Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Myworld’s Top 100 - 40 -31

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Spring training games and the WBC games are making it hard to complete this list. Here are the next ten, 40-31 as we trudge down to number one.

40. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Canadian was the Braves second first round pick in the 2015 draft. Not an overpowering pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s, he relies on the command of his above average curveball and change to force hitters to make weak contact. Last year he averaged just 7.9 whiffs per nine innings at Low A. Next year should see a promotion to High A. Eventually he will fill a role in the middle or back end of a rotation.

39. Blake Rutherford OF (Yankees) - Blake was the Yankees first round pick in 2016. He starred for the under 18 United States baseball team that won the gold medal, batting in the middle of their lineup. The Yankees hope to see enough power from him to bat in the middle of their lineup. Last year he hit .351 in rookie ball in a little over 100 at bats, slugging .570. Average speed will leave him in right field, the only tool he lacks from competing as a five tool player.

38. Bradley Zimmer OF (Indians) - Bradley was the Indians first round pick in 2014. The Indians still have hopes to put him in centerfield, but myworld thinks he lacks the speed to play there. We think he is a better fit in right field, but perhaps we have seen him on bad days when he takes poor routes. His bat should hit for enough power to fit in right field with 15 homeruns last year. That included a power outage in AAA when he could only hit one over the fence in 150 at bats. Zimmer has the speed to be a 20/20 player. If he can cut down on his strikeouts his average could rise above .250.

37. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers continue to spend big bucks on Cuban players with little success. Yadier was signed to a $16 million bonus, which is the second highest bonus they have paid to a prospect, the $28 million they signed for Hector Olivera the number one bonus. Yusniel Diaz ($15.5 million), Yasiel Puig ($12 million) and Alex Guerrero ($10,000) round out the top five bonuses for the Dodgers and they all happen to be Cuban players. Since arriving in the United States Yadier has seen his fastball hit triple digits, sitting mainly in the mid-90s range. Commanding that fastball can be an issue with 21 walks in 59 innings. Adding a change as a third pitch will put him in the rotation, otherwise he will fill a role as a closer. The Dodgers could start him in Low A where he has already achieved success in 9 starts or push him with a promotion to High A. At 6′3″ he has a good frame for a pitcher.

36. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - The Astros already have his brother Preston on the team as a fifth outfielder. When Kyle is ready to play he will be the starting centerfielder for the Astros. Kyle was the first round pick of the Astros in 2015. All the tools are there to make him an impact bat, especially since he hits from the left side. The one tool he may be short on is speed, which could move him to right field where his arm is more than adequate to play the position Last year in a brief call up to High A he hit .339 with a 1.096 OPS. The Astros may start him there to begin the 2017 season and then promote him if he continues to maul High A pitching.

35. Josh Hader LHP (Brewers) - He has already been traded twice, from the Orioles to the Astros and now to the Brewers. For the Orioles he was their 19th round pick in 2012. His hair has grown since then and his velocity has increased, hitting the mid-90s. That is plenty of speed for a left handed pitcher. Last year he average 11.5 whiffs per nine innings at AA and AAA. A slider gives him a good second pitch but his change is still lacking. Trouble with finding the strike zone in AAA resulted in a 5.22 ERA when he walked 36 in 69 innings. The Brewers would like to see him have success at AAA before they promote him to their major league rotation. They would also like to see him improve his change to give him three pitches.

34. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - His talent level falls short of his dad. His arm is not as powerful and his hitting tools also fall short. He’s probably a little better at taking pitches, but still puts his bat on the ball when he swings (33/35 walk to whiff). His arm is not a rifle but it is good enough for third. More stocky than his dad, he should hit for power. Despite his 15 steals last year Vladimir is not fleet afoot. This makes third base a better position for him. Expect to see him start the 2017 season in Low A.

33. Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - The Athletics may regret trading Addison Russell but they got Barretto in the Josh Donaldson trade. He could be the player Russell is now, with good pop for a shortstop. His defensive tools do not stand out so a shift to second is possible, but the Athletics will keep him at short to let his average tools develop. He has decent speed, stealing 30 bases last year so a move to centerfield is also a possibility. Where ever he plays a plus bat that should hit in the neighborhood of .300 with 20 plus homerun pop will find a position to play. Expect the A’s to start him at AAA with a promotion to the major league team in September. Marcus Semien also has average tools for a shortstop so the Athletics will have to find a match and move one of the players to second.

32. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - The Braves traded for a number of pitching prospects who were first round picks from other teams. Kolby was drafted by the Braves in the first round of the 2015 draft. The fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s but he complements it with a plus curve and a solid change, besides throwing lefthanded. His command is also excellent. He didn’t appear to be bothered by a back problem that dropped him in the draft and limited his 2015 season to three starts. For the 2017 season he may start it in Low A where he had some success last year.

31. Jason Groome LHP (Red Sox) - Jason would not have dropped as far as he did in the 2016 draft to get to the Red Sox in the first round if not for some questions about his character. At 6′6″, throwing lefthanded with a fastball hitting the mid-90s with room for more growth as he matures, Jason could end up in the top of a rotation. His curve is good and his change is in the developmental stage since he did not use it much in high school. The Red Sox hope to begin his 2017 season in Low A.

MyWorld’s Top 100 - 60-51

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

60. Zack Collins C (White Sox) 3.62 - The 2016 first round pick of the White Sox would have been their top prospect if not for the acquisitions of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech. Now he has to share the spotlight. Zack is a power hitting catcher whose defensive skills are not fully developed yet. If he does not make it as a catcher he has enough pop to move to first base, though he would be more valuable as a catcher. Next season should see him break out in a full season league after he hit six homeruns in just 36 games in rookie ball. Pitchers were a little hesitant pitching to him, walking him 33 times.

59. Sean Reid-Foley RHP (Blue Jays) 3.75 - Sean had a breakout season last year, lowering his ERA by more than a run and striking out more than a hitter per inning. The opposition had trouble making hard contact off him with an opposition average less than .200. His fastball sits in the low 90s but he can touch north of 95 with a solid curve and developing slider. If he can find the feel for his change he could move fast. Last year he reached High A for 10 starts. Sean should start the season in AA with a possible major league callup if he continues to achieve success.

58. Erick Fedde RHP (Nationals) 3.75 - The Nationals like to collect those pitches who have to undergo Tommy John surgery prior to the draft, dropping them lower in the draft. They did that with Lucas Giolito and Erick was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft even after he found out he needed Tommy John surgery. Erick pitched 121 innings last year and will need to start the season in the minors to control his innings count. With the trade of Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito he could be considered the number six starting pitcher for the Nationals after their first five. He has a low 90s fastball and a high 80s slider. His change needs to develop more consistency if he hopes to make it as a starter.

57. Amir Garrett LHP (Reds) 3.82 - Until last year Amir was a basketball player who dabbled a bit in playing baseball. He has now decided to focus on baseball. That may jump start his career. At 6′5″ he has impressive height with a fastball in the low 90s complemented by a plus slider. His change is still a work in progress. Amir dominated at AA with a 1.75 ERA, 9.1 whiffs per nine innings and a .184 opposition average in 12 starts. A promotion to AAA gave him a little bit of a struggle but the opposition still only hit him at a .202 clip. A 31/54 walk to whiff ratio shows he was more hittable with less command. A repeat of AAA will be in store for Amir in 2017.

56. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 4.05 - Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016. He was drafted ahead of his Florida teammate Logan Shore, who was their Friday night starter, usually reserved for the best pitcher on the team. The Athletics chose Puk but then had the opportunity to snag Logan Shore in the second round when his name was still on the list. At 6′7″ Puk has an intimidating plane he brings to hitters with a fastball that can cross the plate in the high 90s. His secondary pitches (slider and change) still need a lot of work, but once he figures it out his fastball will be that much better. While he finished the season 0-4 Puk averaged just 3.3 innings per start.

55. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) 4.07 - Injuries have slowed down Alfaro’s development, leaving him on prospect lists for at least five years. The Colombian was signed by the Rangers but traded to the Phillies in the Cole Hamel deal. His bat has pop and his arm can slow down a running game. The big concern with Jorge is the 5/1 strikeout to walk ratio (105/22 last year) that can be exposed by better pitchers. Cameron Rupp is currently ahead of him on the major league roster so Jorge will probably see a full season in AAA.

54. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) 4.12 - The only pitcher we witnessed pitch this year that made me go wow. He has long arms that seem to fly all over the place in his delivery. At 6′5″ his fastball can already hit 95. Once he gets more meat on his bones that fastball velocity should increase. His curve has a nice break but his change still needs more consistency. Rookie league hitters had no chance against him with a .180 opposition average. A 0.55 ERA in nine starts got him a promotion to Low A. That is where he will begin the 2017 season. For a young pitcher he is very good at throwing strikes.

53. Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) 4.18 - Carson has a superb glove who frames pitches well and controls the running game with a strong arm. The big question mark with him is whether his bat can develop. That will determine whether he will be a starter or backup. Last year he hit around .290 splitting time between AA and AAA. A promotion to the major leagues saw that average dip to .154. With Yadier Molina the Cardinals catcher for the next couple years Carson will improve his craft in 2017 in AAA with a possible back up role for Yadier by mid-season.

52. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 4.4 - Verdugo was a second round pick in the 2014 draft. Last year he hit a career high 13 homeruns in AA, showing the power is there to play a corner. Slow foot speed prevents him from playing centerfield, but a strong arm is a nice fit for right. If Yasiel Puig continues his downfall the Dodgers could call up Verdugo to take his place. Mark saw a full season in AA so the 2017 season should start in AAA. Alex needs to maintain his focus to win the right field job. There are times when he has a tendency to dial it back.

51. Luke Weaver RHP (Cardinals) 4.48 - Luke was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014. His fastball neighbors the mid-90s and he complements that well with a plus change. After dominating the minor leagues last year Luke was given a promotion to the Cardinals. In nine starts a 5.70 ERA and .311 opposition average with seven homeruns given up in his 36 innings showed he was not ready yet. He had only given up a total of seven homeruns in his last three minor league seasons. On the bright side he did strike out 11.1 hitters per nine innings proving he has swing and miss stuff. A good spring could find him in the starting rotation, but expect more a mid-season callup.

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 - 81

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

A compilation of the six top 100 lists rolled into one. Below is 90-81.

90. Matt Chapman 3B/SS (Athletics) 1.35 - Myworld does not think Chapman will be playing shortstop, but with so many corner infielders the Athletics will have to find room for them all. Chapman is probably the best defensive third baseman of the group and has a strong arm. His range is good for third base but would fall far short of what is needed for a shortstop. His bat also gives the Athletics power, with 36 homeruns last year. There is a tendency for him to swing and miss (173 whiffs) which could lead to averages falling below .250.

89. Max Fried RHP (Braves) 1.4 - He was drafted in the first round by the Padres. The Padres traded him to the Braves to acquire Justin Upton. Tommy John surgery has knocked some luster off his prospect status. Last year was his first year back and he averaged 9.8 whiffs per nine innings with a fastball that sat at 92-95. With a little more pitching that velocity could increase. His secondary pitches (slow breaking ball and change) need some improvement as does his control. He’ll start the season in High A and could see AA by the end of the year.

88. Chance Sisco (Orioles) 1.4 - Playing for so long at Bowie myworld has seen a lot of Chance. His defense behind the plate needs work and his power is absent. As he matures he may hit ten plus homeruns. The best part of his game is his ability to get hits and strike the gaps. He is not afraid to take walks and will give you OBAs of over .400. Being a catcher he does not have great speed but he will not clog the bases. Expect him to make his major league debut this year after at least half a season in AAA. With Matt Wieters gone the Orioles do not really have a viable catching option blocking him from making a contribution. His lack of power makes a move to first base questionable.

87. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) 1.42 - The son of All Star reliever Paul Quantril and the 2016 first round pick of the Padres. Cal hopes to make it in the starting rotation with a fastball that slides between low to mid 90s. He also has a good change and is working to improve his slider to give him three pitches for the rotation. Tommy John surgery as a sophomore in high school is a concern. He should make his debut next season in full season Low A where he can work on improving his slider and his command of pitches.

86. Carson Fulmer RHP (White Sox) 1.43 - The White Sox may have rushed him last year. Fulmer only stands 6′0″ and with the recent acquisitions of Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez his best spot may be in the bullpen. Despite being the same height as Lopez he lacks his velocity, hitting the low 90s with his fastball. His best pitch may be his curveball and he does throw a plus change to give him three above average pitches. A 8.49 ERA, 7 walks in 12 innings and a .273 opposition average in eight relief outings in the major leagues is not what the White Sox were looking for but many top prospects struggle in their first exposure to major league hitters.

85. Brady Aiken RHP (Indians) 1.5 - The Astros drafted him as the first pick in the draft in 2014 but concerns over his arm led them to reduce his bonus leaving a sour taste in Brady’s mouth for not signing. Brady later had to undergo Tommy John surgery. This did not prevent the Indians from selecting them as their number one pick when he fell to them as the 17th pick in the 2015 draft. He struggled in his first professional debut in 2016 with an ERA combined of 5.83 between two rookie leagues with an opposition average of .274. The bright spot is his K rate was 11.1 per nine innings and his fastball sat in the low 90s but touched 97. He also throws an above average curve and change. This was his rehab year so 2017 should see greater velocity on his fastball and sharper breaks on his curve with improved command, at least that is how the Indians would like it drawn up on their blueprint.

84. German Marquez RHP (Rockies) 1.58 - Soon he will have to deal with pitching in the high altitudes of Colorado. German throws the ball hard with a mid-90s fastball touching into the high 90s. He also carries an above average curve with a changeup in the developmental stages. Last year he made his major league debut with three starts and three relief appearances, fashioning a 5.23 ERA. His strikeout rate has never been above 9 but has always been in the neighborhood, but against major league hitters it dropped to 6.5. Expect at some point the Rockies stick him in their rotation after he has success in AAA.

83. Willie Calhoun 2B (Dodgers) 1.6 - At 5′8″ you could compare him to Jose Altuve, except he does not have his speed and he is not a good defensive player. What he does have is the ability to carry the ball over the fence with 27 homeruns in AA. Ideally, he could fit in left field but slow foot speed and a below average arm make that a liability. His best position may be DH but they don’t have that in the National League so the Dodgers will keep him at second base and if he keeps on hitting bombs they will not complain.

82. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 1.67 - Stephen is a pitcher the Twins used to thrive on putting in their rotation during their playoff years. He doesn’t throw hard with a fastball in the low 90s, but he is able to hit the corners, throw up and down in the strike zone and give hitters different looks. Despite the lack of velocity he still struck out more than a hitter an inning last year and kept opponents to a batting average at less than .200. He also throws a change and a curve with the changeup being his second best pitch. After dominating in 13 starts at AA expect him to begin next season in AAA with a shot at making his major league debut before mid-season.

81. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) 1.83 - Anderson is one of many number one draft pick pitchers in the Braves camp. However, with Anderson he will be a home grown pick, drafted by the Braves in the first round in 2016. The New Yorker throws hard with a fastball sliding in to the mid-90s and touching 97 with the potential for an above average curveball and change. He made a promising professional debut and should start 2017 in Low A.

MyWorld’s Top 100 Prospects - 100 -91

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

They are not really our top 100 prospects. They are a collection of top 100 lists that we have put together and then assigned values, i.e. 10 points for a number 1 and 9.9 for a number 2 all the way down to a .1 for a number 100. The numbers are compiled and averaged. Below are the 100-91 prospects.

100. Bobby Bradley 1B (Indians) 0.85 - When Bradley is ready for the major leagues Carlos Santana will move to DH. There is pop in is bat, but also a lot of swing and miss. He will hit 30 plus homeruns in the majors but may also fall below .250 with his average. Don’t expect an upgrade over Santana at first base and his lack of speed makes the outfield not an option.

99. Casey Gillespie 1B/3B (Rays) 0.88 - Casey will have to hope for a better career than his brother Conner. The Rays drafted him in the first round but he appears to be more a gap hitter. The homeruns will not be frequent but he could hit for a decent average with lots of doubles. It doesn’t hurt that he is a switch hitter and can play two positions, though he appears to be more suited defensively for first base.

98. Franklin Perez RHP (Astros) 1.03 - The Venezuelan has increased his fastball to where it is now hitting in the mid-90s. At 6′3″ and 220 pounds he has a good frame for pitching. He also throws two breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change so he has the repertoire to start. Another good season at High A will raise his profile.

97. Grant Holmes RHP (Athletics) 1.03 - Originally drafted by the Dodgers in the first round in 2014. They soured on his numbers and less than overpowering fastball (92-95) trading him to the Athletics in the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick trade. Lefthanded hitters had his way against him (.303) and in five starts California League hitters smacked him around for a .355 average. He will begin his Athletic career in High A.

96. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 1.05 - The Brazilian pitcher can throw hard, his fastball zipping across the plate in the mid to high 90s, sometimes even hitting triple digits. His big issue is getting control of his pitches. Lefties with hard fastballs tend to take a bit longer to develop. His secondary pitches also need improvement (slider/change) otherwise he will end up in the bullpen.

95. Cody Reed LHP (Reds) 1.2 - Cody also has a slider/fastball combination, but his fastball sits more in the 93-95 range. He got beat and battered a bit in 10 starts with Cincy (7.39 ERA, .328 opposition ave) so it will be back to AAA where he needs to enhance the change to give him a third pitch. He also gave up 12 homeruns in the majors in just 48 innings of work.

94. Jahmai Jones OF (Angels) 1.23 - The Angels do not have the strongest farm system but the second round pick in 2015 has been a pleasant surprise. Speed is his best asset with developing power. He does not have any one outstanding tool, but he has five above average tools that will play.

93. Tyler Beede RHP (Giants) 1.25 - Beede was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft. He’s been a bit slow to develop for a pitcher drafted out of college, but his fastball had dropped in velocity as he tried to acclimate to professional baseball and pitching twice a week instead of once. The fastball is back in the low 90s and there is more swing and miss in the hitter’s swing. He could make his major league debut this year after starting the season in AAA.

92. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) 1.32 - Acuna had it rough over the winter having to play baseball in Australia. The Venezuelan has the potential to bring to the major leagues five impressive tools, with the speed to steal bases and play centerfield, the arm to play right and the hit tool to fit in the .300 neighborhood and as he matures the power to fit in a corner outfield.

91. Albert Almora OF (Cubs) 1.32 - With Dexter Fowler gone via free agency Cub fans will see a lot more of Almora patrolling centerfield. He has excellent defensive tools. The big concern is whether his bat can survive against major league pitching. In a brief major league 100 plus at bat debut Almora hit .270 with a .763 OPS. They will take that kind of production with his defensive tools.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Athletics

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

We’ll go through the AL West. Last year myworld predicted the order of finish, except switching Houston and Seattle. We had Houston finishing in second place but Seattle leap frogged them towards the end of the season. The 30 teams in 30 days may not be consecutive, but we’ll try to finish this before April.

Oakland Athletics

Overview - They hate their stadium and with the new collective bargaining agreement they will not be subsidized as much by the other teams to pay salaries for their roster. This year they will have to do things on their own. With Billy Bean nothing is ever settled on this roster. Last year the collapse of their pitching staff because of injuries and ineffectiveness led to a fire sale to pick up prospects and continue to rebuild.

Strengths - Not a lot of them. Left field is manned sometimes by Khris Davis. He slugged 42 homeruns last year, which is a huge accomplishment in Oakland. Jason Giambi back in 2000 was the last Athletic to hit 40 plus homeruns in a stadium not known to be friendly to hitters. Davis defense is less than average and his arm is not strong so he may also spend a lot of time at designated hitter slot allowing an unheralded outfielder to take over this position. At shortstop Marcus Semien has a nice power bat. He hit 27 homeruns, which was second on the team. Like Davis he is not considered a stellar defensive player, though he cut his errors down to 21 last year after committing 35 in 2015.

Weakness - They have a potential platoon of fourth outfielders in center and right, and also left when Davis is the DH. Matt Joyce could not start for the Pirates last year but he is expected to be a starter for the Athletics. Rajai Davis is expected to patrol center but injuries allowed him to start more game than he should have for the Indians. Alejandro de Aza has a good chance of making this team as a fourth outfielder. At second base the team is relying on a utility player in Jed Lowrie and an unproven prospect in Joey Wendle to handle the position. Wendle was acquired from the Indians for Brandon Moss so they need to see if he can handle the position. Yonder Alonso will provide no power at first base. They might do better with Mark Canha or Ryon Healy to play first. The bullpen is dull and will do little to exude confidence. Ryan Madson struggled as a closer last year and he could be replaced by previous closer Sean Doolittle. They signed Santiago Casilla after he wore out his welcome with the Giants. Ryan Dull put up good numbers and could be used in a setup role. Doolittle is the only pitcher of those four who throws lefthanded and there are not a lot of viable options on the roster. The starting rotation needs the return of Sonny Gray and some unexpected brilliance from youngsters Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton to be more than adequate. Cotton had five solid starts in a late season callup. Kendall Graveman was the workhorse on the team but he is a mid-level starter at best.

Non-Roster Invitees to make roster - The Athletics need another player to fit into centerfield and that is where Alejandro de Aza comes in. Ross Detwiler is a lefty they can use in the rotation or in the bullpen.

Impact Prospects - Matt Chapman and Renato Nunez are their two top prospects ready for the major leagues. Unfortunately, they both play third base. Nunez is having a good winter in Venezuela after struggling last year in AAA. Chapman probably needs a couple months in AAA after struggling there last year in a late season callup. He hit 29 homeruns in AA and was four RBIs shy of 100 if you include his AAA numbers. At some point before the season is over the Athletics will trade veteran Trevor Plouffe, who is currently slotted for third. Jharel Cotton should make the rotation after his five start success after his late season callup. The power bat of Matt Olsen could see some time in the outfield by the All Star break, though his best defensive position may be first base. The Athletics greatest need is in the outfield. Nunez has also seen time there.

Prospects to Watch - Franklin Barreto is their best prospect but he is still a year away. The shortstop did hit .281 with a .753 OPS in AA. He could move Semien to second base if the Athletics want to call him up in September after a full season in AAA. Richie Martin is a smoother defensive shortstop but there is some question about his bat. He is a level below Barreto. Lazaro Armenteros is a 16 year old Cuban outfielder to watch. The potential is there for him to exhibit all five tools but his attitude is a bit cocky with shades of Yasiel Puig. Young pitchers to watch include the 6′7″ inch 2016 number one pick A.J. Puk. Puk can bounce the radar readings in triple digits, sitting between 95-97 with his fastball. Logan Shore was the second round pick in 2016. Shore was the ace of his Florida Gator staff while Puk was the second starter. Shore lacks the fastball of Puk, sitting in the low 90s but his command is better. Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz was one of the better pitchers to come out of Cuba. He does not have overpowering stuff and lacks the length you want to see in a righthanded starter (6;0″). His selling point is getting hitters to pound the ball on the ground so he will need a good defense behind him to be effective.

2017 Finish - Myworld can not see anything but a last place finish for the Athletics. The farm system is starting to boast some high level prospects so the future is brighter. Where these prospects will play when they are major league ready is open to question as the stadium issue continues to go unresolved.

Breakout Prospects or Prospects to Watch - AL West

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

It’s a bit slow in the baseball world. The Cuban and Caribbean Leagues have taken some days off and the Australian League only plays on weekends so myworld thought we would look at some of the top prospects of each division. Myworld will select a prospect to have a major league impact in 2017 and another prospect to watch to see if he will find himself on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States. Today myworld takes a look at the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels

Breakout Prospect (Alex Meyer RHP) - The cupboard is bare but the Angels need starting pitching. A pitcher who has had trouble staying healthy, Alex Meyer was recently acquired from the Twins. He stands 6′9″ and heaves an upper 90s fastball. The problem has been injuries limiting the number of innings he has thrown. A lack of command has also destroyed his major league opportunities. Last year he pitched only 54 innings, with 25 of them being in the major leagues. He will be 27 in 2017 so his time is now. Because of a fragile arm expect him to start the season in the bullpen, but as shallow as the Angels are in the rotation with some success he could be moved to the starting rotation by the end of the year. The Angels will probably limit his inning count to less than 120.

Prospect to Watch (Manny Banuelos LHP) - At one point he was a top prospect with the New York Yankees and was on tap for making the major league roster out of spring training when his elbow failed him and he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Since that surgery he has not been the same. Prior to the surgery he had a fastball that could hit the mid-90s. After the surgery it has wallowed in the low 90s. This will require him to rely more on some of his other pitches, especially his change to give the fastball the appearance of greater velocity. Elbow soreness stalled his 2016 season so expect the Angels to be cautious with him next year and move him along slowly. If he has success in the minor leagues he could be a September callup or a bullpen option if a lefty is needed.

Houston Astros

Breakout Prospect (David Paulino RHP) - Myworld is a sucker for tall pitchers and at 6′7″ David meets the height requirement. Many feel his best role will be in the bullpen but the Astros have too many holes in their starting rotation not to give Paulino a shot. Last year he got two relief appearances and one start but lacked the strikeout pitch he showed in the minor leagues to have success with the big boys. His fastball can blaze across the plate in the mid-90s and his curveball is a legitimate second pitch. Injuries have limited his innings so the Astros would not want to have him pitch more than 120 innings. Expect him to start in the bullpen if he makes the Astros at the beginning of the year, or work under a more controlled environment as a starter in AAA. If his arm is healthy he has the potential to be a number one or two starter. If his arm continues to be fragile and his change maintains inconsistency he could work as the Astros closer.

Prospect to Watch (Cionel Perez LHP) - Not a lot is known about the Cuban lefty. He initially signed for a bonus of greater than $5 million but after a physical it was reduced significantly. At 5′11″ he does not have imposing height, but that is not as important when you throw from the left side. He throws in the low 90s and has the typical array of pitches, curveball, slider and change that probably come from many different arm slots. He made his Cuban debut as a 17 year old and led the league in ERA at 2.06. Myworld had identified him as one of the top pitchers in Cuba in December 2014 when he pitched for Matanzas. At 20 years old he will probably begin the season in Low A, but if he shows the success he did as a 17 year old against Cuban veterans he will be promoted to the higher levels quickly.

Oakland Athletics

Breakout Prospect (Renato Nunez 3B) - The Venezuelan native is powering his way through the winter league, hitting 11 homeruns in Venezuela. The Athletics have a number of corner infielders stacked at AAA but none with the power of Nunez. He did struggle in a brief call up last year with a .133 average and some feel his fielding for third base is a bit spotty, making a move to first base a possibility. He lacks the foot speed to fit in a corner outfield. Expect him to club 30 plus homeruns for the Athletics once he finds a position.

Prospect to Watch (Norge Ruiz RHP) - Another Cuban pitcher recently signed. He is a smallish righthander at 5′11″ in the vein of Yunesky Maya. The Athletics hope he has more success than Yunesky. He is not really a hard thrower, sitting in the low 90s with the ability to mix in a slider, splitter and change. The hope is that he avoids the barrels of bats and when he puts men on base his ability to force the hitters to pound the ball on the ground will result in inning ending double plays. He could end up in the bullpen, but the Athletics will start him off in the starting rotation at High A. At 22 years of age he could move up quickly. A younger Cuban who the Athletics signed for a higher bonus is Lazaro Armenteros. At 17 years of age he is packed with a bundle of tools that could make him a Yasiel Puig sensation, hopefully without the attitude and lack of discipline. As he develops he could be an offensive oriented centerfielder or a complete basket case with more confidence than ability.

Seattle Mariners

Breakout Prospect (D.J. Peterson 1B/3B) - In 2014, a year after being drafted in the first round by Seattle D.J. slugged 31 homeruns in High A and AA. Things have not been so easy since as pitchers have adjusted to his pull only approach and he was slow to recognize it. 2015 was a disaster with a disappearance of his power, but last year he saw a resurgence. It still did not equal his 2014 season but his slugging average went over .400. His defense may force a shift from third base to first, and with Kyle Seager at third base that job was not open. So all he has to do is beat out Dan Voglebach for the first base job. Dan is more suited at DH. First D.J. has to improve on his power swing.

Prospect to Watch (Kyle Lewis OF) - This is a player with lots of tools but an early season injury to his knee prevented many from seeing his tool box. He was drafted in the first round by the Mariners out of a small college. Many were curious to see how he would handle the major league setting. He did quite well with a .915 OPS. Speed may have been one of his lesser tools so it will be interesting to see how the knee injury will impact that in 2017. He could be one of those hitters who bats over .300 with 30 plus homeruns if he develops. His best bet would be to play right field since his average speed may limit his range in center.

Texas Rangers

Breakout Prospect (Connor Sadzeck RHP) - The Rangers have traded away many of their top prospects to continue their playoff runs. As to be expected Connor is tall at 6′7″ and throws hard with a fastball in the high 90s. At AA last year myworld was not overwhelmed with his whiff to innings pitched ratio (140.2 to 133) and the opposition hit him at a .244 clip, but that heat will give him some attention. He still needs to develop his change as an effective third pitch, otherwise he will utilize his craft in the bullpen. His command also needs to improve as he walks three per nine innings. Major league development guys are attracted to the heat and few pitchers have a fastball that can match Connor.

Prospect to Watch (Yeyson Yrizarri SS) - The Rangers pay out huge bonuses to young prospects and nobody pays attention to them when they are 16 in the rookie league. It is when they begin raking at the higher leagues that the attention becomes focused. The Rangers paid $1.35 million for the Dominican back in 2013 and he has percolated up through their system. Last year he played in Low A where he showed he could be an offensive shortstop with power who also carries good defensive skills. He needs to improve on his 9/91 walk to whiff ratio as more advanced pitchers will exploit his tendency to swing at anything. Expect the Rangers to promote the 19 year old to High A with a move to AA possible if he achieves success.

Norge Ruiz Signs with Athletics

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

One of the better pitchers out of Cuba, Norge Ruiz signed with the Oakland Athletics. Not a big pitcher, standing less than 6′0″ with a pedestrian fastball, he will need to rely on his location to get major league hitters out. Myworld watched him pitch in the Series del Caribe in Puerto Rico. While he did not give up a lot of runs he always seemed to be working out of jams. Myworld expects him to end up in a relief role if he makes the majors, though the Athletics are short on starting pitchers.

The 22 year old received a $2 million bonus from the Athletics. Because of his age those $2 million will count against the Athletics international spending cap, though the Athletics have never been active in signing international players the last couple years, unless they have come from Cuba. The Athletics were already over their international salary cap after signing Lazaro Armentaros to a $3 million bonus, meaning Ruiz cost them $4 million after the payment of a $2 million penalty.

Ruiz has a number of pitchers with the change and slider being his best pitches. He will get hitters to pound the ball on the ground giving him the opportunity to slither out of danger.

Mexican Winter Wonders to Watch in 2017

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The stash of prospects in the Mexican League is not as great as in the other winter leagues. This could be the result of the veteran players that dot the rosters there, making it more difficult for a younger player to find playing time. Most of the prospects playing in the Mexican League are over 21 years of age.

Randy Arozarena (Cardinals/Navojoa) OF - The 21 year old Cuban is raking against Mexican League pitching, hitting .342, which puts him fourth in the league. He is also showing some speed with 15 stolen bases, tops in the league, though he has been caught stealing 8 times. During his last season in the Cuban League he hit .291. He shows speed but appears to lack power with only 9 of his 51 hits going for extra bases, none of them travelling out of the park.

Joey Wendle (Athletics/Obregon) 2B - The Athletics traded a lot of production in Brandon Morrow to acquire Wendle. It is time for them to see what he can accomplish on the field. Not blessed with a lot of tools, but he should give you a .270 bat at the second base position. For Obregon he is hitting .307 with 11 doubles that has increased his slugging percentage to .511. He won’t win any gold gloves with his defense and his speed falls at the highest point in the Bell Curve of major league players (denoting average) but he stole 14 bases in 18 attempts last year and is 5 for 6 in the Mexican League this year, so he takes advantage of his opportunities.

David Washington (Orioles/Hermosillo) 1B - There is a lot of swing and miss in his at bats, but when he makes contact there is thunder. Last year he hit 30 homeruns between AA and AAA. The Cardinals did not put him on the 40 man roster and he left as a six year minor league free agent. In the Mexican League he is still swinging and missing with 42 whiffs in 27 games for a .173 average. On the upside he is second in the league in homeruns with 8. David has at least struck out once in his last eight games.

Art Charles (Jalisco/Reds) 1B - Baseball America voted him the Independent League player of the year in 2016. Like Washington the swings and misses come easy, but there is some pop in his bat. He has four homeruns in the Mexican League but only a .204 average with 37 whiffs in 27 games. His biggest power year was his last in the minors in 2015 when he hit 19 homeruns. In his six year minor league career he never hit better than .251 and always had more than one strikeout per game. In Independent Ball he raked hitting .352 with 29 homeruns.

Luis Heredia (Pirates/Mazatl├ín) RHP - The Pirates spent a lot of money signing the 6′5″ Mexican righthander. There was a lot of promise five years ago but that stock has dropped. The Pirates moved him to the bullpen last year and that is where he is pitching for Mazatl├ín. Two bad relief outings taint his 4.76 ERA. The opposition batting average of .263 won’t bring a lot of confidence in his future success, but he has struck out 24 hitters in 26 innings. His walks to innings pitched is still below 2 to 1, which does not bode well for a career in the major leagues.

Bay Area Rosters Based on the Draft

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Below would be the rosters for the two Bay area teams, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics if both teams relied solely on the domestic draft to stock their players. Oakland and their money ball philosophy has not born a lot of major league ball players and the Giants attempt to continue to draft solid starting pitching through the draft has seemed to dry up after the selection of Madison Bumgarner in 2007.

San Francisco Giants

2005 - Johnny Monell (27 - DNS) C, Sergio Romo (38) RHP
2006 - Tim Lincecum (1) RHP, Emmanuel Burriss (1) SS
2007 - Madison Bumgarner (1) LHP, Nick Noonan (1) UTL, Charlie Culberson (1) UTL, Johnny Monell (30) C, Paul Clemens (36 - DNS) RHP
2008 - Buster Posey (1) C, Conor Gillespie (1) 3B, Brandon Crawford (4) SS, Eric Surkamp (6) LHP
2009 - Zack Wheeler (1) RHP, Tommy Joseph (2) 1B, Brandon Belt (5) 1B, Chris Heston (12) RHP
2010 - Jarrett Parker (2) OF, Adam Duvall (11) OF, Alec Asher (23 - DNS) RHP
2011 - Joe Panik (1) 2B, Andrew Susac (2) C, Josh Osich (6) LHP, Ray Black (7) RHP, Derek Law (9) RHP, Kelby Tomlinson (12) 2B, Clayton Balckburn (16) RHP, Cody Hall (19) RHP
2012 - Chris Stratton (1) RHP, Mac Williamson (3) OF, Trevor Brown (10) C, Matt Duffy (18) 3B
2013 - Christian Arroyo (1) 3B

Roster

C - Buster Posey, Trevor Brown, Johnny Monelll, Andrew Susac
1B - Brandon Belt, Tommy Joseph
2B - Joe Panik, Emmanuel Burriss, Kelby Tomlinson, Nick Noonan
3B - Conor Gillespie, Matt Duffy, Christian Arroyo
SS - Brandon Crawford, Charlie Culberson
OF - Adam Duvall, Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson
SP - Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Tim Lincecum, Paul Clemens, Chris Stratton
RP - Sergio Romo, Eric Surkamp, Chris Heston, Alec Asher, Josh Osich, Ray Black, Derek Law and Cody Hall

Oakland Athletics

2005 - Cliff Pennington (1) SS, Vin Mazzaro (3) RHP, Justin Smoak (16 - DNS) 1B, Anthony Recker (18) C
2006 - Trevor Cahill (2) RHP, Andrew Bailey (6) RHP, Mike Leake (7 - DNS) RHP
2007 - Sean Doolittle (1) RHP, Collin Cowgill (29 - DNS) OF
2008 - Jemile Weeks (1) 2B, Tyson Ross (2) RHP, Preston Guillmet (22 - DNS) RHP, Chris Rusin (23 - DNS) RHP, J.R. Graham (46 - DNS) RHP
2009 - Grant Green (1) UTL, Max Stassi (4) C, Ian Krol (7) LHP, Sam Dyson (10 - DNS) RHP, Dan Strailey (24) RHP, Mike Zunino (29 - DNS) C, Mike Bolsinger (33 - DNS) RHP
2010 - Michael Choice (1) OF, A.J. Griffin (13) RHP, Aaron Judge (31 - DNS) OF, Andrew Knapp (41 - DNS) C
2011 - Sonny Gray (1) RHP, Blake Treinen (7) RHP
2012 - Addison Russell (1) SS, Matt Muncy (5) 3B/OF
2013 - Dillon Overton (2) LHP, Ryan Healy (3) 3B

Roster

C - Anthony Recker, Max Stassi, Mike Zunino, Andrew Knapp
1B - Justin Smoak
2B - Cliff Pennington, Jemile Weeks
3B - Matt Muncy, Ryan Healy
SS - Addison Russell, Grant Green
OF - Collin Cowgill, Michael Choice, Aaron Judge
SP - Sonny Gray, Mike Leake, Trevor Cahill, Tyson Ross, Chris Rusin
RP - Vin Mazzaro, Andrew Bailey, Sean Doolittle, Preston Guilmet, J.R. Graham, Ian Krol, San Dyson, Dan Strailey, Mike Bolsinger, A.J. Griffin, Balke Treinen, Dillon Overton

Nunez on Homerun Tear in Venezeula

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Renato Nunez is one of the top prospects in the Oakland Athletics system. He plays third base but many feel that his best position is first base. A 220 pound frame hinders his mobility at third base. The Athletics are crowded at first base so they will need to see some power from Nunez before he can take over the position. Last year he hit 25 homeruns but with a paltry .228 average in AAA. This did not prevent him from being promoted to the major league club in September where he hit an even paltrier .133.

Nunez is playing winter ball in his native Venezuela for the Araguas club. In previous minor league seasons he has hit higher than .228. In 2014 he hit 29 homeruns accompanied by a .279 average. The Athletics would like to see him continue to hit homeruns, but with a more robust batting average that does not give away so many at bats. As the Venezuelan season is in full swing Nunez has been communicating to the Athletics that he has heard the message.

Renato has hit homeruns in his last five games. During that streak he has driven in eight runs and hit .316. For the season Renato has gone deep eight times with a .338 average. His walk to whiff ratio has also improved to 9/17. Those are the kind of numbers that would earn him a starting spot with the major league club. Venezuelan pitching falls far short of major league quality but the results are encouraging for the Athletics after the struggles he went through in 2016.