Archive for the 'Tigers' Category

Rough Debut for Two New Orioles

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Myworld attended a Bay Sox game yesterday. Two players made their Oriole debut after the trade of Manny Machado got the Orioles five new prospects to drool at, Yusniel Diaz, Zach Pop, Breyvik Valera, Dean Kremer and Rylan Bannon . The Erie Seawolves took down the Bowie Bay Sox 5-3 with Kody Eaves driving in two with a double in the seventh inning to give the Seawolves the lead.

Yusniel Diaz was the big acquisition from the Dodgers for Manny Machado. He singled sharply to left in his first at bat, hitting it past the shortstop. His next three at bats were not so good, striking out in all three. He is not noted for his striking out, coming from the Texas League with a 41/39 walk to whiff ratio. He also came with a .905 OPS. With Ryan McKenna in center and Diaz in right the Bay Sox could have one of the better minor league outfields with the return of Austin Hays from injury.

Zach Pop had a rough debut. He came into the game in the seventh with the Bay Sox leading 2-1. He struggled finding the strike zone, giving up a leadoff single to recently promoted Isaac Paredes (now batting .800 after two games in AA), then walking the next two hitters. Kody Eaves gave Erie the lead with a double ending the day for Pop. He exited taking the loss and having an ERA of infinity (not getting anyone out).

Kyle Dowdy pitched well for Erie. Despite his 6′1 frame he consistently hit 95-97 on the radar. He tired a little after the fifth with his pitches sitting more along 93-95. He pitched six innings striking out five. Ryan McKenna got one of the six hits against Dowdy, a booming homerun to right center. McKenna is the Austin Hays of 2018, getting promoted from Frederick after he hit .377 there. Myworld has been impressed with his smooth defense in center but his bat has been a little slow in AA. Ryan was drafted out of high school in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.

The Bay Sox had back to back North Dakota relief duty. Zach Muckenhirn, who attended North Dakota relieved Zach Pop, a back to back Zach relief duo. Jay Flaa, who attended North Dakota State then relieved Muchenhirn, giving the Bay Sox a back to back North Dakota duo.

Daz Cameron impressed with his speed for Erie. In the eighth he drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Jake Rogers popped a foul ball to shallow right that the first baseman caught. Daz tagged and scored without a throw. Daz also singled in the sixth which almost scored Sergio Alcantara. Alcantara was called out at home, was tossed for flinging his helmet in a fit of anger and then manager Andrew Graham was tossed for also arguing the call.

Keegan Akin pitched well for the Bay Sox. He only allowed one run on five hits in his six innings of work. He lowered his ERA to 2.83, which puts him third in the Eastern League behind Mitch Keller (2.72) and Peter Lambert (2.23).

Top Leftfield Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

It is tough to identify left field prospects. Teams like to see power from this position, but it usually fits a player who is lacking one or two tools. Sometimes a team will move a corner infielder here, or they may have two corner outfielders who have the ability to play right field. If a team is blessed with too many centerfielders the player with the lesser arm will move here. The players identified below have played some left field in the minor leagues, but that still may not be their ultimate position as they rise through the ranks.

1. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Taylor was a first round supplemental pick in the 2016 draft. He has the speed to play center but his arm is short and if he doesn’t fit in center his best position will be left. In the Florida State League the Reds have moved him around all three outfield positions. The bat should provide power while his legs will steal bases giving the Reds a possible 20/20 player or better. In the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has only sent six balls over the fence but he has hit .295 with 16 stolen bases. He shows good patience at the plate with a .394 OBA. The Reds have been promoting him one level at a time so expect him not to play AA until 2019.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - Julio signed out of Cuba for $2.8 million. The speed is there to play center. The arm may be better suited for left. While he is listed at 5′11″ reports list him more at 5′9″. He dominated when he played in the Dominican Summer League hitting .409 with a 1.288 OPS. That resulted in a promotion state side. It will take him awhile to get used to minor league pitching. Cubans have struggled when they are first exposed to breaking pitches, especially the slider and Julio has struck out in 23 of his 21 games, struggling with a .234 average. At 22 years of age you would like him to make the adjustments in a league dominated by high schoolers. Most of his time has been in centerfield but he has seen three games in left. Adonis Garcia came over as a smallish centerfielder and eventually moved to the infield. Myworld believes Julio has more tools than Adonis, but time will tell.

3. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) - The Dodges originally signed the 6′5″ Cuban for $2 million but then traded him shortly after to the Astros. The best position for Yordan may be first base, but that position is a bit crowded in the Astros organization. He is not a bad runner but his arm is below average. That won’t be a problem if Yordan continues to dominate with the bat. In AA he hit .303 with 13 homeruns and a .949 OPS. The Astros are looking for some production from the leftfield position and if the players they put out there continue to struggle Yordan may get the opportunity. First he must master AAA where in minimal at bats (19) he is hitting only .105.

4. Josh Naylor OF (Padres) - At 5′11 and 250 pounds Josh is a big guy who can hit the ball a long way. The Canadian was a first round pick of the Marlins and traded to the Padres for Andrew Cashner. Since he has already made eight errors in 54 games for an .899 fielding percentage myworld does not see how the Padres can make him a left fielder. At AA Texas he is finally showing the bat that made him a first round pick. He has already hit a career high 12 homeruns and his .319 average is his highest since his rookie season in 2015. A 46/47 walk to whiff ratio shows a rare combination of power and contact. Expect him to get a September promotion.

5. Willie Calhoun OF (Rangers) - The Dodgers drafted the 5′8″ slugger in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and stuck him at second. He did not fit there defensively and when the Dodgers traded him to the Rangers they moved him to left. With Leody Taveras destined for center Willie and Julio Pablo will have to fight it out for the left field position. Julio is probably the better defensive player but Willie packs more pop in his small frame. Last year he hit 32 homeruns. This year he only has seven, but he tends to warm up with the weather. Willie has hit 26 doubles with a .300 average.

6. Christin Stewart OF (Tigers) - A first round pick in 2015. Christin is the typical bat first and defense later type of player. His best position may be as a designated hitter. His arm is weak and his speed is below average. That weak defense has kept Christin in the minors. The last two years his bat has produced 24 and 28 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 17 homeruns, 15 of them in AAA. Expect the rebuilding Tigers to give him his major league debut this year where he will play primarily at the DH position with spot starts in left field.

7. Brent Rooker OF (Twins) - Brent was a first round pick of the Twins in 2017. The speed in his legs are best suited for first and his arm is below average. First base is the position he played in college, but to get his power bat in the lineup the Twins have been giving him a lot of time in left field, despite his defensive weaknesses. This year he has slugged 15 homeruns with a .493 slugging average. Reducing his swings and misses (107 in 86 games) could increase his average (.264) and his power numbers.

8. Chris Shaw OF (Giants) - The dilemma for the first round 2015 pick is Brandon Belt at first base. That happens to be the best position for Chris. His legs are plodding but his arm is decent for the outfield. Getting his bat in the lineup without having to trade Belt or keep Buster Posey behind the plate during his declining years is the reason for his outfield move. Last year he hit a career high 24 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 18. A 13/104 walk to whiff ratio in just 67 games is a cause for concern and a reason for his low .255 average. Major league pitchers will exploit that lack of patience weakness but the Giants will find out if Chris can hang when they call him up in Sepember.

9. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - The Athletics shelled out $3 million to sign the Cuban in 2016. He is a toolsey outfielder except for his arm. The speed is there to play center but because he expects to get bigger as he matures left field should be his ultimate position. After playing in the Rookie league last year the Athletics have him in the full season Low A league this year. Injuries have limited him to 36 games but he has shown the power to play corner with five homeruns with a .469 slugging percentage. Still a teenager at 19 the Athletics can be patient with Lazaro, giving him a full season in Low A.

10. Buddy Reed OF (Padres) - Buddy Reed was a second round pick of the Padres in 2016. He is a better defensive leftfielder than Naylor but lacks the burner speed to play center and the rocket arm to fit in right. At 6′4″ the power had yet to manifest itself in his first two years. This year he has broken out with 12 homeruns with a .542 slugging percentage. While he does not have great speed, he has shown the base stealing acumen to steal 33 bases this year. The .324 average in the California League has gotten him a promotion to the less pitcher friendly San Antonio ball park. If the power continues the Padres will have to find room for him in what is turning out to be a crowded outfield picture.

Draft Picks in the Top 100

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Fangraphs did an updated top 100 (actually 133) including recently drafted players on the list. Myworld would not be bold enough to create a top 100 including draft picks until we see them play in rookie leagues and their familiarization to the wood bats. Below are the players listed in the top 100. There is no Brady Singer even after he outdueled Casey Mize in the Super Regional game.

31. Casey Mize (RHP) Detroit
33. Nick Madrigal (2B) White Sox
57. Joey Bart (C) Giants
68. Travis Swaggerty (OF) Pirates
77. Alec Bohm (3B) Phillies
93. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays
95. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
96. Jarred Kelenic (CF) Mets
97. Jonathan India (3B) Reds
98. Carter Stewart (RHP) Braves
100. Cole Winn (RHP) Rangers

If this list proves accurate this should be a nice draft for third baseman.

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 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 Puerto Rican Prospects

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Compared to previous lists, last year’s Puerto Rican prospect list only graduated one player because of major league service time. Rio Ruiz got 150 at bats with the Braves, but a .193 batting average did not guarantee a return. Five players saw some major league time but not enough to lose their rookie status. Jorge Lopez got one major league appearance with the Brewers while Joe Jimenez pitched in 24 games for the Tigers, rewarding them with a 12.32 ERA. Jose Deleon got one appearance for the Rays. Tomas Nido saw a few games behind the plate for the Mets as did Victor Caratini see some plate action with the Cubs. That is six major leaguers from the top ten, but none of them with the potential impact of Carlos Correa, Joes Berrios, Francisco Lindor or Javier Baez, players who had appeared in previous lists. Below are the top ten prospects from Puerto Rico in the minor leagues.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - Heliot has the tools to be a difference maker, something not seen from the list last year. He was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017. His power and speed, with a plus arm make him a potential five tool player. One cause for concern was his lack of patience in the Arizona Rookie League where he had a 10/48 walk to whiff ratio in 35 games. Those whiffs did not prevent him from hitting .348 with six homeruns and a 1.049 OPS. The Giants started his 2018 season in Low A where the cold weather in Salem has quieted his bat (.259 average, .397 slugging). When the weather warms up the bat should start producing.

2. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Perhaps the comparisons to Carlos Correa were unfair. A failed drug test also dropped his draft status. The Cardinals still made him a first round pick in 2016 but at the back end of the first round. It’s been two years and he has yet to clear the fence. He struggled last year in rookie ball hitting just above .200. A hit by pitch broke a bone in his hand and mercifully ended his season early. His defense is above average but if his bat doesn’t produce a utility role may be his best bet. Delvin could see a third year in the rookie leagues. He has yet to appear in a game in 2018.

3. Joe Jimenez RHP (Tigers) - With his mid-90s fastball Jimenez was being groomed to be the closer for the Tigers. A 12.32 ERA in 24 appearances with the opposition hitting him at a .356 pace tempered those expectations. Command has been a problem and major leaguers will take advantage. Joe made the Tigers roster to begin the 2018 season with promising results. He has yet to give up an earned run in 10 appearances, with the opposition hitting him at a .171 clip. That is quite a bit of improvement from his numbers last year. At this rate he should stick in the Tigers bullpen and graduate from this list.

4. Victor Caratini C (Cubs) - Caratini can hit, but Wilson Contreras is ahead of him behind the plate. A move to first is a possibility but the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo there. So Caratini will take his bats where he can get them, filling a utility role. His bat is much better than his glove. Last year at Iowa he hit .342 with 10 homeruns and a .558 slugging percentage. To start the season he will play as the back up to Contreras and Rizzo. The at bats will not be plentiful but it should be enough to lose his rookie status. Expect him to be a role player for his career.

5. Isan Diaz 2B/SS (Brewers) - Isan has not been able to replicate his .360 average from his rookie league season in 2015. Last year he struggled with a .222 average. The power is there with double digit homeruns all three seasons. His defense is not stellar so he needs to hit to get in the lineup. The Brewers have been playing him at short, but his best position is second base. Last year he committed 21 errors at the two positions in just 102 games, 14 of them at second base. The Brewers have started him at AA to begin the 2018 season and his .198 average would be a further decline of his batting average. His prospect status is fading.

6. Jorge Lopez RHP (Brewers) - The Brewers appear to be moving Lopez to the bullpen. A 6.81 ERA at AAA Colorado Springs in 2016 dropped his prospect status. His fastball may be better suited for the bullpen, with his curveball a quality second pitch. The key is being able to find the plate. His move to the bullpen last year saw him lower his ERA. This year he has returned to AAA where he has picked up two saves. At 25 years of age the Brewers may put him on the roller coaster, calling him up from AAA when they need an arm for the bullpen.

7. Jose Deleon RHP (Rays) - Drafted by the Dodgers they traded him to the Rays for Logan Forsyth. The Rays were hoping to use him in their rotation last year but injuries limited him to eight minor league starts. His mid-90s fastball from previous years had trouble reaching 90 last year which made has change less effective. He also had some issues finding the plate. The Rays were hoping to get some starts from him in 2018 but Tommy John surgery will end his season. The Rays will have to hope that his fastball will return when he is healthy for the 2019 season.

8. Tomas Nido C (Mets) - Nido is an above average defensive player with a strong arm good enough to gun down 45 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him in AA last year. There is some power in his bat when he connects but there is still too much lack of barrel of bat on ball contact. Last year he hit just .232 at Binghamton. The Mets have had some injuries behind the plate, with Travis d’Arnaud out for the year, giving Nido an opportunity to show what he can do. Currently he is hitting only .182 but his ability to play defense will give him more opportunities.

9. Edwin Rios 1B/3B (Dodgers) - At 6′3″ and 220 pounds Edwin has big time power that is not seen often in Puerto Rico. Last year he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA but with Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner ahead of him at first and third his opportunity for playing time with the Dodgers may be limited. He is much better defensively at first base, with below average skills at third base. Left field is a possibility but his speed is limited there. An injury to Justin Turner this year seemed like an opportunity for Rios, but he has started the season dinged up and has yet to appear in a game. The injuries were said to be minor but he has yet to appear in a game this year.

10. Nelson Velasquez OF (Cubs) - Nelson was a fifth round pick in 2017 by the Cubs, but he was the first position player they drafted. He showed some plus power in the rookie leagues with eight homeruns with the speed to steal five bases. His poor routes may prevent a centerfield option but the arm is powerful enough to fit in right. He still is quite raw as a player but shows great potential. The 2018 season has been spent in extended spring where he may need to wait for the rookie leagues to begin play in July.

2017 top Puerto Rican Prospects

Top Australian Prospects

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

It has become more difficult to find Aussie prospects in the minor leagues. The distance and the influx of a wave of Cubans makes the cost/benefit of scouting there and then signing players unattractive. Plus for the Aussie, to play baseball in the United States for minimal salary and the difficulty in achieving major league success is not a career enhancer. The only Aussie major leaguers are pitchers, Peter Moylan, Warwick Saupold and Liam Hendrick. Myworld identified Saupold as a prospect to watch before the Tigers signed him when we saw him pitch in Tawian for the Perth Heat team a number of years ago. He is one player who has graduated from the list last year. So below are the top ten Australian prospects in the minor leagues. From what we could find there are not much more than ten Aussie players in the minor leagues.

1. Aaron Whitefield OF (Twins) - He’s an athlete. Defensively he may already be ready for the major leagues. Like Saupold he is a late starter to baseball, having spent most of his youth playing softball. His hitting is a bit raw, but does show some power with 11 homeruns last year. Pitch recognition is an issue with 118 whiffs in 116 games. Even when he makes contact it isn’t barrel of the bat on ball contact. Improved recognition of pitches will result in increased production. The speed is there to play center but the arm is best suited for left. He will begin the 2018 season in High A.

2. Lewis Thorpe LHP (Twins) - Tommy John surgery forced him to miss two seasons (2015 and 2016) after signing in 2012. He made a nice comeback last year finishing with a 2.69 ERA in High A, striking out 84 in 77 innings and limiting the opposition to a .225 average. For an Aussie he throws a hard fastball that creaked into the high 90s prior to his surgery but now sits in the low 90s. If he can get that velocity back he has a greater shot of seeing the major leagues. His secondary pitches are average and should allow him to stay in the rotation. He will begin the 2018 season in AA. If his fastball returns to pre surgery velocity he could see some time with the Twins by mid-season, though the Twins will still be mindful of his pitch count.

3. Alex Wells LHP (Orioles) - Not many pitchers had a string of success like Wells. In July Wells went five starts covering 31 innings in which he did not allow a run. He finished the season with a 2.38 ERA with the opposition hitting just .222 off him. His stuff will not overwhelm you with a fastball that is lucky to break 90. Command of his pitches and throwing them to the corners of the plate is what retires hitters. Last year Alex only walked 10 hitters in 140 innings. Whether that success will continue as he rises through the minor leagues is open to question. The first test will be in High A where his first two starts his ERA sits at 1.74 and the opposition hit him at a .150 rate.

4. Lachlan Wells LHP (Twins) - The Twin brother of Alex. His stuff is just as underwhelming as Alex, but he did not have the same success. He walks a few more hitters and gives up a few more hits, but he also pitched one level higher than Alex at High A. Where Alex won 11 games Lachlan lost 10. His opposition batting average was .243. He began the season on the disabled list, but when he is healthy he could start the season in AA.

5. Robbie Perkins C (Rockies) - The bat is a little light with a .201 career minor league average and a .313 slugging. His arm is what keeps him percolating in the minor leagues. Last year he threw out 19 of the 36 baserunners who attempted to steal against him. Unless his bat improves his best hope for him is to make it as a back up. Last year he did hit .271 in a 22 game stretch in the California League.

6. Todd Van Steensel RHP (Twins) - At 27 years of age he has advanced beyond what is normally considered a prospect. This is his seventh year in the minor leagues. Except for the first two years, they have all been spent in the bullpen. Last year his 1.38 ERA in AA gave the Twins motivation to sign him. He has returned to AA this year and if he can replicate his 2017 season he could see a callup to the big leagues.

7. Jon Kennedy LHP (Braves) - Jon has got height (6′5″) with a lefthanded arm that can throw in the low 90s. Of his 62 appearances only one has appeared as a starter. It would be better if he could get lefthanded hitters out, but his opposition average against lefties (.263) was about the same as righties (.261). He also pitches in the Braves organization, which has a surplus of quality starting pitchers. Many of them will have to settle for bullpen duty if they don’t make the rotation, squeezing out less qualified bullpen pitchers like Kennedy. The 2018 season has seen Jon start it in High A where he has yet to give up a run in four appearances.

8. Daniel McGrath LHP (Red Sxo) - His fastball lacks velocity and he was tagged last year for a .295 opposition average. He also struggles to find the plate with 51 walks in just 85 innings. The Red Sox have moved him to the bullpen where the hope is that shorter spurts will lead to greater success.

9. Zac Shepherd 3B (Tigers) - Myworld was once high on his power. Lack of pitch recognition has resulted in lots of swings and misses (171 whiffs in 2017) and low batting averages. His power is also reduced (.318 slugging) because of lack of barrel on the ball contact. This is his fifth season in minor league baseball where his .219 average has not allowed him to surpass A ball.

10. Sam Street RHP (Pirates) - Lots of Sams in Australian baseball. While he was born in Australia, he went to college in the United States, resulting in the Pirates drafting him in the 16th round of the 2014 draft. Of his 111 appearances only one has been a start. His fastball lacks velocity but his career .233 opposition average shows he can still retire hitters. He starts the 2018 season in AA.

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.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Victor Arano and Giovanny Gallegos are the two pitchers from the list last year that saw some brief major league time. Julio Urias and Daniel Castro made it from the 2016 list but a shoulder injury has sidelined Julio’s progress with the Dodgers and pedestrian talent has prevented Castro from continuing his major league stay. There was a repeat number one and five of the ten players on this list were repeats. Dropping off the list were Francisco Rios, Jose Cardona, Jose Luis Hernandez, Fernando Perez and Christian Villanueva. This is not a list filled with top prospects. Only Luis Urias has a significant shot at seeing full time major league time.

1. Luis Urias (Padres) 2B/SS - He started as a second baseman but the Padres have given him time at short. His future position may be second base but the arm is strong enough to play short and the range is there. It just would not be super elite for the position. The bat is the prize here, making contact and walking more than striking out, a trait not shared by many. He also peppers the gaps with line drives, with the capability of staying in the .300 neighborhood. There is very little power in his swing and not a lot of speed in his legs, but he would be a perfect two hole hitter. Luis could be ready to see major league time by mid-season, but the 2018 season will see him start in AAA. His career minor league average is .310.

2. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) SS/2B - Paredes was acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade. The Cubs signed Paredes out of Mexico in 2015. Isaac is another contact hitter who may lack the speed and build to stay at short. He does have a little power in his bat so a move to second or third could provide a team with an offensive second baseman or a defensive third baseman with decent power. He struggled a little bit in Low A (.217) after being traded by the Cubs. Still a teenager the Tigers could keep him at Low A to get his feet wet or challenge him with a promotion to High A where he would be considered one of the younger players in the league.

3. Jose Albertos (Cubs) RHP - Pitchers from Mexico usually are not hard throwers. The Cubs spent $1.5 million on Albertos because he can zing his fastball across the plate in the high 90s but generally sits on the higher side of the low 90s to the mid-90s. Like most pitchers from Mexico, they learn the change and Jose has a good one, making the fastball appear to have that much more velocity. A third pitch needs to be perfected for him to slide into the rotation, otherwise he may be best suited for the bullpen. Last year he pitched in the rookie leagues and did well. His career opposition batting average since signing is .176 and he strikes out 10.5 hitters per nine innings. Next year will be his big test when he starts a full season league.

4. Andres Munoz (Padres) RHP - The first new player on this list. The Padres paid out a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz away from the Mexico City team. Since his signing his fastball has increased from the low 90s to sitting in the high 90s to hitting triple digits. All of his work has been out of the bullpen where he does not need to hold back. Finding the plate has been a struggle walking just over six hitters per nine innings. Also, he pitches out of the bullpen because he only has a fastball/slider combination. Those limitations will keep him in the bullpen as he rises through the ranks. Last year he got three appearances at Low A. That is where he should start the 2018 season. If the Padres want to see him develop more pitches and improve his control they could move him into a starter’s role, but myworld does not see that happening this year.

5. Victor Arano (Phillies) RHP - Victor is one of two pitchers from the list last year who saw major league time. After 2015 all of his time has been spent in the bullpen where he can unleash his fastball in the mid-90s. His slider may be his best pitch, the one he uses to retire hitters. While his numbers at AA Reading were not awe inspiring (4.19 ERA) the Phillies still promoted him to their major league club. He did well, limiting the opposition to a .158 average and striking out 11 hitters per nine innings. With a good spring his strong major league performance could give him a shot to start the season with the major league club, or ride that roller coaster, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the Phillies.

6. Tirso Orneles (Padres) OF - The Padres have always talked about expanding their roster to include more players from Mexico, attracting fans from Tijuana to attend their games. Tirso is a player they signed for $1.5 million from the Mexico City club. Urias and Munoz are two other players the Padres have signed out of Mexico City. At 6′4″ Tirso has the ability to generate power in his bat, banging three homeruns last year in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17 year old. His lack of speed will keep him in the corner but his arm is a fit for right. The 2018 season should see him with another season in the Rookie League unless the Padres really want to challenge him.

7. Hector Velasquez (Red Sox) RHP - The Red Sox signed Hector after the 2016 season from Campeche after he won pitcher of the year honors for the second time. Like many pitchers from Mexico, his fastball is not overpowering. He relies more on his command of pitches and his secondary stuff to retire hitters. At 28 years of age the Red Sox started him at AAA where he limited the opposition to a .213 average. This led to a promotion to the Red Sox where he held his own with three starts and five relief appearances (2.92 ERA). With a good spring he could fill the back end of the rotation, but more likely he will start the season in AAA and will be called upon when needed, adding depth to the rotation.

8. Javier Assad (Cubs) RHP - The Cubs do a good job of signing players out of Mexico. Assad was signed in 2015 for $150,000. Assad has a large frame (200 pounds) so he needs to watch his weight. Not an overpowering pitcher he relies more on command and an assortment of pitches to throw at hitters to keep them off balance. A .275 opposition average is evidence that hitters can make hard contact against him if his command is off. The 2018 season will be his first in a full season league. His best bet is to fit in the back of a rotation or fill the middle of a bullpen.

9. Victor Ruiz (Reds) C - Victor was a third baseman for the Tijuana team but the Reds signed him in 2016 and moved him to catcher. His arm is strong for the position but last year he struggled throwing runners out with a 19 percent success rate. While there is some pop in his bat he failed to hit a homerun in his 78 at bats in the rookie league. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate with a 1/22 walk to whiff ratio leading to a .250 OBA. At 18 years old entering the 2018 season he will be a major work in progress. Expect him to stay in the Rookie League to continue to improve on his catching craft.

10. Giovanny Gallegos RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Giovanny in 2011, a year after signing Manny Banuelos. His stuff is not as good as Manny but his arm has survived to allow him to continue his major league pursuit, while Manny has transformed into a journeyman. A mid-90s fastball limited AAA hitters to a .180 average and 14.33 whiffs per nine innings. This got him a promotion to the Yankees where the hitters feasted on his lack of quality secondary pitches to hit him at a .263 pace. The 2018 season could see him rotate back and forth between the Yankees and AAA, but carrying only a fastball will leave him at the back end of the bullpen, unless he can perfect a second pitch to complement his fastball.

Tigers Rebuild Starting with Their Rotation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The Tigers are rebuilding and it appears they are starting this rebuild with premier pitchers. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs had successful rebuilds drafting position players and trading for pitchers or signing pitchers as free agents. The Braves successfully rebuilt by developing a dominant pitching staff. One problem with trying to rebuild with pitchers is they tend to be more susceptible to injury. For every two pitchers a team develops one gets injured and never makes it to the major leagues. Position players seem to be more certain to reach their potential without career ending injuries.

The Tigers have a solid four pitchers that have potential ace stuff, three drafted in the first round by the Tigers and one acquired through trade from the Astros. Franklin Perez is the pitcher acquired in the Justin Verlander trade. The Venezuelan has a sizzling fastball that hits the mid 90s with quality secondary pitches to complement the fastball. He throws strikes, gives up lots of fly balls and limited the opposition to a .191 average in High A. Franklin was a little more hittable when promoted to AA (.266). His strikeout numbers are not as dominant as you would expect (less than one per inning) from a pitcher with his quality stuff. The 2018 season should see Franklin start in AA. There is no reason for the Tigers to eat up his service time in a losing, rebuilding season so the highest level he should see is AAA.

Beau Burrows was a first round pick in 2015. His fastball may be a tick below Perez and his secondary pitches are not as strong. Like Perez, Beau dominated at High A (1.23 ERA, .221 opposition average) but did not fare as well when promoted to AA (4.72 ERA, .269 opposition average). Normally he throws strikes, but when he was promoted to AA he had trouble finding the plate (3.89 walks per nine innings). Last year Beau had more swings and misses with his stuff (one K per inning) than Franklin. A lack of success at AA may force the Tigers to have him repeat that level for the 2018 season.

The following year the Tigers drafted Matt Manning. At 6′6″ Manning was a good basketball player, his father being Rich Manning. His height and a fastball that crosses the plate at a tick above the mid-90s made him attractive to baseball scouts. A $3.5 million signing bonus convinced him to play baseball. Matt has a power curveball and decent change that gave him 62 whiffs in 51 innings and a 1.89 ERA in Rookie ball. As Franklin and Beau did, Matt struggled when promoted to full season ball (5.60 ERA). In 51 innings of work Matt did not allow a ball to leave the park. Matt will start the season in Low A ball with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves success.

In 2017 the Tigers drafted Alex Faedo, who stands an impressive 6′5″. Like the others Faedo can reach the mid-90s with his fastball with a swing and miss slider. Alex did not pitch in the minors last year after pitching the Florida Gators into the College World Series. With his physical frame he should be an innings eater. Unlike the other pitchers his slider may be his best pitch getting a number of swings and misses or forcing hitters to bat the ball on the ground. The Tigers should start him in Low A but they may keep him in extended spring training until he is ready.

Myworld likes Kyle Funkhouser, a righthander drafted out of Louisville. The fourth round 2016 pick does not have an overpowering fastball (low 90s) but complements it with a good slider. Unlike the other pitchers Kyle got better when he was promoted (3.16 to 1.72 ERA) from Low A to High A. He averaged 14.1 K’s per nine innings in Low A. High A pitchers made better contact (9.8 per 9 innings) but the opposition average went from .254 to .205. Kyle lacks the dynamic stuff of the four pitchers ahead of him, but injuries could provide him the opportunities. Kyle should start the 2018 season in High A but as a college drafted pitcher he should be promoted quickly.

Joe Jimenez was supposed to be the closer of the future for the Tigers but he had trouble when promoted to the major leagues (12.32 ERA and .356 opposition average). Shorter spurts allows Jimenez to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but a failing slider and lack of command resulted in his major league failure. The slider was an effective pitch in the minor leagues but if it falls flat in the major leagues hitters can sit on his fastball. Last year Joe had an easier time retiring lefthanded hitters than those hitting from the right side. A good spring could see Jimenez start the season in the Tigers bullpen. He can again be the closer of the future, but first he needs to show success in a set up role.

On the position front the Tigers are not that strong. Jake Rogers is the future catcher for these aces, known more for his glove than his bat. His bat can find the fences but it may not hit for a high average. A power arm can control the opposition run game, throwing out 45 percent of those basestealers who tried to run against him. He was a second player the Tigers got from the Astros in the Justin Verlander trade. Expect Jake to start the 2018 season in AA where a couple of the Tigers future rotation may start. Jake is a team leader who communicates well with his pitchers, so the Tigers might as well start that process early.

After Steven Moya crashed and burned and moved his craft to Japan, the next power bat in the Tigers system is expected to be Christin Stewart. Like Moya, Stewart is weak on defense with a glove and arm best suited for left field. What he does have is some power in his bat, hitting 20 plus homeruns the last two years. Because Stewart makes better contact than Moya the Tigers hope for better success in the major leagues. With the Tigers in a rebuilding mode Stewart could see some time with the Tigers by mid-season but he should start the season in AAA.

The Tigers have to hope Daz Cameron can provide shades of his father Mike. Like his dad, Daz has the speed to play center with an arm that can shift to right. The power is there to hit in the double digits in homeruns but he has not shown an ability to hit for a high average. The available tools seem to scream fourth outfielder or starting outfielder for a lower division club. Last year Daz stole 32 bases in Low A with 13 homeruns. He was the third player the Astros acquired for Justin Verlander. The Tigers hope his 2018 season will begin in High A.

Mike Gerber is the perfect definition of fourth outfielder. His defense is not strong enough for centerfield and his bat lacks the spunk to make it as a starter. Think of a Steve Pearce, a player who can make a contribution in short spurts but you don’t want to rely on him to get too many at bats where his holes get exposed. With the Tigers in a rebuilding mode Gerber could see some time in the major leagues filling up space until players with more dynamic tools are ready to fulfill their roles.

Derek Hill was the Tigers first round pick in 2014. Hill has more tools than Gerber, especially with the speed to play centerfield and steal bases. His inability to hit for average with very little power has dropped his stock on the prospect ladder. If you need defense Derek is your man. Scoring runs could be a problem. Derek still finds himself in High A, a long way away from the major leagues for a 22 year old first round pick from four years ago.

At 6′6″ Grayson Greiner could become the tallest catcher to catch in a major league game. His bat is weak and his defense not strong enough to justify putting him in the lineup, so making the major leagues could be difficult. As expected, with his size the power will show if he can get his arms extended. Grayson played in AAA last year and could see major league time if an injury requires the Tigers to bring up a catcher and Jake Rogers is not ready to fill the role..