Archive for the 'Rays' Category

Franco Homer Leaders Stripers Over Punchless Bulls

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Carlos Franco hit a two run homerun in the opening frame and it proved to be the difference in the Gwinnett Stripers 3-2 win over the Durham Bulls. In the three days myworld was in Durham the Bulls only scored four runs in three games, losing them all. Management helped me pack my bags for departure last night (kidding).

Kolby Allard got the start for Gwinnett. He is another small pitcher (listed at 6′1″ but not big of frame) with a fastball that sits in the high 80s and low 90s. The Braves drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. If he makes the rotation it will be back end. Myworld does not think he will be as effective against hitters the third time through the order. He has a nice curve ball and locates his pitches well, but the stuff appears too predictable the third time through the order.

That proved true last night. Allard allowed two hits and one walk in his first four innings of work. One of those runners was picked off in the second when he broke for second as Allard tossed to first. In the fifth the Bulls seemed to have figured Allard out. The first four hitters in the lineup got hits to score one with an out recorded when leadoff hitter Andrew Velasquez tried to stretch a single into a double. With two out Kean Wong blooped a hit over short to score the second run to close the 3-0 Striper lead to 3-2. The Bulls got two hard outs in the sixth and Allard did not come out for the seventh. He did strike out seven in the game.

The Bulls started Yonny Chirinos. He is an extremely slow worker, especially with runners on base. His fastball can hit 95 but sits in the low 90s. In the first he gave up a leadoff single to Danny Santana. A wild pitch advanced him to second, but with two out it did not matter when Carlos Franco blasted his eleventh homer to straight away centerfield to give the Stripers an early 2-0 lead.

They scored another run in the fourth, two singles and a walk loading the bases. Chirinos walked Xavier Avery to force in a run and it appeared his day was about done. Sean Kazmar Jr grounded a pitch up the middle. Second baseman Brandon Lowe made a nice diving stop, then glove flipped the ball to shortstop Andrew Velasquez at short, who threw to first to complete the double play and keep Durham in the game. Chirinos retired the first two hitters in the fifth and was removed from the game one out from pitching five innings, throwing 72 pitches. Perhaps Jared Sandberg had something to do last night and couldn’t wait for each pitch from Chirinos.

Defense continued to play a big part of the remaining part of this game. Xavier Avery made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth inning to prevent a blast by Justin Williams from hitting the top of the wall, or at least going over. Shortstop Sean Kazmar made a nice play in the ninth on a slow roller hit by Velasquez, his throw barely beating the runner to first with Brandon Lowe advancing to third. If he doesn’t make that play it would be first and third with one out in a one run game with the tying run on third. Catcher Nick Ciuffo made an excellent play behind the plate on a ball that hit the dirt and bounded away from him. He was still able to retrieve the ball and gun it to second to retire Michael Reed. Second baseman Phil Gosselin made a good play on a hard grounder that went off the glove of Carlos Franco in the sixth for a rare 3-4-3 play to get one out.

In the ninth the crowd witnessed a scary incident. Josh Ravin came on to pitch the inning to close out the game. His first pitch was lined up the middle by Justin Williams, hitting Ravin in the forehead. After stumbling off the mound he collapsed to the third base side of the mound. Eventually he was able to get up on his own power, holding a towel to his forehead and hopped on a cart to take him to a hospital.

Evan Phillips came on to finish the game. He stranded Lowe at third, striking out Ji-Man Choi swinging for the third out. It was the second time in two days Choi struck out when a homerun would have won the game.

Game notes: Gwinnett changed their name from Braves to Stripers. Don’t know if the lime green uniform jerseys are new but they certainly are flashy…Yuta Okazaki was born in Tokyo, Japan and is listed as a catcher for the Stripers. He went to college in the United States (Rollins and University of Connecticut), played in the Independent League for a couple years and signed with the Braves for the 2018 season. He is 26 years old…Myworld enjoyed the empanadas sold at the park. They have six flavors and myworld would recommend them. You get three for $9…At the game a girl was wearing a t-shirt with “Cocks” in big letters. Below that was University of South Carolina. I know the Gamecocks have played the USC Trojans in a football game headlined “Trojans Smother Cocks” but myworld does not know if the Gamecocks have ever played the Oregon State Beavers?…Jason Hursh struck out the side in his inning of work for the Stripers…In the third inning myworld noticed Nick Ciuffo looking at a tablet he pulled from his back pocket after the Bulls recorded the second out. Myworld is pretty certain he was not looking at his email while behind the plate but he may have had notes on this tablet and reviewed it to remind himself how they were going to pitch to the next hitter Dustin Peterson…Jamie Schultz has some good stuff for the Bulls. His balls dance at 96-98, but he has trouble locating them. The three hitters he faced in the seventh and eighth failed to put the ball in play as he struck out two and walked one. Just watching him warmup four or five balls hit the back stop…Andrew Kittridge was not as impressive with his stuff, but he faced six hitters in the fifth and sixth innings and no hitter put the ball in play. He walked two and struck out four…The nine pitchers combined for 22 whiffs, 11 for each side.

Roach Silences Bulls

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Donn Roach is one of those short righthanders (listed at 6′0″) who doesn’t dazzle you with velocity. His fastball hit 93 but got no further. The curveball is what kept the Durham Bulls off balance as the Charlotte Knights shut them out 1-0. The Bull was silenced as Roach pitched seven shutout innings, striking out 9 and scattering just five hits.

Ryan Weber is also a short righthander who offered an excellent breaking pitch. His fastball stayed in the high 80s, rising up to 91 on occasion. He went six innings, striking out six. The only run he allowed was in the third inning when Eddy Alvarez blasted a two out double to the warning track in centerfield. Jacob May followed by bouncing a seeing eye single into centerfield. May was gunned down at second for the third out when the throw home was cutoff and thrown to second, but the run scored.

The closest the Bulls got to scoring was in the third and sixth innings. In the third a walk and single put runners on first and second. A ground out to second saw Alvarez lose his balance when he tried to make the throw to second, so he opted for the sure out at first. With runners on second and third Jason Coats popped out to second to end the threat. With two out in the sixth Brandon Snyder hit a two out double into right centerfield. Justin Williams struck out but the ball eluded the catcher and hit the back stop, allowing Williams to reach first. With runners on first and third and two out Ji-Man Choi struck out.

Thyago Vieira came on to pitch the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Kean Wong. A wild pitch advanced Wong to second but Vieira struck out the last two hitters with his fastball hitting 95-99. He did get a swing and miss for strike three on a good curveball that lacked consistency with its break.

Rob Scahill came on in the ninth. Just like Vieira he gave up a leadoff single to Justin Williams. A wild pitch advanced Williams to second. Scahill struck out the side to earn the save and preserve the shutout.

Game Notes: A man in a spiderman outfit filtered through the crowd in the late innings. A number of people stopped to pose for pictures with him. Judging by the reactions of the ushers he appeared to make regular appearances at the game…Micah Johnson was once a prolific basestealer, stealing 84 bases in 2013. That speed appears to have disappeared at the age of 27 and with little power and a .178 average myworld does not think there is anything left to attract a major league team…Avisail Garcia played right field in his second rehab start. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts…Myworld had the Pork barbecue and the hush puppies. The Pork barbecue was tasty but the hush puppies were a little crisp. The good ones are supposed to melt in your mouth…Ji-Man Choi made a nice diving catch at first. He looks a bit plump to be a major league regular but if he can get on a homerun streak as he did in spring training he could find a role with the Rays. The Brewers just had no position for him. The Rays acquired Choi for Brad Miller in a waiver deal claim…Hunter Wood looked good in his inning plus of relief. He shows a fastball with some velocity (94) and a sweeping curve that got three whiffs to the four hitters he retired.

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.

Knights Polish off Bulls

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Last year myworld travelled to Durham and was impressed with outfielder Johnny Fields, pitcher Ryan Yarborogh and the top prospects on the team Willy Adames and Jake Bauers (though we are not sold on Bauers power). All four of those players are now up with the Rays. Watching them last night we don’t know who will impress us. The recent callup of Adames and Bauers leaves no one who sticks out.

The Charlotte Knights easily disposed of the Durham Bulls 6-2. Jordan Stephens went six shutout innings for the Knights. The righthander from Rice is not particularly overpowering, sitting in the low 90s and his breaking pitches did not seem to overwhelm. But he had good location, getting enough swings and misses to strike out seven. He also showed a good pickoff move getting Keon Wong leaning off first.

The Knights scored first on a Matt Skole solo shot into the centerfield berm in the third inning. Andrew Moore got the start for the Rays and went 4.1 innings. A one out walk issued to Eddy Alvarez brought out the bullpen.

The first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Rays was Kyle Bird. He was not particularly effective. His first pitch to Jacob May was lined into left center for a base hit. A double steal and passed ball allowed Alvarez to score the second run. Alvarez is the speed skating silver medalist who is playing third base but appears to lack the power for the position. His best bet is to make it as a utility player.

A lack of control by Bird let the game get out of control in the sixth inning. Jake Elmore led the inning off with a single. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Back to back walks loaded the bases. Dustin Garneau drove a ball down the left field line to drive in two. Another walk loaded the bases. Jacob May swung at a 3-0 pitch and rolled one back to the pitcher. That ended the night for Bird. Mike Franco came on to strike out pinch hitter Michael Saunders and get Matt Skole to ground to first to end the inning with no further damage, keeping the score at 4-0.

Ian Gibut came on to pitch the top of the ninth. He hit 97 on the radar but walked the first two hitters. A one out Alex Presley single went between the legs of right fielder Jason Coats to allow two runs to score. That put the Knights up 6-0.

In the bottom of the ninth Justin Williams gave the bull something to get excited about. He drove a pitch over the left field wall for a two run homerun. The power was impressive but he showed a lack of speed on a slow grounder hit to short and lumbering to first. He was at DH last night so myworld could not assess his defense. At 22 he shows potential, especially if he can manifest the power to bring out the smoke and the red eyes in the Durham Bull.

Keon Wong hit two line drive singles up the middle. He also got picked off and caught stealing once so two of his three times on base were wasted. He is the younger brother of Kolton Wong who plays second base for the Cardinals. He is not supposed to possess the same tools as his older brother.

Game notes: The Bulls stadium is one of the nicest in the country. Myworld is disappointed that the once vacant blue wall is dotted with advertisements and now has a big video screen covering it. I can’t imagine the Red Sox covering the Green Monster with advertising but perhaps I have not been paying attention…The food selection at Bulls park is varied. Myworld settled for the fruit cup of watermelon last night. We will venture out a little more tonight….Michael Saunders struck out in his two at bats. At 30 years of age the Canadian’s days as a major leaguer appear to be over if he does not correct the holes in his swing. His batting average has dipped below .160…Avisail Garcia was hitting at the DH spot on a rehab assignment. He went 1 for 2 with a walk, hitting a dying quail single into right field his first time up…Andrew Velasquez, who was playing short after the Adames promotion, made a leaping attempt at a line drive. The ball glanced off his glove. As he was hitting the ground he was able to twist and catch the ball before it hit the ground…At last nights game too many players who myworld recognized as ex-major leaguers. The Knights had Jake Elmore hitting fifth, which is not a testament to the awesomeness of the Knights power in the lineup.

Rendon Celebrates Birthday Strafing Rays

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Anthony Rendon celebrated his 28th birthday with four hits against the Tampa Bay Rays. He strung together two doubles, two singles to score four times and drive in three runs. His one out was a deep fly to the warning track in center field. The Nationals sprung for five runs in the first inning to pound the Rays 11-2.

The Rays trouted out reliever Johnny Venters to start the game. He only retired one of the six batters he faced, walking two, giving up two doubles and a single. Ryan Yarborough came on to relieve Venters and after walking Pedro Severino intentionally to load the bases to face Tanner Roark, he ran the count full. Roark poked a single over the second baseman’s head to drive in the last two runs in the five run first. Anthony Rendon drove in the first two runs with a double.

The Nationals scored another run in the second with Rendon starting the inning with a infield single. Brad Miller made a diving stop at short, the umpire had originally ruled Rendon out, but further review reversed the call. Juan Soto advanced Rendon with a hard single up the middle. Michael Taylor, who ended the day with three hits, scored Rendon with a line single to left center. Matt Duffy made a diving stop on a grounder by Wilmer Difo and threw Taylor out at second. Dave Martinez wanted a review, but waited too long to make the call and the umpires disallowed the request. If the call had been reversed the Nats would have scored another run.

Tanner Roark pitched well for the Nationals. He gave up his first run in the fourth after retiring the first two hitters. Brad Miller lined a double along the right field line and Carlos Gomez poked one into left field to score Miller. In the fifth C.J. Cron hit the foul pole in left field for his 13th homerun. Roark went six innings.

In the fourth inning Bryce Harper got his first hit in the series. He tried to stretch the hit into a double. As is the norm for Harper tearing around the bases his helmet usually flies off. This time it flew off in front of him where he appeared to trip over it. The throw barely beat him to second. The original call was safe, but after further review the call was reversed. Harper must have known he was out because he walked into the dugout while the review was being done.

With the Rays creeping up the Nationals got some insurance runs in the sixth. Trea Turner started the inning with a single to left. After a Harper strikeout Rendon lined a Yarborough pitch into right center for a double, scoring Turner. With two out Soto doubled down the left field line to score Rendon. Michael Taylor singled to right and the throw home from Gomez got past Ramos (who was never very good making the plays at home), Taylor advancing to second on the throw. That ended the day for Yarborough, but it did not end the scoring. Taylor broke for third and Ramos threw the ball into left field, allowing Taylor to score the fourth run of the inning.

The Nationals scored one final run in the eighth and it was started of course by Rendon. Rendon and Reynolds hit back to back singles. A ground out to first by Soto advanced them a base. A low pitch by Jose Alvardo slipped between the legs of Ramos to allow Rendon to score with run number 11.

Game Notes: The Nationals stole two bases in the game. Ramos has only thrown out one runner in the 21 attempted steals against him…Carlos Gomez made two poor throws home. He also broke poorly on a double by Taylor in the first inning that was slicing away from him. Since he is batting below the Mendoza line and struggling to play defense the Rays may want to look at other alternatives for right field…Juan Soto appears to be a faster runner than the reports myworld have read. He is impacting the game beating balls to first and advancing the extra base. He has also scored twice on slides at home plate where he has used his hand to sneak in, sliding on the foul side of the plate…For Johnny Venters this was his first career start. It was anticipated he would only pitch one inning. The Rays have one bullpen game where they start a reliever to pitch one inning. They are 3-5 in games in which a reliever is used as a starting pitcher. The start by Venters makes him the first starting pitcher to start after three Tommy John surgeries. Heck, he may be the only pitcher in the major leagues still pitching after three Tommy John surgeries…Diego Castillo made his major league debut for the Rays. He retired the Nationals in order in the seventh, with one fastball hitting 100 on the radar…The Rays hope to turn around their six game losing streak by calling up first baseman Jake Bauers. He lacks the power usually associated with first baseman, but he will hit for average. He also has more range than C.J. Cron on defense.

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.

Scherzer Carves up Rays

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Max Scherzer became the first pitcher this year to reach double digits in victories, dominating the Rays with 13 strikeouts in eight innings to put his record at 10-1. In the sixth inning he struck out the side on 9 pitches a record held by many. He did not reach a two ball count to a hitter until the fourth inning when Wilson Ramos took him to a 2-2 count. The next time he reached two balls to a hitter he went to a full count on Joey Wendle in the seventh.

The 19 year old super star Juan Soto was the spark to the offense that gave Scherzer the runs he needed to earn his 10th win. Matt Adams provided the first spark in the second inning when he lined a 3-2 pitch from Nathan Eovaldi over the right field bullpen, hitting the railing of the second deck. Soto followed, showing some speed when he beat out a dribbler to third for an infield single. A Michael Taylor single up the middle saw Soto racing for third. Wilmer Difo hit a grounder to first, Soto broke for home, C.J. Cron threw home and Soto slid to the outside of the plate, beating the throw to score the second run.

In the fourth inning Soto led off with a walk. With one out Difo lined the first pitch into the right centerfield gap, the ball rolling to the wall. Soto churned his legs, racing for home. Again his slide into home barely beat the throw giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead. With two outs and Scherzer at the plate Eovaldi bounced one in the dirt that got away from the catcher. Difo easily beat the throw home to give the Nationals a 4-0 lead.

Scherzer appeared to tire in the eighth even though he came into the inning having thrown just 77 pitches. Matt Duffy led off the inning lining a pitch that fell in front of Bryce Harper for a single. Carlos Gomez bounced a hard single up the middle to put runners on first and second with no outs. The next two hitters struck out. Brad Miller pinch hit for the pitcher getting ahead of Scherzer 2-0, the first hitter to really get ahead in the count. The next pitch he lined over the head of Michael Taylor that scored two runs, ending the shutout and a possible complete game for Scherzer. Max finished the inning by striking out Daniel Robertson for the third time in the game.

Sean Doolittle came out to pitch the ninth. He retired the side in order, ending the game by striking out Wilson Ramos. For Doolittle it was his 15th save of the year.

Game Notes: The fans gave Wilson Ramos two big ovations, the first when his name was announced for the lineup, and the second when he came to hit for the first time in the second inning. Chants of “Wilson” could be heard in the crowd. Both times he tipped his cap to acknowledge the crowd…During Scherzer’s struggles in the 8th inning the catcher went to the mound twice. That knocked the visits from 6 to 4. When a coach visited the mound twice that required an automatic removal of a pitcher. Myworld would like to see that added to the six visits per game rule, with two visits to the pitcher in the same inning resulting in the automatic removal of the pitcher…Ryne Stanek struck out the side in his one inning of work for the Rays. He hit 98 with his fastball. Myworld saw him pitch on rehab in Durham last year…Wilmer Font pitched two perfect innings, coming into the game with an ERA over 10. Of the six hitters he faced he had two or three ball counts to five of them and two hitters skied pitches to the deepest part of the warning track. Font came into the game giving up 11 homeruns in 21 innings. Now we can see why…With the 13 whiffs Scherzer has reached double digit in strikeouts in 9 of this 13 starts. He also joins Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Lefty Grove as the fifth pitcher to throw the perfect inning more than once, according to MLB.com…This was the second start for Nathan Eovaldi this year. In his first start he pitched six innings of no hit ball. After retiring the side in order in the first, the first hit he gave up was a bomb to Matt Adams…Mallex Smith got ejected in the 8th inning for objecting to a check swing call.

Top First Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The following are myworld’s top ten first base prospects in the minor leagues.

1. Pavin Smith (D-backs) - Smith was the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2017 draft. He played for Virginia, mashing more homeruns (13) than he struck out (12) in his junior season. He failed to hit a homerun in his minor league debut last year but hit .312 with 15 doubles and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. This year the Diamondbacks were aggressive promoting him to High A where he has hit his first three homeruns. Unfortunately he is only hitting .214 with a slugging percentage of .331. His walk to whiff ratio is still excellent at 25/23. His lack of speed means playing the outfield would be tough requiring his power to break out if he wants to replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Defensively he will be average at first base.

2. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Another 2017 first round pick, Nick was drafted seven picks after Smith. He was one of four first basemen selected in the draft, though one may turn into a lefthanded pitcher. Nick does not have to worry about Eric Hosmer blocking him at first base. He slugged four homeruns last year in his minor league debut, but was a little more prone to striking out (58 in 52 games). Though he is not noted for his speed he did steal 10 bases in 14 attempts last year. Defensively he plays his position well. A strong arm and adequate speed makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility. This year he is playing in Low A where he has slugged 7 homeruns with a .426 slugging percentage. Those power numbers will have to improve if he hopes to fill the first base job in Kansas City.

3. Brenadan McKay (Rays) - Brendan was another first baseman drafted in the first round in 2017, the fourth player selected in the draft. The higher selection is based on his ability as a lefthanded pitcher as well. Baseball America voted him the 2017 College Player of the Year. After the draft he started six games (1.80 ERA) striking out 9.5 hitters per 9 innings. He also slugged four homeruns with a .232 average. Defensively he is solid at first base but lacks the speed to move to the outfield. While his bat continues to struggle in 2018 (.233/.300 slugging) his pitching has been stellar (4-0, 0.76). He was used for six starts in Low A, pitching just a little over three innings per start. In High A he has been used in relief twice, working 11 innings. On the bright spot offensively he has a 30/20 walk to whiff ratio (.425 OBA). At some point his bat will click and he will hit for a high average with moderate power. Whether he can handle both hitting and pitching is open to question.

4. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Bradley was a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The power is there for 20 plus homeruns per year as he has done his last three seasons. Strikeouts are a big problem, though last year was the first time since his rookie season when he struck out less than the number of games he played. A lack of speed makes a move to the corner outfield difficult and his defense at first is below par making the DH the best position for him. He is repeating AA this year where he is struggling with a .176 average. Myworld saw him take a ball out, one of his seven homeruns on the year. If his bat can heat up he has a chance for a major league callup this year.

5. Peter Alonso (Mets) - Myworld does not have a lot of faith that Dominic Smith can hold down the future first base position for the Mets. Peter has more power, though neither player is adept at fielding the position well. There is no speed in the legs of Alonso making a move to the outfield not a consideration, not with the surplus of talented outfielders the Mets have. This year the 23 year old is hitting .333 with 14 homeruns for a .632 slugging percentage. The Mets could look for Peter to fill the first base hole before the season is over. He will need to cut back on the 19 errors he made at first base last year. A trade to an American League team where he can play DH is also a possibility.

6. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The 2015 first round pick from Canada by the Marlins probably has more power than any first baseman on this list. Taking advantage of that power has always escaped him. In two full season leagues his high for one season has been 12 homeruns. His strikeout numbers are not high but making better bat on ball contact would increase those homerun numbers. The Padres traded Andrew Cashner in a five player trade to acquire Naylor. His younger brother Noah should be a first round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh has that Babe Ruth look, but unfortunately in his later years at 6′0″ 260. This year Josh seems to have acquired his power stroke in AA with 9 homeruns in 49 games for a .528 slugging percentage. For a big power hitter he does draw a number of walks (25 walks to 27 whiffs).

7. Evan White (Mariners) - Another right handed bat, Evan was drafted in the first round in 2017. He was the last of the four first baseman taken in the draft, falling two positions behind Nick Pratto. Nick has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base, plus the speed to move to the outfield. In his minor league debut he hit 3 homeruns with a .277 average in 14 games. Promoted to the California League to start the 2018 season Evan is hitting .294 with three homeruns. As a college drafted player Evan should rise quickly through the organization, this year starting his season in the California league.

8. Brent Rooker (Twins) - Brent was a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft. In his first year the Twins they tried him in the outfield but his lack of speed makes covering ground a challenging task. The Twins have still used him in the outfield this year but his main use has been as a first baseman. Last year Brent hit 18 homeruns in just 62 games with a .930 OPS. The power has dropped in 2018 with 7 homeruns and a .722 OPS in 47 games. A propensity for the swing and miss will always prevent him from hitting for a high average.

9. Jake Bauers (Rays) - Jake was a 7th round pick in 2013 by the Padres. He was traded to the Rays in 2014. Jake has never really hit for power with 14 homeruns his minor league high in 2016. He has a career .416 slugging average. His athleticism and decent speed would make a move to the outfield a possibility. A weak arm makes left field his best bet. The Rays would still like to see him hit for more power before making the major league club. This year Jake has hit 5 homeruns and is slugging .454 in his second season in AAA. This could result in a late season promotion by the Rays. Eventually he may have to move to left field if Brendan McKay finds his way to the major leagues.

10. Jake Gatewood (Brewers) - Jake was a middle infielder when he was drafted as a first round supplemental pick in 2014. Sprouting to a height of 6′6″ forced a move to first base in 2017. With that kind of length the power numbers have creeped up with a minor league high of 15 homeruns last year. This year Jake has already slugged 9 homeruns with a .445 slugging percentage. As an ex-middle infielder Jake has good defensive instincts at first base. He could see some time with the Brewers before the 2018 season ends.

Top Central American/Caribbean Prospects

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

There was one major league player from the top ten list of last year. The number 10 prospect from the list last year, Allen Cordoba played in 100 games with 202 at bats as a Rule V pick. He is back in the minor leagues this year but has lost his rookie eligibility. The Bahamas seems to be a popular place for prospects this year. Below are the top ten from this year:

1. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees/Haiti) - He was a sleeper last year, fitting in the 8th spot. A break out season last year rockets him to the top. He showed off his impressive tools with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases between Low A and High A. His above average arm will allow him to play right field, but his speed appears to make center his best position. The Yankees outfield is crowded right now so the Yankees can be patient with him. The Yankees have him repeating High A where he hit .303 with two homeruns in only 19 games last year. He’s gotten off to a slow start this year at High A, hitting just .240 where he has struck out 37 times in just 27 games. Making contact has been his Achilles heel. Last year Florial struck out 148 times in 110 games.

2. Jamie Barria RHP (Angels/Panama) - At 6′1″ with a low 90s fastball, Jamie relies on his location to retire hitters. An above average change tends to make the fastball have a bit more hop. Last year he was rated sixth on this list but some decent starts saw him get promoted from High A to AAA. His strikeout numbers were not impressive but he kept the other team from scoring. A good start at AAA (2.92 ERA) and injuries to the Angels rotation gave him an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues this year. He got his first major league win in April and is now 2-1, 3.46 ERA in three starts. He will never be overpowering and is best used in the back end of a rotation.

3. Lucius Fox SS (Rays/Bahamas) - One of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues. The Giants signed him for $6 million in 2015 and included him in a trade to acquire Matt Moore, a deal the Giants may ultimately regret. Generating an offensive game has been his biggest issue. He lacks power, with a minor league career .313 slugging percentage. Excellent speed will get him a lot of stolen bases if he can find a way to get on base. A .241 batting average and .330 OBA needs to show improvement. It is still early in the season but this year Fox is hitting .340 in 26 games at High A. This would be enough juice to put him in the leadoff spot.

4. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves/Haiti) - Touki was born in Florida but returned to Haiti when he was three months old. He returned to the United States with his mother when he was six years old. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft but were not impressed with his ability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves so they could rid themselves of the Bronson Arroyo contract. The only player they got in return was the journeyman Phil Gosselin. Touki still has not found the plate but his numbers are getting better. Last year he struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited AA hitters to a .207 average. He has repeated AA and continues to impress (2-1, 3.56 with a .196 opposition average). He is starting to find the plate more and with a mid-90s fastball and hard breaking curve with long arms he could end up at the top of a rotation in a couple years.

5. Jonathan Arauz SS (Astros/Panama) - With Carlos Correa at short it limits his opportunity to play there for the Astros. At 19 years of age the Astros can still be patient with him and either move him to second or trade him for a veteran player to help in a playoff run. He was acquired from the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade. Giles has helped them in the bullpen and Arauz will help them in the infield in a couple years. His season was shortened last year by 50 games because of a drug suspension. Eventually Arauz may have to move to second because of his limited range. His bat has made an appearance this year in Low A with a .340 average and .540 slugging percentage. This after hitting just .220/.276 last year in Low A. If the power stays a move to third is a possibility.

6. Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers/Honduras) - Dubon was born in Honduras but played high school ball in the United States. The Red Sox drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft. They included him along with Travis Shaw in a trade for Tyler Thornberg. Shaw has already made the trade look bad. Dubon’s ability to make contact, hit for average and play a solid shortstop could make it look worse. He won’t hit for a lot of power but his speed could get him 30 plus stolen bases a year. In the past that would make him an ideal number two hitter. This year a 30 game hitting streak in AAA has put his average at .343 with a .574 slugging average. He is in a zone.

7. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks/Bahamas) - Not as talented defensively as his half brother Lucius Fox but his bat appears to show more power. A knee injury limited him to just 29 games last year. In 2016 he slugged 9 homeruns in rookie ball. The big swing makes him more susceptible to strikeouts with 112 in 91 games the last two years. He is starting this year in Low A where his knee injury limited him to 29 games and is working for a promotion, hitting .324 with a .606 slugging percentage. That is rare power for a Diamondback middle infielder.

8. Jonathan Loaisiga RHP (Yankees/Nicaragua) - At 5′10″ he lacks the height scouts like to see in a righthander. His mid-90s fastball and healthy breaking curveball with an ability to find the plate gives him an opportunity to stay in the rotation. Injuries have prevented him from throwing more than 31 innings in a season. Last year he started 11 games in the short season rookie leagues, pitching well with more than a strikeout per inning and limiting the opposition to an average that is quite a bit south of .200. He pitched well in four starts at High A (3-0, 1.35) resulting in a promotion to AA. The Yankees have a surplus of talented pitchers in their minor league rotations so he will probably settle in AA to limit his innings.

9. Leonardo Jimenez SS (Blue Jays/Panama) - A long career in youth tournaments has given Leonardo instincts for the game other players in the Caribbean lack. A lack of range may force a move from short but Jimenez was not signed until 2017. He will be making his debut in the minor leagues in 2018. At 17 years of age determining his position will have to wait until the short season leagues begin. He is expected to be a contact hitter with gap power.

10. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks/Bahamas) - Another player signed to a 2017 contract that has not played yet. The Diamondbacks shelled out $2.5 million to sign him. At 6′3′ he has the potential for power and with the genes of an Olympian sprinter in his blood has the potential for speed. He could end up fitting in centerfield. He will not begin his season until the rookie leagues start in July.

2017 Central American/Caribbean Prospects

Top Prospects from South America

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

No major league graduates from the first top prospect list from South America last year. The top prospect Jorge Alfaro got more major league time and the 2018 season should see him as a regular major leaguer. The number two prospect Luz Gohara and the number five prospect Thyago Vieira, both flame throwers from Brazil made their major league debuts. Gohara got five starts for the Braves while Vieira made one relief appearance for the Mariners. After that the cupboard gets bare. Below are the top ten prospects in the minor leagues from South America for 2018.

1. Bo Bichette SS (Brazil/Blue Jays) - He played for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. His mother is Brazilian and his father is Dante Bichette, once a Blake Street bomber for the Rockies. His brother Dante Jr. played briefly for the Yankees. Myworld saw him hit three homeruns in an exhibition game and thought he would be a star, but one game does not make a major leaguer, especially in spring training. Now Bo is trying for major league status. Last year was a breakout season for him hitting .384 in Low A and getting promoted to High A and hitting .323. His career minor league average is .372 after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. He does not have the power of his dad, but the batting average will play. Currently, shortstop is his position but there are many who think he does not have the range to play there in the major leagues. The dilemma: his teammate Vladimir Guerrero plays third while another player with major league bloodlines Cavan Biggio plays second. This year Bo is hitting .299 in AA. With Troy Tulowitski seeing his last days as a shortstop the Blue Jays will give Bo every opportunity to succeed at short.

2. Jorge Alfaro C (Colombia/Phillies) - Injuries delayed his permanent arrival to the major leagues. He was signed by the Texas Rangers and included in the deal that got the Rangers Cole Hamel. There is big time power in his bat and his arm has the strength to zip the ball to second base. Those are his strengths. One concern with his bat is his poor walk to whiff ratios (16/113 last year) which could lead to struggles against savvy major league pitchers. Last year he hit .318 with five homeruns in just 29 games to earn the starting catchers job. He lacks speed on the bases and is prone to the passed ball (12 last year), so those are his defensive deficiencies. This year his .235 average with the Phillies is evidence his poor patience could impact his batting average rising to .250 consistently in the major leagues. If the power is there he should stick as the starter.

3. Luiz Gohara LHP (Brazil/Braves) - Despite his ability to throw in triple digits the Mariners traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. There was concern with his doughy physique keeping him from his major league aspirations. Last year he got five starts for the Braves and overpowered hitters with his high 90s fastball. A lack of a quality third pitch resulted in major leaguers hitting him at a .283 clip. An injury in spring training prevented him from competing for a starting role for the Braves in 2018. His first three starts in AAA have been a struggle to find the plate walking seven hitters in just 12 innings with the opposition assaulting him at a .347 pace. That kind of production will delay any major league appearance until he can start retiring minor league hitters.

4. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Peru/Athletics) - Luzardo was born in Peru but attended high school in Florida. His high school Parkland was involved in a mass shooting and he has done a lot to help the school heal. The Nationals were able to draft him in the third round in 2016 because Tommy John surgery had dropped his draft status. He was one of the players they traded to the Athletics for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Last year he only pitched 43 innings but his lefthanded arm was able to sling fastballs across the plate in the mid-90s, resulting in 48 whiffs. At 6′1″ he is not a tall pitcher but his secondary pitches should augment his fastball. The Athletics promoted him from Rookie ball to High A where he only started three games before they promoted him to AA. A 1.23 ERA and 25 whiffs in just 14.2 innings was a reason for that. If he continues at this rate he could see some major league time in September, though that would be optimistic for the 20 year old.

5. Eric Pardinho RHP (Brazil/Blue Jays) - As a 15 year old he was pitching for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. That motivated the Blue Jays to shell out $1.4 million to sign him in 2017. It’s possible Bo Bichette could have recommended him highly after playing behind him. At 5′9″ the righthander is very short. Despite the stature his fastball sits in the low 90s and can hit the mid-90s. He still needs to make improvements on his secondary pitches, though throwing strikes is not a problem. The 2018 season will be his first and it will start in the short season leagues.

6. Luis Escobar RHP (Colombia/Pirates) - Luis has climbed three spots from his ranking last year. The 2017 season was his first in full season ball where he went from 68 innings pitched to 132. A sizzling mid-90s fastball resulted in a lot of swings and misses (168 in 132 innings pitched) resulting in the South Atlantic League strikeout lead. His curveball has a nice break and his change is still in the development stage. Trying to find control of his pitches is his biggest downfall with 60 walks in 132 innings. This year he has started in the Florida State High A where his strikeout rate is not as prevalent (22 in 26 innings) but hitters still have trouble making hard contact (.213 average).

7. Meibrys Viloria C (Colombia/Royals) - Last year he was rated third based on his .376 batting average. The 2017 season saw him debut in Low A where he only hit .259. More strikeouts and less walks were the main culprit in the batting average drop. His power is more gap to gap but as he gets stronger he should reach double digits in homeruns. The arm is strong allowing him to gun down 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him. The Royals have a number of catchers in the minor leagues rated ahead of him so his task will be to find that patience to replicate his 2016 season. After a slow start in High A he has gotten that average up to .250.

8. Oscar Mercado OF (Colombia/Cardinals) - Mercado was five years shy of being a teenager when he left Colombia for Florida. He was impressive enough at his high school the Cardinals drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. While a shortstop in his early years he struggled to generate any kind of offense. A move to centerfield last year put the pressure off him and he slugged a career high 13 homeruns with a .287 average. The speed is there to steal 40 bases each season. The Cardinals outfield is crowded but a .319 average in AAA is enough to draw attention to himself. If he can play centerfield and hit for double digits in homeruns he will be more than a fourth outfielder.

9. Thyago Vieira RHP (Brazil/White Sox) - The Mariners signed Thyago two years before they signed Luiz. But like Luiz they were not impressed with his triple digit fastball and traded him to the White Sox for international slot money when they had hopes of signing Shohei Ohtani. Lack of quality secondary pitches have kept him in the bullpen. He also lacks the swing and miss one would expect for his triple digit fastball (7.4 whiffs per nine innings). If he can find a breaking pitch to throw for strikes he could become closer material. His 2018 season in AAA has come with more whiffs (20 in 11 innings) but more walks (9) and a higher opponent batting average (.295).

10. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Colombia/Rays) - The third catcher from Colombia on this list. Myworld smells a trend. Ronaldo played on the 18 and under Colombian team as a 15 year old in 2013. The Rays signed him the next year for $225,000. All he has done since his arrival is hit, with a .326 minor league career average in his first three years, all in Rookie short season ball. Each year his slugging average increased, climbing to .507 last year. A strong arm resulted in a 57 percent success rate against runners trying to steal against him. This year he has made his debut in full season ball and is hitting .302 with a 17 percent success rate in gunning down runners. It is still early so there is plenty of time to change those numbers.

2017 South American Prospects