Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Top Ten Cuban Prospects - American League

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Cuba has not yet passed the Dominican Republic for their quality of prospects, but they are getting close to passing Venezuela if they have not done that already. The American League is the weaker conference for Cuban prospects, though if you would add WAR (Wins Above Replacement) to each of the players totals in the top ten the American League might come out on top because of their top prospect.

A couple players graduated from last year’s list. The number two prospect Yordan Alvarez made an impressive debut for the Astros, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. His teammate, Cionel Perez did not make as impressive a debut, and will need to improve upon his showing if he wants to pitch int the Astros pen. The lefthanded pitcher allowed lefthanders to hit .300 against him, something he needs to improve on if he wants to be effective in the bullpen.

Four players dropped from the list. This leaves six new players to be added. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects from the American League.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - There is a lot of pressure on Roberts as baseball people are calling him the new Mike Trout. The White Sox have shown so much confidence in him that he is already guaranteed to make $76 million before he even makes a major league appearance. This includes a 26 million bonus when he signed with the White Sox out of Cuba in 2017. His first complete year in 2018 was not so hot when he failed to hit a homerun in close to 200 at bats. A thumb injury bothered him all that season. Last year he broke out with 32 homeruns and 36 stolen bases, becoming one of two 30-30 players in the minor leagues. He has the speed to play centerfield and steal bases, the strength to hit for power and the ability to make hard contact to hit for a high average. There is a bit too much swing and miss in his at bats but that is an issue most teams will take from their power hitters. Luis will be the starting centerfielder for the White Sox this year based on the six year $50 million contract he signed.

2. Roberto Campos OF (Tigers) - Hard to rate Roberto this high when he has yet to play in a minor league game but there is a lot of buzz about him. The Tigers shelled out $2.85 million to sign him. He allegedly left Cuba at 13 years of age and the Tigers hid him for a couple years at their minor league facilities in the Dominican Republic, before signing him. He defected with his older brother after winning the MVP award in a youth international tournament in the Dominican Republic. He lacks the speed to play center but his arm should be good enough for right. At 6′3″ he has good size to have the ability to hit for power. Since he has not really played competitive baseball in about three years it is difficult to predict how he will hit, especially when going against the tough breaking pitches. The Tigers could start him in the Dominican Summer League before promoting him to the major league club. He is still a few years away from impacting the Tigers major league roster.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Orioles gave up Manny Machado for a trio of Dodger minor leaguers. Yusniel was the key to that group. His prospect status has taken a hit as he becomes mired in the quagmire that is AA, the 2019 season completing his third year in Bowie/Tulsa. The Dodgers paid a $15.5 million bonus to sign him back in 2015. So far he has not quite lived up to the hype. His power has remained hidden, stuck on 11 homeruns for three consecutive years with a modest .440 slugging average. Leg injuries last year limited him to just 76 games. If he had played a full season he could have been promoted to AAA. Yusniel has decent speed, but better suited for a corner, a good arm to fit in at right field and a decent hit tool that gives him a .278 minor league average. If he wants to avoid the stigma of a fourth outfielder he needs to improve his power numbers. Next year he should start the season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Orioles if a need arises or his bat shows the major league brass that he is ready.

4. Alexander Vargas SS (Yankees) - Alexander got a year under his belt after the Yankees signed him for $2.5 million in 2018. He played as a 17 year old in the Rookie level, hitting .233 at two levels, with little power (.373 slugging). Speed is his main asset at this point with 15 stolen bases in just 48 games. He showed a good ability to get on base with a 18/28 walk to whiff ratio. The Yankees appear to be very crowded at the shortstop position, but Vargas may have some of the best defensive tools among that group. If he can gain more strength to hit for power he could be an impact player. Right now he is a few years away from making a major league impact.

5. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - When he left Cuba he touted himself as a player with multiple tools and was going to be known as Lazarito, eventually having a similar reaction to the name “Ichiro”. That has not happened yet and may never occur. Lazarito has to learn to make better contact. He reminds me a lot of Blue Jay prospect Demi Orimoloye or long ago Dodger prospect Jose Gonzalez, players who struggle to hit anything with a break. Lazarito struck out an amazing 227 times in 126 games, hitting just .222. He did show his power with 17 homeruns and his speed with 22 stolen bases. A weak arm will limit him to left field, which makes it more important that he develop his power, which might rely on increased contact. Next year he should see AA, unless the Athletics feel he would benefit from one more season in High A.

6. Orlando Martinez OF (Angels) - From Orlando down to Yolbert are new players to the top ten. Orlando was signed in 2017 for the bargain price of $250,000. At 22 he is a bit older and it didn’t help that he missed two months last year because of a broken finger. There isn’t really anything flashy about his game. He runs average so a corner outfield spot would be better for him. He did slug 12 homeruns last year but his power is suspect (.434 slugging). Defensively, the arm is above average but it is not a rocket. So his best bet will be to make it as a fourth outfielder. Next year he will play in AA where a promotion is just a hot streak away.

7. Bryan Ramos 3B (White Sox) - The Sox are doing a good job at putting together a Cuban National team for their roster. Bryan was signed for $300,000 in 2018. At 17 years of age last year was his first in the Arizona Rookie League and he did well, hitting .277 with a .415 slugging percentage. The power may not show yet in a game because pitchers are a little ahead of him, but give him more experience and the power will be seen. He plays third base now, but his position is yet defined. He runs well enough that he could move to the outfield where his arm is strong enough to play right field. He could also move to second where his power would be a bonus. At 17 he is still a long way from playing for the White Sox. Expect him to see time in extended spring training with another Rookie League assignment mid-season.

8. Yordys Valdes SS (Indians) - Yordys was a second round pick of the Indians in 2019. He was born in Cuba where his dad was a Series Nacional player, but moved to the States when he was 12. Defensively he was considered one of the best high school shortstops in the draft. Offensively, there is a lot of work to be done. In Rookie ball he hit just .179 with 53 whiffs in 43 games. While he is not a fast runner, he showed good instincts with 15 stolen bases. Imagine what that amount would be if his OBA was greater than .251. If he can find his bat he could be an exciting player, but that may take another year of Rookie ball and at least three years of minor league ball before he starts wearing an Indians uniform.

9. Yolbert Sanchez SS (White Sox) - Yolbert signed with the White Sox for $2.5 million in 2019. He played last year in the Dominican Summer League. At 23 years of age next year he should start at a full season league. Defensively he is solid with a strong arm. Like Yordys, what will break him is whether his bat is enough to start in the major leagues. He did have a nice 15/12 walk to whiff ratio in the DSL but that was against pitchers younger than him. He should have been a little more dominating than his .297 average and .441 slugging. Next year will be a critical year for him. It is important that his bat play well so he can advance quickly.

10. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - We had him at number 4 last year. The Rangers collected a lot of international money in an attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani. When that did not happen they used $2.8 million of that for what they hope is the next best thing. At 5′9″ Julio is not a big guy. His quick bat allows him to hit for better than average pop but whether it will be enough to be more than a fourth outfielder is open to question. The speed is there to play center so that puts some pressure off him to hit for the power of a corner. Last year at High A he struck out 144 times in just 113 games. Hitting breaking pitches has been the challenge. He did make enough progress in the second half to earn a promotion to AA. He will be 24 when the season starts so the clock is ticking. He is at that age where prospects become journeyman if they have yet to see the major leagues.

Top Prospects from Colombia

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Myworld was going to do the top prospects from the Bahamas but they haven’t changed much from last year. You can go to the 2019 list to find the players. Some of the rankings may have changed, but we are not too excited about regurgitating the same information on the players.

So we’ll take a look at Colombia. Three players have graduated from last year’s list, Meibys Viloria, Oscar Mercado and Harold Ramirez, who were rated 4-6 in the rankings. Viloria will probably always be a backup catcher, Mercado had a good year but has the tools of a fourth outfielder and Ramirez had a surprising year but he will probably also end up as a fourth outfielder. The top two prospects from this year’s list have switched places, but they may be the only two who have a major league impact. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The big fear with Patino is his small frame. He stands only 6′0″ but he touches the high 90s with his fastball. Last year he was number 2 on the list. He signed with the Padres in 2016, as many players on this list. He had a dominating year last year in High A, limiting the opposition to a .192 average with 11.7 whiffs per nine innings. The only pitcher better than him in the Padres minor league system is MacKenzie Gore. The pitch that gets most of the swings and misses for Luis is his slider. He still needs to improve his change if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. His year got him two starts in AA where he was a little more hittable (.258) but his ERA was excellent (1.17) and he still struck out 11.7 hitters per nine innings. Next year he should start at AA and could be in the Padres rotation in 2021.

2. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - Colombia has been starting to develop catchers, though Jorge Alfaro appears to be the only starter. Ronaldo could join Alfaro in that starting capacity. Ronaldo signed in 2014. He has good power potential hitting 21 homers in 2018 in Low A. That number dropped to nine last year in the Florida State League. He also seemed to have lost his patience at the plate with his walk to whiff ratio going from 31/69 to 17/65. This also resulted in a 20 point drop in average. The arm is strong to slow down a running game, but his defensive skills need to improve otherwise he becomes a Francisco Mejia. Next year Hernandez should start in AA. The Rays really have no one in their system to prevent him from becoming their starting catcher in 2021, unless they trade for one. Mike Zunino will not hold him back.

3. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals are crowded in the outfield. Ironic that Torres was traded to the Cardinals from the Indians for another Colombian outfielder Oscar Mercado, probably the first trade in major league history that involved two Colombian outfielders getting traded for each other. Torres was signed in 2016. The 2019 season was his first season in full season ball but he struggled at Low A, hitting just .167. His bat came alive when he was demoted to Rookie ball, with 6 homeruns and a .527 slugging average. He turns 20 this year so the Cardinals still have some time to develop him, but he needs to have success in Low A and perhaps get promoted to High A before the season ends, depending on what kind of season the minor leagues has, in order to stay a prospect. At 6′4″ Jhon has the look of a rightfielder who can hit the ball a long ways, but he has to show more patience at the plate. As he rises up the minors higher level pitchers will get him out with their pitches.

4. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Diaz will still be a teenager if the baseball season starts this year. He signed in 2016 and was playing in Rookie ball as a 16 year old. The 2020 season should be his first year in full season ball. Last year Jordan showed some power in his bat, slugging 9 homeruns, eight more than he hit his first two years. Jordan hits the ball hard and should develop power once he shows improved patience at the plate. Last year he had an 18/46 walk to whiff ratio. He showed enough with the bat that he should start the season next year in Low A. His glove is solid for third base. Matt Chapman should be ready for free agency once Jordan shows the skills needed to play third base in the major leagues. The Athletics don’t mind waiting, getting as much production from Chapman while Diaz matriculates in the minor leagues.

5. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Santiago is the fourth 2016 signing from this list. Florez stands 6′5″ with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. His big issue is finding the plate. Despite the heat he has yet to strike out more than a hitter per inning in his three rookie league seasons, but he is still a teenager. His secondary pitches also need a lot of work if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. Last year was his best season ERA wise (3.46) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.8). The full season league awaits him for the 2020 season.

6. Brayan Buelvas OF (Athletics) - A second Athletic on this list, Brayan was a recent signing (2019). At 17 years of age he made his debut in the Rookie Leagues hitting .282 with three homeruns. Right now speed appears to be his best tool as evidenced by his eight triples and 16 stolen bases. This should allow him to stay in centerfield, where his lack of power makes him more valuable. His arm is average so if he fails to make it as a centerfielder left field may be a better option for him, a position teams normally look for a power hitter to man. At 155 pounds the Athletics hope he will bulk up to hit for a little more power. Next year he should see his first playing time in the full season leagues with a major league time estimated at least 2023.

7. Fabian Pertuz SS (Cubs) - Considering the kind of impact Edgar Renteria had for Colombians it is a surprise Fabian is the first shortstop on this list. The Cubs signed him in 2017. He has shown mainly gap power exercising the strength of his speed to take the extra base. In his first year he legged out six triples and stole 36 bases. Last year those speed numbers dropped to one triple and 9 stolen bases. He lacks burner speed which could limit his range at short. In 2018 he accumulated more walks than whiffs (38/32). The 2019 saw him walk 9 times with 46 whiffs. His average did go from .298 in the Dominican Summer League to .340 in the Arizona Rookie League. Next year he should make his full season debut. He is still a long way from making a major league contribution.

8. Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates) - Luis signed in 2013, originally signing as a third baseman. The Pirates moved him to the mound where he progressed to third on this list last year. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s but sometimes has trouble throwing it for strikes. Last year he walked 32 hitters in his 55 innings. The Pirates pitching staff was poor enough last year that they did promote him for four minor league games in the bullpen, but it was a nightmarish debut. He surrendered 10 hits in 5.2 innings and walked four, leaving him with a 7.94 ERA. He has a curve and change, but his future lies in the pen where his average stuff will work as a bridge to the setup man and then the closer. He should start the season in AAA and may see more appearances in the major leagues depending on his success.

9. Reiver San Martin LHP (Reds) - Reiver was originally signed by the Rangers in 2015. The Reds acquired him from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. The fastball will not impress anyone. His definition is the crafty lefthander, with the change his best pitch. Without a dominating pitch he needs to locate his pitches to be effective and he has trouble accomplishing that. His pitches do keep the ball on the ground, but last year he gave up a career high 11 homeruns. While a starter in the minors his future may be as a reliever who comes in to face two of three lefty hitters in the lineup. He had some success in 12 starts last year in AA so it would not surprise me to see him start the 2020 season in AAA with possibly a major league callup before the year is out.

10. Ezequil Zabaleta RHP (Mets) - Ezequil put up good numbers in Low A last year (1.69 ERA) with a 2/22 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. He gave up more homeruns (3) than walks. The Mets signed him in 2015. The last two years he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. He is listed on the Colombian World Baseball Classic roster and the Colombian national team. That is about all myworld knows about him, but we had to find a tenth.

Major League Farm Rankings - 15 - 6

Friday, February 28th, 2020

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

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (14.32)

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

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

14. Toronto Blue Jays (16.06)

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

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

13. St. Louis Cardinals

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

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

12. San Francisco Giants (20.46)

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

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

11. Minnesota Twins (20.75)

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

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

10. Baltimore Orioles (20.76)

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

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

9. Oakland Athletics (21.22)

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

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

8. Miami Marlins (22.38)

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

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

7. Atlanta Braves

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

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

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (27.14)

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

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

Myworld Top 100 - 10-1

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

The final ten.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major League Predictions - AL West

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Most of the top free agents have been signed. Some teams are still looking to upgrade while others are looking to tank. Now that spring training has started it is time to make the predictions. We start first with the AL West - the good, the bad and the ugly.

1. Oakland Athletics

Good - The rotation would look pretty solid if Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk prove they belong. Seth Manaea will have to stay healthy. He was pretty dominant in his five starts last year. They have Chris Bassitt as their ace in the hole in case one of the rookies is not ready or Seth can not get healthy. The potential is there for five above average starters. Not too many teams have corner infielders who combined for 70 plus homeruns last year and provide some help with the glove as well. It would also be nice to get Kris Davis on track with his normal 40 homerun seasons. Marcus Semien had a breakout year last year with 33 homeruns. That gives the infield 100 plus homeruns without including second base.

Bad - Second base is currently a hole but there are top prospects ready to fill it. Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo are former shortstops who will be competing for the position. Barreto has not had a lot of success in his three trials in the major leagues. Mateo has been in the minor leagues since 2012 with his prospect status fading each year he has failed to be called up. They lack an established closer. Liam Hendriks stitched together 25 saves last year, but in his nine year major league career he has 26 saves.

Ugly - Injuries to the starting rotation or failures of the two rookies could create some issues for the Athletics. They would have to hope the offense bludgeon teams to death with their 200 plus homerun season while they patch up the rotation.

Possible Rookies - Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are the favorites. Both are expected to fit in the rotation. Jorge Mateo could be used in a utility role if he does not win the second base job.

Expected Finish - First in the AL West. Too much offensive talent here to go with pitching potential.

Houston Astros

Good - The Astros have two veterans in their rotation in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke that will be ace 1 and 1a. After that are question marks. The infield is probably one of the best in baseball. Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel are two more corners who combined for 70 plus homeruns. The big question is whether Gurriel can replicate the numbers he produced last year or if he falls closer to his first year numbers. If Carlos Correa can stay healthy they will get a lot of production out of shortstop. He has had trouble showing that. Jose Altuve puts up numbers close to MVP caliber. He does not seem to be as dominant as in previous hears, but expectations can make players fall short. Altuve also needs to stay healthy, limited to a career low 124 games because of injuries last year. George Springer is another player that did not escape injury last year. He still hit a career high 39 homeruns while playing in a career low 122 games. It will be interesting to see what kind of sophomore year Yordan Alvarez will have. Last year he got a late callup, limiting him to just 87 games, but he still slugged 27 homeruns. His defense is so bad he might as well leave his glove in his locker. The DH position was made for him.

Bad - Robert Osuna was a good pick up from the Toronto Blue Jays mid-season. In his five major league seasons he has not had less than 20 saves. He comes with a little baggage after his domestic violence issues. That baggage may be hidden after the cheating scandal. The corner outfield is not filled with super stars with Josh Reddick and Mickey Brantley putting up decent numbers. Some teams would like to have their numbers put up in the bad category. If one of the two should falter Kyle Tucker waits in the wings.

Ugly - The cheating scandal will make things difficult for the Astros on the road. There also appears to be a lot of hate from major league players on opposing teams. This will put a target on the Astros back making it more difficult to pick up victories.

Possible Rookies - This is a veteran team so starting spots are slim. Jose Urquidy appears to have a mid-rotation spot sealed up based on his performance at the end of the year last year.

Expected Finish - Second place but a Wild Card spot will put them in the playoffs. There is just too much talent on this team not to win, despite the gambling issues that will follow them throughout the season.

Los Angeles Angels

Good - They may have the top two offensive players in baseball in Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout. The two of them could combine for 80 plus homeruns and MVP votes if they hang around for the playoffs. The problem with the Angels is those are their two big bats. Shohei Ohtani can provide some offense in the DH spot, but his production may be limited once he is ready to be fit in the starting rotation. Staying healthy has been as issue for Ohtani.

Bad - The starting pitching lacks an ace. They are also hoping for good years from two pitchers, Dylan Bundy and Julio Tehran whose best years are in the rear view mirror. There is not a lot of depth in the minor leagues to fill in should the starters fail or fall to injury. Albert Pujols is a below average first baseman for both his offense and defensive production. The main reason he is on the roster is because of his veteran leadership and large salary. Andrelton Simmons is a great defensive player but will not provide much offense. The corner outfields are lacking starter material with Justin Upton seeing his best years behind him. This could be an opportunity for Jo Adell, one of the top prospects in baseball, to make an impact. Behind the plate will provide below average production. Starter Jason Castro has been released by a number of clubs.

Ugly - Pitching will be the death of them. The lack of aces in the starting rotation and an uncertain bullpen will give away what Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout can produce. They also have two aging large contracts in Pujols and Upton that will be an anchor on the team. It is nice to have two superstars on the team, but the surrounding cast is not playoff caliber.

Possible Rookies - They appear to have a hole in right field. This could provide an opportunity for Jo Adell, who is considered one of the top five prospects in baseball. A good spring could win him a spot.

Expected Finish - Third place and short of the playoffs no matter what Rendon and Trout can do.

Texas Rangers

Good - The corner outfield could provide some impressive power. It would be hard to find a player with more muscle than Joey Gallo. He had trouble staying healthy last year, but his two previous seasons he hit 40 plus homeruns. Willie Calhoun could also break out for some pop. He hit 21 homeruns in just 83 games and his minor league career shows he has 40 homerun power despite his 5′8″ inch height. His defense is rather limited so he could see a lot of time in the DH slot. Can Corey Kluber return to his Cy Young years. He had five years of 200 innings or more and in four of those years he had 18 wins or more. Last year was a dud.

Bad - The rotation does not have any ace if Corey Kluber does not return to his Cy Young form. They need Mike Minor and Lance Lynn to replicate their 2019 season when history says that may be difficult. Rougned Odor has hit below .210 in two of his last three years. In both those years he did hit 30 homeruns, but the Rangers need more consistency from him. If not Nick Solak could take the job from him. Willie Calhoun would see most of his time at the DH spot if the Rangers did not also have the aging Shin-Soo Choo fill the position. Choo has put up decent offensive numbers but they fall short of what playoff teams get from their DH spot. This will hurt the defense in the outfield.

Ugly - The bullpen lacks a closer. They have a group of arms that once were closers but that was back in the day. Keeping leads in the seventh inning on will be difficult.

Possible Rookies - Nick Solak could win the second base job if Odor continues to struggle with consistency. If he fails to win the second base job he could be used in a utility role in the outfield and at third base. The Rangers could call up Leodys Taveras by mid-season to plug the hole defensively in centerfield. He is a gold glove caliber defender but his bat is lacking.

Expected Finish - Fourth place.

Seattle Mariners

Good - Mariners fans will see a lot of rookie prospects filling a number of positions. The best one may be Evan White who they signed to a six year contract. His defense is gold glove at first base but the Mariners are not sure if his bat is ready yet.

Bad - The hope is that talented rookies will fill positions adequately and not make them bad. Second base has the light hitting Dee Gordon whose stolen base production has fallen now that he has turned north of 30. The starting staff was hoped to be led by Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi, but he bombed last year in his major league debut. They hope for better in 2020. Dan Vogelbach is a big guy at 250 pounds. Last year he slugged 30 homeruns but his career major league average is .205 in 205 games. That needs to improve.

Ugly - When you have a bad team you don’t need a bullpen and the Mariners do not have one. Their closer Matt Magill has been released by a couple teams. If he fails it could be a bullpen by committee.

Possible Rookies - The Mariners lineup will be filled with rookies in this rebuilding year. Evan White may be the most talented player. He should win the first base job. Justus Sheffield is a talented pitcher who should find himself in the middle of the rotation. If his spotty control makes the starting rotation a struggle the Mariners could try him in the bullpen, perhaps as their closer. The outfield is thin which could provide an opportunity for talented Kyle Lewis. Jake Fraley is another player who could win a starting spot or a fourth outfielder position.

Expected Finish - Talented rookies will not prevent the Mariners from finishing at the bottom of the division.

Myworld Top 100 - 40 -31

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld Top 100 - 50-41

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

The names start getting juicier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Prospects from the Dominican Republic in the American League

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

This is the first of our top prospect lists from each country or continent. The Dominican Republic has the most prospects in baseball so it is pretty easy creating a top ten list, so we break it off into the American League and National League. Other countries or continents require a deep dive into the minor leagues just to find players. Some countries may have less than ten players and if they are not included in a continent rating they will probably not be mentioned.

There were two successes among the Dominicans from last years list in the American League. The top prospect Vladimir Guerrero did not make the big splash as many expected, but he still earned the starting third base job for the Blue Jays. He had a decent year but may have been upstaged by rookie teammate Bo Bichette. Eloy Jimenez, the fourth rated prospect hit 31 homeruns and made an impact for the White Sox. One player who made the American League list (Jesus Sanchez) was traded to the National League. Wander Javier, Albert Abreu and Seuly Matias did not perform to expectations and were surpassed by newer prospects.

1. Wander Franco SS (Tampa Bay) - Like Guerrero on the list last year, Wander appears on many publications as the top prospect in baseball. Others who have appeared on the list include players like Jurickson Profar, Yoan Moncada and Bryan Harper. Franco plays a solid shortstop and can hit for average (.327) and power (.487). Even if he fills out and loses the range to play short his bat will play at third base. He has yet to play AA so the Rays have another year to decide what to do with him. They still have a couple cheap years of Willy Adames as their current shortstop, but once he reaches the age of arbitration they may look to trade him to make room for the cheaper and more productive Franco. Franco has hit over .300 at every level he has played and is expected to make his debut with the Rays sometime in 2021, depending on how Adames is taking to the shortstop position.

2. Julio Rodriguez OF (Seattle) - Last year Rodriguez was rated eighth. That was based on his 59 game debut in the Rookie League in 2018 where he hit .315 with a .526 slugging. The Mariners had forked over $1.75 million to sign him. He only elevated his stock after his 2019 season when he hit .326 with a .540 slugging, reaching High A as a 19 year old. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner, but he has the arm to play right. He could become the Mariners version of Juan Soto. If he takes the same path as Soto he will reach the Mariners next season, but expect him more in 2021.

3. Jasson Dominguez OF (New York) - Jasson is a mystery since he did not play last year. The Yankees signed him for $5.1 million. At 16 he still has a ways to go to reach Yankee Stadium. In the States he would still be eligible to play for the Junior Varsity baseball team in high school. Jasson carries all five tools, with the speed to play center and the power to bat in the middle of the order. If he should fill out the arm is strong enough for right field. Yankee fans will have to wait until 2023 before they will see him in the major leagues, but he could rise quickly.

4. Vidal Brujan 2B (Tampa Bay) - Vidal is more a speed guy. In the last two years he has stolen over 100 bases. Coming into the 2019 season he carried a .300 career average, but last year he hit .277. There is not a lot of power in his bat and it would be better if he could fit at short. With Adames and Franco playing there and a fairly average arm his best fit may be second base. Franco would bat in the middle of the lineup while Brujan would bat leadoff. Since he played 55 games in AA he could be ready to make his Rays debut sometime late in the 2020 season.

5. Noelvi Marti SS (Seattle) - Marte has not yet played state side. The Mariners signed him in 2018 for $1.55 million. Last year he played in the Dominican Summer League and hit .309 with 9 homeruns and a .511 slugging percentage. He also has the speed to steal bases, pilfering 17 last year. His arm is strong enough to fit at short but a lot will depend on how is body fills out. The power is there where a move to third would fit. Noelvi is still probably four to five years away from playing in the major leagues, so Mariners brass will have plenty of time to evaluate him to determine his ultimate position.

6. Deivi Garcia RHP (New York) - One Yankee pitcher dropped from the list (Albert Abreu) and two rise from the lower levels of the minor leagues to replace him. Garcia has a lights out arm that can throw a fastball in the mid-90s. He also has the finesse to buckle knees with his curve ball. What he lacks is the height (5′9″) that many like to see in a righthander. Last year he rose three levels, finishing with six starts in AAA while striking out 165 hitters in just 111 innings and limiting the opposition to a .231 average. He was hit a little harder in AAA (.262) and that could be a problem as he reaches the major leagues. If the Yankees have the need for bullpen or starting pitching help in 2020 expect Garcia to be one of the first pitchers to be considered for a promotion.

7. Luis Gil RHP (New York) - His 6′3″ height is more what scouts look for in a starting pitcher. Gil was not signed by the Yankees but acquired from the Twins in 2018 for Jake Cave. The Twins only paid $90,000 to sign him. Since signing in 2014 Gil had yet to pitch in the full season leagues, missing all of the 2016 season after shoulder surgery. Last year he jumped to the Florida State League, dominating at the Low A level (2.39 ERA with 112 whiffs in 83 innings). His fastball can hit triple digits, but it sits in the mid-90s range. Throwing strikes can be a bit of an issue for Gil. He also needs to find a third pitch to stay in the rotation. Luis will start the season in the Florida State League and if he does well he could see the Yankee bullpen in 2022.

8. Leody Taveras OF (Texas) - He is a stellar defensive player who is normally one of the youngest players at the level he has played. If he can carry a decent bat he could win gold gloves in centerfield. He came into the 2019 season with a .253 minor league career average but last year broke out to hit .279 average, good enough to get a promotion to AA. Last year he also elevated his stolen base game, stealing a career high 32 bases. There will not be a lot of power in the bat so he will need to rely on his glove and legs to win a major league job. If that happens he should see the Rangers as a September callup in 2020.

9. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Oakland) - Myworld cannot give up on his potential. He shows some sneaky power, good enough to hit 19 homeruns last year and his legs can cover a lot of ground if the Athletics decide to move him to centerfield. He no longer appears to be the 50 stolen base threat he was early in his career, but he can still get over 20. Last year he was one homerun shy of being 20/20. Making contact can still be a challenge and a 29/145 walk to whiff ratio may lead to a number of extended slumps. The Yankees made him part of the Sonny Gray trade in 2017. Next year he could make the Athletics as a utility player, fitting in centerfield and the middle infield positions. The recent acquisition of Tony Kemp seems to have hurt his cause in the short run, but he has too many tools not to be given the opportunity.

10. Jose Soriano RHP (Los Angeles) - He only signed for $70,000 in 2016, at 18 fairly old for a Dominican. He sprouted to 6′3″ and last year sprayed his fastball to the plate into the high 90s, a significant increase from last year. He got more swings and misses, finishing with more than a strikeout per inning for the first time in his career. In Low A he limited the opposition to a .197 average. The big area of concern is his inability to find the strike zone. He normally goes above 4.5 walks per nine innings. Until he finds more consistency finding the strike zone his major league debut could be delayed, but expect it to happen sometime in 2021.

AL West Lower Draft Round Success

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Now we look at the AL West to see how they have done selecting with the 25th round pick or later. The Rangers could almost create a starting rotation. We start with 1998 when drafts were established at 50 picks, further reduced to 40 a few years later. Also, if any player signed in the 25th round or later did not sign they were not included in this list. Myworld did not look at draft years 2015 or later since any late round picks making the major league roster in four years or less would be slim to none.

Houston Astros

Mike Burns RHP (2000/30th round) - 3-5, 5.75, 15 games, 8 starts

Tyler White 3B (2013/33rd round) - .236, 26, 103 in 256 games

Los Angeles Angels

Bobby Wilson C (2002/48th round) - .203, 18, 102 in 386 games
Efren Navarro 1B (2007/50th round) - .241, 3, 22 in 157 games
Jett Bandy C (2011/31st round) - .218, 16, 45 in 156 games
Michael Hermosillo OF (2013/28th round) - .183, 1, 4 in 49 games

Oakland Athletics

Ron Flores LHP (2000/20th round) - 1-4, 3.05, in 53 games in relief
Connor Robertson RHP (2004/31st round) - 0-1, 8.00 in 9 games of relief
Jeff Gray RHP (2004/32nd round) - 9-3, 4.99 in 115 games of relief
Brad Kilby LHP (2005/29th round) - 1-0, 1.07 in 16 games, one start
Mickey Storey RHP (2008/31st round) - 0-1, 4.19 in 29 games of relief
Ryan Dull RHP (2012/32nd round) - 8-9, 4.31 in 171 games of relief

Seattle Mariners

Scott Atchison RHP (1998/49th round) - 17-11, 3.63 in 298 games with just one start

T.J. Bohn OF (2002/30th round) - .211, 1, 5 in 32 games

Texas Rangers

Jason Botts 1B (1999/46th round) - .230, 5, 28 in 93 games

Jesse Chavez RHP (2002/42nd round) - 41-58, 4.48 in 463 games, 79 starts
Scott Feldman RHP (2003/30th round) - 78-84, 4.43 in 342 games, 204 starts
Derek Holland LHP (2006/25th round) - 78-78, 4.54 in 295 games, 222 starts
Danny Herrera LHP (2006/45th round) - 5-8, 3.72 in 131 games of relief
Tanner Roark RHP (2008/25th round) - 74-64, 3.71 in 213 games, 172 starts
Cody Eppley RHP (2008/43rd round) - 2-3, 4.61 in 71 games of relief
Alex Claudio LHP (2010/27th round) - 15-8, 3.38 in 291 game, with two starts
Phil Klein RHP (2011/30th round) - 2-3, 5.50 in 40 games, with four starts
C.J. (Carl) Edwards (2011/48th round) - 9-8, 3.58 in 194 games of relief
Joe Palumbo LHP (2013/30th round) - 0-3, 9.18, seven games with four starts

AL West Minor League All Stars

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Below are the players identified by major league baseball as All Stars from teams representing the AL West. Not all these players are prospects but to be All Stars they had to have a pretty good year.

Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez OF/AAA - This year the Cuban defector was voted American League Rookie of the Year. Prior to that he destroyed AAA pitching with 23 homeruns in 56 games and a .343 batting average. Add his 27 homeruns in the major leagues gave him 50 for the year. His lack of defensive tools makes his best position DH but he can play the outfield or first base in a pinch.

Abraham Toro 3B/AAA - The 2016 fifth round pick also tore up AAA with his .424 average, but that was in just 18 games. His .324 minor league average led to a promotion to the major leagues where he saw a bit of a struggle (.218). But in AA he slugged 16 homeruns and hit .306. It will be tough for him to move Alex Bregman from third so another trip to AAA is in his future. His defense at third will not win any gold gloves and with a full infield he may have to move to the outfield where his speed is below average. A big year in AAA will make the 22 year old attractive in a trade.

Valente Bellozo SP/SS - Signed by the Astros in 2017 out of Mexico, even at just 5′10 Valente was impossible to hit in the New York Penn League. The opposition hit him at a .164 clip and he finished with a 1.39 ERA. He is not a hard thrower, sitting in the low 90s, but he gets hitters out with his secondary pitches (change and slider).

Kyle Tucker DH/AAA - The Astros first round pick in 2015 used up his rookie eligibility last year playing 22 games. Hitting AAA pitching was not a problem last year with his 34 homeruns. This time when promoted to the Astros he had some success (.269) as opposed to the previous year when he hit only .141 after hitting .332 in AAA. His lack of speed and average arm probably limit him to left field. He should have a starting role next year for the Astros.

Los Angeles Angels

Jared Walsh DH/AAA - Walsh was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft. Last year he had a breakout season with a .325 average and 36 homeruns. The previous year at three different levels he hit 29 homeruns and was one shy of 100 RBIs. His lack of speed makes first base his ideal position, but his left arm has the ability to throw low 90s fastballs. He could become a two way player.

Jeremiah Jackson 2B/Rookie - The 2018 second round pick had a nice offensive year for a middle infielder, slugging 23 homeruns. He hit .266 but his 96 strikeouts in just 65 games is a cause of concern.

Oakland Athletics

None

Seattle Mariners

Evan White 1B/AA - The Mariners signed their first round 2017 pick to a six year $24 million contract. He has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base and the speed to move to the outfield. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in 92 games. Evan has the power to play first base or in a corner outfield position.

Jake Fraley OF/AA - Jake needs his legs and his ability to get on base to be effective in the major leagues. He fell one homerun short of being a 20/20 player last year and hit .313 in AA. This got him a promotion to AAA and the majors. His arm is more suited to left field but he has the range to play centerfield.

Logan Gilbert SP/High A - The Mariners first round 2018 pick was a mystery to minor league hitters at all three levels, limiting them to a .198 opposition average. He was especially dominating at Low A where hitters only tagged him for a .118 average in his five starts. Gilbert could be a fast riser with his mid-90s fastball that can reach the upper reaches of the 90s.

Dayelson Arias Relief/Low A - The 22 year old Dominican was unhittable at the two A levels with a 1.15 ERA and a .146 opposition average in 44 relief appearances. He had a 15/80 walk to whiff ratio in 55 innings.

Jarred Kelenic OF/AA - The Mets 2018 first round pick was acquired in the Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. He has the potential to be a five tool player, combining to hit .291 with 23 homeruns and a .904 OPS at three minor league levels last year. His 20 steals made him a 20/20 player.

Sam Delaplane Relief/AA - The 23rd round 2017 pick used his two pitch mix to dominate at AA (0.49 ERA and .107 opposition average). A lack of a third pitch will keep him in the bullpen but his mid-90s fastball will get hitters to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 120 in just 69 innings.

Texas Rangers

Curtis Terry DH/High A - The 2015 13th round pick showed his pop in A ball hitting 25 homeruns at the two levels. His normal position is first base, the only position he has played in the minors. At 6′3″ he has the potential to hit for power but as a right handed bat the stakes are against him.

Blaine Crim 1B/Short Season - The 19th round pick from last year also plays first base. Last year he slugged 8 homeruns for a .954 OPS in the short season leagues. He is only the second player from Mississippi college to be drafted where he hit 11 homeruns and broke a season record with 21 doubles. He is from Mobile, Alabama, which has a rich crop of homerun hitters, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey just to name two.

Heribeto Hernandez OF/Rookie - Hernandez was a cheap $10,000 sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He showed some potential with the bat last year in the Arizona League hitting .344 with 11 homeruns and a 1.079 OPS. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner.

Demarcus Evans Relief/AA - The 25th pick of the 2015 draft found his stride last year with a 0.90 ERA and .119 average at two levels, rising all the way up to AA. He pitched 60 innings in relief and had an impressive 39/100 walk to whiff ratio. If he continues that success next year Evans could find himself in a major league bullpen.