Archive for the 'Dodgers' Category

Predictions - NL West

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Hard to believe the major league season will begin this week. Myworld will try to finish our predictions by the end of this week. Today the NL West.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Overall - Despite their riches the Dodgers have worked hard to stay under the salary cap. They failed to sign any big name free agents and are going with the team that brought them to the World Series last year. That does not always spell success.

Strengths - 1) 1B. Cody Bellinger made an impact last year, winning rookie of the year after finishing second in the National League in homeruns. He also has the flexibility to move to the outfield. The problem with that is with Adrian Gonzalez gone the depth at first base is minimal.
2) Ace. Clayton Kershaw may not be overpowering but he has a bender that gets hitters out. Last year he was second in the Cy Young voting with an 18-4 record. The major concern is this was his second season in a row he missed some starts because of back injuries. This could become an issue.
3) Shortstop. After winning the rookie of the year award in 2016 Corey Seager avoided the sophomore slump with a solid 2017. He is one of the best shortstops in the NL combining both offense and a consistent defense to his game.
4) Third Base. A broken wrist will keep Justin Turner out for a couple months. When he returns midseason it will be as if the Dodgers accomplished a big trade to acquire a power hitter.
5) Closer. Few are better in the bullpen than Kenley Jensen, who a few years ago was a catcher with the Netherlands team in the WBC. Last year righthanders hit a miniscule .120 against him.

Weaknesses - 1) Third Base. Losing Justin Turner for two months will create a hole here, especially against righthanded pitching where Logan Forsythe, his possible replacement hit .190 against righthanded pitching. They may need to follow the waiver wire to acquire a left handed bat that can play here.
2) Second Base. No clear alternative here. Chase Utley saw his best days with the Phillies and is better suited as a role player. Enrique Hernandez lacks an offensive game and also struggles against right handed pitching (.159). With a loaded outfield they may have to return Chris Taylor from center field to play here.
3) Rotation Injuries. The rotation has depth, but every member of it has had some significant injury that has left them incapable of pitching for significant time.

Top Rookie. Walker Buehler. The Dodgers may be deep in their rotation but because they are susceptible to injuries Buehler may get the call here. He did pitch eight games in relief with the Dodgers last year.

Top Prospect - Buehler, but after him myworld likes the tools of outfielder Jeren Kendall. He is still a couple years away, but he has game breaking speed and his power could come to shine if he improves his ability to make contact.

Expected Finish - First place and an appearance in the World Series where they will create a retro scene playing the New York Yankees. It has been awhile since the two have faced each other in the final championship series.

2. Colorado Rockies

Overall - They hope to cash in on their playoff appearance from last year. They went out and got a closer to replace one that had given them 41 saves but left for free agency. They also went out to find a new catcher after losing Jonathan Lucroy.

Strengths - 1) 3B. Nolan Arenado is one of the best in the game at his position both offensively and defensively. Last year he was second to Giancarlo Stanton in RBIs in the National League, resulting him in being fourth in the MVP voting.
2) Outfield. Lots of depth. Charlie Blackmon can bat either first or third in the lineup. No player in baseball scored more runs or accumulated more total bases than Blackmon. The Rockies hope they will see the 2016 version of Carlos Gonzalez than the 2017. After a slow start Carlos began to resurrect his hitting after the All Star break. If Ryan McMahon wins the first base job Ian Desmond, Gerado Parra and Raimel Tapia will contribute on offense or defense when called upon at the other outfield spot.
3) Closer. Wade Davis replaces Greg Holland. Holland won the save war last year but Davis may have better stuff. The Rocky mountain air has destroyed many a pitcher with good stuff.

Weaknesses - 1) High Altitude. The Rockies have tried many methods to lower the ERAs of pitchers having to deal with the altitude in Colorado, with little success. Now they hope to just ignore it and let the pitchers handle the environment.
2) Ace. It is a lot to ask for Jon Gray to become the ace of the staff. He will clearly be their number one pitcher. After him it is a rotation filled with mid to back end rotation arms, not what you would expect from a playoff team.

Top Rookie - Tom Murphy was supposed to be the catcher last year but an injury spoiled that and he hit just .042 in a 12 game trial. The Rockies went out and signed Chris Ianetta to start but Murphy should see a major role by mid season. Ian Desmond was slated to play first base, but Ryan McMahon is showing too good a bat to keep him down. Both will fight for major roles in the Rockies season this year.

Top Prospect - Brendan Rodgers. It is unclear whether he will play shortstop or second base. Trevor Story currently occupies short. The Rockies still have a couple years to sort it out. Wherever Rodgers plays he will be an offensive force.

Expected Finish - Second place, but just missing the playoffs.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

Overall - The Snakes went out and acquired Steven Sousa to give their lineup pop, but he will miss the first month of the year because of injury. That may slow the Diamondbacks charge.

Strengths - 1) 1B - Paul Goldschmidt is the heart and soul of these Diamondbacks. He provides the power to this offense with his 36 homeruns and 120 RBIs putting him third in the MVP voting last year. He could approach 100 walks with no intimidating bat hitting behind him.

Weaknesses - 1) Right Field. The injury to Steven Sousa puts a giant hole in the offense. They have no real alternatives unless they look to their farm system and call upon Socrates Brito. Yasmany Thomas is another option, but if he was good enough the Diamondbacks would have added him to the 40 man roster.
2) Bullpen. Lacks an established closer. Archie Bradley was at one time going to be an ace starter but failures have dropped him into the bullpen where he is more effective. He might be best used in shorter spurts. The Diamondbacks will test that theory early in the season.
3) The middle. Championship teams are usually strong up the middle. The D-backs carry very little power there. Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte may combine for double digit homeruns between them at short and second. Chris Ianetta has some pop behind the plate but was limited to less than 100 games last year. Centerfielder A.J. Pollock is better at spreading the gaps. Chris Owings will play a utility role but did show some surprising pop last year.

Top Rookie - Injuries have socked the opportunities Socrates Brito had for a starting spot. With a hole in right field it would appear Brito has an opportunity to fill it.

Top Prospect - Jon Duplantier had the best minor league season since a player named Justin Verlander dominated the competition a number of years ago.

Expected Finish - Third.

4. San Francisco Giants

Overall - They acquired some aging veterans in the hopes they will resurrect their careers. Age is not a pleasant issue to deal with when you’re playing in the dog days of August.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Even though they keep talking about moving Buster Posey to first, they keep him behind the plate because he is one of the best at this position. Last year his .320 average was fifth in the National League.

Weaknesses - 1) Age. Except for Joe Panik all their starting eight will be at the northern end of 30 years of age. Experience can be good but without a lot of rest it can get tiring as July turns to August.
2) Losing their Ace. Last year they missed Madison Bumgarner for the first couple months of the season and they floundered in last place to start the season. This year a broken hand will sideline Bumgarner for the first couple months of the season. They will have to turn to the disappointing Johnny Cueto for their ace.
3) Bullpen. They signed Mark Melancon last year to be their closer. He failed and had some arm injuries at the end of the season. Can he bounce back? There is not a lot behind him that could take over the closer role.

Top Rookie - Chris Shaw lacks the speed to play the outfield. Brandon Belt plays his position at first base. His bat will force the Giants to try to give him an opportunity somewhere.

Top Prospect - Heliot Ramos could be the first power bat the Giants have drafted since Buster Posey. The outfielder from Puerto Rico has five tool potential.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Padres again for the last spot in this division.

5. San Diego Padres

Overall - Unlike the Giants the Padres have their youth to hope for a better future. When that youth will be ready is probably 2019, when they can load the pitching staff with some decent starters.

Strengths - 1) Youth. They have to hope second year outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges get better. The loss of Dinelson Lamet could hurt their rotation if his injury proves serious.
2) First Base. Not one of the best first baseman in the league, but Eric Hosmer is noted for his solid leadership, important for a rebuilding team. With Kansas City he hit 25 homeruns and drove in 94.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. It looks pretty ugly. If Lamet is gone for an extended period it could look even uglier. The young pitchers could use a veteran hurler for a mentor but he is not yet in the rotation. Clayton Richard and his .308 opposition average will be the ace of this rotation.
2) Third Base. Chase Headley returns to San Diego but his skills have been sharply reduced. He will fill a role Fernando Tatis Jr may eventually occupy in 2019.
3) Bullpen. Losing teams do not need a closer and the Padres lack one. Brad Hand will fill the role. Last year he had success with 21 saves and a .192 opposition average. Time will tell whether he can repeat that performance.

Top Rookie - Franchy Cordero should fill an outfield role in left field if Hunter Renfroe continues his struggles. He shows a combination of power and speed and could spell Margot in centerfield.

Top Prospect - MacKenzie Gore. The Padres hope he will be their version of Clayton Kershaw.

Expected Finish - The lack of pitching will drop the Padres down to last place, which will give them a high draft pick for next season.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

30. Austin Hays OF (Orioles) 6.62 - For a third round pick in 2016 Austin shot up the minor league system quickly, beating all the first round picks to reach the majors. His 32 homeruns were tied for second in the minor leagues. He also hit for average crafting a .329 clip in two minor league seasons, never dropping below .324. For a power hitter he also makes good contact. While he played right field and is listed as having a strong arm myworld does not recall being impressed by any of his throws. The signing of Colby Rasmus could relegate him to AAA. Being the right handed bat in a platoon would not give him enough playing time to develop his game.

29. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 6.74 - The Mariners gave up on the Brazilian because of his inability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. That could be a trade they regret in a couple years. Luiz can hum a fastball in triple digits and sits in the high 90s. That is the gold standard for a lefthanded arm. He still has a little trouble getting the ball over the plate and his two pitch mix of slider/fastball may make him better suited as a closer. Luiz did get an opportunity to start five games with the Braves but command issues led to major league hitters whacking him at a .283 clip. A good spring could see him in the rotation but his best bet would be to start the season in AAA where he completed seven starts last year (3.31 ERA).

28. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) 6.78 - Touted as the next Cuban superstar, the White Sox were able to grab him for $26 million. Having fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada may have sweetened the deal. His last year in the Nacional Series as a 19 year old he put up Triple Crown numbers (.401, 12, 40) in just half a season before defecting. He was also named to the All Tournament team in the 18 and under World Cup. The legs have the speed to play center and the arm has enough zip to play right. In rookie ball he showed a good stick hitting .301 with three homeruns and a .536 slugging average. The White Sox will give him an opportunity to play full season ball, probably beginning the season in Low A.

27. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 7 - Injuries have held Austin back. In the last two years he has been limited to less than 90 games. The trade of Andrew McCutchen could have been an opportunity for him to win a starting job, but he will have to have a monumental spring training to stick on the roster. While he has all the tools to play centerfield, they still fall short of Starling Marte. A less than sterling arm could see him as a left fielder. His bat carries some pop and he makes good contact, with a .292 minor league average. Expect the Pirates to stick him in AAA to begin the season, get some at bats and gain some confidence before they call him up for the big club.

26. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 7.18 - A 6′7″ lefthander who can rain fastballs at the plate in the high 90s is a pitcher few want to face. The 2016 first round pick also has an above average slider, rated the best in the Athletics minor league system and a plus change, resulting in lots of swings and misses. In AA he averaged 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. Lefthanded hitters were also hopeless hitting against him, .196 at High A and .226 in AA. His slider also keeps the ball from leaving the park, allowing only three homeruns in 158 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Athletics in the 2018 season, but to control his innings they will start him in AAA to keep his pitch counts down.

25. MacKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) 7.28 - The Padres 2017 first round pick has ace like stuff. He proved that in his minor league debut last year limiting hitters to a .184 average and striking out 14.3 hitters per nine innings. The high school pitcher should still build some velocity on his mid-90s fastball as his 6′3″ frame matures. What sets Gore apart from many high school pitchers is his repertoire of quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). His command is also spot on. The 2018 season should see him begin it in Low A. With his quality stuff the biggest temptation for the Padres will be rushing him to the major leagues.

24. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 7.32 - If not for the crowded Dodgers outfield Alex would be the next rookie of the year candidate. His speed is a little slow to play centerfield, which would be his best opportunity on this Dodger club, but a cannon for an arm has him fit better in right. The concern for Alex is his ability to hit for power. To date it has not shown with a career .438 slugging. Last year he did spray the outfield for a .314 average, but teams are looking for power in their corner outfielders. There is also some concern whether he brings his A game every day. Myworld suspects he will start the 2018 season in AAA and be the first outfielder called up if an injury should occur. If his power fails to show he could end up as a fourth outfielder.

23. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) 7.44 - Royce was the first player selected in the 2017 draft, even though many touted the skills of Hunter Greene as the top pick. The Twins hope his career does not follow the path of another shortstop Tim Beckham, who struggled to establish himself in the major leagues after being the first pick in the draft. The tools are there for him to play shortstop with a strong arm and good range. The bat has the potential to be potent if he can survive the climb up the minor leagues as a shortstop. His speed allowed him to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he played 18 games at Low A, hitting .296. Expect him to start the 2018 season there, with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves early success at Low A.

22. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) 7.48 - A potential two way player who was expected to be the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Reds with the second pick had to be happy he was still available when it was their turn to pick. He played seven games as a DH hitting .233. The Reds then moved him to the rotation where he got three ineffective starts (12.46). His big attraction as a two way player was his ability to play shortstop, but with all the throwing at the position and the additional throwing on the mound would make it too taxing on his arm. With an arm that can hit triple digits with his fastball the Reds will start him in the rotation. If he falters there they can always turn him into a shortstop. At 6′4″ his ability to stay at short would have been in doubt. The Reds may start him at extended spring and then promote him to Dayton once the weather warms up.

21. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) 7.62 - Tristan may be one of myworld’s favorite pitchers. The last pitcher we witnessed that we were this high on as a 19 year old was a lefthander named Clayton Kershaw. Tristan has 6′5″ height and long wing spans that spells trouble for hitters. Last year there were lots of swings and misses (11.7 whiffs per nine) and little hard contact (.204 opposition average). He has a good curveball and the potential for a plus change. While his command is good he did give up 14 dingers last year. After dominating at High A the Indians will promote him to AA. With success there the Indians may have a need to promote him to the major leagues to get a spot in the playoffs.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 60-51

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

We’re halfway there. So much more to write about after this, finishing up the team’s prospect lists, the mlb predictions and the top ten prospects from various countries. At some point we will get to all of it, but first finishing up the Top 100.

60. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) 3.66 - The Dodgers have hung on to Alvarez after paying him a $16 million bonus in 2015 as a 19 year old. That is a lot of money for a pitcher who could not make Cuba’s 18 and under team because he could not find the plate. He did hit triple digits with his fastball and that was the start of the Dodgers attraction. They have him starting but he will probably end up in the bullpen because of undeveloped secondary pitches and his struggles finding the plate. He walked 6.82 hitters per 9 innings in his seven AA starts. There is still some time to improve his secondary pitches and be more consistent in finding the plate so the Dodgers will continue to use him in the rotation at AA to start the 2018 season.

59. Jay Groome LHP (Red Sox) 3.66 - Jay dropped to the Red Sox after some character issues scared teams away, allowing the Red Sox to make him their first round pick in 2016. At 6′6″ the lefty has a blazing fastball that hits the mid-90s with a plus curveball, traits teams seek for their ace in the rotation. He only pitched seven innings in 2016 so his big test came in Low A where he got 11 starts. He had trouble finding the plate (5.08) and retiring righthanders (.287) leading to an ugly 6.70 ERA. The Red Sox could give him a repeat of Low A to begin the 2018 season with an early season promotion to High A if he can find the plate more often.

58. Nick Gordon SS (Twins) 3.8 - The son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and the half brother of Dee Gordon lacks the speed of Dee but could have a better bat. Like Dee his power is minimal and his fielding at short needs to be more consistent. Last year he committed 19 errors in just 104 games at short. The Twins gave him some second base time as this could be his position of the future. The lefthanded hitter struggled against lefties last year (.174) and for someone who lacks power he swings and misses too much (134 whiffs in 122 games). A utility role could be in his future, especially if he continues to struggle against lefthanded pitching. The 9 homeruns he hit last year were almost double what he hit his first three years so some moderate power could be developing as he matures. The Twins could use him in 2018 for their playoff run but they will start him in AAA and wait for the perfect opportunity.

57. Jesse Winker OF (Reds) 3.88 - The 2012 supplemental first round pick of the Reds carries a mean stick but his best defensive position is probably at designated hitter. The power seemed to finally appear in the major leagues last year after he was limited to five homeruns in 191 AAA games. He slugged 7 in his 47 games with the Reds. Despite his below average defense in left field this could give him a platoon opportunity against right handed pitching. Jesse could only hit .120 against major league lefties, but even in AAA his batting average against lefthanders was 40 points lower than righthanders. If Jesse wants to find his name in the lineup the bat will have to produce to justify his limited defense in leftfield, and this includes hitting for power. The 2018 season should see him in a platoon role in left field. How long he keeps that role depends on a productive bat.

56. Alec Hansen RHP (White Sox) 4.08 - The 6′7″ right hander was a second round pick in 2016 out of Oklahoma. The college drafted pitcher with the high 90s fastball and mid-80s slider started the season in Low A and finished it in AA, having some success at each level. In Low A he limited the opposition to a .207 average with over 11 whiffs per nine innings in his 13 starts. High A did not phase him either with over 12 whiffs per nine innings and a .203 opposition average in 11 starts. In AA he was a bit more hittable (.333) but still struck out more than 14 hitters per nine innings in his two starts. For a tall starter he seems to find the plate well. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA with a promotion to the White Sox if a need arises. The White Sox have a plethora of quality pitchers they can call on in the minor leagues to fill their rotation so Alec may have to bide his time.

55. Chance Adams RHP (Yankees) 4.12 - The 2015 fifth round pick has been a bit of a surprise for the Yankees. At 6′0″ his height could be a durability issue in the rotation, but he throws in the mid-90s with a wicked slider resulting in a breakout 2016 season (13-1, 2.33 ERA). That excellence continued last year in AA (1.03 ERA) and AAA (2.89 ERA). In AAA he limited the opposition to a .197 average in 21 starts. The Yankees have a number of potential starters in the minor leagues who they can use in their rotation so a good spring could get Chance an opportunity.

54. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) 4.14 - An athletic outfielder who was the high school football player of the year in Georgia, Taylor decided to play baseball when the Reds drafted him as a supplemental first round pick in 2016. Taylor has blazing speed that will allow him to cover the outfield grass in center, but a below average arm which could limit him to left. His power began to show last year with his 13 homeruns and .450 slugging percentage in Low A. He also flew around the bases for 41 steals and 10 triples. The speed and patience to take a walk exists to fit in a leadoff role but as his power grows he could slide into the three hole. Taylor will try to build on his 2017 success in High A in 2018.

53. Justus Sheffield LHP (Yankees) 4.24 - Lefthanded pitchers who stand only 5′10″ are not frowned on as much as righthanders, especially when they hit mid-90s on the radar. The 2014 first round pick can also retire hitters with his slider and change, giving him three solid pitches for the rotation. Last year in AA he had some troubles retiring righthanded bats (.276) and his whiff rate was disappointing (7.91). The Yankees may find a need for him in the bullpen in 2018 to retire lefthanded hitters before fitting him in the rotation. Eventually he could fill a role as a three starter.

52. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) 4.3 - The Yankees acquiring Gleyber Torres moved Jorge from the shortstop position while with the Yankees. He also had some disciplinary issues when he complained about not being promoted to AA. This resulted in a disappointing 2016 season where the Yankees eventually traded him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Returning to shortstop seemed to put some spice back in his bat, though the speed in his legs to steal over 80 bases in 2015 has yet to return. Jorge has some sneaky power that could get him into double digits with homeruns. The speed in his legs will turn some singles into doubles and doubles into triples. If he could find his stolen base speed Jorge could be an impact player, though he did steal 13 bases in 16 attempts in 30 minor league games with the Athletics. If the shortstop job is filled the Athletics could move him to centerfield, where his speed would play well there. Expect him to start the season in AAA with a major league callup in midseason a possibility. The Athletics have more holes in their positions than the Yankees.

51. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers) 4.32 - The Brewers 2017 first round pick has an excellent bat. His defense is a question mark as a injured arm (sprained ulnar ligament) limited him to DH while playing college. The injured wing healed enough for him to play three games at second base, which could be his position in the majors (played outfield in college prior to the injury). The bat is what will separate Hiura, possibly batting title contention. He hit .436 in a 15 game debut in rookie ball and then .333 in 27 games in Low A. His power now is more geared toward the gaps but as he develops he could be a 20 plus homerun hitter who also hits north of .300. His 2018 season could start in High A with more time playing second base.

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 to 81

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The continuation of our Top 100 with three Brewers rated in this ten:

90. Corey Ray OF (Brewers) 1.42 - The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain gives Ray more development time in the minor leagues. The Brewers 2016 first round pick is now their top outfield prospect after the trade of Lewis Brinson. He doesn’t cover as much ground as Brinson in centerfield and his arm is not as strong but his bat should hit for some pop. There were too many swings and misses last year (156) resulting in an abysmal .238 average with a .368 slugging. The lefthanded bat digressed in his bat on ball contact and must learn to recognize breaking pitches if he wants to draw comparisons to Brinson. A repeat of High A would not be surprising since the Brewers outfield has so much depth. He will turn 24 this year so playing AA by mid-season will keep his prospect status intact.

89. Max Fried LHP (Braves) 1.54 - A slow first month gave the appearance of a wasted season. The 2012 first round pick of the Padres missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery. Max was traded to the Braves in the ill advised Justin Upton deal, one of many prospects the Padres traded to teams for veterans in a playoff run that failed to produce a playoff team. Max does not have overpowering stuff, with a fastball in the low 90s that can hit the mid-90s. The curveball is his best pitch getting most of his swings and misses. Max recovered from his slow start to get four starts with the Braves. A good spring could see him go north with the Braves to start the 2019 season.

88. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) 1.7 - Tyler was a seventh round pick in the 2013 draft but his 6′4″ pitcher’s frame allows him to dominant in games. He threw a nine inning no hitter in 2016 and last year made four starts with the Reds, finishing with a 2,70 ERA. His fastball cuts across the plate in the mid-90s but his secondary pitches are inconsistent. After his four starts with the Reds he will probably begin the season there unless a poor spring or an extension of service time keeps him in the minors.

87. Danny Jensen C (Blue Jays) 1.74 - The sleeper 16th round pick in 2013 seemed to find his bat last year. Coming into the 2017 season the catcher had a career .234 average with a slugging percentage of .336. He raked in the Florida State League hitting .369 with a .541 slugging percentage. This resulted in a promotion to AA where he still hit (.291, .419) and AAA where he hit even better (.328, .552). From a defensive standpoint he is a decent catcher with an average arm who catches the ball and does not allow passed balls (4 in 98 games). If his bat is real and he can duplicate the numbers he put up last year he should make his major league debut and at worst be a very good back up for the Blue Jays. His defense may not be to the high standard that he would play if his bat did not play.

86. Brandon Woodruff RHP (Brewers) 1.98 - Another player drafted low in the draft (11th round in 2014). His fastball ticked a couple clicks higher in 2016 going from the low 90s to 93-95 and his whiff numbers increased from 6 per nine innings to almost 10 per nine innings. The opposition also went from hitting him at a .265 clip going down to a .208 clip. A hamstring injury limited him to 16 starts in AAA and his numbers went back to his earlier years, but he was pitching in Colorado Springs. He also made his major league debut with 8 starts and a 4.81 ERA. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a good slider and change, three pitches necessary for the rotation. He will probably fit at the end of the Brewers rotation.

85. Corbin Burnes RHP (Brewers) 2 - The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering with a fastball in the Low 90s. He still is developing his secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) with all having the potential to be average offerings. So while the stuff is not awe inspiring the numbers he put up last year were very impressive. In 10 high A starts he finished with an ERA of 1.05 with a .181 opposition average. This led to a promotion to AA where in 16 starts his ERA was at 2.10 with a .212 opposition average. His strikeout rate was also pretty good, falling just short of one per inning. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA but if hitters still struggle to make solid contact off him the Brewers will find room for him in their rotation by mid-season.

84. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) 2.02 - The Venezuelan is not known for his strong arm or his strong defensive tools. Those areas are still a work in progress. What he does have is a strong bat that entered the 2017 season with a career .344 average in two seasons. Coming into this season his power was restricted to the gaps. Last year the bat continued to smoke with a .317 average in Low A and a .315 average in High A. The switch hitter did have some trouble hitting against left handed pitching, seeing his average fall below .250 at both levels. The power increased with a .497 slugging and a career high six homeruns in the hitter friendly California League. Keibert now appears to be the Dodgers catcher of the future with a stint in AA next on his schedule. That is just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles.

83. Alex Faedo RHP (Tigers) 2.04 - The Tigers 2017 first round pick did not pitch last year but at 6′5″ with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked slider, he should rise quickly up the minor league ranks after being drafted out of college. It was the second time the Tigers drafted him, the first time after high school. At his high school (Braulio Alonso High School) he was a teammate of Jose Fernandez. As a college drafted player the Tigers will probably start him in a full season league. His last two years of college he struck out over 11 hitters per nine innings.

82. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) 2.22 - There does not seem to be a lot of room for Miguel on the Yankee roster with Gleyber Torres destined for third base. Miguel has some good pop in his bat with 16 homeruns last year between AA and AAA. He also makes decent contact for a power hitter resulting in an average north of .300 at both AA and AAA. In his brief major league debut he hit .571 in less than 10 at bats. His defense could use some polish with 17 errors in just over 100 games. With Gleyber Torres coming back from injury Miguel could start the season with the Yankees, but he has to show he is ready.

81. Dustin Fowler OF (Athletics) 2.22 - The Yankees centerfielder of the future was not drafted until the 18th round of the 2013 draft. The five tool athlete stole 25 bases and slugged 12 homeruns in 2016. His future as a Yankee ended when he was part of the trade with the Athletics for Sonny Gray. The 2017 season was more of the same with his homeruns (13) equaling his stolen bases in his first 70 games. After the trade to the Athletics he was promoted to the major league club where he was injured early in his first game. His speed allows him to play center but his arm could force him to left. When he is ready to contribute expect him to approach 20/20 (homeruns. stolen bases).

Myworld’s 2018 Top 100 Prospects - 100 - 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018

It is now time for myworld to rank our top 100 baseball prospects. It is not really my personal rankings but a measurement system used taking the top 100 rankings of Haven, CBS Fantasy Baseball, MLB.com, Baseball America and Fangraphs. There may be some that we miss and myworld refuses to access the paid subscription sites. You can see past lists at our website starting from 2008 when Jay Bruce was the number one prospect.

100. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) 1.02 - Not much activity on Espinoza since he was inactive after Tommy John surgery last year. Prior to that he was considered a Pedro Martinez clone because of his mid-90s fastball and small stature (6′0″). It will be interesting to see what he gains or loses from the surgery. The Padres acquired him from the Red Sox in the controversial Drew Pomeranz trade. Pomeranz was determined to be damaged goods but it was Espinoza that ultimately had the season ending surgery. An excellent fastball and curve give him the pitches to be a starter but he could move to the bullpen if durability becomes an issue. Expect the Padres to limit his innings as his arm gains strength.

99. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) 1.02 - Another Dominican but Acevedo stands 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball that can also reach triple digits. He also has a good change and once he gets more consistency with his slider he could be dominant. The high spending Yankees only had to pay a $7,500 bonus to sign him back in 2012. He dominated at AA with a 9/1 whiff to walk ratio but a promotion to AAA led to some control issues in his two starts. Expect him to start the season in AAA with a possible promotion should he have the same success in AAA that he had in AA.

98. Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) 1.06 - Originally a first round pick of the Rangers, they traded him to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy. He won the MVP for the United States 18 and under gold medal team back in 2013. There have not been a lot of highlights since then. Injuries have limited his innings and he has yet to reach 100 innings since being drafted in 2014, but he did reach a high of 94 innings last year. His fastball reaches the mid-90s but he isn’t an overpowering pitcher, striking out just 7.5 hitters per 9 innings at AA and being a bit homer prone with 12 of his pitches leaving the park. This should be the year he makes his major league debut provided he achieves success in AAA. At best he fits in as a mid-rotation starter.

97. Zack Collins C (White Sox) 1.1 - The 2016 first round pick is noted more for his bat than his glove. The bat had enough juice to hit 17 homeruns in High A with two more added in a brief AA callup. Finding the backstop was a common occurrence with Collins with 16 passed balls evidence of his lack of flexibility behind the plate. He also had trouble hitting lefthanded pitching with a .167 average dropping his overall average to .223 in High A. He takes a lot of walks (76) but stirs a breeze a lot with his swings (118 whiffs). He should start the 2018 season in AA. If his defense does not improve behind the plate he should have the bat to move to first. His 6′3″ frame is tall for a catcher.

96. Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) 1.12 - He may be a Marlin after we write this with his name being discussed in the J.T. Realmuto trade talks. The Nationals drafted him in the first round of the 2016 draft. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system while his father played baseball in the Dutch leagues. Carter has the bat that should play with good power but his speed will fall short in the stolen base department. If he can’t overtake Trea Turner at short his best position would be second, with the power lacking for third. Next year should see him continue his progress in High A either in the Nationals system or the Marlins.

95. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) 1.12 - A second Yankee righthander on this list who can throw in the mid-90s but can dial it up to the high 90s. Abreu is a little below Acevedo in the development chart. The Astros originally signed him for $175,000 but the Yankees were able to acquire him in the Brian McCann trade. His secondary pitches need to be more consistent to play off his fastball but if they don’t develop the bullpen could become his home. Albert could start the season in High A where he finished with a 4.19 ERA last year and was fairly hittable (.252). A promotion to AA will occur once he shows he can tame Florida State League hitters.

94. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) 1.24 - The Dodgers have spent a king’s ransom for Cuban prospects and the only player to see some success is Yasiel Puig, who some would argue has yet to reach his potential. Diaz signed for $15.5 million back in 2015. He played in the junior national leagues in Cuba. There is some potential for power in his bat. Last year he hit 11 homeruns between High A and AA with a .333 average in AA in a 31 game trial. His speed is best suited for a corner outfield with an above average arm that will allow him to play in right. You don’t want him stealing bases as his 9 for 23 success rate spells doom. He also committed 13 errors in the outfield. The Dodgers may assign him to AA where he will continue to refine his game trying to improve his defense and jump on the bases.

93. Monte Harrison OF (Marlins) 1.26 - A trade from the Brewers to the Marlins for Christian Yelich could provide Monte an opportunity for a quicker path to the major leagues. The speed is there for him to cover centerfield with an arm to play right. His power seemed to break out last year with 21 homeruns. Combine that with his 27 for 31 success rate in stolen bases and you have the potential for at least a 20/20 player. With some improvement in making contact (139 whiffs) could make him an impact player. A good spring with the Marlins could start him in AA. They will need to show something soon for their Christian Yelich trade but an appearance in the major leagues will probably have to wait until 2019.

92. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Astros) 1.28 - J.B. was the Astros first round pick in 2017 out of North Carolina. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s that has hit triple digits. If Lithuania should need a player for a World Baseball Classic team he could be eligible. J.B. got three starts and 10 innings in his professional debut but two of those starts were at Low A. Expect him to start there in 2018. At 6′0″ he is not a large pitcher so there could be some concern about his durability as a starter.

91. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) 1.36 - Coming into the 2017 season the Venezuelan was not on any prospect lists. His small stature (6′0″) and lack of an overpowering fastball left him off any lists. He gained a couple ticks on his fastball last year to hit the mid-90s and he achieved some success against righthanders in AA limiting them to a .197 average. He also struck out close to 9 hitters per 9 innings. It will be interesting if he can repeat that success in 2018 or if his Cub pedigree enhanced his prospect status. The 2018 season will determine that.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The last group of position players rated by myworld. This is the largest and most important one since no playoff teams can survive without an ace. Most of your aces throw from the right side. Below is myworld’s top ten right handed pitchers and others to watch:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) - A coup for the Angels to sign the best pitcher coming out of Japan since Yu Darvish. The big question is whether his elbow can hold up. If so he could become the best pitcher in major league baseball. If not he could transform himself into an All Star power hitting rightfielder. Right now, the Angels plan on him doing both, restricting his offensive performance to DH duties. To protect his elbow the Angels may go to a six man rotation. No major league starting pitcher had an average velocity higher than Otani last year, though injuries limited his starts. His splitter is also a pretty good pitch but he limited that offering severely after his elbow issues. He still has a number of other pitches in his repertoire to retire hitters. For the Angels to compete in the playoffs he needs to turn into their ace. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, something he had trouble accomplishing in Japan.

2. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year he finished with an ERA of 1.39 after 24 starts. No pitcher in the history of minor league baseball has had a lower ERA since Justin Verlander and we know what kind of pitcher he became once he arrived in the major leagues. Like Ohtani the biggest concern with Duplantier is the health of his arm. Both shoulder and elbow problems have restricted his innings. In 2016 a balky elbow limited him to just one inning after he was drafted in the third round in 2016 and a shoulder injury impacted his college appearances. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and is complemented by a plus curveball and change. Last year the opposition hit him at a .192 clip in addition to his 165 whiffs in 136 innings. After having success in High A last year he should start the season in AA, but that could depend on the success of his spring. A September callup is a possibility with a good season but it will probably be restricted to the bullpen.

3. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - Myworld has already stated that the last 19 year old we saw pitch impress me so much was Clayton Kershaw. We can still picture the smile on Joe Torre’s face after Kershaw was done pitching his one exhibition inning. That same smile will appear on the face of Terry Francona after he sees Tristan pitch. A 6′5″ inch preying mantis with long arms and a skinny frame should start slinging the ball in the high 90s once he puts some meat on his bones. His curveball and change are plus pitches resulting in a plethora of swings and misses. Like Duplantier he should start the season in AA and if the Indians need rotation help for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they do not call him up. Because of his youth and his sleight frame the Indians will be protective of his innings.

4. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox first round 2014 pick was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade. Kopech throws harder than Sale, hitting triple digits with his fastball. Many scouts say he is the hardest thrower in the minor leagues. Throwing hard and getting outs are two different issues. A promotion to AAA saw the opposition average increase from .184 to .263, though the sample size for AAA was very small. Kopech has a good slider which allows him to get a number of swings and misses. With a good spring he could squeeze into the rotation but the White Sox have a number of pitchers higher on the depth chart to consider first. Myworld suspects mid-season will see his major league debut.

5. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - The Venezuelan started his career as a third baseman. The Astros converted him to pitcher because they liked his arm. His fastball can light up the radar in the high 90s with a couple good breaking pitches and a plus change to keep hitters guessing. The Astros traded him to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, initially signing him to a $1 million bonus in 2014. At 6′3″ he still has some frame to fill out. After starting the season at AA it should not take him long to find himself in the Tiger’s rotation, unless they do not want his option clock running by placing him on the roster too early.

6. Hunter Greene (Reds) - There was some talk of making him a two way player, but playing shortstop and having him pitch was felt to be too demanding. His fastball spits the plate in triple digits, giving Ohtani and Kopech a run for the hardest fastball. His secondary pitches could still use some polish. If they fail to develop he could always be used as a closer, or put back in the lineup as a shortstop. The first round 2017 pick struggled in his three minor league starts, giving up 8 hits in his 4.1 innings of work. Hunter may need more time in extended spring training before joining a full season team.

7. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes has had some bad luck. First he was suspended in 2016 for 80 games after testing positive for drugs, then missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Reyes hit the high 90s with his fastball. Control has been his big issue, which could be corrected if he did not miss so much time due to suspensions and injuries. Alex did not play last year and will need some time in extended spring training and then in the minor leagues before the Cardinals risk him for the rotation. They will limit his innings since he has only pitched in 111 innings the last two years, all of those pitched in 2016. By mid-year he could be ready for a short relief role, fitting perhaps into the closer role.

8. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - He falls short in velocity when compared to the other pitchers on this list. The supplemental first round pick in 2014 can hit the mid-90s with his fastball but settles in the low 90s. The big pitch that gets the most publicity is the screw ball, which he does not throw that much, but it is a unique pitch. His change is also a pretty good pitch, enhancing the velocity of his fastball. Last year he pitched at AAA and struck out more than a hitter per inning but the opposition hit him at a .268 clip. He may stay around the plate too much making his pitches more hittable. Next year he should start the season in the Rays rotation. The team has already lost one pitcher to free agency (Chris Archer) and have another on the trading block. Spring training will seal his fate to begin the 2018 season.

9. Sandy Alcantara (Marlins) - Another one of those Cardinal finds in the Dominican Republic who slings the ball across the plate in triple digits. The Cardinals included him in the Marcell Ozuna trade giving the Marlins the benefit of his triple digit fastball. He sits in the high 90s using a slider as his breaking pitch. His change shows good potential but his command needs work. Last year he walked 54 in 125 innings and the opposition hit him at a .262 clip. Despite the heat on his fastball he struck out less than a batter per inning. Better command will result in better location of his pitches and more swings and misses. He could start the season in the Marlins rotation with a good spring, but more likely will see AAA. Last year he made his major league debut pitching eight games in relief.

10. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He seemed to arrive out of nowhere in 2016 to become a top ranked pitcher. He was a second round pick in 2014 and with his fastball hitting the mid 90s and a plus curveball and change he had a breakout 2016. Last year he did not disappoint limiting the opposition to a .202 average and whiffing a hitter per inning. Mitch is a pitcher who mixes his pitches well and locates them with precision. Last year he started six games in AA, which is where he will start the 2017 season. A good spring and an excellent start to the season will see him make his major league debut by mid season.

Others to Note:

Mike Soroka (Braves) - A first round pick in 2015. The Canadian does not throw hard but he locates well. At 6′5″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. Expect him to see the Braves rotation by mid season.

Touki Toussaint (Braves) - Once he overcomes his lack of command he will rise quickly. His fastball reaches the high 90s and his long arms give it a good whip like quality. He will start the season in AA.

Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - A first round pick and son of closer Bryan Harvey has seen his career stalled by injury. The 2018 season he hopes will be a complete season where he can unleash his mid-90s fastball to go along with his excellent curveball. A late season promotion could be in his future, but the Orioles want to be patient with him and control his innings.

Jesus Liranzo (Orioles) - Every pitch out of his arm hits the radar in triple digits with an easy delivery. He is probably slated for the bullpen because of a lack of control and secondary pitches. He is one of those pitchers who could have a breakout career if he can find a second and third pitch and the control improves. Watch out for him in the Orioles pen or rotation in 2018.

Dylan Cease (White Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Cubs in 2014 he began to draw attention to himself when he started humming his fastball in the triple digits. The Cubs traded him to their cross town rival White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. The White Sox have a lot of young depth in the rotation and Dylan needs to improve his command. He will start the season in High A.

Alec Hansen (White Sox) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ frame and his long wing spans that allows him to sizzle his fastball in the high 90s. He gets a ton of swings and misses and the opposition struggled against him, hitting just .216. He is another pitcher who needs to locate his pitches better. That will be done as he starts the season in AA.

Dane Dunning (White Sox) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 who they traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Don’t be surprised to see three ex-Nationals in the White Sox rotation next year in Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dunning. His fastball reaches the mid 90s with good secondary pitches. Next year he will begin the season in AA.

Tyler Mahle (Reds) - The Reds 7th round 2015 pick made a name for himself in 2016 with a 9 inning no hitter. He had a breakout season last year catapulting him to the major league rotation for four starts. His fastball has good velocity and he has excellent command of four pitches. Expect him to fill the Reds rotation next season.

Riley Pint (Rockies) - The fourth pick in the 2016 draft hits the triple digits but tends to sit on the high side of the mid-90s. He also has got excellent command of four pitches. Despite his stuff his strikeout rate was disappointing and the opposition hit him at a .264 clip in Low A. Next year he will start the season in High A.

Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers will have an excellent rotation in a couple years with Perez, Manning, Faedo and Beau Burrows. Manning stands 6′6′ and rains mid to high 90s fastballs on hitters. The 2016 first rounder has the pitches to shine at the top of a rotation, beginning that ascent at High A in 2018.

Alex Faedo (Tigers) - The 2017 first round pick has an excellent fastball slider combination. Last year he pitched Florida to the College World Series championship and was held back by the Tigers. Another top of the rotation starter should begin his year in Low A and as a college drafted pitcher move quickly through the Tigers system.

Forest Whitely (Astros) - The Astros 2016 first round pick is a popular conversation piece during trade talks. At 6′7″ and 240 pounds his mid-90s fastballs sizzle across the plate. His tall frame does not seem to impact his command. With a good season in AA he should fit in the Astros rotation by mid-season.

Walker Buehler (Dodgers) - The Dodgers first round 2015 pick made the Dodgers bullpen last year. His control wavered a bit in the major league callup, but he has four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. The Dodgers will want to limit his innings after Tommy John surgery in 2015. He will start the season in AAA and by mid-season could be in the rotation or used out of the bullpen.

Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed the Cuban for $16 million. His velocity hits triple digits but he has trouble finding the plate. If he continues to struggle throwing strikes he could move to the bullpen, but he has the pitches to fit in the rotation.

Jorge Guzman (Marlins) - The Marlins were able to pry this Dominican with the triple digit fastball away from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is a challenge of finding the plate and the lack of a third pitch may relegate him to the bullpen.

Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) - Another Yankee Dominican with a triple digit fastball, Domingo dominated at AA and shows better command of his pitches than Guzman. He also has three pitches to fit into a rotation. Expect him to start the season in the AAA rotation but with a good spring he could be going to New York in April.

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but his arm can sling a fastball to the plate in the mid 90s. Sixto also shows good command of his pitches. A good spring could see him start the season in AA but after only five starts in High A the Phillies may want to begin his 2018 season in the warm weather of Florida.

Anderson Espinoza (Padres) - Another small pitcher (6′0″) with a small frame (165 pounds), Espinoza succumbed to Tommy John surgery late in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017. It will be interesting how his mid-90s fastball responds. Noted for his plus change Anderson will probably start the season in extended spring training and see his first games in Low A if he is ready before July or in rookie ball if the Padres want to show patience. The hope is that he ends the season in High A.

Michael Baez (Padres) - A 6′8″ Cuban with high 90s heat. The Padres shelled out $3 million for him at the end of 2016 and last year he made an impressive debut. The opposition hit him at a .188 clip and he struck out 89 in 63.2 innings. He should start 2018 in High A.

Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2104 first round pick has been percolating up the Cardinals minor leagues for a few years. Last year he made his major league debut and the Cardinals hope to see more of his mid-90s fastball in the rotation. What sets him apart is an excellent change that enhances the velocity of his fastball. A good spring could see him in the rotation.

Dodgers Address Luxury Tax with Premium Prospects

Monday, January 1st, 2018

The choices are simple. The Dodgers can throw $20 million contracts at veterans but with a 25 man roster they will soon find themselves exceeding the luxury tax. Or they can throw $5 million at premium prospects, hope they develop and give them six years of contract control play before they become free agents. The Dodgers have recognized that throwing their money at younger players is the best way to keep their expenditures contained. This is a discussion of the Dodgers prospects, who management hopes will sprinkle their major league rosters at some point in time.

The next player most available to help the big club is Alex Verdugo. He made his major league debut last year hitting just .174 in 23 at bats but his line drive swing hit .314 in AAA. His average speed makes playing centerfield a stretch, the position the Dodgers have the most need for, but the arm is well suited for right field, a spot currently occupied by Yasiel Puig. Left field may be his best bet to fill a role with the Dodgers. Last year he only hit 6 homeruns in AAA, slugging at a .436 rate. Teams are hopeful for more than that from their corner outfielders. With a 52/50 walk to whiff rate in AAA perhaps he can try putting a little more loft in his swing, sacrificing some contact for power.

The Cuban Yusniel Diaz is a possibility for centerfield play. Other than Yasiel Puig the Dodgers have not had a lot of success with their Cuban signings, and Yasiel has not been problem free. Diaz needs more time in AA to improve on his routes, make better contact and enhance his stolen base success rate. His arm will allow him to play right but his power could be a little short for a corner. How quickly he is pushed will be dependent on the success of Joc Pederson to play center.

Jeren Kendall was the Dodgers 2017 first round pick. He is probably the Dodgers centerfielder of the future but still a couple years away from making an impact. As a college drafted player he could rise quickly. The big part of his game he needs to improve on is making contact. He runs like the wind, hitting eight triples in just 40 games last year. The power is there and should increase with improved contact. A good spring could see him start his season in High A next year, rising to AA before the year is done.

The Dodgers spent $2.6 million in 2015 for the Dominican Starling Heredia. The power is there and at 6′2″, 200 pounds with a solid arm the physical traits are perfect for right field. He is still a few years away from contending for a major league spot, but dominated at the Rookie level hitting .427. There is still a lot of swing and miss in his bat and another year in Low A where he hit just .212 would be best for him to start 2018.

Another intriguing outfielder is D.J. Peters. At 6′6″ he has the build that a number of teams are looking for in their right fielders, i.e Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. The Dodgers selected him in the fourth round in the 2016 draft. Last year he showed his power in the hitter friendly California League, slugging 27 homeruns. For his height he runs well and while he may not win any gold gloves he will be serviceable in the outfield. His large frame also gives him a large strike zone, resulting in 189 whiffs in just 132 games. Improved contact could see him rise quickly. Next year he should start the season in AA.

Pitching is where the Dodgers usually excel. They have two jewels in Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez. Walker was their 2015 first round pick. He made his major league debut last year pitching in relief after rising up three different levels. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in 2015 and last year limited him to just five innings. The Dodgers were careful with his innings, moving him to the bullpen in AAA after three starts. His fastball can explode to the high 90s, sitting in the mid 90s with excellent to above average secondary pitches. The big concern with him is his slight build. At 6′2″ and 175 he may be better suited for the bullpen. To control his innings the Dodgers will start him in AAA and will try to get him to over 100 innings. More bullpen relief in the major leagues would not be a surprise later in the year.

Yadier Alvarez is another Cuban signing the Dodgers hope will be more fruitful than some of their other failures, i.e. Hector Olivera, Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarruena. The Dodgers shelled out a $16 million bonus plus penalty to sign Yadier. His fastball can hit triple digits and his secondary pitches are all excellent to above average, especially his slider. Control of his pitches is his most challenging step to getting to the major leagues. Last year he walked 50 hitters in just 92.1 innings, high pitch counts limiting the number of innings he could work. If he fails to reign in his command he could step in as the Dodgers closer. This season he will start in AA with a September promotion a possibility.

Jordan Sheffield was the Dodgers first round pick in 2016. His fastball is not as powerful as the two jewels and at 5′10″ his frame is not ideal for a righthander. He can hit the high 90s but generally sits on the higher side of the low 90s with good secondary pitches to fit in the middle of a rotation. Like Yadier, throwing strikes is his biggest issue with 57 walks in 107 innings.

At 27 years of age time is running out for Yasiel Sierra, a Cuban the Dodgers signed to a six year $30 million contract. In Cuba he pitched mainly out of the bullpen, which is where he pitched last year for the Dodgers after starting in 2016 in the rotation and struggling there. Pitching in shorter spurts seems to be better suited for him, low 90s fastball rising up a couple ticks and increasing his K’s per nine innings from 8.7 per nine innings to 10.6. A good spring could see him go to Los Angeles in April but the more likelihood is starting the season in AAA and working the shuttle from Oklahoma City and Los Angeles whenever the Dodgers need bullpen help.

Two catchers to watch are Will Smith and Keibert Ruiz. Will has the defensive tools to be a premium catcher. Whether his bat will catch up is his biggest obstacle. The 2016 first round pick hit just .232 in the California League but showed some power with 11 homeruns. The arm is there to control the running game. At worst he should be a decent backup for a major league team. His speed is above average for a catcher, stealing 7 bases in 73 games last year.

Keibert has lesser defensive tools but the potential for a better bat. Last year he hit .316 at two levels, hitting 8 homeruns for a .452 slugging percentage. The Venezuelan finished his season at High A so is a little behind Smith on the depth chart. The Dodgers signed him in 2014 and he is ready to rise quickly up the Dodgers prospect ladder. His defensive tools are fine for a catcher.

Gavin Lux is the Dodgers most promising infielder. The 2016 first round pick was drafted as a shortstop but Corey Seager should have control of that position for awhile. The defensive tools are there to play short but the bat will never match Corey. The Dodgers have given him time at second base, which is his best alternate position. He lacks the power to fit at third. This year he should see time in the California League after hitting .244 last year at Low A.

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

These are the athletes of the outfield. The shortstops of the grassy plains, the heroes to the kids who watch their long strides as they race to a ball miles away from them. To make the grade here players need to be fast with good instincts to get good jumps. They need to be moving as soon as the ball is hit. Because of their athletic ability many of the better centerfielders are some of your best hitters, but they don’t have to be. A manager will sacrifice some offense if a player can save a lot of runs with his glove. Below are myworld’s Top Ten centerfielders.

1. Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He is probably considered the best prospect in baseball for 2018. Many compare him to Andrew Jones. The Venezuelan has all five tools in abundance, with power being the least developed, a pretty nice bargain for the $100,000 bonus the Braves paid to acquire him. As he matures the power will get better while the speed may decrease. Last year he slugged 21 homers with 44 stolen bases, becoming one of the rare 20/20 players. At three different levels he hit .325. The one area of his game the Braves would like to see him improve is in his ability to make contact. He struck out 144 times in 139 games last year, an area major league pitchers may be able to exploit to drive down his average. The Braves will probably start him off in AAA in 2018 with a quick promotion to the big leagues if his bat produces. With a good spring he could find himself as the Braves starting centerfielder.

2. Victor Robles (Nationals) - Most fans are talking about Robles taking over for Bryce Harper after he leaves for free agency. They say it with a casualness that no production will be lost with Robles fitting into the outfield. He carries five very strong tools with power being the least developed. Like Acuna that power will come as he matures. The Nationals were so impressed with his development that they put him on their playoff roster. Last year he was more of a gap hitter with 37 doubles and 10 homeruns to construct an impressive .493 slugging percentage. His 27 stolen bases are not a true reflection of his speed but more about him hitting in the middle of the order and not being asked to steal bases. The Nationals outfield is currently crowded so it would not make sense to use him as a fourth outfielder. He will be the first player called up if an injury should force a starter to have an extended absence.

3. Luis Robert (White Sox) - As a 19 year old Luis was in the process of winning the Triple Crown in the Cuban League with a .401 average, 12 homeruns and 40 RBIs. Myworld put him as one of the top young Cuban players to watch, but at the halfway point of the season he defected for the United States. He played mostly the corners for Cuba but he carries the speed to play center, with the arm to fit in right. The power should deliver 30 plus homeruns with an average close to .300. Last year he played in the Dominican Summer League, slugging .536. Myworld would not be surprised to see him start the 2018 season at Low A.

4. Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) - The third round 2012 pick may be one of the more athletic players on this list. His primary sport was football with his first three years in the minor leagues going back and forth between baseball and college football. The 2016 season was his first year focusing on baseball. Injuries have held him back limiting him to 92 games that year and last year he played in just 81 games. The Jays were impressed enough with him to give him a major league callup but an injury ended that debut after just four games. Another five tool player could find himself in the leadoff or three spot, depending on the Blue Jays needs. A good spring could see him on the major league roster, but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

5. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Leody carries a little more power than his cousin Willie Taveras, but his legs carry less speed. The Rangers were impressed enough with the Dominican that they signed him for $2.1 million. At 19 years of age the power is just beginning to show with 8 homeruns at the low A level. Last year he struggled a bit when compared to his 2016 season, his average dropping from .325 to .249. A fifth player with all five tools, Leady should find himself in High A to begin the 2018 season.

6. Jo Adell (Angels) - It may be a bit premature to place the Angels 2017 first round pick so high but his .325 average and .908 OPS were hard to ignore. He runs with the wind, can mash the ball a long way and as a pitcher could throw a fastball in the high 90s. The tools are there to be an impact player. A 14/49 walk to whiff ratio in 49 games is evidence that he needs to improve his patience at the plate. Jahmai Jones may beat him to centerfield in the major leagues but Jo may have the better tools to field the position. Expect him to start the season at Low A in 2018 with a quick promotion dependent upon his performance.

7. Jeren Kendell (Dodgers) - Just a shade up north is the Dodgers first round pick in 2017. He may be one of the faster players among this top ten list. As a college drafted player he should move up quickly through the farm system. In his debut he hit .455 in five games in short season but when promoted to Low A struggled for a .221 average. The swing and miss appears to be his greatest flaw, with 45 whiffs in 40 games. If not tamed that may result in lower averages once he reaches the major leagues. Jeren could repeat Low A with a quick promotion to High A with early success.

8. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - The Haitian born outfielder had a breakout year last year vaulting him into top ten recognition. Last year he hit double digits in homeruns (13) with a .298 average and 23 stolen bases while he covered a lot of ground in centerfield. His bat and legs give him the potential to be at minimum a 20/20 player. To accomplish that he needs to cut down on his whiffs paring down the 148 in 110 games. Next year will be a key to determine if he can replicate his 2017 numbers. A good spring will see him start the season in the Florida State League.

9. Lewis Brinson (Brewers) - The Brewers acquired the 2012 first round pick of the Rangers after trading away Jonathan Lucroy. Shoulder injuries last year limited him to just 78 games but a .331 average and a .928 OPS led to his major league debut. In the majors he flopped, hitting just .108 but with two of his five hits carrying over the fence. While he has the speed to steal bases he has yet to steal over 20 bases in any of his seasons. Because of his major league struggles last season he will probably start the 2018 season in AAA with the Brewers waiting for his bat to get hot before giving him his major league promotion.

10. Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) - Lazarito came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The tools are there for him to be an impact major leaguer. Some question whether his character will allow his tools to stand out. In his stateside debut he hit .288 with an .850 OPS and 10 stolen bases in 47 games. He has the potential to be a 20/20 player in the major leagues. Like most players his age getting their first exposure to minor league baseball, he needs to cut down on his swings and misses (48 K’s in 41 games). The 2018 season should see him begin the year in Low A with the possibility to perform at High A.

Others to Note

Cristian Pache (Braves) - It will be tough to knock Acuna from his centerfield destination. Pache has more speed than Acuna but his bat carries much less power. Last year he was homerless but he did steal 32 bases.

Taylor Trammell (Reds) - Another two way player who could have played football in college. Taylor has excellent speed and the bat for power. He draws enough walks to hit in the leadoff position but as he matures he may fit better in the number 3 hole.

Jose Siri (Reds) - The Dominican had a break out year with the power, hitting 24 homeruns while stealing 46 bases. He showed flashes of this brilliance in 2016 when he hit 10 homeruns. There is still a little bit too much swing and miss in his swing, but if he can tame that he will be a hitter to reckon with in a couple years.

Greg Allen (Indians) - A little Aztec bias. He runs well to stick in center, but he lacks power. Last year he made his major league debut hitting .229.

Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike was able to blast 14 homeruns last year, even though he does not carry the power category. He should follow in his dad’s shoes with gold glove caliber defense.

Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels second round pick in 2012 has average offensive tools but above average when it comes to speed. He covers a lot of ground in centerfield and should hit for double digits in the power category.

Desmond Lindsay (Mets) - His tools have yet to match his performance. Health has kept him off the diamond, but last year he played a career high 65 games.

Dustin Fowler (Athletics) - Last year he had a breakout season with 13 homeruns in 70 AAA games resulting in a major league promotion. In his first major league game, before he could get an at bat he injured a knee sliding into a fence. This didn’t stop the Athletics from trading for him in the Sonny Gray trade. A mixture of speed and power makes him dangerous.

Roman Quinn (Phillies) - Perhaps the fastest player on this list. Injuries have prevented the 2011 second round pick from starting his major league career. An elbow injury limited him to 45 games last year. Not much power in his bat and taking more walks would help him as a leadoff hitter.

Franchy Cordero (Padres) - Franchy had a remarkable breakout season last year with 18 triples, 17 homeruns and a .328 batting average. This led to a promotion to the Padres where he hit .228 and struck out 44 times in his 98 at bats. A 23/118 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience at the plate.

Michael Gettys (Padres) - His defensive tools are gold glove caliber. The big concern is the bat. There is some gap power when he makes contact, but making contact has been a challenge with 191 whiffs in just 116 games in High A.

Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick from Puerto Rico has a good combination of power and speed. Strikeouts were a problem for him in the rookie league (48 in 35 games). The 2017 season should see him start in Low A full season where his performance will be tested.

Magneuris Sierra (Marlins) - The Cardinals just included the Dominican in a trade to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna. He is the typical centerfielder who covers a lot of ground, but has very little power in his bat. His success rate in stealing bases is not great resulting in a drop in total attempts last year.

Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - The lefthanded bat from the Dominican signed for $400,000 in 2015. Last year he made his first start in the full season league, showing power (15 homeruns), the ability to hit for average (.305) and the ability to cover a lot of ground on defense. His speed is plus but not enough to steal bases.