Archive for the 'Cuba' Category

Under 12 World Cup Day Five - Final Six Super Rounders Established

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

There will be a new champion. The three time defending champs were beaten by Mexico, eliminating them from advancing to the Super Round. They play undefeated Korea today, but the losses to Venezuela and Mexico, the two teams ahead of them in the standings were too much for them to recover. A win over Korea would leave them 3-2, tied with Venezuela, but the first tie breaker is head to head and Venezuela beat the United States earlier.

The teams advancing to the Super Round are Japan (5-0), Taiwan (4-1), Cuba (3-2), Korea (4-0), Mexico (4-1) and Venezuela (3-2). Each team will bring their losses with them to teams that advance to the Super Round. A loss by Korea to the United States will still leave them undefeated in the Super Round.

Mexico 2 United States 1

A win by the United States could have advanced them but they would still have had to beat Korea to prevent a three way tie breaker with Venezuela and Mexico. The United States could not solve Mexican pitcher Yustin Canizales, who pitched a complete game five hitter. He got into a bit of trouble in the fourth, giving up back to back singles to Lucas Tinajero and Josiah Hartshorn. A ground out advanced them to second and third and then a second ground out caught Tinajero out at the plate. A balk scored Hartshorn for the only run.

Yustin also helped himself with the bat, blasting a leadoff homerun in the first inning. In the third his RBI single put Mexico up 2-0. That was all the runs Mexico needed to seal the victory. The United States did get a runner to second on a walk and a balk in the sixth, the third balk called on Canizales in the game, but Canizales was able to get the third out of the game on a ground out.

Cuba 5 Czech Republic 0

In a game to determine who advances to the Super Round in Group A Cuba prevailed. Johan Rodriguez threw six innings of no hit ball, striking out nine to lead Cuba to the victory. Cuba scored their five runs early taking a 5-0 lead after three. Alejandro Prieto scored twice and drove in a run on a 2 for 3 performance. Both his hits were doubles.

Venezuela 13 Australia 0

Venezuela made sure they advanced, keeping the Aussies winless. Kennew and Jean Blanco combined for six of the Venezuelan 16 hits from the top two spots in the lineup. The Aussies could only muster one hit in the game.

Korea 11 Italy 0

Lead off hitter Dong-Hyeon Doo showed some pop, becoming the second player in this tournament to hit three homeruns in one game. Those three homeruns drove in six of Korea’s 11 runs. They were his first three homeruns of the tournament. Three different Korean pitchers combined for the five inning four hit shutout.

Japan 15 South Africa 0

Japan scored 10 in the first and the game was all but done. South Africa failed to get a hit in their four at bats. Kyonsuke Hayashi went deep for Japan, finishing the game 2 for 3 with two runs scored and three driven in. Shinsuke Kuwamoto was a homerun short of the cycle, finishing the game 3 for 3 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

Taiwan 32 Fiji 0

Fiji committed 11 errors. Tien-Szu Huang drove in seven runs with a double and two triples. Fiji did get one hit but that paled to the 23 by Taiwan. This was their first opportunity in the World Cup and they scored four runs in the tournament, giving up 147. Hopefully the kids will still bring back good memories that will motivate them to improve.

Under 12 World Cup Day 4 - One Thriller with Korean Win

Monday, July 29th, 2019

More blow outs. There was one big game with Korea beating Venezuela to stay undefeated. The rest of the games were decided by more than 10 runs. Below are the results from Day 4 of the Under 12 World Cup.

Korea 6 Venezuela 5

Korea is looking strong, remaining undefeated in the first round. A one out walk off homerun from Yee-Chan Park wins the game for Korea. Park finished the game 2 for 2 with a double, the walk off homerun and two runs scored. Park also walked with two outs in the second inning to ignite a four run rally that gave Korea an early 5-3 lead. Tae-Oh Lee got a clutch 2-run single in the inning to give Korea the lead. Venezuelan catcher Johan Fernandez hit a solo shot in the fifth to tie the game at 5-5. He has now homered in two consecutive games.

Mexico 21 Australia 2

Leadoff hitter Yustin Canizales went 5 for 5 with four doubles to lead Mexico to a blow out win over winless Australia. Jose Lavagnino drove in four runs with two doubles. For the game Mexico tallied 11 doubles out of their 26 hits. Javier Garcia threw almost three innings of perfect ball, striking out five. An error in the second allowed one runner to reach. Mexico ended the no hitter with two runs in the fourth, but behind by 19 runs the game was ended by the slaughter rule.

Japan 30 Fiji 0

Japan pitchers threw their third shutout in four games. Takuto Suzuki bashed two homeruns and drove in four in the rout. He ended the day a perfect 3 for 3 and is still batting 1.000 for the tournament, though that is only in four at bats. Another backup Hironosuke Namatame also went deep and drove in three runs. Lead off batter Shintaro Sakamoto and Yusei Izumi also drove in four runs. Japan only needed three innings to score their 30 runs.

United States 28 Italy 1

The United States only needed three at bats to put away Italy via the slaughter rule. Lucas Tinajero went deep twice, driving in four and Rashad Hayes went deep once and drove in four to lead the United States offense.

Cuba 13 South Africa 0

This was the second closest game of the day. Alejandro Prieto drove in six runs with two blasts and Christian Saez hit a solo shot to lead the Cuban offense. Three Cuban pitchers held the South Africans hitless, striking out 9.

Taiwan 16 Czech Republic 0

Taiwan ended the Czechs two game winning streak. Tien-Szu Huang and Yan-Cheng Yu each went deep in the rout, combining for 5 RBIs. Tsung-Chun Chiang was the big bat with his four runs driven in. He also went 4 for 4 with four stolen bases. It is his second 4 for 4 game and he is now batting .643 for the tournament.

World Cup Under 12 Day Three - Venezuela Upset by Mexico

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

It is day three in Taiwan at the under 12 World Cup. After Venezuela upset the United States, Mexico comes back and upsets Venezuela. Cuba was able to get their first win of the tournament, but it was against Fiji. The big game, the undefeated Koreans against the United States could not be played because of weather delays. After three days of play the only two undefeated teams are Japan at 3-0 in group one and Korea at 2-0 in group two.

Mexico 10 Venezuela 6

Mexico put themselves in a good spot with a win over Venezuela, moving them to 2-1. They restricted the big Venezuelan bat Leonel Dominguez to just one single in three at bats. In his previous two games he had gone 5 for 5 with four homeruns. Venezuela did jump out to a 3-0 lead but Mexico bounced back with five runs in the bottom of the first. A four run third gave them a nice cushion. Sebastion Baquera drove in two runs and scored twice on a 2 for 2 day with one double and a walk. Uriel Torres also drove in two runs for Mexico.

For Venezuela Johan Fernandez went deep with a solo shot in the fourth.

Japan 7 Taiwan 4

In a rivalry game, the two undefeateds from Group one did battle and Japan came out on top. Shosei Takahashi showed his pop with two homeruns, two run blasts in the first and third innings. He finished the day 3 for 3 and is now batting .714 for the tournament with two doubles and two homeruns.

Italy 6 Australia 4

In what could be a mild upset, Italy achieved their first win, sending Australia to 0-3. Six Aussie errors led to four unearned runs. Joshua Nati had a big day for Australia with his RBI double and two run homer driving in three of the four Aussie runs. Nati also started giving up four runs, one earned in his 3.1 innings of work. In addition to taking advantage of the errors the Italian bats peppered the Aussie pitching staff with nine singles. Riccardo Mazzanti pitched the last 3.2 innings, giving up two runs but striking out eight.

Czech Republic 21 South Africa 4

In their second game the Czech Republic was able to pick on Fiji. Yesterday it was South Africa. The Czechs collected 16 hits in the win to go 2-1. The big bat was replacement catcher Kristyna El Ghannamova who went 3 for 3 with a double, a homerun and four RBIs. So far in this tournament no team has found a way to get Kristyna out. Kristyna is 6 for 6 with 7 RBIs. Matyas Hasal scored three runs in the game and has now scored 8 runs in his last two games. He is batting .833 with five consecutive hits. He also pitched three innings to get the win.

Cuba 27 Fiji 1

The Cubans needed only three innings to score all their runs to get their first win. Johan Rodriguez went 5 for 5 from the leadoff spot, scoring four runs and driving in four with three doubles. Alejandro Cruz followed him in the lineup and went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs, a double and two triples. The Cubans combined for six triples in the game.

Fiji actually had the lead in the game after scoring one in the top of the first. Cuba dispelled any hope of an upset and an 0-3 start with a seven spot in the bottom frame. The 15 run second put the game out of reach.

World Cup Under 12 Day 2 More Slaughters

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

It is too bad the under 12 can not make all their games more competitive. Myworld can’t imagine playing in a 30-1 loss is lacking in fun. As a coach I always tell my players that the best way to get better is to play the teams better than you. It is tough to keep them motivated when they are just being blasted off the court. There were some competitive games, with one big upset, Venezuela nipping the United States.

Venezuela 7 United States 6

The United States rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth but fell short of the win. They had the tying run on first when the last out was made. Leonel Dominguez has been a beast. After going 3 for 3 with three homeruns and seven runs batted in against Italy he went 2 for 2 with a solo shot. So he is batting 1.000 with a 3.500 OPS and four of his five hits have gone over the fence. His solo homerun in the top of the second tied the game at 1-1. Kennew Blanco, who finished the game 3 for 4 added an RBI single to take a 2-1 lead.

Leonel started the 4-run fourth for Venezuela, leading off the inning with a single. Reinaldo Sarmiento tripled to score Leonel and then scored on a wild pitch. Venezuela scored their fourth run in the inning on a wild pitch. Jean Blanco went four innings, giving up two runs to get the victory.

Mexico 1 Italy 0

Italy almost pulled an upset but their lack of offense sent them down to their second loss. Mexico scored their lone run in the first inning on a walk to Yustin Canizales. He advanced to second on a ground out and scored on an Italian error. Kevin Orozco struck out the side in the first inning, but could only whiff one more batter in his next three. He limited Italy to just two hits and a walk in his four innings, yielding the ball to Alonso Gallegos and Gustavo Vargas to complete the shutout. Filippo Sabatini threw five complete innings to take the loss. For Mexico it was their first win while Italy went down to 0-2.

Japan 6 Cuba 0

Japanese pitchers threw their second shutout in two games. The Cuban bats were restricted to just three hits. Four different pitchers combined for the shutout. The big bat was Shosei Takahasi who delivered a clutch double in the first to drive in the first Japanese run. He also drove in a second run in the fifth on a ground out.

Czech Republic 30 Fiji 1

The Czech Republic did not mess around in this 30-1 four inning rout for their second win of the tournament. Ian Katz drove in five runs with his two doubles and triple while Matyas Hasal drove in four runs and scored five runs. Michal Cajz drove in three runs and scored four times. Italy failed to get a hit in the four inning shortened game.

Korea 13 Australia 0

Jae-Jun Lee and Tae-Oh Lee each collected three hits and three RBIs in the surprisingly easy win over Australia. For Australia it is their second loss while Korea remains undefeated. For Korea it was a perfect game by four different pitchers.

Taiwan 19 South Africa 0

Taiwan pitched the third no hitter of the day, with two walks preventing it from being a perfect game. Four different pitchers threw one inning each. Leadoff hitter Tsung Chun Chang went deep, going 4 for 4 with four runs scored and four RBIs. Tien-Szu Huang was 4 for 4, driving in five and crossing the plate four times.

Under 12 Baseball World Cup

Friday, July 26th, 2019

It is not the Little League World Series, but it is one step better. Instead of the best Little League teams battling it out, these are the best from those top Little League teams battling it out. And they are playing in a newly built $130 million baseball field in Tainan, Taiwan. Below are the results from the first day with a lot of one sided ball games. There was one no hitter.

Taiwan 4 Cuba 2

This was the closest game. Tien-Szu Huang drove in three runs on two hits to lead Taiwan to the win. Cheng-Yu Lin pitched a perfect sixth inning to pick up the save after Kai-Sheng Chen went the first five to get the win. Alejandro Prieto pitched a complete game for Cuba but got poor support from his defense, who had two errors that led to three unearned runs. Taiwan was only able to collect three hits in the game, two of them by Huang.

Korea 7 Mexico 0

Korea scored quickly with seven runs in the first three innings. Tae-Oh Lee drove in three runs with his two doubles and Jae-Jun Lee drove in two. Korea used four different pitchers to complete the six inning shutout.

United States 10 Australia 0

The United States scored six in the fifth to end the game early because of the slaughter rule. Josiah Hartshorn, Jack Ruckert and Brenden Lewis all went deep for the United States. Lewis had the big hit with a three run homerun in the fifth. He also was on the mound and went the distance, giving up just one hit in his five innings of work, walking none and striking out 4.

Venezuela 15 Italy 0

Venezuela scored all their runs in three innings as the game was ended after Italy did not score in the top of the fourth. Leonel Dominguez blasted three homeruns to drive in 7 of the 14 runs for Venezuela. Sander Trujillo threw four innings of no hit ball, allowing just two baserunners on walks.

Japan 21 Czech Republic 0

Another game that went just four innings. As the visitors Japan batted four times. Shinsuke Kuwamoto and Ren Imai were the big RBI bats with three apiece. Japan lashed out 16 hits and walked 8 times, blasting five doubles. Four different Japanese pitchers worked one inning with the lone Czech hit coming in the fourth.

South Africa 28 Fiji 2

This should have been the game Fiji had a chance of winning, but their pitchers issued an amazing 23 walks in four innings and their fielders committed six errors in the blow out. South Africa only needed 9 hits to accumulate their 28 runs. Michael Barrett walked all four times he hit. South Africa had two pitchers each work two innings, with neither of them issuing a walk.

United States College Team Battling Japan

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

The United States college national team is in the process of playing a three country series. In North Carolina they won four out of five games against Cuba. The one win for Cuba was the fourth game when they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win. In the four losses the Cuban team was held to five runs while their pitching staff gave up 27 to the United States bats.

The next series for the college national team was in Taiwan against collegians from Taiwan. The United States may have been jet lagged in the opener as they were limited to just one run in the 2-1 loss. The bats came alive the next two games with 12-5 and 10-6 wins. Taiwan salvaged a split of the series winning the final game in 10 innings 7-6.

The United States last series is against Japan. They could not blame jet lag on their 3-0 loss in the opener since they were coming from Taiwan. The United States could only manage four hits in the loss. In the second game Alec Burleson hit a walk off homerun to even the series, winning the second game 3-2. The United States leads the series against Japan 24-18 but they have lost 15 straight series in Japan. While they do have three more games, there are ties in baseball in Japan so the United States need to at least win two games to take the series.

Top Cuban Prospects in National League

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

The list from last year had a player traded to the American League (Yusniel Diaz) and three drop from the list. No player from the list from last year graduated to the major leagues. We expect that to change after this year with Yoan Lopez providing the Diamondbacks with good bullpen work.

1. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Since pitching for the 15 and under gold medal team and winning the MVP, Adrian has added some meat on his bones. That has upped his velocity to a steady diet of 93-95 mile per hour fastballs with an occasional helping of 97-98. His curve ball is also a high quality pitch. The Padres signed him for $11 million as a 17 year old. The pitches are all there, the command of those pitches can be a little spotty. This year he is pitching at AA as a 20 year old. He is struggling a bit with 11 walks in 20.2 innings, resulting in a 5.66 ERA. Unless he improves his command he will probably pitch all season in AA and will not see the major leagues until late next year. One of the strengths of the Padres is their depth in starting pitching.

2. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Marlins season is not going well and the attendance is lagging. They did pull a coup signing one of the top international prospects and his brother in 2018. The father, Victor Mesa was a star of many international tournaments and played with Lourdes Gurriel, whose youngest son Lourdes Jr. appeared on this list last year. The big tool for Mesa is his speed, which will allow him to cover a lot of ground in center field with a strong arm. There is some question whether his bat will be one that will have an impact. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million with his younger brother Victor signing for $1 million. The older brother had some up and down seasons in the Nacional Series, but felt the pressure of being the son of a legend. He is not making much of an impact in the Florida State League, hitting just .224 with a .274 OBA and a .260 slugging. All the defense in the world will not support that offense.

3. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Baez for $3 million, the same year they signed Morejon (2016). He is an imposing figure at 6′8″ 220 pounds. His fastball splits the plate in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are promising but with his long limbs a consistent delivery is difficult resulting in poor command. If he fails to make it as a starter he has the velocity and intimidating presence to make it as a closer. He got a late start to the season but in AA he has made four relief appearances, striking out 13 in 8.2 innings, but giving up 10 hits. If he can show dominance in the bullpen he could see some time with the Padres as a September callup.

4. Malcom Nunez 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals signed Malcom in 2018 for just $300,000, the maximum salary they could sign international players because of penalties. They stuck him in the Dominican Summer League where he crashed the party, hitting .415 with 13 homeruns. The bat carries some big time power, with the potential to hit for 30 plus homeruns once he reaches the major leagues. He led Cuba to the gold medal in the 15 and under World Cup in Japan in 2016. His defense needs improvement, otherwise a move to first may be necessary, chipping away at his value. He is finding the Midwest League a little tougher than the Dominican Summer League, hitting just .183 in 21 games. Currently only one of his 13 hits has gone for extra bases, resulting in a paltry .197 slugging average.

5. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent a rich $16 million in 2015 to sign Yadier. His high 90s fastball convinced the Dodgers to give him his suitcase full of cash. His breaking ball pitches show promise but his change needs more work. His control is poor and he will need to improve on that if he hopes to stay in the rotation. This is his fourth year of pitching in the minors and the results have been mixed. Last year he walked 43 hitters in just 48 innings in AA, leading to a inflated 4.66 ERA. This year has not looked any better with a 14.73 ERA in two starts. Yadier needs to harness his command to get an opportunity to pitch for the Dodgers sometime in 2020.

6. Yoan Lopez RHP (Diamondbacks) - Yoan signed for $8 million in 2015. His indoctrination to United States baseball was rough as he quit his minor league teams his first two seasons in baseball. After his first year the D-Backs moved Yoan from the rotation to the bullpen. There his fastball hits in the high 90s. His persistence has paid off with his major league debut being made last year. This year he has been one of the better bullpen arms for the D-Backs major league team with a 1.52 ERA. The swings and misses are not prevalent but the opposition average is just .223.

7. Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals paid him $2.5 million to leave Cuba. In the Nacional Series back in 2016 he was voted the MVP. Adonis is his older brother, who played briefly with the Braves before leaving for Korea to play in the KBO. Adolis is bigger than his brother and carries a bit more power. Last year he slugged 22 homeruns, leading to a promotion to the major leagues where he could only muster a .118 average. This year he has slugged 12 homeruns but is only hitting .224 in AAA. Strikeouts have been a big problem with 74 in 56 games.

8. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - At 6′0″ and throwing right handed, Vladimir is not a big presence. The Reds still shelled out $4.7 million to sign him in 2016. He does not throw hard, with his fastball sitting in the low 90s, but he can dial it up to the high 90s. His big swing and miss pitch is a quality curveball. His first two seasons Vladimir has been kind of vanilla, with ERAs above 4 and strikeouts to innings pitched just a shade under 9 per 9 innings pitched. This year he is struggling even more with a 7.64 ERA in 11 starts in AAA. He has been a victim of the new AAA balls, where 9 have left the park in just 74 innings. Vladimir needs to turn his 2019 season around if he hopes to reach the Reds this year.

9. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid $5 million to sign Jose to a contract in 2017. He is a defensive oriented player with a questionable bat. Last year the Reds placed him in Low A where he hit .245 with a .290 OBA. His walk to whiff ratio was 19/112. This year the Reds promoted Garcia to the Florida State League where he shows more of the same (.252, 9/31 walk to whiff). He is still a few years away from impacting the Reds.

10. Miguel Vargas 3B (Dodgers) - Miguel is the son of another Cuban legend, two time gold medalist Lazaro Vargas. Miguel starred on the Cuban youth teams before leaving with his father for the States. The Dodgers signed Miguel for $300,000 in 2017. Defensively he may lack the tools to play third so he will have to develop the power to fit at first. His slow foot speed rules out the outfield. Last year he dominated at the rookie levels, hitting .400. He struggled a little at Low A, hitting just .213 in 75 at bats. Another year in the Midwest League and he is hitting .316. The power is lacking but a 29/30 walk to whiff is evidence that he could hit for average.

Orioles Sign International Player

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

The Orioles are not noted for going out and signing international players. Their budget is small and the players they sign are not well rated as far as international signings are concerned. They prefer to trade their international salary cap for minor league players from other teams that usually never make a big impact. Some would argue it is why they are where they are, because they are playing in the major leagues with one hand behind their back, focusing on players from the domestic draft only while virtually ignoring the international market.

They did go out and sign a Cuban infielder Yorkislandy Alvarez that was good enough to play for the Cuban under 18 national team in Montreal in 2017. He bolted to Costa Rica after that tournament and then to the Dominican Republic. The Orioles have signed Cuban players in the past that have not panned out, Dariel Alvarez being one of them. They can only hope this player provides some level of contribution to the major league team, though it is not a headline international signing.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

Hawks Take Advantage of their Cuban Connection

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Most of the Japanese teams scout the major leagues to find their foreign players. Some teams like the Hiroshima Carp use their Dominican academy to try to find diamonds in the rough. Alfonso Soriano was one of those diamonds in the rough that first played for Hiroshima before he went to the major leagues. The Hawks work with the Cuban Baseball Federation to find their foreign players.

Alfredo Despaigne was at one time one of the best hitters in Cuba. He rarely plays in the Cuban Nacional Series, saving his at bats now for the NBP. His lack of defense keeps him as a DH now. He started his NPB career with the Lotte Marines, playing with them for three years. This is his third year with the Hawks. His first year he hit 35 homeruns and drove in 103 runs. Last year injuries cut down 30 of his games, dropping his homerun total to 29 and his RBI production to 74. His batting average dropped from .262 to .238. It was his lowest average of his NPB career.

The 2019 season is not showing a lot of promise. His batting average has dropped even further to .236. His power production has dropped to a slugging average of .355, the lowest it has been in the NPB. If his struggles continue this could be his last year in Japan. He will turn 33 years old in June. Major league teams seem to have a reluctance to sign players older than 33.

The Hawks signed Yurisbel Gracial last year. The 33 year old played in 54 games, batting .292 with 9 homeruns. This year the Hawks recently called him up and in his first 8 games he is hitting .357 with two homeruns. Last night he hit a three run homer in the Hawks 12-11 win. In Cuba he was a power hitter for Matanzas for about ten years.

The one pitcher they acquired from Cuba is Livan Moniello. He is not a big guy, standing less than 6′0″ (though he is listed at 6′0″) but less than 140 pounds. He throws left handed and can hit the low 90s with his fastball. Livan pitches out of the bullpen as the Hawks setup reliever. His first two years he picked up 28 holds. Last year he gave up one too many long balls, forcing his ERA to rise from 2.52 his rookie season to 4.53. This year he has yet to give up an earned run. The Cuban Baseball Federation was prepared to make him available to major league teams but Trump nixed the agreement between Cuba and the major leagues.

The Hawks have been the best team the last few years in the NPB, winning the Japan Series the last two years and four of the last five. They generally do not allow their players to be posted. Yuki Yanagita has been one of the best position players in Japan. Last year he hit a career high 36 homeruns with a .356 batting average. Back in 2015 he was a 30/30 player with 34 homeruns and 32 stolen bases, winning the Pacific League MVP award. This year he has been stalled by injuries, playing in only 9 games. At 31 years old major league teams may shy away from him. He does have 154 NPB homeruns in 9 years and could become a free agent soon. He could probably start for any outfield in the major leagues.

One of the better pitchers in Japan is Kodai Senga. He has expressed interest in pitching in the major leagues but he is still a couple years away from free agency. His fastball has reached triple digits but sits in the mid-90s. Since 2016 he has struck out more than one batter per inning. He pitched for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and was voted to the All World Classic Baseball Team. At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but he is still just 26 years of age. This year his ERA is 1.46 in five starts with 54 whiffs in just 37 innings.