him prior to last season. Whether he can replicate his 2018 numbers is open to question. The Red Sox with their bullpen problems felt he was expendable to fill a need at second base.

Nationals Taking Step Back in NL East

Monday, January 28th, 2019

While the Nationals continue to trade their prospects for veterans in an unsuccessful bid to advance in the playoffs the Phillies and Braves kept their young players and leap frogged over the Nationals last year. Now the Nationals have to prove the 2018 non-playoff season was not a fluke. The consistently underperforming club has only appeared in the top ten prospect lists in 2010 when they had Stephen Strasburg, Derek Norris and Chris Marrero listed. Only Strasburg has contributed to their playoff failures. Last year Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Carter Kieboom and Erick Fedde appeared on top 100 lists. Juan Soto became a breakout star, finishing second to Ronald Acuna in the 2018 Rookie of the Year race.

The Nationals still have some hope to sign Bryce Harper. If that does not come to pass they still have Victor Robles waiting in the wings. He won’t be the same hitter as Juan Soto, but he will provide far better centerfield defense than Harper. His routes to the ball need improving but his speed can make up for his mistakes. The bat should also develop enough power to turn him into a 20/20 player in homeruns and stolen bases. Last year he slugged .525 in limited major league at bats (59) which was much greater than his .370 minor league slugging production. An injured elbow limited him to 52 minor league games. If not for the injury it would have been Robles who would have been called up instead of Soto.

Carter Kieboom may be the next best prospect for the Nationals. His father played ball in the Netherlands, giving Carter enough genes to convince the Nationals to make him their first pick in 2016. He will not be able to wrestle the shortstop position away from Trea Turner so a move to second appears to be in his future. His bat will make him an offensive power with 20 plus homeruns per year. The defense will not be outstanding but he will not hurt you with the glove. Expect him to wear a Nationals uniform sometime in 2019.

That leaves Luis Garcia as a man without a position. Fortunately for the Nationals he is still a couple years from competing for a spot in the major leagues. Last year he played A ball where he combined to hit .298. The tools are there for him to stay at short with decent range and a strong arm, but playing in a super utility role in the near future is a possibility. His father played for the Tigers but Luis hopes for a more extended stay in the major leagues. His bat makes good contact but his extra bases will be more prone to hit the gaps than sail over the fences. There is enough speed in his legs for a possible move to centerfield but that is not a thought this early in his career.

On the pitching front Mason Denaburg was the Nationals first round pick in 2018. He pitched for the gold medal winning 18 and under team, which had ten players drafted in the first round. The Nationals decided to hold him out for the 2018 season. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a promising curve and change to allow him to fit in the rotation. At 6′4″ he has a solid pitcher’s frame. His 2019 season may start in extended spring training until the rookie leagues open up.

Not much positive can be said for the Nationals 2017 first round pick Seth Romero. The talent is there but the character is not. He was suspended by his college and eventually dropped from the team for rules violations. The Nationals hoped he would mature but they also had to suspend him because of rules violations. Now an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery will leave him disabled for the 2019 season. A lefthander who can tick his fastball in the mid to high 90s is a valuable commodity so the Nationals will hope his year off will lead to another year of maturity.

In a Tanner for Tanner trade the Nationals sent Tanner Rourke to the Reds for Tanner Rainey. Rainey can hit triple digits with his fastball but has no clue where the plate is. In 44 minor league appearances hitters batted just .148 against him. In 8 major league appearances they tagged him at a .406 clip where he walked 12 hitters in just seven innings. If he can harness his control he will pitch in the Nationals bullpen in 2019, but that is asking for a lot.

Austin Voth has a chance to slip into the Nationals rotation in 2019. The stuff is not overwhelming with his fastball sitting in the low 90s. He relies on his change to make the fastball appear to have more zip. At best he could fill in as a temporary number five starter, but whether he can stay in that spot for an extended period is in doubt.

Will Crowe advanced to AA last year but struggled (0-5, 6.15). His fastball has decent velocity, hitting the mid-90s with above average breaking pitches and an effective change. He did have Tommy John surgery when pitching for South Carolina so that remains a concern. He will repeat AA and hope those numbers match what he put up in A ball (11-0, 2.69).

Indians Continue to Focus on Titles

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

The Indians farm system has been just strong enough to churn out decent enough prospects that they can trade them for veterans. They were ranked by myworld at number 15 last year, right in the middle of the pack and in years past usually sit around the lower part of the top ten. The highest ranked prospects they have had are Trevor Bauer (2013) who was acquired from the Diamondbacks and appeared at number five and Francisco Lindor (2015) who appeared at number six. Both prospects have made impacts on their major league roster. Last year the only two players who appeared in Top 100 lists were Tristan McKenzie and Francisco Mejia, but both appeared high enough to elevate the Indians status in the prospect rankings. Francisco Mejia was traded mid-year to the Padres.

Myworld saw Tristan McKenzie pitch in the NY Penn League a couple years ago and were quickly mesmerized. We liked the length in his arms making it hard for hitters to pick up on the ball. His skinny frame seemed to indicate that an increase in velocity on his low 90s fastball would increase once he fills out. The fastball still sits in the low-90s but his curveball gets lots of swings and misses and his change is an effective pitch. A 6′5″ frame that is not troubled with poor command makes him a future ace in the waiting. Last year he had success in AA (2.68 ERA and .191 opposition average) so the major leagues is not far away.

Another tall drink of water at 6′6″ 2018 first round pick Ethan Hawkins. A shoulder injury impacted his draft status dropping him all the way to the last pick of the 2018 draft. The faulty shoulder limited him to three innings on two starts last year. His fastball blazes across the plate in the high 90s but his secondary pitches need some improvement before he can be considered as an ace pitcher. The 2019 season will be critical to see if he can keep his health. He pitched for the gold medal winning 18 and under USA baseball team in 2018, one of ten players on that team selected in the first round.

The big thing Sam Hentges has going for him is a fastball he can hit in the mid-90s. Another large framed pitcher (6′6″) drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft he lacks a consistent secondary offering and struggles with control. Last year he had moderate success in High A as a starter but opposing hitters tagged him at a .260 clip. The Indians will give him another year in the rotation in an attempt to master his command.

The Venezuelan Luis Oviedo owns the best fastball of all the Indians prospects. It sits in the mid-90s and can tick higher. A good changeup makes the fastball look even more imposing. Establishing a breaking pitch will cement his spot in the rotation. He limited the opposition to a .190 average last year. Next year he should begin the season in Low A.

Chih-Wei Hu has bounced around since signing with the Twins out of Taiwan in 2012. He made his major league debut with the Rays in 2017 and got another five relief appearances with the Indians last year. He is not overpowering and at 6′0″ there could be durability concerns as a starter, but his pitch mix is varied. The change and his low 89s fastball location are his two best pitches but he also carries two breaking pitches and a palmball. Major league hitters only hit him at a .149 clip in his 13 major league innings. The Indians will probably use him out of the bullpen to begin the 2019 season and fit him in the rotation when a need exists.

Noah Naylor was the Indians first round pick in 2018. He is the brother of Josh, but his ability to catch and his better physique may ultimately make him a better prospect. He still needs a lot of improvement on his defense behind the plate, but his arm is solid. His bat should show enough power to hit 20 plus homeruns and he showed some good plate discipline with 21 walks in 33 games for a .381 OBA. If catching does not happen the bat is strong enough for him to see time at first base.

It appeared Bobby Bradley continued to improve his ability to make contact, striking out just 105 times in 97 games. It did not seem to help in his batting average (.214) but he did improve to .254 when promoted to AAA. Power will be his game. He has hit 20 plus homeruns since being drafted in the third round in 2014. DH appears to be his best position and his speed limits him to one base at a time, unless he bombs a pitch over the wall. If the power does not show in abundant quantities the major leagues will not happen.

Nolan Jones still has some developing to do. The 2016 second round pick has an excellent glove for third base. An ability to take a walk put his OBA for the 2018 season at .405. That will allow him to hit for a decent average (.283) with decent power that should improve as he matures. Last year Nolan slugged 19 homeruns. If for some reason he can not play third the legs carry enough speed for him to be able to play outfield.

The Indians signed Yu-Cheng Chang out of Taiwan in 2013. In 2017 he slugged 24 homeruns to open eyes as a possible slugging shortstop. That power unfortunately came with a lower average (.220). Last year the power was more muted with 13 homeruns but the batting average increased to .256. He may not have the range to stay at short, but if he moves to third he will need to show the power to fit the position. Next year he should make his major league debut if the Indians feel he is ready.

Tyler Freeman may not have the range to stick at short and lacks the power to play third. The supplemental second round pick in 2017 did hit .352 in rookie ball with 29 doubles to show he can spray the gaps. If that offense continues a move to second could be a possibility. Expect his role to be more of a utility player.

The one weakness the Indians have had is developing outfielders. They traded with the Nationals to acquire Daniel Johnson. Daniel was kind of the third wheel behind Juan Soto and Victor Robles. The tools are there for him to hit for power and average. With the Nationals his bat was second to Soto and his speed was second to Robles. With the Indians he has the ability to be one of their top outfielders. His defensive tools make him a better fit for right field.

The Indians paid George Valera $1.3 million in 2017. He lived in New York but moved to the Dominican at 13 years of age. A broken hamate bone limited his season to six games. The bat has the ability to mix power with contact so he should be a solid offensive player, making a move to right field a good fit.

Will Benson was the Indians 2016 first round pick. His arm is a rifle making him a perfect fit for right field but his legs carry some speed to make centerfield another option. Last year he hit 22 homeruns while showing good patience at the plate with 82 walks. What he needs to improve on is his ability to make contact with 152 whiffs in just 123 games. That struggle to make contact drove his average down to .180. In his three years in the minor leagues he has yet to hit over .238.

Eye-Bee-Gar Pirates Pillaging for Playoffs

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

From 2012 to 2017 the Pirates appeared in the Top Ten for the quality of their prospects. This may have helped them in their playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015. Unfortunately, the trades of Andrew McCutcheon and Gerritt Cole lacked prospects with the name value to see them appear in the top ten in 2018 and probably 2019. The players who made an impact for the Pirates from 2012 to 2017 were Gerritt Cole, Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Austin Meadows, Starling Marte, Josh Bell, and Tyler Glasnow. Prospects they are still waiting on are Mitch Keller, Kevin Newman and Nick Kingham. Prospects who failed to live up to their Top 100 hype were Alen Hanson, Luis Heredia and Reese McGwire, though there is still some time for prospects to pass or fail. The Pirates who made top 100 lists in 2018 include Jordan Luplow, Colin Moran, Austin Meadows and Mitch Keller. Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow have been traded so their Pirate contribution will consist of those players the Pirates obtained in the trades.

The Pirate prospect who could make the most impact is Oneil Cruz. He could also turn into a big bust. At 6′6″ it is hard to believe the Pirates still plan to keep him at shortstop. As he matures and the body gains weight his range could be limited and myworld can’t imagine how he gets his rear end near the ground at that height to field ground balls. A move to right field or first base is probably in his future. The bat carries light tower power that kind of remind me of the shots I witnessed from Giancarlo Stanton (then called Mike) when he was still a prospect. The large frame gives the pitcher an extended strike zone, but Oneil did a good job of making contact last year. Next year should see him get a taste of AA with a major league arrival sometime in 2020.

A player ready for his major league debut in 2019 is 2014 second round pick Mitch Keller. Like aged wine the Pirates have been letting him breath in the minor leagues. Last year he had success at AA (2.72 ERA) but struggled at AAA (4.82 ERA). This gives the Pirates an excuse to leave him in the minors to begin 2019 regardless of how well he pitches in spring training to get one more year of service time from him. His fastball reaches the high 90s but sits in the mid-90s with quality secondary pitches and excellent command to reach ace potential. In AAA he struggled a bit with his command resulting in hitter’s raking him at a .280 clip. Expect Mitch to be with the Pirates by mid-season next year.

Nick Burdi was a Rule V pick that had trouble staying healthy last year. He will have to spend the first 90 days on the major league roster in order for the Pirates to keep him. Before his Tommy John surgery in 2017 his fastball sat in the high 90s and often reached triple digits. Because of his lack of command and a third pitch his minor league career has been spent in the bullpen where the Pirates hope to develop him as a closer. If he can gain better command of his fastball/slider combination he can be an impact in the pen.

That is it for the pitchers. The middle infield will see a battle for shortstop. They may not have knock me out tools, but they should do no worse than Jody Mercer. Kevin Squared, which is Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer should battle for the shortstop job next year. The loser of that battle will probably play in a utility role or move to second base. Kevin Newman may have the better defensive tools, especially with the arm. He also had a little more major league success when both were called up last year(.209 vs .135). Both will hit for a decent average but will not generate a lot of power. Kramer did surprise with 15 homeruns and a .492 slugging in AAA last year but if either get in double figures in homeruns in the major leagues the Pirates should be grateful.

Cole Tucker is another possibility for the shortstop position. What separates him from the Kevin Squares is the speed to steal 30 plus bases a year. This speed also gives him the ability to cover more ground at shortstop. Like the Kevins his bat is a little vanilla, lacking power to make an offensive impact. Tucker will probably spend the entire year in AAA waiting for one of the Kevins to fail.

Ke’Bryan Hayes was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. He is the son of Charlie, who spent 14 years in the major leagues. Early in his career it did not look like Hayes would have the defensive chops to stay at third. Now his glove is considered a plus. What he needs is to develop some power to fit at the corner infield position. Last year his power was restricted to the gaps with 31 doubles but only seven homeruns for a .444 slugging percentage. That is borderline offense for a corner infielder. The good news is the seven homeruns was just one short of the eight he hit in his three previous seasons. After hitting .293 in AA he will begin the 2019 season in AAA. There are no sure fire starters at the major league position so a good spring and a good start in AAA could see him with the Pirates by mid-season.

Another shortstop to watch is Ji-Hwan Bae, whose $300,000 signing by the Braves was voided because of their violation of international cap rules. The Pirates swooped in and shelled out $1.2 million to sign him, using some of the international bonus money the Giants gave them in the McCutcheon trade. Like many of the middle infielders coming out of Asia Bae has good speed and smooth actions at short. The big question is whether he will show enough bat to see the major leagues. Last year he hit .271 with a .349 slugging percentage in the Rookie League. Depending on how his spring goes he could see a full season league to begin the 2019 season.

In the outfield the Pirates hope USA star Travis Swaggerty shows some swag. He was the Pirates first round pick in 2018 after impressing for Team USA. His defense is centerfield quality with the power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The speed is also there to steal 20 plus bases. The five tools are all there but they are not at the elite level. There was a little struggle making contact in his minor league debut, but the bat showed some pop with five homeruns in 52 games. He struggled a bit when promoted to full season (.129) but that could have been fatigue setting in after a long college season.

The Pirates are hoping to get something from Bryan Reynolds (Andrew McCutcheon trade) and Jason Martin (Gerritt Cole), both with tools that remind myworld of fourth outfielders. They lack burner speed to play center, the arms are better suited for left and the power does not fit a corner outfield slot. The Pirates hope to get some production from them to justify the trades or see Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove and Kyle Crick do better than average for the Pirates in 2019.

Rockies Seeking Path to Playoffs

Monday, January 14th, 2019

The Rockies appeared in the top ten for prospects as measured by myworld from 2015 to 2017. In 2016 they were the top team for prospects. As these players graduated to the major leagues their ranking in the top ten disappeared last year. Now they are ready for the playoff chase. John Gray, David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Kyle Freeland, Raimel Tapia and German Marquez all have made contributions to the Rockies roster in the last couple years. Brendan Rodgers and Riley Pint are poised to make contributions in 2019. Eddie Butler and Forrest Wall have been traded for playoff pieces. Rodgers, McMahon and Pint were the only prospects named in Top 100 prospect lists last year. The cupboard is not bare.

Brendan Rodgers is prepared to make an impact in the major leagues in 2019. The 2015 first round pick may have to find a position not occupied by Trevor Story or Nolan Arenado, which may mean a move to second base. The Rockies chose to say bye to D.J. LeMahieu which may open a spot for Rodgers. The bat is capable of hitting for a high average as well as socking 20 plus homeruns a year. The glove has the ability to play solid defense. A .232 average in a short stint in AAA may be evidence that a month of seasoning is needed before he is called up. Ironic that this would give the Rockies an extra year of control with that month of seasoning. Ryan McMahon will be given the first opportunity to win the second base job.

Another middle infielder to watch out for is Garrett Hampson, a third round pick in 2016. He lacks the gold card tools of Rodgers but his bat makes good contact, allowing him to hit .314 in AAA. The power is not there for him to carry balls over the fence, but with his speed and contact ability he could be an excellent two slot hitter. Last year he stole 36 bases with a .396 OBA while also making his major league debut, hitting .275. The glove is smooth, which could allow him to play second or fill in as a utility player.

Ryan Vilade is another possibility for the middle infield position, though he still has some time to percolate through the system. The 2017 second round pick has good pop for a middle infielder but lacks quickness to cover ground defensively. His best position may be third base or a move to the outfield where a strong arm would fit in right field.

Colton Welker is the expected replacement for Nolan Arenado at third base. The 2016 fourth round pick has hit over .300 at every level he has played, breaking out enough power to hit 13 homeruns last year. Currently his power is gap oriented but as he fills out the homeruns should increase. Colton has the glove and arm to play third. Next year he should see some time at AA with his major league debut coming sometime in 2020.

The Rockies have two players who will vie for first base. Tyler Nevin has the pedigree. The son of Phil and a supplemental first rounder in 2015 saw most of his time at third base. His best position may be at first base where he has shown the ability to be a solid defensive player. Injuries have limited him to less than 100 games his previous years. The 2018 season saw him hit 100 games giving him an opportunity to display his power with 13 homeruns and a .328 average. Next year he should see AA. If he can stay healthy he could see the Rockies sometime next year.

Grant Lavigne is another supplemental first round pick, drafted in 2018. At 6′4″ with very little speed and a weak arm his only viable position appears to be first base. Defensively he has the glove to play there. What separates Grant from other power hitters is his excellent plate discipline with a 45/40 walk to whiff ratio. This allowed him to slay rookie level pitchers last year for a .350 average. Despite his lack of speed he also showed the baserunning instincts to steal 12 bases. The 2019 season will be a test to show that he can deliver in a full season league.

The Rockies appear to be set in the outfield with David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. They have no sure fire prospects down at the lower levels. The catching situation seems a little bare if Tom Murphy does not pan out. That leaves us with the pitchers.

Riley Pint has the triple digit fastball to become an ace. The 2016 first round pick was limited to four starts last year because of injuries. A lack of command has also plagued his effectiveness. Entering into the 2018 season he had a 82/115 walk to whiff ratio. Last year it was 11/8. The secondary pitches are there for him to be a starter but getting them to cross the plate to get ahead in the count has been a challenge. A healthy year is needed from him next year.

Peter Lambert does not throw as hard but he can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. The 2015 second round pick can also find the plate. He survives on his command and changeup to retire hitters, limiting AA hitters to a .236 average and a 2.23 ERA. A promotion to AAA saw hitters exploit him for a .320 average. He struggled with the higher altitude and will need one more year of seasoning there before earning a promotion to the Rockie Mountain High.

Ryan Rolison was the Rockies first round pick in 2018. He dominated at the Rookie level with an excellent curveball, restricting hitters to a .149 average. Time will tell whether that bender will continue to dominate at the higher levels. His fastball sits in the low 90s so the heat is there for him to succeed somewhere in the middle of the rotation.

Jesus Tinoco throws the ball hard. He was one of the players Colorado got for Troy Tulowitski. If he could improve his changeup it would make his fastball better. Last year he started 26 games at AA but finished with a 4.79 ERA. Without an improvement in command or the change his best role may be in the bullpen.