Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Last week myworld identified the top ten prospects from National League teams from the Dominican Republic. Sixto Sanchez, Jesus Sanchez, Luis Garcia, Christian Pache, Brailyn Marquez and Edward Cabrera all made their major league debuts from that list. From that group all reappeared on this year’s list except for Luis Garcia, who lost his rookie eligibility.

The top three from the American League list remains unchanged. Leody Taveras, Jorge Mateo and Deivi Garcia all played in the major leagues. Below are the top prospects from the American League from the Dominican Republic.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - For many he is considered the top prospect in baseball. Wander was denied a 2020 season so he went to the Dominican Republic to play in the winter league. An injured bicep ended his season early. There is no question that Wander can hit. In his two minor league seasons his career average is .336/.405/.523. He also has a walk/strikeout ratio of 83/54. The main question around Wander is whether he can stick at shortstop. The arm is strong enough to play there but there is some concern about whether the range to cover the position exists. If he is not a fit at short the bat is potent enough that a move to third would not be a problem. The Rays already have a decent shortstop in Willy Adames. If Franco is promoted in 2021 it will probably be to play third or fill in for an injured Adames.

2. Julio Rodriguez OF (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Rodriguez for $1.75 million in 2017. Power will be his calling card. The 2019 season was his debut in the minor leagues and he hit .326 with 12 homeruns in just 84 games playing in Low and High A. The walk to whiff ratio was 25/76, which could result in an average more in the .270s once he hits the major leagues. He should be good for 30 plus homeruns. The speed is a better fit for a corner outfield position and his arm is strong enough for right field. If he is tearing it up in AA he could make his major league debut in 2021. The Mariners are rebuilding and Julio is one of their most important pieces in this project.

3. Jasson Dominguez OF (Yankees) - It has been a long time since the Yankees have had a superstar center fielder. Jasson could change all that. Little is known about Jasson from a stat perspective since he was not signed until 2019 for $5.4 million. His tools have had him compared to Mike Trout but at 17 years of age he has some growing up to do. He is a five tool player with the speed to steal 30 plus bases and the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He should provide quality defense in centerfield and have the arm to fit in right. There is no short season league in the minor leagues, so the Yankees could keep him in extended spring and then promote him to Low A later on in the season.

4. George Valera OF (Indians) - The Indians outfield has been short of quality players the last couple years. They hope to change that with Valera, who was signed for $1.3 million in 2018. The hitting tools are there for him to hit over .300 and slug 30 plus homeruns. His speed and arm rate about average, making him a better fit for a corner outfield spot. Valera actually lived in New York until his teenage years when he moved back to the Dominican Republic. In 2019 he started at short season. He only hit .236 but still slugged 8 homeruns. Too many swing and misses resulted in a low average. A promotion to Low A was even worse, where he only hit .087 in 23 at bats. Valera will probably only play A ball in 2021. An Indians debut is not expected until late 2022.

5. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - Sometimes players who rely mainly on speed can turn into major league disappointments. Jose Peraza is an example of that. Brujan is one of those players with tremendous speed but very little power. That speed resulted in stolen base totals of over 100 the last two seasons. He did have pretty good walk to whiff ratios, but that digressed in 2019 to 37/61, dropping his average to .277. The previous year he had hit .320. To utilize his speed Brujan needs to get on base to be effective. He did play 20 games down in the Dominican in the Winter Leagues where he hit just .254 with a .691 OPS but he did steal 10 bases in 13 attempts. He is an above average defensive player for second base so that is on his plus side. He also has a strong enough arm to play short making a utility role another possibility. Vidal should make his major league debut in 2021.

6. Deivi Garcia RHP (Yankees) - Last year he made his major league debut, performing in six starts. His ERA was not that stellar (4.98) and opponents hit .254 against him with six homeruns. He did have an impressive 6/33 walk to whiff ratio, showing an ability to hit the plate that he struggled with in 2019. Perhaps he was around the strike zone too much. His minor league career shows a .202 career opponent average. Deivi stands only 5′9″, which is usually a death height for right handed pitchers. His fastball is not overpowering and can ride the plate in the mid-90s. It is his breaking pitches, both the slider and curve that will grade his success higher. If a starting role does not pan out Deivi always could be used in relief. Expect the Yankees to go north with him in their rotation in 2021. How long he stays there will depend on his success.

7. Noelvi Marte SS (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Marti for $1.55 million in 2018. He was considered one of the top international prospects for that year. In 2019 he only played in the Dominican Summer League, but he put up some pretty impressive numbers, hitting .309 with a .511 slugging. He showed enough speed to steal 17 bases in 65 games. Noelvi will hit for power. His defense is a bit shaky for short. Whether he stays there or not will depend on keeping his consistency. He could move to third, or if he keeps his speed a move to the outfield is also a possibility. The 2021 season should see him play A ball. Noelvi will probably not see the Mariners until sometime during the 2023 season.

8. Gilberto Jimenez OF (Red Sox) - Over the last couple years the Red Sox farm system has turned a bit bleak. They hope Gilberto is one of many players who can change that prognosis. They only had to shell out $10,000 to sign him in 2017. For that they could have their centerfielder who can run with the wind. The last couple years Gilberto was able to combine for 30 steals in the Dominican Summer League and short season ball. He hit an impressive .359 in his short season debut. Gilberto does not carry a lot of power in his bat, slapping the ball into the outfield instead of driving it into the gaps. He did hit three homeruns in 2019, with 17 of his 84 hits going for extra bases. It appears that speed will bring Gilberto to the major leagues. That speed has not resulted in a lot of stolen base success, but it could help him fill the centerfield role. Don’t expect him to fill that role for the Red Sox until 2023.

9. Robert Puason SS (Athletics) - Like Dominguez, Puason was a major international signing for 2019 with a $5.1 million bonus. With no 2020 season not a lot is known about Puason. At 6′3″ he could develop some power, but at this point in his career that could be the weakest part of his game. There is speed, an arm and the tools to play a quality shortstop. The Athletics will probably keep him in extended spring or perhaps have him play some Dominican summer league ball before rushing him to full season ball. He will probably not see the Athletics until sometime late in 2023.

10. Anderson Tejeda SS (Rangers) - The Rangers are talking about moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa from third to short. Last year Anderson played 23 games there, hitting .253 with three homeruns. Anderson does not carry great range at shortstop, but he has an excellent arm. With some power in his bat he could ultimately become a utility player. The one big question with his hitting skills is his patience at the plate. Last year he had a 2/30 walk to whiff ratio, giving him a poor .273 OBA. He did play eleven games in winter ball, slugging .500 with half of his hits going for extra bases. He hit .300 with a .348 OBA, enough to stick with the Rangers if he can keep plugging those numbers. With a good spring Anderson could convince the Rangers to keep him with the club as their shortstop or as a utility player. Otherwise he will play in AAA to further enhance his game.

Top Prospects From the Dominican - National League

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

Myworld will go around the world to identify the top prospects from various areas of the world playing in the minor leagues. In order to do this effectively we have to find enough prospects who have a chance to appear in the major leagues. The Dominican Republic is one of the best places to find prospects so we have broken them out into American and National League. Below are the top Dominican prospects in the National League.

1. Marco Luciano SS (Giants) - You have to like a shortstop that has the potential to hit for power. At the rookie level in 2019 Marco slugged .564 with 10 homeruns and 13 doubles in just 47 games. He also showed some patience at the plate with 32 walks. At 6′2″ he has some length and his speed is not his greatest asset, so he could move to third base. This would slightly tarnish his prospect ranking, but finding a player to hit .300 with 30 plus homeruns at any position is still a skill any team would want. He has yet to play full season ball so how he adapts as he faces better pitching will soon be discovered. Next year will be his first season in full season ball.

2. Christian Pache OF (Braves) - He has gold glove potential as a centerfielder. His speed allows him to track down fly balls but it seems to be deficient when it comes to stealing bases. He did steal 32 in 2017 but the last two years he only combined for 15. The power is there for him to hit in double digits for homeruns, but he will not be a power source. The Braves would like to see him be more patient at the plate so he could draw more walks to better fit at the top of the lineup. In 2018 his OBA was only .307 but in 2019 he drew more walks to elevate it to .340. Last year he made a brief major league debut, appearing in just two games and getting four at bats. If he can show the bat and the patience to get on base consistently he could be the Braves starting centerfielder in 2021. The glove is ready, the bat is still a work in progress.

3. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - By the end of the 2020 season Sixto had entrenched himself as one of the top three pitchers in the Marlins rotation. His fastball hits the upper ranges of the 90s and reaches triple digits. He complements that pitch with a changeup that dives into the dirt. He doesn’t get the swings and misses you would expect from a pitcher with his stuff, but he should fit in the middle of the rotation next year for the Marlins. If he can harness a quality third pitch those strikeout numbers could climb. The one concern myworld has is his 6′0 body carrying 234 pounds. That could have an impact on his health if he doesn’t improve his conditioning.

4. Brailyn Marquez LHP (Cubs) - Scouts drool when they see a lefthander consistently hit triple digits with his fastball. At 6′4″ Brailyn also carries an ideal pitcher’s frame. While the fastball is special his secondary offerings (slider and change) line the average spectrum and his command can be spotty. To be effective in the major leagues he needs to enhance those pitches. Last year he made one appearance in the major leagues and retired two hitters, giving up two hits and walking three for a 67.50 ERA. The Cubs will give Brailyn some time in AAA to enhance his secondary pitches and fine tune his control. Once he finds improvements there he could be the ace of the Cubs rotation. If those struggles continue he could always fill the closer role.

5. Ronny Mauricio SS (Mets) - Don’t know if the Mets trade of Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez is a call of faith for the future of the shortstop capabilities of Mauricio. Ronny has not shown the power of Luciano and his speed could be described as below average, so staying at shortstop does not appear to be in the cards. But at 6′3″ the Mets are expecting the power to arrive, enough so that a move to third base is practical. His career slugging percentage in the minor leagues is .374, which falls short of what teams look for at the hot corner. However, gaining strength and learning how to elevate the ball could result in more power production. He still is a couple years away from the Mets, giving Francisco Lindor the reign at short for that time period.

6. Oneil Cruz SS (Pirates) - Hard to imagine a 6′7″ shortstop in the major leagues. That is Cruz at the moment in the minor leagues. He doesn’t seem burdened by the height. If the Pirates consider moving him the speed and the arm are good enough for him to patrol right field. There are few players that can match Cruz for power once his arms are extended. Despite all that power he has yet to slug .500 at any level in the minor leagues. With that height comes a larger strike zone and holes in his swing that pitchers can exploit. Cruz was involved in a traffic accident in the Dominican in which a couple people were killed. He appears to have avoided any major consequences for that event and is playing shortstop in the Dominican winter league. If there are no delays in getting a visa he could see some time with the rebuilding Pirates in 2021.

7. Geraldo Perdomo SS (Diamondbacks) - The fourth and last shortstop in this list, but unlike the other three players above him Geraldo has a greater possibility of sticking at the position. He has good speed, a strong arm and all the other attributes to make a solid defensive shortstop. His hitting tools are not as strong as those others mentioned above. At 6′2″ the power could develop. In 2019 he had an impressive 70/67 walk to whiff ratio. This put his OBA at .397 and with his speed on the bases allowed him 67 steals. That would be enough to stick at the top of an order. He still is a couple years away from making his major league debut, but perhaps by the end of the 2022 season Geraldo could make an appearance.

8. Edward Cabrera RHP (Marlins) - Cabrera is another rotation candidate who could hit triple digits with his fastball. At 6′5″ that delivery would be more intimidating than Sixto. Early in his career Edward had challenges commanding his pitches. Hitters raked him at a .280 clip and his ERA was above 4. Last year the command improved, the slider had more break and hitters struggled with a .190 average, resulting in a breakout 2.23 ERA. With all the injuries in the Marlins rotation last year while they surprisingly fought for a playoff appearance, their was some talk of sliding Cabrera into the rotation. That did not happen. It could though as the 2021 season develops.

9. Jesus Sanchez OF (Marlins) - Sanchez was first a Devil Ray. At that time he had the speed to be considered a centerfielder. The Marlins sent the Rays some pitching help to acquire Sanchez. His speed depleted as his body matured so now he is probably better suited for the corners. It is hoped his bat can start generating power to justify the move. His last three years those power numbers have dropped from a .478 slugging percentage to .433, to finally .398 last year. In 2019 he also hit a career low .260. Last year he did make his major league debut, but he was able to piece together just one hit in 25 at bats. For the 2021 season he will try to show some improvement in his offense to justify putting him at a corner outfield position, where a modicum of power is expected.

10. Lewin Diaz 1B (Marlins) - The fourth Marlin on this list, but the third that was acquired via trade. Diaz was originally a Twin but the Marlins acquired him for Sergio Romo. Lewin had a nice breakout season last year from a power perspective hitting 27 homeruns and 33 doubles for a .530 slugging percentage. He was called up last year, appearing in 14 games while hitting just .154 with a .205 slugging. The Marlins will give him another opportunity before they spin the wheel again in search of a first baseman. His speed is below average but his defense can get him on the field. It will not win any gold gloves so the bat must come alive if he hopes to secure a permanent spot in the lineup. The Marlins will give him another chance in 2021, provided he hits in AAA.

Credit Padres Acquisition of Kim to Park

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Myworld did not realize the Padres have legendary Korean pitcher Park Chan-Ho as an advisor for their team. He participated in the negotiations for the Padres in their acquisition of Kim Ha-Seong. That had to make the Padres the favorite to sign Kim, no matter how many dinners Ryu Hyun-jin bought Kim to try to convince him to play for Toronto.

Park is a legend in Korea. He pitched for the Padres in 2005 and 2006. His 124 wins in the major leagues are still the most for any Asian born pitcher. He first signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994 before ever playing in the Korean professional league. Once his major league career ended he pitched two years in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes and finally made his Korean debut in 2011, pitching one year for the Hanwha Eagles. After his one year with Hanwha he retired from baseball in 2012.

The contract for Kim does not allow the Padres to send him to the minor leagues without his consent for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Padres and Heroes Exchange Late Christmas Present

Friday, January 1st, 2021

The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization posted Ha-Seong Kim to allow major league baseball teams to negotiate a contract. The San Diego Padres won out, signing Kim to a four year $28 million contract. A fifth year mutual option could up that total to $39 million. The Padres get a talented player who could fill a valuable utility role in their playoff hopes. The Heroes get a $5.25 million posting fee to scout for another Kim or sign a top foreign player to a contract.

For those who follow the KBO, Kim is the player who replaced Jung-Ho Kang at shortstop after Kang signed with the Pirates. The deal worked out well for the Pirates for two years until drunken driving issues ruined his career. The Heroes were able to replace Kang with Kim and as a 20 year old shortstop he had a pretty good season (.290, 19, 73).

Next year the Heroes will replace Kim at shortstop with another Kim, Hye-Sung Kim. The 21 year old Hye-Sung played in a utility role last year for the Heroes, hitting .285 with seven homeruns and 61 RBIs. This is his fourth year in the KBO and it was about time the Heroes gave him a starting spot. The Heroes lose some power with the loss of Ha-Seong, but they hope to make up for that by investing the $5 million for a top foreign contract.

The Padres infield appears to be crowded with Manny Machado at third, Fernando Tatis Jr. at short, Jake Cronenworth at second and Eric Hosmer at first. In a 162 game season injuries happen and players need rest so Kim should be able to play in more than 120 games. There is also talk of using either Kim or Cronenworth in the outfield. Cronenworth also played a lot of first base when Hosmer got injured so he could possibly be tried out in the outfield and used at first base, allowing Kim to play second.

The Padres saw what the Dodgers did with their roster, using a couple players to fill in at multiple positions to either replace an injured player or give regular rest to their regulars to keep them fresh. The Padres could have the same plan for either Kim or Cronenworth, or possibly both. Spring training will ultimately define both players roles for the 2021 season.

Tracking the Braves Number One Picks From 2016 Roster

Friday, December 25th, 2020

Back in February 2016 myworld was impressed that at least 20 players on the Braves roster were first round picks (we miscounted and incorrectly stated 21 but only listed 20 players). With that many first round picks you would have thought this team would have won some games that year. They didn’t. The 2016 season saw them end it 68-93 with many of those players traded or released before the season ended.

The good news is they won the division in 2018 and two seasons after that. Only six of the 20 players contributed to the Braves 2020 season. Below is the list of those 20 players and what happened to them. In parenthesis is the year they were drafted in the first round.

1. Jason Grilli (1997) - Traded in May 2016 to the Blue Jays for Sean Ratcliffe. His last major league season was in 2017.

2. Nick Swisher (2002) - Released by the Braves in March 2016. Signed by the Yankees in April and released in July. The 2015 season was his last major league season.

3. Jeff Francouer (2002) - Traded to the Marlins in August 2016 for Matt Foley. The 2016 season was his last in the major leagues.

4. Nick Markakis (2003) - Initially opted out for the 2020 season but returned to finish out season.

5. Chris Withrow ((2007) - Left as a free agent after the 2016 season. Last major league season was 2016.

6. Gordon Beckham (2008) - Traded to the Giants in September 2016 for Richard Rodriguez. Last major league season was in 2019.

7. Casey Kelly (2008) - Granted free agency at the end of the 2016 season. Pitched in Korea last year.

8. Tyrell Jackson (2010 supplemental) - Traded to Rangers in December 2016 for Luke Jackson. Only major league season was with the Braves in 2016 (2-4, 5.88).

9. Mike Foltynewicz (2010) - Designated for assignment by the Braves in 2020. Still in their minor league system.

10. Jace Peterson (2011) - Granted free agency after the 2017 season. Played with the Brewers in 2020.

11. Lucas Sims (2012) - Traded to the Reds in July 2018 for Adam Duvall. Pitched for the Reds in 2020.

12. Max Fried (2012) - Ace of the Braves rotation last season.

13. Aaron Blair (2013) - Released by the Braves in May 2018. Last major league season 2017.

14. Jason Hursh (2013) - Granted free agency in November 2019. Last major league season was in 2017.

15. Sean Newcomb (2014) - Pitched for Braves in 2020 (0-2, 11.20). He was 12-9. 3.90 in 2018.

16. Touki Toussant (2014) - Pitched for Braves in 2020 (0-2, 8.88).

17. Braxton Davidson (2014) - Released by Braves in May 2020. No major league appearances. Played Independent ball after release in 2020.

18. Austin Riley (2015) - Played for Braves in 2020 (.239, 8, 27). This was his second major league season.

19. Mike Soroka (2015) - Pitched for Braves in 2020 (0-1, 3.95). An injury ended his season after just three starts.

20. Dansby Swanson (2015) - Played for Braves in 2020 in fifth major league season (.274, 10, 35).

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Below are the top right handed pitching prospects. Because of five man rotations myworld has decided to list our top 20.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - Not a lot of first picks in the draft are the best prospects once they test the minor leagues. Mize was the first player selected in 2018 after starring at Auburn. The 2019 season was his only full minor league season where he could eat up innings. In 21 starts he chewed up 109 innings. That appeared to be good enough for him to make his major league debut in 2020, starting seven games while piecing together 28 innings. It was a struggle. He gave up seven homeruns, the same number he gave up in the minor leagues in almost 100 more innings. Major league hitters raked him for a .252 average, 43 points higher than his career minor league average. His best pitch may be his splitter, but he also throws a mid 90s fastball with a mid-80s slider. The splitter in the mid-80s can act as his off speed pitch. The Tigers could start his 2021 season in AAA then call him up after he achieves some success there. He needs a confidence booster after being mauled in 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The 2017 pick is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. His fastball can dart across the plate at 102 miles per hour. The secondary pitches, especially the slider will keep him in the rotation. His command could probably use a little more enhancement, especially in the major leagues. Nate made his major league debut in 2020, walking 13 batters in 18 innings. He also let five balls leave the yard. He pitched much better in 2019 pitching at three different minor league levels. At 6′6 inches his pitches come right at you. Minor leaguers hit just .173 againt him. Like Casey Mize, he could start the 2021 season in AAA, then get called up once he achieves some success and gets his confidence back. A good spring could see him start his season with Toronto.

3. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - Sixto may have pitched the Marlins to the 2020 playoffs. He was originally signed by the Phillies for the paltry sum of $35,000 back in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. The Phillies included him in a trade for J.T. Realmuto. Ironic that the rebuilding Marlins saw the playoffs before the Phillies. Standing at just 6′0 usually does not spell success for a right handed starter. Sixto proved to be an exception, like his native countryman Pedro Martinez. Sixto slings his fastball in the high 90s and occasionally clips the three digit territory. His change is also a quality pitch and the slider acts as a third pitch enough to allow him to survive in the rotation. He made his major league debut last year and started seven games, finishing with a 3.46 ERA. Without that contribution the Marlins would not have made the playoffs. For a pitcher with his velocity he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but they make enough soft contact for Sixto to achieve success. He should start the 2021 season in the Marlins rotation.

4. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - This 2017 second round pick also made his major league debut in 2020. Like Mize and Pearson above him he struggled, with major leaguers hitting him at a .300 clip, resulting in a 5.92 ERA in six starts. In the minors in 2019 Spencer limited the opposition to just a .173 average. His fastball is explosive, hitting the mid-90s consistently and reaching the high 90s. It has enough movement that he gets a lot of swings and misses. His secondary breaking pitches (slider and curve) are a tick above average to allow him to survive in the rotation, but his change has turned into an above average pitch. His command can get off kilter but with a little more experience he could become the ace of the Phillies rotation. It would not hurt to start his 2021 season in AAA with a callup a little later in the season. The Phillies keep on acquiring veteran players, trading top prospects to achieve their goal. It could be a top prospect like Howard that could finally get the Phillies into the playoffs.

5. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - The 6′7″ first round pick in 2016 may have the best stuff of the pitchers on this list. Staying healthy and finding the strike zone have always been a challenge. He also missed 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy. In 2019 shoulder problems left his delivery out of whack and he finished with a 7.99 ERA in just 60 innings, walking 44 batters. In his four seasons he has yet to surpass 100 innings pitched. The fastball can travel across the plate in the mid-90s and a quality slider and change feed off the fastball to make him difficult to hit, if he can find the plate. If his command stays inconsistent he could always turn into a closer, but he has too many quality pitches not to keep in the rotation. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AAA, where he finished with a 12.21 ERA in 2019 in five starts.

6. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick opted out of the 2020 season. This after missing all of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery. Michael seemed to have announced his arrival after being able to find the plate in four major league starts in 2018, but his elbow did not allow him to finish the season. His fastball cuts across the plate in the triple digits, even hitting 105 in one game. His slider has plus quality, but finding a third pitch and the plate set him back. It will be interesting to see if he can find the plate after his two year absence. The White Sox made the playoffs last year without him. If he could fill the White Sox rotation in 2021 it would be an asset to repeating a playoff run in 2021.

7. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles 2018 first round pick stands at a sturdy 6′5. He pitched out of Texas. The Orioles hope he can mimic a couple Texas icons in Roger Clemons and Nolan Ryan. With a mid-90s fastball and a quality slider, he gathers up the swings and misses in the minor leagues. In 20 starts in Low A he held opponents to a .171 average with 129 whiffs in 94 innings. He has enough command of his four pitches that should allow him to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in a couple years. For the 2021 season he will probably spend most of it in AA, not seeing the major leagues until sometime during the middle of the 2022 season.

8. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Padres signed the 6′1″ righthander for just $130,000 out of Colombia back in 2016. Despite his lack of height he has built up enough bulk to reach the mid 90s with his fastball, often lighting up the radar in the high 90s. He also has a quality slider that elicits swings and misses. In his three minor league seasons he has never had an ERA above 2.57 and he has limited opponents to a .208 average. He gets lots of swings and misses and limits balls from traveling over the fence, giving up just seven taters in 234 innings. Luis made his major league debut in 2020 and struggled with his command, walking 14 in 17 innings. Opponents hit him at a .257 clip leaving his ERA at an elevated 5.19. This will probably result him starting the 2021 season in AAA and waiting until he achieves some success there before being promoted to the Padres.

9. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The first round 2016 pick was drafted out of high school so he is taking a more patient rise up the minor league ladder than Mize. Manning is one year younger than Mize and after achieving success in AA in 2019 (2.56 ERA) he should be joining Mize in the rotation sometime in 2021. He has a nice 6′6 frame that gives him challenges finding a consistent release point, but his control improved in 2019. He is the son of Rich Manning, who played in the NBA, a sport Matt played while in high school. The fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is probably his second best pitch, with a curveball that dives to the ground and gets awkward swings and misses. An improved change in 2019 gives him the requisite three pitches to survive in the starting rotation. He will probably start the 2019 season in AAA and at some point may join Mize and Tarik Skubal to make an awesome front three for the rotation.

10. Max Meyer (Marlins) - Max was the third player selected in the 2020 draft. He pitched in relief early in his career with Minnesota but moved to the starting rotation midway through his sophomore year. At 6′0″ he does not carry the height that you like to see in right handed pitchers. His best pitch may be his slider, and when combined with his mid-90s fastball that touched triple digits, it will garner lots of swings and misses. His change shows flashes of brilliance, which should be enough for him to stick in the rotation. The 2021 season will be his first in the minor leagues, but he should rise up quickly. If he has success and the Marlins are making another playoff run do not be surprised if they don’t use him in relief to begin his major league career, with a later transition to the starting rotation.

11. Logan Gilbert (Mariners) - The 2018 first round pick is another giant, who stands at 6′6″. The fastball crosses the plate in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches and change show enough quality that will allow him to stick in the rotation. His pitches are enhanced by his ability to find the strike zone consistently, something not common among pitchers his height. Logan has only one minor league season under his built, seeing three levels in 2019. He finished in AA with a 2.13 ERA putting together 26 starts and 135 innings. Opponents hit him at a .198 clip, including a .194 average in 9 AA starts. This should make him major league ready sometime during the mid-season of 2021 after starting the year in AAA.

12. Ian Anderson (Braves) - The 2016 first round pick can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Hitters can have a difficult time getting elevation on the pitch because of its downward spike as it travels across the plate. He mixes in a curve and a change that keeps hitters off balance. In his first three years he had only allowed three homeruns in 243 innings. In 2019 he gave up an uncharacteristic 13 homeruns in just 135 innings. The 2020 season saw him make his major league debut where he baffled major league hitters to a .172 average and a 1.95 ERA in six starts. It will be interesting if he can replicate that success in 2021. Unless he bombs during spring training he should start the 2021 season in the Braves rotation.

13. Emerson Hancock (Mariners) - The second 2020 draft pick to appear on this list and the sixth player selected in the draft. The 6′4″ righthander can reach the high 90s with his fastball, but sits in the mid-90s. He complements his fastball with two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a quality change. All of those pitches are enhanced by his above average command. With no minor league experience he should begin the 2021 season in A ball and could rise quickly with some success. Mariner fans should not expect to see him until late in the 2022 season.

14. Dane Dunning (Rangers) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 is on his third team. The Nationals traded him to the White Sox with two other pitchers (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) for Adam Eaton. The White Sox traded Dunning to the Rangers after the 2020 season to get a veteran pitcher for the 2021 season. Dunning missed all of the 2019 season after Tommy John surgery but had progressed enough that the White Sox put him in their rotation for the 2020 season seven times. He had a 3.97 ERA and limited the opposition to a .197 average. Lynn in 13 starts for the Rangers carried a 3.32 ERA. Lynn only has one more year in his contract before becoming a free agent while Dunning will be controlled by the Rangers for at least five more years. Dunning should start the season in the Rangers rotation in 2021.

15. Triston McKenzie (Indians) - The Indians supplemental first round pick in 2015 had surprising success in the Indians rotation last year, despite being limited to just 90 innings his last two years because of injuries. He did not pitch at all in 2019 because of back issues. The lanky 6′5″ righthander spun together a 3.24 ERA in six starts and 33 innings in the major leagues. Major league hitters hit only .179 against him. At 23 years of age he should gain more weight on his 165 pound frame. This should add some velocity to his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s. He has a quality curveball to go with a slider and change that keeps hitters off balance. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate his success in 2021. The Indians will start him in the rotation in 2021 and whether he stays there will be dictated by his success.

16. Edward Cabrera (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican in 2015 for the bargain price of $100,000. He has journeyed through the minor leagues impressing hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touches triple digits. At 6′5″ and 217 pounds his frame carries intimidation. His secondary pitches could use some improvement. The slider has enough downward bite to get hitters to beat the ball to the ground and there is enough separation of his change compared to his fastball to get swings and misses. The lack of quality secondary pitches and inconsistent command could move him to the bullpen. His 2019 season was a breakout year with a 2.23 ERA and .190 opposition average, both much better than his previous years. Edward could start the 2021 season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Marlins if he achieves success, or a propensity to pitch out of the bullpen.

17. Jordan Balazovic (Twins) - The Canadian was not drafted until the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He has sprouted to 6′5″ and packed on 45 additional pounds to get his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The secondary pitches (slider and change) are commendable pitches that could see him stick in the rotation, but his skills seem to fit better in the bullpen. Jordan has no trouble finding the plate, which should help him stay in the rotation. He has made a slow trek through the minors, finally reaching full season ball in 2019, reaching High A. He will probably start the 2021 season in AA with a Twins appearance sometime in 2022.

18. Hunter Greene (Reds) - It has been a long, slow trek for the player picked second in the 2017 draft. The fastball was triple digit quality but he failed to find the plate. His first year he finished with a 12.46 ERA in three starts covering 4 innings. That improved to 4.48 in 2018. Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2019 season. It will be interesting if he can sustain his three digit heat into the 2021 season. His secondary pitches (slider and change) could allow him to survive in the rotation. His surgery and his premier fastball could move him into the bullpen. He finished his 2018 season in Low A. It will not be until late in the 2022 season before the Reds see him in their rotation.

19. Shane Baz (Rays) - The Rays do a good job of developing starting pitchers. Shane was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2017. The Rays stole him, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the Pirates for Chris Archer. If Baz makes the Rays it will be one of the biggest swindles in baseball. Baz has a fastball that lights the radar gun in the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. His inability to find the plate will make it difficult for him to stay in the rotation. He also lacks a quality third pitch, showing a fastball/slider combination with a pedestrian change. Shane has yet to check in at the 100 inning level in any of his three minor league seasons. The 2021 season could see him start it in AA. Rays fans will have to wait until at least 2022 before they see him in the bullpen, or 2023 before he hits the rotation.

20. Jackson Kowar (Royals) - Kowar pitched with Brady Singer at Florida. The Royals made Singer their first pick and Kowar became pick 1A as he was drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He hopes to join Singer in the Royals rotation in 2021. His fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is has change that complements the fastball that makes him a quality pitcher. His curveball has decent enough action to put him in the middle of the Royals rotation. He finished the 2019 season in AA, but was pretty hittable at that level, the opposition teeing off for a .254 average. His control is good and he gets about one whiff per inning with his fastball/change combination. Jackson should start the 2021 season in AA and could join Singer in the rotation late in 2021 or sometime in 2022.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Lefthanded pitchers are a bit different than righthanders. They tend to throw with less velocity but have more movement on their pitches. They also have to face a batting order that traditionally has more right handed hitters than left handed. But lefthanded pitchers are more valued because there are less of them, and those few are needed to retire some of the more powerful lefthanded bats. Below are the top left handed pitching prospects, some of whom will ultimately end up as relievers. Lefthanders may be one of the more valuable commodities in baseball.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third pick in the 2017 draft may be considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Others who have laid that claim but with little success include Archie Bradley and Mark Prior. The Padres hope Gore will have a better fate. He has four quality pitches, which is something that can not be said about most people on this list. A fastball, curveball, slider and change. The fastball slices through the plate with readings between the low to mid 90s, but it carries a lot of dart and dash. The slider is probably his best strikeout pitch. There are no issues with command of his four pitches. In 2018 when he experienced blister problems his ERA stood ugly at 4.45. When healthy in 2017 and 2019 his ERAs were an impeccable 1.27 and 1.69. Opponents have hit less than .200 in both years in which he was healthy. Myworld would not be surprised if with a good spring he is with the Padres in 2021, though mid season would be the best bet.

2. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - Injuries have prevented him from making a major league impact. The 2016 first round pick got some major league time in relief in 2019, putting together an impressive 3.18 ERA. He was ticketed for the starting rotation in 2020 but shoulder issues ended his season. Puk had Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching in 2018, so injuries have been an issue. At 6′7″ he does not have the same reach as Randy Johnson, but his fastball travels as fast, hitting the high 90s and clipping three digits pretty consistently. He also has more command than Randy, but the Athletics would like to see a little improvement in that area. His slider is an above average pitch but his change is average. It may be best that he abandon his curve. He is supposed to be healthy to start the 2021 season and is slotted to fit in a rotation spot. Whether he can stay healthy is another issue.

3. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The 6′4 inch Dominican lefthander signed for only $600,000 in 2015. That was still the highest international signing for a pitcher that year. At 16 years of age he was already hitting the low 90s with his fastball. Now he probably has the highest readings of any minor league lefthander in baseball, hitting triple digits consistently. He made one appearance in 2020 with the Cubs and only retired two batters, walking three and giving up two hits resulting in a 67.50 ERA. He should get another opportunity at major league hitters to lower that ERA. His other pitches do not have the quality as his fastball, with his slider and change at just average. Command has also been an issue, with a little less than one walk every two innings pitched in 2019. If he can enhance his slider and change he could become a number one starter in the major leagues. If not, there is an opportunity to fill a closer role. The 2021 season should see the Cubs give him opportunities to fill their major league rotation.

4. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers scooped up Tarik in the ninth round of the 2018 draft. He was a promising pitcher out of Seattle University who had missed a season because of Tommy John surgery. He has been dominant in his two minor league seasons, finishing with a 0.40 ERA his first year and 2.42 ERA his second year in 2019. Opponents hit him at a .195 clip and he struck out 212 hitters in just 145 innings. The Tigers called him up mid season in 2020 and he struggled with a 5.63 ERA, giving up 9 homeruns in just 32 innings. His other numbers were good with a .235 opponent batting average and 37 whiffs in 32 innings. The fastball hits the mid 90s and when combined with a quality slider result in a lot of swings and misses. He still needs to improve his changeup and perhaps abandon his curve to have success in the major leagues. Tarik could start the 2021 season in AAA and then get another mid-season callup. A lot of that will depend on how successful his spring is.

5. Garrett Crochet (White Sox) - The 2020 first round pick of the White Sox was still able to pitch in five major league games, despite not having a minor league season. In those five relief appearances he did not allow a run in six innings and struck out eight, without allowing a walk. He also showed a fastball that hit the high 90s and climbed into the triple digit category. The fastball is his premier pitch, but it will probably hover closer to the mid-90s range if the White Sox use him in a starter capacity. At 6′6″ his long arms can get out of synch at times, leading to struggles with command. While his slider is a quality pitch the change and curve need some work. The White Sox will probably have him start the season as a starter in AA and could call him up before the season expires if he is doing well. Last year was their first playoff appearance in a number of years. They don’t need to wait for Garrett to percolate in the minors accruing service time. If he can help them with their rotation, or even in the bullpen in 2021, they will call him up for the playoff run.

6. Daniel Lynch (Royals) - Daniel was one of three first round pitchers for the Royals in 2018. Brady Singer made the rotation last year. Jackson Kowar could make it in 2021. Lynch needs to eat up more innings before he is ready. Minor injuries limited him to just 96 innings in 2019. The signature pitch for Lynch is his slider. His fastball is in the mid-90s but when he wants to get a strikeout the slider is his go to pitch. The change also has potential to be a quality pitch. Standing at 6′6″ Lynch has an intimidating presence on the mound. The Royals will give him time in AA and after the 2021 season he will join Singer and Kowar in the rotation in 2022.

7. Matthew Liberatore (Cardinals) - Matthew was a first round pick of the Rays in 2016. They used his talented left arm to entice the Cardinals to trade them Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. The more heralded Martinez turned into a bust but Arozarena became a homerun machine for the Rays during the playoffs. The Cardinals hope the Rays short term gain will be the Cardinals long term success. The 6′5 lefthander relies more on his breaking pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can climb to 95, but his curveball drops off the table, resulting in lots of ground outs. Liberatore has only seen two balls leave the park in his 111 innings of minor league work. His change is also a promising pitch, while his slider is still in the work in progress stage and may not surpass his curve. The lost 2020 season will probably delay his major league debut until sometime in 2022. He’ll start 2021 in AA and hope that success will carry him to the major leagues.

8. Asa Lacey (Royals) - The first round pick of the Royals in 2020 stands an impressive 6′4″ and carries 215 pounds. His fastball has climbed to the low and mid 90s and when used against a quality slider leave hitters guessing. He also throws a quality change that keeps hitters off balance. The area he needs to work on is the command of his pitches. Not having a 2020 season did not help with that development. After having three years of pitching success with Texas A&M, it won’t take long for him to reach the major leagues. The Royals may start him at AA and he could join Lynch in the rotation sometime by the middle of the 2022 season.

9. Shane McClanahan (Rays) - The 2018 first round supplemental pick lacks the height of the other players rated ahead of him, standing just 6′1″. Despite lacking the long levers of the taller pitchers, Shane can still sling his fastball across the plate in triple digits. He used that fastball to get himself on the Rays playoff roster, without pitching in a regular major league game. He was used in relief in the playoffs and that may be his ultimate role in the major leagues. He got 22 starts in the minor leagues in 2019, but a lack of control results in a high number of walks. The slider is a quality pitch but the change needs some work to give him the requisite three pitches to make it in the starting rotation. The Rays will send him down to the minors in 2021, perhaps placing him in AA where he struggled to a 8.35 ERA in four starts there last year. To save on innings they may then call up him up for the playoff run to use him out of the bullpen again.

10. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld is not a real fan of this multi disciplined pitcher use at the DH or a position role. It has not really worked for Shohei Ohtani at the major league level and McKay has also struggled with it as well. McKay seemed very hittable in his major league debut in 2019 after dominating in the minors. Opponents hit him at a .268 clip in the majors after being limited to a .178 average in his three years in the minors. While he was mainly a hitter in college who pitched in relief, his hitting of major league pitching has become a challenge. He did not pitch the 2020 season because of shoulder issues that ultimately required surgery. He relies more on the command of his pitches to retire hitters, pinpointing his mid 90s fastball while mixing in a quality cutter. His curve ball and change still need some work to be quality major league pitches. Brendan will probably spend the 2021 season pitching in AAA, rehabbing his shoulder. Rays fans may see him late in the 2021 season, depending on how his rehab process goes.

11. Nick Lodolo (Reds) - Lodolo was a first round pick of the Reds in 2019. He pitched briefly that year, striking out 30 in his 18 innings while not allowing one hitter to reach base via a walk. A towering 6′6″, his fastball stays in the low 90s but can hit the mid 90s. Despite his tall frame, he relies on the command of his pitches to retire hitters. It is possible he relies too much in the strike zone as hitters slapped him around for a .247 average. Further development of his slider and change should allow him to remain in the starting rotation, especially with his capability to move the ball to the corners of the plate. Having pitched in college it should not take him long to be fitted into the Reds rotation. Expect him to start the season in High A and move up quickly as he achieves success, making his major league debut in 2022.

12. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The 2017 first round pick is one of many quality arms the Orioles are collecting in the minor leagues. The 6′2 lefty packs mid-90s heat to his fastball, but his biggest challenge is finding the plate enough to get called strikes. In 2019 he walked 54 hitters in 81 innings. The wildness may help because when the hitters want to hit they have been limited to .203 and .189 averages the last two years. Hall throws a change and a curve, but those pitches still need some work to become quality offerings. If he fails to develop a third pitch and continues to struggle finding the strike zone he could be moved to the bullpen. Next year Hall will start the season in AA. They may first use him out of the bullpen when they call him up to the major leagues, but they probably will not do that until 2022.

13. Seth Corry (Giants) - Corry drooped to the third round of the 2017 draft for the Giants. He was just a vanilla pitcher until his curveball developed into a plus pitch in 2019, resulting in a breakout year. In 26 starts in 2019 he limited the opposition to a .171 average, resulting in an impressive ERA of 1.76. He saw no game action in 2020. The 2021 season will determine whether he can continue the mastery of the curveball. The fastball sits in the low 90s and can have occasional mid-90s readings. His change has improved enough to be an above average offering. The 2021 season will see him start in AA with a major league debut in 2022.

14. Reid Detmers (Angels) - The Angels have always been hurting for pitching. They drafted Reid in the first round of the 2020 draft to address that need. Detmers got a lot of whiffs pitching for Louisville in college. He relies more on his curve to retire hitters since his fastball travels across the plate at a pedestrian low 90s. Whether that repertoire will work in striking out major league hitters is open to question. While the Angels need help in pitching now, it may take Detmers a couple years to toe the rubber with the Angels. The Angels may leapfrog him to AA to see how he handles the competition.

15. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The 2016 first round pick has a pretty impressive fastball. Injuries have prevented his rise up the minor league ladder. He missed the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. He came back to make three rehab starts in shortseason ball in 2019. Besides injuries, finding the plate was also a problem. At 6′6″ with a fastball ticking in the high 90s can be intimidating, especially if it is flying all over the place. His curveball was also rated as the best in the 2016 draft. Enhancing his change would give him the three requisite pitches to make it in the starting rotation. Injuries and struggles with command may leave him in a bullpen role. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA at best. He has had the entire 2020 season to use as rehab. The Red Sox bullpen was a shambles last year, so using him in the bullpen in 2022 is a possibility before a starting role opens up for him.

Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, December 14th, 2020

These are the shortstops in the grass. They are expected to cover a lot of ground and should have decent throwing arms. If they have average to weak throwing arms they should have a quick release. If they lack exceptional speed they move to a corner. Because these are the most athletic of the outfield prospects, my world will rate 15 top centerfield prospects.

1. Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets made a good choice by drafting Kelenic in the first round of the 2018 draft. They made a poor choice by trading him and a couple other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools you want in a centerfielder. Speed to patrol the outfield and an arm baserunners have to respect. He also has above average hitting tools that should make him a 20-20 player when he reaches the major leagues. His stolen base production may decrease if he moves to the third slot in the lineup. He was a 20-20 player in 2019 in the minor leagues, slugging 23 homeruns and stealing 20 bases. A reduction in strikeouts (111) could make his average slide above the .300 neighborhood. Expect him to be with the Mariners some time in 2021.

2. Cristian Pache (Braves) - The Braves signed Cristian in 2015 for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic. Shortly after that the Braves were penalized severely for violating international signing limits, losing a number of international players signed in 2015 and 2016. Fortunately for the Braves, Pache was not one of the 12 players lost. He is a better defensive centerfielder than Kelenic, with a stronger arm and greater speed. Once he arrives with the Braves he will appear every year on Gold Glove lists. His bat is not as strong and his tremendous speed does not result in a lot of stolen bases. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 2020 but only got four at bats. In 2019 in the minor leagues he hit .277 with 12 homeruns and 8 stolen bases. His strikeout numbers increased dramatically, but this didn’t seem to impact his overall numbers. Cristian should start the 2021 season as the Braves starting centerfielder.

3. Drew Waters (Braves) - A luxury of riches for the Braves. Obviously both can not play centerfield. The Braves could use the second round 2017 pick as trade bait, or move him to a corner outfield. They could also keep him in centerfield and move Pache to right field, though Pache is the better defensive player. Currently Waters is a player who can drive the ball from gap to gap hitting from both sides of the plate. His Achilles heel is his inability to make consistent contact, with a 39/164 walk to whiff ratio in 2019. More contact and a better read of pitchers could lead to more power and a higher average. He should also arrive with the Braves sometime late in 2021. With both Pache and Waters patrolling the outfield they should have one of the better defensive outfields in the major leagues.

4. Jasson Dominguez (Yankees) - Jasson signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $5.1 million. As a Yankee signing he comes with a lot of accolades. Since he has yet to swing a bat in the minor leagues a lot is unknown about what kind of numbers he will put up. The tools are impressive. He could bulk up, lose some speed and he would still probably be swift enough to cover centerfield. Combine his bat and his speed he should hit in the neighborhood of .300 consistently while creating 30-30 homerun/stolen base numbers. Since there was no 2020 season the 2021 season will do a lot to define this pending superstar. The Yankees will start him somewhere in A ball where he can exhibit his plus five tools. Yankee fans should not expect to see him until 2023.

5. Garrett Mitchell (Brewers) - The 2020 first round pick can run with the wind and has a power arm. The big question mark is whether he can hit minor league pitching. An injury prevented him from putting up any decent numbers in his last college season prior to the draft. His draft prospects dropped and the Brewers could not be happier. Major plusses for Garrett are his 6′3″ frame with a left handed bat that should develop power. The power is already evident in his batting practice swings. A concern is how he will keep his health and maintain his Type 1 diabetes. Since Garrett lacked a minor league season he will probably start 2021 in A ball and will not be seen by Brewer fans until late 2022 at the earliest. As a college drafted player he should move a lot quicker.

6. Hunter Bishop (Giants) - The 2019 first round pick of the Giants is one reason the Giant outfield of the future looks so promising. Heliot Ramos and Alexander Canario are two more reasons. Hunter may have the more complete tools, with the speed to play center and an arm that is strong, but a little light to compete with Ramos for right. Prior to being drafted he showed power with his 22 homeruns in college. That power continued in the minor leagues with five more homeruns in 32 games. A propensity to swing and miss kept his batting average low (.229) but a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio had his OBA rise to .438. Perhaps a little more aggressiveness at the plate could improve his numbers. At 6′5″ he is a pretty intimidating presence at the plate, but he also carries a large strike zone. A good athlete, Bishop thought of playing football as a wide receiver, but chose to focus on baseball. He will rise quickly in the minor leagues, seeing the Giants outfield sometime in 2022.

7. Corbin Carroll (Diamondbacks) - The 2019 first round pick of the Diamondbacks is another player who covers a lot of grass when he chases flyballs in the outfield. The big question with Corbin is his ability to hit for power. He slugged .487 in his minor league debut in 2019, but those numbers were inflated by his speed to hit 7 triples and 9 doubles. His speed should consistently result in 30 plus stolen bases per year. The patience is there to take walks (.409 OBA) but he needs to improve his ability to make more consistent contact to take advantage of his speed. While his arm is strong enough for right field, he could lack the power expected from a corner outfielder. Next year he should start at A ball with a 2023 major league debut sometime late in the season.

8. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Like Corbin, the 2015 Dominican signing has a lot of speed to cover the middle of the outfield. The questions remain about his ability to hit. He has spent a lot of years in the minors, stitching together a career .260 batting average with a .358 slugging. Those numbers fall short of being welcome in a corner outfield, but could be acceptable with gold glove defense in centerfield. The glove is exceptional and the speed will result in 20 plus stolen bases per year. Leody made his major league debut last year. The bat was a little light (.227) but he slugged four homeruns for a .395 slugging percentage in 33 games. The batting average was a career low but the slugging was a career high. Spring training will dictate where he plays in 2021. Myworld suspects he will start in AAA and be promoted mid season if he improves his bat.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - Myworld has a soft spot for the 2016 third round pick. We coached his sister for a little bit ( a couple clinics) in volleyball. He played high school at Flint Hill where he earned Gatorade player of the year for Virginia. The arm is suited for right field but his speed is enough to patrol center. His bat showed some trouble making contact in 2019 with 154 strikeouts, limiting his average to .264. He did have an impressive 53 steals in 2019. With improved barrel of bat on ball contact his power should rise as his ability to get on base improves. The Royals did not see enough in him to call him up in 2020 so expect him to spend the year in AAA in 2021, with a callup late in the year.

10. Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike and the Astros supplemental first round pick in 2015 has the above average tools to be a five tool player light. The Tigers acquired him in the Justin Verlander trade. It has been awhile since the Tigers had a true centerfielder. Daz could fit that role. The one major question mark is his ability to hit. In 2019 he could only muster a .214 average with 152 whiffs. The Tigers gave him an opportunity to roam their outfield last year, but in 17 games his bat was only good for a .193 average. He has shown patience at the plate, taking enough walks to keep his OBA above .330. With that he would be on base enough to steal 30 plus bases per year. With a good spring, showing an improved bat he could start out the 2021 season as the Tigers centerfielder. Myworld suspects AAA will be his most likely start.

11. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - As he bulks up myworld suspects right field will be his ultimate destination, but he missed out on making the top ten there. The Yankees outfield is a little crowded and Estevan did not help himself any by putting up a .237 average in 2019. He has also been limited to less than 100 games his last two years because of injuries. The power is there but he has not slugged over .500 since his first year in the minors in 2015. Haitian born, based on his birth certificate, he spent most of his youth going to school in the Dominican Republic. Last year Estevan appeared in one major league game, striking out in two of his three at bats, but getting a single in his other. He will start 2021 in AAA but with the always fragile Yankee outfield, it would not be a surprise to see him in the Yankee outfield at many points during the season.

12. Pete Crow-Armstrong (Mets) - Like Hassell on the right field prospect list, Armstrong also made the All World team at the 18 and under World Cup. It was enough for the Mets to make him a first round pick in 2020. He lacks the tools of a Jarred Kelenic, especially in the power department. There is the ability to make good contact to hit for a decent average. He did hit .364 with three triples and three stolen bases at the 18 and under world cup. Since he has not seen any professional time, Pete will probably begin the season in A ball. Mets fans should not expect to see him until 2023, right after Kelenic wins the American League rookie of the Year award.

13. Josh Lowe (Rays) - The 2016 first round pick has a big time power bat that is expected from a 6′4″ frame. He also carries a strong arm and glides with deer like speed in the outfield. In 2019 he had a breakout season, slugging 18 homeruns with a career high .442 slugging. His 132 whiffs in 121 games was too much for his batting average, keeping it at .252. Last year he stole a career high 30 bases. Since he will be hitting in a power spot in the lineup, this should not be expected to last. The position he may be best suited for is right field but he needs to develop more power in the games, rather than leave it at batting practice. Next year he should be patrolling the Rays AAA outfield with a good chance of promotion in 2021 to take advantage of his power bat and cheap salary.

14. Gilberto Jimenez (Red Sox) - Jimenez signed for the paltry amount of $10,000 in 2017. The tools have been in evidence, especially his blazing speed. The power is negligible. He did hit his first three homeruns last year. His career .444 slugging percentage is attributed to his speed, turning singles into double and doubles into triples. He has stolen 30 bases in his two minor league seasons. In 2019 he won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average. Gilberto has yet to play full season ball and with short season absent for 2021 he should start next year somewhere in A ball with a major league appearance expected for 2023.

15. Luis Barrera (Athletics) - The 2012 Dominican signing has risen past Lazaro Armenteros, Austin Beck and Skye Bolt for outfield relevance in the Athletics minor league system. His speed is top shelf but his power is invisible. His highest homerun total in his snailish pace up the minor league ladder was seven in 2017. His ability to hit triples keeps his slugging average at a respectable .412. Despite his blazing speed his stolen base numbers are tame, but that could be the result of the Athletics deemphasis on the stolen base. His 2019 season was shortened to 54 games, but not before he hit .321, with a .513 slugging, both of which would have been career highs if he maintained that pace. The 2021 season should be spent in AAA, but Luis deserves a shot in the Athletics outfield at some point during the season.

Top Right Field Prospects

Friday, December 11th, 2020

These are the players with the strong arms that are not fleet afoot. They also have power bats. In a previous post we did the top left field prospects, whose arms are usually suspect. The throw from right field to third base is the longest in baseball, requiring a strong arm. Next myworld will list our top centerfield prospects. Some players left off the centerfield prospect list could probably make the right field or left field prospect list because the centerfielders tend to be the more athletic of the three positions.

1. Julio Rodriguez (Mariners) - Only 19 years old, the Dominican signed for $1.75 million in 2017. Most five tool players are planted in centerfield. For Julio, he has all five tools, but speed may be his shortcoming. As he matures and gets bigger that speed may drop to average. A strong arm and a power bat makes him a cinch for right field. His bat was only allowed to show itself for one minor league season in the United States, where he hit .326 with 12 homeruns and a .540 slugging percentage. The bulk of those numbers were accrued in the California League where in 17 games he hit .468 with a .738 slugging percentage. He has the potential to be one of the most potent bats in the major leagues in the next couple years. Expect him to play a full season in AA in 2021 with a possible late season major league promotion in 2022. Or he could pull a Juan Soto and hit so impressively in AA that he gets a mid-season promotion.

2. J.J. Bleday (Marlins) - The Marlins 2019 first round pick has a big time power bat. His speed is a tick below average but his arm is strong. Myworld saw him play in the College World Series in 2019, so we could be a bit biased in this ranking. He was the NCAA Division homerun leader in 2019 with 27. He had part of a season in the Florida State League and slugged three more dingers, with a .257 batting average and a disappointing .379 slugging percentage. College players who have played into the World Series come into the minor league season with their energy a bit sapped. His 6′3″ frame is built for power with a lefthanded swing that makes consistent contact. He should rise quickly in Miami, perhaps making his major league debut as early as 2021.

3. Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) - The 2016 first round pick made his major league debut last season. Major league pitching proved to be a bit elusive for him, with a .200 batting average in 35 games and a poor 8/35 walk to whiff ratio. He had a breakout season in 2019 with 26 homeruns and a .542 slugging percentage. Prior to his 2019 season his batting average hovered around the .250 range, but the 2019 season saw it climb to .292, despite his poorer walk to whiff rate. The speed exists to play center, but it is not burner speed and the arm is above average, but it would not rank at the level of Rodriguez. Dylan should be the starting rightfielder for the Cardinals in 2021.

4. Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks) - The toolsy outfielder from the Bahamas signed for a sweet $2.5 million in 2017. Like Rodriguez, he has all the tools to play center, but his speed lacks the burner quality of most of the top prospects who play that position. His arm has plenty of zip for right. As a 17 year old he was already playing in the United States rookie leagues and hitting .279, showing some pop with his seven homeruns and a .428 slugging percentage. His youth made him a bit overmatched against the top pitchers, which could explain his high 144 whiffs in 126 minor league games. The expectation is that his contact rate will improve as he sees more pitches. Expect to see him reach the major league some time late in the 2022 season.

5. Brandon Marsh (Angels) - This 2016 second round pick has all the quality tools to play centerfield. The Angels appear to have a more talented player at that position in Mike Trout. Perhaps Marsh will force Trout to slide over to right field. So far, Marsh has not shown the power his 6′4″ frame would seem to carry. He did slug .548 in his first season of minor league ball in 2017, but the next two seasons his slugging average dropped to .408. His ability to make contact seemed to improve in 2019. The Angels outfield is crowded, but Marsh should have the ability to squeeze in a role sometime in 2021.

6. Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick out of Puerto Rico took a little back step in 2018, struggling with a .245 average with 136 strikeouts in 124 games. He improved on those numbers in 2019, polishing up his prospect luster with a .290 average and raising his slugging average from .396 to .481. Speed will be his weakest tool, but it is more than capable for playing centerfield if the Giants choose to use him there. As he puts on more weight to his 6′0″ frame that speed may decrease. Over the years the Giants outfield has been traditionally weak, ever since the departure of Barry Bonds. Over the last couple years it has strengthened the farm system with Hunter Bishop and Alexander Canario also being considered top level prospects. Ramos should see his tools test major league pitching sometime in 2021.

7. Jesus Sanchez (Marlins) - The 2014 signing out of the Dominican Republic was a bargain for Tampa Bay at $400,000. They eventually traded him to the Marlins for a couple pitchers (Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards). Early in his career he carried the speed to play centerfield. He has added a bit to his 6′3″ frame and now carries about 220 pounds, making right field a better fit for him. With Bleday in right he may have to move to left field. His bat does not carry the explosive power of Bleday and could be a little short for left field. His minor league slugging percentage sits at .459, but that has been inflated by his earlier years when his numbers were much higher. Jesus made his major league debut last year and could only muster one hit, a double in 25 at bats. The 2021 season should see him start the season in AAA with another promotion from the Marlins if his minor league numbers warrant it.

8. Robert Hassell (Padres) - Not a lot is known about the 2020 first round pick. He played for the United States 18 and under team and was selected to the All World team after hitting .514 with a .886 slugging percentage created from 5 doubles and two homeruns. He also drove in 14 runs. That motivated the Padres to make him the first high school player selected in the 2020 draft. His arm is not a cannon and his speed is a tick above average. His best tool could be his ability to hit for average. It will be a couple years before the Padres see him patrolling their outfield grass.

9. Brennen Davis (Cubs) - The 2018 second round pick has the speed to cover centerfield. As his 6′4″ frame fills out his speed should reduce, making him more adaptable for right field. His power is beginning to develop. In his first year of minor league ball he failed to send a ball over the fence in 57 at bats, slugging a weak .333. The next year eight balls left the yard and his slugging average elevated to .525. He was limited to 50 games that year because of injuries. Despite his above average speed it has not translated to stolen bases. It will still be a couple more years before he sees the Cubs outfield. The 2019 injury only allowed him to play 50 games in A ball. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball with a quick promotion if the season warrants it.

10. Austin Hendrick (Reds) - Austin was the 12th pick in the 2020 draft. The lefthanded bat carries impressive power with speed just above average that would allow him to survive in center. There is a question on his ability to make contact, but since there was no 2020 minor league season it is unclear how he will adapt to professional pitching. He struggled a bit with Team USA when facing quality pitching. Reds fans will probably have to wait until 2024 before they see him roam their outfield.

Mel Rojas Jr. Gets Big Pay Day in Japan

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Mel Rojas Jr. could not make a major league roster. He was signed by a Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) team where he shined for three years, winning MVP last year after hitting 47 homeruns and driving in 135 runs. The Hanshin Tigers in Japan have rewarded him for his efforts, signing him to a contract that is worth an estimated $5 million over two years with $500,000 in incentives for each year of the deal.

Major league teams and other Japanese teams such as the Yomiuri Giants were also interested in signing Rojas. The major league teams were not close to reaching the $5 million that Hanshin reportedly gave Rojas. The Giants may have had foreign roster limits that may have made it difficult to sign Rojas for that kind of money. Any KBO team could not financially afford such a large contract. So Rojas Jr. has seen his big pay day, after going from the United States, to Korea to Japan.

Eric Thames is another ex KBO player that put up similar numbers as Rojas in the KBO and also winning MVP honors. He returned to the major leagues, signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming a free agent after disappointing seaons and then signing with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals did not sign him after this season after he put up disappointing numbers. Thames has not put up the numbers in the major leagues that he put up in the KBO, which could have been a reason any contract offers did not match the Hanshin Tigers.

Mel Rojas Jr. is the son of ex-major leaguer Mel Rojas. He was a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 2010.