Archive for the 'Twins' Category

Top Canadian Prospects

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 100 to 91

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

It is kind of a funky list. We used Baseball America, MLB.com, Razball, Rotoball and Prospects 365. Razball and Prospects 365 seemed to be on the same page in ignoring top pitching prospects like Mackenzie Gore, Nate Pearson, Spencer Howard, Max Meyer, Matthew Liberatore, Clark Schmidt and Michael Kopech, creating a little lower rating for these players than is probably expected.

100. Gilberto Jimenez OF (Red Sox) - The Red Sox signed Gilberto for just $10,000 in 2017. His speed in centerfield is his top carrying tool, creating a stellar defensive centerfielder who can cause havoc on the basepaths once he arrives in the major leagues. He lacks power, but won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average his first season stateside. Gilberto is a slap hitter who likes to go the opposite way. Only 20 percent of his hits went for extra bases. As he matures he could get stronger, but expecting double digit homerun totals from him is asking a lot. It will still be about three years before Red Sox fans see him patrolling center field, but if he can remind fans of Johnny Damon he will be well worth the wait.

99. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - Jordan slipped to the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The Canadian righthander had the intent to play for Auburn. At 6′5″ 215 pounds he can be very intimidating on the mound, especially after he throws his mid 95-97 mile per hour fastball past the plate. The path through the minors has been slow so far. He only reached High A in 2019 and last year did not pitch in any regular games. The starters repertoire is there with his slider and change as decent second and third pitches. In 2019 he created a lot of swings and misses with his slider, recording a 129 to 93 walk to innings pitched ratio. Jordan could start the 2021 season in AA putting him on the spot light to the Twins rotation around 2023.

98. Lewin Diaz 1B (Marlins) - At one point Lewin was a Twin. They traded him to the Marlins for relief help (Sergio Romo). The Twins signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million. At 6′4″ he packs a lot of power. The 2019 season was his breakout year when he hit 27 homeruns. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base. Normally a decent contact hitter for someone carrying his kind of power he struggled in a Marlins call up in 2020, hitting just .154 with a .205 slugging percentage. He struck out 12 times in 39 at bats. His career minor league average is .268 so that could be an aberration. He will get another opportunity to show he belongs in the major leagues, though it may have to wait until the return of the designated hitter to the National League in 2022.

97. Jordyn Adams OF (Angels) - The Angels outfield is crowded with Mike Trout and prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh set to surround him at the corners. Jordyn was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017 and is only 21 years old so they can wait for him. He has terrific speed, the kind of athlete who could have played college football for North Carolina after graduating from high school. At 6′2″ he has some power to go with that speed. In 2019 he slugged 8 homeruns while stealing 16 bases. When he is ready to be called up to the outfield for the Angels Mike Trout may have to shift to a corner outfield position. Don’t expect that to happen until 2024.

96. Aaron Bracho 2B (Indians) - Aaron was a $1.5 million bonus baby signing by the Indians in 2017 out of Venezuela. Signed as a shortstop he lacks the tools to stay there in a full time role. The Indians hope he turns into an offensive oriented second sacker. He makes good contact with a 28/29 walk to whiff ratio. The ability to hit the gaps for power is there as well, with a .570 slugging percentage in short season ball in 2019. There are no tools that stand out but he also has no glaring weaknesses. Aaron could fit in a utility role if a starting job is not available. That won’t happen until sometime in 2023.

95. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - Keibert is currently blocked by Will Smith in the major leagues, but many consider Ruiz the better defensive catcher. Smith arrived first in the major leagues and showed the ability to hit. Keibert was signed for $140,000 out of Venezuela in 2014. He may be a better defensive catcher but he needs to show effectiveness with the bat. His power falls far short of Smith but he did homer in his first major league at bat. His major league showing was only for two games, where he hit .250 in eight at bats. Injuries have slowed Ruiz ascent to the major leagues, limiting him to just 85 games in 2019. The Dodgers will start him in AAA in 2021 to give him his at bats. At some point the Dodgers will have to choose between Ruiz or Smith as their starting catcher and trade the other.

94. Hunter Bishop OF (Giants) - The Giants are starting to stock up on outfielders, with Heliot Ramos, Bishop and Alexander Canario a good threesome to work from. Hunter was the Giants first round pick in 2019. At 6′5″ he has the typical look of a major league right fielder but the speed is there to patrol center. He shows a lot of patience at the plate, but perhaps too much with a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio in 32 games for the 2019 season. A wide receiver in high school he has the athleticism to make an impact with his speed in centerfield and his bat for power. The Giants do not expect him to patrol their outfield until 2023.

93. Randy Arozarena OF (Rays) - There are a number of rookies who put on quite a power display in the major leagues, but are never heard from again after their rookie season. We don’t expect that to happen to Randy, but we also don’t expect the homerun barrage he put on in the playoffs and his .641 slugging percentage in 2020 with the Rays. Myworld always wondered why the Cardinals did not give Arozarena an opportunity to play in their outfield, but they traded him for Matthew Liberatore, who may have a greater long term impact. Randy was singed for $1.25 million out of Cuba in 2016. The biggest change in his game was elevating his swing, turning ground balls into fly balls. If that power continues he could become the coveted five tool superstar who patrols centerfield for the Rays until they can no longer afford him. They will at least have him for the 2021 season.

92 Heston Kjerstad OF (Orioles) - Heston was an early second pick in the 2020 draft by the Orioles. A couple players were projected to go with that pick, but the Orioles are not complaining. He was considered to have the best lefthanded power in the draft, so he should be bouncing balls off the scoreboard in right field at Camden Yards in a couple years. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. He also proved himself on the International scene becoming one of the best hitters on the United States college national team. Since there was no 2020 minor league season Heston may start in extended spring training before being given a chance to perform in High A. As a college player he could rise quickly, with an arrival in the Orioles lineup as early as late 2022.

91. A. J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - If not for the injuries this 6′7 lefthander would already be an established major league starter. He has had two seasons where he was expected to pitch in the Athletics starting rotation, but injuries limited his participation. The 2016 first round pick has a piercing fastball that can hit triple digits as it crosses the plate, consistently hitting the high 90s. A lack of command has also created some difficulty for him, making some think that his best fit may be in the bullpen. His fastball and slider are a deadly combination and his change is decent enough to make it work in the rotation. The Athletics will hope the third time in the starting rotation is the charm in 2021. If injuries continue to slay him perhaps it is time to move him to the bullpen where he could fit in the closer role.

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Left Field Prospects

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

This position holds the cream of the crop. Everyone signed out of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela seems to start out as a shortstop, even Miguel Cabrera. Many of them eventually move to second or third base, or even the outfield. Some because they have gotten bigger as they have matured so they lack the range to play the position, others because a player ahead of them also plays shortstop and the bat is there to put him in the lineup at another position. Because of this, we are going to rank 20 players at this position.

1. Wander Franco (Rays) - Wander is possibly the number one ranked prospect in baseball. So was Jurickson Profar and Yoan Moncada at one time. That ranking does not carry with it automatic stardom in the major leagues, but Wander does have a big time bat that has hit over .300 at each level he has played in the minor leagues. During his 2019 season he reached full season ball, and compared to the Rookie Leagues, his power numbers dropped a little. The Rays don’t question the bat, expecting it to hit 30 plus homeruns and hit over .300 consistently in the major leagues. What is impressive about those power numbers is that he has an 83/54 walk to whiff ratio during that two year period, facing pitchers that are three to four years older than him. His speed is not great so his range is limited at the position. The Rays already have Willy Adames at short. By the time Franco is ready for short, it may also be the time the Rays are prepared to cut salary and say goodbye to Adames. Wander should see some major league time by 2022. He went down to the Dominican to get some playing time since he did not have a 2020 season, but that was cut short as he was forced to return to the United States to have a look at his injury.

2. Bobby Witt Jr (Royals) - The 2019 first round pick has a leaner build than Franco. He is also projected to have a little more power and settle as a better fielder. What Witt won’t be able to do is hit with the consistency of Franco. He has more swing and miss plate appearances, which translates into weaker bat to ball contact, lowering that batting average as he faces more superior pitching. Myworld saw him swinging an aluminum bat at the homerun derby during the All Star break. He was top dog in the competition. Witt has a father of the same name who was a pitcher in major league baseball. The legs carry good speed, which equates to good range at shortstop. There is confidence that he has the defensive tools to stay at the position. The biggest concern is improving his ability to make contact. Witt had no 2020 season, so that put a quiet stall in his development. Myworld expects him to make his major league debut some time around the end of 2022.

3. Jazz Chisholm (Marlins) - The Bahama native was originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2015 for $200,000. Signed the same year out of the Bahamas was another shortstop Lucius Fox, who you do not see on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him straight up in 2019 for Zac Gallen. In the last two years in the minors he has shown enough power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The bat has shown many holes with a .220 average in 2019 and whiffs of greater than 140 in those two seasons. He did get to play a bit for the Marlins in 2020, hitting just .161 over just 21 games. His tendency to swing and miss lessoned and he appeared to show better discipline at the plate the more he plays. The defensive tools are there to play a quality shortstop. If he can tweak his discipline at the plate he could become a multiple all star at the position. The 2021 season will see him start at AAA with another callup to the Marlins if he does well.

4. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The first pick in the 2017 draft has been a top prospect for so long that sometimes you take him for granted. In his 2019 minor league season he reached AA, but with the Twins in a playoff race, they did not see a reason to call him up for the 2020 season. Royce had what you could call a down 2019 season, hitting just .236 in a season split between A and AA. His OBA was a dreadful .290. That is far below his two previous seasons when he hit .279 or greater. He seemed to lack patience at the plate in 2019 with a strikeout to walk rate at better than 3 to one, much worse than his previous two seasons. Royce is one of the fastest players in the minors and could use his speed in centerfield, where the Twins used him a bit in 2019. His bat is anticipated to play in the majors and it could show 20 plus homerun pop if he can make more consistent, solid contact. The 2021 season should finally see his arrival with the Twins.

5. Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets already have two solid shortstops competing for a job in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. Ronny could make it a third, though at 6′3″ he could bulk up too much to force a move to third. Since the lack of speed is one of his only down sides, he may lack the range to play short in the major leagues. His bat is expected to hit. The Mets signed him for $2.1 million in 2017. In 2019 he reached Low A, hitting .268 with four homeruns. His walk to whiff ratio was a concerning 23/99, which is a major reason Rosario has struggled with major league pitching. The Mets anticipate that his power will develop enough for a move to third base. Any major league time probably won’t be seen until late 2022 at the earliest.

6. Marco Luciano (Giants) - Marco signed with the Giants in 2018 for $2.6 million. They hope he turns out better than Lucius Fox, who they signed for $6 million, but traded away for a song. Marco is a different player than Lucius, one who can hit for power. He only got to play 47 games in the minors in 2019, but he hit 10 homeruns with a .564 slugging percentage. He batted .302 with a 32/45 walk to whiff ratio. If his walk percentage continues that trend he will be a slugging bat who gets on base a lot. A shortstop that hits .300 with 30 plus homeruns and a .400 OBA would be a dream for the Giants. As with Mauricio, speed is not a big part of his game, so a move to third base looks to be in his future. Myworld does not anticipate him being with the Giants until 2023.

7. Austin Martin (Blue Jays) - Myworld saw Austin in the College World Series in 2019. The 2020 season was cancelled early but Austin was good enough to be a first round pick in 2020. That means there are no stats on Austin. He hit .392 in college with a high OBA. The power was not great and is expected to be above average. He also played multiple positions with Vanderbilt. Many conjectured that he would be the first player selected in the draft but he fell to being the fifth pick. His ultimate position could be centerfield or second base since he had problems with consistency at shortstop with Vanderbilt. The bat though should allow him to reach the majors quickly, say sometime in 2022.

8. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - If the 6′7″ O’Neil can bend down to play shortstop consistently, why not allow him to play. The consensus is the Dominican with the rocket arm will eventually move to right field. The power in his bat is immense, with the potential to hit 40 plus homeruns per year. Making consistent contact is not a major problem but he could always seek improvement, with walk to whiff ratios around 30/100. Despite his large frame, speed is not a weakness. The 2020 season was a wasted season of development. He stayed in the Dominican where he got into a car accident in which two people were killed. What kind of impact this will have on his psyche for the future is open for question. Last year he reached AA, so it is a concern the Pirates did not have room for him to work out in the alternate camp. Maybe that is why they are the Pirates and fail to develop their prospects. Cruz is playing in the Dominican Winter League and should see some major league playing time late in 2021.

9. Anderson Tejeda (Rangers) - Anderson was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for just $100,000. He seemed to have a nice breakout season in 2018 when he hit 19 homeruns. His 2019 season was cut short to 43 games because of an injured shoulder. He got an opportunity to play with the Rangers in 2020, making his major league debut and hitting three homeruns in 23 games. One of the major issues with Tejeda is poor strike zone discipline, with walk to whiff ratios of 40/130. That will keep his batting averages at .250 or below unless he improves that discipline. His speed is just a tick above average, so there is concern about his range at short. He does make up for that with one of the strongest arms in the minor leagues. With a good spring Tejeda could be the starting shortstop for the Rangers in 2021.

10. Jose Garcia (Reds) - The Cuban prospect surprised many with his power swing in spring training. Power is not expected to be his strong suit. At 6′2″ he is not considered a small guy so perhaps some power is developing. The Reds signed Garcia for his smooth defense. He improved his bat in 2019, advancing to High A and hitting .280 with an OBA of .343 (compared to .245/290). What was surprising is the Reds called him up early to play shortstop during their playoff run last season. He struggled with a .194 average and a 1/26 walk to whiff for a .206 OBA, but they still played him because of his defense. None of his 13 hits went for extra bases. He will probably need another season in the minors, but the Reds could still have him return sometime in 2021.

11. C.J. Abrams (Padres) - A 2019 first round pick by the Padres is tough to tag. He had a nice minor league debut hitting .393 with a .647 slugging. All but two of his 34 games were played in Rookie ball. He runs with the wind, ala Trea Turner, stealing 15 bases in those 34 games. If his Rookie League stats can be deciphered accurately he makes good contact with a 11/14 walk to whiff ratio. The defensive tools exist to play shortstop, including a strong arm. However, with all that speed he may be best utilized in center field. Abrams has a long way to reach the Padres. When he does, if he wants to play shortstop he will have to usurp Tatis Jr. The Padres will probably not have to make that decision until 2023, with a possible late season callup in 2022.

12. Geraldo Perdomo (Diamondbacks) - Perdomo was a bargain signing at $70,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. In 2019 he played in A ball, showing the ability to make good contact, but lacking in power. His career walk to whiff ratio is 169/148 with a batting average of .278. There is some gap power but currently his slugging average is a wimpish .368. At 6′2″ he could develop more power but not to the detriment of his defense. He has Gold Glove potential for the position so anything his bat can do is a plus. The lack of any organized play in 2020 hurt his development process so the best Geraldo can hope for in his major league debut is sometime late 2022.

13. Jordan Groshans (Blue Jays) - Bo Bichette is the current Blue Jays shortstop with the newly drafted Austin Martin right behind him. At 6′3″ Jordan has the length to develop big time power. After hitting .296 with five homeruns in 48 games in his minor league debut in 2018, his 2019 season was cut short by a foot injury, limiting him to just 23 games. With the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season the development process has been slowed even further. Currently, Jordan’s hits are gap to gap with the potential to send more of those balls over the fence as he gains strength. Jordan has the potential to hit for power and average. His speed is a tick above average, which could slow after he matures, meaning a move to third base. His power at short is not as beneficial to the team if he has to move to third. The Jays have time to develop him so myworld does not expect to see him playing with the Blue Jays before 2022.

14. Bryson Stott (Phillies) - The 2019 first round pick has all the tools except for power. That could develop with time as his 6′3″ frame develops. He slugged six homeruns in 48 games in his 2019 minor league debut. His ability to draw walks and spank the ball to the opposite field could make him an ideal number two hitter. The tools are there to stick at short as an above average defensive player. Stott is a college drafted player so he needs to rise quickly after a wasted 2020 season. Expect the Phillies to push for his major league debut time to be 2021.

15. Robert Puason (Athletics) - Puason was a recent 2019 signing, eliciting a bonus from the Athletics for $5.1 million. That is a lot of cheddar. At 6′3″ his body is currently lean and stringy. The strength can come as he matures. He currently has good speed, but he does not want to lose that with bulk. A strong arm and plus range makes him a potential Gold Glove shortstop. All we can go on now is his high signing bonus, second to potential Yankee super star outfielder Jasson Dominguez, and the reports that all his tools have the potential to be above major league average. His start time in the majors will have to wait until 2024.

16. Gabriel Arias (Indians) - The Venezuelan prospect was signed by the Padres in 2016 for $1.9 million. His bat is still a little soft but his glove is golden. Gabriel saw some power break out in 2019 when he slugged 17 homeruns and raised his slugging average from 2018 120 points to .470. The Padres included Gabriel in a trade with the Indians for Mike Clevenger. With Abrams and Tatis Jr. at shortstop the Padres are stacked. He needs to show better plate discipline if he hopes to achieve offensive success. He has a 78/344 walk to whiff ratio in his minor league career. The Indians have been talking about trading Francisco Lindor. Arias is probably a couple steps from taking the reigns at short, so do not expect a major league debut until sometime late in 2022.

17. Oswald Peraza (Yankees ) - Yankee prospects can sometimes be a bit over hyped. Peraza was signed for just $175,000 in 2016. He reached A ball in 2019. His batting averages have hovered around .260 and he has yet to hit over 4 homeruns. leaving him with a slugging average of just .346. The Yankees hope the tools defy the numbers. The speed is there to steal 23 bases in 2019 and provide the range to play short. The arm is strong. The power may always lack. With the Yankees prospects like Peraza are normally used as trade bait to acquire a veteran to make a playoff run. Trusting a rookie shortstop not named Derek Jeter to play a critical position for a win now team is not to be expected. Perhaps he will see a platoon role for the Yankees sometime in 2022.

18. Tyler Freeman (Indians) - We just see a little too much average in the 2017 first round supplemental pick. He has hit well with a .319 career minor league average, including a .352 average in rookie ball in 2018. Over the fence power is absent, but he does have the ability to spray the gaps to hit 61 doubles his last two seasons. The speed is not supposed to be great, but he has the savvy to steal 19 bases in 2019. His defensive tools may be better used in a utility role, lacking the power to play corner and the range to play short. He could see that role in 2022.

19. Keoni Cavaco (Twins) - A 2019 first round pick, he played at Eastlake High School, which is where my niece went to school. Myworld has to give him props for that. His one and only season of 25 games he hit just .172, with a 4/35 walk to whiff ratio. That is very foreboding. He was primarily a third baseman in high school, but the Twins have been impressed with his tools at short. Obviously he will have to improve his discipline at the plate if he wishes to hit for average. He is still a far cry from any major league consideration, possibly late 2023.

20. Yasel Antona (Nationals) - The last player on a Top 20 list is normally someone special. Not that any of his tools are anything special, but Yasel is above average in all phases. He also seemed to show some increased pop in camp that had a lot of players going “Wow”. The Nationals signed him in 2016 for $3.9 million. Tommy John surgery ended his 2018 season early and he only saw three games in 2019. In 2018 he was only hitting .220 with a .331 slugging. So most of the reason he appears on this list is because of hype. A lack of speed may force him to move to third, where the power needs to show if he wants to play. Expect that to be sometime in late 2022.

Top First Base Prospects

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Catching Prospects for 2021

Friday, November 6th, 2020

It is tough to rate minor leaguers when you have not had a chance to see them play. This is the first time myworld can remember not attending a ball game since probably a decade since many of these players were born. There will not be a lot of diamond in the rough prospects on this list. Just your solid minor leaguers and high draft choices. Let’s hope the 2021 season allows them to have a minor league season to develop their game playing skills.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - Matt Wieters got a lot of hype but fell short of expectations, but he was not a first overall pick. Adley has no 2020 stats, but he was the first overall pick. In 2019 his bat showed some power. As a sophomore in college he led Oregon State to the College World Series championship, so he knows how to win and lead a pitching staff. His defense and arm are above average. The only skill he is not above average at is his speed, but that is typical for catchers. In 2019 he reached Low A. Expect a step up to High A in 2021 with a quick promotion to AA if he achieves any kind of success. He has the potential to be a repeat All Star appearance catcher.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - Buster Posey chose to opt out of the 2020 season. That gave Joey an opportunity to get a late callup to the Giants. The shortened season also allowed him to keep his rookie status, despite playing almost half the season. His bat was a little quiet in 2020, hitting just .233 with very little power (.320 slugging). His two seasons in the minors in 2018 and 2019 he slugged .532 with a combined 29 homeruns. With Buster Posey returning in 2021 the Giants can afford to let Bart marinate a bit in AA with a quick promotion to AAA. Another solid defensive player with an above average arm who can break out for power. Expect him to be a major league regular by 2022 with some additional part time playing opportunities next year.

3. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Huff may have the best power potential in this group. His defense is not as strong but his arm is still above average. At 6′5″ he may be a little too tall to be a catcher, but he moves well behind the dish. The Rangers gave him his major league debut this year after he never appeared above A ball last year. In 10 games he hit a robust .355 with three homeruns. He does have the propensity to swing and miss, but when he makes contact the exit velocities hit triple digits. Ten games are not enough to measure a player’s success. Huff will probably start the season in AA next year with some more major league time in the offering.

4. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets will say good bye to Wilson Ramos. His fellow countryman Francisco is not yet ready to replace him, but he is inching closer. The Mets signed him for $2.7 million back in 2018. The 2019 season was his minor league debut where he showed off his bat in rookie ball, hitting seven homeruns and slugging .510. Besides having a good stick Francisco will not be starved for defense. His arm is above average and he moves well behind the plate. He should start the 2021 season in full season ball.

5. Luis Campusano (Padres) - Luis got a game in at the major league level after not getting past A ball in 2019. He hit his first professional homerun in his three at bat major league debut. He also struck in his other two at bats. Luis does not show big time power but he did break out to slug 15 homeruns in High A in 2019 and won the batting title with a .325 average. The Padres drafted him in the second round in 2017. His defense still needs a bit of refinement but his arm is above average, though he failed at gunning down baserunners in 2019. Luis should start the 2021 season in AA with a major league starting opportunity in 2022.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - With Will Smith behind the plate Keibert may have to move to another team to get significant playing time. A Smith injury allowed the Venezuelan prospect to make his two game major league debut. He slugged a homerun in his first at bat. His 2019 minor league season was powerless, with just six homeruns and a .347 slugging percentage. His power may not be as strong as Smith and his defense and arm would probably be considered average. That may not be enough to usurp Smith from the Dodger catching job. The 2021 season should see him begin it at AAA. His most valuable asset would be as trade bait, being a front line catcher for a play off contending club.

7. Shea Langaliers (Braves) - A first round pick in 2019. His defense and arm are so strong that if Shea can carry an average bat he will be an asset to the Braves. He has already surpassed William Contreras and Alex Jackson as the Braves catcher of the future. His bat does carry a little power but his .343 slugging at Low A in his minor league debut was a bit disappointing. The potential is there for double digit homerun power and the arm is probably the strongest of any catcher in this top ten group. Expect him to spend the 2021 season in High A with a major league debut in 2022.

8. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - Wilson Contreras has been the subject of trade rumors. Miguel could use a little more seasoning before replacing him. He did not get past A ball in 2019. The Panama native signed for $1 million in 2015. It has been a slow haul through the minor league system. There is some carry in his bat but there is a struggle to get consistent barrel on the ball contact. His defense is strong and his arm is above average. He could be the Cubs starting catcher by 2022, especially if they choose a rebuild but expect him to start the 2021 season in AA.

9. Tyler Stephenson (Reds) - The 2015 first round pick finally made his major league debut last year, hitting .294 with two homeruns in eight games. This was after a 2019 season in which he hit a career high .285. At 6′4″ he has a bit of length for a catcher but he has some solid defensive chops with an above average arm. Injuries have stalled his path to the major leagues, but now that he has reached that level he hopes not to return to the minors. With his large frame he gets high exit velocities when he makes contact. He could start the 2021 season in AAA or with a good spring get the call to lead the major league pitching staff.

10. Ryan Jeffers (Twins) - At 6′4″, another lengthy catcher. He got a major league callup in 2020, slugging three homeruns in 26 games and hitting .273. Ryan was a second round pick in 2018. The power could be there to develop into a 20 plus homerun major league catcher who is solid on defense with a strong arm. He will not be a Joe Mauer, but he could develop into a close facsimile. Next year he could start the season in AAA with another major league callup by mid season.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Many of last year’s top ten Canadian prospects graduated to the major leagues last year. The top four prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Mike Soroka, Tyler O’Neil and Josh Naylor all had impacts on their major league teams and are no longer considered rookies. Cal Quantrill, the number 6 prospect also pitched enough major league innings to no longer qualify for this top ten list. That leaves the pickings for this current top ten list very slim, with just three returners. There is no sure fire major leaguer among this list. It is possible we could have missed a player who lived in Canada long enough as a youth to qualify, but if we learn of him we’ll add him to the list for next year, like Abraham Toro..

1. Abraham Toro 3B (Astros) - Last year he did not make this list because we were not aware he was born in Canada. He may have been rated seventh on the list if we had known his origins last year. This year he was voted by Canadian baseball as the top Canadian player, which gave us a hint to look him up. He has some good offensive tools, hitting .306 in AA and then .424 in a 16 game AAA debut, which got him a promotion to Houston. He has Alex Bregman in his way at third, and his bat may not carry enough power to start at a corner infield spot. He did hit 19 homeruns last year, including two in the major leagues, so the power could be developing. Defensively he is a average to below average, so that will hinder him in his quest to start a third if his bat doesn’t develop. His best bet would be to earn a job as a bench player, perhaps playing some second base and left field.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - He is the younger brother of Josh and possibly the best bet to win regular major league time. Josh weighs in at over 250 while Bo is a more svelte 190. The Indians drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft. His bat shows decent gap power with 18 doubles and 10 triples and there was enough power to carry 11 balls over the fence. The 10 triples tells you he has decent speed for a catcher, more than his brother Bo who is trying to make it as an outfielder. His arm is strong and his defensive tools are strong enough to stay behind the plate. Next year he should see time in High A.

3. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - Adam is more a defensive shortstop. The Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. His one big attribute is his speed which allowed him to steal 22 bases in 2018 and 33 in 2019. His bat has also been decent the last two years, hitting just a few points shy of .300 both years. The power is limited with slugging averages less than .400 and as he rises up the ranks those numbers could decrease. His best bet may be to make it as a utility player if the bat does not improve. His defense will play.

4. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - The Twins waited until the fifth round in 2016 to draft Jordan. His first two seasons did not light any fires to draw the scouts attention, but last year he had a breakout season, striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings between Low A and High A. He also limited the opposition to a .193 average. The fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he complements it with a quality slider and change. Next year will be key when he will face more advanced AA hitters.

5. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Dasan was the first Canadian selected in the 2019 draft, the Blue Jays grabbing him in the third round. Speed and the ability to cover centerfield will be his game. His bat does not show a lot of power now, but he was one of the youngest players selected in the draft so it could develop as he matures. He has excellent bat speed. With his speed defensively he should cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Last year he hit just .222 in 14 Rookie league games. He may have to start the season in extended spring, get a few games of Rookie league ball in him and with success move on up to Low A.

6. Otto Lopez SS/2B (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but his parents moved to Canada when he was young. He got his start playing ball in Canada before his dad moved him down to the Dominican where he felt he could get a better opportunity to be seen by major league scouts. The Blue Jays signed him for $60,000. Not much was thought of him until he hit .324 in Low A, winning the Midwest League batting title. Lopez is not flashy for shortstop so his best bet would be at second base or in a utility role.

7. Tristan Pompey OF (Marlins) - The younger brother of Dalton. Dalton may have the more impressive tools but injuries hurt his major league development time. Tristan was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, much earlier than his brother Dalton who had to wait until the 16th round in 2010. Tristan has above average speed, but his arm is short and will limit him to left field. At 6′4″ he could develop some power in the bat to fit in left field. Last year he started the season in extended spring training, got a late callup and struggled with a .194 average in the Florida State League. His .271 slugging with no homeruns needs to improve.

8. Brandon Markland RHP (Royals) - Brandon was a player who never got drafted after a high school or college (Bryan College) career. It was only after he pitched in the Coastal Plain Independent League that he got some interest in a team from Australia, the Auckland Tuatara, who are actually a team from New Zealand that plays in the ABL. The Royals found his mid-90s fastball there getting Australian hitters out with ease. In his first season stateside he finished with a 0.46 ERA, getting lots of ground ball outs and limiting the opposition to a .162 average. He is probably destined for the bullpen because of his control issues and ability to only throw two quality two (fastball and slider). At 23 years of age he might have been a bit old for Low A.

9. Andy Yerzy 1b/C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. Last year Andy split his time between catching and first base. His tools to stay behind the plate are limited. While he has a little bit of pop, his bat may not have enough to stay at first base. He struggled at High A, hitting just .104 in 33 games, resulting in a demotion back to Low A. He did hit six homeruns in Low A but his .220 average was 70 points lower than his 2018 average. The 2020 season will be a critical season where he needs to replicate the slugging numbers he put up in 2017 and 2018.

10. Adam Macko LHP (Mariners) - He was born in Slovakia and just missed making the European list. The Mariners drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. The other choice for this slot would be Demi Orimoloye, who is blessed with tools but has trouble making contact. Adam studied pitching in Slovakia by watching YouTube videos of David Price and Justin Verlander. He moved to Ireland where he played for a Little League team ironically named the Mariners and then moved to Alberta, Canada. He doesn’t throw hard, with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, but he relies on his breaking pitches and command to retire hitters. In Rookie ball he struck out 31 hitters in 21 innings and limited the opposition to a .224 average. As he climbs up the minor league ladder he will find better hitters who have the ability to hit breaking pitches if he lacks the command to throw them where they can’t be hit.

Major League Farm Rankings - 15 - 6

Friday, February 28th, 2020

These are the next 10 as ranked by myworld. Last week we ranked 30-16. Since there are more prospects to write about we limited this list to the next ten and will finish out the final five next week.

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (14.32)

This is a team filled with mid-level prospects. The cream could be Bahamian outfielder Kristian Robinson, who they signed for $2.5 million in 2017 and another outfielder, 2018 second round pick Alek Thomas, who in two years has a .312 minor league average. Their 2019 first round pick Corbin Carroll will fill out their future outfield. Catcher Daulton Varsho is about to make his presence known with a .301 average and 18 homeruns in AA last year. Geraldo Perdomo is a smooth fielding shortstop who carries very little power. Another Dominican shortstop, Liover Peguero, who was signed a year after Geraldo will have the better bat but not the better glove. Seth Beer was drafted in the first round by the Astros but traded to the Diamondbacks. He has a big time bat but his best position may be DH, a position that does not yet exist in the National League.

Blake Walston is a left handed pitcher to watch. He stands 6′5″, was drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft and lights the radar in the mid-90s. Two other players drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft are Brennan Malone and Drey Jameson, both righthanded pitchers. Brennan has the height (6′4″) and the fastball to achieve success while Drey stands just 6′0″ but has a swing and miss curveball. Pavin Smith is a first baseman/outfielder with a good hit tool that lacks elevation. Last year he slugged .466, which is a good sign.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (16.06)

The top prospect that lights up the radars in the triple digits is Nate Pearson, a first round pick in 2017. He could be in the Blue Jay rotation in 2020. Jordan Groshans was a 2018 first round pick who has a decent glove for short, but will probably need to move to third. The power bat is there for the corner spot. Don’t know how they will fit the name Simeon Woods Richardson on the back of his uniform but the 2018 second round pick has shown the ability to hit all four quadrants of the plate with a low 90s fastball with plus movement. Orelvis Martinez was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $3.51 million. He has impressive power but lacks the range to stick at short.

Others to watch are 2019 first round pick Alek Manoah, who in his debut struck out 14.3 hitters per nine innings with his mid-90s fastball.

13. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals traded two pretty good outfielders to improve the opportunity of 2016 first round pick Dylan Carson making the roster out of spring training. He hit .361 with five homeruns in his 18 game debut at AAA last year. Those outfielders were traded to acquire the Rays 2018 first round pick Matthew Liberatore, a lefthander with a mid-90s fastball. Nolan Gorman, the 2018 first round pick is a power bat that plays third base.

Zack Thompson was the Cardinals first round pick in 2019. He is a lefty who now has the best curveball in the organization. Elehuris Montero had an off year last year. The Dominican third baseman doesn’t have the power of Gorman but he should hit 20 plus homeruns per year. Malcolm Nunez is another third baseman who came from Cuba in 2018. He showed massive power his first year, slugging .774 with 13 homeruns in 44 games in Rookie ball. That power disappeared last year when promoted to Low A.

12. San Francisco Giants (20.46)

The Giants are rebuilding and what better way to start than the replacement for Buster Posey. Joey Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018, the second overall pick in the draft after Casey Mize. He will be a good hit and glove man behind the plate. Marco Luciano has some pretty impressive power with the tools to play shortstop. The Giants signed him for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. He could be the next Wander Franco. Heliot Ramos, the Giants first round pick in 2017 out of Puerto Rico will end the Giants dearth of weak hitting outfielders. Hunter Bishop, a 2019 first round pick and Venezuelan Luis Matos, who was also signed in 2018, could join Ramos in the outfield. Seth Corry, a 2017 third round pick dominated last year at Low A (9-3, 1.76 ERA) with a low to mid 90s fastball. Mauricio Dubon became the first player born in Honduras to play in the major leagues. He was acquired from the Brewers and should win the second base job this year.

Alexander Canario showed some impressive power in rookie ball with 16 homeruns in 59 games. He could be ready for a break out season in 2020 if he can avoid the strikeouts. Will Wilson was a first round pick in 2019 and hopes to fill a middle position with the Giants. His lack of speed could prevent a permanent job at shortstop. Jaylin Davis may not be a prospect next year after slugging 35 homeruns last year. The Giants acquired him from the Twins last year, who acquired him in the 24th round of the 2015 draft.

11. Minnesota Twins (20.75)

Royce Lewis was the first player selected in the 2017 draft. Last year he struggled with the bat, failing to get it over .250 but he could become a power hitting shortstop, or move to third if Polanco stays at short. Alex Kirilloff was a first round pick in 2016, had Tommy John surgery then came back to hit .348 with 20 homeruns. Injuries again plagued the outfielder last year (wrist) which sapped the power from his bat. Trevor Larnach led Oregon State to the College World Series championship in 2018. His power bat will join Alex in the outfield after being drafted by the Twins in the first round in 2018. Jordan Balazovic is a burley Canadian pitcher who saw his fastball hit the mid to high 90s last year. Brent Rooker is a defensively challenged outfielder who may move to first base where his power bat will fit. He was a first round supplemental first round pick in 2017.

Misael Urbina is an outfielder from Venezuela who played last year in the Dominican Summer League. He is a good contact hitter with good speed to play centerfield. Keoni Cavaco was the Twins 2019 first round pick. He struggled in his first year, hitting just .172.

10. Baltimore Orioles (20.76)

Adley Rutschman was the first player selected in the 2019 draft who also played on the Oregon State College World Series champions in 2018. If he can survive injuries behind the plate he will be a special kind of catcher with a power bat and top rated defensive skills. Grayson Rodriguez throws from the right side while D.L. Hall throws from the left. Grayson is a big 6′5″ fireballer of a pitcher with a fastball in the mid-90s drafted in the first round in 2018. Hall was a first round pick in 2017, is not as tall (6′0″) but has excellent stuff, including a fastball that consistently hits the mid-90s. His curveball is a knee bender for hitters. Ryan Mountcastle is a hitter without a position to play. The 2015 first round pick was the MVP of the International League with his 25 homeruns. Austin Hays recovered from his poor, injury prone 2018 season and is expected to win the centerfield job in 2020.

Gunnar Henderson was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft and signed him for $2.3 million. His tools may not fit at short but his power bat will look good at third. Adam Hall was also a second round pick (2017) but he is more a defensive shortstop with a questionable bat.

9. Oakland Athletics (21.22)

They have perhaps two of the best lefthanded pitchers in the minor leagues in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Injuries prevented them from making the Athletics rotation last year, but if they stay injury free this year they will be in the starting rotation. Jesus was a third round pick of the Nationals in 2016, dropping in the draft after Tommy John surgery in his senior year in high school. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 and had Tommy John surgery in 2018. Sean Murphy a 2016 third round pick may be one of the best defensive catchers in the game who could provide a little pop with the bat. Robert Puason was signed out of the Dominican for $5.1 million in 2019. He appears to be a smooth fielding shortstop who will have a good bat.

Logan Davidson was the Athletics first round pick in 2019. The son of ex-major league Mark has the tools to stick at short but the power to move to third. Lazaro Armenteros was supposed to be a Cuban sensation when he signed for $3 million in 2016. The bat has not justified the hype to this point, but last year he did hit 17 homeruns, despite a poor .222 average to go with 227 whiffs in 126 games. If he can figure out how to hit a breaking ball he could justify his 2016 hype.

8. Miami Marlins (22.38)

Sixto Sanchez is a fireballing Dominican the Marlins acquired from the Phillies. He is slight of frame and has durability issues, but the fastball sizzles in triple digits. Jesus Sanchez is a five tool outfielder the Marlins acquired from the Rays. The Dominican could win the centerfield job in 2020 if Lewis Brinson continues to struggle. JJ Bleday is a slugging right fielder out of Vanderbilt the Marlins selected with their first pick in the 2019 draft. Jazz Chisholm was acquired from the Diamondbacks. The shortstop was signed out of the Bahamas in 2015 and slugged 21 homeruns last year. The tools are there for him to be a power hitting shortstop. Edward Cabrera is another pitcher that can hit the radar in triple digits, but at 6′4″ the Dominican has a towering plane. Monte Harrison is the last player in the Christian Yelich trade that has yet to reach the major leagues. He has good power and speed, but his swing and miss resulted in 215 whiffs in 2018. A wrist injury last year limited him to 58 games.

Lewin Diaz is a big power hitting first baseman the Marlins acquired from the Twins. Last year he slugged 27 homeruns. Jose Devers is the younger brother of Rafael, but is more a defensive stalwart at shortstop. He lacks the power of his brother. Jorge Guzman may be the hardest thrower in baseball but he has no command and lacks a third pitch. He is destined for the bullpen, perhaps in a closer role. Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. are two brothers signed out of Cuba, whose dad was a star on the early Cuban teams. Victor Victor is said to have the better tools. Jerar Encarnacion hit two homeruns early in spring training, showing the power the outfielder possess.

7. Atlanta Braves

Lots of pitching on this team but outfielders Chistian Pache and Drew Waters could join Ronald Acuna in a couple years to form an impressive outfield. Both have burner speed to fit in center and good power to move to a corner. Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson will all compete for the Braves starting rotation before the 2020 season ends. Bryse was a fourth round pick in 2018 while Anderson (2016) and Wright (2017) were first rounders. Shea Langliers was the Braves first round pick in the 2019 draft. The catcher may always get lost in the shadow of Rutschman but he is a superb defensive catcher with good hit tools.

Braden Shewmake was a first round supplemental pick in the 2019 draft and has already played in AA. He is a 6′4″ shortstop who could develop into a pretty impressive two way shortstop. Bryce Ball had to wait until the 24th round to hear his name called in the 2019 draft, but the first baseman hit .329 with 17 homeruns in his minor league debut.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (27.14)

Not only is their major league team stacked, but their minor leagues is filled with prospects. Gavin Lux, the 2016 first round pick should win the second base job, but has the tools for short. He pulverized minor league pitcher for 26 homeruns in 113 games. Dustin May could fit in the Dodgers rotation this year. The 2016 third round pick has a red mane with a mid to high 90s fastball that makes it appear fire his coming out of his right hand. The Red Sox did not like Brusdar Graterol because he did not have the arm to start. The Dodgers will use his triple digit fastball out of the bullpen. Keibert Ruiz is blocked by Will Smith at the catcher position. A finger fracture ended his season early, but he can hit for average and has good defensive tools. Josiah Gray was acquired from the Reds in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp deal and last year rose three levels to AA with good life on his low to mid 90s fastball. He could be the next rookie in the Dodger rotation for 2021. Tony Gonsolin had a big homerun bat in college but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher and in 2018 he was their pitcher of the year. He will be competing for a rotation spot in 2019. Kody Hoese was their first round pick in 2019. The third baseman slugged .779 in college and should carry that power to the major leagues. Diego Cartaya is a Venezuelan catcher the Dodgers signed for $2.5 million in 2018. He is an above average defensive catcher with a strong arm that has good hit tools.

Michael Busch was another first round 2019 pick who has a good bat, despite his .182 average last year. The Dodgers are trying him at second base but he has yet to establish himself at a defensive position. Outfielder Luis Rodriguez was signed out of Venezuela in 2019 for $2.6 million. He has all five tools to be a difference maker in centerfield. Andy Pages is an outfielder from Cuba who swatted 19 homeruns in 63 games in rookie ball.

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.