Archive for the 'Braves' Category

Braves Hope to Repeat with Pitching

Friday, April 12th, 2019

The Braves are the last team reviewed by myworld for their prospects. Myworld rated them the top minor league system for prospects in 2017 and 2018 and number three in 2016. The last time the franchise was in the top ten for prospects was in 2010 and 2011 when they finished with the third rated system both years. Some of the players on that team that are still making an impact on the newer version of the Braves are Julio Teheran, Freddie Freeman and Arodys Vizcaino. Two other top prospects are Mike Minor and Craig Kimbrel.

Some of the top prospects from the 2016 and 2017 seasons are - Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Kolby Allard, Aaron Blair, Mike Soroka, Kevin Maitan, Sean Newcomb, Ian Anderson, Max Fried, Touki Touissaint, Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna and Luiz Gohara. Some of the top prospects from the 2018 team are Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley and their gang of pitchers, Luiz Gohara, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Max Fried, Joey Wentz and A.J. Minter. Cristian Pache is another highly rated position prospect from 2018.

This year the Braves top prospects are pitchers. Trying to find the best one is like trying to identify the winner in a beauty contest. Mike Soroka was a first round pick in 2015. The Canadian should have been in the Braves rotation in 2019 but injuries ended his season in 2018 after five starts. Prior to his shoulder issues he was the Braves best pitching prospect with a low 90s fastball, excellent control and above average slider. The shoulder issues still lingered this spring, putting a delay to his 2019 start. At 6′5″ he has a good frame for pitching. By mid-season he should be in the rotation if he has success in AAA and the other pitchers are struggling.

Touki Toussaint is another first round pick ready for the rotation. He was drafted in the first round in 2014 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they traded him to the Braves to eliminate salary (Bronson Arroyo). Finding the plate was the biggest issue for Touki when he was with the Diamondbacks. The fastball comes to the plate in the mid-90s and he has a plus curve and change. He started finding the plate more frequently with the Braves which reduced his walks and ERA. Last year he got five starts with the Braves but struggled finding the plate, walking 21 in 29 innings. The Braves felt a little more seasoning was needed in AAA.

Ian Anderson was the Braves first round pick in 2016. His fastball also sits in the mid-90s with a knee buckling curveball and plus change. His walks have been a little high (49 in 119 innings last year) but it is not expected to be a long term concern. Last year he made his AA debut reaching four starts. He gets lots of swings and misses with his pitches. He should start the season in AA but with the surplus of starting pitching in the minor leagues it will be tough for him to crack the Braves rotation in 2019.

Kyle Wright was the first round pick of the Braves in 2017. Drafted out of college he rose quickly, already appearing in four major league relief appearances last year. His fastball sits just south of 95 with decent secondary pitches (curve and slider). Walks have caused a problem for him but he elicits soft contact. Last year the opposition hit him at a .152 clip in four AAA starts. Kyle may be a player the Braves call up by mid-season.

Joey Wentz was a supplemental first round pick in 2016. He spent a couple months on the disabled list last year with an oblique injury, limiting him to just 16 starts and 67 innings. The one plus he has is he throws lefthanded, something the pitchers above him don’t do. His fastball sits in the low 90s with a quality curve and change. He does not get a lot of swings and misses with his pitches, but the opposition could only hit .206 against him. The 2019 season should see him starting at AA.

Other pitchers with a long shot to make the rotation include Bryse Wilson, Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard. Bryse has a flaming fastball that reaches the high 90s. The 2016 fourth round pick needs improvement on his secondary pitches (curve and change). Gohara may have the best fastball hitting triple digits and can keep hitters off balance with strong secondary pitches. Only his slider is above average. His change is still a work in progress, which could limit him to the bullpen. Staying in shape could also be an issue, with the down side reducing his fastball to pedestrian levels. Allard is a lefthander who does not throw hard. The 2015 first round pick relies more on his curve and change. His fastball rarely reaches 90. He is a back end of a rotation starter or situational reliever.

On the position front Austin Riley is their top prospect. The Braves signed Josh Donaldson to fill the position for one year and then Riley takes over in 2020. The 2015 first round supplemental pick hits for big time power, last year slugging 18 homeruns. His defensive tools, including a rocket arm should keep him at third. When he arrives with the Braves he should be an annual lock for 30 plus homeruns per year.

Cristian Pache is their best fielding centerfielder. The Braves don’t have an immediate need for that position with Ronald Acuna and Ender Inciarte playing with the big club now. Pache has gold glove potential. The bat is a little light, lacking in power but his speed could make him effective as a second lead off bat in the nine spot. Improving his patience at the plate (20/97) would enhance his ambitions to become a major league player. He will start his season in AA and is an injury away from contributing to the Braves.

Drew Waters, the Braves second round 2017 pick has a little more bat but is not as strong defensively in the outfield. The speed is there to play center but it pales when compared to Pache. His arm is strong enough to play right. His bat has some pop to it and with his speed there is the potential to be a 20/20 player. Like Pache, Waters needs to improve his patience at the plate (29/105). Drew will start the 2019 season in High A with a quick promotion to AA if he has continued success.

Alex Jackson was a first round pick of the Mariners. They moved him to the outfield from catching where he failed to hit. The Mariners traded him to the Braves where they returned him to catching. His bat seemed to find some life going back to his old position. Last year he again struggled with the bat, his average barely squeezing above .200. Defensively he has a strong arm, but his other tools need a lot of work. Preventing balls from greeting the back stop is the biggest concern. Last year he played in AAA so he is an injury away from the major leagues.

The Braves catcher of the future is probably William Contreras. He is the younger brother of Wilson. Like his younger brother, he has a strong bat with the potential for power. His defense is also above average with a strong arm to slay baserunners. He is still a couple years away from appearing in the Braves lineup.

NL East Predictions

Friday, March 29th, 2019

The last of our division predictions.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Strengths - The new guys. Bryce Harper is the most publicized new guy, but there were more important additions prior to the Harper signing. The trade for J.T. Realmuto provides a more experienced catcher to lead a younger starting rotation. They traded their previous catcher Jorge Alfaro to upgrade at this position. The same holds true for Jean Segura, a quality shortstop who they acquired from the Mariners, including in the trade their previous shortstop J.P. Crawford and again upgrading this position. Signing Andrew McCutchen as a free agent upgrades left field from a defensive stand point and moves the big bat of Rhys Hoskins to first base where his power belongs. Seranthony Dominguez won their closer job last year and did a good job in saving games. Newly acquired David Robertson provides the team choices at the closer position and gives the team an experienced arm in case Dominguez falters.

Weakness - The starting rotation looks slim after Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez all have talent but suffer from youthful inconsistency. They certainly fall short of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves starting rotation. Defense is not a strength here. No gold glovers covering the infield or outfield.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Most of their top prospects who were close to the major leagues were traded. What’s left are mostly relievers like Enyel de los Santos and Ranger Suarez. Ranger could help in the rotation but his ceiling is as a fifth starter.

Expected Finish - It will be a four team battle but the Phillies will rise to the top because of improvement in their offense, provided injuries don’t eat into their depth.

2. Washington Nationals

Strengths - The top three starters are the best trio in baseball. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin can not be matched by any other team, provided they stay healthy. That is no sure thing for Strasburg and Corbin needs to show that last year was not a fluke. The left side of the infield with Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner is strong both offensively and defensively. Turner provides the speed while Rendon shows the power.

Weakness - The Nationals have failed to make the playoffs twice, both times when they were favored to win the division. When they make the playoffs they get eliminated in the first round. Much of that is blamed on a lack of leadership in the locker room. That is still a problem, with too many quiet players reluctant to lead. Max Scherzer is the one vocal leader but pitchers are tough to lead since they only appear in the lineup every five days. The outfield lacks depth. Adam Eaton gets injured a lot. This could create a problem if Victor Robles struggles as a rookie and Michael Taylor stays inconsistent.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Victor Robles will not make as great an impact as Juan Soto. His defense will be better but the bat will not be as productive. The speed should create havoc on the bases provided he has the instincts to make the right choices. Carter Kieboom shined during spring training, hitting two homeruns off Justin Verlander. He could be called up by mid-season once injuries eat away at depth. Tanner Rainey has trouble finding the plate but the fastball hits triple digits. The Nationals traded Tanner Roark for him so expect him to get an opportunity.

Predicted Finish - They will fight with the Braves for the wild card spot and win it by a game or two. Starting pitching will prove the difference.

3. Atlanta Braves

Strengths - The depth of the Braves starters is impressive. It is being used early with the injuries to Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Guasman. Not a good start to the season. The rookie of the year Ronald Acuna should have a better year his sophomore season, moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the lineup. Freddie Freeman is a potential MVP at first base.

Weakness - When the Braves were winning consecutive division titles one of their weak areas was the bullpen. This could create a problem in 2019. A.J. Minter served as the closer last year but he will also start the season on the disabled list. Arodys Vizcaino is another option but he has had trouble staying healthy.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Lots of possibilities to fill the rotation to begin the year. Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka and Bryse Wilson are part of the first wave. Ian Anderson and Luiz Gohara are the second options. On the offensive side Austin Riley could be ready for third base. If Josh Donaldson struggles to stay healthy or his bat fails the Braves will not hesitate to bring up Riley. Kolby Allard is a lefthander who lacks explosiveness with his fastball. Command is his strength and he could fill out the bullpen.

Predicted Finish - Starting pitching lacks experience and this will prove critical as they fall short of the Nationals for the last wild card spot.

4. New York Mets

Strengths - Starting pitching if they stay healthy. They don’t get any better than Jacob deGrom, who won the Cy Young last year. Noah Syndergaard has the potential to win a Cy Young but has struggled to stay healthy the last two years. Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz are two other talented pitchers who have spent much of their career on the disabled list. The acquisition of Edwin Diaz gives them a 50 save closer from last year.

Weakness - Too many hopes and ambitions. They hope Amed Rosario will be one of the best shortstops in baseball. They hope Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith can provide answers at first base. And they hope Yoennis Cespedes can come back healthy to enhance an outfield lacking in power, except for Michael Conforto. They hope Wilson Ramos can stay healthy for a full year and Robinson Cano does not start feeling his age. And they hope their starting rotation stays healthy. All those hopes will not come to fruition.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Peter Alonso has a powerful bat that has the potential of hitting 30 plus homeruns. His defense is not good but if his bat can be productive the Mets will take the tradeoff. Tomas Nido will act as the back up for Ramos, but this will result in a lot of playing time to keep Ramos healthy. Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme will vie for the Mets utility job. Both are superior defensive players but Gimenez may have the better bat.

Predicted Finish - Health and lack of depth will drop them down to fourth but they will stay competitive for a playoff spot into September.

5. Miami Marlins

Strengths - They have the strength to play poorly enough to fight for the first pick in the 2020 draft, if they can be called a strength. Brian Anderson may lack the power to play third but he is the one bat to fear in the lineup. Starlin Castro is a veteran bat who will probably be traded before the year is out.

Weakness - Two of their three outfielders they traded, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich both won MVPs the last couple years. The outfield the Marlins are trotting out this year would be hard pressed to make an All Star team in AAA. Starting rotation will not limit runs and it will get ugly. Same holds true for the bullpen. A lot of ugly on this roster. This team would be more competitive in AAA.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The Marlins have no motivation to use up service time on another wasted season. Isan Diaz could be called up mid-season after Castro is traded. He has been highly touted but his strikeouts have hampered his offensive performance. Sandy Alcantara has made the rotation. His fastball is impressive but his command is lacking.

Predicted Finish - They will fight with the Orioles and Royals for the first pick in the 2020 draft.

Top 100 - 30-21

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Though the Braves added one more righthanded pitcher after including three in the 40-31 prospect list, the White Sox dominated this ten with two righthanded pitchers and an infielder.

30. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Canadian pitcher and first round pick of the Braves in 2015 was limited to 11 starts last year because of injury, five of those starts in the major leagues. At 6′4″ with a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can touch mid 90s he has the quality secondary pitches to be a perfect fit as a mid-rotation starter. Injuries to Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Guasman could improve his opportunities. The Braves will be in a pennant race but it may be wise to limit his innings and start his 2019 season in AAA. What sets Soroka apart from other pitchers is his excellent command. He throws it to all quadrants of the plate and appears to have a purpose for each pitch.

29. Nick Madrigal 2B/SS (White Sox) - Nick was a first round pick of the White Sox in 2018. He played second base for NCAA champion Oregon, but he could have just as well played shortstop. At 5′8″ he is small in stature but his bat sprays line drives to all parts of the park. His bat will not hit for a lot of power, but batting titles could be in his future. The arm may be better suited for second base but if Nick can make it as a shortstop he would increase his value to the lineup. He should rise quickly, finishing at AA in 2019.

28. Dylan Cease RHP (White Sox) - The Cubs traded Cease to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade sacrificing a pitcher for the future for one that could help them in the present. The sixth round pick in 2014 throws in the mid 90s and can hit triple digits. His secondary pitches lack consistency and he has trouble finding the plate. Last year he had success in AA with a 1.72 ERA, limiting the opposition to a .168 average. The White Sox are in rebuilding mode. Dylan will probably start the season in AAA and be promoted to the major league team by mid-season if he shows success in AAA.

27. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) - Last year Mitch Keller struggled for the first time since being drafted in the second round in 2014. He finished with an ERA of 4.82 in 10 AAA starts. His fastball hits the mid-90s and reaches the high 90s. Normally it is unhittable, but AAA hitters assaulted him for a .280 average last year. Both his fastball and curveball are the best in the Pirates system so they expect a bounce back. He is a better alternative than Nick Kingham or Jordan Lyles in the rotation so after a few starts in AAA he will be the Pirates number five starter by mid-May.

26. Francisco Mejia C (Padres) - With Manny Machado at third and the Padres outfield crowded Mejia will have to make it as a catcher. His arm is one of the strongest in baseball but his other tools for the position are fringy. Austin Hedges is the better defensive catcher but Mejia has the better bat. The Padres acquired the Dominican from the Indians last year for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Francisco has the potential to hit for a high average with good gap power. Last year he slugged 17 homeruns. If he starts the season with the Padres he will be the starting catcher with Hedges taking on the back up role.

25. Austin Riley 3B (Braves) - The Josh Donaldson signing delayed the arrival of Riley to the Braves by one year. The 2015 first round pick is a potential All Star who can provide quality defense and hit bombs far over the fence. If Riley has an Achilles heel it is his penchant for not making contact. The Braves will accept that as long as it comes with light tower pops. Last year Riley played at AAA hitting .282 with 11 homeruns. His .456 slugging average was below his norm. For the 2019 season he will start the season in AAA and if Donaldson is injured or struggles to find any offensive consistency Riley will be with the Braves by mid-season.

24. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - Drug suspensions, Tommy John surgery and injured lat muscles have kept Alex on the prospect lists two years longer than he would like. He was supposed to be in the Cardinals rotation a couple years ago. Because of his injuries he may start the year in the bullpen to lesson his innings and could move into the rotation towards the end of the year. His fastball is electric, consistently hitting the mid-90s and shaving the triple digits. He’s also got excellent secondary pitches which would make a move to the bullpen a waste. If he can’t stay healthy enough to stay in the starting rotation Alex would be a top notch closer. He should start the 2019 season in the Cardinals bullpen.

23. Casey Mize RHP (Tigers) - Casey was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2018. He has lept ahead of the other Tiger pitching prospects by being the first player selected in that draft. The fastball flashes across the plate in the mid-90s but what makes it so impactful is a quality splitter that gets a lot of swings and misses as it dives out of the strike zone. As a college drafted pitcher Casey should rise quickly. Last year he got four starts in High A, but hitters attacked him for a .295 average. High A is where he should begin his 2019 season.

22. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - He owned the best fastball in the minor leagues, reaching triple digits consistently and sitting north of 95. Tommy John surgery will put a halt to his 2019 season. Command of his pitches had been his biggest impediment, but just when he appeared to be mastering his control he was felled by his UCL. Prior to his injury he did get four starts in the major leagues and they hit him at a blistery .328 clip. It will be probably sometime in mid 2020 before he can again try to make an impact with the White Sox.

21. Luis Urias SS/3B (Padres) - The 2016 signing out of Mexico will begin the 2019 season playing shortstop for the Padres. Once Tatis is called up he will move over to second base. The arm is strong enough to play short but the range is lacking. Second base he could win gold gloves. His bat lacks power but will fill the gaps. In time Luis could win batting averages. Rookie of the year will be within his grasp for 2019 if his teammate Fernando Tatis does not take it away from him.

Top 100 - 40 - 31

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

The Braves dominate this ten with 30 percent of the players, all of them right handed pitchers. The Dodgers and Mets both have a duo of position players that will impact their future lineup. That accounts for 70 percent of the players.

40. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) - The Braves 2017 first round pick is having such a strong spring that he may force his way into the rotation. Last year he appeared in four games in relief. His low to mid 90s fastball and curve are good one-two punches but 43 walks in 109 innings is a cause for concern. Even in his six inning major league debut he had a 6/5 walk to whiff ratio. Another half season in AAA would be ideal. He was the first player in the 2017 draft to get promoted to the major leagues.

39. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres may be a better defensive shortstop than Ahmed Rosario, but that is like trying to argue over which of two models is the most beautiful. Since Ahmed did not do anything to disappoint Andres will have to move to second. Offensively he does not appear to be a difference maker in the lineup. His power is lacking and except for his debut season in the Dominican Summer League he has not hit over .300 in his two years playing in the States. Robinson Cano has the next couple years at second base so Gimenez will play one more season at AA/AAA. A September callup is in the cards and a utility role may be his assignment in 2020.

38. Alex Verdugo RF (Dodgers) - Alex Verdugo may hit for average. Myworld looks at his tools and sees a fourth outfielder. The arm has the strength to play right field but his ability to hit for power is lacking. He also feels a bit of entitlement to the right field job after only hitting .260 last year with a .706 OPS. That is not the kind of production playoff teams look for in their corner outfielders. Perhaps he will mature and earn his position in right field with solid production. The Dodgers traded their two corner outfielders from last year, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp so there is an opening for Alex to take.

37. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan has the chance to be a two way player. He has the arm and defensive tools to be a solid defensive catcher. He also has the bat to hit for average and power. He has a .309 minor league career average and slugged 12 homeruns last year. The Dodgers do not have any catchers on their roster who can prevent Ruiz from taking over the position once he is ready. Trusting a rookie catcher with playoff implications on the line is tough so he will start the season in AAA and could be promoted by mid-season if injuries or struggles give the Dodgers no choice to salvage the 2019 season.

36. Peter Alonso 1B (Mets) - In the Futures game myworld witnessed a jaw dropping homerun that landed on the pavilion at Nationals Park. Only Albert Pujols has hit one there. The second round 2016 pick is not a defensive specialist at first base and has a propensity to swing and miss. His batting average will probably float around the .250 range but when he hits the ball it will travel a long way. Last year he slugged 36 homeruns between AA and AAA. Dominic Smith has been a disappointment at first base and also plays a poor defense. Both are having excellent springs. If push comes to shove Dominic has the most experience which will mean Alonso has to spend at least a half season in the minor leagues. Eventually he will beat out Smith for the first base job and if the National League adopts the DH the Mets could keep both and DH one.

35. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) - Ian Anderson was a first round pick of the Braves in 2016. He has a lively fastball that can hit the mid-90s with a curve to buckle knees. The walks could be reduced but High A hitters struggled with a .198 average against him. Drafted out of high school he is still a couple years away from being considered for a rotation spot but at 6′3″ he has a good frame to be a durable starting pitcher. Ian got four AA starts last year and will probably start the 2019 season there. The Braves have no reason to rush him with their surplus of pitching.

34. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves) - Dave Stewart did not think he would ever become a major league pitcher and sent him to the Braves with Bronson Arroyo to reduce salary. In his defense Toussaint did have trouble finding the plate but those issues appear to be rectified. Touki made his major league debut last year and is the favorite to win a spot in the back end of the rotation in 2019, especially with Mike Foltynewicz starting the season on the disabled list. Touki was born in Florida but his parents come from Haiti. The Diamondbacks wasted a first round pick for him in 2014 to get nothing in return.

33. Joey Bart C (Giants) - Joey “Bay Area Rapid Transit” Bart has a perfect name for San Francisco. With Buster Posey declining in his catching skills Bart is in a great position to take over that spot, especially now that the Giants are close to that tank and rebuild mode. Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018. The bat will hit for big time power as his 13 homeruns in rookie ball prove. His arm is strong enough to control the running game. The other intangibles will develop with experience. Joey will start the 2019 season in a full season league. As a drafted college player he should move up the ranks quickly.

32. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in 2018, just as he was dominating in spring and the talk was that he was earning a spot in the Athletics rotation. The 2016 first round pick has an explosive fastball that is clocked in the high 90s. At 6′7″ and throwing lefthanded that is a keeper. He needs to improve on his third pitch (change) and enhance his control to make it as a starter. Also, after missing all of last season the Athletics will be patient with him as he eats up innings in rehab. Myworld does not expect to see him in the Athletics rotation until 2020.

31. Brendan McKay 1B/LHP (Rays) - The Rays are hoping to make the 2017 first round pick a two way player. Currently his arm is way ahead of his bat. During his college days his primary position was at first base and he was used as a reliever. Facing minor league pitching he has only been able to hit .221 with a .366 slugging. That will not cut it as a first baseman in the major leagues. It could make him a third or fourth pinch hitting possibility. His left handed arm has been a pleasant surprise with a fastball in the low 90s with an excellent feel for the strike zone. Joe Kelly found his arm rising higher up the minor league level than his bat could keep up and eventually focused on pitching. The same may apply to McKay as his arm outpaces his bat. He could start next season in AA but his bat may not be ready yet for that level.

Top 100 - 50 - 41

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

The Reds have two prospects on this group of ten, but one is injured and the other is not tested.

50. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick had one of the hardest fastballs in the minor leagues. It reached 103 and sat in the high 90s. Unfortunately it was relatively straight and batters hit him at a .251 clip at Low A with six homeruns in just 68 innings. After 18 starts he was shut down in July with an elbow injury for the remainder of the season. No Tommy John but myworld cringes whenever we hear elbow issues. Success has been difficult for Greene with a career 4.95 ERA in his two half seasons. If everything goes well with his elbow he should be ready for High A but at some point he will have to start showing some success.

49. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - A poor man’s five tool player. Jesus should hit for 20 plus homerun power once he reaches the major leagues. The batting average has consistently finished above .300 at every level he has played except last year in AA when he only hit .214 in 98 at bats. The speed exists to play center field but it is absent for stealing bases. The arm has enough juice to slide over to right if another centerfielder is found. Expect Jesus to repeat AA to find some success. He could see the Rays sometime in September this year and next year be their starting centerfielder.

48. Jonathan India 3B (Reds) - Jonathan was the first round pick of the Reds in 2018. He plays the same position as Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds recently signed to a long term contract. The Reds top prospect Nick Senzel also plays that position and the Reds are trying to find another position for him. That scenario could hold true for Jonathan but he still has some time to play third base in the minors before experimenting with other positions. The tools are there for him to play third, but he has also played shortstop at Florida and has the tools to play second. His bat hits for power and should spray the gaps for a .270 plus average. Last year he reached Low A so expect him to rise quickly. His fringy speed could allow him to play left field, but his best fit is in the infield.

47. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) - An injury will delay the start of the 2019 season for the 2015 first round pick. The righthander does not throw hard, sitting in the low 90s, but he is all arms and has some maturing to do. At 6′5″ he only weighs 165 so a little bit more girth could put more velocity on his fastball. For such a gangly frame Triston has excellent control. His curveball is a quality pitch and he can get swings and misses with his change. While he did not blow away hitters there was a lot of soft contact against him, with opponents hitting just .191. There is some durability concerns because of his thin frame. Last year the Indians did not start him until June because of injury issues. This will be the second straight season his season is delayed. Once healthy he should start the season in AA.

46. Cristian Pache CF (Braves) - The Dominican has the speed and defensive chops to be a gold glove centerfielder. The hope is that the bat develops so he can hit at the top of the lineup. He needs to show a little more patience at the plate in order to improve his OBA (.327). His speed has also not resulted in a lot of success stealing bases (50 for 77 in three years). The power is lacking so he needs to rely on his speed game to make an impact. His first two years Cristian went homerless but last year he carried nine balls over the fence. Next year he should repeat at AA and with some success move up to AAA. With Ender Inciarte in centerfield the Braves do not have to rush Pache.

45. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charles was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. His defense is also gold glove caliber for third base, but his power could be lacking to play the position. Last year he slugged .444 with the 31 doubles accounting for most of his power. Ke’Bryan makes good contact and should hit for a high enough average. His speed is not great but he did steal 39 bases the last two years. The Pirates are a little crowded at third with Moran and Kang so Hayes should see a full season in AAA in 2019.

44. Yordan Alvarez LF/1B (Astros) - The Cuban has some big time power, hitting 20 homeruns last year. Finding him a position could be a challenge. At 6′5″ his arm is not strong enough to play right field but he has enough speed to fit in left. He still needs a lot of work on his routes in the outfield so a move to first may be in his future. His lefthanded bat has the ability to hit to all fields with no issues hitting for average when facing lefthanders. Kyle Tucker is currently ahead of Alvarez for the next left field opportunity so Yordan will start his 2019 season in AAA. If the power in his bat dominates AAA expect him to make his major league debut this year.

43. Justus Sheffield LHP (Mariners) - The Yankees traded away their 2014 first round pick to acquire a pitcher with more experience in James Paxton. A short term gain could end up a long term loss. His left handed arm can dial the fastball up to 95 and his slider is a hard pitch. He needs to improve his change to get more separation in velocity to prevent hitters from always looking for the hard stuff. The Mariners may start him in AAA to begin the season but expect an early callup to the major leagues. Sheffield and Kikuchi are two good pieces for building a rotation.

42. Chris Paddock RHP (Padres) - Like the Atlanta Braves, the Padres have a number of starting pitching options. The 2015 eighth round pick of the Marlins was acquired for Fernando Rodney. He has had nothing but success in the minor leagues with his ERA sitting at 1.82. He did not pitch in 2017 because of Tommy John surgery but bounced back last year tossing 90 innings. He is not overpowering, with a fastball sitting in the low 90s but his command of the fastball and his quality change made a number of hitters look like fools. In seven AA starts he finished with a 1.91 ERA with opponents hitting him at .171. A good spring could see him start at AAA with a major league promotion occurring quickly if he can have immediate success. Because of the recent Tommy John surgery the Padres will have to watch his innings.

41. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - The Cuban dominated the Naccional Series in his last season, putting up Triple Crown numbers before defecting halfway through the season. The speed is there to play centerfield and the bat should hit for power. His big issue is staying healthy. Thumb injuries cost him significant time last year, limiting him to just 50 games. In close to 200 at bats he failed to hit a homerun in 2018. The White Sox will like to see what they have got with a healthy Robert. Next year he should start his season in High A where the White Sox hope he improves on his .244 average and 8/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Top 100 - 70-61

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Continuing with our Top 100 list

70. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - In the Arizona Fall League Nate was consistently reaching the plate north of 100 miles per hour. The reason the 2017 first round pick was pitching in the AFL is because injuries limited him to just one start and less than two innings for the regular season. In 2017 he started eight games, tossing 20 innings and limited the hitters to a .106 average. While he possesses lots of heat his secondary pitches are a little raw and he needs to find the plate more. This could force him into a bullpen role. At 22 years of age the Jays will start him in High A and hope for quick promotions to get him ready for the major league roster. At 6′6″ he has the intimidation factor going for him.

69. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - The smooth fielding shortstop is just one of many players that seem to be cropping up from the Bahamas. The Diamondbacks were actually in the Bahamas to watch Lucius Fox when they spotted Jazz. His price ($200,000) was more reasonable than Fox ($6 million) and now it appears Jazz may be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there for him to stay at shortstop. The bat looks like it can carry some pop with 25 homeruns last year. The hope is that he reduces his strikeouts (149 in 112 games) to allow him to be an offensive threat. The AA season in 2019 should be a real test for him.

68. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - This is the oldest and best of the two Luis Garcias. The other is a shortstop prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. Luis has the bat to hit for average with his .298 last year and .303 in 2017. The concern is finding a position for him. Trea Turner plays short, Carter Kieboom will play second or third and the Nationals would like to sign Anthony Rendon to an extension. That fills up the infield. A super utility role could be in his future. There is not a lot of power in his bat but he has the capability to compete for batting titles. He could start the 2019 season in AA.

67. Travis Swaggerty OF (Pirates) - The 2018 first round pick was part of the United States gold medal winning national team in the 18 and under division. He does have raw power that allows him to clear the fence pretty easily. His other tools are also average to plus with a solid arm that will put him in right and decent speed that will allow him to play centerfield in a pinch. Last year he struggled in his first taste of full season ball (.129) so expect him to repeat that level in 2019.

66. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) - The Tigers 2016 first round pick has a fastball that can fly across the plate in the mid-90s. His 6′6″ inch frame also makes him an intimidating presence on the mound. His hammer curve is a tough pitch for hitters to make contact with, resulting in 154 whiffs in 117 innings. His success resulted in two appearances in AA which is where he should start the 2019 season. The Tigers have four pitchers competing to be the ace of the future staff.

65. Sean Murphy C (Athletics) -Sean will be a solid defensive catcher whose arm will scare base stealers from trying to take the extra base against him. His bat carries some power but it could be a challenge to hit north of .250. He came into the 2018 season with a .246 minor league average. In AA he hit .288 with a .498 slugging average until a July injury put him out for two months. If not for the injury he probably would have seen his major league debut in 2018. Barring another injury expect that to happen in 2019, with a start to the season in AAA.

64. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Another pitcher who pitched in the Junior Nationals for the 15 and Under World Cup Team in Mexico City, but he threw for Cuba, defecting as a 16 year old. At 6′0″ he is not a big pitcher, but he throws lefthanded and knows where the strike zone is located. While he can get the ball across the plate in the mid-90s his best pitch may be a knee buckling curve ball. The majority of his starts were in High A so expect a promotion to AA in 2019.

63. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) - After a break out season last year where the Haitian born Florial hit .298 with 13 homeruns in the two A leagues, the Yankees were expecting big things in 2018. Injuries slowed him down, limiting him to just 84 games. His results were disappointing with a .256 average in A ball with just three homeruns. The strikeouts need to be reduced but the five tools are there for him to be a superstar. Strong arm, deer like speed and a power bat make him a player to watch. The Yankees have a crowded outfield so he will probably see a full season in AA in 2019.

62. Drew Waters OF (Braves) - The Braves just don’t develop pitchers. They also appear to develop outfielders with Ronald Acuna winning rookie of the year last year and Cristian Pache and Drew ready to contribute in a couple years. The second round 2017 pick went to high school in Georgia. The speed exists to play centerfield but if Acuna captures that position he has the arm to play right. His current power is dedicated towards the gaps but with time and maturity he could hit twenty plus homeruns. He should see AA next year which would make him a knock on the door away from the Braves.

61. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Colombian righthander dominated in low A with a 2.16 ERA in 17 starts, with the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. At 6′0″ he is small in stature, but his fastball hits the high 90s, usually sitting in the low 90s. His slider is a swing and miss pitch and the change is a work in progress. Continued success could see him hit AA in 2019.

Top 100 Prospects - 90-81

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The next wave of top 100 prospects, with right handed pitchers dominating the mix.

90. D.L. Hall LHP (Orioles) - The Orioles 2017 first round pick has a good fastball for a lefthander, riding the plate at 92-94 with an occasional mid-90s heat. What makes the fastball more effective is his lefthanded movement. It is difficult to make hard contact with his pitches, as evidence by the opposition’s .203 batting average against him. A good curveball and change give him the requisite pitches to fit in the starting rotation. He does need to throw more strikes, last year walking 42 hitters in just 94 innings. That may come with more experience. Next year he should begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he achieves success.

89. Trevor Larnach OF (Twins) - The Twins 2018 first round pick played for the 2018 College World Series champion Oregon State. His bat had a break out in power for his junior year, elevating his draft status. That continued into his 2018 minor league season when he hit five homeruns for a .500 slugging average. The bat needs to work because his defense in the outfield is average to below. His arm and speed are best suited for left field, so a high average and 20 plus homeruns are imperative. His 21/28 walk to whiff ratio were also very impressive. Expect him to rise quickly through the ranks, starting at Low A where he finished last year and rising quickly to AA if he achieves success.

88. Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - The Nationals traded Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dunning to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. That may be a trade they will regret when all three pitchers are in the White Sox rotation. Dunning was the Nationals 2016 first round pick. He had problems with his elbow last year, which caused him to miss a couple months. That will be something that needs to be watched. Dane throws in the low 90s with his sinker and then mixes in a slider, curve and change. Since he is not overpowering he will need all four pitches to be effective at the major league level. Last year he achieved 15 starts, striking out over ten hitters per nine innings. He should start the 2019 season in AA with the possibility of getting a major league callup mid-season if his elbow holds up.

87. Brady Singer RHP (Royals) - Brady was the Royals top pick in the 2018 draft and was expected to be picked higher than the 18th pick. Last year a minor hamstring injury prevented him from pitching the 2018 season. He also had thrown a number of innings for the Florida Gators. He will break out his low 90s fastball/slider combination probably in the Low A affiliates to start the 2019 season. He showed good command when pitching in college and needing a third pitch (change) was not often necessary so how that translates to professional hitters will be key. If he has success Brady will be a fast riser up the minor league ladder, hitting AA before the season ends. Brady was originally a second round pick of the Jays out of high school but did not sign after a post draft physical turned up some issues. Credit to Brady for staying healthy and raising his stock while pitching for the Gators.

86. Bryse Wilson RHP (Braves) - Bryse rose quickly in the Braves system, starting in High A and ending the season with the Braves. The fourth round 2016 pick stands only 6′1′ but his fastball can reach the plate north of the mid-90s. It sits at 93-94 with plenty of dance. The lack of a quality secondary pitch and his 6′1″ frame could relegate him to the bullpen. Last year major leaguers ripped him at a .308 clip. Minor leaguers could only hit .236. One thing going for him is his excellent command of his fastball, so if his secondary pitches improve he could slot into a third spot in the rotation. A good spring could see him slot in the fifth spot in 2019 but he has a lot of competition with Touki Touissant the favorite to win the spot. Myworld sees him starting the season in AAA.

85. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - Tyler is the son of a Canadian weightlifter. Tyler has taken after his dad and is pretty bulked up as well. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals despite his massive power displays. He regularly hits over 20 homeruns in the minor leagues, last year slugging 26 with an impressive .693 slugging percentage. Many of his shots are of the tape measure variety. When promoted to the Cardinals he continued his power display with nine more homeruns. Power will be his game though he has enough speed to play a quality outfield and the arm to fit in right. Last year in the major leagues he struck out 57 times in 137 at bats, which could result in a low batting average. Next year he should be the Cardinals starting right fielder. Homerun titles could be in his future

84. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign the Cuban in 2018. At 22 years of age he may have been a bit advanced for the Dominican Summer and Northwest Leagues. The best tool for Julio will be his speed, which will allow him to steal bases and patrol centerfield. He did show some power last year with 9 homeruns and a .457 slugging average, but that may decrease as he faces better pitching at the higher levels. His arm is a better fit for left field. The big test for Julio will be next year when he plays in the full season leagues. He could rise quickly if he can show success at each level he plays.

83. Garrett Hampson 2B/SS (Rockies) - This third round 2016 pick is a scrappy player who always sits north of .300 after the season ends. His tools are not overwhelming but he gets the job done. Not great power, an arm geared more towards second base but he sprays the gaps and his speed turns singles into doubles. His best use for the Rockies could be as a Marwin Gonzalez super utility player. Last year he hit .311 at two minor league stops. Promoted to the major leagues he hit a respectable .275. Brendan Rodgers is the heir apparent at second, third is taken by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story is fixed at short. That leaves Garrett with no permanent position unless he moves his skills to the outfield.

82. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - This Cuban stands 6′8″ with a fastball that trips across the plate in the high 90s. His big challenges are finding the plate and finding a pitch to get lefthanded hitters out. In four AA starts lefthanded hitters battered him at a .348 clip. He did have some success at High A with a 2.91 ERA and .229 opposition average, but lefthanders still tagged him for a .260 clip. The Padres have a lot of candidates for their starting rotation so if his control is still spotty and his third pitch still a puzzle he could be moved to the bullpen. His fastball has closer potential. His best bet is to repeat AA to find some success but a major league callup is on the horizon.

81. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) - The Mariners signed him out of Brazil, then traded him to the Braves for Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons. When you read that his fastball hits triple digits in velocity you wonder why the Mariners gave him away so cheaply. Then you see his 265 pound weight on his 6′3″ frame and the light clicks on, Last year his triple digit fastball dropped to the low to mid-90s resulting in a 4.81 ERA. The Braves gave him an opportunity in their bullpen but he struggled with a 5.95 ERA. The development of a third pitch will determine if he stays in the starting rotation or is relegated to the bullpen. The Braves would like to see the juice return to his fastball for the 2019 season.

Top Dominican Prospects National League

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The National League list is pretty similar to the list from last year. Only Juan Soto graduated to the major leagues. The last three players from the top ten dropped out, though Jorge Guzman was close. Adbert Alzolay was limited by arm injuries and Jhailyn Ortiz struggled to make contact. That left room for four new additions.

1. Fernando Tatis SS (Padres) - He replaced Victor Robles, who appeared atop this list last year. Tatis showed the tools he could play shortstop defensively with a strong arm and good range. He needs to show a little more consistency with his fielding, committing 12 errors in 83 games at shortstop. His bat should be productive, with the power to hit 20 plus homeruns. While he hit .288 in AA he needs to make better contact (109 whiffs in 88 games) if he hopes to hit for average in the major leagues. A broken left thumb in late July ended his season early, limiting him to 88 games. Expect him to make his major league debut by mid-season next year. He should make a bigger impact in the major leagues than his father, Fernando Sr.

2. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - If not for an elbow injury early in the season he may not have been on this list. When the Nationals were short of outfielders he was on the disabled list. Juan Soto was called up and Robles lost out on an opportunity. Victor got a major league opportunity later in the year and acquitted himself well, hitting .288 with three homeruns for a .525 slugging average. The five tool player has not shown the power yet in the minor leagues but it should arrive making him a 30/30 player. His routes in center need work but his speed makes up for mistakes. His arm is also super sonic. Expect him to be the Nationals centerfielder breaking camp.

3. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to acquire J.T. Realmuto. Jorge Guzman can still hit triple digits more consistently than Sixto, but Sixto has a lot more command of where his fastball is crossing the plate. Myworld would expect more K’s with his velocity, striking out just 45 in 46.2 innings. A little more improvement with his secondary pitches (curve and change) would make him an ace in the rotation. The one area of concern is his small 6′0″ stature, but he has a strong build. Elbow issues limited him to just 8 starts last year. The Marlins will probable have him start in High A to test his arm health and promote him to AA by mid-season where he will join Guzman to make for an electrifying rotation.

4. Francisco Mejia C (Padres) - Last year Mejia was on the American League list. Few catchers have a stronger arm. His other defensive tools have been holding him back. Balls have a tendency to visit the back stop when Mejia is behind the plate. Last year the Indians put him in the outfield where his lack of speed makes him a defensive liability. Because his bat is so potent, with the ability to hit for average and power, the Padres may not have the patience to wait for Mejia to develop his defensive tools behind the plate. Last year they used him extensively behind the plate, but they have one of the better defensive catchers, Austin Hedges starting for the major league club.

5. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - His time will come. His major league debut was supposed to have occurred three years ago. Suspensions and injuries have prevented him from seeing significant major league time. With his lack of innings the Cardinals may use him out of the bullpen this year to prevent his arm from eating up too many innings. He did have a fastball that sat in the upper 90s. Whether that can continue over sustained time after Tommy John surgery is open to question. He does have three pitches to be an effective starter, but command of those pitches has always been a challenge. Expect him to be used by the Cardinals out of the bullpen to start the season. By the end of the season if the Cardinals need a starter they may ease him in.

6. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - The Phillies would have preferred to make Medina the pitcher sent to the Marlins in the Realmuto trade. Medina does not throw as hard as Sixto Sanchez, but he can get it up to the mid-90s, sitting comfortably at the higher ends of the low 90s. His command is better than Sanchez, with a slider/change combination to complement his fastball. A .245 opposition average was a little more than what the Phillies would have liked for a pitcher with his explosive stuff. He will start next year in AA and could get a glimpse of the major leagues before the season ends.

7. Christian Pache OF (Braves) - Christian is a potential gold glove centerfielder. Currently Ender Inciarte blocks his major league path but a couple years of minor league seasoning will prepare him best. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in centerfield, but it is absent for stealing bases (7). There is some raw power in his bat, but that has yet to really show itself in games. Last year he slugged 8 homeruns in the Florida State League for a .431 slugging percentage. Taking a few more walks would enhance his offensive game, making him a top of the lineup hitter.

8. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - Trea Turner blocks his path at shortstop. The tools are there for him to play the position with a strong arm and good range. Last year he reached High A so the Nationals have some time before deciding his position. A contact hitter whose power currently is limited to the gaps. As he matures more power could come. He seemed to handle High A pretty well last year in a 49 game performance so the Nationals could bump him to AA where he would be one of the youngest players.

9. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy has a wicked fastball that can hit the mid-90s. He made his Marlins major league debut with six effective starts, limiting the major leaguers to a .214 average. The Marlins acquired him from the Cardinals for Marcell Ozuna. The secondary pitches are there to make him a starter. The command of those pitches still need work. That may explain his low strikeout to innings pitch ratio (96 whiffs in 127 innings). With the Marlins he walked 23 hitters in just 34 innings. A good spring could have him make the Marlins starting rotation out of spring training.

10. O’Neil Cruz SS/OF (Pirates) - At 6′6″ he could become the tallest shortstop in the major leagues. Many feel that because of that height he could move to the outfield or first base. The bat will play anywhere. That height packages big time power, with the potential for over 30 plus homeruns per year once he fills out. If shortstop does not work out he carries an arm suitable for right field. Last year he played 103 games at Low A. Expect him to start the season at High A

Holt and Red Sox Embarrass Yankees

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Not a lot of close games as the Dodgers and Astros advance. The Red Sox embarrassed the Yankees in New York.

Boston Red Sox 16 Yankees 1

The utility player Brock Holt became the first player ever to hit for the cycle in a post season game in the Red Sox 16-1 rout over the Yankees. He finished the cycle with a two run homerun in the ninth inning off Yankee catcher Austin Romine. The first two games of the series saw him sit the bench.

Nathan Eovoldi was making his post season debut. At one time Eovoldi had pitched for the Yankees with minimal success. He had started the season with the Rays but was traded to the Red Sox in July. He has also pitched for the Dodgers and Marlins, missing the 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery. Yesterday he saved the Red Sox bullpen working seven innings and allowing just one run to get his post season win, lighting up the radar gun with a half dozen pitches that hit triple digits.

The Red Sox blew the game away with a seven run fourth inning, Holt capping the inning with his hardest hit, a two run triple.

Houston Astros 11 Cleveland Indians 3

The Astros completed their sweep against the Indians. The Indians had a 2-1 lead after five. The Astros battered the Indians bullpen for 10 runs in the next three innings, a six run eighth putting the game out of reach. Collin McHugh got the win with his two innings of shutout ball. McHugh was bumped to the bullpen because he did not make the starting rotation after spring training. He shined with the shorter role.

George Springer went deep with two solo shots and Carlos Correa blasted a three run homer in the six run eighth. Marwin Gonzalez got the big hit for the Astros with a two run double to break a 2-2 tie.

Los Angeles Dodgers 6 Atlanta Braves 2

David Freese has been a clutch post season performer. In 2011 he slugged five homeruns and drove in 21 in 18 post season games. This year the Dodgers acquired Freese from the Pirates to be a role player. The role he was asked to play last night was as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning with the Braves ahead 2-1. Freese put the Dodgers back on top with his two run single. Machado clinched the post season series with his three run homer in the seventh. Neither player was on the Dodgers roster when the season started.

The Dodgers will now face the Brewers in the National League championship series. Kershaw and not Ryu will get the opening nod start for the Dodgers.

Brewers Sweep Rockies; Braves Stay Alive

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Last year Wade Miley had trouble getting anyone out. The opposition hit him at a .287 clip while he was pitching for the Orioles, finishing with an 8-15 record with a 5.61 ERA. It was his second straight season with an ERA over 5, spanning a career where his ERA rose every year starting with the 2012 season.

This year Miley had a career year, starting the season in the minor leagues, getting a call up in May but missing a couple months with an oblique injury. When he pitched he was exceptional, limiting the opposition to a career low .237 batting average while going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts.

Last night the Brewers called on him to continue the magic and he threw zeroes for 4.2 innings to lead the Brewers to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies, extending their winning streak to 11 games. It was the second consecutive game in which the Rockies were shutout.

The Brewers got homeruns from some unexpected players in this game, when you considered the season they had or the season they were expected to have. The great fielding shortstop Orlando Arcia, who only hit .233 during the regular season bashed a solo shot in the ninth. Keon Broxton, who spent much of his 2018 season in the minor leagues made it back to back with a pinch hit homer. Jesus Aguilar, who was not the starting first baseman when the season started but hit 35 homeruns after injuries and homeruns put him in the starting lineup hit a solo shot in the fourth, his first career post season hit. The 38 year old catcher Erik Kratz also contributed with three hits and is now hitting .625 for his post season debut.

The Braves kept their series alive getting a grand slam homerun from rookie Ronald Acuna to take a 5-0 lead. Acuna became the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a grand slam homerun. Mickey who? After the Dodgers came back to tie the game at 5-5 it came upon the longest tenured Brave, veteran Freddie Freeman to break the tie with a solo homerun in the sixth.

The Braves called on their young pitching staff to keep the victory alive, rookies Touki Touissant and A.J. Minter each tossing an inning of shutout ball, before Arodys Vizcaino closed out the ninth to pick up the save, striking out Muncy, Machado and Dozier with two runners on. Viz knows how to increase the gray hairs of all those who watched the game.