Archive for the 'Rockies' Category

NL West Lower Draft Pick Success

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Myworld takes a look at the NL West to see how they have done selecting with the 25th round pick or later. This division seems to have pretty good success with late round picks, especially the Giants and Padres. We start with 1998 when drafts were established at 50 picks, further reduced to 40 a few years later. Also, we did not include any player signed in the 25th round or later who did not sign but made the major leagues after a later draft. 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.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Mike Koplove RHP (1998/29th round) - 15-7, 3.82 in 222 games of relief
Tommy Layne LHP (2007/26th round) - 8-5, 3.61 in 216 games of relief
Evan Scribner RHP (2007/28th round) - 5-4, 4.15 in 145 games of relief
Ryan Cook RHP (2008/27th round) - 15-13, 3.58 in 236 games of relief

Jake Elmore 2B (2008/34th round) - .215, 4, 37 in 217 games

Colorado Rockies

Justin Hampson LHP (1999/28th round) - 5-4, 3.23 in 92 games, one of them a start.
Xavier Cedeno LHP (2004/31st round) - 10-7, 3.65 in 254 games of relief
Bruce Billings RHP (2007/30th round) - 0-0, 9.82 in five games of relief
Kenny Roberts LHP (2010/25th round) - 1-1, 7.24 in 15 games of relief

Eric Young Jr 2B (2003/30th round) - .245, 13, 112 and 162 stolen bases in 651 games

Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Magill RHP (2008/31st round) - 8-7, 4.52 in 31 games
Shawn Tolleson RHP (2010/30th round) - 14-8, 3.92 in 215 games of relief
Danny Coulombe LHP (2012/25th round) - 6-4, 4.27 in 153 games of relief

Victor Diaz 2B (2000/37th round) - .256, 24, 73 in 147 games
Andy LaRoche SS (2003/39th round) - .226, 22, 113 in 404 games
Justin Ruggiano OF (2004/25th round) - .256, 53, 163 in 483 games
Jerry Sands OF (2008/25th round) - .238, 10, 57 in 156 games, currently playing in Korea
Scott Schebler OF (2010/26th round) - .240, 61, 167 in 379 games

San Diego Padres

Cliff Bartosh LHP (1998/29th round) - 1-2, 5.08 in 53 games of relief
Jack Cassel RHP (2000/25th round) - 2-2. 4.92 in 15 games, seven of them starts
Steve Delabar RHP (2003/29th round) - 15-9, 4.07 in 190 games of relief
Branden Kintzler RHP (2004/40th round) - 20-20, 3.37 in 430 games of relief
Dylan Axelrod RHP (2007/30th round) - 9-15, 5.27 in 59 games, 34 starts
Colt Hynes LHP (2007/31st round) - 0-0, 8.55 in 27 games of relief
Brad Brach RHP (2008/42nd round) - 36-27, 3.33 in 482 games of relief

Kevin Reese OF (2000/27th round) - .385, 0, 1 in 12 games
Drew Macias OF (2002/35th round) - .198, 3, 12 in 69 games
Kyle Blanks 1B (2004/42nd round) - .241, 33, 111 in 278 games
Andy Parrino 2B (2007/26th round) - .175, 2, 14 in 131 games
Dean Anna SS (2008/26th round) - .130, 1, 3 in 13 games
Dan Robertson OF (2008/33rd round) - .262, 1, 36 in 148 games

San Francisco Giants

Brian Burres LHP (2000/31st round) - 18-25, 5.75 in 106 games, 56 starts
Scott Munter RHP (2001/47th round) - 3-2, 4.75 in 84 games of relief
Matt Palmer RHP (2002/31st round) - 13-7, 4.56 in 63 games, 20 starts
Jonathan Sanchez LHP (2004/27th round) - 39-58, 4.70 in 194 games, 137 starts
Sergio Romo RHP (2005/28th round) - 40-32, 2.92, 129 saves in 708 games, two starts
Jake Dunning SS (2009/33rd round) - 0-2, 2.77 in 30 games of relief
Joe Biagini RHP (2011/26th round) - 14-25, 4.86 in 217 games, 22 starts

Antoan Richardson OF (2005/35th round) - .350, 0, 1 in 22 games
Thomas Neal OF (2005/36th round) - .184, 0, 2 in 15 games
Matt Downs 3B (2006/36th round) - .230, 20, 66 in 254 games
Johnny Monell C (2007/30th round) - .161, 0, 5 in 35 games

NL West Minor League All Stars

Friday, December 13th, 2019

Baseball America identified the All Stars from each of the classifications. Below are the All stars from the National League West. These teams seem to have the bulk of the players selected on the All Star teams.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Kevin Cron 1B/AAA - The 2014 14th round pick demolished pitchers in AAA with 38 homeruns in just 82 games. If he had not gotten called up to the major leagues he could have hit 60. He hit six more homeruns in the majors but his batting average (.211) was more than 100 points lower than his AAA average. At 27 years of age when the 2020 season starts, his time is now.

Daulton Varsho C/AA - The son of major leaguer Gary and a 2017 second round supplemental pick showed a nice lefthanded bat with power, slugging 18 homeruns and hitting .301. His defense behind the plate may lack major league quality, but fortunately he has enough speed that a move to the outfield would not be a problem. Last year he stole 21 bases.

Seth Beer DH/AAA - The 2018 first round pick of the Astros has the bat, but he lacks a defensive position. The Diamondbacks traded Zack Greinke for Beer and a number of other minor leaguers. If he plays a position it will be first base, but his only tool is his ability to hit. His speed is slow and his defense non-existent. By the time he is ready perhaps the National League will adopt the DH.

Josh Green SP/High A - The 14th round pick in the 2018 draft had a nice year in High A (9-1, 1.73). He serves up a lot of ground balls with a low to mid 90s fastball and a couple ordinary breaking pitches.

Mack Lemieux RP/High A - The sixth round 2016 pick throws left handed and limited lefthanders to a .111 average. There is a lot of swing and miss with his low 90s fastball (72 whiffs in 53 innings). This was his first year in relief after struggling as a starter his first three years.

Alek Thomas OF/Low A - The second round 2018 pick displayed a good bat in Low A (.312) but lacks the power to fit well in a corner. His arm would be better suited for left field than right. Alek will survive on doubles and triples into the gap, which could make him solid as a fourth outfielder.

Levi Kelly SP/Low A - The 2018 eighth round pick has the height (6′4″) and the mid to low 90s fastball/slider combination to get swings and misses. He went 5-1, 2.15 ERA in 22 Low A starts, striking out 126 hitters in 100 innings. He limited the offense to a .199 average against him.

Kristian Robinson OF/short season - Signed out of the Bahamas in 2017 for $2.5 million he showed five tool ability in short season, hitting .319 with 9 homeruns and a .966 OPS. He has the tools to play centerfield, but will probably eventually settle into a corner. He struggled a bit when promoted to Low A (.217).

Luis Frias SP/short season - The Dominican can bring his fastball in the upper 90s. Signed for just $50,000 in 2015 he would constitute a bargain after his 1.99 ERA in 10 short season starts, with 72 whiffs in 50 innings. Luis still has trouble finding the strike zone.

Zac Gallen SP/AAA - Zac was drafted in the third round in 2016 by the Cardinals and then included in the Marcell Ozuna trade to the Marlins. After 14 starts in AAA (1.79) he was promoted to the majors (Marlins) then traded to the Diamondbacks. He combined for a 2.81 ERA in the majors. Not a hard thrower but changes speeds well.

Josh Rojas 2B/AAA - Another player acquired by the D-backs in the Zack Greinke trade. He could end up being a solid utility player after hitting .332 with 33 doubles and 23 homeruns in the minor leagues. He had a .606 slugging and a 1.023 OPS but is absent from the prospect lists because of his lack of tools.

Colorado Rockies

Aaron Schunk 3B/short season - The Rockies second round pick in the 2019 draft showed a little pop in his bat with six homeruns in short season for a .503 slugging. Needs a little more work on defense but he should be able to handle third if Nolan Arenado is not around. A good contact hitter that should hit for average power.

Jacob Wallace RP/short season - He pitched out of the bullpen in college and was drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft to pitch out of the bullpen. In 22 relief appearances he limited the opposition to a .129 average. His fastball has a lot of velocity, reaching the high 90s but he needs to develop a third pitch to leave the bullpen. Should rise quickly if he stays in the pen.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Gavin Lux SS/AAA & AA - The 2016 first round pick of the Dodgers will probably play second base after bashing 26 homeruns in AA and AAA and hitting .347. He played enough games to be voted as an All Star for both AA and AAA. His defensive tools are probably better fitted for second.

Devin Mann 2B/High A - The Dodgers 2018 fifth round pick blasted 19 homeruns in High A for a .496 slugging. Doesn’t possess overwhelming tools.

Jeter Downs SS/High A - The Dodgers stole Jeter from the Reds in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp deal. The Reds had made Jeter a supplemental first round pick in 2017. He showed some pretty good pop at the shortstop position to hit 19 homeruns and rack up 33 doubles in the hitter friendly California League. His arm may fall short for playing short and with Lux branded for second another trade may be in his future.

Miguel Vargas 3B/Low A - He was one of the Dodgers cheaper signings out of Cuba, shelling out only $300,000 for him. The 20 year old hit .325 in Low A but may lack the power to stay at third. He does make good contact with a 35/43 walk to whiff ratio in 70 games. Needs some help defensively to stay at third and lacks the speed to move to outfield.

Brandon Lewis 3B/Rookie - The Dodgers 2019 fourth round pick slugged 12 homeruns in Rookie ball for a 1.146 OPS and .369 average. Does have some swing and miss so as he climbs up the ladder that could pose a challenge to his continued success.

Andy Pages OF/Rookie - The Dodgers signed the Cuban in 2018 for $300,000. After struggling in his first year he slugged 19 homeruns in 63 games for a 1.049 OPS his second year. Lacks the speed to play center so his power will fit in a corner.

Melvin Jimenez Relif/Rookie - The Dominican dominated Rookie ball, limiting the opposition to a .119 average. He almost gave up as many runs (6) as he did hits (8), striking out 43 in 20 innings, which led to a promotion to High A. Finding the plate has always been a challenge.

San Diego Padres

Austin Allen C/AAA - Traded this year to the Oakland Athletics for Jurickson Profar. Austin has some pop hitting just over 20 homeruns his last three seasons. Last year he hit .330 in AAA which got him a promotion to the Padres. Not a strong defensive player behind the plate, especially with his mobility. Could be a better fit at first but at 26 his minor league days are done.

Ty France 3B/AAA - Despite his .399 average and 27 homeruns in AAA he is a man without a position with Manny Machado at third. His major league numbers were more pedestrian (.234). The Padres used him some at second base but his defense will not impress. His homerun swing seemed to begin in 2018 when he went from 5 to 22. Last year it went from 22 to 34 so he bears watching.

Owen Miller 2B/AA - The third round 2018 pick is short on tools but the bat always seems to produce. After hitting .336 last year at two levels the Padres bumped him up to AA where he hit .290 with 13 homeruns. Could end up as a solid utility player.

Luis Campusano C/High A - The second round 2017 pick should be a solid player with the bat as well as the glove, something they currently lack behind the plate. Luis hit .325 with a .509 slugging in High A, tripling his career homerun output from seven to 22. He has a strong arm that will make baserunners hesitant to run against him.

MacKenzie Gore SP/High A - The first round 2017 pick is one of the top five pitchers in the minor leagues. Blisters limited him in 2018 but in 15 California League starts in 2019 he had a 1.02 ERA with a .137 opposition average. He has a wide array of pitches including a mid-90s fastball. He should make his debut by mid-season next year.

Xavier Edwards 2B/Low A - There was not a lot of room for the smooth fielding first round supplemental pick in the 2018 draft so the Padres traded him to the Rays in the Tommy Pham transaction. Xavier hit .322 at two levels in the minors but has very little power. In his two year minor league career he has only hit one ball over the fence. The tools are there for him to stay at short.

Joey Cantilo SP/Low A - The Padres waited until the 16th round of the 2017 draft to scoop up the lefthander. His tools are not great, nor is his velocity but he got hitters out with a .173 opposition average and 128 whiffs in just 98 innings.

C.J. Abrams SS/Rookie - The Padres 2019 first round pick hit .401 in 142 Rookie at bats. Power is lacking but he has sprinters speed that resulted in 14 stolen bases. With his speed he may end up in centerfield.

San Francisco Giants

Jaylin Davis OF/AAA - Jaylin has been around for awhile, originally drafted by the Twins in the 15th round in 2015. The Giants traded for him mid-season last year after he hit a quiet 35 homeruns for three different minor league teams, including 25 in AAA. A major league promotion added one more dinger but a .167 average compared to his .332 AAA average. His previous high for homeruns was 16 in 2016. Mainly a corner outfielder but he can play centerfield in a pinch.

Heliot Ramos OF/High A - The 2017 first round pick out of Puerto Rico has the potential to be a five tool player. The 2018 season was a disappointment but the 2019 season he bounced back with 13 homeruns and a .306 average in High A. He needs to improve his bat on ball contact where more advanced hitters can get him chasing.

Seth Corry SP/Low A - The lefthander drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft has a dynamite swing and miss curve ball that elicited 172 whiffs in just 123 innings. He also has a low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s, impressive for a lefthander. He finished with a 1.76 ERA and a .171 opposition average in Low A. He does have trouble finding the strike zone with 58 walks.

Alexander Canario OF/short season - Since the departure of Barry Bonds the Giants have had trouble finding outfielders. This Dominican that they signed for $60,000 could team with Ramos to make a formidable duo. The tools are not up there with Ramos but he has the speed to play center and the power in his bat to slug 16 homeruns. A lack of patience resulted in 80 whiffs in just 49 games, though he still hit .318.

Franklin Labour DH/short season - Another bargain basement signing out of the Dominican Republic ($70,000). He lacks the speed to fit in center but has the power to slide into a corner, with 15 homeruns at two levels, 14 of them in short season. He had a power outage once promoted to Low A (.299 slugging in 31 games).

Marco Luciano DH/Rookie - The Giants did not spare any expense for this shortstop from the Bahamas, whipping out their check book to sign him for $6 million. He hit .322 with 10 homeruns and a 1.055 OPS in Rookie ball. He has the tools to play short.

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 Second Base Prospects

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Normally your second baseman of the future are shortstops who have to move to second base because another shortstop is better than them. This list is thin with a number of former shortstops on it. Not a big fan of Isan Diaz, though he is currently up with the Marlins.

1. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Rodgers was the Rockies first round pick in 2015. He has Trevor Story ahead of him on the Rockies roster. Last year he was troubled by shoulder issues. This year his season ended early because of a torn labrum that required surgery. He did hit .350 with 9 homeruns in his 37 AAA games before getting a callup to the Rockies after a Story injury. He did not put up awe inspiring numbers, hitting just .224 with a .250 slugging. That is when they discovered the torn labrum. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but this surgery could make a move to second base more likely. His bat is solid with a .490 slugging percentage entering the 2019 season. If he recovers from his shoulder issues and the Rockies find an alternative at second base (Ryan McMahon) he could become trade bait. Expect him to start the 2020 season in the minor leagues if he is healthy and a later promotion once he has seen some games.

2. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - The Rays found a bargain in Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. His bat has shown the ability to make contact with more walks (150) than whiffs (136) during his minor league career. His speed could make him a top of the order hitter, with 55 stolen bases last year. The down side in Brujan’s game is his lack of power. Despite his small frame (5′9″) he does not drive the ball like an even smaller Jose Altuve or Jose Ramirez. Defensively the tools are there for him to play short, but with Wander Franco climbing the minor league ladder the Rays have been using him at second base. This year he has stolen 46 bases in 93 games. His strikeouts have increased since his climb to AA (18/31 walk to whiff) resulting in a drop in average (.263). Brujan can make an impact if he can get on base and allow his speed to create havoc.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - Nick was the White Sox first round pick in 2018. He led Oregon State to the College World Series. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, with an arm that may be borderline, but there always seems to be a better defensive option ahead of him. At Oregon he was forced to play second because of a better defensive shortstop. The White Sox have been using him at second base. Despite his small frame (5′8″) Nick has some pop in his bat. That pop will be defined mainly by hits into the gaps but he should reach double digit homerun numbers. Last year he did not hit a ball out of the park in 155 at bats but did hit .303. This year he has already found himself in AAA, hitting .307 at the three levels with a .414 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 34 bases. Defensively he will be an asset to the White Sox at second base and with Yoan Moncada moving to third there is little to stop him from playing there in 2020.

4. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - Jones was a second round pick of the Angels in 2015. Because of a crowded outfield the Angels moved him to second base in 2018. What appeared to be a solid bat struggled in his first year at second base, dropping below .250 with a slugging average under .400. When he played outfield his bat played above those numbers. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. The Angels were hoping he would become comfortable in his second year at second base and his bat would return to their 2016 and 2017 numbers, but he continues to struggle (.236). His power numbers have also dropped. His defense is not at the level where he will survive in the major leagues at second base unless the bat returns to where it was at when he played the outfield.

5. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac may be best used as a utility player. He lacks the range to play short on an every day basis and his power is not there for third base. Second base could be a move but his 225 pound frame makes playing a middle infield position challenging. He will need his bat to carry him if he is to play second base. He was first signed by the Cubs out of Mexico for $500,000 in 2015. The Cubs traded him to the Tigers for some relief help (Justin Wilson). The one big tool Isaac has is his bat. Power could come like a Jose Ramirez later in his career. As it is now he is hitting .288 in AA with 11 homeruns. That is about where his bat should be in the major leagues. Speed and defense are lacking from his game.

6. Xavier Edwards (Padres) - Edwards has the defensive tools to play shortstop but with Fernando Tatis there the Padres have been using him more at second base. He was a first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018. In his first season at rookie ball Xavier hit .346. He lacks the strength to hit for power so he needs to rely on his ability to make contact. Speed will be a big part of his game. Last year he stole 22 bases in just 45 games. His arm may be a little weak for short, but it will be fine at second base, making him above average defensively. This year his bat continues to shine at the full season level with a .323 average and 31 stolen bases. As he matures he could pick up some gap power.

7. Nick Gordon (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon started his career as a shortstop, just like his half brother Dee. He was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It has taken some time for him to climb the minor league ladder, but he has finally reached AAA where he is hitting .298 with four homeruns. That is a big improvement over his .212 average in AA last year. Like Dee, Nick does not hit for power and his speed lacks the burner capability of Dee. He will need to hit if the Twins want to keep a spot open for him. The concern is there is no one tool that makes him great. His best spot may be as a utility player.

8. Mauricio Dubon (Giants) - Mauricio is the only player in minor or major leagues born in Honduras. He came to the United States at 15 years old to attend high school and improve his baseball abilities. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft and then made him part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire the recently released Tyler Thornburg. The Brewers traded him to the Giants this year for bullpen help. His bat carries very little power but he had a career .299 batting average entering the 2019 season. His range falls a little short to be playing short on a regular basis. With Marco Luciano ahead of him in the depth chart a move to second base is in his future.

9. Freudis Nova (Astros) - The Astros signed Nova for $1.2 million in 2016. He could have gotten more but he failed a drug test and his signing price dropped in half. Nova has the tools to play short, with a strong arm his best tool, but with Carlos Correa at short he has played some second in anticipation that short will not be available when he is ready. His bat has the potential to hit for power, though that power has yet to appear. This year is his first in a full season league. A 12/61 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and could result in a lower batting average as he rises up the minor league ladder if he does not improve. At Low A he is hitting .255 with a .293 OBA. He has good speed to run the bases, but it appears not to be stolen base speed. It will take some time for him to reach the major leagues. At 19 years of age and playing in Low A expect him to be ready no earlier than 2021.

10. Luis Garcia (Nationals) - Luis was signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $1.3 million. That is similar to Nova, but Luis is already playing at AA. Shortstop is occupied by Trea Turner and the power is lacking to move to third. It could develop as he matures but not in time to play third after Rendon’s departure next year. Last year he split time between Low A and High A, his average falling just a couple points short of .300. This year he is finding AA a bit of a challenge. His lack of patience is being exposed with the AA pitchers (17/81 walk to whiff) resulting in a lower batting average (.253). The Nationals have no barriers in front of him to take over second base in 2020 if he can show the bat to play the position. He may have to start the first part of 2020 in AAA.

Murphy, Desmond Go Deep in Rockies Win Over Nationals

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Both Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy hit solo shots in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game and the Rockies went on to beat the Nationals 8-7 to prevent a sweep of the four game series. Wade Davis struck out the side in the ninth, but did issue a walk to pick up his 15th save. Fernando Rodney is running low on arrows as he dropped to 0-4, blowing his second save by giving up the two runs in the ninth.

Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals. Normally a quick worker, Nate was a little more methodical in this game. He did have a bad inning in the fourth when he gave up an RBI single to Ryan McMahon and a two run shot to Garrett Hampson that easily found the centerfield bleachers that gave the Rockies an early 3-0 lead. Scherzer only went five innings, striking out eight.

Jeff Hoffman looked solid in the first four innings with his 96 mile per hour fastball tough to hit after hitters saw his mid 70s curveball. He gave up just two hits, but walked three and hit one batter, an explanation for his 6.60 ERA coming into the ball game. In the fifth the Nationals finally got to him with a Trea Turner single and a walk to Adam Eaton putting two runners on for Anthony Rendon. Rendon did not disappoint, hitting a high shot into the left field bull pen, just over the glove of a leaping Raimel Tapia to tie the game at 3-3.

As with many teams, the bullpen has been a big disappointment for the Nationals. Matt Grace came on in relief of Scherzer to face four lefties in the sixth. He could only retire two of them. Daniel Murphy hit a single and Ryan McMahon blasted a pitch deep into the right field bleachers to give the Rockies the lead again, 5-3.

The Rockies also went to their pen, calling on Bryan Shaw. After retiring the first hitter he walked Brian Dozier and Victor Robles. Brian took advantage of a disinterested Shaw and stole third, taking off while Shaw was still in his stretch. Robles took off for second on the pitch and the throw from the catcher Wolters was late. Pinch hitter Gerrado Parra took advantage of the gaffe, lining a double into right center to score both and tie the game. Trea Turner blooped a single over the head of the shortstop scoring Parra and giving the Nationals a 6-5 lead.

Tanner Rainey and Tony Sipp combined to put up a zero in the seventh but Rainey put two runners on. Sipp was able to snag a hard ground ball up the middle to end the inning. Matt Adams deposited a pitch into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh to give the Nationals a 7-5 lead. It looked pretty good for the Nationals to complete the sweep.

Sipp stayed in to pitch to the lefties coming up. Daniel Murphy clobbered a 3-2 pitch deep into the right field bleachers to lead off the inning. With Sean Doolittle not available Fernando Rodney came on in the ninth to protect a one run lead. Ian Desmond did not make the lead last long with a leadoff homerun just over the flower beds in the centerfield bleachers. Rodney had trouble finding the plate, walking Blackmon, striking out Trevor Story but having the pitch sail to the back stop for a wild pitch to advance Blackmon to second. A single into left field put runners on first and third with one out. Daniel Murphy hit a slow grounder to the left of Rendon. His natural throw was to second, Turner pivoted with a throw to first but Murphy just beat the throw, Blackmon scoring the go ahead run.

Juan Soto was able to walk in the ninth and steal second but the Nationals could not bring him in.

Game Notes: Jeff Hoffman baffles hitters with a slow curve at 76 and then mixes in his mid to plus 90s fastball. Finding more control of his curve and issuing less walks would lower that ERA. He walked four in five innings and now has issued 17 walks in 38 innings. He also has given up 8 homeruns…The victory was only the Rockies third in their last 20 games. That has probably put them in the seller’s category…With Max Scherzer coming back from the IL with a bursa sac issue and the bullpen taxed from a double header the previous day, it may not have been ideal to pitch Scherzer if you felt he was only going to give you five innings and your closer Sean Doolittle was not available…Austin Voth does not look like he will be available as a fifth starter. He has been shut down with shoulder tendinitis…Northern Virginia resident and World Cup soccer star Ali Krieger threw out the first pitch for Thursday’s game.

Trea Cycles Nationals to Win Over Rockies

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

The bucket list for myworld got whittled down. For the first time we have watched a major league player hit for the cycle. Trea Turner hit for the cycle last night in the Nationals 11-1 win over the Rockies. It was the second cycle for Trea. The last time he hit for the cycle was in 2017 and it was against the same Rockies, but in Colorado.

Stephen Strasburg got the start for the Nationals and his curveball was unhittable. He struck out six in the first three innings. His pitch count was high with a lot of three and two ball counts, which limited his innings to six. During that time he only gave up three hits and walked two and left the game without giving up a run.

Trea Turner got things started for the Nationals with his line drive leadoff homerun into the centerfield bleachers. Adam Eaton followed with a double into right center. With two outs and Eaton on third Matt Adams ripped a line drive single into right center to make it 2-0. Rockies starter Peter Lambert settled down after the first.

Turner got his single in the second inning, hitting a ball off Lambert’s leg and beating the throw to first. That had followed a Stephen Strasburg single, but with runners on first and second and two out Adam Eaton struck out.

The Nationals next opportunity for a run came in the fifth after a Trea Turner leadoff triple bounced off the glove of a diving Blackmon. Eaton followed with a walk to put runners on first and third with no outs. Lambert was able to strike out Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto and Matt Adams to keep the game at 2-0.

In the sixth the Nationals drove Lambert from the game. Brian Dozier led off the inning with a double down the third base line. Yan Gomes hit a ball over the drawn in shortstop to score Dozier from third. It also drove Lambert from the game. Andrew Stevens pinch hit for Strasberg and hit a slow line drive between short and third. He used his speed to beat the throw to first. This brought up Trea Turner and the fans were hoping for a double. He hit a “double” but it was followed by “play” for a double play to end the inning and bringing groans from the crowd.

Turner got another opportunity to bat when the Nationals erupted for 8 runs in the seventh inning. This time he hit his double. Two throwing errors by the Rockies on plays to the plate allowed the Nationals to take extra bases, one of them by ex-Nat Ian Desmond that hit the foot of a sliding Robles and went into the camera well. After eight batters had hit Turner came up to hit his double into right center. The cycle was complete.

The Rockies finally scored their only run in the ninth inning on a Ryan McMahon double.

Game Notes: Both Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond got cheers from the crowd when they went up to the plate in the second inning back to back. They both tipped their cap. Murphy and Desmond left as free agents. Desmond had left a year earlier for the Rockies and moved to the outfield to accommodate Murphy at first base…Ian Desmond is next to last in defensive rating for centerfielders. Last night he was playing in left field while David Dahl played center…With Seung-Hwan Oh undergoing season ending elbow surgery and out for the year, the team released him when they picked up Yonder Alonso. Yonder plays first base so this could complicate the lineup with Daniel Murphy, also a lefthanded hitter playing first base. Last year Murphy saw most of his time at second base, but his defensive ratings there were poor.

Top Venezuelan Prospects National League

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

There have been some graduations from the list put together last year. Rookie of the year Ronald Acuna had a pretty good year and is no longer considered a prospect. He was the top player on the National League list. Other than that no other graduating player. With all the internal strife in Venezuela the quality of prospects out of the country has dropped. The National League seems to have a lot of promising catchers. The top five players on this list appeared here last year. The bottom five are all new to the list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - After Acuna won rookie of the year last year Ruiz went from number two to the top spot. In his first couple years in the minors he hit over .300, entering the 2019 season with a .330 career average. His bat took a bit of a dive last year with a .268 average. The Dodgers kept him in AA for a second season and the hitting has continued to suffer (.245). Not noted for his power his slugging percentage has really dipped from .401 last year to .321. The bright note is his ability to make contact is strong (28/21 walk to whiff ratio) and his defense has not suffered. His arm is not strong so he will not control a running game but his ability to block pitches in the dirt is solid. If his bat had been strong myworld would have expected a promotion sometime this year. With the Dodgers in a pennant race it may not be until next year when Ruiz wears a Dodger uniform.

2. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - At one point Amed Rosario was the Mets shortstop of the future. Defensive struggles have the Mets talking about moving Rosario to centerfield, which would open up a spot for Gimenez at shortstop. The bat is not as strong as Amed but his defense is superb. If Rosario stays at short the Mets could always convert him to a utility player. Last year he carried a useable bat, hitting over .277. This year the bat has dipped to .232 in AA. Andres lacks the speed of Rosario but he still has the ability to steal bases (16). The biggest issue for Gimenez is the rise of Ronny Mauricio, coming up from A ball.

3. William Contreras C (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson carries his brothers pop with the bat and his strong arm. The bat has struggled a bit this year with a .263 average and .368 slugging percentage in the Florida State League but that is a pitcher’s park. Myworld only became aware of Wilson when he was at AA but at this point the older brother has more power. William may develop that power but it has yet to surge with regularity. His arm is strong enough to catch and he has the intangibles to fit behind the plate defensively. The Braves have Alex Jackson in AAA but William is the stronger hitter and better defensively. Alex may have more power. William may have to wait until next year to debut for the Braves.

4. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - The world continues to wait for the Espinoza breakout. He was one of the top minor league pitchers in baseball until Tommy John surgery felled him. He has not pitched since 2016, missing more than two seasons. Despite standing only 6′0″ his fastball hit the high 90s. Scouts compared him to Dennis Martinez. Originally signed by the Red Sox in 2014 for $1.8 million they traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox ironically complaining about the trade because of a perceived undisclosed injury to Pomeranz. A second Tommy John surgery in August of last year will delay Espinoza’s return until mid 2020.

5. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - The Phillies signed Ranger for the bargain basement price of $25,000 in 2012. He lacks an over powering fastball, sitting in the low 90s but a excellent change enhances the velocity of the fastball. Swings and misses are not part of his game with just 6.6 whiffs per nine innings. He also has excellent command of his pitches, throwing to the corners and hoping for soft contact. Last year he had some success at AAA (2.74 ERA), which led to a promotion to the major leagues. That proved to be a challenge with a 5.40 ERA and a ,339 opposition average. This year he started his season in AAA and that was a struggle (5.68 ERA and .281 opposition average). Despite those poor numbers he did get promoted to the Phillies where he worked out of the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation pitcher. If that does not work out he could still be used out of the pen as a middle reliever.

6. Francisco Morales RHP (Phillies) - Francisco was not the bargain as Suarez. He has a little more pop to his fastball, with his mid-90s velocity motivating the Phillies to pay $900,000 to sign him. Francisco has a plus slider but still needs more consistency with his change to give him a third pitch. Francisco has more swing and miss with his pitches. This year is his first season in full season ball and his swing and miss has not lessoned. He has given up some homerun balls (7) in just 62.1 innings, which is responsible for his high 3.90 ERA.

7. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets have had trouble finding a catcher. At 17 years old and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million Francisco will not provide any immediate answers. This is his first year of minor league baseball and the Mets have already promoted him to the rookie leagues where he has shown some pop with the bat with three homeruns in 15 games. He is also torching rookie league pitchers for a .404 average and a 1.189 OPS. He is still learning the tools of catching but the arm is strong so that is a start. If the bat continues to rake he could be one of the youngest players in full season ball next year. That is quite an accomplishment for one so young, especially at a position that is so demanding. Mets fans will have to wait at least four years before seeing him in a Mets uniform.

8. Jesus Tinoco RHP (Rockies) - Tinoco was the throw in player the Blue Jays included in the Troy Tulowitski trade. Jesus has a pretty good fastball and breaking ball combination. His change still needs work if he wants to be in the starting rotation. Coming into the 2019 season his career ERA was 4.75 with an opposition average of .286. There is also not a lot of swings and misses to his pitches. This year he has career numbers in AAA with a 4.34 ERA and a .259 opposition average. His strikeout numbers continue to be disappointing. Jesus made his major league debut this year with 7 bullpen appearances. He has been prone to the homerun ball in the NL (5 homeruns in 13 innings).

9. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Diego may be a stronger defensive player than Ruiz. He only signed in 2018 for $2.5 million and did not play last year. Only 17 years old Diego was recently called up to play in the Arizona Rookie League. His .200 average and 2/17 walk to whiff ratio is evidence that he has a long ways to go. A player to watch as possible trade bait with Ruiz and Will Smith ahead of him in the minors. Time will tell if the power will develop but at 6′2″ he has a large frame.

10. Israel Pineda C (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Pineda in 2016 for $450,000. He spent his first two years in short season ball hitting .277. He is still a teenager so there is a lot of development to do. This is his first year in full season ball and where his average has struggled (.212) but he has already hit a career high 5 homeruns. His arm is above average with the ability to throw out greater than 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year. The Nationals have a lot of young depth at catcher in the minor leagues so it will take at least five years before Israel makes his debut.

Stat of the Week - Speed

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Who is the fastest player in major league baseball? Some would say Byron Buxton. Others could argue Billy Hamilton. The fastest player will surprise you. Below is the top ten fastest players in the major leagues according to baseballsavant. It measures feet per second travelled by the player.

1. Tim Locastro (Diamondbacks) - 30.4. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Blue Jays in 2013. The Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers in 2015 for two international bonus slots and Chase DeJong. He got into 21 major league games for the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, hitting less than .200. The Dodgers traded him to the Yankees at the end of the 2018 season for Drew Finley and cash. In January 2019 the Yankees traded Locastro to the Diamondbacks for Ronald Roman and cash. A couple nights ago he hit a walk off single for the Diamondbacks and is hitting .275 while playing the outfield. He has yet to hit a homerun, but is 4 for 4 in stolen bases making him 9 for 9 in the major leagues. What is even more amazing is he has been hit 8 times in just 20 games this year.

2. Byron Buxton (Twins) - 30.3. The Twins keep waiting for him to have his breakout season after drafting him in the first round of the 2012 draft, the second player selected in the draft. Injuries have kept him harboring in the minor leagues for too long. Currently the starting centerfielder for the Twins.

3. Trea Turner (Nationals) - 30.2. Led the league in stolen bases last year with 43. The Padres drafted him in the first round in 2014 then traded him to the Nationals in 2015 for basically Will Myers. Injuries have kept from making a larger impact in the major leagues.

4. Terrance Gore (Royals) - 30.2. A player whose only worth so far in the major leagues is as a pinch runner. Drafted in 2011 by the Royals in the 20th round he has appeared in more games (86) than at bats (46). He has also stolen more bases (33) than he has gotten base hits (11). The 2019 season has been his first year where he has actually gotten an opportunity to play going 10 for 30 for a .333 average, racing for a double and triple, the first extra base hits of his career.

5. Isaac Galloway (Marlins) - 30.1. Drafted in the 8th round way back in 2008. Finally got a major league opportunity in 2018 only to be designated by the Marlins to the minors this year. A career .186 major league average. You can’t steal first base.

6. Adalberto Mondesi (Royals) - 30.0. The second Royal on this list and the first international player, signed in 2011 and making his major league debut in 2014. The son of slugger Raul Mondesi. Leads the majors in stolen bases this year with 20.

7. Jon Berti (Marlins) - 30.0. The second Marlin on this list, but those teams accentuating speed are at the bottom of the standings. Berti has bounced around, drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round in 2011 and being released and signed by teams throughout his career. He signed with the Marlins after the 2018 season. This season has been his biggest major league opportunity with 22 games.

8. Socrates Brito (Blue Jays) - 29.8. Once a top prospect for the Diamondbacks but injuries set him back. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and released by the Diamondbacks in spring training this year. The Padres picked him up on waivers and traded him to the Blue Jays where he was hitting .077 in 43 at bats. Despite his speed he has not stolen a base in the major leagues since 2016.

9. Keon Broxton (Orioles) - 29.6. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Traded a couple times, most recently by the Mets to the Orioles in May 2019 for international bonus slot money.

10. Garrett Hampson (Rockies) - 29.6. Recently called up by the Rockies and played centerfield. Only hitting .194 this year, and is just 1 for 3 in stolen bases. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft.

To date, only two of the top ten speed players are impact players in the major leagues (Turner and Mondesi). Two others have a chance (Hampson and Buxton). The others appear to be disappointments, though teams continue to pick them up via free agency based on the current stat metrics.

Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NL West Predictions

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Strengths - Getting Corey Seager back and keeping Justin Turner healthy will give the Dodgers excellent offensive production from the left side of the infield. The starting rotation is always deep and the Dodgers large park keeps the ERA down. Health remains a factor. Clayton Kershaw appears to be on the down side of his career, but when he is healthy he dominates. Walker Buehler has shown he can pitch. If they can get full seasons from Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill the Dodgers will again lead the National League in ERA.

Weakness - They did not stay healthy last year and they still won the division. Some of those players are a year older now. Kenley Jansen showed some cracks last year as the closer and the crew behind him looks a bit shallow. Joe Kelly throws hard but he has trouble finding the plate resulting in ERAs above 4. Perhaps Dodger stadium and the National League will change that. Time will tell whether the season Max Muncy had was a mirage.

Prospects to Make an Impact - An outfield spot is blocked for Alex Verdugo but if Max Muncy struggles early Cody Bellinger could return to first opening up an opportunity for Verdugo. Alex is more a gap hitter than a homerun hitter so they could lose a bit in power. Dustin May could be the Walker Buehler of 2018. The Dodgers rotation has been injury prone. Dustin lacks the ace stuff of Buehler but he could fit well at the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - It will be seven division titles in a row for the Dodgers, who are riding the road to eclipse the Braves and Phillies for most division titles in a row. Philadelphia had five but Atlanta is still well ahead of them with 11.

2. Colorado Rockies

Strengths - The left side of the infield in Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado combined for 75 homeruns. Only Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez were greater with 77. The park and the high altitude is noted for inflating the offensive production. The fact that Kyle Freeland finished the season with a 2.85 ERA is truly amazing. He also won 17 games and gave the Rockies 202 innings. Can he repeat that performance? If so, the Rockies have an ace.

Weakness - It was time to add some new blood to the outfield. Gone is Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra. Arriving will be David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. How long they stick with Ian Desmond in centerfield and his below par defense and offensive production will be critical to their playoff chances. It will be a scrum at second base to see who replaces D.J. LeMahieu. Ryan McMahon lacks the defensive chops but could provide the offensive production. Garrett Hampson lacks the experience but could provide a better all around game.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Garrett Hampson could win the second base job. He provides better defense than McMahon and has a bat similar to LeMahieu, not a lot of power but will hit for a good average. If both of them fail watch for Brendan Rodgers. He is blocked at short by Story and second base is his secondary position. He provides the power of McMahon with good defense.

Expected Finish - Far from the Dodgers and just missing a wild card spot.

3. San Diego Padres

Strengths - Manny Machado and his $300 million contract gave the team some buzz. He is a superstar who could lead the young bucks once they get promoted. One thing he will learn is Petco Park is more like Dodger Stadium than Camden Yards. Manny slugged .487 at Dodger stadium last year compared to .575 at Camden. Lots of depth and potential sluggers in the outfield with Will Myers, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Franchy Cordero all competing for playing time. When will youth be served? By May Fernando Tatis Jr will be at shortstop and the bat of Francisco Mejia will win over the catching job from Austin Hedges.

Weakness - The pitching staff is young. Last year they were near the bottom in ERA. And they play their games in a pitcher’s park. That will not change in 2019 with young arms learning the ropes in the major leagues. There is no ace veteran they can learn from who would shield them from opponent’s aces by biting the bullet and taking the start.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Fernando Tatis Jr. should join the roster in May. He is an impact player who will surpass the numbers his father put up in the major leagues. Francisco Mejia has a better bat than Austin Hedges. Other than his arm his defense is not as strong. If he is on the roster the Padres will want to play him. Luis Urias will start at shortstop until Tatis arrives, then move to second. He will not hit for a lot of power but his bat will spray the gaps. There will be a learning curve, but eventually he will be a .300 hitter. Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Cal Qauntrill and Michel Baez all could see the rotation by mid-season. Who gets in will depend on how well they pitch in AA or AAA.

Expected Finish - If they finish over .500 that will be an accomplishment.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

Strengths - If you look at the Braves roster a lot of their strengths were traded away. It doesn’t appear that they got anything in return. Their starting rotation was strong last year but losing Patrick Corbin was a big blow. Luke Weaver is the replacement in the rotation and he did not put up the numbers of Corbin. Other than that the strengths are limited. If Steven Sousa finds his power he would pair up with David Peralta to give the team two corner outfielders with 30 plus homerun pop.

Weaknesses - Hard to see the infield providing any kind of offense. Jake Lamb cannot replace the production of Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Ketel Marte will move to centerfield and he will not replace the production of A.J. Pollock. This team will struggle to score runs.

Prospects to Make an Impact - They traded most of their good ones to the Braves and must start from scratch. Carson Kelly is a great defensive catcher but he has never hit in his major league callups. He was acquired from the Cardinals in the Goldschmidt trade and could be their starting catcher if his bat cooperates. Jon Duplantier could be in the rotation by mid-season if his arm can stay healthy. Injuries limited him to a half season last year. Yoan Lopez and his high 90s fastball could make a contribution to the bullpen. If Archie Bradley struggles at the closer Lopez could be given an opportunity.

Expected Finish - They don’t use the word “tank” but trading Paul Goldschmidt after allowing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock to leave for free agency subtracted about 12 games from their win total. This is another team in tank mode.

5. San Francisco Giants

Strengths - Their strengths are getting long in the tooth. Buster Posey is solid behind the plate but his better days are behind him. The same can be said of Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria and on the pitching front Madison Bumgarner.

Weaknesses - The departure of Barry Bonds has put a curse on Giant outfielders. Hunter Pence was decent, but this group, whoever they end up being would be hard pressed to make the Yankees AAA team. The back end of the rotation looks weak and the bullpen appears to lack a closer if Mark Melancon does not bounce back.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Ray Black and Melvin Adon have fastballs that would be good for the bullpen. Both have trouble throwing strikes. Chris Shaw is a first baseman by trade but Belt and Posey hold that position. His defense in the outfield is subpar but if the Giants are looking for offense he can supply it.

Expected Finish - Bruce Bochy has said this will be his last year as manager and a last place finish is not a good send off. This is another team in tank mode.