Archive for the 'Mariners' Category

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 - 50 - 41

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

The Reds have two prospects on this group of ten, but one is injured and the other is not tested.

50. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick had one of the hardest fastballs in the minor leagues. It reached 103 and sat in the high 90s. Unfortunately it was relatively straight and batters hit him at a .251 clip at Low A with six homeruns in just 68 innings. After 18 starts he was shut down in July with an elbow injury for the remainder of the season. No Tommy John but myworld cringes whenever we hear elbow issues. Success has been difficult for Greene with a career 4.95 ERA in his two half seasons. If everything goes well with his elbow he should be ready for High A but at some point he will have to start showing some success.

49. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - A poor man’s five tool player. Jesus should hit for 20 plus homerun power once he reaches the major leagues. The batting average has consistently finished above .300 at every level he has played except last year in AA when he only hit .214 in 98 at bats. The speed exists to play center field but it is absent for stealing bases. The arm has enough juice to slide over to right if another centerfielder is found. Expect Jesus to repeat AA to find some success. He could see the Rays sometime in September this year and next year be their starting centerfielder.

48. Jonathan India 3B (Reds) - Jonathan was the first round pick of the Reds in 2018. He plays the same position as Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds recently signed to a long term contract. The Reds top prospect Nick Senzel also plays that position and the Reds are trying to find another position for him. That scenario could hold true for Jonathan but he still has some time to play third base in the minors before experimenting with other positions. The tools are there for him to play third, but he has also played shortstop at Florida and has the tools to play second. His bat hits for power and should spray the gaps for a .270 plus average. Last year he reached Low A so expect him to rise quickly. His fringy speed could allow him to play left field, but his best fit is in the infield.

47. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) - An injury will delay the start of the 2019 season for the 2015 first round pick. The righthander does not throw hard, sitting in the low 90s, but he is all arms and has some maturing to do. At 6′5″ he only weighs 165 so a little bit more girth could put more velocity on his fastball. For such a gangly frame Triston has excellent control. His curveball is a quality pitch and he can get swings and misses with his change. While he did not blow away hitters there was a lot of soft contact against him, with opponents hitting just .191. There is some durability concerns because of his thin frame. Last year the Indians did not start him until June because of injury issues. This will be the second straight season his season is delayed. Once healthy he should start the season in AA.

46. Cristian Pache CF (Braves) - The Dominican has the speed and defensive chops to be a gold glove centerfielder. The hope is that the bat develops so he can hit at the top of the lineup. He needs to show a little more patience at the plate in order to improve his OBA (.327). His speed has also not resulted in a lot of success stealing bases (50 for 77 in three years). The power is lacking so he needs to rely on his speed game to make an impact. His first two years Cristian went homerless but last year he carried nine balls over the fence. Next year he should repeat at AA and with some success move up to AAA. With Ender Inciarte in centerfield the Braves do not have to rush Pache.

45. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charles was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. His defense is also gold glove caliber for third base, but his power could be lacking to play the position. Last year he slugged .444 with the 31 doubles accounting for most of his power. Ke’Bryan makes good contact and should hit for a high enough average. His speed is not great but he did steal 39 bases the last two years. The Pirates are a little crowded at third with Moran and Kang so Hayes should see a full season in AAA in 2019.

44. Yordan Alvarez LF/1B (Astros) - The Cuban has some big time power, hitting 20 homeruns last year. Finding him a position could be a challenge. At 6′5″ his arm is not strong enough to play right field but he has enough speed to fit in left. He still needs a lot of work on his routes in the outfield so a move to first may be in his future. His lefthanded bat has the ability to hit to all fields with no issues hitting for average when facing lefthanders. Kyle Tucker is currently ahead of Alvarez for the next left field opportunity so Yordan will start his 2019 season in AAA. If the power in his bat dominates AAA expect him to make his major league debut this year.

43. Justus Sheffield LHP (Mariners) - The Yankees traded away their 2014 first round pick to acquire a pitcher with more experience in James Paxton. A short term gain could end up a long term loss. His left handed arm can dial the fastball up to 95 and his slider is a hard pitch. He needs to improve his change to get more separation in velocity to prevent hitters from always looking for the hard stuff. The Mariners may start him in AAA to begin the season but expect an early callup to the major leagues. Sheffield and Kikuchi are two good pieces for building a rotation.

42. Chris Paddock RHP (Padres) - Like the Atlanta Braves, the Padres have a number of starting pitching options. The 2015 eighth round pick of the Marlins was acquired for Fernando Rodney. He has had nothing but success in the minor leagues with his ERA sitting at 1.82. He did not pitch in 2017 because of Tommy John surgery but bounced back last year tossing 90 innings. He is not overpowering, with a fastball sitting in the low 90s but his command of the fastball and his quality change made a number of hitters look like fools. In seven AA starts he finished with a 1.91 ERA with opponents hitting him at .171. A good spring could see him start at AAA with a major league promotion occurring quickly if he can have immediate success. Because of the recent Tommy John surgery the Padres will have to watch his innings.

41. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - The Cuban dominated the Naccional Series in his last season, putting up Triple Crown numbers before defecting halfway through the season. The speed is there to play centerfield and the bat should hit for power. His big issue is staying healthy. Thumb injuries cost him significant time last year, limiting him to just 50 games. In close to 200 at bats he failed to hit a homerun in 2018. The White Sox will like to see what they have got with a healthy Robert. Next year he should start his season in High A where the White Sox hope he improves on his .244 average and 8/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Top 100 - 60-51

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Back to finishing our Top 100 prospects.

60. Gavin Lux SS/2B (Dodgers) - Gavin was a 2016 first round pick. He looked like a bust after a disappointing 2017 season when he hit just .244 with a .693 OPS. Last year he broke out with a .324 average and a .913 OPS. He has speed, can hit for power and average and has the tools to play shortstop. One area he needs to work on is his consistency in the field, with 27 errors in 92 games an unacceptable rate for a major league shortstop. Second or third base may be his ultimate position with Corey Seager set at short. He should start the 2019 season in AA where the Dodgers could call him up if Seager is unable to perform again for long periods of the season.

59. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - The Rays are always looking for a bargain and they got one with Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Speed and the ability to make contact are the ingredients he brings to the game. Last year he stole 55 bases with a 63/68 walk to whiff ratio. It was also his first year of full season ball where he showed a little pop with nine homeruns. His combined average at Low A and High A was .320 with a .403 OBA. With his ability to steal bases and to get on base Vidal would make an ideal leadoff hitter. His defense is gold glove quality at second base and he has the tools to play shortstop, but the Rays are a bit stacked there. Next year he should start the season in High A where he hit .347, slugging .582 in just 27 games.

58. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The bat will determine whether the Dominican becomes a fourth outfielder or a quality major leaguer. His glove is gold but the bat is far from silver. Last year he hit just .246 with very little power (.332 slugging). That could allow him to start in centerfield and hit in the ninth spot but a better bat with less of a glove could be preferred. He does have the speed to steal bases and the age he plays in is usually young for the league so there is possible development in his future as he catches up to the league. Leody will start next season in AA where he could get a callup if the Rangers need help in centerfield, but the Rangers would prefer the bat to play.

57. Dustin May RHP (Dodgers) - Dustin was drafted two rounds behind Lux in the 2016 draft. Last year his fastball was consistently in the mid-90s and at 6′6″ that is a tough pitch to hit. His secondary pitches are plus with a cutter that gets a lot of ground ball outs. In six starts at AA he limited the opposition to a .209 average. A 29/122 walk to whiff ratio shows his ability to throw strikes. Dustin should start the season in AA where he would be a phone call away from major league action. The Dodgers had success last year with Walker Buehler so calling up another rookie to impact the rotation would be something they would not hesitate to do. Clayton Kershaw cannot stay young forever.

56. Danny Jansen C (Blue Jays) - Danny has come a long way since being drafted in the 16th round in 2013. Last year he made his major league debut, setting the stage for the Blue Jays to make him their starting catcher in 2019 as they rebuild for a run in 2021. His bat should hit for double digit power with a batting average around .270. He makes steady contact with a 44/49 walk to whiff ratio. While his defense has improved he is still a below average catcher who may have trouble stopping a run game. He should start the season as the Blue Jays starting catcher in 2019 and the Blue Jays will have to hope his defense plays.

55. Brusder Graterol RHP (Twins) - The Venezuelan may only stand 6′1″ but his fastball blazes across the plate in the high 90s. He also has a plus slider that will get its share of swings and misses. Last year he limited the opposition to a .234 average reaching High A. Brusdar needs more work to improve on his changeup, which would make his fastball that much more deadly. His velocity comes with solid control, a 28/107 walk to whiff ratio showing he can find the plate. The 2019 season could see him start the season in AA if he has a good spring.

54. Alec Bohm 3B (Phillies) - The Phillies inability to sign Manny Machado leaves the future of third base in the hands of Bohm. The 2018 first round pick has big time pop, despite the absence of any homeruns last year in over 150 at bats. His ability to draw a walk and make quality contact should result in averages bordering .300. There is still some concern that his 6′5″ height could result in a move to first, where his overall value could take a hit. Next year Alec should start his season in Low A where his power numbers should improve. If his bat produces he should advance quickly.

53. Jarred Kelenic OF (Mariners) - The Mets first round pick in 2018 was included in a trade to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools to be a quality major leaguer. He has good speed, an arm that could fit in right and the power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The big question is whether the bat will make enough contact for him to hit for a decent average. A tendency to swing and miss may leave his average in the neighborhood of the .250s. The Mariners should start him in Low A for 2019.

52. Nolan Gorman 3B (Cardinals) - Nolan is the Cardinals first round pick for 2018. He impressed right away with his ability to hit for power, mashing 17 homeruns and rising all the way to Low A in his professional debut. The Cardinals hope his defense gets more fluid so he can stick at third. A lack of speed makes moving to the outfield detrimental and his value decreases with a move to first. You know the bat is scary when pitchers walk him 34 times in 64 games. A repeat of Low A where he hit only .202 would be a good place for him.

51. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Orioles acquired the Cuban from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade. Perhaps he was a little disappointed leaving Los Angeles because his bat seemed a little vanilla with Bowie, hitting .239. He had a 41/39 walk to whiff ratio in the Southern League but that collapsed to 18/28 in the Eastern League. If he can control the strike zone he should hit in the .300s, but if he gets lazy the bat could disappoint. Yusniel did hit a couple homeruns in the Futures Game. Don’t be surprised to see him on the major league roster after April, provided the bat is producing. The strong arm will fit him in right field.

Top 100 Prospects 80-71

Friday, March 1st, 2019

This ten is loaded with righthanded pitching.

80. Nolan Jones 3B (Indians) - The Indians second round 2016 pick had a breakout year in his first opportunity to play full season ball. The bat showed power with 19 homeruns at the two A levels with a .466 slugging percentage. The Indians would like to see him cut down on his whiffs, but he also draws a lot of walks (89) resulting in a .405 OBA. At 6′4″ he could become too immobile to play third base. His lack of speed makes moving to the outfield a challenge and a move to first would decrease his value. The Indians will hope he can stick at third. The 2019 season should begin with High A and a promotion to AA if he continues to hit.

79. Jonathan Loaisiga RHP (Yankees) - The Nicaraguan native had an excellent year, leap frogging over a number of prospects to place in the Top 100. He finished with a 2.89 ERA with a 8/67 walk to whiff ratio in 56 innings, starting at High A and resulting in a major league promotion. He got blitzed a bit in the majors with a 5.11 ERA and a .271 opposition average. He stands at only 5′11″ but his fastball sits in the mid-90s. His curve and change are quality offerings and his command is solid. The Giants had originally signed him back in 2012 but injuries led to his release two years later. The Yankees signed him in 2016 but he could make only one start before having Tommy John surgery. Health is an issue. A little time in AAA would not hurt. His small stature and problems with staying healthy may make the bullpen the best alternative for him. Expect him to ride the Yankees roller coaster in 2019 from minors to majors and back again.

78. Mathew Liberatore LHP (Rays) - The Rays first round 2018 pick made an impressive professional debut with a 0.98 ERA in eight starts of Gulf Coast League ball. Opponents batted just .170 off him. He pitched six shutout innings against Korea in the finals of the 18 and under World Cup games resulting in a rise in his prospect status. At 6′5″ he has a large frame but his fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s. The curve ball is his best pitch resulting in most of his swings and misses. Mathew also has no problems finding the plate and moving his pitches around the strike zone. Next year he should make his debut in Low A where the Rays can work on giving him some innings.

77. Josh James RHP (Astros) - Last year Josh was not considered a prospect. That comes with the territory when you are a 34th round pick in the 2014 draft. He signed for just $15,000. Then his fastball started hitting the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. No minor league pitcher last year had a better strikeout rating of 13.5 per nine innings pitched. Once given an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues the whiffs continued and major leaguers could only hit him at a .183 clip. His secondary pitches are good enough to play as a starter but his struggles at finding the strike zone on a consistent basis could relegate him to the bullpen. The Astros are looking at him as their fifth starter but a spring training injury could force him to start the season in AAA. If he continues to dominate there as he did last year a callup to Houston would be quick.

76. Griffin Canning RHP (Angels) - The ace of the UCLA Bruins pitching staff in 2017 dropped to the Angels in the second round. His innings work load and a concern for injury after his physical prevented him from pitching in 2017 in the minor leagues. Griffin has some heat on his fastball (mid-90s) and quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) that makes the middle of a starting rotation a good possibility. The injury issues seem to be put to rest with his 113 innings of solid work where he climbed all the way to AAA. This puts him just a knock away from the major leagues. His struggles a bit in AAA (5.49 ERA and .294 opposition average) will force him to start the season there and hope for improvement. The Angels have had trouble keeping starting pitchers healthy so it would not be a surprise to see him reach the major leagues sometime by mid-season if he can find success in AAA.

75. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - The 2016 third round pick did not replicate his 2017 season, but that would have been hard to do. Arm injuries limited him to just 16 starts last year, a reminder that he had trouble with those injuries at Rice and in his first season with the D-Backs after being drafted. The opposition still had trouble hitting him in AA (.217) and his 2.69 ERA was still quality. The fastball can hit the mid-90s but sits mostly south of 95. Quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) and the ability to throw strikes makes him a good candidate for the top of a starting rotation. The big test is whether he can stay healthy. Expect him to start his season in AAA with a promotion to the major leagues in 2019 if he can achieve success.

74. Yusei Kikuchi RHP (Mariners) - The Japanese pitcher will not dominate like Ohtani. His fastball hits the mid-90s but sits in the low 90s. The 2017 season was his best year when he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA with 217 whiffs in just 187 innings. Last year his strikeout rate dropped below one per inning and his ERA rose to 3.08. He stands only 6′0″ but he is a crafty pitcher with quality secondary offerings (slider, curve and change) with the ability to move his pitches around the strike zone. He was one of the first Japanese pitchers to declare he wanted to play major league baseball after his high school season, requesting Japanese teams to not select him in the draft. He was the Ohtani before Ohtani, except he could not hit.

73. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - With Sixto traded to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto trade Adonis is now the top pitching prospect for the Phillies. His fastball is not as explosive as Sixto, but it hits the mid-90s. His changeup has improved allowing his fastball to look better. In 2017 his whiff rate improved from 4.7 to 10 whiffs per nine innings. A good slider forces hitters to pound the ball on the ground when they are not swinging and missing at his fastball. The Dominican stands only 6′1′ so there could be durability issues. Last year he pitched 111 innings in the Florida State League. The Phillies will hope for another innings increase in AA next year.

72. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Cuban is the son of Victor Mesa, who was a legend on the international baseball circuit, leading Cuba to a number of gold medals. The father of Yuriel and Lourdes Gurriel also starred on those teams. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million, with his younger brother signing with him for much less. Victor played in the Cuban professional league at 16 and was frustrated with the high expectations Cuban fans had for him. His defensive play will be gold glove while his bat could take some time before it develops. Speed is his game but he needs to show the bat to shine in the major leagues. Some have compared him to a Victor Robles. The Marlins may start him at High A with quick promotions as he shows success.

71. Ryan Mountcastle 3B (Orioles) - There is no question the Orioles 2015 first round pick has the bat. He will hit in the neighborhood of .300 with double digit homerun power. The challenge is finding a position he can play. He started as a shortstop but his arm was not strong enough to play there. The Orioles moved him to third, but the arm does not fit the position and watching his throws float to first is painful. He could move to left where his arm won’t help him or play first where his power would come up short. Ryan will start the 2019 season in AAA and see his major league debut this year. Myworld will be curious what position he will ultimately play.

Kikuchi Rings in New Year with Mariner Signing

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Interesting choice to sign with a club on a rebuilding path. Even though Yusei Kikuchi had stated he was open to negotiating with all 30 major league clubs another Japanese player signed with a west coast club. This puts a ceiling on their economic viability, discouraging east coast teams from bidding on players they probably have no shot of signing. When your market size is six instead of 30 your offers are limited. The next Japanese free agent who states he will consider all 30 major league clubs will not get as many offers from some of the east coast teams, knowing they will not be strongly considered.

Reports are that it was a four year contract, with the last year a player option. That player option can be replaced by another four year deal. The 30 day window was expiring on January 2. The Mariners will pay the Seibu Lions a percentage of his contract, which may end up being a two part payment if his option is exercised after the third year. Dollar terms of the contract have not yet been announced.

By mid-year the Mariners rotation could be Marco Gonzalez, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, with whoever survives the Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc and Mike Leake early year shelling.

Mariners Set Sail for New Voyage

Monday, December 24th, 2018

The Seattle Mariners are one of seven franchises never to win a World Series. To break it down even further, they have yet to appear in a World Series, even though they are tied with the Chicago Cubs for teams with the most wins in a season at 116. The Mariners accomplished that feat in 2001 but lost to the New York Yankees in the playoffs.

Last year the Mariners had one player appear in top 100 lists, Kyle Lewis, a tooled up player who seriously damaged his knee and may have eliminated one excellent tool from his arsenal. Back in 2012 and 2013 myworld ranked their farm system first and second in baseball. Those were the years they had James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin. They also had Jesus Montero and Danny Hultzen. Now they are embarking on a voyage to capture new prospects, tanking the 2019 season to rebuild the franchise and return to the 2012 and 2013 time periods.

The recent acquisition of Jarred Kelenic from the Mets strengthens their outfield prospects. Jarred was a first round pick in 2018. He has the speed to play a quality centerfield, create havoc on the bases with some power to hit in the middle of the order. In his first minor league season he slugged .468, hitting as many triples (6) as he hit homeruns. The one down side to his game is his challenge to make contact.

Kyle Lewis was their top prospect after the Mariners selected him in the first round in the 2016 draft. A gruesome knee injury has cut into his playing time and development and may have taken a step from his speed. He has the arm to shift to right and still be an above average corner outfielder. There is power in his bat, but it was silenced in 2018 as he slugged just .405. His .244 batting average was the lowest of his three year career. Rust may have been a factor for his struggles so the 2019 season will be key, where he will start the season in AA, just a step from reaching the majors.

Julio Rodriguez was signed for $1.75 million and played well in the Dominican Summer League as a 17 year old, hitting .315 with a .525 slugging. He should make his stateside debut next year after seeing time in extended spring training. The reports are that he has power but his lack of speed will limit him to the corners.

Justus Sheffield was acquired from the Yankees in the James Paxton deal. The lefthander could win a spot in the starting rotation, though with the Mariners rebuilding they may not want to slow his service time by waiting until mid-season to call him up. Justus has a good fastball slider combination, with the radar readings sitting in the mid-90s, excellent for a lefthander. Last year he got some relief opportunities with the Yankees but did not fare well. In the minors he struck out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a .195 average.

Justin Dunn was another arm acquisition from the New York area, included with Kellinic for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Dunn was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. His fastball slider combination elicit a lot of swings and misses but a .253 opposition average indicates there is some hard contact. Inconsistency with his command gets him behind in the count too often, making him more hittable. Finding a pitch to retire lefthanded hitters is a need as well.

Logan Gilbert was their 2018 first round pick. He did not pitch last year but shined when on the mound for Stetson, striking out more than a hitter an inning. At 6′6 inches with the ability to hit the mid-90s Gilbert can be an imposing force. A quality change makes his fastball even more devastating.

Evan White was the Mariners first round pick in 2017. His power for the position may be short but he carries an excellent glove. He also has the speed to play a corner outfield, but they would lose his quality glove at first base. Last year he slugged .458 in the California League, fueled by 27 doubles, 7 triples and 11 round trippers. If he can learn to pull the ball his power may develop, making him a better fit at first base..

Joe Rizzo was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft. He was supposed to be the best high school hitter in the draft with excellent power. That power has yet to appear. His defense is weak at the corner, the speed is not there to play the outfield and his 5′9″ height would make him a small target for first base. Last year he only slugged .321 in the California League, not what major league teams want to see in their corner infielders or outfielders. The 2019 season could be his last opportunity to prove himself.

Two long shots on the prospect map are Ricardo Sanchez and Jake Fraley. Ricardo was a highly touted prospect with the Angels, traded to the Braves and then released by the Braves. The stuff is still there with a fastball that touches 95 but the ability to find the plate can be a bit of a challenge. Fraley was a second round draft pick in 2016 who carried rather ordinary tools. He was one of the top players in the Australian League (.361, 13 Hrs and 39 stolen bases with a 1.130 OPS) in 2017 then dominated last year in High A hitting .347. Speed and solid defense will get him to the majors, though he showed surprising power in the Australian baseball league with 13 homeruns. He makes solid contact and could work nicely as a fourth outfielder.

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.

Top First Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The following are myworld’s top ten first base prospects in the minor leagues.

1. Pavin Smith (D-backs) - Smith was the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2017 draft. He played for Virginia, mashing more homeruns (13) than he struck out (12) in his junior season. He failed to hit a homerun in his minor league debut last year but hit .312 with 15 doubles and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. This year the Diamondbacks were aggressive promoting him to High A where he has hit his first three homeruns. Unfortunately he is only hitting .214 with a slugging percentage of .331. His walk to whiff ratio is still excellent at 25/23. His lack of speed means playing the outfield would be tough requiring his power to break out if he wants to replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Defensively he will be average at first base.

2. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Another 2017 first round pick, Nick was drafted seven picks after Smith. He was one of four first basemen selected in the draft, though one may turn into a lefthanded pitcher. Nick does not have to worry about Eric Hosmer blocking him at first base. He slugged four homeruns last year in his minor league debut, but was a little more prone to striking out (58 in 52 games). Though he is not noted for his speed he did steal 10 bases in 14 attempts last year. Defensively he plays his position well. A strong arm and adequate speed makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility. This year he is playing in Low A where he has slugged 7 homeruns with a .426 slugging percentage. Those power numbers will have to improve if he hopes to fill the first base job in Kansas City.

3. Brenadan McKay (Rays) - Brendan was another first baseman drafted in the first round in 2017, the fourth player selected in the draft. The higher selection is based on his ability as a lefthanded pitcher as well. Baseball America voted him the 2017 College Player of the Year. After the draft he started six games (1.80 ERA) striking out 9.5 hitters per 9 innings. He also slugged four homeruns with a .232 average. Defensively he is solid at first base but lacks the speed to move to the outfield. While his bat continues to struggle in 2018 (.233/.300 slugging) his pitching has been stellar (4-0, 0.76). He was used for six starts in Low A, pitching just a little over three innings per start. In High A he has been used in relief twice, working 11 innings. On the bright spot offensively he has a 30/20 walk to whiff ratio (.425 OBA). At some point his bat will click and he will hit for a high average with moderate power. Whether he can handle both hitting and pitching is open to question.

4. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Bradley was a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The power is there for 20 plus homeruns per year as he has done his last three seasons. Strikeouts are a big problem, though last year was the first time since his rookie season when he struck out less than the number of games he played. A lack of speed makes a move to the corner outfield difficult and his defense at first is below par making the DH the best position for him. He is repeating AA this year where he is struggling with a .176 average. Myworld saw him take a ball out, one of his seven homeruns on the year. If his bat can heat up he has a chance for a major league callup this year.

5. Peter Alonso (Mets) - Myworld does not have a lot of faith that Dominic Smith can hold down the future first base position for the Mets. Peter has more power, though neither player is adept at fielding the position well. There is no speed in the legs of Alonso making a move to the outfield not a consideration, not with the surplus of talented outfielders the Mets have. This year the 23 year old is hitting .333 with 14 homeruns for a .632 slugging percentage. The Mets could look for Peter to fill the first base hole before the season is over. He will need to cut back on the 19 errors he made at first base last year. A trade to an American League team where he can play DH is also a possibility.

6. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The 2015 first round pick from Canada by the Marlins probably has more power than any first baseman on this list. Taking advantage of that power has always escaped him. In two full season leagues his high for one season has been 12 homeruns. His strikeout numbers are not high but making better bat on ball contact would increase those homerun numbers. The Padres traded Andrew Cashner in a five player trade to acquire Naylor. His younger brother Noah should be a first round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh has that Babe Ruth look, but unfortunately in his later years at 6′0″ 260. This year Josh seems to have acquired his power stroke in AA with 9 homeruns in 49 games for a .528 slugging percentage. For a big power hitter he does draw a number of walks (25 walks to 27 whiffs).

7. Evan White (Mariners) - Another right handed bat, Evan was drafted in the first round in 2017. He was the last of the four first baseman taken in the draft, falling two positions behind Nick Pratto. Nick has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base, plus the speed to move to the outfield. In his minor league debut he hit 3 homeruns with a .277 average in 14 games. Promoted to the California League to start the 2018 season Evan is hitting .294 with three homeruns. As a college drafted player Evan should rise quickly through the organization, this year starting his season in the California league.

8. Brent Rooker (Twins) - Brent was a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft. In his first year the Twins they tried him in the outfield but his lack of speed makes covering ground a challenging task. The Twins have still used him in the outfield this year but his main use has been as a first baseman. Last year Brent hit 18 homeruns in just 62 games with a .930 OPS. The power has dropped in 2018 with 7 homeruns and a .722 OPS in 47 games. A propensity for the swing and miss will always prevent him from hitting for a high average.

9. Jake Bauers (Rays) - Jake was a 7th round pick in 2013 by the Padres. He was traded to the Rays in 2014. Jake has never really hit for power with 14 homeruns his minor league high in 2016. He has a career .416 slugging average. His athleticism and decent speed would make a move to the outfield a possibility. A weak arm makes left field his best bet. The Rays would still like to see him hit for more power before making the major league club. This year Jake has hit 5 homeruns and is slugging .454 in his second season in AAA. This could result in a late season promotion by the Rays. Eventually he may have to move to left field if Brendan McKay finds his way to the major leagues.

10. Jake Gatewood (Brewers) - Jake was a middle infielder when he was drafted as a first round supplemental pick in 2014. Sprouting to a height of 6′6″ forced a move to first base in 2017. With that kind of length the power numbers have creeped up with a minor league high of 15 homeruns last year. This year Jake has already slugged 9 homeruns with a .445 slugging percentage. As an ex-middle infielder Jake has good defensive instincts at first base. He could see some time with the Brewers before the 2018 season ends.

Samurai Japan to Play Major League All Star Team

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

The Japan National Team will play a major league All Star team in a six game series in November. The series will begin November 9 and be played in Tokyo Dome (three games), Mazda Stadium (Hiroshima for one game) and Nagoya Dome (Chunichi for two games).

Major league baseball has also stated that two major league teams, the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, will open their season in Japan next year at the Tokyo Dome (home of the Yomiuri Giants). The two teams will play exhibition games prior to their openers against two Japanese teams. The Athletics and Mariners also opened their season in Japan in 2012.

Predictions - AL West

Friday, March 16th, 2018

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

1. Houston Astros

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Los Angeles Angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Texas Rangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Seattle Mariners

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Oakland Athletics

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

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

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

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

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

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