Archive for the 'Royals' Category

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 Prospects - 90-81

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The next wave of top 100 prospects, with right handed pitchers dominating the mix.

90. D.L. Hall LHP (Orioles) - The Orioles 2017 first round pick has a good fastball for a lefthander, riding the plate at 92-94 with an occasional mid-90s heat. What makes the fastball more effective is his lefthanded movement. It is difficult to make hard contact with his pitches, as evidence by the opposition’s .203 batting average against him. A good curveball and change give him the requisite pitches to fit in the starting rotation. He does need to throw more strikes, last year walking 42 hitters in just 94 innings. That may come with more experience. Next year he should begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he achieves success.

89. Trevor Larnach OF (Twins) - The Twins 2018 first round pick played for the 2018 College World Series champion Oregon State. His bat had a break out in power for his junior year, elevating his draft status. That continued into his 2018 minor league season when he hit five homeruns for a .500 slugging average. The bat needs to work because his defense in the outfield is average to below. His arm and speed are best suited for left field, so a high average and 20 plus homeruns are imperative. His 21/28 walk to whiff ratio were also very impressive. Expect him to rise quickly through the ranks, starting at Low A where he finished last year and rising quickly to AA if he achieves success.

88. Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - The Nationals traded Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dunning to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. That may be a trade they will regret when all three pitchers are in the White Sox rotation. Dunning was the Nationals 2016 first round pick. He had problems with his elbow last year, which caused him to miss a couple months. That will be something that needs to be watched. Dane throws in the low 90s with his sinker and then mixes in a slider, curve and change. Since he is not overpowering he will need all four pitches to be effective at the major league level. Last year he achieved 15 starts, striking out over ten hitters per nine innings. He should start the 2019 season in AA with the possibility of getting a major league callup mid-season if his elbow holds up.

87. Brady Singer RHP (Royals) - Brady was the Royals top pick in the 2018 draft and was expected to be picked higher than the 18th pick. Last year a minor hamstring injury prevented him from pitching the 2018 season. He also had thrown a number of innings for the Florida Gators. He will break out his low 90s fastball/slider combination probably in the Low A affiliates to start the 2019 season. He showed good command when pitching in college and needing a third pitch (change) was not often necessary so how that translates to professional hitters will be key. If he has success Brady will be a fast riser up the minor league ladder, hitting AA before the season ends. Brady was originally a second round pick of the Jays out of high school but did not sign after a post draft physical turned up some issues. Credit to Brady for staying healthy and raising his stock while pitching for the Gators.

86. Bryse Wilson RHP (Braves) - Bryse rose quickly in the Braves system, starting in High A and ending the season with the Braves. The fourth round 2016 pick stands only 6′1′ but his fastball can reach the plate north of the mid-90s. It sits at 93-94 with plenty of dance. The lack of a quality secondary pitch and his 6′1″ frame could relegate him to the bullpen. Last year major leaguers ripped him at a .308 clip. Minor leaguers could only hit .236. One thing going for him is his excellent command of his fastball, so if his secondary pitches improve he could slot into a third spot in the rotation. A good spring could see him slot in the fifth spot in 2019 but he has a lot of competition with Touki Touissant the favorite to win the spot. Myworld sees him starting the season in AAA.

85. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - Tyler is the son of a Canadian weightlifter. Tyler has taken after his dad and is pretty bulked up as well. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals despite his massive power displays. He regularly hits over 20 homeruns in the minor leagues, last year slugging 26 with an impressive .693 slugging percentage. Many of his shots are of the tape measure variety. When promoted to the Cardinals he continued his power display with nine more homeruns. Power will be his game though he has enough speed to play a quality outfield and the arm to fit in right. Last year in the major leagues he struck out 57 times in 137 at bats, which could result in a low batting average. Next year he should be the Cardinals starting right fielder. Homerun titles could be in his future

84. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign the Cuban in 2018. At 22 years of age he may have been a bit advanced for the Dominican Summer and Northwest Leagues. The best tool for Julio will be his speed, which will allow him to steal bases and patrol centerfield. He did show some power last year with 9 homeruns and a .457 slugging average, but that may decrease as he faces better pitching at the higher levels. His arm is a better fit for left field. The big test for Julio will be next year when he plays in the full season leagues. He could rise quickly if he can show success at each level he plays.

83. Garrett Hampson 2B/SS (Rockies) - This third round 2016 pick is a scrappy player who always sits north of .300 after the season ends. His tools are not overwhelming but he gets the job done. Not great power, an arm geared more towards second base but he sprays the gaps and his speed turns singles into doubles. His best use for the Rockies could be as a Marwin Gonzalez super utility player. Last year he hit .311 at two minor league stops. Promoted to the major leagues he hit a respectable .275. Brendan Rodgers is the heir apparent at second, third is taken by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story is fixed at short. That leaves Garrett with no permanent position unless he moves his skills to the outfield.

82. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - This Cuban stands 6′8″ with a fastball that trips across the plate in the high 90s. His big challenges are finding the plate and finding a pitch to get lefthanded hitters out. In four AA starts lefthanded hitters battered him at a .348 clip. He did have some success at High A with a 2.91 ERA and .229 opposition average, but lefthanders still tagged him for a .260 clip. The Padres have a lot of candidates for their starting rotation so if his control is still spotty and his third pitch still a puzzle he could be moved to the bullpen. His fastball has closer potential. His best bet is to repeat AA to find some success but a major league callup is on the horizon.

81. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) - The Mariners signed him out of Brazil, then traded him to the Braves for Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons. When you read that his fastball hits triple digits in velocity you wonder why the Mariners gave him away so cheaply. Then you see his 265 pound weight on his 6′3″ frame and the light clicks on, Last year his triple digit fastball dropped to the low to mid-90s resulting in a 4.81 ERA. The Braves gave him an opportunity in their bullpen but he struggled with a 5.95 ERA. The development of a third pitch will determine if he stays in the starting rotation or is relegated to the bullpen. The Braves would like to see the juice return to his fastball for the 2019 season.

Royals Rebuilding

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

We’ll start our review of team prospects with a look at the team rated as having the worst farm system last year, the Kansas City Royals. They did not have any players rated in the top 100 by most of the prospect experts. Their short run to the playoffs required them to trade prospects for veterans to stay in the playoff race. A limited budget prevented them from signing a number of their free agents, losing Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. Now it is back to the rebuilding stage.

It all starts with their four 2018 number one picks, all of them pitchers. The big cookie among the four is the Gator ace Brady Singer. He was voted College Player of the Year by Baseball America. His fastball is not overpowering for an ace but it comes with command, movement and two quality secondary pitches. He has yet to pitch in the minor leagues but as a college level pitcher expect him to start at full season ball.

The Royals also drafted Singer’s Gator rotation mate in Jackson Kowar with the 33rd pick. Both pitchers stand 6′5″ but Kowar may throw a little more heat. He also has two quality secondary pitches but is not as consistent with his stuff as Singer. Kowar has gotten a head start over Singer, getting 9 starts in Low A with a 3.42 ERA. Kowar does not seem to dominate with the K’s.

The Royals also used number one picks in the 2018 draft on Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic, both lefthanders. Lynch stands 6′6″ with a mid 90s fastball. Bubic is 6′3″ but throws less heat than Lynch, his fastball sitting in the low 90s. His bread and butter pitch is a change that makes his fastball look flashier. Lynch throws both a slider and curve and may want to abandon the lesser pitch as his career develops.

That is a good four to begin your rotation, all college level pitchers who should rise quickly. Closing out the games for those four will be the Royals 2014 second round pick Josh Staumont . He began his career as a starter but a lack of control and a quality third pitch moved him to the bullpen. His fastball hits three digits, striking out 12.2 hitters per nine innings. Expect him to begin his closer role in 2019.

On the offensive front Khalil Lee may has the most upside, the closest the Royals have to a five tool player. His power disappeared a little bit last year but he should give the Royals a good stick in centerfield. At one of the corners will be a lessor defensive player in Seuly Matias who showed his power last year with 31 homeruns. His arm is a rocket, which will make him a good fit in right field, but his bat still has too much swing and miss to it.

The Royals will hope for some offense from their 2017 number one pick Nick Pratto. Some question his ability to hit for power, but he slugged 14 homeruns last year. Nick is a good defender at first base but teams like to see power from this position. His limited speed makes a move to the outfield risky. Last year he struck out 150 times, which is a cause for concern, especially if there is no power when he makes contact.

On the defensive side you have catcher MJ Melendez . His plus arm threw out 42 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. He still needs to learn some of the nuances of catching, but that will come with time. The bat comes with some pop but the inability to make contact could result in low averages.

Nicky Lopez has the tools of a utility player. He sprays the gaps, but lacks the power to carry balls over the fence. His range is not great for short so if he hopes to start it will probably be at second.

The Royals still have some work to do to add depth to their farm system. They will not be shutout in Top 100 prospects for 2019, with at least one of their pitchers squeezing in at mid level, but it is still not a strong system.

AL Central All Stars

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

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

Chicago White Sox

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

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

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

Cleveland Indians

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

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

Detroit Tigers

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

Kansas City Royals

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

Minnesota Twins

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

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

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

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

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

Luke Heimlich’s Signing in Taiwan Put on Hold

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Luke Heimlich was considered a first round pick by major league baseball while a junior pitching for Oregon State in 2017, until it was discovered he pled guilty as a 15 year old of molesting his then six year old niece. He was required to list himself as a sex offender, though that history was not known until a local newspaper discovered it after he was required to report his status after moving to Oregon. He removed himself that year from the NCAA championship playoffs and the major league draft.

As a senior this year he was the ace pitcher who led Oregon State to the NCAA championship. Even though he was eligible for the draft major league teams refused to draft him, even lower in the draft when risky players are often selected. Many scouts changed their opinion on him, calling him nothing more than a mid or back end of the rotation pitcher at best. His tools did not justify facing the backlash of signing him, even though his sex offender status was recently removed after his probationary status had passed without any further violations. It should be noted two other players from Oregon State were drafted in the first round.

The Kansas City Royals considered signing him as an undrafted free agent, but nothing ever came of that review. Shunned by the major leagues the La Miga Monkeys of the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan signed him to a contract. Once the facts came out of his molestation charges there was fervent backlash from the Taiwan fans. The CPBL immediately terminated the contract citing their “zero tolerance policy on players with a criminal history.”

Perhaps the Manny Ramirez signing after two major league drug violations did not meet the “criminal” standards. Heimlich denies the molestation charges saying he only pled guilty to protect the niece from having to go through a trial. The parents of the girl molested have stated they would not trust any child to be alone with Luke.

So the Heimlich saga continues. Some league somewhere seeking publicity of any sort may take a risk of signing him. Otherwise he may have to find another craft to try to make a living since most baseball leagues are reluctant to sign him.

Myworlds Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, July 30th, 2018

These are the shortstops of the outfield. They usually have burner’s speed. Ideally it would be nice to have a productive bat but defensively they need to stop the runs. Ideally, these players would be five toolers with the arm to throw and the legs to steal bases. Power is probably the last thing you need from the centerfielder.

Mike Trout started his major league career as a left fielder, deferring to the defensively superior Peter Bourjos. Bourjos struggled with the bat and Trout was moved to centerfield while Bourjos became a bench player. Sometimes teams will stick with the veteran (Andrew McCutchen) even though the rookie (Starling Marte) is the better defensive centerfielder.

Myworld did not include any of the players we named as left fielders or right fielders, or at least we hope we did not include them. Some of those corner outfielders could still pan out as centerfielders depending on how the roster shakes out.

1. Victor Robles (Nationals) - At one time he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. The success Soto has had in the major leagues has moved him to the second best Nationals outfield prospect, but still one of the top ten in the minors. An elbow injury early in the 2018 season sidelined him for much of the year but he has recently returned to AAA. He has all five tools. If not for his injury he would have been called up before Soto. Last year he made his major league debut but hit only .250. This year he has been showing some impressive discipline at the plate, walking 11 times to just 8 strikeouts. Victor should see some time with the Nationals in September. If Bryce Harper leaves as a free agent Robles could fight for the centerfield job with Michael Taylor.

2. Jo Adell (Angels) - Jo was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017. While he only played half a season he still displayed all five tools. His defense is top notch in center, his bat can hit for power and average and his legs can steal bases and cover a lot of real estate in center. He won’t be a prolific basestealer since he will eventually fit in the middle of the order. This year he is hitting .296 with a .557 slugging average. The Angels would like to see some improvement on his 14/60 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to reach AA before the season is done and find himself in the Angels lineup sometime before the 2019 season is complete. It will be interesting if he moves Trout from centerfield or if Adell is the player who is forced to move to one of the corners.

3. Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - Jesus is another five tool player. His power began to show last year when he hit 15 homeruns in Low A. This year he has already deposited 10 balls into the bleachers. Jesus has the speed to cover ground in center, but he does not steal a lot of bases (six this year to put his career total at 23). His career minor league slugging percentage is .492, but this year he sits at .472. He is probably still a couple years away from competing for the Rays center field job.

4. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - The Dominican has already reached High A at 19 years of age. This is already his third year in the minor leagues. Leody possesses all five tools but his batting average and power have yet to appear in High A. His slugging percentage is only .317. Perhaps the Rangers have been too aggressive with him. Last year in a full season at Low A he hit .249. He needs to improve his ability to make solid contact, though his strikeout rate is not high (71 in 98 games). Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep him in High A to begin the 2019 season. A lot will depend on his ability to finish out the 2018 season.

5. Esteven Florial (Yankees) - Last year Estevan had a break out season hitting .298 with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases. He finished the season with an impressive .850 OPS. A promotion to High A has seen him revert to the struggles he had prior to the 2017 season with a .247 average and 56 whiffs in 46 games. He is only slugging .343 which is more than 100 points below his career average. The Florida State League has some large parks so perhaps he is having some struggles coping. In rehab assignments at the Gulf Coast League he is hitting over .500 in 31 at bats against pitchers that match his 20 years of age.

6. Christian Pache (Braves) - Pache covers a lot of territory in center field. In his first two seasons covering close to 700 at bats he had yet to see a ball carry over the fence. His batting averages have been solid (.290) but his slugging has been weak (.358). This year he has found his homerun swing with 8 without sacrificing his average (.287). He makes decent contact but the Braves would like to see him walk more to raise his .311 OBP. The Dominican is probably still a couple years away from patrolling center field but Ronald Acuna could force him to find another position. Christian has more speed but Acuna has a stronger arm.

7. Jeren Kendall (Dodgers) - Myworld is not enamored with his strikeout totals. Last year he struck out 45 times in 40 games, but in college he also had the propensity to whiff. If he can improve his contact rate he has the speed and defensive tools to win gold gloves. The Dodgers currently lack a true centerfielder but Jeren may still be a couple years away. This year he is showing some power with 10 homeruns, but his propensity to swing and miss (117 whiffs in 85 games) keeps his batting average low (.223). A first round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017 the Dodgers were hoping Kendall would acclimate to the minor league pitching quicker than he has so far. His speed could make him a 20/20 player once he reaches the major leagues.

8. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. The Brewers outfield situation was crowded and Monte struggled with his bat early in his minor league career. Last year he broke out with his power hitting 21 homeruns split between Low and High A. The Marlins promoted him to AA and his power is still there (13 homeruns) but his average has struggled (.233). He has regressed in his ability to make contact with a worrisome 166 whiffs in just 104 games. His speed combined with his power will make him a 20/20 major leaguer but he needs to improve his ability to make contact if he wants to see a major league outfield. Lewis Brinson has been playing centerfield for the Marlins but he has had difficulty generating offense.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - A local boy (Flint High School) who was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016. He is a five tool player that can handle all three outfield positions but the Royals would prefer he play center. As a high school draftee the Royals have been aggressive with his promotion. This year he went from High A to AA where he has combined for a .253 average with six homeruns. His patience at the plate is good with 48 walks in just 71 games at High A. Khalil still has a couple years to play in the minors before the Royals need to put him on the 40 man roster so expect him not to arrive until 2020.

10. Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Last year the Athletics gave Jorge a lot of centerfield time. This year all his time has been at shortstop or second base. We see those two positions blocked for the immediate future and Jorge is ready to get his major league opportunity now. He is not the prolific base stealer he was in 2015 when he stole 81 bases. Last year he found his happy feet with 52 stolen bases, but this year he has slowed again with only 18 in 28 attempts. Jorge shows some sneaky power with 12 homeruns last year, but this year the bat has been quiet. His .236 average and .285 OBA will not get him promoted in 2018 but we still like the potential for Mateo to make an impact in the major leagues. His speed is indicative of the 31 triples he has hit in the last two seasons.

Royals Sign 16 Year Old Japanese Pitcher

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

The Kansas City Royals signed 16 year old Japanese pitcher Kaito Yuki to a minor league contract. Myworld did not think this was possible. According to YakyuDB, Kaito represented Japan at the McHenry County Youth Sports Association International Tournament. A number of top Japanese high schools were scouting Kaito hoping he would attend their school. Yuki is from the same area as Yu Darvish, Habikino, Osaka. Yuki throws a fastball at 87 miles per hour.

Top Minor League Shortstops

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

This is the cream of the crop. The players who have the potential to help your team to the playoffs. Willy Adames received a promotion and will probably be with the Rays for the rest of the year so he was not considered. Brendan Rodgers and Nick Gordon were identified on our second base list while Kevin Maitan was listed with the top third base prospects. That is not to say they would appear on this list, but they were not considered because of their major league status or being chosen for another position.

1. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - Hard to believe the White Sox traded him for James Shields. They were border line contending when they traded him. The next year they were selling off their veterans for prospects. This is a trade they would want back. Tatis is not a great defensive player at this position. An eventual move to third is a possibility for this Dominican whose father played third base for the Cardinals and hit two grand slams in one inning. That could be the ultimate position for Junior. What is attractive about him is his bat. It has the potential to hit for .300 with 20 plus homeruns. This year he is hitting .285 with 14 homeruns in 77 games at AA. If there is one weakness in his game it is his ability to make contact. This year it has gotten worse with 97 whiffs in 77 games. One thing that has been reduced has been his errors. Last year he made 30 errors at short. This year he has only committed 9 errors.

2. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays) - Another son of a major leaguer (Dante) who also may move to second base. His bat is good enough for third but that will be Vladimir Guerrero Jrs position and the way Cavan Biggio is hitting second base could be occupied. The Blue Jays would like to see him succeed at short, but his range will be limited. The bat should play anywhere. Coming into the 2018 season the second round pick in the 2016 draft had a career .372 average. The Blue Jays have been aggressive with him, promoting him to AA after just 40 games in High A last year. His bat has slowed a bit, hitting .278 but he is making good contact and hitting the gaps for power with 21 doubles. He also has stolen 26 bases in 32 attempts. At short he needs to improve his consistency with 16 errors. A lack of range will not be tolerated if he commits a number of errors to go with that.

3. Royce Lewis (Twins) - Royce was the very first pick in the 2017 draft. The tools are there for him to stay at shortstop with solid range and a strong arm. He also has a good gene pool with his mom being a pretty talented softball player while playing for San Jose State. He just needs to improve on his consistency. The Twins are having him repeat at Low A where he finished last year. He is hitting .319 with 8 homeruns to run his slugging percentage to .491. His speed is also showing on the bases with 19 steals in 23 attempts. One area of improvement would be his patience at the plate. Currently his K to whiff ratio is above 2 to 1 (43/19) which would be an indicator that he is swinging at too many pitcher’s pitches. Considering his age (19) there is plenty of time for him to improve on that part of his game.

4. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played baseball in the Netherlands but moved to the United States to attend college in Illinois, where he also played baseball. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system, Tommy John surgery preventing him from playing for Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Carter was the Nationals first round pick in the 2016 draft. Spencer was a fifth round pick of the 2012 draft. It is obvious who has the tools. Carter may eventually have to move to second since his range and arm fall into the average category for short. If he sticks at short he will be an offensive oriented player who will struggle to help you on defense. After showing good power in High A this year, hitting 11 homeruns for a .494 slugging the Nationals promoted him to AA Harrisburg. In AA his bat continues to shine with a .375 average and two homeruns in 12 games. The Nationals have kept him at short despite his 14 errors in 68 games.

5. Kevin Smith (Blue Jays) - The fourth round pick in the 2017 draft has the tools to play shortstop. He earned the position as a freshman out of Maryland and played there for three years. The range may not be great but there is consistency in fielding the balls that he gets to. He also showed a little power in his bat, hitting 8 homeruns last year in the rookie league and going a perfect 9 for 9 in stolen bases. The one area of concern was his patience at the plate (16/70 walk to whiff ratio). This year his bat has been electric. A .355 average with 7 homeruns and a 1.046 OPS got him a promotion to High A. The bat continues to shine there with a .311 average and a .892 OPS. He is a year behind Bo but is probably the better defensive alternative of the two. Expect him to ultimately be the shortstop of the Blue Jays.

6. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - At 6′6 we can’t see the Dominican staying at short. His 24 errors in 71 games has put his fielding percentage just above .900. The Pirates did play him more at third his first couple years, but this year all his games have been at short. The long length gives him a large strike zone where last year he struck out 132 times in 105 games. This year his contact rate has improved and his power has taken off with 10 homeruns and a .525 slugging percentage. His long legs have enabled him to leg out seven triples. Unless his consistency in the field improves myworld sees him moving to third. At 19 years of age the Pirates have time to see if his consistency improves at short.

7. Nicky Lopez (Royals) - The Royals selected Nicky in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. They have been so impressed with his progress that in 2017 he skipped Low A and started in High A, hitting .295 to be promoted to AA. The defensive tools exist for him to be an above average shortstop. His instincts around the baseball field will allow him to play above his tools. The power is not there but his line drive swing will find the gaps. This year he raked at Arkansas hitting .331 with two homeruns. That got him a promotion to AAA. In his first three games there he hit .417 with two homeruns. The Royals have a couple defensive players at short who have struggled providing offense this year. Don’t be surprised to see Lopez promoted to the Royals for a September debut. The only thing holding him back would be to keep him off the 40 man roster so they can protect other players in 2019.

8. Jasardo Chisholm (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox is his half brother. The Diamondbacks signed Chisholm out of the Bahamas after watching his half brother play. Fox has the better speed but Jazz has the better defensive tools. He needs to improve his consistency on defense, committing 18 errors in 63 games. His bat was not supposed to carry a lot of power but this year he has already swatted 12 homeruns for a .475 slugging percentage. Improving his patience at the plate (27/77 walk to whiff ratio) could improve his .249 average. Time will tell if he can sustain the power. At 20 years of age he should fill out more and get stronger. If the power stays he could turn into an offensive oriented shortstop who plays a solid defense.

9. Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - Lux was the Dodgers first round pick in 2016. With Corey Seager at short Gavin would be the ideal player the Dodgers could trade to provide veteran help in a playoff run. Or they could move him to second. His uncle Augie Schmidt was the second overall pick in the 1982 draft but did not make a major league impact. After a poor 2017 season Gavin did not look deserving of his first round status. This year he seems to have found his bat, though his numbers are enhanced by the hitter friendly California League environment. He is hitting .310 with 8 homeruns and a .894 OPS. His fielding at short has lacked consistency so the Dodgers have been giving him some time at second base. Last year his speed allowed him to steal 27 bases in 37 attempts. This year he has been limited to seven stolen bases in 14 attempts.

10. Richie Martin (Athletics) - Richie was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2015. The big knock on him was his lack of a bat, which dropped him down the prospect ladder. Jorge Mateo and Franklin Barreto rated ahead of him with Marcus Semien the major league alternative. The defensive tools are gold glove caliber if he can find his bat. This year at AA the bat has been located. He entered this season with a career average of .236. In the Texas League he is hitting .311. The power is still absent limiting him to a bottom of the order placement in the lineup but the glove will make up for his lack of run production. If he continues to hit over .300 the Athletics may give him a September opportunity.

Top Ten Prospects from Venezuela - American League

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Venezuela has been overtaken by the Dominican Republic and even Cuba in the number of quality prospects in baseball. The political situation there has made major league scouts reluctant to travel to Venezuela. This forces Venezuelan prospects to travel to the Dominican Republic or other countries to be seen. The top ten from the American League list in 2017 did not have any top ten prospects graduate and become ineligible for the list this year. Franklin Barreto is the only player who saw significant time in the majors. Anthony Santander was a Rule V pick but did not stay healthy enough to lose his rookie status. Myworld put this list together before the season started so Gleyber Torres will obviously graduate from this list after this year. Below are the top ten prospects from Venezuela playing in the American League before the start of the 2018 season.

1. Gleyber Torres SS/3B/2B (Yankees) - Tommy John surgery last year prevented him from making his major league debut. It did not take long into the 2018 season before the Yankees called him up to fill a hole at second. He has performed well enough (.294, 10, 28) that he should stay with the Yankees all year and compete for the rookie of the year award. Last year he was number one on this list. Didi Gregorius at short and the performance of Miguel Andujar at third forces Gleyber to make his home at second base. He should hit over .300 and be a 20 plus homerun hitter in the major leagues.

2. Franklin Perez (RHP) Tigers - Franklin Perez was acquired from the Astros in the Justin Verlander deal. A right lat strain during spring training this year has delayed his season. It was expected he would miss three months but the Tigers will be patient with him. He has a fastball that hits the mid-90s but what separates him from the other pitchers with mid-90s fastballs is his control and a quality curve that freezes hitters anticipating the fastball. His change is also a pitch he can use to keep him in the starting rotation. Last year the strikeout numbers were not there, falling below a strikeout per inning. In high A he was tough to hit (.191) but in AA he was less of a mystery (.266). Expect some time in rehab at perhaps Low A or a rookie league before the Tigers assign him to their AA team.

3. Franklin Barreto (SS/2B) Athletics - The Athletics seem to like Marcus Semien as their shortstop and Jed Lowrie is having a career year playing second so Franklin will have to show even more patience this year before earning a starting spot in the major leagues. He was acquired from the Blue Jays back in 2014 in the Josh Donaldson trade. Last year he made his major league debut, getting 71 at bats but only hitting .197. This year he got a brief 6 at bat callup and did not get a hit. During his major league time his strikeout rate is above 40 percent. He shows some power with 15 homeruns last year, but his struggles making contact leave him as a question mark if that power can present itself in the major leagues. Last year he played most of his games at shortstop and committed 18 errors in 83 games. This year he is playing more at second base. He will have to wait until Jed Lowrie cools down before seeing significant major league time this year.

4. Kevin Maitan (SS/3B) Angels - Last year he was number two on the National League list. The Braves lost him to the Angels when he was declared a free agent after the Braves were found violating the international salary cap rule. At one time he was considered the top international prospect in baseball. He has grown heavier in the lower half since, turning into a Carlos Baerga type build which has lowered his prospect status. Many feel he no longer has the range to play short. Last year he made his stateside debut in the rookie leagues as a 17 year old. The reviews were mixed, but with a new organization he gets a fresh start. The Angels will start him in the Rookie Leagues once they get started at the end of the month. Where they put him will define his role.

5. Jairo Solis (RHP) Astros - The Astros signed Solis in 2016 for $450,000. His fastball has shown increased velocity since the signing, hitting 96 but sitting in the low 90s. At 6′2″ and only 160 he should gain some more velo as his 18 year old frame fills out. Last year he missed a lot of bats with an above average slider and change, striking out 10.1 hitters per nine innings in rookie ball. After some time in extended spring he was given an opportunity to pitch at Low A but in his first start retired only one batter. His second start he went five innings. He has yet to strikeout a hitter and walked five. If he continues his early season struggles the Astros may return him to the Rookie Leagues to give him some confidence.

6. Brusdar Graterol (RHP) Twins - Signed at 16 for $150,000 in 2014 he had to have Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of the 2016 season. He returned last year and his fastball jumped almost 10 miles per hour after his surgery, hitting the mid-90s and reaching triple digits. Quality breaking pitches and good command have changed his prospect status and he has jumped ahead of Fernando Romero as having the best fastball in the Twins organization. His second year after Tommy John he is dominating at Low A (1.95 ERA) striking out more than 11 hitters per nine innings and limiting the opposition to a .192 average. Expect a promotion to High A after the All star break.

7. Thairo Estrada SS (Yankees) - A gunshot wound to the hip in Venezuela delayed the start of his season. He played eight games at AAA after a rehab in the Florida State League and only hit .152. The Yankees put him back on the disabled list in early May and he has not returned. Last year in AA he hit .301 and played a smooth shortstop. His bat carries little power but he makes good contact. The tools fall short for him to make it as a starter, but he could be used as a utility player.

8. Yohander Mendez (LHP) Rangers - Last year he was number three on the list. His fastball is not overpowering and his breaking pitches are below average. What he possesses is a quality change that makes his fastball look livelier. Last year in the major leagues he got seven relief appearances and was hit pretty hard, with not a lot of swings and misses. With only two pitches this may end up his role in the majors. This year he has returned to the rotation in AAA with less than stellar results. Hitters are hitting .294 against him and his strikeouts are not there. This did not prevent the Rangers from recently promoting him and using him in the bullpen. If he is going to make the starting rotation he must improve on one of his breaking pitches (slider or curve).

9. Samir Duenez (1B) Royals - Last year Samir broke out for power with 17 homeruns. The Royals signed him way back in 2012 and have been waiting for that. He won’t turn 22 until June 11 so there is still time for Samir to develop. While he is not fast he is excellent at running the bases, collecting 26 stolen bases in 2016. This year the Royals are having him repeat AA where his power has ticked up a little bit with five homeruns and a .451 slugging. His defense is not gold glove but it is adequate to fill the position. With Lucas Duda at first the Royals do not have a quality first baseman preventing him from getting a major league callup in September. The Royals 2017 first round pick Nick Pratto may prevent him from keeping that position long.

10. Carlos Hernandez (RHP) Royals - The Royals only spent $15,000 to sign him last year because he was 19 years old. At 6′4″ he had a nice pitcher’s frame and could whip the ball across the plate in the mid-90s. His breaking pitch was below average and he did not have much of a change but the Royals saw some future in his arm. Last year in rookie ball he struggled (5.49 ERA). Promoted to full season ball this year his numbers have gotten better (4.03 ERA). He just needs innings to improve on his pitches.

2017 Top Venezuelan Prospects in the American League

Top First Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The following are myworld’s top ten first base prospects in the minor leagues.

1. Pavin Smith (D-backs) - Smith was the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2017 draft. He played for Virginia, mashing more homeruns (13) than he struck out (12) in his junior season. He failed to hit a homerun in his minor league debut last year but hit .312 with 15 doubles and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. This year the Diamondbacks were aggressive promoting him to High A where he has hit his first three homeruns. Unfortunately he is only hitting .214 with a slugging percentage of .331. His walk to whiff ratio is still excellent at 25/23. His lack of speed means playing the outfield would be tough requiring his power to break out if he wants to replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Defensively he will be average at first base.

2. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Another 2017 first round pick, Nick was drafted seven picks after Smith. He was one of four first basemen selected in the draft, though one may turn into a lefthanded pitcher. Nick does not have to worry about Eric Hosmer blocking him at first base. He slugged four homeruns last year in his minor league debut, but was a little more prone to striking out (58 in 52 games). Though he is not noted for his speed he did steal 10 bases in 14 attempts last year. Defensively he plays his position well. A strong arm and adequate speed makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility. This year he is playing in Low A where he has slugged 7 homeruns with a .426 slugging percentage. Those power numbers will have to improve if he hopes to fill the first base job in Kansas City.

3. Brenadan McKay (Rays) - Brendan was another first baseman drafted in the first round in 2017, the fourth player selected in the draft. The higher selection is based on his ability as a lefthanded pitcher as well. Baseball America voted him the 2017 College Player of the Year. After the draft he started six games (1.80 ERA) striking out 9.5 hitters per 9 innings. He also slugged four homeruns with a .232 average. Defensively he is solid at first base but lacks the speed to move to the outfield. While his bat continues to struggle in 2018 (.233/.300 slugging) his pitching has been stellar (4-0, 0.76). He was used for six starts in Low A, pitching just a little over three innings per start. In High A he has been used in relief twice, working 11 innings. On the bright spot offensively he has a 30/20 walk to whiff ratio (.425 OBA). At some point his bat will click and he will hit for a high average with moderate power. Whether he can handle both hitting and pitching is open to question.

4. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Bradley was a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The power is there for 20 plus homeruns per year as he has done his last three seasons. Strikeouts are a big problem, though last year was the first time since his rookie season when he struck out less than the number of games he played. A lack of speed makes a move to the corner outfield difficult and his defense at first is below par making the DH the best position for him. He is repeating AA this year where he is struggling with a .176 average. Myworld saw him take a ball out, one of his seven homeruns on the year. If his bat can heat up he has a chance for a major league callup this year.

5. Peter Alonso (Mets) - Myworld does not have a lot of faith that Dominic Smith can hold down the future first base position for the Mets. Peter has more power, though neither player is adept at fielding the position well. There is no speed in the legs of Alonso making a move to the outfield not a consideration, not with the surplus of talented outfielders the Mets have. This year the 23 year old is hitting .333 with 14 homeruns for a .632 slugging percentage. The Mets could look for Peter to fill the first base hole before the season is over. He will need to cut back on the 19 errors he made at first base last year. A trade to an American League team where he can play DH is also a possibility.

6. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The 2015 first round pick from Canada by the Marlins probably has more power than any first baseman on this list. Taking advantage of that power has always escaped him. In two full season leagues his high for one season has been 12 homeruns. His strikeout numbers are not high but making better bat on ball contact would increase those homerun numbers. The Padres traded Andrew Cashner in a five player trade to acquire Naylor. His younger brother Noah should be a first round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh has that Babe Ruth look, but unfortunately in his later years at 6′0″ 260. This year Josh seems to have acquired his power stroke in AA with 9 homeruns in 49 games for a .528 slugging percentage. For a big power hitter he does draw a number of walks (25 walks to 27 whiffs).

7. Evan White (Mariners) - Another right handed bat, Evan was drafted in the first round in 2017. He was the last of the four first baseman taken in the draft, falling two positions behind Nick Pratto. Nick has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base, plus the speed to move to the outfield. In his minor league debut he hit 3 homeruns with a .277 average in 14 games. Promoted to the California League to start the 2018 season Evan is hitting .294 with three homeruns. As a college drafted player Evan should rise quickly through the organization, this year starting his season in the California league.

8. Brent Rooker (Twins) - Brent was a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft. In his first year the Twins they tried him in the outfield but his lack of speed makes covering ground a challenging task. The Twins have still used him in the outfield this year but his main use has been as a first baseman. Last year Brent hit 18 homeruns in just 62 games with a .930 OPS. The power has dropped in 2018 with 7 homeruns and a .722 OPS in 47 games. A propensity for the swing and miss will always prevent him from hitting for a high average.

9. Jake Bauers (Rays) - Jake was a 7th round pick in 2013 by the Padres. He was traded to the Rays in 2014. Jake has never really hit for power with 14 homeruns his minor league high in 2016. He has a career .416 slugging average. His athleticism and decent speed would make a move to the outfield a possibility. A weak arm makes left field his best bet. The Rays would still like to see him hit for more power before making the major league club. This year Jake has hit 5 homeruns and is slugging .454 in his second season in AAA. This could result in a late season promotion by the Rays. Eventually he may have to move to left field if Brendan McKay finds his way to the major leagues.

10. Jake Gatewood (Brewers) - Jake was a middle infielder when he was drafted as a first round supplemental pick in 2014. Sprouting to a height of 6′6″ forced a move to first base in 2017. With that kind of length the power numbers have creeped up with a minor league high of 15 homeruns last year. This year Jake has already slugged 9 homeruns with a .445 slugging percentage. As an ex-middle infielder Jake has good defensive instincts at first base. He could see some time with the Brewers before the 2018 season ends.