Archive for the 'Twins' Category

AL Central Baseball America Minor League All Stars

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

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

Chicago White Sox

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

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

Cleveland Indians

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

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

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

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

Detroit Tigers

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

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

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

Kansas City Royals

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

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

Minnesota Twins

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

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

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

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

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Left Field Prospects

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

These may not be the top ten outfielders in the minor leagues. They usually lack the defensive prowess to be considered a first rate outfielder. Some of them lack the arm, some of them lack the speed. All of them have a pretty good bats that they are needed in the lineup. Consider them the Kyle Schwarber’s or Greg Luzinski’s of the world.

1) Riley Greene (Tigers) - Riley was the fifth player taken in the 2019 draft. On the defensive side his arm is not great and he lacks the speed to cover centerfield. What he does have is an impressive bat. He played 57 games in the minor leagues and showed enough to already get a promotion to a full season league. Currently his power shows up better in batting practice than in games, but as he becomes more experienced and learns when to pull the ball the power numbers will begin to appear. There were some issues with making contact and his OBA dropped significantly when promoted to Low A, but as he gains more experience projections are for him to hit in the neighborhood of .300 with 30 plus homeruns. He is still a couple years away from appearing on the Tigers roster.

2) Julio Rodriguez (Mariners) - A 2017 Dominican signing lacks the speed to play center and has a decent enough arm to play right, but myworld sees him eventually fitting into left. What separates Julio is his ability to hit for power. The Mariners shelled out $1.75 million to sign him. In 2018 he won the MVP for his Dominican Summer League team with a .929 OPS. The 2019 season saw him make his first appearance state side and he did not disappoint with another .929 OPS year. A fractured hand limited him to 84 games, but when promoted to the hitter friendly California League he hit .462 with a .738 slugging average in just 17 games. At 6′4″, 225 pounds he has a large frame and needs to watch his weight if he wants to stay in the outfield. If he stays healthy and his hitting continues he could see AA next year and be with the Mariners in 2021.

3) Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) - Dylan was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016. Defensively, he could probably hack it in centerfield and his arm is strong enough for right. For overall tools myworld feels he fits best in left. His first three years after being drafted he failed to show any offensive tools, hitting just .245 and slugging .376. His one bright spot was his ability to get on base. This year was a break out season for him when his tools came to fruition with a .292 average and 26 homeruns at AA and AAA. He also had a .914 OPS. The Cardinals always seem to have a surplus of outfielders, but the time for Carlson to make his major league debut looks to be next year. His bat needs to continue to produce like it did in 2019.

4) Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) - The Athletics signed the Cuban prospect for $3 million. The best part of his game is his speed, which would make him ideal for centerfield. His arm is not strong so if centerfield does not happen left field would be his best position. The Athletics were hoping for a five tool player, but his lack of arm strength and an inability to make contact call into question his ability to hit for average. The 2018 season was plagued by injuries, limiting him to just 79 games, but in those games he whiffed 115 times. This past season he was healthier but in 126 games he struck out 227 times. The tools are there for him to be an impact major leaguer, but if he doesn’t figure out when a pitch will break his .222 average will not get him to the major leagues. Next year could see him in AA or the Athletics could choose to repeat him at High A and hope the second look allows him to make better contact.

5) Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks signed Kristian out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in 2017. The tools are borderline for centerfield. Myworld believes his best corner outfield fit will be left field. The bat carries big time power that slugged 14 homeruns last year in just 69 games. The Diamondbacks kept him in extended spring training until June. He is only 18 but played well enough to get a promotion to full season ball before the season was done. At 6′3 and 190 he still has room to fill out. A healthy season next year could see him reach AA and a major league debut late in 2021. The Diamondbacks believe he has the pop to hit 30 plus homeruns per year.

6) Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - Myworld saw him in right field in the Futures game and thought he had an excellent arm. The 2016 first round pick had Tommy John surgery after the 2016 season and missed all of 2017. He came back strong in 2018, hitting .362 with a .550 slugging percentage in High A. The bat cooled off a bit in AA last season, hitting just .283 with just a .413 slugging. He missed the first month of the season because of a wrist injury and that could have impacted his ability to swing. Alex is a contact hitter who should hit consistently above .300. The homeruns should come as he learns to pull the ball more. The Twins currently have a talented group of outfielders, so a move to first base could be an option to get his bat in the lineup. Otherwise one of Buxton, Kepler or Rosario needs to be traded to make room for him. He should be ready for the major leagues next year.

7) Steele Walker (White Sox) - Gotta like the name. The second round 2018 pick will move Eloy Jimenez to DH. While he is not plus in any of the five tools, he is still above average. He has the speed to play center and the arm to play right, but myworld feels he will eventually fit best in left. He was one of the star players on Team USA and as a college drafted player should rise quickly through the minor leagues. Last year was his first full season in the minor leagues. After raking in Low A (.365 average) he was promoted to High A. His numbers were more indicative of a fourth outfielder (.269 ave, .426 slugging) but they should improve with more exposure. The White Sox do have a deep minor league system so Steele will have to earn his way to the White Sox. Expect that to happen in 2021. If he continues to put up the vanilla numbers he produced in High A a fourth outfielder role will be in his future.

8) Trevor Larnach (Twins) - Trevor was the 2018 first round pick of the Twins. He is the second Twin outfielder on this list. His fringy arm and lack of speed may force a move to first base. He and Nick Madrigal led Oregon State to the 2018 College World Series title. The Twins are moving him aggressively through the minor leagues. The 2019 season was his first full season and already he saw AA, hitting .295 with a .455 slugging average. His power is currently more prevalent for hitting the gaps with 30 doubles, but eventually the homeruns will come in bunches. As stated with Kirilloff, the Twins outfield is crowded, but Larnach appears to have the bat ready to crash the crowd. That may come in 2021.

9) Jhailyn Ortiz (Phillies) - The Phillies dished out $4 million for the Dominican back in 2016. An inability to make contact in 2018 limited his average to .225. His struggles continued last year with 149 whiffs in 100 games depressing his average to .200 in High A. His power numbers keep improving and if he can develop a bit more maturity to recognize pitches he could be a force. A lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. When he reaches the major leagues will depend on his improvement on recognizing pitches and not chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Expect a couple years to pass before that happens.

10) Jarren Duran (Red Sox) - Jarren was not a high draft pick in 2018, the Red Sox selecting him in the seventh round. In half a season he surprised the Red Sox with his bat, hitting .357 with 11 triples in just 67 games. That magic in his bat continued last year in High A when he hit .387 in 50 games. A promotion to AA saw him struggle a bit (.250). Duran will terrorize teams with his speed, which resulted in 46 stolen bases last year. The speed would be ideal for centerfield, an ideal replacement for Jackie Bradley, but the below average arm could move him to left field. The Red Sox are talking about letting Jackie Bradley go because of his high contract and minimal production. Duran is probably not ready to replace him next year but should be ready in 2021.

Top Minor League Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top minor league shortstop prospects. There is a bundle of athletic talent at this position. With this list our infield is complete. Next will be the outfield and then the pitching staff.

1) Wander Franco (Rays) - Any player who would be considered the top prospect in baseball in 2020 has to be considered as the top shortstop prospect. But at one time Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in baseball, but he is still struggling to make his mark in the major leagues. Wander has the ability to hit for average and power. In 2018 he hit .351 with a 1.005 OPS, slugging 11 homeruns in just 61 games in the rookie league. In 2019 he got his opportunity to play full season ball and hit .327 with an .885 OPS and 9 homeruns. His defensive tools are not superb, but they are good enough to play shortstop. If he has to move to second or third base the bat is certainly strong enough for him to be an All Star at any position he plays. Next year he should start his season in AA and he could reach the majors as a teenager. Willy Adames is currently the shortstop but he has yet to break out the offensive tools that Franco possesses.

2) Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) - With newness comes expectations of grandeur. No one has witnessed the warts yet. Witt was the second pick in the 2019 draft. Myworld saw him put on a homerun derby spectacle at the All Star game in D.C. His dad is Bobby Witt and he was a first round pick way back in 1985. His son has chosen to swing the bat rather than pitch. He has five pretty impressive tools. The bat carries plenty of pop and he should be able to hit for average. In his first taste of minor league baseball he hit .262 with just one homerun for an uninspiring .670 OPS. His legs show a lot of speed as witnessed by his five triples and 9 stolen bases in just 37 games. Defensively he has good range and a rocket arm that can throw in the mid-90s if he was asked to pitch. Next year he should make his debut in full season ball where he will be expected to show a little more pop than he did in 2019.

3) Royce Lewis (Twins) - Back in 2017 Royce was the first pick in the draft. You would think this would still make him the top prospect among shortstops but some warts have popped up. In the AFL the Twins have been playing him at other positions, using him at centerfield and third base, in case shortstop continues to be occupied by Jorge Polanco and they need his bat in the lineup. His bat should hit for average and power, but in 2019 he could only manage a .236 average. His strikeout rate went up leading to a drop in average. An OPS of .661 is very disappointing for a player of his tools. He has great speed and should be an above average defender at shortstop, but needs to improve his consistency fielding his position. Last year he finished at AA, which is where he should start the 2020 season. He could see some time in the majors next year if he can find some quality at bats.

4) Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets are flush with shortstops, with Amed Rosario improving on his defense in the second half, with a bat that has come to life, filling the major league roster. Mauricio is another live bat that can play the position. He is still a few years away from the major leagues. At 6′3″ he could out grow the position, but at this point he would have the bat to move to third or second base. As he fills out the bat will hit for power. In 2019 he hit for a .665 OPS in Low A ball. The arm is good enough to play third or short, but his lack of speed could limit his range at short as he fills out. He also needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take advantage of his hitting potential. Next year Ronny should see half a season at High A and perhaps half a season at AA, depending on how he develops. He could see the majors in 2021 as a 20 year old.

5) Jazz Chisolm (Marlins) - Two shortstops were signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. Lucius Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million and Jazz signed with the Diamondbacks for just $200,000. Jazz is the player on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for Zac Gaillen. Though Zac is a nice pitching prospect, Jazz may turn out to be a premier shortstop. With the Diamondbacks he struggled to make contact, which resulted in a low average (.204), but he did show some power with 18 homeruns. With the Marlins the average went up (.284) and the power was still there to hit three homeruns in 23 games. Defensively, he has the tools to stay at shortstop. The Marlins might see him with their big league club some time by mid-season in 2020.

6) O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - The Pirates have been developing some pretty vanilla shortstops over the years in Jody Mercer, Kevin Newman, Kevin Cramer and Cole Tucker. If Cruz can stay at shortstop he could fall far right of that Bell curve. At 6′7 myworld expects him to move to first base or right field, but if he can stay at short he could provide consistent 30 plus homerun power at the position. For a big man with a large strike zone he makes pretty good contact. In 2019 he reached AA but he did not make a big impact, hitting just .269 in 35 games with one homerun and a .412 slugging percentage. After a down 2019 the Pirates will be in rebuilding mode for 2020 and Cruz should be a big part of that. Expect him to start next year in AA.

7) Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - After an injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers called Gavin up in September to handle second base. With Corey Seager at short that position could be filled for the future years. The 2016 first round pick had hit .392 in AAA and combined for 26 homeruns between AA and AAA in just 113 games. He struggled a bit with the Dodgers, hitting just .240 with two homeruns. After a poor 2017 season many were calling him a bust. After two years of hitting .320 plus he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers plans. The tools are there to play shortstop, but he has shown a lack of consistency in finding first base with his throws. A move to second may make the throws just a bit easier. Expect him to start the 2020 season with the Dodgers either as their second baseman, or someone who can play second, short and third.

8) Jose Devers (Marlins) - With the acquisition of Jazz the Marlins have two quality defenders they can put at short. Jose is the brother of Rafael, who plays third base for the Red Sox. Jose may not carry the power of his older brother, but time will tell. He just finished his third year with the Marlins and he has only hit one homerun. Jose makes good contact with the bat and last year hit .322 at three different levels, rising all the way to High A. He also has the speed to steal bases and turn singles into doubles. Defensively he has the tools to be an above average shortstop. Next year in his age 20 season he should see AA.

9) Marco Luciano (Giants) - The Giants are in a rebuilding mode and Marco should be a important part of that process. He is another shortstop discovered in the Bahamas, as they replace San Pedro de Macoris and Curacao as the land of the next wave of shortstops. The Giants traded Lucius Fox, who they signed out of the Bahamas for $6 million to the Rays, then went back to the well to sign Marco for $2.6 million. He has the potential for five tools, showing the tools for a strong bat, good speed, solid arm and strong defense. The 2019 season was his first year to show off those tools and he hit .322 with 10 homeruns. This should allow him to start the 2020 season in a full season league.

10) Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Jorge has been around awhile, signed by the Yankees way back in 2012. He complained back in 2016 when he was not promoted to AA. His prospect status dropped after the 2018 season when he hit only .230 in AAA with just three homeruns. He got his mojo back in 2019 after hitting .289 with 29 doubles, 14 triples and 19 homeruns. There is some sneaky power in his bat. The Athletics have tried him in centerfield and second base. With Marcus Semien at shortstop they do not need help at that position. Expect Jorge to make the Athletics roster in the 2020 season as a super utility player who can move all around the diamond. His speed is terrorizing on the bases, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Top Second Base Prospects

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Normally your second baseman of the future are shortstops who have to move to second base because another shortstop is better than them. This list is thin with a number of former shortstops on it. Not a big fan of Isan Diaz, though he is currently up with the Marlins.

1. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Rodgers was the Rockies first round pick in 2015. He has Trevor Story ahead of him on the Rockies roster. Last year he was troubled by shoulder issues. This year his season ended early because of a torn labrum that required surgery. He did hit .350 with 9 homeruns in his 37 AAA games before getting a callup to the Rockies after a Story injury. He did not put up awe inspiring numbers, hitting just .224 with a .250 slugging. That is when they discovered the torn labrum. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but this surgery could make a move to second base more likely. His bat is solid with a .490 slugging percentage entering the 2019 season. If he recovers from his shoulder issues and the Rockies find an alternative at second base (Ryan McMahon) he could become trade bait. Expect him to start the 2020 season in the minor leagues if he is healthy and a later promotion once he has seen some games.

2. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - The Rays found a bargain in Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. His bat has shown the ability to make contact with more walks (150) than whiffs (136) during his minor league career. His speed could make him a top of the order hitter, with 55 stolen bases last year. The down side in Brujan’s game is his lack of power. Despite his small frame (5′9″) he does not drive the ball like an even smaller Jose Altuve or Jose Ramirez. Defensively the tools are there for him to play short, but with Wander Franco climbing the minor league ladder the Rays have been using him at second base. This year he has stolen 46 bases in 93 games. His strikeouts have increased since his climb to AA (18/31 walk to whiff) resulting in a drop in average (.263). Brujan can make an impact if he can get on base and allow his speed to create havoc.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - Nick was the White Sox first round pick in 2018. He led Oregon State to the College World Series. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, with an arm that may be borderline, but there always seems to be a better defensive option ahead of him. At Oregon he was forced to play second because of a better defensive shortstop. The White Sox have been using him at second base. Despite his small frame (5′8″) Nick has some pop in his bat. That pop will be defined mainly by hits into the gaps but he should reach double digit homerun numbers. Last year he did not hit a ball out of the park in 155 at bats but did hit .303. This year he has already found himself in AAA, hitting .307 at the three levels with a .414 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 34 bases. Defensively he will be an asset to the White Sox at second base and with Yoan Moncada moving to third there is little to stop him from playing there in 2020.

4. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - Jones was a second round pick of the Angels in 2015. Because of a crowded outfield the Angels moved him to second base in 2018. What appeared to be a solid bat struggled in his first year at second base, dropping below .250 with a slugging average under .400. When he played outfield his bat played above those numbers. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. The Angels were hoping he would become comfortable in his second year at second base and his bat would return to their 2016 and 2017 numbers, but he continues to struggle (.236). His power numbers have also dropped. His defense is not at the level where he will survive in the major leagues at second base unless the bat returns to where it was at when he played the outfield.

5. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac may be best used as a utility player. He lacks the range to play short on an every day basis and his power is not there for third base. Second base could be a move but his 225 pound frame makes playing a middle infield position challenging. He will need his bat to carry him if he is to play second base. He was first signed by the Cubs out of Mexico for $500,000 in 2015. The Cubs traded him to the Tigers for some relief help (Justin Wilson). The one big tool Isaac has is his bat. Power could come like a Jose Ramirez later in his career. As it is now he is hitting .288 in AA with 11 homeruns. That is about where his bat should be in the major leagues. Speed and defense are lacking from his game.

6. Xavier Edwards (Padres) - Edwards has the defensive tools to play shortstop but with Fernando Tatis there the Padres have been using him more at second base. He was a first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018. In his first season at rookie ball Xavier hit .346. He lacks the strength to hit for power so he needs to rely on his ability to make contact. Speed will be a big part of his game. Last year he stole 22 bases in just 45 games. His arm may be a little weak for short, but it will be fine at second base, making him above average defensively. This year his bat continues to shine at the full season level with a .323 average and 31 stolen bases. As he matures he could pick up some gap power.

7. Nick Gordon (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon started his career as a shortstop, just like his half brother Dee. He was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It has taken some time for him to climb the minor league ladder, but he has finally reached AAA where he is hitting .298 with four homeruns. That is a big improvement over his .212 average in AA last year. Like Dee, Nick does not hit for power and his speed lacks the burner capability of Dee. He will need to hit if the Twins want to keep a spot open for him. The concern is there is no one tool that makes him great. His best spot may be as a utility player.

8. Mauricio Dubon (Giants) - Mauricio is the only player in minor or major leagues born in Honduras. He came to the United States at 15 years old to attend high school and improve his baseball abilities. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft and then made him part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire the recently released Tyler Thornburg. The Brewers traded him to the Giants this year for bullpen help. His bat carries very little power but he had a career .299 batting average entering the 2019 season. His range falls a little short to be playing short on a regular basis. With Marco Luciano ahead of him in the depth chart a move to second base is in his future.

9. Freudis Nova (Astros) - The Astros signed Nova for $1.2 million in 2016. He could have gotten more but he failed a drug test and his signing price dropped in half. Nova has the tools to play short, with a strong arm his best tool, but with Carlos Correa at short he has played some second in anticipation that short will not be available when he is ready. His bat has the potential to hit for power, though that power has yet to appear. This year is his first in a full season league. A 12/61 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and could result in a lower batting average as he rises up the minor league ladder if he does not improve. At Low A he is hitting .255 with a .293 OBA. He has good speed to run the bases, but it appears not to be stolen base speed. It will take some time for him to reach the major leagues. At 19 years of age and playing in Low A expect him to be ready no earlier than 2021.

10. Luis Garcia (Nationals) - Luis was signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $1.3 million. That is similar to Nova, but Luis is already playing at AA. Shortstop is occupied by Trea Turner and the power is lacking to move to third. It could develop as he matures but not in time to play third after Rendon’s departure next year. Last year he split time between Low A and High A, his average falling just a couple points short of .300. This year he is finding AA a bit of a challenge. His lack of patience is being exposed with the AA pitchers (17/81 walk to whiff) resulting in a lower batting average (.253). The Nationals have no barriers in front of him to take over second base in 2020 if he can show the bat to play the position. He may have to start the first part of 2020 in AAA.

Top Venezuelan Prospects in the American League

Friday, July 12th, 2019

It is pretty clear that the Dominicans have the top prospects in baseball. Cuba is a distant second. The prospect wave from Venezuela has gotten smaller because of the humanitarian crisis there, but there are still enough players filtering out of the country to break it down into the two leagues, American and National. This list was put together before the season started so we are not influenced by their numbers this season. Six of the ten players in the American League are pitchers, something you would not see from the Dominican Republic, where they like to hit themselves off the island.

The players who graduated from the list created last year are Gleybor Torres, who was number one and Franklin Barreto who was number three. Barreto has not really won a full time job with the Athletics yet but is getting another opportunity to play with the major league club. A number of players dropped off the list as new players earned a spot to the higher rankings

1. Brusdar Graterol RHP (Twins) - Last year he missed making the top five. This year he is the best Venezuelan prospect in the American League. At 6′1″ he is not a big guy but his fastball sits at the lower end of the high 90s. He has two breaking pitches with the slider the most effective of the two. His change still needs some work. If he can improve his command and does not face durability issues he will fit in the starting rotation. If the change never develops or he has trouble staying healthy to stick in the rotation he could be used as a closer. This year he is limiting the opposition to a .188 average in AA. Last year he had success at the two A levels. His strikeout numbers are not impressive but he does get a lot of ground ball outs. Expect to see him in a Twins uniform before the season is done. He did miss the 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch more than 102 innings in a season.

2. Franklin Perez RHP (Tigers) - Franklin was signed by the Astros in 2014 for $1 million. The Astros traded him to the Tigers as the primary player in the Justin Verlander trade. Since arriving with the Tigers Franklin has had trouble staying healthy. The pitches are there with a fastball reaching the mid-90s, two above average breaking pitches and a change that is good. Last year he only pitched 19 innings because of a lat strain and shoulder issues that cropped up after his return from the lat strain. This year he has gotten two starts and has thrown less than 10 innings. At one time he was the top pitching prospect with the Tigers, but Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are all surpassing him. Perez still has the nastier stuff, but you have to pitch on the mound in order to show that stuff.

3. Jose Suarez LHP (Angels) - The Angels always seem to be short of pitchers. At 5′10 and 225 pounds Jose would not give one an impression that he is a pitcher if you saw him at the grocery store. The left handed arm does not throw an overpowering fastball, usually sitting in the low 90s. His ability to control the fastball and mix in an excellent change up makes his fastball play better. His breakout season came in 2018 when he went from High A to 17 starts in AAA, which rose him into the top ten on this list all the way to number three. Success followed him in 2019 (3.18 ERA) which led to a promotion to the major leagues. There his lack of stuff proved less mysterious to major league hitters who spanked him at a .273 clip, while the minor league bats could only hit .200. If you are looking for a number five pitcher for your rotation Jose could be your man. If you want better pass him by.

4. Kevin Maitan 3B (Angels) - Kevin was once considered a superstar when he first signed with the Braves for $4.25 million. He was allowed to leave as a free agent because the Braves were involved in illegal international signing discretions. Once he was declared a free agent the Angels swooped in and signed him for $2.2 million. His superstar status has now slipped and now there are questions of whether the bat will play for him to reach the major leagues. His lack of range forced a move from shortstop to third base. The bat carries enough power to play third base, but the swings and misses and soft average (.214) does not allow that power to show up with much frequency. He still is only 19 years old but Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres were in AAA at 20 years of age and Maitan is still swinging and missing in A ball. This needs to be his break out season if he wants to make a similar jump.

5. Luis Oviedo RHP (Indians) - Luis signed for a generous $375,000 in 2015. He has a good pitcher’s frame (6′4″) and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. That will keep him on prospect lists. His secondary pitchers are good enough to keep him in the rotation and he throws strikes. If he can improve one of his breaking pitches and the change he could climb from a back or mid rotation starter to a number two starter. He has yet to throw more than 63 innings in a season but last year was his most successful one. He did get two starts in Low A and walked seven in just nine innings. This year he has already reached 83 innings in Low A with numbers that are not impressive (5.40 ERA, .244 average) but he is getting the work in. Don’t expect him to rise too quickly. He needs to find consistent success at the lower levels before they consider him for the majors.

6. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox) - Darwinzon is another big guy at 6′2″ and 245 pounds who must watch his conditioning if he hopes to continue his career playing baseball. Back in 2013 the Red Sox signed him for just $7,500. As the years passed his fastball was hitting the high 90s and the swings and misses were becoming more prevalent, putting him on the prospect radar. He has the breaking pitches and the change to make it in the starting rotation. What he lacks is the ability to throw the ball across the plate or hit his spots in the strike zone. That is one reason he might be best used in the bullpen. Despite his lack of success in the minor leagues this year (5.04) the Red Sox promoted him to the major leagues where he had one start and one appearance in relief. Finding the strike zone was still a challenge with six walks in just 5.1 innings resulted in an ugly 5.06 ERA. The Red Sox bullpen is a little erratic so he may be called up again to help out in the pen if he can show strike one is not a difficult pitch to make.

7. Luis Rengifo 2B/SS (Angels) - The Mariners signed Rengifo for $360,000. He was traded to the Rays where the Angels acquired him just before spring training 2018 for C.J. Cron. With the Angels he climbed up their minor league system hitting over .300 in High A and AA putting him in AAA where he hit .276. Luis does not offer a lot of power but he makes contact with a 75/75 walk to whiff ratio in the minor leagues last year. Luis does not have great speed but it was good enough to swipe 41 bases last year. After hitting .273 this year in AAA the Angels had a need for a middle infielder. With the Angels he has played most of his games at second base with the remaining games at shortstop. Luis is best used as a utility infielder. The tools are a little light to be a starter.

8. Luis Arraez 2B (Twins) - Base hits seem to come easy for this Luis. He lacks power and the speed is below average but his hits seem to find the grass. His career minor league average entering the 2019 season was .329 with a 98/114 walk to whiff ratio. Because of his lack of tools in other areas he will need to keep on finding the grass to stick in the major leagues. He missed all but three games of the 2017 season because of ACL surgery but came back last year to hit .310. This year he abused AA pitchers with a .342 average. A promotion to AAA did not phase him as he continued to hit (.348). No balls travelled over the fence in his more than 200 at bats, but it got him a promotion to the major leagues. There he hit .393 in close to 100 at bats, including two homeruns. The return of Marwin Gonzales from the disabled list and the hitting of Jonathan Schoop complicates his status as a major leaguer. But any hitter who has a .976 OPS in 100 at bats deserves a spot in the major league lineup. In the minors his walk to whiff ratio is 24/15 while with the Twins it was 10/8.

9. Bryan Mata RHP (Red Sox) - The Red Sox found another bargain when they signed Bryan for $25,000. At 6′3″ he has a nice pitcher’s frame. Adding some weight could put some more mustard on his low 90s fastball, allowing it to sit consistently in the mid-90s. Last year finding the strike zone was a bit of a challenge with 58 walks in just 72 innings at High A. He doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses but he limited the opposition to a .229 average. This year the Red Sox started him in High A where he seemed to locate the strike zone for just 18 walks in 51 innings and a 1.75 ERA. He was rewarded with a promotion to AA where in two starts the strike zone has gotten a little more elusive. If Bryan can locate the strike zone again the Red Sox could promote him this year to help in the bullpen. If not, you could see him late in 2020.

10. Everson Pereira OF (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Everson for $1.5 million in 2017. There is the potential for a borderline five tool player here. The arm rates as average but all the other tools are impressive. Last year the Yankees brought him up to rookie ball where as a 17 year old he was able to hit .263. There were a lot of strikeouts in his game (60 whiffs in 41 games) but the potential is there. This year he is playing in the New York Penn League, hitting .171 with a .257 slugging percentage. It will be a struggle early in his career but the Yankees have plenty of outfield talent to wait for him. Don’t expect to see Pereira in a Yankee uniform until September 2021 at the earliest.

Stat of the Week

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Baseballsavant.com carries some interesting statistical numbers. Last week we listed the top ten players for speed. Some of the names surprised us. This week we list the top ten players in exit velocity on average and distance to see how they marry. Not too many surprises here.

Exit Velocity

1) Joey Gallo (96.3) - Having a career year in batting average (.276) with 17 homeruns.
2) Nelson Cruz (94.5) - At 38 years of age his homerun numbers are going down, but it appears he still hits the ball hard.
3) Josh Bell (94.4) - Having a career year with 18 homeruns and leading the NL in RBIs (57).
4) Christian Yelich (93.8) - Gunning for another MVP award with 23 homeruns leading major league baseball.
5) Gary Sanchez (93.4) - A good bounce back year for him with his 19 homeruns already exceeding last year’s totals in less at bats.
6) Shohei Ohtani (93.3) - He can still throw the ball harder than he hits, but that exit velocity is still impressive.
7) Josh Donaldson (93) - The flyer the Braves took on him signing him to a big one year contract is paying off
8) Franmil Reyes (93) - One of the best young hitters in baseball. Staying with the big boys with his 19 homeruns
9) Carlos Santana (92.9) - Not changing his evil ways against American League pitchers. Homerun numbers are down (12).
10. Yoan Moncada (92.9) - Finally reaching his number one prospect potential. Also only 12 homeruns but a .284 average.

Tommy Pham just missed the top ten at number 11 with an average exit velocity of 92.8.

The top ten in average homerun distance has some surprise names because some of the players on the list have not hit a lot of homeruns. So myworld took a look at the average distance a player hits the ball and the top ten from that list:

1) Gary Sanchez (236) - He appears in our top ten exit velocity.
2) Jay Bruce (233) - He has blasted 18 homeruns but a low batting average indicates a lot of soft contact in his game.
3) Anthony Rendon (229) - They call him Tony Two Bags because of all the doubles he hits into the gaps.
4) Joey Gallo (227) - Number one on our exit velocity list
5) Jorge Polanco (225) - Not noted for his homerun pop but lots of doubles this year. His 10 homeruns is approaching his career high of 13.
6) Justin Smoak (222) - Seems to be having a quiet year with a .237 average and only 12 homeruns and 6 doubles.
7) Mike Trout (220) - About time this superstar appears somewhere on this list.
8) Daniel Vogelbach (219) - We never saw his major league homerun production coming.
9) Brandon Belt (218) - His offensive numbers seem to be down. Perhaps a lot of fly ball outs to the warning track.
10) Cody Bellinger (216) - If not for Yelich he would be gunning for the NL MVP honors. A NL league leading .362 average

As far as distance, the top five homeruns for distance have been hit by Nomar Mazara (482), Ketel Marte (482), Keon Broxton (474), Josh Bell (474) and Mike Trout (473). Marte and Broxton are two interesting names I wouldn’t associate with power, though Marte has been hitting some homeruns this year.

A lot more interesting stats at baseballsavant.com. Hope to give you more next week but you can check the numbers yourself.

Stat of the Week - Speed

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Who is the fastest player in major league baseball? Some would say Byron Buxton. Others could argue Billy Hamilton. The fastest player will surprise you. Below is the top ten fastest players in the major leagues according to baseballsavant. It measures feet per second travelled by the player.

1. Tim Locastro (Diamondbacks) - 30.4. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Blue Jays in 2013. The Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers in 2015 for two international bonus slots and Chase DeJong. He got into 21 major league games for the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, hitting less than .200. The Dodgers traded him to the Yankees at the end of the 2018 season for Drew Finley and cash. In January 2019 the Yankees traded Locastro to the Diamondbacks for Ronald Roman and cash. A couple nights ago he hit a walk off single for the Diamondbacks and is hitting .275 while playing the outfield. He has yet to hit a homerun, but is 4 for 4 in stolen bases making him 9 for 9 in the major leagues. What is even more amazing is he has been hit 8 times in just 20 games this year.

2. Byron Buxton (Twins) - 30.3. The Twins keep waiting for him to have his breakout season after drafting him in the first round of the 2012 draft, the second player selected in the draft. Injuries have kept him harboring in the minor leagues for too long. Currently the starting centerfielder for the Twins.

3. Trea Turner (Nationals) - 30.2. Led the league in stolen bases last year with 43. The Padres drafted him in the first round in 2014 then traded him to the Nationals in 2015 for basically Will Myers. Injuries have kept from making a larger impact in the major leagues.

4. Terrance Gore (Royals) - 30.2. A player whose only worth so far in the major leagues is as a pinch runner. Drafted in 2011 by the Royals in the 20th round he has appeared in more games (86) than at bats (46). He has also stolen more bases (33) than he has gotten base hits (11). The 2019 season has been his first year where he has actually gotten an opportunity to play going 10 for 30 for a .333 average, racing for a double and triple, the first extra base hits of his career.

5. Isaac Galloway (Marlins) - 30.1. Drafted in the 8th round way back in 2008. Finally got a major league opportunity in 2018 only to be designated by the Marlins to the minors this year. A career .186 major league average. You can’t steal first base.

6. Adalberto Mondesi (Royals) - 30.0. The second Royal on this list and the first international player, signed in 2011 and making his major league debut in 2014. The son of slugger Raul Mondesi. Leads the majors in stolen bases this year with 20.

7. Jon Berti (Marlins) - 30.0. The second Marlin on this list, but those teams accentuating speed are at the bottom of the standings. Berti has bounced around, drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round in 2011 and being released and signed by teams throughout his career. He signed with the Marlins after the 2018 season. This season has been his biggest major league opportunity with 22 games.

8. Socrates Brito (Blue Jays) - 29.8. Once a top prospect for the Diamondbacks but injuries set him back. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and released by the Diamondbacks in spring training this year. The Padres picked him up on waivers and traded him to the Blue Jays where he was hitting .077 in 43 at bats. Despite his speed he has not stolen a base in the major leagues since 2016.

9. Keon Broxton (Orioles) - 29.6. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Traded a couple times, most recently by the Mets to the Orioles in May 2019 for international bonus slot money.

10. Garrett Hampson (Rockies) - 29.6. Recently called up by the Rockies and played centerfield. Only hitting .194 this year, and is just 1 for 3 in stolen bases. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft.

To date, only two of the top ten speed players are impact players in the major leagues (Turner and Mondesi). Two others have a chance (Hampson and Buxton). The others appear to be disappointments, though teams continue to pick them up via free agency based on the current stat metrics.

Top 100 - 10 -1

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Finally complete. Lots of good bloodlines in the top ten. The Blue Jays and Astros were able to squeeze two players each in the top ten.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) - The son of Dante has a potent bat. It’s a mixture of power and batting average. The power is mainly in the gaps, with 42 doubles, but as he matures the balls will carry over the fence. His defense should be adequate for short. It would be better at third or even second but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, two other sons of Hall of Famers have those positions covered. So the Blue Jays will take his adequate defense at short. He also has the speed and instincts to steal 32 bases last year. He will not be as fast as Trea Turner, but he could make just as big of an impact. The second round pick of 2016 will start the season in AAA and could be with the Blue Jays by mid-season, joining Vladimir.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His older brother Preston was also drafted by the Astros. Kyle has a lot more talent. Preston could make it as a fourth outfielder. Kyle should be an All Star. The Astros outfield is currently crowded but many think Kyle will earn a starting spot by mid-season. Josh Reddick has the most to fear. Last year Kyle hit .332 with 24 homeruns, evidence of his ability to hit for power and average. He stumbled in his promotion to the majors last year, hitting just .141. His fringe speed will limit him to a corner with his best fit in left field. AAA is where Kyle will spend his time until the Astros feel he is ready.

8. Nick Senzel OF/3B/2B (Reds) - The Reds are trying to find a position for him. His original position is third base, but Eugenio Suarez has that position covered. He could find himself at second base after the Scooter Gennett injury. The Reds insist he will be in AAA to learn to play centerfield. If he can stay healthy it will not take him long before he reaches the Reds. Vertigo last year limited him to 44 games. The bat has big time power and his career minor league average is .314. That is incentive enough to get his bat to the major leagues after the Reds drafted him in the first round in 2016.

7. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) - The only pitcher in the top ten. The Astros 2016 first round pick has a plethora of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball that can touch triple digits. He also works with the technology to improve the spin rates on his breaking balls (curve and slider) to make them quality pitches and his change up is a swing and miss pitch. Injuries limited him to just eight starts last year where the opposition only hit .160 against him in AA. He did some extra credit work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) to eat up innings and should be ready for AAA to start the 2019 season. Expect him to be called up by mid-season.

6. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - It may be too early in his career to anoint him the next Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the minor leagues. The Rays signed him in 2017 for $2.8 million. His first year in rookie ball he hit .351 with 11 homeruns. The bat hits for power and average. His defense will not be Gold Glove caliber for shortstop, but the bat will play at third where he would be an above average defensive player. The only tool that is not above average is his speed. Wander will see his first season at Low A in 2019 as an 18 year old. He should rise through the minor league system quickly, something the Rays are not normally prone to do.

5. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) - The first player selected in the 2017 draft has the tools to be a premium shortstop. The bat should be something special, hitting for both power and average. His speed should also play havoc on the bases, making him a threat to be a 30/30 player if his power develops more than expected. Lewis struggled a bit in the Florida State league last year (.255) so the Twins may start him there to begin the 2019 season with a quick promotion to AA if he finds success. A five tool infielder once he is ready.

4. Victor Robles CF (Nationals) - With Bryce Harper leaving for Philly, the center field job was given to Victor. Currently his speed is the best part of his game. It will allow him to be a Gold Glover on defense in centerfield and a pest on the bases. His bat should hit for average, but it won’t be as potent as teammate Juan Soto. The concern for some is his average exit velocity for the ball off his bat is just 82-84. He needs to get over 86 to reach the average exit velocity of major leaguers. The Nationals will be patient with him and allow the speed to create havoc as they wait for the power to arrive.

3. Eloy Jimeniz OF (White Sox) - The White Sox rewarded him with a major league spot on opening day after he signed a big contract extension that gave them one year after free agency. The bat will be special. The defense in left field will not. He could spend most of his time at the DH spot. Once the Dominican develops he could vie for batting titles with 40 plus homerun power. Don’t be surprised to see him win a Triple Crown before his career is complete. Eloy will start his season with the White Sox in left field.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr., he did not sign a long term extension as Eloy, but he had newly signed free agent Manny Machado recommending Padre management forget keeping him in the minors for a couple weeks to get an extra year. The Padres agreed. Fernando is ready now. His defense at short should be passable, better than what Manny could provide at short, which is a reason why Manny is playing third. The bat will generate big time power and hit for a decent average. He will battle with Victor Robles for the National League Rookie of the Year award.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - The son of Vladimir Sr. was going to be sent to the minor leagues to give the Blue Jays another year of service time despite the fact he is ready for the major leagues now. An early season injury will give them an opportunity to have him spend some time in rehab and then get promoted. His defense is average and his body could get too bulky for third. So a move to first could be in his future. His bat will be special with a .330 career minor league average and a slugging average of .529. Unlike his dad Vladimir is not afraid to take a walk. Expect him to be called up by May and win the American League rookie of the year award.

Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

20. Carter Kieboom 2B (Nationals) - Two homeruns in spring training off Justin Verlander this year is pretty impressive. The 2016 first round pick will follow in the footsteps of Juan Soto and Victor Robles to vie for rookie of the year in 2020. Shortstop is his main position and he has the tools to play it. With Trea Turner cemented at short for the Nationals Carter will need to move to second or third. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns which would also make him a good fit for third base. If the Nationals do not sign Rendon to an extension that position will be open in 2020. The Nationals will promote Kieboom sometime late this year to get him ready for the 2020 season.

19. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies included Sixto in a trade as one of the players to send to the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto. Sixto has a good fastball, sitting in the mid-90s and hitting the high 90s. He also has quality secondary pitches (slider and change) and the command to carve the plate. The 6′1″ height brings out questions of durability. Last year injuries limited him to just 8 minor league starts. The Marlins are rebuilding and will be in no rush to promote Sanchez to the major leagues. They could start his year in High A and promote him to AA once he achieves success.

18. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) - Brent missed the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery. The 2014 second round supplemental pick has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches high 90s. He also has a quality screwball that can enhance his repertoire. How those pitches survive after Tommy John is open to question. After the success he was having in AAA and during spring training the Rays were ready to promote him to they Rays to take the same flight path to the majors as Blake Snell. The Tommy John surgery delayed that major league arrival by a year. Expect him to be in their rotation by 2020.

17. Mackenzie Gore LHP (Padres) - Blisters interrupted his 2018 season after dominating in Rookie ball in 2017. The first round 2017 pick may have the best stuff of any pitcher in the minors. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a curve, slider and change as quality pitches. Last year the blisters limited him to 16 starts and impacted the quality of his pitchers. Hitters hit .260 off him after barely making contact the previous year (.180). If healthy he should start the 2019 season in High A.

16. Alex Kiriloff RF (Twins) - One of the top outfielders did not play in 2017 because of Tommy John. The 2016 first round pick bounced back last year hitting .348 between Low A and High A, with 20 homeruns and 101 runs driven in. Myworld also saw him at the Future’s Game and despite his surgery he seemed to have a very strong arm. He lacks the speed to play center leaving the corners where his power will fit well. Expect him to begin the 2019 season in AA with a September promotion a possibility. The 2020 season he will join Byron Buxton to form an impressive outfield group.

15. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Another Future game player, he won the MVP award with a homeruns and triple. The 2016 supplemental first round pick is one of those five tool players, minus the arm. The speed is there to play center and steal bases. The arm is fringe which limits him to left field if he is moved from center. His bat will produce power and if he can contain his whiff rate hit for average. Don’t be surprised if his bat breaks out for power when he starts the season in AA in 2019. A promotion to the major leagues is just around the corner.

14. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Athletics) - The Nationals 2016 third round pick will see his season delayed because of arm issues. The Nationals traded him to the Athletics along with Blake Treinen for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. He missed much of his senior year of high school after Tommy John surgery, which dropped him to the third round. Jesus has excellent control of a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can reach north of 95. His best pitch may be his change which produces a lot of his swings and misses. Once he returns from his injury he will have to start his season at the lower levels of the minor leagues for rehab before being assigned to AAA, where he struggled last year in his four starts.

13. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) - The 2015 first round pick is ready for the major leagues if the Rockies can find a position for him. Nolan Arenado was just signed to an extension, Trevor Story is cemented at short, so second base will be his best option. He will battle Ryan McMahon for at bats there. Last year he hit 17 homeruns. The tools are there to play short and those tools should easily transfer to second. He will eventually win the second base job over Ryan McMahon because of his superior defense.

12. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers) - Perhaps the best pure hitter in the 2017 draft. Tommy John surgery limited him to DH duties his senior year in college. The Brewers drafted him in the first round despite not seeing him play defense at second. Last year his bat was good enough to play AA. In the majors it could be could be good enough to win batting titles. He won’t be a gold glover at second but he will not hurt you on defense. At some point the Brewers will want his bat in the lineup to make a playoff run for the 2019 season.

11. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - It won’t be long before the Angels have another super star outfielder to join Mike Trout. The 2017 first round pick is a legitimate five tool player. He will hit for power and average and have the speed to play center. The biggest question for the Angels when Adell is ready for the majors is who plays centerfield, Mike Trout or Adell. Fortunately for the Angels they will not need to make that decision until 2020.