Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Major League Predictions - AL West

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

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

1. Oakland Athletics

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

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

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

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

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

Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles Angels

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Rangers

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

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

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

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

Expected Finish - Fourth place.

Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld Top 100 - 40 -31

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld Top 100 - 50-41

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

The names start getting juicier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Prospects from the Dominican Republic in the American League

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AL West Lower Draft Round Success

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

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

Houston Astros

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

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

Los Angeles Angels

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

Oakland Athletics

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

Seattle Mariners

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

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

Texas Rangers

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

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

AL West Minor League All Stars

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

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

Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles Angels

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

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

Oakland Athletics

None

Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Rangers

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

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

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

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

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top ten lefthanded pitching prospects in the minor leagues. In the past lefthanders were not noted for their blazing fastball, but this group has a couple arms that can throw heat. Three teams account for six of the ten lefthanders.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - He may be the best minor league pitching prospect in baseball, not just the best lefthander. The Padres made him the third pick of the 2017 draft. He dominated that year in seven starts, limiting opponents to a .184 average with 14.3 whiffs per nine innings. The 2018 season was plagued by blister problems which prevented him from gripping the ball. That did not seem to be a problem last year as he dominated the California League (1.02 ERA and .137 average). A promotion to AA saw a few more struggles (4.15 ERA) but he is ready to tackle that level again in 2020. Gore is not a flame thrower with a fastball that sits on the upper edges of the low 90s. It is his ability to throw three above average secondary pitches with excellent command that sets him apart from the other pitchers. He could see some time with the Padres next year if the Padres feel they need him to fuel a playoff appearance. If no playoffs are in sight there is no incentive for the team to promote Gore too early.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals made Jesus their third round pick in 2016. They traded him and Blake Treinen to the Athletics in a desperate call for bullpen help, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Ironic that Treinen became one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018. Jesus was also a student from Parkland High, which was subject to a mass shooting a year after he left. A left shoulder strain delayed the start of his 2019 season and limited him to just 11 minor league appearances. He did well enough that he got to appear in relief in six major league games, limiting hitters to a .119 average. Luzardo throws heat, hitting the high 90s with his fastball but sitting in the mid-90s. His secondary stuff is not as strong as Gore, but he does have command of his pitches, which sometimes is half the battle. He could compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but if he fails to make it expect to see him before mid-season. He did have Tommy John surgery prior to the draft back in 2016, which was one of the reasons he dropped to the third round. He also became the first player born in Peru to play in the major leagues.

3. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - The Athletics have two of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball. Puk was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2016 draft. A good spring in 2018 appeared to win him a spot in the Athletics rotation but a torn UCL in spring resulted in Tommy John surgery and an absence from the 2018 season. He got a late start to the 2019 season and the Athletics used him mostly out of the bullpen. Control issues left his minor league ERA high (4.97) but the Athletics saw enough to promote him to the major league club where it dropped to 3.18. Puk may be best in the bullpen with a fastball that easily hits the high 90s and a nasty slider. He is still working on a consistent third pitch and his command is spotty, which leaves a starting rotation spot up in the air unless he can improve those skills. Expect him to make the Athletics in 2020, either in their rotation or as a setup part time closer.

4. Brendan McKay (Rays) - The Rays drafted McKay with the fourth pick in the 2017 draft with the intent of making him a two way player. In college he was primarily a hitter that was used as a starter, winning the Golden Spikes award because of his bat (.341, 18, 57), but also showing some promise with the arm (11-3, 2.56). When he got to the Rays his arm soon surpassed his bat, resulting in a quick promotion to the majors. While they may use him as a DH it appears McKay will be needed most in the starting rotation. He dominated in the minor leagues in 13 starts (1.10 ERA) last year but not so much in the majors in 11 starts (5.14 ERA). His bat was absent most of the year (.200, .629 OPS). McKay has excellent command of his pitches, with a fastball that sits just below 95 and quality secondary pitches that should get better the more he pitches. Expect him to be in the starting rotation for the Rays in 2020.

5. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles had a number of exceptional performances from their starting pitchers last year in the minor leagues. Hall was at the top of that list. The 2017 first round pick was a strikeout machine, whiffing 116 hitters in just 80.2 innings in High A. The opposition only hit .189 off him. The fastball screams across the plate with a combination of heat and movement, making it a tough pitch to make solid contact. He can supplement that heat with a solid changeup that could still use some improvement in consistency. The big issue is finding the plate. Last year he walked 54 batters in 80.2 innings. This left his ERA at a high 3.46 and kept his innings count low. Next year Hall should see AA Bowie with an opportunity to pitch for the Orioles in 2021.

6. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The Cubs are always in search of pitching, but they may have found an arm they signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 for $600,000. He stands at 6′4″ and his fastball was clocked at 99 last year. Last year was his first season in full season ball and he finished the season with lots of whiffs (128 in 103.2 innings) and a low opposition batting averages (.224). His secondary pitches need improvement and he needs to find the plate more, last year walking almost one hitter every two innings. Next year he should repeat high A with a late season promotion to AA. His debut with Cubs should be sometime late in 2021.

7. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers traded for Franklin Perez and have three starting pitchers who were first round picks that they hope will eventually see the rotation. Tarik was a ninth round pick in 2018 that has come out of nowhere to put his name in the hat. Myworld would be surprised if anyone put him on a top 30 prospect list after he was drafted. Last year he was one of the Tigers best pitchers, striking out 179 hitters in 122.2 innings and limiting the opposition to a .196 average. This now puts him ahead in the depth chart of a few number one draft picks. His fastball can go north of 95 but it generally sits at the southern range with lots of late life that makes him difficult to hit. His curveball is his swing and miss pitch, but his change needs to gain more consistency if he wants to continue to fool hitters as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he pitched well in AA so that could portend a major league opportunity in 2020. The Tigers have a couple pitchers who could get an opportunity to pitch before Tarik so he may have to wait until 2021.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian was the ace of the Cuban Under 15 rotation when they won the gold medal back in 2014. It netted him the MVP award. Two years later, as a 16 year old, he had already defected to the United States. The Padres whipped out a $11 million bonus to sign him. Adrian has not dominated at the minor league level, despite having a fastball that registers between 93-97. He is only 20 years old and pitching in AA so maturing is still an issue. His large body frame (6′1″, 210) has struggled to stay healthy, which has prevented him from pitching the innings he needs to refine his pitches. Despite his young age, the Padres promoted him to the major leagues, but he had little success (10.13 ERA and .385 opposition average in 8 innings). The Padres should start him at AAA next year, watch his innings count and if he stays healthy and has success promote him mid-season. He won’t be the ace of a rotation like he was for his 15 and under team, but he will make a solid mid-rotation starter.

9. Justus Sheffield (Mariners) - Justus has bounced around. The Indians drafted him in the first round in 2014, traded him to the Yankees for Andrew Miller in 2016. The Yankees had him packing his bags again after the 2018 season, trading him to Seattle for James Paxton. Sheffield had a good minor league season in 2018 resulting in a promotion to the Yankees in September. Last year he struggled to throw strikes, which resulted in a number of homerun balls (12) and walks (41) in his 55 innings of work in AAA. A demotion to AA saw his numbers improve and gave the Mariners a reason to promote him to their big league club. Justus throws in the mid -90s and gets swings and misses with his slider. Throwing strikes has been his biggest challenge. Expect him to compete for a starting rotation spot in 2020.

10. Matthew Liberatore (Rays) - The 2018 first round pick of the Rays does not have a heater that spits fire as it crosses the plate. He sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid-90s if he reaches back and slings it. He stands at 6′5″ so he has an intimidating plane when he stands on the mound. His curveball is his best pitch, garnering most of his swings and misses. He also shows a quality changeup that seems to make his fastball show more carry as it crosses the plate. In his first full season Matthew pitched well in low A, putting together a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts. He generates a lot of ground balls, coughing up only two long balls in his 78.1 innings of work. Next year the Rays will start him at High A with a promotion to AA more likely in 2021. Rays fans may see him as a September callup in 2021,

Top Ten Left Field Prospects

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

These may not be the top ten outfielders in the minor leagues. They usually lack the defensive prowess to be considered a first rate outfielder. Some of them lack the arm, some of them lack the speed. All of them have a pretty good bats that they are needed in the lineup. Consider them the Kyle Schwarber’s or Greg Luzinski’s of the world.

1) Riley Greene (Tigers) - Riley was the fifth player taken in the 2019 draft. On the defensive side his arm is not great and he lacks the speed to cover centerfield. What he does have is an impressive bat. He played 57 games in the minor leagues and showed enough to already get a promotion to a full season league. Currently his power shows up better in batting practice than in games, but as he becomes more experienced and learns when to pull the ball the power numbers will begin to appear. There were some issues with making contact and his OBA dropped significantly when promoted to Low A, but as he gains more experience projections are for him to hit in the neighborhood of .300 with 30 plus homeruns. He is still a couple years away from appearing on the Tigers roster.

2) Julio Rodriguez (Mariners) - A 2017 Dominican signing lacks the speed to play center and has a decent enough arm to play right, but myworld sees him eventually fitting into left. What separates Julio is his ability to hit for power. The Mariners shelled out $1.75 million to sign him. In 2018 he won the MVP for his Dominican Summer League team with a .929 OPS. The 2019 season saw him make his first appearance state side and he did not disappoint with another .929 OPS year. A fractured hand limited him to 84 games, but when promoted to the hitter friendly California League he hit .462 with a .738 slugging average in just 17 games. At 6′4″, 225 pounds he has a large frame and needs to watch his weight if he wants to stay in the outfield. If he stays healthy and his hitting continues he could see AA next year and be with the Mariners in 2021.

3) Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) - Dylan was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016. Defensively, he could probably hack it in centerfield and his arm is strong enough for right. For overall tools myworld feels he fits best in left. His first three years after being drafted he failed to show any offensive tools, hitting just .245 and slugging .376. His one bright spot was his ability to get on base. This year was a break out season for him when his tools came to fruition with a .292 average and 26 homeruns at AA and AAA. He also had a .914 OPS. The Cardinals always seem to have a surplus of outfielders, but the time for Carlson to make his major league debut looks to be next year. His bat needs to continue to produce like it did in 2019.

4) Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) - The Athletics signed the Cuban prospect for $3 million. The best part of his game is his speed, which would make him ideal for centerfield. His arm is not strong so if centerfield does not happen left field would be his best position. The Athletics were hoping for a five tool player, but his lack of arm strength and an inability to make contact call into question his ability to hit for average. The 2018 season was plagued by injuries, limiting him to just 79 games, but in those games he whiffed 115 times. This past season he was healthier but in 126 games he struck out 227 times. The tools are there for him to be an impact major leaguer, but if he doesn’t figure out when a pitch will break his .222 average will not get him to the major leagues. Next year could see him in AA or the Athletics could choose to repeat him at High A and hope the second look allows him to make better contact.

5) Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks signed Kristian out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in 2017. The tools are borderline for centerfield. Myworld believes his best corner outfield fit will be left field. The bat carries big time power that slugged 14 homeruns last year in just 69 games. The Diamondbacks kept him in extended spring training until June. He is only 18 but played well enough to get a promotion to full season ball before the season was done. At 6′3 and 190 he still has room to fill out. A healthy season next year could see him reach AA and a major league debut late in 2021. The Diamondbacks believe he has the pop to hit 30 plus homeruns per year.

6) Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - Myworld saw him in right field in the Futures game and thought he had an excellent arm. The 2016 first round pick had Tommy John surgery after the 2016 season and missed all of 2017. He came back strong in 2018, hitting .362 with a .550 slugging percentage in High A. The bat cooled off a bit in AA last season, hitting just .283 with just a .413 slugging. He missed the first month of the season because of a wrist injury and that could have impacted his ability to swing. Alex is a contact hitter who should hit consistently above .300. The homeruns should come as he learns to pull the ball more. The Twins currently have a talented group of outfielders, so a move to first base could be an option to get his bat in the lineup. Otherwise one of Buxton, Kepler or Rosario needs to be traded to make room for him. He should be ready for the major leagues next year.

7) Steele Walker (White Sox) - Gotta like the name. The second round 2018 pick will move Eloy Jimenez to DH. While he is not plus in any of the five tools, he is still above average. He has the speed to play center and the arm to play right, but myworld feels he will eventually fit best in left. He was one of the star players on Team USA and as a college drafted player should rise quickly through the minor leagues. Last year was his first full season in the minor leagues. After raking in Low A (.365 average) he was promoted to High A. His numbers were more indicative of a fourth outfielder (.269 ave, .426 slugging) but they should improve with more exposure. The White Sox do have a deep minor league system so Steele will have to earn his way to the White Sox. Expect that to happen in 2021. If he continues to put up the vanilla numbers he produced in High A a fourth outfielder role will be in his future.

8) Trevor Larnach (Twins) - Trevor was the 2018 first round pick of the Twins. He is the second Twin outfielder on this list. His fringy arm and lack of speed may force a move to first base. He and Nick Madrigal led Oregon State to the 2018 College World Series title. The Twins are moving him aggressively through the minor leagues. The 2019 season was his first full season and already he saw AA, hitting .295 with a .455 slugging average. His power is currently more prevalent for hitting the gaps with 30 doubles, but eventually the homeruns will come in bunches. As stated with Kirilloff, the Twins outfield is crowded, but Larnach appears to have the bat ready to crash the crowd. That may come in 2021.

9) Jhailyn Ortiz (Phillies) - The Phillies dished out $4 million for the Dominican back in 2016. An inability to make contact in 2018 limited his average to .225. His struggles continued last year with 149 whiffs in 100 games depressing his average to .200 in High A. His power numbers keep improving and if he can develop a bit more maturity to recognize pitches he could be a force. A lack of speed will limit him to a corner outfield. When he reaches the major leagues will depend on his improvement on recognizing pitches and not chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Expect a couple years to pass before that happens.

10) Jarren Duran (Red Sox) - Jarren was not a high draft pick in 2018, the Red Sox selecting him in the seventh round. In half a season he surprised the Red Sox with his bat, hitting .357 with 11 triples in just 67 games. That magic in his bat continued last year in High A when he hit .387 in 50 games. A promotion to AA saw him struggle a bit (.250). Duran will terrorize teams with his speed, which resulted in 46 stolen bases last year. The speed would be ideal for centerfield, an ideal replacement for Jackie Bradley, but the below average arm could move him to left field. The Red Sox are talking about letting Jackie Bradley go because of his high contract and minimal production. Duran is probably not ready to replace him next year but should be ready in 2021.

Top Minor League Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top minor league shortstop prospects. There is a bundle of athletic talent at this position. With this list our infield is complete. Next will be the outfield and then the pitching staff.

1) Wander Franco (Rays) - Any player who would be considered the top prospect in baseball in 2020 has to be considered as the top shortstop prospect. But at one time Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in baseball, but he is still struggling to make his mark in the major leagues. Wander has the ability to hit for average and power. In 2018 he hit .351 with a 1.005 OPS, slugging 11 homeruns in just 61 games in the rookie league. In 2019 he got his opportunity to play full season ball and hit .327 with an .885 OPS and 9 homeruns. His defensive tools are not superb, but they are good enough to play shortstop. If he has to move to second or third base the bat is certainly strong enough for him to be an All Star at any position he plays. Next year he should start his season in AA and he could reach the majors as a teenager. Willy Adames is currently the shortstop but he has yet to break out the offensive tools that Franco possesses.

2) Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) - With newness comes expectations of grandeur. No one has witnessed the warts yet. Witt was the second pick in the 2019 draft. Myworld saw him put on a homerun derby spectacle at the All Star game in D.C. His dad is Bobby Witt and he was a first round pick way back in 1985. His son has chosen to swing the bat rather than pitch. He has five pretty impressive tools. The bat carries plenty of pop and he should be able to hit for average. In his first taste of minor league baseball he hit .262 with just one homerun for an uninspiring .670 OPS. His legs show a lot of speed as witnessed by his five triples and 9 stolen bases in just 37 games. Defensively he has good range and a rocket arm that can throw in the mid-90s if he was asked to pitch. Next year he should make his debut in full season ball where he will be expected to show a little more pop than he did in 2019.

3) Royce Lewis (Twins) - Back in 2017 Royce was the first pick in the draft. You would think this would still make him the top prospect among shortstops but some warts have popped up. In the AFL the Twins have been playing him at other positions, using him at centerfield and third base, in case shortstop continues to be occupied by Jorge Polanco and they need his bat in the lineup. His bat should hit for average and power, but in 2019 he could only manage a .236 average. His strikeout rate went up leading to a drop in average. An OPS of .661 is very disappointing for a player of his tools. He has great speed and should be an above average defender at shortstop, but needs to improve his consistency fielding his position. Last year he finished at AA, which is where he should start the 2020 season. He could see some time in the majors next year if he can find some quality at bats.

4) Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets are flush with shortstops, with Amed Rosario improving on his defense in the second half, with a bat that has come to life, filling the major league roster. Mauricio is another live bat that can play the position. He is still a few years away from the major leagues. At 6′3″ he could out grow the position, but at this point he would have the bat to move to third or second base. As he fills out the bat will hit for power. In 2019 he hit for a .665 OPS in Low A ball. The arm is good enough to play third or short, but his lack of speed could limit his range at short as he fills out. He also needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take advantage of his hitting potential. Next year Ronny should see half a season at High A and perhaps half a season at AA, depending on how he develops. He could see the majors in 2021 as a 20 year old.

5) Jazz Chisolm (Marlins) - Two shortstops were signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. Lucius Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million and Jazz signed with the Diamondbacks for just $200,000. Jazz is the player on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for Zac Gaillen. Though Zac is a nice pitching prospect, Jazz may turn out to be a premier shortstop. With the Diamondbacks he struggled to make contact, which resulted in a low average (.204), but he did show some power with 18 homeruns. With the Marlins the average went up (.284) and the power was still there to hit three homeruns in 23 games. Defensively, he has the tools to stay at shortstop. The Marlins might see him with their big league club some time by mid-season in 2020.

6) O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - The Pirates have been developing some pretty vanilla shortstops over the years in Jody Mercer, Kevin Newman, Kevin Cramer and Cole Tucker. If Cruz can stay at shortstop he could fall far right of that Bell curve. At 6′7 myworld expects him to move to first base or right field, but if he can stay at short he could provide consistent 30 plus homerun power at the position. For a big man with a large strike zone he makes pretty good contact. In 2019 he reached AA but he did not make a big impact, hitting just .269 in 35 games with one homerun and a .412 slugging percentage. After a down 2019 the Pirates will be in rebuilding mode for 2020 and Cruz should be a big part of that. Expect him to start next year in AA.

7) Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - After an injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers called Gavin up in September to handle second base. With Corey Seager at short that position could be filled for the future years. The 2016 first round pick had hit .392 in AAA and combined for 26 homeruns between AA and AAA in just 113 games. He struggled a bit with the Dodgers, hitting just .240 with two homeruns. After a poor 2017 season many were calling him a bust. After two years of hitting .320 plus he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers plans. The tools are there to play shortstop, but he has shown a lack of consistency in finding first base with his throws. A move to second may make the throws just a bit easier. Expect him to start the 2020 season with the Dodgers either as their second baseman, or someone who can play second, short and third.

8) Jose Devers (Marlins) - With the acquisition of Jazz the Marlins have two quality defenders they can put at short. Jose is the brother of Rafael, who plays third base for the Red Sox. Jose may not carry the power of his older brother, but time will tell. He just finished his third year with the Marlins and he has only hit one homerun. Jose makes good contact with the bat and last year hit .322 at three different levels, rising all the way to High A. He also has the speed to steal bases and turn singles into doubles. Defensively he has the tools to be an above average shortstop. Next year in his age 20 season he should see AA.

9) Marco Luciano (Giants) - The Giants are in a rebuilding mode and Marco should be a important part of that process. He is another shortstop discovered in the Bahamas, as they replace San Pedro de Macoris and Curacao as the land of the next wave of shortstops. The Giants traded Lucius Fox, who they signed out of the Bahamas for $6 million to the Rays, then went back to the well to sign Marco for $2.6 million. He has the potential for five tools, showing the tools for a strong bat, good speed, solid arm and strong defense. The 2019 season was his first year to show off those tools and he hit .322 with 10 homeruns. This should allow him to start the 2020 season in a full season league.

10) Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Jorge has been around awhile, signed by the Yankees way back in 2012. He complained back in 2016 when he was not promoted to AA. His prospect status dropped after the 2018 season when he hit only .230 in AAA with just three homeruns. He got his mojo back in 2019 after hitting .289 with 29 doubles, 14 triples and 19 homeruns. There is some sneaky power in his bat. The Athletics have tried him in centerfield and second base. With Marcus Semien at shortstop they do not need help at that position. Expect Jorge to make the Athletics roster in the 2020 season as a super utility player who can move all around the diamond. His speed is terrorizing on the bases, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Top Third Base Prospects

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top third base prospects. Interesting the list lacks any internationals players. Perhaps some of those shortstops will move to third base, crowding out some of the players below.

1. Alec Bohm (Phillies) - The 2018 first round pick of the Phillies has some height (6′5″) which creates some massive power to his game. He kind of reminds me of Troy Glaus without the swing and miss. The concern is his defensive game is below par based on his lack of first step quickness. Last year his power was absent with zero homeruns in 139 at bats. This year he has hit 21 homeruns, climbing all the way to AA. For a power hitter he makes good contact, which could result in a high average. This year his average sits at .305, though a .367 average in Low A pads those stats. If his agility does not improve and a move to first is a necessity it would drop his value to the team.

2. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - Gorman was also a first round pick in 2018. The Cardinals have a glut of third baseman in the minor leagues, but Gorman is ahead of them all at this point. His defense is solid and his power is exceptional. In his first year after being drafted he slugged 17 homeruns in just 68 games. The big issue in his game is his inability to make contact and his struggle to hit lefthanded pitching. This year his splits are not as pronounced as they were last year but his 152 whiffs in just 125 games has dropped his average to .248. His slugging average has also dropped below .500.

3. Josh Jung (Rangers) - Josh was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2019. Josh dominated in college for Texas Tech, even showing the ability to play shortstop. That won’t happen in the major leagues, but it shows his ability to play a solid defense at the hot corner. His bat should show enough power to play the position and he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average. After tearing up Rookie level pitching (.588) he earned a promotion to full season ball. In Low A his power is a little short with just one homerun, but after a full college season he could be a bit fatigued. Bohm did not hit any homers his first year.

4. Jonathan India (Reds) - The Reds drafted India in the first round in the 2018 draft. He showed some power last year for the Florida Gators. With the Reds he may have to switch positions like Nick Senzel with Eugenio Suarez hitting 40 plus homeruns for the Reds. India is still low enough in the minors that the Reds can show some patience with him but as a college drafted position player you can’t show too much patience. India has already hit his way to AA with 11 homeruns, though his slugging average in AA is a disappointing .378. Defensively he has the glove to stay at third. His speed is also decent enough that a move to a corner outfield would not be without possibility.

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The first round 2015 pick is known more for his glove than his bat. He is the son of Charlie Hayes, who played quite a bit of third base in the major leagues. Power will not be part of his game, but he makes good contact where he could hit for average. Last year he hit .293, splitting the gap for 31 doubles. This year has been a bit more swing and miss in AAA, dropping his average to .265, though his homerun numbers have increased to 10. Next year he should battle for the third base job with the Pirates.

6. Brett Baty (Mets) - Bret was the Mets 2019 first round pick. Brett led all high school players with 19 homeruns. He has had some challenges making contact in his first year and his lack of agility may make a move away from third base a possibility. His speed is not impressive so a move to the outfield would still be a defensive liability and with Pete Alonso at first he is blocked there. The Mets will keep him at third and hope he improves with the glove. His first year in professional ball has been a bit of a challenge with a .234 average playing at three different levels.

7. Sheldon Neuse (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted Sheldon in the second round of the 2016 draft then traded him to the Athletics in the Sean Doolittle trade. With Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen also a part of that trade to the Athletics it could be a trade the Nationals regret. Neuse did not show a lot of big time power with the Nationals to justify using him at third base. Entering into the 2018 season he had a career slugging average of .415. This year he has blasted 27 homeruns in the hitter friendly AAA with a .317 average and 102 RBIs. That has led to a promotion to the A’s where his playing time is spotty. He is stuck behind Matt Chapman, and while his glove is solid it falls short of Chapman. If he continues to show power the Athletics could trade him for some pitching help. At 24 years of age his time is now.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - Myworld is always confusing him with Nolan Gorman. Jones was a second round pick of the Indians in 2016. He has big time over the fence power that also comes with a lot of swings and misses. Despite his struggles to make contact he has hit for a good average, coming into the 2019 season with a .289 average. His glove should allow him to play third, but he has the speed to move to a corner outfield if the need should arise. Nolan has worked his way to AA where his 15 homeruns is just short of his career high last year of 19. Nolan has also shown some patience at the plate with 96 walks.

9. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The Reds second round 2019 pick has some impressive power for the position. At 6′4″ the agility could be lacking to stay at third base. The speed is a tick slow so a move to a corner outfield would be a defensive liability at a different position. What makes him attractive is his size gives him the ability to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he shows he can handle the major leagues. Myworld was impressed with some of his batting practice shots in the homerun derby with Bobby Witt Jr last year at the All Star Break. There is some concern about his ability to make contact.

10. Mark Vientos (Mets) - As a second round pick in the 2017 draft Mark is ahead of Brett Baty on the Mets third base depth chart. He doesn’t have the power of Baty and his 22/110 walk to whiff ratio makes one wonder if he can continue to hit for average as he rises up the minor league ladder. At 6′4″ he has some size that limits his agility, but with Alonso at first he will need to play third to stay with the Mets. This is his first season in full season after two years in rookie ball. His batting average and slugging percentage has struggled with that. The arm is strong so a move to first would negate that strength.