Archive for the 'White Sox' Category

Top Second Base Prospects

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Finding prospects at second base is one of the more difficult challenges. These players are usually shortstops who failed to make it at that position because another player was better. Myworld does not want to guess what shortstops will eventually move to second so the players on this list have played some games at second base, even though for some their primary position may still be shortstop.

1. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - Myworld likes his speed. The Rays are deep at shortstop with major leaguer Willy Adames and minor leaguers Wander Franco, the top prospect in baseball and the smooth fielding Xavier Edwards. Vidal was a bargain basement $15,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic. He is probably the fastest player on this list, stealing over 100 bases combined the last two years. He does not have a lot of power but he has hit over .300 in two of his five seasons. He is primarily a second baseman but last year played some shortstop. He has the range and the arm for short but his defensive tools are better suited at second. He did not see any time last year, but should start 2021 at AAA with the likelihood of making his major league debut.

2. Jeter Downs (Red Sox) - Jeter was drafted as a supplemental first round pick in 2017 by the Reds and has already played for three different teams. The Reds traded him to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade and in 2020 the Red Sox acquired him in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. His primary position is shortstop, named after one of the best in the game (Derek Jeter) but his tools may be better for second base. There is some pop in his bat as his 24 homeruns in 2019 showed. He did not play any last year. He also has enough speed to steal bases with 61 in the last two seasons. In 2019 he was a 20/20 player. While he has yet to hit for average (.267) he does show the ability to take walks with OBAs above .350 the last three years. He has only played in 12 games at AA but could make his major league debut in 2021 with a good minor league season. Second base is a wide open position for the Red Sox.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - The 2018 first round pick is said to also be skilled at shortstop, but he has lived at second base during his college and professional career. He lacks power but can spray the ball to all fields with line drives. At 5′8″ power is not expected, but as he matures he could elevate his homerun numbers to double figures. He has hit over .300 at every level he has played, including a 29 game major league debut last year when he hit .340. Only three of his 35 hits with the White Sox went for extra bases. In his two year minor league career he had a 51/21 walk to whiff ratio, so he makes contact with the best of them. He should be the White Sox second baseman starting the 2021 season.

4. Michael Busch (Dodgers) - Busch was the Dodgers first round pick in 2019. He only played 10 games in the minor leagues until an injury ended his season, hitting just .125, but with an impressive 7/5 walk to whiff ratio for a .371 OBA. He lacks speed and has a below average arm playing primarily at left field and first base in college. He lacks the power teams look for at first base but it should consistently be 20 plus with an average near .300. The lost season did not help in his development, especially defensively, where the Dodgers were hoping he could fit at second base. Expect him to start the 2021 season at A ball. The Dodgers are hoping he will provide solid offensive tools for the position and be adequate defensively.

5. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels drafted Jones in the second round in 2015 as an outfielder. With a crowded outfield they moved him to second base after his first season, a position he had played in high school. The last two seasons in the minor leagues he has failed to hit over .250. He made his major league debut last year and hit .429 in seven at bats. He does not have a lot of power so he needs to hit for a better average to be an effective major league player. The patience is there to take walks and the speed exists to steal 20 plus bases a year. He has the versatility to play outfield so his ultimate role could be as a utility player in the outfield and at second base. A good spring could see him start the season at the major league level, but expect some time at AAA to start the season to further develop his offensive tools.

6. Justin Foscue (Rangers) - The first round 2020 pick led Mississippi State to a couple college World Series. His lack of speed makes outfield a question so the Rangers are hoping he will be an offensive second baseman who can provide adequate defense. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns a year. He did play third base his first year at Mississippi State so that is another defensive option. He has yet to play in the minor leagues. Expect him to start the 2021 season in A ball.

7. Aaron Bracho (Indians) - Aaron was signed out of Venezuela in 2017 for $1.5 million. He did not play in the minor leagues until 2019, never getting past rookie ball. He showed some pretty good sock with a .570 slugging and good patience at the plate with a 28/29 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are just average, which makes playing shortstop a stretch for him. The tools for playing second base should make him an above average defensive player with the offensive capability to hit 20 plus homeruns per year. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball and hope to continue his offensive exploits to the major leagues in 2022.

8. Xavier Edwards (Rays) - The 2018 supplemental first round pick is a smooth fielder with an arm that lacks the strength of a true shortstop. He spent most of the 2019 season at second base. The Rays acquired him from the Padres in the Tommy Pham/Jacob Cronenworth trade. Now that Hunter Renfroe has been released Xavier may be the only piece to make that trade look good. The bat lacks power but he does carry a .326 minor league average with an excellent 75/79 walk to whiff ratio. The speed is there to steal bases with 56 in his two years. So while he will lack power there are other tools in his game that will make him an offensive force. Next year he should see time in AA and could make a September debut with a solid minor league season.

9. Brice Turang (Brewers) - The 2018 first round pick was a star on the junior circuit of the United States national team. The tools exist for him to play shortstop, but he would be no more than average at that position. With a potent line drive bat and excellent speed he could be a major contributor at second base. His power has not really developed yet, but it could come with a little more maturation and elevation in his swing. Currently he is a gap hitter with the ability to use his speed to stretch bases. He stole 30 bases last season. If the power develops he could turn into a 20/20 player but expect the homerun numbers to settle in the teens. There is still some development time needed so 2021 should be spent in AA with a major league debut time somewhere in 2022.

10. Nick Gonzales (Pirates) - Another 2020 first round pick, the seventh player taken overall. He has had some pretty impressive hitting numbers where ever he has played, but many feel his numbers at New Mexico State were inflated because of the environment. Not having a 2020 season raises questions about his offensive abilities. There is the ability to make contact and he showed some power in the Cape Cod League with seven homeruns, including a .351 average. He lacks the range and the power arm to play short, but his defensive tools should make him a solid second baseman. The 2021 season will see him start in A ball. How fast he moves up will be dependent on how well he hits.

Top First Base Prospects

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Without a 2020 minor league season, ranking prospects has become difficult. Myworld did not attend any games this year, so how we rank is based on 2019 results and what we have read about the prospects progress in camps. Some of the first base prospects may now be playing prominent roles at other positions, but we still feel they will end up at first base.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - The 2019 first round pick had a brief season last year, showing some pop with his six homeruns in 55 games. He hit .278 with a .449 slugging. Normally, those numbers would be short of the power many expect for first base. The expectation is that there will be so much more in the bat. His defense will not be at a gold glove level and his lack of speed prevents a move to the outfield. So the bat needs to work for him to succeed. Most say time will show that Vaughn will be a first class hitter. He showed he can make decent contact, with a 30/38 walk to whiff ratio in his 2019 minor league season. Vaughn should move quickly once he gets some at bats. Don’t be surprised that with a little success next year he will see some major league time towards the end of the season.

2. Spencer Torkelson (Tigers) - Spencer was the first pick in the 2020 draft. He has shown some power in college with 25 homeruns his freshman season at Arizona State. He followed that up with 23 in his sophomore year. Unfortunately his junior year was cut short, but he was off to a monster start. His big time power will fit at first base and he should have the ability to hit for average. He is a decent defensive player that the Tigers were talking about moving to third base. He should have enough arm to play the position. Spencer will start the season in a full season league. If there had been a 2020 season he would have probably reached High A before the season ended. Where he starts in 2021 will depend on his spring and how he looked at the camps. When given his opportunity Spencer should advance quickly. The right handed bat has power to both the left and right side.

3. Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - Normally scouts frown on first baseman that bat and throw right handed, as the top two players do. Alex is our first prospect that bats and throws lefthanded. He is also the third player from the Al Central. Alex played mostly the outfield last year, but the Twins also used him at first base. The 2016 first round pick could be an adequate corner outfielder, but he could also be an above average defensive first baseman. His power is good enough to hit 20 plus homeruns per year, but injuries have prevented him from playing full seasons. He missed all of 2017 because of Tommy John surgery and much of 2019 because of wrist injuries. There was no 2020 season for him to get injured, but that did not help his development. He does not have the power of Torkelson or Vaughn, but he has the potential to hit for a high average, if his 2018 season of .348 is a whisper of what he can do. Myworld would not be surprised if he did not make his major league debut in 2021.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - Triston was a 2018 first round pick. There is some big time power in his bat, but there is a lot of swing and miss. That swing and miss could keep his average down at the .250s or below, but his homerun numbers should be 30 plus. His defense is above average but his legs are slow, which makes a move to the outfield risky. Rafael Devers ability to play third base will allow Tristan to move to first. Even if Devers defense is not good enough to play third, Casas is the superior defensive player at first base. Triston could start the season in AA. Bobby Dalbec is another corner infielder who could impact the future of Casas.

5. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - Defensively, the Orioles have too many first baseman with Chris Davis, Renato Nunez and Trey Mancini. Davis should not be on the roster and Mancini is probably the better outfielder than Mountcastle. The throws of Mountcastle are like rainbows and that is not a good thing. It reminds me a lot of Henry Urrutia, when the Orioles tried to use his powerless bat and weak arm in left field. At least Mountcastle can hit for some pop. If you want to hide his arm you stick him at first base. Ryan got a major league callup and hit .333 with a .492 slugging. He makes good, hard contact, with the ability to find the gaps and drive in runs. The Orioles will find a spot for him in the lineup in 2021. That will be a mixture of DH, left field and first base.

6. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick has some massive power when he makes contact. Last year he hit 8 homeruns for the Red Sox in 23 games for a .600 slugging percentage. There is also a lot of swing and miss in his at bats. With Rafael Devers at third Dalbec spent most of his time at first base. At 6′4″ he may have out grown third base. His speed is below average, but his arm is strong so left field at Fenway is not a bad alternative. Eventually, he may split time with Casas at first base and DH. It would be hard not to see Dalbec with the Red Sox next year, either at first base or DH based on his abbreviated 2020 production.

7. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - The Twins signed him in 2013 for $1.4 million. He climbed up slowly through their system, but seeing themselves in a playoff race the Twins traded him mid-season in 2019 for relief help. The 2019 season may have been his breakout season when he hit 27 homeruns. The Marlins gave him his major league debut last year but he struggled with a .154 average and a .205 slugging percentage. The power bat could only hit two extra base hits (both doubles) in his 39 at bats. The left handed bat with the 6′4″ frame carries a lot of power. He just needs to be more selective with his pitches when he gets another opportunity at the major league level. That will surely come in 2021, after he starts the season in AAA.

8. Bryce Ball (Braves) - A nothing season is not what the 24th round pick of 2019 needed after he slugged 17 homeruns in 62 games last year. That produced a .628 slugging percentage. Though it was only one year, it was the kind of numbers Paul Goldschmidt was putting up in the minor leagues. At 6′6″ Bryce has a large frame so when he makes contact the ball flies. His defense is spotty and his foot speed is non-existent, so if his bat fails to produce he could die in the minor leagues. Next year he should start his season in AA. He needs to replicate the power he showed in 2019 to continue to advance in the Braves system. It will be difficult to take the first base job away from Freddie Freeman.

9. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The Astros drafted him in the first round in 2018. They were convinced to include him in a trade for Zack Greinke in 2019. His best position is probably designated hitter. He has been put in the outfield, but his lack of speed and below average arm makes that a defensive liability. His bat is what will get him to the majors. The 2019 season saw him breakout for 26 homeruns. Once the National League embraces the DH he will probably see little time at first base. The 2021 season should see him making his major league debut, after he starts the season in AAA.

10. Aaron Sabato (Twins) - The 2020 first round pick could keep Kirilloff in the outfield, depending on how quickly he develops. The lack of a 2020 season did not help him. His only full season playing college was as a freshman when he hit 18 homeruns in 58 games. He was drafted as a sophomore so he had an abbreviated 2020 college season and no minor league season. He lacks speed and arm strength to play the outfield so if his right handed bat does not produce enough power for first base he could be a bust. The 2021 season should see him starting somewhere in A ball, but that will depend on his spring.

Dane Dunning Has Choices for WBC

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Dane Dunning was recently called up by the White Sox to fit in their rotation. He was drafted by the Nationals but traded to the White Sox along with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton. That trade accounts for 60 percent of the playoff bound White Sox rotation. Last year the Nationals won the World Series with Eaton. This year it appears to be the White Sox turn to make a run with Dunning, Lopez and Giolito.

With the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the horizon Dunning could play for the United States team. If that doesn’t work out he could also play for South Korea. His mother was born in Korea making him eligible. According to a Yonhap News Agency article Dunning would love to play for South Korea, even though he has yet to visit the country. At some point he would embrace experiencing the culture there.

Traditionally, Korea has not looked to the United States to fill their WBC teams. They generally pick their teams from players in the KBO. Dunning though is a talent that could fill a rotation spot, along with current major leaguers Kim, Ryu and young pitching sensation Koo that would prove quite formidable.

MLB First - Back to back to back to back by Foreign Born Players

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Three of them were Cubans and the last was from the Dominican Republic. Back to back to back to back homeruns have been accomplished ten times in major league history, but this is the first time that all four homeruns were hit by foreign born players.

Yoan Moncada started the party off with a three run homer. Yasmani Grandal followed with a homerun and Jose Abreu went deep to make it the first back to back to back for Cuban born players. Dominican Eloy Jimenez finished it off with a homerun. For those who were wondering, Luis Robert was seventh in the batting order, Eloy Jimenez fifth.

White Sox Make History with Cuban Batting Order

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

The Chicago White Sox made history by becoming the first team in major league history to have the first four players in the batting order born in Cuba. Because of the injury to Tim Anderson, Luis Robert took the lead off spot. Yoan Moncada batted second and played third. Jose Abreu hit third and played first base. Yasmani Grandal, who grew up in the United States but was born in Cuba and migrated here as a youngster, batted cleanup.

The top four in the order did pretty good, leading the White Sox to an 11-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. Luis Robert went 4 for 5 with a homerun and two runs scored and driven in. Moncada went 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Jose Abreu went 2 for 6 with one run scored. Yasmani Grandal closed out the hitting going 2 for 5 with two runs scored and driven in. That is 11 for 21 with seven runs scored and four driven in.

If not for the last two batters in the order it would have been an all Latin lineup. Dominicans Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Leury Garcia batted fifth, sixth and seventh in the White Sox order. The last two spots in the order were filled by United States born Adam Engel and rookie Nick Madrigal.

The Royals tried to counter the batting order by starting the recently acquired Cuban Ronald Bolanos, making his second start of the season. He did not survive to get to the third inning, giving up five runs in 1.2 innings. He gave up two long balls. Jorge Soler was also in the batting order for the Royals, making it 6 of the 20 players in the starting lineup born in Cuba. Gio Gonzalez was the starting pitcher for the White Sox and he has Cuban ancesters, though he was not born in Cuba.

Top Ten Cuban Prospects - American League

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Cuba has not yet passed the Dominican Republic for their quality of prospects, but they are getting close to passing Venezuela if they have not done that already. The American League is the weaker conference for Cuban prospects, though if you would add WAR (Wins Above Replacement) to each of the players totals in the top ten the American League might come out on top because of their top prospect.

A couple players graduated from last year’s list. The number two prospect Yordan Alvarez made an impressive debut for the Astros, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. His teammate, Cionel Perez did not make as impressive a debut, and will need to improve upon his showing if he wants to pitch int the Astros pen. The lefthanded pitcher allowed lefthanders to hit .300 against him, something he needs to improve on if he wants to be effective in the bullpen.

Four players dropped from the list. This leaves six new players to be added. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects from the American League.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - There is a lot of pressure on Roberts as baseball people are calling him the new Mike Trout. The White Sox have shown so much confidence in him that he is already guaranteed to make $76 million before he even makes a major league appearance. This includes a 26 million bonus when he signed with the White Sox out of Cuba in 2017. His first complete year in 2018 was not so hot when he failed to hit a homerun in close to 200 at bats. A thumb injury bothered him all that season. Last year he broke out with 32 homeruns and 36 stolen bases, becoming one of two 30-30 players in the minor leagues. He has the speed to play centerfield and steal bases, the strength to hit for power and the ability to make hard contact to hit for a high average. There is a bit too much swing and miss in his at bats but that is an issue most teams will take from their power hitters. Luis will be the starting centerfielder for the White Sox this year based on the six year $50 million contract he signed.

2. Roberto Campos OF (Tigers) - Hard to rate Roberto this high when he has yet to play in a minor league game but there is a lot of buzz about him. The Tigers shelled out $2.85 million to sign him. He allegedly left Cuba at 13 years of age and the Tigers hid him for a couple years at their minor league facilities in the Dominican Republic, before signing him. He defected with his older brother after winning the MVP award in a youth international tournament in the Dominican Republic. He lacks the speed to play center but his arm should be good enough for right. At 6′3″ he has good size to have the ability to hit for power. Since he has not really played competitive baseball in about three years it is difficult to predict how he will hit, especially when going against the tough breaking pitches. The Tigers could start him in the Dominican Summer League before promoting him to the major league club. He is still a few years away from impacting the Tigers major league roster.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Orioles gave up Manny Machado for a trio of Dodger minor leaguers. Yusniel was the key to that group. His prospect status has taken a hit as he becomes mired in the quagmire that is AA, the 2019 season completing his third year in Bowie/Tulsa. The Dodgers paid a $15.5 million bonus to sign him back in 2015. So far he has not quite lived up to the hype. His power has remained hidden, stuck on 11 homeruns for three consecutive years with a modest .440 slugging average. Leg injuries last year limited him to just 76 games. If he had played a full season he could have been promoted to AAA. Yusniel has decent speed, but better suited for a corner, a good arm to fit in at right field and a decent hit tool that gives him a .278 minor league average. If he wants to avoid the stigma of a fourth outfielder he needs to improve his power numbers. Next year he should start the season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Orioles if a need arises or his bat shows the major league brass that he is ready.

4. Alexander Vargas SS (Yankees) - Alexander got a year under his belt after the Yankees signed him for $2.5 million in 2018. He played as a 17 year old in the Rookie level, hitting .233 at two levels, with little power (.373 slugging). Speed is his main asset at this point with 15 stolen bases in just 48 games. He showed a good ability to get on base with a 18/28 walk to whiff ratio. The Yankees appear to be very crowded at the shortstop position, but Vargas may have some of the best defensive tools among that group. If he can gain more strength to hit for power he could be an impact player. Right now he is a few years away from making a major league impact.

5. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - When he left Cuba he touted himself as a player with multiple tools and was going to be known as Lazarito, eventually having a similar reaction to the name “Ichiro”. That has not happened yet and may never occur. Lazarito has to learn to make better contact. He reminds me a lot of Blue Jay prospect Demi Orimoloye or long ago Dodger prospect Jose Gonzalez, players who struggle to hit anything with a break. Lazarito struck out an amazing 227 times in 126 games, hitting just .222. He did show his power with 17 homeruns and his speed with 22 stolen bases. A weak arm will limit him to left field, which makes it more important that he develop his power, which might rely on increased contact. Next year he should see AA, unless the Athletics feel he would benefit from one more season in High A.

6. Orlando Martinez OF (Angels) - From Orlando down to Yolbert are new players to the top ten. Orlando was signed in 2017 for the bargain price of $250,000. At 22 he is a bit older and it didn’t help that he missed two months last year because of a broken finger. There isn’t really anything flashy about his game. He runs average so a corner outfield spot would be better for him. He did slug 12 homeruns last year but his power is suspect (.434 slugging). Defensively, the arm is above average but it is not a rocket. So his best bet will be to make it as a fourth outfielder. Next year he will play in AA where a promotion is just a hot streak away.

7. Bryan Ramos 3B (White Sox) - The Sox are doing a good job at putting together a Cuban National team for their roster. Bryan was signed for $300,000 in 2018. At 17 years of age last year was his first in the Arizona Rookie League and he did well, hitting .277 with a .415 slugging percentage. The power may not show yet in a game because pitchers are a little ahead of him, but give him more experience and the power will be seen. He plays third base now, but his position is yet defined. He runs well enough that he could move to the outfield where his arm is strong enough to play right field. He could also move to second where his power would be a bonus. At 17 he is still a long way from playing for the White Sox. Expect him to see time in extended spring training with another Rookie League assignment mid-season.

8. Yordys Valdes SS (Indians) - Yordys was a second round pick of the Indians in 2019. He was born in Cuba where his dad was a Series Nacional player, but moved to the States when he was 12. Defensively he was considered one of the best high school shortstops in the draft. Offensively, there is a lot of work to be done. In Rookie ball he hit just .179 with 53 whiffs in 43 games. While he is not a fast runner, he showed good instincts with 15 stolen bases. Imagine what that amount would be if his OBA was greater than .251. If he can find his bat he could be an exciting player, but that may take another year of Rookie ball and at least three years of minor league ball before he starts wearing an Indians uniform.

9. Yolbert Sanchez SS (White Sox) - Yolbert signed with the White Sox for $2.5 million in 2019. He played last year in the Dominican Summer League. At 23 years of age next year he should start at a full season league. Defensively he is solid with a strong arm. Like Yordys, what will break him is whether his bat is enough to start in the major leagues. He did have a nice 15/12 walk to whiff ratio in the DSL but that was against pitchers younger than him. He should have been a little more dominating than his .297 average and .441 slugging. Next year will be a critical year for him. It is important that his bat play well so he can advance quickly.

10. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - We had him at number 4 last year. The Rangers collected a lot of international money in an attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani. When that did not happen they used $2.8 million of that for what they hope is the next best thing. At 5′9″ Julio is not a big guy. His quick bat allows him to hit for better than average pop but whether it will be enough to be more than a fourth outfielder is open to question. The speed is there to play center so that puts some pressure off him to hit for the power of a corner. Last year at High A he struck out 144 times in just 113 games. Hitting breaking pitches has been the challenge. He did make enough progress in the second half to earn a promotion to AA. He will be 24 when the season starts so the clock is ticking. He is at that age where prospects become journeyman if they have yet to see the major leagues.

Top Prospects from Panama

Friday, March 20th, 2020

The last time myworld did a top ten prospect list from Panama was in 2016. Interesting that three of the players on this year’s list (Miguel Amaya, Edmundo Sosa and Javy Guerra) made the 2020 list. Since then we have done an All Carribean list team, the last of which appears to have been in 2018. There were three Panamanian players to make that list. Jamie Barria pitched in relief for the Angels in 2018 and 2019 and has graduated from prospect status. Another, Jonathan Arauz, did not make this list, while Leonardo Jimenez earned an appearance at the back end of the 2020 Panama list.

The growth of baseball in Panama appears to be greater now than Nicaragua, which used to be the hot bed of baseball in the Central American countries. They won the Series del Caribe back in 2019 when they were first allowed to participate. Last year they missed making the playoffs but they were competitive against the beasts of the Caribbean. So the quality of players signing out of there is improving, allowing myworld to put together a top ten list. The top three from this list are quality while the players that fall below that are still too raw to make an true assessment of what their major league potential may be.

1. Miguel Amaya C (Cubs) - He was number two on the 2016 list but was beaten out by a number of players from the Bahamas for the Caribbean list. The Cubs paid $1 million to sign him in 2015, unusual for a prospect coming out of Panama. For Panama he earns a position on top of this list for his ability to hit as well as play defense. His defense may be a little more ahead of his offensive game at this point, but in the last two years he has hit 23 homeruns. Last year he only hit .235 but he showed excellent plate discipline with a 54/69 walk to whiff ratio, resulting in a .351 OBA. His arm was strong enough to throw out 35 percent of baserunners who tried to steal against him, but he still needs to work on some of the other tools to become a polished defensive catcher. He is still a couple years away from making the Cubs and will open in AA next year when the season starts. The Cubs have been talking about trading Wilson Contreras and Miguel is the heir apparent, but it would be best to wait until 2021 to give him the catching positon.

2. Ivan Herrera C (Cardinals) - Ivan was signed a year after Miguel. The Cardinals gave him a $200,000 bonus. Ivan is also known for his solid defense, though his arm is not as strong as Miguel. He also does not carry the power of Miguel though there is some hope the power will develop once he matures. At this point he does have the ability to hit for a better average than Miguel, coming into the 2020 season with a career .309 average. The strikeouts are few and he has the ability to take a walk, owning a career .397 OBA. Last year he appeared in 18 High A games. That is where he should begin the 2020 season, receiving a promotion to AA once he has had success at High A.

3. Daniel Espino RHP (Indians) - Daniel was born in Panama but moved to the United States while a sophomore in high school. He went from throwing in the mid-80s to being the hardest thrower in high school baseball, earning himself a first round selection of the Indians in the 2019 draft. They paid him a $2.5 million bonus, something he would have never gotten if he had stayed in Panama. Espino throws in the mid-90s and has hit the triple digits with his fastball. He also has three developing secondary pitches that should allow him to stay in the starting rotation. Next year, he should start the season in full season, but do not expect him to be wearing an Indians uniform for at least another three years.

4. Reggie Preciado SS (Padres) - Reggie led Panama to the silver medal in the U15 World Cup, one of three players from that team selected to the All tournament team. He hit .393 and drove in 9 runs during the tournament, motivating the Padres to shell out $1.3 million to sign him in 2019. He did not play in 2019 but should make his debut in the rookie league or the Dominican summer league in 2020. A 6′4″ switch hitter, he should carry a lot of power in his bat. If he continues to grow he could be forced to move from short, but the power will play in the outfield or at third base. Plus, Fernando Tatis appears to have the position locked up for a few years at short. His father played two years in the Yankee farm system so he has a mentor who can tell him how to succeed to the major leagues.

5. Edmundo Sosa SS (Cardinals) - Edmundo appeared on the 2016 Panama list as the number three prospect, just behind Amaya. Edmundo was signed in 2012 for $450,000. He has been playing long enough that a lot is already known about him. His power is rather limited, though last year with the juiced up major league ball he hit a career high 17 homeruns, He also hit a career high .291. Patience at the plate is lacking as evidence by his 17/96 walk to whiff ratio. With better pitching the batting average could dwarf more towards the .250s. Defensively, he does nothing spectacular, but the tools are there to play shortstop. This would seem to make him an ideal candidate for a utility role. He has gotten brief callups the last two years with the Cardinals. Expect at some point he fills the utility role.

6. Benyamin Bailey OF (White Sox) - Bailey signed in 2019 for just $35,000. What puts him on this list is his impressive season in the Dominican Summer League where he hit .324, with a .931 OPS and a 52/40 walk to whiff ratio. Those numbers will be difficult to repeat once he goes stateside. He stands 6′5″ and is fast afoot with the ability to hit for power. Those are two impressive tools, especially for a patient hitter who appears to make good contact. His speed is not good enough to play center, but he could play either corner, though a below average arm could destine him for left. In 2020, after some time in extended spring training he should debut in one of the short season leagues. It will be interesting if his walk to whiff ratio remains as impressive as a 18 year old.

7. Humberto Mejia RHP (Marlins) - Humberto signed for just $50,000 in 2013. Despite that early start he still has not played beyond High A. The entire 2017 season was missed because of shoulder issues and last year was his first season in full season ball experience. He stands 6′3″ and can touch the mid-90s with his fastball, but it sits mostly in the low 90s. His breaking pitches (slider and curve) are his swing and miss offerings. His control of the strike zone limited the opposition to just a .177 average. He could start next season in High A before getting promoted to AA, but the higher he goes the better able those hitters are for hitting breaking pitches. Humberto seems to have the command to locate his pitches to create a challenge. His biggest test will be staying healthy and getting to the 100 inning level for the first time in his career.

8. Sadrac Franco RHP (Angels) - Sadrac was signed in 2017 for $50,000. He still has not gotten past the short season ball, though injuries have limited his ability to pitch. Last year was the first time he got an opportunity to start, getting in eight games. Despite just standing 6′0″ he can hum the fastball across the plate in the high 90s, but it generally sits in the upper edges of the low 90s. His secondary pitches still need a significant amount of work to stay in the rotation. Finding the plate a bit more would also improve his chances of staying in the rotation. The 2020 season should see Sadrac rise to full season ball.

9. Leonardo Jimenez SS (Blue Jays) - The Jays spit out $850,000 to sign Jimenez in 2017. In two years he has yet to hit a homeruns and his career slugging is .360, so if there is power in the bat it has not arrived yet. His bat does spray the gaps giving him a career .278 minor league average. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, though his slow foot speed could require a move to second. Leonardo will turn 19 in May. He needs to gain some bulk to put more juice on the ball if he hopes to remain a starter. He has the defensive tools to make it as a utility player. The 2020 season should see him start the season in Low A.

10. Javy Guerra RHP (Padres) - The Padres acquired Javy from the Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel. He appeared to have all the tools to be the Padres shortstop of the future, especially with an extremely strong arm that could throw rockets. Unfortunately, he struggled to hit, failing to recognize breaking pitches and striking out way too much to get his average above .220. With the arm the Padres converted Javy to a pitcher in 2019. His fastball zipped across the plate in the high 90s and his slider is a very effective pitch. He even made his major league debut last year with eight bullpen appearances. A lack of a third pitch and struggles finding the strike zone will keep him in relief. Getting a better handle on that command could put him in a closer role.

Top Prospects from Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

A couple years ago Puerto Rico was flush with prospects like Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and the list goes on. The discussion about the major league draft stunting the development of Puerto Rican players from being drafted seemed to have disappeared (high school baseball does not exist in Puerto Rico so they rely on academies for players between 14-18). Finding prospects the last couple years has been difficult. Even having Puerto Ricans drafted higher than the second round is rare. Below are the top rated prospects that myworld was able to link to Puerto Rico.

Isan Diaz (# 2 prospect) and Tomas Nido (#3) were the only players to graduate from last year’s list. Four players dropped off. That left room for six new players to appear on the list, one of those who has appeared in previous lists when he was a Dodger.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - The only true top rated prospect on this list, he was the number one Puerto Rican prospect last year and he will probably be number one next year. Heliot was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017, the last first round pick from Puerto Rico. The tools are average or above in all areas of his game. The speed is there to play centerfield, but he may fit better in right. Last year he hit .306 with 13 homeruns in High A but slumped to .242 in AA. The power is there but so is the ability to swing and miss. With his arrival, along with Hunter Bishop, to the major league club it would end the drought the Giants have had of developing outfielders. It will be 2021 before he wears a Giant uniform, unless he tears it up in the minor leagues.

2. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - The island nation has been a breeding ground for developing catchers with Ivan Rodriguez, the Molina brothers, etc. as exemplary examples. Mario hopes to add his name to that list. The Brewers drafted him in the second round (supplemental) draft in 2016. He was eighth on this list last year but his season was limited to 42 games because of injuries and he hit only .205. His strong defense and arm got him placed on this list. This year his bat showed up with a .273 average and 19 homeruns in High A for a .477 slugging. A 29/139 walk to whiff ratio is cause for concern, but the underlying factor is Mario plays a solid defense, and if that power shows up enough it will be good enough to get him in the starting lineup. He is still a year away from the Brewers.

3. Willi Castro SS (Tigers) - Myworld just assumed Willi was from the Dominican Republic, but he was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Dominican. The Indians signed him in 2013 then shipped him off to the Tigers in the Leonys Martin trade. While Martin now spends his time in Japan, Castro made his major league debut with the Tigers last year. There are not any tools that wow you with Castro. He is a decent fielder, could hit for double digit homerun power and last year in AAA slapped the ball around for a .301 average. That will probably translate to a .250 average in the major leagues, especially if he does not improve on his 6/34 walk to whiff ratio in his major league debut. While the Tigers rebuild he could fill the shortstop position, then move to a utility role once they find a better alternative.

4. Edwin Rios 1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers drafted Rios in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Last year the souped up baseball in AAA allowed Edwin to slug 31 homeruns. He hit another four when making his major league debut with the Dodgers. Defensively there is not a lot there to make you want to play him, so the bat needs to stay alive to keep him in the lineup. The Dodgers seem to be loaded with power bats they can put at first base and at 26 the time for Rios to be playing is now. His best bet for a starting role may be a trade or movement to the KBO.

5. Matthew Lugo SS (Red Sox) - Lugo was the highest Puerto Rican selected in the 2019 draft, the last pick of the second round regular phase. He is the nephew of Carlos Beltran and trained in his facility. The bat has the potential for power, even though it failed to show last year with his .326 slugging percentage in 46 rookie league games. His lower half could be a bit thick to stay at short so a move to second is in his future. Expect him to play full season ball next year. Any discussion of the major leagues is a few years away.

6. Yan Contreras SS (Reds) - Another Puerto Rican middle infielder drafted in 2019, but Yan lasted until the 12th round. He was signed mostly for his defense but he will need to hit better than .145 for the Reds to continue to throw him out there. The bright spot was that he drew 14 walks in 20 games, so his ability to get on base (.298 OBA) was not bad. He also runs well, hitting two triples and stealing four bases. He will probably see another year in rookie ball before the Reds expose him to full season ball pitching. He is a few years away from the major leagues, and if his bat does not produce may never climb higher than A ball.

7. Victor Torres C (White Sox) - Victor was an 11th round pick in 2019. He was expected to go higher in the draft. Defense is his calling card with the arm and quickness to control a running game. He also has the ability to call a game and run a pitching staff. Last year he hit only .219, with just two of his 21 hits going for extra bases (both doubles). The Sox thnk he has the ability to hit, but he will probably need one more year in short season ball to prove that. If he can play defense making it as a backup is a possibility, but the bat will have to show up to be an impact catcher in the majors.

8. Erik Rivera OF/LHP (Angels) - Rivera was a fourth round pick in 2019. The Angels are looking at him as a two way player to take advantage of the new roster rules. The big hitting tool for Rivera will be his power, but his inability to make contact will inhibit his ability to get to that power. Last year he failed to go deep in 72 at bats, hitting just .208. His arm is strong enough to play right field, where when pitching his fastball sits in the low 90s. He needs to work on a third pitch if he wants to work as a starter.

9. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Delvin was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016, despite rumors that he had failed a drug test prior to the draft. Perez dominated in the Puerto Rican leagues. Once arriving in the major leagues his bat has grown silent, with just two homeruns in four years. Myworld kept him on the list because he did make the All Star team in Low A last year and the tools are there for him to play short. He needs to raise that .317 slugging percentage and lower his 24 errors to have a chance at the major leagues.

10. Jose DeLeon RHP (Reds) - Jose was drafted in the 24th round of the 2013 draft. While with the Dodgers he was considered a top prospect. The Dodgers traded him to the Rays in 2017 for Logan Forsythe and then the injuries happened. Despite being major league ready injuries limited DeLeon to one major league appearance in 2017. Tommy John surgery in 2018 kept him out of action that year. He rebounded in 2019 with 15 starts and three major league appearances. He struck out 73 in 51 AAA innings. After the year ended the Rays traded him to the Reds where he hopes to squeeze himself onto the major league roster. At 27 years of age he doesn’t have that much more time to make prospect lists.

Major League Farm Rankings - 5 - 1

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Myworld saved the best for last. The top five farm teams. Unfortunately for all these teams you had to tank a few seasons to get here. Time will tell whether it was worth it.

5. Detroit Tigers (27.68)

The pitching in the minors may be the best in baseball. It all starts with Casey Mize, the first pick in the 2018 draft. Shoulder issues last year created an early ending to his season, which is a cause of concern. Matt Manning, the Tigers first round pick in 2016 was the top pitcher in the organization until Mize was picked. Tarik Skubal seemed to come out of nowhere to have a special season. You look at his minor league track record and it is impressive for a ninth round pick (2018). He is the one lefthander in the group. Outfielder Riley Greene was their first round pick in 2019. He is tearing it up this spring, already with two homeruns as a 19 year old. His defense will limit him to left field. Isaac Paredes was signed out of Mexico in 2015 and is listed at shortstop. His bat will get him in the lineup, but it will probably be either at third, second or as a utility player. The range isn’t there to stay at shortstop.

Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez are two other top of the line pitchers who could complete the five man rotation. Faedo was a first round pick in 2017 and Perez was acquired from Houston. He has battled injuries the last two seasons, limiting him to just 9 starts and 27 innings. Parker Meadows is the brother of Austin and was the Tigers second round pick in 2018. At 6′5″ he carries some power in his bat. Roberto Campos is another outfielder to watch. He was signed out of Cuba in 2019 for $2.85 million and will make his debut in 2020. Adinso Reyes is a middle infielder the Tigers signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 for $1.45 million. He hit .331 with a .508 slugging percentage in the Dominican Summer League, good numbers if he can stay at short. Jose dela Cruz is an outfielder that they also signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.85 million in 2018. He hit .307 with 11 homeruns, a .556 slugging percentage and 16 stolen bases in Rookie ball as a 17 year old. He currently has centerfield speed.

4. Seattle Mariners (28.59)

Jarred Kelenic was a first round pick of the Mets in 2018. They traded him to the Mariners in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz deal. Kelenic has five tool potential, with centerfield speed and middle of the order power potential. Julio Rodriguez is a Dominican who the Mariners signed in 2017 for $1.75 million. He does not have the speed of Kelenic, but his power will be special. Logan Gilbert was the Mariners first round pick in 2018 who has already pitched himself to AA. He could make his major league debut sometime by mid-season in 2020. Evan White recently signed a long term contract. The 2017 first round pick is a defensive wiz at first base who will hit but may be a bit short in power for a typical first baseman. Noelvi Marte was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 for $1.55 million. His hit tool including his power is more impressive than his glove at short at this point. Justin Dunn was another Mets first round pick (2016) they traded to the Mariners in the Cano/Diaz deal. He made his major league debut last year and will be competing for a rotation spot this year. Justus Sheffield was a first round pick of the Yankees in 2014 but sent to the Mariners in the James Paxton trade. The lefthander has ace like tools if he can enhance his command. Kyle Lewis was the Mariners first round pick in 2016. He appears fully recovered from his gruesome knee injury in 2016 and is poised to take over one of the corner outfield spots. George Kirby was the Mariners first round pick in 2019 and made a good debut last year, not walking a hitter in 23 innings, a 0/25 walk to whiff ratio.

We named a lot of prospects in the Top 100, which fill their top ten prospect list. Brandon Williamson was a second round pick in 2019. The lefthander has a good fastball that got 14.7 whiffs per 9 innings in his minor league debut.

3. Chicago White Sox (31.34)

Luis Robert was the second best prospect after Wander Franco. The Cuban outfielder signed a $26 million bonus in 2017. Last year he had a break out season with 32 homeruns after going homerless in 2018. Andrew Vaughn was the first pick in the 2019 draft. His right handed swing is sweet and should live in the .300 neighborhood. He could rise quickly and reach the major leagues in 2021. Michael Kopech was the hardest thrower in the minor leagues two years ago but Tommy John surgery forced him to sit out the 2019 season. Command is still a question with him. Nick Madrigal led Oregon State to the College World Series championship in 2018, with the White Sox rewarding him by making him a first round pick in 2018. He will be an excellent defensive second baseman who makes consistent contact, but his bat may lack power.

Matthew Thompson is a second round 2019 pick to be watched. He throws in the mid-90s and has a full array of pitches, impressive for a high schooler. Yolbert Sanchez was signed out of Cuba in 2019. He was a teammate of Luis Robert on Cuba’s Under-18 World Cup team. At 22 the White Sox will move him quickly. His hit tool is ahead of his glove and he may eventually have to move from short to second.

2. San Diego Padres (31.92)

MacKenzie Gore was the Padres first round pick in 2017. The lefthander currently could be the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues. Luis Patino throws from the opposite side. He was signed out of Colombia for just $130,000 but his 6′0″ frame can zip the fastball across the plate in the high 90s. CJ Abrams was the Padres 2019 first round pick. Speed is his tool but he hit .401 in his 32 game debut in rookie ball. Taylor Trammell was a first round supplemental pick of the Reds in 2016, winning the MVP in the Futures Game in 2018. He was sent to the Padres in the three team trade with the Indians to acquire Trevor Bauer. Luis Campusano will be a premium catcher with good offensive and defensive tools. He was the Padres second round pick in 2017. Adrian Morejon is a lefthanded pitcher the Padres signed out of Cuba in 2016 for $11 million. He was voted the MVP of the 15 and Under World Cup, defeating the United States in the gold medal game with a complete game victory.

Gabriel Arias has a smooth glove that could win gold. He also brings a decent bat to the plate. The Padres signed him for $1.9 million in 2016 out of Venezuela. Last year he made his debut in the .300 neighborhood (.302) at High A, slugging 17 homeruns. Reggie Preciado was signed for $1.3 million out of Panama in 2019. His bat is ahead of his glove and his slow foot speed may require a move from shortstop to third base. Ismael Mena was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $2.2 million. He has excellent speed with a 6′3″ frame that could hit for power.

1. Tampa Bay Rays (32)

Not only will they make the playoffs, but their farm system is brimming with prospects that could help with their playoff roster. Wander Franco is the top prospect in baseball. He could become a superstar shortstop. Brendan McKay was noted more for his bat than his glove in college, the Rays rewarding him by making him the first round pick in 2017. His arm is what got him to the majors last year. He needs to improve with the bat if the Rays hope to use him as a two way player. Vidal Brujan has a small frame but the legs have the speed to steal 40 plus bases. He won’t hit for a lot of power. Xavier Edwards is the third shortstop prospect on this list. He may have the best glove of this group and will hit in the neighborhood of .300 with very little power. He was a 2018 first round supplemental pick of the Padres who sent him to the Rays in the Tommy Pham trade. Brent Honeywell has not pitched the last two seasons because of two separate arm injuries. The 2014 second round supplemental pick was supposed to follow Blake Snell in the rotation before the injuries shelved his climb. Shane Baz is a first round 2017 pick with a fastball that can hit triple digits. Josh Lowe is the brother of Nate. The 2016 first round pick had a break out power season last year with 18 homeruns. He still must improve on his contact issues. Greg Jones was the Rays first round pick in 2019 who hit .335 in his minor league debut. Speed is his main attribute, which may move him from short to center. Shane McClanahan is a 2018 first round pick who can hit the radar in triple digits, excellent for a lefthander. Yoshitomo Tsutugo was signed out of Japan. He had 40 homerun seasons there but can be a defensive liability. Joe Ryan was a seventh round 2018 pick who had a fabulous season last year, striking out more than 14 hitters per nine innings last season.

Ronaldo Hernandez is a catcher out of Colombia who has both a good glove and bat. His arm is a rifle and will control the running game. The Rays parted with $1.5 million to sign Jhon Diaz in 2019. He has a small frame with above average grades in all areas but power.

AL Central Predictions

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

The Cleveland Indians appear to be rebuilding. That is good news for Twins and White Sox fans.

Minnesota Twins

Good - Last year they broke the record for homeruns in a season with 307. They signed Josh Donaldson to play third base. He should be good for thirty plus more homeruns to add to that total. The big question is whether Mitch Garver can replicate his 2019 season when he hit 31 homers in just 93 games for a .630 slugging percentage. Twin fans may want to temper down expectations and hope for a 20 plus season, which is still pretty good for a catcher. Nelson Cruz will hit 40 in July. He has been good for 40 plus homeruns in four of his last six seasons. When he fell short it was by less than a handful. The corners in the outfield of Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler each combined for 30 plus homeruns. It would stay good news if Kepler stayed at the corner and did not have to play 60 plus games in centerfield because of injuries to Byron Buxton. He is not noted for his defense but Miguel Sano has some pop. If he can stay healthy for a full season he could hit 40 plus homeruns at first base or DH. This lineup has the potential for three or more 40 plus homerun hitters in their lineup and another season of 300 plus homeruns. Jose Berrios could turn into the ace the Twins need to cut down on those losing streaks.

Bad - The bullpen looks a little leaky. They will rely on Taylor Rogers to repeat his 30 save performance. He entered the 2019 season with only two saves. Relievers can be temperamental. Expecting back to back seasons from first year closers is asking a lot. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard are veterans who have done the role, but Trevor May has the closer stuff if Rogers falters. The starting pitching looks a little thin after Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. Kenta Maeda and Homer Bailey have had issues being reliable for full seasons. The return of Michael Pineda from suspension in May would lengthen the rotation, dropping Maeda and Bailey to more acceptable back of rotation spots. Byron Buxton could be a star but he has played in more than 100 games once in his five years in the major leagues. Marwin Gonzalez could fill the outfield role if Buxton does not play but the defense and offense would be impacted.

Ugly - If the balls are not flying out of the park the Twins could be hurting. Also, the lack of depth in their starting rotation cannot afford an injury to Berrios or Odorizzi. Not a lot of big time pitching prospects waiting in the minor leagues to replace them.

Rookies - This is a veteran laden roster. Injuries to the starting rotation could provide opportunities for Devin Smeltzer or Lewis Thorpe. Neither are considered ace material pitchers. If either Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach tear it up in the minors and injuries hit the outfield depth they could get opportunities. Royce Lewis is also waiting for his opportunity if an infield spot should open up.

Expected Finish - First place, and if their offense is running on all cylinders they should get past the first round in the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox

Good - It is a young team with a lot of upside. Eloy Jimenez last year had a rookie season in which he hit 31 homeruns. His defense in left field is very dicey and he belongs more at the DH. Everyone expects Luis Robert to play center and put up Cody Bellinger like numbers. His centerfield defense may be challenged as a rookie. The starting rotation has a lot of depth and promise. Lucas Giolito seemed to figure it all out last year and Dallas Keuchel will show him what it is like to be an ace. The White Sox hope Reynaldo Lopez figures it out, making the trade with the Nationals for Adam Eaton a steal. If not, Michael Kopech could be ready. Before the Tommy John surgery he had an easy triple digit fastball. Gio Gonzalez could make it a ex-Nationals threesome for the White Sox rotation, but his best years are behind him. Yoan Moncada finally pulled it all together last year. The White Sox hope that more improvement is on the horizon. Yasmani Grandal was a good free agent signing. He has hit 20 plus homeruns in his last four years, turning last year’s starter James McCann into a backup and future catcher prospect Zach Collins an after thought or a move to first base or DH.

Bad - There still appears to be a hole at second base. Yolmer Sanchez won a gold glove there last year but was not much of a bat. The White Sox may go with Leury Garcia there this year but his glove may not be as strong as Yolmer and his bat is very vanilla. With a good spring Nick Madrigal could win the starting job. The defense does not look very strong with Jimenez in left field and average or below average defenders at every position except catcher. If Leury Garcia is starting at second base the White Sox lack a utility option they can fill in at a number of positions.

Ugly - The starting staff is young and if injuries or poor performance hit too many of them any shot at contending for the playoffs will be eliminated. Though there is some depth in the rotation it only goes six deep. There is a lack of depth in the outfield should Roberts struggle or injuries make for extended absences.

Rookies - Luis Robert and Michael Kopech are the two big rookies since they are expected to play big roles on the team. Nick Madrigal is a sleeper and could be called up by midyear.

Expected Finish - Second place but just short of the wild card berth and the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians

Good - Francisco Lindor is one of the best shortstops in baseball, but the Indians have spent a lot of time trying to trade him. He provides offense and defense. This would become a big hole if he is traded. Roberto Perez had a break out year behind the plate, hitting 24 homeruns. His batting average (.231) was a little weak. Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger are new names in the rotation that had solid years last year. If they can stay healthy the Indians can be competitive for two of their five games. Carlos Carrasco has to prove he is healthy before myworld mounts him as a benefit to this rotation. Jose Ramirez needs to show the 2019 season was a fluke and bounce back to his previous years numbers to make third base a strength.

Bad - A lot of vanilla in the outfield. Jordan Luplow is a terror against left handed pitching (.320) but an automatic out versus right handers (.216). Franmill Reyes is a defensive liability, but can hit the ball a long ways, as his 37 homers show. Oscar Mercado had a nice rookie season but his numbers fall far short of others at the position. Not a lot at the back end of the rotation, especially if Carlos Carrasco does not stay healthy. The DH spot seems like an empty hole for offense. They hope for better production from Jake Bauers or Carlos Santana or Franmil Reyes could be moved there.

Ugly - By midseason it could get ugly after the Indians fall out of the playoff race and trade Francisco Lindor and other veterans for prospects. They will then fall closer to the Tigers and Royals than contend with the White Sox and Twins.

Rookies - The farm system is loaded more at the lower levels than the upper levels. Logan Allen could be ready for the Indians rotation by mid season. He was acquired from the Padres with Franmil Reyes in the three team Trevor Bauer trade. Bobby Bradley could move to first or fill the DH slot if there continues to be lack of production. He is capable of 30 plus homerun pop. Emmanuel Clase could take over the closer role by the end of the season if the Indians start to trade their veterans and send Brad Hand packing.

Expected finish - Third place, far from the playoffs

Detroit Tigers

Good - They have a future starting five in Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez. This will not help them much in 2020 but fans could see a sprinkle of their abilities before the season ends. Matt Boyd showed ace potential with 200 plus strikeouts last year, but was still too inconsistent to be placed in the ace category. The best “good” that can come for the Tigers with Boyd is that he meets his ace potential and the Tigers get a bagful of prospects for him. Niko Goodrum is good as a utility player but falls short as a starter at one position.

Bad - Let’s just say they are stacking their lineup with a bunch of fillers. They hope Christin Stewart has a better year but all the other positions are filled with journeyman who have no future in the Tigers rebuild. Miguel Cabrera will eat a lot of salary at the DH spot.

Ugly - The starting rotation behind Boyd will give up lots of runs. Can’t imagine the starter ERA being any less than 5.

Rookies - A lot of potential in the starting five mentioned in the “good”. During a bad season there is little incentive to lose service time calling them up, but Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal could fit in the rotation by mid-season. Isaac Paredes could win the third base job out of spring training. He may not have the power for the corner infield spot but he can find the gaps. Willie Castro and Jake Rogers lack the offense to make an impact, but they both got major league time last year.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Royals for last place in this division. Whoever wins that battle may get the number one pick next year.

Kansas City Royals

Good - Like the Tigers the Royals are collecting a number of good arms for the future starting rotation. Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar are three first round picks rising up the minor league ladder. Jorge Soler has a good bat but a terrible glove. His 48 homeruns last year will see most of his games at DH. Salvador Perez used to be one of the best catchers in the major leagues. He missed last year because of Tommy John surgery. He should be ready to play this year. Whit Merrifield may not be with the Royals before the year ends. He has hit .300 his last two years and can play either second base or centerfield. Adalberto Mondesi, the son of Raul, relies on his legs to create havoc. The shortstop has stolen 30 or more bases his last two years. Last year was a down year compared to his breakout 2018.

Bad - The corner infielders are question marks. Ryan O’Hearn had a down year last year slugging just .369. That is more than 200 points lower than last year’s numbers. Maikel Franco signed as a free agent this year. Last year in Philadelphia his slugging was just .409. Teams expect more offense from their infield corners. The team resigned Alex Gordon to play left field, but his best days are behind him. Last year he slugged .396. Nicky Lopez is their promising rookie second baseman, but he finished the year with an OBA of .276. These bats are not going to support a rag tag group of pitchers who will give up runs in bunches. Their bullpen will not protect a lot of leads. The biggest issue is getting a lead to Ian Kennedy, who converted from starter to bullpen and saved 30 games.

Ugly - The starting rotation will eat up innings and give up runs. There is no real ace and they are just filling a need until Singer, Lynch and Kowar are ready.

Rookies - Khalil Lee could see some time in centerfield if the Royals trade Merrifield or return him to second base. Most of the other minor league prospects are too low in the minor leagues to rush to a last place team and waste service time.

Expected Finish - The Royals have more offensive talent than the Tigers. That talent may not stay with the team the whole year. Expect them to battle the Tigers for that first round pick in 2021.