Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Predictions - AL West

Friday, March 16th, 2018

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

1. Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Los Angeles Angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Texas Rangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Oakland Athletics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prospects Impressing in Spring

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Below are some of the top prospects impressing in spring. This may not lead to a trip with the major league club in April, but it has opened the eyes of major league managers when they have a need for a player. Also, much of their production may be coming against similar minor league prospects. Myworld does know that Tim Tebow struck out on three pitches against Max Scherzer. He would be a tough assignment for any prospect.

Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He hit his first homerun of the spring yesterday and is hitting .429. The trade of Matt Kemp certainly created a nice hole in left field for Acuna but there are still a few free agent outfielders to sign.

Ryan McMahon Utility (Rockies) - Ryan is hitting .409 with one homerun, strafing the gaps with three doubles. The Rockies may not have room for him at first base but could use him in a utility role if they think they could give him the at bats.

Willie Calhoun LF (Rangers) - His defense may be short but his bat is hitting .389 with one homerun. The Rangers left field spot is open for him to win.

Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - Still a little young to see time with the Padres in 2018 but he is hitting .381 with one homerun and 8 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases in three attempts.

Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - He may not be hitting for a high average (.294) but his .882 slugging percentage is enhanced by two triples and two homeruns. He has scored more times (6) than he has hits (5).

Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - After hitting four early in the spring his homerun pace has slowed. He is still hitting .429 with a 1.579 OPS.

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Maikel Franco is not hitting so perhaps the Phillies will try Kingery at third. He has blasted three homeruns with a .389 average and a .944 slugging percentage

Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His homer pace has slowed after hitting three early in the spring but a .333 average and 8 RBIs would be nice production if the Astros are in need of an outfielder.

Luis Arias SS (Padres) - Five of his seven hits have been doubles, creating a .538 average. As he has done in his minor league career he has more walks (4) than whiffs (2).

Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) - Luis is gunning for the Marlins centerfield position with a .400 average. Four of his six hits have been doubles but he has also struck out five times in 15 at bats.

Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy is another Marlins acquisition they would like to see perform. He has pitched in two games with one start and worked five innings for a 1.80 ERA. Only three whiffs but a .235 opposition average and no walks.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - He has been getting innings (6.2) with three relief appearances and seven whiffs. The opposition has struggled with a .190 average but a 4.05 ERA could keep him in AAA.

Chih-Wei Hu RHP (Rays) - Hu has pitched three perfect innings in his two appearances. The Rays could use him in their bullpen.

A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - One start and one relief appearances has given him five innings where he has only allowed one hit, an unearned run and struck out four.

David Paulino RHP (Astros) - David is gunning for the Astors bullpen with his two relief appearances with five whiffs in 4.2 innings. He has only allowed one hit but walked two.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

30. Austin Hays OF (Orioles) 6.62 - For a third round pick in 2016 Austin shot up the minor league system quickly, beating all the first round picks to reach the majors. His 32 homeruns were tied for second in the minor leagues. He also hit for average crafting a .329 clip in two minor league seasons, never dropping below .324. For a power hitter he also makes good contact. While he played right field and is listed as having a strong arm myworld does not recall being impressed by any of his throws. The signing of Colby Rasmus could relegate him to AAA. Being the right handed bat in a platoon would not give him enough playing time to develop his game.

29. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 6.74 - The Mariners gave up on the Brazilian because of his inability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. That could be a trade they regret in a couple years. Luiz can hum a fastball in triple digits and sits in the high 90s. That is the gold standard for a lefthanded arm. He still has a little trouble getting the ball over the plate and his two pitch mix of slider/fastball may make him better suited as a closer. Luiz did get an opportunity to start five games with the Braves but command issues led to major league hitters whacking him at a .283 clip. A good spring could see him in the rotation but his best bet would be to start the season in AAA where he completed seven starts last year (3.31 ERA).

28. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) 6.78 - Touted as the next Cuban superstar, the White Sox were able to grab him for $26 million. Having fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada may have sweetened the deal. His last year in the Nacional Series as a 19 year old he put up Triple Crown numbers (.401, 12, 40) in just half a season before defecting. He was also named to the All Tournament team in the 18 and under World Cup. The legs have the speed to play center and the arm has enough zip to play right. In rookie ball he showed a good stick hitting .301 with three homeruns and a .536 slugging average. The White Sox will give him an opportunity to play full season ball, probably beginning the season in Low A.

27. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 7 - Injuries have held Austin back. In the last two years he has been limited to less than 90 games. The trade of Andrew McCutchen could have been an opportunity for him to win a starting job, but he will have to have a monumental spring training to stick on the roster. While he has all the tools to play centerfield, they still fall short of Starling Marte. A less than sterling arm could see him as a left fielder. His bat carries some pop and he makes good contact, with a .292 minor league average. Expect the Pirates to stick him in AAA to begin the season, get some at bats and gain some confidence before they call him up for the big club.

26. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 7.18 - A 6′7″ lefthander who can rain fastballs at the plate in the high 90s is a pitcher few want to face. The 2016 first round pick also has an above average slider, rated the best in the Athletics minor league system and a plus change, resulting in lots of swings and misses. In AA he averaged 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. Lefthanded hitters were also hopeless hitting against him, .196 at High A and .226 in AA. His slider also keeps the ball from leaving the park, allowing only three homeruns in 158 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Athletics in the 2018 season, but to control his innings they will start him in AAA to keep his pitch counts down.

25. MacKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) 7.28 - The Padres 2017 first round pick has ace like stuff. He proved that in his minor league debut last year limiting hitters to a .184 average and striking out 14.3 hitters per nine innings. The high school pitcher should still build some velocity on his mid-90s fastball as his 6′3″ frame matures. What sets Gore apart from many high school pitchers is his repertoire of quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). His command is also spot on. The 2018 season should see him begin it in Low A. With his quality stuff the biggest temptation for the Padres will be rushing him to the major leagues.

24. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 7.32 - If not for the crowded Dodgers outfield Alex would be the next rookie of the year candidate. His speed is a little slow to play centerfield, which would be his best opportunity on this Dodger club, but a cannon for an arm has him fit better in right. The concern for Alex is his ability to hit for power. To date it has not shown with a career .438 slugging. Last year he did spray the outfield for a .314 average, but teams are looking for power in their corner outfielders. There is also some concern whether he brings his A game every day. Myworld suspects he will start the 2018 season in AAA and be the first outfielder called up if an injury should occur. If his power fails to show he could end up as a fourth outfielder.

23. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) 7.44 - Royce was the first player selected in the 2017 draft, even though many touted the skills of Hunter Greene as the top pick. The Twins hope his career does not follow the path of another shortstop Tim Beckham, who struggled to establish himself in the major leagues after being the first pick in the draft. The tools are there for him to play shortstop with a strong arm and good range. The bat has the potential to be potent if he can survive the climb up the minor leagues as a shortstop. His speed allowed him to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he played 18 games at Low A, hitting .296. Expect him to start the 2018 season there, with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves early success at Low A.

22. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) 7.48 - A potential two way player who was expected to be the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Reds with the second pick had to be happy he was still available when it was their turn to pick. He played seven games as a DH hitting .233. The Reds then moved him to the rotation where he got three ineffective starts (12.46). His big attraction as a two way player was his ability to play shortstop, but with all the throwing at the position and the additional throwing on the mound would make it too taxing on his arm. With an arm that can hit triple digits with his fastball the Reds will start him in the rotation. If he falters there they can always turn him into a shortstop. At 6′4″ his ability to stay at short would have been in doubt. The Reds may start him at extended spring and then promote him to Dayton once the weather warms up.

21. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) 7.62 - Tristan may be one of myworld’s favorite pitchers. The last pitcher we witnessed that we were this high on as a 19 year old was a lefthander named Clayton Kershaw. Tristan has 6′5″ height and long wing spans that spells trouble for hitters. Last year there were lots of swings and misses (11.7 whiffs per nine) and little hard contact (.204 opposition average). He has a good curveball and the potential for a plus change. While his command is good he did give up 14 dingers last year. After dominating at High A the Indians will promote him to AA. With success there the Indians may have a need to promote him to the major leagues to get a spot in the playoffs.

Myworlds Top100 Prospects - 50-41

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Big volleyball tournament this weekend. May be our last post until Tuesday so we thought we’d whittle the Top 100 list today.

50. Jake Bauers 1B/OF (Rays) 4.36 - A sleeper pick not drafted until the seventh round of the 2013 draft, Bauers shows patience at the plate walking 70 plus times at the plate the last two seasons. His power has yet to show at the plate but he has been one of the younger players in the league level each year he is promoted. The power could come as he matures. In the meantime it sits at .412, which is not acceptable for a first baseman. He is an above average defensive player at first base but the Rays put him in the outfield for 24 games to increase his versatility. His below average arm and minimal speed makes him a liability in the outfield when that glove could be used at first base. The Rays appear to be in a rebuilding mode so with a good spring Bauers could see significant time at first base in 2018.

49. Michael Baez RHP (Padres) 4.38 - The Cuban professional league is noted for their lack of flame throwers on the island. That is because most of them have defected for a shot in the major leagues. Baez is one of those players. The Padres signed him for $3 million after seeing his fastball touch the high 90s and sit in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches need to develop more consistency (slider, curve and change) but that should come with time. Prior to signing him the big criticism was his inability to find the plate. That did not seem to be a problem in his first season stateside, walking only 8 in 59 innings while striking out 82. He also gave up 8 homeruns so he needs to learn throwing one ball to walk a batter to take one base is better than throwing down the middle and watching the hitter circle the bases. The 2018 season should see him pitch in full season ball.

48. Anthony Alford OF (Blue Jays) 4.62 - Another athletically gifted player who played football in college while he dabbled in baseball has now chosen to focus on baseball. It was expected that his tools would allow him to climb the ladder fast to reach the major leagues but Alford has had trouble staying healthy. The power and speed are there for him to make an impact offensively, possibly becoming a 30/30 player. Defensively he covers major real estate in center field, though his arm is best suited for left if he had to find another outfield position. He made his major league debut last year but broke his wrist five games later. A good spring could see him crack the Blue Jays opening day roster, but they may prefer to begin his season in AAA where he has only accumulated 12 at bats.

47. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) 4.98 - Another son of a major leaguer finding himself on the Top 100 list. His father Paul was a reliever in the major leagues. Currently Cal is a starter who sits in the upper brackets of the low 90s with his fastball. What makes his fastball more devastating is an excellent change that keeps hitters off balance. Last year he seemed a little more hittable with AA hitters tagging him for a .296 average and his whiff rate falling down to 7.2 per nine innings. Same side hitters were particularly cruel hitting .336 against him. The Padres drafted him in the first round of the 2016 season despite Tommy John surgery preventing him from pitching an inning during his junior year at Stanford. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and with success getting a shot at the major leagues.

46. Luis Urias SS/2B (Padres) 5.1 - Normally players start as shortstops and move to second base. Luis started at second base and showed he had the arm to play short. His bat has minimal power but he can spray the gaps. The potential is there for him to hit consistently north of the .300 barrier with the speed to take extra bases. That speed appears to be lacking when attempting to steal. In his last three years he has been thrown out 37 times with only 33 stolen bases. The skills are there for him to be a middle infield type utility player if he doesn’t make it as a starter at one of the positions. Career wise he draws more walks (153) than whiffs (135) a rarity in this day and age. After his success at AA Luis will start the season at AAA with a major league calling just around the corner.

45. Kyle Lewis OF (Mariners) 5.2 - Kyle was expected to be a special player but a devastating knee injury at the end of his debut year limited him to just 49 games last year. When playing in the Arizona Fall League his participation was cut short because of concerns with the knee. The 2016 first round pick was the Baseball America College Player of the Year with the potential to be a five tool player. Last year he only saw 21 games in the outfield so it will be interesting how his knee has impacted his speed and ability to cover ground in center. The arm is solid enough to shift to right. The Mariners skipped him to High A after 11 rehab games in Rookie ball last year. That should be where he starts his 2018 season. If the knee proves healthy he could be moved up quickly.

44. Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) 5.42 - The possibility exists for the 2014 first round pick to make the starting rotation with a good spring. Jack started five games for the Cardinals last year with minimal success. Poor command (4.22 walks per nine) and a .284 opposition average resulted in a 6.33 ERA. The 6′4″ righthander has the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball with complementary secondary pitches that should make him successful as a starter. Jack was dominating at AA (1.42 ERA) and AAA (2.74 ERA) so his major league struggles could be attributed to acclimating his stuff to major league hitters.

43. Ryan McMahon 3B/1B/2B (Rockies) 5.46 - The Rockies second round pick in 2013 played third base in his early years in the minor leagues. With Nolan Arenado entrenched there that position seems off limits. The Rockies have tried him at second and first. At second his defense is shaky but his bat could make up for his defensive struggles. He is better defensively at first base but that position is a bit crowded with other possibilities. The Rockies had to find a position for him after he hit .374 with 14 homeruns in 70 games, producing a 1.023 OPS. That got him a callup to the majors where he struggled (.158) in a brief 19 at bat major league debut. A good spring could see him win a job with the Rockies but his best bet is to go to AAA as depth and get a callup when needed.

42. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) 5.48 - We wrote about him yesterday in the top Dominican prospect list so the following is just a cut and paste from that list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

41. Franklin Barreto SS/2B (Athletics) 5.58 - The Athletics hope Barreto makes an impact since he was one of the players they acquired from the Blue Jays for Josh Donaldson. The other players the Athletics acquired in the trade, Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin have fallen short in their return. Barreto made his major league debut last year and hit just .197 in his 25 games. He does show the ability to hit for pop and has shortstop tools but could move to second in deference to Marcus Semien. Last year he made 18 errors in 83 games at short, a little too erratic for major league purposes. His lifetime minor league average is .292 which is where he should hit once he gets more acclimated to major league pitching. A good spring could see him on the Athletics roster in a utility role but expect him to be depth at the AAA level.

Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

You can see the 2017 list at the link at the end of this blog. The only graduates from the list were Rafael Devers, the number 3 prospect and Reynaldo Lopez at number 7. A couple players dropped off, number two Francis Martes, number eight Francellis Montes and number nine David Paulino. That leaves five repeaters and five new players added to the list, one of whom appeared on the National League list last year.

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

2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

3. Francisco Meija C (Indians) - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

4. Willy Adames SS (Rays) - He was at the top of this list last year but fell not because he had a bad year but the three above him had good years. Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. His bat will hit for decent power, hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he made better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later.

5. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The first real new player on the list since Jimenez appeared on the National League list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

6. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) - The trade from the Yankees to the Athletics resurrected his career. Forced to be moved from short to second with the acquisition of Gleyber Torres and not being promoted to AA put a dent in his prospect status. He came to life in AA with Oakland hitting .292 with a .851 OPS. Jorge has sneaky power with the potential to hit in the double digits. He has yet to come close to his 82 stolen base year of 2015 but he was 13 for 16 in just 30 games at Midland. The Yankees had given Mateo some centerfield time but with Midland Mateo played all his 30 games at short. He could begin the 2018 season in AAA but a good spring would make it tempting to put him on the major league roster in a super utility role, i.e short, second and centerfield.

7. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - Jesus has the potential to be a special player on offense. Coming into the 2017 season he carried a .332 average in the Dominican and Rookie Leagues. He got his first exposure to the full season league and hit .305. The power also began to show with 15 homeruns and a .478 slugging. Jesus has the speed to play center and the arm to move to right. The offense would be better served if his production could stay in center. Next year he will begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he should continue to rake.

8. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - The Yankees have choices for third base. With the trade of Chase Headley they could move Gleyber Torres there or Andujar. Torres may provide better defense but his natural position is shortstop. Andujar made 17 errors there between two levels and will have to reduce that number if he wants to make camp there. Torres is also recovering from arm surgery and may need some time in AAA to strengthen his arm. Andujar has the power for the position. blasting 16 homeruns last year with 82 RBIs. For a power hitter he made solid contact hitting over .300 at both AA and AAA, including a .571 average in a seven at bat trial with the Yankees. A good spring should earn Andujar a trip north with the Yankees as their starting third baseman.

9. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees have a couple of arms with flash rising up their minor leagues who hit the radar in triple digits. Albert is one of those arms sitting in the mid to high 90s. His secondary pitches are still inconsistent but he did a better job of finding the strike zone last year. Albert can overwhelm hitters with his heat but as he rises up the minor leagues his change and slider/curve need to improve for him to be successful as a starter. Last year at High A the opposition hit him at a .252 clip with 8.13 whiffs per nine innings. At the lower levels hitters were in the low .200s with more than 9 whiffs per nine innings. The Yankees could start Albert in High A to begin the season with a mid-season promotion to AA once he finds success.

10. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) - Another Yankee arm that slices the plate in triple digits, sitting in the mid to higher 90s. Domingo also has a plus change but needs to find a consistent breaking pitch. Domingo is a little more advanced than Abreu, starting last season at High A and jumping to AA before finishing with two starts in AAA. His best work was at AA (2.38 ERA). Control was a problem for him in AAA with 8 walks in 12 innings and in the Florida State League lefthanders seemed to tag him pretty well (.316). An improvement in his slider could change that. Acevedo could see some time in the Yankees rotation next year if he has success in AAA, where he should start the 2018 season.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 60-51

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

We’re halfway there. So much more to write about after this, finishing up the team’s prospect lists, the mlb predictions and the top ten prospects from various countries. At some point we will get to all of it, but first finishing up the Top 100.

60. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) 3.66 - The Dodgers have hung on to Alvarez after paying him a $16 million bonus in 2015 as a 19 year old. That is a lot of money for a pitcher who could not make Cuba’s 18 and under team because he could not find the plate. He did hit triple digits with his fastball and that was the start of the Dodgers attraction. They have him starting but he will probably end up in the bullpen because of undeveloped secondary pitches and his struggles finding the plate. He walked 6.82 hitters per 9 innings in his seven AA starts. There is still some time to improve his secondary pitches and be more consistent in finding the plate so the Dodgers will continue to use him in the rotation at AA to start the 2018 season.

59. Jay Groome LHP (Red Sox) 3.66 - Jay dropped to the Red Sox after some character issues scared teams away, allowing the Red Sox to make him their first round pick in 2016. At 6′6″ the lefty has a blazing fastball that hits the mid-90s with a plus curveball, traits teams seek for their ace in the rotation. He only pitched seven innings in 2016 so his big test came in Low A where he got 11 starts. He had trouble finding the plate (5.08) and retiring righthanders (.287) leading to an ugly 6.70 ERA. The Red Sox could give him a repeat of Low A to begin the 2018 season with an early season promotion to High A if he can find the plate more often.

58. Nick Gordon SS (Twins) 3.8 - The son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and the half brother of Dee Gordon lacks the speed of Dee but could have a better bat. Like Dee his power is minimal and his fielding at short needs to be more consistent. Last year he committed 19 errors in just 104 games at short. The Twins gave him some second base time as this could be his position of the future. The lefthanded hitter struggled against lefties last year (.174) and for someone who lacks power he swings and misses too much (134 whiffs in 122 games). A utility role could be in his future, especially if he continues to struggle against lefthanded pitching. The 9 homeruns he hit last year were almost double what he hit his first three years so some moderate power could be developing as he matures. The Twins could use him in 2018 for their playoff run but they will start him in AAA and wait for the perfect opportunity.

57. Jesse Winker OF (Reds) 3.88 - The 2012 supplemental first round pick of the Reds carries a mean stick but his best defensive position is probably at designated hitter. The power seemed to finally appear in the major leagues last year after he was limited to five homeruns in 191 AAA games. He slugged 7 in his 47 games with the Reds. Despite his below average defense in left field this could give him a platoon opportunity against right handed pitching. Jesse could only hit .120 against major league lefties, but even in AAA his batting average against lefthanders was 40 points lower than righthanders. If Jesse wants to find his name in the lineup the bat will have to produce to justify his limited defense in leftfield, and this includes hitting for power. The 2018 season should see him in a platoon role in left field. How long he keeps that role depends on a productive bat.

56. Alec Hansen RHP (White Sox) 4.08 - The 6′7″ right hander was a second round pick in 2016 out of Oklahoma. The college drafted pitcher with the high 90s fastball and mid-80s slider started the season in Low A and finished it in AA, having some success at each level. In Low A he limited the opposition to a .207 average with over 11 whiffs per nine innings in his 13 starts. High A did not phase him either with over 12 whiffs per nine innings and a .203 opposition average in 11 starts. In AA he was a bit more hittable (.333) but still struck out more than 14 hitters per nine innings in his two starts. For a tall starter he seems to find the plate well. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA with a promotion to the White Sox if a need arises. The White Sox have a plethora of quality pitchers they can call on in the minor leagues to fill their rotation so Alec may have to bide his time.

55. Chance Adams RHP (Yankees) 4.12 - The 2015 fifth round pick has been a bit of a surprise for the Yankees. At 6′0″ his height could be a durability issue in the rotation, but he throws in the mid-90s with a wicked slider resulting in a breakout 2016 season (13-1, 2.33 ERA). That excellence continued last year in AA (1.03 ERA) and AAA (2.89 ERA). In AAA he limited the opposition to a .197 average in 21 starts. The Yankees have a number of potential starters in the minor leagues who they can use in their rotation so a good spring could get Chance an opportunity.

54. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) 4.14 - An athletic outfielder who was the high school football player of the year in Georgia, Taylor decided to play baseball when the Reds drafted him as a supplemental first round pick in 2016. Taylor has blazing speed that will allow him to cover the outfield grass in center, but a below average arm which could limit him to left. His power began to show last year with his 13 homeruns and .450 slugging percentage in Low A. He also flew around the bases for 41 steals and 10 triples. The speed and patience to take a walk exists to fit in a leadoff role but as his power grows he could slide into the three hole. Taylor will try to build on his 2017 success in High A in 2018.

53. Justus Sheffield LHP (Yankees) 4.24 - Lefthanded pitchers who stand only 5′10″ are not frowned on as much as righthanders, especially when they hit mid-90s on the radar. The 2014 first round pick can also retire hitters with his slider and change, giving him three solid pitches for the rotation. Last year in AA he had some troubles retiring righthanded bats (.276) and his whiff rate was disappointing (7.91). The Yankees may find a need for him in the bullpen in 2018 to retire lefthanded hitters before fitting him in the rotation. Eventually he could fill a role as a three starter.

52. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) 4.3 - The Yankees acquiring Gleyber Torres moved Jorge from the shortstop position while with the Yankees. He also had some disciplinary issues when he complained about not being promoted to AA. This resulted in a disappointing 2016 season where the Yankees eventually traded him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Returning to shortstop seemed to put some spice back in his bat, though the speed in his legs to steal over 80 bases in 2015 has yet to return. Jorge has some sneaky power that could get him into double digits with homeruns. The speed in his legs will turn some singles into doubles and doubles into triples. If he could find his stolen base speed Jorge could be an impact player, though he did steal 13 bases in 16 attempts in 30 minor league games with the Athletics. If the shortstop job is filled the Athletics could move him to centerfield, where his speed would play well there. Expect him to start the season in AAA with a major league callup in midseason a possibility. The Athletics have more holes in their positions than the Yankees.

51. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers) 4.32 - The Brewers 2017 first round pick has an excellent bat. His defense is a question mark as a injured arm (sprained ulnar ligament) limited him to DH while playing college. The injured wing healed enough for him to play three games at second base, which could be his position in the majors (played outfield in college prior to the injury). The bat is what will separate Hiura, possibly batting title contention. He hit .436 in a 15 game debut in rookie ball and then .333 in 27 games in Low A. His power now is more geared toward the gaps but as he develops he could be a 20 plus homerun hitter who also hits north of .300. His 2018 season could start in High A with more time playing second base.

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 to 81

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The continuation of our Top 100 with three Brewers rated in this ten:

90. Corey Ray OF (Brewers) 1.42 - The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain gives Ray more development time in the minor leagues. The Brewers 2016 first round pick is now their top outfield prospect after the trade of Lewis Brinson. He doesn’t cover as much ground as Brinson in centerfield and his arm is not as strong but his bat should hit for some pop. There were too many swings and misses last year (156) resulting in an abysmal .238 average with a .368 slugging. The lefthanded bat digressed in his bat on ball contact and must learn to recognize breaking pitches if he wants to draw comparisons to Brinson. A repeat of High A would not be surprising since the Brewers outfield has so much depth. He will turn 24 this year so playing AA by mid-season will keep his prospect status intact.

89. Max Fried LHP (Braves) 1.54 - A slow first month gave the appearance of a wasted season. The 2012 first round pick of the Padres missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery. Max was traded to the Braves in the ill advised Justin Upton deal, one of many prospects the Padres traded to teams for veterans in a playoff run that failed to produce a playoff team. Max does not have overpowering stuff, with a fastball in the low 90s that can hit the mid-90s. The curveball is his best pitch getting most of his swings and misses. Max recovered from his slow start to get four starts with the Braves. A good spring could see him go north with the Braves to start the 2019 season.

88. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) 1.7 - Tyler was a seventh round pick in the 2013 draft but his 6′4″ pitcher’s frame allows him to dominant in games. He threw a nine inning no hitter in 2016 and last year made four starts with the Reds, finishing with a 2,70 ERA. His fastball cuts across the plate in the mid-90s but his secondary pitches are inconsistent. After his four starts with the Reds he will probably begin the season there unless a poor spring or an extension of service time keeps him in the minors.

87. Danny Jensen C (Blue Jays) 1.74 - The sleeper 16th round pick in 2013 seemed to find his bat last year. Coming into the 2017 season the catcher had a career .234 average with a slugging percentage of .336. He raked in the Florida State League hitting .369 with a .541 slugging percentage. This resulted in a promotion to AA where he still hit (.291, .419) and AAA where he hit even better (.328, .552). From a defensive standpoint he is a decent catcher with an average arm who catches the ball and does not allow passed balls (4 in 98 games). If his bat is real and he can duplicate the numbers he put up last year he should make his major league debut and at worst be a very good back up for the Blue Jays. His defense may not be to the high standard that he would play if his bat did not play.

86. Brandon Woodruff RHP (Brewers) 1.98 - Another player drafted low in the draft (11th round in 2014). His fastball ticked a couple clicks higher in 2016 going from the low 90s to 93-95 and his whiff numbers increased from 6 per nine innings to almost 10 per nine innings. The opposition also went from hitting him at a .265 clip going down to a .208 clip. A hamstring injury limited him to 16 starts in AAA and his numbers went back to his earlier years, but he was pitching in Colorado Springs. He also made his major league debut with 8 starts and a 4.81 ERA. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a good slider and change, three pitches necessary for the rotation. He will probably fit at the end of the Brewers rotation.

85. Corbin Burnes RHP (Brewers) 2 - The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering with a fastball in the Low 90s. He still is developing his secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) with all having the potential to be average offerings. So while the stuff is not awe inspiring the numbers he put up last year were very impressive. In 10 high A starts he finished with an ERA of 1.05 with a .181 opposition average. This led to a promotion to AA where in 16 starts his ERA was at 2.10 with a .212 opposition average. His strikeout rate was also pretty good, falling just short of one per inning. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA but if hitters still struggle to make solid contact off him the Brewers will find room for him in their rotation by mid-season.

84. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) 2.02 - The Venezuelan is not known for his strong arm or his strong defensive tools. Those areas are still a work in progress. What he does have is a strong bat that entered the 2017 season with a career .344 average in two seasons. Coming into this season his power was restricted to the gaps. Last year the bat continued to smoke with a .317 average in Low A and a .315 average in High A. The switch hitter did have some trouble hitting against left handed pitching, seeing his average fall below .250 at both levels. The power increased with a .497 slugging and a career high six homeruns in the hitter friendly California League. Keibert now appears to be the Dodgers catcher of the future with a stint in AA next on his schedule. That is just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles.

83. Alex Faedo RHP (Tigers) 2.04 - The Tigers 2017 first round pick did not pitch last year but at 6′5″ with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked slider, he should rise quickly up the minor league ranks after being drafted out of college. It was the second time the Tigers drafted him, the first time after high school. At his high school (Braulio Alonso High School) he was a teammate of Jose Fernandez. As a college drafted player the Tigers will probably start him in a full season league. His last two years of college he struck out over 11 hitters per nine innings.

82. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) 2.22 - There does not seem to be a lot of room for Miguel on the Yankee roster with Gleyber Torres destined for third base. Miguel has some good pop in his bat with 16 homeruns last year between AA and AAA. He also makes decent contact for a power hitter resulting in an average north of .300 at both AA and AAA. In his brief major league debut he hit .571 in less than 10 at bats. His defense could use some polish with 17 errors in just over 100 games. With Gleyber Torres coming back from injury Miguel could start the season with the Yankees, but he has to show he is ready.

81. Dustin Fowler OF (Athletics) 2.22 - The Yankees centerfielder of the future was not drafted until the 18th round of the 2013 draft. The five tool athlete stole 25 bases and slugged 12 homeruns in 2016. His future as a Yankee ended when he was part of the trade with the Athletics for Sonny Gray. The 2017 season was more of the same with his homeruns (13) equaling his stolen bases in his first 70 games. After the trade to the Athletics he was promoted to the major league club where he was injured early in his first game. His speed allows him to play center but his arm could force him to left. When he is ready to contribute expect him to approach 20/20 (homeruns. stolen bases).

Myworld’s Top Ten Lefthanded Prospects

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

The story on lefthanders is they do not throw as hard as righthanders, but their ball moves much better. Don’t know if there has been a study to explain why that happens. Righthanders are generally better to have on your staff because hitters who bat from the same side as the pitcher tend to struggle more and there are more righthanded hitters in baseball. Baseball has all sorts of givens that are based on anecdotal evidence such as short righthanders are not as effective as short lefthanders and right handed power hitting firstbaseman are usually ignored in favor of firstbaseman who can hit lefthanded based on the prevalence of right handed pitching. Personally, myworld will take pitchers who can get hitters out or hitters who can hit regardless of their physical characteristics. So here are my top ten lefthanded pitchers to watch and others to keep an eye on.

1. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - You have to like a pitcher who stands 6′7″, consistently hits the high 90s with his fastball and throws lefthanded. If he doesn’t find a spot in the rotation he could be a knock out closer. He does have a pretty good slider and if his changeup gets better he will have the pitches to settle at the top of a rotation. Tall pitchers tend to have problems finding the strike zone and that is true with A.J. He got as far as AA last year. Hitters at the A level struggled against him(.196) but the AA found his pitches more hittable (.256). The 2016 first round pick should see the Athletics rotation by mid season if he shows success at AA.

2. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third player selected in the 2017 draft dominated at the rookie level in his professional debut, limiting the opposition to a .184 average, a 1.27 ERA and 14 whiffs per nine innings pitched. The Padres were conservative with him allowing him to pitch three innings per start. With those limitations he could rear back on his fastball, hitting the mid-90s. He has a deep selection of quality secondary pitches that will be effective as an ace in the rotation. Next year he will start the season in Low A and at the most optimistic won’t be ready for the Padres until 2020, building up innings and arm strength in the minor leagues. As his innings extend maintaining the fastball velocity and getting hitters out the second and third time he faces them in the order will be tested.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - At 5′11″ if he threw from the right side he would be bullpen fodder. The Yankees first pick in 2014 throws lefthanded and despite his small stature has good velocity and movement on his fastball. He did not get a lot of swings and misses with his repertoire in AA (7.9 per nine innings) but lefthanders only hit him at .217. His challenge is to retire righthanded hitters more consistently (.276). The Yankees will be in the thick of a playoff race next year and it is tough for rookies in New York to have success in that type of environment. Expect the Yankees to be patient with him. If he can improve his pitches against righthanders he could see some time in the rotation next year, otherwise it could be bullpen opportunities against lefthanders when the Yankees need arms.

4. Yohander Mendez (Rangers) - He stands tall (6′5″) but his fastball stands out more for its sink than velocity. His best pitch is also the change which makes the fastball appear to have greater velocity. He was able to retire both lefties and righties equally (.228 average) in AA which gave the Rangers confidence to promote him to the show. Giving up the long ball could be his Achilles heel, allowing 23 in AA and 3 in his 12 innings with the Rangers. With the Rangers all his appearances were in relief. The Rangers signed a number of fringe starting pitchers as free agents so Mendez will spend the first part of the season in AAA. His success and the back end of the rotations failures will determine his future.

5. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals have had success with players who have fallen in the draft because of injury. Romero did not have an injury that resulted in his drop, but he was kicked off his college baseball team because of character flaws. Most teams will tolerate a few character flaws for a lefty who touches mid-90s with his fastball. He got a lot of swings and misses with his pitches (14 K’s per nine innings) but had trouble retiring lefthanded hitters (.364). He should start the season in Low A and with success should rise quickly as a pitcher drafted out of college.

6. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The Red Sox 2016 first round pick stands 6′6″ and looks like a giant on the mound. The curveball is said to be his best pitch but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. At 220 pounds he could fill out some more adding some velocity. He got battered and bruised a bit in Low A, but his command was poor (5 walks per nine innings) resulting in 6 taters in just 44 innings. That gave him an ugly 6.70 ERA. The good news is lefthanded hitters struggled (.184) but not righthanders (.287). He also got a lot of swings and misses (11.77 K’s per nine innings). It would not hurt for him to repeat Low A to find some success before being promoted to High A.

7. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - Even though he stands 6′5″ he is one of the softer tossers on this list. His fastball only crosses the plate in the low 90s but he complements it with an excellent change. At AA hitters could only muster a .207 average against him. A promotion to AA saw more barrel on the ball contact (.293) but he did continue to get swings and misses with his pitches, averaging a strikeout per inning. Expect to see him start the year in AAA and find himself promoted to the Twins once he has achieved some success. If the Twins need a lefty in the bullpen that could be his short term role, but long term he will fit in the middle of the rotation.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian is one of the many investments the Padres have delved in from Cuba. He was the MVP of the 15 and under World Cup and left Cuba shortly after that. At 18 he has already pitched at High A. He is not overpowering with his fastball, sitting in the Low 90s, but he has command of all his pitches and his short stature (6′0) forced him to know how to pitch. The velocity could increase as he gets stronger but currently his pitches are hittable (.265 opposition average). He was the ace of the Cuban youth teams he played for but myworld feels he might fit more in the middle of a rotation. If his fastball shows better velocity he could creep higher. As he rises up each level he needs to show he can miss bats or consistently get poor contact on the balls that are hit.

9. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The Braves are loaded with lefthanded pitching but Kolby may be the best of the group. The Braves 2015 first round pick was bothered by back problems soon after being drafted but last year seemed to show he has recovered from that. His fastball sits in the low 90s but a good curve ball and change give him three quality pitches he can show hitters. Gohara and Fried made their major league debuts last year while Allard toiled in AA all season, so they may be ahead of him in the depth chart. Kolby’s success at AA last year (3.18 ERA) will put him in the pecking order to make the Braves rotation this year. He is not the kind of pitcher who will miss a lot of bats, but he should eat up innings and limit run production, fitting in the middle of the rotation.

10. Tanner Scott (Orioles) - The sixth round 2014 pick throws heat, consistently hitting 100 plus with his fastball. The Orioles limited him to three innings per start, which restricted hitters from seeing him a second time, but a .188 opposition average against him shows the lack of success they had the first time they faced him in the order. His lack of command and secondary pitches may relegate him to the bullpen, but he could be one of those pitchers who develops that second and third pitch in the minors and turns into a monster. Tanner will start next season in AAA. If all he can throw is a fastball hitters will communicate to him how badly he needs other pitches.

Others to Watch

Anthony Banda (Diamondbacks) - A good fastball/curveball combination. Improved command could see better results. Started four games in the majors last year and with a good spring and a trade of Greinke he could find himself in the rotation next year.

Luiz Gohara (Braves) - Luiz was acquired from the Mariners for two minor leaguers. Last year the Brazilian made his major league debut featuring a fastball that hits triple digits. Lack of command and weight issues could give Luiz problems in the future. He also needs to develop a third pitch (change) or be relegated to the bullpen where pitchers with his velocity and lack of command thrive.

Max Fried (Braves) - Lucas Giolito was the star of his high school team but Max got drafted higher after arm issues dropped Lucas in the draft. Tommy John surgery also felled Fried but last year he bounced back after a slow start, making his major league debut. Throwing strikes is a challenge and a start in AAA could be good for him. He did dominate in the Arizona Fall League which was indicative how he turned his season around last year after a horrendous start.

Alex Wells (Orioles) - His twin brother Lachlan pitches for the Twins. The Australian is not blessed with impressive stuff but he was able to get hitters out in Low A. His fastball travels in the high 80s/low 90s with no high quality secondary pitches, retiring hitters mainly on location. Next year he will settle in High A. The higher up the minor league ladder he climbs the greater the test of how his pedestrian pitches survive against better hitters.

D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles 2017 first round pick has a good fastball but struggled throwing strikes in his 10 inning professional debut. The Orioles have had issues developing pitchers drafted in the first round, often seeing them become more effective after they have left the organization (Jake Arrieta).

Cionel Perez (Astros) - The Cuban is slight of frame (5′11″) but still juices the fastball into the Low 90s. The Astros spent $2 million plus another $2 million penalty to sign him. Hitters found him not to be a mystery hitting him at a .266 clip. He’ll start the season in AA but myworld anticipates Perez in the Astros bullpen by mid-season.

Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Athletics acquired Jesus from the Nationals in the Ryan Madsen/Ryan Doolittle trade. At 6′1″ he doesn’t stand as tall as Puk but his fastball has been clocked in triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. He had Tommy John surgery in high school so there are concerns about the number of bullets he still has left in his arm. He won’t be ready for the Athletics until 2019, building up his innings in the minor leagues.

Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld likes him better as a firstbaseman but the fourth pick in the 2017 draft has a pretty good curve and hits the low 90s with his fastball. If he focuses on pitching the improvements could be exponential.

Ryan Yarbrough (Rays) - Myworld thinks Ryan is a bit underrated. Last year he drifted through AAA like knife through mayonnaise. He gets swings and misses from his low 90s fastball and his 6′5″ height gives him an imposing presence. Don’t be surprised to see him at the back end of the rotation for the Rays next year, especially after the Rays trade one or two of their veteran pitchers. Myworld liked what we saw of him last year.

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Athletic Supporters Thinning with Lack of Stadium ane Playoff Appearances

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The supporters they need are more of the human variety. The Oakland Athletics are long past money ball when they were able to look at niches and exploit weaknesses that major league clubs with more revenue were ignoring. In this age of analytics many teams are finding it benefits them to pour resources into hiring people to analyze the numbers generated from baseball to get the most bang for the buck when negotiating salary or finding a prospect that won’t flop. This leaves the Oakland Athletics lost in the woods wondering where else they can go to take advantage of their minimal resources.

What they have been focusing on is developing pitching. They remember the days when young pitching brought them playoff appearances with Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson from 2000 - 2004, winning them three Western Division titles. They tried to follow that with Sonny Gray and a number of other young pitchers who struggled to stay healthy but got them three more playoff appearances between 2012-2014. Now their hope rests with Sean Manaea and what is sprouting in the farm system.

The best of that crop is 2016 first round pick A.J. Puk. The lefthander has a wicked fastball that crosses the plate in the mid-90s and a nasty slider that hits the low 90s. He dominated in the California League with a .196 opposition average and 98 whiffs in just 61 innings. Things were not so easy in AA. They hit him at a .256 clip but he was still able to get his swings and misses with 86 whiffs in 64 innings. His biggest struggles are commanding his pitches and throwing strikes, a difficult task for a pitcher standing 6′7″. The Athletics are moving him aggressively so don’t be surprised to see a September callup next year or if injuries become an issue getting an earlier opportunity.

Gator teammate Logan Shore does not throw as hard and issues pitches from the right side. He does know how to win games, going 12-1 in college and considered the Friday night pitcher for the Gators, over the more talented Puk. His fastball glides to the plate in the low 90s. California League hitters found the pitch very palatable hitting him at a .276 clip. The second round 2016 pick does initiate a lot of ground balls which results in double plays, limiting the damage baserunners can cause for him. This means his results will be better with a talented up the middle defense. Command of his pitches and a plus change will put him in the rotation as a back of the rotation pitcher, perhaps not a big three.

The Athletics hope to get something from James Kaprielian, a number one pick of the Yankees in 2015 who the Athletics acquired in the Sonny Gray trade. Kaprielian did not pitch last year because of Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Kaprielian had a fastball that hit in the mid-90s with good secondary offerings. He should be healthy for the 2018 season, perhaps rehabbing in extending spring training to get his arm healthy.

Another back end of the rotation pitcher is Cuban Norge Ruiz. He is another pitcher with a limited fastball that elicits a lot of ground balls. He made his professional debut last year and found the going rough, with California League hitters tagging him at a .326 clip. He does have an assortment of pitches that if mixed well could be of some use, but he needs command to be effective. A bullpen role could be his best hope.

Jesus Luzardo is a promising pitcher the Athletics acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade. He has a wicked fastball/changeup combination that can get a lot of swings and misses (48 whiffs in 43 innings). Grant Holmes was a Dodger first round pick in 2014 who seemed to fizzle. The Athletics hope to get some contributions from him. His fastball has good velocity but spotty control has resulted in too many meaty pitches.

On the hitters side a couple Yankee acquisitions stand out. Dexter Fowler should cover centerfield for the Athletics in 2018. He was injured in his first major league appearance with the Yankees while sliding into a wall and injuring his knee. The Athletics traded for him anyway because of his speed and ability to cover the outfield. He also showed enough pop to hit 13 homeruns.

Jorge Mateo was the other player acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade. He moved back to shortstop but there is also some talk his speed may be better utilized in centerfield. Last year he stole 52 bases. He also hit 12 long balls, the power part of his game breaking out. To stay at short he needs to show more consistency in his fielding. A move to second base could also be in his future.

The two best position prospects may be middle infielder Franklin Barreto and Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros. Franklin should be the Athletics starting second baseman next year, though his primary position has been shortstop. Marcus Semien seems to have that major league position wrapped up, so to get his bat in the lineup the Athletics will move Barreto to second base. His power is more towards the gaps though he did show enough lift to hit 17 homeruns last year, two in the major leagues. Like Mateo, his fielding at shortstop lacks consistency. A 27/141 walk to whiff ratio in 111 games is cause for concern and could be an explanation for his major league struggles (.197).

Cuban Lazaro Armenteros has all the tools needed to be an impact player. Speed is his best attribute. The 18 year old got to see time in rookie ball where he hit .277, showing a propensity to strike out (57 whiffs in 47 games). There was game like power in his bat with a .474 slugging percentage and four homeruns. Next year he should see some time in full season ball where more exposure could result in greater recognition.

Two line drive hitters acquired from the Nationals could see some role with the Athletics in 2018. Sheldon Neuse lit it up in the Arizona Fall League. He was a player included in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade. Power for third base may be a question mark, though he did club 16 homeruns last year in A ball. The Athletics are a little crowded at the corner positions and defense is not a strength for Sheldon.

Max Schrock has a lefthanded line drive bat that has the potential to hit .300. His tools are not eyeopening and his weak arm will limit him to second base, making utility work questionable. He hit .321 at AA making consistent, solid contact. Power is not something you will see from his bat.

Two other players myworld likes are Renato Nunez, a corner infielder with power and outfielder Ramon Laureano, who covers enough ground to play centerfield. Nunez slugged 32 homeruns last year in AAA, but with a crowded corner infield he may be trade bait. He does strike out a lot (141 whiffs in 126 games), which puts a strain on his batting average (.246). Ramon was a 16th round pick of the Astros in 2014 who lacks tools but not the work ethic. Speed will get him double digits in stolen bases and relentlessness will see him hit double digits in homeruns and deliver runs with hustle.

Perhaps that will be the niche the Athletics will be looking for, finding players who want to play.