Archive for the 'MLB' Category

30 Teams in 30 Days - Atlanta Braves

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Myworld missed a bit on this division. We had the Marlins right for third place but you would have to reverse the Nationals and Mets at the top of the division and the Braves and Phillies at the bottom of the division to make it perfect.

Overview - They are moving into a new stadium and they have signed a number of veteran pitchers. That will not extricate them from the bottom of the division. Last year they finished last in slugging percentage, last in homeruns and 29th in runs scored. A full season from Matt Kemp will help the offense, but that only gives them two power hitters. Dansby Swanson is still an unproven rookie, but if he wins the rookie of the year award as many predict that will help the Braves at the top of the lineup. Once the innings have been controlled for the younger pitchers you will see the Braves either try to trade the veterans they acquired or waive them to give their younger pitchers an opportunity.

Strengths - The one big strength the Braves have is Freddie Freeman. A few more men on base and he could have driven in more than 100 runs. He plays a solid defense, should be more protected in the lineup with Matt Kemp hitting behind him and provides leadership to the younger players. Shortstop should be well taken care of with rookie Dansby Swanson starting the season there. The Braves lack alternatives should he struggle, unless they promote Ozzie Albies, who they are grooming to fill the second base slot next to Dansby. If Ender Inciarte can stay healthy he can cover a lot of ground in centerfield and provide the Braves with a solid 1-2 punch ahead of the power hitters Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp. Matt Kemp will provide some power in left but he is far from the player he was with the Dodgers. His defense has tumbled and his hitting is no longer as feared as it once was. He will still hit the ball a long way and with the top of the order getting on base this could be a 100 RBI season for him.

Weakness - Myworld is not enamored with the two 40 year old arms R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Dickey throws a knuckle ball so his arm could be ageless, but like Kemp he is far from his days when he won a Cy Young with the Mets. Colon finds ways to get hitters out but he gave up a lot of hits last year and doesn’t miss bats. Jaime Garcia is another arm the Braves are relying on but he has had trouble staying healthy. He started 30 games last year but with a 4.67 ERA. Adonis Garcia did hit 14 homeruns last year but at 32 he does not provide a lot of upside at third base. Brandon Phillips was acquired to strengthen second base but he is another player on the down side of his career. In right field Nick Markakis drove in 89 runs but his power has disappeared. A .397 slugging percentage is not what you want to see from your corner outfielders. The bullpen lacks a closer, but that is never a priority with a team recognizing they will not be winning a lot of games. Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino have both had closing opportunities and have both struggled to find success in those roles. The best closer may be Mike Foltynewics, who will be used as the fifth starter. Mauricio Cabrera is another hard thrower who has closer stuff but he will begin the season on the disabled list. Expect him to earn that role by mid-season if he can get healthy.

Breakout Prospects - Dansby Swanson is the most obvious choice. He is the favorite to win rookie of the year in the National League. The Braves are hoping for a .300 bat with double digit homeruns and close to gold glove level defense. Ozzie Albies should join him soon from the second base side. The acquisition of Brandon Phillips delayed Albies arrival but expect Phillips to be traded to a contender by mid-season opening up the spot for Albies. Travis Demeritte has some interesting tools, especially carrying a bat loaded with power. He still swings and misses a lot but if Adonis struggles at third Travis could be called on to replace him. Where the Braves hope to really cash in is with their younger pitchers. The Braves acquired a number of veteran pitchers to allow their younger pitchers to gain more experience at the minor league level. Sean Newcomb may be the first youngster ready to be promoted. Sean throws from the left side with a fastball in the mid-90s and a curve and change that should play against major league hitters. Lucas Sims should be able to help from the right side but he needs to prove that he can throw strikes.

Prospects to Watch - There are a lot of them, especially from the mound. Touki Toussaint was acquired from the Diamondbacks. Myworld loves his 6′3″ frame and high 90s heat, but throwing strikes has always been a challenge for Touki. Kolby Allard and Max Fried are number one draft picks who throw from the left side. Both are trying to recover from injuries, Allard from his back and Fried from his elbow. The hardest thrower of the bunch may be recently acquired Luiz Gohara from the Mariners via Brazil who has trouble throwing strikes but consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. His conditioning could also be a problem. Mike Soroka comes from Canada and is another first round pick. He is probably the least overpowering of this group with a fastball in the low 90s but his secondary pitches are quality and he commands his pitches well. On the position side Kevin Maitan appeared on many top 100 prospects lists but he has yet to have a professional at bat. He was signed by the Braves out of the Dominican for a $4.25 million bonus last year. Ronald Acuna is a potential five tool light outfielder. He dominated the Australian baseball league last year as a teenager. Rio Ruiz was given a nice signing bonus for a fourth round pick by the Astros but he has fallen short of his hype. He needs to pick up on his career if he expects to meet his promise.

Expected Finish - Too many players on the down side of their careers as they wait for the young players to percolate up. They will fight with the Phillies for the last place spot, but trading all their veterans toward the end of the season will cinch the fifth spot for them.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 10 -1

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Myworld finally finishes our top 100 list. It took awhile to post the top ten. Next in line are the organizational rankings for the major league farm teams.

10. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 8.85 - J.P. did not have a good year from an offensive perspective, hitting just .244 in AAA with a .318 slugging percentage. He does have a smooth glove and makes solid contact, walking almost as many times as he whiffs (232/243). The Phillies current shortstop Freddy Galvis also has a smooth glove so J.P. will have to show a better bat if he wants to replace Galvis. The power may be less than Galvis but the overall consistency with the bat and glove may tip the job to Crawford. He lacks the speed to steal bases but the Phillies hope his high walk rate will be enough to make him a successful leadoff hitter.

9. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) 8.87 - The Rockies currently have Trevor Story at short but his 27 homeruns would make him a nice fit at third. A lot will depend on how Rodgers handles short as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he hit .281 with 19 homeruns at Low A. The 2015 first round pick also has the power to move to third. Brendan won’t give you tremendous range at short, but he will give you consistency, though he did make 16 errors in 70 plus games in Low A last year. Look for Brendan to start the season in High A. His bat will determine if he gets a promotion to AA.

8. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) 8.87 - The Cubs have another big bat lying in wait in Low A. Last year the Dominican hit .329 with 14 homeruns in Low A, stitching together a .901 OPS. Eloy would be a five tool player if he carried a better arm. If his speed does not allow him to play center field he will move to left. The speed is not burner so there will not be a plethora of stolen bases. What will separate Eloy from the others is his power accompanied by a high batting average.

7. Cody Bellinger 1B (Dodgers) 9.12 - Combine a glove that should win gold gloves with a bat that should produce 30 plus homeruns a year and you could have an Anthony Rizzo type of player. Adrian Gonzalez is currently occupying first base for the Dodgers so Cody is getting some playing time in the outfield. His speed is good for a first baseman and he has a strong arm, but he won’t win any gold gloves in the outfield as he will do at first base. In an 11 at bat debut at AAA he hit three homeruns and hit .545. This is where he will start the 2017 season. At AA he socked 23 balls over the fence for a .843 OPS.

6. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) 9.13 - The Mets have been dealing with the redwoods of Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Once they see the ground Amed can cover in the dirt Met fans will realize what a true shortstop can do. Last year he hit .324 at High A and AA with five homeruns. He will not show a lot of power but if he can hit above .270 his defense will justify his play at short. Expect him to start the season in AA. Myworld was impressed by what we saw from him in spring training. The dilemma the Mets face in a couple years is they have another gold glove fielding shortstop in Andres Gimenez, who will make his United States debut in 2017.

5. Gleyber Torres SS (Yankees) 9.58 - The Yankees acquired Torres in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Torres spent the season in High A. With Didi Gregorius at shortstop the Yankees can show patience with him. When he is ready he will show tools far greater than Didi, with the bat and with the glove. The power began maturing last year with a career high 11 homeruns. He shows enough patience at the plate to take walks, putting together a .354 OBA. The only tool in his game that is not above average is his speed, which is considered average. Torres should start the season in AA in 2017.

4. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 9.72 - He would not be on this list if not for a 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse that delayed his start to the major league season. He should appear on this list next year after learning he will undergo Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2017 season. His fastball explodes to the plate in the high 90s, occasionally hitting triple digits. His breaking ball and change are also plus pitches leading to 10.2 whiffs per nine innings in a 46 inning major league debut. The Cardinals were hoping he would team up with Carlos Martinez to give them two fireballers to head their rotation. Time will tell how much his pitches will be impacted upon his return in 2018.

3. Dansby Swanson SS (Braves) 9.73 - The Diamondbacks made Dansby the first pick in the 2015 draft. They made a horrible trade, giving him away to the Braves as one of three players for Shelby Miller. Dansby went from High A to the Braves major league roster last year, hitting .302 for the Braves. He appears to have beaten out Ozzie Albies for the Braves shortstop job. Miller struggled with the Diamondbacks for a 6.15 ERA. Dansby will be the starting shortstop for the Braves next year. His defense is smooth, his offense should contend for batting titles and his all around game should make him an All Star.

2. Yoan Moncada 2B (White Sox) 9.8 - He was number one on this last year but his struggles in his major league debut dropped him down a notch. Now he has traded his Red Sox for White Sox. There is no question that Moncada will hit, but 12 whiffs in 20 major league at bats indicate he still has some issues to work on. Perhaps trying to learn a new position (third base) impacted his bat. The White Sox will keep him at second. His bat should hit for power and average and his speed could translate to 30 plus stolen bases. As he matures he could eventually be a 30/30 player (homeruns/stolen bases). Expect Yoan to start the season in AAA with a major league callup possible once he achieves consistent success.

1. Andrew Benintendi OF (Red Sox) 10 - Andrew should win batting titles with enough power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He also has the speed and range to play centerfield but the Red Sox have that position covered with Jackie Bradley. Andrew will fit in left field. If he finds success in the major leagues maybe his next goal will be to find world peace. There doesn’t seem to be anything Andrew has trouble achieving success at. Starting the season Andrew will be favored to win the Rookie of the year award.

30 Teams 30 Days - Chicago Cubs

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Overview - These are the defending World Series champions. It is not hard to pick them to win this division. They have lost Dexter Fowler and that puts a hole in centerfield and at the lead off spot. The team is young so the upside is still apparent. The pitching was number one in the major leagues last year but the loss of Jason Hammel could put another chink in their armor. They hope to replace him internally with Mike Montgomery. The big question that will be facing the Cubs next season is where to put Kyle Schwarber. He is more a DH playing in a league without a DH so left field or an occasional catching assignment will be enough to get his bat in the lineup.

Strengths - When John Maddon sets the lineup he really does not have a set positional pattern. Kris Bryant will see most of his time at third base. He can also play a corner outfield. His 39 homeruns and the Cubs division win got him the MVP award last year. The Cubs need a spot to play Javier Baez so when Bryant plays a corner outfield the Cubs will use that opportunity to play Baez at third. Last year Baez showed his versatility by playing every position on the infield. The Cubs could use his bat in the lineup. Shortstop is capably handled by Addison Russell. His batting average was low last year (.238) but his defense was strong and he slugged 21 homeruns with his 95 RBIs third on the team. The veteran Ben Zobrist can also play any position, but second base is his main spot. He hit 18 homeruns with 76 RBIs, fourth on the team. Anthony Rizzo could have also won the MVP when you look at his numbers, finishing fourth in the voting. He drove in more runs than Bryant (109 versus 102) and equaled him in just about every other statistical category. Kyle Schwarber provides a solid bat in the outfield but his glove is shaky. He missed almost all of last season due to a knee injury. Jayson Hayward is a gold glove winner in right field but his bat has never met his promise. Combine the skills of Schwarber and Heyward and you would have a superstar. Starting pitching is strong with the first three starters. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks all finished in the top ten in Cy Young award voting. They each won 16 or more games. The bullpen lost Aroldis Chapman but they hope to replace him with Wade Davis. Davis is coming off an arm injury so there may be a little drop off. Hector Rondon has closing capability and it will be interesting to see how long Koji Uehara will stay effective. At 42 years of age with a fastball not near 90 he still strikes out more than a hitter per inning.

Weakness - Not a lot of weaknesses. The loss of Dexter Fowler leaves a hole in centerfield. They signed Jon Jay to replace him but his skill sets fall far below that of Fowler. It also lessons their bat at the leadoff spot. Albert Almora Jr. is a prospect who can also play the position but he is not proven. His defense is excellent but his bat has been light. A third option would be to move Jason Heyward to center and allow Ben Zobrist to play the outfield. This would open a more permanent spot for Javier Baez at second base.

Breakout Prospects - A number of young players are already in the Cubs starting lineup leaving little room for prospects. Albert Almora Jr. has an opportunity to squeeze into centerfield as a result of the departure of Dexter Fowler to the Cardinals. No one questions his glove, which many consider gold glove caliber. The bat has always been light, last year hitting .303 but with a .317 OBA in AAA. Rob Zastryzny is a lefthanded starter who could see time in the bullpen or fit into the fifth rotation spot if Mike Montgomery struggles. He is one of those lefties that relies more on deception rather than power. Alec Mills is a right handed arm who can fill the back end of the rotation. He lacks overwhelming stuff and needs to locate his pitches well to get hitters out.

Prospects to Watch - Eloy Jimenez has the potential to be an All Star, with excellent power, a solid arm for right field and the ability to hit for average. The only tool he lacks is speed. Ian Happ is a man without a position, bouncing back and forth between second and outfield. His bat should play if a position can be found for him. Dylan Cease and Duane Underwood are two hard throwers who can hit mid to high 90s with their fastball. Injuries have slowed both in their progression to major league opportunity. Jeimer Candelario is a hit machine who plays the same position as Kris Bryant. Defensively he could require a move to first, but that position is occupied by Anthony Rizzo. A trade is more likely for him to get playing time.

Expected Finish - Myworld does not see a lot of competition for them and a first place finish is pretty certain. How far they can travel in the playoffs is the biggest concern.

30 Teams in 30 Days - St. Louis Cardinals

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Overview - Every year the Cardinals lose a starting pitcher to injury. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and now Alex Reyes. They were supposed to have Reyes last year but an 80 game drug suspension delayed his arrival. Now Tommy John surgery will force him to miss the 2017 season and the Cardinals hope Lynn coming back from Tommy John will make up for the loss. Lose one pitcher get another back who was absent the previous year. Last year they missed the playoffs losing Jayson Heyward to the Cubs. This year they hope to stick it to the Cardinals by signing Dexter Fowler away from the Cubs to play centerfield for the Cardinals. Now they just have to look for a starting pitcher.

Strengths - Signing Dexter Fowler did two things for the Cardinals. It strengthened the centerfield position and gave them a leadoff hitter. It also gave the Cubs a weakness in centerfield. That still may not be enough to catch the Cubs. The Cardinals also have a lot of depth in the infield, with a number of players getting used to different positions. Johnny Peralta will get used to playing third while Aledmys Diaz tries to repeat his production from last year at short. Matt Carpenter moves to first to make room for Kolton Wong at second. If either Wong or Peralta struggles Jedd Gyorko and his 30 homeruns still needs a position to play. The one strength of the Cardinals is their depth. Stephen Piscotty can move from the outfield to first if they need to move Matt Carpenter back to second or third. A lot of moving pieces to accommodate injuries or slumps. Yadier Molina is getting older but he can still play the position at catcher. He was voted the WBC Classic catcher of the tournament. The power may be less but he will still hit .300.

Weakness - The loss of Alex Reyes puts a chink in the rotation. Adam Wainwright may be the ace on paper but he needs to improve on his 4.67 ERA to keep the ace role away from Carlos Martinez. After those two the rotation is filled with question marks. Michael Wacha needs to resurrect his rookie performance and Lance Lynn is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Mike Leake has to do better than his 4.69 ERA. The Cardinals are even considering moving ex-closer Trevor Rosenthal into their rotation. Seung Hwan Oh replaced Rosenthal as the closer mid-season with great success. Before leaving Japan Oh was on a decline. Cardinals fans should not invest too much hope in his continued success as a closer. If he struggles the only alternative is returning to Rosenthal, who lost the position last year to Oh.

Break out Prospect - Luke Weaver is a replacement in the back end of the rotation if one of the starters continues his struggles. He struggled last year in his major league debut but he is the Cardinals top pitching prospect now after the injury to Alex Reyes. Marco Gonzales is another possibility for the rotation but he missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals will want to be patient with him and wait until at least after the All Star break before putting him in the rotation. Sam Tuivailala has a high 90s fastball, ideal for a closer. The Cardinals would prefer to start him in a set-up role but by midseason he could be their closer if Oh stumbles. Carson Kelly is a strong defensive catcher who failed to hit in his major league debut (.154). With Yadier behind the plate his best hope for a catching opportunity is an injury. Jose Martinez gives the Cardinals depth in the outfield. Don’t be surprised if he gets 300 at bats next year hitting over .300.

Prospects to Watch - Delvin Perez was supposed to be a top five draft pick but a positive drug test dropped him to the Cardinals. The Puerto Rican is compared to Carlos Correa. He may have less power but his glove could be better. Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader are two outfielders the Cardinals will have to make room for in 2018 or be offered as trade bait. Bader provides the power while Sierra shows the speed. A couple young arms are percolating in the minor leagues. Dakota Hudson was the Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He throws hard, hitting the mid-90s but sometimes he doesn’t know where the ball will cross the plate. Jack Flaherty is another first round pick, but in 2014. His fastball is not so overpowering but he relies on a change to make it look better. Sandy Alcantara was signed out of the Dominican Republic. His fastball is equal to Reyes, hitting three digits. Expect him to make a name for himself in 2017. Randy Arozarena and Jose Adolis Garcia are two Cuban outfielders who could make an impact if they have success in the minor leagues. Garcia is the brother of Adonis and could provide some power. Arozarena is probably more a fourth outfielder type who could play centerfield. The Cardinals could start both in AA or AAA.

Expected Finish - They have too many games to make up to catch the Cubs despite the acquisition of Fowler. If they get enough offense to make up for their depleted pitching staff they could make the wild card.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Pirates

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Myworld hopes to slug through the final eight teams before the season starts. We’ll also provide our top ten overall prospects plus finish our all country or regional top prospects now that the WBC is over.

Overview - Pirate fans were getting used to appearing in the playoffs, but getting past the wild card game has become a bit of a challenge. Last year they got back to finishing below .500, missing out on the playoffs after three consecutive appearances. Pirate fans are hoping this losing streak won’t be as long as the last one. A lot will depend on the production of Andrew McCutchen. He had a down year last year and to improve their defense and possibly improve his production the Pirates will be moving Andrew to right field. They also will be missing Jung-Ho Kang, who has had three too many DUIs in Korea and is having a hard time getting a visa to play baseball in the United States. They also have a young pitching staff that is susceptible to injuries. At least the farm system is in good shape so they should not have to worry about another 20 year losing streak.

Strengths - The Pirates probably have the strongest outfield in the major leagues. It should get stronger defensively with the move of Starling Marte to center field and Andrew McCutchen to right field. Gregory Polanco will take his strong arm to left field. What kind of offensive production is there will depend on a resurgence of McCutchen. If last year is the beginning of a veteran slide then that will down grade the outfield. There is depth with Josh Bell having the ability to play here and Austin Meadows percolating in AAA. They do have the potential for two aces in Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon. Both players are still green and have injury histories but if they can act as aces as the season progresses the Pirates will do well. Another ace in the cards could by Tyler Glasnow, but he has got to learn to throw strikes. He misses bats with the best of them.

Weaknesses - Josh Harrison had an off year, putting together a .699 OPS. If he continues down that path the Pirates will try either Allen Hanson or Adam Frazier at the position. Hanson at least has some speed to steal bases and Frazier showed some pop. Neither is a defensive equivalent of Harrison. Josh Bell is more an outfielder than a first baseman, but the Pirates outfield is crowded. There is some concern Bell will not have the power you expect from the position, slugging only .406 in a 150 at bat trial in the majors last year. In AAA his .468 slugging would be short of adequate for the position. The trade of Mark Melancon leaves the Pirates without a closer. They have some pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Jared Hughes who have played that position but have fallen short of being consistent. This could get ugly. If no one seizes the job it could be another below .500 season. The back end of the rotation is rather ordinary. Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault and Drew Hutchinson are not pitchers myworld thinks about when looking at playoff teams. They are all competing for the last two spots in the rotation.

Breakout Prospects - To hold down costs the Pirates will rely more on younger players. They will have a number of prospects vying for major league playing time. Tyler Glasnow could make the rotation if he can improve his command. The 6′8″ righthander hits the radar guns in the high 90s and sits in the mid-90s but he has no idea of the strike zone. Steven Brault has a little more command but his fastball is not as overpowering. He is a lefthander who relies on his secondary pitches to get hitters out (slider and change). If Andrew McCutchen is traded expect Austin Meadows to make his debut. Austin has had trouble staying healthy, but he has a potent bat. This would cause Polanco to move back to right while Austin takes left. Josh Bell will get most of the starts at first base, but the Pirates have John Jaso and David Freese too spell him against tough pitchers. Josh may lack the power to play first in long term. Allen Hanson is out of options and could be used in a utility role, getting time at third, second, short and in the outfield. He came up as a shortstop but his current position is second base. Elias Diaz is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors but his bat is light. He battled injuries last year and needs to have a healthy season.

Prospects to Watch - Mitch Keller has rocketed up the prospect charts with an increase in velocity that puts his fastball in the mid-90s. If he can continue that the Pirates will move Keller up to at least AA this year. He had an 18/131 walk to whiff ratio last year. Kevin Newman is primed to take over the shortstop job from Jody Mercer. He doesn’t overwhelm you with tools but he can play the position. Not a lot of power here but the potential to hit for average. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie and the Pirates first round pick in 2015. Hayes broke out his power last year hitting his first six minor league homeruns. Nick Kingham is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. If not for the surgery in 2015 he would be one of those pitchers competing for a rotation spot. The Pirates will be patient with Nick and monitor his innings in AA and then AAA. A September callup is possible. Dovydas Neverauskas is a pitcher to watch because if he does well he could be the first Lithuanian to play in the major leagues. He has pitched strictly in the bullpen in the minors, collecting 11 saves in the last two years. As a bullpen pitcher his fastball can sit in the mid-90s.

Expected Finish - With no bullpen and a young pitching staff myworld predicts the Pirates for third, missing out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Milwaukee Brewers

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Overview - Another team in rebuilding mode. You’d think a team releasing a player who hit 41 homeruns in 2016 would have a solid lineup. Chris Carter was not much of a first baseman and the Brewers took a chance at KBO MVP Eric Thames to hold down the position. Cost was the biggest reason for the pink slip to Carter. They also have the stolen base leader in Jonathan Villar on their roster but the Brewers decided to keep him. It will still be a rebuilding year but some of the blocks will be appearing on the major league roster in 2017 giving the Brewers a sneak preview of what 2019 will be about.

Strengths - Enhanced by steroids or not Ryan Braun provides the Brewers some power in left field. He hit 30 homeruns and drove in 91 runs. Last year he had to spend some time in right field, but this year he will be at his more comfortable position in left field. The Brewers hope this will help him offensively. The Brewers will find a place for stolen base leader Jonathan Villar to play. After hitting .285 with 19 homeruns Villar stole a league leading 62 bases. The Brewers acquired Travis Shaw to play third base so expect Villar to knock Scooter Gennett into a utility role. Hernan Perez had a wonderful season hitting .272 with 13 homeruns and 34 stolen bases. The Brewers traded for Travis Shaw so Perez will probably fit in a utility role as well. This gives the Brewers a lot of flexibility with their infield.

Weaknesses - As a rebuilding club they have lots of them, and it usually starts off with pitching. There ace is Junior Guerra who a couple years ago was pitching in Europe. He came to the United States and limited the opposition to a .213 average. Repeating that success will be difficult. After Guerra finding a starting pitcher with an ERA under 4 is a real challenge. With the trade of Tyler Thornburg the bullpen lacks a big time closer. Nefteli Perez at one time was supposed to be the closer for the Rangers but arm injuries ended those hopes. Carlos Torres is another option. He led the team in appearances (72) last year with an ERA of 2.73. Jonathan Lucroy will be missed with his presence behind the plate. Jett Mandy, Andrew Susac and Manny Pina will battle for playing time at catcher. Finding any offense in that trio will be a challenge. The outfield will struggle to score runs unless Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton meet their potential. Myworld expects Lewis Brinson to be playing centerfield before the All Star break.

Non-Roster Invitees - The Brewers have a lot of arms in camp. Myworld likes Forest Snow as a sneaker pick with Joba Chamberlain trying to show he still has his fastball.

Breakout Prospects - Lewis Brinson could win the centerfield job by mid-season after Broxton gets injured or fails to produce any offense. Brinson has speed to play center and take the extra base with the bat to generate an offense to slug multiple balls over the fence. With Brinson, Villar and Perez in the lineup the Brewers will again lead the National League in stolen bases. Josh Hader is a pitcher who has bloomed late, a lefthanded arm that can dial it up at 98 to 99. He has already been on three teams in his short career in the minors. Luis Ortiz is another pitcher who can rise to the top spot in the rotation. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Jonathn Lucroy trade and will start his season in AAA. Jorge Lppez had a rough AAA last year but has been pitching well for the Puerto Rico WBC team and finished last year with a 3.97 ERA in eight starts in AA.

Prospects to Watch - Corey Ray was the Brewers first round pick in 2016. A combination of speed and power makes him a potential impact player. Isan Diaz is a hitting machine. His 2016 season paled in comparison to his 2015 but he did hit a career high 20 homeruns. Defense is his weakness and a move from shortstop to second base is necessary. Trent Clark had a rough year last year, hitting just .231 but injuries limited him to 59 games. He was the Brewers first round pick in 2015 but falls short of Ray in the power and speed category. Lucas Erceg hit .400 in a 100 at bat season in rookie ball. His bat has pop and the tools are there for him to stick at third. Keep an eye on Demi Orimoloye. The Nigerian born outfielder who settled in Canada has five tools, but an inability to recognize pitches and make contact with the ball has held him back.

Expected Finish - Both the Reds and Brewers are forfeiting the 2017 season as they rebuild with prospects. The Brewers are stronger in the position areas and this will put them ahead of the Reds.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Myworld would have nailed this division but we picked Pittsburgh for second and St. Louis for third. St. Louis finished second after a Pirate collapse.

Overview - The Reds are more favored to finish with the highest pick in the draft than a first place finish. They are in the process of a major rebuilding project. They do have one nice piece in Joey Votto, but his salary, age and the surplus at the position he plays makes it tough for the Reds to get anything for him. The team was at or near the bottom in most defensive, offensive and pitching statistics except stolen bases. A young team with speedsters like Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza put them second in the major leagues in stolen bases with 139, though many teams seem to de-emphasize the need to steal a base. The Reds were finally able to trade Brandon Phillips after three years of trying, failing to get any minor leaguer of note. This opens up a spot for Jose Peraza at second base.

Strengths - Joey Votto had a career year last year with a .326 average, .434 OBA and .550 slugging percentage. He walked 108 times and he could see an increase in that number in 2017 because there is no good bat that can hit behind him. Billy Hamilton seems to have figured it out. His defense in centerfield was near gold glove and he seemed to have finally figured it out with his bat (.260/.321/.343). He was second in the National League in stolen bases with 58. Jose Pereza has now been given a position to lose - second base. Last year he had a career year in his rookie seasons hitting .324 with 21 stolen bases. It is doubtful he can repeat those numbers. Zach Cosart gives you solid production at short with his 16 homeruns and solid defense. It is unclear how long he will be in the Reds lineup before being traded to a playoff contender.

Weaknesses - It looks like they lost their veteran Homer Bailey to begin the season. It is unclear how much Homer has left even when he comes back. Their ace of last year Anthony Desclafina will miss the start of the season with a UCL sprain leaving the opening day starter a fight between Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan. Feldman has the experience while Finnegan brings the youth. After that the Reds starting five will bring out the youth in their first or second year of major league service. That is usually a recipe for disaster. The relief pitching lacks a proven closer, though that was Raisel Iglesias position in the Cuban professional league. The Reds were hoping to make him a starting pitcher but durability issues became a concern. The corner outfield is a little weak with the unproved Scott Schebler in right field and the defensively Adam Duvall in left field. Duvall struck out in 164 at bats which left his average down to .241. Schebler had some issues hitting lefthanders (.195) but the power stroke came easy with 9 homeruns in just 82 games. The catching has Devin Mesoraco behind the plate but he is having trouble staying healthy. Tucker Barnhart will get the starts in his place. His bat is too much vanilla but his defense Is solid.

Non-Roster Invitees - The starting pitching for the Reds is so thin Bronson Arroyo has a shot to make the rotation provided he can show his arm can stay healthy. Rob Brantley could take the back up catching position if Devin continues to battle injuries. Ryan Raburn is a right handed bat that the Reds could platoon with Schebler.

Breakout Prospects - The Reds are rebuilding, especially in the pitching rotation. Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson are two pitchers who can make the rotation with decent springs. Amir is an ex-basketball player with a left handed fastball that can hit mid-90s but with rudimentary secondary pitches. Stephenson throws from the right side with a fastball in the high 90s. His big issue is getting command of the strike zone. The Reds would like to see more power generated from the bat of outfielder Jesse Winker. He is not a strong defensive player so if he doesn’t hit he probably will not play. Nick Travieso was a former number one pick in 2012. The stuff is not there with a low 90s fastball and average to below secondary offerings.

Prospects to Watch - The Reds have delved into the Cuban market, signing pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez and shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. This will be the first year for Vladimir facing major league hitters. His fastball has gained velocity since arriving in the United States going from the high 80s to low 90s. His curveball is a good pitch. The Reds signed him for a $4.75 bonus. Alfredo Rodriguez struggled in rookie ball (.234) not something you want to see from a 22 year old. He will play a superb defensive shortstop but his bat will hit near the bottom of the order. Nick Senzel was the Reds first round pick in 2016. A college bat who can rise quickly if he can show the power for third base. Last year he slugged .567 at Dayton. Aristides Aquino can hit for power with 23 homeruns last year in High A. At 6′4″with a rifle for an arm he will eventually fill right field for the Reds. Tyler Stephenson was a Reds 2015 first round pick. The catcher struggled with the bat (.216) but injuries limited him to 44 games with the injuries probably having an impact on his offensive struggles. The Reds hope he can find his offense in 2017.

Expected Finish - The Reds will be battling for the first round pick in 2018. They have no expectation to contend.

MyWorlds Top 100 - 20-11

Monday, March 20th, 2017

20. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) 7.83 - Michael was the Red Sox first round pick in the 2014 draft. He created quite a buzz last year when his fastball hit 105. The Red Sox made him part of the prospect haul of the White Sox in the David Price trade. Maturity issues are his big obstacle. He has two suspensions in his short career, one for drugs and one for fighting. His fastball is probably one of the top five in the minor leagues consistently hitting triple digits. He complements that fastball with a nice low 90s slider, with a change that he can throw as his third pitch. Single A hitters managed to hit only .147 against him and he was filthy with the strikeouts. Command could use improvement but that should come with time. The White Sox will probably start Kopech in AA. Because he has not eaten up a lot of innings they will be patient with his pitch count. If a major league promotion occurs it will not be until September.

19. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) 8.05 - At 6′0″ with a fastball in the mid 90s the Domincan Espinoza is compared to Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox shelled out a $1.8 million bonus to sign him then traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. What separates Anderson from many pitchers his age is his ability to throw his change with a similar delivery as his fastball, giving him two plus pitches. His curve needs more consistency but it has the makings to be a plus pitch. Despite the glowing reports on his mid-90s fastball that can hit triple digits and a plus change hitters had success against him last year with a .276 opposition average at Low A. His small stature brings discussions of durability, which could result in a move to the pen as a closer. Expect Anderson to start the 2017 season in High A.

18. Nick Senzel 3B (Reds) 8.27 - Myworld has not seen much of Senzel. He was the Reds first round pick in the 2016 draft and to rise this high in many prospect rankings this early in his career is impressive. He has a college bat so a lot is already known about him. In his professional debut in Low A he hit .329. He also had a .982 OPS hitting seven homeruns. What was surprising was his 15 stolen bases, a lot for a player with average speed who plays the hot corner. More will be known about him as he rises up the minor league ladder and faces better pitching. A .415 OBA with a 32/45 walk to whiff ratio was also eye opening and his defensive tools should play out at third. As a college bat expect him to rise quickly in the minor leagues, with a start in High A and a promotion to AA if he continues to find success.

17. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8.3 - The Tigers originally signed Adames but traded him to the Rays in their playoff drive to acquire David Price. Adames has a lot of upside with a bat that could hit for average and the power to hit for 20 plus homeruns. His tools should allow him to stay at short, though there is some question about his range. A strong arm and quick feet should help with that issue. The Rays have a shortstop opening and Adames hit .274 with a .802 OPS last year in AA. Myworld expects him to start the season in AAA but would not be surprised to see him with the major league club by mid-season.

16. Ozzie Albies 2B/SS (Braves) 8.38 - Ozzie was one reason the Braves felt they could trade Jose Peraza. The 20 year old from Curacao lost out on the shortstop job to Dansby Swanson and appears to be destined for second base. A late season injury last year may have prevented him from joining Dansby on the major league club. Ozzie has speed, the tools to play shortstop and the bat to stay near .300. What he lacks is power. An ability to draw walks with a .358 OBA between AA and AAA will allow him to hit at the top of the order to set the stage for the run producers. Myworld expects him to start his season in AAA with a quick callup when the Braves need help at second base or in a super utility role.

15. Tyler Glasnow RHP (Pirates) 8.68 - Tyler was a fifth round pick in 2012 but at 6′8″ with a lefty arm that hits the mid to upper 90s with his fastball his stock rose quickly. He also has a curve that misses bats and a change that is serviceable. His big issue is finding command. The opposition only hit .190 against him and he averaged over a strikeout per inning. Runners reached base consistently as he walks more than one hitter per two innings. In the major leagues his 4.24 ERA was inflated by a 13/24 walk to whiff ratio in just 23 innings. That lack of command also impacts hitters looking for the fastball when he gets behind in the count and major league hitters burned him for a .250 average. Expect him to start the 2017 season in AAA as he further tries to improve his command by working on a consistent delivery.

14. Rafael Devers 3B (Red Sox) 8.78 - Devers is one player the Red Sox tried to avoid having in conversations in trade talks. The Red Sox have hopes that he will take over the third base position when Pablo Sandoval is done. His lefthanded swing should find the .300 neighborhood with 30 plus homeruns an achievable goal. As a teenager in High A he slugged .448 with most of his power dedicated towards the gaps. As he matures and gets stronger those gap shots should get closer to the fences. His fielding at third will not win any gold gloves but it should do the job. If not a move to first is still a possibility. He lacks the foot speed to fit in the outfield. The 2017 season will see him do damage to AA pitchers.

13. Lucas Giolito RHP (White Sox) 8.82 - Lucas was a first round pick of the Nationals in 2012. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching but one start that year and in 2013 it was only rehab. He was considered the top pitching prospect entering the 2016 season but struggles against major league hitters in his major league debut dropped him down a notch. It also convinced the Nationals that they could include him in a trade for Adam Eaton. At 6′6″ with a fastball in the mid to high 90s Giolito can be intimidating. He also has a nice break to his curve and a dropping changeup that leads to a lot of swings and misses in the minor leagues. His velocity dropped when promoted to the major leagues and his command was poor with a 12/11 walk to whiff ratio. He also saw seven balls leave the park in just 21 innings of work, equaling the number of jacks he gave up in the minors in 115 innings. A good spring and a return to the high 90s in velocity could see him open the season in the White Sox rotation. The better bet is he starts the season in AAA.

12. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 8.83 - Austin was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2013. Injuries last season limited him to just 87 games. He did reach AAA but in 126 at bats he only hit .214 with a .297 OBA. The left handed stroke of Austin should hit for average as his .311 batting average in AA attests. His power should also come where he should hit 20 plus homeruns every year. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases and cover centerfield, but the arm is below average so if centerfield is not a possibility a move to left would be an alternative. The Pirates outfield is a little crowded so expect Austin to spend his 2017 season in AAA. He is just a major injury away from getting a callup, or a Andrew McCutchen trade away if the Pirates should fall out of the playoff race.

11. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) 8.85 - Victor Robles has all five tools to make him a superstar. He will hit for average (.305 in low A), carries the potential power to hit 20 plus homeruns, has the foot speed to steal 50 plus bases and the tools and arm to play either center or right. At 19 years of age he held his own in High A, hitting .262 with a .354 OBA. A good work ethic and a leader in the clubhouse could add a sixth tool to his skills. It is difficult to watch these tools and show patience with him to allow him to develop in the minor leagues. With less than 200 at bats it may be best for Robles to start the season in High A with a promotion to AA once he achieves success.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Los Angeles Dodgers

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Overview - The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the National League West the last four years, yet have not appeared in the World Series during that streak. They have gone 28 years since their last World Series win. Their counterparts in the division, the San Francisco Giants have won two World Series in the last five years. The Dodgers pay roll has ballooned to the largest in baseball and with that comes a large luxury tax. Management is trying to pare down this mountain of a salary structure, limiting their free agent signings to their own players. They resigned Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Justin Turner and hope that will be enough for them to win the division. They also hope to have Hyun-Jin Ryu return healthy to the rotation.

Strengths - The biggest strength for the Dodgers is their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Despite missing two months of the season Clayton finished 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA, falling just 28 whiffs short of 200. With all his Cy Young winnings it is hard to believe that Clayton is only 29. The starting pitching should continue to be a strength with the return of Ryu, the resignings of McCarthy and Hill and Kenta Maeda on the mound. Julio Urias could have the potential to be another Kershaw in the making. The Dodgers should get a full season from him, though his innings pitched will be controlled. The pen will be bolstered by one of the top closers in the game. Kenley Jansen finished the 2017 season with 47 saves. The Dodgers also have the rookie of the year at short in Corey Seager. Some argue his defense is better suited for third base, but his bat with his 26 homeruns is not in question. Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez filled the corner positions with 90 RBIs each. For Gonzalez it was a down year and at 35 years old the Dodgers should start looking for a replacement as his production goes down. The acquisition of Logan Forsythe to play second gives them a power packed infield. Last year Forsythe hit 20 homeruns for the Rays. That would give them an infield where all their players have the potential to hit 20 or more homeruns.

Weaknesses - There was a time when the Dodgers had more quality outfielders than they had positions in the outfield. Now they would like to see more production from their disappointing outfielders. Yasiel Puig has seen his numbers drop each year from his rookie season. His OPS for last year was .739. Joc Pederson tends to strike out too much but he has the ability to hit the long ball. Last year he hit 26 homeruns. Andre Ethier was injured much of last year giving an opportunity for Andrew Toles to show what he has got. Toles struggled against lefthanded pitching and Etheir also hits lefthanded so expect Trayce Thompson, Enrique Hernandez or Franklin Gutierrez to compete for those righthanded at bats.

NonRoster Invitees - It’ll be tough for any of these players to make the roster out of spring training. Brandon Morrow is an interesting name, but he has not had the ability to stay healthy.

Break Out Prospects - This is a veteran team so it will be tough for any rookies to make this roster. If Adrian Gonzalez gets injured for a significant part of the season expect the Dodgers to call up their top prospect Cody Bellinger. He is a potential gold glove fielding first baseman that has the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. Alex Verdugo is a solid outfielder who could put himself in the outfield mix by mid season. The lefty hitter is a solid corner outfielder with a little bit of pop. Willie Calhoun at 5′8″ is a powder keg, hitting 27 homeruns at AA. His defense is not strong at second base so the Dodgers may try him in left field. A weak arm makes that the only viable position for him besides second base. Austin Barnes could make the roster as a catcher/utility player. Despite his lack of speed he was able to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Andrew Toles still qualifies as a rookie outfielder and based on his 2016 performance (.314 average) should see some time in left field. A good spring training would cement that position for him.

Prospects to Watch - The Dodgers have not had a lot of luck with their Cuban signings, shelling out large bonuses for little production. Yadier Alvarez could change all that with his fastball that hits three digits. He still needs to improve on throwing the pitch across the plate for strikes. Yusniel Diaz is a Cuban outfielder the Dodgers paid $15.5 million. He shows a good bat with the potential to hit for power. His speed is a fit for centerfield and his arm can take a move to right. Yasiel Sierra is another right handed pitcher who throws in the mid 90s but at 26 there is not a lot more projection for him. The Dodgers signed him for $30 million for six years. A lack of command and under development of his secondary pitchers created struggles for him in his first season in the United States. Non-Cubans to watch are Gavin Lux, the Dodgers first round 2016 pick. The shortstop played well in his first season, hitting .296 in over 200 at bats, though none of his hits went over the fence. Walker Buehler was the Dodgers first round pick in 2015. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching that season and he only got in five innings in 2016. This is a big year to see if his mid-90s fastball is still alive.

Expected Finish - The Dodgers should win this division though the Giants will again give them a battle.

30 Teams 30 Days - San Francisco Giants

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Overview - The Giants streak ended. For the last three even numbered years they won the World Series. Not 2016. It was the Cubs destiny and they eliminated the Giants in the playoffs. A bullpen collapse was the Giants undoing, blowing 30 save opportunities, the most in the major leagues. They signed Mark Melancon to a free agent contract to address the bullpen needs. They also let go bullpen stalwarts Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

Strengths - Their strongest position is having Buster Posey behind the plate. It was a down offensive year for Buster, but his defense behind the plate remains solid and his handling of the pitching staff always puts them in the top five in the major leagues. At 30 years of age he could be hitting the down side of his career. Brandon Crawford is about as solid a shortstop you can get. He was one of three Giants to win a Gold Glove. Second baseman Joe Panik was one and Buster Posey was the third. Crawford can also generate some offense with a .430 slugging percentage based on his 28 doubles, 11 Triples and 12 homeruns. The other Brandon, Belt did not win a gold glove but he has got the defensive tools to win one at first base. His bat lacks homerun power but he hit the gaps for 41 doubles and shows the patience to walk 104 times. The starting pitching has two aces at the top of the rotation in Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. After that it gets a little fuzzy. Mark Melancon has been one of the best closers in the game the last couple years. Last year he saved 47 games. It will be tough for the Giants to blow 30 leads with Melancon in the pen.

Weaknesses - The outfield lacks an impact player. Left field is a big hole. If Buster Posey plays first on the days the Giants want to rest him from his catching responsibilities Brandon Belt can always move to left field. Otherwise they will have to turn to unproven players in Mac Williamson, Jarrett Parker, Kyle Blanks or Gorkys Hernandez. Denard Span had some issues defensively in centerfield and failed to have a good year offensively. He hit .266 but only .217 against lefthanders. Hunter Pence failed to stay healthy for a second year in a row, limited to just 106 games. At 34 he is on the sliding scale down in his career. They lack a lefthander in the bullpen to get the tough lefthanders out late in the game. Will Smith is the only true commodity. Eduardo Nunez does not provide a lot of power at third. He also only hit .174 versus lefthanders in his 50 game trial with the Giants. With the Twins he finished with a .764 OPS. The Giants would like to see him turn into that kind of player. He may turn into a utility player with the Giants signing of Jae-Gyun Hwang. Hwang put up good offensive numbers in Korea but there was not a lot of offensive success with the three Korean bats who signed major league contracts last year.

Non-Roster Invitees - Myworld has to wonder if Michael Morse or Jimmy Rollins has anything left. If they can show they do in spring training they can be players who come off the bench. Rollins may have to learn to play a utility role, moving to defensive positions he is not familiar with. David Hernandez has a good enough arm to slot into the bullpen. If Kyle Blanks can stay healthy his bat would be interesting to put out in left field. The 6′6″ power hitter has not been healthy in the last couple years, bothered by foot problems.

Breakout Prospects - The rotation is pretty solid but a lot of that depends on the health and effectiveness of Matt Cain. Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez and Ty Blach are all pitchers they can call on. Beede throws from the right side and Blach made his major league debut last year. None of the three has an overpowering fastball but rely more on command to get hitters out. Christian Arroyo, the teams 2013 first round pick should make his major league debut in 2017. He is more a utility player, with his power too light to play the hot corner and lacking sufficient range to play short on an extended basis.

Prospects to Watch - Chris Shaw has some power to play first. A major injury to Brandon Belt would need to happen for him to get any significant playing time in 2017. Last year he combined for 21 homeruns between High A and AA. The strikeouts are a bit frequent and his defense falls short of Belt. Reyes Moronta is a pitcher who can hit triple digits with his fastball. The Giants are grooming him to be a closer but he needs to keep his weight in check. Last year he saved 14 games and averaged 14.2 whiffs per nine innings. We can’t really get excited about anyone else down in their farm system.

Expected Finish - They will not catch the talented Dodgers roster but they should win enough games to slide into the wild card game.