Archive for the 'Royals' Category

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.

Top Minor League Catching Prospects

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Below are the names of the top minor league catching prospects as identified by myworld. Catchers like Chance Sisco and Carson Kelly are not included since they will get enough major league playing time this year to lose their rookie status. We’ll list the top prospects at each position as well as lefthanded and righthanded pitchers. But first we start with the catchers:

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - During the AFL the Indians tried him at third base. With the bat of Jose Ramirez picking up they are now looking at him in left field. Catcher is his main position but the Indians would like to get his bat in the lineup. In 2016 he hit .342 at two levels. Last year he hit .297 at AA. A 13 at bat major league debut saw him struggle with a .154 average. His defense would not be good in left and his power would be short of what is expected of the position. Behind the plate his arm is supposedly a rocket but his results at gunning down runners last year stood at 30 percent. This year it is down to 10 percent. While it is early his bat this year is mired in the .197 range. As the weather warms his bat should pick up but 28 whiffs in just 29 games is uncharacteristic.

2. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan came into this season with a three year career average of .330. It gets tougher with each level he rises. Last year at the A levels he hit .316. In AA this year he has seen it drop to .283. He makes consistent contact but the balls are more gap oriented rather than carrying over the fence. His defense behind the plate still needs some work, with an average throwing arm susceptible to the stolen base. The bat should get him in the major league lineup with a possible September callup if his average continues to stay north of .300.

3. Tom Murphy (Rockies) - It won’t be long for Murphy to get a call to the Rockies. Injuries have kept him down in the minors. Last year he was slated to be the starting catcher but a fractured right forearm kept him out to begin the season. When he got the callup he only hit .042 in 24 at bats. The bat carries some pop with 19 homeruns and a .647 slugging percentage in 2016. This year the pop has returned with 9 homeruns and a .631 slugging average. His propensity for the swing and miss (31 K’s in 29 games) could make it a struggle in the major leagues. A strong arm allows him to control the running game. Tom needs only 40 more at bats to lose his prospect label and with the way the ball is carrying off his bat that should happen this year.

4. Jake Rogers (Tigers) - There may not be a stronger defensive catcher on this list. More runners are thrown out stealing this year (14) than successfully stealing a base (11). His movement behind the plate is crisp and he embraces a leadership role. Last year his bat showed some power with 12 homeruns. He also showed some atypical speed for a catcher with 13 stolen bases. This year has been a struggle with a .185 average in 25 games at AA. If his average does not pick up he will see the full season in AA.

5. Zack Collins (White Sox) - Zack probably has the most power on this list. The first round pick in 2016 slugged 17 homeruns in High A. There is a propensity to whiff with 118 whiffs in 101 games keeping his average below .250. His defense is also a bit dicey with a below average arm that encourages a running game. A move to first is a possibility if his defense is found to fall short. This year his bat continues the trend of power (5 homeruns), low average (.238) with lots of whiffs (37 in 32 games).

6. Danny Jansen (Blue Jays) - Another player known more for his bat than his defense. Last year at three different levels he combined for a .323 average with 10 homeruns putting the 16th round 2013 pick on the spot light. His bat continues to stay hot in AAA with a .311 average and a .883 OPS. He has not been able to control the running game (8 stolen bases in 10 attempts).

7. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks) - His father named him after his favorite catcher Darren Daulton. Now Daulton is making a name for himself behind the plate. The 2017 supplemental pick hit .311 and barraged pitchers for 7 homeruns in 50 games in short season. His arm is not strong so a move to another position is a possibility. He has the speed to move to left field. This year the Diamondbacks skipped him past Low A to High A where he is hitting .271 with 4 homeruns. His speed and instincts for running the bases has already racked up 10 stolen bases.

8. William Contreras (Braves) - The brother of Wilson has the same potent bat with the ability to hit for power. His arm is strong but his catching tools are still raw. So far this year he has only caught 18 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him. The Braves do have a surplus of talented catchers in the minor leagues so William will have to produce with the bat to get a chance.

9. M.J. Melendez (Royals) - The 2017 second round pick has a defense first mentality with a rocket arm and the ability to call a quality game. His bat also possesses power but an inability to make contact could keep his batting averages low (60 whiffs in 46 games). Last year he hit .262 but this year he is down to .237. What is impressive is his five triples in 25 games showing legs that can run the bases. It will be tough to take the catching job away from Salvador Perez, but the Royals can be patient with a couple more seasons of development before considering him for the big league club.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - Injuries to the Mets catching corp gave Nido an opportunity to win the major league job. A .135 average in 37 at bats got him demoted to the minors. The Puerto Rican’s catching tools are strong. The bat could be a question. While it has some power with 8 dingers last year the average should reside south of .250. He should get another chance with the Mets before the year is out.

Top Prospects from South America

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

No major league graduates from the first top prospect list from South America last year. The top prospect Jorge Alfaro got more major league time and the 2018 season should see him as a regular major leaguer. The number two prospect Luz Gohara and the number five prospect Thyago Vieira, both flame throwers from Brazil made their major league debuts. Gohara got five starts for the Braves while Vieira made one relief appearance for the Mariners. After that the cupboard gets bare. Below are the top ten prospects in the minor leagues from South America for 2018.

1. Bo Bichette SS (Brazil/Blue Jays) - He played for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. His mother is Brazilian and his father is Dante Bichette, once a Blake Street bomber for the Rockies. His brother Dante Jr. played briefly for the Yankees. Myworld saw him hit three homeruns in an exhibition game and thought he would be a star, but one game does not make a major leaguer, especially in spring training. Now Bo is trying for major league status. Last year was a breakout season for him hitting .384 in Low A and getting promoted to High A and hitting .323. His career minor league average is .372 after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. He does not have the power of his dad, but the batting average will play. Currently, shortstop is his position but there are many who think he does not have the range to play there in the major leagues. The dilemma: his teammate Vladimir Guerrero plays third while another player with major league bloodlines Cavan Biggio plays second. This year Bo is hitting .299 in AA. With Troy Tulowitski seeing his last days as a shortstop the Blue Jays will give Bo every opportunity to succeed at short.

2. Jorge Alfaro C (Colombia/Phillies) - Injuries delayed his permanent arrival to the major leagues. He was signed by the Texas Rangers and included in the deal that got the Rangers Cole Hamel. There is big time power in his bat and his arm has the strength to zip the ball to second base. Those are his strengths. One concern with his bat is his poor walk to whiff ratios (16/113 last year) which could lead to struggles against savvy major league pitchers. Last year he hit .318 with five homeruns in just 29 games to earn the starting catchers job. He lacks speed on the bases and is prone to the passed ball (12 last year), so those are his defensive deficiencies. This year his .235 average with the Phillies is evidence his poor patience could impact his batting average rising to .250 consistently in the major leagues. If the power is there he should stick as the starter.

3. Luiz Gohara LHP (Brazil/Braves) - Despite his ability to throw in triple digits the Mariners traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. There was concern with his doughy physique keeping him from his major league aspirations. Last year he got five starts for the Braves and overpowered hitters with his high 90s fastball. A lack of a quality third pitch resulted in major leaguers hitting him at a .283 clip. An injury in spring training prevented him from competing for a starting role for the Braves in 2018. His first three starts in AAA have been a struggle to find the plate walking seven hitters in just 12 innings with the opposition assaulting him at a .347 pace. That kind of production will delay any major league appearance until he can start retiring minor league hitters.

4. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Peru/Athletics) - Luzardo was born in Peru but attended high school in Florida. His high school Parkland was involved in a mass shooting and he has done a lot to help the school heal. The Nationals were able to draft him in the third round in 2016 because Tommy John surgery had dropped his draft status. He was one of the players they traded to the Athletics for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Last year he only pitched 43 innings but his lefthanded arm was able to sling fastballs across the plate in the mid-90s, resulting in 48 whiffs. At 6′1″ he is not a tall pitcher but his secondary pitches should augment his fastball. The Athletics promoted him from Rookie ball to High A where he only started three games before they promoted him to AA. A 1.23 ERA and 25 whiffs in just 14.2 innings was a reason for that. If he continues at this rate he could see some major league time in September, though that would be optimistic for the 20 year old.

5. Eric Pardinho RHP (Brazil/Blue Jays) - As a 15 year old he was pitching for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. That motivated the Blue Jays to shell out $1.4 million to sign him in 2017. It’s possible Bo Bichette could have recommended him highly after playing behind him. At 5′9″ the righthander is very short. Despite the stature his fastball sits in the low 90s and can hit the mid-90s. He still needs to make improvements on his secondary pitches, though throwing strikes is not a problem. The 2018 season will be his first and it will start in the short season leagues.

6. Luis Escobar RHP (Colombia/Pirates) - Luis has climbed three spots from his ranking last year. The 2017 season was his first in full season ball where he went from 68 innings pitched to 132. A sizzling mid-90s fastball resulted in a lot of swings and misses (168 in 132 innings pitched) resulting in the South Atlantic League strikeout lead. His curveball has a nice break and his change is still in the development stage. Trying to find control of his pitches is his biggest downfall with 60 walks in 132 innings. This year he has started in the Florida State High A where his strikeout rate is not as prevalent (22 in 26 innings) but hitters still have trouble making hard contact (.213 average).

7. Meibrys Viloria C (Colombia/Royals) - Last year he was rated third based on his .376 batting average. The 2017 season saw him debut in Low A where he only hit .259. More strikeouts and less walks were the main culprit in the batting average drop. His power is more gap to gap but as he gets stronger he should reach double digits in homeruns. The arm is strong allowing him to gun down 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him. The Royals have a number of catchers in the minor leagues rated ahead of him so his task will be to find that patience to replicate his 2016 season. After a slow start in High A he has gotten that average up to .250.

8. Oscar Mercado OF (Colombia/Cardinals) - Mercado was five years shy of being a teenager when he left Colombia for Florida. He was impressive enough at his high school the Cardinals drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. While a shortstop in his early years he struggled to generate any kind of offense. A move to centerfield last year put the pressure off him and he slugged a career high 13 homeruns with a .287 average. The speed is there to steal 40 bases each season. The Cardinals outfield is crowded but a .319 average in AAA is enough to draw attention to himself. If he can play centerfield and hit for double digits in homeruns he will be more than a fourth outfielder.

9. Thyago Vieira RHP (Brazil/White Sox) - The Mariners signed Thyago two years before they signed Luiz. But like Luiz they were not impressed with his triple digit fastball and traded him to the White Sox for international slot money when they had hopes of signing Shohei Ohtani. Lack of quality secondary pitches have kept him in the bullpen. He also lacks the swing and miss one would expect for his triple digit fastball (7.4 whiffs per nine innings). If he can find a breaking pitch to throw for strikes he could become closer material. His 2018 season in AAA has come with more whiffs (20 in 11 innings) but more walks (9) and a higher opponent batting average (.295).

10. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Colombia/Rays) - The third catcher from Colombia on this list. Myworld smells a trend. Ronaldo played on the 18 and under Colombian team as a 15 year old in 2013. The Rays signed him the next year for $225,000. All he has done since his arrival is hit, with a .326 minor league career average in his first three years, all in Rookie short season ball. Each year his slugging average increased, climbing to .507 last year. A strong arm resulted in a 57 percent success rate against runners trying to steal against him. This year he has made his debut in full season ball and is hitting .302 with a 17 percent success rate in gunning down runners. It is still early so there is plenty of time to change those numbers.

2017 South American Prospects

Predictions - AL Central

Monday, March 19th, 2018

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

1. Cleveland Indians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Minnesota Twins

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Chicago White Sox

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Detroit Tigers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royals Are Looking at a Rebuild

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The Royals could not sign a number of their free agents that gave them one World Series win and two World Series appearances. They were hoping for a third last year but it didn’t happen. Don’t know what the market would have been for Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or Erik Hosmer but hanging on to them deprived them of building up their prospect bank. Currently it appears light. Their top two picks of the last two years are their premium prospects but after that it gets thin

Nick Pratto was their first round pick in 2017. The slugging first baseman has decent pop but at 6′1″ is not a towering figure for the position. One thing that cannot be questioned is his ability to win. He played on a California team that won the Little League World Series, beating Japan with a game winning hit and he played for two 18 and under World Cup teams that won gold in both. A lack of speed should keep him at first base. In his first minor league season the power was absent (.414 slugging) but he did slug four homeruns. At 18 years of age he is still too far from the majors to replace Hosmer, but the Royals will start that trek in 2018 by starting his second season in Low A.

Khalil Lee was the Royals first round pick in 2016. He is a potential five tool player with good speed, a strong arm and the potential for power. Last year he had trouble making contact (171 whiffs) which led to a low .236 average. His above average speed also did not result in stolen base success as he was caught stealing 18 times in his 38 attempts. Khalil will work on improving those two areas when he heads to High A in 2018.

Myworld likes the potential of catcher Meibrys Viloria from Colombia, though he went from a .376 average in rookie ball in 2016 to a .259 average last year in Low A. Weight issues could have a negative impact on his rise to the major leagues. His catching skills need to improve on defense, last year committing 14 errors with a less than stellar arm. So with average defense the bat needs to work. Viloria will start the 2018 season in High A.

Catching is a strength with the Royals with 2017 second round pick M.J. Melendez and 2014 supplemental first round pick Chase Vallot ahead of Viloria. Melendez is a quality defensive catcher with a strong arm who also has the potential for a good bat. His .262 batting average in Rookie ball surpassed Viloria and he outslugged him with a .417 slugging percentage. Melendez has the potential to be an All Star catcher in the major leagues as he develops. He will start the 2018 season in Low A groomed to replace Savador Perez behind the plate.

Chase is a catcher who lacks strong defensive tools. His major asset is his ability to hit for power. Last year he hit 12 homeruns with a .438 slugging percentage. A tendency to swing and miss (127 whiffs) kept his average down to .231. With a career average of .226 he is not expected to win any batting titles. A lack of speed will keep him behind the plate where he will play his 2018 season in AA.

Seuly Matias is another toolsy outfielder who has the speed to play centerfield with the arm to fit in right. At 6′3″ he may slow down as he bulks up making him a likely fit for right. There is the potential for power with 15 homeruns his last two years in the short season leagues. His proclivity to swing and miss has kept his average to .250 or less. Next year should be his first year in full season ball (Low A) where a breakout season could put him on the prospect map.

Hunter Dozier was a first round pick in 2013 who has not equaled his hype. Injuries last year limited him to just 33 games. He did make his major league debut in 2016. He has the power to fill in at a corner outfield spot but not the speed to play center. His natural position is third base, where he will not win any gold gloves. His ability to play third base and the outfield could give him an eventual promotion to the big club but first he needs to spend some time in AAA to recuperate from his injuries and get his swing back.

Marten Gasparini is from Europe (Italy) who broke Max Kepler’s international signing bonus record with a $1.3 million payout. His fielding at short was too inconsistent to stick there resulting in numerous errors so the team has moved him to centerfield. His speed will allow him to cover a lot of ground, but his bat may be too weak to justify him being in the lineup. Last year he only hit .227 with a 27 to 121 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are his best tools. Marten will try to improve his hit tool starting the 2018 season in AA.

The Royals top pitching prospect is perhaps Josh Staumont. His fastball has premium velocity that can hit triple digits and sits in the high 90s. The biggest struggle is his ability to find the plate. Last year he walked 97 hitters in 125 innings. He was also susceptible to the homerun ball at AAA giving up 14 dingers in just 76 innings, resulting in an ugly 6.28 ERA. Josh needs to find the plate more to get the trust of the Royals for a major league callup. Expect him to repeat his 2018 season in AAA.

Eric Skoglund and Foster Griffin have been around for awhile. Eric was a third round pick and Foster was drafted in the first round, both in 2014. Both have made a slow trek to the majors with Eric seeing his major league debut last year. They both throw lefthanded. Eric stands tall at 6′7″ but his fastball lacks big time velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His pedestrian stuff resulted in a poor major league debut with .375 opposition average and a 9.50 ERA. A good spring could provide him a shot to slot in the back end of the Royals rotation. Foster is not as tall (6′3″) and also lacks premium velocity. He has developed a quality change that makes his fastball appear to have more hop. A AAA promotion in 2018 will leave him a step away from the major leagues.

Scott Blewett was drafted between the two lefthanders in 2014. The righthander stands 6′6″ but also lacks velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His secondary pitches are also not very challenging, resulting in minor leaguers hitting him at a .268 clip. If his command is not good he also has the tendency to give up the long ball.

Kyle Zimmer has seen the prospect status dim through the years. The first round 2012 pick has had trouble staying healthy limiting his innings. Last year he debuted in AAA, pitching mainly in relief but struggling with a 5.79 ERA. When healthy Zimmer has quality stuff. To keep his arm intact the Royals will probably move him to the bullpen, starting the season in AAA. His major league debut could arrive if he has success and stays healthy.