Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Wang Signs 5 Year Contract with Dragons

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Ex-Major League and KBO pitcher Wang Wei-Ching signed a five year $2.08 million contract with the Wei Chaun Dragons of the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL). Though he has not had success as a major league or KBO pitcher it still did not stop the Dragons from making him their top pick in the CPBL draft.

Wang pitched for the 2004 Taiwan Little League World Series team. Instead of playing in the CPBL he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 and then was a Rule V pick up by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013. He made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2014.

He did not have a lot of success in the major leagues, finishing with a 6.52 career ERA. After being released by the Brewers in early 2018 he tried his luck in the KBO with the NC Dinos. That did not turn out as well either with a 7-10 record and a 4.26 ERA in 25 starts. He tried to make his return to the major leagues in 2019, pitching first for the Oakland Athletics and next for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates released him at the end of the 2019 season.

Wang expressed an interest in returning to Taiwan to play baseball and the Dragons selected him as the first pick in the 2020 draft. Scott Boras was his negotiating agent. The $2.08 million is one of the largest contracts in CPBL history. Leave it to Boras to accomplish that. It also has an escape clause that allows the Dragons to release Wang from the contract after three years if he has an opportunity to pitch for an overseas team using the CPBL posting system.

Ex-O Kim in RBI surge

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Ex-Orioles Hyun-Soo Kim of the LG Twins is in an RBI surge. In his last seven games he has driven in 20 runs, with just one homerun. This has put him tied for first with KT Wiz Mel Rojas for RBIs with 106.

Kim and Roberto Ramos have been a formidable one-two punch in the Twins offense. Ramos has been the big homerun bat with 35 homeruns, second to Rojas in the KBO. Kim does not send as many balls over the fence, with only 21 homeruns but he has been an RBI machine. In the last seven games he has driven in 6, 5, 3 and 4 runs in four of those games, hitting only one homerun. He is also hitting .351, which is second to Doosan Bears Jose Miguel Fernandez, who is hitting .358 for the KBO lead.

One of the problems myworld had with Kim when he was with the Orioles was his inability to hit for power. At the major league level he was not a strong defensive outfielder, restricting him to a corner outfield spot. This is a position teams look for players with power. But if you are driving in runs like Kim is currently doing with the Twins, the power is secondary.

The Twins are in third place in the KBO, a certain lock to make the playoffs. They find themselves two games behind the Kiwoom Heroes and 4.5 games behind the DC Dinos.

Dane Dunning Has Choices for WBC

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Dane Dunning was recently called up by the White Sox to fit in their rotation. He was drafted by the Nationals but traded to the White Sox along with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton. That trade accounts for 60 percent of the playoff bound White Sox rotation. Last year the Nationals won the World Series with Eaton. This year it appears to be the White Sox turn to make a run with Dunning, Lopez and Giolito.

With the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the horizon Dunning could play for the United States team. If that doesn’t work out he could also play for South Korea. His mother was born in Korea making him eligible. According to a Yonhap News Agency article Dunning would love to play for South Korea, even though he has yet to visit the country. At some point he would embrace experiencing the culture there.

Traditionally, Korea has not looked to the United States to fill their WBC teams. They generally pick their teams from players in the KBO. Dunning though is a talent that could fill a rotation spot, along with current major leaguers Kim, Ryu and young pitching sensation Koo that would prove quite formidable.

Without Tatis Not Breaking the Unwritten Rule History May Not Have Been Broken

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Major league baseball has many unwritten rules. If they were all written in a rule book it may balloon to the size of “War and Peace.” One of those unwritten rules is never try to run up the score and embarrass your opponent. A subset of that rule is do not swing at a 3-0 pitch when you are comfortably ahead, say by seven runs. Tatis swung at a 3-0 pitch and hit a grand slam homerun in a game the Padres were leading comfortably by seven runs. Machado had a pitch thrown behind him and Tatis got a lecture from his manager about breaking those unwritten rules.

The next day Will Myers followed with a grand slam homerun in a game the Padres would win. Manny Machado would hit a walk off grand slam on Thursday to give the Padres a grand slam in three consecutive games. Yesterday Eric Hosmer made history by hitting a grand slam, making the Padres the first team in major league baseball to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games.

If they hit another grand slam today that would make five consecutive games. If they do not hit a grand slam today then history would not have been broken if Tatis had not broken an unwritten rule. And with that grand slam by Tatis the Padres have raced to a 4 game winning streak.

Perhaps those unwritten rules need to be rewritten. Or revised, if someone can find where they are hidden.

MLB First - Back to back to back to back by Foreign Born Players

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Three of them were Cubans and the last was from the Dominican Republic. Back to back to back to back homeruns have been accomplished ten times in major league history, but this is the first time that all four homeruns were hit by foreign born players.

Yoan Moncada started the party off with a three run homer. Yasmani Grandal followed with a homerun and Jose Abreu went deep to make it the first back to back to back for Cuban born players. Dominican Eloy Jimenez finished it off with a homerun. For those who were wondering, Luis Robert was seventh in the batting order, Eloy Jimenez fifth.

Parra is Nats Loss and the Giants Gain

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Nowadays baseball is an analytics game. Teams hire employees to look at the numbers to identify what statistical variances brings about wins. Lost in those numbers is the heart of a player that has an ability to improve those numbers that can also capture wins. That is a product that is difficult to measure. A subjective measurement that can not be quantified.

The Nationals are putting up some good numbers. Analytics can tell you that. Juan Soto has returned and slammed four homeruns. The pitching has been rough and the team has started off 6-8. Last year they started off 19-30 but still were able to come back and win the World Series. What changes were made to produce that result? Some credit the acquisition of Gerardo Parra.

He is not the kind of player who will put up good numbers that statistical gurus would recognize as a player that is a must to acquire. The Nationals picked him up last year after he hit .198 for the Giants. He did put up some decent numbers with the Nationals, hitting .250 with 8 homeruns and a .447 slugging percentage. But it was not his statistical numbers that brought out the curly “W”s. It was the enthusiasm that he brought to the Nationals dugout that turned the season around.

The Nationals were rudderless in the early stages of the 2019 season. The acquisition of Parra gave them direction. He started the conga line that required each player to dance through the dugout after each homerun. Even the conservative Ryan Zimmerman had to perform a dance. It brought some life into the Nationals locker room and that life produced wins. There was magic in the Nationals dugout once Parra was acquired.

Now that magic is gone and the Nationals are struggling to strign together victories. They have had brief periods where they were missing key players such as Juan Soto because of COVID-19 and Stephen Strasburg with a wrist injury. But the ship appears rudderless again as the Nationals struggle to find the curly “W”s.

The Yomiuri Giants now have Parra. They signed him as a free agent before the 2020 season. He’s having a solid season, hitting .298 with four homeruns for a .447 slugging percentage. Those are similar numbers that he put up with the Nationals. The Giants are also winning, with the best winning percentage in the NPB (.625).

The Giants are used to winning. They are the New York Yankees of the major leagues, with more pennants and Japan Series wins than any team in Japan. Those Japan Series wins though have been running a bit scarce.

The acquisition of Parra was an interesting free agent signing. He was not a former star player or a young potential slugger that Japanese teams normally sign. He has always been an average player with good defensive skills, who is now older with those defensive skills now lacking. But the Giants recognized his locker room presence and they signed him because of that.

So while the Nationals struggle the Giants continue on with their victories. Last year they lost to the Softbank Hawks in the Japan Series. They have not won a Japan Series since 2012. The Hawks have won five of the last six Japan Series. The Giants hope the acquisition of Parra can change that narrative.

Eddie Alvarez Gets Major League Opportunity

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Eddie Alvarez becomes the second player to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than baseball to make it to the major leagues. The first was Jim Thorpe. The corona virus helped a bit, decreasing the Marlins roster by 13. One of those players put on the disabled list was Marlins starting shortstop Miguel Rojas.

Eddie earned a silver medal at the 2014 winter Olympics in short track speed skating. Shortly after that the Marlins signed him to a contract. The son of Cuban immigrants has been working his way up the minor league ladder, reaching AAA in 2016. Last year he hit .323 in AAA with a career high 12 homeruns. He also has the speed to steal bases, stealing 12 last year, but in 2015 he stole 53 in A ball.

Last year his primary position was third base, but he also played a lot of shortstop. In prior years his primary position was shortstop. It will be interesting how the Marlins use him. They will be playing a double header today so he should get his first opportunity to play.

For those wondering, Jim Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and the decathlon at the 1912 Olympics. It was discovered he had played professional baseball prior to 1912 and he was stripped of the medals. Thorpe went on to play professional football after his baseball career and was good enough for the Hall of Fame. He had a six year major league career that began in 1913 and had a career batting average of .252 with a .362 slugging.

Cole and Tanaka - Consecutive Win Streaks

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

The press has been talking about Gerritt Cole’s 19 game consecutive win streak. The major league record for consecutive wins for a pitcher is held by Rube Marquard, who won 24. That was back in 1912, more than 100 years ago. Many reports are saying what Cole is doing now is unprecedented.

Not true. All Cole has to do to find a pitcher who broke Marquard’s win streak is to look in his dugout. That is where Masahiro Tanaka will be sitting. Over a two year period in 2012 to 2013 Tanaka won 26 games in a row while pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the NPB. In 2013 he finished the season 24-0 with an ERA of 1.27. He finally lost a game in game 6 of the Japan Series playoff. In 2014 he signed a major league contract with the New York Yankees.

So if Cole needs someone to talk to about pitcher winning streaks, Tanaka would be a good player to seek out. He had a season for the ages. Of course, if you include playoff games, Cole’s streak was broken last year in game one of the World Series against the Nationals. Eliminate the loss Tanaka had in his playoff start, add on the six consecutive wins he had when starting for the Yankees in 2014 and his consecutive win streak would have slipped past 30 (not too sure how many playoff wins Tanaka earned that would have to be eliminated from his win streak).

White Sox Make History with Cuban Batting Order

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

The Chicago White Sox made history by becoming the first team in major league history to have the first four players in the batting order born in Cuba. Because of the injury to Tim Anderson, Luis Robert took the lead off spot. Yoan Moncada batted second and played third. Jose Abreu hit third and played first base. Yasmani Grandal, who grew up in the United States but was born in Cuba and migrated here as a youngster, batted cleanup.

The top four in the order did pretty good, leading the White Sox to an 11-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Luis Robert went 4 for 5 with a homerun and two runs scored and driven in. Moncada went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Jose Abreu went 2 for 6 with one run scored. Yasmani Grandal closed out the hitting going 2 for 5 with two runs scored and driven in. That is 11 for 21 with seven runs scored and four driven in.

If not for the last two batters in the order it would have been an all Latin lineup. Dominicans Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Leury Garcia batted fifth, sixth and seventh in the White Sox order. The last two spots in the order were filled by United States born Adam Engel and rookie Nick Madrigal.

The Royals tried to counter the batting order by starting the recently acquired Cuban Ronald Bolanos, making his second start of the season. He did not survive to get to the third inning, giving up five runs in 1.2 innings. He gave up two long balls. Jorge Soler was also in the batting order for the Royals, making it 6 of the 20 players in the starting lineup born in Cuba. Gio Gonzalez was the starting pitcher for the White Sox and he has Cuban ancesters, though he was not born in Cuba.

Top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

While the American League Venezuelan prospects were dominated by shortstops the National League is filled with catchers. No player from the list last year graduated. Five players from the list last year dropped out, including Anderson Espinosa, a pitcher who has not been on the mound in two years because of arm injuries. Francisco Morales dropped from the list when Brusdar Graterol was traded to the National League. His addition gave the Dodgers four players on this list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Dodgers seem to be loaded at this position with rookie Will Smith winning the catching job last year. The Dodgers also have Diego Cartaya rising up the ranks. Keibert was signed back in 2014 for $140,000. A finger injury limited his season to 85 games, but he did see nine games in AAA. He does not show as much power as Smith, but his hitting tool and ability to make contact could be better. Last year he had a 30/22 walk to hit ratio with a .261 average. His defensive tools may be a tick above that of Smith, but it will be a tough decision for the Dodgers to make once Ruiz is ready. The 2020 season will see him play in AAA and called up if a long term injury should happen to Smith. It would hurt his development time if he stayed on the major league roster long term as a back up.

2. Brusdar Graterol RHP (Dodgers) - The Red Sox may not have wanted him because his arm did not allow him to be a starter, but the Dodgers were happy with his triple digit velocity to groom him as a closer. He did miss a year in 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He also needs to work on his conditioning, standing at just 6′1″ but weighing in at 261 pounds. The bullpen was probably his ultimate destination since he only had two quality pitches (fastball and slider) when the trade was made. He did have a nice year at AA last year (6-0, 1.71 ERA) but his strikeout numbers were a little disappointing (50 in 52 innings) for a pitcher with his velocity. The Twins used him in the bullpen late in the season but he got hit for a .278 average. He should squeeze into the Dodgers bullpen at some point in 2020. The Twins got a bargain when they signed him, only paying him $150,000 in 2015.

3. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets spent $2.7 million to sign Francisco in 2018. Last year he made his debut stateside as a 17 year old catcher in the Rookie League. He held his own, hitting .312 with seven homeruns and a .510 slugging average. Further polishing of his defensive tools is needed, but he has a good tool set to work with. His arm is strong and he moves well behind the plate. He might need to watch his weight to make sure it does not go further north of his 220 pounds. His bat is impressive and should carry some power, making him a potential two way player that can hit for average and power while playing good defense. He could see a full season league in 2020 but at 18 years of age the Mets could have him start in the Rookie League.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres is currently blocked by Amed Rosario. His glove is top notch, highly superior to Rosario. The Mets were so impressed they signed him for $1.2 million in 2015. The bat could be a question mark. Last year he reached AA and hit just .250 with a .309 OBA. He did hit a career high 9 homeruns but a 24/102 walk to whiff ratio are cause for concern. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. With his speed and quality defense he should eventually make it as a utility infielder, or be used as trade bait for the Mets to acquire a veteran to use in a playoff run. Eventually, the Mets could decide to move Rosario to centerfield. In the meantime, Gimenez will bide his 2020 season at AAA being used at both middle infield positions.

5. Luis Matos OF (Giants) - No relation to the Luis Matos from Puerto Rico who played for the Orioles. The Giants found this Matos in Venezuela and signed him for $2.6 million in 2018. He has average to above average tools in all categories. Power may be his weakest area, but he did slug .566 sharing time at the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. The speed is there for him to fit in center and the arm is strong enough for him to slide over to right. He does have a couple cousins who play the game (Luis Basabe and Osleivis Basabe) so his baseball IQ is sharp. At 18 years of age, the Giants will start him in rookie ball if there is a 2020 season.

6. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Another talented Dodger catcher who they signed for a $2.5 million bonus in 2018. He played for a number of Venezuelan junior national teams in international tournaments. His bat carries some pretty good power and in his 36 game trial in the rookie league he hit .296. The arm is strong and the tools appear to be there to be a quality catcher. He will play the entire 2020 season as a teenager so the Dodgers have plenty of time to develop him. Another year in Rookie ball with a possible promotion to Low A is a possibility for 2020.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - William is the younger brother of Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras. At one point he was considered the Braves catcher of the future, but then Shea Langeliers was drafted in the first round in 2019 and Contreras has some competition. Like his older brother Contreras has average to above average tools in all areas but speed. His foot speed is below average. His defense falls short of Langeliers but offensively he could carry more pop. Last year he hit only six homeruns and slugged less than .400 so it was a disappointment for him on the power side. In 2018 he bashed 11 homeruns in Low A and had a slugging percentage of .463. Numbers wise he will probably fall short of his older brother but he has a chance to be a starting catcher. Even though he played 60 games last year at AA, he may have to repeat that level to start the 2020 season.

8. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - The Padres whipped out a $1.9 million bonus to sign Gabriel in 2016. He is probably a smoother fielder than Fernando Tatis Jr. but he may never fill his position, unless Tatis moves to third. Arias has a strong arm and smooth fielding actions that garner Gold Glove accolades. His speed is not great, but his actions are quick and smooth. Last year the bat was pretty impressive. He hit .302 with 17 homeruns playing at a hitters park at High A (Lake Elsinore). He has trouble recognizing breaking balls and in 2018 only hit .240 in a pitcher’s park. In 2019 he cut down his whiff rate, which allowed him to hit for a better average. He still had a poor 25/128 walk to whiff ratio. The 2020 season will see him start at AA.

9. Luis Rodriguez OF (Dodgers) - Not much is known about Luis other than the Dodgers spent $2.7 million to sign him in 2019. He did not play last year. His bat is impressive, with the ability to hit the ball to all fields, finding the elevation to carry balls over the fence. The speed is there for him to play centerfield and he has the arm where he could slide easily to right and be an above average fielder there. He will turn 18 in September so there is plenty of growth ahead. The Dodgers may start him in the Dominican Summer League and move him to the rookie leagues once the short season starts.

10. Andy Lara RHP (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Lara for $1.2 million in 2019. He stands 6′4″ so he has a good frame for a pitcher. He will start the 2020 season as a 17 year old. He has yet to play in the minor leagues. At 16, when most are going through their sophomore year in high school Andy was throwing his fastball in the low to mid 90s. His curveball is already a quality pitch and his change shows potential. He could start the 2020 season in the Dominican Summer League before hitting the Rookie Leagues stateside. It will be awhile before Lara steps on the bump at Nationals stadium.