Archive for the 'Indians' Category

Holt and Red Sox Embarrass Yankees

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Not a lot of close games as the Dodgers and Astros advance. The Red Sox embarrassed the Yankees in New York.

Boston Red Sox 16 Yankees 1

The utility player Brock Holt became the first player ever to hit for the cycle in a post season game in the Red Sox 16-1 rout over the Yankees. He finished the cycle with a two run homerun in the ninth inning off Yankee catcher Austin Romine. The first two games of the series saw him sit the bench.

Nathan Eovoldi was making his post season debut. At one time Eovoldi had pitched for the Yankees with minimal success. He had started the season with the Rays but was traded to the Red Sox in July. He has also pitched for the Dodgers and Marlins, missing the 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery. Yesterday he saved the Red Sox bullpen working seven innings and allowing just one run to get his post season win, lighting up the radar gun with a half dozen pitches that hit triple digits.

The Red Sox blew the game away with a seven run fourth inning, Holt capping the inning with his hardest hit, a two run triple.

Houston Astros 11 Cleveland Indians 3

The Astros completed their sweep against the Indians. The Indians had a 2-1 lead after five. The Astros battered the Indians bullpen for 10 runs in the next three innings, a six run eighth putting the game out of reach. Collin McHugh got the win with his two innings of shutout ball. McHugh was bumped to the bullpen because he did not make the starting rotation after spring training. He shined with the shorter role.

George Springer went deep with two solo shots and Carlos Correa blasted a three run homer in the six run eighth. Marwin Gonzalez got the big hit for the Astros with a two run double to break a 2-2 tie.

Los Angeles Dodgers 6 Atlanta Braves 2

David Freese has been a clutch post season performer. In 2011 he slugged five homeruns and drove in 21 in 18 post season games. This year the Dodgers acquired Freese from the Pirates to be a role player. The role he was asked to play last night was as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning with the Braves ahead 2-1. Freese put the Dodgers back on top with his two run single. Machado clinched the post season series with his three run homer in the seventh. Neither player was on the Dodgers roster when the season started.

The Dodgers will now face the Brewers in the National League championship series. Kershaw and not Ryu will get the opening nod start for the Dodgers.

Sanchez Leads Yankees; Astros Dominate Indians

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Only two games today. Hard to find obscure players who made an impact in the games from yesterday.

Gary Sanchez has struggled with his 2018 season. The homeruns have come (18) but the batting average has suffered (.186). He has also been limited to just 89 games because of injury. Last year he slugged 33 homeruns while hitting .278 in his sophomore season.

Last night Sanchez looked more like the 2017 version than the 2.0 of 2018. He hit a solo homerun in the second and a three run job in the seventh to lead the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox. The Yankees seem to have David Price number and last night he did not survive past the second inning. He also gave up a solo homerun to Aaron Judge in the first inning. For Gary Sanchez his homerun off Price was his sixth off him in just 14 career at bats. Talk about owning a pitcher.

While Price wilted, falling to 2-9 with a 5.28 ERA in playoff games, Masahiro Tanaka looked strong. He allowed just one Red Sox run in his five innings of work, a Xander Boegarts solo shot in the fourth. Tanaka was a big game pitcher in the playoffs in Japan and he is proving that in the United States, going 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts.

The win evens up the series between the Yankees and the Red Sox at one game apiece.

Marwin Gonzalez was originally a Chicago Cub. He was picked up by the Red Sox on waivers in 2011 and then traded to the Astros for Marco Antonio Duarte. The utility player who is actually a starter, it just depends on what position he plays that day, went a perfect 4 for 4 playing left field to lead the Astros over the Indians 3-1. It was Gonzalez two run double in the sixth inning that gave the Astros a 2-1 lead.

Gerritt Cole, who was originally drafted by the Yankees as a first round pick, but failed to sign, dominated the Indians with 12 whiffs in seven innings. Francisco Lindor blasted a homerun off him in third inning for the only blemish in his game.

The Astros now lead their series against the Indians two games to zero.

Unsung Heroes in this Foursome of Playoff Games

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Myworld continues to look at some of the unsung heroes in these playoff games. Those players who were not really expected to contribute, especially when you looked at their career path before the 2018 season started.

Houston Astros 7 Cleveland Indians 2

The usual suspects in George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve went deep in the Astros win. An unusual suspect also went deep in Martin Maldonado, a seventh inning shot that turned the momentum on the Indians. The Indians had scored two in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2 but Maldonado’s solo shot in the seventh tamed their celebratory mood. Prior to the season Maldonado was an Angel. The Astros acquired him after an injury to Brian McCann. They liked his defense. Yesterday they liked his offense as well. To many Astro fans he has become an angel.

Justin Verlander did not allow a hit through the first five innings. When he got in trouble in the sixth, giving up two runs the Astros called on Ryan Pressly, not a usual choice in the Astros pen. Pressly also started his 2018 season with another team (the Minnesota Twins) stitching together an ERA north of 3 in his six years with Minnesota. Since being acquired from the Twins Pressly has appeared in 26 games with the Astros, limiting the opposition to a 0.77 ERA and a .136 opposition average. He retired all five hitters he faced, striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning, though he did allow both inherited runners to score on a wild pitch and a ground out.

Boston Red Sox 5 New York Yankees 4

J.D. Martinez slugged a three run homer for the Red Sox. There were no unsung heroes unless you want to tout the defensive play of Sandy Leon behind the plate, stopping many balls from crashing into the back stop.

Milwaukee Brewers 4 Colorado Rockies 0

The Brewers went up 2-0 on the Rockies. The pitching staff shut down the Rockies offense, but it was the usual suspects quieting the bats. For the Brewers it was their tenth straight win.

Myworld has to go to our third catcher named as an unsung hero, the 38 year old Erik Kratz, who was appearing in his first playoff game in his career, a career that has always found him as the back up catcher for the seven or so major league teams he has played for since 2010. He started this year as the back up catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting only .236 during the regular season, which was above his .211 career average. Yesterday, besides calling a good game that did not allow the Rockies a run, he also got a clutch hit in the eighth inning, a two run single that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. It has been since 1905 when a position player older than Erik Kratz started his first playoff game, that player being the equally non-descript Lave Cross, a third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Asked if that was the biggest hit of his career Kratz remarked that he did hit a homerun in a AAA playoff game. Come on Erik. I’d take a two run single in a major league playoff game over a homerun in AAA.

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 Atlanta Braves 0

The Braves bats have certainly had a power outage. After being shutout by Ryu the day before they were also shutout by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw pitched 8 innings of shutout ball, striking out three. Manny Machado swatted a two run homer in the first and Yasmani Grandal hit a solo shot in the fifth. This game was absent unsung heroes, but in the playoffs Kershaw has always struggled. Coming into this playoff game his playoff ERA sat at 4.35. The eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.05. That still falls far short of his career regular season ERA of 2.39.

AL Central All Stars

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Baseball America broke out their classification All Star teams. These are the players from the AL Central to make the team.

Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez OF (AAA/AA) - He could be the next super star in baseball. The Cubs originally signed him but included him in a trade for Jose Quintana. He hits for power and average but lacks the speed and the arm to be a five tool player. His lack of defensive tools will limit him to left field where he could end up being a force like J.D. Martinez.

Michael Kopech RHP (AAA) - Tommy John surgery will set him back a year. Just when he appeared to get command of his pitches he suffers a set back. One of the hardest throwers in baseball, Michael was originally a Red Sox but included in the Chris Sale deal. Control was his main weakness but in four major league starts he only walked two in 14 innings.

Rigo Fernandez LH Relief (Rookie) - A 24th round pick in the 2018 draft had an excellent rookie season, saving 8 games and finishing with a 1.87 ERA. Opponents hit him at a .178 clip. The lefthander does not have dominating stuff, so his prospect status will be dictated by how well he performs at higher levels.

Cleveland Indians

Tyler Freeman SS (SS) - A 2017 pick may lack the defensive tools to be a shortstop. Currently his power is restricted towards the gap, but it could grow as he matures and learns how to pull pitches. Last year he powered 29 doubles which accounted for his .511 slugging average. His best bet may be as a second baseman or utility player.

Luis Oviedo SP (SS) - The Venezuelan does not have an overpowering fastball but it carries enough movement to get a lot of swings and misses at the lower levels. At 6′4″ the fastball could carry more heat as he matures. Currently it sits in the low 90s but it can hit the mid-90s. The change is his best secondary pitch. The biggest decision for Luis is whether he should focus on his slider or curve as his breaking pitch.

Detroit Tigers

Rodolfo Fajardo SP (Dominican) - This was his second year in the Dominican summer league. His ERA dropped more than two runs to 1.07 in 13 starts. Next year he should make it state side.

Kansas City Royals

Marcelo Martinez LH SP (Rookie) - Last year Martinez pitched in the Mexican League. In the Rookie League he had back to back games where he struck out 12 and 10 hitters. In the latter game he threw six no hit innings before he relieved. The Mexican native did strike out 71 in 57 innings but at age 22 he was old for the league.

Minnesota Twins

Stephen Gonsalves LHSP (AAA) - The lefty will not wow you with his heat but he will dazzle you with his change and the location of his pitches. At AAA he limited the opposition to a .187 average. Once promoted to the major leagues the hitters there did not find his stuff so dazzling, ripping him for a .291 average. Stephen is a pitcher who survives on his location and in the major leagues he walked 18 hitters in 21 innings. He needs to show better control if he is to survive.

Alex Kirilloff OF (High and Low A) - Despite his Tommy John surgery last year myworld thought he had the best arm of the outfielders in the Future’s game. He does carry enough power to hit for 20 plus homeruns. The 2015 first round pick makes excellent contact, giving him a .348 average in A ball.

Royce Lewis SS (Low A) - The first pick in the 2017 draft has borderline defensive tools to stay at short. His arm and range are not great but his bat is strong and his speed is electrifying. Last year he stole 84 bases in A ball. If Byron Buxton does not pan out don’t be surprised with a move to center field, where his speed could cover tons of acreage.

Ryan Jeffers C (Rookie) - The second round 2018 pick tore through the rookie league hitting .422 with a 1.121 OPS. He walked 20 times to his 16 K’s. He found the promotion to Low A a bit more challenging, hitting .288 with a .807 OPS, still good numbers.

Victor Heredia 1B (Dominican) - Victor found his second season in the Dominican League beneficial, hitting .330 with 8 homeruns. He raised his OPS 200 points from .708 to .906. As a right handed hitting first baseman, he has not shown over whelming power, which could be a deciding factor when determining major league service time.

Myworld’s Top Righthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Myworld tends to gravitate towards heat but the reality is that those pitchers who can record outs win games. It does not matter how hard a pitcher throws the ball if they fail to record outs. Below is myworld’s top 20 right handed pitchers, excluding any 2018 draft picks. Since there is so much talent here we thought we would expand the list.

1. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He may not throw the ball as hard as a number of pitchers on this list but he still gets it to the plate in the mid-90s. He also has a good curve and change with control to throw the pitch to the four quadrants of the plate. He has a history of retiring hitters, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and limiting the opposition to a .215 average coming into the 2018 season. In six starts in AAA he is finally struggling (6.67 ERA) but he is struggling with his command. He should be in the Pirates rotation by mid-season 2019 if not making the Pirates rotation at the beginning of the year with a good spring.

2. Forest Whitley (Astros) - The Astros have traded a number of prospects but they have kept their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ 240 pounds he has an intimidating presence on the mound. That size and mass also allows him to zip the ball across the plate in the mid 90s. He also carries a hard slider that drops down, hitting the radar in the low 90s. His swing and miss offerings gave him 13.7 whiffs per nine innings his first two seasons. A 50 game suspension for violating major league baseball’s drug testing forced him to miss the first part of the 2018 season. After six starts an oblique injury has knocked him out since July. The good news is none of that missed time is attributed to an arm injury, but it does stall his development process.

3. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox drafted him in the first round in 2014. They included him in a trade to acquire Chris Sale. After watching Chris Sale throw in the high 90s on Sunday myworld does not see Kopech reaching that level. He may throw harder, hitting in the triple digits more consistently than Sale but he lacks the command of his pitches. In his last six starts in AAA he has been having success, giving up two or fewer runs to lower his ERA to 3.81. With Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito already in the rotation Kopech should join them at some point next season. It is possible he could get a September callup if the White Sox want to use a 40 man roster spot on him.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - As his heat rises so does the Dominicans prospect status rises. His fastball has been clocked in the triple digits, but sits in the mid-90s. The fastball also explodes towards the plate after hitters see his plus changeup. His last four starts Sixto had only given up two earned runs in 25.2 innings of work, walking 4 and striking out 29. Elbow tenderness put him on the disabled list after his June 3 start. The Phillies say it is minor but June has turned to August and Sixto has still not pitched. The way he had been dominating he possibly could have helped the Phillies in their pennant drive.

5. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - The Rays second round 2014 supplemental pick had an opportunity to make the Rays rotation to begin the 2018 season. An elbow issue resulted in Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season. He will probably not be ready to pitch for the Rays until 2020 since most of the 2019 season will be subject to rehabilitation and pitch counts. Prior to the surgery his fastball hit the mid-90s and he had a full repertoire of pitches that included a screwball. Time will tell how those pitches will be impacted after the surgery. His command was good but it may take some time for him to recover after the surgery.

6. Mike Soroka (Braves) - The Braves 2015 first round pick out of Canada was originally not on the list. The Braves had called him up in May and it appeared he would be a part of that rotation. Shoulder issues have not allowed him to pitch since June and his season appears done after just five major league starts, retaining his prospect status. He is a pitcher who does not have a dominating fastball, sitting in the low 90s, but he has good command and a dropping slider that retires hitters. AAA hitters could only hit .204 against him this year. Major league hitters had a little more success (.288). It will take an impressive spring for Soroka to start the 2019 season in the major leagues. The Braves will want to be patient with him and control his pitch counts early in the 2019 season.

7. Hunter Greene (Reds) - Another hard thrower who consistently hit triple digits with his fastball. The 2017 first round pick was sidelined by the elbow sprain that requires Tommy John surgery. This will sideline him for most of next year. He struggled last season and at the beginning of the 2018 season. Just as he was starting to pitch well he experienced the elbow pain. At the end of May his ERA sat at 7.18. When he was placed on the disabled list his ERA dropped to 4.48. The surgery will delay his major league debut until at least 2021. His best use may also be out of the pen.

8. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - When the 2015 first round supplemental pick puts some more meat on his 6′5″ 165 pound frame the low 90s fastball should juice up to the mid 90s. His long arms give him a nice whip like action and his curveball is a good swing and miss pitch. A solid change gives him three good pitches with good command of those pitches despite his height. In AA the opposition is hitting just .204 against him. Coming into this season he had a career .196 opposition average. Triston is tough to hit with his flailing arms firing darts across the plate. Expect him to make his major league debut sometime next year and be a fixture in the Indians rotation by 2019.

9. Dylan Cease (White Sox) - The Cubs are always looking for pitchers but they traded their sixth round 2104 pick to acquire Jose Quintana. Dylan has always had trouble finding command of his pitches and developing a third pitch to make it as a starter. His fastball has hit triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s and his curve is a decent swing and miss pitch. It appears his command and change are improving. After pitching well in the Carolina League (2.89 ERA) he was promoted to the Southern League where he has pitched even better (1.94 ERA). In eight starts the opposition is hitting just .170 against him with 64 whiffs in 46 innings. Hitters have petitioned for a cease and desist order on his fastball. The White Sox rotation is packed in the minor leagues, but with this kind of success next year he should earn his way into the rotation.

10. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Whether it is a drug suspension, Tommy John surgery or back injuries, some event has been blocking Alex from pitching in the major leagues. At one point he was the top pitching prospect in baseball. He should have been in a major league rotation two years ago. There are not an infinite number of next years that he can count on. His fastball flashes across the plate in the mid to upper 90s. His curve and change are quality pitches. The one knock you could have on him was his lack of command. With all this inactivity that may be more of an issue. At this point he may have to settle for bullpen work just to stay healthy. The one bright spot of last season is he did get four starts in the minor leagues without allowing a run in 23 innings and followed that up with one start in the majors without allowing a run in four innings. That is 27 innings without allowing a run in 2018. Expect him to get a major league opportunity next year working out of the bullpen to begin the season.

11. Touki Toussaint (Braves) - The Diamondbacks traded their 2014 first round pick to dump salary (Bronson Arroyo) because they felt he would never find the plate. His early years he struggled with ERAs at 5 or greater. At 6′3″ he had good pitcher’s height and with a fastball in the high 90s he was someone the Braves felt they could be patient on. The light bulb has turned on this year for Touki with a 2.93 ERA and .208 opposition average in the minor leagues in 16 AA starts. That led to a promotion to AAA where the success continued (2.01 ERA). Last night he made his major league debut, and though it was only the Marlins he held them to one run on two hits in six innings. The Braves have a number of pitchers competing for the starting rotation but Touki has elevated his status with his 2018 season.

12. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - It has not been a good season for the Tigers top prospect coming into this season. He was one of the players they acquired at the beginning of the season for Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with a mid-90s fastball you expect domination. Injuries have limited him to seven starts this season, starting with his back and moving to his shoulder. Those seven starts produced a 6.52 ERA. The Tigers will hope for better next year.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - The 6′8″ Cuban flamethrower will be a force in a couple years. A fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a devastating change is a duo leaving hitters perplexed. He also squeezes in a curve and a slider. This is his second season in the States and he has already reached AA. He was mesmerizing in his 17 AA starts (2.91 ERA) with an opposition average of .229 and 92 whiffs in 86.2 innings. A little hiccup in his first AA start (11.57 ERA) shows he has some work to do. The rebuilding Padres hope he will be ready for their rotation in 2020 when he makes his major league debut.

14. Matt Manning (Tigers) - It is tempting to rate the 2016 first round pick ahead of Perez. He is having a solid season in the minors, pitching well enough in Low A (3.40 ERA) to get a promotion to High A (2.90 ERA). During that time the opposition is hitting just .205 against him. His fastball touches the mid-90s with a solid curve and change combination. What keeps him behind Perez is his lack of command. At 6′6″ that may take some time to improve. He has walked 44 in his 96 innings this year, which is a slight improvement over his walk rate last year. Next year he should hit AA and then compete for the rotation of the rebuilding Tigers in 2020.

15. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year there was no pitcher as dominating as Duplantier. The last pitcher to have an ERA lower than 1.39 in the minors was the Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. This year the third round 2016 pick has not been as dominating, but most pitchers would take his numbers (2.03 ERA, .200 opposition average). Injuries delayed the start of his season and bicep tendinitis sidelined him for two months. He missed much of the 2016 season with injuries. If he can avoid those injuries his low to mid-90s fastball, slider, curve and change are enough to retire hitters better than most pitchers. With the success he is having at AA he could reach AAA next year and perhaps compete for a rotation spot in spring training.

16. Kyle Wright (Braves) - The 2017 first round pick can get his fastball in the upper 90s. At 6′4″ he has a good frame with the requisite quality secondary pitches to dominate in the rotation (slider, curve and change). Drafted out of college the Braves have moved him up their minor league system quickly, giving him six starts at High A last year (3.18) ERA) and moving him through AA and AAA this year (3.59 ERA). His numbers are kind of blah (less than a strikeout per inning and a .232 opposition average) and myworld has not seen him pitch, which is a reason for the lower rating. Myworld expects him to compete for a spot with the other young hurlers for a Braves rotation spot in 2019.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - At 6′1″ Adonis lacks the height scouts look for in their right handed starting pitchers. His low to mid-90s fastball and quality change are enough to put the Dominican on this list. His struggles in High A (4.63 ERA) made it tempting not to include him. He has almost hit as many batters (9) as he has given up homeruns (10). Right now he needs to develop consistency. There are too many dominating outings where he hits double digits in strikeouts mixed in with clunkers where he gives up seven runs. The dominating outings show his potential. Next year he should reach AA and if he finds that consistency he could be competing for a rotation spot in 2020.

18. Alex Faedo (Tigers) - Alex dominated in the 2017 College World Series and the Tigers selected him with their first round pick in 2017. With the number of innings he pitched last year in college the Tigers shut him down for the minor league season. This year the Tigers have been aggressive with Alex starting him in High A and promoting him to AA. He has had his struggles in AA (4.54 ERA) giving up 11 homeruns in just 39.2 innings. The slider was his swing and miss pitch in college but he needs to use his mid-90s fastball to set up his slider to the major league hitters. If they know it is coming they won’t swing at the pitch. With his struggles at AA the Tigers may start him there in 2019. A mid-season promotion to the majors is a possibility but don’t expect to see him as a permanent piece in the rotation until 2020.

19. Albert Abreu (Marlins) - He has the tag of the hardest thrower in the minors. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. He hits triple digits with regularity with his fastball and his curve and change are good enough to reach the majors as a starter. Last year he got 9 starts in the Florida State League (4.19 ERA). This year injuries have seem him bounce on and off the disabled list keeping him at High A where his numbers have not shown improvement (4.30 ERA). As hard as he throws he doesn’t stack up a lot of strikeouts. Next year he should get his shot at AA.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - Tommy John surgery prevented the Venezuelan from playing in 2016. When he was hitting triple digits with his fastball in 2017 the scouts took notice. He has a good fastball/slider combination with the requisite secondary pitches to make it as a starter. This year he dominated in Low A (2.18 ERA) which got him a promotion to High A. There he has had his struggles (4.06 ERA, .287 opposition average) in his seven starts. If he can stay healthy he will compete for a Twins starting rotation spot in 2021. At 19 years of age he has plenty of time to learn his stuff.

The All Star Contact/Power Lineup

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Strikeouts and homeruns are up. Most like the latter but abhor the former. Myworld takes a look at the players who hit for power at their positions but like to make contact, or at least take as many walks as they strikeout. Excitement usually pervades their at bats.

Buster Posey (C) Giants - He has been a little short in the power department this year compared to past years, but there is a shortage of catchers who make contact. Buster almost wins this by default with a 38/45 walk to whiff ratio and five taters. He has peppered the gaps for 22 doubles.

Joey Votto (1B) Reds - In most years it would be Miguel Cabrera. He has been injured for most of the year. Joey Votto has been healthy but has not found his power swing this year, limited to just nine dingers. He does have an impressive 85/72 walk to whiff ratio. That is a lot of non-contact.

Alex Bregman (2B) Astros - We had to move him to second base, the position he would probably play if Altuve was not there and Correa did not occupy short. Alex has already surpassed his homerun numbers from last year with 22 bombs. He also has a 62/61 walk to whiff ratio.

Manny Machado (SS) Orioles/Dodgers - This has been the best year for Manny in his walk to whiff ratio (56/68). He has also stroked 26 balls over the fence. When Manny comes up to the plate the concessions get empty.

Jose Ramirez (3B) Indians - Where did this guy come from? He hit 13 homeruns in his five minor league seasons. He has 32 this year after hitting 29 last year. His 70/51 walk to whiff ratio is impressive as well.

Juan Soto (LF) Nationals - Juan is on his way to breaking the record for most walks in a season by a teenager and he missed the first couple months of the season. When he learns to pull the ball on certain pitches the balls should start flying out of Nationals stadium with greater regularity. He already has 13 this year with a 43/48 walk to whiff ratio.

Mike Trout (CF) Angels - The best player in the game today. He is prone to striking out, but he also walks a ton (99/97 walk to whiff ratio). He also sends balls out of the park with great consistency (21 homeruns).

Mookie Betts (RF) Red Sox - At 5′9″ he is not a big guy, but he carries plenty of wallop with 25 homeruns and a 50/54 walk to whiff ratio.

Bradley and McKenzie Lead the RubberDucks

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Myworld made his second visit in three days to Prince George Stadium to watch Triston McKenzie pitch. He went seven innings, facing trouble in only one inning when he tried to use his change up more. The Akron RubberDucks went on to beat the Bowie Bay Sox 6-4, with three three run homers accounting for most of the scoring.

Luis Ysla got the start for the Bay Sox. He was acquired from the Dodgers for Jesus Liranza. We liked the potential of the 100 mile per hour fastball of Liranza better, but when you put a player on waivers you rarely get an equal return. Ysla had trouble finding the plate. A single and hit batsman in the first inning put two runners on for Bobby Bradley. He had already hit three homeruns in this series against the Bay Sox. He made it four with a high, majestic shot over the second wall in right field to give the Rubber Ducks an early 3-0 lead.

Ysla got in trouble again in the fourth. A walk and hit batsman put two runners on for Joe Sever. Sever lined a pitch over the left field fence to give the RubberDucks a commanding 6-0 lead.

McKenzie was sharp for Akron. His fastball sat at 90-91, but with two strikes on the hitters he gassed it to 93. At 6′5″ his arms are long and at 165 his frame is thin, so he needs to fill out. His curve ball has a decent break but still needs more consistency. The pitch that still needs a lot of work is his change. He tried using it in the fourth, but it comes to the plate at 87-88, which is too near his fastball velocity (myworld is assuming that was his change). In the bottom of the fourth McKenzie walked the leadoff hitter Anthony Santander on four pitches. A single by Ryan Mountcastle put two runners on for Aderlin Rodriguez. He pulled a pitch high toward the left field line for a three run homer, pulling the Bay Sox to with in three.

McKenzie got away from his change after that and gave up just two hits in his last 3.2 innings, facing just 12 hitters. Myworld remembers him having greater velocity when we first saw him pitch in Rookie ball. We dropped him down a notch in our prospect rankings.

Matthew Grimes came in for the Bay Sox and threw five innings of shutout relief to keep them in the game. He gave up one hit, walked two and hit a batter during that stretch. The only strikeouts he recorded were to the last two hitters he faced. At 26 he could see some time with the Orioles before the season ends, if he continues to pitch this well.

Ryan McKenna was a fourth round pick of the Orioles in the 2015 draft. Don’t know what his bat will be like but his defense is excellent. He made two over the shoulder catches on balls hit to deep center field. The RubberDucks have a smooth defensive second baseman in Mark Mathias. He was a third round pick of the Indians in the 2015 draft. Can’t say his bat will get him to the major leagues.

A couple other interesting notes. Joe Sever, the RubberDucks third baseman is the nephew of John Elway. Another RubberDuck quarterback link is outfielder Ka’ai Tom, who played backup quarterback at Saint Louis High School to Marcus Mariota. At only 5′9″ myworld can see why he was not the starting quarterback. In a basketball note, Bay Sox outfielder D’Arby Myers is the cousin of Shaquille O’Neal. D’Arby only stands 6′3″ and at 185 appears better suited for playing baseball.

Bay Sox Homeruns Deflate Rubber Ducks

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

The Akron RubberDucks had won 9 straight games over the Bowie Bay Sox, including a 12-5 thrashing Monday night that reminded the Bay Sox of previous 15-0 and 18-2 losses that also happened at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie. Perhaps that is why Akron is in first place and the Bay Sox are in last.

It was a different story last night with Aderlin Rodriguez hitting a three run homer in the first and catcher Audry Perez going deep with two solo shots to give the Bay Sox a 8-4 win over the RubberDucks. For Perez he has hit 8 homeruns in his 27 games with the Bay Sox.

The Bay Sox ace pitcher Keegan Akin got the start. He showed no command, walking six hitters in his four innings of work. He walked the leadoff hitter in his first three innings, twice resulting in runs for the RubberDucks. His best inning was the fourth when he retired the side in order. This is the first time myworld has seen Akin and with a 8-5 record and 2.53 ERA we were hoping for some stuff. We came away a bit disappointed, especially with his lack of control. His fastball is not overpowering and with 32 walks in 81.2 innings he needs to learn the strike zone. At best he could be a mid-rotation starter. His breaking pitch found too much dirt, and though it got some swings and misses it will not be as effective against major league hitters if he does not find the strike zone more.

Bobby Bradley went deep with his third homerun in two games. His inability to play first base and his propensity for the swing and miss make his major league prospects doubtful. That inability to make contact has brought his average to .199, although his strikeout rate the last couple years has been better than it has been his first three years.

Branden Kline impressed me the most with his stuff. His fastball sits at 95-97. Bobby Bradley was the first batter he faced and he took his 96 mile per hour fastball over the right field fence. After that Kline settled down, striking out two and retiring the next six hitters he faced. Kline was a second round pick of the Orioles way back in 2012 but injuries have prevented him from reaching his potential. That has always seemed to be a problem for Oriole pitchers. Hunter Harvey is taking the same career path as Kline, currently on the disabled list where he has spent most of his minor league career.

Some interesting international notes about the rosters of these two teams. Leadoff hitter Tyler Krieger played for Israel in the last World Baseball Classic. He plays centerfield but myworld can’t say we see a major league player in him. Danny Salters was the son of missionaries and lived in Kenya for eight years (ages 5-13). We did like his ability to block pitches from behind the plate, but at age 25 he probably has a couple more years in the minor leagues. We did not see Kieran Lovegrove pitch, but he was born in South Africa, moving to Los Angeles at the age of five. He was a third round pick of the Indians in 2012, with 13 games in relief. He has a 0.95 ERA but 12 walks in 19 innings.

The Orioles are usually pretty boring when it comes to drafting international players. Most of their international players are signed by other teams. They do have a connection in Curacao with Calvin Maduro there. Ademar Rifaela is one of their promising outfielders from Curacao that they actually signed. His power has been a big disappointment this year. After clubbing 24 homeruns in 2017 he only has two with the Bay Sox this year. Martin Cervenka was originally signed by the Indians but the Orioles picked him up as a minor league free agent this year. He is a catcher from the Czech Republic. Myworld first saw him play in a tournament in Taiwan. His batting average has dropped to .232 and he may never hit enough to make it to the major leagues, though we were impressed with his abilities to catch.

Top Minor League Third Base Prospects

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Below are myworld’s Top minor league third base prospects for 2018. Nick Senzel would be here but we listed him as a second base prospect since we don’t anticipate him playing there with Eugenio Suarez signed to a long term contract.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) - The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr. may be the best prospect in baseball right now. He is on the disabled list currently with a leg injury. Prior to the injury his bat could not be quieted hitting .407 with 11 homeruns in AA in just 53 games. His OPS was 1.124. If not for the injury he could be up with the Blue Jays playing third base. The concerns over his inability to play the position have evaporated. His arm is strong like his dad and his glove has developed more consistency. Unlike his dad he does not swing at everything, having the patience at the plate to take a walk. His 20/21 walk to whiff ratio is impressive for a hitter with power.

2. Austin Riley (Braves) - Another player currently on the disabled list since early June. Prior to that the 2015 supplemental first round pick was tearing it up in both AA and AAA. Combined he is hitting .308 with 10 homeruns and a .922 OPS. Last year he slugged 20 homeruns. If not for the injury he also could be playing with the Braves. He does swing and miss a lot (66 in 53 games) and ideally the Braves would like to see him show more patience. This lack of patience could be exploited by major league pitchers. He has improve his quickness at third base and should be an above average defensive player.

3. Kevin Maitan (Angels) - At one point he was with the Braves signing for $4.25 million out of Venezuela in 2016. The Braves had to release him after they were found in violation of international salary cap rules. The Angels signed him for $2.2 million. Signed as a shortstop his body has gotten too stocky in the lower half to play the position. The Angels have still played him five games at short and two at third in the Rookie League this year. He has made four errors in the seven games he has played, three of them at short. His bat has been explosive with a .433 average. His only extra base hit of his 13 hits has been a homerun. Maitan is only 18 years old and should develop power as he matures in the minor leagues.

4. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The 2016 second round pick has a big time power bat. Last year he hit 15 homeruns with 33 doubles. Improving his plate discipline (35/95 walk to whiff ratio) would help improve his batting average (.256) and consistency at the plate. Waiting to swing at his pitch rather than the pitchers would increase the homerun output. This year in AA his power has dropped with only five homeruns and a .342 slugging average. His walk to whiff ratio has improved (21/44) but his batting average has not (.235). It may take him some time to acclimate to AA pitching. He should have a good glove for third though he needs to be more consistent there as well and reduce his error total (13 in 64 games).

5. Taylor Ward (Angels) - Originally drafted as a catcher in the first round of the 2015 draft the Angels felt his bat would be better served if he did not have to catch. His arm was good for behind the plate and he showed some of the other intangibles needed for catching but his bat was a disappointment. This year he moved to third and his bat has exploded, hitting .336 with 9 homeruns between AA and AAA. Defensively he has been a bit shaky with 8 errors in 47 games but the Angels hope with continued repetition he will adapt to the position. If he continues to hit as he does expect him to make his major league debut sometime in September to help the Angels make the playoffs.

6. Randy Cesar (Astros) - The Astros signed the Dominican back in 2011. He played a couple years in the Dominican League and a couple years in the short season leagues. In 2016 in the New York Penn League he showed what he could do with a .389 average. This year he is setting the Texas League on fire, breaking their record for the longest hitting streak at 37. As his frame has filled out his power is starting to develop. This year he is hitting .354 with 8 homeruns and a .927 OPS. Better patience at the plate (14/58) could enhance those numbers. His defense at third is a bit marginal with 9 errors 39 games. He also has played some first base this year to improve his versatility. Wherever he plays the Astros have a crowded position but as long as his bat plays the Astros will find room for him.

7. James Nelson (Marlins) - James was a 15th round pick in 2016. He is the nephew of former 2004 first round pick Chris Nelson, who did not have a long major league career. As a 15th round pick James does not come with the high expectations. A quick bat has produced 41 doubles in 145 games with a .302 average. That got him the Marlins player of the year award last year. This year he has spent most of his time on the disabled list. Recently activated he is hitting .300 in eight games in High A. With Brian Anderson seeing most of his time in the outfield the third base job is open for him in a couple years.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - The second round 2016 pick has a power bat, last year slugging 4 homeruns with a .482 slugging in the short season league. He showed excellent patience at the plate with 43 walks for a .430 OBA. This year that power is being shown for the first time in a full season league with 8 homeruns and a .425 slugging. His patience is still there (40 walks, .385 OBA) leading to a .266 average. Defensively he still needs to find more consistency at third, committing 13 errors in 50 games. A move to the outfield is still a possibility.

9. Colton Welker (Rockies) - The fourth round 2016 pick has Nolan Arenado in his way at third. By the time Colton is ready for the major leagues Nolan will be a free agent or signed to a long term deal. In the California League Colton is showing good pop with 7 homeruns, 16 doubles and a .448 slugging percentage. A lack of speed will prevent a move to the outfield. This year his third base play has improved so he appears to have the arm and glove for the position. A lack of quickness may impact his range, but if his bat continues to hit for power the Rockies will keep him at third.

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie was drafted in the first round by the Pirates in 2015. His power has been a disappointment, a tool he will need to play this position. Last year he only hit two homeruns with a .363 slugging. This year in AA he has improved on that with three homeruns and a.428 slugging, still a bit short of what teams are looking for in a third baseman. He is a plus defender, so if the bat develops the glove will be an asset at the position.

United States 18 and Under Team Dominates MLB Draft

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Last year in Thunder Bay Canada the United States 18 and under team won the gold medal, defeating Korea 8-0 for their fourth consecutive gold. Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in the game to get the win. Triston Casas drove in three runs with a double and homerun to trigger the offense. Brice Turang made the first team as a shortstop, Alek Thomas and Michael Siani made it as outfielders and Ethan Hankins was named the top starting pitcher. Major league teams were paying attention. Ten players on the United States 2017 18 and under World Cup team were drafted in the first round by major league teams. Only 16 high school players were taken in the first round, and that does not include Canadian Noah Taylor, who played for Canada’s 18 and under team and was drafted in the first round by the Indians giving them two world cup stars.

Below are the ten players taken in the first round of the major league draft:

6. Jarred Kelenic (OF) Mets - first high school player selected in draft
7. Ryan Weathers (LHP) Padres - didn’t allow a run in 9.2 innings. Won two games.
16. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays - won championship game, 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12 innings
19. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
21. Brice Turang (SS) Brewers - Hit .364 and made all-tournament team as shortstop
23. Anthony Siegler (C) Yankees
26. Triston Casas (3B) Red Sox - drove in 13 runs and voted MVP of the tournament
27. Mason Denaburg (RHP) Nationals
30. J.T. Ginn (RHP) Dodgers
35. Ethan Hankins (RHP) Indians - Voted top pitcher with 27 whiffs in 12 innings

Alek Thomas, who made the all tournament team as an outfielder was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round (63rd pick) and Mike Siani who also made the all tournament team was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds (109th pick).

Ryan Rolison, who played on the 2015 18 and under team was drafted in the first round (22nd pick) by the Colorado Rockies as a lefthanded pitcher out of Ole Miss.