Archive for the 'Tigers' Category

Top Australian Prospects

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictions - AL Central

Monday, March 19th, 2018

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

1. Cleveland Indians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Minnesota Twins

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Chicago White Sox

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Detroit Tigers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tigers Rebuild Starting with Their Rotation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 40 - 31

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Myworld continues our top 100 list.

40. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) 5.6 - The Braves have traded for a number of pitchers who were number one picks for their team. Kolby was a number one pick for the Braves in 2015. His velocity is not impressive (high 80s to low 90s) so his command needs to be good for him to have success. Last year at AA was his first year his whiffs per 9 innings fell below 9 and his opposition average was .258, with lefthanded hitters having greater success hitting him (.292). He still kept his ERA low (3.18) relying on an above average curveball and change to enhance his fastball. Because the Braves chose to skip High A he was one of the younger pitchers in AA so his success was impressive. AAA could be his destination in 2018 or he could repeat AA. Wherever he pitches he is just a stone’s throw away from the major leagues. His lack of velocity will always make him a back of the rotation starter.

39. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) 5.62 - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

38. Franklin Perez LHP (Tigers) 6.1 - The prized prospect the Tigers obtained from the Astros for the trade of Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, those are attributes that teams drool over with lefthanded pitchers. Prior to 2017 he was striking out more than a hitter per inning. The 2017 season saw him fall below that, though at High A he limited the opposition to a .190 average. His excellent command and plus curveball are his strengths. Getting more consistency with his change will make him a major league pitcher. The Venezuelan only started six games in AA so that is probably where he will begin the 2018 season. The Tigers have an impressive group of starters percolating up their minor league system. If they all can stay healthy it will be an impressive rotation with Franklin leading the charge.

37. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) 6.16 - The Canadian lacks velocity, his fastball sitting in the low 90s. Quality secondary pitches and good command allow him to achieve soft contact with the bats. His strikeout numbers will never be impressive but he has limited hitters to a .239 average. His big challenge is retiring lefthanded hitters, who battered him for a .269 average. The 2015 first round pick should start the 2018 season in AAA with a major league mid-season callup a possibility. His 6′4″ height gives him good downward plane on his pitches.

36. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) 6.16 - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

35. Willie Calhoun 2B/LF (Rangers) 6.18 - The power was slow to develop early in the year. By the time the season ended he had 32 homeruns, including one in the major leagues. At 5′8″ he would not strike you as a hitter who could hit for power but he has had back to back seasons of 27 plus homeruns. Prior to being drafted he led all junior college hitters in homeruns with 31. The Dodgers traded him to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish loan. His one big weakness is with the glove. The Dodgers used him mainly at second base with a thought to move him to left field. The Rangers will try him out in left. His arm is not strong and DH is probably his best position. With a good spring he could start the season with the Rangers in left field.

34. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 6.4 - J.P. is one of those players whose physical tools are impressive but the numbers fail to match those tools. The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres at the beginning of the year to hand the shortstop job to him. The 2013 first round pick committed 17 errors at short in AAA, but none at the major league level where he played third, short and second. The bat has been a little disappointing, especially last year where he struggled to make contact. J.P. can be a very patient hitter, walking 95 times between AAA and the major leagues. There is no stolen base speed in his legs, but if he can hit and draw walks he could fill a leadoff role with the Phillies. The shortstop job is his to lose in 2018.

33. Brendan McKay LHP/1B (Rays) 6.54 - Shohei Otani got most of the publicity for being a two way player but McKay along with Hunter Greene were two players who hit and pitched in the minor leagues. McKay has a lefthanded fastball that can hit the low 90s with a plus breaking pitch. Last year he achieved six starts with the opposition hitting him at a .149 clip. His lefthanded bat has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns. The 2017 first round pick lacks the speed to play any place other than first, DH or pitcher. He should start the 2018 season in full season ball (Low A) where the Rays will continue the experiment of letting him hit and pitch until he consistently fails at one of the skills.

32. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) 6.6 - The 2017 first round pick is the third Braves pitcher on this list. At 6′4″ Kyle has a beast of a fastball with excellent movement that can slice the plate in the mid-90s. In his 9 starts, six of them at High A he limited the opposition to a .186 opposition average. With four quality pitches Kyle is a good fit to pitch at the top of the rotation. The Braves could have him start the 2018 season at AA but myworld suspects he will begin the season at High A.

31. Scott Kingery 2B/3B (Philles) - Scott started the season with a homer barrage in hitter friendly AA. As the season progressed his homer barrage slowed. He hit 18 in 69 games in AA then finished with 8 in 41 games at AAA. Most of his time was spent at second base, but he did play some short and third. Expect a power drop in 2018, which could make third base an unattractive spot for his pop. The second round 2015 pick is not a quality defensive player but he will not embarrass you. If Maikel Franco continues to struggle at the plate Kingery could take over for that position. A good spring could give him an opportunity to travel with the Phillies to begin the season.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 80 - 71

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Below is our top prospects from 80-71.

80. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) 2.34 - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez in 2016 as they restocked their farm system with Cuban players, paying him a $2 million bonus. Soon after they traded him to the Astros for Josh Fields, not much of a return for a player with that bonus. The Astros have used him at both first base and left field. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues. At 6′5″ his lefthanded bat began showing some power at Low A with a .360 average, 9 homeruns and a .658 slugging in 32 games. The power was not as great after being promoted to High A (.393) but he showed no difficulty hitting lefthanded pitching (.355). It will take an excellent spring to start the season higher than A ball but at 20 years of age the Astros can be patient with him.

79. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) 2.38 - He was the Cuban version of Luis Ortiz except he won the 15 and under MVP in the World Cup in 2014. A couple years later he left Cuba providing the Padres an opportunity to sign him for a $11 million bonus. At 6′1″ he does not have an intimidating presence, but his fastball can reach the mid-90s and at 19 he already has a degree in pitching with a good curveball and change. He made his major league debut last year with seven starts in short season ball (3.57) and six more in low class A (4.23). He had his way with lefthanded hitters dropping their averages below .200 but righthanded hitters had their way with him hitting him close to .300. He needs to find a pitch that is more effective against right side hitters. It would not surprise myworld if he starts the 2018 season at Low A and getting promoted once he achieves success. Don’t expect him to be anything more than a mid-rotation starter.

78. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 2.4 - Gonsalves is a lefty like Morejon but at 6′5″ he has a much larger frame. Despite his height he does not throw as hard as Morejon, but he can hit the mid-90s. Command and a quality change are the secrets to his success. He limits the walks, hits the corners and finished with a quality 2.68 ERA in AA. AAA was a bit of a struggle with righthanders assaulting him at a .350 clip in four starts. Another year in AAA would be good with a mid season promotion on the horizon. The fourth round pick of the 2013 draft had a career 2.13 ERA and limited the opposition to a .195 average entering the 2017 season. He knows how to miss bats and limit quality contact despite his lack of premium velocity.

77. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) 2.48 - Jon was a third round pick in 2016 but not because of a lack of talent but a concern for health. He missed the entire 2015 season for Rice because of shoulder injuries. After he was drafted he was limited to just one inning because of elbow issues. The 2017 season saw a break out season with his mid-90s fastball and quality curveball sifting through minor league bats for an ERA of 1.39 between Low A and High A. The last pitcher with an ERA that low in the minor leagues was a pitcher by the name of Justin Verlander. He struck out 12.36 hitters per nine innings in 12 starts at High A. At 6′3″ and 225 pounds if he can stay healthy he will be an innings eater. The 2018 season should see him start at AA and if he remains as dominant as last season expect a mid-season promotion.

76. Mickey Moniak OF (Phillies) 2.56 - The Phillies made him the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. He is one of those outfielder’s who may not have the range to fit in center or the power to earn a corner spot. The speed is good but it is not burner speed and will not accumulate stolen bases. What one has to hope for is his baseball instincts will inflate his stats and he will become a better player than his skills. His numbers were not eye popping in Low A (.236) with only a .180 average against lefthanders. He has the makings of being a fourth outfielder. The Phillies hope a stint in High A will lead to improvement with greater strength and more experience.

75. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) 2.58 - Tyler is a strong kid drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals where he hopes to crack one of the outfield spots. There is good power in his bat where he slugged 31 homeruns last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns consistently in the major leagues. His difficulty in making contact (151 whiffs) will keep his average at around .250 or below. A solid arm will make him a fit in right but with his bulky frame he may be a better fit in left. A good spring could see him traveling north with the Cardinals but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

74. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) 2.64 - A second Tiger who could eventually fit in their starting rotation making the Top 100. Matt was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2016. At 6′6 with a fastball that can come across the plate in the high 90s can prove intimidating to hitters. His secondary pitches could use some improvement but he has the potential for a plus curve and solid change. In his debut season in 2016 at Rookie level play he struck out 14.6 hitters per nine innings. Manning continued to rack up the K’s in the New York Penn League (9.72) and Low A (13.25). A little trouble with his command in Low A saw his ERA climb (5.60) but hitters still had difficulty making hard contact (.209). Manning should start the 2018 season in Low A with a quick promotion to High A once he achieves some success.

73. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) 2.78 - Jorge was a top prospect for the Rangers for a number of years. The Colombian was traded to the Phillies for Cole Hamels in 2015. Injuries have dogged him and stalled his ability to make quick advances up the ladder. The 2016 season saw him get a September callup. The 2017 season saw him take a more extended role with the Phillies, hitting .318 with 5 homeruns and a .514 slugging. He has a power bat and his defense is good enough to stay behind the plate. His big issue is whether his lack of patience (16/113 walk to whiff) will result in prolonged slumps in the major leagues. Expect him to win the starting catching role over Cameron Rupp for the 2018 season.

72. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox) 2.8 - Chavis was the Red Sox first pick in the 2014 draft. He plays the same position as Rafael Devers with a weaker bat. His defense is not strong enough to justify putting him at third over a superior bat. His bat does carry some pop as his 31 homeruns last year showed. He also cut down on his strikeouts which helped him hit for a higher average. The Red Sox could move Devers to first or try Chavis in left field. Both moves would help the offense but sacrifice some defense. Chavis will spend one more year at AAA as the Red Sox try to figure out what they will do with him. The best solution may be to use him as trade bait to acquire a veteran pitcher for a playoff run.

71. Blake Rutherford OF (White Sox) 2.82 - The Yankees selected Rutherford in the first round of the 2016 draft. With a surplus of outfielders they traded him to the White Sox for Todd Frazier, who became a free agent after the 2017 season. After more exposure to him there was concern his defense was a better fit for left field because of a weak arm. The lack of power in his bat made that a cause for concern. Those concerns may have been confirmed after a wasted year least year where he only hit two homeruns and slugged .349 in Low A. The positive spin is he hit lefthanders better than righthanders so the struggle may be an aberration. The question is whether the White Sox repeat him at Low A or give him a promotion to High A and hope he produces.

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 to 81

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The continuation of our Top 100 with three Brewers rated in this ten:

90. Corey Ray OF (Brewers) 1.42 - The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain gives Ray more development time in the minor leagues. The Brewers 2016 first round pick is now their top outfield prospect after the trade of Lewis Brinson. He doesn’t cover as much ground as Brinson in centerfield and his arm is not as strong but his bat should hit for some pop. There were too many swings and misses last year (156) resulting in an abysmal .238 average with a .368 slugging. The lefthanded bat digressed in his bat on ball contact and must learn to recognize breaking pitches if he wants to draw comparisons to Brinson. A repeat of High A would not be surprising since the Brewers outfield has so much depth. He will turn 24 this year so playing AA by mid-season will keep his prospect status intact.

89. Max Fried LHP (Braves) 1.54 - A slow first month gave the appearance of a wasted season. The 2012 first round pick of the Padres missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery. Max was traded to the Braves in the ill advised Justin Upton deal, one of many prospects the Padres traded to teams for veterans in a playoff run that failed to produce a playoff team. Max does not have overpowering stuff, with a fastball in the low 90s that can hit the mid-90s. The curveball is his best pitch getting most of his swings and misses. Max recovered from his slow start to get four starts with the Braves. A good spring could see him go north with the Braves to start the 2019 season.

88. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) 1.7 - Tyler was a seventh round pick in the 2013 draft but his 6′4″ pitcher’s frame allows him to dominant in games. He threw a nine inning no hitter in 2016 and last year made four starts with the Reds, finishing with a 2,70 ERA. His fastball cuts across the plate in the mid-90s but his secondary pitches are inconsistent. After his four starts with the Reds he will probably begin the season there unless a poor spring or an extension of service time keeps him in the minors.

87. Danny Jensen C (Blue Jays) 1.74 - The sleeper 16th round pick in 2013 seemed to find his bat last year. Coming into the 2017 season the catcher had a career .234 average with a slugging percentage of .336. He raked in the Florida State League hitting .369 with a .541 slugging percentage. This resulted in a promotion to AA where he still hit (.291, .419) and AAA where he hit even better (.328, .552). From a defensive standpoint he is a decent catcher with an average arm who catches the ball and does not allow passed balls (4 in 98 games). If his bat is real and he can duplicate the numbers he put up last year he should make his major league debut and at worst be a very good back up for the Blue Jays. His defense may not be to the high standard that he would play if his bat did not play.

86. Brandon Woodruff RHP (Brewers) 1.98 - Another player drafted low in the draft (11th round in 2014). His fastball ticked a couple clicks higher in 2016 going from the low 90s to 93-95 and his whiff numbers increased from 6 per nine innings to almost 10 per nine innings. The opposition also went from hitting him at a .265 clip going down to a .208 clip. A hamstring injury limited him to 16 starts in AAA and his numbers went back to his earlier years, but he was pitching in Colorado Springs. He also made his major league debut with 8 starts and a 4.81 ERA. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a good slider and change, three pitches necessary for the rotation. He will probably fit at the end of the Brewers rotation.

85. Corbin Burnes RHP (Brewers) 2 - The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering with a fastball in the Low 90s. He still is developing his secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) with all having the potential to be average offerings. So while the stuff is not awe inspiring the numbers he put up last year were very impressive. In 10 high A starts he finished with an ERA of 1.05 with a .181 opposition average. This led to a promotion to AA where in 16 starts his ERA was at 2.10 with a .212 opposition average. His strikeout rate was also pretty good, falling just short of one per inning. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA but if hitters still struggle to make solid contact off him the Brewers will find room for him in their rotation by mid-season.

84. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) 2.02 - The Venezuelan is not known for his strong arm or his strong defensive tools. Those areas are still a work in progress. What he does have is a strong bat that entered the 2017 season with a career .344 average in two seasons. Coming into this season his power was restricted to the gaps. Last year the bat continued to smoke with a .317 average in Low A and a .315 average in High A. The switch hitter did have some trouble hitting against left handed pitching, seeing his average fall below .250 at both levels. The power increased with a .497 slugging and a career high six homeruns in the hitter friendly California League. Keibert now appears to be the Dodgers catcher of the future with a stint in AA next on his schedule. That is just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles.

83. Alex Faedo RHP (Tigers) 2.04 - The Tigers 2017 first round pick did not pitch last year but at 6′5″ with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked slider, he should rise quickly up the minor league ranks after being drafted out of college. It was the second time the Tigers drafted him, the first time after high school. At his high school (Braulio Alonso High School) he was a teammate of Jose Fernandez. As a college drafted player the Tigers will probably start him in a full season league. His last two years of college he struck out over 11 hitters per nine innings.

82. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) 2.22 - There does not seem to be a lot of room for Miguel on the Yankee roster with Gleyber Torres destined for third base. Miguel has some good pop in his bat with 16 homeruns last year between AA and AAA. He also makes decent contact for a power hitter resulting in an average north of .300 at both AA and AAA. In his brief major league debut he hit .571 in less than 10 at bats. His defense could use some polish with 17 errors in just over 100 games. With Gleyber Torres coming back from injury Miguel could start the season with the Yankees, but he has to show he is ready.

81. Dustin Fowler OF (Athletics) 2.22 - The Yankees centerfielder of the future was not drafted until the 18th round of the 2013 draft. The five tool athlete stole 25 bases and slugged 12 homeruns in 2016. His future as a Yankee ended when he was part of the trade with the Athletics for Sonny Gray. The 2017 season was more of the same with his homeruns (13) equaling his stolen bases in his first 70 games. After the trade to the Athletics he was promoted to the major league club where he was injured early in his first game. His speed allows him to play center but his arm could force him to left. When he is ready to contribute expect him to approach 20/20 (homeruns. stolen bases).

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The last group of position players rated by myworld. This is the largest and most important one since no playoff teams can survive without an ace. Most of your aces throw from the right side. Below is myworld’s top ten right handed pitchers and others to watch:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) - A coup for the Angels to sign the best pitcher coming out of Japan since Yu Darvish. The big question is whether his elbow can hold up. If so he could become the best pitcher in major league baseball. If not he could transform himself into an All Star power hitting rightfielder. Right now, the Angels plan on him doing both, restricting his offensive performance to DH duties. To protect his elbow the Angels may go to a six man rotation. No major league starting pitcher had an average velocity higher than Otani last year, though injuries limited his starts. His splitter is also a pretty good pitch but he limited that offering severely after his elbow issues. He still has a number of other pitches in his repertoire to retire hitters. For the Angels to compete in the playoffs he needs to turn into their ace. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, something he had trouble accomplishing in Japan.

2. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year he finished with an ERA of 1.39 after 24 starts. No pitcher in the history of minor league baseball has had a lower ERA since Justin Verlander and we know what kind of pitcher he became once he arrived in the major leagues. Like Ohtani the biggest concern with Duplantier is the health of his arm. Both shoulder and elbow problems have restricted his innings. In 2016 a balky elbow limited him to just one inning after he was drafted in the third round in 2016 and a shoulder injury impacted his college appearances. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and is complemented by a plus curveball and change. Last year the opposition hit him at a .192 clip in addition to his 165 whiffs in 136 innings. After having success in High A last year he should start the season in AA, but that could depend on the success of his spring. A September callup is a possibility with a good season but it will probably be restricted to the bullpen.

3. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - Myworld has already stated that the last 19 year old we saw pitch impress me so much was Clayton Kershaw. We can still picture the smile on Joe Torre’s face after Kershaw was done pitching his one exhibition inning. That same smile will appear on the face of Terry Francona after he sees Tristan pitch. A 6′5″ inch preying mantis with long arms and a skinny frame should start slinging the ball in the high 90s once he puts some meat on his bones. His curveball and change are plus pitches resulting in a plethora of swings and misses. Like Duplantier he should start the season in AA and if the Indians need rotation help for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they do not call him up. Because of his youth and his sleight frame the Indians will be protective of his innings.

4. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox first round 2014 pick was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade. Kopech throws harder than Sale, hitting triple digits with his fastball. Many scouts say he is the hardest thrower in the minor leagues. Throwing hard and getting outs are two different issues. A promotion to AAA saw the opposition average increase from .184 to .263, though the sample size for AAA was very small. Kopech has a good slider which allows him to get a number of swings and misses. With a good spring he could squeeze into the rotation but the White Sox have a number of pitchers higher on the depth chart to consider first. Myworld suspects mid-season will see his major league debut.

5. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - The Venezuelan started his career as a third baseman. The Astros converted him to pitcher because they liked his arm. His fastball can light up the radar in the high 90s with a couple good breaking pitches and a plus change to keep hitters guessing. The Astros traded him to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, initially signing him to a $1 million bonus in 2014. At 6′3″ he still has some frame to fill out. After starting the season at AA it should not take him long to find himself in the Tiger’s rotation, unless they do not want his option clock running by placing him on the roster too early.

6. Hunter Greene (Reds) - There was some talk of making him a two way player, but playing shortstop and having him pitch was felt to be too demanding. His fastball spits the plate in triple digits, giving Ohtani and Kopech a run for the hardest fastball. His secondary pitches could still use some polish. If they fail to develop he could always be used as a closer, or put back in the lineup as a shortstop. The first round 2017 pick struggled in his three minor league starts, giving up 8 hits in his 4.1 innings of work. Hunter may need more time in extended spring training before joining a full season team.

7. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes has had some bad luck. First he was suspended in 2016 for 80 games after testing positive for drugs, then missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Reyes hit the high 90s with his fastball. Control has been his big issue, which could be corrected if he did not miss so much time due to suspensions and injuries. Alex did not play last year and will need some time in extended spring training and then in the minor leagues before the Cardinals risk him for the rotation. They will limit his innings since he has only pitched in 111 innings the last two years, all of those pitched in 2016. By mid-year he could be ready for a short relief role, fitting perhaps into the closer role.

8. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - He falls short in velocity when compared to the other pitchers on this list. The supplemental first round pick in 2014 can hit the mid-90s with his fastball but settles in the low 90s. The big pitch that gets the most publicity is the screw ball, which he does not throw that much, but it is a unique pitch. His change is also a pretty good pitch, enhancing the velocity of his fastball. Last year he pitched at AAA and struck out more than a hitter per inning but the opposition hit him at a .268 clip. He may stay around the plate too much making his pitches more hittable. Next year he should start the season in the Rays rotation. The team has already lost one pitcher to free agency (Chris Archer) and have another on the trading block. Spring training will seal his fate to begin the 2018 season.

9. Sandy Alcantara (Marlins) - Another one of those Cardinal finds in the Dominican Republic who slings the ball across the plate in triple digits. The Cardinals included him in the Marcell Ozuna trade giving the Marlins the benefit of his triple digit fastball. He sits in the high 90s using a slider as his breaking pitch. His change shows good potential but his command needs work. Last year he walked 54 in 125 innings and the opposition hit him at a .262 clip. Despite the heat on his fastball he struck out less than a batter per inning. Better command will result in better location of his pitches and more swings and misses. He could start the season in the Marlins rotation with a good spring, but more likely will see AAA. Last year he made his major league debut pitching eight games in relief.

10. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He seemed to arrive out of nowhere in 2016 to become a top ranked pitcher. He was a second round pick in 2014 and with his fastball hitting the mid 90s and a plus curveball and change he had a breakout 2016. Last year he did not disappoint limiting the opposition to a .202 average and whiffing a hitter per inning. Mitch is a pitcher who mixes his pitches well and locates them with precision. Last year he started six games in AA, which is where he will start the 2017 season. A good spring and an excellent start to the season will see him make his major league debut by mid season.

Others to Note:

Mike Soroka (Braves) - A first round pick in 2015. The Canadian does not throw hard but he locates well. At 6′5″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. Expect him to see the Braves rotation by mid season.

Touki Toussaint (Braves) - Once he overcomes his lack of command he will rise quickly. His fastball reaches the high 90s and his long arms give it a good whip like quality. He will start the season in AA.

Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - A first round pick and son of closer Bryan Harvey has seen his career stalled by injury. The 2018 season he hopes will be a complete season where he can unleash his mid-90s fastball to go along with his excellent curveball. A late season promotion could be in his future, but the Orioles want to be patient with him and control his innings.

Jesus Liranzo (Orioles) - Every pitch out of his arm hits the radar in triple digits with an easy delivery. He is probably slated for the bullpen because of a lack of control and secondary pitches. He is one of those pitchers who could have a breakout career if he can find a second and third pitch and the control improves. Watch out for him in the Orioles pen or rotation in 2018.

Dylan Cease (White Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Cubs in 2014 he began to draw attention to himself when he started humming his fastball in the triple digits. The Cubs traded him to their cross town rival White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. The White Sox have a lot of young depth in the rotation and Dylan needs to improve his command. He will start the season in High A.

Alec Hansen (White Sox) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ frame and his long wing spans that allows him to sizzle his fastball in the high 90s. He gets a ton of swings and misses and the opposition struggled against him, hitting just .216. He is another pitcher who needs to locate his pitches better. That will be done as he starts the season in AA.

Dane Dunning (White Sox) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 who they traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Don’t be surprised to see three ex-Nationals in the White Sox rotation next year in Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dunning. His fastball reaches the mid 90s with good secondary pitches. Next year he will begin the season in AA.

Tyler Mahle (Reds) - The Reds 7th round 2015 pick made a name for himself in 2016 with a 9 inning no hitter. He had a breakout season last year catapulting him to the major league rotation for four starts. His fastball has good velocity and he has excellent command of four pitches. Expect him to fill the Reds rotation next season.

Riley Pint (Rockies) - The fourth pick in the 2016 draft hits the triple digits but tends to sit on the high side of the mid-90s. He also has got excellent command of four pitches. Despite his stuff his strikeout rate was disappointing and the opposition hit him at a .264 clip in Low A. Next year he will start the season in High A.

Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers will have an excellent rotation in a couple years with Perez, Manning, Faedo and Beau Burrows. Manning stands 6′6′ and rains mid to high 90s fastballs on hitters. The 2016 first rounder has the pitches to shine at the top of a rotation, beginning that ascent at High A in 2018.

Alex Faedo (Tigers) - The 2017 first round pick has an excellent fastball slider combination. Last year he pitched Florida to the College World Series championship and was held back by the Tigers. Another top of the rotation starter should begin his year in Low A and as a college drafted pitcher move quickly through the Tigers system.

Forest Whitely (Astros) - The Astros 2016 first round pick is a popular conversation piece during trade talks. At 6′7″ and 240 pounds his mid-90s fastballs sizzle across the plate. His tall frame does not seem to impact his command. With a good season in AA he should fit in the Astros rotation by mid-season.

Walker Buehler (Dodgers) - The Dodgers first round 2015 pick made the Dodgers bullpen last year. His control wavered a bit in the major league callup, but he has four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. The Dodgers will want to limit his innings after Tommy John surgery in 2015. He will start the season in AAA and by mid-season could be in the rotation or used out of the bullpen.

Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed the Cuban for $16 million. His velocity hits triple digits but he has trouble finding the plate. If he continues to struggle throwing strikes he could move to the bullpen, but he has the pitches to fit in the rotation.

Jorge Guzman (Marlins) - The Marlins were able to pry this Dominican with the triple digit fastball away from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is a challenge of finding the plate and the lack of a third pitch may relegate him to the bullpen.

Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) - Another Yankee Dominican with a triple digit fastball, Domingo dominated at AA and shows better command of his pitches than Guzman. He also has three pitches to fit into a rotation. Expect him to start the season in the AAA rotation but with a good spring he could be going to New York in April.

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but his arm can sling a fastball to the plate in the mid 90s. Sixto also shows good command of his pitches. A good spring could see him start the season in AA but after only five starts in High A the Phillies may want to begin his 2018 season in the warm weather of Florida.

Anderson Espinoza (Padres) - Another small pitcher (6′0″) with a small frame (165 pounds), Espinoza succumbed to Tommy John surgery late in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017. It will be interesting how his mid-90s fastball responds. Noted for his plus change Anderson will probably start the season in extended spring training and see his first games in Low A if he is ready before July or in rookie ball if the Padres want to show patience. The hope is that he ends the season in High A.

Michael Baez (Padres) - A 6′8″ Cuban with high 90s heat. The Padres shelled out $3 million for him at the end of 2016 and last year he made an impressive debut. The opposition hit him at a .188 clip and he struck out 89 in 63.2 innings. He should start 2018 in High A.

Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2104 first round pick has been percolating up the Cardinals minor leagues for a few years. Last year he made his major league debut and the Cardinals hope to see more of his mid-90s fastball in the rotation. What sets him apart is an excellent change that enhances the velocity of his fastball. A good spring could see him in the rotation.

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

These are the athletes of the outfield. The shortstops of the grassy plains, the heroes to the kids who watch their long strides as they race to a ball miles away from them. To make the grade here players need to be fast with good instincts to get good jumps. They need to be moving as soon as the ball is hit. Because of their athletic ability many of the better centerfielders are some of your best hitters, but they don’t have to be. A manager will sacrifice some offense if a player can save a lot of runs with his glove. Below are myworld’s Top Ten centerfielders.

1. Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He is probably considered the best prospect in baseball for 2018. Many compare him to Andrew Jones. The Venezuelan has all five tools in abundance, with power being the least developed, a pretty nice bargain for the $100,000 bonus the Braves paid to acquire him. As he matures the power will get better while the speed may decrease. Last year he slugged 21 homers with 44 stolen bases, becoming one of the rare 20/20 players. At three different levels he hit .325. The one area of his game the Braves would like to see him improve is in his ability to make contact. He struck out 144 times in 139 games last year, an area major league pitchers may be able to exploit to drive down his average. The Braves will probably start him off in AAA in 2018 with a quick promotion to the big leagues if his bat produces. With a good spring he could find himself as the Braves starting centerfielder.

2. Victor Robles (Nationals) - Most fans are talking about Robles taking over for Bryce Harper after he leaves for free agency. They say it with a casualness that no production will be lost with Robles fitting into the outfield. He carries five very strong tools with power being the least developed. Like Acuna that power will come as he matures. The Nationals were so impressed with his development that they put him on their playoff roster. Last year he was more of a gap hitter with 37 doubles and 10 homeruns to construct an impressive .493 slugging percentage. His 27 stolen bases are not a true reflection of his speed but more about him hitting in the middle of the order and not being asked to steal bases. The Nationals outfield is currently crowded so it would not make sense to use him as a fourth outfielder. He will be the first player called up if an injury should force a starter to have an extended absence.

3. Luis Robert (White Sox) - As a 19 year old Luis was in the process of winning the Triple Crown in the Cuban League with a .401 average, 12 homeruns and 40 RBIs. Myworld put him as one of the top young Cuban players to watch, but at the halfway point of the season he defected for the United States. He played mostly the corners for Cuba but he carries the speed to play center, with the arm to fit in right. The power should deliver 30 plus homeruns with an average close to .300. Last year he played in the Dominican Summer League, slugging .536. Myworld would not be surprised to see him start the 2018 season at Low A.

4. Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) - The third round 2012 pick may be one of the more athletic players on this list. His primary sport was football with his first three years in the minor leagues going back and forth between baseball and college football. The 2016 season was his first year focusing on baseball. Injuries have held him back limiting him to 92 games that year and last year he played in just 81 games. The Jays were impressed enough with him to give him a major league callup but an injury ended that debut after just four games. Another five tool player could find himself in the leadoff or three spot, depending on the Blue Jays needs. A good spring could see him on the major league roster, but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

5. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Leody carries a little more power than his cousin Willie Taveras, but his legs carry less speed. The Rangers were impressed enough with the Dominican that they signed him for $2.1 million. At 19 years of age the power is just beginning to show with 8 homeruns at the low A level. Last year he struggled a bit when compared to his 2016 season, his average dropping from .325 to .249. A fifth player with all five tools, Leady should find himself in High A to begin the 2018 season.

6. Jo Adell (Angels) - It may be a bit premature to place the Angels 2017 first round pick so high but his .325 average and .908 OPS were hard to ignore. He runs with the wind, can mash the ball a long way and as a pitcher could throw a fastball in the high 90s. The tools are there to be an impact player. A 14/49 walk to whiff ratio in 49 games is evidence that he needs to improve his patience at the plate. Jahmai Jones may beat him to centerfield in the major leagues but Jo may have the better tools to field the position. Expect him to start the season at Low A in 2018 with a quick promotion dependent upon his performance.

7. Jeren Kendell (Dodgers) - Just a shade up north is the Dodgers first round pick in 2017. He may be one of the faster players among this top ten list. As a college drafted player he should move up quickly through the farm system. In his debut he hit .455 in five games in short season but when promoted to Low A struggled for a .221 average. The swing and miss appears to be his greatest flaw, with 45 whiffs in 40 games. If not tamed that may result in lower averages once he reaches the major leagues. Jeren could repeat Low A with a quick promotion to High A with early success.

8. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - The Haitian born outfielder had a breakout year last year vaulting him into top ten recognition. Last year he hit double digits in homeruns (13) with a .298 average and 23 stolen bases while he covered a lot of ground in centerfield. His bat and legs give him the potential to be at minimum a 20/20 player. To accomplish that he needs to cut down on his whiffs paring down the 148 in 110 games. Next year will be a key to determine if he can replicate his 2017 numbers. A good spring will see him start the season in the Florida State League.

9. Lewis Brinson (Brewers) - The Brewers acquired the 2012 first round pick of the Rangers after trading away Jonathan Lucroy. Shoulder injuries last year limited him to just 78 games but a .331 average and a .928 OPS led to his major league debut. In the majors he flopped, hitting just .108 but with two of his five hits carrying over the fence. While he has the speed to steal bases he has yet to steal over 20 bases in any of his seasons. Because of his major league struggles last season he will probably start the 2018 season in AAA with the Brewers waiting for his bat to get hot before giving him his major league promotion.

10. Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) - Lazarito came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The tools are there for him to be an impact major leaguer. Some question whether his character will allow his tools to stand out. In his stateside debut he hit .288 with an .850 OPS and 10 stolen bases in 47 games. He has the potential to be a 20/20 player in the major leagues. Like most players his age getting their first exposure to minor league baseball, he needs to cut down on his swings and misses (48 K’s in 41 games). The 2018 season should see him begin the year in Low A with the possibility to perform at High A.

Others to Note

Cristian Pache (Braves) - It will be tough to knock Acuna from his centerfield destination. Pache has more speed than Acuna but his bat carries much less power. Last year he was homerless but he did steal 32 bases.

Taylor Trammell (Reds) - Another two way player who could have played football in college. Taylor has excellent speed and the bat for power. He draws enough walks to hit in the leadoff position but as he matures he may fit better in the number 3 hole.

Jose Siri (Reds) - The Dominican had a break out year with the power, hitting 24 homeruns while stealing 46 bases. He showed flashes of this brilliance in 2016 when he hit 10 homeruns. There is still a little bit too much swing and miss in his swing, but if he can tame that he will be a hitter to reckon with in a couple years.

Greg Allen (Indians) - A little Aztec bias. He runs well to stick in center, but he lacks power. Last year he made his major league debut hitting .229.

Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike was able to blast 14 homeruns last year, even though he does not carry the power category. He should follow in his dad’s shoes with gold glove caliber defense.

Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels second round pick in 2012 has average offensive tools but above average when it comes to speed. He covers a lot of ground in centerfield and should hit for double digits in the power category.

Desmond Lindsay (Mets) - His tools have yet to match his performance. Health has kept him off the diamond, but last year he played a career high 65 games.

Dustin Fowler (Athletics) - Last year he had a breakout season with 13 homeruns in 70 AAA games resulting in a major league promotion. In his first major league game, before he could get an at bat he injured a knee sliding into a fence. This didn’t stop the Athletics from trading for him in the Sonny Gray trade. A mixture of speed and power makes him dangerous.

Roman Quinn (Phillies) - Perhaps the fastest player on this list. Injuries have prevented the 2011 second round pick from starting his major league career. An elbow injury limited him to 45 games last year. Not much power in his bat and taking more walks would help him as a leadoff hitter.

Franchy Cordero (Padres) - Franchy had a remarkable breakout season last year with 18 triples, 17 homeruns and a .328 batting average. This led to a promotion to the Padres where he hit .228 and struck out 44 times in his 98 at bats. A 23/118 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience at the plate.

Michael Gettys (Padres) - His defensive tools are gold glove caliber. The big concern is the bat. There is some gap power when he makes contact, but making contact has been a challenge with 191 whiffs in just 116 games in High A.

Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick from Puerto Rico has a good combination of power and speed. Strikeouts were a problem for him in the rookie league (48 in 35 games). The 2017 season should see him start in Low A full season where his performance will be tested.

Magneuris Sierra (Marlins) - The Cardinals just included the Dominican in a trade to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna. He is the typical centerfielder who covers a lot of ground, but has very little power in his bat. His success rate in stealing bases is not great resulting in a drop in total attempts last year.

Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - The lefthanded bat from the Dominican signed for $400,000 in 2015. Last year he made his first start in the full season league, showing power (15 homeruns), the ability to hit for average (.305) and the ability to cover a lot of ground on defense. His speed is plus but not enough to steal bases.