Archive for the 'Indians' Category

AL Central Lower Round Draft Pick Success

Friday, December 27th, 2019

A couple days ago we did the AL East teams and the players drafted 25th or lower who achieved major league success for more than a year, with some exceptions. Myworld started the review for drafts in 1998 when they limited the picks to 50 players and went to 2015 when we felt most players from that draft and later would still be in the minor leagues. Below is the AL Central major league success rate.

Chicago White Sox

Mark Buehrle LHP (1998/38th round) - 214-160, 3.81 in 518 games, 493 of them starts.
Joe Valentine RHP (1999/26th round) - 2-4, 6.70 in 42 games of relief except for one start
Jeff Bajenaru RHP (1999/36th round) - 0-2, 11.20 in 14 games of relief
Charlie Haeger RHP (2001/25th round) - 2-7, 6.40 in 34 games, 10 of them starts
Jay Marshall LHP (2002/25th round) - 1-4, 7.66 in 61 games of relief
Hector Santiago LHP (2006/30th round) - 47-50, 4.14 in 257 games, 139 of them starts
Chris Devenski RHP (2011/25th round) - 16-15, 3.21 in 221 games, 7 of them starts

Cleveland Indians

Tony Sipp LHP (2004, 45th round) - 26-22, 3.72 in 616 games of relief
Vidal Nuno LHP (2009/48th round) - 8-23, 4.06 in 155 games, 42 of them starts

Jon Van Every OF (2000/29th round) - .255, 2, 9 in 39 games
Roberto Perez C (2008/33rd round) - .216, 45, 162 in 414 games

Detroit Tigers

Eric Eckenstahler LHP (1999/32nd round) - 1-0, 3.80 in 27 games of relief
Jason Frasor RHP (1999/33rd round) - 35-35, 3.49 in 679 games of relief
Joe Mantiply LHP (2013/27th round) - 1-0, 12.71 in 6 games of relief

Dusty Ryan C (2003/48th round) - .257, 2, 11 in 27 games
Will Rhymes 2B (2005/27th round) - .266, 2, 29 in 130 games

Kansas City Royals

Ruben Gotay 2B/SS (2000/31st round) - .255, 12, 77 RBIs in 316 games
Jarrod Dyson OF (2006/50th round) - .247, 21, 170 with 250 stolen bases in 858 games
Clint Robinson 1B (2007/25th round) - .257, 15, 62 in 243 games

Minnesota Twins

Kevin Frederick RHP (1998/29th round) - 0-2, 7.59 in 30 games of relief
Nick Blackburn RHP (2001/29th round) - 43-55, 4.85 in 145 games, 137 of them starts
Michael Tonkin RHP (2008/30th round) - 3-3, 4.43 in 141 games of relief
A.J. Achter RHP (2010/46th round) - 2-1, 3.92 in 45 games of relief

Terry Tiffee 1B (1999/26th round) - .226, 5, 29 in 97 games
Rene Tosoni OF (2005/36th round) - .203, 5, 22 in 60 games

AL Central Baseball America Minor League All Stars

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

These are the All Stars selected by Baseball America for each of the classifications. They may not be the best prospects but they had some pretty good years. Below is the list of AL Central All Stars.

Chicago White Sox

Luis Robert (OF/AAA) - This Cuban will be one of the top five prospects in minor league baseball. He has all the tools, the speed to play center and create havoc on the basepaths, the arm to play right and the bat to hit for average and power. He could use better patience at the plate. His 28/129 walk to whiff ratio could get exploited by major league pitchers. Last year he hit .328 with 32 homeruns and 92 RBIs at three different levels.

Avery Weems (LHP/SS) - The sixth round pick from the 2019 draft out of Arizona put up some pretty dominating numbers, with a 2.09 ERA in 14 starts and 74 whiffs in 60 innings. Only one hitter slugged a homer off him as he is a ground ball machine. His fastball does not have great velocity but in this spin driven world he has the spin on the ball that makes it difficult to make contact.

Cleveland Indians

Nolan Jones (3B/High A) - The second round 2016 pick has the potential to develop some significant power. He only slugged .425 at High A but when promoted to AA it rose to .466. It is his plate discipline that is most impressive with OBAs of .435 and .370. His defense needs some improvement and because of his lack of speed the outfield would be a liability. So the Indians hope he can make it at third, otherwise a move to first would test his power.

Will Benson (DH/Low A) - At 6′5 the first round 2014 pick can generate some impressive power, including hitting four homeruns in one game. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in Low A for a .604 slugging. A promotion to High A resulted in some struggles (.189) that a little more plate discipline would improve. Last year he struck out 151 times in 123 games. His defense is best suited for the corners, with the arm to fit in right field. For a player drafted in 2014 and only advancing to High A is concerning.

Bryan Lavastida (C/SS) - The 15th round pick of 2018 displayed a solid bat last year with a .335 average. In his two years of minor league ball he is hitting .319. Drafted out of junior college and at 20 years old he may have been a bit too advanced for another season of short season ball. He has the potential to be a solid defensive catcher and is bilingual, a good trait for a catcher.

Ethan Hankins (RHP/SS) - A shoulder injury dropped him to the 35th player selected in the 2018 draft. He dominated at the New York Penn League (1.40 ERA) with a fastball that can hit the high 90s but sits at the mid-90s. After a promotion to Low A he got tagged around a bit (4.64 ERA) his opposition average going from .178 to .250. His breaking pitches need to improve so hitters do not sit on his fastball.

Detroit Tigers

Matt Manning (RHP/AA) - The Tigers 2016 number one pick is not even their top pitching prospect (Casey Mize). He did have a dominating season in AA with a 2.56 ERA, 148 whiffs in 133 innings and a .192 opposition average. At 6′6″ he is a skyscraper with a mid-90s fastball. He just needs to enhance his change and he could become an ace.

Drew Carlton (RHP/AA) - Relief pitchers drafted in the 32nd round as Drew was in 2017 are always suspect. The Tigers Erie rotation was filled with top ten prospects and who was asked to close the games but a player not on the Tigers prospect list. He saved 19 games, had a 1.46 ERA and limited the opposition to a .200 average. Since being drafted the Seminole has a career ERA of 1.74. Joe Jimenez had 30 saves in 2016 in the minor leagues so achieving saves does not guarantee major league success.

Tarik Skubal (LHP/AA) - One of the biggest surprises for the Tigers this year. The 9th round 2018 pick finished with a 2.13 ERA in AA, limiting the opposition to a .168 average and whiffing 82 in 42 innings, more dominating than he was in High A (2.58). His fastball can hit 97 but sits in the lower reaches of the mid-90s, plenty of juice for a lefthander. His improvement in his change would establish himself in the major leagues.

Kansas City Royals

Kris Bubic (LHP/High) - The supplemental first round pick in the 2018 draft out of Stanford posted a 2.30 ERA at High A. He also struck out a whisker more than a batter per inning and limited the opposition to a .215 average. He did all this with a fastball in the low 90s, but with a whacky delivery and effective change that made him tough to hit.

Adrian Alcantara (RHP/SS) - The Dominican was hard to hit with a .155 opposition average. This was an improvement from last year (.290). The twenty year old will face a key season next year, perhaps debuting at full season Low A.

Minnesota Twins

Devin Smeltzer (LHP/AAA) - The fifth round 2016 pick will not wow you with his tools but he does throw left handed and showed he could get hitters out in the rough and tumble AAA. His 3.63 ERA would not be so elevated if he did not give up 14 homeruns in just 74 innings. He showed enough to make his debut with the Twins for six major league starts.

Lewin Diaz (1B/High A) - The Twins traded Lewin to the Marlins mid-season for some relief help. Lewin mashed 27 homeruns. He hit 13 of those homeruns in High A with a .290 average and a .533 slugging percentage while with the Twins. At 6′4″ he has the length to deliver power. For a big man he makes good contact but his defense needs improvement if he does not want to spend most of his time at DH.

Trevor Larmach (OF/High A) - The 2018 first round pick hit for a nice average in the Florida State League (.316) and showed good gap power with 26 doubles and six homeruns. His lack of speed is not ideal for the outfield but his arm is strong enough for right field. A move to first base would require a bit more juice in the bat.

Cody Laweryson (RHP/SS) - The 14th round pick in the 2019 draft had a good professional debut with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts. The opposition could only hit him at a .168 clip. In one of his last starts he struck out 15 batters in six innings. At 6′4″ he relies on his fastball/change combination to keep hitters off balance. Next year in full season will be key to see if he can replicate those numbers.

Top Third Base Prospects

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top third base prospects. Interesting the list lacks any internationals players. Perhaps some of those shortstops will move to third base, crowding out some of the players below.

1. Alec Bohm (Phillies) - The 2018 first round pick of the Phillies has some height (6′5″) which creates some massive power to his game. He kind of reminds me of Troy Glaus without the swing and miss. The concern is his defensive game is below par based on his lack of first step quickness. Last year his power was absent with zero homeruns in 139 at bats. This year he has hit 21 homeruns, climbing all the way to AA. For a power hitter he makes good contact, which could result in a high average. This year his average sits at .305, though a .367 average in Low A pads those stats. If his agility does not improve and a move to first is a necessity it would drop his value to the team.

2. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - Gorman was also a first round pick in 2018. The Cardinals have a glut of third baseman in the minor leagues, but Gorman is ahead of them all at this point. His defense is solid and his power is exceptional. In his first year after being drafted he slugged 17 homeruns in just 68 games. The big issue in his game is his inability to make contact and his struggle to hit lefthanded pitching. This year his splits are not as pronounced as they were last year but his 152 whiffs in just 125 games has dropped his average to .248. His slugging average has also dropped below .500.

3. Josh Jung (Rangers) - Josh was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2019. Josh dominated in college for Texas Tech, even showing the ability to play shortstop. That won’t happen in the major leagues, but it shows his ability to play a solid defense at the hot corner. His bat should show enough power to play the position and he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average. After tearing up Rookie level pitching (.588) he earned a promotion to full season ball. In Low A his power is a little short with just one homerun, but after a full college season he could be a bit fatigued. Bohm did not hit any homers his first year.

4. Jonathan India (Reds) - The Reds drafted India in the first round in the 2018 draft. He showed some power last year for the Florida Gators. With the Reds he may have to switch positions like Nick Senzel with Eugenio Suarez hitting 40 plus homeruns for the Reds. India is still low enough in the minors that the Reds can show some patience with him but as a college drafted position player you can’t show too much patience. India has already hit his way to AA with 11 homeruns, though his slugging average in AA is a disappointing .378. Defensively he has the glove to stay at third. His speed is also decent enough that a move to a corner outfield would not be without possibility.

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The first round 2015 pick is known more for his glove than his bat. He is the son of Charlie Hayes, who played quite a bit of third base in the major leagues. Power will not be part of his game, but he makes good contact where he could hit for average. Last year he hit .293, splitting the gap for 31 doubles. This year has been a bit more swing and miss in AAA, dropping his average to .265, though his homerun numbers have increased to 10. Next year he should battle for the third base job with the Pirates.

6. Brett Baty (Mets) - Bret was the Mets 2019 first round pick. Brett led all high school players with 19 homeruns. He has had some challenges making contact in his first year and his lack of agility may make a move away from third base a possibility. His speed is not impressive so a move to the outfield would still be a defensive liability and with Pete Alonso at first he is blocked there. The Mets will keep him at third and hope he improves with the glove. His first year in professional ball has been a bit of a challenge with a .234 average playing at three different levels.

7. Sheldon Neuse (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted Sheldon in the second round of the 2016 draft then traded him to the Athletics in the Sean Doolittle trade. With Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen also a part of that trade to the Athletics it could be a trade the Nationals regret. Neuse did not show a lot of big time power with the Nationals to justify using him at third base. Entering into the 2018 season he had a career slugging average of .415. This year he has blasted 27 homeruns in the hitter friendly AAA with a .317 average and 102 RBIs. That has led to a promotion to the A’s where his playing time is spotty. He is stuck behind Matt Chapman, and while his glove is solid it falls short of Chapman. If he continues to show power the Athletics could trade him for some pitching help. At 24 years of age his time is now.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - Myworld is always confusing him with Nolan Gorman. Jones was a second round pick of the Indians in 2016. He has big time over the fence power that also comes with a lot of swings and misses. Despite his struggles to make contact he has hit for a good average, coming into the 2019 season with a .289 average. His glove should allow him to play third, but he has the speed to move to a corner outfield if the need should arise. Nolan has worked his way to AA where his 15 homeruns is just short of his career high last year of 19. Nolan has also shown some patience at the plate with 96 walks.

9. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The Reds second round 2019 pick has some impressive power for the position. At 6′4″ the agility could be lacking to stay at third base. The speed is a tick slow so a move to a corner outfield would be a defensive liability at a different position. What makes him attractive is his size gives him the ability to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he shows he can handle the major leagues. Myworld was impressed with some of his batting practice shots in the homerun derby with Bobby Witt Jr last year at the All Star Break. There is some concern about his ability to make contact.

10. Mark Vientos (Mets) - As a second round pick in the 2017 draft Mark is ahead of Brett Baty on the Mets third base depth chart. He doesn’t have the power of Baty and his 22/110 walk to whiff ratio makes one wonder if he can continue to hit for average as he rises up the minor league ladder. At 6′4″ he has some size that limits his agility, but with Alonso at first he will need to play third to stay with the Mets. This is his first season in full season after two years in rookie ball. His batting average and slugging percentage has struggled with that. The arm is strong so a move to first would negate that strength.

Top First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Venezuelan Prospects in the American League

Friday, July 12th, 2019

It is pretty clear that the Dominicans have the top prospects in baseball. Cuba is a distant second. The prospect wave from Venezuela has gotten smaller because of the humanitarian crisis there, but there are still enough players filtering out of the country to break it down into the two leagues, American and National. This list was put together before the season started so we are not influenced by their numbers this season. Six of the ten players in the American League are pitchers, something you would not see from the Dominican Republic, where they like to hit themselves off the island.

The players who graduated from the list created last year are Gleybor Torres, who was number one and Franklin Barreto who was number three. Barreto has not really won a full time job with the Athletics yet but is getting another opportunity to play with the major league club. A number of players dropped off the list as new players earned a spot to the higher rankings

1. Brusdar Graterol RHP (Twins) - Last year he missed making the top five. This year he is the best Venezuelan prospect in the American League. At 6′1″ he is not a big guy but his fastball sits at the lower end of the high 90s. He has two breaking pitches with the slider the most effective of the two. His change still needs some work. If he can improve his command and does not face durability issues he will fit in the starting rotation. If the change never develops or he has trouble staying healthy to stick in the rotation he could be used as a closer. This year he is limiting the opposition to a .188 average in AA. Last year he had success at the two A levels. His strikeout numbers are not impressive but he does get a lot of ground ball outs. Expect to see him in a Twins uniform before the season is done. He did miss the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch more than 102 innings in a season.

2. Franklin Perez RHP (Tigers) - Franklin was signed by the Astros in 2014 for $1 million. The Astros traded him to the Tigers as the primary player in the Justin Verlander trade. Since arriving with the Tigers Franklin has had trouble staying healthy. The pitches are there with a fastball reaching the mid-90s, two above average breaking pitches and a change that is good. Last year he only pitched 19 innings because of a lat strain and shoulder issues that cropped up after his return from the lat strain. This year he has gotten two starts and has thrown less than 10 innings. At one time he was the top pitching prospect with the Tigers, but Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are all surpassing him. Perez still has the nastier stuff, but you have to pitch on the mound in order to show that stuff.

3. Jose Suarez LHP (Angels) - The Angels always seem to be short of pitchers. At 5′10 and 225 pounds Jose would not give one an impression that he is a pitcher if you saw him at the grocery store. The left handed arm does not throw an overpowering fastball, usually sitting in the low 90s. His ability to control the fastball and mix in an excellent change up makes his fastball play better. His breakout season came in 2018 when he went from High A to 17 starts in AAA, which rose him into the top ten on this list all the way to number three. Success followed him in 2019 (3.18 ERA) which led to a promotion to the major leagues. There his lack of stuff proved less mysterious to major league hitters who spanked him at a .273 clip, while the minor league bats could only hit .200. If you are looking for a number five pitcher for your rotation Jose could be your man. If you want better pass him by.

4. Kevin Maitan 3B (Angels) - Kevin was once considered a superstar when he first signed with the Braves for $4.25 million. He was allowed to leave as a free agent because the Braves were involved in illegal international signing discretions. Once he was declared a free agent the Angels swooped in and signed him for $2.2 million. His superstar status has now slipped and now there are questions of whether the bat will play for him to reach the major leagues. His lack of range forced a move from shortstop to third base. The bat carries enough power to play third base, but the swings and misses and soft average (.214) does not allow that power to show up with much frequency. He still is only 19 years old but Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres were in AAA at 20 years of age and Maitan is still swinging and missing in A ball. This needs to be his break out season if he wants to make a similar jump.

5. Luis Oviedo RHP (Indians) - Luis signed for a generous $375,000 in 2015. He has a good pitcher’s frame (6′4″) and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. That will keep him on prospect lists. His secondary pitchers are good enough to keep him in the rotation and he throws strikes. If he can improve one of his breaking pitches and the change he could climb from a back or mid rotation starter to a number two starter. He has yet to throw more than 63 innings in a season but last year was his most successful one. He did get two starts in Low A and walked seven in just nine innings. This year he has already reached 83 innings in Low A with numbers that are not impressive (5.40 ERA, .244 average) but he is getting the work in. Don’t expect him to rise too quickly. He needs to find consistent success at the lower levels before they consider him for the majors.

6. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox) - Darwinzon is another big guy at 6′2″ and 245 pounds who must watch his conditioning if he hopes to continue his career playing baseball. Back in 2013 the Red Sox signed him for just $7,500. As the years passed his fastball was hitting the high 90s and the swings and misses were becoming more prevalent, putting him on the prospect radar. He has the breaking pitches and the change to make it in the starting rotation. What he lacks is the ability to throw the ball across the plate or hit his spots in the strike zone. That is one reason he might be best used in the bullpen. Despite his lack of success in the minor leagues this year (5.04) the Red Sox promoted him to the major leagues where he had one start and one appearance in relief. Finding the strike zone was still a challenge with six walks in just 5.1 innings resulted in an ugly 5.06 ERA. The Red Sox bullpen is a little erratic so he may be called up again to help out in the pen if he can show strike one is not a difficult pitch to make.

7. Luis Rengifo 2B/SS (Angels) - The Mariners signed Rengifo for $360,000. He was traded to the Rays where the Angels acquired him just before spring training 2018 for C.J. Cron. With the Angels he climbed up their minor league system hitting over .300 in High A and AA putting him in AAA where he hit .276. Luis does not offer a lot of power but he makes contact with a 75/75 walk to whiff ratio in the minor leagues last year. Luis does not have great speed but it was good enough to swipe 41 bases last year. After hitting .273 this year in AAA the Angels had a need for a middle infielder. With the Angels he has played most of his games at second base with the remaining games at shortstop. Luis is best used as a utility infielder. The tools are a little light to be a starter.

8. Luis Arraez 2B (Twins) - Base hits seem to come easy for this Luis. He lacks power and the speed is below average but his hits seem to find the grass. His career minor league average entering the 2019 season was .329 with a 98/114 walk to whiff ratio. Because of his lack of tools in other areas he will need to keep on finding the grass to stick in the major leagues. He missed all but three games of the 2017 season because of ACL surgery but came back last year to hit .310. This year he abused AA pitchers with a .342 average. A promotion to AAA did not phase him as he continued to hit (.348). No balls travelled over the fence in his more than 200 at bats, but it got him a promotion to the major leagues. There he hit .393 in close to 100 at bats, including two homeruns. The return of Marwin Gonzales from the disabled list and the hitting of Jonathan Schoop complicates his status as a major leaguer. But any hitter who has a .976 OPS in 100 at bats deserves a spot in the major league lineup. In the minors his walk to whiff ratio is 24/15 while with the Twins it was 10/8.

9. Bryan Mata RHP (Red Sox) - The Red Sox found another bargain when they signed Bryan for $25,000. At 6′3″ he has a nice pitcher’s frame. Adding some weight could put some more mustard on his low 90s fastball, allowing it to sit consistently in the mid-90s. Last year finding the strike zone was a bit of a challenge with 58 walks in just 72 innings at High A. He doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses but he limited the opposition to a .229 average. This year the Red Sox started him in High A where he seemed to locate the strike zone for just 18 walks in 51 innings and a 1.75 ERA. He was rewarded with a promotion to AA where in two starts the strike zone has gotten a little more elusive. If Bryan can locate the strike zone again the Red Sox could promote him this year to help in the bullpen. If not, you could see him late in 2020.

10. Everson Pereira OF (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Everson for $1.5 million in 2017. There is the potential for a borderline five tool player here. The arm rates as average but all the other tools are impressive. Last year the Yankees brought him up to rookie ball where as a 17 year old he was able to hit .263. There were a lot of strikeouts in his game (60 whiffs in 41 games) but the potential is there. This year he is playing in the New York Penn League, hitting .171 with a .257 slugging percentage. It will be a struggle early in his career but the Yankees have plenty of outfield talent to wait for him. Don’t expect to see Pereira in a Yankee uniform until September 2021 at the earliest.

Clippers Hold Off Indians

Friday, June 28th, 2019

The Columbus Clippers scored three early runs, two of them plated as a result of a fifth inning homerun by Tracye Thompson to down the Indianapolis Indians 3-2. Aaron Civale kept the Indians off the scoreboard for seven innings, retiring the last 11 hitters he faced. The Indians fell short of a victory at Victory Field.

Alex McRae started strong for the Indians, retiring the first seven hitters he faced, four of them on strikeouts. In the third he loaded the bases before escaping the jam. In the fourth he hit Brandon Barnes, who eventually stole second base and advanced to third when the catcher’s throw sailed into centerfield. Mark Mathias drove him in with a single for the first run.

In the fifth he gave up a two run homer to Thompson. After a two out single from Ryan Flaherty, McRae was gone.

Chih-Wei Hu had a rough ninth inning for the Clippers. After striking out the leadoff batter he gave up a hit to Tracye Robinson and back to back doubles to Logan Hill and Eric Wood, the last driving in two runs. Neil Ramirez replaced Hu and retired the last two hitters to get the save.

Myworld likes Victory Field. It has an old fashioned look to it, with a power plant lurking in the background. They also have a pretty large bar out in leftfield. Myworld was not too impressed with the concessions, the standard fare of hot dogs, chicken tenders, pizza or burgers. They have a rather ordinary looking bear mascot by the name of Rowdie.

The interesting aspect about AAA is finding the ex-major league players on the roster. Brandon Barnes has blasted 16 homeruns. Ryan Flaherty was playing shortstop for the Clippers and J.B. Schuck did not look too happy to roam centerfield in AAA. Jake Elmore was hitting .362. The only players I would identify as prospects are Cole Tucker and Kevin Kramer for the Indians and Adam Civale for the Clippers. Another Clipper Daniel Johnson, is a borderline prospect. Myworld does not believe he has enough game power to make it as a corner outfielder.

The Clippers had some big bats in the lineup. Tracye Thompson and Eric Haase each have 18 homeruns, with Tracye hitting his 19th tonight. Brandon Barnes has 16 homeruns

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.