Archive for the 'Tigers' Category

Top Canadian Prospects

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Abraham Toro was the top Canadian prospect last year. He graduated from this list but has two major league seasons of hitting less than .200. The list is not strong on can’t miss prospects. None of these players appear on Top 100 prospect lists. Many of the players were recently drafted. Players from the list last year who dropped off include Tristan Pompey, Andy Yerzy and Adam Macko. Macko was born in Serbia so he could make a European list if I can find enough players from Europe to make the list. Most of their players are born in Curacao, a Dutch colony. So below is the list of the top ten Canadian prospects.

1. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - Jordan was a fifth round pick in 2016. He was taken on his potential, with a 6′5″ frame that showed promise. When his fastball started hitting the mid to upper 90s that turned him into a prospect. He still needs to perfect his secondary pitches (slider and change) in order to stay in the rotation. Jordan has no problems finding the plate. After a poor 2017 season he had two years where he progressively improved, limiting the opposition to a .233 average in 2018 and a 193 average in 2019. Pitching at the A level he had a walk to whiff ratio of 25/129 in just 93.2 innings. Jordan should start the season in AA and could at least start his major league career in the Twins bullpen to help them with their playoff run.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - The younger brother of Josh, Bo has the better tools and the more accepted playing weight. Like Josh, Bo was a first round pick, except a few rounds later in 2018. At 6′0, 190 he should be able to stay behind the plate where he has decent defensive tools. What will separate Bo from the other catchers is his offensive potential. In 2019 he hit only .243, but contributed 18 doubles, 10 triples and 11 homeruns. His speed is above average for a catcher and better than Josh, but it may not be enough to move to the outfield if the Indians want to find another position for him. Bo could be ready to tackle AA in 2021 or the Indians could be conservative with him and start him at High A. Catchers normally move slower than other position players because of the intricacies of the catching position, but Bo should arrive sometime late in 2023 with the Indians.

3. Owen Cassie Of (Cubs) - Owen was a second round pick of the Padres in 2020, the highest Canadian drafted that year. The Padres included him in the Yu Darvish trade with the Cubs. The plan was for him to play for the Michigan Wolverines, but the Padres shelled out $1.2 million to convince him otherwise. At 6′4″ he carries a power bat and has a solid arm that fits well in right field. He has enough speed to survive in center but the corner appears to be his best fit. There is some concern in his swing over his ability to make contact. That has not been tested at the professional level. There will be no Rookie league in 2021 so Owen will need to start his first professional season probably in Low A. It will be a few years before he sees a major league outfield.

4. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The second round 2017 pick is a smooth fielding defensive shortstop. His best role could end up being a utility player. The big concern is with a quiet bat that may not hit enough to be an every day player. He does not have a large frame so power is lacking. The 2018 season saw him hit just one homerun in 62 games with a .374 slugging percentage. Those numbers climbed to five homeruns and .395 in 2019. In both years the batting average falls a tick or two below .300. The Orioles could start him in AA for the 2021 season, but it may be more prudent to get his feet wet at High A before a mid-season promotion to AA. When and where he plays will all depend on his maturation process and his ability to develop more power.

5. Otto Lopez SS (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in the Montreal area. He moved back to the Dominican Republic before his draft eligible year and signed an international contract for $60,000. He lacks any stand out tools, which could result in a utility role. His arm needs to get stronger for him to play shortstop on an every day basis. His best tool may be his ability to make contact. There is not enough power in his bat to reach double digit homerun totals, but he makes enough contact to finish north of .300. The speed is not great but he carries enough savy to steal 34 bases in his last two years. His 2019 season ended in Low A Lansing so the Blue Jays could be aggressive with him and start him in AA or have him ease his way back in the minors at High A. Either way, he will probably not see the Blue Jays until some time in 2023.

6. Trei Cruz SS (Tigers) - The 2020 third round pick in 2020 has a pretty good gene pool. His father and grandfather (both named Jose) and his two great uncles (Hector and Tommy) both played professional baseball. Trei hopes to continue with that tradition. Despite being drafted after high school he decided to take a different route to his professional career and play for Rice. The last great position player from that school was a player by the name of Anthony Rendon. Unlike Rendon, the tools Trei carries are only average or fringe. He lacks the range to play short and the power is not there to fit at third. At best he could play second or be used in a utility role. Trei will start his 2021 search for a position in the Tigers Low A affiliate.

7. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Unlike the other players mentioned above, Dasan has one impressive tool. That is speed. It makes him a good defensive candidate for centerfield. The big question mark is whether he can hit enough to be in the starting lineup, or end up as a fourth outfielder who is used for defense or as a pinch runner. Dasan was drafted in the third round in the 2019 draft. In his short 2019 minor league season he only hit .222, but he showed enough acumen to get on base, walking nine times in 14 games for a .444 OBA. He also struck out 17 times. So there are some holes in his swing that need to be fixed as he climbs the minor league ladder. The 2021 season will probably be spent in Low A.

8. David Calabrese OF (Angels) - A team mate of Owen Cassie on the junior national team for Canada. The Angels drafted him in the third round in 2020. Like Brown, speed is his only real above average tool. His bat lacks power. So what was said about Brown can also be repeated for Calabrese, except he lacks any minor league history. David will begin his minor league career in Low A in 2021.

9. Jordan Nwogu OF (Cubs) - Jordan was a third round pick in 2020. He starred for the Michigan team in 2019 while they played in the finals in the College World Series. He runs well and his bat can carry some pop. At 6′3″ there is a lot of potential for growth. If he can fit in centerfield his value would increase, but his route to balls are suspect. The arm is not strong enough to fit in right. So if he has to play in left the power has to materialize for him to be a good fit at that position. The power/speed tools are there for him to be a 20/20 player, but the ability to hit major league pitching is a concern. Jordan will begin the 2021 season in Low A.

10. Brandon Marklund RHP (Royals) - Brandon was an undrafted player, signed by the Royals in 2019. They saw him pitching in the Australian Baseball League and thought well enough of him to sign him. His fastball velocity climbed after the signing, hitting consistently in the mid to upper 90s. In his 2019 minor league debut he fashioned a 0.46 ERA in 24 relief appearances with 44 whiffs in 39 innings. Opponents hit just .162 off him. He lacks an effective third pitch to survive as a starter. His fastball/slider combination could prove effective in the pen. That will be decided upon as he rises through the minor league ranks. He will probably start the 2021 season in Low A. At 24 he could move through the system quickly.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

With the Series del Caribe being played in Mexico it is time for myworld to take a look at the top prospects from there hoping to sniff the major leagues. Mexico has not had a smooth working relationship with major league baseball as far as the signing of their players. The big disagreement is the percentage of the bonus money that major league teams pay to the prospect that goes to the Mexican team that holds the right to that player. It would be equivalent to a Dominican buscone taking a 50 to 75 percent cut of the prospects bonus. That may be why the top prospect list is not brimming with multi tooled athletes.

Those players who made the list last year that got a major league opportunity include Alejandro Kirk, Jose Urquidy and Isaac Paredes, the second, third and fourth top prospects from the list. The top prospect Andres Munoz missed all of 2020 because of an injury. Victor Gonzalez and Ramon Urias also made their professional debuts, though with the shortened season. The shortened season allowed many to keep their rookie status and reappear on this list.

Below are our top ten prospects from Mexico.

1. Andres Munoz RHP (Mariners) - The only change for Munoz is he went from the Padres to the Mariners. The Padres had paid a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz. They then included him in a trade with the Mariners for Austin Nola. Unlike many Mexican pitches who rely on guile and breaking pitchers to get hitters out, Munoz has a mean fastball that can touch triple digits. Unfortunately, his 2020 season was eliminated because of Tommy John surgery. He is being groomed to be a closer so his fastball/slider combination is all he needs to generate swings and misses. The Mariners would like to see him master getting the ball over the plate a little more. It would take some rehab in the minors before Munoz is ready, sometime by the middle of the season. Besides his lack of control, his injury history has fated his career to the bullpen. Staying healthy and finding the plate more will determine his path to major league success.

2. Isaac Paredes 2B/3B (Tigers) - The Cubs signed Paredes for $500,000 in 2015. He was one of the prospects the Tigers got for trading Justin Wilson and Alex Avilla to the Cubs. His career started out as a shortstop, but a pudgy build meant a lack of range, forcing a move to third base. Because he does not have the big time power that teams look for in third baseman and the Tigers want to leave room for Jeimer Candelario, they may shift him over to second base. Isaac makes good contact and shows enough patience to take a walk. Hitting around .280 to .290 with double digit homers that will fall shy of 20 are numbers you can expect from him. That would make him a decent offensive second baseman that could fall just short of being a solid defensive player. He could make the Tigers starting lineup in 2021 as their second baseman next year.

3. Victor Gonzalez LHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed Victor when they went to Mexico City in 2012 to look at Yasiel Puig. They signed Puig but also a number of other players from Mexico, including Julio Urias. Victor is a 6′0″ lefthander that throws hard, with his fastball reaching the upper 90s on the radar gun. Tommy John surgery virtually eliminated his 2017 and 2018 seasons. He finally made his major league debut in 2020 and pitched so effectively the Dodgers included him on their playoff roster. He got into 15 games during the regular season, finishing with a 1.33 ERA with a 2/23 walk to whiff ratio in 20 innings. For the playoffs he got into 8 games and limited the opposition to just two runs for a 2.70 ERA. Victor has a fastball/slider combination and can use a change as an offspeed pitch, but it is fringe average at this point. He should be in the Dodgers bullpen in 2021.

4. Alejandro Kirk C (Blue Jays) - Kirk was signed in 2016. He is a bit on the pudgy side, listed at 5′8″ and 265 pounds. When he is running the bases his body bounces like jello. The one thing Kirk can do is hit. He has a two year minor league career average of .315 with a .418 OBA. Staying healthy has proved to be a challenge, limiting him to 52 and 98 games the last two years. That will continue if he fails to get his body in shape. Last year he made his major league debut and came out strong in his 9 games, hitting .375 with one homerun. In the minors he has walked more than he has struck out (89/60). On defense he has a good arm, but needs to work on some of the other aspects of the game before he can be called a solid major league catcher. Other than possibly first base, which at 5′8″ is not ideal, Kirk will have to make the majors as either a DH or catcher. Based on his success, he should get another opportunity to play for the Rangers in 2021.

5. Tirso Orenelas OF (Padres) - The Padres shelled out $1.5 million in 2017 to sign Tirso. At 6′3″ he has the build that would predict power to be in his future. A lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. The arm is strong enough he could play right. The power has not shown itself in games in the minor leagues. In 2019 he had a particularly horrendous year, slugging just .279 with a .213 batting average. In his previous two seasons he had gotten his slugging average close to .400. The absence of a 2020 minor league season is not something Tirso wanted for his development. He may have to return to A ball to get back that confidence that he can hit. Tirso could still be a couple years away from seeing the Padres.

6. Luis Gonzalez OF (White Sox) - It is at this point that my knowledge of the players gets a little more spotty. Luis was drafted by the White Sox in the third round of the 2017 draft, but he was born in Mexico. He attended high school in Arizona and played college ball at New Mexico. He doesn’t carry an array of great tools, but he does have some skills that could get him to the major leagues as a fourth outfielder. The power is lacking but the arm is strong enough for him to shine in right field. He has enough speed where he could play centerfield in a pinch. His career minor league average is .269. It was enough for the White Sox to give him three games in the major leagues where he got one official at bat. He struck out. Luis lacks the tools to be a starting outfielder on a playoff caliber team, but he can still fill a useful role as a fourth outfielder. He hopes to get a few more at bats in 2021 to amend for his one strikeout performance in the major leagues last year.

7. Gerrado Carrillo RHP (Dodgers) - Carrillo was signed by the Dodgers in 2016 for $75,000. The righthander is listed at 5′10 and 150 pounds. Even with that skinny frame his fastball sits in the mid-90s and even touches the three digits. If he can pack on more pounds that could provide another level of improvement to the fastball. He has two breaking pitches (slider and curve) that are good enough to put him in a rotation once he enhances his change. The Dodgers have used him in the rotation, but his best fit may be in the bullpen. The 2019 season was a disappointing year when he got hit at a .263 clip for a 5.44 ERA. The previous year opponents could only hit him at a .192 clip, putting his ERA at 1.50. Gerrado will probably start the season in A ball and depending on his development will reach the Dodgers sometime towards the end of the 2022 season.

8. Efrain Contreras RHP (Padres) - Efrain is another 5′10″ righthander, but he weighs 210 pounds. The Padres signed him in 2017 for $50,000. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball but despite the meatier build his fastball peaks at 97/98. There is not a lot of projection for more velocity in the fastball. The curveball is his best pitch. That leads to a high number of strikeouts at the lower levels (121 in 109 innings). As he rises up the minor league ladder those hitters who can’t hit breaking pitches are often weeded out from the minor leagues and it becomes harder to fool hitters with curve balls alone. If Efrain can spot his pitches well he could end up in the back of a rotation or as a set up reliever. Expect him to be with the Padres sometime late in the 2022 season.

9. Luis Verdugo SS/3B (Cubs) - The Cubs paid the Mexico City Red Devils $1.2 million for Luis. He is expected to outgrow shortstop and move to third base. The bat could be his best tool. In 2019 in rookie ball he hit .305 with a .447 slugging percentage. More will be known about him as he rises to the full season levels in 2021. His body should develop more muscle to increase his power, but he also needs to adapt to better pitching. The power is expected to develop for him to start at third. He could also play in a utility role. He is still a long ways away from making a contribution in the major leagues. Expect that to happen sometime in 2023.

10. Manuel Rodriguez RHP (Cubs) - Manny made our list last year. Like many pitchers out of Mexico he lacks the ideal height that major league teams are looking for from their righthanders. He stands at 5′11″. He was signed for $400,000 in 2016. His fastball can hit the lower levels of the high 90s, but normally sits in the mid-90s. His curve has enough downward break that it can get its share of swings and misses. The Cubs are high enough on him that they added him to the 40 man roster in 2020. When the Cubs signed him he was a closer for Yucatan. They have used him strictly in the bullpen, but normally not as their closer. He needs to improve on his command, averaging near 5 walks per year in his minor league career. Last year he got the mark down to 3.2, so that is a level of improvement. Manuel should pitch in AA next year and if he pitches well could see the Cubs by the end of the year.

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Below are the top right handed pitching prospects. Because of five man rotations myworld has decided to list our top 20.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - Not a lot of first picks in the draft are the best prospects once they test the minor leagues. Mize was the first player selected in 2018 after starring at Auburn. The 2019 season was his only full minor league season where he could eat up innings. In 21 starts he chewed up 109 innings. That appeared to be good enough for him to make his major league debut in 2020, starting seven games while piecing together 28 innings. It was a struggle. He gave up seven homeruns, the same number he gave up in the minor leagues in almost 100 more innings. Major league hitters raked him for a .252 average, 43 points higher than his career minor league average. His best pitch may be his splitter, but he also throws a mid 90s fastball with a mid-80s slider. The splitter in the mid-80s can act as his off speed pitch. The Tigers could start his 2021 season in AAA then call him up after he achieves some success there. He needs a confidence booster after being mauled in 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The 2017 pick is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. His fastball can dart across the plate at 102 miles per hour. The secondary pitches, especially the slider will keep him in the rotation. His command could probably use a little more enhancement, especially in the major leagues. Nate made his major league debut in 2020, walking 13 batters in 18 innings. He also let five balls leave the yard. He pitched much better in 2019 pitching at three different minor league levels. At 6′6 inches his pitches come right at you. Minor leaguers hit just .173 againt him. Like Casey Mize, he could start the 2021 season in AAA, then get called up once he achieves some success and gets his confidence back. A good spring could see him start his season with Toronto.

3. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - Sixto may have pitched the Marlins to the 2020 playoffs. He was originally signed by the Phillies for the paltry sum of $35,000 back in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. The Phillies included him in a trade for J.T. Realmuto. Ironic that the rebuilding Marlins saw the playoffs before the Phillies. Standing at just 6′0 usually does not spell success for a right handed starter. Sixto proved to be an exception, like his native countryman Pedro Martinez. Sixto slings his fastball in the high 90s and occasionally clips the three digit territory. His change is also a quality pitch and the slider acts as a third pitch enough to allow him to survive in the rotation. He made his major league debut last year and started seven games, finishing with a 3.46 ERA. Without that contribution the Marlins would not have made the playoffs. For a pitcher with his velocity he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but they make enough soft contact for Sixto to achieve success. He should start the 2021 season in the Marlins rotation.

4. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - This 2017 second round pick also made his major league debut in 2020. Like Mize and Pearson above him he struggled, with major leaguers hitting him at a .300 clip, resulting in a 5.92 ERA in six starts. In the minors in 2019 Spencer limited the opposition to just a .173 average. His fastball is explosive, hitting the mid-90s consistently and reaching the high 90s. It has enough movement that he gets a lot of swings and misses. His secondary breaking pitches (slider and curve) are a tick above average to allow him to survive in the rotation, but his change has turned into an above average pitch. His command can get off kilter but with a little more experience he could become the ace of the Phillies rotation. It would not hurt to start his 2021 season in AAA with a callup a little later in the season. The Phillies keep on acquiring veteran players, trading top prospects to achieve their goal. It could be a top prospect like Howard that could finally get the Phillies into the playoffs.

5. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - The 6′7″ first round pick in 2016 may have the best stuff of the pitchers on this list. Staying healthy and finding the strike zone have always been a challenge. He also missed 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy. In 2019 shoulder problems left his delivery out of whack and he finished with a 7.99 ERA in just 60 innings, walking 44 batters. In his four seasons he has yet to surpass 100 innings pitched. The fastball can travel across the plate in the mid-90s and a quality slider and change feed off the fastball to make him difficult to hit, if he can find the plate. If his command stays inconsistent he could always turn into a closer, but he has too many quality pitches not to keep in the rotation. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AAA, where he finished with a 12.21 ERA in 2019 in five starts.

6. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick opted out of the 2020 season. This after missing all of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery. Michael seemed to have announced his arrival after being able to find the plate in four major league starts in 2018, but his elbow did not allow him to finish the season. His fastball cuts across the plate in the triple digits, even hitting 105 in one game. His slider has plus quality, but finding a third pitch and the plate set him back. It will be interesting to see if he can find the plate after his two year absence. The White Sox made the playoffs last year without him. If he could fill the White Sox rotation in 2021 it would be an asset to repeating a playoff run in 2021.

7. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles 2018 first round pick stands at a sturdy 6′5. He pitched out of Texas. The Orioles hope he can mimic a couple Texas icons in Roger Clemons and Nolan Ryan. With a mid-90s fastball and a quality slider, he gathers up the swings and misses in the minor leagues. In 20 starts in Low A he held opponents to a .171 average with 129 whiffs in 94 innings. He has enough command of his four pitches that should allow him to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in a couple years. For the 2021 season he will probably spend most of it in AA, not seeing the major leagues until sometime during the middle of the 2022 season.

8. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Padres signed the 6′1″ righthander for just $130,000 out of Colombia back in 2016. Despite his lack of height he has built up enough bulk to reach the mid 90s with his fastball, often lighting up the radar in the high 90s. He also has a quality slider that elicits swings and misses. In his three minor league seasons he has never had an ERA above 2.57 and he has limited opponents to a .208 average. He gets lots of swings and misses and limits balls from traveling over the fence, giving up just seven taters in 234 innings. Luis made his major league debut in 2020 and struggled with his command, walking 14 in 17 innings. Opponents hit him at a .257 clip leaving his ERA at an elevated 5.19. This will probably result him starting the 2021 season in AAA and waiting until he achieves some success there before being promoted to the Padres.

9. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The first round 2016 pick was drafted out of high school so he is taking a more patient rise up the minor league ladder than Mize. Manning is one year younger than Mize and after achieving success in AA in 2019 (2.56 ERA) he should be joining Mize in the rotation sometime in 2021. He has a nice 6′6 frame that gives him challenges finding a consistent release point, but his control improved in 2019. He is the son of Rich Manning, who played in the NBA, a sport Matt played while in high school. The fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is probably his second best pitch, with a curveball that dives to the ground and gets awkward swings and misses. An improved change in 2019 gives him the requisite three pitches to survive in the starting rotation. He will probably start the 2019 season in AAA and at some point may join Mize and Tarik Skubal to make an awesome front three for the rotation.

10. Max Meyer (Marlins) - Max was the third player selected in the 2020 draft. He pitched in relief early in his career with Minnesota but moved to the starting rotation midway through his sophomore year. At 6′0″ he does not carry the height that you like to see in right handed pitchers. His best pitch may be his slider, and when combined with his mid-90s fastball that touched triple digits, it will garner lots of swings and misses. His change shows flashes of brilliance, which should be enough for him to stick in the rotation. The 2021 season will be his first in the minor leagues, but he should rise up quickly. If he has success and the Marlins are making another playoff run do not be surprised if they don’t use him in relief to begin his major league career, with a later transition to the starting rotation.

11. Logan Gilbert (Mariners) - The 2018 first round pick is another giant, who stands at 6′6″. The fastball crosses the plate in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches and change show enough quality that will allow him to stick in the rotation. His pitches are enhanced by his ability to find the strike zone consistently, something not common among pitchers his height. Logan has only one minor league season under his built, seeing three levels in 2019. He finished in AA with a 2.13 ERA putting together 26 starts and 135 innings. Opponents hit him at a .198 clip, including a .194 average in 9 AA starts. This should make him major league ready sometime during the mid-season of 2021 after starting the year in AAA.

12. Ian Anderson (Braves) - The 2016 first round pick can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Hitters can have a difficult time getting elevation on the pitch because of its downward spike as it travels across the plate. He mixes in a curve and a change that keeps hitters off balance. In his first three years he had only allowed three homeruns in 243 innings. In 2019 he gave up an uncharacteristic 13 homeruns in just 135 innings. The 2020 season saw him make his major league debut where he baffled major league hitters to a .172 average and a 1.95 ERA in six starts. It will be interesting if he can replicate that success in 2021. Unless he bombs during spring training he should start the 2021 season in the Braves rotation.

13. Emerson Hancock (Mariners) - The second 2020 draft pick to appear on this list and the sixth player selected in the draft. The 6′4″ righthander can reach the high 90s with his fastball, but sits in the mid-90s. He complements his fastball with two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a quality change. All of those pitches are enhanced by his above average command. With no minor league experience he should begin the 2021 season in A ball and could rise quickly with some success. Mariner fans should not expect to see him until late in the 2022 season.

14. Dane Dunning (Rangers) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 is on his third team. The Nationals traded him to the White Sox with two other pitchers (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) for Adam Eaton. The White Sox traded Dunning to the Rangers after the 2020 season to get a veteran pitcher for the 2021 season. Dunning missed all of the 2019 season after Tommy John surgery but had progressed enough that the White Sox put him in their rotation for the 2020 season seven times. He had a 3.97 ERA and limited the opposition to a .197 average. Lynn in 13 starts for the Rangers carried a 3.32 ERA. Lynn only has one more year in his contract before becoming a free agent while Dunning will be controlled by the Rangers for at least five more years. Dunning should start the season in the Rangers rotation in 2021.

15. Triston McKenzie (Indians) - The Indians supplemental first round pick in 2015 had surprising success in the Indians rotation last year, despite being limited to just 90 innings his last two years because of injuries. He did not pitch at all in 2019 because of back issues. The lanky 6′5″ righthander spun together a 3.24 ERA in six starts and 33 innings in the major leagues. Major league hitters hit only .179 against him. At 23 years of age he should gain more weight on his 165 pound frame. This should add some velocity to his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s. He has a quality curveball to go with a slider and change that keeps hitters off balance. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate his success in 2021. The Indians will start him in the rotation in 2021 and whether he stays there will be dictated by his success.

16. Edward Cabrera (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican in 2015 for the bargain price of $100,000. He has journeyed through the minor leagues impressing hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touches triple digits. At 6′5″ and 217 pounds his frame carries intimidation. His secondary pitches could use some improvement. The slider has enough downward bite to get hitters to beat the ball to the ground and there is enough separation of his change compared to his fastball to get swings and misses. The lack of quality secondary pitches and inconsistent command could move him to the bullpen. His 2019 season was a breakout year with a 2.23 ERA and .190 opposition average, both much better than his previous years. Edward could start the 2021 season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Marlins if he achieves success, or a propensity to pitch out of the bullpen.

17. Jordan Balazovic (Twins) - The Canadian was not drafted until the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He has sprouted to 6′5″ and packed on 45 additional pounds to get his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The secondary pitches (slider and change) are commendable pitches that could see him stick in the rotation, but his skills seem to fit better in the bullpen. Jordan has no trouble finding the plate, which should help him stay in the rotation. He has made a slow trek through the minors, finally reaching full season ball in 2019, reaching High A. He will probably start the 2021 season in AA with a Twins appearance sometime in 2022.

18. Hunter Greene (Reds) - It has been a long, slow trek for the player picked second in the 2017 draft. The fastball was triple digit quality but he failed to find the plate. His first year he finished with a 12.46 ERA in three starts covering 4 innings. That improved to 4.48 in 2018. Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2019 season. It will be interesting if he can sustain his three digit heat into the 2021 season. His secondary pitches (slider and change) could allow him to survive in the rotation. His surgery and his premier fastball could move him into the bullpen. He finished his 2018 season in Low A. It will not be until late in the 2022 season before the Reds see him in their rotation.

19. Shane Baz (Rays) - The Rays do a good job of developing starting pitchers. Shane was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2017. The Rays stole him, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the Pirates for Chris Archer. If Baz makes the Rays it will be one of the biggest swindles in baseball. Baz has a fastball that lights the radar gun in the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. His inability to find the plate will make it difficult for him to stay in the rotation. He also lacks a quality third pitch, showing a fastball/slider combination with a pedestrian change. Shane has yet to check in at the 100 inning level in any of his three minor league seasons. The 2021 season could see him start it in AA. Rays fans will have to wait until at least 2022 before they see him in the bullpen, or 2023 before he hits the rotation.

20. Jackson Kowar (Royals) - Kowar pitched with Brady Singer at Florida. The Royals made Singer their first pick and Kowar became pick 1A as he was drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He hopes to join Singer in the Royals rotation in 2021. His fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is has change that complements the fastball that makes him a quality pitcher. His curveball has decent enough action to put him in the middle of the Royals rotation. He finished the 2019 season in AA, but was pretty hittable at that level, the opposition teeing off for a .254 average. His control is good and he gets about one whiff per inning with his fastball/change combination. Jackson should start the 2021 season in AA and could join Singer in the rotation late in 2021 or sometime in 2022.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Lefthanded pitchers are a bit different than righthanders. They tend to throw with less velocity but have more movement on their pitches. They also have to face a batting order that traditionally has more right handed hitters than left handed. But lefthanded pitchers are more valued because there are less of them, and those few are needed to retire some of the more powerful lefthanded bats. Below are the top left handed pitching prospects, some of whom will ultimately end up as relievers. Lefthanders may be one of the more valuable commodities in baseball.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third pick in the 2017 draft may be considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Others who have laid that claim but with little success include Archie Bradley and Mark Prior. The Padres hope Gore will have a better fate. He has four quality pitches, which is something that can not be said about most people on this list. A fastball, curveball, slider and change. The fastball slices through the plate with readings between the low to mid 90s, but it carries a lot of dart and dash. The slider is probably his best strikeout pitch. There are no issues with command of his four pitches. In 2018 when he experienced blister problems his ERA stood ugly at 4.45. When healthy in 2017 and 2019 his ERAs were an impeccable 1.27 and 1.69. Opponents have hit less than .200 in both years in which he was healthy. Myworld would not be surprised if with a good spring he is with the Padres in 2021, though mid season would be the best bet.

2. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - Injuries have prevented him from making a major league impact. The 2016 first round pick got some major league time in relief in 2019, putting together an impressive 3.18 ERA. He was ticketed for the starting rotation in 2020 but shoulder issues ended his season. Puk had Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching in 2018, so injuries have been an issue. At 6′7″ he does not have the same reach as Randy Johnson, but his fastball travels as fast, hitting the high 90s and clipping three digits pretty consistently. He also has more command than Randy, but the Athletics would like to see a little improvement in that area. His slider is an above average pitch but his change is average. It may be best that he abandon his curve. He is supposed to be healthy to start the 2021 season and is slotted to fit in a rotation spot. Whether he can stay healthy is another issue.

3. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The 6′4 inch Dominican lefthander signed for only $600,000 in 2015. That was still the highest international signing for a pitcher that year. At 16 years of age he was already hitting the low 90s with his fastball. Now he probably has the highest readings of any minor league lefthander in baseball, hitting triple digits consistently. He made one appearance in 2020 with the Cubs and only retired two batters, walking three and giving up two hits resulting in a 67.50 ERA. He should get another opportunity at major league hitters to lower that ERA. His other pitches do not have the quality as his fastball, with his slider and change at just average. Command has also been an issue, with a little less than one walk every two innings pitched in 2019. If he can enhance his slider and change he could become a number one starter in the major leagues. If not, there is an opportunity to fill a closer role. The 2021 season should see the Cubs give him opportunities to fill their major league rotation.

4. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers scooped up Tarik in the ninth round of the 2018 draft. He was a promising pitcher out of Seattle University who had missed a season because of Tommy John surgery. He has been dominant in his two minor league seasons, finishing with a 0.40 ERA his first year and 2.42 ERA his second year in 2019. Opponents hit him at a .195 clip and he struck out 212 hitters in just 145 innings. The Tigers called him up mid season in 2020 and he struggled with a 5.63 ERA, giving up 9 homeruns in just 32 innings. His other numbers were good with a .235 opponent batting average and 37 whiffs in 32 innings. The fastball hits the mid 90s and when combined with a quality slider result in a lot of swings and misses. He still needs to improve his changeup and perhaps abandon his curve to have success in the major leagues. Tarik could start the 2021 season in AAA and then get another mid-season callup. A lot of that will depend on how successful his spring is.

5. Garrett Crochet (White Sox) - The 2020 first round pick of the White Sox was still able to pitch in five major league games, despite not having a minor league season. In those five relief appearances he did not allow a run in six innings and struck out eight, without allowing a walk. He also showed a fastball that hit the high 90s and climbed into the triple digit category. The fastball is his premier pitch, but it will probably hover closer to the mid-90s range if the White Sox use him in a starter capacity. At 6′6″ his long arms can get out of synch at times, leading to struggles with command. While his slider is a quality pitch the change and curve need some work. The White Sox will probably have him start the season as a starter in AA and could call him up before the season expires if he is doing well. Last year was their first playoff appearance in a number of years. They don’t need to wait for Garrett to percolate in the minors accruing service time. If he can help them with their rotation, or even in the bullpen in 2021, they will call him up for the playoff run.

6. Daniel Lynch (Royals) - Daniel was one of three first round pitchers for the Royals in 2018. Brady Singer made the rotation last year. Jackson Kowar could make it in 2021. Lynch needs to eat up more innings before he is ready. Minor injuries limited him to just 96 innings in 2019. The signature pitch for Lynch is his slider. His fastball is in the mid-90s but when he wants to get a strikeout the slider is his go to pitch. The change also has potential to be a quality pitch. Standing at 6′6″ Lynch has an intimidating presence on the mound. The Royals will give him time in AA and after the 2021 season he will join Singer and Kowar in the rotation in 2022.

7. Matthew Liberatore (Cardinals) - Matthew was a first round pick of the Rays in 2016. They used his talented left arm to entice the Cardinals to trade them Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. The more heralded Martinez turned into a bust but Arozarena became a homerun machine for the Rays during the playoffs. The Cardinals hope the Rays short term gain will be the Cardinals long term success. The 6′5 lefthander relies more on his breaking pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can climb to 95, but his curveball drops off the table, resulting in lots of ground outs. Liberatore has only seen two balls leave the park in his 111 innings of minor league work. His change is also a promising pitch, while his slider is still in the work in progress stage and may not surpass his curve. The lost 2020 season will probably delay his major league debut until sometime in 2022. He’ll start 2021 in AA and hope that success will carry him to the major leagues.

8. Asa Lacey (Royals) - The first round pick of the Royals in 2020 stands an impressive 6′4″ and carries 215 pounds. His fastball has climbed to the low and mid 90s and when used against a quality slider leave hitters guessing. He also throws a quality change that keeps hitters off balance. The area he needs to work on is the command of his pitches. Not having a 2020 season did not help with that development. After having three years of pitching success with Texas A&M, it won’t take long for him to reach the major leagues. The Royals may start him at AA and he could join Lynch in the rotation sometime by the middle of the 2022 season.

9. Shane McClanahan (Rays) - The 2018 first round supplemental pick lacks the height of the other players rated ahead of him, standing just 6′1″. Despite lacking the long levers of the taller pitchers, Shane can still sling his fastball across the plate in triple digits. He used that fastball to get himself on the Rays playoff roster, without pitching in a regular major league game. He was used in relief in the playoffs and that may be his ultimate role in the major leagues. He got 22 starts in the minor leagues in 2019, but a lack of control results in a high number of walks. The slider is a quality pitch but the change needs some work to give him the requisite three pitches to make it in the starting rotation. The Rays will send him down to the minors in 2021, perhaps placing him in AA where he struggled to a 8.35 ERA in four starts there last year. To save on innings they may then call up him up for the playoff run to use him out of the bullpen again.

10. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld is not a real fan of this multi disciplined pitcher use at the DH or a position role. It has not really worked for Shohei Ohtani at the major league level and McKay has also struggled with it as well. McKay seemed very hittable in his major league debut in 2019 after dominating in the minors. Opponents hit him at a .268 clip in the majors after being limited to a .178 average in his three years in the minors. While he was mainly a hitter in college who pitched in relief, his hitting of major league pitching has become a challenge. He did not pitch the 2020 season because of shoulder issues that ultimately required surgery. He relies more on the command of his pitches to retire hitters, pinpointing his mid 90s fastball while mixing in a quality cutter. His curve ball and change still need some work to be quality major league pitches. Brendan will probably spend the 2021 season pitching in AAA, rehabbing his shoulder. Rays fans may see him late in the 2021 season, depending on how his rehab process goes.

11. Nick Lodolo (Reds) - Lodolo was a first round pick of the Reds in 2019. He pitched briefly that year, striking out 30 in his 18 innings while not allowing one hitter to reach base via a walk. A towering 6′6″, his fastball stays in the low 90s but can hit the mid 90s. Despite his tall frame, he relies on the command of his pitches to retire hitters. It is possible he relies too much in the strike zone as hitters slapped him around for a .247 average. Further development of his slider and change should allow him to remain in the starting rotation, especially with his capability to move the ball to the corners of the plate. Having pitched in college it should not take him long to be fitted into the Reds rotation. Expect him to start the season in High A and move up quickly as he achieves success, making his major league debut in 2022.

12. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The 2017 first round pick is one of many quality arms the Orioles are collecting in the minor leagues. The 6′2 lefty packs mid-90s heat to his fastball, but his biggest challenge is finding the plate enough to get called strikes. In 2019 he walked 54 hitters in 81 innings. The wildness may help because when the hitters want to hit they have been limited to .203 and .189 averages the last two years. Hall throws a change and a curve, but those pitches still need some work to become quality offerings. If he fails to develop a third pitch and continues to struggle finding the strike zone he could be moved to the bullpen. Next year Hall will start the season in AA. They may first use him out of the bullpen when they call him up to the major leagues, but they probably will not do that until 2022.

13. Seth Corry (Giants) - Corry drooped to the third round of the 2017 draft for the Giants. He was just a vanilla pitcher until his curveball developed into a plus pitch in 2019, resulting in a breakout year. In 26 starts in 2019 he limited the opposition to a .171 average, resulting in an impressive ERA of 1.76. He saw no game action in 2020. The 2021 season will determine whether he can continue the mastery of the curveball. The fastball sits in the low 90s and can have occasional mid-90s readings. His change has improved enough to be an above average offering. The 2021 season will see him start in AA with a major league debut in 2022.

14. Reid Detmers (Angels) - The Angels have always been hurting for pitching. They drafted Reid in the first round of the 2020 draft to address that need. Detmers got a lot of whiffs pitching for Louisville in college. He relies more on his curve to retire hitters since his fastball travels across the plate at a pedestrian low 90s. Whether that repertoire will work in striking out major league hitters is open to question. While the Angels need help in pitching now, it may take Detmers a couple years to toe the rubber with the Angels. The Angels may leapfrog him to AA to see how he handles the competition.

15. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The 2016 first round pick has a pretty impressive fastball. Injuries have prevented his rise up the minor league ladder. He missed the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. He came back to make three rehab starts in shortseason ball in 2019. Besides injuries, finding the plate was also a problem. At 6′6″ with a fastball ticking in the high 90s can be intimidating, especially if it is flying all over the place. His curveball was also rated as the best in the 2016 draft. Enhancing his change would give him the three requisite pitches to make it in the starting rotation. Injuries and struggles with command may leave him in a bullpen role. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA at best. He has had the entire 2020 season to use as rehab. The Red Sox bullpen was a shambles last year, so using him in the bullpen in 2022 is a possibility before a starting role opens up for him.

Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, December 14th, 2020

These are the shortstops in the grass. They are expected to cover a lot of ground and should have decent throwing arms. If they have average to weak throwing arms they should have a quick release. If they lack exceptional speed they move to a corner. Because these are the most athletic of the outfield prospects, my world will rate 15 top centerfield prospects.

1. Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets made a good choice by drafting Kelenic in the first round of the 2018 draft. They made a poor choice by trading him and a couple other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools you want in a centerfielder. Speed to patrol the outfield and an arm baserunners have to respect. He also has above average hitting tools that should make him a 20-20 player when he reaches the major leagues. His stolen base production may decrease if he moves to the third slot in the lineup. He was a 20-20 player in 2019 in the minor leagues, slugging 23 homeruns and stealing 20 bases. A reduction in strikeouts (111) could make his average slide above the .300 neighborhood. Expect him to be with the Mariners some time in 2021.

2. Cristian Pache (Braves) - The Braves signed Cristian in 2015 for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic. Shortly after that the Braves were penalized severely for violating international signing limits, losing a number of international players signed in 2015 and 2016. Fortunately for the Braves, Pache was not one of the 12 players lost. He is a better defensive centerfielder than Kelenic, with a stronger arm and greater speed. Once he arrives with the Braves he will appear every year on Gold Glove lists. His bat is not as strong and his tremendous speed does not result in a lot of stolen bases. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 2020 but only got four at bats. In 2019 in the minor leagues he hit .277 with 12 homeruns and 8 stolen bases. His strikeout numbers increased dramatically, but this didn’t seem to impact his overall numbers. Cristian should start the 2021 season as the Braves starting centerfielder.

3. Drew Waters (Braves) - A luxury of riches for the Braves. Obviously both can not play centerfield. The Braves could use the second round 2017 pick as trade bait, or move him to a corner outfield. They could also keep him in centerfield and move Pache to right field, though Pache is the better defensive player. Currently Waters is a player who can drive the ball from gap to gap hitting from both sides of the plate. His Achilles heel is his inability to make consistent contact, with a 39/164 walk to whiff ratio in 2019. More contact and a better read of pitchers could lead to more power and a higher average. He should also arrive with the Braves sometime late in 2021. With both Pache and Waters patrolling the outfield they should have one of the better defensive outfields in the major leagues.

4. Jasson Dominguez (Yankees) - Jasson signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $5.1 million. As a Yankee signing he comes with a lot of accolades. Since he has yet to swing a bat in the minor leagues a lot is unknown about what kind of numbers he will put up. The tools are impressive. He could bulk up, lose some speed and he would still probably be swift enough to cover centerfield. Combine his bat and his speed he should hit in the neighborhood of .300 consistently while creating 30-30 homerun/stolen base numbers. Since there was no 2020 season the 2021 season will do a lot to define this pending superstar. The Yankees will start him somewhere in A ball where he can exhibit his plus five tools. Yankee fans should not expect to see him until 2023.

5. Garrett Mitchell (Brewers) - The 2020 first round pick can run with the wind and has a power arm. The big question mark is whether he can hit minor league pitching. An injury prevented him from putting up any decent numbers in his last college season prior to the draft. His draft prospects dropped and the Brewers could not be happier. Major plusses for Garrett are his 6′3″ frame with a left handed bat that should develop power. The power is already evident in his batting practice swings. A concern is how he will keep his health and maintain his Type 1 diabetes. Since Garrett lacked a minor league season he will probably start 2021 in A ball and will not be seen by Brewer fans until late 2022 at the earliest. As a college drafted player he should move a lot quicker.

6. Hunter Bishop (Giants) - The 2019 first round pick of the Giants is one reason the Giant outfield of the future looks so promising. Heliot Ramos and Alexander Canario are two more reasons. Hunter may have the more complete tools, with the speed to play center and an arm that is strong, but a little light to compete with Ramos for right. Prior to being drafted he showed power with his 22 homeruns in college. That power continued in the minor leagues with five more homeruns in 32 games. A propensity to swing and miss kept his batting average low (.229) but a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio had his OBA rise to .438. Perhaps a little more aggressiveness at the plate could improve his numbers. At 6′5″ he is a pretty intimidating presence at the plate, but he also carries a large strike zone. A good athlete, Bishop thought of playing football as a wide receiver, but chose to focus on baseball. He will rise quickly in the minor leagues, seeing the Giants outfield sometime in 2022.

7. Corbin Carroll (Diamondbacks) - The 2019 first round pick of the Diamondbacks is another player who covers a lot of grass when he chases flyballs in the outfield. The big question with Corbin is his ability to hit for power. He slugged .487 in his minor league debut in 2019, but those numbers were inflated by his speed to hit 7 triples and 9 doubles. His speed should consistently result in 30 plus stolen bases per year. The patience is there to take walks (.409 OBA) but he needs to improve his ability to make more consistent contact to take advantage of his speed. While his arm is strong enough for right field, he could lack the power expected from a corner outfielder. Next year he should start at A ball with a 2023 major league debut sometime late in the season.

8. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Like Corbin, the 2015 Dominican signing has a lot of speed to cover the middle of the outfield. The questions remain about his ability to hit. He has spent a lot of years in the minors, stitching together a career .260 batting average with a .358 slugging. Those numbers fall short of being welcome in a corner outfield, but could be acceptable with gold glove defense in centerfield. The glove is exceptional and the speed will result in 20 plus stolen bases per year. Leody made his major league debut last year. The bat was a little light (.227) but he slugged four homeruns for a .395 slugging percentage in 33 games. The batting average was a career low but the slugging was a career high. Spring training will dictate where he plays in 2021. Myworld suspects he will start in AAA and be promoted mid season if he improves his bat.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - Myworld has a soft spot for the 2016 third round pick. We coached his sister for a little bit ( a couple clinics) in volleyball. He played high school at Flint Hill where he earned Gatorade player of the year for Virginia. The arm is suited for right field but his speed is enough to patrol center. His bat showed some trouble making contact in 2019 with 154 strikeouts, limiting his average to .264. He did have an impressive 53 steals in 2019. With improved barrel of bat on ball contact his power should rise as his ability to get on base improves. The Royals did not see enough in him to call him up in 2020 so expect him to spend the year in AAA in 2021, with a callup late in the year.

10. Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike and the Astros supplemental first round pick in 2015 has the above average tools to be a five tool player light. The Tigers acquired him in the Justin Verlander trade. It has been awhile since the Tigers had a true centerfielder. Daz could fit that role. The one major question mark is his ability to hit. In 2019 he could only muster a .214 average with 152 whiffs. The Tigers gave him an opportunity to roam their outfield last year, but in 17 games his bat was only good for a .193 average. He has shown patience at the plate, taking enough walks to keep his OBA above .330. With that he would be on base enough to steal 30 plus bases per year. With a good spring, showing an improved bat he could start out the 2021 season as the Tigers centerfielder. Myworld suspects AAA will be his most likely start.

11. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - As he bulks up myworld suspects right field will be his ultimate destination, but he missed out on making the top ten there. The Yankees outfield is a little crowded and Estevan did not help himself any by putting up a .237 average in 2019. He has also been limited to less than 100 games his last two years because of injuries. The power is there but he has not slugged over .500 since his first year in the minors in 2015. Haitian born, based on his birth certificate, he spent most of his youth going to school in the Dominican Republic. Last year Estevan appeared in one major league game, striking out in two of his three at bats, but getting a single in his other. He will start 2021 in AAA but with the always fragile Yankee outfield, it would not be a surprise to see him in the Yankee outfield at many points during the season.

12. Pete Crow-Armstrong (Mets) - Like Hassell on the right field prospect list, Armstrong also made the All World team at the 18 and under World Cup. It was enough for the Mets to make him a first round pick in 2020. He lacks the tools of a Jarred Kelenic, especially in the power department. There is the ability to make good contact to hit for a decent average. He did hit .364 with three triples and three stolen bases at the 18 and under world cup. Since he has not seen any professional time, Pete will probably begin the season in A ball. Mets fans should not expect to see him until 2023, right after Kelenic wins the American League rookie of the Year award.

13. Josh Lowe (Rays) - The 2016 first round pick has a big time power bat that is expected from a 6′4″ frame. He also carries a strong arm and glides with deer like speed in the outfield. In 2019 he had a breakout season, slugging 18 homeruns with a career high .442 slugging. His 132 whiffs in 121 games was too much for his batting average, keeping it at .252. Last year he stole a career high 30 bases. Since he will be hitting in a power spot in the lineup, this should not be expected to last. The position he may be best suited for is right field but he needs to develop more power in the games, rather than leave it at batting practice. Next year he should be patrolling the Rays AAA outfield with a good chance of promotion in 2021 to take advantage of his power bat and cheap salary.

14. Gilberto Jimenez (Red Sox) - Jimenez signed for the paltry amount of $10,000 in 2017. The tools have been in evidence, especially his blazing speed. The power is negligible. He did hit his first three homeruns last year. His career .444 slugging percentage is attributed to his speed, turning singles into double and doubles into triples. He has stolen 30 bases in his two minor league seasons. In 2019 he won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average. Gilberto has yet to play full season ball and with short season absent for 2021 he should start next year somewhere in A ball with a major league appearance expected for 2023.

15. Luis Barrera (Athletics) - The 2012 Dominican signing has risen past Lazaro Armenteros, Austin Beck and Skye Bolt for outfield relevance in the Athletics minor league system. His speed is top shelf but his power is invisible. His highest homerun total in his snailish pace up the minor league ladder was seven in 2017. His ability to hit triples keeps his slugging average at a respectable .412. Despite his blazing speed his stolen base numbers are tame, but that could be the result of the Athletics deemphasis on the stolen base. His 2019 season was shortened to 54 games, but not before he hit .321, with a .513 slugging, both of which would have been career highs if he maintained that pace. The 2021 season should be spent in AAA, but Luis deserves a shot in the Athletics outfield at some point during the season.

Top Left Field Prospects

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Player with below average arms are destined for leftfield. If they do not have burner speed they are passed over for centerfield. Right fielders usually have the cannon arm and centerfielders the burner speed. Leftfielders lack in excess both qualities. So myworld takes a look at who are the best leftfielders in the game. These are usually the less likely to succeed in the majors. Two players with cannon arms who share the same outfield are bound to split the corners, as a case in point Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees. The one that lacks the defensive tool is relegated to DH.

1. Riley Greene (Tigers) - There are conflicting reports on the arm of the first round pick in 2019. His speed may be a tick above average but not enough to patrol centerfield with some of the other speedsters like Daz Cameron. Fortunately for the Tigers Riley has some decent pop in his bat and hits the ball hard when he makes contact. There is sometimes an issue with him consistently making contact, with 63 strikeouts in his 57 games in 2019. Currently his power is exhibited only in batting practice. In his one minor league season he hit 5 homeruns and only 26 percent of his hits went for extra bases. Riley reached A ball in his first year. The 2021 season should see him start in High A with a quick promotion if he has a good season.

2. Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - One of the reasons the Twins did not tender a contract to Eddie Rosario is because of the readiness of Alex for the major leagues. Myworld has seen his arm post Tommy John surgery at the Prospect game during the All Star break and we were impressed by it. Most reports say his arm is below average and with Rosario gone left field seems like a natural transition for him in 2021. The first round 2015 pick had a good season his first year (.305) then Tommy John surgery nixed his attempt to have a 2017 season. The 2018 season was probably his best season when he hit .348 with 20 homeruns. Injuries came back to haunt him in 2019, dropping his average to .283, but more alarming his slugging average to .413, though wrist injuries could have sapped his power. The power should return to his lefthanded bat for the 2021 season, but it will probably range below 30 per year. He should hit consistently for a decent average. With a good spring he has a chance to be the starting left fielder for the Twins in 2021.

3. Alek Thomas (Diamondbacks) - His above average speed could allow a centerfield position, but a below average arm will relegate him to left field. The second round 2018 pick may lack the power that is expected of a corner outfielder. During his two seasons in the minor leagues Alek has hit 12 homeruns. His bat makes decent contact with power to the gaps, relying more on his speed to take the extra base. In 2019 he had 23 doubles and seven triples, with a career .312 average. He only played 23 games in High A ball in 2019 so expect him to start the 2021 season at the same location with a quick promotion to AA if he shows success.

4. Zac Veen (Rockies) - Not a lot is known about the 2020 first round pick. He has yet to appear in a professional game so only his high school stats are germane to what he can do in the minor leagues. His speed and arm are both about a tick above average but not enough to overcome some of the other top arms or speedsters. At 6′4″ he should possess a power lefthanded bat that should get stronger as he matures. He was the highest rated offensive player from high school in the 2020 draft. The start of the 2021 season should see him in Low A ball.

5. Taylor Trammell (Mariners) - Lots of tools in the tool box for this first round supplemental pick in 2016. The Mariners have some depth in their outfield with Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis and Julio Rodriguez all rated higher than him. Taylor has already played for three teams, first drafted by the Reds, then traded to the Padres and lastly jettisoned to the Mariners. The speed is sufficient for him to cover centerfield and steal 20 plus bases per year, but the arm is below average. The 2019 season saw him struggle with the bat, only hitting .234 with a .349 slugging percentage. With those kind of numbers it will be difficult to find any outfield spot for him. He could reach AAA in 2021, but with his poor season a repeat of AA is possible.

6. Heston Kjerstad (Orioles) - The Orioles surprised a lot of people by making Heston the second player drafted in 2020. Many thought he had the best college power bat in the 2020 draft. His below average speed could make it a challenge in the outfield defensively, but the arm would play in right. His power bat showed in Arkansas enough to lead his team to back to back College World Series runs. Because there was no 2020 minor league season there are no numbers to show for him. Making contact can be a problem but he has a strong 6′3″ frame. He should start the 2021 season in A ball.

7. Jarren Duron (Red Sox) - Jarren dropped to the seventh round of the 2018 draft. His prospect stats climbed rapidly when he hit .357 with 11 triples and 24 stolen bases in just 67 games his first season. He didn’t stop hitting until he reached AA in his second year, when he came crashing down with a .250 average after hitting .387 in High A. A 2020 season would have defined which results were real, but now we will have to wait for 2021. There is no double that he has the speed to play centerfield with his 46 stolen bases. His weak arm is a poor fit in right so if he fails to make it as a centerfielder his alternative option is left field. The lack of power in his bat is not what most teams look for in a left fielder. After his poor AA performance in 2019, he should repeat there for the 2021 season with a major league opportunity possible before the end of the year.

8. Jordyn Adams (Angels) - The Angels are another team with some talented outfielders in Mike Trout, Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. With the first pick of the 2018 draft the Angels added one more to the list. Adams has burner speed that could move Trout to a corner outfield position. His arm though is better suited for left. His tools are still relatively raw, having played both baseball and football in high school. Strikeouts can come in bunches restricting his average to the .250 range and his power has yet to develop. In his two years he has only hit 8 homeruns, all of them during the 2019 season. Despite having tremendous speed the stolen bases are low, with only 21 the last two years. Now that Jordyn has focused on baseball the raw tools should refine at a quicker pace. He is still a couple years from the majors with the 2021 season starting in AA.

9. Erick Pena (Royals) - The Dominican native has yet to showcase his stuff in the minor leagues, signed in 2019 for $3.9 million. He is not a burner in the outfield and his arm is just a tick above average, so he is slated for left field if his bat carries him to the major leagues. At 6′3′ the bat should develop power. He also makes good contact and he has some of the intangibles that make him valued, such as good character and sharp baseball instincts. At 17 years of age he is still young so he could start the season in extended spring training and then get promoted to a full season league at mid season.

10. Cole Roederer (Cubs) - The Cubs could be in rebuilding mode, which could be an opportunity for Cole to make his appearance in the outfield sooner than anticipated. The release of Kyle Schwarber opens a hole in left field but it will take awhile for Cole to take it. An arm injury dropped him to the second round of the 2018 draft. Compared to his 2018 season (.275) his 2019 season was a bust (.224). His arm is below average so his raw tools need to develop if he wants to show the power expected of a corner outfielder. A career .392 slugging percentage would not cut it at the major league level. He needs to improve his numbers in 2021 if he hopes to keep his prospect status but the tools exist for him to succeed. Expect him to continue A ball in 2021 with quick promotions if he has success.

Top Third Base Prospects

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Just like at second base, a number of shortstops become third baseman, but those are players who lack the range to play middle infield, but carry power in their bat. And a lot of players who start as third baseman are forced to move to first base or the outfield because of their inability or lack of quickness to react to the ball. That is why it is called the hot corner. Below are the players who currently play third who myworld believes are the top prospects for the position.

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie Hayes was a first round pick in 2015. One of the biggest criticisms of his game was his lack of offense. His defense was gold glove caliber. The Pirates promoted him in September and in 24 games and close to 100 at bats he hit .376 with five homeruns for a .682 slugging average. Replicating that production will be difficult, but if his bat can produce just a portion of those numbers he can be an All Star. In the minors his best slugging percentage was .444 and his career average is .399, almost 300 points lower than his major league production. His speed is above average for a third baseman, but they would lose a lot of defense of they move him to the outfield. The 2021 season should see him starting at third base.

2. Nolan Jones (Indians) - If not for Hayes 2020 major league production, Jones, a second round 2016 pick would have been the top third base prospect. He has a nice power bat that hits from the left side. In 2019 he mashed 15 homeruns, a slight decline from his 2018 season of 19 homeruns. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but that also comes with a high number of walks. The 2019 season showed him with a 96/148 walk to whiff ratio in 126 games. He should be able to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he is major league ready. His arm is good and he has the defensive chops to be an average to possibly above average third baseman. His lack of speed prevents him from being a top caliber outfielder, but the arm keeps that possibility open. He finished the 2019 season with 48 games at AA. This should allow him to start the 2021 season in AAA with a major league promotion a possibility.

3. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - The 2018 first round pick is one of many third base prospects for the Cardinals. His scouting report would be similar to Jones. He hits lefthanded, has good power, limited speed, a strong arm with the ability to be an average to above average fielder. The big difference in their two games is his ability to take walks. Gorman’s walk to whiff ratio in 2019 was 45/152. This could result in lower batting averages. In 2019 he hit just .248, which could be better if he showed more patience. Gorman will probably begin the 2021 season in AA, not seeing the Cardinals lineup until 2022. Elehuris Montero is ahead of him in the depth chart and Cuban Malcolm Nunez is right behind him. The Cardinals also drafted third baseman Jordan Walker in the first round of the 2020 draft.

4. Josh Jung (Rangers) - The Rangers first round 2019 pick is a big time power bat. Unfortunately, he has not had a lot of minor league games to show it off. In 2019 he only played in 44 games with two homeruns. He did show the ability to hit for average finishing at .316. Drafted out of Texas Tech, the 23 year old should advance quickly. The 2019 season showed him being primarily a gap to gap hitter but as he strengthens and becomes more aware of the pitches he can drive he should hit consistently 30 plus homeruns each year. His speed is lacking, but his defense should be average to possibly above average. Josh should start the 2021 season in AA with a possible late season promotion.

5. Brett Baty (Mets) - Like Josh, the 2019 first round pick of the Mets played a minimum amount of games (51). His swing and miss was more severe (65) which resulted in a much lower average (.234). Brett showed that when he makes contact the ball will fly, with seven homeruns for a .452 slugging percentage. The left handed bat can drive the ball to all fields with 30 plus homerun a year power once he arrives in the major leagues. While he stands 6′3″ the athleticism will allow him to stay at third. The arm is strong but the speed is below average so a move to the outfield is doubtful. As an older high school pick the Mets may be more aggressive in his promotions than normal high school picks. He should start the 2021 season in A ball with quick promotions occurring with success.

6. Jonathan India (Reds) - The 2018 first round pick needs to increase his power to stick at the position. His career two year slugging percentage is .410 with 11 homeruns in 2019. As a college drafted player there may not be a lot of increase in strength. He does have the patience to take walks and gives the Reds an excellent OBA option. Defensively he has the ability to be an above average third baseman but his average speed could allow him to move to a corner or play second base. India reached AA in 2019 so he could make his major league debut in 2021. His numbers may fall short of what a team expects from a top five pick but he could end up a suitable major leaguer with decent numbers as a utility option.

7. Blaze Jordan (Red Sox) - Like Bryce Harper before him Blaze received a lot of publicity for his youthful power exploits. He was thought to be a 2021 draft pick but graduated from high school one year early. Signing concerns dropped him to the third round in the 2021 draft where the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million, which could be a bargain. Blaze was hitting 500 foot homeruns as a 13 year old. There are some concerns about his ability to make contact, his speed is below average and he lacks the quickness to field the position. He may ultimately move to first base. Since he was drafted as a 17 year old, losing a season does not hurt Blaze as other players selected in 2020. He could start the 2021 season in extended spring with a promotion to full season ball or short season if the minor leagues still have short season leagues.

8. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The 2019 second round pick only played three games in 2019 because of injuries. He failed to get a hit in his 8 at bats. Rece may have more power potential than any player on this list, but the concern is that he may have more swing and miss. There is also question marks on his ability to stay at third base. His arm is strong enough to move to a corner outfield, but his lack of speed would be a detriment to his defense. Rece is the last person on this list who needed to miss the 2020 season. He will be 21 years old in September with only 8 minor league at bats. Where he ends up on defense is a big question mark. If the National League adopts the DH that may be his best position, or a move to first base.

9. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac is one of those players who spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop, but finally had to move to third because of his lack of range. His bat should be able to hit for a decent average, bordering around the .300 range. He makes good contact with the ability to take walks (57/61 walk to whiff ratio in 2019). His power should manifest itself into doubles and borderline 20 homerun power. He made his major league debut last year and hit .220 in a little over 100 at bats, a poor 8/24 walk to whiff ration a reason for the dismal performance. His defense should be above average at third because of his soft hands and strong arm. The Tigers lack an option at third base so with a good spring expect him to start at that position in 2021.

10. Kody Hoese (Dodgers) - A 2019 first round pick who showed some pop and hit for average in his brief 41 game performance in the minors. At 6′4″ he has good length to carry the ball when he makes contact. He also has the patience to take walks and the contact ability to avoid high strikeout rates. Lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield, but there is enough power in his bat for a move to first base. His defense should be passable to settle at third base. Kody will be turning 24 during the 2021 season so he needs to advance quickly. Expect him to start the season in AA with a good spring.

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.

Top Venezuelan Prospects - American League

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Venezuela has not kept up with the Dominican Republic in the last couple years with the number of premium prospects coming out of the country. Cuba was at the point of surpassing them, but the United States placing further restrictions on travel from Cuba made it more difficult for Cuban ball players to emigrate. With the perceived dangers out of Venezuela the scouting has been reduced and teams move their Venezuelan prospects to Dominican facilities to work out.

In the American League some prospects from last year’s list have dropped. Luis Rengifo and Luis Arraez are two players who graduated to the major leagues. Rengifo, the number seven prospect last year will probably end up in a utility role while Arraez, who fell a spot behind him will have a couple years as a starter. His lack of power will require him to continue to hit for average if he hopes to keep his starting role. One player was traded to the National League.

Below are the top ten prospects out of Venezuela from the American League. No real superstars from this bunch, but some solid major league possibilities. A bucket load of shortstops on this list, many of whom will have to turn to third or second base.

1. Aaron Bracho 2B (Indians) - The Indians spent $1.5 million to sign him in 2017. Aaron does not have one outstanding tool, but also has no weak points to his game. He missed the 2018 season because of an arm injury so he didn’t even make the top ten list last year. Now he is number one in what is not an illuminating group. Last year he hit .281 with a .570 slugging percentage. His 28/29 walk to whiff ratio for a .402 OBA was impressive. The tools are there for him to be an average shortstop but the Indians had him playing second base last year to get his bat in the lineup. Currently his power is more oriented towards the gap but as he matures he should consistently hit in the double digit homerun area. If the season ever starts he could begin it in Low A, but at 19 years old he has plenty of time to develop.

2. Brayan Rocchio SS (Indians) - Another 2017 signing, but at $125,000 the Indians may have gotten a better bargain. His defensive tools for playing shortstop are better than Bracho, with the arm a little above average and his legs carrying faster speed, which results in better range. What Brayan lacks is power. Last year was his second season in short season ball after having success in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League in 2018, hitting .335 at the two levels. Last year was not as strong in the New York Penn League, with his average dropping to .250 and his slugging at .373. He is noted for his high baseball IQ which has given him the nickname professor. He is a little ahead of Bracho on the depth chart, but they should be the infield combo at Low A next year.

3. Maximo Acosta SS (Rangers) - Maximo is the third new player on this list. The Rangers signed him in 2019 for $1.65 million. He has yet to play in the minor leagues, but his tools are strong enough to carry a lot of buzz. The defensive tools, including strong arm and decent range are there for him to play shortstop. The bat is also strong and should hit for a high average and develop some easy double digit homerun power. The 2020 season will be an indication of whether all of that is true. Kevin Maitan also had all those accolades and as his tools failed to progress he dropped off the list. The 2020 season will be a critical one. He could start it in the Dominican League or stateside in the Rookie League. He will be 17 years of age, young to be playing stateside.

4. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox) - Back in 2013 the Red Sox signed Darwinzon for just $7,500. Six years later he made his Red Sox debut, pitching mainly in the bullpen with 28 relief appearances and one start. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and has a little more zip to it when in the bullpen. He was a starter in the minor leagues, but a lack of command and inconsistent secondary pitches make the bullpen the best fit for him. He gets a lot of whiffs, averaging 16.9 strikeouts per 9 innings in his 29 major league appearances, but he also walked 26 batters in just 30 innings. The inability to throw strikes will lead to greater pitch counts and shorter innings, so the bullpen will be best. He should start the 2020 season in the Red Sox bullpen but that will depend on his second spring whenever the baseball season starts again. Last year Darwinzon was sixth on this list. He becomes the first player from last year to make this year’s list, though the number one player Brusdar Graterol was traded to the National League.

5. Oswaldo Peraza SS (Yankees) - The fourth middle infielder to make this list and the third shorstop. Oswaldo was signed by the Yankees for $175,000 in 2016 when they were restricted to signing players for $300,000 or less. The tool set is there for him to be an above average defensive shortstop with a strong arm and good range. He makes solid contact with the bat, though his ability to hit for power is below average. Last year he hit .263 with a .340 slugging, but he did make his debut in Low A, hitting .273 with a 16/28 walk to whiff ratio. Oswaldo has the speed to steal bases, swiping 23 last year, 18 of them in Low A. He is still a teenager and won’t turn 20 until June. Expect him to have another go at Low A with an early promotion to High A if he does well.

6. Franklin Perez RHP (Tigers) - Franklin was number two on this list last year. The Astros signed him for $1 million back in 2014 and he worked his way up to being their top prospect. They traded him to Detroit as the key player in the Justin Verlander trade in 2017. Injuries have only allowed Franklin to work 27 innings in nine starts the last couple years. It may be best to see how he handles the bullpen. When healthy Franklin can get his fastball into the mid-90s, but shoulder issues have put those velocities in question. His secondary pitches also had the potential to be above average pitches, with his changeup being his top pitch. Last year he only had two starts in High A. The 2020 season will be key. At 22 years of age his prospect clock is ticking. The Tigers have to hope to get him some AA time before the season ends so he can be ready for his major league debut sometime in 2021.

7. Luisangel Acuna SS (Rangers) - Luisangel is the brother of Ronald. Those are some big shoes to fill. He would like to have bigger shoes as he stands only 5′8″ to 5′9″. His brother can tell Luisangel the story of how a team told him to go home because he was too small to play baseball. Ronald grew to a nice 6′0″. Luisangel signed for a bigger bonus that his brother, his $425,000 more than $300,000 greater than his older brother. He also plays a different position, though he has the speed and the arm to play centerfield. He lacks the power of his brother, but at 17 he could still grow. Last year in the Dominican Summer League he raked for a .342 average, stealing 17 bases and producing an impressive 34/26 walk to whiff ratio. The 2020 season should see him in the short season leagues where the pitching will be much better.

8. Gabriel Rodriguez SS (Indians) - This is the third Indian middle infielder on this list. The Indians rolled out $2.1 million for Gabriel in 2018. He made his debut last year in the Dominican Summer League and was later promoted to the Rookie League for 18 games, where he only hit .218. He doesn’t carry any one outstanding tool, but tends to be above average in all phases. At 6′2″ the power could develop as he matures. This could slow him down defensively and force a move to third. The 2020 season should see another year in Rookie ball with a promotion to Low A towards the end of the year.

9. Arol Vera SS (Angels) - The seventh middle infielder among this group. A lot of unknowns about him since he signed in 2019 and didn’t play any minor league ball. Since the Angels paid $2 million to sign him the skills have got to be there. Currently he is an average runner, which could get worse as he matures, so a move to third base is probable. The power is there for him to make the move. The Angels like his intangibles. Arol could start the season in Rookie ball in 2020.

10. Everson Pereira OF (Yankees) - The tenth spot is what he occupied last year. A disappointing season (.171) and injuries (hamstring and ankle) limited him to 18 games. He was not on this list until Brusdar Graterol got traded from the American League to the National. The Yankees opened up their pocketbook to pay Everson $1.5 million in 2017. The tools are all there, with power, speed, arm and the ability to hit for average. He will still be a teenager for the entire 2020 season so another start in Rookie ball with a promotion to Low A before the season ends would be good for him.

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.