Archive for the 'Mariners' Category

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 Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

There were so many talented righthanders that myworld extended the prospect list to 20 players. Some notable pitchers we left off include Ian Anderson, Hunter Greene, Tristan McKenzie, Deivi Garcia and Logan Gilbert. Not that we don’t like those pitchers, the others just appeal to me more. Predicting pitchers is a crap shoot. One injury can ruin a prospect standing.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - The first pick of the 2018 draft dominated at High A (0.88 ERA) which led to a quick promotion to AA. He continued to pitch well (3.20 ERA) in AA but his opposition average went from .110 to .234. Despite a fastball that rides the plate in the mid-90s, his strikeout numbers are rather pedestrian, less than a whiff per inning. You would expect more from a pitcher with that kind of heat and two other above average pitches (slider and splitter) that he commands well. The Tigers hope he will be an ace in the rotation, a position the team has a plethora of potential candidates to take over that role. Casey was a bit injury prone in college and saw his AA season end with three poor starts that led to a mid-August shutdown. Expect to see him pitch by mid-summer in 2020, unless the Tigers hold him back in order to not eat up service time in what is expected to be a wasted 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The Jays first round pick of the 2017 baseball draft woke up the baseball world in the Arizona Fall League by blazing triple digit fastballs across the plate. Prior to that a series of injuries in 2018 (back and fractured arm) limited him to just one start of two innings in 2018. This year he got his innings count above 100, finishing with three starts in AAA. His fastball was still hitting triple digits, sitting in the high 90s and he complemented that pitch with three above average secondary pitches. His one down side is some inconsistency in his command. He walked 21 in 63 innings in AA. He should compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but the Jays may want to control his innings by starting him in AAA. They don’t want to go beyond 150 innings for him next year.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - Despite their battle for the playoffs the Astros were able to hang onto their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he gives a number of batters shaky knees when they come up to the plate. Last year he was considered the top pitcher in baseball, but was limited to just eight starts because of a couple injuries. The 2019 season saw some struggles with command which resulted in elevated ERAs. In the homer happy AAA he served up nine homeruns in just 24 innings. The 2019 season was his third complete season and he has yet to throw over 100 innings. The Astros could start him in AA next year after his struggles in (AAA). He has the quality secondary pitches and heat on his fastball to dominate so the 2020 season could be a critical year.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to the Marlins to acquire J.T. Realmuto, thinking they had a replacement for him in the minor leagues (Adonis Medina). Sixto had good success in the minors (2.53 ERA) while Adonis struggled. The Phillies only shelled out $35,000 to sign him out of the Dominican Republic. While he only stands 6′0″ his fastball crosses the plate in triple digits. He lacks the swing and miss results you expect to see with someone with his heat, but he has success with weak ground ball outs. Sixto also has a good breaking pitch and change with excellent command to keep hitters off balance. The Marlins are getting deeper in the rotation with all the prospects they have acquired in trade, but having had success in AA Sixto is due to pitch in Miami some time by mid-2020.

5. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers have a pretty impressive future rotation in the minor leagues with leftyTarik Skubal and righthanders Franklin Perez, Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo and Casey Mize. Manning was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2017, nine picks ahead of Faedo. At 6′6″ Manning was the top pitcher in the Tigers minor league system until they drafted Casey Mize with the first pick of the 2018 draft. Manning hits the mid-90s with his fastball, but sits in the low 90s, so the blazing heat isn’t there. The secondary pitches are quality (curve and change) and his command is above average. His stuff would seem to indicate a mid-rotation starter instead of an ace, but he should start showing that with the Tigers some time next year. In AA last year he limited the opposition to a .192 average in 24 starts with a 2.56 ERA.

6. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Myworld still cannot forget his 2017 season when he finished with an ERA below 1.50, the lowest ERA in the minor leagues since some dude named Justin Verlander. Even last year he was dominant in AA but he was limited to 16 starts because of injuries. And that has been his down fall. Last year he made his major league debut mostly in relief but hitters did not find his pitches a mystery, raking him at a .283 clip. His season was hijacked by his inability to throw strikes. His fastball has radars spitting out mid-90 readings and his secondary pitches are quality enough to stay in the rotation. The third round 2016 pick needs to maintain his health to stay in the rotation, otherwise the Diamondbacks may want to move him to the bullpen. He should compete for a spot in the rotation in 2020. Pitch counts could keep him in AAA to limit his innings.

7. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick at one time had the top fastball in the minor leagues hitting well into the triple digits. With his first four starts in the major leagues it appeared he would become a main stay in the rotation, but a torn elbow ligament resulted in Tommy John surgery and prevented him from pitching in 2019. A lack of command of his pitches has always haunted him, but it appeared he had controlled those demons in 2018. Now after the surgery he will need some time in AAA to get his pitches back and hope his control returns. His slider is a nice swing and miss pitch. Expect the White Sox to call him up once he shows his velocity has returned and he has command of his pitches.

8. Brady Singer (Royals) - The 2018 first round pick had dropped to the number 18 pick, even after winning the College Baseball Player of the Year award. He did not pitch in the 2018 season because of the heavy work load the Florida Gators had put him through in college games. The 2019 season saw the Royals call his number 26 times, 16 of them in AA. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can hit the mid-90s, with an above average slider. His change could need more work if he wants to stick in the rotation. A 6′5″ build can be intimidating but a .247 opposition batting average tells a story that his pitches are not impossible to hit. The slider does force more ground balls and will keep the ball in the park. The Royals are on a rebuilding path so they will be patient with Singer, not wanting to use up his service time. He could be a September callup in 2020 with a move to the Royals permanent rotation spot in 2021.

9. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles have always had trouble developing major league pitchers that came to them with superstar potential based on their performance in high school or college. Super studs like Matt Riley, Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy have never reached their potential. They hope that changes with this new regime and Rodriguez will be one of their first examples. The 2018 first round pick has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but it can hit the mid 90s, with good movement. He also has two good breaking pitches and a decent changeup to stay in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit only ,171 off him and he struck out 129 batters in just 94 innings at Low A. His 6′5″ height and decent command allows him to hit the edges of the plate where he tended to dominate at this level. A rise to High A and AA should occur in 2020 with a major league shot sometime late in 2021. By that time the Orioles hope their rebuilding process will be bearing fruit.

10. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - Blake Snell has turned into a pretty good pitcher in the major leagues. Brent was taking a similar career path in the minors following Blake but Tommy John surgery put an end to his 2018 season. The Rays were hoping to see him return in 2019 but a fracture in his elbow during rehab ended his 2019 season. Brent has an amazing array of pitches that includes a screwball, fastball in the low to mid 90s, slider and change, as well as command of those pitches to be a co-ace with Snell. How those pitches react after his return from a second surgery will determine whether he can join Snell as the co-ace in the rotation or fill in at the back end. The Rays will be patient with him in 2020 and at best he could get a September call up as a reward for all his work in rehab. Brent did not rely on his fastball for his success so Myworld thinks his route to the major leagues will not be altered much because of the injuries.

11. Dustin May (Dodgers) - The long, flowing locks of the 2016 third round pick is the first thing you notice about the righthander. After that comes the mid-90s fastball and the sharp breaking curve that bites downward towards the plate. His pitches create a number of ground ball outs, as well as swings and misses. Last year minor leaguers hit just .231 off him. The Dodgers saw another Walker Buehler possibility and promoted him. He worked a little bit in the starting rotation but pitched mostly in relief, with major leaguers hitting him at a better .250 clip. He does not have the stuff of Buehler but he has enough to fit in the middle of the rotation. A good spring could see him start the season with the Dodgers.

12. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - The Pirates 2014 second round pick has been one of the top pitching prospects for a number of years now. Last year he got his first opportunity to face major league hitters and his .348 opposition average, 7.13 ERA and six homeruns given up in 48 innings is evidence the debut did not go well. Keller has too good of stuff for that to continue. His fastball hits the high 90s and settles in the low 90s with a curve ball and change good enough to keep hitters honest. Perhaps a better sequencing of the pitches and improved command will result in better outcomes. Mitch has been sitting too long in the minor leagues to stay there. At some point the Pirates have to see what they have and 2020 should be the year Keller rises to a level where he will battle for Rookie of the Year consideration.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - At 6′8′ the Cuban fireballer is a very intimidating pitcher with his high 90s heat. That heat may fit better in the bullpen. Michel does have two breaking pitches and a decent change to stay in the rotation but the pitches lack consistency. He has also been limited by back issues which has prevented him from pitching long stretches. The Padres used him out of the bullpen last year and he made his major league debut, limiting hitters to a .223 average. His future for the Padres could be as their closer. His fastball carries more velocity in shorter spurts and with his innings limited his health will be good. Expect him to compete for a Padre bullpen job in 2020 and take over the closer job after the departure of Kirby Yates.

14. Shane Baz (Rays) - Shane was the Pirates first round pick in 2017. The Rays stole him in the Chris Archer trade mid season in 2018. His first two years Shane was stuck in Rookie ball. A lack of command sabotaged many of his outings. Last year he got 17 starts in Low A. His command improved and his ERA went from 4.26 in Rookie ball to 2.99 in Low A. The opposition only hit .213 off him, a vast improvement over the .273 average in two seasons of Rookie ball. His fastball rides the plate in the mid-90s and can hit triple digits. It is the command of that fastball that has been the real challenge. He has a good slider and improving change. If his command stays inconsistent and his change does not develop he could always work out of the bullpen. His fastball shows closer stuff. Shane is still a couple years away from the big leagues, especially with the patience the Rays show with their pitchers. Don’t expect a major league appearance until sometime late in 2021.

15. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - The second round 2017 pick has gotten his fastball up into the high 90s and it consistently hits the mid-90s. The previous year he had some triple digit readings. His secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) are not outstanding but they show average potential. His big issue is finding consistent command with those pitches. In 2018 he walked 40 in 118 innings. Last year it was 16 in 91. He does get a lot of swings and misses with his pitches. Last year opponents hit him at a .173 clip, which is 70 points less than last year. Spencer was limited to 91 innings because of shoulder issues. Because he only got six starts in AA he will probably start his season there with the possibility of joining the major league rotation by mid-season, if he continues to dominate hitters in the minors.

16. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Colombian is not big at 6′0″ but his fastball shoots across the plate in the mid-90s, hitting in the high 90s on occasion. The Padres signed him for $130,000. He does throw two good breaking pitches, as well as a change that should improve with more use. At 20 years old he was one of the youngest players in AA. In the California League opponents hit him at a .192 clip and he struck out 113 hitters in just 87 innings. Two more dominant starts in AA (1.17 ERA) show that he could be ready in 2020. Despite his small stature his innings total continue to rise, hitting 95 last season. The Padres will try to get him above 100 in 2020. With success in AA he could get a September callup with the Padres.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - With the trade of Sixto Sanchez the Phillies expected Adonis to step in his place as the fireballing Dominican with a mid-90s fastball. The Phillies got a bargain with Adonis, signing him for just $70,000 in 2014. In addition to his mid-90s fastball Adonis has a swing and miss slider and solid change that gives his fastball a greater velocity look. In 2018 his ERA rose by a run to 4.12. The Phillies were hoping for a bounce back season for him in 2019 but a poor second half saw his ERA climb to 4.94. His secondary pitches have been inconsistent allowing opponents to sit on his fastball, raking him at a .254 clip. With his stuff he should put up better numbers. The 2020 season will be a critical one for him. He could see his second season in AA. If he does well during the season the Phillies could promote him to their major league staff. But Spencer Howard has leap frogged Adonis as their possible first choice for the rotation.

18. Kyle Wright (Braves) - Kyle was a first round pick of the Braves in 2017. The Braves seem to have a bucketful of pitchers in their minor league system and any one of them can slip into the rotation with a good season. Wright worked four major league starts and failed miserably (8.94 ERA) showing a lack of command that allowed hitters to swat him at a .304 rate. His 4.17 ERA in AAA may have been hurt by the super juiced baseballs that saw 13 of his pitches leave the yard. His fastball is electric, crossing the plate in the mid-90s with the potential to hit high 90s, with two quality breaking pitches and an above average change. So the pitches are there for him to have success. He just needs to find the strike zone once he reaches the major leagues. With a good spring he could fit into the rotation, but the Braves will probably start him in AAA and call him up when they have a need.

19. Justin Dunn (Mariners) - Justin was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. They included him in a trade with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. It could be a trade that could haunt the Mets if Cano and Diaz do not have better years. Dunn sits at the lower end of the mid-90s. His two breaking balls have the potential to be quality pitches but his change still needs work. Dunn pitched well at AA (3.55 ERA), striking out 158 hitters in just 131 innings and limiting the opposition bats to a .236 average. This earned him a promotion to the Mariners where there was some good (2.70 ERA and .105 opposition average) and some ugly (9 walks in just 6.2 innings) in his outings. He showed pretty decent command in AA walking just 39 in 131.2 innings. The Mariners will probably start him in AAA next year and see how he performs before promoting him to the Mariners in 2020.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - The Dominican signed for $150,000 in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery shortly after. He has put on some weight to his 6′1″ frame since, carrying 265 pounds. That has to be watched if he wants to remain effective. The extra weight has allowed his fastball to climb into the triple digits and sit in the high 90s. His secondary pitches need to improve if he hopes to stay in the rotation. The slider has some swing and miss qualities, but he needs to develop a slower pitch to keep hitters off balance. He pitched well enough in the minors with a .179 opposition average to earn a callup to the Twins. There he pitched in the bullpen and was hit a little more often (.278). Next year he may start the season in the rotation at AAA. How the Twins use him will depend on their need in 2020.

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 Right Field Prospects

Friday, November 1st, 2019

These players lack the burner speed to play centerfield but have the strong arm to get the ball home or to third base with some juice. They also are good enough with the bat that they can provide run production.

1) Heliot Ramos (Giants) - Heliot Ramos was a first round pick in 2017 by the Giants. The Puerto Rican slugger had a solid year last year, showing the power potential in his bat with 13 homeruns and a .500 slugging percentage in High A. He slumped a bit when promoted to AA, his slugging percentage dropping to .421. His swing and miss is a little high, averaging a little over one whiff per game. As he fills out his speed will decrease making him a liability in centerfield. The arm is there for him to slide over to right. The Giants have never been good about developing outfielders. Heliot should change that, with an arrival time expected in 2021.

2) Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets drafted Jarred in the first round, as the sixth pick in 2018. They sacrificed long term wealth for short term benefit by trading him and a package of other prospects to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Neither veteran panned out and Jarred is looking to be a superstar. He has all five tools with the speed to play center, but with the arm to shift to right. Last year he displayed his power with 23 homeruns at three different levels. With his 20 stolen bases he became a 20/20 player, a feat he should easily accomplish once he makes it to the major leagues. Since he played 21 games in AA expect an arrival time of 2021.

3) Jesus Sanchez (Marlins) - Another five tool talent, Jesus signed with Tampa Bay for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic. The Rays shipped him off to the Marlins for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards, two players who will not come close to reaching the level of Sanchez. It makes you wonder what the Rays saw in Sanchez that they traded him for what appears to be low cost. As he gets bigger (6′3″, 230) his speed will tap down, making a potential move to right field inevitable. The power exists for him to hit for at least 20 plus homeruns per year, but he did not show that last year. Even in the rabbit ball of AAA he could not slug for higher than .440. The Marlins do not have any outfielders in their major league system to prevent Jesus from winning a starting job. Expect that process to begin next year when he competes for an outfield job in spring training.

4) Estevan Florial (Yankees) - Estevan is Haitian born, but went to school in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed him for $300,000 in 2015 after he was suspended one year from signing for using a false name. Florial had a break out year in 2017 slugging 13 homeruns, but a broken hamate bone in 2018 forced him to miss two months of the season. He struggled a bit in the Florida State League, hitting just .255 with only a .361 slugging average. His season was again limited last year with a broken wrist and when he got to play his numbers were again disappointing in his third season in the Florida State League. The five tools are there to be an impact player but an inability to make contact puts his numbers down. Next year he should see AA. The Yankees have a surplus of outfielders in their system, but like Florial they struggle to stay healthy. If he can stay injury free he should make his Yankee debut in 2021.

5) Brandon Marsh (Angels) - The 2016 second round pick is not a flashy player. The speed is lacking to play centerfield and the power from his 6′4″ frame has yet to emerge. There is still too much swing and miss in his game, though he managed to cut it back in 2019. An ankle injury limited him to just 96 games last year. Despite his average speed and the ankle injury he was able to steal 18 bases. A .428 slugging average is evidence that he has yet to tap into his power. With Trout in center and outfielder Jo Adell rated as the Angels top prospect, the Angels can be patient with Marsh and allow his power to develop in AAA. The earliest he will be an Angel is 2021.

6) J.J. Bleday (Marlins) - Myworld saw a bit of Bleday’s power in the College World Series. The 2019 first round pick also has a rocket for an arm. His 27 homers were instrumental in Vanderbilt winning the College World Series. After being drafted as the fourth pick he went on to hit three more homeruns in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Bleday does not have the speed to play center. He does make pretty good contact for a power hitter. With the Marlins in rebuilding mode, Bleday should be a fast riser. Expect him to reach AA in 2020 with a possible major league debut in 2021. There is 30 to 40 homerun potential in his bat.

7) Sam Hilliard (Rockies) - Hilliard is a 15th round pick in 2015 who lacks the speed to play centerfield. It doesn’t prevent him from stealing bases. He had his second year of stealing over 20 bases and slugging at least 20 homeruns. His lowest stolen base total in his four minor league seasons is 23. Last year his power numbers went through the roof with 35 homeruns and a .558 slugging percentage. That resulted in a promotion to Colorado where he added seven more homeruns to put him over 40 with a .649 slugging. The Rockies have a number of young outfielders competing for spots, but none hit for his power. Expect him to compete for the starting right field job in 2020. The one concern was his 164 whiffs in AAA, though he seemed to make more consistent contact when promoted to the major leagues.

8) Khalil Lee (Royals) - Khalil is a third round pick in 2016 that is blessed with all five tools. The speed was especially apparent in 2019 with 53 stolen bases. The arm is built for right field and the legs can cover center. Many teams considered drafting him as a pitcher, but for now he is patrolling the outfield. Khalil’s biggest challenge is making contact, which depresses his average and prevents him from showing off his power. Last year he struck out 154 times, limiting his average to .264 and his slugging to .372 in AA. Next year he should make his major league debut for the rebuilding Royals sometime after the All Star break.

9) Austin Hays (Orioles) - Injuries have prevented the third round 2016 pick from replicating his 2017 season. He had the right field position sewn up in 2018 but injuries and a poor season prevented a callup. Injuries again limited him in 2019 but he put up better power numbers (.464) in AAA that led to a promotion to the major leagues. There he shined with a .304 average and .574 slugging. This should make him the favorite to win the right field job next year, with Trey Mancini moving to first base.

10) D.J. Peters (Dodgers) - Myworld loves his power. We hate his inability to make contact. Last year the 2016 fourth round pick struck out 168 times in just 125 games, while slugging 23 dingers. At 6′6″ he has a large strike zone, but get those hands extended with the barrel of the bat making contact and that ball will go a long way. The arm is good for right field and he has the speed to be a solid defender, perhaps as a lesser version of an Aaron Judge. Yasiel Puig is gone but Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo appear to be ahead of him in right field. His best bet may be to be traded to give him an opportunity to play. At 23 years of age and in AAA his time is now. He should make his major league debut in 2020.

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 First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Not a stellar list. Many of your top first base prospects struggle in the outfield in the minor leagues but have a good bat and eventually move to first base, making it tougher for minor leaguer first baseman to make the major leagues. Right hand hitting first baseman are not liked by scouts. For one, their glove is on the wrong side of their hand for making a tag during pickoffs and two, if you are going to have a left handed bat in the lineup put him at first base. Christian Walker is one of those rare right handed bats who plays first base, but it took him until his 28th year to become a major league starter. He still platoons with the left hand hitting Jake Lamb. So on to the unimpressive list of first base prospects.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - He is the right handed bat that many scouts fear putting at first. The third pick in the 2019 draft is said to have a productive bat that will force itself into the lineup. He was the Golden Spikes winner in 2018 in college while playing for California, finishing his college career with a .374 average and a .688 slugging percentage. His bat is expected to produce power that is slotted for the position and because he hits the ball to all fields he will be impossible to defend with shifts. At 6′0″ he does not have the tall frame that you want to see from a first baseman, but his defense will be steady. He pitched a bit in college so he has the arm for a move to third base. In his first minor league season he has already seen himself promoted to High A. His bat has been below average in the full season leagues, hitting just above .250 with a slugging average below .430. Major league teams will want to see more from their first baseman, but he is still learning, getting his first exposure to minor league pitching.

2. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - The arm is his biggest down side. The Orioles tried him at short and third but the loopy throws to first would not cut it in the major leagues. Left field is another option but the arm could be a hindrance there. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues and while he does not have the power of Yordan Alvarez, a rotation between first base and DH will be in his future. This year has been a breakout season for him power wise. His 20 homeruns is a career high and he is slugging .516. The big cause of concern is his 17/107 walk to whiff ratio, which means his .314 average in AAA will not be sustainable if he keeps swinging at pitcher’s pitches. The Orioles roster is filled with first baseman/DH types (Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo) so finding room for him will mean the O’s will have to say bye to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and keep Mancini and his sub par defense in the outfield (Renato Nunez is another DH player on their roster). His bat should be ready for the major leagues next year and a September callup is a strong possibility this year.

3. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The bat is what will get him into a major league lineup. The Astros drafted him with their first pick in 2018. He was included in a trade to the Diamondbacks for Zack Greinke. So he has gone from a DH league to a non-DH league, depriving him of an opportunity to play his best position, unless the major leagues adopts the DH for both leagues. He is the first left handed bat in this list, but he throws right handed, meaning his glove is on the wrong side for pickoffs. The Astros have used him in the outfield, but his lack of speed and weak arm make him a liability there. His best position is DH. Last year he hit himself into High A, slugging 12 homeruns. He struggled a bit when trying to hit High A pitching (.262 average, 4/22 walk to whiff ratio). This year he was better at High A (.314, .602 slugging) that the Astros promoted him to AA after only 35 games. He has 25 homeruns (none in his 8 games with the D-backs AA team) with 93 RBIs. If he was in AAA with the juiced baseballs his homer numbers could be video game like. Christian Walker and his inconsistent bat is his only impediment in the major leagues so there is no one stopping him from a promotion if his bat keeps producing.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - The Red Sox first round pick in 2018. He only played in two games last year because a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season early. At 6′4″ he has the size teams are looking for in their first baseman. He also throws right handed so the Red Sox are looking at him for third. That size is normally a hindrance at that position if he lacks the quickness and flexibility to handle the hot shots. He has tremendous power, so his bat is what will get him in the lineup somewhere. He played for Team USA where he showed an ability to hit to all fields, making him tough to shift against. This year he has been a bit strikeout prone with 105 whiffs in 101 games. He has clobbered 17 homeruns, but his .247 average keeps his slugging average at .468. Those are Bobby Bradley like numbers. Next year the Red Sox will promote him to High A. If he does well there that could result in a quick promotion to AA but at 19 years of age there is no reason to rush his bat until it is ready for the next level. It will be a couple years before he sees the major leagues, especially with Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers ahead of him.

5. Evan White (Mariners) - Evan was a first round pick in 2017. He is noted for his defense, which is good. There is some question about his power, which is bad when you are playing first base. He also hits right handed, another tick against him. But he throws lefthanded so good for pickoff throws. Bottom line is if Evan can hit he will make the major leagues. Last year in High A he sprayed the gaps with 27 doubles, but hit only 11 homeruns, resulting in a .458 slugging. His batting average was an impressive .303 which led to a promotion to AAA, skipping AA. This year Evan finds himself in AA and his power has impressed with 16 homeruns and a .500 slugging. With his superior glove that could get him to the major leagues. It is not like the Mariners have anyone there that can stop his promotion in 2020 except for the DH entrenched Dan Vogelbach.

6. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - The third round pick in 2014 has been hitting a lot of balls out of minor league parks. A troubled glove and an inability to hit for average has kept him pummeling minor league pitchers. Last year at AA he repeated that level and his average dropped 40 points. Despite the struggles (.214 average) he still got his promotion to AAA. This year he has hacked at AAA pitching for a .272 average and a career high 29 homeruns. It led to his first promotion to the major leagues, where he struggled (.178), hitting only one homerun in 45 at bats. Next year he may be given more of an opportunity. He’ll get to show his stuff in September. DH may still be his best position in the major leagues.

7. Nate Lowe (Rays) - Nate Lowe, like catcher Will Smith (Dodgers) may not be considered a prospect next year if he gets a few more at bats. He was a 13th round pick in 2016 out of college. His younger brother was a first round pick of the Rays in the 2016 draft out of high school. Nate is the one that has made an impact for the Rays, with a .294 average and 5 homeruns. At 6′4″ and 245 pounds he can mash a baseball when he gets ahold of it. His large frame hinders his speed for the outfield making first base his only viable position. His younger brother is the same 6′4″ and 205 pounds with the speed to one day join him with the Rays playing the outfield. Defensively Nate can handle first base, but he will not win any gold gloves. Expect Nate to be the Rays starting first baseman next year.

8. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Nick was a first round pick of the Royals in 2017, a couple picks ahead of White. Like White, Nick is noted for his glove at first base. There is some concern whether his bat will break out enough to be an offensive contributor at the position. To go along with that lack of power he also has a propensity to swing and miss with 150 whiffs last year and already 145 this year in less games. Last year he slugged .443 with just 14 homeruns, but had the ability to find the gaps with 33 doubles. This year he is really struggling with a .185 average and a .302 slugging. We’ll chalk it up to a bad season. One tool he is above average in for a first baseman is speed. Last year he stole 22 bases and this year he has 15. It is still not enough to make him an effective outfielder at any position but possibly left field.

9. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - Diaz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million by the Twins. They traded him to the Marlins for bullpen help (Sergio Romo). Myworld likes his 6′4″ height and his lefthanded bat. Diaz has had a breakout year with his power, slugging 24 homeruns between High A and AA. His ability to hit for average has improved, raising his High A average from .225 last year to .290, resulting in a promotion to AA. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base where his defense will be adequate. For a power hitter he does have a good ability to make contact. He could make a contribution to the Marlins next year.

10. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick will rely on his power. Bobby can also play third base, but Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers could hinder his major league progress there. He is one of those players whose at bats do not result in a lot of balls hit in play. He takes a lot of walks, whiffs a ton and sends many a ball over the fence. Last year he slugged 32. This year he has 22. The strikeouts will leave his batting average below .250 but his OBA should still be good with his walks. He has a solid arm and just below average speed so a move to left field could be an option, but the Red Sox outfield is a little crowded now for that to happen. He will probably see the Red Sox next year and if J.D. Martinez is not resigned he could see time as a DH.

Forbes List of Top Paid Baseball Players

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Soccer players are the top three salaried athletes on the Forbes Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list. The process was to figure out a player’s salary or winnings and endorsements, add them up and come up with their 2019 earnings. The one difficulty with that is the endorsements were based on publicly identified endorsements or word of mouth by talking with representatives about the worth of those endorsements. So the list may not be totally accurate.

Soccer takes the first three, a boxer is number four, tennis at five, football takes 6-7, basketball dominates 8-10 and golf is at 11. You have to go to the 17th spot to find your baseball player. Only one woman makes this list and she plays tennis. Myworld will force you to go the Forbes list to get the names of the above listed athletes associated with their sport.

For baseball, endorsement money was a small portion of their value. I’ll list the endorsement money for the top three, but after that it was under $1 million.

17. Mike Trout (Angels) - $56 million ($3 million in endorsements)
23. Bryce Harper (Phillies) - $44.5 million ($6.5 million in endorsements)
30. Manny Machado (Padres) - $34.8 million
50. David Price (Red Sox) - $31.7 million
54. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) - $30 million
61. Justin Verlander (Astros) - $29.5 million
62. Yoennis Cespedes (Mets) - $29.4 million
63. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) - $29.2 million
68. Jake Arrieta (Phillies) - $28.8 million
73. Albert Pujols (Angels) - $28 million
77. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) - $27.4 million ($2 million in endorsements)
84. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) - $26.6 million
94. J.D. Martinez (Red Sox) - $25.6 million
96. Joey Votto (Reds) - $25.4 million

Stat of the Week

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Baseballsavant.com carries some interesting statistical numbers. Last week we listed the top ten players for speed. Some of the names surprised us. This week we list the top ten players in exit velocity on average and distance to see how they marry. Not too many surprises here.

Exit Velocity

1) Joey Gallo (96.3) - Having a career year in batting average (.276) with 17 homeruns.
2) Nelson Cruz (94.5) - At 38 years of age his homerun numbers are going down, but it appears he still hits the ball hard.
3) Josh Bell (94.4) - Having a career year with 18 homeruns and leading the NL in RBIs (57).
4) Christian Yelich (93.8) - Gunning for another MVP award with 23 homeruns leading major league baseball.
5) Gary Sanchez (93.4) - A good bounce back year for him with his 19 homeruns already exceeding last year’s totals in less at bats.
6) Shohei Ohtani (93.3) - He can still throw the ball harder than he hits, but that exit velocity is still impressive.
7) Josh Donaldson (93) - The flyer the Braves took on him signing him to a big one year contract is paying off
8) Franmil Reyes (93) - One of the best young hitters in baseball. Staying with the big boys with his 19 homeruns
9) Carlos Santana (92.9) - Not changing his evil ways against American League pitchers. Homerun numbers are down (12).
10. Yoan Moncada (92.9) - Finally reaching his number one prospect potential. Also only 12 homeruns but a .284 average.

Tommy Pham just missed the top ten at number 11 with an average exit velocity of 92.8.

The top ten in average homerun distance has some surprise names because some of the players on the list have not hit a lot of homeruns. So myworld took a look at the average distance a player hits the ball and the top ten from that list:

1) Gary Sanchez (236) - He appears in our top ten exit velocity.
2) Jay Bruce (233) - He has blasted 18 homeruns but a low batting average indicates a lot of soft contact in his game.
3) Anthony Rendon (229) - They call him Tony Two Bags because of all the doubles he hits into the gaps.
4) Joey Gallo (227) - Number one on our exit velocity list
5) Jorge Polanco (225) - Not noted for his homerun pop but lots of doubles this year. His 10 homeruns is approaching his career high of 13.
6) Justin Smoak (222) - Seems to be having a quiet year with a .237 average and only 12 homeruns and 6 doubles.
7) Mike Trout (220) - About time this superstar appears somewhere on this list.
8) Daniel Vogelbach (219) - We never saw his major league homerun production coming.
9) Brandon Belt (218) - His offensive numbers seem to be down. Perhaps a lot of fly ball outs to the warning track.
10) Cody Bellinger (216) - If not for Yelich he would be gunning for the NL MVP honors. A NL league leading .362 average

As far as distance, the top five homeruns for distance have been hit by Nomar Mazara (482), Ketel Marte (482), Keon Broxton (474), Josh Bell (474) and Mike Trout (473). Marte and Broxton are two interesting names I wouldn’t associate with power, though Marte has been hitting some homeruns this year.

A lot more interesting stats at baseballsavant.com. Hope to give you more next week but you can check the numbers yourself.