Archive for the 'Dodgers' Category

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 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.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.

Dodgers Maul Nationals Pen

Monday, October 7th, 2019

It has been a problem for the Nationals all season and it became a problem for them yesterday. After five superb innings from starter Anibal Sanchez, the bullpen coughed up nine runs in four innings in a 10-4 loss to the Dodgers. Starter Patrick Corbin started the bullpen meltdown, failing to get past the sixth. David Freese got the critical two out pinch hit single to extend the inningleading the charge for the six hitters after him to get on base for a seven run sixth.

It was a great start for the Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who rarely walks anyone, issued a one out walk to Adam Eaton. With two outs Juan Soto buried a ball into the right field bleachers and the Nationals had a 2-0 lead. Ryu settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down for the next four innings.

Anibal Sanchez was magnificent. He got into trouble in the first inning, fighting with his control to find the strike zone. A single sandwiched between two walks loaded the bases with two out. He got A.J. Pollock to swing and miss at a change to end the threat. From that point he went on to strike out five straight hitters using his slow stuff to keep the Dodgers hitters off balance. In the fifth Cody Bellinger blasted an 0-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers. Dave Martinez pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

Patrick Corbin came on to pitch the sixth. The plan was probably for him to pitch two to three innings to turn it to Doolittle for the 8th and Hudson for the ninth. While Corbin pitched well and was the victim of bad luck, that is what sometimes wins and loses playoff games.

Cody Bellinger led off the inning with a single to right. Corbin struck out the next two hitters. David Freese pinch hit for Gavin Lux, the same David Freese that was a playoff hero for the Cardinals back in 2011. The Nationals played David to pull with the second baseman playing him up the middle. Freese hit what should have been a routine grounder to second, but no one was in that spot and it trickled into right field for a single. It got nasty after that.

Corbin got ahead of Russell Martin 0-2. Martin did not chase two pitches off the plate. The 2-2 slider he blasted into the left centerfield gap for a double, scoring two runs. Chris Taylor walked. The Dodgers had Kike Hernandez pinch hit for Joc Pederson and with another left handed hitter on deck Martinez chose to stay with Corbin. Kiki drove a 1-2 hanging slider into the left centerfield gap to score two more runs. The Nationals chose to walk Max Muncy intentionally and bring in a right hander to face Justin Turner.

In strides the confident but still inexperienced Wander Suero to face the veteran Justin Turner. The count goes full. Turner sees a pitch he likes and mashes it over the left field bullpen to complete the seven run sixth.

The Nationals still had a chance. Joe Kelly, who has trouble finding the plate came in to pitch for the Dodgers. He walked two and gave up a single to Howie Kendrick to load the bases. A wild pitch scored one run. Another walk loaded the bases. That was it for Kelly. He was replaced by Julio Urias without retiring a hitter. Julio got pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to right deep enough to score Juan Soto. Howie made a baserunning blunder hesitating on his tag to third and getting caught in a run down when Freese cut the ball off and threw to third. That killed the rally and any attempt at a comeback from the Nationals.

The final scoring came off Hunter Struckland, who gave up a two run pop to Russell Martin in the ninth. Strickland has now pitched 13 playoff innings in his career and given up 9 homeruns. Up until that point 7 of his 8 homeruns had been solo jobs so his 7.62 ERA is not too bad considering all the gopher balls he has given up.

Game Notes: Medal of honor winner David Bellavia threw out the first pitch. He is the only living Iraqi war veteran to earn the medal of honor…Juan Soto has two stances when he bats. One with less than two strikes when his left foot points inward. The second stance when he has two strikes and his left foot is planted on the ground facing the pitcher…Fernando Rodney gave up a double and walked two in the seventh inning. He was lucky that Max Muncy swung at ball four and flew out to center, otherwise the score could have been worse…The Nationals have their two aces, Scherzer and Strasburg going for them in the final two games. If the Nationals had won the game on Sunday myworld would not have been surprised to see Strasburg come into the game on Monday as the closer. Now I would be surprised if he pitches on Monday. Leave it to Max for seven innings…Odds are not good for the Nationals. Teams with 2-1 advantages in five game series with the 2-2-1 format have gone on to advance 71 percent of the time…All seven runs the Dodgers scored in the sixth inning came after two were out and all the hits that drove in the runs came with two strikes. So the Nationals were just one strike away many times from either getting out of the inning, or making the inning less explosive…David Freese finished the game 3 for 3, continuing his clutch performances in playoff games. In 67 playoff games he has an OPS of .918.

Top Minor League Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top minor league shortstop prospects. There is a bundle of athletic talent at this position. With this list our infield is complete. Next will be the outfield and then the pitching staff.

1) Wander Franco (Rays) - Any player who would be considered the top prospect in baseball in 2020 has to be considered as the top shortstop prospect. But at one time Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in baseball, but he is still struggling to make his mark in the major leagues. Wander has the ability to hit for average and power. In 2018 he hit .351 with a 1.005 OPS, slugging 11 homeruns in just 61 games in the rookie league. In 2019 he got his opportunity to play full season ball and hit .327 with an .885 OPS and 9 homeruns. His defensive tools are not superb, but they are good enough to play shortstop. If he has to move to second or third base the bat is certainly strong enough for him to be an All Star at any position he plays. Next year he should start his season in AA and he could reach the majors as a teenager. Willy Adames is currently the shortstop but he has yet to break out the offensive tools that Franco possesses.

2) Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) - With newness comes expectations of grandeur. No one has witnessed the warts yet. Witt was the second pick in the 2019 draft. Myworld saw him put on a homerun derby spectacle at the All Star game in D.C. His dad is Bobby Witt and he was a first round pick way back in 1985. His son has chosen to swing the bat rather than pitch. He has five pretty impressive tools. The bat carries plenty of pop and he should be able to hit for average. In his first taste of minor league baseball he hit .262 with just one homerun for an uninspiring .670 OPS. His legs show a lot of speed as witnessed by his five triples and 9 stolen bases in just 37 games. Defensively he has good range and a rocket arm that can throw in the mid-90s if he was asked to pitch. Next year he should make his debut in full season ball where he will be expected to show a little more pop than he did in 2019.

3) Royce Lewis (Twins) - Back in 2017 Royce was the first pick in the draft. You would think this would still make him the top prospect among shortstops but some warts have popped up. In the AFL the Twins have been playing him at other positions, using him at centerfield and third base, in case shortstop continues to be occupied by Jorge Polanco and they need his bat in the lineup. His bat should hit for average and power, but in 2019 he could only manage a .236 average. His strikeout rate went up leading to a drop in average. An OPS of .661 is very disappointing for a player of his tools. He has great speed and should be an above average defender at shortstop, but needs to improve his consistency fielding his position. Last year he finished at AA, which is where he should start the 2020 season. He could see some time in the majors next year if he can find some quality at bats.

4) Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets are flush with shortstops, with Amed Rosario improving on his defense in the second half, with a bat that has come to life, filling the major league roster. Mauricio is another live bat that can play the position. He is still a few years away from the major leagues. At 6′3″ he could out grow the position, but at this point he would have the bat to move to third or second base. As he fills out the bat will hit for power. In 2019 he hit for a .665 OPS in Low A ball. The arm is good enough to play third or short, but his lack of speed could limit his range at short as he fills out. He also needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take advantage of his hitting potential. Next year Ronny should see half a season at High A and perhaps half a season at AA, depending on how he develops. He could see the majors in 2021 as a 20 year old.

5) Jazz Chisolm (Marlins) - Two shortstops were signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. Lucius Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million and Jazz signed with the Diamondbacks for just $200,000. Jazz is the player on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for Zac Gaillen. Though Zac is a nice pitching prospect, Jazz may turn out to be a premier shortstop. With the Diamondbacks he struggled to make contact, which resulted in a low average (.204), but he did show some power with 18 homeruns. With the Marlins the average went up (.284) and the power was still there to hit three homeruns in 23 games. Defensively, he has the tools to stay at shortstop. The Marlins might see him with their big league club some time by mid-season in 2020.

6) O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - The Pirates have been developing some pretty vanilla shortstops over the years in Jody Mercer, Kevin Newman, Kevin Cramer and Cole Tucker. If Cruz can stay at shortstop he could fall far right of that Bell curve. At 6′7 myworld expects him to move to first base or right field, but if he can stay at short he could provide consistent 30 plus homerun power at the position. For a big man with a large strike zone he makes pretty good contact. In 2019 he reached AA but he did not make a big impact, hitting just .269 in 35 games with one homerun and a .412 slugging percentage. After a down 2019 the Pirates will be in rebuilding mode for 2020 and Cruz should be a big part of that. Expect him to start next year in AA.

7) Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - After an injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers called Gavin up in September to handle second base. With Corey Seager at short that position could be filled for the future years. The 2016 first round pick had hit .392 in AAA and combined for 26 homeruns between AA and AAA in just 113 games. He struggled a bit with the Dodgers, hitting just .240 with two homeruns. After a poor 2017 season many were calling him a bust. After two years of hitting .320 plus he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers plans. The tools are there to play shortstop, but he has shown a lack of consistency in finding first base with his throws. A move to second may make the throws just a bit easier. Expect him to start the 2020 season with the Dodgers either as their second baseman, or someone who can play second, short and third.

8) Jose Devers (Marlins) - With the acquisition of Jazz the Marlins have two quality defenders they can put at short. Jose is the brother of Rafael, who plays third base for the Red Sox. Jose may not carry the power of his older brother, but time will tell. He just finished his third year with the Marlins and he has only hit one homerun. Jose makes good contact with the bat and last year hit .322 at three different levels, rising all the way to High A. He also has the speed to steal bases and turn singles into doubles. Defensively he has the tools to be an above average shortstop. Next year in his age 20 season he should see AA.

9) Marco Luciano (Giants) - The Giants are in a rebuilding mode and Marco should be a important part of that process. He is another shortstop discovered in the Bahamas, as they replace San Pedro de Macoris and Curacao as the land of the next wave of shortstops. The Giants traded Lucius Fox, who they signed out of the Bahamas for $6 million to the Rays, then went back to the well to sign Marco for $2.6 million. He has the potential for five tools, showing the tools for a strong bat, good speed, solid arm and strong defense. The 2019 season was his first year to show off those tools and he hit .322 with 10 homeruns. This should allow him to start the 2020 season in a full season league.

10) Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Jorge has been around awhile, signed by the Yankees way back in 2012. He complained back in 2016 when he was not promoted to AA. His prospect status dropped after the 2018 season when he hit only .230 in AAA with just three homeruns. He got his mojo back in 2019 after hitting .289 with 29 doubles, 14 triples and 19 homeruns. There is some sneaky power in his bat. The Athletics have tried him in centerfield and second base. With Marcus Semien at shortstop they do not need help at that position. Expect Jorge to make the Athletics roster in the 2020 season as a super utility player who can move all around the diamond. His speed is terrorizing on the bases, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Myworld attempts to identify the top ten catching prospects in the minor leagues. This is my opinion based on numbers since we have not seen all of these players play. For the next couple weeks we’ll try to go around the diamond.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft. The last time the Orioles drafted a catcher in the first round (2007 fifth overall pick) his name was Matt Wieters. Matt has had a good career in the major leagues but when he was in college his bat was going to make him special. That bat never really showed up. Like Matt, Adley is a switch hitter and comes with the same two way press clippings, a powerful bat who can play the defensive game. He makes good contact, walking more than he struck out in college and has the potential to hit for power. He also has a strong arm that can control the running game. At 6′2″ he is solidly built but still agile enough behind the plate. In his professional debut he has walked (5) more than he has struck out (4), but his batting average is less than desired (.176). It is a small sample size of only 34 at bats and it comes after a heavy college season. Adley should get enough experience that he should play in the full season league next year.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - A similar story for Bart who will eventually be called upon to replace Buster Posey, who has had a good career with the Giants. Like Wieters, Posey was a fifth overall pick (2008) but his offensive game has been better. At 32 years of age his catching shelf life is about to expire and Bart is poised to replace him. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 and was the second overall pick, coming out of the same college as Wieters (Georgia Tech). His first season in rookie ball he shined with 13 homeruns and a .364 average. Those are the kind of numbers we expected from Adley. Joey is also a two way player with a powerful arm to control the running game and a good bat to hit in the middle of the lineup. At 6′3″ he is also a big catcher but very agile behind the plate. For the 2019 season the Giants started him in the California League where his bat continues to shine (.270, 12 homeruns) with a .815 OPS. His speed and ability to make contact is not as strong as Adley but he should make an impact with the Giants by 2021.

3. Will Smith (Dodgers) - Will was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2016. At the start of the season he wasn’t even considered the best catcher in the Dodgers system. After the way he has handled major league pitching this year (.326, 6 homeruns, 1.199 OPS) he may not be eligible as a rookie next year since he is now the Dodgers starting catcher in the middle of a playoff race. Based on his career minor league numbers (.236 average) the batting average should not stay at that level, but his power is real. He also has a strong arm and is showing good maturity with a veteran Dodger pitching staff in a playoff race. Keibert Ruiz will find it tough to wrest the catching job from Smith, but the Dodgers appear to be set at catching for the long term. This year Will did hit .269 with 20 homeruns in just 60 games at AAA, where the baseballs may have been a little juiced. For a power hitter he makes good contact.

4. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - With Wilson Contreras behind the plate the Cubs are not in an immediate need to find a catcher. They found Miguel in Panama, where they signed him for $1.25 million in 2015. His defensive game at this point is above his offensive game, but his power began to show last year with 12 homeruns in his first exposure to the full season leagues. A promotion to the Carolina League for 2019 has seen some offensive struggles (.232) but he has shown some patience at the plate (.347 OBA) and continues to display his power (8 homeruns). His defensive game has improved to such a point that he may be one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. Despite his offensive struggles Miguel should see AA next year and Wilson should start looking in the rear view mirror at his next replacement.

5. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets have had a number of promising catchers that have performed less than their expectation once they reached the major leagues. Francisco comes from the catching haven of Venezuela and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million. He did not play last year. At 17 years of age he still has some work to do on his defensive game. He has been pretty impressive with the bat in his first year hitting .462 with two homeruns in just 26 at bats. The Mets promoted him to Kingsport where he continues to rake with a .355 average with two more homeruns. His OPS sits at an impressive 1.073. At 5′11″ and 220 pounds Francisco is a bulky catcher. To stay agile behind the plate he will have to watch his weight. A promotion to the full season league next year is expected.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Keibert was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $140,000. Will Smith has been a step ahead of him on the catching ladder. Keibert was signed for his defense, but his bat has been pretty impressive as well, with a .309 career average entering the 2019 season. The power may not be as great as Smith but he has a better ability to make contact and hit for a higher average. Both players have a strong defensive game. This year Keibert struggled a bit in AA, where he played last year (.254) but a promotion to AAA has seen him increase that average (.324). The Dodgers could leave Ruiz in AAA next year as insurance to an injury to Smith but at some point they will have to make a decision who their starting catcher is.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez (Rays) - Ronaldo was signed out of Colombia in 2014 for a bargain price of $225,000. No catcher on this list has a stronger arm than Hernandez. The other parts of his game still need some work. The Rays converted him to catcher after signing him so his experience is still limited behind the plate. Last year Ronaldo played his first year in a full season league and clubbed 21 homeruns. His career average entering the 2019 season is .306. Playing in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he is hitting .274 with 7 homeruns. His .413 slugging is about 70 points under his career minor league average. The Rays will show patience with him but he could be the Rays first home grown catcher in more than a decade.

8. Shea Langeliers (Braves) - Shea was a first round pick of the Braves in 2019, the ninth player selected in the draft. His defensive tools are supreme with an arm equal to Hernandez. He was considered the best defensive catcher in college baseball. His bat could be a question mark, but he did break an NCAA tournament record with 11 RBIs in one game. The Braves debuted him in Low A where he has struggled with the bat (.211). When you consider the Orioles have started Adley in the rookie leagues the immediate promotion of Shea to full season was an aggressive move. They may start him in Low A to begin the 2020 season but he could be up with the Braves very quickly.

9. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Sam was a seventh round pick in 2016 out of high school. Catchers drafted out of high school usually do not have the same success as catchers drafted out of college. At 6′4″ Sam is large for a catcher but his athleticism and strong arm keep him behind the plate. His large frame gives him exceptional power. Last year he hit 18 homeruns at Low A. The downside was a troubling 23/140 walk to whiff ratio. This could hurt him average wise as he sees more advanced pitching. The Rangers repeated him at Low A this year and after hitting .333 with 15 homeruns in just 30 games they quickly promoted him to High A. The homerun numbers have slowed (10 in 70 games) but the average still remains high (.278). He still continues to struggle to make contact (23/116 walk/whiff ratio in 101 games) so that will have to be monitored. His defense is strong enough that if he hits below .250 with 20 plus homeruns he should make it as a starter.

10. William Contreras (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson. His offensive game is probably just above his defensive game at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate, good athleticism and with more experience should be an upper level defender like his older brother. His offensive game has the same potential for power as his brother. Last year he hit 11 homeruns at Low A but failed to hit a homerun in his 83 at bats in the Florida State League. That is where he started his 2019 season and though his offensive numbers were not great (.263, 3 homeruns) he was still promoted to AA. William makes good contact and his power should improve as he matures. Expect him to be with the Braves sometime late next year as a September callup.

Dodgers Batter Ross and Nationals

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

The Dodgers had their way with the Nationals pitching staff yesterday, especially since it was the first time Dave Martinez decided to use the opener. One pitcher who looked good was lefthander Matt Grace, who was the opener and retired all six hitters he faced, three of them on strikeouts. After Grace the only lefthander the Nationals had in the pen was Tony Sipp and the Dodgers lefthanded bats assaulted Nationals pitching for a 9-3 win. One right handed bat that did most of the damage was Will Smith, who finished the day 3 for 3 with six RBIs. But he had the lefthanded bats getting on in front of him, who combined to score seven of the nine runs the Dodgers scored.

They say if you want to beat a good starting pitcher you get to him early. The Nationals were able to get to Clayton Kershaw early. Trea Turner started things off with a single and Adam Eaton punched one down the right field line for a triple. For some reason Cody Bellinger was playing near centerfield for the lefthand hitting Eaton. Eaton scored on a fly ball from Juan Soto. The Nationals had a 2-0 lead. All seemed good. Until the Nationals replaced Grace with Joe Ross.

Joe Ross came into the game with a ERA around 9. He did not improve on that. Will Smith jumped on his third pitch of the game to deposit a ball into the right field bleachers to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard. Ross then gave up a hard single to Joc Pederson but was able to retire the next three hitters to protect the Nationals lead.

In the fourth Ross completely lost it. After striking out A.J. Pollock the left handed bats poised to attack. Cody Bellinger walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Max Muncy lined a single over shortstop to drive in Bellinger. Corey Seager hit a double into the right center field gap. Eaton had trouble picking the ball up and Seager advanced to third, being credited with a double. Will Smith blasted another pitch that traveled to the warning track, but Robles was able to shag the ball down as his back hit the wall. The Dodgers were now up 4-2.

The Dodgers were able to add another run in the sixth when Muncy and Corey Seager hit back to back singles. Will Smith smacked one into the right center field gap, Robles attempted a diving catch and failed. The Nationals were fortunate that only one run scored. With runners on second and third Pederson was walked intentionally and Clayton Kershaw grounded out to end the inning with only one run logged against Ross.

The game really got out of hand in the seventh when the Dodgers exploded for four runs off Joe Ross and Javy Guerra. Guerra walked the first two hitters he faced to load the bases, setting the stage for Will Smith to clear the bases by driving one against the wall in left field to score all three runs, stopping at second with his second double of the game. He finished the day with six RBIs.

Clayton Kershaw did not have too much trouble with the Nats bats after giving up hits to the first two batters. He retired the next nine hitters. In the sixth he got into a little trouble, missing his pitches for eight straight balls to put two runners on. Brian Dozier flied out to right to end the inning. Kershaw was done for the day after that.

Yan Gomes did line a curve ball from Joe Kelly for a homerun in the seventh. That was all the damage the Nationals bats could do against the Dodger pen. Two double play ground outs in the last two innings flushed out any potential for a rally.

Game notes: Lots of Dodger blue mixed with the National red. A sellout crowd of 39,616 was at the game…Joe Ross has a nice fastball at 95. He did strike out 7 in his 4.2 innings of work. But there were just too many pitches the Dodger bats were able to barrel, especially the lefthanded bats. In the sixth inning both Ross and Kershaw had thrown 70 pitches, but Kershaw had gone two more innings than Ross…It appeared that starting Grace gave Dave Martinez no lefthander in the pen to counter the lefthanded bats. At no time did Tony Sipp warm up in the pen. The left handed bats were able to pepper the Nationals right handed arms for 9 runs…With two strikes on Juan Soto the Dodgers moved Jacob Turner from third base to the second base side of the bag. They seemed to think Juan Soto has a tendency to pull the ball with a two strike count…The last hit for Will Smith was a walk off homerun. Sent back down to the minors his first hit coming back was a homerun. He now has four homeruns in 29 at bats. Myworld thinks he will stick around awhile with Austin Barnes struggling to hit…Max Scherzer is again being bothered by his back and may miss another start. Austin Voth is not available because of shoulder issues…Because of a short bench the Nationals chose to bat Matt Grace in the second inning with two outs and no one on base. They brought in Joe Ross to pitch in the third.

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.

Dodgers Rookies Shine

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

The Dodgers are running away with the National League West. They have a number of veterans leading the charge in Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw. They also have a number of younger players in Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager who are making an impact. And how about the rookies. They pulled a first in major league history by having two rookies win back to back games with walkoff homeruns. They did it again Sunday to make it three straight games in which rookies have won back to back to back games with a walk off homerun. Will it ever end?

It began on Friday. Matt Beaty had probably been feeling a bit down since he was sent to the minors on Thursday. Lo and behold, an injury forced the Dodgers to put a player on the disabled list and since Matt had not yet left he was called up to replace him for Friday’s game. Another rookie, Walker Buehler started the game, striking out 16, the highest total in National League history. Yet when he finished the ninth the score was still tied 2-2. Max Muncy started the inning by drawing a walk. Beaty, who got the start in left field, then blasted a pitch over the centerfield fence for a 4-2 win over the Rockies.

On Saturday Alex Verdugo had already slugged one homerun. He has been up all year despite the fact the outfield is crowded and finding playing time for him has been difficult. It was Beaty who hit a single in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 4-4. Then came the bottom of the 11th and Verdugo blasts his second homerun of the game to give the Dodgers a 5-4 win. They had also become the first team to have rookies win back to back games with walkoff homeruns.

But they were not done. Will Smith was called up on Sunday. He had been up earlier in the year. He did not start the game but in the bottom of the ninth the Dodgers put two runners on. Beaty had started the inning by beating out an infield single. A wild pitch advanced him to second and the Rockies chose to walk Russell Martin intentionally. That brought up Will Smith as a pinch hitter for the pitcher. He poked one over the right centerfield fence for the third straight walk off homerun by a Dodgers rookie.

The Rockies have to be shaking their head. They were swept in the series and have now lost 11 straight to the Dodgers. Winning the division does not look like it is in the cards, not with a lot of rookies still performing well in the minor leagues.

Forbes List of Top Paid Baseball Players

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

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

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

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

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