Archive for the 'Rays' Category

Top Minor League Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top minor league shortstop prospects. There is a bundle of athletic talent at this position. With this list our infield is complete. Next will be the outfield and then the pitching staff.

1) Wander Franco (Rays) - Any player who would be considered the top prospect in baseball in 2020 has to be considered as the top shortstop prospect. But at one time Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in baseball, but he is still struggling to make his mark in the major leagues. Wander has the ability to hit for average and power. In 2018 he hit .351 with a 1.005 OPS, slugging 11 homeruns in just 61 games in the rookie league. In 2019 he got his opportunity to play full season ball and hit .327 with an .885 OPS and 9 homeruns. His defensive tools are not superb, but they are good enough to play shortstop. If he has to move to second or third base the bat is certainly strong enough for him to be an All Star at any position he plays. Next year he should start his season in AA and he could reach the majors as a teenager. Willy Adames is currently the shortstop but he has yet to break out the offensive tools that Franco possesses.

2) Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) - With newness comes expectations of grandeur. No one has witnessed the warts yet. Witt was the second pick in the 2019 draft. Myworld saw him put on a homerun derby spectacle at the All Star game in D.C. His dad is Bobby Witt and he was a first round pick way back in 1985. His son has chosen to swing the bat rather than pitch. He has five pretty impressive tools. The bat carries plenty of pop and he should be able to hit for average. In his first taste of minor league baseball he hit .262 with just one homerun for an uninspiring .670 OPS. His legs show a lot of speed as witnessed by his five triples and 9 stolen bases in just 37 games. Defensively he has good range and a rocket arm that can throw in the mid-90s if he was asked to pitch. Next year he should make his debut in full season ball where he will be expected to show a little more pop than he did in 2019.

3) Royce Lewis (Twins) - Back in 2017 Royce was the first pick in the draft. You would think this would still make him the top prospect among shortstops but some warts have popped up. In the AFL the Twins have been playing him at other positions, using him at centerfield and third base, in case shortstop continues to be occupied by Jorge Polanco and they need his bat in the lineup. His bat should hit for average and power, but in 2019 he could only manage a .236 average. His strikeout rate went up leading to a drop in average. An OPS of .661 is very disappointing for a player of his tools. He has great speed and should be an above average defender at shortstop, but needs to improve his consistency fielding his position. Last year he finished at AA, which is where he should start the 2020 season. He could see some time in the majors next year if he can find some quality at bats.

4) Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets are flush with shortstops, with Amed Rosario improving on his defense in the second half, with a bat that has come to life, filling the major league roster. Mauricio is another live bat that can play the position. He is still a few years away from the major leagues. At 6′3″ he could out grow the position, but at this point he would have the bat to move to third or second base. As he fills out the bat will hit for power. In 2019 he hit for a .665 OPS in Low A ball. The arm is good enough to play third or short, but his lack of speed could limit his range at short as he fills out. He also needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take advantage of his hitting potential. Next year Ronny should see half a season at High A and perhaps half a season at AA, depending on how he develops. He could see the majors in 2021 as a 20 year old.

5) Jazz Chisolm (Marlins) - Two shortstops were signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. Lucius Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million and Jazz signed with the Diamondbacks for just $200,000. Jazz is the player on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for Zac Gaillen. Though Zac is a nice pitching prospect, Jazz may turn out to be a premier shortstop. With the Diamondbacks he struggled to make contact, which resulted in a low average (.204), but he did show some power with 18 homeruns. With the Marlins the average went up (.284) and the power was still there to hit three homeruns in 23 games. Defensively, he has the tools to stay at shortstop. The Marlins might see him with their big league club some time by mid-season in 2020.

6) O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - The Pirates have been developing some pretty vanilla shortstops over the years in Jody Mercer, Kevin Newman, Kevin Cramer and Cole Tucker. If Cruz can stay at shortstop he could fall far right of that Bell curve. At 6′7 myworld expects him to move to first base or right field, but if he can stay at short he could provide consistent 30 plus homerun power at the position. For a big man with a large strike zone he makes pretty good contact. In 2019 he reached AA but he did not make a big impact, hitting just .269 in 35 games with one homerun and a .412 slugging percentage. After a down 2019 the Pirates will be in rebuilding mode for 2020 and Cruz should be a big part of that. Expect him to start next year in AA.

7) Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - After an injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers called Gavin up in September to handle second base. With Corey Seager at short that position could be filled for the future years. The 2016 first round pick had hit .392 in AAA and combined for 26 homeruns between AA and AAA in just 113 games. He struggled a bit with the Dodgers, hitting just .240 with two homeruns. After a poor 2017 season many were calling him a bust. After two years of hitting .320 plus he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers plans. The tools are there to play shortstop, but he has shown a lack of consistency in finding first base with his throws. A move to second may make the throws just a bit easier. Expect him to start the 2020 season with the Dodgers either as their second baseman, or someone who can play second, short and third.

8) Jose Devers (Marlins) - With the acquisition of Jazz the Marlins have two quality defenders they can put at short. Jose is the brother of Rafael, who plays third base for the Red Sox. Jose may not carry the power of his older brother, but time will tell. He just finished his third year with the Marlins and he has only hit one homerun. Jose makes good contact with the bat and last year hit .322 at three different levels, rising all the way to High A. He also has the speed to steal bases and turn singles into doubles. Defensively he has the tools to be an above average shortstop. Next year in his age 20 season he should see AA.

9) Marco Luciano (Giants) - The Giants are in a rebuilding mode and Marco should be a important part of that process. He is another shortstop discovered in the Bahamas, as they replace San Pedro de Macoris and Curacao as the land of the next wave of shortstops. The Giants traded Lucius Fox, who they signed out of the Bahamas for $6 million to the Rays, then went back to the well to sign Marco for $2.6 million. He has the potential for five tools, showing the tools for a strong bat, good speed, solid arm and strong defense. The 2019 season was his first year to show off those tools and he hit .322 with 10 homeruns. This should allow him to start the 2020 season in a full season league.

10) Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Jorge has been around awhile, signed by the Yankees way back in 2012. He complained back in 2016 when he was not promoted to AA. His prospect status dropped after the 2018 season when he hit only .230 in AAA with just three homeruns. He got his mojo back in 2019 after hitting .289 with 29 doubles, 14 triples and 19 homeruns. There is some sneaky power in his bat. The Athletics have tried him in centerfield and second base. With Marcus Semien at shortstop they do not need help at that position. Expect Jorge to make the Athletics roster in the 2020 season as a super utility player who can move all around the diamond. His speed is terrorizing on the bases, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Santander Leads O’s to Rays Mauling

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

The Orioles scored in five innings. In a five for five day Anthony Santander delivered hits in four of them to score, drive in or keep the rally alive to lead the Orioles to an 8-3 win. For Santander it is his first five hit game in the major leagues.

Diego Castillo got the opener start. He retired the first two Orioles then ran into trouble when Trey Mancini, Santander and Renato Nunez singled to drive in one run.

The Rays went with lefty Jalen Beeks in the third inning. The Orioles put together their second two out rally with no one on, though Hanser Alberto had hit a one out single. He tried stealing second and after originally being ruled safe the umpires in New York reversed the call. Mancini drew a walk and Santander kept the rally alive with a line single into left field. Nunez laced a double into the left centerfield gap and a bobble by Kevin Kiermaier allowed Santander to score. The throw home was high and to the back stop, Nunez advancing to third on the throw. A D.J. Stewart single scored the third run of the inning, putting the Orioles ahead 4-0.

Dylan Bundy pitched a solid five for the Orioles. The Rays started to hit him the second time they saw him in the batting order. In the fourth an error by Richie Martin when he bounced a ball to first put runners on first and third with just one out. Kevin Kiermaier drove in the first run with a single to center. Bundy issued a walk to load the bases but Joey Wendle grounded into a double play to end the threat, the second of four double plays the Rays hit into.

Jalen Beeks must have been in the game for the long haul, no matter how many runs he gave up. The Orioles got him for two more in the fifth to neutralize the Rays one run. Jonathan Villar became the Orioles sixth 20/20 player by blasting a drive deep into the left field bleachers for his 20th homerun. Again, the homerun came after the first two hitters were retired. Rio Ruiz, who came in for the injured Alberto, lined a double to the base of the right center field wall. The Rays chose to walk Mancini intentionally and Santander made them pay with a bloop RBI single into left field.

Bundy again struggled in the fifth, giving up two runs. He walked Mike Zunino leading off the fifth. Tommy Pham grounded a double just inside the third base line to score Zunino. The Rays scored a second run on a sacrifice fly hit by Ji-Man Choi. This pulled the Rays to within three, 6-3.

D.J. Stewart put a stop to that momentum, lining a pitch to deep right center. Kiermaier reached out for it, the ball hitting his glove and hitting the top of the wall. The umpires originally ruled a homerun, but after review reversed the call saying the ball hit the top of the fence and did not go over. Stewart ended up scoring, tagging up on two fly balls.

Santander ended the scoring with a line drive solo homerun into left field in the eighth inning. He hit an infield single in the ninth to finish his 5 for 5 day, but it was his first hit that did not result in an Oriole run.

Game Notes: The Rays were dressed in all white while the O’s were in all black. The all white uniforms had white numbers and letters so you could not see the number or name on the back of the uniform. The white writing on the black uniforms were so small that myworld could not see it. Don’t know whose idea this was but myworld did not like it…Hanser Alberto was shaken up on an attempted steal in the third and was taken out of the game (head contusion). Kiermaier hit the wall on the Stewart double in the fifth and was also replaced (left rib cage contusion). Chris Davis pinch hit for Renato Nunez after he experienced a tight hamstring running to second…Jalen Beeks worked five innings and gave up seven runs. The Rays had to be out of bullpen help to keep in Beeks that long…D.J. Stewart played a strong right field, making a diving catch on a liner in the third and made a running catch on a ball hit into the right centerfield gap in the fifth…Villar became the sixth Oriole to hit 20 homeruns and steal at least 20 bases. The last player to achieve that feat was Manny Machado in 2015. Brady Anderson accomplished the feat on three occasions. Villar also became the fifth player to accomplish the 20/20 club this year in the major leagues…The Rays collected 10 hits in the game but the O’s limited the damage with four double plays.

Top Second Base Prospects

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Normally your second baseman of the future are shortstops who have to move to second base because another shortstop is better than them. This list is thin with a number of former shortstops on it. Not a big fan of Isan Diaz, though he is currently up with the Marlins.

1. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Rodgers was the Rockies first round pick in 2015. He has Trevor Story ahead of him on the Rockies roster. Last year he was troubled by shoulder issues. This year his season ended early because of a torn labrum that required surgery. He did hit .350 with 9 homeruns in his 37 AAA games before getting a callup to the Rockies after a Story injury. He did not put up awe inspiring numbers, hitting just .224 with a .250 slugging. That is when they discovered the torn labrum. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but this surgery could make a move to second base more likely. His bat is solid with a .490 slugging percentage entering the 2019 season. If he recovers from his shoulder issues and the Rockies find an alternative at second base (Ryan McMahon) he could become trade bait. Expect him to start the 2020 season in the minor leagues if he is healthy and a later promotion once he has seen some games.

2. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - The Rays found a bargain in Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. His bat has shown the ability to make contact with more walks (150) than whiffs (136) during his minor league career. His speed could make him a top of the order hitter, with 55 stolen bases last year. The down side in Brujan’s game is his lack of power. Despite his small frame (5′9″) he does not drive the ball like an even smaller Jose Altuve or Jose Ramirez. Defensively the tools are there for him to play short, but with Wander Franco climbing the minor league ladder the Rays have been using him at second base. This year he has stolen 46 bases in 93 games. His strikeouts have increased since his climb to AA (18/31 walk to whiff) resulting in a drop in average (.263). Brujan can make an impact if he can get on base and allow his speed to create havoc.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - Nick was the White Sox first round pick in 2018. He led Oregon State to the College World Series. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, with an arm that may be borderline, but there always seems to be a better defensive option ahead of him. At Oregon he was forced to play second because of a better defensive shortstop. The White Sox have been using him at second base. Despite his small frame (5′8″) Nick has some pop in his bat. That pop will be defined mainly by hits into the gaps but he should reach double digit homerun numbers. Last year he did not hit a ball out of the park in 155 at bats but did hit .303. This year he has already found himself in AAA, hitting .307 at the three levels with a .414 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 34 bases. Defensively he will be an asset to the White Sox at second base and with Yoan Moncada moving to third there is little to stop him from playing there in 2020.

4. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - Jones was a second round pick of the Angels in 2015. Because of a crowded outfield the Angels moved him to second base in 2018. What appeared to be a solid bat struggled in his first year at second base, dropping below .250 with a slugging average under .400. When he played outfield his bat played above those numbers. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. The Angels were hoping he would become comfortable in his second year at second base and his bat would return to their 2016 and 2017 numbers, but he continues to struggle (.236). His power numbers have also dropped. His defense is not at the level where he will survive in the major leagues at second base unless the bat returns to where it was at when he played the outfield.

5. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac may be best used as a utility player. He lacks the range to play short on an every day basis and his power is not there for third base. Second base could be a move but his 225 pound frame makes playing a middle infield position challenging. He will need his bat to carry him if he is to play second base. He was first signed by the Cubs out of Mexico for $500,000 in 2015. The Cubs traded him to the Tigers for some relief help (Justin Wilson). The one big tool Isaac has is his bat. Power could come like a Jose Ramirez later in his career. As it is now he is hitting .288 in AA with 11 homeruns. That is about where his bat should be in the major leagues. Speed and defense are lacking from his game.

6. Xavier Edwards (Padres) - Edwards has the defensive tools to play shortstop but with Fernando Tatis there the Padres have been using him more at second base. He was a first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018. In his first season at rookie ball Xavier hit .346. He lacks the strength to hit for power so he needs to rely on his ability to make contact. Speed will be a big part of his game. Last year he stole 22 bases in just 45 games. His arm may be a little weak for short, but it will be fine at second base, making him above average defensively. This year his bat continues to shine at the full season level with a .323 average and 31 stolen bases. As he matures he could pick up some gap power.

7. Nick Gordon (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon started his career as a shortstop, just like his half brother Dee. He was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It has taken some time for him to climb the minor league ladder, but he has finally reached AAA where he is hitting .298 with four homeruns. That is a big improvement over his .212 average in AA last year. Like Dee, Nick does not hit for power and his speed lacks the burner capability of Dee. He will need to hit if the Twins want to keep a spot open for him. The concern is there is no one tool that makes him great. His best spot may be as a utility player.

8. Mauricio Dubon (Giants) - Mauricio is the only player in minor or major leagues born in Honduras. He came to the United States at 15 years old to attend high school and improve his baseball abilities. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft and then made him part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire the recently released Tyler Thornburg. The Brewers traded him to the Giants this year for bullpen help. His bat carries very little power but he had a career .299 batting average entering the 2019 season. His range falls a little short to be playing short on a regular basis. With Marco Luciano ahead of him in the depth chart a move to second base is in his future.

9. Freudis Nova (Astros) - The Astros signed Nova for $1.2 million in 2016. He could have gotten more but he failed a drug test and his signing price dropped in half. Nova has the tools to play short, with a strong arm his best tool, but with Carlos Correa at short he has played some second in anticipation that short will not be available when he is ready. His bat has the potential to hit for power, though that power has yet to appear. This year is his first in a full season league. A 12/61 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and could result in a lower batting average as he rises up the minor league ladder if he does not improve. At Low A he is hitting .255 with a .293 OBA. He has good speed to run the bases, but it appears not to be stolen base speed. It will take some time for him to reach the major leagues. At 19 years of age and playing in Low A expect him to be ready no earlier than 2021.

10. Luis Garcia (Nationals) - Luis was signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $1.3 million. That is similar to Nova, but Luis is already playing at AA. Shortstop is occupied by Trea Turner and the power is lacking to move to third. It could develop as he matures but not in time to play third after Rendon’s departure next year. Last year he split time between Low A and High A, his average falling just a couple points short of .300. This year he is finding AA a bit of a challenge. His lack of patience is being exposed with the AA pitchers (17/81 walk to whiff) resulting in a lower batting average (.253). The Nationals have no barriers in front of him to take over second base in 2020 if he can show the bat to play the position. He may have to start the first part of 2020 in AAA.

Top First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Not a stellar list. Many of your top first base prospects struggle in the outfield in the minor leagues but have a good bat and eventually move to first base, making it tougher for minor leaguer first baseman to make the major leagues. Right hand hitting first baseman are not liked by scouts. For one, their glove is on the wrong side of their hand for making a tag during pickoffs and two, if you are going to have a left handed bat in the lineup put him at first base. Christian Walker is one of those rare right handed bats who plays first base, but it took him until his 28th year to become a major league starter. He still platoons with the left hand hitting Jake Lamb. So on to the unimpressive list of first base prospects.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - He is the right handed bat that many scouts fear putting at first. The third pick in the 2019 draft is said to have a productive bat that will force itself into the lineup. He was the Golden Spikes winner in 2018 in college while playing for California, finishing his college career with a .374 average and a .688 slugging percentage. His bat is expected to produce power that is slotted for the position and because he hits the ball to all fields he will be impossible to defend with shifts. At 6′0″ he does not have the tall frame that you want to see from a first baseman, but his defense will be steady. He pitched a bit in college so he has the arm for a move to third base. In his first minor league season he has already seen himself promoted to High A. His bat has been below average in the full season leagues, hitting just above .250 with a slugging average below .430. Major league teams will want to see more from their first baseman, but he is still learning, getting his first exposure to minor league pitching.

2. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - The arm is his biggest down side. The Orioles tried him at short and third but the loopy throws to first would not cut it in the major leagues. Left field is another option but the arm could be a hindrance there. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues and while he does not have the power of Yordan Alvarez, a rotation between first base and DH will be in his future. This year has been a breakout season for him power wise. His 20 homeruns is a career high and he is slugging .516. The big cause of concern is his 17/107 walk to whiff ratio, which means his .314 average in AAA will not be sustainable if he keeps swinging at pitcher’s pitches. The Orioles roster is filled with first baseman/DH types (Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo) so finding room for him will mean the O’s will have to say bye to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and keep Mancini and his sub par defense in the outfield (Renato Nunez is another DH player on their roster). His bat should be ready for the major leagues next year and a September callup is a strong possibility this year.

3. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The bat is what will get him into a major league lineup. The Astros drafted him with their first pick in 2018. He was included in a trade to the Diamondbacks for Zack Greinke. So he has gone from a DH league to a non-DH league, depriving him of an opportunity to play his best position, unless the major leagues adopts the DH for both leagues. He is the first left handed bat in this list, but he throws right handed, meaning his glove is on the wrong side for pickoffs. The Astros have used him in the outfield, but his lack of speed and weak arm make him a liability there. His best position is DH. Last year he hit himself into High A, slugging 12 homeruns. He struggled a bit when trying to hit High A pitching (.262 average, 4/22 walk to whiff ratio). This year he was better at High A (.314, .602 slugging) that the Astros promoted him to AA after only 35 games. He has 25 homeruns (none in his 8 games with the D-backs AA team) with 93 RBIs. If he was in AAA with the juiced baseballs his homer numbers could be video game like. Christian Walker and his inconsistent bat is his only impediment in the major leagues so there is no one stopping him from a promotion if his bat keeps producing.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - The Red Sox first round pick in 2018. He only played in two games last year because a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season early. At 6′4″ he has the size teams are looking for in their first baseman. He also throws right handed so the Red Sox are looking at him for third. That size is normally a hindrance at that position if he lacks the quickness and flexibility to handle the hot shots. He has tremendous power, so his bat is what will get him in the lineup somewhere. He played for Team USA where he showed an ability to hit to all fields, making him tough to shift against. This year he has been a bit strikeout prone with 105 whiffs in 101 games. He has clobbered 17 homeruns, but his .247 average keeps his slugging average at .468. Those are Bobby Bradley like numbers. Next year the Red Sox will promote him to High A. If he does well there that could result in a quick promotion to AA but at 19 years of age there is no reason to rush his bat until it is ready for the next level. It will be a couple years before he sees the major leagues, especially with Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers ahead of him.

5. Evan White (Mariners) - Evan was a first round pick in 2017. He is noted for his defense, which is good. There is some question about his power, which is bad when you are playing first base. He also hits right handed, another tick against him. But he throws lefthanded so good for pickoff throws. Bottom line is if Evan can hit he will make the major leagues. Last year in High A he sprayed the gaps with 27 doubles, but hit only 11 homeruns, resulting in a .458 slugging. His batting average was an impressive .303 which led to a promotion to AAA, skipping AA. This year Evan finds himself in AA and his power has impressed with 16 homeruns and a .500 slugging. With his superior glove that could get him to the major leagues. It is not like the Mariners have anyone there that can stop his promotion in 2020 except for the DH entrenched Dan Vogelbach.

6. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - The third round pick in 2014 has been hitting a lot of balls out of minor league parks. A troubled glove and an inability to hit for average has kept him pummeling minor league pitchers. Last year at AA he repeated that level and his average dropped 40 points. Despite the struggles (.214 average) he still got his promotion to AAA. This year he has hacked at AAA pitching for a .272 average and a career high 29 homeruns. It led to his first promotion to the major leagues, where he struggled (.178), hitting only one homerun in 45 at bats. Next year he may be given more of an opportunity. He’ll get to show his stuff in September. DH may still be his best position in the major leagues.

7. Nate Lowe (Rays) - Nate Lowe, like catcher Will Smith (Dodgers) may not be considered a prospect next year if he gets a few more at bats. He was a 13th round pick in 2016 out of college. His younger brother was a first round pick of the Rays in the 2016 draft out of high school. Nate is the one that has made an impact for the Rays, with a .294 average and 5 homeruns. At 6′4″ and 245 pounds he can mash a baseball when he gets ahold of it. His large frame hinders his speed for the outfield making first base his only viable position. His younger brother is the same 6′4″ and 205 pounds with the speed to one day join him with the Rays playing the outfield. Defensively Nate can handle first base, but he will not win any gold gloves. Expect Nate to be the Rays starting first baseman next year.

8. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Nick was a first round pick of the Royals in 2017, a couple picks ahead of White. Like White, Nick is noted for his glove at first base. There is some concern whether his bat will break out enough to be an offensive contributor at the position. To go along with that lack of power he also has a propensity to swing and miss with 150 whiffs last year and already 145 this year in less games. Last year he slugged .443 with just 14 homeruns, but had the ability to find the gaps with 33 doubles. This year he is really struggling with a .185 average and a .302 slugging. We’ll chalk it up to a bad season. One tool he is above average in for a first baseman is speed. Last year he stole 22 bases and this year he has 15. It is still not enough to make him an effective outfielder at any position but possibly left field.

9. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - Diaz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million by the Twins. They traded him to the Marlins for bullpen help (Sergio Romo). Myworld likes his 6′4″ height and his lefthanded bat. Diaz has had a breakout year with his power, slugging 24 homeruns between High A and AA. His ability to hit for average has improved, raising his High A average from .225 last year to .290, resulting in a promotion to AA. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base where his defense will be adequate. For a power hitter he does have a good ability to make contact. He could make a contribution to the Marlins next year.

10. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick will rely on his power. Bobby can also play third base, but Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers could hinder his major league progress there. He is one of those players whose at bats do not result in a lot of balls hit in play. He takes a lot of walks, whiffs a ton and sends many a ball over the fence. Last year he slugged 32. This year he has 22. The strikeouts will leave his batting average below .250 but his OBA should still be good with his walks. He has a solid arm and just below average speed so a move to left field could be an option, but the Red Sox outfield is a little crowded now for that to happen. He will probably see the Red Sox next year and if J.D. Martinez is not resigned he could see time as a DH.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Myworld attempts to identify the top ten catching prospects in the minor leagues. This is my opinion based on numbers since we have not seen all of these players play. For the next couple weeks we’ll try to go around the diamond.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft. The last time the Orioles drafted a catcher in the first round (2007 fifth overall pick) his name was Matt Wieters. Matt has had a good career in the major leagues but when he was in college his bat was going to make him special. That bat never really showed up. Like Matt, Adley is a switch hitter and comes with the same two way press clippings, a powerful bat who can play the defensive game. He makes good contact, walking more than he struck out in college and has the potential to hit for power. He also has a strong arm that can control the running game. At 6′2″ he is solidly built but still agile enough behind the plate. In his professional debut he has walked (5) more than he has struck out (4), but his batting average is less than desired (.176). It is a small sample size of only 34 at bats and it comes after a heavy college season. Adley should get enough experience that he should play in the full season league next year.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - A similar story for Bart who will eventually be called upon to replace Buster Posey, who has had a good career with the Giants. Like Wieters, Posey was a fifth overall pick (2008) but his offensive game has been better. At 32 years of age his catching shelf life is about to expire and Bart is poised to replace him. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 and was the second overall pick, coming out of the same college as Wieters (Georgia Tech). His first season in rookie ball he shined with 13 homeruns and a .364 average. Those are the kind of numbers we expected from Adley. Joey is also a two way player with a powerful arm to control the running game and a good bat to hit in the middle of the lineup. At 6′3″ he is also a big catcher but very agile behind the plate. For the 2019 season the Giants started him in the California League where his bat continues to shine (.270, 12 homeruns) with a .815 OPS. His speed and ability to make contact is not as strong as Adley but he should make an impact with the Giants by 2021.

3. Will Smith (Dodgers) - Will was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2016. At the start of the season he wasn’t even considered the best catcher in the Dodgers system. After the way he has handled major league pitching this year (.326, 6 homeruns, 1.199 OPS) he may not be eligible as a rookie next year since he is now the Dodgers starting catcher in the middle of a playoff race. Based on his career minor league numbers (.236 average) the batting average should not stay at that level, but his power is real. He also has a strong arm and is showing good maturity with a veteran Dodger pitching staff in a playoff race. Keibert Ruiz will find it tough to wrest the catching job from Smith, but the Dodgers appear to be set at catching for the long term. This year Will did hit .269 with 20 homeruns in just 60 games at AAA, where the baseballs may have been a little juiced. For a power hitter he makes good contact.

4. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - With Wilson Contreras behind the plate the Cubs are not in an immediate need to find a catcher. They found Miguel in Panama, where they signed him for $1.25 million in 2015. His defensive game at this point is above his offensive game, but his power began to show last year with 12 homeruns in his first exposure to the full season leagues. A promotion to the Carolina League for 2019 has seen some offensive struggles (.232) but he has shown some patience at the plate (.347 OBA) and continues to display his power (8 homeruns). His defensive game has improved to such a point that he may be one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. Despite his offensive struggles Miguel should see AA next year and Wilson should start looking in the rear view mirror at his next replacement.

5. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets have had a number of promising catchers that have performed less than their expectation once they reached the major leagues. Francisco comes from the catching haven of Venezuela and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million. He did not play last year. At 17 years of age he still has some work to do on his defensive game. He has been pretty impressive with the bat in his first year hitting .462 with two homeruns in just 26 at bats. The Mets promoted him to Kingsport where he continues to rake with a .355 average with two more homeruns. His OPS sits at an impressive 1.073. At 5′11″ and 220 pounds Francisco is a bulky catcher. To stay agile behind the plate he will have to watch his weight. A promotion to the full season league next year is expected.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Keibert was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $140,000. Will Smith has been a step ahead of him on the catching ladder. Keibert was signed for his defense, but his bat has been pretty impressive as well, with a .309 career average entering the 2019 season. The power may not be as great as Smith but he has a better ability to make contact and hit for a higher average. Both players have a strong defensive game. This year Keibert struggled a bit in AA, where he played last year (.254) but a promotion to AAA has seen him increase that average (.324). The Dodgers could leave Ruiz in AAA next year as insurance to an injury to Smith but at some point they will have to make a decision who their starting catcher is.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez (Rays) - Ronaldo was signed out of Colombia in 2014 for a bargain price of $225,000. No catcher on this list has a stronger arm than Hernandez. The other parts of his game still need some work. The Rays converted him to catcher after signing him so his experience is still limited behind the plate. Last year Ronaldo played his first year in a full season league and clubbed 21 homeruns. His career average entering the 2019 season is .306. Playing in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he is hitting .274 with 7 homeruns. His .413 slugging is about 70 points under his career minor league average. The Rays will show patience with him but he could be the Rays first home grown catcher in more than a decade.

8. Shea Langeliers (Braves) - Shea was a first round pick of the Braves in 2019, the ninth player selected in the draft. His defensive tools are supreme with an arm equal to Hernandez. He was considered the best defensive catcher in college baseball. His bat could be a question mark, but he did break an NCAA tournament record with 11 RBIs in one game. The Braves debuted him in Low A where he has struggled with the bat (.211). When you consider the Orioles have started Adley in the rookie leagues the immediate promotion of Shea to full season was an aggressive move. They may start him in Low A to begin the 2020 season but he could be up with the Braves very quickly.

9. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Sam was a seventh round pick in 2016 out of high school. Catchers drafted out of high school usually do not have the same success as catchers drafted out of college. At 6′4″ Sam is large for a catcher but his athleticism and strong arm keep him behind the plate. His large frame gives him exceptional power. Last year he hit 18 homeruns at Low A. The downside was a troubling 23/140 walk to whiff ratio. This could hurt him average wise as he sees more advanced pitching. The Rangers repeated him at Low A this year and after hitting .333 with 15 homeruns in just 30 games they quickly promoted him to High A. The homerun numbers have slowed (10 in 70 games) but the average still remains high (.278). He still continues to struggle to make contact (23/116 walk/whiff ratio in 101 games) so that will have to be monitored. His defense is strong enough that if he hits below .250 with 20 plus homeruns he should make it as a starter.

10. William Contreras (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson. His offensive game is probably just above his defensive game at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate, good athleticism and with more experience should be an upper level defender like his older brother. His offensive game has the same potential for power as his brother. Last year he hit 11 homeruns at Low A but failed to hit a homerun in his 83 at bats in the Florida State League. That is where he started his 2019 season and though his offensive numbers were not great (.263, 3 homeruns) he was still promoted to AA. William makes good contact and his power should improve as he matures. Expect him to be with the Braves sometime late next year as a September callup.

Rays Short of Perfection in Win Against O’s

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Myworld has witnessed two no hitters, a seven inning minor league game thrown by John Stephens and a nine inning major league game thrown by Max Scherzer. I don’t recall either of those games being perfect. Today Tampa Bay used two pitchers to pitch 8 innings of perfect ball. Ryne Stanek, a fireballing righthander whose fastball lights up the radar guns at 98 pitched the first two innings. Ryan Yarbrough a junk ball throwing lefty who stays in the slow lane at 88 pitched a perfect six. They each spell their first name differently, but they often act as a pair, with Ryne taking the first two innings as the opener before handing it to Ryan to take the next four to seven innings.

The perfect game was ended on the first pitch in the ninth when Hanser Alberto pushed a ground ball through the vacated right field hole, a spot where the second baseman should have been playing if he had not been on the left hand side of the bag in the shift. Stevie Wilkerson punched the second pitch of the ninth into center field for a cleaner hit. Yarbrough struck out pinch hitter Chance Sisco before departing. The Orioles would end the shutout on a Anthony Santander single but Emilio Pagan retired Trey Mancini on a strike out on a 96 mph fastball with two runners on to preserve the 4-1 victory.

Tom Eshelman got the start for the Orioles. Perhaps they should use the lefty fireballer Brandon Kline to pitch the first two innings for him and then bring in the soft tossing righthander Eshelman for the next four to seven innings. Tom’s fastball sits at 86-87 and does not even encroach on the 90 and up velocity meter on the radar. He pitched a decent game, being called up today after the trade of Andrew Cashner left open a roster spot.

The Rays were able to tag on a run in the second. They loaded the bases with no outs on back to back singles from Nate Lowe and Michael Brosseau and a Ji-Man Choi walk. Eshelman struck out Willy Adames looking on a 3-2 pitch. Joey Wendle lined one into right field where Trey Mancini made a diving catch. Nate Lowe was able to score on the out for the first run. A Mike Zunino whiff ended the inning and Eshelman had to feel good about getting out of the jam.

Austin Meadows buried a pitch deep into Eutaw Street to lead off the third. It bounced once and hit off the warehouse. Eshelman left with two outs in the sixth when Michael Brosseau hit a two run shot that just carried the right center field wall. After that homerun Michael had a .405 batting average with a 1.400 OPS in 38 at bats. Michael has a career .300 minor league batting average and was hitting .317 with a .590 slugging percentage and 15 homeruns in 68 games when the Rays called him up from Durham. He was not drafted, signed as a free agent in 2016 after the draft, playing four years at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The Bulls used him as a utility player and after driving in 57 runs to lead the International League the Rays decided to call him up. He has now hit three homeruns in his last two games.

The Orioles pen was able to shut out the Rays for the last 3.1 innings. Paul Fry even struck out the side in the seventh. But the Orioles could not overcome the perfection of the Rays through the first eight innings.

Game notes: The crowd was announced at 14,802 but it looked sparser than that…In the second Trey Mancini came up short on a diving attempt to rob Brosseau of a single. He did dive to rob Joey Wendle of a hit. Trey is better utilized at first base, but with Renato Nunez more a DH than an infielder and with Chris Davis at first base right field is the only place left for him. He catches what he reaches but his range is not great…Chris Davis is slugging .321. He went 0 for 3 today. Myworld can’t imagine the Orioles protecting Davis on the 40 man next year, not when they are rebuilding. They might as well just eat his $20 million plus salary and give the younger players an opportunity to get playing time…There has not been a combined perfect game in major league history. They have had combined no hitters but no combined perfect games. With the opener now used by more teams that will be the next event to be shattered.

Stevie “Wonder” Wilkerson Powers O’s Over Rays

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

After giving up 16 runs the previous day the pitching staff redeemed themselves by holding the Rays to one run. After striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth Stevie Wilkerson redeemed himself by powering a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Rays.

The Orioles could not figure out Brendan McKay for the first five innings. They were able to get three hits off him, two of them in the fifth inning to put runners on first and third with no outs. McKay was able to strike out Keon Broxton and Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson did foul off four two strike pitches before swinging and missing at a 95 mile per hour fastball. Richie Martin grounded out to second to end the inning. So either the ineptness of the Orioles bats prevented them from driving in the run or the quality of McKay’s pitches were too much for the Orioles to handle. In three starts Brendan lowered his ERA to 1.69. But the three hitters he faced had a combined average of less than .200.

The Orioles started Aaron Brooks, his first in an Oriole uniform. He was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in early July. He did not allow a hit in his 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a big fly to the warning track to Joey Wendle in the third the Orioles pulled him to bring in Jimmy Yacobonis.

The Rays only got three hits all game. The first came from Mike Zunino, who powered a pitch into the left field bleachers, the first hitter Yacobonis faced in the game. Yacobonis also gave up singles to the next two batters. Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to first to end the inning. Yacobonis retired 9 of the next 10 hitters he faced, issuing a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows in the sixth.

Shawn Armstrong came on to pitch the seventh for the Orioles. He walked the only two hitters he faced. Richard Bleier came on to retire the next three hitters to bail out Armstrong. A ground ball by Zunino was bobbled a bit by Hanser Alberto, but he was able to get the throw to first in time to retire Zunino.

The Orioles were able to get two runners on in the sixth on two out back to back singles by Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino off Andrew Kittridge. Collin Poche came on to replace Kittridge and struck out Jonathan Villar to end the threat.

Poche came on to pitch the seventh. Anthony Santander tagged him for a leadoff single. With one out Stevie Wilkerson ran the count to 2-2. He again fouled off a couple two strike pitches. This time he came through with a shot into the centerfield bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Bleier walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth. This brought in Mychal Givens, who has been having trouble closing games. His last save was June 11. He retired all five hitters he faced, including getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play to pick up his seventh save.

Game Notes: It was the first game of a day/night double header. The Orioles lost the second game 12-4…Mike Zunino has a very slow bat. We were impressed how far the ball went despite his slow swing, but the ball he hit still carried over the fence. The slow bat could be responsible for him consistently hitting near the Mendoza line each year…Yacobonis has a nice fastball that hits the mid 90s. His big issue has been the homerun ball. In his last two years he has given up 15 homeruns in just 71 innings…Emilio Pagan has had an excellent rookie season. In his one inning of work he struck out two and had a pop out to the catcher, his fastball hitting 96…Pedro Severino was batting cleanup. Perhaps that was because he is hitting .316 against lefthanders. Myworld does not see that lasting…Keon Broxton struck out in all three of his at bats, dropping his average to .176. The Orioles need to find better…Anthony Santander was hitting .354 in Camden Yards…The Rays bullpen ERA of 3.65 is second best in the majors. They have only lost one lead after the sixth inning. Make that two…Bill Bundy went on the injured lost after giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Orioles also traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17 year old international prospects. That gives two other pitchers an opportunity to make the starting rotation.

Top Prospects from Colombia

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last year we included the top prospects in the “Best Prospects from South America” List. Five Colombian players were named on that list. One of them graduated to major league baseball (Jorge Alfaro) and is no longer considered a prospect. The four remaining reappear on the top prospects from Colombia list. Myworld was able to find ten players who we felt had enough skills to make it to the major leagues. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - The Rays signed the infielder for $225,000 and then converted him to catcher. His biggest asset is his arm and the ability to hit for power. While the arm can control a running game he is still learning the other aspects of the game such as blocking the ball and framing the pitch that will get him to the major leagues. His defensive mechanics other than his arm would fall below average. On the offensive side, the bat showed it can hit for some power, crashing 21 homeruns last year and slugging .494 at Low A. This year he is trying to tackle High A in the Florida State League which is more of a pitcher’s park. He has five homeruns, but a much worse walk to whiff ratio (6/32), which could be a cause for concern. His batting average is still high (.287) but his OBA has dropped 20 points (.313). He is still a couple years from the major leagues.

2. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Patino back in 2016 for $130,000. At the time he was still a teenager lacking meat on his bones. He has picked up 40 pounds since that signing and his fastball velocity has gone up ten miles per hour, hitting the high 90s but sitting in the mid-90s. He also has an excellent slider that crosses the plate in the mid-80s. Finding an off speed pitch (curve or change) would make him effective as a starter. The one concern is his smallish frame, which at 6′0″ is death for right handed starters. Last year he dominated at Low A (2.16 ERA). This year a promotion to High A has not impacted his pitching, his ERA (2.92) and opposition average (.194) still showing he can dominate at that level. The Padres are flush with pitching prospects so there will be no rush to move him up the system. Expect him to make the major leagues sometime in 2020.

3. Luis Escobar (Pirates) - Luis signed back in 2013 for $150,000. He was signed as a third baseman but the Pirates moved him to the mound. He has bulked up another 60 pounds since his signing and his fastball now hits 97, but sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range. He has the secondary pitches to make it as a starter (curve and change) but he lacks the command to get them over the plate with any regularity. Last year he walked 59 hitters in 129 innings. That is almost a walk every other inning. This year he has walked 18 in 40 innings. Last year he got seven starts in AA (4.54 ERA). This year the Pirates have tried him out in the bullpen in High A, then skipping him to AAA where he has been used as a starter and reliever. His career opposition batting average entering the 2019 season was a pretty impressive .216. This year he has gotten it down to .150. The Pirates have had dome frustration as they have promoted their younger pitchers to the major leagues and achieved very little success. With every failure comes a greater opportunity for Escobar to show what he can do. Before the 2019 season ends he could start his career in the Pirates bullpen.

4. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals) - The Royals signed him back in 2013 for $460,000. In his first year stateside he shocked the minor league world in 2016 with a .376 average in rookie ball. The last two years he has been stuck at .260. Last year with the injury to Salvador Perez he got his major league opportunity, appearing in 10 games and hitting .259. That first year batting average appears to be a bit of an outlier. After getting off to a slow start in 2019 he has gotten his average up to .254. He is more noted for his defense and his strong arm that can control the running game than his bat. The Royals appear to have a top flight catcher (M.J. Melendez) ahead of him on the depth chart, which could cause a move to another organization if he wants to get playing time. He is currently in AA and should see some time in September, or earlier if an injury results in a promotion. At worst his solid defense would make him an excellent backup catcher.

5. Oscar Mercado OF (Indians) - Oscar was a second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, signing for $1.5 million. He was traded to the Indians last year for two lower level outfielders. Mercado moved from Colombia to the United States when he was eight years old, growing up in Florida and gaining a reputation as an excellent shortstop. He was moved to the outfield in 2017. There is not a lot of power in his game. Playing good defense and stealing bases will be his specialities. Last year he stole 37 bases in AAA, scoring 85 runs. The Indians are very weak in the outfield and that weakness led to a promotion to the major leagues this year. After hitting .294 in AAA Mercado continues to hit for the Indians with a .306 average. He has also shown some surprising pop with three homeruns in just 26 games. If this kind of production continues with the Indians he will graduate from prospect status and not appear on this list next year.

6. Harold Ramirez OF (Marlins) - With the Pirates he was once a big time prospect. Signed way back in 2011 he got a bit heavy and out of shape and his prospect status suffered. The Pirates traded him in 2016 to the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays did not see anything in him and outrighted him last year. That is where the Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent. He has resurrected his career, killing it in AAA with a .355 average and a .999 OPS. The Marlins promoted him and have been using him in centerfield, where they had hoped Luis Brinson would have been the answer. His success in the major leagues (.325) appears to indicate that he will be another player to graduate from the prospect list.

7. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - Jhon was signed by the Indians in 2016 for $150,000. Ironic that he was one of the two outfielders the Indians traded to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Could be the first trade where two Colombians were traded for each other. He did not make his state side debut until last year when he hit .397 in 17 games at the Gulf Coast League. At 6′4″ he can generate some power in his swing, hitting 8 homeruns last year in just 44 rookie league games. His arm is built to play right field. The Indians may be getting some good use out of Mercado now, but in the future they may regret trading Torres. The Cardinals have him playing Low A, where he has struggled in his 21 games (.167 average). When the rookie leagues begin he will probably be demoted there to get his bat working.

8. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Jordan signed in 2016 for $275,000. Last year he played in the Arizona Rookie League where he showed a good ability to get on base (.371). He has the defensive tools to play third base. His power is currently restricted to the gaps. Whether his 5′10″ frame can generate more pop is open to question. Last year he hit his first and only professional homerun. In the New York Penn League he went deep early where in three games he is hitting .364. He is still a long way from the major leagues. A lot of developing needs to be done.

9. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Signed in 2016 for $150,000 Santiago has the height (6′5″) and the fastball (mid-90s) to get the Pirates excited. His curveball has some promise but there is no real third pitch yet and his command is suspect. Last year he walked 23 hitters in 43 innings and saw his innings limited because of a barking elbow. There is a lot of development to do. He will work on that in the 2019 season when the rookie level leagues begin.

10. Danis Correa RHP (Cubs) - We needed a tenth player but don’t know a lot about Danis other than his fastball has hit triple digits, but sits at the mid-90s. At 5′11″ his height goes against him as a right handed pitcher. Last year he only was able to pitch in two games of relief at the rookie level. The year before he pitched 40.2 innings. At 19 years of age the Cubs are possibly waiting for the rookie leagues to begin before they put Correa on the mound.

Top Prospects from Bahamas

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

We have not done a top prospect from the Bahamas list because there were not enough prospects to make the list. That has changed with the number of recent signings. There have been six major leaguers from the Bahamas. The first to sign was Andre Rodgers in 1954. The most recent was Antoan Richardson. The ten players below hope to be the seventh major leaguer from the Bahamas. Because many of them are in rookie ball or recently signed myworld has not seen many of these players.

1. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox was who everyone was looking at. During that showcase the Diamondbacks liked Jazz. They signed him for just $200,000, much less than what Lucius was asking. Now Jazz appears to be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there to stick at shortstop. The bat could be impactful, with above average power for the position. Last year he slugged 25 homeruns between Low A and High A. This year he has hit 9 homeruns. An inability to make contact could impact his ability to hit for a high average. Last year he struck out 149 times in just 112 games. This year he has struck out 44 times in just 29 games, dropping his average to .184 in AA. If he can get that average up Jazz could see some time in the major leagues. Jazz is one of three players on this list who played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, starting at shortstop.

2. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks) - Two years later the Diamondbacks sign Kristian, but they had to shell out $2.5 million to sign him. He has the five tools to become an impact player. The speed is there to play centerfield while the arm is strong enough to fit in right. The bat has big time power. At 6′3″ he has the frame that could fill out and move him to a corner. Like Chisholm there is a tendency to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 67 times in 57 games but still hit .279 in rookie ball. He has yet to make an appearance in 2019. At 18 years of age he is probably in extended spring training and will see a second year of rookie ball.

3. D’Shawn Knowles OF (Angels) - Imagine finding a prospect and learning he has a twin. The Angels signed D’Shawn in 2017. The Yankees took a flyer on his brother D’Vaughn in 2019. Speed is the big tool for D’Shawn. This could allow him to be a premium centerfielder. His power is limited to the gap, but last year the stroke was solid enough to hit .311 in rookie ball. At 18 years of age Knowles has yet to make an appearance in 2019, showcasing his skills in extended spring until the short season leagues begin in July.

4. Lucius Fox SS (Rays) - He signed with the Giants for $6 million. The Rays traded Matt Moore to acquire him. The biggest impact Lucius can make is with his speed and defense. His bat has been a little slow to progress, especially in the power department where he is lacking. Defensively he needs to gain some consistency in the field. Last year he committed 15 errors in 105 games at shortstop between High A and AA. He also struggled with a .221 average and .298 slugging percentage at AA. No surprise he is repeating at that level this year, where his average is still disappointing (.188) but his OBA has improved (.341). With Wander Franco ahead of him on the depth chart Fox may have to play shortstop for another team if he wants to contribute in the major leagues.

5. Tahnaj Thomas RHP (Pirates) - The first pitcher on this list. The Indians first signed him, paying him a $200,000 bonus and then converted him from a shortstop to a pitcher. The Pirates acquired him last year for Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff. At 6′4″ Thomas has the look of a pitcher, with a fastball that can reach the plate consistently in the low 90s. The pitch that improved his game was the development of his slider, which raised his whiffs per nine innings from 8 to 12.4. He still needs to improve on his change as his third pitch and find the plate more often. It appears he will have a third year in rookie ball. At 19 years of age he needs to make the jump to full season Low A before the year is out.

6. Trent Deveaux OF (Angels) - The Angels signed Trent in 2017 for $1.2 million. It would be an accomplishment that in five years Knowles and Deveaux share the same outfield with Trout. Trent lacks the overall tools of Knowles. His bat has a ways to go, hitting only .199 last year with 68 whiffs in 48 games. He was a sprinter in the Bahamas, so the speed is there to play center. If the bat can develop his game breaking speed could make him a pest in the lineup. He has yet to play this year.

7. Keithron Moss 2B (Rangers) - Moss played in the Dominican Summer League last year, where he hit just .196. The Rangers signed him for $800,000, part of the money they had accumulated for Shohei Ohtani. He is a line drive hitter who preys on the gaps and uses his speed to take the extra base. He is not a big guy, standing 5′11 and 165 so he could mature as he gets older. This should be his first season state side where he will start at one of the rookie level clubs.

8. Chavez Young OF (Blue Jays) - Chavez was born and raised in the Bahamas but went to high school in Florida and Georgia. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 39th round in 2016 and then used $200,000 to entice him to sign. Chavez has the speed to play centerfield and last year used that speed to steal 44 bases at Low A. He hits more line drives into the gaps and is not expected to hit for a lot of pop, though last year he slugged 8 dingers to accumulate a .445 slugging average. This year he finds himself at High A struggling with a .207 average with only four of his 18 hits (.287 slugging) going for extra bases. He will make a greater impact if he can stick in centerfield. Chavez played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

9. D’Vaughn Knowles (Yankees) - The twin brother of D’Shawn. The Yankees signed D’Vaughn in 2019 for $300,000. Like his brother his speed is suited for centerfield. His arm could also fit well in right. He has yet to make his minor league debut. Just look at his brother above and you will find the same tools, maybe just not as developed.

10 Reshard Munroe OF (Reds) - Shard is one of those players signed way back in 2014. While he is not expected to hit for power he did slug .455 in his last season of Rookie ball, before being promoted to Low A. This year he has already slugged two homeruns and is slugging, so the power could be developing. The Reds have used him primarily as a corner. If he hopes to reach the major leagues that power will need to develop. He played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, backing up fellow Bahamian Antoan Richardson in left field.

Top 100 - 10 -1

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Finally complete. Lots of good bloodlines in the top ten. The Blue Jays and Astros were able to squeeze two players each in the top ten.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) - The son of Dante has a potent bat. It’s a mixture of power and batting average. The power is mainly in the gaps, with 42 doubles, but as he matures the balls will carry over the fence. His defense should be adequate for short. It would be better at third or even second but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, two other sons of Hall of Famers have those positions covered. So the Blue Jays will take his adequate defense at short. He also has the speed and instincts to steal 32 bases last year. He will not be as fast as Trea Turner, but he could make just as big of an impact. The second round pick of 2016 will start the season in AAA and could be with the Blue Jays by mid-season, joining Vladimir.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His older brother Preston was also drafted by the Astros. Kyle has a lot more talent. Preston could make it as a fourth outfielder. Kyle should be an All Star. The Astros outfield is currently crowded but many think Kyle will earn a starting spot by mid-season. Josh Reddick has the most to fear. Last year Kyle hit .332 with 24 homeruns, evidence of his ability to hit for power and average. He stumbled in his promotion to the majors last year, hitting just .141. His fringe speed will limit him to a corner with his best fit in left field. AAA is where Kyle will spend his time until the Astros feel he is ready.

8. Nick Senzel OF/3B/2B (Reds) - The Reds are trying to find a position for him. His original position is third base, but Eugenio Suarez has that position covered. He could find himself at second base after the Scooter Gennett injury. The Reds insist he will be in AAA to learn to play centerfield. If he can stay healthy it will not take him long before he reaches the Reds. Vertigo last year limited him to 44 games. The bat has big time power and his career minor league average is .314. That is incentive enough to get his bat to the major leagues after the Reds drafted him in the first round in 2016.

7. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) - The only pitcher in the top ten. The Astros 2016 first round pick has a plethora of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball that can touch triple digits. He also works with the technology to improve the spin rates on his breaking balls (curve and slider) to make them quality pitches and his change up is a swing and miss pitch. Injuries limited him to just eight starts last year where the opposition only hit .160 against him in AA. He did some extra credit work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) to eat up innings and should be ready for AAA to start the 2019 season. Expect him to be called up by mid-season.

6. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - It may be too early in his career to anoint him the next Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the minor leagues. The Rays signed him in 2017 for $2.8 million. His first year in rookie ball he hit .351 with 11 homeruns. The bat hits for power and average. His defense will not be Gold Glove caliber for shortstop, but the bat will play at third where he would be an above average defensive player. The only tool that is not above average is his speed. Wander will see his first season at Low A in 2019 as an 18 year old. He should rise through the minor league system quickly, something the Rays are not normally prone to do.

5. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) - The first player selected in the 2017 draft has the tools to be a premium shortstop. The bat should be something special, hitting for both power and average. His speed should also play havoc on the bases, making him a threat to be a 30/30 player if his power develops more than expected. Lewis struggled a bit in the Florida State league last year (.255) so the Twins may start him there to begin the 2019 season with a quick promotion to AA if he finds success. A five tool infielder once he is ready.

4. Victor Robles CF (Nationals) - With Bryce Harper leaving for Philly, the center field job was given to Victor. Currently his speed is the best part of his game. It will allow him to be a Gold Glover on defense in centerfield and a pest on the bases. His bat should hit for average, but it won’t be as potent as teammate Juan Soto. The concern for some is his average exit velocity for the ball off his bat is just 82-84. He needs to get over 86 to reach the average exit velocity of major leaguers. The Nationals will be patient with him and allow the speed to create havoc as they wait for the power to arrive.

3. Eloy Jimeniz OF (White Sox) - The White Sox rewarded him with a major league spot on opening day after he signed a big contract extension that gave them one year after free agency. The bat will be special. The defense in left field will not. He could spend most of his time at the DH spot. Once the Dominican develops he could vie for batting titles with 40 plus homerun power. Don’t be surprised to see him win a Triple Crown before his career is complete. Eloy will start his season with the White Sox in left field.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr., he did not sign a long term extension as Eloy, but he had newly signed free agent Manny Machado recommending Padre management forget keeping him in the minors for a couple weeks to get an extra year. The Padres agreed. Fernando is ready now. His defense at short should be passable, better than what Manny could provide at short, which is a reason why Manny is playing third. The bat will generate big time power and hit for a decent average. He will battle with Victor Robles for the National League Rookie of the Year award.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - The son of Vladimir Sr. was going to be sent to the minor leagues to give the Blue Jays another year of service time despite the fact he is ready for the major leagues now. An early season injury will give them an opportunity to have him spend some time in rehab and then get promoted. His defense is average and his body could get too bulky for third. So a move to first could be in his future. His bat will be special with a .330 career minor league average and a slugging average of .529. Unlike his dad Vladimir is not afraid to take a walk. Expect him to be called up by May and win the American League rookie of the year award.