Archive for the 'Cardinals' Category

Top 100 - 60-51

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Back to finishing our Top 100 prospects.

60. Gavin Lux SS/2B (Dodgers) - Gavin was a 2016 first round pick. He looked like a bust after a disappointing 2017 season when he hit just .244 with a .693 OPS. Last year he broke out with a .324 average and a .913 OPS. He has speed, can hit for power and average and has the tools to play shortstop. One area he needs to work on is his consistency in the field, with 27 errors in 92 games an unacceptable rate for a major league shortstop. Second or third base may be his ultimate position with Corey Seager set at short. He should start the 2019 season in AA where the Dodgers could call him up if Seager is unable to perform again for long periods of the season.

59. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - The Rays are always looking for a bargain and they got one with Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Speed and the ability to make contact are the ingredients he brings to the game. Last year he stole 55 bases with a 63/68 walk to whiff ratio. It was also his first year of full season ball where he showed a little pop with nine homeruns. His combined average at Low A and High A was .320 with a .403 OBA. With his ability to steal bases and to get on base Vidal would make an ideal leadoff hitter. His defense is gold glove quality at second base and he has the tools to play shortstop, but the Rays are a bit stacked there. Next year he should start the season in High A where he hit .347, slugging .582 in just 27 games.

58. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The bat will determine whether the Dominican becomes a fourth outfielder or a quality major leaguer. His glove is gold but the bat is far from silver. Last year he hit just .246 with very little power (.332 slugging). That could allow him to start in centerfield and hit in the ninth spot but a better bat with less of a glove could be preferred. He does have the speed to steal bases and the age he plays in is usually young for the league so there is possible development in his future as he catches up to the league. Leody will start next season in AA where he could get a callup if the Rangers need help in centerfield, but the Rangers would prefer the bat to play.

57. Dustin May RHP (Dodgers) - Dustin was drafted two rounds behind Lux in the 2016 draft. Last year his fastball was consistently in the mid-90s and at 6′6″ that is a tough pitch to hit. His secondary pitches are plus with a cutter that gets a lot of ground ball outs. In six starts at AA he limited the opposition to a .209 average. A 29/122 walk to whiff ratio shows his ability to throw strikes. Dustin should start the season in AA where he would be a phone call away from major league action. The Dodgers had success last year with Walker Buehler so calling up another rookie to impact the rotation would be something they would not hesitate to do. Clayton Kershaw cannot stay young forever.

56. Danny Jansen C (Blue Jays) - Danny has come a long way since being drafted in the 16th round in 2013. Last year he made his major league debut, setting the stage for the Blue Jays to make him their starting catcher in 2019 as they rebuild for a run in 2021. His bat should hit for double digit power with a batting average around .270. He makes steady contact with a 44/49 walk to whiff ratio. While his defense has improved he is still a below average catcher who may have trouble stopping a run game. He should start the season as the Blue Jays starting catcher in 2019 and the Blue Jays will have to hope his defense plays.

55. Brusder Graterol RHP (Twins) - The Venezuelan may only stand 6′1″ but his fastball blazes across the plate in the high 90s. He also has a plus slider that will get its share of swings and misses. Last year he limited the opposition to a .234 average reaching High A. Brusdar needs more work to improve on his changeup, which would make his fastball that much more deadly. His velocity comes with solid control, a 28/107 walk to whiff ratio showing he can find the plate. The 2019 season could see him start the season in AA if he has a good spring.

54. Alec Bohm 3B (Phillies) - The Phillies inability to sign Manny Machado leaves the future of third base in the hands of Bohm. The 2018 first round pick has big time pop, despite the absence of any homeruns last year in over 150 at bats. His ability to draw a walk and make quality contact should result in averages bordering .300. There is still some concern that his 6′5″ height could result in a move to first, where his overall value could take a hit. Next year Alec should start his season in Low A where his power numbers should improve. If his bat produces he should advance quickly.

53. Jarred Kelenic OF (Mariners) - The Mets first round pick in 2018 was included in a trade to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools to be a quality major leaguer. He has good speed, an arm that could fit in right and the power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The big question is whether the bat will make enough contact for him to hit for a decent average. A tendency to swing and miss may leave his average in the neighborhood of the .250s. The Mariners should start him in Low A for 2019.

52. Nolan Gorman 3B (Cardinals) - Nolan is the Cardinals first round pick for 2018. He impressed right away with his ability to hit for power, mashing 17 homeruns and rising all the way to Low A in his professional debut. The Cardinals hope his defense gets more fluid so he can stick at third. A lack of speed makes moving to the outfield detrimental and his value decreases with a move to first. You know the bat is scary when pitchers walk him 34 times in 64 games. A repeat of Low A where he hit only .202 would be a good place for him.

51. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Orioles acquired the Cuban from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade. Perhaps he was a little disappointed leaving Los Angeles because his bat seemed a little vanilla with Bowie, hitting .239. He had a 41/39 walk to whiff ratio in the Southern League but that collapsed to 18/28 in the Eastern League. If he can control the strike zone he should hit in the .300s, but if he gets lazy the bat could disappoint. Yusniel did hit a couple homeruns in the Futures Game. Don’t be surprised to see him on the major league roster after April, provided the bat is producing. The strong arm will fit him in right field.

Top 100 Prospects - 90-81

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Dominican Prospects National League

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinals Looking for Playoffs in 2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

The acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt is proof of that. In the 21st century the Cardinals have had only one losing season, but it has been four years since they last made the playoffs. If they are in the hunt for 2019 expect them to trade prospects for veteran players that will get them to the playoffs. They fell just outside the top ten last year so they have some prospects to trade. In 2013 they were top of the class with Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Kolton Wong, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Last year their top ten included Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Carson Kelly, Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader. Carson was traded to acquire Goldschmidt while O’Neil and Bader combined for 21 homeruns in the outfield and Flaherty picked up eight wins.

The player they keep waiting for is Alex Reyes. He was supposed to be in the Cardinals rotation three years ago, a year or two before Carlos Martinez. Injuries and drug suspensions have only given fans a glimpse of his prowess. The durability issues will probably restrict Alex to a bullpen role in 2019. Whether they consider expanding him to the starting rotation is probably far into the future and will depend on how his arm holds up. He can hit triple digits with his fastball and it comes with greater velocity in shorter spurts. He does have a quality curveball and change, giving him three pitches to start, but his command is still inconsistent and the long term health of the arm is still in question. Expect him to start the season in the minors and if his health holds up he should be in the Cardinals bullpen by mid-season.

Dakota Hudson saw some time in the Cardinals pen last year. He started 19 games in AAA. He will start the 2019 season in the pen and be insurance in case an injury happens to a starting pitcher. Hudson does not have overpowering stuff but has two quality breaking pitches to complement his heat. Last year he had a 18/19 walk to whiff ratio in 27 innings. That needs to improve if he wants continued success in the major leagues. His breaking stuff does induce ground balls so double plays get him out of tough spots.

Genesis Cabrera had an eye opening winter season. The lefty could provide an alternative approach to recently signed free agent Andrew Miller out of the bullpen. Last year he started 25 games with lefthanded hitters barely above the Mendoza line hitting against him. The Cardinals may promote him to AAA to start or they could insert him into the major league bullpen with a good spring. His fastball can reach the mid-90s and he locates his pitches well. Expect him to start the season in AAA in 2019 but he could be promoted quickly if the Cardinals have another need for a lefthanded arm in the bullpen.

The Cardinals always find a player who comes from nowhere to throw triple digits. Jordan Hicks came up last year. The 2019 version could be Junior Fernandez. His control is poor and his secondary pitches are not challenging, but he does throw heat. The strikeouts are not as prevalent as one would expect from one who throws so hard but he is only 21 years of age. The improvement of a second pitch or the development of another pitch could make him a break out star.

Daniel Poncedeleon gives one thoughts of the Fountain of Youth. The fact he made his major league debut last year after being beaned in the head in 2017 and having brain surgery is a miracle in itself. His stuff is more as a back end of the rotation starter. The fastball hits the mid-90s but the secondary pitches are very average. Last year he got four starts and seven relief appearances, finishing with a 2.73 ERA. In AAA the opposition hit him at a .197 clip and major leaguers also struggled batting .205. He will probably start the season in AAA but a good spring could force the issue.

On the position front third base looks solid. Nolan Gorman was their first round pick in 2018. He showed some pretty impressive power with 17 homeruns in just .237 at bats. There was a bit of a struggle after he was promoted from rookie league ball to Low A with his batting average dropping from .350 to .202. Defensively he was solid at third base. If he can stick there he could be an impact player at the position.

Elehuris Montero may not have the raw power of Gorman but his bat does carry some juice. Last year he slugged .504 with 16 homeruns sharing his time at Low and High A. At 6′3″ he may outgrow third base and his speed does not make the outfield a viable alternative. His bat will play at first but one of his best attributes is a strong arm, which would be wasted at that position. Next year he could start his season in the Florida State league with a quick promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

Delvin Perez was supposed to be the next Carlos Correa coming out of Puerto Rico. The Cardinals used a first round pick for him in 2016. His draft attractiveness dropped after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. His bat has been a big disappointment as well. In his third season he hit his first homerun but he finished with a slugging average of just .272. The defensive tools are there for him to stick at shortstop but he won’t get there if he doesn’t get the batting average farther north of the Mendoza line.

Max Schrock has bounced around with three teams. Originally drafted by the Nationals he has been traded to the Athletics and to the Cardinals. The bat sprays line drives to the gap but his lack of power and below average speed leaves him a bit one dimensional. He needs to hit .324 like he did in 2017 and not .249 as he did last year. The bat makes solid contact.

The Cardinals continue to be loaded in the outfield. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for Cuban prospect Randy Arozarena. Last year his Cuban compatriot Ramon Laureano was a low level prospect for the Athletics before making a splash with them by mid-season. Randy hopes to plagiarize that story line. The bat may be a little short on power to profile well in a corner spot, but the speed exists for him to defend centerfield well. He will need injuries to decimate the Cardinal outfield to get a chance next year, but if he opens AAA hitting .396 as he did last year in AA the Cardinals will make room for his bat.

Jonatan Machado is another Cuban toiling at the lower levels of the minor leagues. His power and arm will not impress major league scouts but his speed carries a wow factor. He needs to gain strength to be able to find the gaps. Last year 16 of his 75 hits went for extra bases for a slugging average of just .291. His smallish 5′9″ frame is not a good predictor of future power to come.

Jose Adolis Garcia is a third Cuban outfielder to watch in the Cardinals system. He is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia but stands a few inches taller than him. He won the MVP in the Cuban professional league and departed for the major leagues after that. Last year he made his major league debut, hitting just .118 in 17 at bats after hitting .256 with 22 homeruns in AAA. His arm is above average making him an ideal rightfielder, something the Cardinals have in a surplus.

Andrew Knizner was a reason for the Cardinals to trade Carson Kelly. Knizner will not match the defensive tools of Kelly but at least his bat is expected to provide production. Last year he hit .313. The power was absent and at 24 years of age you have to wonder if it can develop. Defensively his arm is accurate and can stymie a running game. Andrew is a battler behind the plate.

Myworld’s Top Righthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Myworld tends to gravitate towards heat but the reality is that those pitchers who can record outs win games. It does not matter how hard a pitcher throws the ball if they fail to record outs. Below is myworld’s top 20 right handed pitchers, excluding any 2018 draft picks. Since there is so much talent here we thought we would expand the list.

1. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He may not throw the ball as hard as a number of pitchers on this list but he still gets it to the plate in the mid-90s. He also has a good curve and change with control to throw the pitch to the four quadrants of the plate. He has a history of retiring hitters, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and limiting the opposition to a .215 average coming into the 2018 season. In six starts in AAA he is finally struggling (6.67 ERA) but he is struggling with his command. He should be in the Pirates rotation by mid-season 2019 if not making the Pirates rotation at the beginning of the year with a good spring.

2. Forest Whitley (Astros) - The Astros have traded a number of prospects but they have kept their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ 240 pounds he has an intimidating presence on the mound. That size and mass also allows him to zip the ball across the plate in the mid 90s. He also carries a hard slider that drops down, hitting the radar in the low 90s. His swing and miss offerings gave him 13.7 whiffs per nine innings his first two seasons. A 50 game suspension for violating major league baseball’s drug testing forced him to miss the first part of the 2018 season. After six starts an oblique injury has knocked him out since July. The good news is none of that missed time is attributed to an arm injury, but it does stall his development process.

3. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox drafted him in the first round in 2014. They included him in a trade to acquire Chris Sale. After watching Chris Sale throw in the high 90s on Sunday myworld does not see Kopech reaching that level. He may throw harder, hitting in the triple digits more consistently than Sale but he lacks the command of his pitches. In his last six starts in AAA he has been having success, giving up two or fewer runs to lower his ERA to 3.81. With Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito already in the rotation Kopech should join them at some point next season. It is possible he could get a September callup if the White Sox want to use a 40 man roster spot on him.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - As his heat rises so does the Dominicans prospect status rises. His fastball has been clocked in the triple digits, but sits in the mid-90s. The fastball also explodes towards the plate after hitters see his plus changeup. His last four starts Sixto had only given up two earned runs in 25.2 innings of work, walking 4 and striking out 29. Elbow tenderness put him on the disabled list after his June 3 start. The Phillies say it is minor but June has turned to August and Sixto has still not pitched. The way he had been dominating he possibly could have helped the Phillies in their pennant drive.

5. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - The Rays second round 2014 supplemental pick had an opportunity to make the Rays rotation to begin the 2018 season. An elbow issue resulted in Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season. He will probably not be ready to pitch for the Rays until 2020 since most of the 2019 season will be subject to rehabilitation and pitch counts. Prior to the surgery his fastball hit the mid-90s and he had a full repertoire of pitches that included a screwball. Time will tell how those pitches will be impacted after the surgery. His command was good but it may take some time for him to recover after the surgery.

6. Mike Soroka (Braves) - The Braves 2015 first round pick out of Canada was originally not on the list. The Braves had called him up in May and it appeared he would be a part of that rotation. Shoulder issues have not allowed him to pitch since June and his season appears done after just five major league starts, retaining his prospect status. He is a pitcher who does not have a dominating fastball, sitting in the low 90s, but he has good command and a dropping slider that retires hitters. AAA hitters could only hit .204 against him this year. Major league hitters had a little more success (.288). It will take an impressive spring for Soroka to start the 2019 season in the major leagues. The Braves will want to be patient with him and control his pitch counts early in the 2019 season.

7. Hunter Greene (Reds) - Another hard thrower who consistently hit triple digits with his fastball. The 2017 first round pick was sidelined by the elbow sprain that requires Tommy John surgery. This will sideline him for most of next year. He struggled last season and at the beginning of the 2018 season. Just as he was starting to pitch well he experienced the elbow pain. At the end of May his ERA sat at 7.18. When he was placed on the disabled list his ERA dropped to 4.48. The surgery will delay his major league debut until at least 2021. His best use may also be out of the pen.

8. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - When the 2015 first round supplemental pick puts some more meat on his 6′5″ 165 pound frame the low 90s fastball should juice up to the mid 90s. His long arms give him a nice whip like action and his curveball is a good swing and miss pitch. A solid change gives him three good pitches with good command of those pitches despite his height. In AA the opposition is hitting just .204 against him. Coming into this season he had a career .196 opposition average. Triston is tough to hit with his flailing arms firing darts across the plate. Expect him to make his major league debut sometime next year and be a fixture in the Indians rotation by 2019.

9. Dylan Cease (White Sox) - The Cubs are always looking for pitchers but they traded their sixth round 2104 pick to acquire Jose Quintana. Dylan has always had trouble finding command of his pitches and developing a third pitch to make it as a starter. His fastball has hit triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s and his curve is a decent swing and miss pitch. It appears his command and change are improving. After pitching well in the Carolina League (2.89 ERA) he was promoted to the Southern League where he has pitched even better (1.94 ERA). In eight starts the opposition is hitting just .170 against him with 64 whiffs in 46 innings. Hitters have petitioned for a cease and desist order on his fastball. The White Sox rotation is packed in the minor leagues, but with this kind of success next year he should earn his way into the rotation.

10. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Whether it is a drug suspension, Tommy John surgery or back injuries, some event has been blocking Alex from pitching in the major leagues. At one point he was the top pitching prospect in baseball. He should have been in a major league rotation two years ago. There are not an infinite number of next years that he can count on. His fastball flashes across the plate in the mid to upper 90s. His curve and change are quality pitches. The one knock you could have on him was his lack of command. With all this inactivity that may be more of an issue. At this point he may have to settle for bullpen work just to stay healthy. The one bright spot of last season is he did get four starts in the minor leagues without allowing a run in 23 innings and followed that up with one start in the majors without allowing a run in four innings. That is 27 innings without allowing a run in 2018. Expect him to get a major league opportunity next year working out of the bullpen to begin the season.

11. Touki Toussaint (Braves) - The Diamondbacks traded their 2014 first round pick to dump salary (Bronson Arroyo) because they felt he would never find the plate. His early years he struggled with ERAs at 5 or greater. At 6′3″ he had good pitcher’s height and with a fastball in the high 90s he was someone the Braves felt they could be patient on. The light bulb has turned on this year for Touki with a 2.93 ERA and .208 opposition average in the minor leagues in 16 AA starts. That led to a promotion to AAA where the success continued (2.01 ERA). Last night he made his major league debut, and though it was only the Marlins he held them to one run on two hits in six innings. The Braves have a number of pitchers competing for the starting rotation but Touki has elevated his status with his 2018 season.

12. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - It has not been a good season for the Tigers top prospect coming into this season. He was one of the players they acquired at the beginning of the season for Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with a mid-90s fastball you expect domination. Injuries have limited him to seven starts this season, starting with his back and moving to his shoulder. Those seven starts produced a 6.52 ERA. The Tigers will hope for better next year.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - The 6′8″ Cuban flamethrower will be a force in a couple years. A fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a devastating change is a duo leaving hitters perplexed. He also squeezes in a curve and a slider. This is his second season in the States and he has already reached AA. He was mesmerizing in his 17 AA starts (2.91 ERA) with an opposition average of .229 and 92 whiffs in 86.2 innings. A little hiccup in his first AA start (11.57 ERA) shows he has some work to do. The rebuilding Padres hope he will be ready for their rotation in 2020 when he makes his major league debut.

14. Matt Manning (Tigers) - It is tempting to rate the 2016 first round pick ahead of Perez. He is having a solid season in the minors, pitching well enough in Low A (3.40 ERA) to get a promotion to High A (2.90 ERA). During that time the opposition is hitting just .205 against him. His fastball touches the mid-90s with a solid curve and change combination. What keeps him behind Perez is his lack of command. At 6′6″ that may take some time to improve. He has walked 44 in his 96 innings this year, which is a slight improvement over his walk rate last year. Next year he should hit AA and then compete for the rotation of the rebuilding Tigers in 2020.

15. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year there was no pitcher as dominating as Duplantier. The last pitcher to have an ERA lower than 1.39 in the minors was the Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. This year the third round 2016 pick has not been as dominating, but most pitchers would take his numbers (2.03 ERA, .200 opposition average). Injuries delayed the start of his season and bicep tendinitis sidelined him for two months. He missed much of the 2016 season with injuries. If he can avoid those injuries his low to mid-90s fastball, slider, curve and change are enough to retire hitters better than most pitchers. With the success he is having at AA he could reach AAA next year and perhaps compete for a rotation spot in spring training.

16. Kyle Wright (Braves) - The 2017 first round pick can get his fastball in the upper 90s. At 6′4″ he has a good frame with the requisite quality secondary pitches to dominate in the rotation (slider, curve and change). Drafted out of college the Braves have moved him up their minor league system quickly, giving him six starts at High A last year (3.18) ERA) and moving him through AA and AAA this year (3.59 ERA). His numbers are kind of blah (less than a strikeout per inning and a .232 opposition average) and myworld has not seen him pitch, which is a reason for the lower rating. Myworld expects him to compete for a spot with the other young hurlers for a Braves rotation spot in 2019.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - At 6′1″ Adonis lacks the height scouts look for in their right handed starting pitchers. His low to mid-90s fastball and quality change are enough to put the Dominican on this list. His struggles in High A (4.63 ERA) made it tempting not to include him. He has almost hit as many batters (9) as he has given up homeruns (10). Right now he needs to develop consistency. There are too many dominating outings where he hits double digits in strikeouts mixed in with clunkers where he gives up seven runs. The dominating outings show his potential. Next year he should reach AA and if he finds that consistency he could be competing for a rotation spot in 2020.

18. Alex Faedo (Tigers) - Alex dominated in the 2017 College World Series and the Tigers selected him with their first round pick in 2017. With the number of innings he pitched last year in college the Tigers shut him down for the minor league season. This year the Tigers have been aggressive with Alex starting him in High A and promoting him to AA. He has had his struggles in AA (4.54 ERA) giving up 11 homeruns in just 39.2 innings. The slider was his swing and miss pitch in college but he needs to use his mid-90s fastball to set up his slider to the major league hitters. If they know it is coming they won’t swing at the pitch. With his struggles at AA the Tigers may start him there in 2019. A mid-season promotion to the majors is a possibility but don’t expect to see him as a permanent piece in the rotation until 2020.

19. Albert Abreu (Marlins) - He has the tag of the hardest thrower in the minors. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. He hits triple digits with regularity with his fastball and his curve and change are good enough to reach the majors as a starter. Last year he got 9 starts in the Florida State League (4.19 ERA). This year injuries have seem him bounce on and off the disabled list keeping him at High A where his numbers have not shown improvement (4.30 ERA). As hard as he throws he doesn’t stack up a lot of strikeouts. Next year he should get his shot at AA.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - Tommy John surgery prevented the Venezuelan from playing in 2016. When he was hitting triple digits with his fastball in 2017 the scouts took notice. He has a good fastball/slider combination with the requisite secondary pitches to make it as a starter. This year he dominated in Low A (2.18 ERA) which got him a promotion to High A. There he has had his struggles (4.06 ERA, .287 opposition average) in his seven starts. If he can stay healthy he will compete for a Twins starting rotation spot in 2021. At 19 years of age he has plenty of time to learn his stuff.

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

Draft Picks in the Top 100

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Fangraphs did an updated top 100 (actually 133) including recently drafted players on the list. Myworld would not be bold enough to create a top 100 including draft picks until we see them play in rookie leagues and their familiarization to the wood bats. Below are the players listed in the top 100. There is no Brady Singer even after he outdueled Casey Mize in the Super Regional game.

31. Casey Mize (RHP) Detroit
33. Nick Madrigal (2B) White Sox
57. Joey Bart (C) Giants
68. Travis Swaggerty (OF) Pirates
77. Alec Bohm (3B) Phillies
93. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays
95. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
96. Jarred Kelenic (CF) Mets
97. Jonathan India (3B) Reds
98. Carter Stewart (RHP) Braves
100. Cole Winn (RHP) Rangers

If this list proves accurate this should be a nice draft for third baseman.

United States 18 and Under Team Dominates MLB Draft

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Musgrove Leads Pirates to Win Over Cardinals

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Myworld is in Pittsburgh and watched Joe Musgrove pitch and hit his way to a Pirate win over the Cardinals in his 2018 debut. Musgrove pitched seven innings of shutout ball and his first major league hit ignited a rally in the sixth inning that led to the Pirates first three runs in an 8-1 win.

Joe Musgrove was one of the players the Pirates acquired from the Astros in the Gerritt Cole trade. This was his 2018 debut after experiencing shoulder issues and he went seven innings giving up just five hits. It wasn’t until the sixth inning until he went to a two ball count on a batter. Colin Moran, Michael Felix and Jason Martin were also acquired in the trade. Moran is the starting third baseman for the Pirates. Michael Felix is a key piece in the bullpen of a surprising Pirate team who many felt were on the rebuild road.

Musgrove also used his bat last night to begin a rally for the Pirates. Cardinal pitcher John Gant had shutdown the Pirate bats for the first five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven. He was mixing slow breaking balls with his mid-90s fastball, perplexing many Pirate hitters with swings and misses. Musgrove led off the sixth inning bouncing a single into right field for his first major league hit. Josh Harrison then forced Musgrove to use his speed to round the bases lining a pitch into right centerfield for a double. Musgrove slid home for the first run of the game.

Gant was replaced in the game after hitting Francisco Cervelli with a pitch. With runners on first and third and one out the bullpen for the Cardinals imploded. Josh Bell mashed the first pitch from Brett Cecil into deep left field to score Harrison on a sacrifice fly. Corey Dickerson lined a pitch into the right field corner. Dexter Fowler was slow getting to the ball and another run scored while Dickerson stopped at third. Moran could have made it two more but his drive that cleared the right field bleachers was just foul. He lined the next pitch to second to end the inning.

In the seventh Cecil gave up a slow bounder to Meadows, who beat the throw to first. The rookie phenom outfielder who has had trouble staying healthy is hitting over .400 in his major league debut. That brought in John Brebbia, who also experienced trouble retiring Pirate hitters. Meadows stole second. Jody Mercer hit a slow bounder to the third base side of the mound. Brebbia turned to throw to third but no one was covering. When he turned again to throw to first Mercer had beaten the throw. A one out walk to Gregory Polanco loaded the bases where Francisco Cervelli cleared them with a drive that collided with the right field scoreboard for a double. Polanco was able to turn balls hitting the scoreboard into singles but Fowler could not.

The Pirates brought out Michael Felix to pitch the eighth. He failed to preserve the shutout giving up a monstrous shot into right center by Tommy Pham that cleared the seats. It would be the only run the Cardinals would score in the game.

The Pirates scored two more runs in the eighth with back to back triples. Meadows lined one down the left field line that eluded Ozuna. Mercer followed with a shot into the left centerfield gap and hustled into third for the second triple. A Josh Harrison single finished the scoring giving the Pirates an 8-1 shellacking of the Cardinals.

Game Notes: Myworld had to have the Pierogies at Ms. Ts. When in Pittsburgh you got to have the pierogies…Don’t like the net behind home plate. It blocks out a clear view of the video board for those sitting in the lower level seats. Many major league teams set up a net to protect fans from foul balls…The Cardinal outfielders seemed to be lacking a bit in range. Fowler is struggling with a .160 average and seems to lack hustle. The Pirates legged three hits that should have been doubles and turned them into triples…Harrison Bader pinch hit for Ozuna. On an 0-2 count he seemed to make a last minute half swing to make contact on what may have been a third strike. He bounced it in front of the plate where he was tagged out…Beer in Pittsburgh is much cheaper than at Nationals park. A six dollar difference, though the Nationals will argue that you are paying for premium beer…The Pirates do a Pierogi race instead of a President’s race…Meadows finished the day with two hits to raise his average to .448. His OPS is 1.345.

Top Cuban Prospects National League

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The only player to graduate from last year’s list is Albert Almora, who is more a fourth outfielder. Four National League teams seem to be more prolific in signing Cuban players, but too date those expenses have not panned out. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects who play on National League teams, or at least four of them.

1. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed him in 2016 for a mere $3 million. He stands tall at 6′8″ with a fastball that slices the plate in the mid-90s but often hits the high 90s. Quality secondary pitches (slider, change and curve) moved him not just to the top ten list but the top prospect on the list. Last year was his first taste of professional ball and he dominated at Low A striking out 12.7 hitters per 9 innings. He did have a tendency to give up the long ball, allowing 8 homeruns in just 59 innings, leaving his ERA at 2.45. This year a promotion to High A has been more of a struggle with a 4.29 ERA and a 11/20 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. The good news is he has yet to give up a dinger. Prior to leaving for Cuba he pitched one year in the Series Nacional, walking more hitters (16) that he struck out (14). With his large frame throwing strikes may always be a challenge.

2. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Not as tall as Baez (6′3″) but still good pitcher’s height. His fastball also hits the mid-90s with lots of readings in the high 90s. That motivated the Dodgers to sign him for $16 million. Lack of quality secondary stuff and poor command make it a challenge for Alvarez to retire hitters. Last year he had a 50/97 walk to whiff rate in 92 innings. In order for him to stick in the rotation he will need to improve his secondary offerings and command or make a move to a closer role. The 2018 season still sees him in the starting rotation but still struggling with control (20 walks in 15 innings) at the AA level. The Tulsa Drillers put Yadier on the disabled list the beginning of May with a groin injury.

3. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - He may not throw as hard as Baez but the Padres liked him enough to give him a franchise record setting $11 million bonus. The lefty starred in the 15 and under World Cup in Mexico City striking out 12 United States hitters in a complete game victory. Royce Lewis and Hunter Green were part of that United States team. For a lefthander carrying a fastball that hits the mid-90s is a quality pitch that most teams would envy. He also has a change that shouts swing and miss as well as quality breaking pitches. Pitching in the hitter friendly California League Adrian is holding his own with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts and a 14/36 walk to whiff ratio in 34 innings. The Padres hope he fills a solid spot in the middle of the rotation.

4. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent $15.5 million for Diaz in 2015. As he fills out his tools will be prolific. The power began to show last year at AA with his .491 slugging average with three homeruns in 31 games. The growth may detract from his speed, leaving him best suited for a corner outfield, but with an arm for right field. The Dodgers started his 2018 season back in AA where he showed increased power (.513) with three homeruns in his first 20 games. A hip issue put him on the disabled list mid-May so that will stall some development time. The Dodgers have thrown a lot of resources at Cuban players with little result. They hope Yusniel will not develop into one of those busts.

5. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - Don’t know where the Dodgers were when the Reds shelled out $4.75 million in 2016 to sign Vladimir. He has a fastball that flashes mid-90s with decent secondary stuff to keep him in the rotation. Last year was his first year stateside where he started 19 games with a 4.46 ERA. His pitches seem hittable (.267) and can carry a long way (10 homeruns) but the Reds have a need for starting pitchers. This year the Reds have promoted him to AA where his struggles with getting hit continue (6.08 ERA and .270 average). Again the long ball seems to bother him (8 homeruns) and perhaps a bit of a temper (8 hitbatsman and 8 walks).

6. Jose Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The younger brother of Adonis Garcia is taller (6′1″) which allows him to carry more power. He won an MVP award in the Nacional Series in 2015/2016 and was briefly farmed out to Japan. The Cardinals signed him early in 2017 for $2.5 million and started him out in AA. His arm is a cannon but he still needs improvement moving to the ball. His bat and legs gave him 15 homeruns and 15 stolen bases between AA and AAA. The Cardinals outfield is very crowded but with the struggles of Randall Grichuk the Cardinals may give Garcia an opportunity before the year is out. He needs to show a little more consistency with the bat (.218) at AAA if he wants to get a callup. Better patience at the plate (8/40 walk to whiff ratio) will help with that.

7. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid the other Jose Garcia a $5 million bonus. His glove is smooth but his bat is a question. A 6′2″ frame seems to show some power could develop. The 2018 season is his first opportunity to show what he can do. So far it has been disappointing. In Low A he is only hitting .189 with a 5/33 walk to whiff ratio. He has also committed 10 errors, eight of them at shortstop.

8. Jorge Ona OF (Padres) - The Padres spent $7 million to sign the hulk like 220 pound outfielder. His large frame makes him a slow runner but an above average arm gives him an opportunity to choose his corner. His best position may be DH. What attracted the Padres to Ona was his prodigious power. He showed some of that with 11 homeruns in his first stateside season last year. There were also a lot of swings and misses to his game (115 whiffs in 107 games), dropping his average to .277. This year the Padres have started him in High A where his walk to whiff ratio has digressed (9/47) dropping his OBA from a .351 to .298. He still shows the potential to hit for power, but developing more patience at the plate is needed to draw more of that out.

9. Randy Arozarena OF (Cardinals) - The crowded outfield has dropped Randy to AA. The Cardinals signed Randy for $1.25 million in 2016, a relative bargain for Cuban prospects. He shows a nice combination of power and speed which could allow him to finish as a 20/20 player. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps (32 doubles) but he carried 11 over the fence. In the winter league in Mexico that power was displayed with 14 round trippers and a .558 slugging average. A demotion to AA and a .654 slugging average in 13 games could give him another opportunity for AAA or even with the Cardinals as a September callup.

10. Jonatan Machado OF (Cardinals) - Machado could give the Cardinals an all Cuban outfield. The Cardinals signed him for $2.35 million in 2016. As a young teenager he struggled in his first year (.209) in the Dominican League but stateside last year he broke out in the Gulfcoast League (.323). A taste of full season ball this year (.185) has shown that Machado needs a lot of work with the bat. At 5′8″ he does not have a lot of power, but relies more on contact. His best bet is to improve on his defense to play centerfield. His lack of power is not a good fit for a corner position.