Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

20. Carter Kieboom 2B (Nationals) - Two homeruns in spring training off Justin Verlander this year is pretty impressive. The 2016 first round pick will follow in the footsteps of Juan Soto and Victor Robles to vie for rookie of the year in 2020. Shortstop is his main position and he has the tools to play it. With Trea Turner cemented at short for the Nationals Carter will need to move to second or third. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns which would also make him a good fit for third base. If the Nationals do not sign Rendon to an extension that position will be open in 2020. The Nationals will promote Kieboom sometime late this year to get him ready for the 2020 season.

19. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies included Sixto in a trade as one of the players to send to the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto. Sixto has a good fastball, sitting in the mid-90s and hitting the high 90s. He also has quality secondary pitches (slider and change) and the command to carve the plate. The 6′1″ height brings out questions of durability. Last year injuries limited him to just 8 minor league starts. The Marlins are rebuilding and will be in no rush to promote Sanchez to the major leagues. They could start his year in High A and promote him to AA once he achieves success.

18. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) - Brent missed the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery. The 2014 second round supplemental pick has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches high 90s. He also has a quality screwball that can enhance his repertoire. How those pitches survive after Tommy John is open to question. After the success he was having in AAA and during spring training the Rays were ready to promote him to they Rays to take the same flight path to the majors as Blake Snell. The Tommy John surgery delayed that major league arrival by a year. Expect him to be in their rotation by 2020.

17. Mackenzie Gore LHP (Padres) - Blisters interrupted his 2018 season after dominating in Rookie ball in 2017. The first round 2017 pick may have the best stuff of any pitcher in the minors. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a curve, slider and change as quality pitches. Last year the blisters limited him to 16 starts and impacted the quality of his pitchers. Hitters hit .260 off him after barely making contact the previous year (.180). If healthy he should start the 2019 season in High A.

16. Alex Kiriloff RF (Twins) - One of the top outfielders did not play in 2017 because of Tommy John. The 2016 first round pick bounced back last year hitting .348 between Low A and High A, with 20 homeruns and 101 runs driven in. Myworld also saw him at the Future’s Game and despite his surgery he seemed to have a very strong arm. He lacks the speed to play center leaving the corners where his power will fit well. Expect him to begin the 2019 season in AA with a September promotion a possibility. The 2020 season he will join Byron Buxton to form an impressive outfield group.

15. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Another Future game player, he won the MVP award with a homeruns and triple. The 2016 supplemental first round pick is one of those five tool players, minus the arm. The speed is there to play center and steal bases. The arm is fringe which limits him to left field if he is moved from center. His bat will produce power and if he can contain his whiff rate hit for average. Don’t be surprised if his bat breaks out for power when he starts the season in AA in 2019. A promotion to the major leagues is just around the corner.

14. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Athletics) - The Nationals 2016 third round pick will see his season delayed because of arm issues. The Nationals traded him to the Athletics along with Blake Treinen for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. He missed much of his senior year of high school after Tommy John surgery, which dropped him to the third round. Jesus has excellent control of a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can reach north of 95. His best pitch may be his change which produces a lot of his swings and misses. Once he returns from his injury he will have to start his season at the lower levels of the minor leagues for rehab before being assigned to AAA, where he struggled last year in his four starts.

13. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) - The 2015 first round pick is ready for the major leagues if the Rockies can find a position for him. Nolan Arenado was just signed to an extension, Trevor Story is cemented at short, so second base will be his best option. He will battle Ryan McMahon for at bats there. Last year he hit 17 homeruns. The tools are there to play short and those tools should easily transfer to second. He will eventually win the second base job over Ryan McMahon because of his superior defense.

12. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers) - Perhaps the best pure hitter in the 2017 draft. Tommy John surgery limited him to DH duties his senior year in college. The Brewers drafted him in the first round despite not seeing him play defense at second. Last year his bat was good enough to play AA. In the majors it could be could be good enough to win batting titles. He won’t be a gold glover at second but he will not hurt you on defense. At some point the Brewers will want his bat in the lineup to make a playoff run for the 2019 season.

11. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - It won’t be long before the Angels have another super star outfielder to join Mike Trout. The 2017 first round pick is a legitimate five tool player. He will hit for power and average and have the speed to play center. The biggest question for the Angels when Adell is ready for the majors is who plays centerfield, Mike Trout or Adell. Fortunately for the Angels they will not need to make that decision until 2020.

Top 100 - 40 - 31

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AL West Predictions

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

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

1. Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

2. Los Angeles Angels

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

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

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

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

3. Oakland Athletics

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

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

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

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

4. Texas Rangers

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

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

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

5. Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

Top 100 - 70-61

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Continuing with our Top 100 list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Athletics Future Looks Bright

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankees the First Wild Card Winner

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.L. West All Stars

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

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

Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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

Oakland Athletics

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

Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

Texas Rangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The top Lefthanded Pitchers in the Minors

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Most of these pitchers are starters but that does not preclude them from working out of the pen once they reach the major leagues. Lefthanders generally lack the velocity of righthanders by a couple miles an hour on average. For some reason their pitches seem to move more. Or at least that is the perception. Perhaps there is a study out there that explains why or why not. Below are myworld’s top lefthanded pitchers still in the minor leagues.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The Padres 2017 first round pick has been battling blisters. Those blisters have put him on the disabled list twice. Gore has at least three quality pitches in a 92-95 mile per hour fastball, curveball and change that he can throw to get hitters out. He also has the command to locate those pitches. The lower pitch counts starve Gore for wins (1-5) but opposing hitters are only batting .228 against him. This year he has pitched all season in Low A. The Padres will be patient with him promoting him a level at a time until he reaches AA.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted him in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Parkland High School, where the shootings occurred in Florida. Last year the Nationals included him and Blake Treinen in a trade for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching the 2016 season. He appears to be healthy now, dominating at High A (1.23 ERA) to earn a promotion to AA. There has been no let down at the higher level (2.29 ERA). Hitters are only pinging the ball at a .191 clip against him. He can light up the radar in the high 90s and has a quality curveball and change. Good command limits the solid contact. Expect him to compete for a spot in the Athletics rotation next year if they want to eat up a early 40-man rotation spot on him.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - Height is not as important with lefthanders as righthanders. Justus stands 5′10″ but can still light the radar in the high 90s. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a quality slider and change. The 2014 first round pick started the season in AA but after only five starts (2.25 ERA) was promoted to AAA where he continues to thrive (2.31 ERA). The opposition is hitting just .191 against him. His command can be a little spotty but it has improved as he has gained experience. He may get a September callup to work in the bullpen or the Yankees could wait until next year to promote him for their starting rotation.

4. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - After being drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft Puk was on his way to earning a spot in the Athletics rotation this year until the dreaded sprained elbow turned into Tommy John surgery. At 6′7″ he falls just short of being Randy Johnson intimidating. His fastball holds in the mid-90s but can register at the higher readings. He spins a quality slider and has a good change. What is his Achilles heel is his lack of command. He won’t pitch this year and hopes to get some innings in early next year. The surgery will delay his major league debut until 2020.

5. Luiz Gohara (Braves) - He has the potential to transform into the physique of Bartolo Colon, which is not good when you are 22. His fastball hits the high 90s with great regularity and he has a plus slider to complement the fastball. A lack of a third pitch and inconsistent command could send the Brazilian to the bullpen. Luiz was expected to compete for a rotation spot but struggles in AAA (5.56 ERA and .275 opposition average) have kept him in the minors. Nine of the 47 hits he has given up this year have left the yard. A little less of Luiz (265 pounds) could help his pitching mechanics and the velocity on his fastball.

6. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Myworld remembers when the Cuban dominated at the 15 and under World Cup. A year later, at 16 he had left Cuba for the major leagues. The Padres signed him for a $11 million bonus. That would be enough cash for a 16 year old to survive without parental support. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The change is probably his best pitch. Still in his teenage years Adrian has already reached High A where his 3.36 ERA is pretty impressive for the California League.

7. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The radar readings for the number one pick of the 2015 draft are not impressive, sitting in the high 80s to low 90s. He relies on doing what lefties do best, putting lots of movement on the ball and showing quality breaking pitches and changing speeds effectively. His command also limits quality barrel of bat on ball contact. His ultimate destination may be to the bullpen where he retires lefties and righties equally well. Kolby made one major league start this year and did not far well, giving up 9 hits and five runs in five innings. He generally limits the opposition to a .250 average in the minor leagues.

8. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - The 2013 fourth round pick does not light up the radar either but entering the 2018 season Stephen has limited the opposition to a .202 average. His change is above average making the velocity of his fastball appear to have more smoke. This year he continues to dominate (3.04 ERA and .188 opposition average). At some point the Twins will find room in their rotation for him. Perhaps September of this year will be his debut. Expect him to compete for a rotation spot next year.

9. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals first round 2017 pick has the stuff. Whether his character flaws will allow him to show that stuff in the major leagues is open to question. He was kicked off his college team Houston after being suspended twice. The Nationals suspended him at the beginning of the year for his tardiness. That is all in the past as he shows off his mid-90s fastball at Hagerstown (Low A) where the whiffs are prevalent (31 in 23 innings) and the opposition is hitting him at .211 but the ERA is bloated (4.24 ERA). If he behaves himself the promotions should come quickly. If he continues to have character flaws he will be buried in the minors.

10. Logan Allen (Padres) - The fastball is pedestrian but the eighth round 2015 pick has a swing and miss pitch that dives as it crosses the plate. At AA the opposition is hitting him at a .199 clip and he has struck out more than a hitter per inning. Logan is the third lefthander on the Padres on this list but he is ahead of Gore and Morejon and should get the first opportunity to make the rotation. His best fit may be in the bullpen because of a lack of quality pitches other than his change.

Myworlds Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, July 30th, 2018

These are the shortstops of the outfield. They usually have burner’s speed. Ideally it would be nice to have a productive bat but defensively they need to stop the runs. Ideally, these players would be five toolers with the arm to throw and the legs to steal bases. Power is probably the last thing you need from the centerfielder.

Mike Trout started his major league career as a left fielder, deferring to the defensively superior Peter Bourjos. Bourjos struggled with the bat and Trout was moved to centerfield while Bourjos became a bench player. Sometimes teams will stick with the veteran (Andrew McCutchen) even though the rookie (Starling Marte) is the better defensive centerfielder.

Myworld did not include any of the players we named as left fielders or right fielders, or at least we hope we did not include them. Some of those corner outfielders could still pan out as centerfielders depending on how the roster shakes out.

1. Victor Robles (Nationals) - At one time he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. The success Soto has had in the major leagues has moved him to the second best Nationals outfield prospect, but still one of the top ten in the minors. An elbow injury early in the 2018 season sidelined him for much of the year but he has recently returned to AAA. He has all five tools. If not for his injury he would have been called up before Soto. Last year he made his major league debut but hit only .250. This year he has been showing some impressive discipline at the plate, walking 11 times to just 8 strikeouts. Victor should see some time with the Nationals in September. If Bryce Harper leaves as a free agent Robles could fight for the centerfield job with Michael Taylor.

2. Jo Adell (Angels) - Jo was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017. While he only played half a season he still displayed all five tools. His defense is top notch in center, his bat can hit for power and average and his legs can steal bases and cover a lot of real estate in center. He won’t be a prolific basestealer since he will eventually fit in the middle of the order. This year he is hitting .296 with a .557 slugging average. The Angels would like to see some improvement on his 14/60 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to reach AA before the season is done and find himself in the Angels lineup sometime before the 2019 season is complete. It will be interesting if he moves Trout from centerfield or if Adell is the player who is forced to move to one of the corners.

3. Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - Jesus is another five tool player. His power began to show last year when he hit 15 homeruns in Low A. This year he has already deposited 10 balls into the bleachers. Jesus has the speed to cover ground in center, but he does not steal a lot of bases (six this year to put his career total at 23). His career minor league slugging percentage is .492, but this year he sits at .472. He is probably still a couple years away from competing for the Rays center field job.

4. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - The Dominican has already reached High A at 19 years of age. This is already his third year in the minor leagues. Leody possesses all five tools but his batting average and power have yet to appear in High A. His slugging percentage is only .317. Perhaps the Rangers have been too aggressive with him. Last year in a full season at Low A he hit .249. He needs to improve his ability to make solid contact, though his strikeout rate is not high (71 in 98 games). Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep him in High A to begin the 2019 season. A lot will depend on his ability to finish out the 2018 season.

5. Esteven Florial (Yankees) - Last year Estevan had a break out season hitting .298 with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases. He finished the season with an impressive .850 OPS. A promotion to High A has seen him revert to the struggles he had prior to the 2017 season with a .247 average and 56 whiffs in 46 games. He is only slugging .343 which is more than 100 points below his career average. The Florida State League has some large parks so perhaps he is having some struggles coping. In rehab assignments at the Gulf Coast League he is hitting over .500 in 31 at bats against pitchers that match his 20 years of age.

6. Christian Pache (Braves) - Pache covers a lot of territory in center field. In his first two seasons covering close to 700 at bats he had yet to see a ball carry over the fence. His batting averages have been solid (.290) but his slugging has been weak (.358). This year he has found his homerun swing with 8 without sacrificing his average (.287). He makes decent contact but the Braves would like to see him walk more to raise his .311 OBP. The Dominican is probably still a couple years away from patrolling center field but Ronald Acuna could force him to find another position. Christian has more speed but Acuna has a stronger arm.

7. Jeren Kendall (Dodgers) - Myworld is not enamored with his strikeout totals. Last year he struck out 45 times in 40 games, but in college he also had the propensity to whiff. If he can improve his contact rate he has the speed and defensive tools to win gold gloves. The Dodgers currently lack a true centerfielder but Jeren may still be a couple years away. This year he is showing some power with 10 homeruns, but his propensity to swing and miss (117 whiffs in 85 games) keeps his batting average low (.223). A first round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017 the Dodgers were hoping Kendall would acclimate to the minor league pitching quicker than he has so far. His speed could make him a 20/20 player once he reaches the major leagues.

8. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. The Brewers outfield situation was crowded and Monte struggled with his bat early in his minor league career. Last year he broke out with his power hitting 21 homeruns split between Low and High A. The Marlins promoted him to AA and his power is still there (13 homeruns) but his average has struggled (.233). He has regressed in his ability to make contact with a worrisome 166 whiffs in just 104 games. His speed combined with his power will make him a 20/20 major leaguer but he needs to improve his ability to make contact if he wants to see a major league outfield. Lewis Brinson has been playing centerfield for the Marlins but he has had difficulty generating offense.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - A local boy (Flint High School) who was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016. He is a five tool player that can handle all three outfield positions but the Royals would prefer he play center. As a high school draftee the Royals have been aggressive with his promotion. This year he went from High A to AA where he has combined for a .253 average with six homeruns. His patience at the plate is good with 48 walks in just 71 games at High A. Khalil still has a couple years to play in the minors before the Royals need to put him on the 40 man roster so expect him not to arrive until 2020.

10. Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Last year the Athletics gave Jorge a lot of centerfield time. This year all his time has been at shortstop or second base. We see those two positions blocked for the immediate future and Jorge is ready to get his major league opportunity now. He is not the prolific base stealer he was in 2015 when he stole 81 bases. Last year he found his happy feet with 52 stolen bases, but this year he has slowed again with only 18 in 28 attempts. Jorge shows some sneaky power with 12 homeruns last year, but this year the bat has been quiet. His .236 average and .285 OBA will not get him promoted in 2018 but we still like the potential for Mateo to make an impact in the major leagues. His speed is indicative of the 31 triples he has hit in the last two seasons.

Top Leftfield Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

It is tough to identify left field prospects. Teams like to see power from this position, but it usually fits a player who is lacking one or two tools. Sometimes a team will move a corner infielder here, or they may have two corner outfielders who have the ability to play right field. If a team is blessed with too many centerfielders the player with the lesser arm will move here. The players identified below have played some left field in the minor leagues, but that still may not be their ultimate position as they rise through the ranks.

1. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Taylor was a first round supplemental pick in the 2016 draft. He has the speed to play center but his arm is short and if he doesn’t fit in center his best position will be left. In the Florida State League the Reds have moved him around all three outfield positions. The bat should provide power while his legs will steal bases giving the Reds a possible 20/20 player or better. In the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has only sent six balls over the fence but he has hit .295 with 16 stolen bases. He shows good patience at the plate with a .394 OBA. The Reds have been promoting him one level at a time so expect him not to play AA until 2019.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - Julio signed out of Cuba for $2.8 million. The speed is there to play center. The arm may be better suited for left. While he is listed at 5′11″ reports list him more at 5′9″. He dominated when he played in the Dominican Summer League hitting .409 with a 1.288 OPS. That resulted in a promotion state side. It will take him awhile to get used to minor league pitching. Cubans have struggled when they are first exposed to breaking pitches, especially the slider and Julio has struck out in 23 of his 21 games, struggling with a .234 average. At 22 years of age you would like him to make the adjustments in a league dominated by high schoolers. Most of his time has been in centerfield but he has seen three games in left. Adonis Garcia came over as a smallish centerfielder and eventually moved to the infield. Myworld believes Julio has more tools than Adonis, but time will tell.

3. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) - The Dodges originally signed the 6′5″ Cuban for $2 million but then traded him shortly after to the Astros. The best position for Yordan may be first base, but that position is a bit crowded in the Astros organization. He is not a bad runner but his arm is below average. That won’t be a problem if Yordan continues to dominate with the bat. In AA he hit .303 with 13 homeruns and a .949 OPS. The Astros are looking for some production from the leftfield position and if the players they put out there continue to struggle Yordan may get the opportunity. First he must master AAA where in minimal at bats (19) he is hitting only .105.

4. Josh Naylor OF (Padres) - At 5′11 and 250 pounds Josh is a big guy who can hit the ball a long way. The Canadian was a first round pick of the Marlins and traded to the Padres for Andrew Cashner. Since he has already made eight errors in 54 games for an .899 fielding percentage myworld does not see how the Padres can make him a left fielder. At AA Texas he is finally showing the bat that made him a first round pick. He has already hit a career high 12 homeruns and his .319 average is his highest since his rookie season in 2015. A 46/47 walk to whiff ratio shows a rare combination of power and contact. Expect him to get a September promotion.

5. Willie Calhoun OF (Rangers) - The Dodgers drafted the 5′8″ slugger in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and stuck him at second. He did not fit there defensively and when the Dodgers traded him to the Rangers they moved him to left. With Leody Taveras destined for center Willie and Julio Pablo will have to fight it out for the left field position. Julio is probably the better defensive player but Willie packs more pop in his small frame. Last year he hit 32 homeruns. This year he only has seven, but he tends to warm up with the weather. Willie has hit 26 doubles with a .300 average.

6. Christin Stewart OF (Tigers) - A first round pick in 2015. Christin is the typical bat first and defense later type of player. His best position may be as a designated hitter. His arm is weak and his speed is below average. That weak defense has kept Christin in the minors. The last two years his bat has produced 24 and 28 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 17 homeruns, 15 of them in AAA. Expect the rebuilding Tigers to give him his major league debut this year where he will play primarily at the DH position with spot starts in left field.

7. Brent Rooker OF (Twins) - Brent was a first round pick of the Twins in 2017. The speed in his legs are best suited for first and his arm is below average. First base is the position he played in college, but to get his power bat in the lineup the Twins have been giving him a lot of time in left field, despite his defensive weaknesses. This year he has slugged 15 homeruns with a .493 slugging average. Reducing his swings and misses (107 in 86 games) could increase his average (.264) and his power numbers.

8. Chris Shaw OF (Giants) - The dilemma for the first round 2015 pick is Brandon Belt at first base. That happens to be the best position for Chris. His legs are plodding but his arm is decent for the outfield. Getting his bat in the lineup without having to trade Belt or keep Buster Posey behind the plate during his declining years is the reason for his outfield move. Last year he hit a career high 24 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 18. A 13/104 walk to whiff ratio in just 67 games is a cause for concern and a reason for his low .255 average. Major league pitchers will exploit that lack of patience weakness but the Giants will find out if Chris can hang when they call him up in Sepember.

9. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - The Athletics shelled out $3 million to sign the Cuban in 2016. He is a toolsey outfielder except for his arm. The speed is there to play center but because he expects to get bigger as he matures left field should be his ultimate position. After playing in the Rookie league last year the Athletics have him in the full season Low A league this year. Injuries have limited him to 36 games but he has shown the power to play corner with five homeruns with a .469 slugging percentage. Still a teenager at 19 the Athletics can be patient with Lazaro, giving him a full season in Low A.

10. Buddy Reed OF (Padres) - Buddy Reed was a second round pick of the Padres in 2016. He is a better defensive leftfielder than Naylor but lacks the burner speed to play center and the rocket arm to fit in right. At 6′4″ the power had yet to manifest itself in his first two years. This year he has broken out with 12 homeruns with a .542 slugging percentage. While he does not have great speed, he has shown the base stealing acumen to steal 33 bases this year. The .324 average in the California League has gotten him a promotion to the less pitcher friendly San Antonio ball park. If the power continues the Padres will have to find room for him in what is turning out to be a crowded outfield picture.