Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Top Prospects from Colombia

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last year we included the top prospects in the “Best Prospects from South America” List. Five Colombian players were named on that list. One of them graduated to major league baseball (Jorge Alfaro) and is no longer considered a prospect. The four remaining reappear on the top prospects from Colombia list. Myworld was able to find ten players who we felt had enough skills to make it to the major leagues. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - The Rays signed the infielder for $225,000 and then converted him to catcher. His biggest asset is his arm and the ability to hit for power. While the arm can control a running game he is still learning the other aspects of the game such as blocking the ball and framing the pitch that will get him to the major leagues. His defensive mechanics other than his arm would fall below average. On the offensive side, the bat showed it can hit for some power, crashing 21 homeruns last year and slugging .494 at Low A. This year he is trying to tackle High A in the Florida State League which is more of a pitcher’s park. He has five homeruns, but a much worse walk to whiff ratio (6/32), which could be a cause for concern. His batting average is still high (.287) but his OBA has dropped 20 points (.313). He is still a couple years from the major leagues.

2. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Patino back in 2016 for $130,000. At the time he was still a teenager lacking meat on his bones. He has picked up 40 pounds since that signing and his fastball velocity has gone up ten miles per hour, hitting the high 90s but sitting in the mid-90s. He also has an excellent slider that crosses the plate in the mid-80s. Finding an off speed pitch (curve or change) would make him effective as a starter. The one concern is his smallish frame, which at 6′0″ is death for right handed starters. Last year he dominated at Low A (2.16 ERA). This year a promotion to High A has not impacted his pitching, his ERA (2.92) and opposition average (.194) still showing he can dominate at that level. The Padres are flush with pitching prospects so there will be no rush to move him up the system. Expect him to make the major leagues sometime in 2020.

3. Luis Escobar (Pirates) - Luis signed back in 2013 for $150,000. He was signed as a third baseman but the Pirates moved him to the mound. He has bulked up another 60 pounds since his signing and his fastball now hits 97, but sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range. He has the secondary pitches to make it as a starter (curve and change) but he lacks the command to get them over the plate with any regularity. Last year he walked 59 hitters in 129 innings. That is almost a walk every other inning. This year he has walked 18 in 40 innings. Last year he got seven starts in AA (4.54 ERA). This year the Pirates have tried him out in the bullpen in High A, then skipping him to AAA where he has been used as a starter and reliever. His career opposition batting average entering the 2019 season was a pretty impressive .216. This year he has gotten it down to .150. The Pirates have had dome frustration as they have promoted their younger pitchers to the major leagues and achieved very little success. With every failure comes a greater opportunity for Escobar to show what he can do. Before the 2019 season ends he could start his career in the Pirates bullpen.

4. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals) - The Royals signed him back in 2013 for $460,000. In his first year stateside he shocked the minor league world in 2016 with a .376 average in rookie ball. The last two years he has been stuck at .260. Last year with the injury to Salvador Perez he got his major league opportunity, appearing in 10 games and hitting .259. That first year batting average appears to be a bit of an outlier. After getting off to a slow start in 2019 he has gotten his average up to .254. He is more noted for his defense and his strong arm that can control the running game than his bat. The Royals appear to have a top flight catcher (M.J. Melendez) ahead of him on the depth chart, which could cause a move to another organization if he wants to get playing time. He is currently in AA and should see some time in September, or earlier if an injury results in a promotion. At worst his solid defense would make him an excellent backup catcher.

5. Oscar Mercado OF (Indians) - Oscar was a second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, signing for $1.5 million. He was traded to the Indians last year for two lower level outfielders. Mercado moved from Colombia to the United States when he was eight years old, growing up in Florida and gaining a reputation as an excellent shortstop. He was moved to the outfield in 2017. There is not a lot of power in his game. Playing good defense and stealing bases will be his specialities. Last year he stole 37 bases in AAA, scoring 85 runs. The Indians are very weak in the outfield and that weakness led to a promotion to the major leagues this year. After hitting .294 in AAA Mercado continues to hit for the Indians with a .306 average. He has also shown some surprising pop with three homeruns in just 26 games. If this kind of production continues with the Indians he will graduate from prospect status and not appear on this list next year.

6. Harold Ramirez OF (Marlins) - With the Pirates he was once a big time prospect. Signed way back in 2011 he got a bit heavy and out of shape and his prospect status suffered. The Pirates traded him in 2016 to the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays did not see anything in him and outrighted him last year. That is where the Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent. He has resurrected his career, killing it in AAA with a .355 average and a .999 OPS. The Marlins promoted him and have been using him in centerfield, where they had hoped Luis Brinson would have been the answer. His success in the major leagues (.325) appears to indicate that he will be another player to graduate from the prospect list.

7. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - Jhon was signed by the Indians in 2016 for $150,000. Ironic that he was one of the two outfielders the Indians traded to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Could be the first trade where two Colombians were traded for each other. He did not make his state side debut until last year when he hit .397 in 17 games at the Gulf Coast League. At 6′4″ he can generate some power in his swing, hitting 8 homeruns last year in just 44 rookie league games. His arm is built to play right field. The Indians may be getting some good use out of Mercado now, but in the future they may regret trading Torres. The Cardinals have him playing Low A, where he has struggled in his 21 games (.167 average). When the rookie leagues begin he will probably be demoted there to get his bat working.

8. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Jordan signed in 2016 for $275,000. Last year he played in the Arizona Rookie League where he showed a good ability to get on base (.371). He has the defensive tools to play third base. His power is currently restricted to the gaps. Whether his 5′10″ frame can generate more pop is open to question. Last year he hit his first and only professional homerun. In the New York Penn League he went deep early where in three games he is hitting .364. He is still a long way from the major leagues. A lot of developing needs to be done.

9. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Signed in 2016 for $150,000 Santiago has the height (6′5″) and the fastball (mid-90s) to get the Pirates excited. His curveball has some promise but there is no real third pitch yet and his command is suspect. Last year he walked 23 hitters in 43 innings and saw his innings limited because of a barking elbow. There is a lot of development to do. He will work on that in the 2019 season when the rookie level leagues begin.

10. Danis Correa RHP (Cubs) - We needed a tenth player but don’t know a lot about Danis other than his fastball has hit triple digits, but sits at the mid-90s. At 5′11″ his height goes against him as a right handed pitcher. Last year he only was able to pitch in two games of relief at the rookie level. The year before he pitched 40.2 innings. At 19 years of age the Cubs are possibly waiting for the rookie leagues to begin before they put Correa on the mound.

Mr Consistent

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Khris Davis went 2 for 5 yesterday. That put his average at .247. For the last four years his batting average at the end of the season has finished at .247. That is about as consistent as you can be. His lifetime batting average is .248 because of his first year when he hit an outlier .279.

Another thing Davis is consistent at is hitting 40 plus homeruns each season. The last three seasons he has hit over 40 homeruns, hitting 42 in 2016, 43 in 2017 and 48 in 2018.

Myworld will predict for the 2019 season Kris Davis will hit .247 with 42 homeruns. Those are numbers you can almost take to the bank.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

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.

Top 100 - 40 - 31

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

The Braves dominate this ten with 30 percent of the players, all of them right handed pitchers. The Dodgers and Mets both have a duo of position players that will impact their future lineup. That accounts for 70 percent of the players.

40. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) - The Braves 2017 first round pick is having such a strong spring that he may force his way into the rotation. Last year he appeared in four games in relief. His low to mid 90s fastball and curve are good one-two punches but 43 walks in 109 innings is a cause for concern. Even in his six inning major league debut he had a 6/5 walk to whiff ratio. Another half season in AAA would be ideal. He was the first player in the 2017 draft to get promoted to the major leagues.

39. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres may be a better defensive shortstop than Ahmed Rosario, but that is like trying to argue over which of two models is the most beautiful. Since Ahmed did not do anything to disappoint Andres will have to move to second. Offensively he does not appear to be a difference maker in the lineup. His power is lacking and except for his debut season in the Dominican Summer League he has not hit over .300 in his two years playing in the States. Robinson Cano has the next couple years at second base so Gimenez will play one more season at AA/AAA. A September callup is in the cards and a utility role may be his assignment in 2020.

38. Alex Verdugo RF (Dodgers) - Alex Verdugo may hit for average. Myworld looks at his tools and sees a fourth outfielder. The arm has the strength to play right field but his ability to hit for power is lacking. He also feels a bit of entitlement to the right field job after only hitting .260 last year with a .706 OPS. That is not the kind of production playoff teams look for in their corner outfielders. Perhaps he will mature and earn his position in right field with solid production. The Dodgers traded their two corner outfielders from last year, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp so there is an opening for Alex to take.

37. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan has the chance to be a two way player. He has the arm and defensive tools to be a solid defensive catcher. He also has the bat to hit for average and power. He has a .309 minor league career average and slugged 12 homeruns last year. The Dodgers do not have any catchers on their roster who can prevent Ruiz from taking over the position once he is ready. Trusting a rookie catcher with playoff implications on the line is tough so he will start the season in AAA and could be promoted by mid-season if injuries or struggles give the Dodgers no choice to salvage the 2019 season.

36. Peter Alonso 1B (Mets) - In the Futures game myworld witnessed a jaw dropping homerun that landed on the pavilion at Nationals Park. Only Albert Pujols has hit one there. The second round 2016 pick is not a defensive specialist at first base and has a propensity to swing and miss. His batting average will probably float around the .250 range but when he hits the ball it will travel a long way. Last year he slugged 36 homeruns between AA and AAA. Dominic Smith has been a disappointment at first base and also plays a poor defense. Both are having excellent springs. If push comes to shove Dominic has the most experience which will mean Alonso has to spend at least a half season in the minor leagues. Eventually he will beat out Smith for the first base job and if the National League adopts the DH the Mets could keep both and DH one.

35. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) - Ian Anderson was a first round pick of the Braves in 2016. He has a lively fastball that can hit the mid-90s with a curve to buckle knees. The walks could be reduced but High A hitters struggled with a .198 average against him. Drafted out of high school he is still a couple years away from being considered for a rotation spot but at 6′3″ he has a good frame to be a durable starting pitcher. Ian got four AA starts last year and will probably start the 2019 season there. The Braves have no reason to rush him with their surplus of pitching.

34. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves) - Dave Stewart did not think he would ever become a major league pitcher and sent him to the Braves with Bronson Arroyo to reduce salary. In his defense Toussaint did have trouble finding the plate but those issues appear to be rectified. Touki made his major league debut last year and is the favorite to win a spot in the back end of the rotation in 2019, especially with Mike Foltynewicz starting the season on the disabled list. Touki was born in Florida but his parents come from Haiti. The Diamondbacks wasted a first round pick for him in 2014 to get nothing in return.

33. Joey Bart C (Giants) - Joey “Bay Area Rapid Transit” Bart has a perfect name for San Francisco. With Buster Posey declining in his catching skills Bart is in a great position to take over that spot, especially now that the Giants are close to that tank and rebuild mode. Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018. The bat will hit for big time power as his 13 homeruns in rookie ball prove. His arm is strong enough to control the running game. The other intangibles will develop with experience. Joey will start the 2019 season in a full season league. As a drafted college player he should move up the ranks quickly.

32. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in 2018, just as he was dominating in spring and the talk was that he was earning a spot in the Athletics rotation. The 2016 first round pick has an explosive fastball that is clocked in the high 90s. At 6′7″ and throwing lefthanded that is a keeper. He needs to improve on his third pitch (change) and enhance his control to make it as a starter. Also, after missing all of last season the Athletics will be patient with him as he eats up innings in rehab. Myworld does not expect to see him in the Athletics rotation until 2020.

31. Brendan McKay 1B/LHP (Rays) - The Rays are hoping to make the 2017 first round pick a two way player. Currently his arm is way ahead of his bat. During his college days his primary position was at first base and he was used as a reliever. Facing minor league pitching he has only been able to hit .221 with a .366 slugging. That will not cut it as a first baseman in the major leagues. It could make him a third or fourth pinch hitting possibility. His left handed arm has been a pleasant surprise with a fastball in the low 90s with an excellent feel for the strike zone. Joe Kelly found his arm rising higher up the minor league level than his bat could keep up and eventually focused on pitching. The same may apply to McKay as his arm outpaces his bat. He could start next season in AA but his bat may not be ready yet for that level.

AL West Predictions

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

With the start of the major league baseball season tomorrow in Japan, myworld thought we would begin our predictions, beginning with the
AL West. There are still some talented free agents out there so teams can still improve if they want to spend the money.

1. Houston Astros

Strengths - This lineup will hit. Except for catcher and first base the other positions will play above average on offense. It also has depth, especially around the infield. Losing Marwin Gonzalez hurt but they hope Tony Kemp will fill his role. Yuli Gurriel and Almedys Diaz can also play three different infield positions.

Weakness - While the starting rotation is still pretty solid losing two starters, Dallas Keuchel to free agency and Lance McCullers to injury, hurts their depth. Colin McHugh is being moved to the rotation after having success in the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation starter, but in the bullpen he was the setup guy. That is a minus. Robinson Chirinos has hit 35 homeruns the last two years but compared to their other position players the catching position is a bit too much vanilla.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With holes in the rotation Forrest Whitley could be the Dodgers version of Walker Buehler last year. Expect him to be up by mid-season. The outfield is a bit crowded with George Springer, Mickey Brantley and Josh Reddick but Kyle Tucker has some game changing tools. Last year he only hit .141 but he will be better next year. Astros need a lefthander out of the bullpen. Eventually they will need to callup Cionel Perez. Josh James and Framber Valdez could be used out of the bullpen or in the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - A potent lineup and two starting pitchers who can dominate a lineup give the Astros the AL West and possibly a visit to the World Series.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Sttrengths - Having the best player in baseball in Mike Trout is a good start. It has been a couple years since the Angels made the playoffs so having Trout in the lineup is no guarantee. With Justin Upton in left they need a bounce back season from Kole Calhoun to make the outfield quiet formidable. The defense on the left side with Zach Cozart at third and Andrelton Simmons at short will save a lot of runs for the Angels pitching staff.

Weakness - Teams make the playoffs with a good rotation and the Angels do not have one. They lack an ace unless the newly acquired Dark Knight Matt Harvey has a rebirth. Trevor Cahill is the only arm in this rotation who saw his ERA south of 4 last year. If Albert Pujols plays more than 100 games this lineup is in trouble. The one time slugger had an OPS of .700 and that is not what you want from your DH.

Prospects to Make an Impact - An injury to Jo Adell will put him on the disabled list to start the season but if Calhoun struggles as he did last season expect him to be put in the outfield. He is a five tool player. If the rotation struggles as is expected Griffin Canning could make his debut at the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - They could win enough games to make the Wild Card but the rotation needs to stay healthy and Mike Trout needs to have an MVP like season. Shohei Ohtani needs to bounce back quickly from his Tommy John surgery and occupy the DH spot.

3. Oakland Athletics

Strengths - The corner infielders Matt Chapman at third and Matt Olson at first may be the best in baseball. The two combined last year for 54 homeruns and could improve on that in 2019. Khris Davis at DH gives this lineup a threesome with the possibility of hitting 30 plus homeruns each. Myworld expects Jurickson Profar to have a break out year now that he has a set position at second base.

Weakness - The rotation is young and lacks an ace. Sean Manaea could fill that role but he will be out until after the All Star break. They will need to replace the 37 starts they lost with the departure of Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill. Proven commodities are not available.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The starting rotation should see Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk become 40 percent of the rotation. Puk is still recovering from Tommy John and like Manaea will probably not be available until after the All Star break. Sean Murphy could be their catcher before the season is out. Eventually the Athletics will have to find a position for Jorge Mateo. Expect him to play a utility role, filling in at centerfield and in the middle infield.

Expected Finish - It will be hard for Blake Treinen to repeat his closer performance from last year. That will be the difference from making the playoffs and falling short with a third place finish.

4. Texas Rangers

Strengths - Joey Gallo should hit a lot of homeruns, but he needs to improve his average. Whether he plays left field or centerfield will all depend on the offense of Delino Deshields. Not a lot to see here with one of many teams choosing to tank for the 2019 season.

Weakness - The retirement of Adrian Beltre gives them a hole at third base that Asdrubal Cabrera will try to fill. Starting pitching will let this team down with a collection of arms that have seen their best years in the rear view mirror.

Expected Finish - Battling with the Mariners for the basement of the AL West.

5. Seattle Mariners

Strengths - Mitch Haniger is a player you would come to the ball park to see play. Yusei Kikuchi will try to replicate his numbers in Japan to the major leagues. After that it gets bleak, unless you like watching a DH like Edwin Encarnacion hit 30 plus homeruns.

Weakness - Losing Kyle Seager to begin the season could have a negative impact on the defense, putting Ryon Healy at third and playing a couple DHs in Dan Vogelbach or Edwin Encarnacion at first. Losing teams don’t need a closer and the Mariners lack one.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Rangers for the last spot in the AL West. Whoever trades their most assets first before the trading deadline reaches will get to the bottom first.

Top 100 - 70-61

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Continuing with our Top 100 list

70. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - In the Arizona Fall League Nate was consistently reaching the plate north of 100 miles per hour. The reason the 2017 first round pick was pitching in the AFL is because injuries limited him to just one start and less than two innings for the regular season. In 2017 he started eight games, tossing 20 innings and limited the hitters to a .106 average. While he possesses lots of heat his secondary pitches are a little raw and he needs to find the plate more. This could force him into a bullpen role. At 22 years of age the Jays will start him in High A and hope for quick promotions to get him ready for the major league roster. At 6′6″ he has the intimidation factor going for him.

69. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - The smooth fielding shortstop is just one of many players that seem to be cropping up from the Bahamas. The Diamondbacks were actually in the Bahamas to watch Lucius Fox when they spotted Jazz. His price ($200,000) was more reasonable than Fox ($6 million) and now it appears Jazz may be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there for him to stay at shortstop. The bat looks like it can carry some pop with 25 homeruns last year. The hope is that he reduces his strikeouts (149 in 112 games) to allow him to be an offensive threat. The AA season in 2019 should be a real test for him.

68. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - This is the oldest and best of the two Luis Garcias. The other is a shortstop prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. Luis has the bat to hit for average with his .298 last year and .303 in 2017. The concern is finding a position for him. Trea Turner plays short, Carter Kieboom will play second or third and the Nationals would like to sign Anthony Rendon to an extension. That fills up the infield. A super utility role could be in his future. There is not a lot of power in his bat but he has the capability to compete for batting titles. He could start the 2019 season in AA.

67. Travis Swaggerty OF (Pirates) - The 2018 first round pick was part of the United States gold medal winning national team in the 18 and under division. He does have raw power that allows him to clear the fence pretty easily. His other tools are also average to plus with a solid arm that will put him in right and decent speed that will allow him to play centerfield in a pinch. Last year he struggled in his first taste of full season ball (.129) so expect him to repeat that level in 2019.

66. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) - The Tigers 2016 first round pick has a fastball that can fly across the plate in the mid-90s. His 6′6″ inch frame also makes him an intimidating presence on the mound. His hammer curve is a tough pitch for hitters to make contact with, resulting in 154 whiffs in 117 innings. His success resulted in two appearances in AA which is where he should start the 2019 season. The Tigers have four pitchers competing to be the ace of the future staff.

65. Sean Murphy C (Athletics) -Sean will be a solid defensive catcher whose arm will scare base stealers from trying to take the extra base against him. His bat carries some power but it could be a challenge to hit north of .250. He came into the 2018 season with a .246 minor league average. In AA he hit .288 with a .498 slugging average until a July injury put him out for two months. If not for the injury he probably would have seen his major league debut in 2018. Barring another injury expect that to happen in 2019, with a start to the season in AAA.

64. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Another pitcher who pitched in the Junior Nationals for the 15 and Under World Cup Team in Mexico City, but he threw for Cuba, defecting as a 16 year old. At 6′0″ he is not a big pitcher, but he throws lefthanded and knows where the strike zone is located. While he can get the ball across the plate in the mid-90s his best pitch may be a knee buckling curve ball. The majority of his starts were in High A so expect a promotion to AA in 2019.

63. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) - After a break out season last year where the Haitian born Florial hit .298 with 13 homeruns in the two A leagues, the Yankees were expecting big things in 2018. Injuries slowed him down, limiting him to just 84 games. His results were disappointing with a .256 average in A ball with just three homeruns. The strikeouts need to be reduced but the five tools are there for him to be a superstar. Strong arm, deer like speed and a power bat make him a player to watch. The Yankees have a crowded outfield so he will probably see a full season in AA in 2019.

62. Drew Waters OF (Braves) - The Braves just don’t develop pitchers. They also appear to develop outfielders with Ronald Acuna winning rookie of the year last year and Cristian Pache and Drew ready to contribute in a couple years. The second round 2017 pick went to high school in Georgia. The speed exists to play centerfield but if Acuna captures that position he has the arm to play right. His current power is dedicated towards the gaps but with time and maturity he could hit twenty plus homeruns. He should see AA next year which would make him a knock on the door away from the Braves.

61. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Colombian righthander dominated in low A with a 2.16 ERA in 17 starts, with the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. At 6′0″ he is small in stature, but his fastball hits the high 90s, usually sitting in the low 90s. His slider is a swing and miss pitch and the change is a work in progress. Continued success could see him hit AA in 2019.

Athletics Future Looks Bright

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

The last time the Athletics appeared in a World Series was in 1990. A year prior they won the World Series. In the American League only the Orioles (1983) and the Mariners (never) have a longer drought. Yet if you look at their young roster and the players in the farm system the future looks bright.

In 2015 the Athletics had the worst farm system in baseball. That has changed over the years, rising up to 12th last year. Players who made top 100 prospect lists last year include A.J. Puk, Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielen.

When the Athletics made the playoffs they usually did it with pitching. They have a pretty good one/two punch in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Luzardo was acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trades. The Nationals had drafted Luzardo in the third round despite having undergone Tommy John surgery. Jesus has blossomed with the Athletics with three top of the line pitches, a low 90s fastball that can ride the plate in the mid-90s, an excellent change and a knee buckling curve. After dominating in A ball (1.23 ERA) and AA (2.29 ERA) he had a little blip in AAA (7.31). He strikes out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a batting average south of .200 at High A and AA. Expect him to repeat in AAA to stall his service time and gain confidence in retiring higher level hitters.

A.J. Puk was poised to join the rotation last year until an elbow injury resulted in Tommy John surgery prior to the close of spring training. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 out of Florida. At 6′7″ the lefty has an intimidating presence on the mound with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can hit the high 90s. Not surprising that with his long limbs he has had issues finding the plate. His slider is a good secondary pitch but he lacks a quality third offering. This could result in a move to the bullpen, but with a quality arm like Puk that is a last resort. The 2019 season should be a rehab season as the Athletics monitor his innings. At best he could see a September callup.

The Yankees gave up on their 2015 first round pick James Kaprialian, trading him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Since being drafted in 2015 James has only pitched 29 innings, missing the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to his surgery his fastball had been clocked in the high 90s. Whether he can continue that post surgery is open to question. Good secondary offerings could have him slip in the middle of the rotation. Expect the 2019 season to be a rebuilding year and an attempt by the Athletics to give Kaprialian some innings.

Grant Holmes is another first round pick (2014) the Athletics have taken a chance on. He did not do much for the Dodgers after being a first round pick and they included him in a trade with other prospects for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. The stuff is there with a mid-90s fastball and curveball and change mix. The control can be a little spotty with walk rates near one for every two innings. Last year shoulder problems limited him to two starts. At 23 years of age entering the 2019 season the time is soon for Holmes if he wants to make a career in the major leagues.

On the offensive side there is concern they will not be able to keep Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Murray. Football has prevented him from developing his baseball tools. His speed is lightening quick, enabling him to play centerfield. The bat also shows potential for raw power, giving him an opportunity to be a rare five tool player. Despite being a quarterback his arm is not that strong, so if centerfield does not work out there is always a spot in left field. Myworld predicts the Athletics will lose Murray to the bright lights of NFL football. It is a bit more glamorous than minor league parks.

Jorge Mateo has dropped down in his prospect status but myworld still loves his tools. The Athletics just need to find a position for him, or make him a super utility player. Last year was a wasted year as he struggled at .230 but he still excited with 16 triples and 25 stolen bases. A lack of patience at the plate brings imbalance to his walk to strikeout ratio (29/139). The 2019 season could be his opportunity to make a major league roster. Jorge has sneaky power and can run with the wind.

Lazaro Armenteros was the next wave of Cuban superstar prospects. With a little more exposure some of his flaws were made more apparent. A weak arm could restrict him to left field. There are a lot of strikeouts in his swing. With those flaws comes impressive power and blazing speed that could create havoc on the basepaths. If he can make it as a power hitting centerfielder it will be a plus for Oakland.

One of the better defensive catchers in baseball is Sean Murphy. He has an arm to discourage basestealers, handles a pitching staff well and keeps the ball from rolling to the back stop. All he needs to do is hit and he will slide into the Athletics major league lineup in 2019. Another half year in AAA would be good. Expect him to be catching for the Athletics by mid-season.

Sheldon Neuse was another player the Athletics acquired from the Nationals in the Jesus Luzardo trade. Myworld thinks his line drive swing could sit him in the .300 neighborhood. The concern is third base is his best position and he will not usurp Matt Chapman from his spot. His lack of speed makes the outfield a risk. Despite his line drive swing his 172 K’s need to be reduced. That will make hitting .300 in the major leagues difficult. Expect him to be used as trade bait for a veteran player that can help the Athletics in their playoff run.

We like the name more than the tools but Skye Bolt did mash 19 homeruns last year, rising all the way to AA. He also stole 19 bases so he was one short in both areas from being a 20/20 player. The speed is there for him to play a quality centerfield. A role as a fourth outfielder could be in the cards.

Yankees the First Wild Card Winner

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

The Yankees do not have a lot of non-descript players to become heroes in a playoff series. They have a lineup filled with sluggers. Those sluggers proved crucial in their 7-2 win over the Oakland Athletics in the one game wild card playoff series. However, there was a moment where a non-descript player had an opportunity to be a hero in a playoff series.

Aaron Judge started things off with a two run homer in the first inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit one of the hardest homeruns ever in playoff history, if you take into account exit velocity with his solo shot in the eighth. But if you want to accept the notion of unsung heroes winning playoff games, prior to the Stanton homer the newest Yankee Luke Voit sealed the win with a shot off the top of the fence that scored two off Athletic superstar closer Blake Treinen, who was brought in early to try to stop a Yankee rally. For Voit, he finished the hit standing on third for his first career triple, the kind of thing an unsung hero only does in a playoff game.

The Yankees did not limit their power to just hitting. Luis Severino threw gas with his mid-90s to high 90s fastball to tame the Athletics bats. He struck out Marcus Semien with the bases loaded and two outs to put out the flames of any Athletic come back. His wildness with four walks in four innings led to an early departure in the fifth inning where Dellin Betances pitched two perfect innings to extend the shutout. Last year Betances was mainly a spectator in the playoffs because he had trouble finding the plate.

Khris “with a K” Davis spoiled the shutout with a two run homer off Zach Britton in the eighth.

The Judge homer had an exit velocity of 116.1 miles per hour, making it the hardest homerun hit in the playoffs since exit velocity was measured. That only lasted until the eighth inning when Stanton smacked one that travelled 117.4 miles per hour.

Now it is on to Boston for a big series against the Red Sox. A Yankee/Red Sox series is one of the most intense in all of sports.

A.L. West All Stars

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Below are the Baseball American Classification picks for the A.L. West.

Houston Astros

Kyle Tucker OF (AAA) - Not a lot of success in the major leagues (.138) for the 2015 first round pick. He tore it up in AAA with a .332 average and 24 homeruns. Next year he should be the Astros starting left fielder. He can hit for average and power. His speed is not great which makes a corner outfield spot an ideal fit for him.

Ryan Hartman LHSP (AA) - The late round (9th) 2016 pick had a solid AA season (11-4, 2.69) that leaves him on the edge of the major league roster. His strikeout numbers were excellent with two career high 11 whiff games.

Alex McKenna OF (SS) - The fourth round 2018 pick does not have spectacular tools. He did hit for a .534 slugging average in the New York Penn League with five homeruns. His hits are more geared for splitting the gaps than going over the fence. That makes sticking in center crucial, but he lacks burner speed to play there. More likely a fourth outfielder type.

Gilberto Celestino OF (SS) - The Dominican shows some good speed to play centerfield. His bat lacks power now but once he matures he could find more juice. A double digit stolen base guy that needs to work on his OBA.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Taylor Ward 3B (AAA) - The 2015 first round pick moved from catcher to third base. This seemed to awaken his bat hitting .349 with 14 homeruns between AA and AAA. A 100 plus major league callup turned into a challenge with a .169 average. Too many swings and misses at the major league level (43 K’s in 124 at bats), but he can still get a hold of one.

Oakland Athletics

Jesus Luzardo SP (AA) - Tommy John surgery and the Nationals hope to keep a run for the playoffs enticed them to trade Luzardo with Blake Trienen for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. The trade helped the Nationals last year but really benefited the Athletics this year and in the future. Luzardo was in consideration for player of the year after his 10-5, 2.88 ERA run through three levels. For a lefthander to hit mid-90s with his fastball is gold and he has a plus changeup to make that fastball look even better.

Seattle Mariners

Dan Vogelbach 1B (AAA) - Power is his big game. Defense is not part of the equation for him. That power has not really showed in the major leagues. He did hit 20 homeruns in AAA with a .545 slugging. Given an opportunity to hit major league pitching that slugging dropped to .388.

Cal Raleigh DH (SS) - The 2018 third round pick has the ability to hit for pop, showing it with eight homeruns and a .534 slugging percentage in short season. His work behind the plate is a little suspect and may result in a move to first base.

Julio Rodriguez OF (Dominican) - The Mariners shelled out $1.75 million to sign him in 2017. In the Dominican league he showed that price was worth it, popping five homeruns with a .525 slugging. His lack of speed limits him to a corner outfield, though he has enough arm to play right field. Despite his lack of speed he did leg out nine triples and stole ten bases.

Texas Rangers

Jonathan Hernandez SP (High A) -Signed out of the Dominican in 2013, it has been a long ride in the minor leagues for Hernandez. He struggled in AA (4.92 ERA) after dominating in High A. His fastball hits the mid-90s and hitters have difficulty elevating it. At 22 he is still young enough to develop further and fit as a mid or back rotation starter.

Tyler Phillips SP (Low A) - At 6′5″ the late round (16th) 2015 pick has a good pitcher’s frame. His fastball sits in the low 90s and gets lots of ground ball outs. If he can increase the velocity a couple notches he could fit into the middle of the rotation. His secondary pitches (curve and change) lack consistency. Once he hammers in all the nails in his tool box he could be good to go.

Curtis Terry 1B (SS) - The 13th round 2015 pick found his bat repeating the Northwest League. His 15 homeruns and .337 average shows a good bat but at 21 and hitting right handed he could end up a career minor leaguer.

Diosbel Arias 3B (SS) - Hit .366 in short season but at 22 he was old for the league. The Cuban does show gap power but still needs to find a position. Expect him to start the 2019 season in full season ball and settle in at third base.

Hans Crouse SP (SS) - The second round 2017 pick has a mid-90s fastball and excellent slider that get lots of swings and misses. Opponents only hit .179 against him in short season ball, but he found the hitters a little more difficult when promoted to full season (.273). Needs to find his change to stay in the rotation.

Randy Florentino C (Dominican) - He showed a good bat against Dominican pitchers (.309 average) walking more than whiffing (53 to 51). His big test is coming stateside to see how he communicates to pitchers and makes contact against better pitching.

Osleivis Basabe SS (Dominican) - His bat rocked in the DSL (.344) with gap power.

Ronny Henriquez SP (Dominican) - At 5′10″ is height is not ideal for a righthander but he did whiff 79 in 58 innings and limited hitters to a .177 average. He was 5-0 in 11 starts with a 1.55 ERA.