Archive for the 'Orioles' Category

Minor League All Stars for AL East

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Baseball America lists their all stars for each classification, AAA, AA, etc. Some prospects do not stay long enough in some leagues to even be considered as an all star. Other players have gaudy numbers but their tools may not support continued success in the major leagues. Below is the list of all stars in the AL East and myworld’s comments.

Baltimore Orioles

Zac Lowther LHP (AA) - myworld saw him pitch at Bowie and came away impressed. He was hitting 95 on the radar but at Bowie that can be a bit inflated. He has an innings eater build and he put up some good numbers. The opposition hit only 197 off him, he struck out more than a hitter per inning and he finished 13-7. The Orioles need to develop some winners in their organization.

Grayson Rodriguez RHP (Low A) - The Orioles first round 2018 pick dominated at Low A. The opposition hit him at .171, his slider/fastball combo was swing and miss (129/94 whiff/walk) and he was 10-4. He should be at AA next year.

Boston Red Sox

Trevor Kelley RHP (AAA) - A sleeper as a 36th round pick in 2015. The Tar Hell has a sidearm delivery that was a mystery to AAA hitters who batted just .216 against him. He finished with a 1.79 ERA and 12 saves. One of the Red Sox big weaknesses was bullpen, but when called up twice Kelley struggled (8.64 ERA), failing to throw strikes and getting hit at a .290 clip. His fastball has minimal velocity so he has to rely on command and deception for success.

Jarren Duran OF (High A) - The seventh round pick in 2018 has the speed to create havoc on the basepaths and steal hits in the outfield. The bat was totally unexpected as he hit .387 with a .543 slugging in High A. He also stole 18 bases in 50 games. A promotion to AA did not produce the same kind of offensive numbers (.634 OPS) so the jury is still out on his major league success. He could become a fourth outfielder that is used for his speed and defense.

Gilberto Jimenez OF (SS) - Another speed guy who signed for only $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic. A small frame that does not carry a lot of power, but he hit .359. Like Duran he needs to continue to show the bat and he will play.

Jorge Rodriguez LHP (SS) - A lefty signed out of Mexico for the bargain basement price of $37,500. Not a hard thrower but he shows command. Got six starts and five relief appearances (1.91 ERA) and got lots of swings and misses (58/47 whiff/walk). Next year will be his debut in full season.

New York Yankees

Canaan Smith OF (Low A) - A fourth round pick in 2017 showed a bit of pop with 11 homeruns and hit for average at .307. He lacks the speed to play center so if he slots in the corner the power will have to build. His 32 doubles could provide a glimpse that those gappers could carry as he matures. Good patience at the plate with 74 walks (.405 OBA).

Ezequiel Duran 2B (SS) - The Yankees mine the Dominican well, and Duran may be a bargain at $10,000. His bat seems to be explosive with 13 homeruns and a .496 slugging. There is still a little too much swing and miss to his game which left his average down at .256 and his defense will not get him to the major leagues. Expect him to get an opportunity in full season next year.

Tampa Bay Rays

Brendan McKay LHP (AAA) - In college the first round 2017 pick was noted more for his bat than his arm. The Rays drafted him as a two way player and it was his arm that got him to the major leagues. For his six starts in AAA he finished with a 0.84 ERA. In 13 minor league starts he was 6-0, 1.10 ERA. That success did not follow when promoted to the major leagues (5.14 ERA). His bat shows power, but barely stayed above the Mendoza Line (.200).

Joe Ryan RHP (High A) - His overall stuff does not shout out super prospect, but he can hit 95. His numbers at High A were impressive with 1.42 ERA and 112 whiffs in 82.2 innings. Opponents hit him at only a .161 clip. He did get three starts in AA with some success. He needs to improve on his secondary offerings if he hopes to achieve continued success as he rises higher. A bullpen spot could be in his future.

Wander Franco SS (Low A) - A super stud. Many think he is the top prospect in baseball. He had an easy time at Low A (.318) and even an easier time in High A (.339). He had a 56/35 walk/whiff ratio so he makes contact. His defense is compatible for short but he is still a couple years away.

Greg Jones SS (SS) - The Rays 2019 first round pick has Wander ahead of him at short. He did not show any problem in his major league debut hitting .335 with 19 stolen bases in 48 games. Speed is his game so a move to center field would make sense. A .413 OBA with 22 walks in 48 games shows leadoff possibilities.

Edisson Gonzalez RHP (SS) - The Panamanian is now a Blue Jay, traded for Eric Sogard in September. At 5′10″ Edisson is not an imposing pitcher, but he did whiff 77 in 62 innings. A career 2.72 ERA Edisson will probably settle into a bullpen role.

Toronto Blue Jays

Nate Pearson RHP (AA) - The first round 2017 pick has a triple digit fastball that sits in the upper edges of the 90s with a devastating slider. Nate made the overall all star team, but not a specific classification level though his 16 starts and 2.59 ERA were well deserving. Arm issues had the Jays be conservative with his innings (62.2). He should be an ace for the Jays rotation. Nate should make his major league debut in 2020.

Griffin Conine OF (Low A) - The son of Jeff could be a grinder like his father. A second round pick in the 2018 draft, Griffin is not blessed with super star tools, but he did manage to hit 22 homeruns. He also struck out 125 times in 80 games. He has the arm to play right but the lack of speed may force a move to first.

Adam Kloffenstein RHP (SS) - The third round 2018 pick has a good pitcher’s frame at 6′5″. He could chew up innings as he develops. His fastball zips across the plate in the mid-90s. Opponents only hit .205 against him in short season.

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

There were so many talented righthanders that myworld extended the prospect list to 20 players. Some notable pitchers we left off include Ian Anderson, Hunter Greene, Tristan McKenzie, Deivi Garcia and Logan Gilbert. Not that we don’t like those pitchers, the others just appeal to me more. Predicting pitchers is a crap shoot. One injury can ruin a prospect standing.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - The first pick of the 2018 draft dominated at High A (0.88 ERA) which led to a quick promotion to AA. He continued to pitch well (3.20 ERA) in AA but his opposition average went from .110 to .234. Despite a fastball that rides the plate in the mid-90s, his strikeout numbers are rather pedestrian, less than a whiff per inning. You would expect more from a pitcher with that kind of heat and two other above average pitches (slider and splitter) that he commands well. The Tigers hope he will be an ace in the rotation, a position the team has a plethora of potential candidates to take over that role. Casey was a bit injury prone in college and saw his AA season end with three poor starts that led to a mid-August shutdown. Expect to see him pitch by mid-summer in 2020, unless the Tigers hold him back in order to not eat up service time in what is expected to be a wasted 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The Jays first round pick of the 2017 baseball draft woke up the baseball world in the Arizona Fall League by blazing triple digit fastballs across the plate. Prior to that a series of injuries in 2018 (back and fractured arm) limited him to just one start of two innings in 2018. This year he got his innings count above 100, finishing with three starts in AAA. His fastball was still hitting triple digits, sitting in the high 90s and he complemented that pitch with three above average secondary pitches. His one down side is some inconsistency in his command. He walked 21 in 63 innings in AA. He should compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but the Jays may want to control his innings by starting him in AAA. They don’t want to go beyond 150 innings for him next year.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - Despite their battle for the playoffs the Astros were able to hang onto their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he gives a number of batters shaky knees when they come up to the plate. Last year he was considered the top pitcher in baseball, but was limited to just eight starts because of a couple injuries. The 2019 season saw some struggles with command which resulted in elevated ERAs. In the homer happy AAA he served up nine homeruns in just 24 innings. The 2019 season was his third complete season and he has yet to throw over 100 innings. The Astros could start him in AA next year after his struggles in (AAA). He has the quality secondary pitches and heat on his fastball to dominate so the 2020 season could be a critical year.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to the Marlins to acquire J.T. Realmuto, thinking they had a replacement for him in the minor leagues (Adonis Medina). Sixto had good success in the minors (2.53 ERA) while Adonis struggled. The Phillies only shelled out $35,000 to sign him out of the Dominican Republic. While he only stands 6′0″ his fastball crosses the plate in triple digits. He lacks the swing and miss results you expect to see with someone with his heat, but he has success with weak ground ball outs. Sixto also has a good breaking pitch and change with excellent command to keep hitters off balance. The Marlins are getting deeper in the rotation with all the prospects they have acquired in trade, but having had success in AA Sixto is due to pitch in Miami some time by mid-2020.

5. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers have a pretty impressive future rotation in the minor leagues with leftyTarik Skubal and righthanders Franklin Perez, Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo and Casey Mize. Manning was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2017, nine picks ahead of Faedo. At 6′6″ Manning was the top pitcher in the Tigers minor league system until they drafted Casey Mize with the first pick of the 2018 draft. Manning hits the mid-90s with his fastball, but sits in the low 90s, so the blazing heat isn’t there. The secondary pitches are quality (curve and change) and his command is above average. His stuff would seem to indicate a mid-rotation starter instead of an ace, but he should start showing that with the Tigers some time next year. In AA last year he limited the opposition to a .192 average in 24 starts with a 2.56 ERA.

6. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Myworld still cannot forget his 2017 season when he finished with an ERA below 1.50, the lowest ERA in the minor leagues since some dude named Justin Verlander. Even last year he was dominant in AA but he was limited to 16 starts because of injuries. And that has been his down fall. Last year he made his major league debut mostly in relief but hitters did not find his pitches a mystery, raking him at a .283 clip. His season was hijacked by his inability to throw strikes. His fastball has radars spitting out mid-90 readings and his secondary pitches are quality enough to stay in the rotation. The third round 2016 pick needs to maintain his health to stay in the rotation, otherwise the Diamondbacks may want to move him to the bullpen. He should compete for a spot in the rotation in 2020. Pitch counts could keep him in AAA to limit his innings.

7. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick at one time had the top fastball in the minor leagues hitting well into the triple digits. With his first four starts in the major leagues it appeared he would become a main stay in the rotation, but a torn elbow ligament resulted in Tommy John surgery and prevented him from pitching in 2019. A lack of command of his pitches has always haunted him, but it appeared he had controlled those demons in 2018. Now after the surgery he will need some time in AAA to get his pitches back and hope his control returns. His slider is a nice swing and miss pitch. Expect the White Sox to call him up once he shows his velocity has returned and he has command of his pitches.

8. Brady Singer (Royals) - The 2018 first round pick had dropped to the number 18 pick, even after winning the College Baseball Player of the Year award. He did not pitch in the 2018 season because of the heavy work load the Florida Gators had put him through in college games. The 2019 season saw the Royals call his number 26 times, 16 of them in AA. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can hit the mid-90s, with an above average slider. His change could need more work if he wants to stick in the rotation. A 6′5″ build can be intimidating but a .247 opposition batting average tells a story that his pitches are not impossible to hit. The slider does force more ground balls and will keep the ball in the park. The Royals are on a rebuilding path so they will be patient with Singer, not wanting to use up his service time. He could be a September callup in 2020 with a move to the Royals permanent rotation spot in 2021.

9. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles have always had trouble developing major league pitchers that came to them with superstar potential based on their performance in high school or college. Super studs like Matt Riley, Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy have never reached their potential. They hope that changes with this new regime and Rodriguez will be one of their first examples. The 2018 first round pick has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but it can hit the mid 90s, with good movement. He also has two good breaking pitches and a decent changeup to stay in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit only ,171 off him and he struck out 129 batters in just 94 innings at Low A. His 6′5″ height and decent command allows him to hit the edges of the plate where he tended to dominate at this level. A rise to High A and AA should occur in 2020 with a major league shot sometime late in 2021. By that time the Orioles hope their rebuilding process will be bearing fruit.

10. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - Blake Snell has turned into a pretty good pitcher in the major leagues. Brent was taking a similar career path in the minors following Blake but Tommy John surgery put an end to his 2018 season. The Rays were hoping to see him return in 2019 but a fracture in his elbow during rehab ended his 2019 season. Brent has an amazing array of pitches that includes a screwball, fastball in the low to mid 90s, slider and change, as well as command of those pitches to be a co-ace with Snell. How those pitches react after his return from a second surgery will determine whether he can join Snell as the co-ace in the rotation or fill in at the back end. The Rays will be patient with him in 2020 and at best he could get a September call up as a reward for all his work in rehab. Brent did not rely on his fastball for his success so Myworld thinks his route to the major leagues will not be altered much because of the injuries.

11. Dustin May (Dodgers) - The long, flowing locks of the 2016 third round pick is the first thing you notice about the righthander. After that comes the mid-90s fastball and the sharp breaking curve that bites downward towards the plate. His pitches create a number of ground ball outs, as well as swings and misses. Last year minor leaguers hit just .231 off him. The Dodgers saw another Walker Buehler possibility and promoted him. He worked a little bit in the starting rotation but pitched mostly in relief, with major leaguers hitting him at a better .250 clip. He does not have the stuff of Buehler but he has enough to fit in the middle of the rotation. A good spring could see him start the season with the Dodgers.

12. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - The Pirates 2014 second round pick has been one of the top pitching prospects for a number of years now. Last year he got his first opportunity to face major league hitters and his .348 opposition average, 7.13 ERA and six homeruns given up in 48 innings is evidence the debut did not go well. Keller has too good of stuff for that to continue. His fastball hits the high 90s and settles in the low 90s with a curve ball and change good enough to keep hitters honest. Perhaps a better sequencing of the pitches and improved command will result in better outcomes. Mitch has been sitting too long in the minor leagues to stay there. At some point the Pirates have to see what they have and 2020 should be the year Keller rises to a level where he will battle for Rookie of the Year consideration.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - At 6′8′ the Cuban fireballer is a very intimidating pitcher with his high 90s heat. That heat may fit better in the bullpen. Michel does have two breaking pitches and a decent change to stay in the rotation but the pitches lack consistency. He has also been limited by back issues which has prevented him from pitching long stretches. The Padres used him out of the bullpen last year and he made his major league debut, limiting hitters to a .223 average. His future for the Padres could be as their closer. His fastball carries more velocity in shorter spurts and with his innings limited his health will be good. Expect him to compete for a Padre bullpen job in 2020 and take over the closer job after the departure of Kirby Yates.

14. Shane Baz (Rays) - Shane was the Pirates first round pick in 2017. The Rays stole him in the Chris Archer trade mid season in 2018. His first two years Shane was stuck in Rookie ball. A lack of command sabotaged many of his outings. Last year he got 17 starts in Low A. His command improved and his ERA went from 4.26 in Rookie ball to 2.99 in Low A. The opposition only hit .213 off him, a vast improvement over the .273 average in two seasons of Rookie ball. His fastball rides the plate in the mid-90s and can hit triple digits. It is the command of that fastball that has been the real challenge. He has a good slider and improving change. If his command stays inconsistent and his change does not develop he could always work out of the bullpen. His fastball shows closer stuff. Shane is still a couple years away from the big leagues, especially with the patience the Rays show with their pitchers. Don’t expect a major league appearance until sometime late in 2021.

15. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - The second round 2017 pick has gotten his fastball up into the high 90s and it consistently hits the mid-90s. The previous year he had some triple digit readings. His secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) are not outstanding but they show average potential. His big issue is finding consistent command with those pitches. In 2018 he walked 40 in 118 innings. Last year it was 16 in 91. He does get a lot of swings and misses with his pitches. Last year opponents hit him at a .173 clip, which is 70 points less than last year. Spencer was limited to 91 innings because of shoulder issues. Because he only got six starts in AA he will probably start his season there with the possibility of joining the major league rotation by mid-season, if he continues to dominate hitters in the minors.

16. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Colombian is not big at 6′0″ but his fastball shoots across the plate in the mid-90s, hitting in the high 90s on occasion. The Padres signed him for $130,000. He does throw two good breaking pitches, as well as a change that should improve with more use. At 20 years old he was one of the youngest players in AA. In the California League opponents hit him at a .192 clip and he struck out 113 hitters in just 87 innings. Two more dominant starts in AA (1.17 ERA) show that he could be ready in 2020. Despite his small stature his innings total continue to rise, hitting 95 last season. The Padres will try to get him above 100 in 2020. With success in AA he could get a September callup with the Padres.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - With the trade of Sixto Sanchez the Phillies expected Adonis to step in his place as the fireballing Dominican with a mid-90s fastball. The Phillies got a bargain with Adonis, signing him for just $70,000 in 2014. In addition to his mid-90s fastball Adonis has a swing and miss slider and solid change that gives his fastball a greater velocity look. In 2018 his ERA rose by a run to 4.12. The Phillies were hoping for a bounce back season for him in 2019 but a poor second half saw his ERA climb to 4.94. His secondary pitches have been inconsistent allowing opponents to sit on his fastball, raking him at a .254 clip. With his stuff he should put up better numbers. The 2020 season will be a critical one for him. He could see his second season in AA. If he does well during the season the Phillies could promote him to their major league staff. But Spencer Howard has leap frogged Adonis as their possible first choice for the rotation.

18. Kyle Wright (Braves) - Kyle was a first round pick of the Braves in 2017. The Braves seem to have a bucketful of pitchers in their minor league system and any one of them can slip into the rotation with a good season. Wright worked four major league starts and failed miserably (8.94 ERA) showing a lack of command that allowed hitters to swat him at a .304 rate. His 4.17 ERA in AAA may have been hurt by the super juiced baseballs that saw 13 of his pitches leave the yard. His fastball is electric, crossing the plate in the mid-90s with the potential to hit high 90s, with two quality breaking pitches and an above average change. So the pitches are there for him to have success. He just needs to find the strike zone once he reaches the major leagues. With a good spring he could fit into the rotation, but the Braves will probably start him in AAA and call him up when they have a need.

19. Justin Dunn (Mariners) - Justin was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. They included him in a trade with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. It could be a trade that could haunt the Mets if Cano and Diaz do not have better years. Dunn sits at the lower end of the mid-90s. His two breaking balls have the potential to be quality pitches but his change still needs work. Dunn pitched well at AA (3.55 ERA), striking out 158 hitters in just 131 innings and limiting the opposition bats to a .236 average. This earned him a promotion to the Mariners where there was some good (2.70 ERA and .105 opposition average) and some ugly (9 walks in just 6.2 innings) in his outings. He showed pretty decent command in AA walking just 39 in 131.2 innings. The Mariners will probably start him in AAA next year and see how he performs before promoting him to the Mariners in 2020.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - The Dominican signed for $150,000 in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery shortly after. He has put on some weight to his 6′1″ frame since, carrying 265 pounds. That has to be watched if he wants to remain effective. The extra weight has allowed his fastball to climb into the triple digits and sit in the high 90s. His secondary pitches need to improve if he hopes to stay in the rotation. The slider has some swing and miss qualities, but he needs to develop a slower pitch to keep hitters off balance. He pitched well enough in the minors with a .179 opposition average to earn a callup to the Twins. There he pitched in the bullpen and was hit a little more often (.278). Next year he may start the season in the rotation at AAA. How the Twins use him will depend on their need in 2020.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top ten lefthanded pitching prospects in the minor leagues. In the past lefthanders were not noted for their blazing fastball, but this group has a couple arms that can throw heat. Three teams account for six of the ten lefthanders.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - He may be the best minor league pitching prospect in baseball, not just the best lefthander. The Padres made him the third pick of the 2017 draft. He dominated that year in seven starts, limiting opponents to a .184 average with 14.3 whiffs per nine innings. The 2018 season was plagued by blister problems which prevented him from gripping the ball. That did not seem to be a problem last year as he dominated the California League (1.02 ERA and .137 average). A promotion to AA saw a few more struggles (4.15 ERA) but he is ready to tackle that level again in 2020. Gore is not a flame thrower with a fastball that sits on the upper edges of the low 90s. It is his ability to throw three above average secondary pitches with excellent command that sets him apart from the other pitchers. He could see some time with the Padres next year if the Padres feel they need him to fuel a playoff appearance. If no playoffs are in sight there is no incentive for the team to promote Gore too early.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals made Jesus their third round pick in 2016. They traded him and Blake Treinen to the Athletics in a desperate call for bullpen help, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Ironic that Treinen became one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018. Jesus was also a student from Parkland High, which was subject to a mass shooting a year after he left. A left shoulder strain delayed the start of his 2019 season and limited him to just 11 minor league appearances. He did well enough that he got to appear in relief in six major league games, limiting hitters to a .119 average. Luzardo throws heat, hitting the high 90s with his fastball but sitting in the mid-90s. His secondary stuff is not as strong as Gore, but he does have command of his pitches, which sometimes is half the battle. He could compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but if he fails to make it expect to see him before mid-season. He did have Tommy John surgery prior to the draft back in 2016, which was one of the reasons he dropped to the third round. He also became the first player born in Peru to play in the major leagues.

3. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - The Athletics have two of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball. Puk was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2016 draft. A good spring in 2018 appeared to win him a spot in the Athletics rotation but a torn UCL in spring resulted in Tommy John surgery and an absence from the 2018 season. He got a late start to the 2019 season and the Athletics used him mostly out of the bullpen. Control issues left his minor league ERA high (4.97) but the Athletics saw enough to promote him to the major league club where it dropped to 3.18. Puk may be best in the bullpen with a fastball that easily hits the high 90s and a nasty slider. He is still working on a consistent third pitch and his command is spotty, which leaves a starting rotation spot up in the air unless he can improve those skills. Expect him to make the Athletics in 2020, either in their rotation or as a setup part time closer.

4. Brendan McKay (Rays) - The Rays drafted McKay with the fourth pick in the 2017 draft with the intent of making him a two way player. In college he was primarily a hitter that was used as a starter, winning the Golden Spikes award because of his bat (.341, 18, 57), but also showing some promise with the arm (11-3, 2.56). When he got to the Rays his arm soon surpassed his bat, resulting in a quick promotion to the majors. While they may use him as a DH it appears McKay will be needed most in the starting rotation. He dominated in the minor leagues in 13 starts (1.10 ERA) last year but not so much in the majors in 11 starts (5.14 ERA). His bat was absent most of the year (.200, .629 OPS). McKay has excellent command of his pitches, with a fastball that sits just below 95 and quality secondary pitches that should get better the more he pitches. Expect him to be in the starting rotation for the Rays in 2020.

5. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles had a number of exceptional performances from their starting pitchers last year in the minor leagues. Hall was at the top of that list. The 2017 first round pick was a strikeout machine, whiffing 116 hitters in just 80.2 innings in High A. The opposition only hit .189 off him. The fastball screams across the plate with a combination of heat and movement, making it a tough pitch to make solid contact. He can supplement that heat with a solid changeup that could still use some improvement in consistency. The big issue is finding the plate. Last year he walked 54 batters in 80.2 innings. This left his ERA at a high 3.46 and kept his innings count low. Next year Hall should see AA Bowie with an opportunity to pitch for the Orioles in 2021.

6. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The Cubs are always in search of pitching, but they may have found an arm they signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 for $600,000. He stands at 6′4″ and his fastball was clocked at 99 last year. Last year was his first season in full season ball and he finished the season with lots of whiffs (128 in 103.2 innings) and a low opposition batting averages (.224). His secondary pitches need improvement and he needs to find the plate more, last year walking almost one hitter every two innings. Next year he should repeat high A with a late season promotion to AA. His debut with Cubs should be sometime late in 2021.

7. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers traded for Franklin Perez and have three starting pitchers who were first round picks that they hope will eventually see the rotation. Tarik was a ninth round pick in 2018 that has come out of nowhere to put his name in the hat. Myworld would be surprised if anyone put him on a top 30 prospect list after he was drafted. Last year he was one of the Tigers best pitchers, striking out 179 hitters in 122.2 innings and limiting the opposition to a .196 average. This now puts him ahead in the depth chart of a few number one draft picks. His fastball can go north of 95 but it generally sits at the southern range with lots of late life that makes him difficult to hit. His curveball is his swing and miss pitch, but his change needs to gain more consistency if he wants to continue to fool hitters as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he pitched well in AA so that could portend a major league opportunity in 2020. The Tigers have a couple pitchers who could get an opportunity to pitch before Tarik so he may have to wait until 2021.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian was the ace of the Cuban Under 15 rotation when they won the gold medal back in 2014. It netted him the MVP award. Two years later, as a 16 year old, he had already defected to the United States. The Padres whipped out a $11 million bonus to sign him. Adrian has not dominated at the minor league level, despite having a fastball that registers between 93-97. He is only 20 years old and pitching in AA so maturing is still an issue. His large body frame (6′1″, 210) has struggled to stay healthy, which has prevented him from pitching the innings he needs to refine his pitches. Despite his young age, the Padres promoted him to the major leagues, but he had little success (10.13 ERA and .385 opposition average in 8 innings). The Padres should start him at AAA next year, watch his innings count and if he stays healthy and has success promote him mid-season. He won’t be the ace of a rotation like he was for his 15 and under team, but he will make a solid mid-rotation starter.

9. Justus Sheffield (Mariners) - Justus has bounced around. The Indians drafted him in the first round in 2014, traded him to the Yankees for Andrew Miller in 2016. The Yankees had him packing his bags again after the 2018 season, trading him to Seattle for James Paxton. Sheffield had a good minor league season in 2018 resulting in a promotion to the Yankees in September. Last year he struggled to throw strikes, which resulted in a number of homerun balls (12) and walks (41) in his 55 innings of work in AAA. A demotion to AA saw his numbers improve and gave the Mariners a reason to promote him to their big league club. Justus throws in the mid -90s and gets swings and misses with his slider. Throwing strikes has been his biggest challenge. Expect him to compete for a starting rotation spot in 2020.

10. Matthew Liberatore (Rays) - The 2018 first round pick of the Rays does not have a heater that spits fire as it crosses the plate. He sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid-90s if he reaches back and slings it. He stands at 6′5″ so he has an intimidating plane when he stands on the mound. His curveball is his best pitch, garnering most of his swings and misses. He also shows a quality changeup that seems to make his fastball show more carry as it crosses the plate. In his first full season Matthew pitched well in low A, putting together a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts. He generates a lot of ground balls, coughing up only two long balls in his 78.1 innings of work. Next year the Rays will start him at High A with a promotion to AA more likely in 2021. Rays fans may see him as a September callup in 2021,

Top Right Field Prospects

Friday, November 1st, 2019

These players lack the burner speed to play centerfield but have the strong arm to get the ball home or to third base with some juice. They also are good enough with the bat that they can provide run production.

1) Heliot Ramos (Giants) - Heliot Ramos was a first round pick in 2017 by the Giants. The Puerto Rican slugger had a solid year last year, showing the power potential in his bat with 13 homeruns and a .500 slugging percentage in High A. He slumped a bit when promoted to AA, his slugging percentage dropping to .421. His swing and miss is a little high, averaging a little over one whiff per game. As he fills out his speed will decrease making him a liability in centerfield. The arm is there for him to slide over to right. The Giants have never been good about developing outfielders. Heliot should change that, with an arrival time expected in 2021.

2) Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets drafted Jarred in the first round, as the sixth pick in 2018. They sacrificed long term wealth for short term benefit by trading him and a package of other prospects to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Neither veteran panned out and Jarred is looking to be a superstar. He has all five tools with the speed to play center, but with the arm to shift to right. Last year he displayed his power with 23 homeruns at three different levels. With his 20 stolen bases he became a 20/20 player, a feat he should easily accomplish once he makes it to the major leagues. Since he played 21 games in AA expect an arrival time of 2021.

3) Jesus Sanchez (Marlins) - Another five tool talent, Jesus signed with Tampa Bay for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic. The Rays shipped him off to the Marlins for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards, two players who will not come close to reaching the level of Sanchez. It makes you wonder what the Rays saw in Sanchez that they traded him for what appears to be low cost. As he gets bigger (6′3″, 230) his speed will tap down, making a potential move to right field inevitable. The power exists for him to hit for at least 20 plus homeruns per year, but he did not show that last year. Even in the rabbit ball of AAA he could not slug for higher than .440. The Marlins do not have any outfielders in their major league system to prevent Jesus from winning a starting job. Expect that process to begin next year when he competes for an outfield job in spring training.

4) Estevan Florial (Yankees) - Estevan is Haitian born, but went to school in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed him for $300,000 in 2015 after he was suspended one year from signing for using a false name. Florial had a break out year in 2017 slugging 13 homeruns, but a broken hamate bone in 2018 forced him to miss two months of the season. He struggled a bit in the Florida State League, hitting just .255 with only a .361 slugging average. His season was again limited last year with a broken wrist and when he got to play his numbers were again disappointing in his third season in the Florida State League. The five tools are there to be an impact player but an inability to make contact puts his numbers down. Next year he should see AA. The Yankees have a surplus of outfielders in their system, but like Florial they struggle to stay healthy. If he can stay injury free he should make his Yankee debut in 2021.

5) Brandon Marsh (Angels) - The 2016 second round pick is not a flashy player. The speed is lacking to play centerfield and the power from his 6′4″ frame has yet to emerge. There is still too much swing and miss in his game, though he managed to cut it back in 2019. An ankle injury limited him to just 96 games last year. Despite his average speed and the ankle injury he was able to steal 18 bases. A .428 slugging average is evidence that he has yet to tap into his power. With Trout in center and outfielder Jo Adell rated as the Angels top prospect, the Angels can be patient with Marsh and allow his power to develop in AAA. The earliest he will be an Angel is 2021.

6) J.J. Bleday (Marlins) - Myworld saw a bit of Bleday’s power in the College World Series. The 2019 first round pick also has a rocket for an arm. His 27 homers were instrumental in Vanderbilt winning the College World Series. After being drafted as the fourth pick he went on to hit three more homeruns in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Bleday does not have the speed to play center. He does make pretty good contact for a power hitter. With the Marlins in rebuilding mode, Bleday should be a fast riser. Expect him to reach AA in 2020 with a possible major league debut in 2021. There is 30 to 40 homerun potential in his bat.

7) Sam Hilliard (Rockies) - Hilliard is a 15th round pick in 2015 who lacks the speed to play centerfield. It doesn’t prevent him from stealing bases. He had his second year of stealing over 20 bases and slugging at least 20 homeruns. His lowest stolen base total in his four minor league seasons is 23. Last year his power numbers went through the roof with 35 homeruns and a .558 slugging percentage. That resulted in a promotion to Colorado where he added seven more homeruns to put him over 40 with a .649 slugging. The Rockies have a number of young outfielders competing for spots, but none hit for his power. Expect him to compete for the starting right field job in 2020. The one concern was his 164 whiffs in AAA, though he seemed to make more consistent contact when promoted to the major leagues.

8) Khalil Lee (Royals) - Khalil is a third round pick in 2016 that is blessed with all five tools. The speed was especially apparent in 2019 with 53 stolen bases. The arm is built for right field and the legs can cover center. Many teams considered drafting him as a pitcher, but for now he is patrolling the outfield. Khalil’s biggest challenge is making contact, which depresses his average and prevents him from showing off his power. Last year he struck out 154 times, limiting his average to .264 and his slugging to .372 in AA. Next year he should make his major league debut for the rebuilding Royals sometime after the All Star break.

9) Austin Hays (Orioles) - Injuries have prevented the third round 2016 pick from replicating his 2017 season. He had the right field position sewn up in 2018 but injuries and a poor season prevented a callup. Injuries again limited him in 2019 but he put up better power numbers (.464) in AAA that led to a promotion to the major leagues. There he shined with a .304 average and .574 slugging. This should make him the favorite to win the right field job next year, with Trey Mancini moving to first base.

10) D.J. Peters (Dodgers) - Myworld loves his power. We hate his inability to make contact. Last year the 2016 fourth round pick struck out 168 times in just 125 games, while slugging 23 dingers. At 6′6″ he has a large strike zone, but get those hands extended with the barrel of the bat making contact and that ball will go a long way. The arm is good for right field and he has the speed to be a solid defender, perhaps as a lesser version of an Aaron Judge. Yasiel Puig is gone but Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo appear to be ahead of him in right field. His best bet may be to be traded to give him an opportunity to play. At 23 years of age and in AAA his time is now. He should make his major league debut in 2020.

Santander Leads O’s to Rays Mauling

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astros Blame it on Rio for Walkoff Loss

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Mychal Givens and the Orioles had just given up three runs in the top of the ninth to lose a 5-4 lead. Roberto Osuna hit Chance Sisco to put the tying run on. Chris Davis came to the plate representing the go ahead run. In years past you could hope for a walk off homerun. With four K’s in four at bats you just hoped he did not hit into a double play to end the game. He hit a ball to shallow left and Jace Peterson was able to tag up and give him a sacrifice fly. It was kind of surprising Josh Reddick threw the ball home since that run did not really matter and Sisco could have advanced to second. Rio Ruiz, an unlikely hero came to the plate and with the count 2-2 he hit a no doubter that landed on Eutah Street for a 8-7 Orioles victory, their first walk off win of the year and the first for Ruiz in his career.

Asher Wojciechowski retired the Astros in order in the top of the first so it appeared to be a better start than their 23-2 loss of yesterday. The Orioles even got a run in the bottom of the first on two singles and a RBI double from Jace Peterson to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second the homer gods again frowned down on the Orioles. Carlos Correa smashed a 3-run homerun deep into the Astros end of the bullpen for a 3-1 lead. Visions of the nightmare of yesterday began dancing into the heads of the Oriole fans. The O’s bounced back in the bottom frame on an RBI single from Trey Mancini to cut the lead to 3-2.

Asher settled down after the second inning. The Astros got baserunners in every inning he pitched, but Asher was able to prevent any Astro from crossing the plate until the seventh, his last inning when a single by Josh Reddick and double by George Springer put Astros on second and third. A ground out scored a run, brought in the bullpen, but the Orioles still had a one run lead.

They were able to take the lead in the fifth off Justin Verlander. He struck out 11 hitters in his five innings of work, but in the fifth he gave up two runs to allow the Orioles to go ahead. Pedro Severino got the inning started with a ground ball double just inside the third base bag. Jace Peterson roped a pitch over the head of center fielder George Springer for a triple to tie the game. Hanser Alberto hit a foul ball into left field but it was caught by Michael Brantley. His throw was not strong enough to get Peterson racing home with the go ahead run.

The Orioles scored an insurance run in the sixth after Chris Devinski had whiffed the first two hitters he faced. Jonathan Villar singled, stole second and scored on a Trey Mancini single. Mancini had also contributed an RBI single in the second. Santander doubled down the right field line to put runners on third and second but Devinski whiffed Pedro Severino to end the inning.

The Orioles had a chance to put the game away in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. Santander hit a fly ball to shallow center, not deep enough to score Rio Ruiz from third. Severino then hit one over the left field fence, but it was just a couple feet foul from being a grand slam homerun. On the next pitch he grounded out to third.

The top of the ninth was another nightmare for Mychal Givens, who came into the game with five blown saves. He got out of a jam in the eighth by striking out Josh Reddick with the tying run at second. He could not get anyone out in the ninth. Springer singled to left, Peterson falling short of making a shoe string catch. Altuve laid down a bunt single down the third base line. Michael Brantley hit a ball down the right field line. Santander chased it. Brantley headed to third and as Santander picked the ball up to throw it the ball slipped out of his hand and fell behind him. By the time Santander picked the ball up Brantley had scored. Givens hit Alex Bregman on a 1-2 pitch and he was replaced by Richard Bleier.

Bleier got out of the inning with a whiff and double play. That gave the Orioles the opportunity for the walk off in the ninth.

Game notes: Santander got a bloop single off Verlander in the first. Verlander struck out Santander on six pitches in his next two at bats. Santander looked overmatched in the two at bats and saw a total of nine pitches in his three at bats against Verlander…Verlander was hitting 95-96 with his fastball. The 11 K’s shows he still has his swing and miss stuff. It also gave him double digit strikeouts for five consecutive games, the first time he has established that in his career…The Orioles can not keep Chris Davis with the at bats he has been having this year. There are just too many swings and misses in his game and not enough balls deposited over the fence. Four whiffs today upped his strikeout total to 118 in 87 games. There are at least 60 other first baseman that are better than him (other teams starters and backups and Mancini and Mountcastle). Keeping him on the roster is an effort in futility, just because they are paying him $25 million per year. Even the fans have turned against him, booing him after each whiff…Trey Mancini made a nice sliding catch with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth, saving at least one run from scoring…For Rio Ruiz it was his first walk off homerun in his career and his second consecutive day with a homerun after his recent callup…The win by the Orioles erased the Astros eight game winning streak…Rio Ruiz was named player of the game but Jace Peterson deserves some accolades with his two doubles and a triple, all contributing to runs.

O’s Earn Split with Blue Jays

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Playing in front of 4,000 plus Brits, who accounted for almost 25 percent of the crowd, the Orioles were able to beat the Blue Jays 6-5 to split their four game series. The Orioles used a career high 9 walks and took advantage of a Bo Bichette error to snatch the victory away from the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays had an excellent opportunity to score crooked numbers in the first inning off the opener Jimmy Yacobonis. A Bo Bichette leadoff double and two walks loaded the bases with no outs. Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit a hard bouncer to Chris Davis, who went home with his throw and was able to retire Bichette. Justin Smoak hit a fairly deep fly ball to left field. Cavan Biggio tagged to go home and Lourdes Gurriel tagged to advance to third. Anthony Santander sent his throw to third and Jace Peterson was able to put the tag on him to get the out at third - before Biggio had crossed the plate. Myworld did not notice to see if Biggio was trotting home certain he would score on the fly ball. Either way there was a baserunning blunder by the Blue Jays - 1) for Gurriel trying to needlessly advance to third and 2) if Biggio was not sprinting home.

Sean Reid-Foley had trouble finding the plate for the Blue Jays. Mid-way through the second inning he had thrown 24 balls and just 18 strikes. In the first inning he walked Jonathan Villar but he was erased when Trey Mancini grounded into a double play. Sean walked Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez to put two runners on. Jace Peterson lifted what appeared to be a routine popup, but Bichette could not find it and it fell for a hit. Santander scored but Peterson was thrown out at second. Myworld could not see if Peterson was running at full speed when he first hit the pop up.

The Blue Jays were able to tie the game in the top of the second off Tom Eshelman. Randal Grichuk started the inning with a double down the left field line. Teoscar Hernandez drove him in with a single to left center. Brandon Drury lifted what again appeared to be a routine popup but Chris Davis took an awkward path to the ball and it fell just outside the infield grass for a single. The O’s had the shift on so that would have normally been an easy catch for the second baseman. Fortunately for the Orioles it did not hurt them as Tom Eshelman retired the next three hitters.

Bo Bichette had a rough day at short. A misplay on his part allowed the O’s to retake the lead. Chance Sisco singled and Chris Davis walked. With runners on third and second and two out Jonathan Villar hit an easy grounder to Bichette, but the ball hit off the side of his glove. Sisco scored. Two more scored when Trey Mancini rammed one down the third base line for a double.

Eshelman pitched out of a first and second threat with no out in the fourth. In the fifth a walk and ground rule double by Vlad Guerrero put runners on second and third with one out. The Orioles conceded the run and took the out on a grounder to second and it was 4-2 Orioles.

Even with the departure of Sean Reid-Foley, the Jays pitchers had trouble throwing strikes. Yennsi Diaz made his major league debut and was throwing gas, hitting 97 with his fastball, but it was rarely crossing the plate. After a leadoff single by Trey Mancini, Diaz walked four hitters, allowing two to trot home because of his walks. After his fourth walk he was gone.

Brandon Hyde may have left Eshelman in too long. In the top of the seventh Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio went back to back, Eshelman throwing only three pitches before giving up the two dingers. In came Dillon Tate and he struggled. Grichuk put the Blue Jays within one with an RBI double and with runners on second and third with one out the lead was in jeopardy. Tate was able to whiff Teooscar Hernandez and got Drury to ground out to third to end the threat.

Shawn Armstrong came on to close in the ninth. He gave up two singles to put runners on first and third with two outs. Teoscar Hernandez came to the plate again in a clutch situation. Shawn was able to strike out Teoscar for the final out, his third whiff of the inning. After getting two hits in his first two at bats Teoscar struck out in his next three at bats.

Game Notes: There were 4,000 Brits at the game. They were part of a scout troop that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking and climbing mountains. They ended their trip with a visit to Camden Yards. The Brits ended up cheering for Orioles left fielder Anthony Santander. Anthony seemed to enjoy his new fan club….Bo Bichette may not be able to survive at shortstop. His throws were all over the place. He committed two errors, one on a throw that bounced to first, and he misjudged or lost a popup…Despite what appears to be Vlad Guerrero’s girth, he gets down the first base line very quickly. He beat out a grounder to first that appeared to be a routine play, though the pitcher may have been a little late covering…The first four players in the Jays lineup have impressive genes. Three of the four have Hall of Fame fathers. Bo Bichette (the only dad who is not in a Hall of Fame but Dante did have a couple 40 homerun seasons), Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (son of Lourdes, Hall of Famer from Cuba) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr). That is an impressive group of names. If they can come close to producing their dad’s numbers they will be very productive players for the Jays…Dwight Smith, whose dad also played in the major leagues also played for the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Orioles. He did not play in the game today…For Tom Eshelman it was his first major league victory…The back to back homers by Bichette and Biggio was the ninth consecutive game in which the Orioles have given up two or more homeruns. That ties the record the Astros broke in 2016 during their down years. Next in town is the homer happy Yankees. That record could be easily broken…The Orioles have also given up 218 homeruns. With 51 more games to play the Orioles appear to be on pace to break the Reds record of giving up 258 homers, the most in a major league season. All they have to do is give up one homerun per game.

UK Comes to Camden - New Fan Base for Santander

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Back in July the major leagues sent the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox to London to play two games. They were both sellouts. Now in August about 4,000 Britons came to Camden Yards to watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles.

They were part of a scouting group that spent two weeks in West Virginia white water rafting, hiking trails and climbing mountains. The first journey of their trip started in New York, but they were only there half a day. They finished it with trips to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. When I asked one Brit if he was concerned about Trumps warnings about the dangers of Baltimore he said he wasn’t aware of what Trump said, but then he said most Brits don’t really listen to what Trump has to say.

The fans for whatever reason drew a liking to Anthony Santander, the leftfielder for the Orioles. He had been throwing baseballs to the fans in between innings. The UK crowd had taken most of the seats along left field. When they began chanting “twenty five”, which is the uniform number of Santander, I informed one of the chanters that his name was “San-Tan-Dare”. They changed the chant to “San-tan-dare”. He got a couple of big ovations when he caught fly balls out in left field. Santander must have been surprised that fans from Great Britain knew how to pronounce his name.

The Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel did not get the same kind of love. Myworld did not notice whether or not he was throwing baseballs into the stands in between innings. After the Santander love fest he did throw a ball into the left field stands but the Brits still ignored him. Perhaps they were showing respect for the player from Baltimore.

The 4,000 or so fans had to leave by 3 PM because they had flights to catch back to the UK. Only a few witnessed the first base hit from Santander. But he did get a big ovation the second and third time when he came to the plate. When he went back out into the field Santander played with the fans affections. They seemed to be enthralled by his attention.

Perhaps the next time the major leagues want to return to the UK to play a third game in London they should choose the Orioles, to give Anthony Santander another chance to play in front of his newly found fan base.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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