Archive for the 'Orioles' Category

Turner Leads Nationals Over O’s

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Myworld was in D.C. to watch the O’s play the Nationals. In the past the O’s have beaten up on the Nationals even though they were not the better team. In their first series in Baltimore this year the Nationals swept them. With Trea Turner hitting a triple short of the cycle in a 4 for 4 day the Nationals outslugged the Orioles 9-6.

Trea Turner started out the scoring for the game, turning on a pitch from David Hess in the second inning for a solo homerun into the Orioles bullpen. Jefry Rodriguez was getting his second start in the majors for the Nationals and after sailing through the first two innings he gave up a pair of two run homeruns in the next two innings. Jace Peterson tagged a pitch into the Nationals bullpen in the third inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Trey Mancini slugged a two run homerun into the Orioles bullpen in the fourth inning to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead.

The Orioles tacked on another run in the top of the fifth when Rodriguez walked pitcher David Hess to lead off the inning. A walk to Jace Peterson and a hit by pitch to Adam Jones loaded the bases with no outs. Rodriguez wiggled out of the inning coaxing Machado to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. A Trumbo strikeout ended the inning and kept the Nationals deficit to 5-1.

David Hess had a one hitter through four, the Turner solo shot in the second. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin popped to short. With one out Adam Eaton hit a slow roller into the hole at third base. Machado broke for the ball but it just missed the glove, dribbling out to left field and allowing two runs to score. A walk to Juan Soto loaded the bases again for a Anthony Rendon sacrifice fly to pull the Nationals within one. The slumping Bryce Harper blooped a double over third base to tie the game and ended the day for Hess. Miguel Castro got Daniel Murphy to ground to first to end the rally.

In the top of the sixth Jonathan Schoop led the inning off with a triple. After a walk to Danny Valencia, Trey Mancini bounced one back to the pitcher. Schoop broke off third base too far and was run down by Trea Turner for the first out. The Nationals tried to turn two with the bases loaded, allowing a run to score to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead. A double steal with Corban Joseph going to second and Trey Mancini breaking for home after the throw to second proved disastrous after Mancini was gunned down at home for the third out.

Down by one the Nationals turned on rookie Tanner Scott. Adam Eaton started the inning with a drag bunt single to second base. Juan Soto lined a single into centerfield. Anthony Rendon doubled to left centerfield to score two runs to give them the lead. With a runner on third and one out George Wright replaced Scott. Michael Taylor grounded a single past a drawn in infield, hitting the glove of Machado. A Wilmer Difo RBI single upped the Nationals lead to 9-6. Spencer Kieboom laid down a bunt but Turner was caught too far off third base. He was eventually tagged out as he encouraged Difo to take third. Wilmer Difo broke too late for third and he was also tagged out.

The Nationals used recently acquired Kelvin Herrera for the first time. He retired the side in order in the eighth. Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth and gave up a solo homerun to Joey Rickard to close to within two. That was all the O’s could accomplish.

Game Notes: Jefry Rodriguez had a fastball consistently hitting 96-98. He rarely threw his curveball, but when he did he got swings and misses. Judging from his performance, at this point he appears to be a two pitch pitcher, fastball and curve. Jace Peterson hit a first pitch fastball for his homerun in the third inning. Trey Mancini went deep against Rodriguez on a 2-2 count. The walk to the pitcher in the fifth was damaging…Trea Turner made an exceptional play at short, sliding to his back hand side to pick up a ground ball and gunning down the runner at first. Defensively he is superior to Machado at short…Buck walked Bryce Harper intentionally in the eighth with runners on first and second with two out. It paid off for him when Pedro Severino popped out to second…Kelvin Herrera was hitting 98 with his fastball.

O’s Break Nine Game Losing Streak

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It was tough for myworld to be motivated to drive all the way to Baltimore to watch two of the worst teams in baseball battle it out for the second round pick in the 2019 draft. The Orioles had lost the first two games, but the Sunday performance their bats came alive for a 10-4 win. Jace Peterson had a big day with a two run double in the second and a two run homer in the fifth, his first homerun of the year.

Trevor Richards got the start for the Marlins. The rookie had nothing, giving up six runs in less than four innings. The first inning he retired the O’s in order. The subsequent innings were less than glamorous. Mark Trumbo started the second inning slapping a single to right. Jonathan Schoop grounded a pitch down the third base line to the left field corner for a double. Jace Peterson drove them both in with a blast into center field that bounced into the bleachers for a ground rule double, driving in the first two runs.

In the third Richards retired the first two hitters. Manny Machado lined a single to left field. Mark Trumbo followed by driving a pitch deep to left. Derek Dietrich ran back for the ball, leaped at the wall, but the ball fell short, dropping below his glove for a double. After Jonathan Schoop walked to load the bases Trey Mancini grounded a single up the middle to score two more runs.

Dylan Bundy has been susceptible to the homerun ball. In the first three innings he shut down the Marlins. With one out in the fourth Justin Bour drove one into the right field bleachers to score the Marlins first run.

The Orioles responded in the bottom of the fourth, Craig Gentry and Austin Wynns starting the inning with back to back singles. Adam Jones drove a pitch into centerfield that one hopped the wall for a double driving in two runs and increasing the O’s lead to 6-1. The double ended the day for Richards.

Merandy Gonzalez came in and saved the Marlin bullpen, working two outs into the eighth inning. His work was not without blemish. Jace Peterson lined a pitch over the right field scoreboard to give the Orioles another two runs for an 8-1 lead.

Justin Bour tried to make a game of it in the sixth. Dietrich started the inning with a bloop single into center and Brian Anderson walked. With one out Justin Bour tagged a Bundy pitch over the right field bleachers hitting the gates behind the bleacher seats. Starling Castro followed with a double down the right field line. Bundy was able to retire the next two hitters to keep the Orioles ahead 8-4 but his day was done.

Miguel Castro started the seventh for the O’s. He could not get anyone out, giving up back to back singles and then walking the next hitter to load the bases with no outs. Mychal Givens came on to pitch, striking out Brian Anderson and then getting J.T. Realmuto to fly to shallow left. Buck went with lefty Tanner Scott to face the lefty swinging Bour, despite his trouble finding the strike zone. Scott ran the count 2-2, freezing Justin Bour on a 96 mile per hour fastball for strike three. A third homerun would have tied the game.

That was it for the Marlins. Mark Trumbo hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Manny Machado drove in a run with a single in the eighth. Zach Britton came on in the ninth to preserve the lead and end the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Game Notes: The O’s gave all the males coming to the game father’s day ties with the word Orioles scripted into the tie. Myworld wears a tie once every four years or so…The Orioles have a steal second base contest in the bottom of the fifth as the grounds crew replaces the bases. As a girl was running toward second base Cameron Maybin, the Marlins centerfielder grabbed the wrong base (the replacement base) and handed it to the girl. The grounds crew was able to retrieve the base and replace the second base bag in the bottom of the sixth…Derek Dietrich has shown me he does not play left field well. He allowed the double to fall in front of him as he leaped at the fence, and he almost missed a routine fly ball in the fourth, landing to his knee as he caught the ball…Journeyman Corban Joesph played first base instead of Chris Davis. He batted leadoff going 0 for 4. Chance Sisco was optioned to the minors and his brother Caleb Joseph was promoted. That has got to be a thrill for the two brothers, to be in the major leagues for the first time together. The Orioles do not have much else to play for so why not make two brothers happy and put them both in the lineup for the Nationals game.

Harvey Hammered by Thunder

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Myworld got to see Hunter Harvey pitch. He lasted only two innings. He would have given up the cycle if he had given up a single, but two triples, a double and two homeruns accounted for six Thunder runs in the two innings of Harvey work, Thunder go on to win 7-2.

Harvey was dealing his fastball in the mid-90s, hitting 98. In the opening inning he walked leadoff hitter Jeff Hendrix. Abiatal Avelino, just sent down from Scranton Wilkes Barre powered one into the right centerfield gap to score the first Thunder run. Bruce Caldwell drove another pitch into the right centerfield gap, settling for a double. Ryan McBroom hit a sinking liner to left field. Anthony Santander attempted to make a sliding catch, but the ball skipped past him and McBroom ended up at third. He scored on a fly ball out by Trey Amburgey. It was 4-0 and Harvey had retired just one hitter.

The Bay Sox came back in the bottom half. Anderson Feliz started the inning lining a double down the right field line. He advanced to third on a ground out to second and scored on a fly ball to center.

In the top of the second Harvey gave up solo shots to Rey Navarro to lead off the inning and Abiatal Avelino with two out in the second. Harvey did not come out to pitch the third inning. Abiatal went 0 for 3 in his next three at bats.

Zack Britton got a rehab appearance and pitched a scoreless third. Christian Binford started the fourth, and though he gave up six hits in his four innings of work, loading the bases twice, Binford did not allow a runner to touch home. Luis Ysla came on to pitch the last two innings, giving up a solo shot to Trey Amburgey.

After the first inning Michael King was unhittable. After allowing a run in the first King shut down the Bay Sox for the next six innings, giving up just one more hit. Jordan Foley pitched the last two innings, giving up a run on three hits.

Game Notes: There has been lots of rain in the area. The grass in the outfield is a patchy brown in some spots. It is the worst myworld has seen the outfield…Gosuke Katoh was a second round pick of the Yankees in 2013 after winning the Palomar player of the year while playing for Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego. Both his parents were born in Japan. His mother ran track and played volleyball while his dad played baseball. He speaks fluent Japanese and follows the NPB…Taka Matsuda was one of the three umpires for this Eastern League match. He was born in Japan…Ryan Mountcastle was playing third base for the Bay Sox. Myworld does not see a major league arm for the position…Michael King hit 95 on the radar gun. He was acquired from the Marlins when they needed 40 man roster space, trading lefthanded pitcher Caleb Smith and first baseman Garrett Cooper. He was a 12th round pick of the Marlins in 2016. It appears the Yankees got the best of that deal.

Ramirez Leads Indians Over O’s

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez each hit two homeruns on Sunday. Ramirez had help from his teammates to score additional runs. Manny had very little help. The result was a 7-3 win by the Indians. The countdown for the O’s to trade Machado begins.

Machado got the O’s off to a good start off Indians ace Corey Kluber, driving a 2-0 pitch high and deep into the left field bleachers. In an anemic looking lineup Machado was the only Oriole hitting over .300. The closest to him was Pedro Alvarez who was at .214. Everyone else was below the Mendoza line.

Andrew Cashner got off to a good start on the mound, striking out four of the first six hitters he faced. In the third an error and bunt put him in a situation with runners on second and third with just one out. He got Francisco Lindor on a shallow fly to right and Jason Kipnis on a fly out to center to get out of the inning. In the fourth he was not so fortunate, giving up a leadoff homerun to Jose Ramirez. The Indians tacked on another run on back to back doubles by Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso to take a 2-1 lead.

The Orioles battled back in the bottom frame. Manny went deep for a solo shot, lining a pitch into the centerfield bullpen to tie the game. The O’s added another run on a double by Adam Jones and a beat the shift ground ball single by Chris Davis into right field to drive in Jones. Davis strikes out a lot but his .164 average tells a tale that he does not beat the shift often.

The Indians did not trial for long. In the top of the fifth Rajai Davis walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Francisco Lindor drove him in with a single into right center. Another walk by Cashner to Jose Ramirez set up an RBI single by Michael Brantley and the Indians had a 4-3 lead.

Kluber held the anemic Oriole bats to one hit for the next three innings. A lead off single by Caleb Joseph in the eighth brought in Andrew Miller and he set the O’s down in order, whiffing two.

The Indians put the game away in the ninth off Brad Brach. Jose Ramirez slugged a two run homer, just clearing the right field scoreboard. Yonder Alonso and Yan Gomes hit back to back doubles to make it 7-3.

Game Notes: Anthony Santander will not win any gold gloves in the outfield. He missed a diving catch turning a single into a double and looked bad going back to the wall on a ball that would have been tough to catch but it turned into another double. Quicker outfielders may have turned those plays into outs but they resulted in two Indian runs…The signing of Chris Davis may have been a mistake, especially the way he hit last year and the way his season has started this year. Now they have four firstbaseman on their roster in Pedro Alvarez (Mark Trumbo when he replaces Alvarez on the roster), Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander. When they signed Davis they had Christian Walker and Trey Mancini as two replacements at first…Corey Kluber had one strikeout through his first six innings. In the seventh he struck out the side to give him four for the game. The Oriole hitters lead the American League in strikeouts…Jose Ramirez struck out twice and hit two homers. Prior to the game he was the toughest hitter to strike out with one every 20 plate appearances.

Cervenka Leads Bay Sox with the Walkoff

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

We liked Martin Cervenka as a player when we watched him play for the under 23 team Czech Republic national team in Taiwan a couple years ago. Now he is 25, no longer with the Indians and we got an opportunity to watch him catch for the Bowie Bay Sox. We still like him as a catcher and a team leader. Last night he ended a 12 inning game with a walk off single to lead the Bowie Bay Sox to a 4-3 win over the Akron Rubber Ducks.

It was the first minor league game for myworld this year. Of course it had to be an extra inning game. We got an opportunity to watch the new rule for extra inning games in minor league baseball where they put a runner on second to begin the inning. It was done to shorten the game and save pitcher’s arms, but the two teams needed the third extra inning before ending the game.

Myworld prefers this approach over the international game where they put runners on first and second. That approach is too predictable, resulting in a bunt to move the runners over. Failing to do so usually results in defeat and myworld has a problem with the sacrifice bunt taking on so much importance in a baseball game.

Cervenka ended the game with three hits and a walk. His batting average shot up to .395. He also did a good job of blocking balls at the plate, preventing them from banging into the back stop to allow a runner to advance the extra base. The Indians were the team that signed him so it was ironic that he should beat them with his game winning single.

The Akron RubberDucks came into the game last in the league in hitting with a .188 team average. Almost everyone in their lineup was hitting less than .200, including the slugger Bobby Bradley. Bradley was able to launch a solo blast to the opposite field in the third inning to give Akron a 1-0 lead. The 1 for 4 day raised his average to .111.

Austin Hays showed off his arm, rifling a throw from the warning track in center field in the air to the third baseman on a double in the fourth. Connor Marabell and Mark Mathias led off the fourth inning with back to back doubles to give the Duckies a 2-0 lead.

Taiwan pitcher Shao-Ching Chiang was in control for the first three innings. His fastball hit 96 but there were not a lot of swings and misses with his pitches. He gave up single hits in the first three innings but allowed no runs. In the fourth the Bay Sox ripped him for three runs, assaulting Chiang for five hits. Adrian Marin had a two run double and Erick Salcedo drove him in with a single to score the three runs. Cervenka had a single to extend the rally.

The Bay Sox bullpen held the Duckies to zero hits in the final 6.1 innings. Tanner Chleboard, Paul Fry and Jay Fiaa each shared two innings of work to hold the anemic Akron bats to zero hits.

Austin Hays made a baserunning blunder in the ninth inning when he singled to right center. He had the intention right out of the box of trying to hustle to second. When he realized he was dead meat half way to second he did a Jayson Werth slide to a stop, but got into a rundown before being tagged out.

Mike Yastrzemski, the grand son of Carl, is struggling in this cold weather. He went 0 for 4 to drop his average to .132. He struck out in the eighth with runners on first and second and no out, failing to lay down a bunt on the first two pitches. Coming into the game his 20 strikeouts was fourth in the Eastern League. He added one more to that total.

Top Australian Prospects

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

It has become more difficult to find Aussie prospects in the minor leagues. The distance and the influx of a wave of Cubans makes the cost/benefit of scouting there and then signing players unattractive. Plus for the Aussie, to play baseball in the United States for minimal salary and the difficulty in achieving major league success is not a career enhancer. The only Aussie major leaguers are pitchers, Peter Moylan, Warwick Saupold and Liam Hendrick. Myworld identified Saupold as a prospect to watch before the Tigers signed him when we saw him pitch in Tawian for the Perth Heat team a number of years ago. He is one player who has graduated from the list last year. So below are the top ten Australian prospects in the minor leagues. From what we could find there are not much more than ten Aussie players in the minor leagues.

1. Aaron Whitefield OF (Twins) - He’s an athlete. Defensively he may already be ready for the major leagues. Like Saupold he is a late starter to baseball, having spent most of his youth playing softball. His hitting is a bit raw, but does show some power with 11 homeruns last year. Pitch recognition is an issue with 118 whiffs in 116 games. Even when he makes contact it isn’t barrel of the bat on ball contact. Improved recognition of pitches will result in increased production. The speed is there to play center but the arm is best suited for left. He will begin the 2018 season in High A.

2. Lewis Thorpe LHP (Twins) - Tommy John surgery forced him to miss two seasons (2015 and 2016) after signing in 2012. He made a nice comeback last year finishing with a 2.69 ERA in High A, striking out 84 in 77 innings and limiting the opposition to a .225 average. For an Aussie he throws a hard fastball that creaked into the high 90s prior to his surgery but now sits in the low 90s. If he can get that velocity back he has a greater shot of seeing the major leagues. His secondary pitches are average and should allow him to stay in the rotation. He will begin the 2018 season in AA. If his fastball returns to pre surgery velocity he could see some time with the Twins by mid-season, though the Twins will still be mindful of his pitch count.

3. Alex Wells LHP (Orioles) - Not many pitchers had a string of success like Wells. In July Wells went five starts covering 31 innings in which he did not allow a run. He finished the season with a 2.38 ERA with the opposition hitting just .222 off him. His stuff will not overwhelm you with a fastball that is lucky to break 90. Command of his pitches and throwing them to the corners of the plate is what retires hitters. Last year Alex only walked 10 hitters in 140 innings. Whether that success will continue as he rises through the minor leagues is open to question. The first test will be in High A where his first two starts his ERA sits at 1.74 and the opposition hit him at a .150 rate.

4. Lachlan Wells LHP (Twins) - The Twin brother of Alex. His stuff is just as underwhelming as Alex, but he did not have the same success. He walks a few more hitters and gives up a few more hits, but he also pitched one level higher than Alex at High A. Where Alex won 11 games Lachlan lost 10. His opposition batting average was .243. He began the season on the disabled list, but when he is healthy he could start the season in AA.

5. Robbie Perkins C (Rockies) - The bat is a little light with a .201 career minor league average and a .313 slugging. His arm is what keeps him percolating in the minor leagues. Last year he threw out 19 of the 36 baserunners who attempted to steal against him. Unless his bat improves his best hope for him is to make it as a back up. Last year he did hit .271 in a 22 game stretch in the California League.

6. Todd Van Steensel RHP (Twins) - At 27 years of age he has advanced beyond what is normally considered a prospect. This is his seventh year in the minor leagues. Except for the first two years, they have all been spent in the bullpen. Last year his 1.38 ERA in AA gave the Twins motivation to sign him. He has returned to AA this year and if he can replicate his 2017 season he could see a callup to the big leagues.

7. Jon Kennedy LHP (Braves) - Jon has got height (6′5″) with a lefthanded arm that can throw in the low 90s. Of his 62 appearances only one has appeared as a starter. It would be better if he could get lefthanded hitters out, but his opposition average against lefties (.263) was about the same as righties (.261). He also pitches in the Braves organization, which has a surplus of quality starting pitchers. Many of them will have to settle for bullpen duty if they don’t make the rotation, squeezing out less qualified bullpen pitchers like Kennedy. The 2018 season has seen Jon start it in High A where he has yet to give up a run in four appearances.

8. Daniel McGrath LHP (Red Sxo) - His fastball lacks velocity and he was tagged last year for a .295 opposition average. He also struggles to find the plate with 51 walks in just 85 innings. The Red Sox have moved him to the bullpen where the hope is that shorter spurts will lead to greater success.

9. Zac Shepherd 3B (Tigers) - Myworld was once high on his power. Lack of pitch recognition has resulted in lots of swings and misses (171 whiffs in 2017) and low batting averages. His power is also reduced (.318 slugging) because of lack of barrel on the ball contact. This is his fifth season in minor league baseball where his .219 average has not allowed him to surpass A ball.

10. Sam Street RHP (Pirates) - Lots of Sams in Australian baseball. While he was born in Australia, he went to college in the United States, resulting in the Pirates drafting him in the 16th round of the 2014 draft. Of his 111 appearances only one has been a start. His fastball lacks velocity but his career .233 opposition average shows he can still retire hitters. He starts the 2018 season in AA.

Berrios Blanks Birds

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

The last time myworld saw Jose Berrios pitch was in an exhibition game a couple days ago against the Nationals where he pitched three innings of no hit ball. Against the Orioles he allowed his first hit to Chance Sisco in the third inning when the ball just went past the outstretched glove of left fielder Eddie Rosario. He would give up two hits in the ninth inning with a walk loading the bases, but a strikeout to Adam Jones secured the shutout 7-0 win.

Brian Dozier got the Twin offense started early in the first inning on the first pitch from Kevin Gausman, lofting a pitch that barely cleared the left field fence. The next hitter Joe Mauer drew a walk and Eddie Rosario beat the shift by laying down a bunt single down the third base line. With two out Eduardo Escobar blooped a double down the left field line to score one run. A wild pitch scored another and a single by Byron Buxton made it 4-0 before the Orioles even had an opportunity to hit. It would not matter because their only base runner in the first eight innings was the two out third inning double from Chance Sisco.

The Twins tacked on two more runs in the third. Miguel Sano went the opposite way launching a ball over the score board into the right field pavilion to lead off the third. Eduardo Escobar hit a two out missle that went on a line over the centerfield fence to up the lead to 6-0. Gausman was able to get out of the fourth inning without allowing any more runs, but he did not start the fifth, finishing the day with 72 pitches after four innings.

Dozier hit his second solo shot of the day, popping a Pedro Araujo pitch again just barely clearing the left field bleachers. That made it 7-0 Twins. The O’s bullpen retired 10 of the next 11 hitters, giving up a two out single to pinch hitter Ryan LaMarre in the ninth inning.

The big issue came in the ninth with the Twins in a shift against Chance Sisco. Like Eddie Rosario earlier Chance exploited the shift by laying down a bunt down the third base line. A couple Twin players complained about the unwritten rules of baseball and his bunting in a 7-0 game. But if the Twins thought the game was over why were they still in the shift? That is just as bush as Sisco bunting to defeat the shift.

In the bottom of the ninth a walk to Chris Davis and a line single up the middle by Manny Machado gave the fans something to finally get excited about. The O’s would disappoint, Jonathan Schoop popping the ball straight up to the catcher. Adam Jones then stranded the three baserunners by striking out.

Game Notes: Gausman finished the game with 72 pitches after four innings. Berrios had 71 pitches after seven. Berrios also hit 93-95 consistently throughout the game. Gausman sat his fastball in the 91/92 range and could not get his slider over the plate, bouncing it in the dirt on numerous occasions. Last year Gausmann hit the mid-90s with his fastball. In the third inning he hit 94-95 with his first couple pitches, but before the inning was over it was down to 91/92…Miguel Sano played up the middle in the shift. He roamed back to the outfield to catch a popup and fielded a grounder up the middle in the sixth….Chris Davis is not impressing from the leadoff spot, starting the season in an 0 for 11 slump. He has drawn a couple walks.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Nick Pivetta was the only player to graduate from the top ten list from last year, but it was not a good season for the Philly righthander (8-10, 6.02). The Phillies will give him another opportunity to prove his value in the rotation. Seven players repeated from last year’s list with a shift in placement. Curtis Taylor and Gareth Morgan dropped out of the list. Below is the 2018 top ten minor league prospects from Canada. To qualify for this list you have to be eligible to win rookie of the year, eliminating Dalton Pompey, who was out most of last year and has not seen major league action in a couple years. Myworld predicts a return of Pompey in 2018.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - Born in Montreal, Canada from a Hall of Famer from the Dominican. This is the second country Vladimir appears in after placing second in the top Dominican prospects list in the American League. Here he is number one. The following is a cut and paste from our Dominican article. His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

2. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - Like most Canadians pitchers, he is not an overpowering pitcher. That did not prevent the Braves from using a number one pick in 2015 to draft him. His fastball can hit 95 but usually glides into the plate in the Low 90s. His ability to pitch, command those pitches and offer quality secondary pitches separates him from most pitchers. Righthanders really struggle against his repertoire, hitting just .209 against him in AA. His strikeout numbers will never be flashing but he will eliminate baserunners with double play groundouts. Soroka could find himself pitching for the Braves by midseason in a very crowded rotation. It all depends on his success at AAA to begin the 2018 season.

3. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) - The son of Paul, the Padres selected Cal in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford, despite his undergoing Tommy John surgery his sophomore season. Cal was born in Port Hope, Ontario. His fastball carries a little zip, chasing the plate in the upper bracket of the low 90s. What makes Cal special is a quality changeup that makes his fastball carry a little extra charge to it. Enhancing his breaking pitches will improve his stock. Last year he was tagged pretty good with righthanded batters hitting over .300 against him in AA. That is where he will repeat the 2018 season.

4. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - The son of a Canadian weight lifter, the Cardinals would like to see less bulk weight lifting from Tyler and more repetitions with lighter weights. Tyler was drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The bulky Tyler generally hits between 25 and 35 homeruns per year. Last year he bombed 31 over the fence. That power usually comes with a lot of swings and misses and lower batting averages. His speed is not quick enough to cover center, but a strong arm and average speed allows him to be a solid defender in right. The 2018 season could be his opportunity to debut in the major leagues. The Cardinal outfield is a bit crowded, but if his bashing continues in AAA it will be difficult to keep him down.

5. Josh Naylor 1B (Padres) - Josh was a surprise first round pick of the Marlins in 2015. A knife incident brought up character issues and the Marlins traded him to the Padres. At 6′0″ and close to 250 pounds Josh may have to watch his weight if he hopes to continue his professional career. He hits the ball a long ways with light tower power in batting practice, but that has not translated into the games. Despite his large size his athleticism allows him to run well and play an adequate defense at first base. With the eight year contract given to Eric Hosmer that puts Naylor in a black hole. He will start the season in AA and hope to impress some team in need of a first baseman to trade for him.

6. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The Orioles drafted Hall in the second round of the 2017 draft. He only got nine at bats in the rookie league but six of them went for hits for a .667 average. An oblique injury ended his season early. This may rob him of an opportunity to play full season ball next year. It appears he has the tools to stick at short with a good arm and decent range. His power is limited to the gaps now but with maturity and a better read of pitches that could increase. The 2018 season will be a big one for Hall to gauge whether he is geared for short.

7. Andy Yerzy C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. His first year in rookie ball was uneventful. His second year in rookie ball he smashed 13 homeruns and slugged .524. That should earn him a full season Low A team for 2018. His 6′3″ height gives him some problems defensively. He struggles with throws to second and handling pitches in the dirt. If his power continues to progress his bat could be moved to first base. His lack of speed makes a move to the outfield unrealistic. The D-backs will still continue to tutor him as a catcher in hopes he will improve as he gets more repetitions, beginning in the Low A league in 2018.

8. Miles Gordon OF (Reds) - Gordon has played three consecutive seasons in the Rookie League. The Reds drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but at that time his primary sport was hockey. Last year he had his breakout year, slugging his first eight homeruns of his minor league career and slugging .530, almost .200 points greater than his previous season. Like Yerzy that kind of production will get him promoted to a full season league in 2018. Gordon has the speed to fit in center but may be better suited for a corner.

9. Landon Leach RHP (Twins) - A second round pick in 2017 with a nice 6′4 inch frame that can sling the ball in the high 90s. For the most part he sits in the Low 90s. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. He pitched as a closer out of his high school so there is not a lot of use in his arm. When he was not closing he was catching for his high school team and the Junior National Canadian team. Now he has the opportunity to focus on the mound full time. He will probably start the 2017 season in extended spring training and pitch again in the Rookie League to continue to develop his mechanics.

10. Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) - Myworld still likes his tools. The results are slower than expected, with an inability to make contact and recognize pitches leaving him off prospect lists. He was projected to be a first rounder in 2015 but he dropped to the fourth round where the Brewers selected him. He was actually born in Nigeria so if he makes the major leagues he could be the first Nigerian to play in the major leagues. Last year he played at Low A, slugging 11 homeruns with 38 stolen bases. His 40/139 walk to whiff ratio kept his average at .214, though he did hit .252 against lefthanders. His speed will allow him to play center and his arm will fit him in right. The bat just needs to develop more consistency. He should see High A in 2018.

Predictions - AL East

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

1. New York Yankees

Overall - The acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton added 50 plus homeruns to the lineup. Late acquisitions of Neil Walker and Brandon Drury sent rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar back to the minors for one more year of seasoning. This year the Yankees are in it to win it.

Strengths - 1) The one obvious strength like the elephant in the room is the outfield. The corners could be flanked by two 50 homerun threats, except Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge may rotate between right field and DH.
2) DH. They appear not to have a standard DH but when your possibilities are Stanton, Judge and Gary Sanchez that is a scary trio. Things may get even a bit more complicated when Jacoby Ellsbury gets healthy.
3) Shortstop. Didi Gregorius added power to his game this year, slugging 25 homeruns. Derek who?
4) Bullpen. By his standards Aroldis Chapman had an off year. So did Dellin Betances. David Robertson gives them three closers to turn to.
5) Ace. Luis Severino appears to have come into his own, his 230 whiffs fourth in the American League. That put him third in the Cy Young Award Voting.
6) Catcher. Gary Sanchez put up some impressive offensive numbers for a catcher. His defense may have some holes but 33 homeruns and 90 RBIs will make up for a lot of mistakes (16 passed balls last year).

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Greg Bird is not a proven commodity hitting just .191 last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns but has trouble staying healthy. This could be a break out year for him or the Yankees may have to scramble to find a first baseman. Tyler Austin will not be the answer.
2) Rotation. Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia have a history of injuries but they have also had their share of accomplishments. There is not a lot of veteran options behind them so Yankee fans will cross their fingers for a healthy year.

Top Rookie - The rotation will probably need some help before the season ends. Chance Adams has an opportunity to make a contribution.

Top Prospect - Last year Gleyber Torres played in only 55 games because of Tommy John surgery. He will rehab a bit in the minors and depending on how Neil Walker produces a major league callup is not far away.

Expected Finish - Myworld expects them to win the division if their pitching can stay healthy. They will also be the American League World Series representative.

2. Boston Red Sox

Overall - There is not a lot left in their farm system but Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, two recent additions will have a significant impact on how the Red Sox do this year. Pitching will be what breaks them.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. It may lack the power of the Yankees, but for defense it would be difficult to find a trio better. Andrew Benitendi should improve on his rookie year and challenge for a batting title. An improvement over hitting lefthanded pitching would help with that. Mookie Betts and his 102 RBIs put him sixth in MVP voting. Jackie Bradley is the weak link on offense but plays an excellent centerfield.
2) DH. J.D. Martinez gives them a 40 homerun bat. He can also play outfield but when compared to the other two corners would be the weak link defensively.
3) Front End of Rotation. Chris Sale struck out 308 hitters and was second in the Cy Young voting. David Price will be one of the better pitchers in the league if he can stay healthy.
4) Closer. Craig Kimbrel was unhittable, limiting righthanded bats to a .109 average.

Weakness - 1) Second Base. Without Dustin Pedroia out for a significant stretch of the season they have a hole. Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin are better off in a utility role. After Holt, Edwin Nunez saw the most time at the position and hit .321 last year.
2) Catching. Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon will share the position. Both are a little light on offense and defense.
3) Back Half of Rotation. Injuries could sideline Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright for the start of the season. That is over 50 starts they have to find from somewhere. Brian Johnson and Roenis Elias are two possibilities. Rick Porcello is hoping for a bounce back year.

Top Rookie - Brian Johnson appears to have an opportunity to make the starting rotation. The 2012 first round pick is not overpowering but relies more on command.

Top Prospect - Michael Chavis hit 31 homeruns last year between two levels. Rafael Devers plays his position so expect him to get some time at first base to get his bat in the lineup.

Expected Finish - They will get the first wild card spot if their pitching holds up. It could be a long season if they get no production from the back half of the rotation.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

Overall - The Blue Jays are in that dreaded middle ground where they lack the talent to make the playoffs yet have some veteran pieces in the major leagues who could bring in a massive haul of prospects. They could end up in sell mode before mid-season.

Strengths - 1) Third Base. With Manny Machado moving to short Josh Donaldson may be the top third baseman in the American League.
2) Closer. They have one of the elite young closers in the game in Roberto Osuna. Since he has arrived in the major leagues the opposition has only hit him at a .198 pace. Seung-Hwan Oh is not the pitcher he was in Japan but he can still close a game in a pinch. His numbers were way down from what he put together in his rookie year in 2016.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Troy Tulowitski will begin the season on the disabled list. He is just a shell of what he was with the Rockies. Injuries will always limit him to less than 100 games per year. Aledmys Diaz needs to show he has something left in the tank after having a disappointing year his sophomore season with the Cardinals.
2) Second Base. Devon Travis is another player having difficulty staying healthy. He has one season in three where he played in more than 100 games (101). Not a lot of depth up the middle to replace both Tulowitski and Travis at the same time.
3) Rotation. Marcus Stroman has not proven yet he is an ace but he strung together a decent season last year. Aaron Sanchez has not thrived in the rotation like we thought when we first saw him, but injuries kept him out of the rotation last year. J.A. Happ’s track record has not shown that his 2016 season is the norm.

Top Rookie - If Anthony Alford can stay healthy he should have no problem winning a job in the Jays pedestrian outfield. Expect him to be called up when April turns to May.

Top Prospect - Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr is rated slightly ahead of Bo Bichette. Both had fathers who were pretty good hitters in the major leagues. This year could see a September callup for both of them with their arrival slated more towards 2019.

Expected Finish - Third place with an expected sell off if they are far from the playoffs by June.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Overall - The Rays trade Evan Longaria, Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson and they do not call it a rebuild. They also lost Alex Cobb, Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda to free agency. If this was a business the debit side of the ledger would be much greater than the credit side, with only prospects and Denard Span coming in as return. They still have enough young players to be competitive.

Strengths - 1) Defense. They have a pretty solid defensive core with Kevin Kiermaier one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game and Carlos Gomez and Denard Span solid in the corners. Adeiny Hechavvaria can pick it at short and Matt Duffy has shortstop skills utilized at third base. Wilson Ramos is a strong defender behind the plate. Those gloves should enhance a young starting corps ERA.
2) Top Two in Rotation. Chris Archer and Blake Snell should give the Rays quality starts. After that it gets a little dicey.

Weaknesses - 1) Corner outfield. Denard Span does not provide the same offensive numbers as Dickerson. Carlos Gomez gas tank may be running on empty and he falls short of Souza.
2) First base is still a hole after the departures of Duda and Morrison. Could be a good opportunity for Jake Bauer to find a home.
3) Back end of rotation. Losing Brent Honeywell chipped away at their depth. Don’t be surprised to see Ryan Yarbrough in the rotation. He’ll start in the bullpen but should end up in the rotation before the All Star break. Nathan Eovaldi needs to translate his stuff into outs if the Rays want to stay in the hunt.

Top Rookie - Only Chris Cron stands in the way of Jake Bauer making an impact.

Top Prospect - It would be Honeywell but Tommy John surgery knocked him out for the year. Willy Adames has a chance to take over the shortstop role or move to second base if the Rays want to increase their offense so he is the top healthy prospect on the roster.

Expected Finish - No matter how the Rays want to spin it the 2018 season is a rebuilding year.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Overall - They always seem to finish better than their projections. The late signing of Alex Cobb improves their rotation. They get one more year with Manny Machado and then it will really get hard to compete. Most feel the O’s will not sign Machado and trade him for a haul of prospects. They should finish at the bottom of the East with him or without him.

Strengths - 1) Shortstop. Manny Machado will return to short. His offense will make him one of the best shortstops in the league. Time will tell how his defense pans out and how much he has lost.
2) Top Three in Rotation. Myworld still sees a lot of upside in Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausmann in the rotation. With those arms you don’t usually anticipate a last place finish.
3) Lots of pop. With Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, Machado and Jonathan Schoop they will rattle the fences. When Mark Trumbo returns from his injury it will enhance the pop throughout the lineup. Adam Jones and Colby Rasmus are not big time power hitters but they will contribute 20 plus homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Third Base. Tim Beckham has a bat that is best suited for short. He lacks the pop for third base. He had a nice spurt in his short half season with the O’s. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question.
2) Closer. Losing Zack Britton will open it up to a bullpen by committee. Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are the favorites to win the job.
3) Back end of rotation. There are a lot of candidates, but finding quality is elusive. Andrew Cashner has one spot. An inconsistent spring may knock Mike Wright from the fifth spot.

Top Rookie - The bat of Chance Sisco will win the starting catching job over Caleb Joseph. Sisco must be able to handle the pitching staff, a job Joseph has been good at after eight years spending it in Bowie.

Top Prospect - Hunter Harvey could be in the rotation by mid-season if he can stay healthy. This is the first year he has survived spring not plagued by injuries. He has excellent stuff.

Expected Finish - Last place with or without Manny Machado.

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.