Archive for the 'Rays' Category

Myworlds Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, July 30th, 2018

These are the shortstops of the outfield. They usually have burner’s speed. Ideally it would be nice to have a productive bat but defensively they need to stop the runs. Ideally, these players would be five toolers with the arm to throw and the legs to steal bases. Power is probably the last thing you need from the centerfielder.

Mike Trout started his major league career as a left fielder, deferring to the defensively superior Peter Bourjos. Bourjos struggled with the bat and Trout was moved to centerfield while Bourjos became a bench player. Sometimes teams will stick with the veteran (Andrew McCutchen) even though the rookie (Starling Marte) is the better defensive centerfielder.

Myworld did not include any of the players we named as left fielders or right fielders, or at least we hope we did not include them. Some of those corner outfielders could still pan out as centerfielders depending on how the roster shakes out.

1. Victor Robles (Nationals) - At one time he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. The success Soto has had in the major leagues has moved him to the second best Nationals outfield prospect, but still one of the top ten in the minors. An elbow injury early in the 2018 season sidelined him for much of the year but he has recently returned to AAA. He has all five tools. If not for his injury he would have been called up before Soto. Last year he made his major league debut but hit only .250. This year he has been showing some impressive discipline at the plate, walking 11 times to just 8 strikeouts. Victor should see some time with the Nationals in September. If Bryce Harper leaves as a free agent Robles could fight for the centerfield job with Michael Taylor.

2. Jo Adell (Angels) - Jo was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017. While he only played half a season he still displayed all five tools. His defense is top notch in center, his bat can hit for power and average and his legs can steal bases and cover a lot of real estate in center. He won’t be a prolific basestealer since he will eventually fit in the middle of the order. This year he is hitting .296 with a .557 slugging average. The Angels would like to see some improvement on his 14/60 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to reach AA before the season is done and find himself in the Angels lineup sometime before the 2019 season is complete. It will be interesting if he moves Trout from centerfield or if Adell is the player who is forced to move to one of the corners.

3. Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - Jesus is another five tool player. His power began to show last year when he hit 15 homeruns in Low A. This year he has already deposited 10 balls into the bleachers. Jesus has the speed to cover ground in center, but he does not steal a lot of bases (six this year to put his career total at 23). His career minor league slugging percentage is .492, but this year he sits at .472. He is probably still a couple years away from competing for the Rays center field job.

4. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - The Dominican has already reached High A at 19 years of age. This is already his third year in the minor leagues. Leody possesses all five tools but his batting average and power have yet to appear in High A. His slugging percentage is only .317. Perhaps the Rangers have been too aggressive with him. Last year in a full season at Low A he hit .249. He needs to improve his ability to make solid contact, though his strikeout rate is not high (71 in 98 games). Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep him in High A to begin the 2019 season. A lot will depend on his ability to finish out the 2018 season.

5. Esteven Florial (Yankees) - Last year Estevan had a break out season hitting .298 with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases. He finished the season with an impressive .850 OPS. A promotion to High A has seen him revert to the struggles he had prior to the 2017 season with a .247 average and 56 whiffs in 46 games. He is only slugging .343 which is more than 100 points below his career average. The Florida State League has some large parks so perhaps he is having some struggles coping. In rehab assignments at the Gulf Coast League he is hitting over .500 in 31 at bats against pitchers that match his 20 years of age.

6. Christian Pache (Braves) - Pache covers a lot of territory in center field. In his first two seasons covering close to 700 at bats he had yet to see a ball carry over the fence. His batting averages have been solid (.290) but his slugging has been weak (.358). This year he has found his homerun swing with 8 without sacrificing his average (.287). He makes decent contact but the Braves would like to see him walk more to raise his .311 OBP. The Dominican is probably still a couple years away from patrolling center field but Ronald Acuna could force him to find another position. Christian has more speed but Acuna has a stronger arm.

7. Jeren Kendall (Dodgers) - Myworld is not enamored with his strikeout totals. Last year he struck out 45 times in 40 games, but in college he also had the propensity to whiff. If he can improve his contact rate he has the speed and defensive tools to win gold gloves. The Dodgers currently lack a true centerfielder but Jeren may still be a couple years away. This year he is showing some power with 10 homeruns, but his propensity to swing and miss (117 whiffs in 85 games) keeps his batting average low (.223). A first round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017 the Dodgers were hoping Kendall would acclimate to the minor league pitching quicker than he has so far. His speed could make him a 20/20 player once he reaches the major leagues.

8. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. The Brewers outfield situation was crowded and Monte struggled with his bat early in his minor league career. Last year he broke out with his power hitting 21 homeruns split between Low and High A. The Marlins promoted him to AA and his power is still there (13 homeruns) but his average has struggled (.233). He has regressed in his ability to make contact with a worrisome 166 whiffs in just 104 games. His speed combined with his power will make him a 20/20 major leaguer but he needs to improve his ability to make contact if he wants to see a major league outfield. Lewis Brinson has been playing centerfield for the Marlins but he has had difficulty generating offense.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - A local boy (Flint High School) who was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016. He is a five tool player that can handle all three outfield positions but the Royals would prefer he play center. As a high school draftee the Royals have been aggressive with his promotion. This year he went from High A to AA where he has combined for a .253 average with six homeruns. His patience at the plate is good with 48 walks in just 71 games at High A. Khalil still has a couple years to play in the minors before the Royals need to put him on the 40 man roster so expect him not to arrive until 2020.

10. Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Last year the Athletics gave Jorge a lot of centerfield time. This year all his time has been at shortstop or second base. We see those two positions blocked for the immediate future and Jorge is ready to get his major league opportunity now. He is not the prolific base stealer he was in 2015 when he stole 81 bases. Last year he found his happy feet with 52 stolen bases, but this year he has slowed again with only 18 in 28 attempts. Jorge shows some sneaky power with 12 homeruns last year, but this year the bat has been quiet. His .236 average and .285 OBA will not get him promoted in 2018 but we still like the potential for Mateo to make an impact in the major leagues. His speed is indicative of the 31 triples he has hit in the last two seasons.

Orioles Bats Stay Hot Against Rays

Monday, July 30th, 2018

The Orioles may have traded Manny Machado but their bats have gotten hot since that trade. For the third straight day they have scored double digits in runs. That could be the Rays pitching staff. Or perhaps the Oriole bats are coming to life. For the second straight game they scored 11 runs in their 11-5 win against the Rays.

Yonny Chirinos got the start for the Rays. He had trouble throwing strikes in the first inning, walking two batters and throwing 17 balls to his ten strikes. Chris Davis got the big hit in the inning when he hit one deep to centerfield. Mallex Smith leaped and had the ball in his glove, but as his arm hit the wall on his way down the ball came out of the glove and landed beyond the fence for a two run homer. Adam Jones had the slide of the day. Mark Trumbo hit a double play ground ball to third with runners on first and third and one out. Jones slide knocked Daniel Robertson to the ground negating the double play. It also eventually knocked Robertson from the game.

Dylan Bundy pitched well for the Orioles. He only allowed four hits in his seven innings of work. Unfortunately for him three of those hits traveled over the fence. The even numbered innings were his biggest challenge. C.J. Cron hit two solo shots against him, once in the second and again in the fourth. Jake Bauer blasted a solo shot against Bundy in the sixth.

Chirinos gave up another run in the second, but his defense let him down in the inning. Austin Wynns hit a slow grounder to Willy Adames at short. Willy did not get his glove down low enough as he charged the ball and it glanced off his glove. Tim Beckham followed with a single to left. Left fielder Joey Wendle had the ball glance off his glove allowing Wynns to advance to third. Adam Jones bounced a single up the middle to score Wynns. The Orioles stranded runners on first and third with one out when Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis whiffed.

In the fourth inning the Rays brought in Hunter Wood to pitch. Wynns attacked the first pitch thrown by Wood and lined it into the first row of the left field bleachers. In the fifth the Orioles added another run with an RBI single from Jace Peterson to up the lead to 6-2.

The Orioles put the game away with two big homeruns. Jonathan Schoop blasted a three run homer in the seventh. In the eighth Chris Davis hit his second homerun of the game, a two run shot into the centerfield bullpen.

Game Notes: Last year the Orioles would put the American League standings on the scoreboard followed by the individual league leaders. This gave the fans something to look at as they strolled into the stadium. With the Orioles having the worst record in the major leagues the only the individual leaders are shown on the scoreboard, eliminating the listing of the standings…Dylan Bundy was getting some called third strikes with his curveball. His fastball maxes out at 92. Earlier in his career he could hit 95. Injuries have sapped the velocity from his fastball, but his curveball appears to be a tough pitch for the hitters to recognize…The Orioles traded Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves. What they got for him was a shock. International cap bonus money. The Orioles are usually the team trading international bonus money…Jonathan Schoop has gotten hot with seven homeruns in his last nine games…Daniel Robertson left the game in the fourth inning. He was replaced by Adeiny Hechevarria, with Willy Adames moving to second. He is day to day.

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.