Archive for the 'Blue Jays' Category

Myworlds 2021 Top 100 Prospects - The Top Ten

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Not a lot needs to be said about them. These are the top ten prospects for 2021.

10. Casey Mize RHP (Tigers) - The more we watch the two pitch the more myworld tends to lean with his teammate Tarik Skubal as the better prospect, but we put this list together a month ago and we’ll go with it. When you are the first pick in the 2018 draft it is hard to argue against you. His frame is nice at 6′3″ with a solid 220 pounds, the fastball comes at the hitters in the mid-90s and the splitter is his signature pitch that gets lots of swings and misses. His slider is also a plus pitch that can get hitters out. What he lacks is a soft pitch that can keep hitters off balance. He made his major league debut last year and seemed pretty hittable. A 6.99 ERA with 7 homeruns in 28 innings with a .252 opponent average. That is a bit disappointing. Even the best pitchers who eventually win multiple Cy Youngs have their struggles in their first and second years. Mize should win a starting spot in the Tigers rotation in 2021. With better command of his pitches he should do better his second time around. There are some that have concerns about his delivery that will make him susceptible to injury. He has not tapered those concerns, missing some time to injuries during the season.

9. Austen Marten SS (Blue Jays) - The second highest ranked pick of the 2020 draft. Myworld saw him in the College World Series, but we came away more impressed with J.J Bleday. Austen played multiple positions with Vanderbilt. That could be to his advantage with the Blue Jays. They have a number of players on their team who play multiple positions and they can mix and match until they get the best result. His best fit appears to be second base. His arm was always an issue with Vanderbilt as far as strength and accuracy. His bat will get him in the lineup, hitting just three points shy of .400. The Jays were surprised to see him available when their turn came up with the fifth pick in the draft. His power may not be enough to fit at third or a corner outfield, and his speed is a bit short to cover centerfield. Expect him to rise quickly, perhaps finishing at AA in 2021 and fitting himself in the Blue Jays lineup in 2022 as a super utility player or second baseman.

8. Marco Luciano SS (Giants) - Marco is still an untested commodity that comes with a lot of hype. The Giants spent $2.6 million to sign him in 2018. He made his minor league debut in 2019 and hit .322 with 10 homeruns and a .616 slugging percentage. The bat certainly came as advertised with a lot of pop. The challenge for Marco is sticking at shortstop. He lacks speed to have the range required of a shortstop and as he matures and gets bigger that speed should decrease. He has the power and the arm to move to third. Marco won’t turn 20 until September so A ball will be good for him to start the 2021 season. His first appearance with the Giants may not be until late 2023.

7. C.J. Abrams SS (Padres) - The sixth pick in the 2019 draft has some burner speed. Some think that centerfield would be the best position for him. The tools are there to stick at shortstop. Normally a player with his speed lacks pop, but C.J. had enough pop to slug .647 in A ball in 2019. Part of that was his speed as he turned gap hits into triples (8 in 34 games). C.J. makes good contact with a 11/14 walk to whiff ratio resulting in a .393 average. The numbers for his first year were pretty impressive. The potential is there for him to exceed 40 stolen bases and hit in the teens in homeruns, with the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. C.J. will start the 2021 season in A ball. With Fernando Tatis filling the Padres shortstop position there is no need to rush Abrams to the major league club. But centerfield is always a possibility if Tatis is still at short when Abrams is ready in 2022.

6. Julio Rodriguez OF (Mariners) - The Dominican prospect who signed with the Mariners in 2017 for $1.75 million is a multi tooled athlete that can play centerfield. Speed may be his least raved about tool and as he gets bigger right field could be a better fit. Especially with Kelenic keeping pace with him as they climb up the minor league ladder. The 2019 season was his first in the States and he hit .326 with a .540 slugging percentage. Most of his damage was done in a 17 game performance in the California League (.462/.738). The power is there for him to reach 40 plus homeruns and still hit in the .300 neighborhood. After his massacre of California League pitchers last year he could begin 2021 in AA which could result in a promotion late in 2021, if service time does not become an issue.

5. Andrew Vaughn 1B (White Sox) - The third player selected in the 2019 draft is hitting so well in spring that many see him making the team as a first baseman and leaving Jose Abreu free to hit in the designated hitter slot. While he has a right handed bat and only stands 6′0″, a frame that most scouts don’t like in a major league first base prospect, hit bat produces a lot of hits with power. The two tools he lacks are speed and the ability to play a quality first base with the glove. The patience is there for him to draw a number of walks. When all is said and done he could reach the major leagues hitting 30 homeruns, hitting over .300 with 100 plus walks for a OBA over .400. The White Sox will be a playoff contender in 2021. If they feel the bat of Vaughn will help them get into the playoffs he will be on their roster in 2021.

4. Spencer Torkelson 1B (Tigers) - The highest ranked pick in the 2020 draft. The Tigers have the belief that he can play third, but myworld does not have a lot of confidence in that. He stands 6′1 and weighs 220 pounds. Spencer has a lot of traits similar to Vaughn, a right handed bat who is not big in stature but with a bat that is projected to hit over .300 with 30 plus homeruns. One bright spot on his resume is that he hit 25 homeruns in his freshman year at Arizona State, besting alumni Barry Bonds in that department when Bonds was a freshman. Like Vaughn he has the patience to draw a lot of walks. As a college pick he could be moved quickly but the Tigers will probably not use up his service time in 2021 and save him for a late 2022 callup.

3. Adley Rutschman C (Orioles) - Adley has a lot of similarities to another catcher that was drafted highly, Matt Wieters. And while Adley was the first player selected in the 2019 draft and Wieters was the fifth pick, they still have much in common. The most prevalent is the tools to turn a franchise around. Wieters hit .355 with 27 homeruns in his first full minor league season, but it was all down hill after that. Rutschman hopes for more consistency in his seasons. In 2019 he led Oregon State to a College World Series championship. The bat contains the power to hit 20 plus homeruns per year, and despite his 6′2′ height he moves deftly behind the plate. Myworld would not be surprised to see Adley make his major league debut in 2021, but service time obligations may leave him down in the minor leagues until 2022.

2. Jarred Kelenic OF (Mariners) - The teammate of Julio Rodriguez, Jarred was the sixth player taken in the 2018 draft by the Mets. The Mets traded him to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Mariners may learn to hate that deal in 2024, when the Mariners appear in the playoffs and the Mets are still scrambling to find a playoff spot. Kelenic has the speed to play centerfield. His arm is solid, but may be best suited for left field. The power is not as great as Rodriguez, but he was able to slug 23 homeruns in 2019, rising all the way to AA. Expect him to start the season at AA with a late season promotion in 2021.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - Not a lot needs to be said about Wander. This is the second year in a row he has rated at the top of myworld’s list. The only concern about him is whether he can stick at shortstop. The Rays currently have Willy Adames at that position. Adames does not have the bat of Franco, but he has a better glove. So this spring the Rays have been putting Franco at other positions. They may continue this experiment in 2021, after he is sent down to the minor leagues, playing him at multiple positions to groom him for a starting spot with the Rays for a playoff run in 2021. Franco has the potential of a player to win batting titles while hitting over 40 homeruns per year. His walk to whiff ratio in two minor league seasons is 83/54. He also stole 18 bases in 2019. Franco can do anything, including playing shortstop if an opening exists.

Myworlds 2021 Top Prospects 40-31

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

The continuation of our Top 100 prospects for 2021.

40 Brailyn Marquez LHP (Cubs) - A left handed arm who hits triple digits on the radar gun is a prized commodity. When he signed in 2015 for $600,000 he was already hitting the low 90s. Like a weed in a garden he has grown to 6′4″, a nice frame for a pitcher. His secondary pitches (slider and change) need further refinement and he has issues finding the strike zone. If this continues Brailyn could find himself in the bullpen. If his secondary pitches improve and he locates his pitches better he could find himself in the number one starter’s slot. The Cubs have developed a number of hitters through their farm system, but finding pitching has been a challenge. Marquez could be the first pitching star developed by the Cubs in the Theo Epstein era. He did make his major league debut last year, appearing in relief in one game, retiring only two batters while walking three and giving up two hits. He left after that outing with a 67.50 ERA. He could find himself in the Cubs rotation or bullpen by mid-season of 2021.

39. Brennen Davis OF (Cubs) - Another Cub, but Brennen was a second round pick of the 2018 draft. He signed for $1.1 million. Brennen has all the tools you look for in a superstar player. He has the speed to stick in center, the arm to move to right, the bat to hit .300 and the power to slug 20 plus homeruns per season. A finger injury limited him to 50 games in his lone full season minor league opportunity. He hit .305, slugged eight homeruns for a .906 OPS. He is also a very good athlete, having starred in basketball in high school and winning the defensive player of the year honors while leading his team to a state championship. A absent 2020 season hurt Brennen in the development department. He will probably start the 2021 season in High A and hope to be playing in Wrigley sometime late in 2022 or 2023.

38. Nolan Gorman 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals are loaded with third baseman. They traded one of them to Colorado but in return obtained one of the best third baseman in the game in Nolan Arenado. That creates some difficulty for the 2018 first round pick to squeeze into the starting lineup. Nolan has some impressive power, but his ability to make consistent contact is a concern. Last year he struck out 152 times in 125 games to keep his average at .248. On defense Nolan has a strong arm, but lacks quickness to be an elite defender. His lack of speed makes him a liability if he was to move to the outfield. Nolan may have to move to first base or be traded if he wants to have a major league career as a third baseman. Once he learns to make better contact he could be a 30 plus homerun hitter in the major leagues in 2023.

37. Jordan Groshans 3B/SS (Blue Jays) - While Jordan is listed as a shortstop, he lacks the range to play the position on a permanent basis. The 2018 first round pick of the Blue Jays has the power to move to third. He just has to be fortunate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a defensive liability at that position. A foot injury ended his 2019 minor league season early after only 23 games. He hit .337 with two homeruns for a .482 slugging. At 6′3″ he is expected to develop more power to be a good fit at third. Jordan walked 13 times in those 23 games for a .427 OBA. This walk total almost equaled his 2018 half a season when he played 48 games. The 2021 season may be the year Jordan moves permanently to third, starting off in High A and hopefully moving up quickly so he can arrive with the Blue Jays sometime in 2023.

36. Christian Pache OF (Braves) - There is speed and quality defense from this 2015 Dominican who signed for $1.4 million. Whether he wins any gold gloves is not a detraction of his defensive prowess, but whether his bat will be good enough to play as a major league regular. If his rating for speed, arm and defense were reversed and applied to his hitting tools Pache would be a super star top five prospect. He made his major league debut last year, playing in two games and coming to the plate four times. In 2019 he hit .277 and reached double digits in homeruns for the first time (12). His first two years in minor league ball covering 689 at bats he failed to hit a homerun. His strikeouts can be excessive (122 in 130 games) and his speed does not create stolen base numbers. He will start the 2021 season in AAA and provided he puts up good numbers will earn his way to the starting centerfield spot before the All Star break.

35. Dylan Carlson OF (Cardinals) - The first round 2016 pick is a plus in the tools department. He has the speed to play center, the arm to fit in right, the bat to hit for power and the patience to lay off pitches out of the strike zone. Like many prospects who did not have a 2020 minor league season, he made his major league debut last year and struggled. In 110 at bats he hit just .200 with a .252 OBA the result of a poor 8/35 walk to whiff ratio. He had his breakout season in 2019 when he hit 26 homeruns with a .292 batting average in the minor leagues. The 2021 season will be key to determine if he can replicate those numbers and get another opportunity to play in the major leagues. With a good spring it would be tough for the Cardinals to send him down.

34. Emerson Hancock RHP (Mariners) - Not a lot is known about the 2020 first round pick other than what he did in college pitching for Georgia. He may have been the best pitcher in college early in 2019, but an injury forced him to miss a couple weeks. When he returned from the injury and extending in the shortened 2020 season he has not been as dominant. He has a deep repertoire with a mid-90s fastball that can rise into the high 90s. two quality breaking pitches and a top of the bell change. He also has solid command of his pitches and carries himself at 6′4. The tools are there for him to be an ace. The 2021 season will confirm whether he can meet those expectations. He will probably start the season in A ball and as a college drafted player move quickly once he achieves success. The Mariners seem to be in no rush to promote players so don’t expect Hancock to see the Mariners until late 2022 or 2023, or when they are ready to make a playoff run.

33. O’Neil Cruz SS (Pirates) - Can a player who stands 6′7 really fit at shortstop? The Pirates hope so. Originally signed by the Dodgers in 2015 for $950,000, they traded him to the Pirates for Tony Watson. He has grown three inches since the signing. The power he can generate when he extends his arms is impressive, but his strike zone is large. A very strong arm gives him an opportunity to move to right field but his athleticism give the Pirates hope he can continue at short. A foot injury limited his 2019 season to just 73 games. He also stayed in the Dominican for much of the 2020 season, got into a traffic accident where two people were killed. There was some concern he could be criminally charged for creating the accident, but he is in spring training so everything appears to have been resolved. He should make his Pirates debut in 2021 after starting the season in AA.

32. J.J. Bleday OF (Marlins) - Myworld witnessed one of his homeruns in the College World Series. The Marlins were also pretty impressed, making him the fourth player selected in the 2019 draft. The Marlins had him start his career in the Florida State League, where he hit .257 with a .379 slugging percentage. His lack of speed will never allow him to fit in center, but he has a strong arm and plays a solid defense without a lot of speed. In his college career he walked more than he struck out, but his first minor league season that did not ring true with a 11/29 walk to whiff ratio in 38 games. J.J will be a fast riser up the Marlins minor league season, beginning 2021 in AA with a major league promotion in 2022.

31. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - You can probably count the number of pitchers who throw harder than Nate on one hand. His fastball visits triple digits regularly and he combines it with a excellent slider. The Blue Jays 2017 first round pick also has an above average change and the command to stick in the rotation. His 6′6 frame makes him a terror for batters to face. In 2019 he limited minor league hitters to a .176 average, striking out 119 hitters in just 101.2 innings. Last year he made his major league debut, struggled with his command (13 walks in 18 innings) resulting in five homeruns and a 6.00 ERA. The Blue Jays hope he can find his command issues and if so he could squeeze into the Blue Jays starting rotation out of spring training in 2021.

Top Canadian Prospects

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Abraham Toro was the top Canadian prospect last year. He graduated from this list but has two major league seasons of hitting less than .200. The list is not strong on can’t miss prospects. None of these players appear on Top 100 prospect lists. Many of the players were recently drafted. Players from the list last year who dropped off include Tristan Pompey, Andy Yerzy and Adam Macko. Macko was born in Serbia so he could make a European list if I can find enough players from Europe to make the list. Most of their players are born in Curacao, a Dutch colony. So below is the list of the top ten Canadian prospects.

1. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - Jordan was a fifth round pick in 2016. He was taken on his potential, with a 6′5″ frame that showed promise. When his fastball started hitting the mid to upper 90s that turned him into a prospect. He still needs to perfect his secondary pitches (slider and change) in order to stay in the rotation. Jordan has no problems finding the plate. After a poor 2017 season he had two years where he progressively improved, limiting the opposition to a .233 average in 2018 and a 193 average in 2019. Pitching at the A level he had a walk to whiff ratio of 25/129 in just 93.2 innings. Jordan should start the season in AA and could at least start his major league career in the Twins bullpen to help them with their playoff run.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - The younger brother of Josh, Bo has the better tools and the more accepted playing weight. Like Josh, Bo was a first round pick, except a few rounds later in 2018. At 6′0, 190 he should be able to stay behind the plate where he has decent defensive tools. What will separate Bo from the other catchers is his offensive potential. In 2019 he hit only .243, but contributed 18 doubles, 10 triples and 11 homeruns. His speed is above average for a catcher and better than Josh, but it may not be enough to move to the outfield if the Indians want to find another position for him. Bo could be ready to tackle AA in 2021 or the Indians could be conservative with him and start him at High A. Catchers normally move slower than other position players because of the intricacies of the catching position, but Bo should arrive sometime late in 2023 with the Indians.

3. Owen Cassie Of (Cubs) - Owen was a second round pick of the Padres in 2020, the highest Canadian drafted that year. The Padres included him in the Yu Darvish trade with the Cubs. The plan was for him to play for the Michigan Wolverines, but the Padres shelled out $1.2 million to convince him otherwise. At 6′4″ he carries a power bat and has a solid arm that fits well in right field. He has enough speed to survive in center but the corner appears to be his best fit. There is some concern in his swing over his ability to make contact. That has not been tested at the professional level. There will be no Rookie league in 2021 so Owen will need to start his first professional season probably in Low A. It will be a few years before he sees a major league outfield.

4. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The second round 2017 pick is a smooth fielding defensive shortstop. His best role could end up being a utility player. The big concern is with a quiet bat that may not hit enough to be an every day player. He does not have a large frame so power is lacking. The 2018 season saw him hit just one homerun in 62 games with a .374 slugging percentage. Those numbers climbed to five homeruns and .395 in 2019. In both years the batting average falls a tick or two below .300. The Orioles could start him in AA for the 2021 season, but it may be more prudent to get his feet wet at High A before a mid-season promotion to AA. When and where he plays will all depend on his maturation process and his ability to develop more power.

5. Otto Lopez SS (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in the Montreal area. He moved back to the Dominican Republic before his draft eligible year and signed an international contract for $60,000. He lacks any stand out tools, which could result in a utility role. His arm needs to get stronger for him to play shortstop on an every day basis. His best tool may be his ability to make contact. There is not enough power in his bat to reach double digit homerun totals, but he makes enough contact to finish north of .300. The speed is not great but he carries enough savy to steal 34 bases in his last two years. His 2019 season ended in Low A Lansing so the Blue Jays could be aggressive with him and start him in AA or have him ease his way back in the minors at High A. Either way, he will probably not see the Blue Jays until some time in 2023.

6. Trei Cruz SS (Tigers) - The 2020 third round pick in 2020 has a pretty good gene pool. His father and grandfather (both named Jose) and his two great uncles (Hector and Tommy) both played professional baseball. Trei hopes to continue with that tradition. Despite being drafted after high school he decided to take a different route to his professional career and play for Rice. The last great position player from that school was a player by the name of Anthony Rendon. Unlike Rendon, the tools Trei carries are only average or fringe. He lacks the range to play short and the power is not there to fit at third. At best he could play second or be used in a utility role. Trei will start his 2021 search for a position in the Tigers Low A affiliate.

7. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Unlike the other players mentioned above, Dasan has one impressive tool. That is speed. It makes him a good defensive candidate for centerfield. The big question mark is whether he can hit enough to be in the starting lineup, or end up as a fourth outfielder who is used for defense or as a pinch runner. Dasan was drafted in the third round in the 2019 draft. In his short 2019 minor league season he only hit .222, but he showed enough acumen to get on base, walking nine times in 14 games for a .444 OBA. He also struck out 17 times. So there are some holes in his swing that need to be fixed as he climbs the minor league ladder. The 2021 season will probably be spent in Low A.

8. David Calabrese OF (Angels) - A team mate of Owen Cassie on the junior national team for Canada. The Angels drafted him in the third round in 2020. Like Brown, speed is his only real above average tool. His bat lacks power. So what was said about Brown can also be repeated for Calabrese, except he lacks any minor league history. David will begin his minor league career in Low A in 2021.

9. Jordan Nwogu OF (Cubs) - Jordan was a third round pick in 2020. He starred for the Michigan team in 2019 while they played in the finals in the College World Series. He runs well and his bat can carry some pop. At 6′3″ there is a lot of potential for growth. If he can fit in centerfield his value would increase, but his route to balls are suspect. The arm is not strong enough to fit in right. So if he has to play in left the power has to materialize for him to be a good fit at that position. The power/speed tools are there for him to be a 20/20 player, but the ability to hit major league pitching is a concern. Jordan will begin the 2021 season in Low A.

10. Brandon Marklund RHP (Royals) - Brandon was an undrafted player, signed by the Royals in 2019. They saw him pitching in the Australian Baseball League and thought well enough of him to sign him. His fastball velocity climbed after the signing, hitting consistently in the mid to upper 90s. In his 2019 minor league debut he fashioned a 0.46 ERA in 24 relief appearances with 44 whiffs in 39 innings. Opponents hit just .162 off him. He lacks an effective third pitch to survive as a starter. His fastball/slider combination could prove effective in the pen. That will be decided upon as he rises through the minor league ranks. He will probably start the 2021 season in Low A. At 24 he could move through the system quickly.

Myworlds 2021 Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

The top 2021 prospect list continues. A number of veteran minor league pitchers on this group of ten, trying to overcome injuries and inconsistency with their command.

70. D.L Hall LHP (Orioles) - The Orioles are picking up some pitching pieces in their rebuilding effort. Hall was drafted in the first round in 2017. Lefthanders are a nice commodity and when they can consistently hit the mid-90s like Hall they are gold. Plus he has two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change. There are times when he has trouble finding the plate, but with more experience he should be able to refine that. When he does gain command he will be ready for the O’s rotation sometime in 2022. Minor league hitters have a career .201 batting average against him, so once he finds the plate more his 3.46 ERA will see significant reduction. Hall should start the 2021 season in AA.

69. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - Michael opted out of the 2020 season. The 2014 first round pick was just beginning to harness his control when pitching for the White Sox in 2018 when an elbow injury resulting in Tommy John ended his season. He did not pitch in 2019 because of the injury and he opted out for 2020. That is a lot of time off for a pitcher who struggled with finding the plate early in his career. Prior to the Tommy John surgery he was considered the hardest thrower in baseball, consistently hitting triple digits with his fastball, popping as high as 105. He also has a nice dive with his slider. If his control issues return he could move to the pen, but he does have a change and curve which gives him the requisite number of pitches to vary his repertoire. At 24 years of age he is at the point in his career where he needs to be in the major league starting rotation. After being out of baseball for two years expect him to start in AAA with a mid-season callup once he achieves success.

68. Clark Schmidt RHP (Yankees) - One thing Clark lacks is having a flashy name for a team like the Yankees. The 2017 first round pick also lacks intimidating height, standing at 6′1″. The fastball can reach the mid-90s, but normally sits in the low 90s. The curve ball may be his best pitch, keeping hitters off balance as they wait for his fastball. Clark throws strikes and gets his swings and misses in the minor leagues. Last year he made his major league debut, and the results indicate it was a little more challenging. He did struggle with his command, walking five in just six innings, so taking control of the strike zone as he does with the minor league hitters would improve his performance. The fifth starter spot in the Yankees rotation is an open competition, but expect him to start the season in AA. At 25 years of age he is ready for a second major league opportunity and that should come sometime in the 2021 season.

67. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick is another hard thrower that consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery prevented a 2019 season and the corona virus prevented him from pitching in any meaningful games in 2020. When he did appear in games he had struggles finding the plate and hitters found his stuff presentable, batting .261 against him. Locating his pitchers better would improve those results and enhancing his secondary offerings would give him something other than heat. Hunter throws a quality slider at times, but it lacks consistency. At 6′5 inches he has a nice plane to his delivery. If the rotation does not work out he could find a spot as the closer. Pitching in the pen would only require him to focus on commanding two pitches, rather than three or four as a starter. The last time he pitched in 2018 was in low A. He is still a couple years away from the Reds rotation and should begin 2021 in high A.

66. Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP (Blue Jays) - The Blue Jays have stocked up for a play off run. The last level this 2018 second round pick pitched was at High A. The Mets originally drafted him but sent him to the Jays to acquire Marcus Stroman. Simeon is not an overpowering pitcher by today’s standard, sitting in the low 90s, but reaching the mid-90s on occasion. A quality changeup makes the fastball seem to have more zip and two breaking pitches give him a varied repertoire. Simeon can also find the plate with all his pitches. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA. With another prospect Nate Pearson slated for the starting rotation, it would be difficult for the Jays to rely on two rookies to fill their rotation during a playoff run.

65. Daulton Varsho C (Diamondbacks) - Our first non-pitcher to this group of ten. This second round 2017 pick is not your typical catcher. He has some speed, which allows him to roam in the outfield. For the 2020 season the Diamondbacks had him play some left field. He made his major league debut in 2020 with 101 at bats, but only hit .188 with a .366 slugging average. He will need to improve on those numbers if he hopes to play outfield in the future. As a catcher those numbers are acceptable if he can bring the defense. That may not be his strength, with a fringe average arm and no spectacular attributes behind the plate to make up for his average throwing arm. He did hit 18 homeruns in the minors in 2019, so perhaps a second look at major league pitching may improve his performance. Expect the Diamondbacks to start him in AAA. He could be used as a super utility player who can play outfield and DH, but also act as a second or third catcher.

64. Triston Casas 1B (Red Sox) - The Red Sox have a glut of corner infielders. Finding a spot for their 2018 first round pick among this glut will be a challenge for the Red Sox. He has a big time power bat and a strong arm that would allow him to play in the outfield, but his legs have too much tortoise in them to allow him to cover much ground in the grass. He did play for the 18 and under United States national team that won the gold medal, hitting three homeruns but hitting just .250. That could be what he does in the major leagues, hit around .250 with 30 plus homeruns. In his one full minor league season in 2019 he did hit 20 homeruns with a .256 average. Eventually the Red Sox will have to make room for him, but that may have to wait until the 2023 season. Triston will start 2021 in High A.

63. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - The major league struggles may have took the shine off his prospect status. The Angels brought him up towards the end of the 2020 season and he hit just. 161 with 55 whiffs in 38 games. The acquisition of Dexter Fowler will keep Jo down in AAA for at least half the 2021 season. Jo has the potential to be a five tool athlete, with power, speed and a strong arm to play right field. His power has yet to show itself in the minor leagues, with 12 homeruns his high for a year. His speed does not create stolen base opportunities. On defense in 2020 he had two balls pop out of his glove and go over the fence for homeruns. So those tools still are raw and there is a lot of swing and miss present in his swing. Expect the Angels to start Jo in AAA and promote him to the Angels once he shows success.

62. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charlie and a first round pick of 2015 had a mini super star major league season in 2020. He hit .376 with five homeruns and a .682 slugging percentage in 24 major league games. Prior to that he was considered a great defensive third baseman whose glove would lead to gold, but a questionable bat that would not hit enough to justify his position at the hot corner. His minor league career average is .279 with a .399 slugging. He shows good patience at the plate, so if his break out major league season is the result of better recognition of pitches, then he should be an All Star third baseman for the Pirates in 2021. Expect him to start the season there, but don’t be surprised if offensive struggles result in a demotion to the minor leagues.

61. Forest Whitely RHP (Astros) - At one point the velocity and stuff coming out of this first round 2016 pick’s arm had him rated as one of the top pitchers in baseball. With his 6′7″ inch frame his reach to the plate was scary for hitters. Or maybe not. He has had issues staying healthy and a 50 game suspension because of drugs has limited his development. The fastball hits triple digits but it has trouble finding the plate. His curve and change are considered quality pitches, but lack consistency. The 2019 results (7.99 ERA) show all those quality pitches do not have trouble finding bats. Opponents hit him at a .259 clip with 11 homeruns in 60 innings. He also walked 44, but struck out 86, meaning his pitches sometimes found their mark. The Astros have spent a lot of time working on his mechanics. Depending on where that process is, he could start the season in extended spring, or at the lower minor league levels, but once they are happy with where he is at he should be pitching in AAA. With success there the Astro fans should see him on the mound in 2021.

Three KBO MVPs in Major League Spring Training Camps

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Yang and Yamaguchi Blast From the Past

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Lefthanded pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang recently signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. Shun Yamaguchi was recently released by the Toronto Blue Jays. Yang was the starter for Korea in the Premier 12 finals between Japan and Korea. Yamaguchi was the starter for Japan.

While the game was to determine the qualifications for the Olympics scheduled for 2020 and now postponed to 2021, Japan had already qualified by hosting the games. Korea had also qualified by appearing in the championship. So the game was played mostly for pride and prize money. Yamaguchi was knocked out in the first inning, giving up two homeruns. Japan ultimately won the game 5-3. Interesting how the two pitchers have now entered upon different paths to their major league careers.

The big game was when Mexico defeated the United States 3-2 to qualify for the Olympics. Those pitchers were Cody Ponce and Arturo Reyes. Ponce pitched well tossing five shutout innings. He also made his major league debut in 2020 with the Pirates. Reyes also pitched five shutout innings but has never appeared in a major league game. He has spent a lot of time in the minor leagues. Last year he pitched in Taiwan in the China Professional Baseball League, getting only four starts for the China Trust Brothers.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 90 to 81

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Our next ten in the top prospect list. This group is filled with 2019 international signings and 2020 first round draft picks. Not a lot of players here with minor league history.

90. Erick Pena OF (Royals) - The Royals signed the Dominican for $3.9 million. The lefthanded power bat is only 17 and stands 6′3″. Power will be his best tool. He lacks the speed to be an impact player in centerfield so the corner appears to be his future position. The arm is not right field quality but if he gets stronger he could fit well there. He really has no stats to indicate what kind of player he could be but the Royals spent a lot of coin to sign him. He could start next year in extended spring and start the season in Low A. The Royals will have to wait until 2023 before he joins their outfield.

89. Robert Puason SS (Athletics) - Another 2019 signing who the Athletics signed for $5.1 million. The only player who got a higher bonus was Jasson Dominguez, who appears later on this list. Unlike Pena, power is probably the weakest part of his game. Robert is a wiry 6′3″ who has a strong arm and fast legs. He should have the defensive tools to stick at short. Like Pena he has yet to accumulate any stats to magnify his tools. He may also start the season in extended spring before starting his career in Low A. The Athletics should not expect him until 2023.

88. Orelvis Martinez SS (Blue Jays) - Another Dominican who signed for a big bonus ($3.5 million) but signing in 2018. The potential five tool prospect may get too big to stay at shortstop, but the power in his bat is suited for third base. He got to play some rookie ball in 2019 and showed good patience at the plate with 14 walks in 40 games for a .352 OBA. Also more than 50 percent of his hits went for extra bases for a .549 slugging percentage. Like Pena and Puason he is still a long way from making his major league debut. He will start the 2021 season in Low A with a major league debut in 2023. The longer he plays the more he will dictate what position is in his future.

87. Brendan McKay LHP (Rays) - Brenadan was the fourth pick in the 2017 draft. At that time his bat was his best tool while the Rays were intrigued by his arm while pitching out of the bullpen in college. They thought they had found a two way player who could hit and pitch like Shohei Ohtani. The surprise was that when he focused on pitching the arm advanced far more than his bat. The lefthanded arm throws a low 90s fastball that can hit the mid 90s. A cutter and his ability to throw strikes may be his best tools. After dominating the minors in 2019 (1.10 ERA) the Rays promoted him to make his major league debut. Major league hitters seemed to feast on his strike throwing ability hitting him at a .268 clip that resulted in a 5.14 ERA. Last year shoulder issues that required surgery in August prevented him from pitching. Despite the surgery he should be able to pitch in 2021 but it may require some time in AAA. The bat may still be used in the majors, but it will be secondary to the arm.

86. Robert Hassell OF (Padres) - Another player who has not been able to show off his tools. The Padres made him the eighth pick in the 2020 draft. He shined for the United States 18 and under national team, selected to the All World team for his .514 average and his .886 slugging average. He hit two homeruns and drove in 14 runs. His performance made him the first high school selection in the draft. A pitcher in high school, his arm is strong enough for right field, but his legs may not be fast enough to play center. This could create some pressure on him to hit for power. His bat will dictate how fast Hassell rises but don’t expect him to be in the Padres outfield until sometime late in 2023.

85. Deivi Garcia RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees are not normally a team to rely on rookie pitchers for their rotation. They normally trade them for veteran prospects. The Yankees signed the Dominican for $200,000 in 2015. With no minor leagues Garcia made his major league debut in 2020. His 4.98 ERA was impacted by the six homeruns he gave up in 34 innings. He stands only 5′9″ so there is some concern about his durability. Despite the height he can still dial up his fastball in the mid-90s. His breaking pitches are top quality making his fastball a better pitch. He did have issues with his command in his 2019 minor league season, but that lack of command did not seem to be a problem with the Yankees. Garcia will be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation in 2021. If he does not make the starting rotation he could still be used out of the bullpen.

84. Luis Matos OF (Giants) - One of the many young outfielders climbing up through the Giants system. Marco Luciano was the big international signing for the Giants in 2018, but Matos was a nice second choice, signing for $725,000. Matos has borderline five tools. In 2019 he showed a sharp bat with a .367 average in the Dominican Summer League. This got him five games in the Rookie League where he hit .438. His bat is more gap oriented now but an increase in power could develop. That maturation could slow him down creating a future for the corner rather than centerfield. Currently his speed resulted in 21 stolen bases, but number should lesson as he matures. Matos should be able to start the 2021 season in Low A, but he is still a couple years away from joining the Giants outfield.

83. Garrett Crochet LHP (White Sox) - Garrett was a first round pick of the White Sox in 2020. The talented arm was too strong to hold him back and he made his major league debut in September. He did not give up a run in his six innings of work. He also had one post season appearance, striking out both hitters he faced. Pitching out of the bullpen Crochet consistently hit triple digits with his fastball. The lefthander also has a decent slider and change to be used in the rotation. He was a starting pitcher for Tennessee in college. At 6′6″ he pitches downhill. He could probably fit in the White Sox bullpen in 2021 but they may start him in AAA to see how he might fit as a starter. It all depends on the White Sox greatest need in the playoff run.

82. Brendan Rodgers (SS) Rockies - The Rockies have traded Nolan Arenado. Next on their list may be Trevor Story. That will create an opening for Rodgers, who was destined for second base until then. Rodgers was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. Injuries have prevented him from an extended major league career. In 2019 a shoulder injury limited him to 25 games. Injuries limited him to just seven games in 2020. His major league average hangs at a low .196, but the Rockies have seen double digit power in the minor leagues. In 2019 he hit .350 with 9 homeruns in just 37 minor league games. That led to his abbreviated major league promotion. The tools are there for him to be a solid major league shortstop with 20 plus homerun power. He may have to start the 2021 season as the Rockies second baseman, until Story is traded.

81. George Kirby RHP (Mariners) - Kirby was the Mariners first round pick in 2019. At 6′4″ he has the frame to be a dominant starting pitcher. The fastball sits in the mid-90s but can creep higher. He has two breaking pitches and a change. All his pitches are thrown for excellent command. In his 2019 minor league debut he showed his command with a 0/25 walk to whiff ratio in 23 innings. Having the ball consistently cross the plate could be a weakness, allowing hitters to whack him around for a .270 average. If he can change his command to hitting the corners and throwing his pitches out of the strike zone to get hitters chasing he could lower that average. This could increase his path to the Mariners rotation. If he can reach AA in 2021 the Mariners could have him in their rotation by 2022.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

With the Series del Caribe being played in Mexico it is time for myworld to take a look at the top prospects from there hoping to sniff the major leagues. Mexico has not had a smooth working relationship with major league baseball as far as the signing of their players. The big disagreement is the percentage of the bonus money that major league teams pay to the prospect that goes to the Mexican team that holds the right to that player. It would be equivalent to a Dominican buscone taking a 50 to 75 percent cut of the prospects bonus. That may be why the top prospect list is not brimming with multi tooled athletes.

Those players who made the list last year that got a major league opportunity include Alejandro Kirk, Jose Urquidy and Isaac Paredes, the second, third and fourth top prospects from the list. The top prospect Andres Munoz missed all of 2020 because of an injury. Victor Gonzalez and Ramon Urias also made their professional debuts, though with the shortened season. The shortened season allowed many to keep their rookie status and reappear on this list.

Below are our top ten prospects from Mexico.

1. Andres Munoz RHP (Mariners) - The only change for Munoz is he went from the Padres to the Mariners. The Padres had paid a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz. They then included him in a trade with the Mariners for Austin Nola. Unlike many Mexican pitches who rely on guile and breaking pitchers to get hitters out, Munoz has a mean fastball that can touch triple digits. Unfortunately, his 2020 season was eliminated because of Tommy John surgery. He is being groomed to be a closer so his fastball/slider combination is all he needs to generate swings and misses. The Mariners would like to see him master getting the ball over the plate a little more. It would take some rehab in the minors before Munoz is ready, sometime by the middle of the season. Besides his lack of control, his injury history has fated his career to the bullpen. Staying healthy and finding the plate more will determine his path to major league success.

2. Isaac Paredes 2B/3B (Tigers) - The Cubs signed Paredes for $500,000 in 2015. He was one of the prospects the Tigers got for trading Justin Wilson and Alex Avilla to the Cubs. His career started out as a shortstop, but a pudgy build meant a lack of range, forcing a move to third base. Because he does not have the big time power that teams look for in third baseman and the Tigers want to leave room for Jeimer Candelario, they may shift him over to second base. Isaac makes good contact and shows enough patience to take a walk. Hitting around .280 to .290 with double digit homers that will fall shy of 20 are numbers you can expect from him. That would make him a decent offensive second baseman that could fall just short of being a solid defensive player. He could make the Tigers starting lineup in 2021 as their second baseman next year.

3. Victor Gonzalez LHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed Victor when they went to Mexico City in 2012 to look at Yasiel Puig. They signed Puig but also a number of other players from Mexico, including Julio Urias. Victor is a 6′0″ lefthander that throws hard, with his fastball reaching the upper 90s on the radar gun. Tommy John surgery virtually eliminated his 2017 and 2018 seasons. He finally made his major league debut in 2020 and pitched so effectively the Dodgers included him on their playoff roster. He got into 15 games during the regular season, finishing with a 1.33 ERA with a 2/23 walk to whiff ratio in 20 innings. For the playoffs he got into 8 games and limited the opposition to just two runs for a 2.70 ERA. Victor has a fastball/slider combination and can use a change as an offspeed pitch, but it is fringe average at this point. He should be in the Dodgers bullpen in 2021.

4. Alejandro Kirk C (Blue Jays) - Kirk was signed in 2016. He is a bit on the pudgy side, listed at 5′8″ and 265 pounds. When he is running the bases his body bounces like jello. The one thing Kirk can do is hit. He has a two year minor league career average of .315 with a .418 OBA. Staying healthy has proved to be a challenge, limiting him to 52 and 98 games the last two years. That will continue if he fails to get his body in shape. Last year he made his major league debut and came out strong in his 9 games, hitting .375 with one homerun. In the minors he has walked more than he has struck out (89/60). On defense he has a good arm, but needs to work on some of the other aspects of the game before he can be called a solid major league catcher. Other than possibly first base, which at 5′8″ is not ideal, Kirk will have to make the majors as either a DH or catcher. Based on his success, he should get another opportunity to play for the Rangers in 2021.

5. Tirso Orenelas OF (Padres) - The Padres shelled out $1.5 million in 2017 to sign Tirso. At 6′3″ he has the build that would predict power to be in his future. A lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. The arm is strong enough he could play right. The power has not shown itself in games in the minor leagues. In 2019 he had a particularly horrendous year, slugging just .279 with a .213 batting average. In his previous two seasons he had gotten his slugging average close to .400. The absence of a 2020 minor league season is not something Tirso wanted for his development. He may have to return to A ball to get back that confidence that he can hit. Tirso could still be a couple years away from seeing the Padres.

6. Luis Gonzalez OF (White Sox) - It is at this point that my knowledge of the players gets a little more spotty. Luis was drafted by the White Sox in the third round of the 2017 draft, but he was born in Mexico. He attended high school in Arizona and played college ball at New Mexico. He doesn’t carry an array of great tools, but he does have some skills that could get him to the major leagues as a fourth outfielder. The power is lacking but the arm is strong enough for him to shine in right field. He has enough speed where he could play centerfield in a pinch. His career minor league average is .269. It was enough for the White Sox to give him three games in the major leagues where he got one official at bat. He struck out. Luis lacks the tools to be a starting outfielder on a playoff caliber team, but he can still fill a useful role as a fourth outfielder. He hopes to get a few more at bats in 2021 to amend for his one strikeout performance in the major leagues last year.

7. Gerrado Carrillo RHP (Dodgers) - Carrillo was signed by the Dodgers in 2016 for $75,000. The righthander is listed at 5′10 and 150 pounds. Even with that skinny frame his fastball sits in the mid-90s and even touches the three digits. If he can pack on more pounds that could provide another level of improvement to the fastball. He has two breaking pitches (slider and curve) that are good enough to put him in a rotation once he enhances his change. The Dodgers have used him in the rotation, but his best fit may be in the bullpen. The 2019 season was a disappointing year when he got hit at a .263 clip for a 5.44 ERA. The previous year opponents could only hit him at a .192 clip, putting his ERA at 1.50. Gerrado will probably start the season in A ball and depending on his development will reach the Dodgers sometime towards the end of the 2022 season.

8. Efrain Contreras RHP (Padres) - Efrain is another 5′10″ righthander, but he weighs 210 pounds. The Padres signed him in 2017 for $50,000. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball but despite the meatier build his fastball peaks at 97/98. There is not a lot of projection for more velocity in the fastball. The curveball is his best pitch. That leads to a high number of strikeouts at the lower levels (121 in 109 innings). As he rises up the minor league ladder those hitters who can’t hit breaking pitches are often weeded out from the minor leagues and it becomes harder to fool hitters with curve balls alone. If Efrain can spot his pitches well he could end up in the back of a rotation or as a set up reliever. Expect him to be with the Padres sometime late in the 2022 season.

9. Luis Verdugo SS/3B (Cubs) - The Cubs paid the Mexico City Red Devils $1.2 million for Luis. He is expected to outgrow shortstop and move to third base. The bat could be his best tool. In 2019 in rookie ball he hit .305 with a .447 slugging percentage. More will be known about him as he rises to the full season levels in 2021. His body should develop more muscle to increase his power, but he also needs to adapt to better pitching. The power is expected to develop for him to start at third. He could also play in a utility role. He is still a long ways away from making a contribution in the major leagues. Expect that to happen sometime in 2023.

10. Manuel Rodriguez RHP (Cubs) - Manny made our list last year. Like many pitchers out of Mexico he lacks the ideal height that major league teams are looking for from their righthanders. He stands at 5′11″. He was signed for $400,000 in 2016. His fastball can hit the lower levels of the high 90s, but normally sits in the mid-90s. His curve has enough downward break that it can get its share of swings and misses. The Cubs are high enough on him that they added him to the 40 man roster in 2020. When the Cubs signed him he was a closer for Yucatan. They have used him strictly in the bullpen, but normally not as their closer. He needs to improve on his command, averaging near 5 walks per year in his minor league career. Last year he got the mark down to 3.2, so that is a level of improvement. Manuel should pitch in AA next year and if he pitches well could see the Cubs by the end of the year.

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Below are the top right handed pitching prospects. Because of five man rotations myworld has decided to list our top 20.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - Not a lot of first picks in the draft are the best prospects once they test the minor leagues. Mize was the first player selected in 2018 after starring at Auburn. The 2019 season was his only full minor league season where he could eat up innings. In 21 starts he chewed up 109 innings. That appeared to be good enough for him to make his major league debut in 2020, starting seven games while piecing together 28 innings. It was a struggle. He gave up seven homeruns, the same number he gave up in the minor leagues in almost 100 more innings. Major league hitters raked him for a .252 average, 43 points higher than his career minor league average. His best pitch may be his splitter, but he also throws a mid 90s fastball with a mid-80s slider. The splitter in the mid-80s can act as his off speed pitch. The Tigers could start his 2021 season in AAA then call him up after he achieves some success there. He needs a confidence booster after being mauled in 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The 2017 pick is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. His fastball can dart across the plate at 102 miles per hour. The secondary pitches, especially the slider will keep him in the rotation. His command could probably use a little more enhancement, especially in the major leagues. Nate made his major league debut in 2020, walking 13 batters in 18 innings. He also let five balls leave the yard. He pitched much better in 2019 pitching at three different minor league levels. At 6′6 inches his pitches come right at you. Minor leaguers hit just .173 againt him. Like Casey Mize, he could start the 2021 season in AAA, then get called up once he achieves some success and gets his confidence back. A good spring could see him start his season with Toronto.

3. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - Sixto may have pitched the Marlins to the 2020 playoffs. He was originally signed by the Phillies for the paltry sum of $35,000 back in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. The Phillies included him in a trade for J.T. Realmuto. Ironic that the rebuilding Marlins saw the playoffs before the Phillies. Standing at just 6′0 usually does not spell success for a right handed starter. Sixto proved to be an exception, like his native countryman Pedro Martinez. Sixto slings his fastball in the high 90s and occasionally clips the three digit territory. His change is also a quality pitch and the slider acts as a third pitch enough to allow him to survive in the rotation. He made his major league debut last year and started seven games, finishing with a 3.46 ERA. Without that contribution the Marlins would not have made the playoffs. For a pitcher with his velocity he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but they make enough soft contact for Sixto to achieve success. He should start the 2021 season in the Marlins rotation.

4. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - This 2017 second round pick also made his major league debut in 2020. Like Mize and Pearson above him he struggled, with major leaguers hitting him at a .300 clip, resulting in a 5.92 ERA in six starts. In the minors in 2019 Spencer limited the opposition to just a .173 average. His fastball is explosive, hitting the mid-90s consistently and reaching the high 90s. It has enough movement that he gets a lot of swings and misses. His secondary breaking pitches (slider and curve) are a tick above average to allow him to survive in the rotation, but his change has turned into an above average pitch. His command can get off kilter but with a little more experience he could become the ace of the Phillies rotation. It would not hurt to start his 2021 season in AAA with a callup a little later in the season. The Phillies keep on acquiring veteran players, trading top prospects to achieve their goal. It could be a top prospect like Howard that could finally get the Phillies into the playoffs.

5. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - The 6′7″ first round pick in 2016 may have the best stuff of the pitchers on this list. Staying healthy and finding the strike zone have always been a challenge. He also missed 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy. In 2019 shoulder problems left his delivery out of whack and he finished with a 7.99 ERA in just 60 innings, walking 44 batters. In his four seasons he has yet to surpass 100 innings pitched. The fastball can travel across the plate in the mid-90s and a quality slider and change feed off the fastball to make him difficult to hit, if he can find the plate. If his command stays inconsistent he could always turn into a closer, but he has too many quality pitches not to keep in the rotation. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AAA, where he finished with a 12.21 ERA in 2019 in five starts.

6. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick opted out of the 2020 season. This after missing all of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery. Michael seemed to have announced his arrival after being able to find the plate in four major league starts in 2018, but his elbow did not allow him to finish the season. His fastball cuts across the plate in the triple digits, even hitting 105 in one game. His slider has plus quality, but finding a third pitch and the plate set him back. It will be interesting to see if he can find the plate after his two year absence. The White Sox made the playoffs last year without him. If he could fill the White Sox rotation in 2021 it would be an asset to repeating a playoff run in 2021.

7. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles 2018 first round pick stands at a sturdy 6′5. He pitched out of Texas. The Orioles hope he can mimic a couple Texas icons in Roger Clemons and Nolan Ryan. With a mid-90s fastball and a quality slider, he gathers up the swings and misses in the minor leagues. In 20 starts in Low A he held opponents to a .171 average with 129 whiffs in 94 innings. He has enough command of his four pitches that should allow him to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in a couple years. For the 2021 season he will probably spend most of it in AA, not seeing the major leagues until sometime during the middle of the 2022 season.

8. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Padres signed the 6′1″ righthander for just $130,000 out of Colombia back in 2016. Despite his lack of height he has built up enough bulk to reach the mid 90s with his fastball, often lighting up the radar in the high 90s. He also has a quality slider that elicits swings and misses. In his three minor league seasons he has never had an ERA above 2.57 and he has limited opponents to a .208 average. He gets lots of swings and misses and limits balls from traveling over the fence, giving up just seven taters in 234 innings. Luis made his major league debut in 2020 and struggled with his command, walking 14 in 17 innings. Opponents hit him at a .257 clip leaving his ERA at an elevated 5.19. This will probably result him starting the 2021 season in AAA and waiting until he achieves some success there before being promoted to the Padres.

9. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The first round 2016 pick was drafted out of high school so he is taking a more patient rise up the minor league ladder than Mize. Manning is one year younger than Mize and after achieving success in AA in 2019 (2.56 ERA) he should be joining Mize in the rotation sometime in 2021. He has a nice 6′6 frame that gives him challenges finding a consistent release point, but his control improved in 2019. He is the son of Rich Manning, who played in the NBA, a sport Matt played while in high school. The fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is probably his second best pitch, with a curveball that dives to the ground and gets awkward swings and misses. An improved change in 2019 gives him the requisite three pitches to survive in the starting rotation. He will probably start the 2019 season in AAA and at some point may join Mize and Tarik Skubal to make an awesome front three for the rotation.

10. Max Meyer (Marlins) - Max was the third player selected in the 2020 draft. He pitched in relief early in his career with Minnesota but moved to the starting rotation midway through his sophomore year. At 6′0″ he does not carry the height that you like to see in right handed pitchers. His best pitch may be his slider, and when combined with his mid-90s fastball that touched triple digits, it will garner lots of swings and misses. His change shows flashes of brilliance, which should be enough for him to stick in the rotation. The 2021 season will be his first in the minor leagues, but he should rise up quickly. If he has success and the Marlins are making another playoff run do not be surprised if they don’t use him in relief to begin his major league career, with a later transition to the starting rotation.

11. Logan Gilbert (Mariners) - The 2018 first round pick is another giant, who stands at 6′6″. The fastball crosses the plate in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches and change show enough quality that will allow him to stick in the rotation. His pitches are enhanced by his ability to find the strike zone consistently, something not common among pitchers his height. Logan has only one minor league season under his built, seeing three levels in 2019. He finished in AA with a 2.13 ERA putting together 26 starts and 135 innings. Opponents hit him at a .198 clip, including a .194 average in 9 AA starts. This should make him major league ready sometime during the mid-season of 2021 after starting the year in AAA.

12. Ian Anderson (Braves) - The 2016 first round pick can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Hitters can have a difficult time getting elevation on the pitch because of its downward spike as it travels across the plate. He mixes in a curve and a change that keeps hitters off balance. In his first three years he had only allowed three homeruns in 243 innings. In 2019 he gave up an uncharacteristic 13 homeruns in just 135 innings. The 2020 season saw him make his major league debut where he baffled major league hitters to a .172 average and a 1.95 ERA in six starts. It will be interesting if he can replicate that success in 2021. Unless he bombs during spring training he should start the 2021 season in the Braves rotation.

13. Emerson Hancock (Mariners) - The second 2020 draft pick to appear on this list and the sixth player selected in the draft. The 6′4″ righthander can reach the high 90s with his fastball, but sits in the mid-90s. He complements his fastball with two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a quality change. All of those pitches are enhanced by his above average command. With no minor league experience he should begin the 2021 season in A ball and could rise quickly with some success. Mariner fans should not expect to see him until late in the 2022 season.

14. Dane Dunning (Rangers) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 is on his third team. The Nationals traded him to the White Sox with two other pitchers (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) for Adam Eaton. The White Sox traded Dunning to the Rangers after the 2020 season to get a veteran pitcher for the 2021 season. Dunning missed all of the 2019 season after Tommy John surgery but had progressed enough that the White Sox put him in their rotation for the 2020 season seven times. He had a 3.97 ERA and limited the opposition to a .197 average. Lynn in 13 starts for the Rangers carried a 3.32 ERA. Lynn only has one more year in his contract before becoming a free agent while Dunning will be controlled by the Rangers for at least five more years. Dunning should start the season in the Rangers rotation in 2021.

15. Triston McKenzie (Indians) - The Indians supplemental first round pick in 2015 had surprising success in the Indians rotation last year, despite being limited to just 90 innings his last two years because of injuries. He did not pitch at all in 2019 because of back issues. The lanky 6′5″ righthander spun together a 3.24 ERA in six starts and 33 innings in the major leagues. Major league hitters hit only .179 against him. At 23 years of age he should gain more weight on his 165 pound frame. This should add some velocity to his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s. He has a quality curveball to go with a slider and change that keeps hitters off balance. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate his success in 2021. The Indians will start him in the rotation in 2021 and whether he stays there will be dictated by his success.

16. Edward Cabrera (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican in 2015 for the bargain price of $100,000. He has journeyed through the minor leagues impressing hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touches triple digits. At 6′5″ and 217 pounds his frame carries intimidation. His secondary pitches could use some improvement. The slider has enough downward bite to get hitters to beat the ball to the ground and there is enough separation of his change compared to his fastball to get swings and misses. The lack of quality secondary pitches and inconsistent command could move him to the bullpen. His 2019 season was a breakout year with a 2.23 ERA and .190 opposition average, both much better than his previous years. Edward could start the 2021 season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Marlins if he achieves success, or a propensity to pitch out of the bullpen.

17. Jordan Balazovic (Twins) - The Canadian was not drafted until the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He has sprouted to 6′5″ and packed on 45 additional pounds to get his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The secondary pitches (slider and change) are commendable pitches that could see him stick in the rotation, but his skills seem to fit better in the bullpen. Jordan has no trouble finding the plate, which should help him stay in the rotation. He has made a slow trek through the minors, finally reaching full season ball in 2019, reaching High A. He will probably start the 2021 season in AA with a Twins appearance sometime in 2022.

18. Hunter Greene (Reds) - It has been a long, slow trek for the player picked second in the 2017 draft. The fastball was triple digit quality but he failed to find the plate. His first year he finished with a 12.46 ERA in three starts covering 4 innings. That improved to 4.48 in 2018. Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2019 season. It will be interesting if he can sustain his three digit heat into the 2021 season. His secondary pitches (slider and change) could allow him to survive in the rotation. His surgery and his premier fastball could move him into the bullpen. He finished his 2018 season in Low A. It will not be until late in the 2022 season before the Reds see him in their rotation.

19. Shane Baz (Rays) - The Rays do a good job of developing starting pitchers. Shane was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2017. The Rays stole him, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the Pirates for Chris Archer. If Baz makes the Rays it will be one of the biggest swindles in baseball. Baz has a fastball that lights the radar gun in the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. His inability to find the plate will make it difficult for him to stay in the rotation. He also lacks a quality third pitch, showing a fastball/slider combination with a pedestrian change. Shane has yet to check in at the 100 inning level in any of his three minor league seasons. The 2021 season could see him start it in AA. Rays fans will have to wait until at least 2022 before they see him in the bullpen, or 2023 before he hits the rotation.

20. Jackson Kowar (Royals) - Kowar pitched with Brady Singer at Florida. The Royals made Singer their first pick and Kowar became pick 1A as he was drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He hopes to join Singer in the Royals rotation in 2021. His fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is has change that complements the fastball that makes him a quality pitcher. His curveball has decent enough action to put him in the middle of the Royals rotation. He finished the 2019 season in AA, but was pretty hittable at that level, the opposition teeing off for a .254 average. His control is good and he gets about one whiff per inning with his fastball/change combination. Jackson should start the 2021 season in AA and could join Singer in the rotation late in 2021 or sometime in 2022.

Top Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

This position holds the cream of the crop. Everyone signed out of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela seems to start out as a shortstop, even Miguel Cabrera. Many of them eventually move to second or third base, or even the outfield. Some because they have gotten bigger as they have matured so they lack the range to play the position, others because a player ahead of them also plays shortstop and the bat is there to put him in the lineup at another position. Because of this, we are going to rank 20 players at this position.

1. Wander Franco (Rays) - Wander is possibly the number one ranked prospect in baseball. So was Jurickson Profar and Yoan Moncada at one time. That ranking does not carry with it automatic stardom in the major leagues, but Wander does have a big time bat that has hit over .300 at each level he has played in the minor leagues. During his 2019 season he reached full season ball, and compared to the Rookie Leagues, his power numbers dropped a little. The Rays don’t question the bat, expecting it to hit 30 plus homeruns and hit over .300 consistently in the major leagues. What is impressive about those power numbers is that he has an 83/54 walk to whiff ratio during that two year period, facing pitchers that are three to four years older than him. His speed is not great so his range is limited at the position. The Rays already have Willy Adames at short. By the time Franco is ready for short, it may also be the time the Rays are prepared to cut salary and say goodbye to Adames. Wander should see some major league time by 2022. He went down to the Dominican to get some playing time since he did not have a 2020 season, but that was cut short as he was forced to return to the United States to have a look at his injury.

2. Bobby Witt Jr (Royals) - The 2019 first round pick has a leaner build than Franco. He is also projected to have a little more power and settle as a better fielder. What Witt won’t be able to do is hit with the consistency of Franco. He has more swing and miss plate appearances, which translates into weaker bat to ball contact, lowering that batting average as he faces more superior pitching. Myworld saw him swinging an aluminum bat at the homerun derby during the All Star break. He was top dog in the competition. Witt has a father of the same name who was a pitcher in major league baseball. The legs carry good speed, which equates to good range at shortstop. There is confidence that he has the defensive tools to stay at the position. The biggest concern is improving his ability to make contact. Witt had no 2020 season, so that put a quiet stall in his development. Myworld expects him to make his major league debut some time around the end of 2022.

3. Jazz Chisholm (Marlins) - The Bahama native was originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2015 for $200,000. Signed the same year out of the Bahamas was another shortstop Lucius Fox, who you do not see on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him straight up in 2019 for Zac Gallen. In the last two years in the minors he has shown enough power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The bat has shown many holes with a .220 average in 2019 and whiffs of greater than 140 in those two seasons. He did get to play a bit for the Marlins in 2020, hitting just .161 over just 21 games. His tendency to swing and miss lessoned and he appeared to show better discipline at the plate the more he plays. The defensive tools are there to play a quality shortstop. If he can tweak his discipline at the plate he could become a multiple all star at the position. The 2021 season will see him start at AAA with another callup to the Marlins if he does well.

4. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The first pick in the 2017 draft has been a top prospect for so long that sometimes you take him for granted. In his 2019 minor league season he reached AA, but with the Twins in a playoff race, they did not see a reason to call him up for the 2020 season. Royce had what you could call a down 2019 season, hitting just .236 in a season split between A and AA. His OBA was a dreadful .290. That is far below his two previous seasons when he hit .279 or greater. He seemed to lack patience at the plate in 2019 with a strikeout to walk rate at better than 3 to one, much worse than his previous two seasons. Royce is one of the fastest players in the minors and could use his speed in centerfield, where the Twins used him a bit in 2019. His bat is anticipated to play in the majors and it could show 20 plus homerun pop if he can make more consistent, solid contact. The 2021 season should finally see his arrival with the Twins.

5. Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets already have two solid shortstops competing for a job in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. Ronny could make it a third, though at 6′3″ he could bulk up too much to force a move to third. Since the lack of speed is one of his only down sides, he may lack the range to play short in the major leagues. His bat is expected to hit. The Mets signed him for $2.1 million in 2017. In 2019 he reached Low A, hitting .268 with four homeruns. His walk to whiff ratio was a concerning 23/99, which is a major reason Rosario has struggled with major league pitching. The Mets anticipate that his power will develop enough for a move to third base. Any major league time probably won’t be seen until late 2022 at the earliest.

6. Marco Luciano (Giants) - Marco signed with the Giants in 2018 for $2.6 million. They hope he turns out better than Lucius Fox, who they signed for $6 million, but traded away for a song. Marco is a different player than Lucius, one who can hit for power. He only got to play 47 games in the minors in 2019, but he hit 10 homeruns with a .564 slugging percentage. He batted .302 with a 32/45 walk to whiff ratio. If his walk percentage continues that trend he will be a slugging bat who gets on base a lot. A shortstop that hits .300 with 30 plus homeruns and a .400 OBA would be a dream for the Giants. As with Mauricio, speed is not a big part of his game, so a move to third base looks to be in his future. Myworld does not anticipate him being with the Giants until 2023.

7. Austin Martin (Blue Jays) - Myworld saw Austin in the College World Series in 2019. The 2020 season was cancelled early but Austin was good enough to be a first round pick in 2020. That means there are no stats on Austin. He hit .392 in college with a high OBA. The power was not great and is expected to be above average. He also played multiple positions with Vanderbilt. Many conjectured that he would be the first player selected in the draft but he fell to being the fifth pick. His ultimate position could be centerfield or second base since he had problems with consistency at shortstop with Vanderbilt. The bat though should allow him to reach the majors quickly, say sometime in 2022.

8. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - If the 6′7″ O’Neil can bend down to play shortstop consistently, why not allow him to play. The consensus is the Dominican with the rocket arm will eventually move to right field. The power in his bat is immense, with the potential to hit 40 plus homeruns per year. Making consistent contact is not a major problem but he could always seek improvement, with walk to whiff ratios around 30/100. Despite his large frame, speed is not a weakness. The 2020 season was a wasted season of development. He stayed in the Dominican where he got into a car accident in which two people were killed. What kind of impact this will have on his psyche for the future is open for question. Last year he reached AA, so it is a concern the Pirates did not have room for him to work out in the alternate camp. Maybe that is why they are the Pirates and fail to develop their prospects. Cruz is playing in the Dominican Winter League and should see some major league playing time late in 2021.

9. Anderson Tejeda (Rangers) - Anderson was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for just $100,000. He seemed to have a nice breakout season in 2018 when he hit 19 homeruns. His 2019 season was cut short to 43 games because of an injured shoulder. He got an opportunity to play with the Rangers in 2020, making his major league debut and hitting three homeruns in 23 games. One of the major issues with Tejeda is poor strike zone discipline, with walk to whiff ratios of 40/130. That will keep his batting averages at .250 or below unless he improves that discipline. His speed is just a tick above average, so there is concern about his range at short. He does make up for that with one of the strongest arms in the minor leagues. With a good spring Tejeda could be the starting shortstop for the Rangers in 2021.

10. Jose Garcia (Reds) - The Cuban prospect surprised many with his power swing in spring training. Power is not expected to be his strong suit. At 6′2″ he is not considered a small guy so perhaps some power is developing. The Reds signed Garcia for his smooth defense. He improved his bat in 2019, advancing to High A and hitting .280 with an OBA of .343 (compared to .245/290). What was surprising is the Reds called him up early to play shortstop during their playoff run last season. He struggled with a .194 average and a 1/26 walk to whiff for a .206 OBA, but they still played him because of his defense. None of his 13 hits went for extra bases. He will probably need another season in the minors, but the Reds could still have him return sometime in 2021.

11. C.J. Abrams (Padres) - A 2019 first round pick by the Padres is tough to tag. He had a nice minor league debut hitting .393 with a .647 slugging. All but two of his 34 games were played in Rookie ball. He runs with the wind, ala Trea Turner, stealing 15 bases in those 34 games. If his Rookie League stats can be deciphered accurately he makes good contact with a 11/14 walk to whiff ratio. The defensive tools exist to play shortstop, including a strong arm. However, with all that speed he may be best utilized in center field. Abrams has a long way to reach the Padres. When he does, if he wants to play shortstop he will have to usurp Tatis Jr. The Padres will probably not have to make that decision until 2023, with a possible late season callup in 2022.

12. Geraldo Perdomo (Diamondbacks) - Perdomo was a bargain signing at $70,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. In 2019 he played in A ball, showing the ability to make good contact, but lacking in power. His career walk to whiff ratio is 169/148 with a batting average of .278. There is some gap power but currently his slugging average is a wimpish .368. At 6′2″ he could develop more power but not to the detriment of his defense. He has Gold Glove potential for the position so anything his bat can do is a plus. The lack of any organized play in 2020 hurt his development process so the best Geraldo can hope for in his major league debut is sometime late 2022.

13. Jordan Groshans (Blue Jays) - Bo Bichette is the current Blue Jays shortstop with the newly drafted Austin Martin right behind him. At 6′3″ Jordan has the length to develop big time power. After hitting .296 with five homeruns in 48 games in his minor league debut in 2018, his 2019 season was cut short by a foot injury, limiting him to just 23 games. With the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season the development process has been slowed even further. Currently, Jordan’s hits are gap to gap with the potential to send more of those balls over the fence as he gains strength. Jordan has the potential to hit for power and average. His speed is a tick above average, which could slow after he matures, meaning a move to third base. His power at short is not as beneficial to the team if he has to move to third. The Jays have time to develop him so myworld does not expect to see him playing with the Blue Jays before 2022.

14. Bryson Stott (Phillies) - The 2019 first round pick has all the tools except for power. That could develop with time as his 6′3″ frame develops. He slugged six homeruns in 48 games in his 2019 minor league debut. His ability to draw walks and spank the ball to the opposite field could make him an ideal number two hitter. The tools are there to stick at short as an above average defensive player. Stott is a college drafted player so he needs to rise quickly after a wasted 2020 season. Expect the Phillies to push for his major league debut time to be 2021.

15. Robert Puason (Athletics) - Puason was a recent 2019 signing, eliciting a bonus from the Athletics for $5.1 million. That is a lot of cheddar. At 6′3″ his body is currently lean and stringy. The strength can come as he matures. He currently has good speed, but he does not want to lose that with bulk. A strong arm and plus range makes him a potential Gold Glove shortstop. All we can go on now is his high signing bonus, second to potential Yankee super star outfielder Jasson Dominguez, and the reports that all his tools have the potential to be above major league average. His start time in the majors will have to wait until 2024.

16. Gabriel Arias (Indians) - The Venezuelan prospect was signed by the Padres in 2016 for $1.9 million. His bat is still a little soft but his glove is golden. Gabriel saw some power break out in 2019 when he slugged 17 homeruns and raised his slugging average from 2018 120 points to .470. The Padres included Gabriel in a trade with the Indians for Mike Clevenger. With Abrams and Tatis Jr. at shortstop the Padres are stacked. He needs to show better plate discipline if he hopes to achieve offensive success. He has a 78/344 walk to whiff ratio in his minor league career. The Indians have been talking about trading Francisco Lindor. Arias is probably a couple steps from taking the reigns at short, so do not expect a major league debut until sometime late in 2022.

17. Oswald Peraza (Yankees ) - Yankee prospects can sometimes be a bit over hyped. Peraza was signed for just $175,000 in 2016. He reached A ball in 2019. His batting averages have hovered around .260 and he has yet to hit over 4 homeruns. leaving him with a slugging average of just .346. The Yankees hope the tools defy the numbers. The speed is there to steal 23 bases in 2019 and provide the range to play short. The arm is strong. The power may always lack. With the Yankees prospects like Peraza are normally used as trade bait to acquire a veteran to make a playoff run. Trusting a rookie shortstop not named Derek Jeter to play a critical position for a win now team is not to be expected. Perhaps he will see a platoon role for the Yankees sometime in 2022.

18. Tyler Freeman (Indians) - We just see a little too much average in the 2017 first round supplemental pick. He has hit well with a .319 career minor league average, including a .352 average in rookie ball in 2018. Over the fence power is absent, but he does have the ability to spray the gaps to hit 61 doubles his last two seasons. The speed is not supposed to be great, but he has the savvy to steal 19 bases in 2019. His defensive tools may be better used in a utility role, lacking the power to play corner and the range to play short. He could see that role in 2022.

19. Keoni Cavaco (Twins) - A 2019 first round pick, he played at Eastlake High School, which is where my niece went to school. Myworld has to give him props for that. His one and only season of 25 games he hit just .172, with a 4/35 walk to whiff ratio. That is very foreboding. He was primarily a third baseman in high school, but the Twins have been impressed with his tools at short. Obviously he will have to improve his discipline at the plate if he wishes to hit for average. He is still a far cry from any major league consideration, possibly late 2023.

20. Yasel Antona (Nationals) - The last player on a Top 20 list is normally someone special. Not that any of his tools are anything special, but Yasel is above average in all phases. He also seemed to show some increased pop in camp that had a lot of players going “Wow”. The Nationals signed him in 2016 for $3.9 million. Tommy John surgery ended his 2018 season early and he only saw three games in 2019. In 2018 he was only hitting .220 with a .331 slugging. So most of the reason he appears on this list is because of hype. A lack of speed may force him to move to third, where the power needs to show if he wants to play. Expect that to be sometime in late 2022.