Archive for the 'Indians' Category

Predictions - AL Central

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Myworld moves to the AL Central. Not too many surprises here though the White Sox are advancing while the Indians are starting to see some cracks in their armor.

1. Cleveland Indians

Overall - The rotation does not seem so formidable. Still, this is a very weak division they should take. Put them in the AL East or West and they might struggle a bit.

Strengths - 1) Starting Pitching. They have a Cy Young in Corey Kluber and a future Cy Young in Carlos Carrasco. Trevor Bauer is still around to give quality outings. With Danny Salazar hurting the depth is starting to thin out. Key to their season is whether the Mike Clevinger of 2016 shows up or the 2017 version.

2) Shortstop. At one time Francisco Lindor was noted for being the best defensive shortstop in the American League. Last year his bat accounted for 33 homeruns. That makes him a superstar if he can replicate that offense.

3) Set Up Reliever. Cody Allen may pick up the saves but the best reliever on this team may be Andrew Miller. The LHer limited lefties to a .164 average but got RHers out as well (.136). He also struck out 13.64 hitters per nine innings.

4) Designated Hitter. Edwin Encarnacion is a quality DH with the possibility of hitting 40 plus homers and a 100 RBI man. Other teams would love that production from their DH.

5) Utility. Jose Ramirez can play three infield positions. Like Marwin Gonzalez he can be slotted anywhere. Can he repeat his .318 average and 29 homerun season?

Weakness - 1) Catcher. Not loving the offense. Yan Gomes has forgotten how to hit and Roberto Perez is no better. Francisco Mejia may have to be called up to put some spark in this position.

2) Outfield - Mickey Brantley needs to get healthy or left field becomes a black hole. Bradley Zimmer is still unproven in center. Lonnie Chisenhall has never met his potential. Not a lot of offensive production here.

Top Rookie - If the catchers fail to hit and the Indians struggle Francisco Mejia could be called up before the All Star break, especially if his bat is hitting in the minor leagues.

Top Prospect - Tristan McKenzie. The righthander is still a couple years away but he could be special.

Expected Finish - First place, but they should not last long in the playoff race.

2. Minnesota Twins

Overall - After losing more than 100 games in 2016 they had a nice season last year to earn a wild card spot. A drug suspension, possible sexual assault suspension and a finger injury could put a damper to the start of the season and their playoff hopes.

Strengths - 1) Second Base. Twins have to be glad they did not trade Brian Dozier after the 2016 season. He is good for 30 plus homeruns a year.
2) Third Base. Miguel Sano may miss the first week of the season because of a sexual assault allegation. His defense is not strong but if his bat continues to improve he can be a run producer.
3) Centerfield. Could this be a year Byron Buxton breaks outs. His defense is gold glove, his legs can steal 30 plus bases and his power should get better as he gains confidence.

Weakness - 1) Shortstop. An 80 game drug suspension to Jorge Polanco puts a hole at this position. Utility player Eduardo Escobar may be asked to take over giving the position a little more power but hurting the defense and lessoning his value as a utility player. Royce Lewis is still too far down in the minors to contribute.
2) Starting Pitching. Ervin Santana will miss the early part of the season to a finger injury. Jose Berrios may not be ready for the ace role so sacrifice Lance Lynn for this spot. The rotation is not bad, but not what a playoff caliber team should be carrying.
3) Relief. Either Fernando Rodney or Addison Reed, two pitchers who may serve up too many blown saves to make the playoffs.

Top Rookie - Stephen Gonsalves is not overpowering but his command is good. Expect him to take over the back end of the rotation before the All Star break.

Top Prospect - Shortstop Royce Lewis. Unfortunately for the Twins he is still a couple years away.

Expected Finish - Second Place will not get them an All Star appearance this year.

3. Chicago White Sox

Overall - With the troubles facing the Twins at the start of the season it was tempting not to pick the surging White Sox team for second place. Then we looked at their rotation. It is still a young team prone to slumps. Perhaps next year.

Strengths - 1) Their Youth. If some of their younger players break out they could surprise. Yoan Moncada needs to break out and Tim Anderson needs to find consistency at short. 28 errors is too many. If Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez reach their potential early this team could surpise.
2) First Base. Surprised they have not traded Joes Abreu, but if the team does well he will be the bat to drive in the runs.

Weakness - 1)DH. They seem to be missing a power bat to play this position.
2) Outfield. Myworld does not buy Nicky Delmonico’s half a season. Centerfield is a hole. Avisail Garcia is the lone bright spot at this position but he is no sure thing.
3)Bullpen. Losing teams do not have closers and the White Sox lack a closer, hoping Joaquin Soria resurrects his days with the Royals. They will lose a number of leads after the seventh inning.
4) Ace. James Shields is not an ace but the White Sox do not want to put Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez in that role. Carlos Rodon will take some time to get healthy from his shoulder injury.

Rookie - Charlie Tilson. He was supposed to be the starting centerfielder in 2017 but an ankle injury ended his season. He should get a lot of time in the outfield if they get no production from left or centerfield.

Top Prospect - Tough to pick between outfielder Eloy Jimenez and starting pitcher Michael Kopech. Kopech could get some time in the rotation. Jimenez may have to wait until 2019 for his debut, though a monster season could change those plans.

Expected Finish - Unless the youth shine they will finish third.

4. Kansas City Royals

Overall - They were hoping for a playoff run last year but finished two games under .500. Now they will have to play without Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. A further fall in the standings is expected.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Salvador Perez is one of the better catchers in the American League. He brings both offense and defense, last year slugging 27 homeruns. The Royals will be tempted to play him every day, putting him in the empty DH spot on the days he does not catch.
2) Third Base. Mike Moustakas. One free agent they signed. They just hope he does not turn into an Alex Gordon. Last year he had a career year with 38 homeruns, but even with that production other teams were hesitant to sign him.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. Filled with mid-rotation starters and back end pitchers. No pitchers with double digit wins but three pitchers with double digit losses.
2) DH - An empty position. Hunter Dozier could fit here. If Jorge Soler finds his bat they could rotate the outfielders into this spot.
3) Outfield. Jorge Soler and Alex Gordon have to find their bats. Gordon keeps flirting with the Mendoza line since he signed his free agent contract. Jon Jay is more a fourth outfielder. If Hunter Dozier can not break into this outfield he should not have been a first round pick.

Top Rookie - Hunter Dozier may be a liability on defense in the outfield but he could be the best bat the Royals have for the outfield if Soler does not reach his potential.

Top Prospect - Very thin. Khalil Lee is their top prospect but he might not make the top ten with many other teams.

Expected Finish - Losing a few veterans and having a barren farm system won’t lead to improvement. Lucas Duda is not an improvement over Eric Hosmer and whoever they put in centerfield can not match Lorenzo Cain in production.

5. Detroit Tigers

Overall - They still have some veteran players that could move them to mediocrity. If the Tigers had a choice they would trade Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos, but they would not get a lot for them.

Strengths - 1) Ace. Michael Fulmer will keep the Tigers in games. If they want to tank they will trade Fulmer for premium prospects.
2) Miguel Cabrera - If his back is good his bat is dangerous. That could make him popular for a trade, though the Tigers would still have to eat much of his contract. At this point his best position may be DH but that leaves Victor Martinez without a position.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. It seems like the Tigers have been searching for a closer since the start of civilization. That search continues.
2) Left and Center field. Centerfield has been empty for a time. They hope to fill it with Cuban Leonys Martin but his bat has led to a couple releases. Now with the departure of J.D. Martinez they have a hole in left field. At some point Mike Gerber or Christin Stewart will be given the opportunity to fill it.
3) Second Base. Seems like Dixon Machado has been around forever, not good enough to fill the shortstop role. The Tigers will try him at second because they have no real alternatives.

Rookie - Mike Gerber or Christin Stewart will eventually fill the left field slot. Whoever carries a hot bat in the minor leagues will get the first callup.

Top Prospect - Franklin Perez will miss some time with an oblique injury. Matt Manning and Alex Faedo are also top rotation candidates that the Tigers will wait until 2019 to promote because they do not want to eat up their service time.

Expected Finish - Battling with the other tanking teams for that number one pick. They need to trade Fulmer and Cabrera to have any shot.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

You can see the 2017 list at the link at the end of this blog. The only graduates from the list were Rafael Devers, the number 3 prospect and Reynaldo Lopez at number 7. A couple players dropped off, number two Francis Martes, number eight Francellis Montes and number nine David Paulino. That leaves five repeaters and five new players added to the list, one of whom appeared on the National League list last year.

1. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) - Eloy was the fourth top Dominican prospect from the National League list last year. He climbs to the top with his trade from the Cubs to the White Sox. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

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

3. Francisco Meija C (Indians) - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

4. Willy Adames SS (Rays) - He was at the top of this list last year but fell not because he had a bad year but the three above him had good years. Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. His bat will hit for decent power, hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he made better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later.

5. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The first real new player on the list since Jimenez appeared on the National League list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

6. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) - The trade from the Yankees to the Athletics resurrected his career. Forced to be moved from short to second with the acquisition of Gleyber Torres and not being promoted to AA put a dent in his prospect status. He came to life in AA with Oakland hitting .292 with a .851 OPS. Jorge has sneaky power with the potential to hit in the double digits. He has yet to come close to his 82 stolen base year of 2015 but he was 13 for 16 in just 30 games at Midland. The Yankees had given Mateo some centerfield time but with Midland Mateo played all his 30 games at short. He could begin the 2018 season in AAA but a good spring would make it tempting to put him on the major league roster in a super utility role, i.e short, second and centerfield.

7. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - Jesus has the potential to be a special player on offense. Coming into the 2017 season he carried a .332 average in the Dominican and Rookie Leagues. He got his first exposure to the full season league and hit .305. The power also began to show with 15 homeruns and a .478 slugging. Jesus has the speed to play center and the arm to move to right. The offense would be better served if his production could stay in center. Next year he will begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he should continue to rake.

8. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - The Yankees have choices for third base. With the trade of Chase Headley they could move Gleyber Torres there or Andujar. Torres may provide better defense but his natural position is shortstop. Andujar made 17 errors there between two levels and will have to reduce that number if he wants to make camp there. Torres is also recovering from arm surgery and may need some time in AAA to strengthen his arm. Andujar has the power for the position. blasting 16 homeruns last year with 82 RBIs. For a power hitter he made solid contact hitting over .300 at both AA and AAA, including a .571 average in a seven at bat trial with the Yankees. A good spring should earn Andujar a trip north with the Yankees as their starting third baseman.

9. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees have a couple of arms with flash rising up their minor leagues who hit the radar in triple digits. Albert is one of those arms sitting in the mid to high 90s. His secondary pitches are still inconsistent but he did a better job of finding the strike zone last year. Albert can overwhelm hitters with his heat but as he rises up the minor leagues his change and slider/curve need to improve for him to be successful as a starter. Last year at High A the opposition hit him at a .252 clip with 8.13 whiffs per nine innings. At the lower levels hitters were in the low .200s with more than 9 whiffs per nine innings. The Yankees could start Albert in High A to begin the season with a mid-season promotion to AA once he finds success.

10. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) - Another Yankee arm that slices the plate in triple digits, sitting in the mid to higher 90s. Domingo also has a plus change but needs to find a consistent breaking pitch. Domingo is a little more advanced than Abreu, starting last season at High A and jumping to AA before finishing with two starts in AAA. His best work was at AA (2.38 ERA). Control was a problem for him in AAA with 8 walks in 12 innings and in the Florida State League lefthanders seemed to tag him pretty well (.316). An improvement in his slider could change that. Acevedo could see some time in the Yankees rotation next year if he has success in AAA, where he should start the 2018 season.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to Note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indians Hope Prospects Help in Playoff Race

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The Cleveland Indians hope some of their premium prospects will be ready next year to help them in the playoff race. Lacking a high revenue market they can not rely on big salaries to achieve success but must nurture younger players to assist them in their playoff run. They have lost Carlos Santana to free agency but they hope there is someone with a pulse down on the farm ready to replace him.

Their best prospect is Francisco Mejia, a catcher with a bat that could win batting titles. Sometimes catchers take time to develop and receiving pitches behind the plate can take a toll on their stamina. The Indians had him play third base in the Arizona Fall League to give them an alternative if they want his bat consistently in the lineup without getting battered and bruised behind the plate. Francisco has an arm that can stop a baserunning game but still needs to work on the other parts of his game. He made his major league debut last year, hitting just .154 but he should make his presence felt next year if the Indians can find room for him. Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez play a better defensive game but their bat is not near that of Mejia. Expect Mejia to make more of a contribution in 2018.

Bobby Bradley is the hoped for replacement to Carlos Santana. The power is there to hit 30 plus homeruns. Carlos has the ability to take more walks but the Indians hope Bradley can hit for a higher average. Neither player is noted for their defense and Bradley is known as a clot on the basepaths. If the power fails to appear his presence on the field is wasted. A good spring training should determine his fate in 2018, though more seasoning in AAA would not hurt. Expect him to make his major league debut next year.

Yu-Cheng Chang has the opportunity to be a power hitting shortstop. Normally players from Taiwan are noted for their smooth glove but lacking in the bat. Chang is just the opposite, slugging 24 homeruns but a barrage of strikeouts (134) resulted in a low average (.220). If his marginal defense at short allows him to stay he could be an offensive force at the position. If not he may need to move to third where his bat would not be as much of an impact.

That would also take away a position from Mejia or Nolan Jones, a second round pick in 2016. Jones is still a couple years away from competing for a major league spot but his lefthanded power bat shows potential for the position. Last year Jones sprayed the gaps with 18 doubles in the New York Penn League, hitting .317 with a .482 slugging. The 2018 season should see his first in a full season league, an opportunity for him to break out and make a name for himself.

Their top outfielder is possibly Greg Allen who has the legs to cover a lot of green and steal bases. A lack of power will force him to play the small man’s game, keeping the ball on the ground. He made his major league debut last year and defensively is the Indians top centerfielder. With a good spring he could move Bradley Zimmer to right.

Other outfielders to watch are Quentin Holmes, a second round pick last year but their first pick in 2017, Will Benson, their first round pick in 2016 and Jonathan Rodriguez a talented third round pick in 2017 out of Puerto Rico. Holmes relies on his speed but has a questionable bat, hitting just .182 in his minor league debut. An inability to make contact (61 K’s in 41 games) plagues his game. Benson has more of a power game but is also afflicted with the swing and miss (80 K’s in 56 games). An improvement in contact could make him a borderline five tool player with the speed to play center and the arm for right. Currently he has failed to hit over .240 in two minor league seasons. Rodriguez could have the best tools with a 6′3″ frame packed for power. The arm is built for right field and his ability to make contact is better than Homes and Benson. He should be ready to play full season ball next year.

The future ace of the staff is Triston McKenzie. The last time we drooled over a 19 year old pitcher we witnessed his name was Clayton Kershaw. He has a toothpick frame at 6′5″ 165 that will get stronger, increasing the velocity on his low 90s fastball. He also has a knee bending curveball resulting in 186 k’s or 11.9 per nine innings. Next year he should make his debut in AA which is just a knock on the door from the major leagues.

After Triston the cupboard gets a little bare for pitchers. They drafted lefty Brady Aiken in the first round in 2015. Brady has not been able to put up the numbers to indicate success is in his future. He had been drafted by the Astros in the first round but did not sign because of a failed physical and later underwent Tommy John surgery. Lefties who can hit mid-90s hang around despite being hit at a .277 clip and coughing up ERAs north of 4. The Indians will give him every opportunity to success, especially for a first round pick.

Ryan Merritt is a lefty without a lot of stuff who does put up good numbers. The radar will not hit 90 when he is on the mound but a good changeup will make that velocity feel like 90. When given an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues last year he achieved success (1.74 ERA) despite being hit at a .310 clip. It doesn’t matter how many baserunners you give up if they are prevented from scoring. Ryan will compete for a spot at the back end of the rotation.

Shawn Morimando is a third lefty, similar to Merritt but with more tick on his fastball. The slider is his put away pitch, but he fails to miss a lot of bats and last year gave up 22 homeruns. He pitched at AAA last year so a good spring should see him compete for the back end of a rotation spot with Ryan Merritt. Last year he pitched a number of dominant games but consistency was his big problem.

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

These are the athletes of the outfield. The shortstops of the grassy plains, the heroes to the kids who watch their long strides as they race to a ball miles away from them. To make the grade here players need to be fast with good instincts to get good jumps. They need to be moving as soon as the ball is hit. Because of their athletic ability many of the better centerfielders are some of your best hitters, but they don’t have to be. A manager will sacrifice some offense if a player can save a lot of runs with his glove. Below are myworld’s Top Ten centerfielders.

1. Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He is probably considered the best prospect in baseball for 2018. Many compare him to Andrew Jones. The Venezuelan has all five tools in abundance, with power being the least developed, a pretty nice bargain for the $100,000 bonus the Braves paid to acquire him. As he matures the power will get better while the speed may decrease. Last year he slugged 21 homers with 44 stolen bases, becoming one of the rare 20/20 players. At three different levels he hit .325. The one area of his game the Braves would like to see him improve is in his ability to make contact. He struck out 144 times in 139 games last year, an area major league pitchers may be able to exploit to drive down his average. The Braves will probably start him off in AAA in 2018 with a quick promotion to the big leagues if his bat produces. With a good spring he could find himself as the Braves starting centerfielder.

2. Victor Robles (Nationals) - Most fans are talking about Robles taking over for Bryce Harper after he leaves for free agency. They say it with a casualness that no production will be lost with Robles fitting into the outfield. He carries five very strong tools with power being the least developed. Like Acuna that power will come as he matures. The Nationals were so impressed with his development that they put him on their playoff roster. Last year he was more of a gap hitter with 37 doubles and 10 homeruns to construct an impressive .493 slugging percentage. His 27 stolen bases are not a true reflection of his speed but more about him hitting in the middle of the order and not being asked to steal bases. The Nationals outfield is currently crowded so it would not make sense to use him as a fourth outfielder. He will be the first player called up if an injury should force a starter to have an extended absence.

3. Luis Robert (White Sox) - As a 19 year old Luis was in the process of winning the Triple Crown in the Cuban League with a .401 average, 12 homeruns and 40 RBIs. Myworld put him as one of the top young Cuban players to watch, but at the halfway point of the season he defected for the United States. He played mostly the corners for Cuba but he carries the speed to play center, with the arm to fit in right. The power should deliver 30 plus homeruns with an average close to .300. Last year he played in the Dominican Summer League, slugging .536. Myworld would not be surprised to see him start the 2018 season at Low A.

4. Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) - The third round 2012 pick may be one of the more athletic players on this list. His primary sport was football with his first three years in the minor leagues going back and forth between baseball and college football. The 2016 season was his first year focusing on baseball. Injuries have held him back limiting him to 92 games that year and last year he played in just 81 games. The Jays were impressed enough with him to give him a major league callup but an injury ended that debut after just four games. Another five tool player could find himself in the leadoff or three spot, depending on the Blue Jays needs. A good spring could see him on the major league roster, but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

5. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Leody carries a little more power than his cousin Willie Taveras, but his legs carry less speed. The Rangers were impressed enough with the Dominican that they signed him for $2.1 million. At 19 years of age the power is just beginning to show with 8 homeruns at the low A level. Last year he struggled a bit when compared to his 2016 season, his average dropping from .325 to .249. A fifth player with all five tools, Leady should find himself in High A to begin the 2018 season.

6. Jo Adell (Angels) - It may be a bit premature to place the Angels 2017 first round pick so high but his .325 average and .908 OPS were hard to ignore. He runs with the wind, can mash the ball a long way and as a pitcher could throw a fastball in the high 90s. The tools are there to be an impact player. A 14/49 walk to whiff ratio in 49 games is evidence that he needs to improve his patience at the plate. Jahmai Jones may beat him to centerfield in the major leagues but Jo may have the better tools to field the position. Expect him to start the season at Low A in 2018 with a quick promotion dependent upon his performance.

7. Jeren Kendell (Dodgers) - Just a shade up north is the Dodgers first round pick in 2017. He may be one of the faster players among this top ten list. As a college drafted player he should move up quickly through the farm system. In his debut he hit .455 in five games in short season but when promoted to Low A struggled for a .221 average. The swing and miss appears to be his greatest flaw, with 45 whiffs in 40 games. If not tamed that may result in lower averages once he reaches the major leagues. Jeren could repeat Low A with a quick promotion to High A with early success.

8. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - The Haitian born outfielder had a breakout year last year vaulting him into top ten recognition. Last year he hit double digits in homeruns (13) with a .298 average and 23 stolen bases while he covered a lot of ground in centerfield. His bat and legs give him the potential to be at minimum a 20/20 player. To accomplish that he needs to cut down on his whiffs paring down the 148 in 110 games. Next year will be a key to determine if he can replicate his 2017 numbers. A good spring will see him start the season in the Florida State League.

9. Lewis Brinson (Brewers) - The Brewers acquired the 2012 first round pick of the Rangers after trading away Jonathan Lucroy. Shoulder injuries last year limited him to just 78 games but a .331 average and a .928 OPS led to his major league debut. In the majors he flopped, hitting just .108 but with two of his five hits carrying over the fence. While he has the speed to steal bases he has yet to steal over 20 bases in any of his seasons. Because of his major league struggles last season he will probably start the 2018 season in AAA with the Brewers waiting for his bat to get hot before giving him his major league promotion.

10. Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) - Lazarito came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The tools are there for him to be an impact major leaguer. Some question whether his character will allow his tools to stand out. In his stateside debut he hit .288 with an .850 OPS and 10 stolen bases in 47 games. He has the potential to be a 20/20 player in the major leagues. Like most players his age getting their first exposure to minor league baseball, he needs to cut down on his swings and misses (48 K’s in 41 games). The 2018 season should see him begin the year in Low A with the possibility to perform at High A.

Others to Note

Cristian Pache (Braves) - It will be tough to knock Acuna from his centerfield destination. Pache has more speed than Acuna but his bat carries much less power. Last year he was homerless but he did steal 32 bases.

Taylor Trammell (Reds) - Another two way player who could have played football in college. Taylor has excellent speed and the bat for power. He draws enough walks to hit in the leadoff position but as he matures he may fit better in the number 3 hole.

Jose Siri (Reds) - The Dominican had a break out year with the power, hitting 24 homeruns while stealing 46 bases. He showed flashes of this brilliance in 2016 when he hit 10 homeruns. There is still a little bit too much swing and miss in his swing, but if he can tame that he will be a hitter to reckon with in a couple years.

Greg Allen (Indians) - A little Aztec bias. He runs well to stick in center, but he lacks power. Last year he made his major league debut hitting .229.

Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike was able to blast 14 homeruns last year, even though he does not carry the power category. He should follow in his dad’s shoes with gold glove caliber defense.

Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels second round pick in 2012 has average offensive tools but above average when it comes to speed. He covers a lot of ground in centerfield and should hit for double digits in the power category.

Desmond Lindsay (Mets) - His tools have yet to match his performance. Health has kept him off the diamond, but last year he played a career high 65 games.

Dustin Fowler (Athletics) - Last year he had a breakout season with 13 homeruns in 70 AAA games resulting in a major league promotion. In his first major league game, before he could get an at bat he injured a knee sliding into a fence. This didn’t stop the Athletics from trading for him in the Sonny Gray trade. A mixture of speed and power makes him dangerous.

Roman Quinn (Phillies) - Perhaps the fastest player on this list. Injuries have prevented the 2011 second round pick from starting his major league career. An elbow injury limited him to 45 games last year. Not much power in his bat and taking more walks would help him as a leadoff hitter.

Franchy Cordero (Padres) - Franchy had a remarkable breakout season last year with 18 triples, 17 homeruns and a .328 batting average. This led to a promotion to the Padres where he hit .228 and struck out 44 times in his 98 at bats. A 23/118 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience at the plate.

Michael Gettys (Padres) - His defensive tools are gold glove caliber. The big concern is the bat. There is some gap power when he makes contact, but making contact has been a challenge with 191 whiffs in just 116 games in High A.

Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick from Puerto Rico has a good combination of power and speed. Strikeouts were a problem for him in the rookie league (48 in 35 games). The 2017 season should see him start in Low A full season where his performance will be tested.

Magneuris Sierra (Marlins) - The Cardinals just included the Dominican in a trade to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna. He is the typical centerfielder who covers a lot of ground, but has very little power in his bat. His success rate in stealing bases is not great resulting in a drop in total attempts last year.

Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - The lefthanded bat from the Dominican signed for $400,000 in 2015. Last year he made his first start in the full season league, showing power (15 homeruns), the ability to hit for average (.305) and the ability to cover a lot of ground on defense. His speed is plus but not enough to steal bases.

Myworld’s Top Ten Shortstops

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

These are the players who can make or break a major league team. Many of these players move on to other positions such as second base, third base or centerfield because of their athleticism and there are only 30 spots open to them in the major leagues. This is probably the most crowded position, with many of the major league teams already filled at shortstop. The Yankees have Didi Gregorius, the Mets will have Amed Rosario, the Nationals Trea Turner, the Indians Francisco Lindor, the Astros Carlos Correa, the Dodgers Corey Seager and on and on we can go. Some teams still need shortstops to make their lineup complete. They are the quarterback of an NFL team, the point guard in the NBA. Without a quality player at this position it is difficult to win in the major leagues. Below are some of the best that are waiting for their opportunity to prove themselves.

1. Willy Adames (Rays) - Signed by the Tigers but traded away in the David Price deal. Now that the Tigers are rebuilding he would be a good piece to have in that quest. The defense is there to make the plays and the bat will be productive. The strikeouts need to be tamed (132) but his high walk total (65) gave him a .360 OBA in AAA. He has the potential to hit 30 plus doubles with double digit homerun power approaching 20. Tampa is still looking for a shortstop and Willy could grab the position out of spring training in 2018.

2. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The Twins first round pick in 2017 and the first pick overall. His bat is solid and his defensive tools are strong. The big criticism is his lack of power and an average arm that could create a move to second base. Currently his power is built for the gaps with the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He makes consistent contact with the patience to draw walks. With his speed he could steal 40 plus bases. Royce is still a couple years away and won’t be introduced to the major leagues until 2020 at the earliest as a possible September callup.

3. Gleyber Torres (Yankees) - Gleyber was signed by the Cubs in 2013 for $1.7 million. They traded him to the Yankees to acquire Aroldis Chapman for half a season. Didi Gregorius stands in his way at the major league level and Tommy John surgery cut his 2017 season short by 100 games last year. The bat seems to be his most impressive tool with the ability to hit for average and power. This would allow a move to third base if Didi stays at short. The arm is strong but his range may not be as great as Didi. Don’t be surprised if Gleyber makes an impact to the 2018 season after spending the first couple months in the minors rehabbing his elbow.

4. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr. he carries the power of his father with the speed and tools to cover ground in the middle infield. At 6′3″ he may eventually have to move to third. He made a brief appearance at AA, combining for 22 homeruns at the two levels. There is still a lot of non contact with his at bats (77 walks with 141 whiffs) but the walks but his OBA close to .400 (.379). The Padres currently lack a shortstop so a good year at AA could convince the Padres to promote him by mid-season in 2018.

5. Kevin Maiten (To be determined) - The Braves signed him for $4.25 million in 2016. He immediately appeared on Top 100 lists as a 16 year old. His bat was a little quiet in his first season, producing an unimpressive .629 OPS in rookie ball. He didn’t show the bat or the defensive tools to justify the high bonus, but some have to remember he would still be a high school kid if still in the United States. Kevin is one of 13 players the Braves had to release because of the shenanigans the team practiced in circumventing the international salary cap.

6. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played in the Netherlands. His brother Spencer is a catcher and was first drafted by the Nationals, but lacks the tools of Carter. Carter was a first round pick in 2016 and struggled to stay healthy in 2017. The bat will be strong and spray the gaps, but he may need to move to third. At 6′2″ he may lose the range to stick at short. Whether he can move to third will depend on his gap hits turning into homeruns. He is still a couple years away so Trea has no worries to peer in the rear view mirror until sometime in 2020.

7. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - A first round pick in 2015 Brendan’s bat is ready for the major leagues in 2018. Trevor Story stands in his way at shortstop. One will have to move to second base if the Rockies want to get Brendan’s bat in the lineup. The power exists for 30 plus homeruns in Colorado, which would make him a offensive force in the middle infield. Neither Story or Rodgers has the speed to cover a lot of ground at short so it could be rock, paper, scissors to see who moves to second.

8. Delvin Perez (Cardinals) - The Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He may have not fallen to them if not for a drug failure prior to the draft. At 6′3″ the Puerto Rican reminds scouts of Carlos Correa, with less power but a more consistent glove. He also has good stolen base speed. A taller Francisco Lindor may be a better comparison, with Lindor not developing the power until he hit the major leagues. Last year Delvin was limited to 34 games because of injury. His bat was disappointing with a .203 average and .585 OPS. Delvin is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

9. J.P. Crawford (Phillies) - The Phillies keep waiting for his tools to make an appearance. His bat has produced two consecutive years of disappointing performances. Most were expecting him to move Freddy away from shortstop by now, but based on performance Freddy is the better shortstop and J.P. may have to move to second or third. He does draw a lot of walks which makes his .243 average more tolerable and he did hit a career high 15 homeruns. A .214 major league average and .656 OPS may keep him in AAA to start the 2018 season. The Phillies may make him earn his promotion to shortstop.

10. Andres Gimenez (Mets) - His defense at short would make him gold glove eligible but his lack of hitting tools makes him better as a utility player. His speed should give him 20 plus stolen bases. His lack of power stunted his slugging (.349). In 2016 in the Dominican Summer League he walked more than he struck out (21/13). Against better pitching state side those numbers were reversed (28/61). At 19 the Mets can be patient with him so don’t expect him to sniff the major leagues until 2020.

Others to Consider

Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - The acquisition of Gleyber Torres moved him to second. Dealt to the Athletics in the Sonny Gray trade he has returned to short. Speed is his best asset though he has shown some surprising pop. The Athletics are a little crowded at short so a move to center field to take advantage of his speed is still in the cards.

Cole Tucker (Pirates) - Not a lot of tools. A Jody Mercer clone once Jody leaves as a free agent. Does have the speed to steal 30 plus bases.

Richard Urena (Blue Jays) - A defensive shortstop who lacks a strong bat. Injuries to Troy Tulowitski will give him opportunities to prove himself at the position, but last year only hit .206 in his major league debut.

Wander Javier (Twins) - The Twins shelled out $4 million for Wander in 2015. Royce and Wander are the same age, but Royce has seen Low A. Wander is still in Rookie ball with injuries in 2016 restricting him to 9 games. He has the tools to play the position and the bat to be an impact player but needs the reps to let those tools shine.

Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds) - Not a lot of Cubans to fill the shortstop position. The glove is there to play the position but the bat is light, lacking power and the patience.

Yu-Cheng Chang (Indians) - Chang is the atypical Asian shortstop. He hits for power but his defensive tools may force a move to third. Too many swings and misses (134) kept his average low (.220).

Hoy-Jun Park (Yankees) - An expensive sign out of Korea ($1 million), Park has a smooth glove but a silent bat.

Richie Martin (Athletics) - The 2015 first round pick has the best glove in the Athletics organization. A questionable bat that lacks power may make him fall short as a major leaguer.

Kevin Newman (Pirates) - Another Jody Mercer clone that lacks the speed of Cole Tucker. His bat lacks power but makes solid contact to hit .270 plus.

Wander Franco (Rays) - At 16 years of age he is still a long ways away. The Rays paid $3.8 million to sign him. His bloodlines are good being the nephew of Eric Aybar. Dominicans have a tendency to outgrow shortstop.

Lucius Fox (Rays) - A defensive wizard with good speed the big impediment towards Lucius making an impact is a weak bat. Willy Adames will have claimed the position by the time Fox is ready so a move to second base or center field is a possibility. He has the speed to cover the grass in center.

Logan Warmoth (Blue Jays) - The Jays 2017 first round pick hit .302 in his half season professional debut. Not great defensive tools with power more suited for second base.

Top First Base Prospects

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Major league first baseman come from a number of different positions. Catchers who can not make it behind the plate, outfielders who lack the speed to cover the grass and third baseman who lose their mobility to react to balls hit at them. Those players who start as first baseman in the minor leagues have a large pool to compete against. The below list is composed of those players in the minor leagues who played first base. We don’t try to project other players having to move positions.

1. Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks) - The 2017 first round pick of the Diamondbacks has Paul Goldschmidt in his way at first. The college drafted hitter had more balls carry over the fence than strikeouts last year while playing in college. In his 195 official at bats in the minor leagues he could not lift any balls over the fence but he hit .318 with a .401 OBA and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. There is no speed to his legs so moving to the outfield would be difficult. The D-backs have a couple years to figure out what they want to do with Smith. He will need to hit for more power to make it to the major leagues, but his defense is solid at the position.

2. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Is he a hitter or a left handed pitcher? The first round pick in 2017 was drafted ahead of Smith in the first round. The lefthander does not have an overpowering fastball, but some project the velocity would increase if he focused more on the mound. A wicked curve ball and command are what he uses to retire hitters, traits that some lefthanded pitchers use to thrive in the major leagues. As a hitter the bat is strong, with the ability to hit a consistent .300, though he only hit .232 last year. The power is not great but good enough to hit 20 plus homeruns. Brendan also lacks the speed to move to the outfield but his defensive skills around the bag are good.

3. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The Canadian has the power you look for in a first baseman. The Marlins drafted him in the first round then traded him to the Padres to acquire Andrew Cashner. For a player who makes contact with the ball he does not hit for a high average. In the California League he did hit .297 but when promoted to AA he dropped to .250. Defense and speed will not be part of his game, so if he cannot make it at first base he needs to be traded to the American League where he can fit as a DH. His lack of speed will limit him to one base at a time baserunning.

4. Chris Shaw (Giants) - The first round pick in 2015 has the power to hit at the position. Last year he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA. Brandon Belt currently stands in his way. The Giants have tried to move Chris to left field but his lack of speed is a liability there. Belt may not hit for the power of Shaw but he is a better defender at first base and will hit for a better average. Shaw needs to consistently get his 6′4″ frame into the pitch to line drive balls into the gaps or carry them over the fence. At 24 years of age Chris is ready for the major leagues now.

5. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Myworld likes the power of Bradley. The 2014 third round pick needs to make more consistent contact to see those power numbers jump. Last year he slugged 23 homeruns in AA while cutting down on the swings and misses. His lack of speed will prevent him from moving to another position but his below average defense at first base may leave the DH position as his best alternative. With the power he can carry to all fields the Indians will eventually want to see his bat in the lineup. Expect that to happen sometime in the 2018 season.

6. Sam Travis (Red Sox) - The second round 2014 pick may lack the power of your conventional firstbaseman. His hits will find the gaps to drive in runs and the bat should stick around the .300 neighborhood. Travis did suffer a tear in his ACL in 2016 but appears to have recovered, seeing some time in the major leagues last year. The bat failed to carry a ball over the fence in over 70 major league at bats. His defense is good at the position and his moderate speed could allow him to move to the outfield. His weak arm would limit him to left field.

7. Peter Alonso (Mets) - The second round 2016 pick has already reached AA. His defense is better than Dominic Smith and he carries more power. The speed is not there for him to move to the outfield. The Mets will give Dominic the chance to keep the position and if he succeeds the Mets could use Alonso as trade bait. Myworld thinks they would do better trading Dominic. Last year Alonso hit 18 homeruns with a .524 slugging percentage. The Mets can use him one more year in the minor leagues but in 2019 they may have to make a decision between the two for their first baseman of the future.

8. Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays) - You have to like the name. Drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 draft most teams did not like the skills. He does show power in his 6′4″ inch frame and he hits left handed. Last year that power did not show (.333 slugging) and he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line with his batting average (.222). His defense is not that strong for him to be put out at first if the bat does not make an appearance. Last year he slugged .530 with 23 homeruns so we will give him a mulligan on the 2017 season. His lack of speed will make a move to the outfield a liability.

9. Matt Thaiss (Angels) - The first round pick in 2016 was drafted as a catcher. To speed up the ascent of his bat to the major leagues the Angels moved him to first base. Right now his power is limited to the gaps. There is good contact in his swing and the ability to hit .300. If his good contact can carry 20 balls over the fence each year the Angels will take that. His defense at first base still needs some work but he has the ability to be an average defender. With the plethora of players the Angels have at the position his bat needs to find a way for the Angles to make room for him. His lack of speed will make movement to the outfield difficult.

10. Brent Rooker (Twins) - The supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft played some at first base, but his speed allowed him to spend most of his time in the outfield. In his minor league debut he slugged 18 homeruns with a .566 slugging, finding himself carrying balls over the Florida State League fences. With Miguel Sano planted at first base for the Twins future myworld expects the Rooker move to the outfield more permanent.

Others to consider

Samir Duenez (Royals) - With Eric Hosmer a free agent the Royals may have to find room for Samir. His bat falls short in power, though he hit 17 homeruns last year. The lack of tools make him a tweener at all the positions.

Casey Gillaspie (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick is another one of those players who is just below average in all the tools to make for a dynamic player at first base. He will clog the bases when running so his speed would be a liability in the outfield.

Nick Pratto (Royals) - A 2017 first round pick who could be the Royals long term answer at first base. He was also a two way player but the Royals like his bat better than his arm. His defense is good around the bag and he has the ability to hit for power and average.

Evan White (Mariners) - Another 2017 first round pick, Evan has the speed to move to the outfield but the glove to save a lot of runs at the position. Power may be an issue but at 6′3″ he has the frame to extend and develop that power.

Jake Bauers (Rays) - His best position is probably first base but the Rays are using him in left field. His tools may make him a tweener, not enough power for first and lacks the defense to be an attribute in the outfield.

Ronald Guzman (Rangers) - The Rangers spent $3.45 million to sign him. His lack of speed forced a move to first. His power is more oriented towards the gaps.

Myworld’s Top Ten Catching Prospects

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Myworld will spin around each of the positions and give out our top ten prospects. Obviously we can’t see every player in the minor leagues so a lot of what we assess is based on what we read. There may be some bias on players we watch, especially in the Eastern League. Players drafted in 2017 have to have performed exceptionally well or be considered can’t miss prospects to make this list. We are more attracted to results rather than just tools.

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - A 50 game hitting streak and .380 batting average last year shows he has the stick. His average dropped almost 100 points this year but most teams would take a .297 average from their catchers. The power exists for double digits in homeruns. He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball. There is little not to like other than his foot speed. Expect him to be catching for the Indians by mid-season in 2018. To think they had him traded to the Brewers in 2016 for Jonathan Lucroy, but Lucroy nixed the deal.

2. Jorge Alfaro (Phillies) - He has been a prospect for quite awhile. Originally signed by the Rangers out of Colombia they traded him to the Phillies in the Cole Hamel trade. He has a power bat and a strong arm. Injuries have prevented him from development time and stalled his major league debut until last year. His batting average may suffer because of his tendency to swing and miss. In 2017 he slugged .514 in 107 at bats. Expect him to start with the Phillies to begin the 2017 season.

3. Carson Kelly (Cardinals) - Probably one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. If not for Yadier Molina he would be starting for some major league team. His arm is not as strong as Mejia or Alfaro but his catching tools, blocking the plate and framing the pitch are more polished. The bat may be a bit of a concern but the power exists for him to reach double digits. In his two major league seasons he has yet to hit over .200 with no homeruns in less than 100 at bats.

4. Zack Collins (White Sox) - A first round 2016 pick has the bat to hit 20 plus homeruns. He needs to make more contact otherwise his average will suffer. Last year he struck out 129 times in 113 games resulting in a batting average of .224. His defensive skills are spotty and could result in a move to first base, but his power should be more than enough to fit at the position. For now the White Sox will hope he can fit behind the plate.

5. Meibrys Viloria (Royals) - Last year the Colombia native hit .436. His career average stood at .391 for three seasons. This year was a clunker for him (.259). 2018 will determine if this season was an aberration. His power is mostly to the gaps with the speed not to turn too many of them into triples. His lefthanded bat gives him extra points. His arm is good and his catching skills are there for him to fit at the position. Most rate Chase Vallot ahead of him. Chase may carry more power but his hit tool is lacking and his defense is spotty.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Lots of Venezuela players finding themselves behind the plate. The Dodgers signed Keibert for $140,000 in 2014. Coming into the 2017 season Ruiz had a career average of .344. The bat continued to stay hot with a .316 average at two different levels in 2017. The power seemed to arrive in the California League with six homeruns in 150 at bats, doubling his two year career average. He lacks a strong arm but a quick release compensates.

7. Chance Sisco (Orioles) - Another player with a less than average arm, but a bat that could hit for a high average. His power is restricted to the gaps. The second round 2013 pick made his major league debut this year, hitting .333 with two homeruns in less than 30 at bats. Wellington Castillo will opt out of his contract giving the Orioles an opportunity to take a chance on Chance to begin the 2018 season.

8. Taylor Ward (Angels) - The 2015 first round pick hit .349 his first year in the minor leagues. His offensive numbers have not been that strong since. There is some power in the bat that may allow him to reach double digits in homeruns. His arm is strong with solid defensive skills which should allow him to be a backup catcher in the major leagues if his bat does not match his glove.

9. Pedro Severino (Nationals) - Myworld thought he was a better option than Jose Lobaton on the major league club. Many question whether the bat will develop. He lacks power with a hit tool that should fall below .250. Pedro did hit .321 in his major league debut in 2016 with less than 30 at bats. In 2017 that batting average dropped to .172. His defense is strong with a rifle for an arm. If his bat does not develop his defensive tools are good enough for him to fill a back up job for the Nationals.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - The Puerto Rican finished in the top three of the Captain’s Choice award, which recognizes the best defensive players at each position. The bat is strong enough to hit for double digits in homeruns and his arm is strong enough to control a running game. The Mets drafted him in eighth round in 2012. In 2016 he had a breakout year with a .320 average and seven homeruns. Last year was a down year for him with a .232 average. He did draw a career high 30 walks so that should put him on a favorable run. The Mets are known for their prospects behind the plate in the minor leagues, but it has not produced once they hit the big leagues

Other Catchers of Note:

Alex Jackson (Braves) - The Mariners drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Because he had one of the better bats out of high school the Mariners moved him from catcher to right field. He failed. The Mariners traded him to the Braves for a couple mid-reliever pitchers and his bat blossomed once he was returned to catcher. There is pop in his bat with an arm that was solid enough for right field.

Aramis Garcia (Giants) - He has a strong arm with a good bat that can produce for power. His biggest impediment is Buster Posey behind the plate. One of those two players needs to move to first. Aramis has the power to fit at first.

Chase Vallot (Royals) - See Meibry Viloria.

Jose Trevino (Rangers) - the Captain’s Choice catcher of the year, which is given to the catcher with the best defensive tools. He makes good contact with the potential for power.