Archive for the 'Cardinals' Category

Myworlds 2021 Top Prospects 60-51

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Myworld continues to whittle down our top prospect list, going through 60-51. This group of ten has a good mix, with lefthanded pitching taking the majority of slots.

60. Geraldo Perdomo SS (Diamondbacks) - Arizona got a bargain with Geraldo, signing him for just $70,000 in 2016. The Dominican has the defensive tools to remain a shortstop. The over the fence power is lacking, but he sprayed the gaps in 2019 with 21 doubles. He makes solid contact with a career walk to whiff ratio of 169/148. That could keep his on base skills (.411 OBA) high enough to fit at the top of the order. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. At 6′2″ the hope is that as he matures he develops additional power. The 2021 season should see him start at AA. If he continues to spray hits to keep that OBA at .400 he could see the Diamondbacks lineup some time late in 2021.

59. Jose Garcia SS (Reds) - The Cuban defector, who signed for a $5 million bonus in 2017 got a rough introduction to major league baseball last year, hitting just .194 with a .206 OBA. The highest level he reached in 2019 was High A where he hit .280, so struggling with major league pitching should not be a surprise. Not everyone is a Juan Soto. Jose has the defensive tools to be an asset at shortstop. At 22 years of age he may need some further refinement in the minor leagues, but the Reds still lack a shortstop. Garcia lacks power, but did contribute 37 doubles in 2019. The speed is decent but it will not result in a lot of stolen bases. Making better contact would enhance his batting average. In the minors his walk to whiff ratio was a woeful 44/195 in 229 games. With the Reds it was 1/26 in 24 games. With a good spring he could win the starting shortstop job in 2021, but it would be better for his development if he percolated a bit more in the minor leagues, with a mid season callup in 2021.

58. Nick Lodolo LHP (Reds) - The 2019 first round pick relies more on his command to retire hitters. The lefthander does not have an overpowering pitch, but at 6′6″ he has an intimidating presence. His fastball hovers around the low 90s and is made better by a quality slider and change up. Over time, as he gains strength one could see that fastball start reading the mid-90s pretty consistently. What helps him is his radar like command. In his only minor league season in 2019 he did not walk a batter in his 18 innings of work, striking out 30. Opposing hitters were able to bat .247 against him, so less time around the plate could be a positive. As a college drafted pitcher Nick should advance quickly in the minor leagues. Don’t be surprised to see a late season 2021 debut if his minor league numbers warrant it.

57. Josh Jung 3B (Rangers) - One of the best hitters in Texas Tech history was rewarded by being a first round pick in the 2019. The Rangers hope that he will be their Kris Bryant. While he played a little shortstop with Tech, the hot corner will be his position with the Rangers. His lack of speed will inhibit his range at short and at 215 pounds he is just not built for the position. The bat contains some power. Once he learns to pull more he could reach 30 plus homeruns a year in the major leagues. In his 2019 minor league debut he did hit .316 with two homeruns. Expect him to start the 2021 season in High A with a Ranger arrival date in 2022.

56. Daniel Lynch LHP (Royals) - Daniel is part of a fearsome four of pitchers selected in the 2018 draft. Lynch was drafted in the first round along with Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar and second round pick Jonathan Bowlan, who are all considered worthy of being in the Royals top ten prospect list. Lynch is the lone lefthander in the group. His fastball has some juice and like Nick Lodolo it is thrown from an angular 6′6″ frame. His slider is an excellent pitch and he also throws a decent curve and change. Despite the height and the difficulty it creates in getting the long levers to all operate in one smooth motion, Lynch has good command of his pitches. As a college drafted pitcher you would like to see him advance through the Royals minor league system at a faster rate. He finished the 2019 season in A ball, while Brady Singer is on the major league roster. The Royals could gamble with him and begin his 2021 season in AA. This would put him a stone’s throw from contributing to the major league club. Realistically, he can expect a callup to the Royals some time in 2022.

55. Nick Madrigal 2B (White Sox) - Madrigal came with enough hype in his college career to motivate the White Sox to draft him in the first round of the 2018 draft. There is a winner’s pedigree in him after leading the Beavers to a College World Series championship. If not for an injury in the 2020 season he may not have qualified for this list. He did hit .340 in his 29 game major league debut. His minor league career average sits at .309. Those numbers may look impressive, but they do not come with the power. His contribution will have to come from spraying the ball into the outfield and making quality defensive plays at second base. If not for an average arm, his defense could be proficient enough to play shortstop. Nick should be the White Sox starting second baseman to begin the 2021 season.

54. Zac Veen OF (Rockies) - The Rockies 2020 first round pick has the 6′4″ frame typical of rightfielders. The arm is a good fit for the position. He also carries some speed to be able to patrol centerfield, though not the burner speed a lot of teams prefer for the position. His path to the major leagues will be destined by the power in his lefthanded bat. Rockie offensive numbers are usually inflated because of the high altitude, but Zac does not need that to carry balls over the fence. Because there was no 2020 season Zac should begin the season in Low A. The second high school player taken in the 2020 draft is still a couple years away from impacting the Rockies lineup, but the 2023 season should see his major league debut.

53. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - Venezuela is noted for developing pretty good catchers. The Mets paid a $2.7 million bonus to sign him in 2018. Francisco has some impressive tools, especially on the offensive side. His bat should contribute power as well as a high average. In 2019 he was able to hit .312 with seven homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. There appears to be enough patience not to swing at anything close to the plate, his 26 walks in just 42 games producing a .407 OBA. On defense his arm is strong enough to slow a running game. He also moves well behind the plate, shifting his 220 pounds with ease. The other intricacies to the game such as pitch calling will come with more experience. The 19 year old will start the 2021 season in A ball with a Met appearance sometime in the 2023 season.

52. Edward Cabrera RHP (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican way back in 2015. He cost them a measly $100,000 signing bonus. Edward is one of many flame throws elevating up the Marlins system. The 6′5″ righthander hits the plate with a fastball travelling in the mid-90s. His slider is also a pretty effective pitch. Enhancing his change and improving his command will be game changers, allowing him to fit at the top of a rotation. His 2019 season was a break out season with his 2.23 ERA almost two runs better than his three previous minor league seasons. Hitters also struggled to hit just .190 against him, an improvement of 80 points or more from his three previous seasons. The 2021 season will determine whether this vast improvement was a fluke, or part of his increased understanding of becoming a pitcher. Unfortunately, it has not gotten off to a good start, with an arm injury that will sideline him for the early spring. The Marlins were considering him for the rotation towards the end of the 2020 season but arm and back issues kept him away from making his major league debut. Let us hope these injuries are not part of a pattern. Otherwise he should make his major league debut sometime in the 2021 season.

51. Matthew Liberatore LHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals were so enamored with Liberatore that they traded the homer machine Randy Arozarena to acquire him. Of course, that was before Arozarena hit all those playoff homeruns. The Rays drafted Liberatore in the first round of the 2018 draft. In the long run he could end up being the better player than Arozarena. The lefthander stands 6′5″, can throw in the low 90s and could see some increase in velo as he grows into his frame. His curveball is his quality second pitch and the slider and change also exist in his repertoire. He has no problems finding the plate. The last level Matthew pitched was in Low A. He could see High A in 2021 and hopes to show Cardinal fans, sometime in 2023 that the Cardinals got the better deal in acquiring him.

Three KBO MVPs in Major League Spring Training Camps

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

People tend to focus on the Japanese players who are looking to the major leagues. But Korea is having a large impact on major league rosters, especially the pitching staffs. So large, that there are now three KBO Most Valuable Players in major league spring training camps.

The most popular is Ryu Hyun-Jin, who had a few years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ryu won his MVP in 2006. He has also won a gold medal for Korea in the Olympics. Injuries have had an impact on his career, but when healthy he has proved to be one of the top pitchers in the major leagues. He was 14-6 in his rookie year with the Dodgers in 2013 and in 2019 was second in Cy Young voting, leading the major leagues in earned run average (2.32) and finishing 14-5 in 29 starts. Ryu signed with the Toronto Blue Jays last year and went 5-2, 2.69 ERA. He is expected to be a front line starter for the Blue Jays in 2021.

The second MVP is St. Louis Cardinals starter Kim Kwang-hyun. He won his Korean MVP in 2008. Kim came over to the major leagues last year, was going to pitch in the Cardinals bullpen, but injuries moved him to the starting rotation. He became the ace of the Cardinals staff with a 3-0 record and 1.62 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. The Cardinals will rely on Kim to be one of their top starters in 2021. Injuries early in his career slowed his move to the major leagues.

The Rangers have signed former KBO MVP Yang Hyeon-jong to a minor league contact. He had a rough year last year, but won the MVP in Korea in 2017. Though he signed a minor league contract, Yang has the stuff to stick in the Rangers roster, either as bullpen help, or in the rotation. One of the advantages he has is he is one of the few lefthanders the Rangers have in camp. One of the pitchers he will be competing with for the starting rotation is Japanese pitcher Kohei Arihara, who the Rangers signed this year.

It is interesting to note that all three Korean pitchers throw from the left side.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Lefthanded pitchers are a bit different than righthanders. They tend to throw with less velocity but have more movement on their pitches. They also have to face a batting order that traditionally has more right handed hitters than left handed. But lefthanded pitchers are more valued because there are less of them, and those few are needed to retire some of the more powerful lefthanded bats. Below are the top left handed pitching prospects, some of whom will ultimately end up as relievers. Lefthanders may be one of the more valuable commodities in baseball.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third pick in the 2017 draft may be considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Others who have laid that claim but with little success include Archie Bradley and Mark Prior. The Padres hope Gore will have a better fate. He has four quality pitches, which is something that can not be said about most people on this list. A fastball, curveball, slider and change. The fastball slices through the plate with readings between the low to mid 90s, but it carries a lot of dart and dash. The slider is probably his best strikeout pitch. There are no issues with command of his four pitches. In 2018 when he experienced blister problems his ERA stood ugly at 4.45. When healthy in 2017 and 2019 his ERAs were an impeccable 1.27 and 1.69. Opponents have hit less than .200 in both years in which he was healthy. Myworld would not be surprised if with a good spring he is with the Padres in 2021, though mid season would be the best bet.

2. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - Injuries have prevented him from making a major league impact. The 2016 first round pick got some major league time in relief in 2019, putting together an impressive 3.18 ERA. He was ticketed for the starting rotation in 2020 but shoulder issues ended his season. Puk had Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching in 2018, so injuries have been an issue. At 6′7″ he does not have the same reach as Randy Johnson, but his fastball travels as fast, hitting the high 90s and clipping three digits pretty consistently. He also has more command than Randy, but the Athletics would like to see a little improvement in that area. His slider is an above average pitch but his change is average. It may be best that he abandon his curve. He is supposed to be healthy to start the 2021 season and is slotted to fit in a rotation spot. Whether he can stay healthy is another issue.

3. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The 6′4 inch Dominican lefthander signed for only $600,000 in 2015. That was still the highest international signing for a pitcher that year. At 16 years of age he was already hitting the low 90s with his fastball. Now he probably has the highest readings of any minor league lefthander in baseball, hitting triple digits consistently. He made one appearance in 2020 with the Cubs and only retired two batters, walking three and giving up two hits resulting in a 67.50 ERA. He should get another opportunity at major league hitters to lower that ERA. His other pitches do not have the quality as his fastball, with his slider and change at just average. Command has also been an issue, with a little less than one walk every two innings pitched in 2019. If he can enhance his slider and change he could become a number one starter in the major leagues. If not, there is an opportunity to fill a closer role. The 2021 season should see the Cubs give him opportunities to fill their major league rotation.

4. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers scooped up Tarik in the ninth round of the 2018 draft. He was a promising pitcher out of Seattle University who had missed a season because of Tommy John surgery. He has been dominant in his two minor league seasons, finishing with a 0.40 ERA his first year and 2.42 ERA his second year in 2019. Opponents hit him at a .195 clip and he struck out 212 hitters in just 145 innings. The Tigers called him up mid season in 2020 and he struggled with a 5.63 ERA, giving up 9 homeruns in just 32 innings. His other numbers were good with a .235 opponent batting average and 37 whiffs in 32 innings. The fastball hits the mid 90s and when combined with a quality slider result in a lot of swings and misses. He still needs to improve his changeup and perhaps abandon his curve to have success in the major leagues. Tarik could start the 2021 season in AAA and then get another mid-season callup. A lot of that will depend on how successful his spring is.

5. Garrett Crochet (White Sox) - The 2020 first round pick of the White Sox was still able to pitch in five major league games, despite not having a minor league season. In those five relief appearances he did not allow a run in six innings and struck out eight, without allowing a walk. He also showed a fastball that hit the high 90s and climbed into the triple digit category. The fastball is his premier pitch, but it will probably hover closer to the mid-90s range if the White Sox use him in a starter capacity. At 6′6″ his long arms can get out of synch at times, leading to struggles with command. While his slider is a quality pitch the change and curve need some work. The White Sox will probably have him start the season as a starter in AA and could call him up before the season expires if he is doing well. Last year was their first playoff appearance in a number of years. They don’t need to wait for Garrett to percolate in the minors accruing service time. If he can help them with their rotation, or even in the bullpen in 2021, they will call him up for the playoff run.

6. Daniel Lynch (Royals) - Daniel was one of three first round pitchers for the Royals in 2018. Brady Singer made the rotation last year. Jackson Kowar could make it in 2021. Lynch needs to eat up more innings before he is ready. Minor injuries limited him to just 96 innings in 2019. The signature pitch for Lynch is his slider. His fastball is in the mid-90s but when he wants to get a strikeout the slider is his go to pitch. The change also has potential to be a quality pitch. Standing at 6′6″ Lynch has an intimidating presence on the mound. The Royals will give him time in AA and after the 2021 season he will join Singer and Kowar in the rotation in 2022.

7. Matthew Liberatore (Cardinals) - Matthew was a first round pick of the Rays in 2016. They used his talented left arm to entice the Cardinals to trade them Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. The more heralded Martinez turned into a bust but Arozarena became a homerun machine for the Rays during the playoffs. The Cardinals hope the Rays short term gain will be the Cardinals long term success. The 6′5 lefthander relies more on his breaking pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can climb to 95, but his curveball drops off the table, resulting in lots of ground outs. Liberatore has only seen two balls leave the park in his 111 innings of minor league work. His change is also a promising pitch, while his slider is still in the work in progress stage and may not surpass his curve. The lost 2020 season will probably delay his major league debut until sometime in 2022. He’ll start 2021 in AA and hope that success will carry him to the major leagues.

8. Asa Lacey (Royals) - The first round pick of the Royals in 2020 stands an impressive 6′4″ and carries 215 pounds. His fastball has climbed to the low and mid 90s and when used against a quality slider leave hitters guessing. He also throws a quality change that keeps hitters off balance. The area he needs to work on is the command of his pitches. Not having a 2020 season did not help with that development. After having three years of pitching success with Texas A&M, it won’t take long for him to reach the major leagues. The Royals may start him at AA and he could join Lynch in the rotation sometime by the middle of the 2022 season.

9. Shane McClanahan (Rays) - The 2018 first round supplemental pick lacks the height of the other players rated ahead of him, standing just 6′1″. Despite lacking the long levers of the taller pitchers, Shane can still sling his fastball across the plate in triple digits. He used that fastball to get himself on the Rays playoff roster, without pitching in a regular major league game. He was used in relief in the playoffs and that may be his ultimate role in the major leagues. He got 22 starts in the minor leagues in 2019, but a lack of control results in a high number of walks. The slider is a quality pitch but the change needs some work to give him the requisite three pitches to make it in the starting rotation. The Rays will send him down to the minors in 2021, perhaps placing him in AA where he struggled to a 8.35 ERA in four starts there last year. To save on innings they may then call up him up for the playoff run to use him out of the bullpen again.

10. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld is not a real fan of this multi disciplined pitcher use at the DH or a position role. It has not really worked for Shohei Ohtani at the major league level and McKay has also struggled with it as well. McKay seemed very hittable in his major league debut in 2019 after dominating in the minors. Opponents hit him at a .268 clip in the majors after being limited to a .178 average in his three years in the minors. While he was mainly a hitter in college who pitched in relief, his hitting of major league pitching has become a challenge. He did not pitch the 2020 season because of shoulder issues that ultimately required surgery. He relies more on the command of his pitches to retire hitters, pinpointing his mid 90s fastball while mixing in a quality cutter. His curve ball and change still need some work to be quality major league pitches. Brendan will probably spend the 2021 season pitching in AAA, rehabbing his shoulder. Rays fans may see him late in the 2021 season, depending on how his rehab process goes.

11. Nick Lodolo (Reds) - Lodolo was a first round pick of the Reds in 2019. He pitched briefly that year, striking out 30 in his 18 innings while not allowing one hitter to reach base via a walk. A towering 6′6″, his fastball stays in the low 90s but can hit the mid 90s. Despite his tall frame, he relies on the command of his pitches to retire hitters. It is possible he relies too much in the strike zone as hitters slapped him around for a .247 average. Further development of his slider and change should allow him to remain in the starting rotation, especially with his capability to move the ball to the corners of the plate. Having pitched in college it should not take him long to be fitted into the Reds rotation. Expect him to start the season in High A and move up quickly as he achieves success, making his major league debut in 2022.

12. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The 2017 first round pick is one of many quality arms the Orioles are collecting in the minor leagues. The 6′2 lefty packs mid-90s heat to his fastball, but his biggest challenge is finding the plate enough to get called strikes. In 2019 he walked 54 hitters in 81 innings. The wildness may help because when the hitters want to hit they have been limited to .203 and .189 averages the last two years. Hall throws a change and a curve, but those pitches still need some work to become quality offerings. If he fails to develop a third pitch and continues to struggle finding the strike zone he could be moved to the bullpen. Next year Hall will start the season in AA. They may first use him out of the bullpen when they call him up to the major leagues, but they probably will not do that until 2022.

13. Seth Corry (Giants) - Corry drooped to the third round of the 2017 draft for the Giants. He was just a vanilla pitcher until his curveball developed into a plus pitch in 2019, resulting in a breakout year. In 26 starts in 2019 he limited the opposition to a .171 average, resulting in an impressive ERA of 1.76. He saw no game action in 2020. The 2021 season will determine whether he can continue the mastery of the curveball. The fastball sits in the low 90s and can have occasional mid-90s readings. His change has improved enough to be an above average offering. The 2021 season will see him start in AA with a major league debut in 2022.

14. Reid Detmers (Angels) - The Angels have always been hurting for pitching. They drafted Reid in the first round of the 2020 draft to address that need. Detmers got a lot of whiffs pitching for Louisville in college. He relies more on his curve to retire hitters since his fastball travels across the plate at a pedestrian low 90s. Whether that repertoire will work in striking out major league hitters is open to question. While the Angels need help in pitching now, it may take Detmers a couple years to toe the rubber with the Angels. The Angels may leapfrog him to AA to see how he handles the competition.

15. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The 2016 first round pick has a pretty impressive fastball. Injuries have prevented his rise up the minor league ladder. He missed the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. He came back to make three rehab starts in shortseason ball in 2019. Besides injuries, finding the plate was also a problem. At 6′6″ with a fastball ticking in the high 90s can be intimidating, especially if it is flying all over the place. His curveball was also rated as the best in the 2016 draft. Enhancing his change would give him the three requisite pitches to make it in the starting rotation. Injuries and struggles with command may leave him in a bullpen role. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA at best. He has had the entire 2020 season to use as rehab. The Red Sox bullpen was a shambles last year, so using him in the bullpen in 2022 is a possibility before a starting role opens up for him.

Top Right Field Prospects

Friday, December 11th, 2020

These are the players with the strong arms that are not fleet afoot. They also have power bats. In a previous post we did the top left field prospects, whose arms are usually suspect. The throw from right field to third base is the longest in baseball, requiring a strong arm. Next myworld will list our top centerfield prospects. Some players left off the centerfield prospect list could probably make the right field or left field prospect list because the centerfielders tend to be the more athletic of the three positions.

1. Julio Rodriguez (Mariners) - Only 19 years old, the Dominican signed for $1.75 million in 2017. Most five tool players are planted in centerfield. For Julio, he has all five tools, but speed may be his shortcoming. As he matures and gets bigger that speed may drop to average. A strong arm and a power bat makes him a cinch for right field. His bat was only allowed to show itself for one minor league season in the United States, where he hit .326 with 12 homeruns and a .540 slugging percentage. The bulk of those numbers were accrued in the California League where in 17 games he hit .468 with a .738 slugging percentage. He has the potential to be one of the most potent bats in the major leagues in the next couple years. Expect him to play a full season in AA in 2021 with a possible late season major league promotion in 2022. Or he could pull a Juan Soto and hit so impressively in AA that he gets a mid-season promotion.

2. J.J. Bleday (Marlins) - The Marlins 2019 first round pick has a big time power bat. His speed is a tick below average but his arm is strong. Myworld saw him play in the College World Series in 2019, so we could be a bit biased in this ranking. He was the NCAA Division homerun leader in 2019 with 27. He had part of a season in the Florida State League and slugged three more dingers, with a .257 batting average and a disappointing .379 slugging percentage. College players who have played into the World Series come into the minor league season with their energy a bit sapped. His 6′3″ frame is built for power with a lefthanded swing that makes consistent contact. He should rise quickly in Miami, perhaps making his major league debut as early as 2021.

3. Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) - The 2016 first round pick made his major league debut last season. Major league pitching proved to be a bit elusive for him, with a .200 batting average in 35 games and a poor 8/35 walk to whiff ratio. He had a breakout season in 2019 with 26 homeruns and a .542 slugging percentage. Prior to his 2019 season his batting average hovered around the .250 range, but the 2019 season saw it climb to .292, despite his poorer walk to whiff rate. The speed exists to play center, but it is not burner speed and the arm is above average, but it would not rank at the level of Rodriguez. Dylan should be the starting rightfielder for the Cardinals in 2021.

4. Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks) - The toolsy outfielder from the Bahamas signed for a sweet $2.5 million in 2017. Like Rodriguez, he has all the tools to play center, but his speed lacks the burner quality of most of the top prospects who play that position. His arm has plenty of zip for right. As a 17 year old he was already playing in the United States rookie leagues and hitting .279, showing some pop with his seven homeruns and a .428 slugging percentage. His youth made him a bit overmatched against the top pitchers, which could explain his high 144 whiffs in 126 minor league games. The expectation is that his contact rate will improve as he sees more pitches. Expect to see him reach the major league some time late in the 2022 season.

5. Brandon Marsh (Angels) - This 2016 second round pick has all the quality tools to play centerfield. The Angels appear to have a more talented player at that position in Mike Trout. Perhaps Marsh will force Trout to slide over to right field. So far, Marsh has not shown the power his 6′4″ frame would seem to carry. He did slug .548 in his first season of minor league ball in 2017, but the next two seasons his slugging average dropped to .408. His ability to make contact seemed to improve in 2019. The Angels outfield is crowded, but Marsh should have the ability to squeeze in a role sometime in 2021.

6. Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick out of Puerto Rico took a little back step in 2018, struggling with a .245 average with 136 strikeouts in 124 games. He improved on those numbers in 2019, polishing up his prospect luster with a .290 average and raising his slugging average from .396 to .481. Speed will be his weakest tool, but it is more than capable for playing centerfield if the Giants choose to use him there. As he puts on more weight to his 6′0″ frame that speed may decrease. Over the years the Giants outfield has been traditionally weak, ever since the departure of Barry Bonds. Over the last couple years it has strengthened the farm system with Hunter Bishop and Alexander Canario also being considered top level prospects. Ramos should see his tools test major league pitching sometime in 2021.

7. Jesus Sanchez (Marlins) - The 2014 signing out of the Dominican Republic was a bargain for Tampa Bay at $400,000. They eventually traded him to the Marlins for a couple pitchers (Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards). Early in his career he carried the speed to play centerfield. He has added a bit to his 6′3″ frame and now carries about 220 pounds, making right field a better fit for him. With Bleday in right he may have to move to left field. His bat does not carry the explosive power of Bleday and could be a little short for left field. His minor league slugging percentage sits at .459, but that has been inflated by his earlier years when his numbers were much higher. Jesus made his major league debut last year and could only muster one hit, a double in 25 at bats. The 2021 season should see him start the season in AAA with another promotion from the Marlins if his minor league numbers warrant it.

8. Robert Hassell (Padres) - Not a lot is known about the 2020 first round pick. He played for the United States 18 and under team and was selected to the All World team after hitting .514 with a .886 slugging percentage created from 5 doubles and two homeruns. He also drove in 14 runs. That motivated the Padres to make him the first high school player selected in the 2020 draft. His arm is not a cannon and his speed is a tick above average. His best tool could be his ability to hit for average. It will be a couple years before the Padres see him patrolling their outfield grass.

9. Brennen Davis (Cubs) - The 2018 second round pick has the speed to cover centerfield. As his 6′4″ frame fills out his speed should reduce, making him more adaptable for right field. His power is beginning to develop. In his first year of minor league ball he failed to send a ball over the fence in 57 at bats, slugging a weak .333. The next year eight balls left the yard and his slugging average elevated to .525. He was limited to 50 games that year because of injuries. Despite his above average speed it has not translated to stolen bases. It will still be a couple more years before he sees the Cubs outfield. The 2019 injury only allowed him to play 50 games in A ball. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball with a quick promotion if the season warrants it.

10. Austin Hendrick (Reds) - Austin was the 12th pick in the 2020 draft. The lefthanded bat carries impressive power with speed just above average that would allow him to survive in center. There is a question on his ability to make contact, but since there was no 2020 minor league season it is unclear how he will adapt to professional pitching. He struggled a bit with Team USA when facing quality pitching. Reds fans will probably have to wait until 2024 before they see him roam their outfield.

Top Third Base Prospects

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Just like at second base, a number of shortstops become third baseman, but those are players who lack the range to play middle infield, but carry power in their bat. And a lot of players who start as third baseman are forced to move to first base or the outfield because of their inability or lack of quickness to react to the ball. That is why it is called the hot corner. Below are the players who currently play third who myworld believes are the top prospects for the position.

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie Hayes was a first round pick in 2015. One of the biggest criticisms of his game was his lack of offense. His defense was gold glove caliber. The Pirates promoted him in September and in 24 games and close to 100 at bats he hit .376 with five homeruns for a .682 slugging average. Replicating that production will be difficult, but if his bat can produce just a portion of those numbers he can be an All Star. In the minors his best slugging percentage was .444 and his career average is .399, almost 300 points lower than his major league production. His speed is above average for a third baseman, but they would lose a lot of defense of they move him to the outfield. The 2021 season should see him starting at third base.

2. Nolan Jones (Indians) - If not for Hayes 2020 major league production, Jones, a second round 2016 pick would have been the top third base prospect. He has a nice power bat that hits from the left side. In 2019 he mashed 15 homeruns, a slight decline from his 2018 season of 19 homeruns. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but that also comes with a high number of walks. The 2019 season showed him with a 96/148 walk to whiff ratio in 126 games. He should be able to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he is major league ready. His arm is good and he has the defensive chops to be an average to possibly above average third baseman. His lack of speed prevents him from being a top caliber outfielder, but the arm keeps that possibility open. He finished the 2019 season with 48 games at AA. This should allow him to start the 2021 season in AAA with a major league promotion a possibility.

3. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - The 2018 first round pick is one of many third base prospects for the Cardinals. His scouting report would be similar to Jones. He hits lefthanded, has good power, limited speed, a strong arm with the ability to be an average to above average fielder. The big difference in their two games is his ability to take walks. Gorman’s walk to whiff ratio in 2019 was 45/152. This could result in lower batting averages. In 2019 he hit just .248, which could be better if he showed more patience. Gorman will probably begin the 2021 season in AA, not seeing the Cardinals lineup until 2022. Elehuris Montero is ahead of him in the depth chart and Cuban Malcolm Nunez is right behind him. The Cardinals also drafted third baseman Jordan Walker in the first round of the 2020 draft.

4. Josh Jung (Rangers) - The Rangers first round 2019 pick is a big time power bat. Unfortunately, he has not had a lot of minor league games to show it off. In 2019 he only played in 44 games with two homeruns. He did show the ability to hit for average finishing at .316. Drafted out of Texas Tech, the 23 year old should advance quickly. The 2019 season showed him being primarily a gap to gap hitter but as he strengthens and becomes more aware of the pitches he can drive he should hit consistently 30 plus homeruns each year. His speed is lacking, but his defense should be average to possibly above average. Josh should start the 2021 season in AA with a possible late season promotion.

5. Brett Baty (Mets) - Like Josh, the 2019 first round pick of the Mets played a minimum amount of games (51). His swing and miss was more severe (65) which resulted in a much lower average (.234). Brett showed that when he makes contact the ball will fly, with seven homeruns for a .452 slugging percentage. The left handed bat can drive the ball to all fields with 30 plus homerun a year power once he arrives in the major leagues. While he stands 6′3″ the athleticism will allow him to stay at third. The arm is strong but the speed is below average so a move to the outfield is doubtful. As an older high school pick the Mets may be more aggressive in his promotions than normal high school picks. He should start the 2021 season in A ball with quick promotions occurring with success.

6. Jonathan India (Reds) - The 2018 first round pick needs to increase his power to stick at the position. His career two year slugging percentage is .410 with 11 homeruns in 2019. As a college drafted player there may not be a lot of increase in strength. He does have the patience to take walks and gives the Reds an excellent OBA option. Defensively he has the ability to be an above average third baseman but his average speed could allow him to move to a corner or play second base. India reached AA in 2019 so he could make his major league debut in 2021. His numbers may fall short of what a team expects from a top five pick but he could end up a suitable major leaguer with decent numbers as a utility option.

7. Blaze Jordan (Red Sox) - Like Bryce Harper before him Blaze received a lot of publicity for his youthful power exploits. He was thought to be a 2021 draft pick but graduated from high school one year early. Signing concerns dropped him to the third round in the 2021 draft where the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million, which could be a bargain. Blaze was hitting 500 foot homeruns as a 13 year old. There are some concerns about his ability to make contact, his speed is below average and he lacks the quickness to field the position. He may ultimately move to first base. Since he was drafted as a 17 year old, losing a season does not hurt Blaze as other players selected in 2020. He could start the 2021 season in extended spring with a promotion to full season ball or short season if the minor leagues still have short season leagues.

8. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The 2019 second round pick only played three games in 2019 because of injuries. He failed to get a hit in his 8 at bats. Rece may have more power potential than any player on this list, but the concern is that he may have more swing and miss. There is also question marks on his ability to stay at third base. His arm is strong enough to move to a corner outfield, but his lack of speed would be a detriment to his defense. Rece is the last person on this list who needed to miss the 2020 season. He will be 21 years old in September with only 8 minor league at bats. Where he ends up on defense is a big question mark. If the National League adopts the DH that may be his best position, or a move to first base.

9. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac is one of those players who spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop, but finally had to move to third because of his lack of range. His bat should be able to hit for a decent average, bordering around the .300 range. He makes good contact with the ability to take walks (57/61 walk to whiff ratio in 2019). His power should manifest itself into doubles and borderline 20 homerun power. He made his major league debut last year and hit .220 in a little over 100 at bats, a poor 8/24 walk to whiff ration a reason for the dismal performance. His defense should be above average at third because of his soft hands and strong arm. The Tigers lack an option at third base so with a good spring expect him to start at that position in 2021.

10. Kody Hoese (Dodgers) - A 2019 first round pick who showed some pop and hit for average in his brief 41 game performance in the minors. At 6′4″ he has good length to carry the ball when he makes contact. He also has the patience to take walks and the contact ability to avoid high strikeout rates. Lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield, but there is enough power in his bat for a move to first base. His defense should be passable to settle at third base. Kody will be turning 24 during the 2021 season so he needs to advance quickly. Expect him to start the season in AA with a good spring.

Top Cuban Prospects - National League

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Myworld had a tough time finding that sure number one Cuban prospect for the National League. Last year Adrian Morejon was number one. This year he has dropped. Yadier Alvarez and Yoan Lopez graduated from last year’s list. With just two players dropping (Adolis Garcia and Vladimir Gutierrez) that left room for only four new players on the list. Below are the top Cuban prospects in the National League for 2020.

1. Jose Garcia SS (Reds) - He jumped all the way up from number 9. Perhaps I was too influenced by the kind of spring he was having before the corona virus hit. Unlike Luis Robert, the number one Cuban prospect in the American League Jose is not blessed with extraordinary tools. The Reds signed him for $5 million in 2017. He moved from second to short and has shown he possesses the glove and the arm for the position. His bat was a question mark. The first year he hit just .245 in Low A with a .344 slugging average. Last year he improved his hitting in High A with a .280 average and a .436 slugging. Most of the increase in slugging was due to his 37 doubles, an increase of 15 over last year. Garcia will mainly be a gap hitter, though his 6′2″ frame could reflect double digit homerun power as he matures. Jose should play AA next year. With a good season he could get a callup in 2020, but more likely 2021.

2. Randy Arozarena OF (Rays) - He went from not appearing on this list last year to number 2. At 25 he may be a little old to be a highly rated prospect. The Cardinals traded him this year in the Matthew Liberatore trade to free some outfield space. The Rays outfield is a bit crowded as well but Arozarena should find himself somewhere in the lineup before the season ends. The Cardinals signed him for $1.25 million in 2016. His power seems to be improving with 15 homeruns between AA and AAA with a slugging percentage of .571. This led to a promotion to the major leagues where he added one more tater. He has the speed to cover centerfield and the arm to play right. As a centerfielder he would probably be average defensively, but put him on the corner and he could win gold gloves. He hopes to build on his 2019 season and earn a starting role in 2020 for the Rays.

3. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - He and his younger brother Victor Mesa Jr. defected on the same day. Victor Victor got the brunt of the bonus money signing for $5.2 million while his younger brother signed for just $1 million. Victor Victor is five years older than his younger brother so in due time Victor Jr may develop into a better player. Their dad is a Cuban Hall of Famer and one of the reasons Victor Victor left Cuba was the pressure the Cuban fans placed on him to meet their expectations of the son of a Hall of Famer. The transition has been a struggle. In High A he hit only .252 which resulted in a promotion to AA where he only hit .178 for a .235 average. He failed to have a ball sail over the park in 464 at bats and only slugged .263 with a .274 OBA. If he had put those numbers up in Cuba they would be roasting him but in the minor leagues he is barely noticed. Defensively he has great speed to cover ground in centerfield with a very strong arm. He does make good contact with the ball but the exit velocity is lacking. If he wants to make it to the major league he needs to do it with a better bat. At 24 years of age in July his best bet is to play AA to get him close to the major leagues for a 2021 debut.

4. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - At 6′8″ Michel has a dominating presence. The Padres signed him for $3 million in 2016. Last year he made his major league debut, getting 23 relief appearances. As a starter his command just wasn’t there and a quality breaking pitch was lacking. His fastball/change combination were better suited for the bullpen. His fastball reaches 99. In AA he averaged 12.7 whiffs per nine innings, but that dropped to 8.5 in the major leagues. Expect him to start the year in the Padres bullpen.

5. Malcolm Nunez 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals are a little crowded at third with Nolan Gorman and Elehuris Montero ahead of him in the minor leagues. Malcolm was signed for only $300,000 in 2018. The Cardinals were rewarded with a power bat in 2018 where a .414 average and 13 homeruns with a .774 slugging average in the Rookie League put him on the prospect map. He could not replicate those numbers last year, struggling with a .183 average in Low A. He got sent back down to Rookie ball where he hit .254, still not near his average of the previous year. His burly physique will limit him to third base or first base. His foot speed is too slow to make it as an outfielder. His power will reward his team for putting his bat in the lineup but a position may be lacking. Perhaps when he is ready the National League will have the DH. That will be around 2023 if he can get past Rookie ball.

6. Andy Pages OF (Dodgers) - Compared to what the Dodgers have spent on Cuban prospects Pages was a bargain at $300,000. They signed him in 2018 when international salary caps were in place, protecting the Dodgers against themselves. Last year was the first full year Andy played in the United States and he showed some excellent power, slugging 19 homeruns in Rookie ball. He also hit for an acceptable .298 average despite 79 whiffs in just 63 games. Pages has average speed and could survive in centerfield, but his strong arm makes him a better fit for right. At 19 he is still young, but the tools he has are impressive. There is still a couple years of minor leagues he has to play before he is ready to wear a Dodger uniform, but he is certainly a player to watch.

7. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Last year Morejon was first on this list. An off year where he got lit up in a brief major league appearance (10.13 ERA) calls into question whether his stuff is good enough to be a top of the rotation starter. Major league hitters mashed him at a .385 clip. Even his AA outings were disappointing (4.25 ERA), although he whiffed 11 hitters per nine innings and limited opponents to a .215 average. His fastball hits the mid-90s but he has too many outings where he just doesn’t know where it is going. His secondary pitches also show promise for the rotation. Another issue that keeps coming up is his susceptibility to getting injured. He has yet to pitch over 70 innings in a season. This could result in an eventual move to the bullpen. Last year his season ended early because of shoulder issues, so he will start the 2020 season in AAA. Eventually, if the injuries keep occurring he will be moved to the bullpen.

8. Johan Oviedo RHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals signed Oviedo for $1.9 million in 2016, the same year they also signed Arozarena. At 6′6″ Johan has intimidating size, but all that length makes it difficult for him to throw strikes. At 22 he is still young. He dominated at High A going 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in five starts. His mid-90s fastball can get swings and misses but his inability to find the plate resulted in 64 walks in 113 innings at AA for a 5.65 ERA in 23 starts. He may have to repeat AA in 2020 but a good year could see him crack the Cardinals rotation. He should be ready to compete for a spot in 2021.

9. Ronald Bolanos RHP (Padres) - Bolanos is the third Padre on this list. They signed him in 2016 for $2.25 million, the same year as the signings of Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon. He started his season in High A, but before the year was done he found himself wearing a major league uniform. The fastball hits the mid-90s and the breaking balls (slider and curve) are solid. His change still needs work as does the command of his pitches. In his major league debut he walked 12 batters in 20 innings resulting in a 5.95 ERA. The Padres have a lot of options for their starting rotation, so if Bolanos still struggles to find the plate he could be another arm used out of the bullpen. The 2020 season should see him work more innings for the Padres.

10. Victor Mesa Jr OF (Marlins) - Myworld was torn between Miguel Vargas of the Dodgers and Victor. Miguel may lack the power or defense to play third and his speed would be a detriment to the outfield. Without power first base would not be a good fit. So we went with Victor Jr., who signed for $1 million, $4 million less than his brother. Last year saw him have a better year than his older brother, hitting .284 in Rookie ball with the only homerun among the Mesa brothers. Like his older brother, Victor Jr. is not expected to have a power bat but his speed is not as fast as his brother. Playing a corner outfield without that power is not a good fit. He is only 18 so there is plenty of time to work on improving the bat. He is still a few years away from playing for the Marlins.

Top Prospects from Colombia

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Myworld was going to do the top prospects from the Bahamas but they haven’t changed much from last year. You can go to the 2019 list to find the players. Some of the rankings may have changed, but we are not too excited about regurgitating the same information on the players.

So we’ll take a look at Colombia. Three players have graduated from last year’s list, Meibys Viloria, Oscar Mercado and Harold Ramirez, who were rated 4-6 in the rankings. Viloria will probably always be a backup catcher, Mercado had a good year but has the tools of a fourth outfielder and Ramirez had a surprising year but he will probably also end up as a fourth outfielder. The top two prospects from this year’s list have switched places, but they may be the only two who have a major league impact. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The big fear with Patino is his small frame. He stands only 6′0″ but he touches the high 90s with his fastball. Last year he was number 2 on the list. He signed with the Padres in 2016, as many players on this list. He had a dominating year last year in High A, limiting the opposition to a .192 average with 11.7 whiffs per nine innings. The only pitcher better than him in the Padres minor league system is MacKenzie Gore. The pitch that gets most of the swings and misses for Luis is his slider. He still needs to improve his change if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. His year got him two starts in AA where he was a little more hittable (.258) but his ERA was excellent (1.17) and he still struck out 11.7 hitters per nine innings. Next year he should start at AA and could be in the Padres rotation in 2021.

2. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - Colombia has been starting to develop catchers, though Jorge Alfaro appears to be the only starter. Ronaldo could join Alfaro in that starting capacity. Ronaldo signed in 2014. He has good power potential hitting 21 homers in 2018 in Low A. That number dropped to nine last year in the Florida State League. He also seemed to have lost his patience at the plate with his walk to whiff ratio going from 31/69 to 17/65. This also resulted in a 20 point drop in average. The arm is strong to slow down a running game, but his defensive skills need to improve otherwise he becomes a Francisco Mejia. Next year Hernandez should start in AA. The Rays really have no one in their system to prevent him from becoming their starting catcher in 2021, unless they trade for one. Mike Zunino will not hold him back.

3. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals are crowded in the outfield. Ironic that Torres was traded to the Cardinals from the Indians for another Colombian outfielder Oscar Mercado, probably the first trade in major league history that involved two Colombian outfielders getting traded for each other. Torres was signed in 2016. The 2019 season was his first season in full season ball but he struggled at Low A, hitting just .167. His bat came alive when he was demoted to Rookie ball, with 6 homeruns and a .527 slugging average. He turns 20 this year so the Cardinals still have some time to develop him, but he needs to have success in Low A and perhaps get promoted to High A before the season ends, depending on what kind of season the minor leagues has, in order to stay a prospect. At 6′4″ Jhon has the look of a rightfielder who can hit the ball a long ways, but he has to show more patience at the plate. As he rises up the minors higher level pitchers will get him out with their pitches.

4. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Diaz will still be a teenager if the baseball season starts this year. He signed in 2016 and was playing in Rookie ball as a 16 year old. The 2020 season should be his first year in full season ball. Last year Jordan showed some power in his bat, slugging 9 homeruns, eight more than he hit his first two years. Jordan hits the ball hard and should develop power once he shows improved patience at the plate. Last year he had an 18/46 walk to whiff ratio. He showed enough with the bat that he should start the season next year in Low A. His glove is solid for third base. Matt Chapman should be ready for free agency once Jordan shows the skills needed to play third base in the major leagues. The Athletics don’t mind waiting, getting as much production from Chapman while Diaz matriculates in the minor leagues.

5. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Santiago is the fourth 2016 signing from this list. Florez stands 6′5″ with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. His big issue is finding the plate. Despite the heat he has yet to strike out more than a hitter per inning in his three rookie league seasons, but he is still a teenager. His secondary pitches also need a lot of work if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. Last year was his best season ERA wise (3.46) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.8). The full season league awaits him for the 2020 season.

6. Brayan Buelvas OF (Athletics) - A second Athletic on this list, Brayan was a recent signing (2019). At 17 years of age he made his debut in the Rookie Leagues hitting .282 with three homeruns. Right now speed appears to be his best tool as evidenced by his eight triples and 16 stolen bases. This should allow him to stay in centerfield, where his lack of power makes him more valuable. His arm is average so if he fails to make it as a centerfielder left field may be a better option for him, a position teams normally look for a power hitter to man. At 155 pounds the Athletics hope he will bulk up to hit for a little more power. Next year he should see his first playing time in the full season leagues with a major league time estimated at least 2023.

7. Fabian Pertuz SS (Cubs) - Considering the kind of impact Edgar Renteria had for Colombians it is a surprise Fabian is the first shortstop on this list. The Cubs signed him in 2017. He has shown mainly gap power exercising the strength of his speed to take the extra base. In his first year he legged out six triples and stole 36 bases. Last year those speed numbers dropped to one triple and 9 stolen bases. He lacks burner speed which could limit his range at short. In 2018 he accumulated more walks than whiffs (38/32). The 2019 saw him walk 9 times with 46 whiffs. His average did go from .298 in the Dominican Summer League to .340 in the Arizona Rookie League. Next year he should make his full season debut. He is still a long way from making a major league contribution.

8. Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates) - Luis signed in 2013, originally signing as a third baseman. The Pirates moved him to the mound where he progressed to third on this list last year. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s but sometimes has trouble throwing it for strikes. Last year he walked 32 hitters in his 55 innings. The Pirates pitching staff was poor enough last year that they did promote him for four minor league games in the bullpen, but it was a nightmarish debut. He surrendered 10 hits in 5.2 innings and walked four, leaving him with a 7.94 ERA. He has a curve and change, but his future lies in the pen where his average stuff will work as a bridge to the setup man and then the closer. He should start the season in AAA and may see more appearances in the major leagues depending on his success.

9. Reiver San Martin LHP (Reds) - Reiver was originally signed by the Rangers in 2015. The Reds acquired him from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. The fastball will not impress anyone. His definition is the crafty lefthander, with the change his best pitch. Without a dominating pitch he needs to locate his pitches to be effective and he has trouble accomplishing that. His pitches do keep the ball on the ground, but last year he gave up a career high 11 homeruns. While a starter in the minors his future may be as a reliever who comes in to face two of three lefty hitters in the lineup. He had some success in 12 starts last year in AA so it would not surprise me to see him start the 2020 season in AAA with possibly a major league callup before the year is out.

10. Ezequil Zabaleta RHP (Mets) - Ezequil put up good numbers in Low A last year (1.69 ERA) with a 2/22 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. He gave up more homeruns (3) than walks. The Mets signed him in 2015. The last two years he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. He is listed on the Colombian World Baseball Classic roster and the Colombian national team. That is about all myworld knows about him, but we had to find a tenth.

Top Prospects from Panama

Friday, March 20th, 2020

The last time myworld did a top ten prospect list from Panama was in 2016. Interesting that three of the players on this year’s list (Miguel Amaya, Edmundo Sosa and Javy Guerra) made the 2020 list. Since then we have done an All Carribean list team, the last of which appears to have been in 2018. There were three Panamanian players to make that list. Jamie Barria pitched in relief for the Angels in 2018 and 2019 and has graduated from prospect status. Another, Jonathan Arauz, did not make this list, while Leonardo Jimenez earned an appearance at the back end of the 2020 Panama list.

The growth of baseball in Panama appears to be greater now than Nicaragua, which used to be the hot bed of baseball in the Central American countries. They won the Series del Caribe back in 2019 when they were first allowed to participate. Last year they missed making the playoffs but they were competitive against the beasts of the Caribbean. So the quality of players signing out of there is improving, allowing myworld to put together a top ten list. The top three from this list are quality while the players that fall below that are still too raw to make an true assessment of what their major league potential may be.

1. Miguel Amaya C (Cubs) - He was number two on the 2016 list but was beaten out by a number of players from the Bahamas for the Caribbean list. The Cubs paid $1 million to sign him in 2015, unusual for a prospect coming out of Panama. For Panama he earns a position on top of this list for his ability to hit as well as play defense. His defense may be a little more ahead of his offensive game at this point, but in the last two years he has hit 23 homeruns. Last year he only hit .235 but he showed excellent plate discipline with a 54/69 walk to whiff ratio, resulting in a .351 OBA. His arm was strong enough to throw out 35 percent of baserunners who tried to steal against him, but he still needs to work on some of the other tools to become a polished defensive catcher. He is still a couple years away from making the Cubs and will open in AA next year when the season starts. The Cubs have been talking about trading Wilson Contreras and Miguel is the heir apparent, but it would be best to wait until 2021 to give him the catching positon.

2. Ivan Herrera C (Cardinals) - Ivan was signed a year after Miguel. The Cardinals gave him a $200,000 bonus. Ivan is also known for his solid defense, though his arm is not as strong as Miguel. He also does not carry the power of Miguel though there is some hope the power will develop once he matures. At this point he does have the ability to hit for a better average than Miguel, coming into the 2020 season with a career .309 average. The strikeouts are few and he has the ability to take a walk, owning a career .397 OBA. Last year he appeared in 18 High A games. That is where he should begin the 2020 season, receiving a promotion to AA once he has had success at High A.

3. Daniel Espino RHP (Indians) - Daniel was born in Panama but moved to the United States while a sophomore in high school. He went from throwing in the mid-80s to being the hardest thrower in high school baseball, earning himself a first round selection of the Indians in the 2019 draft. They paid him a $2.5 million bonus, something he would have never gotten if he had stayed in Panama. Espino throws in the mid-90s and has hit the triple digits with his fastball. He also has three developing secondary pitches that should allow him to stay in the starting rotation. Next year, he should start the season in full season, but do not expect him to be wearing an Indians uniform for at least another three years.

4. Reggie Preciado SS (Padres) - Reggie led Panama to the silver medal in the U15 World Cup, one of three players from that team selected to the All tournament team. He hit .393 and drove in 9 runs during the tournament, motivating the Padres to shell out $1.3 million to sign him in 2019. He did not play in 2019 but should make his debut in the rookie league or the Dominican summer league in 2020. A 6′4″ switch hitter, he should carry a lot of power in his bat. If he continues to grow he could be forced to move from short, but the power will play in the outfield or at third base. Plus, Fernando Tatis appears to have the position locked up for a few years at short. His father played two years in the Yankee farm system so he has a mentor who can tell him how to succeed to the major leagues.

5. Edmundo Sosa SS (Cardinals) - Edmundo appeared on the 2016 Panama list as the number three prospect, just behind Amaya. Edmundo was signed in 2012 for $450,000. He has been playing long enough that a lot is already known about him. His power is rather limited, though last year with the juiced up major league ball he hit a career high 17 homeruns, He also hit a career high .291. Patience at the plate is lacking as evidence by his 17/96 walk to whiff ratio. With better pitching the batting average could dwarf more towards the .250s. Defensively, he does nothing spectacular, but the tools are there to play shortstop. This would seem to make him an ideal candidate for a utility role. He has gotten brief callups the last two years with the Cardinals. Expect at some point he fills the utility role.

6. Benyamin Bailey OF (White Sox) - Bailey signed in 2019 for just $35,000. What puts him on this list is his impressive season in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .324, with a .931 OPS and a 52/40 walk to whiff ratio. Those numbers will be difficult to repeat once he goes stateside. He stands 6′5″ and is fast afoot with the ability to hit for power. Those are two impressive tools, especially for a patient hitter who appears to make good contact. His speed is not good enough to play center, but he could play either corner, though a below average arm could destine him for left. In 2020, after some time in extended spring training he should debut in one of the short season leagues. It will be interesting if his walk to whiff ratio remains as impressive as a 18 year old.

7. Humberto Mejia RHP (Marlins) - Humberto signed for just $50,000 in 2013. Despite that early start he still has not played beyond High A. The entire 2017 season was missed because of shoulder issues and last year was his first season in full season ball experience. He stands 6′3″ and can touch the mid-90s with his fastball, but it sits mostly in the low 90s. His breaking pitches (slider and curve) are his swing and miss offerings. His control of the strike zone limited the opposition to just a .177 average. He could start next season in High A before getting promoted to AA, but the higher he goes the better able those hitters are for hitting breaking pitches. Humberto seems to have the command to locate his pitches to create a challenge. His biggest test will be staying healthy and getting to the 100 inning level for the first time in his career.

8. Sadrac Franco RHP (Angels) - Sadrac was signed in 2017 for $50,000. He still has not gotten past the short season ball, though injuries have limited his ability to pitch. Last year was the first time he got an opportunity to start, getting in eight games. Despite just standing 6′0″ he can hum the fastball across the plate in the high 90s, but it generally sits in the upper edges of the low 90s. His secondary pitches still need a significant amount of work to stay in the rotation. Finding the plate a bit more would also improve his chances of staying in the rotation. The 2020 season should see Sadrac rise to full season ball.

9. Leonardo Jimenez SS (Blue Jays) - The Jays spit out $850,000 to sign Jimenez in 2017. In two years he has yet to hit a homeruns and his career slugging is .360, so if there is power in the bat it has not arrived yet. His bat does spray the gaps giving him a career .278 minor league average. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, though his slow foot speed could require a move to second. Leonardo will turn 19 in May. He needs to gain some bulk to put more juice on the ball if he hopes to remain a starter. He has the defensive tools to make it as a utility player. The 2020 season should see him start the season in Low A.

10. Javy Guerra RHP (Padres) - The Padres acquired Javy from the Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel. He appeared to have all the tools to be the Padres shortstop of the future, especially with an extremely strong arm that could throw rockets. Unfortunately, he struggled to hit, failing to recognize breaking pitches and striking out way too much to get his average above .220. With the arm the Padres converted Javy to a pitcher in 2019. His fastball zipped across the plate in the high 90s and his slider is a very effective pitch. He even made his major league debut last year with eight bullpen appearances. A lack of a third pitch and struggles finding the strike zone will keep him in relief. Getting a better handle on that command could put him in a closer role.

Top Prospects from Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

A couple years ago Puerto Rico was flush with prospects like Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and the list goes on. The discussion about the major league draft stunting the development of Puerto Rican players from being drafted seemed to have disappeared (high school baseball does not exist in Puerto Rico so they rely on academies for players between 14-18). Finding prospects the last couple years has been difficult. Even having Puerto Ricans drafted higher than the second round is rare. Below are the top rated prospects that myworld was able to link to Puerto Rico.

Isan Diaz (# 2 prospect) and Tomas Nido (#3) were the only players to graduate from last year’s list. Four players dropped off. That left room for six new players to appear on the list, one of those who has appeared in previous lists when he was a Dodger.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - The only true top rated prospect on this list, he was the number one Puerto Rican prospect last year and he will probably be number one next year. Heliot was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017, the last first round pick from Puerto Rico. The tools are average or above in all areas of his game. The speed is there to play centerfield, but he may fit better in right. Last year he hit .306 with 13 homeruns in High A but slumped to .242 in AA. The power is there but so is the ability to swing and miss. With his arrival, along with Hunter Bishop, to the major league club it would end the drought the Giants have had of developing outfielders. It will be 2021 before he wears a Giant uniform, unless he tears it up in the minor leagues.

2. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - The island nation has been a breeding ground for developing catchers with Ivan Rodriguez, the Molina brothers, etc. as exemplary examples. Mario hopes to add his name to that list. The Brewers drafted him in the second round (supplemental) draft in 2016. He was eighth on this list last year but his season was limited to 42 games because of injuries and he hit only .205. His strong defense and arm got him placed on this list. This year his bat showed up with a .273 average and 19 homeruns in High A for a .477 slugging. A 29/139 walk to whiff ratio is cause for concern, but the underlying factor is Mario plays a solid defense, and if that power shows up enough it will be good enough to get him in the starting lineup. He is still a year away from the Brewers.

3. Willi Castro SS (Tigers) - Myworld just assumed Willi was from the Dominican Republic, but he was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Dominican. The Indians signed him in 2013 then shipped him off to the Tigers in the Leonys Martin trade. While Martin now spends his time in Japan, Castro made his major league debut with the Tigers last year. There are not any tools that wow you with Castro. He is a decent fielder, could hit for double digit homerun power and last year in AAA slapped the ball around for a .301 average. That will probably translate to a .250 average in the major leagues, especially if he does not improve on his 6/34 walk to whiff ratio in his major league debut. While the Tigers rebuild he could fill the shortstop position, then move to a utility role once they find a better alternative.

4. Edwin Rios 1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers drafted Rios in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Last year the souped up baseball in AAA allowed Edwin to slug 31 homeruns. He hit another four when making his major league debut with the Dodgers. Defensively there is not a lot there to make you want to play him, so the bat needs to stay alive to keep him in the lineup. The Dodgers seem to be loaded with power bats they can put at first base and at 26 the time for Rios to be playing is now. His best bet for a starting role may be a trade or movement to the KBO.

5. Matthew Lugo SS (Red Sox) - Lugo was the highest Puerto Rican selected in the 2019 draft, the last pick of the second round regular phase. He is the nephew of Carlos Beltran and trained in his facility. The bat has the potential for power, even though it failed to show last year with his .326 slugging percentage in 46 rookie league games. His lower half could be a bit thick to stay at short so a move to second is in his future. Expect him to play full season ball next year. Any discussion of the major leagues is a few years away.

6. Yan Contreras SS (Reds) - Another Puerto Rican middle infielder drafted in 2019, but Yan lasted until the 12th round. He was signed mostly for his defense but he will need to hit better than .145 for the Reds to continue to throw him out there. The bright spot was that he drew 14 walks in 20 games, so his ability to get on base (.298 OBA) was not bad. He also runs well, hitting two triples and stealing four bases. He will probably see another year in rookie ball before the Reds expose him to full season ball pitching. He is a few years away from the major leagues, and if his bat does not produce may never climb higher than A ball.

7. Victor Torres C (White Sox) - Victor was an 11th round pick in 2019. He was expected to go higher in the draft. Defense is his calling card with the arm and quickness to control a running game. He also has the ability to call a game and run a pitching staff. Last year he hit only .219, with just two of his 21 hits going for extra bases (both doubles). The Sox thnk he has the ability to hit, but he will probably need one more year in short season ball to prove that. If he can play defense making it as a backup is a possibility, but the bat will have to show up to be an impact catcher in the majors.

8. Erik Rivera OF/LHP (Angels) - Rivera was a fourth round pick in 2019. The Angels are looking at him as a two way player to take advantage of the new roster rules. The big hitting tool for Rivera will be his power, but his inability to make contact will inhibit his ability to get to that power. Last year he failed to go deep in 72 at bats, hitting just .208. His arm is strong enough to play right field, where when pitching his fastball sits in the low 90s. He needs to work on a third pitch if he wants to work as a starter.

9. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Delvin was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016, despite rumors that he had failed a drug test prior to the draft. Perez dominated in the Puerto Rican leagues. Once arriving in the major leagues his bat has grown silent, with just two homeruns in four years. Myworld kept him on the list because he did make the All Star team in Low A last year and the tools are there for him to play short. He needs to raise that .317 slugging percentage and lower his 24 errors to have a chance at the major leagues.

10. Jose DeLeon RHP (Reds) - Jose was drafted in the 24th round of the 2013 draft. While with the Dodgers he was considered a top prospect. The Dodgers traded him to the Rays in 2017 for Logan Forsythe and then the injuries happened. Despite being major league ready injuries limited DeLeon to one major league appearance in 2017. Tommy John surgery in 2018 kept him out of action that year. He rebounded in 2019 with 15 starts and three major league appearances. He struck out 73 in 51 AAA innings. After the year ended the Rays traded him to the Reds where he hopes to squeeze himself onto the major league roster. At 27 years of age he doesn’t have that much more time to make prospect lists.

NL Central Predictions

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

With the baseball season postponed myworld has more time to provide our predictions for the 2020 season. But why delay. This is the toughest division to predict because there are four teams that will be battling for the first spot. The only team to be left out of the dance - the Pirates.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Good- When we look at teams we always look at the starting pitching. The Cardinals may not have the best starting pitching, but they have a lot of depth to get through injuries. John Flaherty could turn into an ace but at 24 it may be too early to lay that mantle on him. His numbers last year, especially in the second half were ace like. There is a solid group behind him in Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas. Korean newcomer Kwang-Hyun Kim was an ace in Korea, but in St. Louis he will only have to fill the five hole. Myworld likes Carlos Martinez better in the bullpen where he can replace John Hicks as the closer and also stay healthy, but when Hicks returns he can always be moved into the rotation. Paul DeJong has silently turned himself into a quality shortstop that hits 30 plus homeruns and plays quality defense. All he needs to do is reduce his strikeouts and improve his average. Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina provide veteran leadership even if there numbers are falling.

Bad - With John Hicks not available for the start of the season the bullpen would be better off with Carlos Martinez as the closer. Andrew Miller has struggled the last two years and can not be trusted with protecting leads. Kolton Wong is a quality defensive player but does not provide the lineup with a lot of offense. Matt Carpenter needs to hit to get into the lineup and it would be more potent with him at third and Tommy Edman at second. Last year he had multiple nagging injuries that kept him out of the lineup and may have impacted his swing.

Ugly - Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez were supposed to be ace 1 and 1a when they were coming up as prospects. Neither have been able to stay healthy to compete in the rotation. Carlos has had some success, especially out of the bullpen. Injuries and suspensions have prevented Alex from pitching 100 innings since 2016. The Cardinals will see how he fits out of the bullpen. He has the velocity to be a closer, but not the experience.

Rookies - Dylan Carlson could win the centerfield spot. He hits for big time power and will combine with Tyler O’Neil to make for a young and promising outfield. Genesis Cabrera may start in the bullpen but he can also be used in the rotation. His left handed arm has lots of velocity but finding the plate has been a challenge.

Expected Finish - It will be a battle to the finish, but the Cardinals will prevail with the top spot.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Good - The outfield is extremely talented, moving Ryan Braun to first base. Christian Yelich should recover from his knee injury to provide MVP numbers again. Lorenzo Cain does not put up gaudy numbers but he steals bases, plays solid defense in centerfield and usually hits in the .300 neighborhood. Last year was an off year. Avisail Garcia was a free agent signing who will put together a solid offense but has a habit of missing 20 to 30 games each season because of injuries. That is where Ryan Braun can come in handy to play outfield. Keston Hiura is a hitting machine at second base. His defense may be spotty but his bat will drive in runs.

Bad - Left side of the infield will be short on offense. Orlando Arcia may pop some homeruns but he has a .292 career OBA and .652 OPS. Mike Moustakas departure leaves a hole at third. They would like to see Jedd Gyorko find his bat that he seemed to have lost last year. If Braun moves to the outfield their first base options are limited. Justin Smoak and his 2017 season of 38 homeruns seem to be an outlier and Ryan Healy has had two poor seasons back to back. The starting pitching is questionable after Brandon Woodruff. Josh Lindblom comes from Korea where he was the top pitcher there. He hopes that translates to success in the major leagues. Too many pitchers better suited for the back end of the rotation appear to be slotted in the two and three hole.

Ugly - Christian Yelich needs to stay healthy. If he gets injured this lineup looks ugly, lacking any power. Ryan Braun is getting older, Omar Narvaez showed some pop last year behind the plate, but bats that can consistently hit 30 plus homeruns are absent from this roster. Disaster could strike the rotation if Woodruff goes down. No reliable ace in the rotation and not a lot in the minors. Myworld and many others have rated the Brewers minor league system the worst in baseball. That will hurt when depth is needed to accommodate injuries.

Rookies - Myworld rated this farm system the worst in the major leagues. There may be some players who can squeeze their name on the roster, but making an impact is another story.

Expected Finish - It all depends on the health of Christian Yelich. If he plays 145 plus games a wild card finish is possible.

3. Cincinnati Reds

Good - There top position is the infield where Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas give them two players with 30 plus homerun power. Moustakas is better defensively at third but his offense will make up for any defensive inefficiencies. Joey Votto needs to have a better season than last year if the Reds want to compete. The outfield has a lot of depth but lacks power. Free agent signings Shogo Akiyama from Japan and Nick Castellanos from the Cubs created the crowded outfield. The key to its success could be the production of Nick Senzel, but he could also move to second base. The top three in the rotation (Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer) need to be good for this team to compete. They have the potential but they have also had their bad years. Which Jekyll and Hyde shows up will define the Reds season.

Bad - Tucker Barnhart is a solid catcher but he does not provide much offensively. Tyler Stephenson is probably a year away from making his debut. Raisel Iglesias had a career high 34 saves but his ERA was almost two runs higher than his previous two seasons. Amir Garrett is not proven but if Iglesias continues to struggle he could take over. The back of the rotation will need a good bullpen to win games.

Ugly - The Reds have built this team to contend. Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer have had some horrendous years, Bauer struggling last year. They need those two to pitch to their potential if they hope to stay in it. Joey Votto has to have a better year and it would be nice if Aristedes Aquino could hit like he did when first called up last year than the Aquino of September who hit just .196. Nick Senzel also needs to show his potential. Myworld sees an easy scenario where it all goes bad and the hopes for 2020 crash.

Rookies - It would be tough to see Tyler Stephenson get in the lineup after only finishing AA last year. Catchers need more time to develop. He could be called up mid-season if Barnhart has a long term injury and Tyler is tearing it up in AAA. Shogo Akiyama is technically a rookie, even though he has had a lot of success in Japan. The Reds hope to utilize him best as a fourth outfielder, unless his bat makes him too valuable to leave him out of the lineup.

Expected Finish - Out of the wild card race and in third place.

4. Chicago Cubs

Good - They still have a strong base of hitters in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Wilson Contreras. These players are getting older while no young arms have been able to work themselves in the rotation. If the Cubs trade one it may be a sign of rebuilding. Kyle Schwarber is a power bat that provides suspect defense in left field. His 38 homeruns last year were a career high and his average keeps on rising with each year. Javier Baez moving from second to short gives rookie Nico Hoerner an opportunity to win the second base job. Another top bat finding its way into the lineup.

Bad - They need to get more from their free agent pitchers Jon Lester and Yu Darvish. The Cubs would probably like a mulligan on the Jose Quintana for Eloy Jimenez trade. Jose has turned into a borderline fifth rotation piece. The outfield appears a bit unsettled. Jason Heyward always seems to underperform, though his 21 dingers last year were his most since 2012. Despite being a first round pick, Ian Happ has not established himself as a quality major league hitter. He hopes to win the centerfield job over Albert Almora, who has a good glove but quiet bat. Craig Kimbrel was a disaster in the bullpen last year. He hoped to have a full spring training to get ready this year, but now the corona virus has put a stop to spring training. If the Cubs want to compete he needs to have a better year or find another closer.

Ugly - The Cubs development of pitching. It means they have to sign expensive free agents, or trade good, young talent for veteran pitchers who have a limited number of bullets left in their arm. Since the arrival of Theo Epstein they have not drafted a pitcher that has made an impact on the major league roster. They have drafted a number of bats that have gotten them to the playoffs but the arms have remained absent from the rotation.

Rookies - Nico Hoerner could win the second base job. His primary position is shortstop but Javier Baez seems to have that position covered now. Nico should hit for a decent average but may lack the over the fence power. Most of their other young players are down in the lower minors, including Brailyn Marquez, who was signed in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. He probably won’t be ready until 2021, unless the Cubs become desperate and he is dominating.

Expected Finish - not enough pitching to get anything but fourth place.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Good - Brian Reynolds had a good rookie year last season, hitting .314 with 16 homeruns. If he was a veteran he would have been traded by now but the Pirates will try to build around him. Josh Bell appeared to reach his potential last year with 37 homeruns and 116 RBIs. He plays first base. Left field and first base are not where championship teams are formed, but it’s a start.

Bad - Gregory Polanco had a forgettable year and Jarrod Dyson is more a fourth outfielder type, but each will form two thirds of the Pirates outfield. Austin Meadows would sure look nice here but see ugly for why he is not here. The middle of the field is filled with backups and second tier players. Kevin Newman at short may be there only true quality player up the middle. Jacob Stallings may be best as a backup catcher, Adam Frazier is a utility player and Dyson is a fourth outfielder type. As stated, championship clubs are developed by the quality up the middle.

Ugly - The Pirates hope Chris Archer becomes their ace, recovering from his down year last year. The Pirates traded Austin Meadows (.291, 33 homeruns) and Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78) to Tampa Bay for Archer. Shane Baz, a top prospect in the minors was also sent to the Rays. They made the trade when they thought they were competing. Shortly after that the Pirates went into rebuilding mode. Meadows and Glasnow would look nice on any rebuilding club or could fetch a pretty penny if traded.

Rookies - The Pirates have waited a long time for Mitch Keller to arrive in the major leagues. He appears to have regressed since his early days in the minors. The fastball is still there but his pitches are more hittable. Ke’Bryan Hayes plays a gold glove defense but his bat is short of expectations for the corner. It would take an injury to Colin Moran, trade or a complete collapse before Hayes takes over the third base job this year. The Pirates are very patient with their rookies, valuing service time. Kevin Kramer could win a job at utility but he needs to beat the better bat in Cole Tucker.

Expected Finish - Last place and perhaps the worst record in the National League. For the Pirates it may be best for the corona virus to shorten the length of the season.