Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Phillies Announce their Arrival to Nats

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Prior to the start of the season many had predicted the Nationals would easily win the NL East. The Braves and Phillies have changed that narrative. The Braves find themselves in first place in the NC East and the Phillies blew past the Nationals after beating them a second straight day to take second place. The Nationals are bottomed in third place.

Yesterday Maikel Franco had a perfect 4 for 4 day, running the bases like a wild man. He made headfirst slides into third, second and slid into home twice as part of his four hits. On his slide into second he was called out for over sliding the base. His two slides home scored the tying and go ahead runs. He also drove in a run with a single in the eighth.

Aaron Nola got the start for the Phillies. The Nationals got to him early. After Nola retired the first two hitters Anthony Rendon beat out an infield roller to third. Juan Soto blasted a pitch to left center field that bounced into the bullpen for a ground rule double. Daniel Murphy finally put some juice in his bat grounding a single up the middle to score two runs.

After the first inning the Nationals could not get to Nola. He gave up a leadoff hit to Wilmer Difo in the second inning, but that was the last hit off him through six. The Phillies pinch hit for Nola in the seventh.

The Nationals started rookie Erick Fedde. He gave up the early 2-0 lead very quickly. Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, Jorge Alfaro and even the .036 hitting Aron Nola touched Fedde for singles scoring two runs. On the Nola single to score the second run it appeared Maikel Franco was a dead duck as he raced toward home, but the throw from Eaton was to the first base side of the bag and by the time Specer Kieboom reached over to tag Franco he had just touched the plate.

The game remained scoreless until the seventh. Maikel Franco led off with a line drive double into left center. He raced to third on a slow high bouncer to short. Jesmuel Valentin pinch hit for Nola and drove one to medium deep right field. Franco tagged and again the throw from Eaton was to the first base side of home, allowing Franco to slide in ahead of the throw.

In the eighth inning the Phillies did not treat newly acquired Kelvin Herrera well. Carlos Santana popped an opposite field shot into the Phillies bullpen to make it 4-2. Scott Kingery walked and stole second. The pesky Maikel Franco bounced a pitch up the middle. Wilmer Difo could have knocked the ball down to prevent Kingery from scoring but it skipped past his glove and into centerfield, Kingery cruising home with the fifth run.

The Nationals got their sixth hit and third run in the eighth when Anthony Rendon blasted a Adams Morgan pitch into the corner front row seats of the right center field bleachers.

Game Notes: The Nationals are now 6-9 versus the Braves and the Phillies…In addition to his two off the line throws home, Adam Eaton went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Not a good day at the ballpark for Adam…Tommie Hunter has always liked talking about food. That food is starting to take shape in his body as he is looking more like Bartolo Colon. He still throws his fastball at 96/97…The win for Aaron Nola improves his record to 9-2. You could say he is the Max Scherzer of the Phillies….Seranthony Dominguez looks good early for the Phillies. He retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out two of the three hitters he faced for his fifth save. His fastball pounds the plate at 98…The two starting pitchers, Aaron Nola and Erick Fedde were first round picks in the 2014 draft. Fedde is a later arrival after undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2014 draft.

Top Minor League Third Base Prospects

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Below are myworld’s Top minor league third base prospects for 2018. Nick Senzel would be here but we listed him as a second base prospect since we don’t anticipate him playing there with Eugenio Suarez signed to a long term contract.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) - The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr. may be the best prospect in baseball right now. He is on the disabled list currently with a leg injury. Prior to the injury his bat could not be quieted hitting .407 with 11 homeruns in AA in just 53 games. His OPS was 1.124. If not for the injury he could be up with the Blue Jays playing third base. The concerns over his inability to play the position have evaporated. His arm is strong like his dad and his glove has developed more consistency. Unlike his dad he does not swing at everything, having the patience at the plate to take a walk. His 20/21 walk to whiff ratio is impressive for a hitter with power.

2. Austin Riley (Braves) - Another player currently on the disabled list since early June. Prior to that the 2015 supplemental first round pick was tearing it up in both AA and AAA. Combined he is hitting .308 with 10 homeruns and a .922 OPS. Last year he slugged 20 homeruns. If not for the injury he also could be playing with the Braves. He does swing and miss a lot (66 in 53 games) and ideally the Braves would like to see him show more patience. This lack of patience could be exploited by major league pitchers. He has improve his quickness at third base and should be an above average defensive player.

3. Kevin Maitan (Angels) - At one point he was with the Braves signing for $4.25 million out of Venezuela in 2016. The Braves had to release him after they were found in violation of international salary cap rules. The Angels signed him for $2.2 million. Signed as a shortstop his body has gotten too stocky in the lower half to play the position. The Angels have still played him five games at short and two at third in the Rookie League this year. He has made four errors in the seven games he has played, three of them at short. His bat has been explosive with a .433 average. His only extra base hit of his 13 hits has been a homerun. Maitan is only 18 years old and should develop power as he matures in the minor leagues.

4. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The 2016 second round pick has a big time power bat. Last year he hit 15 homeruns with 33 doubles. Improving his plate discipline (35/95 walk to whiff ratio) would help improve his batting average (.256) and consistency at the plate. Waiting to swing at his pitch rather than the pitchers would increase the homerun output. This year in AA his power has dropped with only five homeruns and a .342 slugging average. His walk to whiff ratio has improved (21/44) but his batting average has not (.235). It may take him some time to acclimate to AA pitching. He should have a good glove for third though he needs to be more consistent there as well and reduce his error total (13 in 64 games).

5. Taylor Ward (Angels) - Originally drafted as a catcher in the first round of the 2015 draft the Angels felt his bat would be better served if he did not have to catch. His arm was good for behind the plate and he showed some of the other intangibles needed for catching but his bat was a disappointment. This year he moved to third and his bat has exploded, hitting .336 with 9 homeruns between AA and AAA. Defensively he has been a bit shaky with 8 errors in 47 games but the Angels hope with continued repetition he will adapt to the position. If he continues to hit as he does expect him to make his major league debut sometime in September to help the Angels make the playoffs.

6. Randy Cesar (Astros) - The Astros signed the Dominican back in 2011. He played a couple years in the Dominican League and a couple years in the short season leagues. In 2016 in the New York Penn League he showed what he could do with a .389 average. This year he is setting the Texas League on fire, breaking their record for the longest hitting streak at 37. As his frame has filled out his power is starting to develop. This year he is hitting .354 with 8 homeruns and a .927 OPS. Better patience at the plate (14/58) could enhance those numbers. His defense at third is a bit marginal with 9 errors 39 games. He also has played some first base this year to improve his versatility. Wherever he plays the Astros have a crowded position but as long as his bat plays the Astros will find room for him.

7. James Nelson (Marlins) - James was a 15th round pick in 2016. He is the nephew of former 2004 first round pick Chris Nelson, who did not have a long major league career. As a 15th round pick James does not come with the high expectations. A quick bat has produced 41 doubles in 145 games with a .302 average. That got him the Marlins player of the year award last year. This year he has spent most of his time on the disabled list. Recently activated he is hitting .300 in eight games in High A. With Brian Anderson seeing most of his time in the outfield the third base job is open for him in a couple years.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - The second round 2016 pick has a power bat, last year slugging 4 homeruns with a .482 slugging in the short season league. He showed excellent patience at the plate with 43 walks for a .430 OBA. This year that power is being shown for the first time in a full season league with 8 homeruns and a .425 slugging. His patience is still there (40 walks, .385 OBA) leading to a .266 average. Defensively he still needs to find more consistency at third, committing 13 errors in 50 games. A move to the outfield is still a possibility.

9. Colton Welker (Rockies) - The fourth round 2016 pick has Nolan Arenado in his way at third. By the time Colton is ready for the major leagues Nolan will be a free agent or signed to a long term deal. In the California League Colton is showing good pop with 7 homeruns, 16 doubles and a .448 slugging percentage. A lack of speed will prevent a move to the outfield. This year his third base play has improved so he appears to have the arm and glove for the position. A lack of quickness may impact his range, but if his bat continues to hit for power the Rockies will keep him at third.

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie was drafted in the first round by the Pirates in 2015. His power has been a disappointment, a tool he will need to play this position. Last year he only hit two homeruns with a .363 slugging. This year in AA he has improved on that with three homeruns and a.428 slugging, still a bit short of what teams are looking for in a third baseman. He is a plus defender, so if the bat develops the glove will be an asset at the position.

Soto Leads Nationals Over O’s

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Juan Soto has been a revelation to the Nationals. With runners on first and third and no outs Anthony Rendon had just struck out. The previous inning the Nationals had a runner on third with no out and could not score. National fans were getting a little anxious as they faced another opportunity wasted. Soto took the next pitch for a strike. The second pitch he drove into left centerfield for a two run double, scoring Bryce Harper and Trea Turner to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Without Soto providing some clutch hits to this injury marred lineup the Nationals would be a non-contender. Sean Doolittle came on to pitch the ninth and retired the Orioles in order.

Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals. In the second inning Colby Rasmus carried him deep into centerfield to give the Orioles an early 1-0 lead. Scherzer got some swings and misses, striking out nine in seven innings of work, but he had a number of balls hit hard against him. One nice thing about Scherzer. When he pitches games are usually less than three hours.

The Nationals were able to tie the game off Kevin Gausman in the bottom of the third. Wilmer Difo started the inning lining a single into left field. Pedro Severino has been showing a quiet bat this year, but he lined a double into the left field corner to advance Difo to third. After a Max Scherzer strike out Bryce Harper poked one far enough into left field to score Difo with the tying run.

Scherzer has been a little prone to the homerun ball. Trumbo reminded him of that fact in the fourth when he took him deep into the right centerfield bleachers to lead off the fourth inning. He smoked the first pitch thrown by Scherzer.

Gausman was aided by a couple double play balls, but in the sixth he had come close to 100 pitches. Anthony Rendon led off the sixth and smoked a 1-2 slider into the Brew House in centerfield to tie the game at 2-2. Gausmann would retire the next three hitters and did not come out for the seventh.

Other than the two solo shots the Orioles could not mount much of an offense. Kelvin Herrera retired them in order in the eighth and Doolittle retired them in order in the ninth.

Game Notes: Chris Davis has been absent from the lineup. Myworld does not even see him in the dugout. In the seventh inning the Orioles chose to pinch hit Danny Valencia for the pitcher with a runner on first and two out. Valencia struck out. Reports have him working with Brady Anderson on his swing. He will be available for the next series…Jonathan Schoop is another player who is underperforming. His average dropped to .209 after an 0 for 4 day…Bryce Harper had his average drop to .209 entering this game. His slump had extended to 2 for 32 in his last nine games. A double in the sixth, in addition to two walks and a sacrifice fly raised it back to .213. His drop in offense will lose him $10 million or so a year in salary…Steve Wilkerson made his Oriole starting debut at third base. He made a stellar defensive play, diving for a ball and throwing Michael Taylor out. Offensively he went 0 for 2 with a walk…Max Scherzer threw a wild pitch that dropped 10 feet in front of home and two feet outside the plate…The Nationals will play the Phillies this weekend. The Orioles will travel to Atlanta to play the Braves.

Turner Leads Nationals Over O’s

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Myworld was in D.C. to watch the O’s play the Nationals. In the past the O’s have beaten up on the Nationals even though they were not the better team. In their first series in Baltimore this year the Nationals swept them. With Trea Turner hitting a triple short of the cycle in a 4 for 4 day the Nationals outslugged the Orioles 9-6.

Trea Turner started out the scoring for the game, turning on a pitch from David Hess in the second inning for a solo homerun into the Orioles bullpen. Jefry Rodriguez was getting his second start in the majors for the Nationals and after sailing through the first two innings he gave up a pair of two run homeruns in the next two innings. Jace Peterson tagged a pitch into the Nationals bullpen in the third inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Trey Mancini slugged a two run homerun into the Orioles bullpen in the fourth inning to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead.

The Orioles tacked on another run in the top of the fifth when Rodriguez walked pitcher David Hess to lead off the inning. A walk to Jace Peterson and a hit by pitch to Adam Jones loaded the bases with no outs. Rodriguez wiggled out of the inning coaxing Machado to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. A Trumbo strikeout ended the inning and kept the Nationals deficit to 5-1.

David Hess had a one hitter through four, the Turner solo shot in the second. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin popped to short. With one out Adam Eaton hit a slow roller into the hole at third base. Machado broke for the ball but it just missed the glove, dribbling out to left field and allowing two runs to score. A walk to Juan Soto loaded the bases again for a Anthony Rendon sacrifice fly to pull the Nationals within one. The slumping Bryce Harper blooped a double over third base to tie the game and ended the day for Hess. Miguel Castro got Daniel Murphy to ground to first to end the rally.

In the top of the sixth Jonathan Schoop led the inning off with a triple. After a walk to Danny Valencia, Trey Mancini bounced one back to the pitcher. Schoop broke off third base too far and was run down by Trea Turner for the first out. The Nationals tried to turn two with the bases loaded, allowing a run to score to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead. A double steal with Corban Joseph going to second and Trey Mancini breaking for home after the throw to second proved disastrous after Mancini was gunned down at home for the third out.

Down by one the Nationals turned on rookie Tanner Scott. Adam Eaton started the inning with a drag bunt single to second base. Juan Soto lined a single into centerfield. Anthony Rendon doubled to left centerfield to score two runs to give them the lead. With a runner on third and one out George Wright replaced Scott. Michael Taylor grounded a single past a drawn in infield, hitting the glove of Machado. A Wilmer Difo RBI single upped the Nationals lead to 9-6. Spencer Kieboom laid down a bunt but Turner was caught too far off third base. He was eventually tagged out as he encouraged Difo to take third. Wilmer Difo broke too late for third and he was also tagged out.

The Nationals used recently acquired Kelvin Herrera for the first time. He retired the side in order in the eighth. Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth and gave up a solo homerun to Joey Rickard to close to within two. That was all the O’s could accomplish.

Game Notes: Jefry Rodriguez had a fastball consistently hitting 96-98. He rarely threw his curveball, but when he did he got swings and misses. Judging from his performance, at this point he appears to be a two pitch pitcher, fastball and curve. Jace Peterson hit a first pitch fastball for his homerun in the third inning. Trey Mancini went deep against Rodriguez on a 2-2 count. The walk to the pitcher in the fifth was damaging…Trea Turner made an exceptional play at short, sliding to his back hand side to pick up a ground ball and gunning down the runner at first. Defensively he is superior to Machado at short…Buck walked Bryce Harper intentionally in the eighth with runners on first and second with two out. It paid off for him when Pedro Severino popped out to second…Kelvin Herrera was hitting 98 with his fastball.

O’s Break Nine Game Losing Streak

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It was tough for myworld to be motivated to drive all the way to Baltimore to watch two of the worst teams in baseball battle it out for the second round pick in the 2019 draft. The Orioles had lost the first two games, but the Sunday performance their bats came alive for a 10-4 win. Jace Peterson had a big day with a two run double in the second and a two run homer in the fifth, his first homerun of the year.

Trevor Richards got the start for the Marlins. The rookie had nothing, giving up six runs in less than four innings. The first inning he retired the O’s in order. The subsequent innings were less than glamorous. Mark Trumbo started the second inning slapping a single to right. Jonathan Schoop grounded a pitch down the third base line to the left field corner for a double. Jace Peterson drove them both in with a blast into center field that bounced into the bleachers for a ground rule double, driving in the first two runs.

In the third Richards retired the first two hitters. Manny Machado lined a single to left field. Mark Trumbo followed by driving a pitch deep to left. Derek Dietrich ran back for the ball, leaped at the wall, but the ball fell short, dropping below his glove for a double. After Jonathan Schoop walked to load the bases Trey Mancini grounded a single up the middle to score two more runs.

Dylan Bundy has been susceptible to the homerun ball. In the first three innings he shut down the Marlins. With one out in the fourth Justin Bour drove one into the right field bleachers to score the Marlins first run.

The Orioles responded in the bottom of the fourth, Craig Gentry and Austin Wynns starting the inning with back to back singles. Adam Jones drove a pitch into centerfield that one hopped the wall for a double driving in two runs and increasing the O’s lead to 6-1. The double ended the day for Richards.

Merandy Gonzalez came in and saved the Marlin bullpen, working two outs into the eighth inning. His work was not without blemish. Jace Peterson lined a pitch over the right field scoreboard to give the Orioles another two runs for an 8-1 lead.

Justin Bour tried to make a game of it in the sixth. Dietrich started the inning with a bloop single into center and Brian Anderson walked. With one out Justin Bour tagged a Bundy pitch over the right field bleachers hitting the gates behind the bleacher seats. Starling Castro followed with a double down the right field line. Bundy was able to retire the next two hitters to keep the Orioles ahead 8-4 but his day was done.

Miguel Castro started the seventh for the O’s. He could not get anyone out, giving up back to back singles and then walking the next hitter to load the bases with no outs. Mychal Givens came on to pitch, striking out Brian Anderson and then getting J.T. Realmuto to fly to shallow left. Buck went with lefty Tanner Scott to face the lefty swinging Bour, despite his trouble finding the strike zone. Scott ran the count 2-2, freezing Justin Bour on a 96 mile per hour fastball for strike three. A third homerun would have tied the game.

That was it for the Marlins. Mark Trumbo hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Manny Machado drove in a run with a single in the eighth. Zach Britton came on in the ninth to preserve the lead and end the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Game Notes: The O’s gave all the males coming to the game father’s day ties with the word Orioles scripted into the tie. Myworld wears a tie once every four years or so…The Orioles have a steal second base contest in the bottom of the fifth as the grounds crew replaces the bases. As a girl was running toward second base Cameron Maybin, the Marlins centerfielder grabbed the wrong base (the replacement base) and handed it to the girl. The grounds crew was able to retrieve the base and replace the second base bag in the bottom of the sixth…Derek Dietrich has shown me he does not play left field well. He allowed the double to fall in front of him as he leaped at the fence, and he almost missed a routine fly ball in the fourth, landing to his knee as he caught the ball…Journeyman Corban Joesph played first base instead of Chris Davis. He batted leadoff going 0 for 4. Chance Sisco was optioned to the minors and his brother Caleb Joseph was promoted. That has got to be a thrill for the two brothers, to be in the major leagues for the first time together. The Orioles do not have much else to play for so why not make two brothers happy and put them both in the lineup for the Nationals game.

Franco Homer Leaders Stripers Over Punchless Bulls

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Carlos Franco hit a two run homerun in the opening frame and it proved to be the difference in the Gwinnett Stripers 3-2 win over the Durham Bulls. In the three days myworld was in Durham the Bulls only scored four runs in three games, losing them all. Management helped me pack my bags for departure last night (kidding).

Kolby Allard got the start for Gwinnett. He is another small pitcher (listed at 6′1″ but not big of frame) with a fastball that sits in the high 80s and low 90s. The Braves drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. If he makes the rotation it will be back end. Myworld does not think he will be as effective against hitters the third time through the order. He has a nice curve ball and locates his pitches well, but the stuff appears too predictable the third time through the order.

That proved true last night. Allard allowed two hits and one walk in his first four innings of work. One of those runners was picked off in the second when he broke for second as Allard tossed to first. In the fifth the Bulls seemed to have figured Allard out. The first four hitters in the lineup got hits to score one with an out recorded when leadoff hitter Andrew Velasquez tried to stretch a single into a double. With two out Kean Wong blooped a hit over short to score the second run to close the 3-0 Striper lead to 3-2. The Bulls got two hard outs in the sixth and Allard did not come out for the seventh. He did strike out seven in the game.

The Bulls started Yonny Chirinos. He is an extremely slow worker, especially with runners on base. His fastball can hit 95 but sits in the low 90s. In the first he gave up a leadoff single to Danny Santana. A wild pitch advanced him to second, but with two out it did not matter when Carlos Franco blasted his eleventh homer to straight away centerfield to give the Stripers an early 2-0 lead.

They scored another run in the fourth, two singles and a walk loading the bases. Chirinos walked Xavier Avery to force in a run and it appeared his day was about done. Sean Kazmar Jr grounded a pitch up the middle. Second baseman Brandon Lowe made a nice diving stop, then glove flipped the ball to shortstop Andrew Velasquez at short, who threw to first to complete the double play and keep Durham in the game. Chirinos retired the first two hitters in the fifth and was removed from the game one out from pitching five innings, throwing 72 pitches. Perhaps Jared Sandberg had something to do last night and couldn’t wait for each pitch from Chirinos.

Defense continued to play a big part of the remaining part of this game. Xavier Avery made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth inning to prevent a blast by Justin Williams from hitting the top of the wall, or at least going over. Shortstop Sean Kazmar made a nice play in the ninth on a slow roller hit by Velasquez, his throw barely beating the runner to first with Brandon Lowe advancing to third. If he doesn’t make that play it would be first and third with one out in a one run game with the tying run on third. Catcher Nick Ciuffo made an excellent play behind the plate on a ball that hit the dirt and bounded away from him. He was still able to retrieve the ball and gun it to second to retire Michael Reed. Second baseman Phil Gosselin made a good play on a hard grounder that went off the glove of Carlos Franco in the sixth for a rare 3-4-3 play to get one out.

In the ninth the crowd witnessed a scary incident. Josh Ravin came on to pitch the inning to close out the game. His first pitch was lined up the middle by Justin Williams, hitting Ravin in the forehead. After stumbling off the mound he collapsed to the third base side of the mound. Eventually he was able to get up on his own power, holding a towel to his forehead and hopped on a cart to take him to a hospital.

Evan Phillips came on to finish the game. He stranded Lowe at third, striking out Ji-Man Choi swinging for the third out. It was the second time in two days Choi struck out when a homerun would have won the game.

Game notes: Gwinnett changed their name from Braves to Stripers. Don’t know if the lime green uniform jerseys are new but they certainly are flashy…Yuta Okazaki was born in Tokyo, Japan and is listed as a catcher for the Stripers. He went to college in the United States (Rollins and University of Connecticut), played in the Independent League for a couple years and signed with the Braves for the 2018 season. He is 26 years old…Myworld enjoyed the empanadas sold at the park. They have six flavors and myworld would recommend them. You get three for $9…At the game a girl was wearing a t-shirt with “Cocks” in big letters. Below that was University of South Carolina. I know the Gamecocks have played the USC Trojans in a football game headlined “Trojans Smother Cocks” but myworld does not know if the Gamecocks have ever played the Oregon State Beavers?…Jason Hursh struck out the side in his inning of work for the Stripers…In the third inning myworld noticed Nick Ciuffo looking at a tablet he pulled from his back pocket after the Bulls recorded the second out. Myworld is pretty certain he was not looking at his email while behind the plate but he may have had notes on this tablet and reviewed it to remind himself how they were going to pitch to the next hitter Dustin Peterson…Jamie Schultz has some good stuff for the Bulls. His balls dance at 96-98, but he has trouble locating them. The three hitters he faced in the seventh and eighth failed to put the ball in play as he struck out two and walked one. Just watching him warmup four or five balls hit the back stop…Andrew Kittridge was not as impressive with his stuff, but he faced six hitters in the fifth and sixth innings and no hitter put the ball in play. He walked two and struck out four…The nine pitchers combined for 22 whiffs, 11 for each side.

2018 Top Ten Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

This completes our top ten lists from around the world. I put this together before the season started so players like Ronald Acuna might not be considered prospects anymore. Eiias Diaz and Jose Martinez graduated from this list because of their major league time last year.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Hard to believe he was only number four on the list from last year. After one year in the minor leagues he shot up to the best prospect in baseball (tied with Shohei Ohtani from myworld’s list). After a short 17 game warm up in AAA where he looked a bit rusty, hitting just .232 Acuna was promoted to the Braves. He started out strong but has cooled down to a .265 average with 5 homeruns. A knee injury in late May put him on the disabled list. He will be a player who provides all five tools, gold glove defense in centerfield, a strong arm, power, speed and the ability to hit for average.

2. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - When the 2017 list was put together Keibert was playing in rookie ball. Maybe myworld should have noted his .374 average in 56 games. Last year in full season ball his bat kept on raking, hitting .316 between Low and High A. He also showed a little bit of pop with 8 homeruns and good patience at the plate with a 25/53 walk to whiff ratio. He needs a little work on his defensive game and teams are not afraid to run against him. Last year he only caught 26 runners while 91 achieved success. This year he is 11 for 43 in catching base stealers. The bat has also cooled this year in AA (.255). At 19 he is one of the youngest players in AA and playing at a very demanding position. The Dodgers will show some patience with his development.

3. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Last year he appeared at the top of the list but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2017 season and dropped him down a couple notches. Ironic the Padres acquired Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, then complained about a pre-existing injury and it was Espinoza to miss the 2017 season because of injury. He still has not started the 2018 season and will probably pitch a rehab in rookie ball before he sees full season. Prior to the surgery Espinoza hit mid to high 90s with his fastball and threw a plus change. Only time will tell whether those pitches will be impacted after the surgery.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Many consider him the best fielding shortstop in their system, and that is including Ahmed Rosario. Whether he can push Rosario off of shortstop once he establishes himself is another story. The big question with Andres is whether he can hit. There is very little power in his bat, but last year he showed a good ability to make contact in his first season at Low A, hitting .265. This year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has shown some pop in his bat, hitting .273 with four homeruns, 13 doubles and a .421 slugging percentage. A move to second base is still a possibility, but Andres is still a couple years away from seeing the major leagues.

5. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - Another gold glove potential shortstop with a rocket for an arm. The Padres paid him a $1.9 million bonus in 2016 to sign him. Last year he got his first exposure to playing in the minor leagues, hitting .265 with nary a homerun. Still a teenager at 18 entering the 2018 season he is hitting just .212 in Low A, but he did hit his first homerun. The Padres would like to see him make better contact as he strikes out like a power hitter (61 times in 55 games). His fielding has been a little erratic with 16 errors in 49 games at shortstop.

6. Eduardo Diaz OF (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks got a bargain when they signed Eduardo, shelling out just $10,000 on him. Last year he exhibited some power, hitting .312 with 7 homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. He has the speed and the arm to play center or right field. As he gets older and packs some more muscle on his frame there could be more juice from his bat. This year that juice is absent, with a .226 average and only two homeruns in 31 games. A poor 3/36 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and possible pitch recognition.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - The brother of Wilson with similar tools. The bat can hit for power and the arm is above average. The last three years since his signing he has only played rookie ball, hitting .295 with a .414 slugging percentage in those three years. This is his first year in full season ball and he is impressing with a .290 average and .410 slugging percentage. The power will improve as he matures. There are still some things he needs to work on from his defensive side of the game, such as lessoning his 8 errors in 22 games at catcher, but he has a long ways to go before reaching the major leagues.

8. Yonathan Daza OF (Rockies) - A late bloomer since he signed in 2010. Last year he broke out for a .341 average. His power is restricted to the gaps, but it did get him 34 doubles with 87 RBIs, a lot of runs driven in for a player who only hit 3 homeruns. He also showed some speed with 31 stolen bases. That speed will allow him to play centerfield. This year in AA Yonathan is hitting .306 but the stolen base speed has been absent with more caught stealings (5) than stolen bases (4). The Rockies outfield situation is very crowded so he will probably stay in AA the entire season.

9. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - Last year his velocity jumped to the Low 90s and his strikeout rate increased to over one per inning, putting him on many prospect lists. He also dominated at Low A with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts. Signed in 2012 Ranger shows control and pitching smarts from having to survive with a less than explosive fastball. In 2017 he only got 8 starts in AA but the Phillies thought that was enough and promoted him to AA to start the 2018 season. The numbers have not been awe inspiring but with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts the results have been good.

10. Arquimedes Gamboa SS (Phillies) - Arquimedes has the tools to be a solid defensive shortstop. There was some questions about his bat, but last year at Low A he hit .261 with 6 homeruns, respectable numbers for someone with his defensive chops. His power will stay below average, but with the speed to steal double digits and the ability to hit over .260 would put him at a utility role at worst and a starting shortstop job at best. This year in High A his hitting is making progress (.273) and he shows enough patience at the plate to have his OBA rise to .351.

2017 top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Roach Silences Bulls

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Donn Roach is one of those short righthanders (listed at 6′0″) who doesn’t dazzle you with velocity. His fastball hit 93 but got no further. The curveball is what kept the Durham Bulls off balance as the Charlotte Knights shut them out 1-0. The Bull was silenced as Roach pitched seven shutout innings, striking out 9 and scattering just five hits.

Ryan Weber is also a short righthander who offered an excellent breaking pitch. His fastball stayed in the high 80s, rising up to 91 on occasion. He went six innings, striking out six. The only run he allowed was in the third inning when Eddy Alvarez blasted a two out double to the warning track in centerfield. Jacob May followed by bouncing a seeing eye single into centerfield. May was gunned down at second for the third out when the throw home was cutoff and thrown to second, but the run scored.

The closest the Bulls got to scoring was in the third and sixth innings. In the third a walk and single put runners on first and second. A ground out to second saw Alvarez lose his balance when he tried to make the throw to second, so he opted for the sure out at first. With runners on second and third Jason Coats popped out to second to end the threat. With two out in the sixth Brandon Snyder hit a two out double into right centerfield. Justin Williams struck out but the ball eluded the catcher and hit the back stop, allowing Williams to reach first. With runners on first and third and two out Ji-Man Choi struck out.

Thyago Vieira came on to pitch the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Kean Wong. A wild pitch advanced Wong to second but Vieira struck out the last two hitters with his fastball hitting 95-99. He did get a swing and miss for strike three on a good curveball that lacked consistency with its break.

Rob Scahill came on in the ninth. Just like Vieira he gave up a leadoff single to Justin Williams. A wild pitch advanced Williams to second. Scahill struck out the side to earn the save and preserve the shutout.

Game Notes: A man in a spiderman outfit filtered through the crowd in the late innings. A number of people stopped to pose for pictures with him. Judging by the reactions of the ushers he appeared to make regular appearances at the game…Micah Johnson was once a prolific basestealer, stealing 84 bases in 2013. That speed appears to have disappeared at the age of 27 and with little power and a .178 average myworld does not think there is anything left to attract a major league team…Avisail Garcia played right field in his second rehab start. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts…Myworld had the Pork barbecue and the hush puppies. The Pork barbecue was tasty but the hush puppies were a little crisp. The good ones are supposed to melt in your mouth…Ji-Man Choi made a nice diving catch at first. He looks a bit plump to be a major league regular but if he can get on a homerun streak as he did in spring training he could find a role with the Rays. The Brewers just had no position for him. The Rays acquired Choi for Brad Miller in a waiver deal claim…Hunter Wood looked good in his inning plus of relief. He shows a fastball with some velocity (94) and a sweeping curve that got three whiffs to the four hitters he retired.

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

Draft Picks in the Top 100

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Fangraphs did an updated top 100 (actually 133) including recently drafted players on the list. Myworld would not be bold enough to create a top 100 including draft picks until we see them play in rookie leagues and their familiarization to the wood bats. Below are the players listed in the top 100. There is no Brady Singer even after he outdueled Casey Mize in the Super Regional game.

31. Casey Mize (RHP) Detroit
33. Nick Madrigal (2B) White Sox
57. Joey Bart (C) Giants
68. Travis Swaggerty (OF) Pirates
77. Alec Bohm (3B) Phillies
93. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays
95. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
96. Jarred Kelenic (CF) Mets
97. Jonathan India (3B) Reds
98. Carter Stewart (RHP) Braves
100. Cole Winn (RHP) Rangers

If this list proves accurate this should be a nice draft for third baseman.