Archive for the 'Braves' Category

Myworld’s Top Ten Third Base Prospects

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

This is a position reserved for power hitters. Many of those power hitters like Jim Thome or Miguel Sano get too big for the position and have to move to first base or DH. Below are the players myworld sees as the top ten at third base.

1. Nick Senzel (Reds) - The first round pick of the Reds in 2016 and the second player drafted overall should hit for both average and power. Last year he combined to hit .321 between High A and AA, with his average increasing from .305 to .340 when promoted to AA. He also hit 14 homeruns with a slugging average of .514. Defensively, he has the quickness to stay at the position, but do not expect any gold gloves. The Reds traded Todd Frazier to make room for Senzel. Eugenio Suarez, the current occupier of the position can play a super utility role, having played second, short and left field in his time with the Reds. Expect to see Senzel at this position in 2018.

2. Vladimir Guerrero (Blue Jays) - His bat may not be as productive as his father and his arm is not as strong. He does carry more patience, walking 76 times last year. In his last three years in the major leagues his father walked 71 times, though he did show more patience earlier in his career (or pitchers feared him so much they did not give him a pitch to hit). The big question with Junior is whether he can handle the position defensively. Last year he hit .323 with 13 homeruns and a .485 slugging average between Low and High A. Those numbers should increase as he matures. Myworld would not be surprised if he is moved to left field or first base, though his lack of speed would make him a liability on defense in the outfield.

3. Michael Chavis (Red Sox) - Rafael Devers had some success last year at third base for the Red Sox. That seems to create an impediment for Chavis to move there at the major league level. Chavis may not have the hit tool of Devers (.282) but he hits for more power with his 31 homeruns between High A and AA. Like Devers, defense is not a strong point for Chavis. His lack of speed will make moving to the outfield difficult. The Red Sox have one more year to decide who they move to first base, or use one of them as trade bait.

4. Brian Anderson (Marlins) - Myworld was impressed how frequently the third round 2014 pick peppered the gap during spring training. The ball seems to jump off his bat when he makes contact. Currently his power is more dedicated to the gaps. In a brief major league callup he hit 7 doubles in 84 at bats. At AA and AAA he combined for 22 homeruns and 21 doubles, hitting .275. His power could improve once he shows better patience at the plate. Defensively he has all the tools to play the position. He should be the starter at the position for the Marlins in 2018.

5. Austin Riley (Braves) - Austin is currently tearing it up in the Arizona Fall League. This after he hit 20 homeruns at High A and AA last year. If Austin can tame his swings and misses the average could go higher and more balls would carry the fence. Defensively he is adequate at third. With another solid performance in AA he could be with the Braves by mid-season in 2018. They do not have any top player to stop him from advancing.

6. Miguel Andujar (Yankees) - The Yankees have a glut of middle infielders (Gleyber Torres), some of whom they may have to accommodate at third to get their bat in the lineup. Currently, most of his power fills the gaps, with 38 doubles last year, two in the major leagues. As he matures those 16 homeruns he hit last year could translate to 30 plus. It would be hard to find a better arm than Miguel and if he had the speed a move to right field would be perfect (but that would require supplanting Aaron Judge). Last year he hit .571 in a seven at bat major league September callup. Expect him to see more time at the major league level next year.

7. Jake Burger (White Sox) - Jake was a first round pick of the White Sox last year. There is little doubt he will be a hitting machine, though in a 13 at bat minor league debut he hit just .154. The big concern with Jake is his stay puff marshmellow physique, which could force a move away from third. Currently his physique allows him the quickness to play third. If he continues to bulk up he may have to move to first. Not a lot of players can match his work ethic. Drafted out of college if Jake hits he will be moved up quickly.

8. Colton Walker (Rockies) - Unlike Ryan McMahon, Colton as a few more years in the minor leagues to play third base before the Rockies have to make a decision on whether to keep Nolan Arenado. The biggest strength for Colton is his defense. He was a shortstop in high school, so playing third is a good transition for him, especially because of his lack of speed. Last year in his first full season at Low A he hit .350. The power is still absent (6 homeruns) but it should come as he gains strength.

9. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The second round 2016 pick has the power to play the position. He struggled with the bat a little bit more last year than his debut 2016 half season, hitting just .256 at High A. The power showed mainly in the gaps with 33 doubles, but he did slug 15 homeruns for a .417 slugging average. As he gets stronger the power will carry more balls over the fence. He should be a stand out defensively and eventually move Travis Shaw to first base.

10. Adrian Rondon (Rays) - The Rays shelled out $2.95 million to sign him. At the time he was a shortstop. A lack of speed forced a move to third base. Too many swings and misses (129) impacted his average (.221). When he makes contact the ball travels well off the bat. Only 19, myworld would not be surprised if he spends another season in Low A to deal with his lack of contact issues. The defense will be solid.

Other players to note:

Ryan McMahon (Rockies) - On talent alone he would make this top ten just after Andujar. We already listed him at second base and do not see him playing third for the Rockies as long as Arenado fills this spot. Defensively he is not as strong as Walker so when Walker is ready and Arenado gone McMahon will be at first or second.

Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - He does not have the range to play short. When promoted to AA last year he played third. The power could be short for the position making a move to second more logical.

Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - That shortage at third base for the Red Sox is turning into a surplus. There is still too much swing and miss in his bat (132 in 85 games). If that can be toned down the power is there to play the position.

Colin Moran (Astros) - He was an RBI machine in college. That did not transition to the major leagues. Last year he had a break out season with 18 homeruns, earning a promotion to the major leagues. A hit by pitch put an early stop to his season. It will be interesting if last year was an aberration or part of his new self.

J.D. Davis (Astros) - Davis has some power in his bat but a lack of quickness and Bregman and Moran could force a move to another position. A lack of speed leaves first base as the most desirable option.

Hunter Dozier (Royals) - The first round 2013 pick has taken some time to develop. Injuries limited him to 33 games last year. Alex Gordon struggled for a number of years with the Royals while trying to play third base until they moved him to the outfield. Perhaps this will have to be done for Dozier to get his bat working.

Renato Nunez (Athletics) - He has good power in his bat but an inability to make consistent contact. His poor fielding makes a move to first almost guaranteed, especially with the depth the Athletics have at third.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The Pirates first round pick in 2015 lacks the power for the position. He is an above average defender.

Christian Arroyo (Giants) - A tweener. The first round 2013 pick does not have the range for short or the power for third.

Top Ten Second Base Prospects

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Not the position that is filled with the best prospects in baseball. In the major leagues the players who end up at second base are the more athletic shortstops who are a bit slow or do not have the arm to play short. Not a lot of players start as second baseman in the minor leagues and move up to the major leagues as second baseman. Below is myworld’s ten second base prospects that we like.

1. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick saw most of his time at shortstop but with top pick Royce Lewis ahead of him in the depth chart a more permanent move to second may be in his future. His half brother Dee Gordon started as a shortstop and was moved to second. Nick is less erratic at the position than Dee and has the arm to play the position. There is some concern he may not have the quickness. Nick lacks the speed and the stolen base ability of his brother Dee but he carries more power in his bat. Last year he hit .270 with 9 homeruns. He whiffs (134) too much for a middle infielder who does not have a lot of power.

2. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays) - His mother is from Brazil so Bo got to play for that country in the World Baseball Classic. His dad Dante was a power hitter in the major leagues and his brother, Dante Jr, plays in the minor leagues for the Yankees. Bo lacks the power of his father but carries better speed and could hit for average. He saw a limited amount of time at second base but 21 errors at shortstop in 86 games shows his inconsistency and a move to second may become more permanent. His bat was the talk of the minor leagues after hitting .384 in 70 low A games. The previous year he had hit .427 in 22 rookie league games. Promoted to the Florida State League he still hit a blistering .323, blasting 14 homeruns at the two levels. He will be an offensive oriented middle infielder who should make an impact with the Blue Jays in 2019.

3. Franklin Barreto (Athletics) - The Athletics have traded a number of shortstops, but Franklin was acquired from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade. He also played more shortstop than second base this year but inconsistent fielding and Marcus Semien may call for a move to second. His arm is strong enough for third but he may not develop the power to play there. He struggled when promoted to the major leagues (.197) after hitting .290 with 15 homeruns in AAA. Franklin should be one of the candidates for the second base position next year.

4. Ryan McMahon (Rockies) - He started his career as a third baseman but with Nolan Arenado there that position is blocked. Defense will be his biggest challenge at second since he lacks the foot speed to cover a lot of ground. Getting his bat in the lineup is the Rockies biggest objective and there won’t be many second baseman that will match his power numbers. He has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns and last year between AA and AAA hit .355, showing a lot of gap power with 39 doubles. In a brief major league showing he struggled, hitting just .158.

5. Scott Kingery (Phillies) - The first player here whose natural position is second base. Last year he went on a tear in a hitters park with 18 homeruns in 69 games. That kind of power was uncharacteristic for Kingery. When promoted to AAA his power dropped to 8 homeruns in 63 games with a slugging average going from .608 to .449. He has good speed falling one base shy of 30 stolen bases and plays a solid defense at second. The Phillies currently have a log jam at second so expect Scott to see one more year in AAA. If he can show that AA power was not a fluke he will get a quick promotion to the Phillies.

6. Willie Calhoun (Rangers) - He was an atrocious defensive second baseman with the Dodgers last year. When they traded him to the Rangers he played a lot of left field. That may be where he ultimately lands, though his arm is weak. What teams like in Calhoun is his 30 plus homer bat. For a power bat he also makes good contact with the ball. The Rangers will have to find a position for Joey Gallo and Roughned Odor is not being replaced at second base. The bat is ready for the major leagues, the glove will never be, now the Rangers have to find him a position to play him.

7. Luis Urias (Padres) - Urias started at second base but has seen some time at short. He has the arm for the position but there are questions about his consistency. One tool not questioned is his bat. It lacks power but he should never stray far from the .300 neighborhood. Last year he walked (68) more than he struck out (65). The Padres don’t really have anyone blocking Urias at short so that may be his ultimate position. He showed his bat is ready for the majors, hitting .298 in AA with a .398 OBA. Expect him to be with the Padres by mid season in 2018.

8. Travis DeMeritt (Braves) - The Braves like the power in his bat and acquired him from the Rangers. His arm and his power may make a move to third also a possibility. He has a tendency to swing and miss a lot (134 whiffs) which keeps his average down. Last year he was mired in AA with a .234 average with the power (15 homeruns and a .402 slugging) not appearing with regularity. The previous year he broke out for 28 homeruns while still hitting .266, with much of the power coming at a hitter friendly park (High Desert). Expect to see him play a full year in AAA with a September callup in his future.

9. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - The 2017 first round pick only played three games at second base in 2017. He played the rest of his games at DH because of an elbow that will need Tommy John surgery after the season. His glove is not his strongest asset and his arm is still a mystery but no one questions his bat. He hit .371 at two levels last year (rookie and Low A) with four homeruns. He should challenge for batting titles and hit in the double digits for homeruns. There is enough speed in his legs for a move to left field if second base does not pan out.

10. Andy Ibanez (Rangers) - At 25 entering the 2018 season Andy is ready for major league action now. That may come as a utility player. He was a star for Cuba at the tender age of 19, good enough to make their 2013 World Baseball Classic team. The bat has not developed into anything special once he went state side. Power is lacking and his hit tool may not be better than .270. He also does not take a lot of walks so his OBA won’t be much farther than .320. He did miss two years after his defection so 2018 will be his third year trying to make the major leagues. He will probably spend most of that time in AAA.

Others to watch

Shed Long (Reds) - Like the name but he doesn’t really have one glittering tool that makes you want to say Wow. Did hit .312 last year with 16 homeruns. That will play.

Nick Solak (Yankees) - Don’t really know a lot about him other than he was the Yankees second round pick in 2016. He got a late season callup to AA last year so myworld should get a look at him in 2018.

Ildemaro Vargas (Diamondbacks) - A star in the Independent Leagues and already 26. He did hit .308 in a brief callup to the major leagues. Myworld expects him to compete in a utility role for the Diamondbacks next year. He makes solid contact with gap power.

Tzu Wei Lin (Red Sox) - Signed out of Taiwan Lin is a natural shortstop with a smooth glove. His bat will probably not play to be a regular so expect a utility role for him, where he played last year when called up briefly by the Red Sox.

Gavin Cecchini (Mets) - The Mets have a number of gold glove shortstops that will have to move to second or in a utility role once they are ready for the major leagues. Gavin does not have the glove to match them but his bat could be better. Gavin will probably end up a utility player.

Max Schrock (Athletics) - He hits screaming line drives with the bat but his glove is a question mark. What helps him is his lefthanded bat.

Fried Stays Hot in Fourth AFL Start

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Max Fried was a first round pick by the Padres in 2012. The Padres traded him to the Braves in December 2014 in the Justin Upton trade. Tommy John surgery forced him to miss much of 2014 and all of 2015. Last year was a bit of a struggle (8-7, 3.93) and 2017 was even worse (2-11, 5.54 ERA in 21 starts). The bright side to the season was his 3.81 ERA in nine appearances, four starts for the Atlanta Braves.

Lucas Giolito was his high school teammate in Los Angeles. At the time Lucas was the pitcher scouts wanted to see. An injury to Giolito and the improvement of Fried made Max a higher draft pick than Giolito.

In the AFL Max with his lefthanded fastball has limited the opposition to a .136 average and a 0.47 ERA in four starts. His fastball can hit the high 90s with a plus curveball. He had his third shutout appearance, going six innings and allowing just three hits while striking out five. The Peoria Javelinas defeated the Salt River Rafters 10-4.

Acuna and No Hit Outings Dominant Winter League Action

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Myworld has identified three players for winter league player of the day for October 27.

Ronald Acuna

He will probably be considered the best prospect in baseball when the prospect rankings for 2018 come out. He has all five tools, ability to hit for power, speed, an arm to play right and the defense to play center and the ability to hit for average. His pop showed up on Friday with two solo shots in the Peoria Javelinas 9-8 win over the Salt River Rafters. Acuna also contributed a double and scored three runs in the victory.

The three hits raised his AFL average to .378 with three homeruns. Last year at three different levels, finishing at AAA he hit .325 with 21 homeruns and 82 RBIs. At 19 years of age, the Braves saw no reason to promote him to the major leagues. Next year will be a different story.

Mike Mayers

Mayers threw five innings of no hit shutout ball, striking out 9 in a losing cause with the Toros winning 2-1 over Escogido. The bullpen came on in the seventh and coughed up two runs on RBI singles.

Mayers was a third round pick of the Cardinals in 2013. After next year he can become a six year minor league free agent if not placed on the 40-man roster. In 2016 he struggled in a September callup, finishing with a 27.00 ERA Last year he had an 11.57 ERA in three September appearances.

In two appearances in the Dominican League Mayers has only given up one run in 11 innings, striking out 14. He has only given up three hits, one of those a solo shot that accounts for the only run he has given up. His fastball has some velocity, hitting the mid-90s, but his secondary pitches have held him back. The Cardinals may try to use him in the bullpen where his lack of a breaking pitch will have less of a negative impact.

Daniel Rodriguez

In the Mexican League Daniel Rodriguez had a perfect game no hitter until giving up a leadoff single in the ninth inning. The Culiacan Tomateros were able to hold on to defeat the Navojoa Mayos 1-0. After a sacrifice bunt Chad Guadin came on to get the last two outs of the inning to earn his fourth save.

Rodriguez has pitched in the Mexican Summer League for the last three years. At 32 years of age it would be difficult to find a team in the major leagues. In three appearances in the Winter League he has been sharp, giving up only two runs in three appearances. He has only given up 9 hits in 20 plus innings with a 0.89 ERA.

Brentz and Riley Winter League Mashers of the Day

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Myworld is going to try to recognize at least one player who performs well each day in the winter leagues. Today we have two. Austin Riley a prospect for the Braves and Bryce Brentz, a used to be prospect for the Red Sox. They both had tremendous hitting days in their teams rout of their opponents, Riley in the Arizona Fall League and Brentz in the Mexican League.

Austin Riley hit for the cycle in the Peoria Javelinas 19-4 win over the Mesa Solar Sox. The day started very innocently with a ground ball single up the middle in the second inning. It was the only hit of the inning and it ended with Mesa leading 2-0. With the score 4-0 going into the bottom of the third Peoria rallied for five runs to take the lead. Riley blasted a two run homer to give Peoria the lead.

In the fifth inning Riley strikes out. The game is still close 5-4. The sixth inning gives Riley a fourth at bat and he doubles to center to drive in his fourth run. Peoria erupts for seven runs and Riley is a triple short of the cycle. He gets another bat in the seventh inning and triples in two runs to complete the cycle and drive in five of the 19 Peoria runs. His final at bat is in the eighth inning when he reaches on a fielding error.

At 6′3″ Riley is a highly touted prospect in a very deep Braves minor league system. He hit 20 homeruns between High A and AA with a .275 batting average and 74 RBIs. His 124 whiffs in 129 games tells he has a propensity for the swing and miss. He is currently hitting .346 in the AFL with two homeruns in six games. A former pitcher, he has the arm to stick at third but his height combined with a heavy frame may force a shift to first.

Bryce Brentz used to be a top prospect with the Boston Red Sox. The rightfielder was noted for his strong right field arm and his power bat. That power bat was on display yesterday with his three homeruns in the Herosillo Naranjeros 17-4 win over the Culiacan Tomateros. So if my Spanish does not fail me the Oranges beat the Tomatoes.

Bryce began his power display in the first inning with a three run homer to fuel a five run opening frame. His solo shot in the third made it 6-0. He then led off the fifth with a homerun to give him three homeruns in three at bats. With plenty of at bats left in an early game a four to five homerun display was in the making.

In the sixth inning he had to settle for a single, but it drove in a run to give him his sixth RBI of the game. He flew out to left in the seventh inning in his last at bat to leave his homerun total at three.

Bryce is currently hitting .233 with four homeruns in the Mexican League. That follows his blueprint as a prospect, a low average hitter with lots of strikeouts to go along with his pop. He’ll turn 29 in December and he has six years playing for Pawtucket. Perhaps it is time the first round pick of the Red Sox in the 2010 draft find another team in need of an outfielder. He did hit a career high 31 homeruns last year at Pawtucket. Injuries have restricted him to less than 100 games from 2013 to 2016. In his two September callups to the major leagues (2014 and 2016) he has one homerun in close to 100 at bats. He has 127 homeruns in his eight year minor league career, 72 of those with Pawtucket.

Bryce was removed from the Red Sox 40 man roster just after spring training in 2017. This would make him a six year minor league free agent free to sign with any club.

Myworld’s Top Ten Catching Prospects

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Myworld will spin around each of the positions and give out our top ten prospects. Obviously we can’t see every player in the minor leagues so a lot of what we assess is based on what we read. There may be some bias on players we watch, especially in the Eastern League. Players drafted in 2017 have to have performed exceptionally well or be considered can’t miss prospects to make this list. We are more attracted to results rather than just tools.

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - A 50 game hitting streak and .380 batting average last year shows he has the stick. His average dropped almost 100 points this year but most teams would take a .297 average from their catchers. The power exists for double digits in homeruns. He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball. There is little not to like other than his foot speed. Expect him to be catching for the Indians by mid-season in 2018. To think they had him traded to the Brewers in 2016 for Jonathan Lucroy, but Lucroy nixed the deal.

2. Jorge Alfaro (Phillies) - He has been a prospect for quite awhile. Originally signed by the Rangers out of Colombia they traded him to the Phillies in the Cole Hamel trade. He has a power bat and a strong arm. Injuries have prevented him from development time and stalled his major league debut until last year. His batting average may suffer because of his tendency to swing and miss. In 2017 he slugged .514 in 107 at bats. Expect him to start with the Phillies to begin the 2017 season.

3. Carson Kelly (Cardinals) - Probably one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. If not for Yadier Molina he would be starting for some major league team. His arm is not as strong as Mejia or Alfaro but his catching tools, blocking the plate and framing the pitch are more polished. The bat may be a bit of a concern but the power exists for him to reach double digits. In his two major league seasons he has yet to hit over .200 with no homeruns in less than 100 at bats.

4. Zack Collins (White Sox) - A first round 2016 pick has the bat to hit 20 plus homeruns. He needs to make more contact otherwise his average will suffer. Last year he struck out 129 times in 113 games resulting in a batting average of .224. His defensive skills are spotty and could result in a move to first base, but his power should be more than enough to fit at the position. For now the White Sox will hope he can fit behind the plate.

5. Meibrys Viloria (Royals) - Last year the Colombia native hit .436. His career average stood at .391 for three seasons. This year was a clunker for him (.259). 2018 will determine if this season was an aberration. His power is mostly to the gaps with the speed not to turn too many of them into triples. His lefthanded bat gives him extra points. His arm is good and his catching skills are there for him to fit at the position. Most rate Chase Vallot ahead of him. Chase may carry more power but his hit tool is lacking and his defense is spotty.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Lots of Venezuela players finding themselves behind the plate. The Dodgers signed Keibert for $140,000 in 2014. Coming into the 2017 season Ruiz had a career average of .344. The bat continued to stay hot with a .316 average at two different levels in 2017. The power seemed to arrive in the California League with six homeruns in 150 at bats, doubling his two year career average. He lacks a strong arm but a quick release compensates.

7. Chance Sisco (Orioles) - Another player with a less than average arm, but a bat that could hit for a high average. His power is restricted to the gaps. The second round 2013 pick made his major league debut this year, hitting .333 with two homeruns in less than 30 at bats. Wellington Castillo will opt out of his contract giving the Orioles an opportunity to take a chance on Chance to begin the 2018 season.

8. Taylor Ward (Angels) - The 2015 first round pick hit .349 his first year in the minor leagues. His offensive numbers have not been that strong since. There is some power in the bat that may allow him to reach double digits in homeruns. His arm is strong with solid defensive skills which should allow him to be a backup catcher in the major leagues if his bat does not match his glove.

9. Pedro Severino (Nationals) - Myworld thought he was a better option than Jose Lobaton on the major league club. Many question whether the bat will develop. He lacks power with a hit tool that should fall below .250. Pedro did hit .321 in his major league debut in 2016 with less than 30 at bats. In 2017 that batting average dropped to .172. His defense is strong with a rifle for an arm. If his bat does not develop his defensive tools are good enough for him to fill a back up job for the Nationals.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - The Puerto Rican finished in the top three of the Captain’s Choice award, which recognizes the best defensive players at each position. The bat is strong enough to hit for double digits in homeruns and his arm is strong enough to control a running game. The Mets drafted him in eighth round in 2012. In 2016 he had a breakout year with a .320 average and seven homeruns. Last year was a down year for him with a .232 average. He did draw a career high 30 walks so that should put him on a favorable run. The Mets are known for their prospects behind the plate in the minor leagues, but it has not produced once they hit the big leagues

Other Catchers of Note:

Alex Jackson (Braves) - The Mariners drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Because he had one of the better bats out of high school the Mariners moved him from catcher to right field. He failed. The Mariners traded him to the Braves for a couple mid-reliever pitchers and his bat blossomed once he was returned to catcher. There is pop in his bat with an arm that was solid enough for right field.

Aramis Garcia (Giants) - He has a strong arm with a good bat that can produce for power. His biggest impediment is Buster Posey behind the plate. One of those two players needs to move to first. Aramis has the power to fit at first.

Chase Vallot (Royals) - See Meibry Viloria.

Jose Trevino (Rangers) - the Captain’s Choice catcher of the year, which is given to the catcher with the best defensive tools. He makes good contact with the potential for power.

NL East Minor League All Stars

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Below are the NL East Minor League All Stars by classification as broken out by Baseball America. Next myworld will take a look at who we think are the top ten prospects at each position. The best prospect in baseball (Ronald Acuna) is not listed here because he did not spend enough time at the three classifications he played at.

Atlanta Braves

Mike Soroka SP (AA) - The Canadian righthander is not the most overpowering pitcher in the game. The number one pick of the Braves in 2015 relies on command and the quality of his secondary pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s but the opposition hit him at only a .233 clip. At 6′5″ he has good height that makes that low 90s fastball seem like it has more velocity.

Alex Jackson C (High A) - Alex was a first round pick of the Mariners in 2014. A catcher in high school the Mariners moved him to the outfield where he struggled making contact. The Mariners traded him to the Braves last year were he was returned to his high school position. Coincidence or not his bat came alive last year with 19 homeruns and a .480 slugging. There is still a lot of swing and miss with his bat. He has a strong arm but the other tools for catching need to be refined.

Joey Wentz SP (Low A) - The lefthander may have been a supplemental first round pick in 2016 but he was paid a higher bonus than their first round pick that year. Joey has good height (6′5″) and a blazing fastball that hits mid-90s but is more comfortable in the low 90s. His secondary pitches (curve and change) are quality. He should rise quickly once he exercises better command of his pitches.

Bryse Wilson SP (Low A) - The Braves are stocked with pitchers. Bryse was a fourth round pick in 2016. The righthander does not share the same height as his teammate Wentz (6′1″) but his fastball can reach the mid-90s. While he was called on for 26 starts last year his best position with all the arms in the Braves system may be in the bullpen.

William Contreras C (Rookie) - The Venezuelan is the younger brother of Wilson so he has good bloodlines. He still has some work to do on his defense, eliminating the passed balls, but his bat was potent in the rookie league hitting .290 with a 24/30 walk to whiff ratio. He has a 28 percent success rate in gunning down baserunners.

Miami Marlins

None - Derek Jeter has a lot of work to do to make this Marlin team whole.

New York Mets

Amed Rosario SS (AAA) - The Dominican has a smooth glove with a bat that should fit at the top of a lineup. His AAA OBA was .367. That dropped below .300 in the major leagues. If he can show more patience with the big club he could fit in the leadoff spot. The bat also shows enough pop (.466) that he could find himself in the three hole. The glove plays well. Think Francisco Lindor light.

Corey Oswalt SP (AA) - With all their young pitchers you would think they would be set there. Think again. Injuries have played havoc on the rotation and now not even Matt Harvey is in their future. Corey is a 7th round 2012 pick who will fit more in the back end of a rotation. He lacks overpowering stuff but at 6′5″ the low 90s fastball comes at the hitters with the appearance of greater velocity.

Pete Alonso 1B (High A) - The second round 2016 pick carries a little more natural power than Dominic Smith and will be insurance should Smith struggle. His lack of speed prevents any kind of move to the outfield. If Smith succeeds Alonso will be trade bait.

Philadelphia Phillies

Rhys Hoskins 1B (AAA) - If the Phillies had called up Hoskins earlier he may have challenged Cody Bellinger for the rookie of the year honor. He had a nice homerun pace in AAA (29) but enhanced that when promoted to the major leagues (18 in 50 games). His lack of speed makes playing outfield a challenge so one of either Tommy Joseph or Rhys must be moved.

Tom Eshelman SP (AAA) - The second round 2015 pick is noted mostly for his command. He walks hardly anyone. A lack of overpowering stuff means he has to locate his pitches well to achieve success. AAA hitters made soft contact against him (.227 average) but he only struck out 6 hitters per nine innings. His upper 80s fastball will restrict him to a back end of a rotation or emergency starter.

Scott Kingery 2B (AA) - He went on an early homerun binge in AA hitting 18 in just 69 games for a .608 slugging. That homerun pop slowed a bit in AAA (8 homeruns and .449 slugging). History tells us the latter production is more accurate. He can hit for average (.304) and has the speed to steal bases (19). The Phillies have to find a position for him with Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and J.P. Crawford all fitting the middle infield mold. He may lack the power to move to third, unless he can replicate his AA production.

Darick Hall 1B (Low A) - The 14th round pick in 2016 banged 27 homeruns with a .533 slugging. At 21 he was advanced for low A but his 6′4″ 234 pound frame projects for power. The Phillies appear to be crowded at first base.

Nick Fanti SP (Low A) - Another late round pick (31 in 2015) to have success in Low A. The lefty has a pedestrian fastball that rarely touches 90 but he did pitch a couple no hitters in the minors in 2017. A lot of hitters had trouble with his pitches (.200 opposition average). Whether that can continue as he rises to the higher levels is open to question.

Jhailyn Ortiz OF (short season) - The Phillies shelled out $4 million for the Dominican prospect. Power is his big tool. While he has an above average arm a lack of speed may restrict him to left field. He hit .302 with a .560 slugging to show an impressive bat.

Jhordany Mezquita SP (rookie) - The lefthander was a 8th round pick in 2017. He dominated in rookie ball with a 0.72 ERA in nine starts and a .160 opposition average. His 8.4 whiffs per nine innings indicates a lack of overpowering stuff but myworld does not know really a lot about him.

Leonel Aponte SP (Dominican) - Like Mezquita, other than his 0.77 ERA in 13 starts and his .194 opposition average not a lot is known about Aponte. Pitchers tend to put up good numbers in the Dominican summer league. He appears to have command of his pitches walking only 9 hitters in 81 innings.

Washington Nationals

Victor Robles OF (High A) - A five tool athlete the Dominican was fortunate to see some time in the major leagues. He has the speed to play centerfield and steal bases and the bat to hit for average. The power has yet to come but many project it will arrive as he matures. The arm is powerful enough to move to right. Many suspect Robles will be the right fielder after the free agency departure of Bryce Harper.

Myworld’s Top Southern League Prospects

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Last week myworld took a look at the Pacific Coast League and had trouble finding pitchers we liked. This week we took a look at the Southern League and found plenty of pitchers to include in our top ten. Again, the prospects are selected based on the numbers they have put up this year. If they do not have good numbers they do not appear on this list.

1. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - The first round pick of the Red Sox in 2014 is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. He was one of the headline players the Red Sox shipped to the White Sox for Chris Sale. As a starting pitcher his fastball can hit triple digits, but it will sit in the 95-97 range. His slider and change need to be enhanced to achieve success in the major leagues, but if not his velocity will allow him to survive in the bullpen as a closer. There were off field incidents last year that make some question his character but he appears to be pretty behaved this year. Command has been a problem with more than one walk every two innings. A .191 opposition average and 126 whiffs in just 98 innings of work make him an ace in process, if he can avoid injury, improve his secondary pitches and find the strike zone a little bit more.

2. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - The Braves have been aggressive with the promotions of the Venezuelan native. Every level he has played at he has found success. Ronald was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for just $100,000 and his speed and power mix now finds him knocking on the major league door at AAA. Many compare him to Andrew Jones. Ronald started his year in the High A Florida State League and is currently playing in AAA. During that time he has combined for a .305 average with 15 homeruns and 35 stolen bases. His OPS has never fallen below .814 at all three levels. Expect a September promotion before the season is done.

3. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Braves drafted the Canadian in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is not the kind of pitcher who will light your eyes up with his velocity. He works around the plate with a low 90s fastball, curveball and changeup to achieve soft barrel on the ball contact. Last year he pitched at Low A. The Braves decided to skip him past High A and put him in AA. In 19 starts he has a 2.32 ERA, a .224 opposition average and 97 whiffs in 112 innings. His walk to whiff ratio is greater than 4 to 1. At 19 years of age he is one of the younger pitchers in AA. Expect his major league debut to be some time next year.

4. Luis Castillo RHP (Reds) - Castillo was originally signed by the Marlins in 2011. For some reason they were very intent on trading him, first dealing him to the Padres until an injury to one of the players (Colin Rea) the Marlins acquired brought Castillo back to the Marlins. The Marlins then found a taker in the Reds to acquire Dan Straily. Castillo, with his triple digit fastball that sits in the high 90s has the potential to be a much better pitcher than Straily. But the Marlins thought they were playing for now. Castillo also has a slider and change for his secondary pitches. Castillo had a nice 14 starts (2.58 ERA) though you would expect more whiffs (81 K’s in 80 innings) based on his fastball. The success has resulted in a promotion to the Reds. There he has held his own (4.05 ERA) but giving up too many long balls in the small park (7).

5. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - Kolby was the Braves first round pick in 2015 who dropped in the draft because of a back injury that limited his high school season. Last year he was able to start 16 games, rising to Low A for 11 starts. His fastball sits in the low 90s, plenty of heat for a left handed pitcher with an excellent curveball. His change is a third pitch. Like Mike Soroka the Braves skipped him past A ball and put him in AA where at 19 he is nine days younger than Soroka. In twenty starts he has not had as much success with a 3.75 ERA, a .268 opposition average and 86 whiffs in 105 innings. Expect the Braves to be patient with him and keep him at AA.

6. Brian Anderson 3B (Marlins) - A third round pick in 2014 myworld was impressed with what we saw of him in the spring. He had power to the gaps, played solid defense and carried a couple balls over the fence. Drafted out of college the Marlins can be aggressive with his promotion. With Martin Prado missing the remainder of the season this may be a good opportunity for Anderson to make his major league debut. In AA he slugged 14 homeruns with a .251 average leading to a promotion to AAA. In 12 games at AAA Brian is hitting .349 with three homeruns. Between the two levels his OPS is .816.

7. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - Players drafted in the seventh round, as Tyler was drafted in 2013, are not considered the best prospects. Tyler had height (6′4″) and a skinny frame to fill. Once he matured his fastball went from low 90s to mid 90s. Tyler threw a no hitter last year and a complete game no hitter this year. In the Southern League he dominated the hitters with a 1.59 ERA and a .190 opposition average. A promotion to AAA has not led to the same success (2.88 ERA) but enough so that he should see a September callup this year if not sooner.

8. Nick Gordon SS (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon was drafted in the first round in 2014. Unlike his half brother he may have the tools to stick at short. The power is a little short but the speed is there for him to be an impact player on the bases. Like Dee he would move to second if the Twins felt shortstop was a bit too much of a challenge for him. Nick is hitting .292 but showing a little more pop with a career high seven homeruns. He does not steal as frequently as his brother and the strikeout numbers need to be reduced, but a .362 OBA is good enough to fill the lead off role. The Twins have played Nick a little bit at second this year, but they have a bigger need at short. Expect him to make his debut there next year.

9. Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) - Luis was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2014. The Rangers traded him to the Brewers in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. His claim to fame was winning the MVP award at the 18 and under World Cup in 2014. As he has gotten older the weight has gotten greater and he will have to watch that. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a slider and change as his secondary pitches. He still needs a lot of work on the change to make it an effective third pitch. He is repeating AA where he has limited the opposition to a .207 average. Injuries have been the biggest impediment to his advancement to date.

10. Luiz Gohara RHP (Braves) - The Mariners originally signed Luiz out of Brazil in 2012. Just before spring training this year they traded him to the Braves in the Mallex Smith deal. At 6′3″, 210 Luiz is a big boy with triple digit velocity to his fastball. The challenge has always been finding the plate. His secondary pitches (slider and change) were also below average so it appeared he would be destined for the bullpen. The Braves kept him in the rotation and he won a promotion to AA from High A and just recently his success at AA has led to a promotion to AAA. His combined opposition average at the two levels is .228 with 99 whiffs in 88 innings. He may still end up in the bullpen with the surplus of starters the Braves have, but with the success he is having the Braves will keep him in the rotation.

Other Prospects to Like

Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers) - Originally signed by the Red Sox after drafting the Honduran born Dubon in the 26th round of the 2013 draft. He was made part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire Tyler Thornburg, which could turn into a disaster if Dubon pans out. Dubon lacks power and is probably a bit short on the tools to play shortstop full time. But he appears to have the ability to hit for average and steal bases. Coming into this season he has a .306 minor league average. He hit .276 at AA with 31 stolen bases to earn a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .300 with six stolen bases. The Brewers have been rotating him between second and short. He could end up being a solid utility player.

Jen-Ho Tseng RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs signed Tseng out of Taiwan for $1.6 million in 2013. With a fastball in the low 90s he is not overpowering and at 6′1″ he will not intimidate hitters. His numbers up until this year have not been good. In 15 starts at AA this year he finished with a 2.99 ERA with more whiffs per innings pitched than in previous years (83 whiffs in 90 innings). His opposition average is at .232 when last year at AA it was .308. This success earned him a promotion to AAA where his success has continued with a 1.42 ERA and a .204 opposition average.

Fernando Romero RHP (Twins) - Romero was signed out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2011. He missed the 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery. Despite his 6′0″ height he still gets the ball to the plate in the mid-90s. In his first season at AA Fernando has been good with a 2.64 ERA in 19 starts and 112 whiffs in 105 innings. He has held the opposition to a .231 average. At 105 innings pitched he has reached his career high so expect him to stay in AA with the Twins watching his work load, especially after the Tommy John surgery. If he continues to see success expect him to make his major league debut next year, though the Twins could promote him for the bullpen this year if they want to limit his innings.

Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) - The fourth round 2013 pick is not overpowering, but he can hit the mid-90s, but generally sits in the low 90s. A plus change is what leads to his success. In 13 starts he has a 2.47 ERA with a .206 opposition average. Despite his lack of heat he still strikes out more than a hitter an inning, the changeup making that heater look that much better. An injury resulted in a late start to the season but after his success in AA last year Gonsalves earns at least a promotion to AAA.

2017 Top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

The 2016 group of prospects did a better job of making the major leagues last year. The number one prospect Orlando Arcia earned the starting shortstop job for the Brewers to begin the season. The number two prospect Wilson Contreras saw significant playing time behind the plate and in the outfield by mid season. The number four prospect Jose Peraza earned playing time at second base for the rebuilding Reds. With all that success new players will fit the bill. Below are the top Venezuelan prospects in the National League, some of them already getting enough playing time in the major leagues this year not to be eligible for this list next year.

Below is the list of National League top prospects from Venezuela:

1. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Injuries have delayed the start to his 2017 season. Last year he pitched in Low A and had some success, though his ERA was at 4.49 and his whiff rate was below one per inning. The opposition hit him at a .276 clip. Someone with his mid-90s fastball and top of the class change should put up better numbers at Low A, though he was one of the youngest players in the league. The Red Sox signed him in 2014 for $1.8 million then traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. Missing a full year could have an impact in his development, especially as he tries to develop a work load that will allow him to pitch 200 innings in the major leagues. At 6′0″ he draws comparisons to Pedro Martinez and Yordano Ventura, with the potential to be a top shelf starter. If his small stature makes it difficult for him to stay healthy he could always move to the bullpen as a closer.

2. Kevin Maitan SS (Braves) - It is unusual for a 2016 international signing to find himself on top 100 prospect lists. That is the case for Maitan, but the $4.2 million the Braves shelled out for him could have had an influence. Maitan did not play last year and at 17 years of age had to wait until July for the Rookie Leagues to begin to make his debut. His .302 batting average in minimal at bats (43) validates the Braves faith in his offense. Power should develop as he matures. Maitan has the tools to play short, but if he physically matures he has the bat to move to third base.

3. German Marquez RHP (Rockies) - The Rays signed German in 2011 for $225,000. The Rockies acquired Marquez in the Chris Dickerson trade. Last year he made his major league debut. This year he has cemented himself in the Rockies rotation after two starts in AAA. The fastball hits the mid 90s and his curve ball is considered above average. The change will need to develop more consistency if he hopes to stick in the rotation. Currently he has a 4.34 ERA after 15 starts with the Rockies. His .276 opponent batting average is influenced by the High Colorado air. Staying in the rotation will require improved consistency.

4. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Acuna signed for only $100,000 in 2014. Despite his young age the Braves are speeding him through their minor league clubs. This year he has played at three levels despite his 19 years of age, currently at AAA where he is hitting .250 with two homeruns in his first six games. All the tools are there with the speed to play defense in center and the arm for right. He should hit for both average and power as he matures. His strikeout numbers are up this year but he appears to have improved his stolen base numbers with a career high 33 in just 91 games. In his first two years he stole 30 bases. It would not surprise my world to see Acuna get a September callup. The biggest comp for Acuna is Andrew Jones. Expect him to have an impact in 2018.

5. Elias Diaz C (Pirates) - The Pirates signed Diaz in 2008. Last year he made his major league debut as a September callup. This year he returned to the major league team after injuries to their catchers. Nobody questions his defense. Elias has a strong arm with good mobility behind the plate. The big question mark with him is his inability to hit major league pitching. The Pirates turned to Elias once injuries decimated the catching staff. After a hot start his average has dropped to .266. If he can show a decent bat he should at least make it as a back up in the major leagues.

6. Antonio Senzatela RHP (Rockies) - Another Rockie pitcher. Antonio signed in 2011. He was limited to seven starts because of a shoulder problem. That did not stop the Rockies from promoting him to the major leagues after only one start in AAA. Last year he only pitched 35 innings. The previous year he threw a career high of 154 innings. This year he has already gone over 100 innings with a 4.57 ERA, not bad when half of your games are played in Colorado. Antonio has a low 90s fastball with excellent command. In between he can throw a slider, curve and change.

7. Luis Torrens C (Padres) - The Yankees like to sign catchers with offensive potential but limited on defense, as evidence by Gary Sanchez and Jesus Montero. Luis was considered the better defensive catcher early in his career, one of the reasons the Yankees signed Torres for $1.3 million. Injuries have limited his ascent up the minor league ladder with 62 games in 2014 his minor league career high. The Padres acquired him in the Rule V draft and despite never getting past Low A kept him on the major league roster. Luis is hitting .188 with a .225 slugging in limited playing time. At 20 years of age he is young enough to develop in the minor leagues next year.

8. Jose Martinez OF (Cardinals) - Jose Martinez is a hitting machine. In 2015 he combined for a .382 average. Last year he slipped to .278 but made his major league debut, hitting .438 in 12 games. The Royals traded him to the Cardinals mid season and this year Jose has spent most of the year on the major league club as a fourth outfielder. He is best suited for left field defensively but lacks the power for the position. The Cardinals have been using him at first and the two corners. Expect him to stick in the major leagues as a fourth outfielder/pinch hitter.

9. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - The Mets signed Andres in 2015 for $1.2 million. With Amed Rosario a couple levels ahead of him second base may be his best position. Gimenez does not have a lot of power but the tools are there for him to play shortstop. This year in Low A he is making his domestic debut, having played in the Dominican Summer League last year. A .274 average with a .676 OPS shows his offensive limitations. The Mets have a bevy of depth in the minor leagues at shortstop so the Mets will be patient with him as he rises up the minor leagues.

10. Ricardo Sanchez LHP (Braves) - The Braves acquired Ricardo from the Angels for Kyle Kubitza. For a lefthander he has good velocity on his fastball throwing in the mid-90s. Command is the area that results in his ERA rising above 5 and the opposition hitting .296 against him. At 5′11 he is not a big guy, but lefthanders under 6′0″ have a better opportunity to survive as a starter.

2016 National League Prospects - Venezuela

Braves Thump Nats in Worse Loss of Season

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Myworld does not know what is worse. Waiting three hours for a ballgame to be played because of the possibility of rain. Or watching the home team get spanked 13-0. The Nationals were shutout for the first time this season, the last team to do so, with Julio Teheran getting credit for the zeroes. He also did pretty good job with the bat driving in three runs.

It was not a very good day for Stephen Strasburg. The Braves were pricking him to death with seeing eye singles through the infield. The first hit off him was ruled a double but it was a low fly ball that Adam Lind lumbered for. A Goodwin out in left might have caught the ball but Lind could not reach it and then had the ball bounce past him. That led to an intentional walk to Matt Adams after the first two pitches missed. Kurt Suzuki found the hole on the left side of the infield for a single to score Nick Markakis. Johan Camargo hit a grounder to short. If Stephen Drew had taken it himself by stepping on second he may have turned two but he flipped to Murphy who made a tough pivot and throw to first that did not beat Camargo to the bag. Teheran made it hurt by bouncing a single through the left side to score Adams to make it 2-0.

The beatdown continued in the third. Freddie Freeman hit a legitimate double into the left centerfield gap. Matt Kemp bounced a single up the middle to score Freeman. Nick Markakis lined a pitch off the hip of Strasburg. He picked the ball up, threw to second but one hopped it. Drew could not handle it and the ball trickled into centerfield, advancing Kemp to third. Matt Adams flied out too shallow to score Kemp, Brian Goodwin rifling a one hop throw to the plate. Unfortunately for Strasburg the bottom of the order came through again. Suzuki, Camargo and Teheran all singled, Teheran driving in two runs to give the Braves a 6-0 lead. Strasburg would not come out in the fourth.

Teheran only gave up four hits in his seven innings of work. The Nationals put two singles back to back in the first inning by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman but the Nationals could not score. The Braves played excellent defense behind Teheran with Brandon Phillips making three excellent defensive plays, including a diving catch on a liner by Murphy that appeared to be going into right field. Nick Markakis also made a diving catch in right field and Matt Adams made a nice diving stop at first base. Freddie Freeman made an error at third, but the Braves were already up 6-0 at that time.

Tanner Roark came on to eat some innings for the Nationals. He gave up three runs in his five innings of work including a Nick Markakis line drive solo shot into the right field bullpen. He retired the side in order in the first two innings but then got nicked with single runs in the next three innings.

Sammy Solis came on for the ninth with an ERA of 10.94. Before he was done that ERA had risen to 14.73. He retired only one of the seven hitters he faced. Matt Adams took one of his pitches for a ride into the second row of the Brewhouse. Solis fed him a fat 0-2 pitch. The Braves got three hits on his 0-2 deliveries. Solis got one strikeout on an 0-2 pitch.

Game Notes: The first two hitters in the Braves order went 1 for 11 with one walk. The last two hitters in the Braves order, which includes the pitcher went 5 for 7 with two walks and one sacrifice…Brandon Phillips played stellar defense at second base. He let very few balls get by him, diving three times to make outs…The Braves hits were squirting through the infield. The Nationals hits were being robbed by excellent defensive plays by the Braves…Jose Lobaton hit the ball hard his first three times up but his average dropped to .136. That slash line of .136/.202/.235 is ugly…It took 87 games but the Nationals were shutout for the first time this season. They were the last team to be shutout…An announced crowd of 38,459 watched this ugly affair.