Archive for the 'Cardinals' Category

Predictions - NL Central

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

This is the strongest division in the NL. We’d like to select the Milwaukee Brewers to surprise but we just don’t like the pitching.

1, Chicago Cubs

Overall - Their farm system will no longer offer them any help. The position players are still young and able to contribute. It is the starting rotation that may see some cracks, with little depth behind four veteran starters.

Strengths - 1) Infield. They are solid all around, providing a combination of excellent defense and productive offense. Anthony Rizzo is the big bat with his 32 homeruns and 109 RBIs. At second base Javier Baez came into his own, slugging 23 homeruns. Addison Russell struggled last year with his offense hitting only.239 with 12 homeruns but his defense is solid. At third base is the slugging Kris Bryant with his 29 homeruns. They also have Ben Zobrist who can rotate around any of those positions.
2) Starting pitching. Signing Yu Darvish as a free agent gives them four solid starters. The Cubs have built this rotation through free agent signings and trades. Kyle Hendricks was acquired from the Rangers but was developed in the Cubs minor leagues. Jon Lester was acquired as a free agent back in 2014 and Jose Quintana was acquired via a trade from the White Sox last year. All four pitchers have the potential to win 15 games.
3) Catching. Many are calling Wilson Contreras the top catcher in the National League. His 13 errors need to be reduced but he should increase his 21 homeruns from last year.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. Brandon Morrow is not a proven commodity in the closer role. In his injury marred early years as a starter many felt he would be better used as a closer. That time has arrived now that he is turning 34 years old.
2) Right field. Jason Heyward won a gold glove. His bat has been a big disappointment, especially for a corner outfielder. Last year he slugged .389.

Top Rookie - Victor Caratini will get most of the rookie playing time as the back up catcher to Contreras. He can also play first and third base in a pinch and Joe Maddon likes his flexibility. No other rookie should contribute.

Top Prospect - The farm system is a little barren. Adbert Alzolay is considered their top prospect. He had success at High A and AA but may fit best as a mid-rotation starter.

Expected Finish - First Place. They will again battle the Dodgers in the National League championship series.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Overall - The starting rotation will be young, but the arms are talented. If they can get Alex Reyes on track this rotation has the ability to be dominant.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Yadier Molina may be aging but he is still the heart and soul of this team. His 82 RBIs led the team.
2) Left Field. The Cardinals traded for Marcell Ozuna to provide more production in the lineup. His 37 homeruns and 124 RBIs is the kind of production a championship lineup needs from their team.
3) Ace. Carlos Martinez has the potential to turn into one of the top five starters in the National League. His 217 strikeouts were only topped by three pitchers in the National League. Expect him to get better as he gains experience.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. They have no established closer, 31 saves departing when Seung-Hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal left the team. Alex Reyes may eventually win the job, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be able to pitch until mid-May. Luke Gregerson was signed as a free agent to fill that role but he will also start the season on the disabled list and accumulated one save last year.
2) Young Back End of Rotation. The Cardinals hope that rookie Jack Flaherty and second year starter Luke Weaver can anchor the back end of the rotation. Miles Mikolas has also come over from Japan to show that he has improved on his rookie season with the Rangers.

Top Rookie - Jack Flaherty will get the biggest and earliest test. He will slide in the fifth spot of the Cardinals rotation. Alex Reyes will eventually get a callup in May but will start his career in the bullpen to prevent his arm from throwing too many innings. Reyes has the potential to be the better starter in 2019.

Top Prospect - Alex Reyes. He has missed two years because of drug suspensions and injuries. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching last year.

Expected Finish - Second Place but enough to get one of the two wild card spots.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Overall - They will have some bashers in the lineup but their pitching could also give up a lot of runs. A trade of some of their outfield depth for a starting pitcher would make this team better.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. They have more quality outfielders than positions for them. Christian Yelich will fit in left with a bat that can hit over .300 with 20 plus homeruns. He was acquired in a trade from the Marlins. Lorenzo Cain was signed as a free agent. He made the Royals offense roll and will now get that machine rolling for the Brewers. Domingo Santana had a breakout year last year with 30 homeruns. The Brewers tried to trade him to make room for Ryan Braun in the outfield. With no DH he may have to rotate between first base and the two corner outfield positions.
2) Third Base. The Red Sox needed a third baseman last year. Before the season started they traded Travis Shaw to the Brewers for Tyler Thornburg feeling that Shaw was not an answer to their third base quandary. All Shaw did was hit 31 homeruns and drive in 101 runs. That kind of production may have gotten the Red Sox to the World Series.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. This is what separates the Brewers from the Cubs and Cardinals. Losing Jimmy Nelson hurt. Zach Davies did win 17 games last year but he only struck out 5.8 hitters per nine innings and the opposition hit him at a .275 clip. Chase Anderson also had a solid year but there is some question whether he can repeat. Rookie Brandon Woodruff will probably fill the fifth spot in the rotation.
2) Catcher. Steven Vogt struggles on defense and last year did not hit enough. Manny Pina is better suited for a back up role though he did well when thrust into a starting role. Replicating those numbers may be difficult.

Top Rookie - Brandon Woodruff will slot into the fifth spot in the rotation.

Top Prospect - Keston Hiura their first round 2017 pick has shown he can hit. It will not take him long before he is playing second base for the Brewers and challenging for batting titles.

Expected Finish - They will squeeze into the second wild card spot with their third place finish in the Central.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

Overall - The Pirates would like to have fans believe the team is not rebuilding but trading Andrew McCutchen and Gerritt Cole was the waving of the white flag.

Strength - 1) Closer. Felipe Rivero was a nice acquisition by the Pirates a couple years ago. He dominated left handed hitters who only hit .082 against him.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jody Mercer has always been a pedestrian shortstop. He carries no quality offensive or defensive tools, though he hit a career high 14 homeruns last year.
2) Third Base. They will turn to rookie Colin Moran to fill this position. Last year it appeared he came into his own until a hit by pitch knocked him out after a seven game major league debut. David Freese will act as insurance in case Moran fails.
3) Starting Pitcher. They traded their ace Gerritt Cole. Jameson Taillon has the potential to be an ace but he was too hittable last year (.290 opposition average). The pitching staff is filled with pitchers whose ERA was north of 4.00 last year.

Top Rookie - Colin Moran appears to have a shot to start at third base. A starting pitcher like Nick Kingham or Mitch Keller could squeeze into this rotation.

Top Prospect - Mitch Keller is their top pitcher. Austin Meadows their top position player. Both will get opportunities to play for the Pirates this year.

Expected Finish - Far out of the playoff race where the motivation will be to trade more veterans and finally admit this is a rebuilding year.

5. Cincinnati Reds

Overall - The rebuild has gone slower than expected. It is a big surprise to see Joey Votto still on the roster.

Strengths - 1) First Base. Joey Votto may be the best hitter in baseball. Last year he was second in the MVP voting despite the Reds last place finish. Votto drove in 100 runs and walked 134 times.
2) Corner Outfield. Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler each hit 30 plus homeruns. The small park could have something to do with that but not many teams have that kind of power in their corners.
3) Second Base. Scooter Gennett hit four homeruns in one game and 27 for the year. His 97 RBIs was tops among second baseman in the National League.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jose Peraza may be better suited for second base. His speed should produce more stolen bases and his OBA needs to get over .330 to make him effective.
2) Starting Pitching. Homer Bailey is the ace until he gets traded, but he has yet to pitch effectively since his return from injury. After Homer the pitching is young. Luis Castillo showed some success last year but the others are a work in progress. Last year no pitcher reached double digits in victories.
3) Centerfield. Other than speed and defense Billy Hamilton provides little production. His inability to get on base (.299 OBA) limits his speed opportunities.

Top Rookie - Tyler Mahle will be tried in the starting rotation. Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis have all struggled. The new blood keeps on flowing but being rejected by the host.

Top Prospect - Nick Senzel. He could become a gold glove third baseman but the Reds may try him for some games at short. Not a lot of shortstops carry the thunder he has in his bat.

Expected Finish - Another last place finish.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Nick Pivetta was the only player to graduate from the top ten list from last year, but it was not a good season for the Philly righthander (8-10, 6.02). The Phillies will give him another opportunity to prove his value in the rotation. Seven players repeated from last year’s list with a shift in placement. Curtis Taylor and Gareth Morgan dropped out of the list. Below is the 2018 top ten minor league prospects from Canada. To qualify for this list you have to be eligible to win rookie of the year, eliminating Dalton Pompey, who was out most of last year and has not seen major league action in a couple years. Myworld predicts a return of Pompey in 2018.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - Born in Montreal, Canada from a Hall of Famer from the Dominican. This is the second country Vladimir appears in after placing second in the top Dominican prospects list in the American League. Here he is number one. The following is a cut and paste from our Dominican article. His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

2. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - Like most Canadians pitchers, he is not an overpowering pitcher. That did not prevent the Braves from using a number one pick in 2015 to draft him. His fastball can hit 95 but usually glides into the plate in the Low 90s. His ability to pitch, command those pitches and offer quality secondary pitches separates him from most pitchers. Righthanders really struggle against his repertoire, hitting just .209 against him in AA. His strikeout numbers will never be flashing but he will eliminate baserunners with double play groundouts. Soroka could find himself pitching for the Braves by midseason in a very crowded rotation. It all depends on his success at AAA to begin the 2018 season.

3. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) - The son of Paul, the Padres selected Cal in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford, despite his undergoing Tommy John surgery his sophomore season. Cal was born in Port Hope, Ontario. His fastball carries a little zip, chasing the plate in the upper bracket of the low 90s. What makes Cal special is a quality changeup that makes his fastball carry a little extra charge to it. Enhancing his breaking pitches will improve his stock. Last year he was tagged pretty good with righthanded batters hitting over .300 against him in AA. That is where he will repeat the 2018 season.

4. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - The son of a Canadian weight lifter, the Cardinals would like to see less bulk weight lifting from Tyler and more repetitions with lighter weights. Tyler was drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The bulky Tyler generally hits between 25 and 35 homeruns per year. Last year he bombed 31 over the fence. That power usually comes with a lot of swings and misses and lower batting averages. His speed is not quick enough to cover center, but a strong arm and average speed allows him to be a solid defender in right. The 2018 season could be his opportunity to debut in the major leagues. The Cardinal outfield is a bit crowded, but if his bashing continues in AAA it will be difficult to keep him down.

5. Josh Naylor 1B (Padres) - Josh was a surprise first round pick of the Marlins in 2015. A knife incident brought up character issues and the Marlins traded him to the Padres. At 6′0″ and close to 250 pounds Josh may have to watch his weight if he hopes to continue his professional career. He hits the ball a long ways with light tower power in batting practice, but that has not translated into the games. Despite his large size his athleticism allows him to run well and play an adequate defense at first base. With the eight year contract given to Eric Hosmer that puts Naylor in a black hole. He will start the season in AA and hope to impress some team in need of a first baseman to trade for him.

6. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The Orioles drafted Hall in the second round of the 2017 draft. He only got nine at bats in the rookie league but six of them went for hits for a .667 average. An oblique injury ended his season early. This may rob him of an opportunity to play full season ball next year. It appears he has the tools to stick at short with a good arm and decent range. His power is limited to the gaps now but with maturity and a better read of pitches that could increase. The 2018 season will be a big one for Hall to gauge whether he is geared for short.

7. Andy Yerzy C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. His first year in rookie ball was uneventful. His second year in rookie ball he smashed 13 homeruns and slugged .524. That should earn him a full season Low A team for 2018. His 6′3″ height gives him some problems defensively. He struggles with throws to second and handling pitches in the dirt. If his power continues to progress his bat could be moved to first base. His lack of speed makes a move to the outfield unrealistic. The D-backs will still continue to tutor him as a catcher in hopes he will improve as he gets more repetitions, beginning in the Low A league in 2018.

8. Miles Gordon OF (Reds) - Gordon has played three consecutive seasons in the Rookie League. The Reds drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but at that time his primary sport was hockey. Last year he had his breakout year, slugging his first eight homeruns of his minor league career and slugging .530, almost .200 points greater than his previous season. Like Yerzy that kind of production will get him promoted to a full season league in 2018. Gordon has the speed to fit in center but may be better suited for a corner.

9. Landon Leach RHP (Twins) - A second round pick in 2017 with a nice 6′4 inch frame that can sling the ball in the high 90s. For the most part he sits in the Low 90s. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. He pitched as a closer out of his high school so there is not a lot of use in his arm. When he was not closing he was catching for his high school team and the Junior National Canadian team. Now he has the opportunity to focus on the mound full time. He will probably start the 2017 season in extended spring training and pitch again in the Rookie League to continue to develop his mechanics.

10. Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) - Myworld still likes his tools. The results are slower than expected, with an inability to make contact and recognize pitches leaving him off prospect lists. He was projected to be a first rounder in 2015 but he dropped to the fourth round where the Brewers selected him. He was actually born in Nigeria so if he makes the major leagues he could be the first Nigerian to play in the major leagues. Last year he played at Low A, slugging 11 homeruns with 38 stolen bases. His 40/139 walk to whiff ratio kept his average at .214, though he did hit .252 against lefthanders. His speed will allow him to play center and his arm will fit him in right. The bat just needs to develop more consistency. He should see High A in 2018.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Top 10 Dominican Prospects - Nationals League

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

It is almost a completely new top ten with Reynaldo Lopez, Manuel Margot, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Difo, Jeimer Candelario and Raimel Tapia graduating to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez transferred to the American League list and Francellis Montas dropped out. Only the top two prospects repeated the list, Alex Reyes and Victor Robles. Alex may not have repeated this list if Tommy John surgery had not ended his season last year. Below is the top ten Dominican prospects in the National League:

1. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Victor was number two last year and switched with Alex for the top spot this year. While the power has not shown yet Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus numbers.

2. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. Last year the Padres moved him from Low A to AA, skipping High A. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

4. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

5. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto despite a number of requests about his availability. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

6. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - One of the players the Marlins were able to acquire for Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals have a lot of success finding pitchers with triple digit heat. Sandy is one of those pitchers who sits in the high 90s but hits triple digits regularly, shades of Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez before him. He still has not developed any consistent secondary pitches, still trying to master a slider and curve. His command is not quite there as well. He did get 8 relief appearances with the Cardinals last year where he struck out 10 in eight innings, but he also walked six. If his command does not improve and his secondary pitches do not develop he could always be used out of the bullpen. The Marlins will keep him in the rotation in 2018 in AAA. His lack of secondary pitches and command resulted in the opposition hitting him at a .262 clip with his whiff rate sitting at a disappointing 7.6 per nine innings.

7. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - Adonis does not throw as hard as Sixto but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. It sits in the low 90s. The Phillies signed Adonis the year before they signed Sixto, shelling out just $70,000 for the 17 year old, so for $100,000 they were able to acquire two of the top pitchers on this list. Adonis has a quality change that can make his fastball appear to arrive at the plate with greater velocity and a slider that can be a swing and miss pitch. In Low A Adonis struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .227 average. In three minor league seasons his career ERA sits at an impressive 2.81. The Phillies seem to be promoting him one level at a time so expect him to pitch at High A for the 2018 season.

8. Jorge Guzman RHP (Marlins) - You would have thought the Marlins could have gotten more from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees had more advanced Dominican throwers who hit the radar in triple digits. The Marlins chose the less developed Guzman, who has yet to advance past the rookie leagues since signing in 2014, but has shown some impressive heat. Guzman was ranked as one of the hardest throwing Yankee hurlers, averaging 99 miles per hour with his fastball. He could replace Reyes and Kopech as having one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues. He has not really had the need to work on his secondary pitches, but as he reaches the full season leagues those pitches will need to be developed. His command has been good in the lower levels. His first test of full season league will be in 2018 where he will either break out or fall into obscurity.

9. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs need pitching and Adbert built some additional velocity on his fastball to rise up the ranks. It sits at 93-95. The secondary pitches still needs some work as well as his ability to throw strikes. He has yet to strike out a hitter per inning but an improvement of his change and curve would change that. The opposition struggled to make quality contact, hitting him at a .220 clip. He did get seven starts in AA, which is where he would start the 2018 season. An appearance at the back end of the rotation by the end of the season could be possible.

10. Jhailyn Ortiz OF (Phillies) - The third Philly Dominican on this list, but the one who the Phillies paid a lot to sign. Jhailyn was able to squeeze out a $4.01 million bonus from the Phillies in 2015. At 6′3 he carries 250 pounds, which carries balls far over the fence. He has a strong arm to play right field but his legs lack speed and may result in an eventual move to first base. Last year in the rookie league he slugged eight homeruns with a .560 slugging average. Jhailyn should begin the 2018 season in Low A where his ability to hit for power will begin to get noticed.

Myworlds Top100 Prospects - 50-41

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Big volleyball tournament this weekend. May be our last post until Tuesday so we thought we’d whittle the Top 100 list today.

50. Jake Bauers 1B/OF (Rays) 4.36 - A sleeper pick not drafted until the seventh round of the 2013 draft, Bauers shows patience at the plate walking 70 plus times at the plate the last two seasons. His power has yet to show at the plate but he has been one of the younger players in the league level each year he is promoted. The power could come as he matures. In the meantime it sits at .412, which is not acceptable for a first baseman. He is an above average defensive player at first base but the Rays put him in the outfield for 24 games to increase his versatility. His below average arm and minimal speed makes him a liability in the outfield when that glove could be used at first base. The Rays appear to be in a rebuilding mode so with a good spring Bauers could see significant time at first base in 2018.

49. Michael Baez RHP (Padres) 4.38 - The Cuban professional league is noted for their lack of flame throwers on the island. That is because most of them have defected for a shot in the major leagues. Baez is one of those players. The Padres signed him for $3 million after seeing his fastball touch the high 90s and sit in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches need to develop more consistency (slider, curve and change) but that should come with time. Prior to signing him the big criticism was his inability to find the plate. That did not seem to be a problem in his first season stateside, walking only 8 in 59 innings while striking out 82. He also gave up 8 homeruns so he needs to learn throwing one ball to walk a batter to take one base is better than throwing down the middle and watching the hitter circle the bases. The 2018 season should see him pitch in full season ball.

48. Anthony Alford OF (Blue Jays) 4.62 - Another athletically gifted player who played football in college while he dabbled in baseball has now chosen to focus on baseball. It was expected that his tools would allow him to climb the ladder fast to reach the major leagues but Alford has had trouble staying healthy. The power and speed are there for him to make an impact offensively, possibly becoming a 30/30 player. Defensively he covers major real estate in center field, though his arm is best suited for left if he had to find another outfield position. He made his major league debut last year but broke his wrist five games later. A good spring could see him crack the Blue Jays opening day roster, but they may prefer to begin his season in AAA where he has only accumulated 12 at bats.

47. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) 4.98 - Another son of a major leaguer finding himself on the Top 100 list. His father Paul was a reliever in the major leagues. Currently Cal is a starter who sits in the upper brackets of the low 90s with his fastball. What makes his fastball more devastating is an excellent change that keeps hitters off balance. Last year he seemed a little more hittable with AA hitters tagging him for a .296 average and his whiff rate falling down to 7.2 per nine innings. Same side hitters were particularly cruel hitting .336 against him. The Padres drafted him in the first round of the 2016 season despite Tommy John surgery preventing him from pitching an inning during his junior year at Stanford. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and with success getting a shot at the major leagues.

46. Luis Urias SS/2B (Padres) 5.1 - Normally players start as shortstops and move to second base. Luis started at second base and showed he had the arm to play short. His bat has minimal power but he can spray the gaps. The potential is there for him to hit consistently north of the .300 barrier with the speed to take extra bases. That speed appears to be lacking when attempting to steal. In his last three years he has been thrown out 37 times with only 33 stolen bases. The skills are there for him to be a middle infield type utility player if he doesn’t make it as a starter at one of the positions. Career wise he draws more walks (153) than whiffs (135) a rarity in this day and age. After his success at AA Luis will start the season at AAA with a major league calling just around the corner.

45. Kyle Lewis OF (Mariners) 5.2 - Kyle was expected to be a special player but a devastating knee injury at the end of his debut year limited him to just 49 games last year. When playing in the Arizona Fall League his participation was cut short because of concerns with the knee. The 2016 first round pick was the Baseball America College Player of the Year with the potential to be a five tool player. Last year he only saw 21 games in the outfield so it will be interesting how his knee has impacted his speed and ability to cover ground in center. The arm is solid enough to shift to right. The Mariners skipped him to High A after 11 rehab games in Rookie ball last year. That should be where he starts his 2018 season. If the knee proves healthy he could be moved up quickly.

44. Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) 5.42 - The possibility exists for the 2014 first round pick to make the starting rotation with a good spring. Jack started five games for the Cardinals last year with minimal success. Poor command (4.22 walks per nine) and a .284 opposition average resulted in a 6.33 ERA. The 6′4″ righthander has the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball with complementary secondary pitches that should make him successful as a starter. Jack was dominating at AA (1.42 ERA) and AAA (2.74 ERA) so his major league struggles could be attributed to acclimating his stuff to major league hitters.

43. Ryan McMahon 3B/1B/2B (Rockies) 5.46 - The Rockies second round pick in 2013 played third base in his early years in the minor leagues. With Nolan Arenado entrenched there that position seems off limits. The Rockies have tried him at second and first. At second his defense is shaky but his bat could make up for his defensive struggles. He is better defensively at first base but that position is a bit crowded with other possibilities. The Rockies had to find a position for him after he hit .374 with 14 homeruns in 70 games, producing a 1.023 OPS. That got him a callup to the majors where he struggled (.158) in a brief 19 at bat major league debut. A good spring could see him win a job with the Rockies but his best bet is to go to AAA as depth and get a callup when needed.

42. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) 5.48 - We wrote about him yesterday in the top Dominican prospect list so the following is just a cut and paste from that list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

41. Franklin Barreto SS/2B (Athletics) 5.58 - The Athletics hope Barreto makes an impact since he was one of the players they acquired from the Blue Jays for Josh Donaldson. The other players the Athletics acquired in the trade, Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin have fallen short in their return. Barreto made his major league debut last year and hit just .197 in his 25 games. He does show the ability to hit for pop and has shortstop tools but could move to second in deference to Marcus Semien. Last year he made 18 errors in 83 games at short, a little too erratic for major league purposes. His lifetime minor league average is .292 which is where he should hit once he gets more acclimated to major league pitching. A good spring could see him on the Athletics roster in a utility role but expect him to be depth at the AAA level.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

The continuation of myworld’s top 100. To recap, this is not really my Top 100 list but a combination of Top 100s put together by Baseball America, MLB.com and other top 100 lists with the rankings scored (10 for number 1 and 0.1 for number 100). You can see the complete list of top 100 rankings used on the rankings 100-91.

70. Dylan Cease RHP (White Sox) 2.86 - The Cubs could use some pitchers. They did draft Dylan in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. Tommy John surgery in high school dropped his draft status. When he recovered his fastball was hitting triple digits and sitting in the mid-90s. Rather than wait for him to develop the Cubs traded him for Jose Quintana, a pitcher they needed now to get them into the playoffs. Dylan lacks quality secondary pitches that could call for his use out of the bullpen. He did start 22 games at Low A, 13 for the Cubs and 9 for the White Sox. His command was a little spotty, walking about 4 hitters per nine innings, but he got a lot of swings and misses and limited the opposition to a .220 average. Next season he should begin it at High A. The White Sox have a host of pitchers at the upper levels so they can be patient with Dylan to allow him to eat up innings.

69. Kevin Maitan SS/3B (Angels) 2.98 - The Braves originally signed Kevin for $4.25 million. Before he played a game he made a number of Top 100 lists. After a year in the minors his prospect status has dropped. The Braves lost him to free agency to the Angels as punishment for their cheating on their international signing caps. Maitan has lost some prospect status as his lower body has gotten thicker, limiting his range at short and forcing a move to third. His bat is still considered top notch. He played in the rookie leagues last year with spotted success but one has to remember he was a high school kid playing against athletes who had graduated from high school or college. The 2018 season should be his first season of full season ball where he will play as an 18 year old. As his body fills out the power will begin to show. At least the Angels hope so.

68. Jo Adell OF (Angels) 3.04 - Adell was the first round pick of the Angels in 2017. An athletically gifted talent, he has the speed to play center, the arm to fit in right and a bat that can hit for both average and power. He rises to the top of what once was a thin Angels prospect list. In high school Adell hit 21 homeruns and struck out 7 times. Adell had more swings and misses once he started in the rookie leagues (49 whiffs in 49 games) but his batting average (.325) and power (.532 slugging) still shined through. The 2018 season he should start the year in the full season league. With Trout getting older he could move Trout back to left field in a few years if his tools continue to develop.

67. Austin Riley 3B (Braves) 3.14 - The Braves drafted Riley with the supplemental first round pick in 2015. Riley is noted for his power bat where he matched his 20 homer production of last season. His fielding could improve where his stiff hands committed 20 errors in 127 games, 13 of those errors occurring in 47 games at AA. The lack of consistency makes the move to first an option, but that position is occupied by Freddie Freeman. Third base is where they could use more immediate help but Austin may still be a couple years away. First he has to improve his ability to make contact (124) which could improve his ability to hit for a higher average. Last year he only played 48 games in AA hitting .315. If he continues that success he should see AAA by mid-season and maybe the Braves for a September callup.

66. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) 3.22 - Jesus is a five tool outfielder from the Dominican. The Rays only paid $400,000 in 2016 to sign him. He has hit .323 or greater in his first two minor league seasons. The power was restricted to the gaps until last year when he broke out for 15 homeruns, his first year in double digits. The speed exists to play center and the arm is strong enough to play right. Stolen base speed is absent. The 2018 season will see him play in High A. The rebuilding Rays expect to see him in the outfield in 2019.

65. Christian Arroyo 3B (Rays) 3.32 - Arroyo was a first round pick of the Giants way back in 2013. The Giants traded him to the Rays in the Evan Longoria swap. Originally a shortstop it was determined he did not have the range for that position. The 2018 season will see him start at third base for the Rays but it is still suspect he will hit for the power needed for the position. In an injury plagued 2018 he hit .396 in 25 games at AAA. That led to a quick promotion to the majors where he slugged a couple early season homeruns but then saw his average drop to .192. The Rays have an open spot at the position for Arroyo to lose for the 2018 season.

64. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) 3.34 - The Braves 2016 first round pick, Ian is just one in a slew of pitchers who are first round picks, many of whom started for other organizations who the Braves acquired in a trade in their rebuilding effort. The rotation could be pretty crowded once the bell rings for Ian to compete for a starting rotation spot. Ian brings three quality pitches to the mound, a fastball that sits in the low 90s that can hit mid-90s, a potential quality curve with good break and a plus change. Those are tools that will fit him in the middle of most rotations but the Braves have a large crop of quality pitchers who have number one starter stuff. Last year Anderson started 20 games in Low A, did not allow a ball to travel over the fence, finished with a 10.95 K per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .232 average. Those kind of numbers earn him a promotion to High A next year.

63. Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) 3.42 - Considered the catcher of the future for the Cardinals, once Yadier Molina decides to hang them up. Defensively he is considered to be one of the top minor league catchers in the game with a strong arm and the ability to handle a pitching staff. The big question mark for Kelly was whether his bat would be enough to justify putting him in the starting lineup. Last year he hit .283 with a .459 slugging in AAA, making good contact in his at bats. Promoted to the majors for his second year he again hit under .200 (.174). The 2018 season should see him be the back up catcher for Yadier and possibly be his replacement in 2019.

62. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) 3.66 - One of the few players born in Haiti, which made it difficult providing major league teams with documents supporting his age. The multi-tooled athlete has the five tools to be a premium outfielder. The Yankees outfield is already crowded but Estevan is still a few years away. His speed allowed him to steal more than 20 bases and his power bordered slugging .500 with 13 homeruns and an average over .300. His tools could make him a 20/20 player and if can stay in the middle of the diamond that will make him a valuable commodity, whether in the major league lineup or as a trade piece. For the 2018 season he should begin the season in High A with a quick promotion to AA once he achieves some success.

61. Chance Sisco C (Orioles) 3.66 - The Orioles second round 2013 pick is noted more for his bat than his defense. The Orioles have been patient with him, finally giving him his major league debut last year where he hit .333 with two homeruns in 18 at bats. His arm is not strong enough to stop a running game so a pitching staff like the Orioles who put a village on base will be hurt by a team with speed. The 2018 season should see him start with the Orioles. Showalter will have to pick his opportunities to suit up Sisco behind the plate.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 80 - 71

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Below is our top prospects from 80-71.

80. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) 2.34 - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez in 2016 as they restocked their farm system with Cuban players, paying him a $2 million bonus. Soon after they traded him to the Astros for Josh Fields, not much of a return for a player with that bonus. The Astros have used him at both first base and left field. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues. At 6′5″ his lefthanded bat began showing some power at Low A with a .360 average, 9 homeruns and a .658 slugging in 32 games. The power was not as great after being promoted to High A (.393) but he showed no difficulty hitting lefthanded pitching (.355). It will take an excellent spring to start the season higher than A ball but at 20 years of age the Astros can be patient with him.

79. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) 2.38 - He was the Cuban version of Luis Ortiz except he won the 15 and under MVP in the World Cup in 2014. A couple years later he left Cuba providing the Padres an opportunity to sign him for a $11 million bonus. At 6′1″ he does not have an intimidating presence, but his fastball can reach the mid-90s and at 19 he already has a degree in pitching with a good curveball and change. He made his major league debut last year with seven starts in short season ball (3.57) and six more in low class A (4.23). He had his way with lefthanded hitters dropping their averages below .200 but righthanded hitters had their way with him hitting him close to .300. He needs to find a pitch that is more effective against right side hitters. It would not surprise myworld if he starts the 2018 season at Low A and getting promoted once he achieves success. Don’t expect him to be anything more than a mid-rotation starter.

78. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 2.4 - Gonsalves is a lefty like Morejon but at 6′5″ he has a much larger frame. Despite his height he does not throw as hard as Morejon, but he can hit the mid-90s. Command and a quality change are the secrets to his success. He limits the walks, hits the corners and finished with a quality 2.68 ERA in AA. AAA was a bit of a struggle with righthanders assaulting him at a .350 clip in four starts. Another year in AAA would be good with a mid season promotion on the horizon. The fourth round pick of the 2013 draft had a career 2.13 ERA and limited the opposition to a .195 average entering the 2017 season. He knows how to miss bats and limit quality contact despite his lack of premium velocity.

77. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) 2.48 - Jon was a third round pick in 2016 but not because of a lack of talent but a concern for health. He missed the entire 2015 season for Rice because of shoulder injuries. After he was drafted he was limited to just one inning because of elbow issues. The 2017 season saw a break out season with his mid-90s fastball and quality curveball sifting through minor league bats for an ERA of 1.39 between Low A and High A. The last pitcher with an ERA that low in the minor leagues was a pitcher by the name of Justin Verlander. He struck out 12.36 hitters per nine innings in 12 starts at High A. At 6′3″ and 225 pounds if he can stay healthy he will be an innings eater. The 2018 season should see him start at AA and if he remains as dominant as last season expect a mid-season promotion.

76. Mickey Moniak OF (Phillies) 2.56 - The Phillies made him the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. He is one of those outfielder’s who may not have the range to fit in center or the power to earn a corner spot. The speed is good but it is not burner speed and will not accumulate stolen bases. What one has to hope for is his baseball instincts will inflate his stats and he will become a better player than his skills. His numbers were not eye popping in Low A (.236) with only a .180 average against lefthanders. He has the makings of being a fourth outfielder. The Phillies hope a stint in High A will lead to improvement with greater strength and more experience.

75. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) 2.58 - Tyler is a strong kid drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals where he hopes to crack one of the outfield spots. There is good power in his bat where he slugged 31 homeruns last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns consistently in the major leagues. His difficulty in making contact (151 whiffs) will keep his average at around .250 or below. A solid arm will make him a fit in right but with his bulky frame he may be a better fit in left. A good spring could see him traveling north with the Cardinals but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

74. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) 2.64 - A second Tiger who could eventually fit in their starting rotation making the Top 100. Matt was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2016. At 6′6 with a fastball that can come across the plate in the high 90s can prove intimidating to hitters. His secondary pitches could use some improvement but he has the potential for a plus curve and solid change. In his debut season in 2016 at Rookie level play he struck out 14.6 hitters per nine innings. Manning continued to rack up the K’s in the New York Penn League (9.72) and Low A (13.25). A little trouble with his command in Low A saw his ERA climb (5.60) but hitters still had difficulty making hard contact (.209). Manning should start the 2018 season in Low A with a quick promotion to High A once he achieves some success.

73. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) 2.78 - Jorge was a top prospect for the Rangers for a number of years. The Colombian was traded to the Phillies for Cole Hamels in 2015. Injuries have dogged him and stalled his ability to make quick advances up the ladder. The 2016 season saw him get a September callup. The 2017 season saw him take a more extended role with the Phillies, hitting .318 with 5 homeruns and a .514 slugging. He has a power bat and his defense is good enough to stay behind the plate. His big issue is whether his lack of patience (16/113 walk to whiff) will result in prolonged slumps in the major leagues. Expect him to win the starting catching role over Cameron Rupp for the 2018 season.

72. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox) 2.8 - Chavis was the Red Sox first pick in the 2014 draft. He plays the same position as Rafael Devers with a weaker bat. His defense is not strong enough to justify putting him at third over a superior bat. His bat does carry some pop as his 31 homeruns last year showed. He also cut down on his strikeouts which helped him hit for a higher average. The Red Sox could move Devers to first or try Chavis in left field. Both moves would help the offense but sacrifice some defense. Chavis will spend one more year at AAA as the Red Sox try to figure out what they will do with him. The best solution may be to use him as trade bait to acquire a veteran pitcher for a playoff run.

71. Blake Rutherford OF (White Sox) 2.82 - The Yankees selected Rutherford in the first round of the 2016 draft. With a surplus of outfielders they traded him to the White Sox for Todd Frazier, who became a free agent after the 2017 season. After more exposure to him there was concern his defense was a better fit for left field because of a weak arm. The lack of power in his bat made that a cause for concern. Those concerns may have been confirmed after a wasted year least year where he only hit two homeruns and slugged .349 in Low A. The positive spin is he hit lefthanders better than righthanders so the struggle may be an aberration. The question is whether the White Sox repeat him at Low A or give him a promotion to High A and hope he produces.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The last group of position players rated by myworld. This is the largest and most important one since no playoff teams can survive without an ace. Most of your aces throw from the right side. Below is myworld’s top ten right handed pitchers and others to watch:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) - A coup for the Angels to sign the best pitcher coming out of Japan since Yu Darvish. The big question is whether his elbow can hold up. If so he could become the best pitcher in major league baseball. If not he could transform himself into an All Star power hitting rightfielder. Right now, the Angels plan on him doing both, restricting his offensive performance to DH duties. To protect his elbow the Angels may go to a six man rotation. No major league starting pitcher had an average velocity higher than Otani last year, though injuries limited his starts. His splitter is also a pretty good pitch but he limited that offering severely after his elbow issues. He still has a number of other pitches in his repertoire to retire hitters. For the Angels to compete in the playoffs he needs to turn into their ace. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, something he had trouble accomplishing in Japan.

2. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year he finished with an ERA of 1.39 after 24 starts. No pitcher in the history of minor league baseball has had a lower ERA since Justin Verlander and we know what kind of pitcher he became once he arrived in the major leagues. Like Ohtani the biggest concern with Duplantier is the health of his arm. Both shoulder and elbow problems have restricted his innings. In 2016 a balky elbow limited him to just one inning after he was drafted in the third round in 2016 and a shoulder injury impacted his college appearances. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and is complemented by a plus curveball and change. Last year the opposition hit him at a .192 clip in addition to his 165 whiffs in 136 innings. After having success in High A last year he should start the season in AA, but that could depend on the success of his spring. A September callup is a possibility with a good season but it will probably be restricted to the bullpen.

3. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - Myworld has already stated that the last 19 year old we saw pitch impress me so much was Clayton Kershaw. We can still picture the smile on Joe Torre’s face after Kershaw was done pitching his one exhibition inning. That same smile will appear on the face of Terry Francona after he sees Tristan pitch. A 6′5″ inch preying mantis with long arms and a skinny frame should start slinging the ball in the high 90s once he puts some meat on his bones. His curveball and change are plus pitches resulting in a plethora of swings and misses. Like Duplantier he should start the season in AA and if the Indians need rotation help for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they do not call him up. Because of his youth and his sleight frame the Indians will be protective of his innings.

4. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox first round 2014 pick was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade. Kopech throws harder than Sale, hitting triple digits with his fastball. Many scouts say he is the hardest thrower in the minor leagues. Throwing hard and getting outs are two different issues. A promotion to AAA saw the opposition average increase from .184 to .263, though the sample size for AAA was very small. Kopech has a good slider which allows him to get a number of swings and misses. With a good spring he could squeeze into the rotation but the White Sox have a number of pitchers higher on the depth chart to consider first. Myworld suspects mid-season will see his major league debut.

5. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - The Venezuelan started his career as a third baseman. The Astros converted him to pitcher because they liked his arm. His fastball can light up the radar in the high 90s with a couple good breaking pitches and a plus change to keep hitters guessing. The Astros traded him to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, initially signing him to a $1 million bonus in 2014. At 6′3″ he still has some frame to fill out. After starting the season at AA it should not take him long to find himself in the Tiger’s rotation, unless they do not want his option clock running by placing him on the roster too early.

6. Hunter Greene (Reds) - There was some talk of making him a two way player, but playing shortstop and having him pitch was felt to be too demanding. His fastball spits the plate in triple digits, giving Ohtani and Kopech a run for the hardest fastball. His secondary pitches could still use some polish. If they fail to develop he could always be used as a closer, or put back in the lineup as a shortstop. The first round 2017 pick struggled in his three minor league starts, giving up 8 hits in his 4.1 innings of work. Hunter may need more time in extended spring training before joining a full season team.

7. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes has had some bad luck. First he was suspended in 2016 for 80 games after testing positive for drugs, then missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Reyes hit the high 90s with his fastball. Control has been his big issue, which could be corrected if he did not miss so much time due to suspensions and injuries. Alex did not play last year and will need some time in extended spring training and then in the minor leagues before the Cardinals risk him for the rotation. They will limit his innings since he has only pitched in 111 innings the last two years, all of those pitched in 2016. By mid-year he could be ready for a short relief role, fitting perhaps into the closer role.

8. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - He falls short in velocity when compared to the other pitchers on this list. The supplemental first round pick in 2014 can hit the mid-90s with his fastball but settles in the low 90s. The big pitch that gets the most publicity is the screw ball, which he does not throw that much, but it is a unique pitch. His change is also a pretty good pitch, enhancing the velocity of his fastball. Last year he pitched at AAA and struck out more than a hitter per inning but the opposition hit him at a .268 clip. He may stay around the plate too much making his pitches more hittable. Next year he should start the season in the Rays rotation. The team has already lost one pitcher to free agency (Chris Archer) and have another on the trading block. Spring training will seal his fate to begin the 2018 season.

9. Sandy Alcantara (Marlins) - Another one of those Cardinal finds in the Dominican Republic who slings the ball across the plate in triple digits. The Cardinals included him in the Marcell Ozuna trade giving the Marlins the benefit of his triple digit fastball. He sits in the high 90s using a slider as his breaking pitch. His change shows good potential but his command needs work. Last year he walked 54 in 125 innings and the opposition hit him at a .262 clip. Despite the heat on his fastball he struck out less than a batter per inning. Better command will result in better location of his pitches and more swings and misses. He could start the season in the Marlins rotation with a good spring, but more likely will see AAA. Last year he made his major league debut pitching eight games in relief.

10. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He seemed to arrive out of nowhere in 2016 to become a top ranked pitcher. He was a second round pick in 2014 and with his fastball hitting the mid 90s and a plus curveball and change he had a breakout 2016. Last year he did not disappoint limiting the opposition to a .202 average and whiffing a hitter per inning. Mitch is a pitcher who mixes his pitches well and locates them with precision. Last year he started six games in AA, which is where he will start the 2017 season. A good spring and an excellent start to the season will see him make his major league debut by mid season.

Others to Note:

Mike Soroka (Braves) - A first round pick in 2015. The Canadian does not throw hard but he locates well. At 6′5″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. Expect him to see the Braves rotation by mid season.

Touki Toussaint (Braves) - Once he overcomes his lack of command he will rise quickly. His fastball reaches the high 90s and his long arms give it a good whip like quality. He will start the season in AA.

Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - A first round pick and son of closer Bryan Harvey has seen his career stalled by injury. The 2018 season he hopes will be a complete season where he can unleash his mid-90s fastball to go along with his excellent curveball. A late season promotion could be in his future, but the Orioles want to be patient with him and control his innings.

Jesus Liranzo (Orioles) - Every pitch out of his arm hits the radar in triple digits with an easy delivery. He is probably slated for the bullpen because of a lack of control and secondary pitches. He is one of those pitchers who could have a breakout career if he can find a second and third pitch and the control improves. Watch out for him in the Orioles pen or rotation in 2018.

Dylan Cease (White Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Cubs in 2014 he began to draw attention to himself when he started humming his fastball in the triple digits. The Cubs traded him to their cross town rival White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. The White Sox have a lot of young depth in the rotation and Dylan needs to improve his command. He will start the season in High A.

Alec Hansen (White Sox) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ frame and his long wing spans that allows him to sizzle his fastball in the high 90s. He gets a ton of swings and misses and the opposition struggled against him, hitting just .216. He is another pitcher who needs to locate his pitches better. That will be done as he starts the season in AA.

Dane Dunning (White Sox) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 who they traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Don’t be surprised to see three ex-Nationals in the White Sox rotation next year in Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dunning. His fastball reaches the mid 90s with good secondary pitches. Next year he will begin the season in AA.

Tyler Mahle (Reds) - The Reds 7th round 2015 pick made a name for himself in 2016 with a 9 inning no hitter. He had a breakout season last year catapulting him to the major league rotation for four starts. His fastball has good velocity and he has excellent command of four pitches. Expect him to fill the Reds rotation next season.

Riley Pint (Rockies) - The fourth pick in the 2016 draft hits the triple digits but tends to sit on the high side of the mid-90s. He also has got excellent command of four pitches. Despite his stuff his strikeout rate was disappointing and the opposition hit him at a .264 clip in Low A. Next year he will start the season in High A.

Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers will have an excellent rotation in a couple years with Perez, Manning, Faedo and Beau Burrows. Manning stands 6′6′ and rains mid to high 90s fastballs on hitters. The 2016 first rounder has the pitches to shine at the top of a rotation, beginning that ascent at High A in 2018.

Alex Faedo (Tigers) - The 2017 first round pick has an excellent fastball slider combination. Last year he pitched Florida to the College World Series championship and was held back by the Tigers. Another top of the rotation starter should begin his year in Low A and as a college drafted pitcher move quickly through the Tigers system.

Forest Whitely (Astros) - The Astros 2016 first round pick is a popular conversation piece during trade talks. At 6′7″ and 240 pounds his mid-90s fastballs sizzle across the plate. His tall frame does not seem to impact his command. With a good season in AA he should fit in the Astros rotation by mid-season.

Walker Buehler (Dodgers) - The Dodgers first round 2015 pick made the Dodgers bullpen last year. His control wavered a bit in the major league callup, but he has four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. The Dodgers will want to limit his innings after Tommy John surgery in 2015. He will start the season in AAA and by mid-season could be in the rotation or used out of the bullpen.

Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed the Cuban for $16 million. His velocity hits triple digits but he has trouble finding the plate. If he continues to struggle throwing strikes he could move to the bullpen, but he has the pitches to fit in the rotation.

Jorge Guzman (Marlins) - The Marlins were able to pry this Dominican with the triple digit fastball away from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is a challenge of finding the plate and the lack of a third pitch may relegate him to the bullpen.

Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) - Another Yankee Dominican with a triple digit fastball, Domingo dominated at AA and shows better command of his pitches than Guzman. He also has three pitches to fit into a rotation. Expect him to start the season in the AAA rotation but with a good spring he could be going to New York in April.

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but his arm can sling a fastball to the plate in the mid 90s. Sixto also shows good command of his pitches. A good spring could see him start the season in AA but after only five starts in High A the Phillies may want to begin his 2018 season in the warm weather of Florida.

Anderson Espinoza (Padres) - Another small pitcher (6′0″) with a small frame (165 pounds), Espinoza succumbed to Tommy John surgery late in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017. It will be interesting how his mid-90s fastball responds. Noted for his plus change Anderson will probably start the season in extended spring training and see his first games in Low A if he is ready before July or in rookie ball if the Padres want to show patience. The hope is that he ends the season in High A.

Michael Baez (Padres) - A 6′8″ Cuban with high 90s heat. The Padres shelled out $3 million for him at the end of 2016 and last year he made an impressive debut. The opposition hit him at a .188 clip and he struck out 89 in 63.2 innings. He should start 2018 in High A.

Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2104 first round pick has been percolating up the Cardinals minor leagues for a few years. Last year he made his major league debut and the Cardinals hope to see more of his mid-90s fastball in the rotation. What sets him apart is an excellent change that enhances the velocity of his fastball. A good spring could see him in the rotation.

Cardinals Quietly Churn Out Prospects

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

The Cardinals do not seem to promote their prospects as other teams do. It seems pitchers with 100 mile per hour fastballs are always trickling out of their system who no one has heard of until they step foot on the pitcher’s mound. They recently acquired Marcell Ozuna for one of those pitchers, Sandy Alcantara. With the acquisition Alcantara moved to the top of the Marlins prospect list. The Cardinals also have a number of outfielders, but they always seem to under perform. Quantity does not always guarantee quality.

One of those pitchers who the Cardinals have been waiting on for the last couple years that hits triple digits with the radar is Alex Reyes. Two years ago he missed significant time because of a drug failure. Last year he missed the season because of Tommy John surgery. Alex has been sitting atop the Cardinals prospect list for the last four years. The Cardinals hope the 2018 season is when he arrives. Don’t expect him to start the season with the club. He will need at least a half a season in the minor leagues strengthening his arm and enhancing his command. One of his weak points prior to the surgery was his lack of command. It will also be interesting to see the impact the surgery has on his velocity and the break in his curveball.

Another pitcher ready to break into the rotation in 2018 is Jack Flaherty. At 6′4″ he has the potential to be an innings eater. The 2014 first round pick did well in the minor leagues (14-4, 2.18) but struggled when promoted to the Cardinals (0-2, 6.33). He got too tentative facing major league hitters, walking almost one batter per two innings pitched. He has moved slowly through the Cardinals system but a good spring could see him slide into the back end of the Cardinals rotation to begin the season. His best bet would be to get a month of seasoning.

Dakota Hudson is another pitcher knocking on the door. The 2016 first round pick reached AAA last year after taming AA hitters. While his fastball hits the mid-90s on the radar his strikeouts to innings pitched is very weak (77 K’s in 114 innings). At 6′5″ he has the height to intimidate hitters so the lack of strikeouts is a concern. Myworld would prefer to see a little more swing and miss from his pitches before we jump on the Dakota train.

Junior Fernandez is one of those underrated pitchers the Cardinals develop who show up spitting triple digit heat when they appear on the scene. Like Dakota, that triple digit heat does not produce a lot of swings and misses (58 K’s in 90 innings). A lack of command and still below average secondary pitches make his fastball more hittable. Harnessing a second and third pitch will force hitters not to sit on his fastball.

The outfield situation is not as crowded with the trades of Magneuris Sierra and Stephen Piscotty. The two best outfielders left in the minors are Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader. Tyler will hit for pop, blasting 31 homeruns last year. His lack of speed will prevent him from playing center and his struggles to make contact could keep his average below .250. He had 151 K’s in 130 games at AAA, starting his season in Seattle and later being acquired by the Cardinals. The Cardinals outfield is a little crowded, but none of the participants come to spring training with his power.

Harrison Bader is your typical Cardinal outfielder. The 2015 third round pick is just barely above average in speed, arm and power. That would make him borderline as a centerfielder and/or corner outfielder. Last year he hit 20 homeruns which put his OPS at an .816. He played all season at the AAA level and at 23 he is knocking at the door of a very crowded room. The tools are there to be at least a fourth outfielder.

Other players who could weigh in on the outfield scene are Cubans Randy Arozarena and Jonathan Machado and former number one pick Nick Plummer. Arozarena has shown some power in the winter league and last year hit 11 homeruns. He has the speed to play center and sit at the top of the order, but needs to show better patience at the plate. Machado has the same tools but very little power. At 5′9″ he must thrive playing the small man’s game, stealing bases and bunting for base hits. For a first round pick Plummer has been a bust. The tools are there to be an above average player but a .198 average and lots of swings and misses will stunt the hype. He needs to hit because a below average arm restricts him to left field if he fails to capture center.

The best infielder of the group is 2016 first round pick Delvin Perez. He would have been higher than the 23rd player taken in the draft, but a positive drug test dropped his standing. Coming from Puerto Rico many compared him to Carlos Correa. He does not have the Correa power but he runs better than Carlos. His first full season in the minors was a struggle with a .203 average. If his bat can produce he has the tools to be a very good defensive shortstop.

His competition at short could come from Edmundo Sosa. The Panamanian has very good defensive tools but a questionable bat. He may be better suited to make a team as a utility player. Max Schrock has one of those line drive bats that will always be around the .300 neighborhood. He won’t hit for a lot of power or steal a lot of bases and his arm restricts him to second base, but he hits hard line drives. He has bounced from the Nationals to the Athletics and now to the Cardinals. Somebody always wants him.

Carson Kelly is ready to take over from Yadier Molina behind the plate. Defensively he may be the best catcher in the minor leagues. His arm is strong and he calls a good game. The concern is whether he will show enough bat to not be a detriment to the lineup. Last year he hit just .174 in a 69 at bat major league performance. Yadier is not ready to throw in the towel yet so expect Carson to mentor under him for at least one year.

A player to watch is 6′6″ righthander Johan Oviedo. The Cardinals spent $1.9 million to sign him and expect him to follow in the footsteps of Alex Reyes, Carlos Martinez and Sandy Alcantara as hard throwing righthanders. His fastball hits the mid-90s but it has room for growth as he matures. Command and secondary pitches are his biggest obstacles to this point.

Myworld’s Top Rightfielders

Monday, December 11th, 2017

These are players with a strong arm who can hit for pop. We have excluded any player with a strong arm that also has speed to play center. Or at least we tried. We never thought Michael Conforto would get so much centerfield time with the Mets.

1. Eloy Jimenez (White Sox) - Easily the best of the group here. Average speed prevents him from being a five tool player and having the ability to play centerfield. He has a strong arm and the plus pop that should hit for 30 plus homeruns in the major leagues. The Cubs signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $2.8 million in 2013 but then traded him to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns playing in three different cities, hit .312 and slugged .568. A promotion to AA did not seem to phase him where he hit .353 with three homeruns and a .559 slugging percentage. The White Sox have Avisail Garcia for right field, but he is not a big impediment for a Jimenez promotion. Expect Eloy to be playing with the White Sox by mid-season 2018.

2. Kyle Tucker (Astros) - Kyle has been playing a lot of centerfield since being drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is more talented than his brother Preston who had a brief cameo with the Astros a couple years ago. Expect Kyle to make a longer stay. While his speed and instincts make centerfield a possibility, the speed is not of the burner variety and at 6′4″ he may lose a step as he bulks up. His bat does carry power as evidenced by his 25 homeruns split between High A and AA. He did steal 21 bases last year but expect those numbers to drop. The Astros outfield is still a bit crowded, though playing centerfield could be his first opportunity to make it with the Astros. Expect him to start the season in AA with a major league promotion in September, unless his numbers are so staggering the Astros need him to compete for the playoffs.

3. Kyle Lewis (Mariners) - A significant knee injury and surgery ended the 2017 season early for Kyle. How will it impact the speed of the 2016 first round pick is not known. His games in the Arizona Fall League were cut short when he appeared to experience some uneasiness in the knee. The arm is certainly strong enough to play right field if his legs are slower. The juice in his bat can carry the ball over the fence to all fields. Last year he hit 7 homeruns in 49 games, slugging .412 at two levels. The Mariners could start the season rehabbing him at Low A or having him play in extended spring training. Once his knee appears ready he could return to High A with the possibility to be promoted to AA. Don’t expect him in the major leagues before 2019.

4. Brett Phillips (Brewers) - The sixth round 2012 pick has one of the strongest arms in baseball. He also has the speed to cover ground in center. The Brewers have Lewis Brinson, a player with better defensive skills slotted for center. Brett doesn’t carry the power ideal for right so that could put him in a fourth outfielder category. Last year his power was good for 23 homeruns, including 4 in 37 games for the Brewers. There does seem to be too much swing and miss in his bats with 153 whiffs in 142 games. Brett had 34 of those whiffs in 87 at bats at the major league level. The 2018 season should see Brett start the season in AAA but a good spring could motivate the Brewers to take him to Milwaukee with them.

5. Dylan Cozens (Phillies) - The second round 2012 pick packs more power than Rhys Hoskins, though when he hit his 40 plus homeruns in AA a couple years ago it was played at the hitter friendly Reading park. The big challenge for Dylan is making contact, with 194 whiffs in 135 games last year. That resulted in a disappointing .210 average, which prevented him from joining Hoskins in the major leagues last year. Myworld expects some improvement next year as he repeats AAA and gets used to the better pitching at that level. His arm is not a cannon but it is good enough to throw runners out from right field. His average speed could actually force him to move to left. The Phillies are rebuilding so a good spring could create opportunities for him.

6. Aristides Aquino (Reds) - The Reds signed him back in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He didn’t get his first opportunity to play full season ball until 2015. Since that time he has been moving up a level each year. Next year should be AAA. There is power in his bat, though that power disappeared in major stretches in 2017. In 2016 he hit 23 homeruns with a .519 slugging. Last year he dropped to 17 homeruns with a .397 slugging percentage. He struggled to make contact last year with 145 whiffs in 131 games, resulting in his average dropping 60 points to .216 last year. Those struggles could see him repeat AA.

7. Harrison Bader (Cardinals) - The Cardinals outfield is crowded. The third round pick in the 2015 draft seems to have the best combination of power, arm and speed of those outfielders to slot in right field. Last year he slugged 23 homeruns, three of them at the major league level. His tool box is enough to give him the classification of a five tool player who exhibits attributes that are average or just above in all five tools. The one attribute he could improve on is patience. If he can narrow the 34/118 walk to whiff ratio that could put his average possibilities nearer the .300 mark. A good spring training could give him a shot at one of the outfield spots, but he has a lot of veterans ahead of him to surpass.

8. Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) - Alex was a second round pick of the Dodgers in 2014. He has a rocket for an arm, ideal for a rightfielder. His best attribute is his ability to make contact with a 52/50 walk to whiff ratio last year. The concern is his inability to show his over the fence power. His line drive stroke is good for gap hits, but adding some loft into his swing could turn some of those gappers into homers. That switch could impact his ability to make contact. His speed is not quick enough to cover the ground he needs for centerfield. Last year he saw some major league September action, hitting .174 in 23 at bats. Yasiel Puig currently has right field occupied so if Verdugo is to play next year he could have to fit in centerfield where the Dodgers lack a consistent bat.

9. Socrates Brito (Diamondbacks) - Socrates has had his opportunities but injuries have held him back. Injuries limited him to 78 games last year and no major league appearance. Socrates has the speed to play center and the arm to fit in right. The bat has not shown a lot of power so his best bet could be if he could win the centerfield job. His most likely role could be as a utility fourth outfielder. Last year in the 78 games he played his OPS was .785 with a .449 slugging average and a .291 batting average. At 25 years old, if he is going to make an impact in the outfield his time would be in 2018.

10. Austin Hays (Orioles) - The third round 2016 pick seemed to come out of nowhere to hit 33 homeruns last year. One of those homeruns came in his major league debut where he hit .217 in a September callup. The Orioles outfield situation is not crowded. Mark Trumbo plays right field but he should spend most of his time at DH next year. What myworld has seen of Hayes is a decent arm that can play in right field, not like the rockets of Verdugo or Phillips. While he showed power last year, whether he can maintain that against major league pitching is open to question. In the minor leagues he has shown the ability to hit in the .300 neighborhood. Time will tell whether the power and batting tools the Atlantic Coast Conference star has shown is a mirage or part of his daily repertoire. The right field job is there for the taking if he has a good spring training.

Others to Note

Khalil Lee (Royals) - The third round 2016 pick has a better arm for throwing out runners than the speed in his legs for catching fly balls. This does not mean he does not have the speed for centerfield, just that his overall tools may be better suited for right. Last year he slugged 17 homeruns in Low A, evidence of his power. He also struck out 171 times in 121 games, indicative of his capability to swing and miss at a lot of pitches.

Seuly Matias (Royals) - The 19 year old Dominican has perhaps the best arm on the Royals. His average speed and power in his bat makes right field the best fit.

Brandon Marsh (Angels) - At 6′4″ with a cannon for an arm makes right field the best fit for Brandon. His legs also are quick enough to cover ground in center. Can’t imagine him usurping Mike Trout from his position so we will fit the second round 2016 pick for right.

Tristan Lutz (Brewers) - The 2017 supplemental first round pick has the arm for right and the bat for the position. He also has decent speed to play center. The Brewers do have a crowded deck of outfielders. The Brewers can start Tristan at Low A and show patience with him as he develops his skills for the major leagues.

Austin Beck (Athletics) - Beck was a first round pick of the Atletics in 2017. He had a prevalence to swing and miss in his professional debut with 51 strikeouts in 41 games, limiting his average to .211. His arm was one of the best in the draft last year.