Archive for the 'Indians' Category

Myworlds Top 2021 Prospects 50-41

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

Shortstops dominate this ten, especially if you fit in Jeter Downs as a shortstop. Righthanded pitchers follow with four. The cool thing about today is that spring training games for the major leagues began. Looking at box scores again was a pleasant experience.

50. Max Meyer RHP (Marlins) - Meyer is a 2020 first round pick, the third player taken in the draft. He starred at Minnesota, beginning his college career as a closer and then moving into the starting rotation as a sophomore. At only 6′0″ he does not have the height that scouts would like to see in a righthander, but his fastball sits in the mid-90s, touching triple digits on occasion. He also has a nasty slider that he used quite effectively closing for the collegiate national team. Those two pitches will allow him to reach the major leagues as a closer. Where he fits will depend on the development of his change. Meyer has no issues with command, so if his change can represent a solid third pitch he could fit in a rotation. If it lags behind he could always fill the role of the closer. As a college drafted pitcher his window is short, much shorter if the Marlins want to use him out of the bullpen. If used in relief he could be in the major leagues in late 2021, but service time issues will probably delay his arrival until 2022 as the Marlins tune him up to be in the rotation.

49. Brandon Marsh OF (Angels) - Early in his career the second round 2016 pick had trouble generating power. At 6′4″ the build and strength exists for him to carry the ball a long ways. He was also projected as a right fielder. Those attitudes have changed now. For a big man he does have excellent speed that will allow him to patrol centerfield. Presently Mike Trout could be a barrier and in the future Jordyn Adams will be his nemesis for that spot. The arm could easily allow him to fit in right field. The expected power in his bat has yet to manifest itself, with just a .408 slugging percentage the last two years. The 2021 season may change that. Marsh improved on his swing and miss proclivities in 2019 from 2018. In 2018 he struck out 158 times in just 127 games, while in 2019 that improved to just 99 times in 101 games. His speed will make him a threat on the basepaths, with the possibility to eclipse 20 steals per year. With some good numbers Marsh could see the Angels outfield sometime in 2021. Jo Adell will get the first opportunity to play the outfield, but if his struggles continue Marsh is next on the depth chart.

48. Alek Thomas OF (Diamondbacks) - The second round 2018 pick of the Diamondbacks carries three impressive tools. His lefthanded bat scorches line drives through the infield which could make him a consistent .300 hitter. He also has impressive speed that will make him an above average defensive centerfielder and a pest once on the bases. What is lacking in his game is the ability to hit for power, and an arm to fit in right field. The homerun numbers could reach the double digit teens, but with greater strength he may be able to improve on those numbers. A quick release may allow him to stay in centerfield. A move to left would require greater power numbers in his bat. His career minor league slugging average of .455 is not bad. Alek should see the Diamondbacks sometime in 2022, after starting this year in AA.

47. Jeter Downs SS/2B (Red Sox) - The supplemental first round pick of the Reds has already bounced around a couple times. The Reds first traded him to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade and the Dodgers later traded him to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price transaction. He was named after his father’s favorite shortstop. His overall tools are not extraordinary, but he is above average in all categories. The arm and range exist for him to stay at shortstop, but those tools work better for him at second base. If he had a monster bat the Red Sox could choose to keep him at short. His bat should carry decent power and swim around the .270 pool. In 2019 he combined for 24 homeruns and he also stole 24 bases. Where he plays in the middle infield could be determined by the Red Sox needs. He will start the 2021 season in AA and is just a phone call away from making his major league debut.

46. Logan Gilbert RHP (Mariners) - The Mariners 2018 first round pick stands an imposing 6′6″. That height becomes more imposing when you have to stand in the batter’s box to face his mid-90s fastball. Fortunately for hitters he has pretty good command of his pitches. The slider is his preferred breaking pitch and the change is an impressive third offering. In his lone season in 2019 he rose to AA, going 10-5 with a 2.15 ERA. The opposition only hit .198 against him and he had a fabulous 33/165 walk to whiff ratio. The Mariners are still rebuilding and service time appears to be an issue with Mariners personnel, so despite his quick ascent in 2019 Gilbert will probably not size up for a Mariners uniform until 2022, unless for some reason the Mariners find themselves in the playoffs in 2021.

45. Spencer Howard RHP (Phillies) - This 2017 second round pick throws hard. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but it consistently bleeds into the high 90s. His changeup may be his second best pitch, which if played off his fastball makes him tough to hit. He also throws two breaking pitches, with the slider being his preferred pitch. Shoulder issues limited his 2019 season to 15 starts. He was pretty dominant during those starts with a 2.03 ERA and a .173 opposition average. He carried a 16/94 walk to whiff ratio in 71 innings. This performance put him on the Phillies radar and he made his major league debut in 2020. It was not awe inspiring performance (5.92 ERA, .300 opposition average). His command deserted him in the major leagues with 10 walks in 24 innings and six taters. This should be a wake up call for what he needs to do to have success in a major league rotation. Expect him to return to the Phillies rotation sometime in the middle of the 2021 season and achieve a little more success.

44. Noelvis Marte SS (Mariners) - The Mariners signed him for $1.55 million in 2018. He has yet to play state side, but he put up some impressive numbers in the Dominican Summer League (.309/.371/.511) with 9 homeruns and 17 stolen bases. He carriers some speed but as he has grown bigger some of that speed has disappeared. This could limit his range at short and force a move to third base. Fortunately, the bat contains enough power that he could be a fit at third base. His arm can be a little erratic, but it is strong. The Mariners will probably start him somewhere in A ball in 2021 with a major league arrival time delayed until 2023. The baseball world will know more in 2021 what he can do once he hits stateside.

43. Nolan Jones 3B (Indians) - The second round 2016 pick has some thunder in his bat. Many considered him the best high school bat in the 2016 draft. He tends to be extra patient at the plate, walking 96 times in .2019. The last three minor league seasons he has had OBAs over .400. That patience at the plate also results in a lot of strikeouts, more than one per game. If he can reach his projected 30 per year homerun power the Indians will accept the abundant swings and misses. While he played shortstop in high school, his lack of foot speed limits his range and has forced a move to third base. His 6′4″ height creates challenges for his defensive prowess, but he should be able to stick at the position. The Indians could move him to AAA in 2021, which means a late season callup could be in his future in 2021.

42. Ronny Mauricio SS (Mets) - While he is listed at shortstop, this 2017 international signing will eventually move to third base. The Mets shelled out $2.1 million to sign him, so they have faint hopes they can keep him at short. His lack of foot speed creates range issues. The move to the hot corner will put pressure on him to develop more power. His current minor league slugging percentage is .374. His power is limited to the gaps, but at 6′3″ the Mets are confident that his strength will grow with maturity. Ronny will probably begin the 2021 season in High A. With Bret Baty projected to be the Mets third baseman of the future it will be interesting to see where Ronny is destined when he is ready to reach the Mets sometime in 2023.

41. Jazz Chisolm SS (Marlins) - The Marlins traded a successful pitcher in Zac Gallen to get “all that Jazz”. The Diamondbacks signed him out of the Bahamas for just $200,000. The hope is that Jazz will make that trade look beneficial in 2021. His first spring training at bat this year was a homerun. He made his major league debut in 2020 but struggled for a .161 average. In his last two minor league seasons he has slugged 46 homeruns. Making contact has been his biggest challenge. In those last two minor league seasons he whiffed 296 times in just 224 games. The defensive tools are there for him to stick at shortstop. If he does not improve his contact ability he could be a 30 homer, .230 average type of player who can steal 20 bases per year. The Marlins will give him another opportunity to play shortstop in 2021, but they are probably grooming him more for 2022 to be a starter.

Top Canadian Prospects

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 80 - 71

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

The interesting fact about the next top ten players is they were all drafted. Only one international bonus signing is part of this ten group.

80. Ryan Mountcastle OF (Orioles) - The 2015 first round pick lacks a position. He started at shortstop, then moved to third, but his arm was not strong enough to play there. First base is a possibility but the Orioles are loaded at the position. So his current position is left field, with a lot of designated hitter time as well. The foot speed is lacking for him to be a strong defensive player in the outfield, but his bat is what will get him in the lineup. Last year he made his major league debut, played in 35 games and hit .333 with 5 homeruns and a .492 slugging percentage. The bat displays some impressive power but can also live in the gaps. Despite his lack of defensive prowess, the bat will get him in the Orioles lineup in 2021, mostly as a DH.

79. Josiah Gray RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers have a way of developing good pitchers. Gray was an acquisition from the Reds and all they had to do was trade the troublesome Yasiel Puig to acquire him. He was a second round supplemental pick by the Reds in 2018. While the fastball that strikes the mid-90s is his best pitch, he also throws two breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change that are all quality pitches. He also commands the pitches well. In 2019 he threw for three teams, striking out 147 hitters in just 130 innings. Opponents have hit him at a .192 clip. He finished the 2019 season pitching for the AA team. The 2021 season could see him slip into the Dodgers starting rotation, though they already have a couple young pitchers in their rotation. Josiah will start the season in AA. How far he advances will be determined by his success.

78. George Valera OF (Indians) - Valera carries all five tools, though none of them to an explosive degree. The Indians signed him for $1.3 million out of the Dominican Republic. The speed tool probably lacks the quickness to play centerfield full time, and his arm tool lacks the vibrant strength to throw cannons out in right field. That is not to say those tools are weak, but they are limiting. The bat should be strong enough to play whatever position he wants. The 2019 season was a lost season for George, hitting .087 in Low A after struggling with a .236 average in Rookie ball. The power potential is there to hit double digit numbers in homeruns and the speed is enough to get him double digits in stolen bases. George is still a couple years away from seeing the Indians outfield, but when he makes his appearance he should be impactful.

77. Xavier Edwards SS (Rays) - When you first watch Xavier play you may not be impressed. The first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018 will not be hitting a lot of deep balls over the outfield fences in batting practice. The foot speed is what will set him apart. That allows him to cover a lot of ground at short and steal bases when he gets on base. In his two minor league seasons he has combined for 56 stolen bases. His bat can also sting line drives that have allowed him to hit .328 in those two years. There will not be a lot of swings and misses in his at bats, which could make him a solid number two hitter in a lineup geared for speed. Other than his lack of power, an average arm and Wander Franco could force a move to second base. The 2021 season should see him open the season in AA with a possible major league appearance some time in 2022.

76. Luis Campusano C (Padres) - Luis is one of the minor league players the Padres have not traded. They drafted him in the second round in 2017. Despite only playing A ball in 2019, the Padres provided Luis with his major league debut last year. He played in one game, getting three at bats, two strikeouts and a homerun. Luis won co-MVP honors when he played in the California League in 2019, hitting .325 with 15 homeruns. Defensively, he has a strong arm, but he still needs to work on the more subtle tools of catching such as calling and framing pitches. He should open 2021 in AA with the possibility of making his second appearance in the major leagues. The Padres will be gunning for a playoff spot in 2021 so relying on a rookie catcher to lead a veteran pitching staff would not be their ideal scenario.

75. Garrett Mitchell OF (Brewers) - The Brewers made Garrett their first round pick in the 2020 draft. His most eye catching tool would be his speed, allowing him to cover a lot of ground in center. The arm is also strong enough to play right. His batting practice appearances have been impressive, showing an ability to hit for power. Whether that will translate when he plays in games is open to question. Garrett does have Type 1 diabetes, which may be a cause for him dropping to the 20th pick in the draft. His tools suggest that he should have gone a bit higher. Garrett will start the season in Low A but could rise quickly if his batting practice results translate in real game situations. If that happens expect him to see the Brewers outfield in 2023.

74. Shane Baz RHP (Rays) - The righthanded pitcher was drafted by the Pirates in the first round in 2017. The Rays stole him from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade, also acquiring Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. Shane has an electric fastball that can hit triple digits on the radar readings. His slider is also a swing and miss pitch. He lacks command and an effective third pitch, though his change could work with more development. If he fails to find a third pitch his slider/fastball combination are good enough to make him a closer option. The 2019 season was his most dominating performance, limiting the opposition to a .213 average, which brought his ERA down to 2.99. That put him on the prospect map and had Pirate fans tearing the hair from their scalp wondering what the Pirate front office was thinking when they traded three potential impact players for a pitcher that faltered. The 2021 season will be key, determining whether the success Baz achieved in 2019 was real. He will probably begin in AA and could see the major league rotation or the bullpen late in the 2021 season.

73. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) - Tristan disappeared from the prospect discussion when back problems had him miss the 2019 season. The 2015 supplemental first round pick was a surprise call up to the starting rotation for the Indians in 2020. Standing 6′5″ and weighing just 160 pounds, he looks like a praying mantis on the mound, with all arms and skinny stick like legs. The fastball sits in the low 90s, but if he puts some meat on his bones that velocity could see a significant uptick. His command was superb and he showed four quality major league pitches, resulting in a 3.24 ERA in 8 appearances and six starts. With a 9/42 walk to whiff ratio, major league hitters could only attack him for a .179 average. Health could be a concern. The Indians will cross their fingers and hope that health stays secure as he starts the 2021 season in the Indians rotation.

72. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - The Puerto Rican was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. Like Valera he is a five tool outfielder that has no real explosive tools, but enough to make an impact. His arm may be his best tool, which will fit perfectly in right field. He is probably the best outfielder in a crop of quality outfielders coming up through the Giants minor league system. He avenged a poor 2018 season by hitting .290 in 2019 with 16 homeruns and a .481 slugging percentage playing at two levels. Most of his damage was in the California League, as he struggled a bit in 25 AA games (.242). The 2021 season should see him repeat AA and be ready to suit up for the Giants outfield sometime in the latter parts of the 2022 season.

71. Taylor Trammell OF (Mariners) - Another outfielder with a lot of tools who has already been traded twice. He was drafted by the Reds in 2016 as a supplemental first rounder. The Padres acquired him in a trade and then sent him to the Mariners to help them in a playoff race. Myworld witnessed his tools in the Future Games feature of the All Star game in 2018. His legs have enough speed to fill in at center, but his arm will limit him to left field. The bat carries 20 homerun pop if he can improve his ability to make contact. This could make him a 20/20 player. The Mariners outfield could get a little crowded with Julio Rodriguez, Kyle Lewis and Jarred Kelenic, so if he wants a major league opportunity that may not come until he gets traded a third time. The tools are there for him to make his major league debut in 2021, starting the season in AAA.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 100 to 91

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

It is kind of a funky list. We used Baseball America, MLB.com, Razball, Rotoball and Prospects 365. Razball and Prospects 365 seemed to be on the same page in ignoring top pitching prospects like Mackenzie Gore, Nate Pearson, Spencer Howard, Max Meyer, Matthew Liberatore, Clark Schmidt and Michael Kopech, creating a little lower rating for these players than is probably expected.

100. Gilberto Jimenez OF (Red Sox) - The Red Sox signed Gilberto for just $10,000 in 2017. His speed in centerfield is his top carrying tool, creating a stellar defensive centerfielder who can cause havoc on the basepaths once he arrives in the major leagues. He lacks power, but won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average his first season stateside. Gilberto is a slap hitter who likes to go the opposite way. Only 20 percent of his hits went for extra bases. As he matures he could get stronger, but expecting double digit homerun totals from him is asking a lot. It will still be about three years before Red Sox fans see him patrolling center field, but if he can remind fans of Johnny Damon he will be well worth the wait.

99. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - Jordan slipped to the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The Canadian righthander had the intent to play for Auburn. At 6′5″ 215 pounds he can be very intimidating on the mound, especially after he throws his mid 95-97 mile per hour fastball past the plate. The path through the minors has been slow so far. He only reached High A in 2019 and last year did not pitch in any regular games. The starters repertoire is there with his slider and change as decent second and third pitches. In 2019 he created a lot of swings and misses with his slider, recording a 129 to 93 walk to innings pitched ratio. Jordan could start the 2021 season in AA putting him on the spot light to the Twins rotation around 2023.

98. Lewin Diaz 1B (Marlins) - At one point Lewin was a Twin. They traded him to the Marlins for relief help (Sergio Romo). The Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million. At 6′4″ he packs a lot of power. The 2019 season was his breakout year when he hit 27 homeruns. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base. Normally a decent contact hitter for someone carrying his kind of power he struggled in a Marlins call up in 2020, hitting just .154 with a .205 slugging percentage. He struck out 12 times in 39 at bats. His career minor league average is .268 so that could be an aberration. He will get another opportunity to show he belongs in the major leagues, though it may have to wait until the return of the designated hitter to the National League in 2022.

97. Jordyn Adams OF (Angels) - The Angels outfield is crowded with Mike Trout and prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh set to surround him at the corners. Jordyn was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017 and is only 21 years old so they can wait for him. He has terrific speed, the kind of athlete who could have played college football for North Carolina after graduating from high school. At 6′2″ he has some power to go with that speed. In 2019 he slugged 8 homeruns while stealing 16 bases. When he is ready to be called up to the outfield for the Angels Mike Trout may have to shift to a corner outfield position. Don’t expect that to happen until 2024.

96. Aaron Bracho 2B (Indians) - Aaron was a $1.5 million bonus baby signing by the Indians in 2017 out of Venezuela. Signed as a shortstop he lacks the tools to stay there in a full time role. The Indians hope he turns into an offensive oriented second sacker. He makes good contact with a 28/29 walk to whiff ratio. The ability to hit the gaps for power is there as well, with a .570 slugging percentage in short season ball in 2019. There are no tools that stand out but he also has no glaring weaknesses. Aaron could fit in a utility role if a starting job is not available. That won’t happen until sometime in 2023.

95. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - Keibert is currently blocked by Will Smith in the major leagues, but many consider Ruiz the better defensive catcher. Smith arrived first in the major leagues and showed the ability to hit. Keibert was signed for $140,000 out of Venezuela in 2014. He may be a better defensive catcher but he needs to show effectiveness with the bat. His power falls far short of Smith but he did homer in his first major league at bat. His major league showing was only for two games, where he hit .250 in eight at bats. Injuries have slowed Ruiz ascent to the major leagues, limiting him to just 85 games in 2019. The Dodgers will start him in AAA in 2021 to give him his at bats. At some point the Dodgers will have to choose between Ruiz or Smith as their starting catcher and trade the other.

94. Hunter Bishop OF (Giants) - The Giants are starting to stock up on outfielders, with Heliot Ramos, Bishop and Alexander Canario a good threesome to work from. Hunter was the Giants first round pick in 2019. At 6′5″ he has the typical look of a major league right fielder but the speed is there to patrol center. He shows a lot of patience at the plate, but perhaps too much with a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio in 32 games for the 2019 season. A wide receiver in high school he has the athleticism to make an impact with his speed in centerfield and his bat for power. The Giants do not expect him to patrol their outfield until 2023.

93. Randy Arozarena OF (Rays) - There are a number of rookies who put on quite a power display in the major leagues, but are never heard from again after their rookie season. We don’t expect that to happen to Randy, but we also don’t expect the homerun barrage he put on in the playoffs and his .641 slugging percentage in 2020 with the Rays. Myworld always wondered why the Cardinals did not give Arozarena an opportunity to play in their outfield, but they traded him for Matthew Liberatore, who may have a greater long term impact. Randy was singed for $1.25 million out of Cuba in 2016. The biggest change in his game was elevating his swing, turning ground balls into fly balls. If that power continues he could become the coveted five tool superstar who patrols centerfield for the Rays until they can no longer afford him. They will at least have him for the 2021 season.

92 Heston Kjerstad OF (Orioles) - Heston was an early second pick in the 2020 draft by the Orioles. A couple players were projected to go with that pick, but the Orioles are not complaining. He was considered to have the best lefthanded power in the draft, so he should be bouncing balls off the scoreboard in right field at Camden Yards in a couple years. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. He also proved himself on the International scene becoming one of the best hitters on the United States college national team. Since there was no 2020 minor league season Heston may start in extended spring training before being given a chance to perform in High A. As a college player he could rise quickly, with an arrival in the Orioles lineup as early as late 2022.

91. A. J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - If not for the injuries this 6′7 lefthander would already be an established major league starter. He has had two seasons where he was expected to pitch in the Athletics starting rotation, but injuries limited his participation. The 2016 first round pick has a piercing fastball that can hit triple digits as it crosses the plate, consistently hitting the high 90s. A lack of command has also created some difficulty for him, making some think that his best fit may be in the bullpen. His fastball and slider are a deadly combination and his change is decent enough to make it work in the rotation. The Athletics will hope the third time in the starting rotation is the charm in 2021. If injuries continue to slay him perhaps it is time to move him to the bullpen where he could fit in the closer role.

Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Last week myworld identified the top ten prospects from National League teams from the Dominican Republic. Sixto Sanchez, Jesus Sanchez, Luis Garcia, Christian Pache, Brailyn Marquez and Edward Cabrera all made their major league debuts from that list. From that group all reappeared on this year’s list except for Luis Garcia, who lost his rookie eligibility.

The top three from the American League list remains unchanged. Leody Taveras, Jorge Mateo and Deivi Garcia all played in the major leagues. Below are the top prospects from the American League from the Dominican Republic.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - For many he is considered the top prospect in baseball. Wander was denied a 2020 season so he went to the Dominican Republic to play in the winter league. An injured bicep ended his season early. There is no question that Wander can hit. In his two minor league seasons his career average is .336/.405/.523. He also has a walk/strikeout ratio of 83/54. The main question around Wander is whether he can stick at shortstop. The arm is strong enough to play there but there is some concern about whether the range to cover the position exists. If he is not a fit at short the bat is potent enough that a move to third would not be a problem. The Rays already have a decent shortstop in Willy Adames. If Franco is promoted in 2021 it will probably be to play third or fill in for an injured Adames.

2. Julio Rodriguez OF (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Rodriguez for $1.75 million in 2017. Power will be his calling card. The 2019 season was his debut in the minor leagues and he hit .326 with 12 homeruns in just 84 games playing in Low and High A. The walk to whiff ratio was 25/76, which could result in an average more in the .270s once he hits the major leagues. He should be good for 30 plus homeruns. The speed is a better fit for a corner outfield position and his arm is strong enough for right field. If he is tearing it up in AA he could make his major league debut in 2021. The Mariners are rebuilding and Julio is one of their most important pieces in this project.

3. Jasson Dominguez OF (Yankees) - It has been a long time since the Yankees have had a superstar center fielder. Jasson could change all that. Little is known about Jasson from a stat perspective since he was not signed until 2019 for $5.4 million. His tools have had him compared to Mike Trout but at 17 years of age he has some growing up to do. He is a five tool player with the speed to steal 30 plus bases and the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He should provide quality defense in centerfield and have the arm to fit in right. There is no short season league in the minor leagues, so the Yankees could keep him in extended spring and then promote him to Low A later on in the season.

4. George Valera OF (Indians) - The Indians outfield has been short of quality players the last couple years. They hope to change that with Valera, who was signed for $1.3 million in 2018. The hitting tools are there for him to hit over .300 and slug 30 plus homeruns. His speed and arm rate about average, making him a better fit for a corner outfield spot. Valera actually lived in New York until his teenage years when he moved back to the Dominican Republic. In 2019 he started at short season. He only hit .236 but still slugged 8 homeruns. Too many swing and misses resulted in a low average. A promotion to Low A was even worse, where he only hit .087 in 23 at bats. Valera will probably only play A ball in 2021. An Indians debut is not expected until late 2022.

5. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - Sometimes players who rely mainly on speed can turn into major league disappointments. Jose Peraza is an example of that. Brujan is one of those players with tremendous speed but very little power. That speed resulted in stolen base totals of over 100 the last two seasons. He did have pretty good walk to whiff ratios, but that digressed in 2019 to 37/61, dropping his average to .277. The previous year he had hit .320. To utilize his speed Brujan needs to get on base to be effective. He did play 20 games down in the Dominican in the Winter Leagues where he hit just .254 with a .691 OPS but he did steal 10 bases in 13 attempts. He is an above average defensive player for second base so that is on his plus side. He also has a strong enough arm to play short making a utility role another possibility. Vidal should make his major league debut in 2021.

6. Deivi Garcia RHP (Yankees) - Last year he made his major league debut, performing in six starts. His ERA was not that stellar (4.98) and opponents hit .254 against him with six homeruns. He did have an impressive 6/33 walk to whiff ratio, showing an ability to hit the plate that he struggled with in 2019. Perhaps he was around the strike zone too much. His minor league career shows a .202 career opponent average. Deivi stands only 5′9″, which is usually a death height for right handed pitchers. His fastball is not overpowering and can ride the plate in the mid-90s. It is his breaking pitches, both the slider and curve that will grade his success higher. If a starting role does not pan out Deivi always could be used in relief. Expect the Yankees to go north with him in their rotation in 2021. How long he stays there will depend on his success.

7. Noelvi Marte SS (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Marti for $1.55 million in 2018. He was considered one of the top international prospects for that year. In 2019 he only played in the Dominican Summer League, but he put up some pretty impressive numbers, hitting .309 with a .511 slugging. He showed enough speed to steal 17 bases in 65 games. Noelvi will hit for power. His defense is a bit shaky for short. Whether he stays there or not will depend on keeping his consistency. He could move to third, or if he keeps his speed a move to the outfield is also a possibility. The 2021 season should see him play A ball. Noelvi will probably not see the Mariners until sometime during the 2023 season.

8. Gilberto Jimenez OF (Red Sox) - Over the last couple years the Red Sox farm system has turned a bit bleak. They hope Gilberto is one of many players who can change that prognosis. They only had to shell out $10,000 to sign him in 2017. For that they could have their centerfielder who can run with the wind. The last couple years Gilberto was able to combine for 30 steals in the Dominican Summer League and short season ball. He hit an impressive .359 in his short season debut. Gilberto does not carry a lot of power in his bat, slapping the ball into the outfield instead of driving it into the gaps. He did hit three homeruns in 2019, with 17 of his 84 hits going for extra bases. It appears that speed will bring Gilberto to the major leagues. That speed has not resulted in a lot of stolen base success, but it could help him fill the centerfield role. Don’t expect him to fill that role for the Red Sox until 2023.

9. Robert Puason SS (Athletics) - Like Dominguez, Puason was a major international signing for 2019 with a $5.1 million bonus. With no 2020 season not a lot is known about Puason. At 6′3″ he could develop some power, but at this point in his career that could be the weakest part of his game. There is speed, an arm and the tools to play a quality shortstop. The Athletics will probably keep him in extended spring or perhaps have him play some Dominican summer league ball before rushing him to full season ball. He will probably not see the Athletics until sometime late in 2023.

10. Anderson Tejeda SS (Rangers) - The Rangers are talking about moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa from third to short. Last year Anderson played 23 games there, hitting .253 with three homeruns. Anderson does not carry great range at shortstop, but he has an excellent arm. With some power in his bat he could ultimately become a utility player. The one big question with his hitting skills is his patience at the plate. Last year he had a 2/30 walk to whiff ratio, giving him a poor .273 OBA. He did play eleven games in winter ball, slugging .500 with half of his hits going for extra bases. He hit .300 with a .348 OBA, enough to stick with the Rangers if he can keep plugging those numbers. With a good spring Anderson could convince the Rangers to keep him with the club as their shortstop or as a utility player. Otherwise he will play in AAA to further enhance his game.

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Third Base Prospects

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Just like at second base, a number of shortstops become third baseman, but those are players who lack the range to play middle infield, but carry power in their bat. And a lot of players who start as third baseman are forced to move to first base or the outfield because of their inability or lack of quickness to react to the ball. That is why it is called the hot corner. Below are the players who currently play third who myworld believes are the top prospects for the position.

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie Hayes was a first round pick in 2015. One of the biggest criticisms of his game was his lack of offense. His defense was gold glove caliber. The Pirates promoted him in September and in 24 games and close to 100 at bats he hit .376 with five homeruns for a .682 slugging average. Replicating that production will be difficult, but if his bat can produce just a portion of those numbers he can be an All Star. In the minors his best slugging percentage was .444 and his career average is .399, almost 300 points lower than his major league production. His speed is above average for a third baseman, but they would lose a lot of defense of they move him to the outfield. The 2021 season should see him starting at third base.

2. Nolan Jones (Indians) - If not for Hayes 2020 major league production, Jones, a second round 2016 pick would have been the top third base prospect. He has a nice power bat that hits from the left side. In 2019 he mashed 15 homeruns, a slight decline from his 2018 season of 19 homeruns. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but that also comes with a high number of walks. The 2019 season showed him with a 96/148 walk to whiff ratio in 126 games. He should be able to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he is major league ready. His arm is good and he has the defensive chops to be an average to possibly above average third baseman. His lack of speed prevents him from being a top caliber outfielder, but the arm keeps that possibility open. He finished the 2019 season with 48 games at AA. This should allow him to start the 2021 season in AAA with a major league promotion a possibility.

3. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - The 2018 first round pick is one of many third base prospects for the Cardinals. His scouting report would be similar to Jones. He hits lefthanded, has good power, limited speed, a strong arm with the ability to be an average to above average fielder. The big difference in their two games is his ability to take walks. Gorman’s walk to whiff ratio in 2019 was 45/152. This could result in lower batting averages. In 2019 he hit just .248, which could be better if he showed more patience. Gorman will probably begin the 2021 season in AA, not seeing the Cardinals lineup until 2022. Elehuris Montero is ahead of him in the depth chart and Cuban Malcolm Nunez is right behind him. The Cardinals also drafted third baseman Jordan Walker in the first round of the 2020 draft.

4. Josh Jung (Rangers) - The Rangers first round 2019 pick is a big time power bat. Unfortunately, he has not had a lot of minor league games to show it off. In 2019 he only played in 44 games with two homeruns. He did show the ability to hit for average finishing at .316. Drafted out of Texas Tech, the 23 year old should advance quickly. The 2019 season showed him being primarily a gap to gap hitter but as he strengthens and becomes more aware of the pitches he can drive he should hit consistently 30 plus homeruns each year. His speed is lacking, but his defense should be average to possibly above average. Josh should start the 2021 season in AA with a possible late season promotion.

5. Brett Baty (Mets) - Like Josh, the 2019 first round pick of the Mets played a minimum amount of games (51). His swing and miss was more severe (65) which resulted in a much lower average (.234). Brett showed that when he makes contact the ball will fly, with seven homeruns for a .452 slugging percentage. The left handed bat can drive the ball to all fields with 30 plus homerun a year power once he arrives in the major leagues. While he stands 6′3″ the athleticism will allow him to stay at third. The arm is strong but the speed is below average so a move to the outfield is doubtful. As an older high school pick the Mets may be more aggressive in his promotions than normal high school picks. He should start the 2021 season in A ball with quick promotions occurring with success.

6. Jonathan India (Reds) - The 2018 first round pick needs to increase his power to stick at the position. His career two year slugging percentage is .410 with 11 homeruns in 2019. As a college drafted player there may not be a lot of increase in strength. He does have the patience to take walks and gives the Reds an excellent OBA option. Defensively he has the ability to be an above average third baseman but his average speed could allow him to move to a corner or play second base. India reached AA in 2019 so he could make his major league debut in 2021. His numbers may fall short of what a team expects from a top five pick but he could end up a suitable major leaguer with decent numbers as a utility option.

7. Blaze Jordan (Red Sox) - Like Bryce Harper before him Blaze received a lot of publicity for his youthful power exploits. He was thought to be a 2021 draft pick but graduated from high school one year early. Signing concerns dropped him to the third round in the 2021 draft where the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million, which could be a bargain. Blaze was hitting 500 foot homeruns as a 13 year old. There are some concerns about his ability to make contact, his speed is below average and he lacks the quickness to field the position. He may ultimately move to first base. Since he was drafted as a 17 year old, losing a season does not hurt Blaze as other players selected in 2020. He could start the 2021 season in extended spring with a promotion to full season ball or short season if the minor leagues still have short season leagues.

8. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The 2019 second round pick only played three games in 2019 because of injuries. He failed to get a hit in his 8 at bats. Rece may have more power potential than any player on this list, but the concern is that he may have more swing and miss. There is also question marks on his ability to stay at third base. His arm is strong enough to move to a corner outfield, but his lack of speed would be a detriment to his defense. Rece is the last person on this list who needed to miss the 2020 season. He will be 21 years old in September with only 8 minor league at bats. Where he ends up on defense is a big question mark. If the National League adopts the DH that may be his best position, or a move to first base.

9. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac is one of those players who spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop, but finally had to move to third because of his lack of range. His bat should be able to hit for a decent average, bordering around the .300 range. He makes good contact with the ability to take walks (57/61 walk to whiff ratio in 2019). His power should manifest itself into doubles and borderline 20 homerun power. He made his major league debut last year and hit .220 in a little over 100 at bats, a poor 8/24 walk to whiff ration a reason for the dismal performance. His defense should be above average at third because of his soft hands and strong arm. The Tigers lack an option at third base so with a good spring expect him to start at that position in 2021.

10. Kody Hoese (Dodgers) - A 2019 first round pick who showed some pop and hit for average in his brief 41 game performance in the minors. At 6′4″ he has good length to carry the ball when he makes contact. He also has the patience to take walks and the contact ability to avoid high strikeout rates. Lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield, but there is enough power in his bat for a move to first base. His defense should be passable to settle at third base. Kody will be turning 24 during the 2021 season so he needs to advance quickly. Expect him to start the season in AA with a good spring.

Top Second Base Prospects

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Finding prospects at second base is one of the more difficult challenges. These players are usually shortstops who failed to make it at that position because another player was better. Myworld does not want to guess what shortstops will eventually move to second so the players on this list have played some games at second base, even though for some their primary position may still be shortstop.

1. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - Myworld likes his speed. The Rays are deep at shortstop with major leaguer Willy Adames and minor leaguers Wander Franco, the top prospect in baseball and the smooth fielding Xavier Edwards. Vidal was a bargain basement $15,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic. He is probably the fastest player on this list, stealing over 100 bases combined the last two years. He does not have a lot of power but he has hit over .300 in two of his five seasons. He is primarily a second baseman but last year played some shortstop. He has the range and the arm for short but his defensive tools are better suited at second. He did not see any time last year, but should start 2021 at AAA with the likelihood of making his major league debut.

2. Jeter Downs (Red Sox) - Jeter was drafted as a supplemental first round pick in 2017 by the Reds and has already played for three different teams. The Reds traded him to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade and in 2020 the Red Sox acquired him in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. His primary position is shortstop, named after one of the best in the game (Derek Jeter) but his tools may be better for second base. There is some pop in his bat as his 24 homeruns in 2019 showed. He did not play any last year. He also has enough speed to steal bases with 61 in the last two seasons. In 2019 he was a 20/20 player. While he has yet to hit for average (.267) he does show the ability to take walks with OBAs above .350 the last three years. He has only played in 12 games at AA but could make his major league debut in 2021 with a good minor league season. Second base is a wide open position for the Red Sox.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - The 2018 first round pick is said to also be skilled at shortstop, but he has lived at second base during his college and professional career. He lacks power but can spray the ball to all fields with line drives. At 5′8″ power is not expected, but as he matures he could elevate his homerun numbers to double figures. He has hit over .300 at every level he has played, including a 29 game major league debut last year when he hit .340. Only three of his 35 hits with the White Sox went for extra bases. In his two year minor league career he had a 51/21 walk to whiff ratio, so he makes contact with the best of them. He should be the White Sox second baseman starting the 2021 season.

4. Michael Busch (Dodgers) - Busch was the Dodgers first round pick in 2019. He only played 10 games in the minor leagues until an injury ended his season, hitting just .125, but with an impressive 7/5 walk to whiff ratio for a .371 OBA. He lacks speed and has a below average arm playing primarily at left field and first base in college. He lacks the power teams look for at first base but it should consistently be 20 plus with an average near .300. The lost season did not help in his development, especially defensively, where the Dodgers were hoping he could fit at second base. Expect him to start the 2021 season at A ball. The Dodgers are hoping he will provide solid offensive tools for the position and be adequate defensively.

5. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels drafted Jones in the second round in 2015 as an outfielder. With a crowded outfield they moved him to second base after his first season, a position he had played in high school. The last two seasons in the minor leagues he has failed to hit over .250. He made his major league debut last year and hit .429 in seven at bats. He does not have a lot of power so he needs to hit for a better average to be an effective major league player. The patience is there to take walks and the speed exists to steal 20 plus bases a year. He has the versatility to play outfield so his ultimate role could be as a utility player in the outfield and at second base. A good spring could see him start the season at the major league level, but expect some time at AAA to start the season to further develop his offensive tools.

6. Justin Foscue (Rangers) - The first round 2020 pick led Mississippi State to a couple college World Series. His lack of speed makes outfield a question so the Rangers are hoping he will be an offensive second baseman who can provide adequate defense. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns a year. He did play third base his first year at Mississippi State so that is another defensive option. He has yet to play in the minor leagues. Expect him to start the 2021 season in A ball.

7. Aaron Bracho (Indians) - Aaron was signed out of Venezuela in 2017 for $1.5 million. He did not play in the minor leagues until 2019, never getting past rookie ball. He showed some pretty good sock with a .570 slugging and good patience at the plate with a 28/29 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are just average, which makes playing shortstop a stretch for him. The tools for playing second base should make him an above average defensive player with the offensive capability to hit 20 plus homeruns per year. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball and hope to continue his offensive exploits to the major leagues in 2022.

8. Xavier Edwards (Rays) - The 2018 supplemental first round pick is a smooth fielder with an arm that lacks the strength of a true shortstop. He spent most of the 2019 season at second base. The Rays acquired him from the Padres in the Tommy Pham/Jacob Cronenworth trade. Now that Hunter Renfroe has been released Xavier may be the only piece to make that trade look good. The bat lacks power but he does carry a .326 minor league average with an excellent 75/79 walk to whiff ratio. The speed is there to steal bases with 56 in his two years. So while he will lack power there are other tools in his game that will make him an offensive force. Next year he should see time in AA and could make a September debut with a solid minor league season.

9. Brice Turang (Brewers) - The 2018 first round pick was a star on the junior circuit of the United States national team. The tools exist for him to play shortstop, but he would be no more than average at that position. With a potent line drive bat and excellent speed he could be a major contributor at second base. His power has not really developed yet, but it could come with a little more maturation and elevation in his swing. Currently he is a gap hitter with the ability to use his speed to stretch bases. He stole 30 bases last season. If the power develops he could turn into a 20/20 player but expect the homerun numbers to settle in the teens. There is still some development time needed so 2021 should be spent in AA with a major league debut time somewhere in 2022.

10. Nick Gonzales (Pirates) - Another 2020 first round pick, the seventh player taken overall. He has had some pretty impressive hitting numbers where ever he has played, but many feel his numbers at New Mexico State were inflated because of the environment. Not having a 2020 season raises questions about his offensive abilities. There is the ability to make contact and he showed some power in the Cape Cod League with seven homeruns, including a .351 average. He lacks the range and the power arm to play short, but his defensive tools should make him a solid second baseman. The 2021 season will see him start in A ball. How fast he moves up will be dependent on how well he hits.

Top Venezuelan Prospects - American League

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Venezuela has not kept up with the Dominican Republic in the last couple years with the number of premium prospects coming out of the country. Cuba was at the point of surpassing them, but the United States placing further restrictions on travel from Cuba made it more difficult for Cuban ball players to emigrate. With the perceived dangers out of Venezuela the scouting has been reduced and teams move their Venezuelan prospects to Dominican facilities to work out.

In the American League some prospects from last year’s list have dropped. Luis Rengifo and Luis Arraez are two players who graduated to the major leagues. Rengifo, the number seven prospect last year will probably end up in a utility role while Arraez, who fell a spot behind him will have a couple years as a starter. His lack of power will require him to continue to hit for average if he hopes to keep his starting role. One player was traded to the National League.

Below are the top ten prospects out of Venezuela from the American League. No real superstars from this bunch, but some solid major league possibilities. A bucket load of shortstops on this list, many of whom will have to turn to third or second base.

1. Aaron Bracho 2B (Indians) - The Indians spent $1.5 million to sign him in 2017. Aaron does not have one outstanding tool, but also has no weak points to his game. He missed the 2018 season because of an arm injury so he didn’t even make the top ten list last year. Now he is number one in what is not an illuminating group. Last year he hit .281 with a .570 slugging percentage. His 28/29 walk to whiff ratio for a .402 OBA was impressive. The tools are there for him to be an average shortstop but the Indians had him playing second base last year to get his bat in the lineup. Currently his power is more oriented towards the gap but as he matures he should consistently hit in the double digit homerun area. If the season ever starts he could begin it in Low A, but at 19 years old he has plenty of time to develop.

2. Brayan Rocchio SS (Indians) - Another 2017 signing, but at $125,000 the Indians may have gotten a better bargain. His defensive tools for playing shortstop are better than Bracho, with the arm a little above average and his legs carrying faster speed, which results in better range. What Brayan lacks is power. Last year was his second season in short season ball after having success in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League in 2018, hitting .335 at the two levels. Last year was not as strong in the New York Penn League, with his average dropping to .250 and his slugging at .373. He is noted for his high baseball IQ which has given him the nickname professor. He is a little ahead of Bracho on the depth chart, but they should be the infield combo at Low A next year.

3. Maximo Acosta SS (Rangers) - Maximo is the third new player on this list. The Rangers signed him in 2019 for $1.65 million. He has yet to play in the minor leagues, but his tools are strong enough to carry a lot of buzz. The defensive tools, including strong arm and decent range are there for him to play shortstop. The bat is also strong and should hit for a high average and develop some easy double digit homerun power. The 2020 season will be an indication of whether all of that is true. Kevin Maitan also had all those accolades and as his tools failed to progress he dropped off the list. The 2020 season will be a critical one. He could start it in the Dominican League or stateside in the Rookie League. He will be 17 years of age, young to be playing stateside.

4. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox) - Back in 2013 the Red Sox signed Darwinzon for just $7,500. Six years later he made his Red Sox debut, pitching mainly in the bullpen with 28 relief appearances and one start. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and has a little more zip to it when in the bullpen. He was a starter in the minor leagues, but a lack of command and inconsistent secondary pitches make the bullpen the best fit for him. He gets a lot of whiffs, averaging 16.9 strikeouts per 9 innings in his 29 major league appearances, but he also walked 26 batters in just 30 innings. The inability to throw strikes will lead to greater pitch counts and shorter innings, so the bullpen will be best. He should start the 2020 season in the Red Sox bullpen but that will depend on his second spring whenever the baseball season starts again. Last year Darwinzon was sixth on this list. He becomes the first player from last year to make this year’s list, though the number one player Brusdar Graterol was traded to the National League.

5. Oswaldo Peraza SS (Yankees) - The fourth middle infielder to make this list and the third shorstop. Oswaldo was signed by the Yankees for $175,000 in 2016 when they were restricted to signing players for $300,000 or less. The tool set is there for him to be an above average defensive shortstop with a strong arm and good range. He makes solid contact with the bat, though his ability to hit for power is below average. Last year he hit .263 with a .340 slugging, but he did make his debut in Low A, hitting .273 with a 16/28 walk to whiff ratio. Oswaldo has the speed to steal bases, swiping 23 last year, 18 of them in Low A. He is still a teenager and won’t turn 20 until June. Expect him to have another go at Low A with an early promotion to High A if he does well.

6. Franklin Perez RHP (Tigers) - Franklin was number two on this list last year. The Astros signed him for $1 million back in 2014 and he worked his way up to being their top prospect. They traded him to Detroit as the key player in the Justin Verlander trade in 2017. Injuries have only allowed Franklin to work 27 innings in nine starts the last couple years. It may be best to see how he handles the bullpen. When healthy Franklin can get his fastball into the mid-90s, but shoulder issues have put those velocities in question. His secondary pitches also had the potential to be above average pitches, with his changeup being his top pitch. Last year he only had two starts in High A. The 2020 season will be key. At 22 years of age his prospect clock is ticking. The Tigers have to hope to get him some AA time before the season ends so he can be ready for his major league debut sometime in 2021.

7. Luisangel Acuna SS (Rangers) - Luisangel is the brother of Ronald. Those are some big shoes to fill. He would like to have bigger shoes as he stands only 5′8″ to 5′9″. His brother can tell Luisangel the story of how a team told him to go home because he was too small to play baseball. Ronald grew to a nice 6′0″. Luisangel signed for a bigger bonus that his brother, his $425,000 more than $300,000 greater than his older brother. He also plays a different position, though he has the speed and the arm to play centerfield. He lacks the power of his brother, but at 17 he could still grow. Last year in the Dominican Summer League he raked for a .342 average, stealing 17 bases and producing an impressive 34/26 walk to whiff ratio. The 2020 season should see him in the short season leagues where the pitching will be much better.

8. Gabriel Rodriguez SS (Indians) - This is the third Indian middle infielder on this list. The Indians rolled out $2.1 million for Gabriel in 2018. He made his debut last year in the Dominican Summer League and was later promoted to the Rookie League for 18 games, where he only hit .218. He doesn’t carry any one outstanding tool, but tends to be above average in all phases. At 6′2″ the power could develop as he matures. This could slow him down defensively and force a move to third. The 2020 season should see another year in Rookie ball with a promotion to Low A towards the end of the year.

9. Arol Vera SS (Angels) - The seventh middle infielder among this group. A lot of unknowns about him since he signed in 2019 and didn’t play any minor league ball. Since the Angels paid $2 million to sign him the skills have got to be there. Currently he is an average runner, which could get worse as he matures, so a move to third base is probable. The power is there for him to make the move. The Angels like his intangibles. Arol could start the season in Rookie ball in 2020.

10. Everson Pereira OF (Yankees) - The tenth spot is what he occupied last year. A disappointing season (.171) and injuries (hamstring and ankle) limited him to 18 games. He was not on this list until Brusdar Graterol got traded from the American League to the National. The Yankees opened up their pocketbook to pay Everson $1.5 million in 2017. The tools are all there, with power, speed, arm and the ability to hit for average. He will still be a teenager for the entire 2020 season so another start in Rookie ball with a promotion to Low A before the season ends would be good for him.