Archive for the 'Orioles' Category

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.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

30. Austin Hays OF (Orioles) 6.62 - For a third round pick in 2016 Austin shot up the minor league system quickly, beating all the first round picks to reach the majors. His 32 homeruns were tied for second in the minor leagues. He also hit for average crafting a .329 clip in two minor league seasons, never dropping below .324. For a power hitter he also makes good contact. While he played right field and is listed as having a strong arm myworld does not recall being impressed by any of his throws. The signing of Colby Rasmus could relegate him to AAA. Being the right handed bat in a platoon would not give him enough playing time to develop his game.

29. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 6.74 - The Mariners gave up on the Brazilian because of his inability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. That could be a trade they regret in a couple years. Luiz can hum a fastball in triple digits and sits in the high 90s. That is the gold standard for a lefthanded arm. He still has a little trouble getting the ball over the plate and his two pitch mix of slider/fastball may make him better suited as a closer. Luiz did get an opportunity to start five games with the Braves but command issues led to major league hitters whacking him at a .283 clip. A good spring could see him in the rotation but his best bet would be to start the season in AAA where he completed seven starts last year (3.31 ERA).

28. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) 6.78 - Touted as the next Cuban superstar, the White Sox were able to grab him for $26 million. Having fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada may have sweetened the deal. His last year in the Nacional Series as a 19 year old he put up Triple Crown numbers (.401, 12, 40) in just half a season before defecting. He was also named to the All Tournament team in the 18 and under World Cup. The legs have the speed to play center and the arm has enough zip to play right. In rookie ball he showed a good stick hitting .301 with three homeruns and a .536 slugging average. The White Sox will give him an opportunity to play full season ball, probably beginning the season in Low A.

27. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 7 - Injuries have held Austin back. In the last two years he has been limited to less than 90 games. The trade of Andrew McCutchen could have been an opportunity for him to win a starting job, but he will have to have a monumental spring training to stick on the roster. While he has all the tools to play centerfield, they still fall short of Starling Marte. A less than sterling arm could see him as a left fielder. His bat carries some pop and he makes good contact, with a .292 minor league average. Expect the Pirates to stick him in AAA to begin the season, get some at bats and gain some confidence before they call him up for the big club.

26. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 7.18 - A 6′7″ lefthander who can rain fastballs at the plate in the high 90s is a pitcher few want to face. The 2016 first round pick also has an above average slider, rated the best in the Athletics minor league system and a plus change, resulting in lots of swings and misses. In AA he averaged 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. Lefthanded hitters were also hopeless hitting against him, .196 at High A and .226 in AA. His slider also keeps the ball from leaving the park, allowing only three homeruns in 158 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Athletics in the 2018 season, but to control his innings they will start him in AAA to keep his pitch counts down.

25. MacKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) 7.28 - The Padres 2017 first round pick has ace like stuff. He proved that in his minor league debut last year limiting hitters to a .184 average and striking out 14.3 hitters per nine innings. The high school pitcher should still build some velocity on his mid-90s fastball as his 6′3″ frame matures. What sets Gore apart from many high school pitchers is his repertoire of quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). His command is also spot on. The 2018 season should see him begin it in Low A. With his quality stuff the biggest temptation for the Padres will be rushing him to the major leagues.

24. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 7.32 - If not for the crowded Dodgers outfield Alex would be the next rookie of the year candidate. His speed is a little slow to play centerfield, which would be his best opportunity on this Dodger club, but a cannon for an arm has him fit better in right. The concern for Alex is his ability to hit for power. To date it has not shown with a career .438 slugging. Last year he did spray the outfield for a .314 average, but teams are looking for power in their corner outfielders. There is also some concern whether he brings his A game every day. Myworld suspects he will start the 2018 season in AAA and be the first outfielder called up if an injury should occur. If his power fails to show he could end up as a fourth outfielder.

23. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) 7.44 - Royce was the first player selected in the 2017 draft, even though many touted the skills of Hunter Greene as the top pick. The Twins hope his career does not follow the path of another shortstop Tim Beckham, who struggled to establish himself in the major leagues after being the first pick in the draft. The tools are there for him to play shortstop with a strong arm and good range. The bat has the potential to be potent if he can survive the climb up the minor leagues as a shortstop. His speed allowed him to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he played 18 games at Low A, hitting .296. Expect him to start the 2018 season there, with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves early success at Low A.

22. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) 7.48 - A potential two way player who was expected to be the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Reds with the second pick had to be happy he was still available when it was their turn to pick. He played seven games as a DH hitting .233. The Reds then moved him to the rotation where he got three ineffective starts (12.46). His big attraction as a two way player was his ability to play shortstop, but with all the throwing at the position and the additional throwing on the mound would make it too taxing on his arm. With an arm that can hit triple digits with his fastball the Reds will start him in the rotation. If he falters there they can always turn him into a shortstop. At 6′4″ his ability to stay at short would have been in doubt. The Reds may start him at extended spring and then promote him to Dayton once the weather warms up.

21. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) 7.62 - Tristan may be one of myworld’s favorite pitchers. The last pitcher we witnessed that we were this high on as a 19 year old was a lefthander named Clayton Kershaw. Tristan has 6′5″ height and long wing spans that spells trouble for hitters. Last year there were lots of swings and misses (11.7 whiffs per nine) and little hard contact (.204 opposition average). He has a good curveball and the potential for a plus change. While his command is good he did give up 14 dingers last year. After dominating at High A the Indians will promote him to AA. With success there the Indians may have a need to promote him to the major leagues to get a spot in the playoffs.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

The continuation of myworld’s top 100. To recap, this is not really my Top 100 list but a combination of Top 100s put together by Baseball America, MLB.com and other top 100 lists with the rankings scored (10 for number 1 and 0.1 for number 100). You can see the complete list of top 100 rankings used on the rankings 100-91.

70. Dylan Cease RHP (White Sox) 2.86 - The Cubs could use some pitchers. They did draft Dylan in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. Tommy John surgery in high school dropped his draft status. When he recovered his fastball was hitting triple digits and sitting in the mid-90s. Rather than wait for him to develop the Cubs traded him for Jose Quintana, a pitcher they needed now to get them into the playoffs. Dylan lacks quality secondary pitches that could call for his use out of the bullpen. He did start 22 games at Low A, 13 for the Cubs and 9 for the White Sox. His command was a little spotty, walking about 4 hitters per nine innings, but he got a lot of swings and misses and limited the opposition to a .220 average. Next season he should begin it at High A. The White Sox have a host of pitchers at the upper levels so they can be patient with Dylan to allow him to eat up innings.

69. Kevin Maitan SS/3B (Angels) 2.98 - The Braves originally signed Kevin for $4.25 million. Before he played a game he made a number of Top 100 lists. After a year in the minors his prospect status has dropped. The Braves lost him to free agency to the Angels as punishment for their cheating on their international signing caps. Maitan has lost some prospect status as his lower body has gotten thicker, limiting his range at short and forcing a move to third. His bat is still considered top notch. He played in the rookie leagues last year with spotted success but one has to remember he was a high school kid playing against athletes who had graduated from high school or college. The 2018 season should be his first season of full season ball where he will play as an 18 year old. As his body fills out the power will begin to show. At least the Angels hope so.

68. Jo Adell OF (Angels) 3.04 - Adell was the first round pick of the Angels in 2017. An athletically gifted talent, he has the speed to play center, the arm to fit in right and a bat that can hit for both average and power. He rises to the top of what once was a thin Angels prospect list. In high school Adell hit 21 homeruns and struck out 7 times. Adell had more swings and misses once he started in the rookie leagues (49 whiffs in 49 games) but his batting average (.325) and power (.532 slugging) still shined through. The 2018 season he should start the year in the full season league. With Trout getting older he could move Trout back to left field in a few years if his tools continue to develop.

67. Austin Riley 3B (Braves) 3.14 - The Braves drafted Riley with the supplemental first round pick in 2015. Riley is noted for his power bat where he matched his 20 homer production of last season. His fielding could improve where his stiff hands committed 20 errors in 127 games, 13 of those errors occurring in 47 games at AA. The lack of consistency makes the move to first an option, but that position is occupied by Freddie Freeman. Third base is where they could use more immediate help but Austin may still be a couple years away. First he has to improve his ability to make contact (124) which could improve his ability to hit for a higher average. Last year he only played 48 games in AA hitting .315. If he continues that success he should see AAA by mid-season and maybe the Braves for a September callup.

66. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) 3.22 - Jesus is a five tool outfielder from the Dominican. The Rays only paid $400,000 in 2016 to sign him. He has hit .323 or greater in his first two minor league seasons. The power was restricted to the gaps until last year when he broke out for 15 homeruns, his first year in double digits. The speed exists to play center and the arm is strong enough to play right. Stolen base speed is absent. The 2018 season will see him play in High A. The rebuilding Rays expect to see him in the outfield in 2019.

65. Christian Arroyo 3B (Rays) 3.32 - Arroyo was a first round pick of the Giants way back in 2013. The Giants traded him to the Rays in the Evan Longoria swap. Originally a shortstop it was determined he did not have the range for that position. The 2018 season will see him start at third base for the Rays but it is still suspect he will hit for the power needed for the position. In an injury plagued 2018 he hit .396 in 25 games at AAA. That led to a quick promotion to the majors where he slugged a couple early season homeruns but then saw his average drop to .192. The Rays have an open spot at the position for Arroyo to lose for the 2018 season.

64. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) 3.34 - The Braves 2016 first round pick, Ian is just one in a slew of pitchers who are first round picks, many of whom started for other organizations who the Braves acquired in a trade in their rebuilding effort. The rotation could be pretty crowded once the bell rings for Ian to compete for a starting rotation spot. Ian brings three quality pitches to the mound, a fastball that sits in the low 90s that can hit mid-90s, a potential quality curve with good break and a plus change. Those are tools that will fit him in the middle of most rotations but the Braves have a large crop of quality pitchers who have number one starter stuff. Last year Anderson started 20 games in Low A, did not allow a ball to travel over the fence, finished with a 10.95 K per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .232 average. Those kind of numbers earn him a promotion to High A next year.

63. Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) 3.42 - Considered the catcher of the future for the Cardinals, once Yadier Molina decides to hang them up. Defensively he is considered to be one of the top minor league catchers in the game with a strong arm and the ability to handle a pitching staff. The big question mark for Kelly was whether his bat would be enough to justify putting him in the starting lineup. Last year he hit .283 with a .459 slugging in AAA, making good contact in his at bats. Promoted to the majors for his second year he again hit under .200 (.174). The 2018 season should see him be the back up catcher for Yadier and possibly be his replacement in 2019.

62. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) 3.66 - One of the few players born in Haiti, which made it difficult providing major league teams with documents supporting his age. The multi-tooled athlete has the five tools to be a premium outfielder. The Yankees outfield is already crowded but Estevan is still a few years away. His speed allowed him to steal more than 20 bases and his power bordered slugging .500 with 13 homeruns and an average over .300. His tools could make him a 20/20 player and if can stay in the middle of the diamond that will make him a valuable commodity, whether in the major league lineup or as a trade piece. For the 2018 season he should begin the season in High A with a quick promotion to AA once he achieves some success.

61. Chance Sisco C (Orioles) 3.66 - The Orioles second round 2013 pick is noted more for his bat than his defense. The Orioles have been patient with him, finally giving him his major league debut last year where he hit .333 with two homeruns in 18 at bats. His arm is not strong enough to stop a running game so a pitching staff like the Orioles who put a village on base will be hurt by a team with speed. The 2018 season should see him start with the Orioles. Showalter will have to pick his opportunities to suit up Sisco behind the plate.

Orioles Prospects on the Rise

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Myworld gets to see a lot of games at Bowie. We try to see at least one game from each AA team which gives us an opportunity to become very familiar with the Orioles AA prospects. This year the talent was much higher than in previous years. The team also had a collection of talented position players not seen since Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. They may not become as feared hitters as that duo, but there are some major leaguers down on the farm, something that couldn’t be said for a couple years.

The most impressive group of prospects is in the outfield and they all played at Bowie. Austin Hays showed the most potential. The 2016 third round pick showed impressive power with 32 homeruns at High A and AA. This earned him a promotion to Baltimore where he added one more to his total, though his .317 slugging in 60 at bats was a disappointment. Myworld did not see a plus arm but that is the take on him, which makes him a fit for right field. A good spring will see Hays as the starting rightfielder for the O’s based on a lack of decent defensive alternatives on the roster. It might be better for him to start at AAA, have some success there before earning his promotion. If he starts the season with a .545 OPS with the major league club it may strike at his confidence and lead to a demotion.

Cedric Mullins got off to a good start to begin the season but then missed a lot of time because of hamstring injuries. When he returned his power stalled. The speed is there to play center, but the arm is better slotted for left. A 9 for 16 success rate in stolen bases shows he needs to work on his baserunning. Cedric struggled a bit against lefthanders (.208) which dropped his overall average to .265. The Orioles may want to have him repeat at AA to start the season and earn his promotion to AAA with a good year.

Anthony Santander played some left field but he is better suited for first. That position is a bit crowded for the Orioles with Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini primarily first baseman. Santander was a Rule V pick by the Orioles last year but missed most of the season due to injuries. If the Orioles want to keep him they will need to put him on the 25 man roster for the start of 2018. Santander appears larger than his listed 6′2″ 190 pound frame meaning once he gets his arms extended he can hit the ball a long ways. His lack of speed and a below average arm slots him in left field, but ideally his best fit is at first or DH. Expect the Orioles to stick him on their 25 man roster to keep him for the long haul. How long he stays there depends on if he can produce to earn his name in the every day lineup.

D.J. Stewart was the Orioles first round pick in 2015. There are not a lot of tools there that impress you. His defense fits better in left, but there is not a lot of thunder in his bat. Last year he slugged 21 homeruns with a .859 OPS. That is 100 points higher than his previous seasons so there is hope. The Orioles will start him in AAA and if he continues to show some pop he could become a nice lefthanded bat off the bench.

Chance Sisco has the opportunity to be the Orioles alternate catcher, which could result in a lot of at bats. His defense is not great for stopping the run game, but his tools play where he can be an average catcher defensively. His power is more gap oriented and he makes enough contact where he could hit .280 on a good year. Unless the O’s sign another catcher Chance should share the catching job with Caleb Joseph, seeing about 80 plus games behind the plate.

Ryan Mountcastle played all of his time at third base at AA. It is not because the Bay Sox had a stud playing there, leaving no room for Mountcastle. It is because the 2015 first round pick does not have enough range to stick at the position. His bat showed good power at Frederick with 15 homeruns and a .542 slugging. That power was slow to appear at Bowie. If he wants to stick at third he needs for that power to return. At both levels his batting average against right handed pitching was 100 points or more less than when he hit against lefties. The O’s will have him repeat AA to see if that power shows against better pitching.

The pitching staff shows some promising arms. Everyone is waiting for the return to health of Hunter Harvey. Last year he got 8 starts towards the end of the season, mostly pitching in the rookie league with his appearances being limited to less than three innings. His fastball can hit the mid-90s and he has quality secondary pitches in a curve and change. The son of Bryan just needs to stay healthy. Injuries have prevented him from pitching past Low A so that is probably where he will begin the 2018 season with a severe restriction on his pitch counts.

Two pitchers with lightening in their arms are Tanner Scott and Jesus Liranzo. Tanner is a lefty who consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. His command is poor and his secondary pitches inconsistent. His fastball is also a bit straight which may force him to come out of the bullpen. At Bowie he was limited to three innings per start and walked 6 hitters per 9 innings while striking out 11.5. Opponents could manage only a .188 average against him. If the Orioles need some lefthanded help in the bullpen Scott could find himself at Camden. His most likely destination will be Norfolk where he could be part of the Orioles regular bullpen rotation.

Liranzo is a righty that also hits the triple digits with his fastball on a regular basis. Like Scott he lacks command with his pitches, lacks an average secondary pitch and has a too straight fastball. He seemed a bit more hittable at Bowie (.224 opposition average) but the Orioles bounced him around between the bullpen and starting rotation. Next year he should start the season in AAA.

D.L Hall was the Orioles first round pick in 2017. The leftie got five starts in the Gulf Coast league, limited to two innings per start. At 6′0″ he is a little slight, but his fastball still comes at the hitters in the low to mid 90s. He had trouble throwing strikes, walking one hitter per inning and his change still needs work. The Orioles could begin his season in extended spring and wait for the rookie leagues to begin or they could fit him in at Low A if he appears to be making progress with his pitches.

Alec Wells is a leftie who does not have overwhelming stuff. He has a twin brother who pitches in the Twins minor league system. Alec had a dominating season in Low A with a 2.38 ERA in 25 starts. He showed premier control, walking less than one hitter per nine innings (0.64) while still getting swings and misses (7.26). There were 16 balls that carried over the fence against him telling me that if his location is not good hitters can mash it. The opposition could only muster a .222 average against him. A promotion to High A will be next and we’ll see if his pedestrian stuff can still be effective against more advance hitters.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The last group of position players rated by myworld. This is the largest and most important one since no playoff teams can survive without an ace. Most of your aces throw from the right side. Below is myworld’s top ten right handed pitchers and others to watch:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) - A coup for the Angels to sign the best pitcher coming out of Japan since Yu Darvish. The big question is whether his elbow can hold up. If so he could become the best pitcher in major league baseball. If not he could transform himself into an All Star power hitting rightfielder. Right now, the Angels plan on him doing both, restricting his offensive performance to DH duties. To protect his elbow the Angels may go to a six man rotation. No major league starting pitcher had an average velocity higher than Otani last year, though injuries limited his starts. His splitter is also a pretty good pitch but he limited that offering severely after his elbow issues. He still has a number of other pitches in his repertoire to retire hitters. For the Angels to compete in the playoffs he needs to turn into their ace. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, something he had trouble accomplishing in Japan.

2. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year he finished with an ERA of 1.39 after 24 starts. No pitcher in the history of minor league baseball has had a lower ERA since Justin Verlander and we know what kind of pitcher he became once he arrived in the major leagues. Like Ohtani the biggest concern with Duplantier is the health of his arm. Both shoulder and elbow problems have restricted his innings. In 2016 a balky elbow limited him to just one inning after he was drafted in the third round in 2016 and a shoulder injury impacted his college appearances. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and is complemented by a plus curveball and change. Last year the opposition hit him at a .192 clip in addition to his 165 whiffs in 136 innings. After having success in High A last year he should start the season in AA, but that could depend on the success of his spring. A September callup is a possibility with a good season but it will probably be restricted to the bullpen.

3. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - Myworld has already stated that the last 19 year old we saw pitch impress me so much was Clayton Kershaw. We can still picture the smile on Joe Torre’s face after Kershaw was done pitching his one exhibition inning. That same smile will appear on the face of Terry Francona after he sees Tristan pitch. A 6′5″ inch preying mantis with long arms and a skinny frame should start slinging the ball in the high 90s once he puts some meat on his bones. His curveball and change are plus pitches resulting in a plethora of swings and misses. Like Duplantier he should start the season in AA and if the Indians need rotation help for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they do not call him up. Because of his youth and his sleight frame the Indians will be protective of his innings.

4. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox first round 2014 pick was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade. Kopech throws harder than Sale, hitting triple digits with his fastball. Many scouts say he is the hardest thrower in the minor leagues. Throwing hard and getting outs are two different issues. A promotion to AAA saw the opposition average increase from .184 to .263, though the sample size for AAA was very small. Kopech has a good slider which allows him to get a number of swings and misses. With a good spring he could squeeze into the rotation but the White Sox have a number of pitchers higher on the depth chart to consider first. Myworld suspects mid-season will see his major league debut.

5. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - The Venezuelan started his career as a third baseman. The Astros converted him to pitcher because they liked his arm. His fastball can light up the radar in the high 90s with a couple good breaking pitches and a plus change to keep hitters guessing. The Astros traded him to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, initially signing him to a $1 million bonus in 2014. At 6′3″ he still has some frame to fill out. After starting the season at AA it should not take him long to find himself in the Tiger’s rotation, unless they do not want his option clock running by placing him on the roster too early.

6. Hunter Greene (Reds) - There was some talk of making him a two way player, but playing shortstop and having him pitch was felt to be too demanding. His fastball spits the plate in triple digits, giving Ohtani and Kopech a run for the hardest fastball. His secondary pitches could still use some polish. If they fail to develop he could always be used as a closer, or put back in the lineup as a shortstop. The first round 2017 pick struggled in his three minor league starts, giving up 8 hits in his 4.1 innings of work. Hunter may need more time in extended spring training before joining a full season team.

7. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes has had some bad luck. First he was suspended in 2016 for 80 games after testing positive for drugs, then missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Reyes hit the high 90s with his fastball. Control has been his big issue, which could be corrected if he did not miss so much time due to suspensions and injuries. Alex did not play last year and will need some time in extended spring training and then in the minor leagues before the Cardinals risk him for the rotation. They will limit his innings since he has only pitched in 111 innings the last two years, all of those pitched in 2016. By mid-year he could be ready for a short relief role, fitting perhaps into the closer role.

8. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - He falls short in velocity when compared to the other pitchers on this list. The supplemental first round pick in 2014 can hit the mid-90s with his fastball but settles in the low 90s. The big pitch that gets the most publicity is the screw ball, which he does not throw that much, but it is a unique pitch. His change is also a pretty good pitch, enhancing the velocity of his fastball. Last year he pitched at AAA and struck out more than a hitter per inning but the opposition hit him at a .268 clip. He may stay around the plate too much making his pitches more hittable. Next year he should start the season in the Rays rotation. The team has already lost one pitcher to free agency (Chris Archer) and have another on the trading block. Spring training will seal his fate to begin the 2018 season.

9. Sandy Alcantara (Marlins) - Another one of those Cardinal finds in the Dominican Republic who slings the ball across the plate in triple digits. The Cardinals included him in the Marcell Ozuna trade giving the Marlins the benefit of his triple digit fastball. He sits in the high 90s using a slider as his breaking pitch. His change shows good potential but his command needs work. Last year he walked 54 in 125 innings and the opposition hit him at a .262 clip. Despite the heat on his fastball he struck out less than a batter per inning. Better command will result in better location of his pitches and more swings and misses. He could start the season in the Marlins rotation with a good spring, but more likely will see AAA. Last year he made his major league debut pitching eight games in relief.

10. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He seemed to arrive out of nowhere in 2016 to become a top ranked pitcher. He was a second round pick in 2014 and with his fastball hitting the mid 90s and a plus curveball and change he had a breakout 2016. Last year he did not disappoint limiting the opposition to a .202 average and whiffing a hitter per inning. Mitch is a pitcher who mixes his pitches well and locates them with precision. Last year he started six games in AA, which is where he will start the 2017 season. A good spring and an excellent start to the season will see him make his major league debut by mid season.

Others to Note:

Mike Soroka (Braves) - A first round pick in 2015. The Canadian does not throw hard but he locates well. At 6′5″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. Expect him to see the Braves rotation by mid season.

Touki Toussaint (Braves) - Once he overcomes his lack of command he will rise quickly. His fastball reaches the high 90s and his long arms give it a good whip like quality. He will start the season in AA.

Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - A first round pick and son of closer Bryan Harvey has seen his career stalled by injury. The 2018 season he hopes will be a complete season where he can unleash his mid-90s fastball to go along with his excellent curveball. A late season promotion could be in his future, but the Orioles want to be patient with him and control his innings.

Jesus Liranzo (Orioles) - Every pitch out of his arm hits the radar in triple digits with an easy delivery. He is probably slated for the bullpen because of a lack of control and secondary pitches. He is one of those pitchers who could have a breakout career if he can find a second and third pitch and the control improves. Watch out for him in the Orioles pen or rotation in 2018.

Dylan Cease (White Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Cubs in 2014 he began to draw attention to himself when he started humming his fastball in the triple digits. The Cubs traded him to their cross town rival White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. The White Sox have a lot of young depth in the rotation and Dylan needs to improve his command. He will start the season in High A.

Alec Hansen (White Sox) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ frame and his long wing spans that allows him to sizzle his fastball in the high 90s. He gets a ton of swings and misses and the opposition struggled against him, hitting just .216. He is another pitcher who needs to locate his pitches better. That will be done as he starts the season in AA.

Dane Dunning (White Sox) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 who they traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Don’t be surprised to see three ex-Nationals in the White Sox rotation next year in Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dunning. His fastball reaches the mid 90s with good secondary pitches. Next year he will begin the season in AA.

Tyler Mahle (Reds) - The Reds 7th round 2015 pick made a name for himself in 2016 with a 9 inning no hitter. He had a breakout season last year catapulting him to the major league rotation for four starts. His fastball has good velocity and he has excellent command of four pitches. Expect him to fill the Reds rotation next season.

Riley Pint (Rockies) - The fourth pick in the 2016 draft hits the triple digits but tends to sit on the high side of the mid-90s. He also has got excellent command of four pitches. Despite his stuff his strikeout rate was disappointing and the opposition hit him at a .264 clip in Low A. Next year he will start the season in High A.

Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers will have an excellent rotation in a couple years with Perez, Manning, Faedo and Beau Burrows. Manning stands 6′6′ and rains mid to high 90s fastballs on hitters. The 2016 first rounder has the pitches to shine at the top of a rotation, beginning that ascent at High A in 2018.

Alex Faedo (Tigers) - The 2017 first round pick has an excellent fastball slider combination. Last year he pitched Florida to the College World Series championship and was held back by the Tigers. Another top of the rotation starter should begin his year in Low A and as a college drafted pitcher move quickly through the Tigers system.

Forest Whitely (Astros) - The Astros 2016 first round pick is a popular conversation piece during trade talks. At 6′7″ and 240 pounds his mid-90s fastballs sizzle across the plate. His tall frame does not seem to impact his command. With a good season in AA he should fit in the Astros rotation by mid-season.

Walker Buehler (Dodgers) - The Dodgers first round 2015 pick made the Dodgers bullpen last year. His control wavered a bit in the major league callup, but he has four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. The Dodgers will want to limit his innings after Tommy John surgery in 2015. He will start the season in AAA and by mid-season could be in the rotation or used out of the bullpen.

Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed the Cuban for $16 million. His velocity hits triple digits but he has trouble finding the plate. If he continues to struggle throwing strikes he could move to the bullpen, but he has the pitches to fit in the rotation.

Jorge Guzman (Marlins) - The Marlins were able to pry this Dominican with the triple digit fastball away from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is a challenge of finding the plate and the lack of a third pitch may relegate him to the bullpen.

Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) - Another Yankee Dominican with a triple digit fastball, Domingo dominated at AA and shows better command of his pitches than Guzman. He also has three pitches to fit into a rotation. Expect him to start the season in the AAA rotation but with a good spring he could be going to New York in April.

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but his arm can sling a fastball to the plate in the mid 90s. Sixto also shows good command of his pitches. A good spring could see him start the season in AA but after only five starts in High A the Phillies may want to begin his 2018 season in the warm weather of Florida.

Anderson Espinoza (Padres) - Another small pitcher (6′0″) with a small frame (165 pounds), Espinoza succumbed to Tommy John surgery late in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017. It will be interesting how his mid-90s fastball responds. Noted for his plus change Anderson will probably start the season in extended spring training and see his first games in Low A if he is ready before July or in rookie ball if the Padres want to show patience. The hope is that he ends the season in High A.

Michael Baez (Padres) - A 6′8″ Cuban with high 90s heat. The Padres shelled out $3 million for him at the end of 2016 and last year he made an impressive debut. The opposition hit him at a .188 clip and he struck out 89 in 63.2 innings. He should start 2018 in High A.

Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2104 first round pick has been percolating up the Cardinals minor leagues for a few years. Last year he made his major league debut and the Cardinals hope to see more of his mid-90s fastball in the rotation. What sets him apart is an excellent change that enhances the velocity of his fastball. A good spring could see him in the rotation.

Myworld’s Top Ten Lefthanded Prospects

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

The story on lefthanders is they do not throw as hard as righthanders, but their ball moves much better. Don’t know if there has been a study to explain why that happens. Righthanders are generally better to have on your staff because hitters who bat from the same side as the pitcher tend to struggle more and there are more righthanded hitters in baseball. Baseball has all sorts of givens that are based on anecdotal evidence such as short righthanders are not as effective as short lefthanders and right handed power hitting firstbaseman are usually ignored in favor of firstbaseman who can hit lefthanded based on the prevalence of right handed pitching. Personally, myworld will take pitchers who can get hitters out or hitters who can hit regardless of their physical characteristics. So here are my top ten lefthanded pitchers to watch and others to keep an eye on.

1. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - You have to like a pitcher who stands 6′7″, consistently hits the high 90s with his fastball and throws lefthanded. If he doesn’t find a spot in the rotation he could be a knock out closer. He does have a pretty good slider and if his changeup gets better he will have the pitches to settle at the top of a rotation. Tall pitchers tend to have problems finding the strike zone and that is true with A.J. He got as far as AA last year. Hitters at the A level struggled against him(.196) but the AA found his pitches more hittable (.256). The 2016 first round pick should see the Athletics rotation by mid season if he shows success at AA.

2. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third player selected in the 2017 draft dominated at the rookie level in his professional debut, limiting the opposition to a .184 average, a 1.27 ERA and 14 whiffs per nine innings pitched. The Padres were conservative with him allowing him to pitch three innings per start. With those limitations he could rear back on his fastball, hitting the mid-90s. He has a deep selection of quality secondary pitches that will be effective as an ace in the rotation. Next year he will start the season in Low A and at the most optimistic won’t be ready for the Padres until 2020, building up innings and arm strength in the minor leagues. As his innings extend maintaining the fastball velocity and getting hitters out the second and third time he faces them in the order will be tested.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - At 5′11″ if he threw from the right side he would be bullpen fodder. The Yankees first pick in 2014 throws lefthanded and despite his small stature has good velocity and movement on his fastball. He did not get a lot of swings and misses with his repertoire in AA (7.9 per nine innings) but lefthanders only hit him at .217. His challenge is to retire righthanded hitters more consistently (.276). The Yankees will be in the thick of a playoff race next year and it is tough for rookies in New York to have success in that type of environment. Expect the Yankees to be patient with him. If he can improve his pitches against righthanders he could see some time in the rotation next year, otherwise it could be bullpen opportunities against lefthanders when the Yankees need arms.

4. Yohander Mendez (Rangers) - He stands tall (6′5″) but his fastball stands out more for its sink than velocity. His best pitch is also the change which makes the fastball appear to have greater velocity. He was able to retire both lefties and righties equally (.228 average) in AA which gave the Rangers confidence to promote him to the show. Giving up the long ball could be his Achilles heel, allowing 23 in AA and 3 in his 12 innings with the Rangers. With the Rangers all his appearances were in relief. The Rangers signed a number of fringe starting pitchers as free agents so Mendez will spend the first part of the season in AAA. His success and the back end of the rotations failures will determine his future.

5. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals have had success with players who have fallen in the draft because of injury. Romero did not have an injury that resulted in his drop, but he was kicked off his college baseball team because of character flaws. Most teams will tolerate a few character flaws for a lefty who touches mid-90s with his fastball. He got a lot of swings and misses with his pitches (14 K’s per nine innings) but had trouble retiring lefthanded hitters (.364). He should start the season in Low A and with success should rise quickly as a pitcher drafted out of college.

6. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The Red Sox 2016 first round pick stands 6′6″ and looks like a giant on the mound. The curveball is said to be his best pitch but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. At 220 pounds he could fill out some more adding some velocity. He got battered and bruised a bit in Low A, but his command was poor (5 walks per nine innings) resulting in 6 taters in just 44 innings. That gave him an ugly 6.70 ERA. The good news is lefthanded hitters struggled (.184) but not righthanders (.287). He also got a lot of swings and misses (11.77 K’s per nine innings). It would not hurt for him to repeat Low A to find some success before being promoted to High A.

7. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - Even though he stands 6′5″ he is one of the softer tossers on this list. His fastball only crosses the plate in the low 90s but he complements it with an excellent change. At AA hitters could only muster a .207 average against him. A promotion to AA saw more barrel on the ball contact (.293) but he did continue to get swings and misses with his pitches, averaging a strikeout per inning. Expect to see him start the year in AAA and find himself promoted to the Twins once he has achieved some success. If the Twins need a lefty in the bullpen that could be his short term role, but long term he will fit in the middle of the rotation.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian is one of the many investments the Padres have delved in from Cuba. He was the MVP of the 15 and under World Cup and left Cuba shortly after that. At 18 he has already pitched at High A. He is not overpowering with his fastball, sitting in the Low 90s, but he has command of all his pitches and his short stature (6′0) forced him to know how to pitch. The velocity could increase as he gets stronger but currently his pitches are hittable (.265 opposition average). He was the ace of the Cuban youth teams he played for but myworld feels he might fit more in the middle of a rotation. If his fastball shows better velocity he could creep higher. As he rises up each level he needs to show he can miss bats or consistently get poor contact on the balls that are hit.

9. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The Braves are loaded with lefthanded pitching but Kolby may be the best of the group. The Braves 2015 first round pick was bothered by back problems soon after being drafted but last year seemed to show he has recovered from that. His fastball sits in the low 90s but a good curve ball and change give him three quality pitches he can show hitters. Gohara and Fried made their major league debuts last year while Allard toiled in AA all season, so they may be ahead of him in the depth chart. Kolby’s success at AA last year (3.18 ERA) will put him in the pecking order to make the Braves rotation this year. He is not the kind of pitcher who will miss a lot of bats, but he should eat up innings and limit run production, fitting in the middle of the rotation.

10. Tanner Scott (Orioles) - The sixth round 2014 pick throws heat, consistently hitting 100 plus with his fastball. The Orioles limited him to three innings per start, which restricted hitters from seeing him a second time, but a .188 opposition average against him shows the lack of success they had the first time they faced him in the order. His lack of command and secondary pitches may relegate him to the bullpen, but he could be one of those pitchers who develops that second and third pitch in the minors and turns into a monster. Tanner will start next season in AAA. If all he can throw is a fastball hitters will communicate to him how badly he needs other pitches.

Others to Watch

Anthony Banda (Diamondbacks) - A good fastball/curveball combination. Improved command could see better results. Started four games in the majors last year and with a good spring and a trade of Greinke he could find himself in the rotation next year.

Luiz Gohara (Braves) - Luiz was acquired from the Mariners for two minor leaguers. Last year the Brazilian made his major league debut featuring a fastball that hits triple digits. Lack of command and weight issues could give Luiz problems in the future. He also needs to develop a third pitch (change) or be relegated to the bullpen where pitchers with his velocity and lack of command thrive.

Max Fried (Braves) - Lucas Giolito was the star of his high school team but Max got drafted higher after arm issues dropped Lucas in the draft. Tommy John surgery also felled Fried but last year he bounced back after a slow start, making his major league debut. Throwing strikes is a challenge and a start in AAA could be good for him. He did dominate in the Arizona Fall League which was indicative how he turned his season around last year after a horrendous start.

Alex Wells (Orioles) - His twin brother Lachlan pitches for the Twins. The Australian is not blessed with impressive stuff but he was able to get hitters out in Low A. His fastball travels in the high 80s/low 90s with no high quality secondary pitches, retiring hitters mainly on location. Next year he will settle in High A. The higher up the minor league ladder he climbs the greater the test of how his pedestrian pitches survive against better hitters.

D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles 2017 first round pick has a good fastball but struggled throwing strikes in his 10 inning professional debut. The Orioles have had issues developing pitchers drafted in the first round, often seeing them become more effective after they have left the organization (Jake Arrieta).

Cionel Perez (Astros) - The Cuban is slight of frame (5′11″) but still juices the fastball into the Low 90s. The Astros spent $2 million plus another $2 million penalty to sign him. Hitters found him not to be a mystery hitting him at a .266 clip. He’ll start the season in AA but myworld anticipates Perez in the Astros bullpen by mid-season.

Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Athletics acquired Jesus from the Nationals in the Ryan Madsen/Ryan Doolittle trade. At 6′1″ he doesn’t stand as tall as Puk but his fastball has been clocked in triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. He had Tommy John surgery in high school so there are concerns about the number of bullets he still has left in his arm. He won’t be ready for the Athletics until 2019, building up his innings in the minor leagues.

Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld likes him better as a firstbaseman but the fourth pick in the 2017 draft has a pretty good curve and hits the low 90s with his fastball. If he focuses on pitching the improvements could be exponential.

Ryan Yarbrough (Rays) - Myworld thinks Ryan is a bit underrated. Last year he drifted through AAA like knife through mayonnaise. He gets swings and misses from his low 90s fastball and his 6′5″ height gives him an imposing presence. Don’t be surprised to see him at the back end of the rotation for the Rays next year, especially after the Rays trade one or two of their veteran pitchers. Myworld liked what we saw of him last year.