Archive for the 'Indians' Category

Top Prospects from Colombia

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last year we included the top prospects in the “Best Prospects from South America” List. Five Colombian players were named on that list. One of them graduated to major league baseball (Jorge Alfaro) and is no longer considered a prospect. The four remaining reappear on the top prospects from Colombia list. Myworld was able to find ten players who we felt had enough skills to make it to the major leagues. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - The Rays signed the infielder for $225,000 and then converted him to catcher. His biggest asset is his arm and the ability to hit for power. While the arm can control a running game he is still learning the other aspects of the game such as blocking the ball and framing the pitch that will get him to the major leagues. His defensive mechanics other than his arm would fall below average. On the offensive side, the bat showed it can hit for some power, crashing 21 homeruns last year and slugging .494 at Low A. This year he is trying to tackle High A in the Florida State League which is more of a pitcher’s park. He has five homeruns, but a much worse walk to whiff ratio (6/32), which could be a cause for concern. His batting average is still high (.287) but his OBA has dropped 20 points (.313). He is still a couple years from the major leagues.

2. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Patino back in 2016 for $130,000. At the time he was still a teenager lacking meat on his bones. He has picked up 40 pounds since that signing and his fastball velocity has gone up ten miles per hour, hitting the high 90s but sitting in the mid-90s. He also has an excellent slider that crosses the plate in the mid-80s. Finding an off speed pitch (curve or change) would make him effective as a starter. The one concern is his smallish frame, which at 6′0″ is death for right handed starters. Last year he dominated at Low A (2.16 ERA). This year a promotion to High A has not impacted his pitching, his ERA (2.92) and opposition average (.194) still showing he can dominate at that level. The Padres are flush with pitching prospects so there will be no rush to move him up the system. Expect him to make the major leagues sometime in 2020.

3. Luis Escobar (Pirates) - Luis signed back in 2013 for $150,000. He was signed as a third baseman but the Pirates moved him to the mound. He has bulked up another 60 pounds since his signing and his fastball now hits 97, but sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range. He has the secondary pitches to make it as a starter (curve and change) but he lacks the command to get them over the plate with any regularity. Last year he walked 59 hitters in 129 innings. That is almost a walk every other inning. This year he has walked 18 in 40 innings. Last year he got seven starts in AA (4.54 ERA). This year the Pirates have tried him out in the bullpen in High A, then skipping him to AAA where he has been used as a starter and reliever. His career opposition batting average entering the 2019 season was a pretty impressive .216. This year he has gotten it down to .150. The Pirates have had dome frustration as they have promoted their younger pitchers to the major leagues and achieved very little success. With every failure comes a greater opportunity for Escobar to show what he can do. Before the 2019 season ends he could start his career in the Pirates bullpen.

4. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals) - The Royals signed him back in 2013 for $460,000. In his first year stateside he shocked the minor league world in 2016 with a .376 average in rookie ball. The last two years he has been stuck at .260. Last year with the injury to Salvador Perez he got his major league opportunity, appearing in 10 games and hitting .259. That first year batting average appears to be a bit of an outlier. After getting off to a slow start in 2019 he has gotten his average up to .254. He is more noted for his defense and his strong arm that can control the running game than his bat. The Royals appear to have a top flight catcher (M.J. Melendez) ahead of him on the depth chart, which could cause a move to another organization if he wants to get playing time. He is currently in AA and should see some time in September, or earlier if an injury results in a promotion. At worst his solid defense would make him an excellent backup catcher.

5. Oscar Mercado OF (Indians) - Oscar was a second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, signing for $1.5 million. He was traded to the Indians last year for two lower level outfielders. Mercado moved from Colombia to the United States when he was eight years old, growing up in Florida and gaining a reputation as an excellent shortstop. He was moved to the outfield in 2017. There is not a lot of power in his game. Playing good defense and stealing bases will be his specialities. Last year he stole 37 bases in AAA, scoring 85 runs. The Indians are very weak in the outfield and that weakness led to a promotion to the major leagues this year. After hitting .294 in AAA Mercado continues to hit for the Indians with a .306 average. He has also shown some surprising pop with three homeruns in just 26 games. If this kind of production continues with the Indians he will graduate from prospect status and not appear on this list next year.

6. Harold Ramirez OF (Marlins) - With the Pirates he was once a big time prospect. Signed way back in 2011 he got a bit heavy and out of shape and his prospect status suffered. The Pirates traded him in 2016 to the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays did not see anything in him and outrighted him last year. That is where the Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent. He has resurrected his career, killing it in AAA with a .355 average and a .999 OPS. The Marlins promoted him and have been using him in centerfield, where they had hoped Luis Brinson would have been the answer. His success in the major leagues (.325) appears to indicate that he will be another player to graduate from the prospect list.

7. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - Jhon was signed by the Indians in 2016 for $150,000. Ironic that he was one of the two outfielders the Indians traded to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Could be the first trade where two Colombians were traded for each other. He did not make his state side debut until last year when he hit .397 in 17 games at the Gulf Coast League. At 6′4″ he can generate some power in his swing, hitting 8 homeruns last year in just 44 rookie league games. His arm is built to play right field. The Indians may be getting some good use out of Mercado now, but in the future they may regret trading Torres. The Cardinals have him playing Low A, where he has struggled in his 21 games (.167 average). When the rookie leagues begin he will probably be demoted there to get his bat working.

8. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Jordan signed in 2016 for $275,000. Last year he played in the Arizona Rookie League where he showed a good ability to get on base (.371). He has the defensive tools to play third base. His power is currently restricted to the gaps. Whether his 5′10″ frame can generate more pop is open to question. Last year he hit his first and only professional homerun. In the New York Penn League he went deep early where in three games he is hitting .364. He is still a long way from the major leagues. A lot of developing needs to be done.

9. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Signed in 2016 for $150,000 Santiago has the height (6′5″) and the fastball (mid-90s) to get the Pirates excited. His curveball has some promise but there is no real third pitch yet and his command is suspect. Last year he walked 23 hitters in 43 innings and saw his innings limited because of a barking elbow. There is a lot of development to do. He will work on that in the 2019 season when the rookie level leagues begin.

10. Danis Correa RHP (Cubs) - We needed a tenth player but don’t know a lot about Danis other than his fastball has hit triple digits, but sits at the mid-90s. At 5′11″ his height goes against him as a right handed pitcher. Last year he only was able to pitch in two games of relief at the rookie level. The year before he pitched 40.2 innings. At 19 years of age the Cubs are possibly waiting for the rookie leagues to begin before they put Correa on the mound.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

Benson Slugs Four Homeruns

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Minor League baseball has not seen a four homerun game since 2014. That was a accomplished by current Yankee Mike Ford. Will Benson ended that drought with a four homerun day yesterday, including a grand slam in the Lake County Captains 12-6 win over South Bend. Benson drove in eight of the 12 runs.

The homer barrage started in the first inning with a two run blast off starter Eury Ramos. In the third inning he mashed a solo job off Ramos into the right centerfield seats. His grand slam came in the fourth inning off Zach Mort. So three homeruns in four innings is pretty impressive. His next at bat in the sixth he led off the inning with a mash to get to four.

He got his fifth at bat in the eighth. He struck out against Dalton Geekie. The four homeruns give him six for the season. Last year Benson slugged 22 homeruns for Lake County.

AL Central Predictions

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

This is perhaps the worst division in baseball now that the Cleveland Indians have lost a number of players through free agency.

1. Minnesota Twins

Strengths - Myworld likes their new pickups. Jonathan Schoop has something to prove in 2019. He is not the player he was last year. Marwin Gonzalez can provide depth at every position and is bound to also bounce back from a difficult 2018 season. Nelson Cruz is a 40 homerun machine, though with his age he is not the player he once was. C.J. Cron is an improvement from what they had at the position last year.

Weakness - Hoping for bounce back years from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano is asking a lot. They are gifted players but appear to have flaws in their game that prevent them from reaching their potential. The bullpen lacks a closer so that could hurt in the later innings. After Jose Berrios their starting rotation appears a little slim.

Prospects to Make an Impact - While the farm system is rich it is filled with too many players who have yet to play AA ball. Nick Gordon could see time at middle infield, especially if Schoop continues his struggles. Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves could contribute to the starting rotation. Gonsalves started four games last season and dominated at AA and AAA. He is not overpowering so his lack of command (22 walks in 25 innings) resulted in failure when called up to the major leagues.

Expected Finish - In a weak division they will hang on to win with a record that will only be a couple games over .500.

2. Cleveland Indians

Strengths - They still have the strong pitching with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. Mike Clevinger proved a solid replacement for Danny Salazar. The left side of the infield with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez is probably the best in baseball. The Indians have to hope the calf injury to Lindor does not linger well into the season.

Weakness - As good as the starting pitching is they will get little offensive production from their outfield. Losing Mickey Brantley to free agency left the outfield with nothing. If Hanley Ramirez makes the team as a DH that will move Carlos Santana to first base and Jake Bauers to the outfield. Some pop will be sacrificed for defense. If Bauers stays at first the collection of Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin will be lucky to hit 30 homeruns between the three of them. The bullpen has been hurt by the loss of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Like the Twins they will be spending much of the season searching for a closer.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Triston McKenzie could be in the rotation but his early season injury will delay things. He is one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues. If first base wasn’t so crowded Bobby Bradley could get some opportunities. He will have to settle for another 20 plus homerun season in the minor leagues. The outfield could get a shot in the arm from Dan Johnson. He was over shadowed in the Nationals system by Juan Soto and Victor Robles. Last year injuries limited him to just 96 games.

Expected Finish - Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will provide plenty of production but they will need help from the rest of the lineup. The starting rotation can keep them close through six but after that the losses will mount.

3. Chicago White Sox

Strengths - The rebuilding is over so expect a number of prospects to be sprinkled in as the season progresses to add some spark to the team. The rotation has promise with Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito adding another year of education to their major league careers. Daniel Palka could be a rising star in left field. The White Sox will hope he improves on his 27 homeruns from last season but the bats around him are weak. Once Eloy Jimenez gets promoted in May he will have to move to right.

Weakness - The starting eight appears punchless. Myworld once liked Yoan Moncada but his struggles to make contact may keep his numbers down. He is moving to third base where he must reduce his 217 strikeouts to raise his average above .250 and hit 20 or more homeruns. Up the middle the White Sox are weak. Centerfielder Adam Engel, middle infielders Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson and catcher Wellington Castillo are not players who will lead you to a playoff party.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Eloy Jimenez will be promoted in May and should provide more punch to the lineup. The White Sox need to hold him back for another month to get one more year out of him. He is not good defensively but he is one of the top hitters in the minor leagues. Dylan Cease and Kodi Medeiros could find themselves in the rotation. In 2014 Kodi was a first round pick of the Brewers. Tommy John surgeries will delay the rise of Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning.

Expected Finish - Rebuilding teams always seem to start winning a year early. Myworld still thinks they are a year away with most of their top prospects ready to contribute by 2020.

4. Detroit Tigers

Strengths - There is always Miguel Cabrera. If he can stay healthy he will produce, though with limited bats around him he may not get the pitches to hit. For a rebuilding team they have a pretty decent top four in their rotation with Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Boyd and Moore and Tyson Ross. This will keep them ahead of the Royals. Losing Michael Fulmer to Tommy John knocked it down a notch and left them without a critical trade piece. Soon they will be replaced by Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, and Alex Faedo.

Weakness - The infield has two Pirate rejects in Jody Mercer and Josh Harrison which says a lot. The bullpen lacks a closer and will give away a lot of games. They have two backup catchers who will share playing time behind the plate.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Christin Stewart will be there starting left fielder. He could hit 20 plus homeruns but he does not play a good defense. If the Tigers were not tanking this year you would probably see Daz Cameron see more centerfield time. He is more talented than the players they have on their roster to begin the season. Jake Rogers may see another year in the minor leagues but he is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. Another year of service time would not hurt. The Fulmer injury could give Spencer Turnbull an opportunity in the rotation. He is having an excellent spring and started three games for the Tigers last year.

Expected Finish - While they are tanking they still have too many talented players to make a free fall. Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos will drive in some runs and the starting pitching is serviceable.

5. Kansas City Royals

Strengths - Hmmm. They have the potential for a good middle infield in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. Adalberto surprised many with his 14 homeruns and .276 average in just 75 games after hitting just .170 the previous year. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question. If not then you just have Merrifield and if the Royals can not sign him to an extension they will trade him.

Weakness - The starting rotation will get battered around. Having a pitcher named Homer Bailey tells it all. You may see a lot of openers in this group just to prevent the starters from seeing the top end of an opposing lineup three times. Third base is a hole with the departure of Mike Moustakas. Losing Salvador Perez to Tommy John is a punch in the gut to their offensive production.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With Salvador Perez out for the year rookies Meibrys Viloria and M.J. Melendez will see some time behind the plate. Viloria saw some time there last year and is having an excellent spring. Melendez may be the more talented prospect but needs more seasoning in the minor leagues.

Expected Finish - They will be competing with the Orioles and Marlins for the first pick in the 2020 draft.

Top 100 - 50 - 41

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

The Reds have two prospects on this group of ten, but one is injured and the other is not tested.

50. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick had one of the hardest fastballs in the minor leagues. It reached 103 and sat in the high 90s. Unfortunately it was relatively straight and batters hit him at a .251 clip at Low A with six homeruns in just 68 innings. After 18 starts he was shut down in July with an elbow injury for the remainder of the season. No Tommy John but myworld cringes whenever we hear elbow issues. Success has been difficult for Greene with a career 4.95 ERA in his two half seasons. If everything goes well with his elbow he should be ready for High A but at some point he will have to start showing some success.

49. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - A poor man’s five tool player. Jesus should hit for 20 plus homerun power once he reaches the major leagues. The batting average has consistently finished above .300 at every level he has played except last year in AA when he only hit .214 in 98 at bats. The speed exists to play center field but it is absent for stealing bases. The arm has enough juice to slide over to right if another centerfielder is found. Expect Jesus to repeat AA to find some success. He could see the Rays sometime in September this year and next year be their starting centerfielder.

48. Jonathan India 3B (Reds) - Jonathan was the first round pick of the Reds in 2018. He plays the same position as Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds recently signed to a long term contract. The Reds top prospect Nick Senzel also plays that position and the Reds are trying to find another position for him. That scenario could hold true for Jonathan but he still has some time to play third base in the minors before experimenting with other positions. The tools are there for him to play third, but he has also played shortstop at Florida and has the tools to play second. His bat hits for power and should spray the gaps for a .270 plus average. Last year he reached Low A so expect him to rise quickly. His fringy speed could allow him to play left field, but his best fit is in the infield.

47. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) - An injury will delay the start of the 2019 season for the 2015 first round pick. The righthander does not throw hard, sitting in the low 90s, but he is all arms and has some maturing to do. At 6′5″ he only weighs 165 so a little bit more girth could put more velocity on his fastball. For such a gangly frame Triston has excellent control. His curveball is a quality pitch and he can get swings and misses with his change. While he did not blow away hitters there was a lot of soft contact against him, with opponents hitting just .191. There is some durability concerns because of his thin frame. Last year the Indians did not start him until June because of injury issues. This will be the second straight season his season is delayed. Once healthy he should start the season in AA.

46. Cristian Pache CF (Braves) - The Dominican has the speed and defensive chops to be a gold glove centerfielder. The hope is that the bat develops so he can hit at the top of the lineup. He needs to show a little more patience at the plate in order to improve his OBA (.327). His speed has also not resulted in a lot of success stealing bases (50 for 77 in three years). The power is lacking so he needs to rely on his speed game to make an impact. His first two years Cristian went homerless but last year he carried nine balls over the fence. Next year he should repeat at AA and with some success move up to AAA. With Ender Inciarte in centerfield the Braves do not have to rush Pache.

45. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charles was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. His defense is also gold glove caliber for third base, but his power could be lacking to play the position. Last year he slugged .444 with the 31 doubles accounting for most of his power. Ke’Bryan makes good contact and should hit for a high enough average. His speed is not great but he did steal 39 bases the last two years. The Pirates are a little crowded at third with Moran and Kang so Hayes should see a full season in AAA in 2019.

44. Yordan Alvarez LF/1B (Astros) - The Cuban has some big time power, hitting 20 homeruns last year. Finding him a position could be a challenge. At 6′5″ his arm is not strong enough to play right field but he has enough speed to fit in left. He still needs a lot of work on his routes in the outfield so a move to first may be in his future. His lefthanded bat has the ability to hit to all fields with no issues hitting for average when facing lefthanders. Kyle Tucker is currently ahead of Alvarez for the next left field opportunity so Yordan will start his 2019 season in AAA. If the power in his bat dominates AAA expect him to make his major league debut this year.

43. Justus Sheffield LHP (Mariners) - The Yankees traded away their 2014 first round pick to acquire a pitcher with more experience in James Paxton. A short term gain could end up a long term loss. His left handed arm can dial the fastball up to 95 and his slider is a hard pitch. He needs to improve his change to get more separation in velocity to prevent hitters from always looking for the hard stuff. The Mariners may start him in AAA to begin the season but expect an early callup to the major leagues. Sheffield and Kikuchi are two good pieces for building a rotation.

42. Chris Paddock RHP (Padres) - Like the Atlanta Braves, the Padres have a number of starting pitching options. The 2015 eighth round pick of the Marlins was acquired for Fernando Rodney. He has had nothing but success in the minor leagues with his ERA sitting at 1.82. He did not pitch in 2017 because of Tommy John surgery but bounced back last year tossing 90 innings. He is not overpowering, with a fastball sitting in the low 90s but his command of the fastball and his quality change made a number of hitters look like fools. In seven AA starts he finished with a 1.91 ERA with opponents hitting him at .171. A good spring could see him start at AAA with a major league promotion occurring quickly if he can have immediate success. Because of the recent Tommy John surgery the Padres will have to watch his innings.

41. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - The Cuban dominated the Naccional Series in his last season, putting up Triple Crown numbers before defecting halfway through the season. The speed is there to play centerfield and the bat should hit for power. His big issue is staying healthy. Thumb injuries cost him significant time last year, limiting him to just 50 games. In close to 200 at bats he failed to hit a homerun in 2018. The White Sox will like to see what they have got with a healthy Robert. Next year he should start his season in High A where the White Sox hope he improves on his .244 average and 8/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Top 100 Prospects 80-71

Friday, March 1st, 2019

This ten is loaded with righthanded pitching.

80. Nolan Jones 3B (Indians) - The Indians second round 2016 pick had a breakout year in his first opportunity to play full season ball. The bat showed power with 19 homeruns at the two A levels with a .466 slugging percentage. The Indians would like to see him cut down on his whiffs, but he also draws a lot of walks (89) resulting in a .405 OBA. At 6′4″ he could become too immobile to play third base. His lack of speed makes moving to the outfield a challenge and a move to first would decrease his value. The Indians will hope he can stick at third. The 2019 season should begin with High A and a promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

79. Jonathan Loaisiga RHP (Yankees) - The Nicaraguan native had an excellent year, leap frogging over a number of prospects to place in the Top 100. He finished with a 2.89 ERA with a 8/67 walk to whiff ratio in 56 innings, starting at High A and resulting in a major league promotion. He got blitzed a bit in the majors with a 5.11 ERA and a .271 opposition average. He stands at only 5′11″ but his fastball sits in the mid-90s. His curve and change are quality offerings and his command is solid. The Giants had originally signed him back in 2012 but injuries led to his release two years later. The Yankees signed him in 2016 but he could make only one start before having Tommy John surgery. Health is an issue. A little time in AAA would not hurt. His small stature and problems with staying healthy may make the bullpen the best alternative for him. Expect him to ride the Yankees roller coaster in 2019 from minors to majors and back again.

78. Mathew Liberatore LHP (Rays) - The Rays first round 2018 pick made an impressive professional debut with a 0.98 ERA in eight starts of Gulf Coast League ball. Opponents batted just .170 off him. He pitched six shutout innings against Korea in the finals of the 18 and under World Cup games resulting in a rise in his prospect status. At 6′5″ he has a large frame but his fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s. The curve ball is his best pitch resulting in most of his swings and misses. Mathew also has no problems finding the plate and moving his pitches around the strike zone. Next year he should make his debut in Low A where the Rays can work on giving him some innings.

77. Josh James RHP (Astros) - Last year Josh was not considered a prospect. That comes with the territory when you are a 34th round pick in the 2014 draft. He signed for just $15,000. Then his fastball started hitting the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. No minor league pitcher last year had a better strikeout rating of 13.5 per nine innings pitched. Once given an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues the whiffs continued and major leaguers could only hit him at a .183 clip. His secondary pitches are good enough to play as a starter but his struggles at finding the strike zone on a consistent basis could relegate him to the bullpen. The Astros are looking at him as their fifth starter but a spring training injury could force him to start the season in AAA. If he continues to dominate there as he did last year a callup to Houston would be quick.

76. Griffin Canning RHP (Angels) - The ace of the UCLA Bruins pitching staff in 2017 dropped to the Angels in the second round. His innings work load and a concern for injury after his physical prevented him from pitching in 2017 in the minor leagues. Griffin has some heat on his fastball (mid-90s) and quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) that makes the middle of a starting rotation a good possibility. The injury issues seem to be put to rest with his 113 innings of solid work where he climbed all the way to AAA. This puts him just a knock away from the major leagues. His struggles a bit in AAA (5.49 ERA and .294 opposition average) will force him to start the season there and hope for improvement. The Angels have had trouble keeping starting pitchers healthy so it would not be a surprise to see him reach the major leagues sometime by mid-season if he can find success in AAA.

75. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - The 2016 third round pick did not replicate his 2017 season, but that would have been hard to do. Arm injuries limited him to just 16 starts last year, a reminder that he had trouble with those injuries at Rice and in his first season with the D-Backs after being drafted. The opposition still had trouble hitting him in AA (.217) and his 2.69 ERA was still quality. The fastball can hit the mid-90s but sits mostly south of 95. Quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) and the ability to throw strikes makes him a good candidate for the top of a starting rotation. The big test is whether he can stay healthy. Expect him to start his season in AAA with a promotion to the major leagues in 2019 if he can achieve success.

74. Yusei Kikuchi RHP (Mariners) - The Japanese pitcher will not dominate like Ohtani. His fastball hits the mid-90s but sits in the low 90s. The 2017 season was his best year when he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA with 217 whiffs in just 187 innings. Last year his strikeout rate dropped below one per inning and his ERA rose to 3.08. He stands only 6′0″ but he is a crafty pitcher with quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) with the ability to move his pitches around the strike zone. He was one of the first Japanese pitchers to declare he wanted to play major league baseball after his high school season, requesting Japanese teams to not select him in the draft. He was the Ohtani before Ohtani, except he could not hit.

73. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - With Sixto traded to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto trade Adonis is now the top pitching prospect for the Phillies. His fastball is not as explosive as Sixto, but it hits the mid-90s. His changeup has improved allowing his fastball to look better. In 2017 his whiff rate improved from 4.7 to 10 whiffs per nine innings. A good slider forces hitters to pound the ball on the ground when they are not swinging and missing at his fastball. The Dominican stands only 6′1′ so there could be durability issues. Last year he pitched 111 innings in the Florida State League. The Phillies will hope for another innings increase in AA next year.

72. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Cuban is the son of Victor Mesa, who was a legend on the international baseball circuit, leading Cuba to a number of gold medals. The father of Yuriel and Lourdes Gurriel also starred on those teams. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million, with his younger brother signing with him for much less. Victor played in the Cuban professional league at 16 and was frustrated with the high expectations Cuban fans had for him. His defensive play will be gold glove while his bat could take some time before it develops. Speed is his game but he needs to show the bat to shine in the major leagues. Some have compared him to a Victor Robles. The Marlins may start him at High A with quick promotions as he shows success.

71. Ryan Mountcastle 3B (Orioles) - There is no question the Orioles 2015 first round pick has the bat. He will hit in the neighborhood of .300 with double digit homerun power. The challenge is finding a position he can play. He started as a shortstop but his arm was not strong enough to play there. The Orioles moved him to third, but the arm does not fit the position and watching his throws float to first is painful. He could move to left where his arm won’t help him or play first where his power would come up short. Ryan will start the 2019 season in AAA and see his major league debut this year. Myworld will be curious what position he will ultimately play.

Indians Continue to Focus on Titles

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

The Indians farm system has been just strong enough to churn out decent enough prospects that they can trade them for veterans. They were ranked by myworld at number 15 last year, right in the middle of the pack and in years past usually sit around the lower part of the top ten. The highest ranked prospects they have had are Trevor Bauer (2013) who was acquired from the Diamondbacks and appeared at number five and Francisco Lindor (2015) who appeared at number six. Both prospects have made impacts on their major league roster. Last year the only two players who appeared in Top 100 lists were Tristan McKenzie and Francisco Mejia, but both appeared high enough to elevate the Indians status in the prospect rankings. Francisco Mejia was traded mid-year to the Padres.

Myworld saw Tristan McKenzie pitch in the NY Penn League a couple years ago and were quickly mesmerized. We liked the length in his arms making it hard for hitters to pick up on the ball. His skinny frame seemed to indicate that an increase in velocity on his low 90s fastball would increase once he fills out. The fastball still sits in the low-90s but his curveball gets lots of swings and misses and his change is an effective pitch. A 6′5″ frame that is not troubled with poor command makes him a future ace in the waiting. Last year he had success in AA (2.68 ERA and .191 opposition average) so the major leagues is not far away.

Another tall drink of water at 6′6″ 2018 first round pick Ethan Hawkins. A shoulder injury impacted his draft status dropping him all the way to the last pick of the 2018 draft. The faulty shoulder limited him to three innings on two starts last year. His fastball blazes across the plate in the high 90s but his secondary pitches need some improvement before he can be considered as an ace pitcher. The 2019 season will be critical to see if he can keep his health. He pitched for the gold medal winning 18 and under USA baseball team in 2018, one of ten players on that team selected in the first round.

The big thing Sam Hentges has going for him is a fastball he can hit in the mid-90s. Another large framed pitcher (6′6″) drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft he lacks a consistent secondary offering and struggles with control. Last year he had moderate success in High A as a starter but opposing hitters tagged him at a .260 clip. The Indians will give him another year in the rotation in an attempt to master his command.

The Venezuelan Luis Oviedo owns the best fastball of all the Indians prospects. It sits in the mid-90s and can tick higher. A good changeup makes the fastball look even more imposing. Establishing a breaking pitch will cement his spot in the rotation. He limited the opposition to a .190 average last year. Next year he should begin the season in Low A.

Chih-Wei Hu has bounced around since signing with the Twins out of Taiwan in 2012. He made his major league debut with the Rays in 2017 and got another five relief appearances with the Indians last year. He is not overpowering and at 6′0″ there could be durability concerns as a starter, but his pitch mix is varied. The change and his low 89s fastball location are his two best pitches but he also carries two breaking pitches and a palmball. Major league hitters only hit him at a .149 clip in his 13 major league innings. The Indians will probably use him out of the bullpen to begin the 2019 season and fit him in the rotation when a need exists.

Noah Naylor was the Indians first round pick in 2018. He is the brother of Josh, but his ability to catch and his better physique may ultimately make him a better prospect. He still needs a lot of improvement on his defense behind the plate, but his arm is solid. His bat should show enough power to hit 20 plus homeruns and he showed some good plate discipline with 21 walks in 33 games for a .381 OBA. If catching does not happen the bat is strong enough for him to see time at first base.

It appeared Bobby Bradley continued to improve his ability to make contact, striking out just 105 times in 97 games. It did not seem to help in his batting average (.214) but he did improve to .254 when promoted to AAA. Power will be his game. He has hit 20 plus homeruns since being drafted in the third round in 2014. DH appears to be his best position and his speed limits him to one base at a time, unless he bombs a pitch over the wall. If the power does not show in abundant quantities the major leagues will not happen.

Nolan Jones still has some developing to do. The 2016 second round pick has an excellent glove for third base. An ability to take a walk put his OBA for the 2018 season at .405. That will allow him to hit for a decent average (.283) with decent power that should improve as he matures. Last year Nolan slugged 19 homeruns. If for some reason he can not play third the legs carry enough speed for him to be able to play outfield.

The Indians signed Yu-Cheng Chang out of Taiwan in 2013. In 2017 he slugged 24 homeruns to open eyes as a possible slugging shortstop. That power unfortunately came with a lower average (.220). Last year the power was more muted with 13 homeruns but the batting average increased to .256. He may not have the range to stay at short, but if he moves to third he will need to show the power to fit the position. Next year he should make his major league debut if the Indians feel he is ready.

Tyler Freeman may not have the range to stick at short and lacks the power to play third. The supplemental second round pick in 2017 did hit .352 in rookie ball with 29 doubles to show he can spray the gaps. If that offense continues a move to second could be a possibility. Expect his role to be more of a utility player.

The one weakness the Indians have had is developing outfielders. They traded with the Nationals to acquire Daniel Johnson. Daniel was kind of the third wheel behind Juan Soto and Victor Robles. The tools are there for him to hit for power and average. With the Nationals his bat was second to Soto and his speed was second to Robles. With the Indians he has the ability to be one of their top outfielders. His defensive tools make him a better fit for right field.

The Indians paid George Valera $1.3 million in 2017. He lived in New York but moved to the Dominican at 13 years of age. A broken hamate bone limited his season to six games. The bat has the ability to mix power with contact so he should be a solid offensive player, making a move to right field a good fit.

Will Benson was the Indians 2016 first round pick. His arm is a rifle making him a perfect fit for right field but his legs carry some speed to make centerfield another option. Last year he hit 22 homeruns while showing good patience at the plate with 82 walks. What he needs to improve on is his ability to make contact with 152 whiffs in just 123 games. That struggle to make contact drove his average down to .180. In his three years in the minor leagues he has yet to hit over .238.

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.