Archive for the 'Diamondbacks' Category

Force is with the Diamondbacks

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

It was Obi Sean Kenobi bobblehead day at Nationals stadium. The first 10,000 fans received Sean Doolittle bobbleheads. They also promoted a Star Wars theme with the Nat pack all dressed in Star Wars characters. But the force was with the Diamondbacks. They blasted five homeruns in their 10-3 drubbing of the Nationals and ensured at least a split of this series.

It did not start off well for Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Ketel Marte deposited the first pitch from Strasburg into the Nationals bullpen in right field. Before the shock could wear off two outs later Adam Jones belted a pitch just over the left field wall. Juan Soto attempted a leap to catch the ball but the wall was too high.

The Nationals did come to life in the bottom of the first. Trea Turner bounced the first pitch he saw into the left field corner. When left fielder David Peralta fell trying to retrieve the ball Turner hustled to third for a triple. He scored on a fly ball to center by Adam Eaton. With two outs the Nationals created some fireworks of their own with back to back homeruns from Juan Soto and Matt Adams. Adams shot went over the right field bullpen into the second deck.

It did not take long for the Diamondbacks to respond. In the top of the second Christian Walker led off the inning with a blast into the centerfield bleachers. Nick Ahmed hit a ball into the left centerfield gap. Soto stabbed at the ball but it hit the fence and bounced past Soto, rolling along the left field warning track. By the time Eaton retrieved the ball Ahmed was standing on third with a triple. A Carson Kelly single put the Diamondbacks up 4-3.

Taylor Clarke was not sharp but after the first inning he bent but he did not break. He did not last the requisite five innings to get the win, falling one out shy. The Nationals could only muster four more hits off him.

The Diamondbacks continued to have their way with Strasburg. In the third Strasburg was able to retire the first two hitters. Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker followed with singles. Nick Ahmed slashed a pitch into the hole. Turner dove for the ball it but it tipped off his glove. The ball rolled into left field while Ahmed could glide into second with a double, the Diamondbacks tacking on another run for a 5-3 lead.

Ketel Marte went deep again off Strasburg to lead off the fifth. Strasburg was able to retire the next six hitters in a row but the damage prior to that was too great. Down 6-3 the Nationals bats went quiet with just three hits off the Diamondbacks pen.

The Nationals pen was not as stingy. They have been failing much of the year and they failed again today to keep this game close. Javy Guerra pitched two shutout innings. In the eighth Kyle Barraclough gave up a two run homer to Kevin Cron. He failed to find the strike zone after that, walking the next two hitters. Tony Sipp came on to replace him to try to get the last out but gave up an RBI single to David Peralta to ante up the score to 9-3.

The Nationals have their unique specialty reliever. Instead of using a position player to pitch in a blow out game, the Nationals turn to Trevor Rosenthal. He brought his 21.60 ERA to the mound, walked the first two hitters, coughed up a single to Nick Ahmed and gave up an SF to Nick Ahmed to put the Diamondbacks in double digits. He was able to get Kevin Cron to hit the ball hard to the shortstop that was turned into a double play, lowering his 21.60 ERA to 19.50.

Game Notes: Not too much to get excited about in this loss. Davey Martinez has a couple arms he can trust in Tanner Rainey and Sean Doolittle. Most of the arms he can not trust. The Nationals bullpen from those arms can turn close games into blowouts…There were 38,044 at the game for the bobblehead day, enough to call the game a sellout. This was not the performance the Nationals wanted to put on the field to get the fans returning to the park…Stephen Strasburg had a little talk with the umpire when the top of the fourth inning ended. Davey Martinez joined in the discussion…The score could have been worse, but with runners on third and second and one out in the eighth Sipp was able to get a double play ground out. Adam Jones hit a ground ball to Anthony Rendon. He threw home to tie up Ildemaro Vargas, who was tagged out trying to return to third. Rendon then threw to second where he got Peralta wandering too far off second base. Peralta was tagged out to end the inning…The last time Strasburg gave up 9 hits in a game was back in 2016, 65 starts ago…The Nationals came into this series hot. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks are also hot. The Diamondbacks have won eight of their last 10 games to get closer to the wild card hunt. The Nationals can put together winning streaks against teams playing below .500, but have trouble finding victories against teams who are above them in the standings. They fall further from the wild card position…The Nationals are now 16-17 at home. The only team that has a losing streak at home are the Diamondbacks. They are 24-18 on the road while the Nationals are 16-21.

Scherzer Rights Nats Ship

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

The Nationals scored some runs for Scherzer and Max gave the team seven solid innings to avenge their opening day loss with a 7-3 win. Michael Taylor got a rare start and his speed proved to be troublesome for the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks were the first team to strike. Carson Kelly, who in St. Louis was more noted for his defense than his offense, launched a 96 mile per hour fastball that Max got a little bit up deep into the left field bleachers for an early 1-0 lead. Up until that time he seemed unhittable, striking out four of the seven hitters he faced.

Robbie Ray also looked pretty tough but a critical mistake by him in the bottom of the third allowed the Nationals to bounce back. Michael Taylor started the inning with a single to right center. Max Scherzer attempted a bunt but struck it too hard and Ray fielded it just short of the mound. He went to second but may have rushed his throw seeing Michael Taylor running and threw it into centerfield. Taylor advanced to third. A Trea Turner double down the left field line tied the game up. Victor Robles hit a fly ball to center and Scherzer tagged, hustling home to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. A Juan Soto checks swing single into left field scored Turner, his slide home coming just ahead of the throw.

With a 3-1 lead and Scherzer pitching you feel pretty confident. In the fifth Nick Ahmed rocketed another high fastball hitting the plate at 95 mph over the left field bleachers to pull the Diamondbacks to within one. National fans squirmed in their seats. If it is one weakness of Scherzer it is he likes to give up homeruns. This year he has been pretty good at limiting the homerun balls. The Ahmed homer made it the first time Scherzer had given up two homers in a game this year.

The Nationals responded in the bottom of the sixth with two gigantic shots. Anthony Rendon blasted a pitch from Ray far into the centerfield bleachers. One batter later Howie Kendrick lined a shot into the left field bleachers. As he circled the bases fans chanted “this is Howie do it.”

The Diamondbacks went to the bullpen in the seventh. Michael Taylor got things started laying a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. He stole second. A walk to Turner put runners on first and second. A little TnT followed as Taylor and Turner pulled a double steal. Victor Robles lined a single past the outstretched glove of third baseman Eduardo Escobar to score Taylor. Rendon hit one deep enough into center to score Turner on a sacrifice fly.

Scherzer departed for a pinch hitter in the seventh. With the Nationals bullpen a 7-3 lead is not safe. Wander Suero made things interesting in the eighth. A one out walk to Ketel Marte and two out single to Adam Jones put runners at first and second. Eduardo Escobar lined a pitch the opposite way that one hopped into the right field bullpen fence for a double. That was it for Suero and in came Tanner Rainey, a bullpen savior since being called up. Kevin Cron lined a pitch off the leg of Rainey. He was able to find the ball, rifled a throw to first and just nipped Cron to lesson the damage to just one run.

Doolittle has not been the most effective closer this season, giving up a number of ninth inning runs. Carson Kelly drove a pitch just left of the left field foul pole or he would have had a two homerun game. He did line a pitch to Taylor in centerfield, who took a bad rout to the ball and it went past him for a double. A two out walk to pinch hitter Christian Walker made things even more interesting. Doolittle finally got Ketel Marte to swing and miss at his high 96 mile per hour fastballs to end the game.

Game Notes: Scherzer struck out 10 batters last night to slip past two Hall of Famers, Warren Spahn and Bob Feller on the all time strikeout list. His 2,585 whiffs put him in 27th place on the all time strikeout list. Next on the list is Tom Glavine at 2,607. Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia are the only active pitchers ahead of him on the strikeout list. Scherzer currently leads the National League in strikeouts with 136…At one point Carson Kelly was considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball. Unfortunately, Yadier Molina stood in his way as the starting catcher for the Cardinals. The trade of Kelly to the Diamondbacks has given Carson the opportunity to show what he can do with his bat. Kelly is hitting .264 with eight homeruns, numbers most teams would love to have from their catchers. Coming into this season Kelly had a career major league average of .154 with 0 homeruns in 117 at bats…Kind of like the dark gray uniforms of the Diamondbacks. On day games, when it is really warm they look the color of light gray uniforms dripping with sweat…Did learn at the game that a book written by Eddie Dominguez, who was a security agent for the Red Sox and eventually a cop with the DOI for major league baseball, titled “Baseball Cop” spoke of David Ortiz and his habit of hanging out with shady characters. Back in 2005, one of those characters named Monga was betting on baseball and to Ortiz objections was banned from the locker room. That ban had to be taken back when Ortiz threatened not to play. Monga was later arrested at Ortiz residence for immigration violations. The book was released in 2018. David Ortiz denied any link to gambling after the book came out.

Greinke Stymies Nationals

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Looking at the pitching matchups it did not look good for the Nationals. The Diamondbacks were throwing their ace Zack Greinke, while the Nationals were throwing their number five starter Erik Fedde, who began the season in the bullpen. Greinke shut down the Nationals on two hits in just over eight innings, while Fedde had trouble throwing strike one. The weather and not the National bats was the only element that could remove Greinke from the game. An unexpected rainstorm hit after Greinke had retired the first hitter in the eighth, delaying the game for just over an hour. The Diamondbacks went to the bullpen and they were able to reserve the 5-0 shutout win.

Greinke had a no hitter until the seventh inning. His fastball may no longer touch the 90s with great regularity, and the swings and misses are rare, but the Nationals hit 8 balls in the outfield with no result. The first hit came in the seventh when Trea Turner grounded a ball through the hole to the right side of the infield. Christian Walker made a tremendous diving stop, but bobbled the ball as he transferred it from his glove to his hand. Turner beat the throw. Adam Eaton lined a clean single to left to finally give Nationals fans something to get excited about. Up until that point Greinke had faced the minimum 18 hitters, with the only baserunner eliminated on a line out double play. Anthony Rendon hit the ball hard, but right at the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play. Juan Soto hit a weak ground ball to the pitcher and the rally was ended.

Greinke only throws 88-90 at max. He locates his pitches well and mixes in a slider and a slow curve ball that hits between 67-77. Hitters whacked at the ball and carried it to the outfield, but they were “at em” balls. That is when you wonder whether Greinke’s success is with a low batting average on balls in play. The hitters probably felt pretty good about hitting the ball to the warning track, hoping to face him another time where they were confident they could get a hit. And again Greinke would get them to hit the ball into an out. He struck out three in his 8.1 innings of work with mostly 1-2 or 0-2 counts on the hitter when he hit the ball (10 of his 23 hitters faced).

Erik Fedde was not so fortunate with his pitches. He had trouble finding the plate early. A lead off double by Jarrod Dyson on a ball hit into right field got things started for the Diamondbacks. Two walks loaded the bases. Fedde did get Adam Jones to hit a hard grounder to Anthony Rendon that should have been turned into a double play, but Rendon dropped the ball and could only get the out at first on a slow moving Adam Jones. Eduardo Escobar hit a line drive single to left field that dropped in front of Soto and the Diamondbacks were up 2-0.

Alex Avila got ahead in the count 3-1 against Fedde, then blasted the next pitch into the centerfield bleachers for a 3-0 lead. In the fourth the usually light hitting Jarrod Dyson lifted a ball into the right field bleachers for a two run homer and a 5-0 Diamondbacks lead.

That was all the Diamondbacks needed for victory. The rains came visiting with one out in the eighth. Greinke had only thrown 75 pitches so it would have been an easy complete game for him if not for the rains.

Game Notes: Myworld does not believe the Nationals have the personalities and the bullpen to get back in the race. With three teams ahead of them in the standings they have a better shot at the wild card than the division. That means beating teams with a better record than them. The Diamondbacks were 36-33 and are not going to catch the Dodgers. The win now puts them five games ahead of the Nationals in the wild card race. Above the Diamondbacks in the wild card are the Cubs, Phillies and Rockies. The Nationals are 8.5 games behind the Braves in the Division race…Greinke has not thrown a no hitter in his career, but if you listen to him he would prefer not to throw one. It only comes with a bunch of “hassles”…After Greinke hit Eaton and the decision was being reviewed by the umpires, Zack actually walked over to first base and spoke with Eaton. That was a nice gesture. The umpire had initially ruled the ball did not hit Eaton, but as Eaton was talking to Greinke he was pointing to his foot…The homerun for Alex Avila made it three consecutive games in which he has hit a homerun…Trevor Rosenthal pitched his second consecutive shutout inning in relief. This one he retired all three hitters he faced, striking out two…In bullpen news both Koda Glover and Justin Miller have been shut down because of shoulder or elbow issues. It could be July before you see them next on the mound.

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.

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.

A Cycle and Another Four Homerun Game

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Matt Sczzur hit for the cycle. Yasmany Tomas hit four homeruns. They both played for the same team as Reno pounced on Tacoma 25-7. The major league baseballs being used in AAA are flying out of the park. Kevin Cron hit two homeruns in the game to give him 21 homeruns in just 42 games.

Tomas almost hit for the homerun cycle. He had a solo homerun, a two run homer and a three run blast. He came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth but could only single. He finished the game with a career high 8 RBIs.

Chris Cron drove in six runs and scored five. He is on pace to finish with over 60 homeruns. Reno hit 8 homeruns in the game.

Will Benson was the first player this year in the minor leagues to hit four homeruns in one game.

Top Prospects from Bahamas

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

We have not done a top prospect from the Bahamas list because there were not enough prospects to make the list. That has changed with the number of recent signings. There have been six major leaguers from the Bahamas. The first to sign was Andre Rodgers in 1954. The most recent was Antoan Richardson. The ten players below hope to be the seventh major leaguer from the Bahamas. Because many of them are in rookie ball or recently signed myworld has not seen many of these players.

1. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox was who everyone was looking at. During that showcase the Diamondbacks liked Jazz. They signed him for just $200,000, much less than what Lucius was asking. Now Jazz appears to be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there to stick at shortstop. The bat could be impactful, with above average power for the position. Last year he slugged 25 homeruns between Low A and High A. This year he has hit 9 homeruns. An inability to make contact could impact his ability to hit for a high average. Last year he struck out 149 times in just 112 games. This year he has struck out 44 times in just 29 games, dropping his average to .184 in AA. If he can get that average up Jazz could see some time in the major leagues. Jazz is one of three players on this list who played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, starting at shortstop.

2. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks) - Two years later the Diamondbacks sign Kristian, but they had to shell out $2.5 million to sign him. He has the five tools to become an impact player. The speed is there to play centerfield while the arm is strong enough to fit in right. The bat has big time power. At 6′3″ he has the frame that could fill out and move him to a corner. Like Chisholm there is a tendency to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 67 times in 57 games but still hit .279 in rookie ball. He has yet to make an appearance in 2019. At 18 years of age he is probably in extended spring training and will see a second year of rookie ball.

3. D’Shawn Knowles OF (Angels) - Imagine finding a prospect and learning he has a twin. The Angels signed D’Shawn in 2017. The Yankees took a flyer on his brother D’Vaughn in 2019. Speed is the big tool for D’Shawn. This could allow him to be a premium centerfielder. His power is limited to the gap, but last year the stroke was solid enough to hit .311 in rookie ball. At 18 years of age Knowles has yet to make an appearance in 2019, showcasing his skills in extended spring until the short season leagues begin in July.

4. Lucius Fox SS (Rays) - He signed with the Giants for $6 million. The Rays traded Matt Moore to acquire him. The biggest impact Lucius can make is with his speed and defense. His bat has been a little slow to progress, especially in the power department where he is lacking. Defensively he needs to gain some consistency in the field. Last year he committed 15 errors in 105 games at shortstop between High A and AA. He also struggled with a .221 average and .298 slugging percentage at AA. No surprise he is repeating at that level this year, where his average is still disappointing (.188) but his OBA has improved (.341). With Wander Franco ahead of him on the depth chart Fox may have to play shortstop for another team if he wants to contribute in the major leagues.

5. Tahnaj Thomas RHP (Pirates) - The first pitcher on this list. The Indians first signed him, paying him a $200,000 bonus and then converted him from a shortstop to a pitcher. The Pirates acquired him last year for Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff. At 6′4″ Thomas has the look of a pitcher, with a fastball that can reach the plate consistently in the low 90s. The pitch that improved his game was the development of his slider, which raised his whiffs per nine innings from 8 to 12.4. He still needs to improve on his change as his third pitch and find the plate more often. It appears he will have a third year in rookie ball. At 19 years of age he needs to make the jump to full season Low A before the year is out.

6. Trent Deveaux OF (Angels) - The Angels signed Trent in 2017 for $1.2 million. It would be an accomplishment that in five years Knowles and Deveaux share the same outfield with Trout. Trent lacks the overall tools of Knowles. His bat has a ways to go, hitting only .199 last year with 68 whiffs in 48 games. He was a sprinter in the Bahamas, so the speed is there to play center. If the bat can develop his game breaking speed could make him a pest in the lineup. He has yet to play this year.

7. Keithron Moss 2B (Rangers) - Moss played in the Dominican Summer League last year, where he hit just .196. The Rangers signed him for $800,000, part of the money they had accumulated for Shohei Ohtani. He is a line drive hitter who preys on the gaps and uses his speed to take the extra base. He is not a big guy, standing 5′11 and 165 so he could mature as he gets older. This should be his first season state side where he will start at one of the rookie level clubs.

8. Chavez Young OF (Blue Jays) - Chavez was born and raised in the Bahamas but went to high school in Florida and Georgia. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 39th round in 2016 and then used $200,000 to entice him to sign. Chavez has the speed to play centerfield and last year used that speed to steal 44 bases at Low A. He hits more line drives into the gaps and is not expected to hit for a lot of pop, though last year he slugged 8 dingers to accumulate a .445 slugging average. This year he finds himself at High A struggling with a .207 average with only four of his 18 hits (.287 slugging) going for extra bases. He will make a greater impact if he can stick in centerfield. Chavez played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

9. D’Vaughn Knowles (Yankees) - The twin brother of D’Shawn. The Yankees signed D’Vaughn in 2019 for $300,000. Like his brother his speed is suited for centerfield. His arm could also fit well in right. He has yet to make his minor league debut. Just look at his brother above and you will find the same tools, maybe just not as developed.

10 Reshard Munroe OF (Reds) - Shard is one of those players signed way back in 2014. While he is not expected to hit for power he did slug .455 in his last season of Rookie ball, before being promoted to Low A. This year he has already slugged two homeruns and is slugging, so the power could be developing. The Reds have used him primarily as a corner. If he hopes to reach the major leagues that power will need to develop. He played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, backing up fellow Bahamian Antoan Richardson in left field.

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.

Top 100 - 70-61

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Continuing with our Top 100 list

70. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - In the Arizona Fall League Nate was consistently reaching the plate north of 100 miles per hour. The reason the 2017 first round pick was pitching in the AFL is because injuries limited him to just one start and less than two innings for the regular season. In 2017 he started eight games, tossing 20 innings and limited the hitters to a .106 average. While he possesses lots of heat his secondary pitches are a little raw and he needs to find the plate more. This could force him into a bullpen role. At 22 years of age the Jays will start him in High A and hope for quick promotions to get him ready for the major league roster. At 6′6″ he has the intimidation factor going for him.

69. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - The smooth fielding shortstop is just one of many players that seem to be cropping up from the Bahamas. The Diamondbacks were actually in the Bahamas to watch Lucius Fox when they spotted Jazz. His price ($200,000) was more reasonable than Fox ($6 million) and now it appears Jazz may be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there for him to stay at shortstop. The bat looks like it can carry some pop with 25 homeruns last year. The hope is that he reduces his strikeouts (149 in 112 games) to allow him to be an offensive threat. The AA season in 2019 should be a real test for him.

68. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - This is the oldest and best of the two Luis Garcias. The other is a shortstop prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. Luis has the bat to hit for average with his .298 last year and .303 in 2017. The concern is finding a position for him. Trea Turner plays short, Carter Kieboom will play second or third and the Nationals would like to sign Anthony Rendon to an extension. That fills up the infield. A super utility role could be in his future. There is not a lot of power in his bat but he has the capability to compete for batting titles. He could start the 2019 season in AA.

67. Travis Swaggerty OF (Pirates) - The 2018 first round pick was part of the United States gold medal winning national team in the 18 and under division. He does have raw power that allows him to clear the fence pretty easily. His other tools are also average to plus with a solid arm that will put him in right and decent speed that will allow him to play centerfield in a pinch. Last year he struggled in his first taste of full season ball (.129) so expect him to repeat that level in 2019.

66. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) - The Tigers 2016 first round pick has a fastball that can fly across the plate in the mid-90s. His 6′6″ inch frame also makes him an intimidating presence on the mound. His hammer curve is a tough pitch for hitters to make contact with, resulting in 154 whiffs in 117 innings. His success resulted in two appearances in AA which is where he should start the 2019 season. The Tigers have four pitchers competing to be the ace of the future staff.

65. Sean Murphy C (Athletics) -Sean will be a solid defensive catcher whose arm will scare base stealers from trying to take the extra base against him. His bat carries some power but it could be a challenge to hit north of .250. He came into the 2018 season with a .246 minor league average. In AA he hit .288 with a .498 slugging average until a July injury put him out for two months. If not for the injury he probably would have seen his major league debut in 2018. Barring another injury expect that to happen in 2019, with a start to the season in AAA.

64. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Another pitcher who pitched in the Junior Nationals for the 15 and Under World Cup Team in Mexico City, but he threw for Cuba, defecting as a 16 year old. At 6′0″ he is not a big pitcher, but he throws lefthanded and knows where the strike zone is located. While he can get the ball across the plate in the mid-90s his best pitch may be a knee buckling curve ball. The majority of his starts were in High A so expect a promotion to AA in 2019.

63. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) - After a break out season last year where the Haitian born Florial hit .298 with 13 homeruns in the two A leagues, the Yankees were expecting big things in 2018. Injuries slowed him down, limiting him to just 84 games. His results were disappointing with a .256 average in A ball with just three homeruns. The strikeouts need to be reduced but the five tools are there for him to be a superstar. Strong arm, deer like speed and a power bat make him a player to watch. The Yankees have a crowded outfield so he will probably see a full season in AA in 2019.

62. Drew Waters OF (Braves) - The Braves just don’t develop pitchers. They also appear to develop outfielders with Ronald Acuna winning rookie of the year last year and Cristian Pache and Drew ready to contribute in a couple years. The second round 2017 pick went to high school in Georgia. The speed exists to play centerfield but if Acuna captures that position he has the arm to play right. His current power is dedicated towards the gaps but with time and maturity he could hit twenty plus homeruns. He should see AA next year which would make him a knock on the door away from the Braves.

61. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Colombian righthander dominated in low A with a 2.16 ERA in 17 starts, with the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. At 6′0″ he is small in stature, but his fastball hits the high 90s, usually sitting in the low 90s. His slider is a swing and miss pitch and the change is a work in progress. Continued success could see him hit AA in 2019.

Top 100 Prospects 80-71

Friday, March 1st, 2019

This ten is loaded with righthanded pitching.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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