Archive for the 'Angels' Category

Predictions - AL West

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Most of the free agents have been signed so now it is time for myworld to make our Division predictions. With a number of teams in rebuilding mode many of the races will be limited. Below is myworld’s prediction for the AL West.

1. Houston Astros

Overall - They return a veteran team that only got better with the acquisition of Gerritt Cole. This creates a seven deep rotation. They led the American League in hitting by 20 points and bring all their bats back. Their pitching should be improved with Cole on the bump.

Strength - 1) Starting pitching. No team can claim a big three of Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole. That trio should combine for 60 wins. Lance McCullers is a home grown starting pitcher who will slot in the fourth spot. Few pitchers were hotter than Charlie Morton at the end of the year. He will fit in the fifth spot. Waiting in the bullpen for the opportunity to start will be Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock, who combined for 18 wins last year.
2) Up the middle. No team has a foursome up the middle like the Astros. MVP Jose Altuve starts the machine rolling at second base. Carlos Correa is a potential superstar who reminds many of Alex Rodriguez in his glory days. George Springer moved from right field to center last year and will get most of his time there. Brian McCann may be the weak link of this group, but he still has some swag behind the plate. Those four combined for 100 homeruns last year.
3) Utility - Marwin Gonzalez is a good dude to have. He plays everywhere except catcher and spent most of his outfield time in left field. Utility players usually do not come with 23 homeruns and 90 RBIs.

Weakness - 1) Catcher. At 34 Brian McCann may be headed for the down side of his career. His defense has tailed off a little. Behind him is Evan Gattis, another weak defensive catcher. Gattis may be better off in the DH role.
2) First Base. Yuli Gurriel did a good job there last year but his best position is third or second base. He will miss the first couple weeks of the season giving the Astros time to test youngsters A.J. Reed or Tyler White. Marwin Gonzalez will probably see most of the time there until Gurriel is healthy.

Top Rookie - Kyle Tucker is having a hot spring. Defensively he may be better at center than Springer. If he continues to hit in the minors the Astros may be tempted to move him to left, taking away playing time from Marwin Gonzalez, or move him to center where Springer can return to right and Josh Reddick can shift to left.

Top Prospect - Forest Whitely. His season will be delayed by 50 games because of a drug suspension but the 2016 first round pick can be dominating on the mound. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he can be scary to face.

Expected Finish - The Astros have a lot of depth in the rotation and Marwin Gonzalez can cover almost any position if an injury should occur. Astros should take this division in a walk away.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Overall - The Angels won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Add the best player in Japan to Mike Trout the best player in the United States and you have a pretty good duo. The pitching needs to stay healthy if the Angels want to stay with the Astros.

Strengths - 1) Mike Trout. He is the best player in baseball and as long as he stays healthy enough for centerfield the Angels will be tough.
2) Shortstop. Andrelton Simmons won the gold glove last year. Many consider him the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Last year his bat came to life with 14 homeruns and a .278 average.

3) Shohei Ohtani - The Angels hope he will help on the mound and with the bat. If he doesn’t hit the Angels may try to convince him to abandon the hitting.

Weakness - 1) Starting pitching. It needs to stay healthy. Their projected rotation has no starter with more than 25 starts. Garrett Richards and Shohei Ohtani could be a potent one/two but the duo each started less than 10 times. What follows them is back end of the rotation starters.
2) First Base. Albert Pujols is not the player he used to be. With his foot problems his best position could be DH but the Angels want to start Shohei Ohtani there in between his starts on the hill. So Pujols will try his hand at first where he only played six games last year.
3) Catcher. Can’t say we are enamored with the offense of Martin Maldonado or Rene Rivera. Their defense is strong but their production on offense will be lacking.
4) Bullpen. No established closer. They may eventually settle on Cam Bedrosian, who has better stuff than Blake Parker. Blake had 8 saves last year while Cam settled for 6.

Top Rookie - Shohei Ohtani. In Japan he could blow hitters away with his 100 mile per hour fastball. When he was not pitching he could mash fastballs 450 feet. He could be the first player in the major leagues to reach double digits in wins and homeruns. He has already done that in Japan. The last player to do that in the major leagues was a player named Babe Ruth.

Top Prospect - Taking Ohtani away from the equation the next best prospect is five tooled outfielder Jo Adell. The 2017 first round pick has excellent power and speed. Eventually he will replace Mike Trout in centerfield, a daunting task.

Expected Finish - They need Albert Pujols to extend his hot streaks and Ohtani not to struggle on inside fastballs. Having the best player in Japan and the United States should give them enough wins to capture the second wild card spot and second place in the West.

3. Texas Rangers

Overall - The Rangers may have passed their prime. They appear to be in that in between spot where age is settling in at a couple positions.

Strengths - 1)Infield. Adrian Beltre needs to defy his 39 years of age and Roughned Odor must show that last year’s .204 batting average was a fluke. Joey Gallo also struggled to hit for average (.209) and will take over first base. Odor and Gallo combined for 358 whiffs. They also combined for 71 homeruns. Elvis Andrus plays a good shortstop and his 20 homeruns and 88 RBIs was just a bonus. He needs to show those numbers were not a fluke.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting pitching. Cole Hamels did not have a good year by his standards (4.20 ERA) but he will be the Rangers ace. For the Rangers to do well he needs to pitch well. Behind him you have too many question marks in Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Matt Moore. The Rangers park tends to be a hitter’s park and these pitchers should see some nasty splits.
2) Bullpen. There is no established closer. Matt Bush was not good at it last year but may be their most established closer. Alex Claudio picked up 11 saves but he has trouble retiring righthanded batters. Perhaps the Rangers will go with a platoon closer.

3) Left Field. With the demotion of Willie Calhoun this position appears to have a big hole. The Rangers may settle for a group of Shin-Soo Choo, Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua. Willie will be back up when his service time is limited.

Top Rookie - Willie Calhoun may have already been sent down but he will be back up when April turns to May. His defense in left field is a concern but his bat could be good enough for 30 plus homeruns.

Top Prospect - Leody Taveras began to show some power last year. He will probably be promoted to High A to play there as a teenager. Leody is a gold glove candidate for centerfield with the speed and patience to fit into a leadoff role.

Expected Finish - The pitching staff will give up a lot of runs and the offense lacks the power to mount a come back. A third place finish with a lot of air between them and the Angels is the best they can hope for.

4. Seattle Mariners

Overall - An offense that is too pedestrian, relying on two aging veterans and a pitching staff that saw its prime whizz past them without a playoff appearance. There is no Wow in this lineup or on the mound.

Strengths - 1) Designated Hitter. Nelson Cruz missed another 40 homerun season by one. His 119 RBIs led the American League. Whether his 38 year old bat can continue his offensive production is open to question.
2) Second Base. At 35 Robinson Cano is getting up in age. His stolen base numbers have dropped to one and his power has fallen below the .500 slugging standard of power hitters, but his production is still quality for the position.
3) Shortstop. Jean Segura is one of the better offensive performers in the American League. Last year he hit 11 homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Rotation. Felix Hernandez having success is the key. Without him they can only bring the brittle James Paxton as a quality rotation pitcher. It is bleak behind Hernandez and Paxton with pitchers released by other teams. Hisashi Iwakuma was limited to six starts last year because of injuries and signed a minor league contract. He won’t be ready until mid-season.
2) First Base. Ryon Healy will get the first shot. He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics. There is power in his bat with 25 homeruns but Oakland traded him because they had better options. Dan Vogelbach brings little defense to the position and may be best used as DH. Mike Ford is an unproven third option who was dumped by the Yankees.
3) Corner Outfield. Ben Gamel will miss the first month of the season. With very little depth that will force the Mariners to settle for light hitting Guillermo Heredia or the 44 year old Ichiro Suzuki, whose bat speed leaves him far below .300. Mitch Haniger played well in his 96 game stretch in right field but needs to stay healthy. There is little quality behind Gamel or Haniger.

Top Rookie - Veterans sprinkle most of the positions but Dan Vogelbach could get enough at bats rotating between first base and DH.

Top Prospects - Injuries have forced Kyle Lewis to spend too many days away from the diamond. He was hoping for a healthy year this year but knee problems shortened his Arizona Fall League stint. He had five tool potential but the knee issues could limit his speed.

Expected Finish - Too much vanilla to finish any higher than third. Their farm system will also provide little help.

5. Oakland Athletics

Overall - The Athletics seem to be floating in an ether of nothingness. It is almost as if they are not trying to be good. They make trades but seem to get no advantage from these trades. Players are traded two years before they reach their free agency which does not give the Athletics a lot of use from their players.

Strengths - 1) DH - Khris Davis has slugged 40 homeruns two years in a row. His arm and glove are not strong for the outfield so the Athletics feel a move from left field to DH is best for the defense. Some players hit better when they are more involved in the field. Give Davis a bat in his hands and he will become one of the more productive hitters in the DH slot.
2) Corner Infielders - They have two promising youngsters to fill their corner infield positions in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Olson slugged 24 homeruns in just 59 games. Both players will get on base via the walk and have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns given a full season.

Weakness - 1) Left Field. The Athletics will go with Matt Joyce who struggles to hit lefthanders, which may bring out Davis to play left field. Joyce was able to show power last year with 25 homeruns, but he has been bounced around the league. Consistency has always been his weakness.
2) Catcher. Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley bring minimal offense. This will probably be a platoon since Maxwell has trouble hitting lefthanders.
3) Second Base. Jed Lowrie has always been a backup wherever he plays. Last year he had a career year. It will be interesting to see if he can repeat his production. Franklin Barreto is a good option behind him, but he is unproven.

4) Starting Pitching. Young and lacking anyone that can be called an ace or number two starter. Sean Manaea is the ace until Puk gets called up to fill the rotation.

Rookie - The Athletics always seem to have a plethora of rookies fill their roster. Dustin Fowler appears to have won the centerfield job. Franklin Barreto must wait until Lowrie struggles or gets injured before he gets an opportunity. Watch out for A.J. Puk.

Top Prospect - A.J. Puk, the Athletics first round pick in 2016 is having a good spring. It may not take much to get him a promotion and with the injury to Jharel Cotton his opportunity may be now.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 10 -1

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

For the first time we had a tie for the number one prospect. To break that tie we will give it to the less professional player.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) 9 - His dad was a slugger for the Colorado Rockies. His mom is from Brazil, allowing him to play for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. While shortstop is his current position the concern is that he may not carry enough range to play it at the major league level, so a future position at second base is possible. The power is there but not as great as his father. Based on his minor league numbers his hit tool could be better with a .384 batting average at Low A and a .372 two year minor league average. The second round 2016 pick should join the other famous Blue Jay son compatriot Vladimir in AA to start the 2018 season.

9. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) 9.08 - The 2014 first round pick throws gas, allegedly hitting 105 on one stadium radar clock. When it is his time to pitch in the majors he will replace Aroldis Chapman for most fastballs to hit triple digits. His secondary pitches are good enough to force hitters not to sit on his fastball. His one big negative is an inability to throw strikes in stretches. Last year he got three starts in AA. His career minor league ERA is 2.74. The 2018 season will see him start it in AA with an appearance at the major league to occur sometime before the season ends.

8. Kylie Tucker OF (Astros) 9.12 - The younger brother of Preston carries more impressive tools than his older brother. The first round 2015 pick has the speed to play centerfield with the arm that could shift to right. The bat carries power, especially when the arms from his 6′4″ frame can extend. Last year he hit 25 between High A and AA. In spring training he has already dazzled with four long balls. The lefthanded bat also seems to rake against lefthanded pitching, eliminating any platoon concerns. When he reaches the major leagues he could hit 30 plus homeruns with 20 plus stolen bases, though as his 6′4 frame fills out those stolen bases could drop. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA with regular promotions to the major leagues when the Astros need outfield depth.

7. Nick Senzel 3B (Reds) 9.26 - The Reds were talking about moving the number one 2016 pick to shortstop. The down side with that is it would make him an average shortstop on defense but at third base he has the potential to be a gold glover. Having his power bat at a middle infield position would make him attractive. In AA last year he slugged .560 with 10 homeruns with his 14 doubles giving him 40 for the year. That gap power could turn to over the fence power as he matures. Nick also has a .315 career minor league average so having a .300 plus average with 30 plus homerun potential would make him an attractive player at either short or third. The Reds could start him at AA if they want to use him at short but his bat could be ready for the major leagues now.

6. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) 9.48 - The power has not appeared yet but when it does Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus homerun numbers.

5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) 9.7 - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

4. Gleyber Torres 2B/3B (Yankees) 9.72 - Gleyber missed most of last season because of Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. If not for that absence he may be the starting second baseman for the Yankees in 2018. The Yankees will try to do without him for the first month of the season to get his bat acclimated to pitching while in AAA. He also needs to get used to second base, having played short and third for much of last season, though he did squeeze in ten games at second. Gleyber was originally a shortstop but his speed and consistency at the position will not replace Didi Gregorius. His bat should hit north of .300 with 20 plus homeruns. When April turns to May Gleyber should be in the Yankees lineup.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) 9.72 - Eloy was acquired from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

2. Shohei Ohtani RHP (Angels) 9.88 - He crushes fastballs 450 feet. He can hit triple digits with his fastball. The parks in Japan tend to be shorter than the United States so his power production may drop. His fastball can also be a little straight so major league hitters could have more success against his power arm. Ohtani does have a number of other quality pitches he can throw, but he also has some less than quality pitches he tries to squeeze across the platee. If he sticks with his best pitches he should have more success. It will be interesting if the wear and tear of hitting at the DH spot will begin to sap the strength for his pitching. The Angels have stated they plan on going to a six man rotation, but some pitchers on the team prefer a five man. Ohtani will pitch for the Angels to begin the season and should win the rookie of the year award in the American League.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) 9.88 - The Braves have an opening in the outfield. Acuna is raking in spring training. It would be hard not to take him north with them in April. At 20 years old Andrew Jones starred for the Braves, but Ronald could pass him for production. The potential five tool player slugged 21 homeruns last year while stealing 44 bases. That will translate to 30/30 capability in the major leagues. His defense should also win gold gloves in centerfield. Like Torres, when April turns to May Ronald should be in the outfield for the Braves if he fails to travel north with them after spring training.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

The continuation of myworld’s top 100. To recap, this is not really my Top 100 list but a combination of Top 100s put together by Baseball America, and other top 100 lists with the rankings scored (10 for number 1 and 0.1 for number 100). You can see the complete list of top 100 rankings used on the rankings 100-91.

70. Dylan Cease RHP (White Sox) 2.86 - The Cubs could use some pitchers. They did draft Dylan in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. Tommy John surgery in high school dropped his draft status. When he recovered his fastball was hitting triple digits and sitting in the mid-90s. Rather than wait for him to develop the Cubs traded him for Jose Quintana, a pitcher they needed now to get them into the playoffs. Dylan lacks quality secondary pitches that could call for his use out of the bullpen. He did start 22 games at Low A, 13 for the Cubs and 9 for the White Sox. His command was a little spotty, walking about 4 hitters per nine innings, but he got a lot of swings and misses and limited the opposition to a .220 average. Next season he should begin it at High A. The White Sox have a host of pitchers at the upper levels so they can be patient with Dylan to allow him to eat up innings.

69. Kevin Maitan SS/3B (Angels) 2.98 - The Braves originally signed Kevin for $4.25 million. Before he played a game he made a number of Top 100 lists. After a year in the minors his prospect status has dropped. The Braves lost him to free agency to the Angels as punishment for their cheating on their international signing caps. Maitan has lost some prospect status as his lower body has gotten thicker, limiting his range at short and forcing a move to third. His bat is still considered top notch. He played in the rookie leagues last year with spotted success but one has to remember he was a high school kid playing against athletes who had graduated from high school or college. The 2018 season should be his first season of full season ball where he will play as an 18 year old. As his body fills out the power will begin to show. At least the Angels hope so.

68. Jo Adell OF (Angels) 3.04 - Adell was the first round pick of the Angels in 2017. An athletically gifted talent, he has the speed to play center, the arm to fit in right and a bat that can hit for both average and power. He rises to the top of what once was a thin Angels prospect list. In high school Adell hit 21 homeruns and struck out 7 times. Adell had more swings and misses once he started in the rookie leagues (49 whiffs in 49 games) but his batting average (.325) and power (.532 slugging) still shined through. The 2018 season he should start the year in the full season league. With Trout getting older he could move Trout back to left field in a few years if his tools continue to develop.

67. Austin Riley 3B (Braves) 3.14 - The Braves drafted Riley with the supplemental first round pick in 2015. Riley is noted for his power bat where he matched his 20 homer production of last season. His fielding could improve where his stiff hands committed 20 errors in 127 games, 13 of those errors occurring in 47 games at AA. The lack of consistency makes the move to first an option, but that position is occupied by Freddie Freeman. Third base is where they could use more immediate help but Austin may still be a couple years away. First he has to improve his ability to make contact (124) which could improve his ability to hit for a higher average. Last year he only played 48 games in AA hitting .315. If he continues that success he should see AAA by mid-season and maybe the Braves for a September callup.

66. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) 3.22 - Jesus is a five tool outfielder from the Dominican. The Rays only paid $400,000 in 2016 to sign him. He has hit .323 or greater in his first two minor league seasons. The power was restricted to the gaps until last year when he broke out for 15 homeruns, his first year in double digits. The speed exists to play center and the arm is strong enough to play right. Stolen base speed is absent. The 2018 season will see him play in High A. The rebuilding Rays expect to see him in the outfield in 2019.

65. Christian Arroyo 3B (Rays) 3.32 - Arroyo was a first round pick of the Giants way back in 2013. The Giants traded him to the Rays in the Evan Longoria swap. Originally a shortstop it was determined he did not have the range for that position. The 2018 season will see him start at third base for the Rays but it is still suspect he will hit for the power needed for the position. In an injury plagued 2018 he hit .396 in 25 games at AAA. That led to a quick promotion to the majors where he slugged a couple early season homeruns but then saw his average drop to .192. The Rays have an open spot at the position for Arroyo to lose for the 2018 season.

64. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) 3.34 - The Braves 2016 first round pick, Ian is just one in a slew of pitchers who are first round picks, many of whom started for other organizations who the Braves acquired in a trade in their rebuilding effort. The rotation could be pretty crowded once the bell rings for Ian to compete for a starting rotation spot. Ian brings three quality pitches to the mound, a fastball that sits in the low 90s that can hit mid-90s, a potential quality curve with good break and a plus change. Those are tools that will fit him in the middle of most rotations but the Braves have a large crop of quality pitchers who have number one starter stuff. Last year Anderson started 20 games in Low A, did not allow a ball to travel over the fence, finished with a 10.95 K per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .232 average. Those kind of numbers earn him a promotion to High A next year.

63. Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) 3.42 - Considered the catcher of the future for the Cardinals, once Yadier Molina decides to hang them up. Defensively he is considered to be one of the top minor league catchers in the game with a strong arm and the ability to handle a pitching staff. The big question mark for Kelly was whether his bat would be enough to justify putting him in the starting lineup. Last year he hit .283 with a .459 slugging in AAA, making good contact in his at bats. Promoted to the majors for his second year he again hit under .200 (.174). The 2018 season should see him be the back up catcher for Yadier and possibly be his replacement in 2019.

62. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) 3.66 - One of the few players born in Haiti, which made it difficult providing major league teams with documents supporting his age. The multi-tooled athlete has the five tools to be a premium outfielder. The Yankees outfield is already crowded but Estevan is still a few years away. His speed allowed him to steal more than 20 bases and his power bordered slugging .500 with 13 homeruns and an average over .300. His tools could make him a 20/20 player and if can stay in the middle of the diamond that will make him a valuable commodity, whether in the major league lineup or as a trade piece. For the 2018 season he should begin the season in High A with a quick promotion to AA once he achieves some success.

61. Chance Sisco C (Orioles) 3.66 - The Orioles second round 2013 pick is noted more for his bat than his defense. The Orioles have been patient with him, finally giving him his major league debut last year where he hit .333 with two homeruns in 18 at bats. His arm is not strong enough to stop a running game so a pitching staff like the Orioles who put a village on base will be hurt by a team with speed. The 2018 season should see him start with the Orioles. Showalter will have to pick his opportunities to suit up Sisco behind the plate.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to Note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld’s Top Rightfielders

Monday, December 11th, 2017

These are players with a strong arm who can hit for pop. We have excluded any player with a strong arm that also has speed to play center. Or at least we tried. We never thought Michael Conforto would get so much centerfield time with the Mets.

1. Eloy Jimenez (White Sox) - Easily the best of the group here. Average speed prevents him from being a five tool player and having the ability to play centerfield. He has a strong arm and the plus pop that should hit for 30 plus homeruns in the major leagues. The Cubs signed him out of the Dominican Republic for $2.8 million in 2013 but then traded him to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns playing in three different cities, hit .312 and slugged .568. A promotion to AA did not seem to phase him where he hit .353 with three homeruns and a .559 slugging percentage. The White Sox have Avisail Garcia for right field, but he is not a big impediment for a Jimenez promotion. Expect Eloy to be playing with the White Sox by mid-season 2018.

2. Kyle Tucker (Astros) - Kyle has been playing a lot of centerfield since being drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is more talented than his brother Preston who had a brief cameo with the Astros a couple years ago. Expect Kyle to make a longer stay. While his speed and instincts make centerfield a possibility, the speed is not of the burner variety and at 6′4″ he may lose a step as he bulks up. His bat does carry power as evidenced by his 25 homeruns split between High A and AA. He did steal 21 bases last year but expect those numbers to drop. The Astros outfield is still a bit crowded, though playing centerfield could be his first opportunity to make it with the Astros. Expect him to start the season in AA with a major league promotion in September, unless his numbers are so staggering the Astros need him to compete for the playoffs.

3. Kyle Lewis (Mariners) - A significant knee injury and surgery ended the 2017 season early for Kyle. How will it impact the speed of the 2016 first round pick is not known. His games in the Arizona Fall League were cut short when he appeared to experience some uneasiness in the knee. The arm is certainly strong enough to play right field if his legs are slower. The juice in his bat can carry the ball over the fence to all fields. Last year he hit 7 homeruns in 49 games, slugging .412 at two levels. The Mariners could start the season rehabbing him at Low A or having him play in extended spring training. Once his knee appears ready he could return to High A with the possibility to be promoted to AA. Don’t expect him in the major leagues before 2019.

4. Brett Phillips (Brewers) - The sixth round 2012 pick has one of the strongest arms in baseball. He also has the speed to cover ground in center. The Brewers have Lewis Brinson, a player with better defensive skills slotted for center. Brett doesn’t carry the power ideal for right so that could put him in a fourth outfielder category. Last year his power was good for 23 homeruns, including 4 in 37 games for the Brewers. There does seem to be too much swing and miss in his bats with 153 whiffs in 142 games. Brett had 34 of those whiffs in 87 at bats at the major league level. The 2018 season should see Brett start the season in AAA but a good spring could motivate the Brewers to take him to Milwaukee with them.

5. Dylan Cozens (Phillies) - The second round 2012 pick packs more power than Rhys Hoskins, though when he hit his 40 plus homeruns in AA a couple years ago it was played at the hitter friendly Reading park. The big challenge for Dylan is making contact, with 194 whiffs in 135 games last year. That resulted in a disappointing .210 average, which prevented him from joining Hoskins in the major leagues last year. Myworld expects some improvement next year as he repeats AAA and gets used to the better pitching at that level. His arm is not a cannon but it is good enough to throw runners out from right field. His average speed could actually force him to move to left. The Phillies are rebuilding so a good spring could create opportunities for him.

6. Aristides Aquino (Reds) - The Reds signed him back in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He didn’t get his first opportunity to play full season ball until 2015. Since that time he has been moving up a level each year. Next year should be AAA. There is power in his bat, though that power disappeared in major stretches in 2017. In 2016 he hit 23 homeruns with a .519 slugging. Last year he dropped to 17 homeruns with a .397 slugging percentage. He struggled to make contact last year with 145 whiffs in 131 games, resulting in his average dropping 60 points to .216 last year. Those struggles could see him repeat AA.

7. Harrison Bader (Cardinals) - The Cardinals outfield is crowded. The third round pick in the 2015 draft seems to have the best combination of power, arm and speed of those outfielders to slot in right field. Last year he slugged 23 homeruns, three of them at the major league level. His tool box is enough to give him the classification of a five tool player who exhibits attributes that are average or just above in all five tools. The one attribute he could improve on is patience. If he can narrow the 34/118 walk to whiff ratio that could put his average possibilities nearer the .300 mark. A good spring training could give him a shot at one of the outfield spots, but he has a lot of veterans ahead of him to surpass.

8. Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) - Alex was a second round pick of the Dodgers in 2014. He has a rocket for an arm, ideal for a rightfielder. His best attribute is his ability to make contact with a 52/50 walk to whiff ratio last year. The concern is his inability to show his over the fence power. His line drive stroke is good for gap hits, but adding some loft into his swing could turn some of those gappers into homers. That switch could impact his ability to make contact. His speed is not quick enough to cover the ground he needs for centerfield. Last year he saw some major league September action, hitting .174 in 23 at bats. Yasiel Puig currently has right field occupied so if Verdugo is to play next year he could have to fit in centerfield where the Dodgers lack a consistent bat.

9. Socrates Brito (Diamondbacks) - Socrates has had his opportunities but injuries have held him back. Injuries limited him to 78 games last year and no major league appearance. Socrates has the speed to play center and the arm to fit in right. The bat has not shown a lot of power so his best bet could be if he could win the centerfield job. His most likely role could be as a utility fourth outfielder. Last year in the 78 games he played his OPS was .785 with a .449 slugging average and a .291 batting average. At 25 years old, if he is going to make an impact in the outfield his time would be in 2018.

10. Austin Hays (Orioles) - The third round 2016 pick seemed to come out of nowhere to hit 33 homeruns last year. One of those homeruns came in his major league debut where he hit .217 in a September callup. The Orioles outfield situation is not crowded. Mark Trumbo plays right field but he should spend most of his time at DH next year. What myworld has seen of Hayes is a decent arm that can play in right field, not like the rockets of Verdugo or Phillips. While he showed power last year, whether he can maintain that against major league pitching is open to question. In the minor leagues he has shown the ability to hit in the .300 neighborhood. Time will tell whether the power and batting tools the Atlantic Coast Conference star has shown is a mirage or part of his daily repertoire. The right field job is there for the taking if he has a good spring training.

Others to Note

Khalil Lee (Royals) - The third round 2016 pick has a better arm for throwing out runners than the speed in his legs for catching fly balls. This does not mean he does not have the speed for centerfield, just that his overall tools may be better suited for right. Last year he slugged 17 homeruns in Low A, evidence of his power. He also struck out 171 times in 121 games, indicative of his capability to swing and miss at a lot of pitches.

Seuly Matias (Royals) - The 19 year old Dominican has perhaps the best arm on the Royals. His average speed and power in his bat makes right field the best fit.

Brandon Marsh (Angels) - At 6′4″ with a cannon for an arm makes right field the best fit for Brandon. His legs also are quick enough to cover ground in center. Can’t imagine him usurping Mike Trout from his position so we will fit the second round 2016 pick for right.

Tristan Lutz (Brewers) - The 2017 supplemental first round pick has the arm for right and the bat for the position. He also has decent speed to play center. The Brewers do have a crowded deck of outfielders. The Brewers can start Tristan at Low A and show patience with him as he develops his skills for the major leagues.

Austin Beck (Athletics) - Beck was a first round pick of the Atletics in 2017. He had a prevalence to swing and miss in his professional debut with 51 strikeouts in 41 games, limiting his average to .211. His arm was one of the best in the draft last year.

Angels in the Outfield

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

The Los Angeles Angels have used a couple unique administrative procedures to stock up their farm system. One involved violations by the Braves with the international bonus cap that resulted in the Braves forfeiting the rights to 12 players. The Angels signed two of them, Kevin Maitan ($2.2 million) and Livan Soto ($850,000). The other involved the posting of a talented Japanese player, Shohei Otani, who is still in his prime.

The Angels won the Shohei Otani sweepstakes. Shohei could be one of the best outfield prospects in baseball with the chance to make the Angels outfield next year. He has big time power with the potential to drive fastballs over 400 feet. The problem is as a starting pitcher he also has the ability to throw fastballs at greater than 100 miles per hour. If you tracked the velocity of his fastballs over the course of the Japanese season and compared them to major league starting pitchers he would be the hardest throwing starting pitcher in major league baseball. Take that Noah Syndegaard. That major league quality fastball gives him one of the strongest arms in baseball for a right fielder.

The quandary? Where do you play Otani. While splitting time between playing outfield, at DH and pitching Otani has been prone to injury. Last year his starting pitching was limited because of an ankle injury that resulted from running the bases. He had surgery on the ankle over the off season and it should be healed by spring training, though it may limit him. He has also missed a few starts in previous years because of injuries that were the result of his two way play.

The Nippon Ham Fighters limited him to DH to avoid those injuries. They would not play him the day before he pitched or the day after he pitched. When he did pitch they would put him in the lineup and he would hit cleanup. With his signing Otani would be considered the top prospect in baseball, though that is a bit tainted because of his professional play in Japan and his age (24 in July 2018). While he is listed at 6′3″ some have said he may be closer to 6′5″.

Otani is not the only outfield prospects the Angels have. They used their draft picks the last two years on two talented outfielders. The most talented is Jo Adell, who was their first round pick in 2017. He has the speed to play centerfield and the arm to play right. There is some pop in his bat and combined with his speed he combined for 24 extra base hits last season, eight of them triples out of 66 hits in his first half season of baseball. He also pitched in high school and was clocked with a mid-90s fastball, but the Angels are using him strictly as an outfielder. His one big issue is his propensity to swing and miss with 49 whiffs in 49 games.

Another high draft pick is Jahmai Jones, who was drafted by the Angles in the second round in 2015. His dad played professional football and his siblings were talented football players as well. Jones is extremely athletic with the speed and the instincts to cover centerfield. He has the arm to play right, but it is weak when compared to Otani and Adell. He had the pop to hit 14 homeruns last year and slugged .447 between Low and High A. Jones has the ability to make better contact than Adell but with less power potential.

Another second round pick, this one in 2016 is Brandon Marsh. At 6′4″ he has the typical look of a right fielder. His arm is strong and he has the ability to pop the ball if he can get his arms extended. A stress fracture in his back forced him to miss all of 2016 and get a late start to his 2017 season where in 39 games at the short season league he hit .350 with a .944 OPS. Next year will be key for him where he will start the season in Low A playing a full season.

The Braves loss was the Angels gain when they signed two of their players after they were declared free agents. Kevin Maitan may be the best signing. When the Braves signed him for $4.25 million last year he was immediately considered one of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Some of that prospect luster has worn off and many think he will have to move from shortstop to third base. He also struggled a bit with the bat, hitting just .241 with 49 whiffs in 42 games. The power also did not register in games with a miniscule .340 slugging average. What one has to remember is Maitan is only 17 years old and last year was his first exposure to minor league baseball as a 16 year old. Most kids in the United States would still be hitting high school pitching.

The Angels also signed Livan Soto, who may have better defensive tools than Maitan for playing shortstop. Soto is not as strong as Maitan and may not carry as big a bat. Most projections for him are to fill in as a utility player at the major league level. Last year Soto hit .225 with a .254 slugging percentage, but again he was a 16 year old playing for the first time in the minor leagues. His biggest need is to build some strength on his 6′0″ 160 pound frame.

A couple other prospects to watch are two players drafted as catchers in the first round who may have to move from that position. Taylor Ward was the Angels first round pick in 2015. He was drafted for his bat but that has not developed as hoped. Last year he .258 with a .390 slugging. His arm is strong enough to settle at catcher but his other attributes need to get better. At one point there was thought he could move to first if catching did not work out, but his bat has not shown the power to be a fit at that position. They have left him at catcher and there are hopes his other defensive tools for the position improve.

Matt Thais was a first round pick of the Angels in 2016. He was immediately moved from catcher to first base, where his power is greater than Taylor Ward. While he only slugged .395 the Angels believe the power is there. Unfortunately, Thais has the speed of a catcher so if first base does not work a move to the outfield would make him a defensive liability.

Other than Otani, where the Angels could use some improvement in the minor leagues is with their pitching. They have spent most of their high draft picks the last couple years on bats. The arms are what need to be developed next. Griffin Canning was a second round pick in 2017 but he has not played yet. They have no real power pitchers that consistently throw in the mid-90s. They’ll need to find a couple of those if they want to contend. Otani is a good first step in that process.

Top First Base Prospects

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Major league first baseman come from a number of different positions. Catchers who can not make it behind the plate, outfielders who lack the speed to cover the grass and third baseman who lose their mobility to react to balls hit at them. Those players who start as first baseman in the minor leagues have a large pool to compete against. The below list is composed of those players in the minor leagues who played first base. We don’t try to project other players having to move positions.

1. Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks) - The 2017 first round pick of the Diamondbacks has Paul Goldschmidt in his way at first. The college drafted hitter had more balls carry over the fence than strikeouts last year while playing in college. In his 195 official at bats in the minor leagues he could not lift any balls over the fence but he hit .318 with a .401 OBA and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. There is no speed to his legs so moving to the outfield would be difficult. The D-backs have a couple years to figure out what they want to do with Smith. He will need to hit for more power to make it to the major leagues, but his defense is solid at the position.

2. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Is he a hitter or a left handed pitcher? The first round pick in 2017 was drafted ahead of Smith in the first round. The lefthander does not have an overpowering fastball, but some project the velocity would increase if he focused more on the mound. A wicked curve ball and command are what he uses to retire hitters, traits that some lefthanded pitchers use to thrive in the major leagues. As a hitter the bat is strong, with the ability to hit a consistent .300, though he only hit .232 last year. The power is not great but good enough to hit 20 plus homeruns. Brendan also lacks the speed to move to the outfield but his defensive skills around the bag are good.

3. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The Canadian has the power you look for in a first baseman. The Marlins drafted him in the first round then traded him to the Padres to acquire Andrew Cashner. For a player who makes contact with the ball he does not hit for a high average. In the California League he did hit .297 but when promoted to AA he dropped to .250. Defense and speed will not be part of his game, so if he cannot make it at first base he needs to be traded to the American League where he can fit as a DH. His lack of speed will limit him to one base at a time baserunning.

4. Chris Shaw (Giants) - The first round pick in 2015 has the power to hit at the position. Last year he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA. Brandon Belt currently stands in his way. The Giants have tried to move Chris to left field but his lack of speed is a liability there. Belt may not hit for the power of Shaw but he is a better defender at first base and will hit for a better average. Shaw needs to consistently get his 6′4″ frame into the pitch to line drive balls into the gaps or carry them over the fence. At 24 years of age Chris is ready for the major leagues now.

5. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Myworld likes the power of Bradley. The 2014 third round pick needs to make more consistent contact to see those power numbers jump. Last year he slugged 23 homeruns in AA while cutting down on the swings and misses. His lack of speed will prevent him from moving to another position but his below average defense at first base may leave the DH position as his best alternative. With the power he can carry to all fields the Indians will eventually want to see his bat in the lineup. Expect that to happen sometime in the 2018 season.

6. Sam Travis (Red Sox) - The second round 2014 pick may lack the power of your conventional firstbaseman. His hits will find the gaps to drive in runs and the bat should stick around the .300 neighborhood. Travis did suffer a tear in his ACL in 2016 but appears to have recovered, seeing some time in the major leagues last year. The bat failed to carry a ball over the fence in over 70 major league at bats. His defense is good at the position and his moderate speed could allow him to move to the outfield. His weak arm would limit him to left field.

7. Peter Alonso (Mets) - The second round 2016 pick has already reached AA. His defense is better than Dominic Smith and he carries more power. The speed is not there for him to move to the outfield. The Mets will give Dominic the chance to keep the position and if he succeeds the Mets could use Alonso as trade bait. Myworld thinks they would do better trading Dominic. Last year Alonso hit 18 homeruns with a .524 slugging percentage. The Mets can use him one more year in the minor leagues but in 2019 they may have to make a decision between the two for their first baseman of the future.

8. Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays) - You have to like the name. Drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 draft most teams did not like the skills. He does show power in his 6′4″ inch frame and he hits left handed. Last year that power did not show (.333 slugging) and he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line with his batting average (.222). His defense is not that strong for him to be put out at first if the bat does not make an appearance. Last year he slugged .530 with 23 homeruns so we will give him a mulligan on the 2017 season. His lack of speed will make a move to the outfield a liability.

9. Matt Thaiss (Angels) - The first round pick in 2016 was drafted as a catcher. To speed up the ascent of his bat to the major leagues the Angels moved him to first base. Right now his power is limited to the gaps. There is good contact in his swing and the ability to hit .300. If his good contact can carry 20 balls over the fence each year the Angels will take that. His defense at first base still needs some work but he has the ability to be an average defender. With the plethora of players the Angels have at the position his bat needs to find a way for the Angles to make room for him. His lack of speed will make movement to the outfield difficult.

10. Brent Rooker (Twins) - The supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft played some at first base, but his speed allowed him to spend most of his time in the outfield. In his minor league debut he slugged 18 homeruns with a .566 slugging, finding himself carrying balls over the Florida State League fences. With Miguel Sano planted at first base for the Twins future myworld expects the Rooker move to the outfield more permanent.

Others to consider

Samir Duenez (Royals) - With Eric Hosmer a free agent the Royals may have to find room for Samir. His bat falls short in power, though he hit 17 homeruns last year. The lack of tools make him a tweener at all the positions.

Casey Gillaspie (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick is another one of those players who is just below average in all the tools to make for a dynamic player at first base. He will clog the bases when running so his speed would be a liability in the outfield.

Nick Pratto (Royals) - A 2017 first round pick who could be the Royals long term answer at first base. He was also a two way player but the Royals like his bat better than his arm. His defense is good around the bag and he has the ability to hit for power and average.

Evan White (Mariners) - Another 2017 first round pick, Evan has the speed to move to the outfield but the glove to save a lot of runs at the position. Power may be an issue but at 6′3″ he has the frame to extend and develop that power.

Jake Bauers (Rays) - His best position is probably first base but the Rays are using him in left field. His tools may make him a tweener, not enough power for first and lacks the defense to be an attribute in the outfield.

Ronald Guzman (Rangers) - The Rangers spent $3.45 million to sign him. His lack of speed forced a move to first. His power is more oriented towards the gaps.

Myworld’s Top Ten Catching Prospects

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Myworld will spin around each of the positions and give out our top ten prospects. Obviously we can’t see every player in the minor leagues so a lot of what we assess is based on what we read. There may be some bias on players we watch, especially in the Eastern League. Players drafted in 2017 have to have performed exceptionally well or be considered can’t miss prospects to make this list. We are more attracted to results rather than just tools.

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - A 50 game hitting streak and .380 batting average last year shows he has the stick. His average dropped almost 100 points this year but most teams would take a .297 average from their catchers. The power exists for double digits in homeruns. He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball. There is little not to like other than his foot speed. Expect him to be catching for the Indians by mid-season in 2018. To think they had him traded to the Brewers in 2016 for Jonathan Lucroy, but Lucroy nixed the deal.

2. Jorge Alfaro (Phillies) - He has been a prospect for quite awhile. Originally signed by the Rangers out of Colombia they traded him to the Phillies in the Cole Hamel trade. He has a power bat and a strong arm. Injuries have prevented him from development time and stalled his major league debut until last year. His batting average may suffer because of his tendency to swing and miss. In 2017 he slugged .514 in 107 at bats. Expect him to start with the Phillies to begin the 2017 season.

3. Carson Kelly (Cardinals) - Probably one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. If not for Yadier Molina he would be starting for some major league team. His arm is not as strong as Mejia or Alfaro but his catching tools, blocking the plate and framing the pitch are more polished. The bat may be a bit of a concern but the power exists for him to reach double digits. In his two major league seasons he has yet to hit over .200 with no homeruns in less than 100 at bats.

4. Zack Collins (White Sox) - A first round 2016 pick has the bat to hit 20 plus homeruns. He needs to make more contact otherwise his average will suffer. Last year he struck out 129 times in 113 games resulting in a batting average of .224. His defensive skills are spotty and could result in a move to first base, but his power should be more than enough to fit at the position. For now the White Sox will hope he can fit behind the plate.

5. Meibrys Viloria (Royals) - Last year the Colombia native hit .436. His career average stood at .391 for three seasons. This year was a clunker for him (.259). 2018 will determine if this season was an aberration. His power is mostly to the gaps with the speed not to turn too many of them into triples. His lefthanded bat gives him extra points. His arm is good and his catching skills are there for him to fit at the position. Most rate Chase Vallot ahead of him. Chase may carry more power but his hit tool is lacking and his defense is spotty.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Lots of Venezuela players finding themselves behind the plate. The Dodgers signed Keibert for $140,000 in 2014. Coming into the 2017 season Ruiz had a career average of .344. The bat continued to stay hot with a .316 average at two different levels in 2017. The power seemed to arrive in the California League with six homeruns in 150 at bats, doubling his two year career average. He lacks a strong arm but a quick release compensates.

7. Chance Sisco (Orioles) - Another player with a less than average arm, but a bat that could hit for a high average. His power is restricted to the gaps. The second round 2013 pick made his major league debut this year, hitting .333 with two homeruns in less than 30 at bats. Wellington Castillo will opt out of his contract giving the Orioles an opportunity to take a chance on Chance to begin the 2018 season.

8. Taylor Ward (Angels) - The 2015 first round pick hit .349 his first year in the minor leagues. His offensive numbers have not been that strong since. There is some power in the bat that may allow him to reach double digits in homeruns. His arm is strong with solid defensive skills which should allow him to be a backup catcher in the major leagues if his bat does not match his glove.

9. Pedro Severino (Nationals) - Myworld thought he was a better option than Jose Lobaton on the major league club. Many question whether the bat will develop. He lacks power with a hit tool that should fall below .250. Pedro did hit .321 in his major league debut in 2016 with less than 30 at bats. In 2017 that batting average dropped to .172. His defense is strong with a rifle for an arm. If his bat does not develop his defensive tools are good enough for him to fill a back up job for the Nationals.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - The Puerto Rican finished in the top three of the Captain’s Choice award, which recognizes the best defensive players at each position. The bat is strong enough to hit for double digits in homeruns and his arm is strong enough to control a running game. The Mets drafted him in eighth round in 2012. In 2016 he had a breakout year with a .320 average and seven homeruns. Last year was a down year for him with a .232 average. He did draw a career high 30 walks so that should put him on a favorable run. The Mets are known for their prospects behind the plate in the minor leagues, but it has not produced once they hit the big leagues

Other Catchers of Note:

Alex Jackson (Braves) - The Mariners drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Because he had one of the better bats out of high school the Mariners moved him from catcher to right field. He failed. The Mariners traded him to the Braves for a couple mid-reliever pitchers and his bat blossomed once he was returned to catcher. There is pop in his bat with an arm that was solid enough for right field.

Aramis Garcia (Giants) - He has a strong arm with a good bat that can produce for power. His biggest impediment is Buster Posey behind the plate. One of those two players needs to move to first. Aramis has the power to fit at first.

Chase Vallot (Royals) - See Meibry Viloria.

Jose Trevino (Rangers) - the Captain’s Choice catcher of the year, which is given to the catcher with the best defensive tools. He makes good contact with the potential for power.

AL West Minor League All Stars

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Baseball America came out with their minor league classification All Stars. Below are the players who made the list from the AL West. They may not be the best prospects, but they had the best seasons for 2017.

Houston Astros

Derek Fisher OF (AAA) - Derek would have had a third consecutive 20/20 season if not for an early callup to the Astros. His production made Nori Aoki obsolete in Houston. He has a combination of power and speed with a left handed bat that will make him popular in the lineup. A weak arm will restrict him to left field.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim


Oakland Athletics

Jorge Mateo SS (AA) - The Yankees included him in a trade to acquire Sonny Gray. It extended his stint at short, but do not be surprised to see an eventual move to the outfield. His main attribute is his speed, stealing 52 bases last year. Jorge also has some emerging power with a career high 12 homeruns. That speed and power mix also produced 18 triples.

Greg Deichmann OF (short season) - Greg does not have any overwhelming tools. Power and a strong arm will have him fit best in right field. At 22 years of age he was one of the older players in short season.

Parker Dunshee SP (short season) - He pitched 38 innings and did not allow a run, limiting the opposition to a .119 average. When the playoffs started he was tattooed for seven runs in less than three innings. The seventh round pick out of Wake Forest does not have dazzling stuff and at 22 years of age he was a bit older than his competetion, so what he does as he rises up a level will be key.

Seattle Mariners

Nick Neidert SP (High A) - The second round 2015 pick is not overpowering, with a fastball in the low 90s. His best pitch at this point is his change up and his ability to command his pitches. He did get knocked around when promoted to AA, the opposition hitting him at a .324 clip.

Joseph Rosa 2B (short season) - Does not seem to possess any top of the scale tools. He did hit a career high 6 homeruns for a .531 slugging average. This is his third season in short season ball so he needs to prove himself at the higher classifications.

Juan Then SP (Dominican) - Pitched well in the Dominican League but that is all we can say about him. Juan struck out 8.2 hitters per 9 innings and limited the opposition to a .220 average.

Texas Rangers

Willie Calhoun DH (AAA) - The Dodgers traded him to the Rangers as part of the Yu Darvish deal. With the Dodgers Calhoun played second base but his defense is lacking there. A move to left field would be ideal to accommodate his suspect glove. What he does possess is a bat that carries homerun power with 31 last year and 27 the previous year.

Cole Ragens SP (short season) - A first round pick in the 2016 draft, the lefty throws a decent fastball in the low 90s but complements it with a solid curveball and change. Cole had a quite impressive 13.7 whiffs per 9 innings, but needs to find the plate more with 35 walks in 57 innings.

Hans Crouse SP (rookie) - The second round 2017 pick has a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach the high 90s. That overpowering stuff resulted in a walk to whiff ratio of 13.5 whiffs per nine and a .109 opposition average. At 6′4″ he has good height for a starting pitcher.