Archive for the 'Tigers' Category

Major League Farm Rankings - 5 - 1

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

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

5. Detroit Tigers (27.68)

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

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

4. Seattle Mariners (28.59)

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

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

3. Chicago White Sox (31.34)

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

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

2. San Diego Padres (31.92)

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

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

1. Tampa Bay Rays (32)

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

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

AL Central Predictions

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

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

Minnesota Twins

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago White Sox

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

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

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

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

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

Cleveland Indians

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

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

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

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

Expected finish - Third place, far from the playoffs

Detroit Tigers

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas City Royals

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld Top 100 - 10-1

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

The final ten.

10. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - The Blue Jays 2017 first round pick throws one of the hardest fastballs in baseball, hitting 104 on the radar. At 6′6″ he sits in the high 90s making it very difficult to hit when all you see is what appears to be a right arm coming at your face. What makes his fastball tough is the development of his slider, giving him a quality second pitch. In six starts in the Florida State League he averaged 15 whiffs per nine innings. He relied on those two pitches and decent command to finish with a 2.30 ERA and a .176 opposition average at three different levels in 2019, finishing with three starts at AAA. He does throw a decent curve, but that pitch is more a show me pitch. Last year he threw 102 innings so there is concern with innings usage if he makes the major leagues out of spring training. Expect a 2020 callup sometime mid-season.

9. Jarred Kelenic OF (Mariners) - The Mets drafted Jarred in the first round of the 2018 draft then traded him to the Mariners with other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Mets got little from Cano and Diaz last year in a disappointing season and may regret the future production of Kelenic. He is a multi-tooled athlete that can hit for both power and average. Last year he hit .291 with 23 homeruns, rising three levels to AA. His defensive attributes fall short of his offensive skills, but he does have the speed to play centerfield and an above average arm to fit in right. Last year he stole 20 bases to be one of ten minor leaguers to achieve a 20/20 season. His OBA and speed would make him a typical leadoff hitter but he has the bat to hit in the more productive two or three spot in the lineup. Next year he should start the season in AA with a potential major league debut in 2021.

8. Casey Mize RHP (Tigers) - Casey was the first pick of the Tigers in the 2018 draft. He quickly justified that selection by throwing a no hitter last year in his first AA start. His last half dozen starts were ugly (7.09 ERA) but they were preceded by shoulder soreness. Injuries have followed him so there is some concern there. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and can reach the upper spectrum of the 90s. His best pitch may be a splitter that dives toward the plate. He throws strikes with plus command. If he can stay healthy he will be an ace in the rotation. Casey will start the 2020 season in AA and could see the major leagues later that year, though service time issues could push that back to 2021.

7. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Athletics) - The Nationals are known for drafting quality pitchers who have fallen in the draft because of Tommy John surgery. They were able to get Luzardo in the third round of the 2016 draft after this surgery his senior season in high school. The Nationals traded him in 2017 to improve their bullpen, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle for their playoff run. Jesus broke out after the trade showing a mid to high 90s fastball and an excellent change. He may have made the Athletics rotation last year if not for rotator cuff issues in spring training. He did make his major league debut in the bullpen late in the 2019 season. The 2020 season should see him start it in the Athletics rotation.

6. Adley Rutschman C (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft led Oregon State to the College World Series. The last catcher the Orioles drafted in the first round, Matt Wieters also carried a lot of hype, but fell short of those expectations. The Orioles hope for more from Adley. He is a four tool catcher who should hit for power and average, carries a rifle arm to control the running game and has the defensive tools to shine behind the plate. The only thing he lacks is running speed but he will not clog the bases. Last year he made a quick rise to Low A, hitting just .154 there after shining in the New York Penn League with a .325 average. The expectation is that Adley will rise to the top of the catchers order providing both offense and defense. He should make his Oriole debut sometime late in 2021 or early in 2022 depending on the status of the Orioles rebuilding process.

5. McKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) - The 2017 first round pick has some nasty stuff. Blisters made for a poor 2018 season but he bounced back last year to show what he was capable of (1.02 ERA in 15 AA starts). He dominates with four plus pitches, a low to mid-90s fastball, two plus breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change. All his pitches are thrown with superb command resulting in a career whiff rate of 12 hitters per nine innings. He did struggle a bit in five starts in AA (4.15) with the opposition hitting him at a .250 clip when compared to his High A .137. His only weakness is an inability to hold runners on base, which creates struggles for him in games. Gore should start the 2020 season in AA with a possible late season callup to prepare for the starting rotation in 2021.

4. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - The Angels first round 2017 pick is a five tool athlete that could impact the Angels outfield in 2020. His 2019 season was delayed by two months because of leg injuries suffered during spring training. When he returned he slugged 10 homeruns, but none in 120 plus AAA at bats. He also combined for a .289 average at three different levels. In High A and AA his slugging percentage was over .500, but in AAA it dropped to .355. Adell will probably slide into right field sometime by mid-season in 2020 because of the Mike Trout factor, but he has the tools to play center. If he had put together a good AAA season he might have had a chance to compete for the starting right field spot out of spring training, but the Angels will bring him up once he has proven himself in AAA.

3. Gavin Lux SS (Dodgers) - The Dodgers 2016 first round pick was a disappointment in 2017, hitting just .244 with a .693 OPS in 111 games. That changed with his breakout season in 2018 and his repeating that success in 2019. In 49 AAA games he hit .392 with 13 homeruns. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, but Corey Seager has that position covered. So Gavin has been working a lot at second base. His power should allow him to eclipse 30 homeruns per season with an average above .300. He lacks stolen base speed but it should not prevent him from taking the extra base when running the bases. The Dodgers are hoping he wins the starting second base job out of spring training, though their lineup is pretty stacked.

2. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - Luis is a five tool athlete the White Sox signed out of Cuba for $26 million in 2017. His second year was filled with disappointment with White Sox fans wondering “where’s the beef” after he failed to hit a homerun in close to 200 at bats. Thumb issues impacted the quality of his at bats. Last year he made up for that disappointment with 32 homeruns and a .297 average. In AAA he hit 16 homeruns in just 47 games for a .974 OPS. For the year he had a combined 1.001 OPS. He stole 36 bases to become one of two 30/30 players in the minor leagues (Kyle Tucker being the other). His stolen base numbers may not be as prevalent once he reaches the major leagues. Luis has the potential to be a superstar in centerfield with a White Sox arrival time right out of spring training in 2020.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - The Rays spent $3.8 million to sign Wander in 2017. In his two years since he has hit .336 with a .928 OPS. Wander has 30 plus homerun pop and the ability to hit for a high average. His tools sit slightly above average for a shortstop but if he bulks up too much he may have to make the move to third. The power is there for the position. For a power hitter Wander makes excellent contact with a 83/54 walk to whiff ratio. His uncle is shortstop Erick Aybar so the genes are there to play short. Last year he dominated in 52 High A games so the Rays should start his 2020 season in AA. He could make the major league roster by 2021.

Myworld Top 100 - 30-21

Friday, February 14th, 2020

And the list goes on.

30. Drew Waters OF (Braves) - The question for the Braves is who do you put in center, Christian Pache or Drew Waters. Pache is the faster runner with the stronger arm, but Waters is no slouch. The 2017 second round pick may be the better fit for center because of his lack of power. He has good speed and a strong arm to play any outfield position. With Acuna, Pache and Waters covering the green hits will turn into outs. The one down side with Waters is his inability to make consistent contact. Last year he struck out 164 times in 134 games. It didn’t seem to impact his average as he combined to hit .309 filtering between AA and AAA, with just 26 games in AAA. Pache also played 26 games in AAA. Either could be called up in 2020, with who you choose depending on who is having a better 2020 minor league season.

29. Dustin May RHP (Dodgers) - The red headed 2016 third round pick put major league teams on notice last year that he is ready to be put in a major league rotation. In 14 appearances, four of them starts he finished with a 3.63 ERA, a .250 opposition average and a 5/32 walk to whiff ratio in 34.2 innings. His fastball sits in the mid to high 90s and his sinker reached triple digits. His low 90s cutter acts as his change and is his swing and miss pitch, though he does have a curve and change in his repertoire. He keeps the ball on the ground, making it difficult to elevate his pitches. He should start the 2020 season in the Dodger rotation, unless a poor spring makes the team pause.

28. CJ Abrams SS (Padres) - The 2019 first round pick is a very fast runner. It may have been one of the reasons the Padres felt Xavier Edwards was available. CJ destroyed rookie ball hitting .401 in just 32 games and stealing 14 bases. This resulted in a promotion to Low A for just a two game trial. There is not a lot of power in the bat, but he makes good contact and can take the extra base. If the Padres prefer not to move Tatis from shortstop Abrams has the speed to play center or the instincts to move to second. The tools are there to play shortstop. Next year he will start the season at Low A. He could be with the Padres by 2022 if he continues to dominate in the minor leagues.

27. Joey Bart C (Giants) - Buster Posey appears to be sliding in his ability to catch. The hope was that Posey would maintain his power and slip over to first, but last year that power was absent. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 to eventually take over the catching duties once the Giants felt it was time to move Posey to first. Last year Bart’s development was stunted by injuries that limited his playing time to just 79 games. He did reach AA for 22 games where he hit .316. There is enough power in his bat to hit 20 plus homeruns and he has the hit tool to stay close to .300. His arm is strong and he seems to maneuver well behind the plate. The lack of speed makes catching or first base his only viable position options. If he can avoid injuries he could take over the catching duties for Buster Posey in 2021.

26. Alec Bohm 3B (Phillies) - At 6′5″ the Phillies 2018 first round pick has big time power. The question remains will he be flexible enough to play third base. The arm is strong but the lack of speed in his legs makes moving to the outfield dicey. If Alec does not survive at third the Phillies would then have to choose between Hoskins or Bohm for first base and trade the other. Last year Alec reached AA. He totaled 21 homeruns between the three levels and combined for a .305 average. For a power hitter the bat does a pretty good job of making contact with the ball. He only struck out 73 times in 125 games. The Phillies have one more year of minor league ball before making a position decision for Alec. In 2021 they will have to decide whether his defense is adequate enough to play third base.

25. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - Luis signed for $130,000 out of Colombia in 2016. The 6′0 right hander can hold his fastball in the mid 90s, reaching the high 90s. His legs are a big reason for his velocity. That could minimize any durability concerns. His breaking pitches are good enough for the starting rotation but his change still needs some work. He doesn’t appear to have too many issues with finding the plate. Last year he rose to AA where he had two starts (1.17 ERA). He gets lots of swings and misses with his rising fastball, averaging 11.7 per nine innings. In High A the opposition hit him at only a .192 clip. The Padres have a number of top pitching prospects in the minor leagues. Patino will begin the 2020 season in AA and depending on need he could be called up in 2020. More realistically his debut will be 2021.

24. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies originally signed the Dominican in 2015 for just $35,000. They traded him to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto deal. Like Patino, Sanchez only stands 6′0. His fastball also sits in the mid to high 90s, ticking the radar gun on occasion north of 100. The 2018 season was limited to eight starts because of elbow issues. Last year he was able to start 20 games, reaching AA for 18 games. His change may be his best secondary pitch. For all the zip on his fastball the strikeouts are not prevalent. AA hitters only hit him at a .225 clip. Sixto could join Sandy Alcantara in the 2020 rotation this year, followed by another fireballer in Edward Cabrera, giving the Marlins one of the fastest rotations velocity wise in baseball.

23. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) - The 2016 first round pick stands 6′6, adding a lot of plane to his low to mid-90s fastball. He was the Tigers top pitching prospect until Casey Mize was selected first overall in 2018. With Tarik Skuball, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez lurking in the shadows the Tigers are set for the rotation of the ages, if they all can stay healthy. Manning gets his swings and misses from his excellent curveball, last year striking out 10 per 9 innings in 24 AA starts. The opposition hit him at just a .192 clip. A little more refinement on the change and Manning has the potential to be a 1a ace. There is no reason the Tigers have any expectation for a playoff opportunity in 2020 so don’t expect to see Manning in a Tigers uniform until 2021.

22. Alex Kirilloff OF (Twins) - The Twins drafted Alex in the first round of the 2016 draft. Tommy John surgery force him to sit out the 2017 season. He came back strong in 2018 hitting 20 homeruns with a .348 average splitting time at the two A levels. Myworld saw him in the Future’s Game in 2019 and we came away impressed with his arm, though most would give it an average grade. His speed is geared more toward the corners and if more athletic players squeeze him out of the outfield Alex could move to first. His 2019 season was restricted to just 94 games because of wrist issues. Alex has a good hit tool with few strikeouts in his bat and enough pop in his swing to reach 20 plus homeruns per year. If he can stay healthy he could see the Twins in 2020.

21. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick appeared ready for the major leagues in 2018. He was throwing strikes, was up for four starts and then elbow issues encroached, resulting in Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of 2019. Prior to that he had the best fastball in baseball, regularly hitting Triple Digits. Even with his control major leaguers were still able to find his fastball and hit him for a .328 clip in his four starts. Time will tell whether Michael can replicate his improved command and change when he returns to the mound in 2020. If he doesn’t flinch he could be in the White Sox starting rotation in 2020. If he struggles the White Sox will be careful with him, not wanting to throw him too many innings.

Myworld Top 100 - 40 -31

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training. Baseball is drawing near. Below is the continuation of our top 100 prospects.

40. Jasson Dominguez OF (Yankees) - Not a lot of history on Jasson. But then he is only 17 years old. A 17 year old that just got richer by signing a $5.1 million bonus with the Yankees in 2019. He has drawn comparisons to Juan Soto, but because he is a switch hitter there have even been some Micky Mantle comps. He is not a big guy at 5′10″ but he shows massive power, a strong arm and the speed to play center field. There is no history on Jasson since his bonus signing was a 2020 contract. His professional debut could begin in the Dominican Summer League and if he does well there he could participate in the rookie leagues. If he meets his hype he could rise quickly like Juan Soto, reaching the major leagues in 2023 at 20 years of age.

39. Riley Greene OF (Tigers) - Riley was the Tigers 2019 first round pick, the fifth overall pick in the draft. He is the first position player they have drafted first since 2014 (Derek Hill). Like Hill, Greene is also an outfielder, but the two have different skills. Hill relies more on speed and centerfield defense. Greene has a big time power bat, but his lack of speed and arm will limit him to left field. In his first professional season he got promoted to Low A, where he struggled a bit (.219). His left handed bat could produce 40 plus homerun numbers once he reaches the major leagues. While he accumulated a number of strikeouts last year (22/63 walk to whiff in 57 games) he is expected to hit for average. Riley is still a few years from the Tigers with an expected arrival time of 2023 or 2024 depending on his performance as he climbs the minor league ladder.

38. Grayson Rodriguez RHP (Orioles) - Grayson was a first round pick of the Orioles in 2018. Last year he pitched in Low A and in the Future’s Game, all as a teenager. He dominated at Low A, limiting the opposition to a .171 average, while striking out 12.4 hitters per nine innings. At 6′5″ he has good height and with his fastball sitting at the higher ends of the low 90s, and reaching the high 90s it flashes quickly towards the plate. He complements the fastball with two plus breaking pitches, and his change appears to have the makings of being an above average pitch. The tools appear to be that of an ace, but the Orioles have been through that program before. He is still early in his development and will probably not see the major leagues until 2022 as he climbs one level at a time through the minor leagues.

37. Nick Madrigal 2B (White Sox) - The White Sox made Nick the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft after he led Oregon State to a College World Series championship. The White Sox are hoping that eventually a World Series championship will be in their future. Nick is not a dynamic player. He seems to play above his tools. The talk is that he has the defensive tools to play short, but his teams always have someone better and he ends up at second base. His power is lacking but he should hit for a high average. The speed is also there but it won’t result in high stolen base numbers. What he has that the tools don’t measure is that intensity to win and do the things necessary to achieve that goal. Last year he reached AAA, hitting .341 at AA and .331 at AAA. With a good spring he could end up going north with the White Sox, but if not in April he will be in the major leagues at some point in 2020 as their starting second baseman. All Star seasons await.

36. Nolan Jones 3B (Indians) - Myworld will always get Nolan Jones confused with Nolan Gorman. Both play third base and both carry prodigious power that will result in a plethora of homeruns. Gorman was a 2018 first round pick while Jones was the Indians second round 2016 pick. The Indians drafted Will Benson in the first round in 2016. Jones will never be considered a great defender at the hot corner, but he should have enough tools to stay at third base. The power in his bat would still fit at first, but he would not be as valuable at that position. Last year he slugged 15 homeruns between High A and AA, hitting .272 with a .442 slugging percentage. He shows good patience at the plate with 96 walks, but he also struck out 148 times in 126 games. If he gets more elevation to his balls he could be a regular 30 homerun bat at the hot corner. The 2020 season will see him start at AA with a possible debut in the major leagues if he is raking, or 2021.

35. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) - Mitch has spent a pretty long career in the minor leagues after being drafted in the second round in 2014. After a lot of hype he finally made his major league debut last year and it was a bit of a flop, with a 7.13 ERA in 11 starts. He did collect a high number of strikeouts (12.2/9 innings), but major leaguers hit him at a .348 clip. The stuff is there with a mid-90s fastball that can hit the high 90s and above average breaking pitches. He still needs to develop a change, which at this point is a below average pitch. A good spring should see him in the Pirates rotation, though they may want to start him in AAA to extend his service time.

34. JJ Bleday OF (Marlins) - Myworld witnessed some of the Bleday power at the College World Series. The Marlins were also impressed, selecting him with a first round pick in 2019, the fourth player selected in the draft. Last year he led all NCAA players with 27 homeruns, leading Vanderbilt to the finals of the College World Series. He added three more homeruns in his 38 game minor league debut. He lacks the speed to play center, but has plenty of arm to fit in right. He makes good contact, hits to all fields and should hit for both a high average and power. The Marlins thought enough of his tools to begin his minor league season in High A. That appears to show a plan for a quick rise through the minor league season, with an expected arrival time around 2021.

33. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) - Another in a collection of Braves number one drafted pitchers, Ian a first round pick of the Braves in 2016. Last year Ian struggled in five starts with the Braves in AAA (6.57 ERA). In previous seasons his ERA was 3.14 or less and his strikeout per nine innings was near 11 per nine innings. His fastball sits in the low 90s with lots of upside to his secondary pitches and the command to throw them to different areas of the strike zone. The Braves have a lot of depth in the starting rotation in the minor leagues. Ian is part of that depth and will probably start the season in AAA, with a mid-season promotion a strong possibility, depending on which pitchers are hot.

32. Marco Luciano SS (Giants) - The Giants signed Lucius Fox for $6 million in 2015, but traded him to the Rays in 2016 when his bat seemed to be a cause of concern. Luciano was signed for $2.6 million in 2018 and now appears to be the shortstop of the future, with a better hit tool than Fox. Last year Luciano made his debut stateside and hit .322 in the Arizona Rookie League. He also showed big time power with 10 homeruns and a .616 slugging percentage. The defensive tools, including a strong arm are there for him to stay at short. His speed is above average but he could get bulky as he ages making him unable to cover the ground necessary to play short. The power would be there for him to play at third. At 18 he is a few years away from the major leagues. With Brandon Crawford on the down side of his career, the Giants could use some help at shortstop prior to Luciano being ready.

31. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - Puk appeared ready to make the major league staff out of spring training in 2018. The 2016 first round pick experienced elbow problems, which resulted in Tommy John surgery and a missed 2018 season. He did pitch in 2019, making his major league debut with 10 relief appearances. The fastball is electric, hitting the high 90s, and with his 6′7″ frame visions of Randy Johnson dance in the hitter’s heads. His slider and change also appear to be quality pitches. What is a cause of concern is a lack of command of those pitches. The Athletics hope to use him in the starting rotation in 2020, but if he has trouble finding the plate a closer role could be another option. Whatever the role, the Athletics plan on having his arm on the major league roster in 2020.

Myworld Top 100 - 50-41

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

The names start getting juicier.

50. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks) - Signed out of the Bahamas in 2017 for $2.5 million. The Bahamas are taking over the spot Curacao once had for discovering prospects in the surf. Kristian has the impressive five tool toolbox, with the ability to hit for average, power, the speed to steal bases and cover centerfield and the arm to play right. However, Kristian is still young and sometimes tools never quite leave the toolbox in their expected fashion. Last year Kristian showed the expected pop with 14 homeruns between rookie ball and low A. He also stole 17 bases. On the down side he did strike out 77 times in 69 games. Myworld likes a prospect who gets more hits than strikeouts and Robinson had five more whiffs than hits. He also hit only .217 in a 26 game trial in Low A. There is still a long journey before Kristian can say he is ready for the major leagues. That journey will not end until around 2023, depending on his success.

49. Logan Gilbert RHP (Mariners) - Gilbert was a first round pick of the Mariners in 2018 out of Stetson. Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom were also drafted out of Stetson, so if Gilbert can match their careers he will be considered a success. He did not pitch during the 2018 season, but in 2019 worked 135 innings, rising all the way to AA. He limited the opposition to a .198 average and struck out 11 hitters per nine innings. There was no failure in his first year, which is sometimes not good for a minor league career. His fastball sits in the low 90s but hits the mid-90s. He also has quality secondary pitches and can command the strike zone. It would not surprise myworld to see Gilbert in the Mariner rotation in 2020.

48. Matthew Liberatore LHP (Cardinals) - A first round pick of the Rays in 2018, it did not take the Rays long to trade him, getting outfield help in Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. Liberatore was the ace of the gold medal winning 18 and under United States team in 2017. He finished second in the Arizona State High School state championships to a team led by Nolan Gorman, who is now his teammate with the Cardinals. Gorman also played for the 2017 team along with Triston Casas, Brice Turang, Jarred Kelenic and soon to be number one Kumar Rocker. Back issues last year limited Matthew to 15 starts in Low A. At 6′5″ with a low 90s fastball he does carry an intimidation factor with his pitches. His curveball may be his best pitch. Liberatore has a smooth delivery and knows where he is throwing it across the plate. As a high schooler he should rise quickly reaching the Cardinals by 2022.

47. Tarik Skubal LHP (Tigers) - Tarik seemed to come out of nowhere for the Tigers. With all their first round pitching prospects Tarik outperformed them all last year. Tommy John surgery in 2017 saw him available in the 9th round in 2018 to the Tigers. His 2018 performance should have given hints that a dominant 2019 season was on the horizon. He gave up just one earned run in 22 innings and struck out 33, limiting the opposition to a .192 average. He matched those numbers last year (.195 opposition average) with an amazing 17.4 whiffs per nine innings at AA. It was a little more impactful because of the number of innings he pitched. His fastball hits the mid-90s and at 6′3″ he carries himself pretty well on the mound. To continue his success he needs to improve his change and get a little more surgical with his command, but if his success continues as he climbs the minor leagues, who cares. If he is as dominant in 2020 as he was last year expect the Tigers to give him his major league debut this year. Myworld does expect a little less dominance in 2020.

46. Nico Hoerner SS (Cubs) - The Cubs could use a little help at second base in 2020. The 2018 first round pick could win the job with a good spring. Last year he got 20 games with the Cubs, hitting .282. Nico has a very good hit tool, with the ability to make contact and hit near .300. His other tools such as power and stolen base speed are not as impressive. His arm and range may not fit the tools of an above average shortstop, so second base would be his best fit. He lacks the power to stick at a corner. If the Cubs choose David Bote as their second baseman Hoerner could fill the utility role of Bote, even including playing outfield. A good spring should see him go north with the Cubs in 2020.

45. Taylor Trammell OF (Padres) - Myworld was first exposed to Taylor and his tools at the Futures Game during the All Star weekend in D.C. in 2018. He won the MVP award. The Reds drafted him in 2016 as a first round supplemental pick. They traded him to the Padres after that 2018 season in a three team trade with the Indians that got the Reds Trevor Bauer. Taylor is an arm short of being a five tool player. The speed is there to play center, but if he has to shift to a corner his best fit would be left field. Last year he struggled to hit for average, hitting just .234 at AA. He does bring a lot of athleticism to the game, but if he hopes to make an impact he needs to get that average back above .250. If he improves that average he could make his Padres debut in 2020. If not, he may have to wait until 2021 for his major league debut.

44. Sean Murphy C (Athletics) - The third round 2016 pick of the Athletics is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. He has the rifle arm to tame the running game, though in this age of homerun derby the running game has taken less importance. He does have the other tools such as blocking and framing pitches and calling a game that make him a premier catcher. His bat is a bit of a question mark, though in his major league debut last year he tagged four homeruns and hit .245. The power is there to hit 20 plus homers, but the consistent barrell of bat on ball contact can be lacking. He has also been injury prone throughout his career, never playing in 100 games during a season. After the season ended he had a second surgery on his left knee. A good spring should see him as the Athletics starter, but it would be wise to get a good backup. The catching position is not kind to injuries.

43. Spencer Howard RHP (Phillies) - The Phillies drafted Spencer in the second round of the 2017 draft, outfielder Adam Haseley drafted in the first round. Howard has vaulted ahead of Haseley in prospect status. Spencer carries the best fastball in the Phillies organization, hitting triple digits regularly. His secondary pitches need a little more refinement to climb above the average category, but his slider could turn into a good swing and miss pitch. Last year he rose to AA, limiting the opposition to a .173 average and striking out 94 in just 71 innings. His innings were limited by a two month absence because of shoulder stiffness. The Phillies hope for a healthy 2020 season so they can increase his innings load. With a good season he could reach the Phillies in 2020, but they have to be careful about his work load. That is best controlled in the minor leagues.

42. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - Speed will be his game. The Rays got a bit of a bargain, signing him for just $15,000 way back in 2014. He has the Jose Altuve syndrome, not a big guy but when it comes to playing baseball he comes up big. Vidal will lash line drives into the gaps, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He also has the speed to steal 40 plus bases per year. His average arm makes him a better fit at second base, instead of shortstop, but his burner speed could make a move to centerfield a possible option. His career minor league average is .294, where it needs to stay if he wants to have success in the major leagues. Wander Franco, Xavier Edwards and Lucius Fox are making the middle infield position a little more crowded. Vidal finished the 2019 season with 55 games at AA. He should start the 2020 season there with a possible promotion if he is having a good season.

41. Nolan Gorman 3B (Cardinals) - See Matthew Liberatore to see their Arizona ties. Like Liberatore, Gorman was a first round pick in 2018, taken three picks after Liberatore. The big tool for Gorman is the power he carries in his bat. Last year he slugged 15 homeruns at Low A and High A. It would surprise no one if he hit 40 plus homeruns once he reached the major leagues. He is a bit of a stocky player for third base and some question whether he will have the reflexes to stay at third. He would be more valuable if he did not have to move to first, though one of the strengths of the Cardinals minor league system is third base, with Elehuris Montero and Malcolm Nunez also climbing up the the minor leagues at that position. Gorman will probably start the season in High A with an early promotion to AA if he achieves success. That would make a major league debut of 2021 reasonable.

AL Central Lower Round Draft Pick Success

Friday, December 27th, 2019

A couple days ago we did the AL East teams and the players drafted 25th or lower who achieved major league success for more than a year, with some exceptions. Myworld started the review for drafts in 1998 when they limited the picks to 50 players and went to 2015 when we felt most players from that draft and later would still be in the minor leagues. Below is the AL Central major league success rate.

Chicago White Sox

Mark Buehrle LHP (1998/38th round) - 214-160, 3.81 in 518 games, 493 of them starts.
Joe Valentine RHP (1999/26th round) - 2-4, 6.70 in 42 games of relief except for one start
Jeff Bajenaru RHP (1999/36th round) - 0-2, 11.20 in 14 games of relief
Charlie Haeger RHP (2001/25th round) - 2-7, 6.40 in 34 games, 10 of them starts
Jay Marshall LHP (2002/25th round) - 1-4, 7.66 in 61 games of relief
Hector Santiago LHP (2006/30th round) - 47-50, 4.14 in 257 games, 139 of them starts
Chris Devenski RHP (2011/25th round) - 16-15, 3.21 in 221 games, 7 of them starts

Cleveland Indians

Tony Sipp LHP (2004, 45th round) - 26-22, 3.72 in 616 games of relief
Vidal Nuno LHP (2009/48th round) - 8-23, 4.06 in 155 games, 42 of them starts

Jon Van Every OF (2000/29th round) - .255, 2, 9 in 39 games
Roberto Perez C (2008/33rd round) - .216, 45, 162 in 414 games

Detroit Tigers

Eric Eckenstahler LHP (1999/32nd round) - 1-0, 3.80 in 27 games of relief
Jason Frasor RHP (1999/33rd round) - 35-35, 3.49 in 679 games of relief
Joe Mantiply LHP (2013/27th round) - 1-0, 12.71 in 6 games of relief

Dusty Ryan C (2003/48th round) - .257, 2, 11 in 27 games
Will Rhymes 2B (2005/27th round) - .266, 2, 29 in 130 games

Kansas City Royals

Ruben Gotay 2B/SS (2000/31st round) - .255, 12, 77 RBIs in 316 games
Jarrod Dyson OF (2006/50th round) - .247, 21, 170 with 250 stolen bases in 858 games
Clint Robinson 1B (2007/25th round) - .257, 15, 62 in 243 games

Minnesota Twins

Kevin Frederick RHP (1998/29th round) - 0-2, 7.59 in 30 games of relief
Nick Blackburn RHP (2001/29th round) - 43-55, 4.85 in 145 games, 137 of them starts
Michael Tonkin RHP (2008/30th round) - 3-3, 4.43 in 141 games of relief
A.J. Achter RHP (2010/46th round) - 2-1, 3.92 in 45 games of relief

Terry Tiffee 1B (1999/26th round) - .226, 5, 29 in 97 games
Rene Tosoni OF (2005/36th round) - .203, 5, 22 in 60 games

AL Central Baseball America Minor League All Stars

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

These are the All Stars selected by Baseball America for each of the classifications. They may not be the best prospects but they had some pretty good years. Below is the list of AL Central All Stars.

Chicago White Sox

Luis Robert (OF/AAA) - This Cuban will be one of the top five prospects in minor league baseball. He has all the tools, the speed to play center and create havoc on the basepaths, the arm to play right and the bat to hit for average and power. He could use better patience at the plate. His 28/129 walk to whiff ratio could get exploited by major league pitchers. Last year he hit .328 with 32 homeruns and 92 RBIs at three different levels.

Avery Weems (LHP/SS) - The sixth round pick from the 2019 draft out of Arizona put up some pretty dominating numbers, with a 2.09 ERA in 14 starts and 74 whiffs in 60 innings. Only one hitter slugged a homer off him as he is a ground ball machine. His fastball does not have great velocity but in this spin driven world he has the spin on the ball that makes it difficult to make contact.

Cleveland Indians

Nolan Jones (3B/High A) - The second round 2016 pick has the potential to develop some significant power. He only slugged .425 at High A but when promoted to AA it rose to .466. It is his plate discipline that is most impressive with OBAs of .435 and .370. His defense needs some improvement and because of his lack of speed the outfield would be a liability. So the Indians hope he can make it at third, otherwise a move to first would test his power.

Will Benson (DH/Low A) - At 6′5 the first round 2014 pick can generate some impressive power, including hitting four homeruns in one game. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in Low A for a .604 slugging. A promotion to High A resulted in some struggles (.189) that a little more plate discipline would improve. Last year he struck out 151 times in 123 games. His defense is best suited for the corners, with the arm to fit in right field. For a player drafted in 2014 and only advancing to High A is concerning.

Bryan Lavastida (C/SS) - The 15th round pick of 2018 displayed a solid bat last year with a .335 average. In his two years of minor league ball he is hitting .319. Drafted out of junior college and at 20 years old he may have been a bit too advanced for another season of short season ball. He has the potential to be a solid defensive catcher and is bilingual, a good trait for a catcher.

Ethan Hankins (RHP/SS) - A shoulder injury dropped him to the 35th player selected in the 2018 draft. He dominated at the New York Penn League (1.40 ERA) with a fastball that can hit the high 90s but sits at the mid-90s. After a promotion to Low A he got tagged around a bit (4.64 ERA) his opposition average going from .178 to .250. His breaking pitches need to improve so hitters do not sit on his fastball.

Detroit Tigers

Matt Manning (RHP/AA) - The Tigers 2016 number one pick is not even their top pitching prospect (Casey Mize). He did have a dominating season in AA with a 2.56 ERA, 148 whiffs in 133 innings and a .192 opposition average. At 6′6″ he is a skyscraper with a mid-90s fastball. He just needs to enhance his change and he could become an ace.

Drew Carlton (RHP/AA) - Relief pitchers drafted in the 32nd round as Drew was in 2017 are always suspect. The Tigers Erie rotation was filled with top ten prospects and who was asked to close the games but a player not on the Tigers prospect list. He saved 19 games, had a 1.46 ERA and limited the opposition to a .200 average. Since being drafted the Seminole has a career ERA of 1.74. Joe Jimenez had 30 saves in 2016 in the minor leagues so achieving saves does not guarantee major league success.

Tarik Skubal (LHP/AA) - One of the biggest surprises for the Tigers this year. The 9th round 2018 pick finished with a 2.13 ERA in AA, limiting the opposition to a .168 average and whiffing 82 in 42 innings, more dominating than he was in High A (2.58). His fastball can hit 97 but sits in the lower reaches of the mid-90s, plenty of juice for a lefthander. His improvement in his change would establish himself in the major leagues.

Kansas City Royals

Kris Bubic (LHP/High) - The supplemental first round pick in the 2018 draft out of Stanford posted a 2.30 ERA at High A. He also struck out a whisker more than a batter per inning and limited the opposition to a .215 average. He did all this with a fastball in the low 90s, but with a whacky delivery and effective change that made him tough to hit.

Adrian Alcantara (RHP/SS) - The Dominican was hard to hit with a .155 opposition average. This was an improvement from last year (.290). The twenty year old will face a key season next year, perhaps debuting at full season Low A.

Minnesota Twins

Devin Smeltzer (LHP/AAA) - The fifth round 2016 pick will not wow you with his tools but he does throw left handed and showed he could get hitters out in the rough and tumble AAA. His 3.63 ERA would not be so elevated if he did not give up 14 homeruns in just 74 innings. He showed enough to make his debut with the Twins for six major league starts.

Lewin Diaz (1B/High A) - The Twins traded Lewin to the Marlins mid-season for some relief help. Lewin mashed 27 homeruns. He hit 13 of those homeruns in High A with a .290 average and a .533 slugging percentage while with the Twins. At 6′4″ he has the length to deliver power. For a big man he makes good contact but his defense needs improvement if he does not want to spend most of his time at DH.

Trevor Larmach (OF/High A) - The 2018 first round pick hit for a nice average in the Florida State League (.316) and showed good gap power with 26 doubles and six homeruns. His lack of speed is not ideal for the outfield but his arm is strong enough for right field. A move to first base would require a bit more juice in the bat.

Cody Laweryson (RHP/SS) - The 14th round pick in the 2019 draft had a good professional debut with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts. The opposition could only hit him at a .168 clip. In one of his last starts he struck out 15 batters in six innings. At 6′4″ he relies on his fastball/change combination to keep hitters off balance. Next year in full season will be key to see if he can replicate those numbers.

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

There were so many talented righthanders that myworld extended the prospect list to 20 players. Some notable pitchers we left off include Ian Anderson, Hunter Greene, Tristan McKenzie, Deivi Garcia and Logan Gilbert. Not that we don’t like those pitchers, the others just appeal to me more. Predicting pitchers is a crap shoot. One injury can ruin a prospect standing.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - The first pick of the 2018 draft dominated at High A (0.88 ERA) which led to a quick promotion to AA. He continued to pitch well (3.20 ERA) in AA but his opposition average went from .110 to .234. Despite a fastball that rides the plate in the mid-90s, his strikeout numbers are rather pedestrian, less than a whiff per inning. You would expect more from a pitcher with that kind of heat and two other above average pitches (slider and splitter) that he commands well. The Tigers hope he will be an ace in the rotation, a position the team has a plethora of potential candidates to take over that role. Casey was a bit injury prone in college and saw his AA season end with three poor starts that led to a mid-August shutdown. Expect to see him pitch by mid-summer in 2020, unless the Tigers hold him back in order to not eat up service time in what is expected to be a wasted 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The Jays first round pick of the 2017 baseball draft woke up the baseball world in the Arizona Fall League by blazing triple digit fastballs across the plate. Prior to that a series of injuries in 2018 (back and fractured arm) limited him to just one start of two innings in 2018. This year he got his innings count above 100, finishing with three starts in AAA. His fastball was still hitting triple digits, sitting in the high 90s and he complemented that pitch with three above average secondary pitches. His one down side is some inconsistency in his command. He walked 21 in 63 innings in AA. He should compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but the Jays may want to control his innings by starting him in AAA. They don’t want to go beyond 150 innings for him next year.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - Despite their battle for the playoffs the Astros were able to hang onto their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he gives a number of batters shaky knees when they come up to the plate. Last year he was considered the top pitcher in baseball, but was limited to just eight starts because of a couple injuries. The 2019 season saw some struggles with command which resulted in elevated ERAs. In the homer happy AAA he served up nine homeruns in just 24 innings. The 2019 season was his third complete season and he has yet to throw over 100 innings. The Astros could start him in AA next year after his struggles in (AAA). He has the quality secondary pitches and heat on his fastball to dominate so the 2020 season could be a critical year.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to the Marlins to acquire J.T. Realmuto, thinking they had a replacement for him in the minor leagues (Adonis Medina). Sixto had good success in the minors (2.53 ERA) while Adonis struggled. The Phillies only shelled out $35,000 to sign him out of the Dominican Republic. While he only stands 6′0″ his fastball crosses the plate in triple digits. He lacks the swing and miss results you expect to see with someone with his heat, but he has success with weak ground ball outs. Sixto also has a good breaking pitch and change with excellent command to keep hitters off balance. The Marlins are getting deeper in the rotation with all the prospects they have acquired in trade, but having had success in AA Sixto is due to pitch in Miami some time by mid-2020.

5. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers have a pretty impressive future rotation in the minor leagues with leftyTarik Skubal and righthanders Franklin Perez, Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo and Casey Mize. Manning was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2017, nine picks ahead of Faedo. At 6′6″ Manning was the top pitcher in the Tigers minor league system until they drafted Casey Mize with the first pick of the 2018 draft. Manning hits the mid-90s with his fastball, but sits in the low 90s, so the blazing heat isn’t there. The secondary pitches are quality (curve and change) and his command is above average. His stuff would seem to indicate a mid-rotation starter instead of an ace, but he should start showing that with the Tigers some time next year. In AA last year he limited the opposition to a .192 average in 24 starts with a 2.56 ERA.

6. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Myworld still cannot forget his 2017 season when he finished with an ERA below 1.50, the lowest ERA in the minor leagues since some dude named Justin Verlander. Even last year he was dominant in AA but he was limited to 16 starts because of injuries. And that has been his down fall. Last year he made his major league debut mostly in relief but hitters did not find his pitches a mystery, raking him at a .283 clip. His season was hijacked by his inability to throw strikes. His fastball has radars spitting out mid-90 readings and his secondary pitches are quality enough to stay in the rotation. The third round 2016 pick needs to maintain his health to stay in the rotation, otherwise the Diamondbacks may want to move him to the bullpen. He should compete for a spot in the rotation in 2020. Pitch counts could keep him in AAA to limit his innings.

7. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick at one time had the top fastball in the minor leagues hitting well into the triple digits. With his first four starts in the major leagues it appeared he would become a main stay in the rotation, but a torn elbow ligament resulted in Tommy John surgery and prevented him from pitching in 2019. A lack of command of his pitches has always haunted him, but it appeared he had controlled those demons in 2018. Now after the surgery he will need some time in AAA to get his pitches back and hope his control returns. His slider is a nice swing and miss pitch. Expect the White Sox to call him up once he shows his velocity has returned and he has command of his pitches.

8. Brady Singer (Royals) - The 2018 first round pick had dropped to the number 18 pick, even after winning the College Baseball Player of the Year award. He did not pitch in the 2018 season because of the heavy work load the Florida Gators had put him through in college games. The 2019 season saw the Royals call his number 26 times, 16 of them in AA. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can hit the mid-90s, with an above average slider. His change could need more work if he wants to stick in the rotation. A 6′5″ build can be intimidating but a .247 opposition batting average tells a story that his pitches are not impossible to hit. The slider does force more ground balls and will keep the ball in the park. The Royals are on a rebuilding path so they will be patient with Singer, not wanting to use up his service time. He could be a September callup in 2020 with a move to the Royals permanent rotation spot in 2021.

9. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles have always had trouble developing major league pitchers that came to them with superstar potential based on their performance in high school or college. Super studs like Matt Riley, Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy have never reached their potential. They hope that changes with this new regime and Rodriguez will be one of their first examples. The 2018 first round pick has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but it can hit the mid 90s, with good movement. He also has two good breaking pitches and a decent changeup to stay in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit only ,171 off him and he struck out 129 batters in just 94 innings at Low A. His 6′5″ height and decent command allows him to hit the edges of the plate where he tended to dominate at this level. A rise to High A and AA should occur in 2020 with a major league shot sometime late in 2021. By that time the Orioles hope their rebuilding process will be bearing fruit.

10. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - Blake Snell has turned into a pretty good pitcher in the major leagues. Brent was taking a similar career path in the minors following Blake but Tommy John surgery put an end to his 2018 season. The Rays were hoping to see him return in 2019 but a fracture in his elbow during rehab ended his 2019 season. Brent has an amazing array of pitches that includes a screwball, fastball in the low to mid 90s, slider and change, as well as command of those pitches to be a co-ace with Snell. How those pitches react after his return from a second surgery will determine whether he can join Snell as the co-ace in the rotation or fill in at the back end. The Rays will be patient with him in 2020 and at best he could get a September call up as a reward for all his work in rehab. Brent did not rely on his fastball for his success so Myworld thinks his route to the major leagues will not be altered much because of the injuries.

11. Dustin May (Dodgers) - The long, flowing locks of the 2016 third round pick is the first thing you notice about the righthander. After that comes the mid-90s fastball and the sharp breaking curve that bites downward towards the plate. His pitches create a number of ground ball outs, as well as swings and misses. Last year minor leaguers hit just .231 off him. The Dodgers saw another Walker Buehler possibility and promoted him. He worked a little bit in the starting rotation but pitched mostly in relief, with major leaguers hitting him at a better .250 clip. He does not have the stuff of Buehler but he has enough to fit in the middle of the rotation. A good spring could see him start the season with the Dodgers.

12. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - The Pirates 2014 second round pick has been one of the top pitching prospects for a number of years now. Last year he got his first opportunity to face major league hitters and his .348 opposition average, 7.13 ERA and six homeruns given up in 48 innings is evidence the debut did not go well. Keller has too good of stuff for that to continue. His fastball hits the high 90s and settles in the low 90s with a curve ball and change good enough to keep hitters honest. Perhaps a better sequencing of the pitches and improved command will result in better outcomes. Mitch has been sitting too long in the minor leagues to stay there. At some point the Pirates have to see what they have and 2020 should be the year Keller rises to a level where he will battle for Rookie of the Year consideration.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - At 6′8′ the Cuban fireballer is a very intimidating pitcher with his high 90s heat. That heat may fit better in the bullpen. Michel does have two breaking pitches and a decent change to stay in the rotation but the pitches lack consistency. He has also been limited by back issues which has prevented him from pitching long stretches. The Padres used him out of the bullpen last year and he made his major league debut, limiting hitters to a .223 average. His future for the Padres could be as their closer. His fastball carries more velocity in shorter spurts and with his innings limited his health will be good. Expect him to compete for a Padre bullpen job in 2020 and take over the closer job after the departure of Kirby Yates.

14. Shane Baz (Rays) - Shane was the Pirates first round pick in 2017. The Rays stole him in the Chris Archer trade mid season in 2018. His first two years Shane was stuck in Rookie ball. A lack of command sabotaged many of his outings. Last year he got 17 starts in Low A. His command improved and his ERA went from 4.26 in Rookie ball to 2.99 in Low A. The opposition only hit .213 off him, a vast improvement over the .273 average in two seasons of Rookie ball. His fastball rides the plate in the mid-90s and can hit triple digits. It is the command of that fastball that has been the real challenge. He has a good slider and improving change. If his command stays inconsistent and his change does not develop he could always work out of the bullpen. His fastball shows closer stuff. Shane is still a couple years away from the big leagues, especially with the patience the Rays show with their pitchers. Don’t expect a major league appearance until sometime late in 2021.

15. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - The second round 2017 pick has gotten his fastball up into the high 90s and it consistently hits the mid-90s. The previous year he had some triple digit readings. His secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) are not outstanding but they show average potential. His big issue is finding consistent command with those pitches. In 2018 he walked 40 in 118 innings. Last year it was 16 in 91. He does get a lot of swings and misses with his pitches. Last year opponents hit him at a .173 clip, which is 70 points less than last year. Spencer was limited to 91 innings because of shoulder issues. Because he only got six starts in AA he will probably start his season there with the possibility of joining the major league rotation by mid-season, if he continues to dominate hitters in the minors.

16. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Colombian is not big at 6′0″ but his fastball shoots across the plate in the mid-90s, hitting in the high 90s on occasion. The Padres signed him for $130,000. He does throw two good breaking pitches, as well as a change that should improve with more use. At 20 years old he was one of the youngest players in AA. In the California League opponents hit him at a .192 clip and he struck out 113 hitters in just 87 innings. Two more dominant starts in AA (1.17 ERA) show that he could be ready in 2020. Despite his small stature his innings total continue to rise, hitting 95 last season. The Padres will try to get him above 100 in 2020. With success in AA he could get a September callup with the Padres.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - With the trade of Sixto Sanchez the Phillies expected Adonis to step in his place as the fireballing Dominican with a mid-90s fastball. The Phillies got a bargain with Adonis, signing him for just $70,000 in 2014. In addition to his mid-90s fastball Adonis has a swing and miss slider and solid change that gives his fastball a greater velocity look. In 2018 his ERA rose by a run to 4.12. The Phillies were hoping for a bounce back season for him in 2019 but a poor second half saw his ERA climb to 4.94. His secondary pitches have been inconsistent allowing opponents to sit on his fastball, raking him at a .254 clip. With his stuff he should put up better numbers. The 2020 season will be a critical one for him. He could see his second season in AA. If he does well during the season the Phillies could promote him to their major league staff. But Spencer Howard has leap frogged Adonis as their possible first choice for the rotation.

18. Kyle Wright (Braves) - Kyle was a first round pick of the Braves in 2017. The Braves seem to have a bucketful of pitchers in their minor league system and any one of them can slip into the rotation with a good season. Wright worked four major league starts and failed miserably (8.94 ERA) showing a lack of command that allowed hitters to swat him at a .304 rate. His 4.17 ERA in AAA may have been hurt by the super juiced baseballs that saw 13 of his pitches leave the yard. His fastball is electric, crossing the plate in the mid-90s with the potential to hit high 90s, with two quality breaking pitches and an above average change. So the pitches are there for him to have success. He just needs to find the strike zone once he reaches the major leagues. With a good spring he could fit into the rotation, but the Braves will probably start him in AAA and call him up when they have a need.

19. Justin Dunn (Mariners) - Justin was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. They included him in a trade with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. It could be a trade that could haunt the Mets if Cano and Diaz do not have better years. Dunn sits at the lower end of the mid-90s. His two breaking balls have the potential to be quality pitches but his change still needs work. Dunn pitched well at AA (3.55 ERA), striking out 158 hitters in just 131 innings and limiting the opposition bats to a .236 average. This earned him a promotion to the Mariners where there was some good (2.70 ERA and .105 opposition average) and some ugly (9 walks in just 6.2 innings) in his outings. He showed pretty decent command in AA walking just 39 in 131.2 innings. The Mariners will probably start him in AAA next year and see how he performs before promoting him to the Mariners in 2020.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - The Dominican signed for $150,000 in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery shortly after. He has put on some weight to his 6′1″ frame since, carrying 265 pounds. That has to be watched if he wants to remain effective. The extra weight has allowed his fastball to climb into the triple digits and sit in the high 90s. His secondary pitches need to improve if he hopes to stay in the rotation. The slider has some swing and miss qualities, but he needs to develop a slower pitch to keep hitters off balance. He pitched well enough in the minors with a .179 opposition average to earn a callup to the Twins. There he pitched in the bullpen and was hit a little more often (.278). Next year he may start the season in the rotation at AAA. How the Twins use him will depend on their need in 2020.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top ten lefthanded pitching prospects in the minor leagues. In the past lefthanders were not noted for their blazing fastball, but this group has a couple arms that can throw heat. Three teams account for six of the ten lefthanders.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - He may be the best minor league pitching prospect in baseball, not just the best lefthander. The Padres made him the third pick of the 2017 draft. He dominated that year in seven starts, limiting opponents to a .184 average with 14.3 whiffs per nine innings. The 2018 season was plagued by blister problems which prevented him from gripping the ball. That did not seem to be a problem last year as he dominated the California League (1.02 ERA and .137 average). A promotion to AA saw a few more struggles (4.15 ERA) but he is ready to tackle that level again in 2020. Gore is not a flame thrower with a fastball that sits on the upper edges of the low 90s. It is his ability to throw three above average secondary pitches with excellent command that sets him apart from the other pitchers. He could see some time with the Padres next year if the Padres feel they need him to fuel a playoff appearance. If no playoffs are in sight there is no incentive for the team to promote Gore too early.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals made Jesus their third round pick in 2016. They traded him and Blake Treinen to the Athletics in a desperate call for bullpen help, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Ironic that Treinen became one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018. Jesus was also a student from Parkland High, which was subject to a mass shooting a year after he left. A left shoulder strain delayed the start of his 2019 season and limited him to just 11 minor league appearances. He did well enough that he got to appear in relief in six major league games, limiting hitters to a .119 average. Luzardo throws heat, hitting the high 90s with his fastball but sitting in the mid-90s. His secondary stuff is not as strong as Gore, but he does have command of his pitches, which sometimes is half the battle. He could compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but if he fails to make it expect to see him before mid-season. He did have Tommy John surgery prior to the draft back in 2016, which was one of the reasons he dropped to the third round. He also became the first player born in Peru to play in the major leagues.

3. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - The Athletics have two of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball. Puk was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2016 draft. A good spring in 2018 appeared to win him a spot in the Athletics rotation but a torn UCL in spring resulted in Tommy John surgery and an absence from the 2018 season. He got a late start to the 2019 season and the Athletics used him mostly out of the bullpen. Control issues left his minor league ERA high (4.97) but the Athletics saw enough to promote him to the major league club where it dropped to 3.18. Puk may be best in the bullpen with a fastball that easily hits the high 90s and a nasty slider. He is still working on a consistent third pitch and his command is spotty, which leaves a starting rotation spot up in the air unless he can improve those skills. Expect him to make the Athletics in 2020, either in their rotation or as a setup part time closer.

4. Brendan McKay (Rays) - The Rays drafted McKay with the fourth pick in the 2017 draft with the intent of making him a two way player. In college he was primarily a hitter that was used as a starter, winning the Golden Spikes award because of his bat (.341, 18, 57), but also showing some promise with the arm (11-3, 2.56). When he got to the Rays his arm soon surpassed his bat, resulting in a quick promotion to the majors. While they may use him as a DH it appears McKay will be needed most in the starting rotation. He dominated in the minor leagues in 13 starts (1.10 ERA) last year but not so much in the majors in 11 starts (5.14 ERA). His bat was absent most of the year (.200, .629 OPS). McKay has excellent command of his pitches, with a fastball that sits just below 95 and quality secondary pitches that should get better the more he pitches. Expect him to be in the starting rotation for the Rays in 2020.

5. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles had a number of exceptional performances from their starting pitchers last year in the minor leagues. Hall was at the top of that list. The 2017 first round pick was a strikeout machine, whiffing 116 hitters in just 80.2 innings in High A. The opposition only hit .189 off him. The fastball screams across the plate with a combination of heat and movement, making it a tough pitch to make solid contact. He can supplement that heat with a solid changeup that could still use some improvement in consistency. The big issue is finding the plate. Last year he walked 54 batters in 80.2 innings. This left his ERA at a high 3.46 and kept his innings count low. Next year Hall should see AA Bowie with an opportunity to pitch for the Orioles in 2021.

6. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The Cubs are always in search of pitching, but they may have found an arm they signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 for $600,000. He stands at 6′4″ and his fastball was clocked at 99 last year. Last year was his first season in full season ball and he finished the season with lots of whiffs (128 in 103.2 innings) and a low opposition batting averages (.224). His secondary pitches need improvement and he needs to find the plate more, last year walking almost one hitter every two innings. Next year he should repeat high A with a late season promotion to AA. His debut with Cubs should be sometime late in 2021.

7. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers traded for Franklin Perez and have three starting pitchers who were first round picks that they hope will eventually see the rotation. Tarik was a ninth round pick in 2018 that has come out of nowhere to put his name in the hat. Myworld would be surprised if anyone put him on a top 30 prospect list after he was drafted. Last year he was one of the Tigers best pitchers, striking out 179 hitters in 122.2 innings and limiting the opposition to a .196 average. This now puts him ahead in the depth chart of a few number one draft picks. His fastball can go north of 95 but it generally sits at the southern range with lots of late life that makes him difficult to hit. His curveball is his swing and miss pitch, but his change needs to gain more consistency if he wants to continue to fool hitters as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he pitched well in AA so that could portend a major league opportunity in 2020. The Tigers have a couple pitchers who could get an opportunity to pitch before Tarik so he may have to wait until 2021.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian was the ace of the Cuban Under 15 rotation when they won the gold medal back in 2014. It netted him the MVP award. Two years later, as a 16 year old, he had already defected to the United States. The Padres whipped out a $11 million bonus to sign him. Adrian has not dominated at the minor league level, despite having a fastball that registers between 93-97. He is only 20 years old and pitching in AA so maturing is still an issue. His large body frame (6′1″, 210) has struggled to stay healthy, which has prevented him from pitching the innings he needs to refine his pitches. Despite his young age, the Padres promoted him to the major leagues, but he had little success (10.13 ERA and .385 opposition average in 8 innings). The Padres should start him at AAA next year, watch his innings count and if he stays healthy and has success promote him mid-season. He won’t be the ace of a rotation like he was for his 15 and under team, but he will make a solid mid-rotation starter.

9. Justus Sheffield (Mariners) - Justus has bounced around. The Indians drafted him in the first round in 2014, traded him to the Yankees for Andrew Miller in 2016. The Yankees had him packing his bags again after the 2018 season, trading him to Seattle for James Paxton. Sheffield had a good minor league season in 2018 resulting in a promotion to the Yankees in September. Last year he struggled to throw strikes, which resulted in a number of homerun balls (12) and walks (41) in his 55 innings of work in AAA. A demotion to AA saw his numbers improve and gave the Mariners a reason to promote him to their big league club. Justus throws in the mid -90s and gets swings and misses with his slider. Throwing strikes has been his biggest challenge. Expect him to compete for a starting rotation spot in 2020.

10. Matthew Liberatore (Rays) - The 2018 first round pick of the Rays does not have a heater that spits fire as it crosses the plate. He sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid-90s if he reaches back and slings it. He stands at 6′5″ so he has an intimidating plane when he stands on the mound. His curveball is his best pitch, garnering most of his swings and misses. He also shows a quality changeup that seems to make his fastball show more carry as it crosses the plate. In his first full season Matthew pitched well in low A, putting together a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts. He generates a lot of ground balls, coughing up only two long balls in his 78.1 innings of work. Next year the Rays will start him at High A with a promotion to AA more likely in 2021. Rays fans may see him as a September callup in 2021,