Archive for the 'Red Sox' Category

Red Sox Have K Sale for O’s

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

The Orioles had trouble making contact against Chris Sale. In his last inning of work, the fifth inning, he struck out the side to up his whiff total to 12. The Orioles were whiffing what he was serving. Sale struck out two or more hitters in each inning he pitched, hitting the radar gun at 99 miles per hour. The Red Sox went on to complete the four game sweep of the Orioles with a 4-1 win.

The Red Sox got on the scoreboard first against Alex Cobb in the opening frame. Ex-Oriole Steve Pearce deposited a pitch into the left field bleachers to give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.

Cobb pitched well. He went seven innings allowing just two runs, but only one earned run. The Red Sox scored another run in the fourth after a Brock Holt single and a bloop double into right field by J.D. Martinez. Holt appeared to stop at third but Adam Jones bobbled the pick up in right field and Holt broke for home just beating the throw. The run was ruled unearned after Mitch Moreland grounded to the pitcher and Eduardo Nunez grounded to short.

The Orioles could not figure out Chris Sale, but Matt Barnes was generous with his offerings in the eighth. Cedric Mullins beat out a high chopper to first base. Jonathan Villar singled to right and a walk to Adam Jones loaded the bases with just one out. Trey Mancini drove a ball deep enough to center to end the shutout. Tim Beckham struck out to end the threat, one of just 18 whiffs by Oriole hitters.

The Red Sox added a couple insurance runs in the ninth off Mychal Givens, who was working his second inning. Eduardo Nunuz lined a single down the left field line. Jackie Bradley hit a two out single to set the stage for a Mookie Betts liner into right center that Adam Jones could not catch up to as the ball rolled to the wall. Two runs scored on the hit.

Kimbrel came on to pitch the ninth. He struggled with his command, giving up a walk and a bloop single to right. He was able to strike out the side, including the last two hitters to give the Red Sox the victory.

Game Notes: Chris Davis is back into his slump. He struck out all four times he hit, dropping his average below .160. The Orioles have alternatives for first base in Mark Trumbo or Trey Mancini, but they would like to see Chris Davis find his bat since they owe him $20 million plus for the next four years…Tyler Thornburg walked two and gave up a hit in the sixth, retiring only two hitters. Alex Cora called on Ryan Brasier to strikeout Trey Mancini to end the threat…Sandy Leon won again behind the plate. He has won 27 of the last 29 games he has started behind the plate…Cedric Mullins looks strong in centerfield while Jones looks uncomfortable in right…In his last seven starts Sale has an ERA of 0.20.

The All Star Contact/Power Lineup

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Strikeouts and homeruns are up. Most like the latter but abhor the former. Myworld takes a look at the players who hit for power at their positions but like to make contact, or at least take as many walks as they strikeout. Excitement usually pervades their at bats.

Buster Posey (C) Giants - He has been a little short in the power department this year compared to past years, but there is a shortage of catchers who make contact. Buster almost wins this by default with a 38/45 walk to whiff ratio and five taters. He has peppered the gaps for 22 doubles.

Joey Votto (1B) Reds - In most years it would be Miguel Cabrera. He has been injured for most of the year. Joey Votto has been healthy but has not found his power swing this year, limited to just nine dingers. He does have an impressive 85/72 walk to whiff ratio. That is a lot of non-contact.

Alex Bregman (2B) Astros - We had to move him to second base, the position he would probably play if Altuve was not there and Correa did not occupy short. Alex has already surpassed his homerun numbers from last year with 22 bombs. He also has a 62/61 walk to whiff ratio.

Manny Machado (SS) Orioles/Dodgers - This has been the best year for Manny in his walk to whiff ratio (56/68). He has also stroked 26 balls over the fence. When Manny comes up to the plate the concessions get empty.

Jose Ramirez (3B) Indians - Where did this guy come from? He hit 13 homeruns in his five minor league seasons. He has 32 this year after hitting 29 last year. His 70/51 walk to whiff ratio is impressive as well.

Juan Soto (LF) Nationals - Juan is on his way to breaking the record for most walks in a season by a teenager and he missed the first couple months of the season. When he learns to pull the ball on certain pitches the balls should start flying out of Nationals stadium with greater regularity. He already has 13 this year with a 43/48 walk to whiff ratio.

Mike Trout (CF) Angels - The best player in the game today. He is prone to striking out, but he also walks a ton (99/97 walk to whiff ratio). He also sends balls out of the park with great consistency (21 homeruns).

Mookie Betts (RF) Red Sox - At 5′9″ he is not a big guy, but he carries plenty of wallop with 25 homeruns and a 50/54 walk to whiff ratio.

Rodriguez and Red Sox Blank Nationals

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Eduardo Rodriguez cut through the anemic Nationals bats, limiting them to three hits in his six innings of work. The Nationals could get no runner to third base in the 3-0 loss. They were able to get two runners on off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning on two singles but Michael Taylor struck out and Wilmer Difo popped out to the catcher. The Red Sox fans cheered while a chorus of boos could be heard from the National fans, who have watched the Nationals now drop 18 of their last 24 games.

The Nationals bullpen was again taxed after Erick Fedde had to leave the game after giving up a leadoff single in the second. Matt Grace came on and pitched well, shutting the Red Sox out through the fifth inning. The report was Fedde left with a shoulder injury but the MRI was negative.

In the seventh the disappointing Ryan Madson came on to pitch. He had given up runs in three of his last nine appearances. Make that four of his last ten. Rafael Devers hit the ball hard, lining a double into left center. Eduardo Nunez lined a single into right field to put runners on first and third with no out. Adam Eaton made a spectacular sliding catch on a foul pop up in shallow left. Devers tagged and when Eaton pumped Devers took off for home. Eaton seemed surprised Devers broke for the plate and threw the ball home, off line, skipping past the catcher into the Nationals dugout. If Eaton had immediately thrown the ball rather than pumping Devers may not have gone. Nunez advanced to third. With two outs Madson threw a pitch in the dirt for ball four that bounced back to the screen and Nunez scored. Another way for the Nationals found a way to lose a ball game.

Two runs were all the Red Sox needed but they added another run in the ninth. Nunez blooped a single into center field off Kelvin Herrera. Jackie Bradley lined a hit and run double into the right centerfield gap to score Nunez. Herrera loaded the bases with a walk and hit by pitch and was replaced by Justin Miller, who retired the last hitter.

Game Notes: Kelvin Herrera is an extremely slow worker. He is new to the team and may have trouble working with Pedro Severino. Since his acquisition from the Royals his ERA is 4.05 in seven appearances. With the Royals his ERA was 1.05…J.D. Martinez warmed up with the ball girl in the ninth inning. The ball girl had a very good arm. That had to be a treat…Despite a lefthander on the mound Dave Martinez chose to sit Juan Soto instead of Adam Eaton or Bryce Harper. Eaton had sat the night before. Harper is only slugging .402 against lefthanders while he is slugging .515 against righthanders. He went 0 for 3 against Rodriguez…Last year the Nationals were only shut out seven times. Since the start of June they have been shut out eight times. The team has been playing so poorly the veteran leaders called the first player’s only meeting…Scott Boras attributes the pitchers starving Harper from the strike zone as the reason for his low batting average. He draws a lot of walks and still hits for power. How hard he hits pitches he swings at is a greater measurement of his ability than his low batting average. Currently his exit velocity is above average when compared to the major league average. Boras is still trying to salvage a poor season from Bryce, when he was looking at a $400 million contract. Machado will get a better contract than Harper next year.

Red Sox Continue Nats Slide

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

The last couple weeks have not been pretty for the Nationals. At one time they were 11 games over .500 and in first place in the National League East. Now they are at .500 and sliding further back in the standings, third place in the National League East seven games behind the rising first place Atlanta Braves. At this point you have to question whether the Nationals become buyers or sellers. Getting a healthy Matt Wieters, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg would certainly help.

Last night they needed a long start from Tanner Roark. They got a long start from him, unfortunately a far from quality start. After the Red Sox bruised him for six straight hits in a six run fifth the Nationals pitching coach came out to the mound for one of the shortest mound visits myworld has witnessed. I’m sure all that was referred to him is “our bullpen is gassed. You are going to throw 100 pitches regardless of how many runs you give up.” Roark went seven, giving up 9 runs in a 11-4 loss.

The Nationals are clearly outmatched when compared to the Red Sox roster. The only advantage they could have is in the starting rotation, but with Strasburg hurt and Roark and Gio Gonzalez struggling that rotation now has some holes in it.

The Red Sox erupted first in the second inning. Mitch Moreland led the inning off with a single. It was his only at bat of the game as he left with back spasms to be replaced by Steve Pearce at first base. Xander Boagarts followed with a single. With runners on first and third with one out Eduardo Nunez launched a Roark muffin ball into the left field bullpen for an early 3-0 lead.

The Nationals got two of the runs back in the fourth. Bryce Harper ripped a high drive to the right field scoreboard. Without the DH J.D. Martinez was playing right. He made a leap but came down empty handed and Harper stood on second with a double. Mark Reynolds and Michael Taylor hit two singles past shortstop to score one run. With two outs Tanner Roark lined a clutch hit into left field to pull the Nationals within 3-2.

The Red Sox pulled away in the top of the fifth. Six straight hits produced six runs. The last hit was a booming shot by Xander Boegarts to score the final three runs. Myworld kept looking in the Nationals bullpen for any activity, but after the quick mound visit and silence in the Nationals pen it was clear Roark was in this game for the duration.

Brian Johnson. the starting pitcher for the Red Sox did not have the fortune to stay in the game long enough for the win. After giving up two singles in the bottom of the fifth he was removed for a right handed pitcher, one out short of qualifying for the win. This was his third start after working in the bullpen the early part of the year.

The Nationals got solo shots from the unlikely Pedro Severino in the sixth and Brian Goodwin in the ninth. Severino has been a big offensive black hole in the Nationals lineup. In his last 100 at bats his batting average has been below .100. The Red Sox tallied two runs in the ninth on a mammoth homerun from J.D. Martinez over the left field bullpen.

Game Notes: It was a sellout of 42,531, but based on the cheers it was unclear what stadium you were at. There were a number of Red Sox jerseys at the game. For the last two runs myworld does not remember hearing the “N-A-T-S Nats, Nats, Nats” cheer. By then the juice had left the Nats fan…The loss dropped the record for Tanner Roark to 3-10, raising his ERA to an unsightly 4.60. It was 6.09 in the month of June…Brian Johnson got his first major league hit last night. The single was the first of six straight hits off Roark in the fifth…Tyler Thornburg will be activated for the game today. Despite the Red Sox need for a third baseman they traded Travis Shaw to acquire Thornburg. Thornburg never pitched for the Red Sox last year. Shaw went on to hit 31 homers playing third base for the Brewers…In the first five innings the Nationals stranded 8 runners. They had a bases loaded and two first and second opportunities but failed to get the big hit…The Nationals are now 5-16 in their last 21 games. That is as bad as watching the Orioles trip through their season…A veteran bullpen leaves a team of players without options. Most teams can rotate players with options from their AAA club to the major leagues, keeping the bullpen fresh. The Nationals do not seem to have that ability, or choose not to exercise it.

United States 18 and Under Team Dominates MLB Draft

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Last year in Thunder Bay Canada the United States 18 and under team won the gold medal, defeating Korea 8-0 for their fourth consecutive gold. Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in the game to get the win. Triston Casas drove in three runs with a double and homerun to trigger the offense. Brice Turang made the first team as a shortstop, Alek Thomas and Michael Siani made it as outfielders and Ethan Hankins was named the top starting pitcher. Major league teams were paying attention. Ten players on the United States 2017 18 and under World Cup team were drafted in the first round by major league teams. Only 16 high school players were taken in the first round, and that does not include Canadian Noah Taylor, who played for Canada’s 18 and under team and was drafted in the first round by the Indians giving them two world cup stars.

Below are the ten players taken in the first round of the major league draft:

6. Jarred Kelenic (OF) Mets - first high school player selected in draft
7. Ryan Weathers (LHP) Padres - didn’t allow a run in 9.2 innings. Won two games.
16. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays - won championship game, 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12 innings
19. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
21. Brice Turang (SS) Brewers - Hit .364 and made all-tournament team as shortstop
23. Anthony Siegler (C) Yankees
26. Triston Casas (3B) Red Sox - drove in 13 runs and voted MVP of the tournament
27. Mason Denaburg (RHP) Nationals
30. J.T. Ginn (RHP) Dodgers
35. Ethan Hankins (RHP) Indians - Voted top pitcher with 27 whiffs in 12 innings

Alek Thomas, who made the all tournament team as an outfielder was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round (63rd pick) and Mike Siani who also made the all tournament team was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds (109th pick).

Ryan Rolison, who played on the 2015 18 and under team was drafted in the first round (22nd pick) by the Colorado Rockies as a lefthanded pitcher out of Ole Miss.

London Calling

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

It was officially announced by major league baseball. The New York Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox in a two game series June 29-30 in London Stadium. The stadium can seat 55,000 so if it is a sellout there is an economic incentive to hold multiple series there. Another series is scheduled for 2020 with the teams and dates to be announced later.

Top Australian Prospects

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

It has become more difficult to find Aussie prospects in the minor leagues. The distance and the influx of a wave of Cubans makes the cost/benefit of scouting there and then signing players unattractive. Plus for the Aussie, to play baseball in the United States for minimal salary and the difficulty in achieving major league success is not a career enhancer. The only Aussie major leaguers are pitchers, Peter Moylan, Warwick Saupold and Liam Hendrick. Myworld identified Saupold as a prospect to watch before the Tigers signed him when we saw him pitch in Tawian for the Perth Heat team a number of years ago. He is one player who has graduated from the list last year. So below are the top ten Australian prospects in the minor leagues. From what we could find there are not much more than ten Aussie players in the minor leagues.

1. Aaron Whitefield OF (Twins) - He’s an athlete. Defensively he may already be ready for the major leagues. Like Saupold he is a late starter to baseball, having spent most of his youth playing softball. His hitting is a bit raw, but does show some power with 11 homeruns last year. Pitch recognition is an issue with 118 whiffs in 116 games. Even when he makes contact it isn’t barrel of the bat on ball contact. Improved recognition of pitches will result in increased production. The speed is there to play center but the arm is best suited for left. He will begin the 2018 season in High A.

2. Lewis Thorpe LHP (Twins) - Tommy John surgery forced him to miss two seasons (2015 and 2016) after signing in 2012. He made a nice comeback last year finishing with a 2.69 ERA in High A, striking out 84 in 77 innings and limiting the opposition to a .225 average. For an Aussie he throws a hard fastball that creaked into the high 90s prior to his surgery but now sits in the low 90s. If he can get that velocity back he has a greater shot of seeing the major leagues. His secondary pitches are average and should allow him to stay in the rotation. He will begin the 2018 season in AA. If his fastball returns to pre surgery velocity he could see some time with the Twins by mid-season, though the Twins will still be mindful of his pitch count.

3. Alex Wells LHP (Orioles) - Not many pitchers had a string of success like Wells. In July Wells went five starts covering 31 innings in which he did not allow a run. He finished the season with a 2.38 ERA with the opposition hitting just .222 off him. His stuff will not overwhelm you with a fastball that is lucky to break 90. Command of his pitches and throwing them to the corners of the plate is what retires hitters. Last year Alex only walked 10 hitters in 140 innings. Whether that success will continue as he rises through the minor leagues is open to question. The first test will be in High A where his first two starts his ERA sits at 1.74 and the opposition hit him at a .150 rate.

4. Lachlan Wells LHP (Twins) - The Twin brother of Alex. His stuff is just as underwhelming as Alex, but he did not have the same success. He walks a few more hitters and gives up a few more hits, but he also pitched one level higher than Alex at High A. Where Alex won 11 games Lachlan lost 10. His opposition batting average was .243. He began the season on the disabled list, but when he is healthy he could start the season in AA.

5. Robbie Perkins C (Rockies) - The bat is a little light with a .201 career minor league average and a .313 slugging. His arm is what keeps him percolating in the minor leagues. Last year he threw out 19 of the 36 baserunners who attempted to steal against him. Unless his bat improves his best hope for him is to make it as a back up. Last year he did hit .271 in a 22 game stretch in the California League.

6. Todd Van Steensel RHP (Twins) - At 27 years of age he has advanced beyond what is normally considered a prospect. This is his seventh year in the minor leagues. Except for the first two years, they have all been spent in the bullpen. Last year his 1.38 ERA in AA gave the Twins motivation to sign him. He has returned to AA this year and if he can replicate his 2017 season he could see a callup to the big leagues.

7. Jon Kennedy LHP (Braves) - Jon has got height (6′5″) with a lefthanded arm that can throw in the low 90s. Of his 62 appearances only one has appeared as a starter. It would be better if he could get lefthanded hitters out, but his opposition average against lefties (.263) was about the same as righties (.261). He also pitches in the Braves organization, which has a surplus of quality starting pitchers. Many of them will have to settle for bullpen duty if they don’t make the rotation, squeezing out less qualified bullpen pitchers like Kennedy. The 2018 season has seen Jon start it in High A where he has yet to give up a run in four appearances.

8. Daniel McGrath LHP (Red Sxo) - His fastball lacks velocity and he was tagged last year for a .295 opposition average. He also struggles to find the plate with 51 walks in just 85 innings. The Red Sox have moved him to the bullpen where the hope is that shorter spurts will lead to greater success.

9. Zac Shepherd 3B (Tigers) - Myworld was once high on his power. Lack of pitch recognition has resulted in lots of swings and misses (171 whiffs in 2017) and low batting averages. His power is also reduced (.318 slugging) because of lack of barrel on the ball contact. This is his fifth season in minor league baseball where his .219 average has not allowed him to surpass A ball.

10. Sam Street RHP (Pirates) - Lots of Sams in Australian baseball. While he was born in Australia, he went to college in the United States, resulting in the Pirates drafting him in the 16th round of the 2014 draft. Of his 111 appearances only one has been a start. His fastball lacks velocity but his career .233 opposition average shows he can still retire hitters. He starts the 2018 season in AA.

Predictions - AL East

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

1. New York Yankees

Overall - The acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton added 50 plus homeruns to the lineup. Late acquisitions of Neil Walker and Brandon Drury sent rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar back to the minors for one more year of seasoning. This year the Yankees are in it to win it.

Strengths - 1) The one obvious strength like the elephant in the room is the outfield. The corners could be flanked by two 50 homerun threats, except Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge may rotate between right field and DH.
2) DH. They appear not to have a standard DH but when your possibilities are Stanton, Judge and Gary Sanchez that is a scary trio. Things may get even a bit more complicated when Jacoby Ellsbury gets healthy.
3) Shortstop. Didi Gregorius added power to his game this year, slugging 25 homeruns. Derek who?
4) Bullpen. By his standards Aroldis Chapman had an off year. So did Dellin Betances. David Robertson gives them three closers to turn to.
5) Ace. Luis Severino appears to have come into his own, his 230 whiffs fourth in the American League. That put him third in the Cy Young Award Voting.
6) Catcher. Gary Sanchez put up some impressive offensive numbers for a catcher. His defense may have some holes but 33 homeruns and 90 RBIs will make up for a lot of mistakes (16 passed balls last year).

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Greg Bird is not a proven commodity hitting just .191 last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns but has trouble staying healthy. This could be a break out year for him or the Yankees may have to scramble to find a first baseman. Tyler Austin will not be the answer.
2) Rotation. Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia have a history of injuries but they have also had their share of accomplishments. There is not a lot of veteran options behind them so Yankee fans will cross their fingers for a healthy year.

Top Rookie - The rotation will probably need some help before the season ends. Chance Adams has an opportunity to make a contribution.

Top Prospect - Last year Gleyber Torres played in only 55 games because of Tommy John surgery. He will rehab a bit in the minors and depending on how Neil Walker produces a major league callup is not far away.

Expected Finish - Myworld expects them to win the division if their pitching can stay healthy. They will also be the American League World Series representative.

2. Boston Red Sox

Overall - There is not a lot left in their farm system but Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, two recent additions will have a significant impact on how the Red Sox do this year. Pitching will be what breaks them.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. It may lack the power of the Yankees, but for defense it would be difficult to find a trio better. Andrew Benitendi should improve on his rookie year and challenge for a batting title. An improvement over hitting lefthanded pitching would help with that. Mookie Betts and his 102 RBIs put him sixth in MVP voting. Jackie Bradley is the weak link on offense but plays an excellent centerfield.
2) DH. J.D. Martinez gives them a 40 homerun bat. He can also play outfield but when compared to the other two corners would be the weak link defensively.
3) Front End of Rotation. Chris Sale struck out 308 hitters and was second in the Cy Young voting. David Price will be one of the better pitchers in the league if he can stay healthy.
4) Closer. Craig Kimbrel was unhittable, limiting righthanded bats to a .109 average.

Weakness - 1) Second Base. Without Dustin Pedroia out for a significant stretch of the season they have a hole. Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin are better off in a utility role. After Holt, Edwin Nunez saw the most time at the position and hit .321 last year.
2) Catching. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon will share the position. Both are a little light on offense and defense.
3) Back Half of Rotation. Injuries could sideline Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright for the start of the season. That is over 50 starts they have to find from somewhere. Brian Johnson and Roenis Elias are two possibilities. Rick Porcello is hoping for a bounce back year.

Top Rookie - Brian Johnson appears to have an opportunity to make the starting rotation. The 2012 first round pick is not overpowering but relies more on command.

Top Prospect - Michael Chavis hit 31 homeruns last year between two levels. Rafael Devers plays his position so expect him to get some time at first base to get his bat in the lineup.

Expected Finish - They will get the first wild card spot if their pitching holds up. It could be a long season if they get no production from the back half of the rotation.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Overall - The Blue Jays are in that dreaded middle ground where they lack the talent to make the playoffs yet have some veteran pieces in the major leagues who could bring in a massive haul of prospects. They could end up in sell mode before mid-season.

Strengths - 1) Third Base. With Manny Machado moving to short Josh Donaldson may be the top third baseman in the American League.
2) Closer. They have one of the elite young closers in the game in Roberto Osuna. Since he has arrived in the major leagues the opposition has only hit him at a .198 pace. Seung-Hwan Oh is not the pitcher he was in Japan but he can still close a game in a pinch. His numbers were way down from what he put together in his rookie year in 2016.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Troy Tulowitski will begin the season on the disabled list. He is just a shell of what he was with the Rockies. Injuries will always limit him to less than 100 games per year. Aledmys Diaz needs to show he has something left in the tank after having a disappointing year his sophomore season with the Cardinals.
2) Second Base. Devon Travis is another player having difficulty staying healthy. He has one season in three where he played in more than 100 games (101). Not a lot of depth up the middle to replace both Tulowitski and Travis at the same time.
3) Rotation. Marcus Stroman has not proven yet he is an ace but he strung together a decent season last year. Aaron Sanchez has not thrived in the rotation like we thought when we first saw him, but injuries kept him out of the rotation last year. J.A. Happ’s track record has not shown that his 2016 season is the norm.

Top Rookie - If Anthony Alford can stay healthy he should have no problem winning a job in the Jays pedestrian outfield. Expect him to be called up when April turns to May.

Top Prospect - Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr is rated slightly ahead of Bo Bichette. Both had fathers who were pretty good hitters in the major leagues. This year could see a September callup for both of them with their arrival slated more towards 2019.

Expected Finish - Third place with an expected sell off if they are far from the playoffs by June.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Overall - The Rays trade Evan Longaria, Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson and they do not call it a rebuild. They also lost Alex Cobb, Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda to free agency. If this was a business the debit side of the ledger would be much greater than the credit side, with only prospects and Denard Span coming in as return. They still have enough young players to be competitive.

Strengths - 1) Defense. They have a pretty solid defensive core with Kevin Kiermaier one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game and Carlos Gomez and Denard Span solid in the corners. Adeiny Hechavvaria can pick it at short and Matt Duffy has shortstop skills utilized at third base. Wilson Ramos is a strong defender behind the plate. Those gloves should enhance a young starting corps ERA.
2) Top Two in Rotation. Chris Archer and Blake Snell should give the Rays quality starts. After that it gets a little dicey.

Weaknesses - 1) Corner outfield. Denard Span does not provide the same offensive numbers as Dickerson. Carlos Gomez gas tank may be running on empty and he falls short of Souza.
2) First base is still a hole after the departures of Duda and Morrison. Could be a good opportunity for Jake Bauer to find a home.
3) Back end of rotation. Losing Brent Honeywell chipped away at their depth. Don’t be surprised to see Ryan Yarbrough in the rotation. He’ll start in the bullpen but should end up in the rotation before the All Star break. Nathan Eovaldi needs to translate his stuff into outs if the Rays want to stay in the hunt.

Top Rookie - Only Chris Cron stands in the way of Jake Bauer making an impact.

Top Prospect - It would be Honeywell but Tommy John surgery knocked him out for the year. Willy Adames has a chance to take over the shortstop role or move to second base if the Rays want to increase their offense so he is the top healthy prospect on the roster.

Expected Finish - No matter how the Rays want to spin it the 2018 season is a rebuilding year.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Overall - They always seem to finish better than their projections. The late signing of Alex Cobb improves their rotation. They get one more year with Manny Machado and then it will really get hard to compete. Most feel the O’s will not sign Machado and trade him for a haul of prospects. They should finish at the bottom of the East with him or without him.

Strengths - 1) Shortstop. Manny Machado will return to short. His offense will make him one of the best shortstops in the league. Time will tell how his defense pans out and how much he has lost.
2) Top Three in Rotation. Myworld still sees a lot of upside in Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausmann in the rotation. With those arms you don’t usually anticipate a last place finish.
3) Lots of pop. With Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, Machado and Jonathan Schoop they will rattle the fences. When Mark Trumbo returns from his injury it will enhance the pop throughout the lineup. Adam Jones and Colby Rasmus are not big time power hitters but they will contribute 20 plus homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Third Base. Tim Beckham has a bat that is best suited for short. He lacks the pop for third base. He had a nice spurt in his short half season with the O’s. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question.
2) Closer. Losing Zack Britton will open it up to a bullpen by committee. Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are the favorites to win the job.
3) Back end of rotation. There are a lot of candidates, but finding quality is elusive. Andrew Cashner has one spot. An inconsistent spring may knock Mike Wright from the fifth spot.

Top Rookie - The bat of Chance Sisco will win the starting catching job over Caleb Joseph. Sisco must be able to handle the pitching staff, a job Joseph has been good at after eight years spending it in Bowie.

Top Prospect - Hunter Harvey could be in the rotation by mid-season if he can stay healthy. This is the first year he has survived spring not plagued by injuries. He has excellent stuff.

Expected Finish - Last place with or without Manny Machado.

Yankees Versus Red Sox in London June 2019

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Major league baseball is negotiating with having a major league game in London in 2019. They are not messing around either with a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry slated to be on the schedule. The Red Sox will lose two home games but major league baseball will reward the Boston franchise handsomely for the loss of those games.

It appears the games will be played at the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Victor Arano and Giovanny Gallegos are the two pitchers from the list last year that saw some brief major league time. Julio Urias and Daniel Castro made it from the 2016 list but a shoulder injury has sidelined Julio’s progress with the Dodgers and pedestrian talent has prevented Castro from continuing his major league stay. There was a repeat number one and five of the ten players on this list were repeats. Dropping off the list were Francisco Rios, Jose Cardona, Jose Luis Hernandez, Fernando Perez and Christian Villanueva. This is not a list filled with top prospects. Only Luis Urias has a significant shot at seeing full time major league time.

1. Luis Urias (Padres) 2B/SS - He started as a second baseman but the Padres have given him time at short. His future position may be second base but the arm is strong enough to play short and the range is there. It just would not be super elite for the position. The bat is the prize here, making contact and walking more than striking out, a trait not shared by many. He also peppers the gaps with line drives, with the capability of staying in the .300 neighborhood. There is very little power in his swing and not a lot of speed in his legs, but he would be a perfect two hole hitter. Luis could be ready to see major league time by mid-season, but the 2018 season will see him start in AAA. His career minor league average is .310.

2. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) SS/2B - Paredes was acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade. The Cubs signed Paredes out of Mexico in 2015. Isaac is another contact hitter who may lack the speed and build to stay at short. He does have a little power in his bat so a move to second or third could provide a team with an offensive second baseman or a defensive third baseman with decent power. He struggled a little bit in Low A (.217) after being traded by the Cubs. Still a teenager the Tigers could keep him at Low A to get his feet wet or challenge him with a promotion to High A where he would be considered one of the younger players in the league.

3. Jose Albertos (Cubs) RHP - Pitchers from Mexico usually are not hard throwers. The Cubs spent $1.5 million on Albertos because he can zing his fastball across the plate in the high 90s but generally sits on the higher side of the low 90s to the mid-90s. Like most pitchers from Mexico, they learn the change and Jose has a good one, making the fastball appear to have that much more velocity. A third pitch needs to be perfected for him to slide into the rotation, otherwise he may be best suited for the bullpen. Last year he pitched in the rookie leagues and did well. His career opposition batting average since signing is .176 and he strikes out 10.5 hitters per nine innings. Next year will be his big test when he starts a full season league.

4. Andres Munoz (Padres) RHP - The first new player on this list. The Padres paid out a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz away from the Mexico City team. Since his signing his fastball has increased from the low 90s to sitting in the high 90s to hitting triple digits. All of his work has been out of the bullpen where he does not need to hold back. Finding the plate has been a struggle walking just over six hitters per nine innings. Also, he pitches out of the bullpen because he only has a fastball/slider combination. Those limitations will keep him in the bullpen as he rises through the ranks. Last year he got three appearances at Low A. That is where he should start the 2018 season. If the Padres want to see him develop more pitches and improve his control they could move him into a starter’s role, but myworld does not see that happening this year.

5. Victor Arano (Phillies) RHP - Victor is one of two pitchers from the list last year who saw major league time. After 2015 all of his time has been spent in the bullpen where he can unleash his fastball in the mid-90s. His slider may be his best pitch, the one he uses to retire hitters. While his numbers at AA Reading were not awe inspiring (4.19 ERA) the Phillies still promoted him to their major league club. He did well, limiting the opposition to a .158 average and striking out 11 hitters per nine innings. With a good spring his strong major league performance could give him a shot to start the season with the major league club, or ride that roller coaster, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the Phillies.

6. Tirso Orneles (Padres) OF - The Padres have always talked about expanding their roster to include more players from Mexico, attracting fans from Tijuana to attend their games. Tirso is a player they signed for $1.5 million from the Mexico City club. Urias and Munoz are two other players the Padres have signed out of Mexico City. At 6′4″ Tirso has the ability to generate power in his bat, banging three homeruns last year in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17 year old. His lack of speed will keep him in the corner but his arm is a fit for right. The 2018 season should see him with another season in the Rookie League unless the Padres really want to challenge him.

7. Hector Velasquez (Red Sox) RHP - The Red Sox signed Hector after the 2016 season from Campeche after he won pitcher of the year honors for the second time. Like many pitchers from Mexico, his fastball is not overpowering. He relies more on his command of pitches and his secondary stuff to retire hitters. At 28 years of age the Red Sox started him at AAA where he limited the opposition to a .213 average. This led to a promotion to the Red Sox where he held his own with three starts and five relief appearances (2.92 ERA). With a good spring he could fill the back end of the rotation, but more likely he will start the season in AAA and will be called upon when needed, adding depth to the rotation.

8. Javier Assad (Cubs) RHP - The Cubs do a good job of signing players out of Mexico. Assad was signed in 2015 for $150,000. Assad has a large frame (200 pounds) so he needs to watch his weight. Not an overpowering pitcher he relies more on command and an assortment of pitches to throw at hitters to keep them off balance. A .275 opposition average is evidence that hitters can make hard contact against him if his command is off. The 2018 season will be his first in a full season league. His best bet is to fit in the back of a rotation or fill the middle of a bullpen.

9. Victor Ruiz (Reds) C - Victor was a third baseman for the Tijuana team but the Reds signed him in 2016 and moved him to catcher. His arm is strong for the position but last year he struggled throwing runners out with a 19 percent success rate. While there is some pop in his bat he failed to hit a homerun in his 78 at bats in the rookie league. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate with a 1/22 walk to whiff ratio leading to a .250 OBA. At 18 years old entering the 2018 season he will be a major work in progress. Expect him to stay in the Rookie League to continue to improve on his catching craft.

10. Giovanny Gallegos RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Giovanny in 2011, a year after signing Manny Banuelos. His stuff is not as good as Manny but his arm has survived to allow him to continue his major league pursuit, while Manny has transformed into a journeyman. A mid-90s fastball limited AAA hitters to a .180 average and 14.33 whiffs per nine innings. This got him a promotion to the Yankees where the hitters feasted on his lack of quality secondary pitches to hit him at a .263 pace. The 2018 season could see him rotate back and forth between the Yankees and AAA, but carrying only a fastball will leave him at the back end of the bullpen, unless he can perfect a second pitch to complement his fastball.