Archive for the 'Dodgers' Category

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

Stat of the Week

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Baseballsavant.com carries some interesting statistical numbers. Last week we listed the top ten players for speed. Some of the names surprised us. This week we list the top ten players in exit velocity on average and distance to see how they marry. Not too many surprises here.

Exit Velocity

1) Joey Gallo (96.3) - Having a career year in batting average (.276) with 17 homeruns.
2) Nelson Cruz (94.5) - At 38 years of age his homerun numbers are going down, but it appears he still hits the ball hard.
3) Josh Bell (94.4) - Having a career year with 18 homeruns and leading the NL in RBIs (57).
4) Christian Yelich (93.8) - Gunning for another MVP award with 23 homeruns leading major league baseball.
5) Gary Sanchez (93.4) - A good bounce back year for him with his 19 homeruns already exceeding last year’s totals in less at bats.
6) Shohei Ohtani (93.3) - He can still throw the ball harder than he hits, but that exit velocity is still impressive.
7) Josh Donaldson (93) - The flyer the Braves took on him signing him to a big one year contract is paying off
8) Franmil Reyes (93) - One of the best young hitters in baseball. Staying with the big boys with his 19 homeruns
9) Carlos Santana (92.9) - Not changing his evil ways against American League pitchers. Homerun numbers are down (12).
10. Yoan Moncada (92.9) - Finally reaching his number one prospect potential. Also only 12 homeruns but a .284 average.

Tommy Pham just missed the top ten at number 11 with an average exit velocity of 92.8.

The top ten in average homerun distance has some surprise names because some of the players on the list have not hit a lot of homeruns. So myworld took a look at the average distance a player hits the ball and the top ten from that list:

1) Gary Sanchez (236) - He appears in our top ten exit velocity.
2) Jay Bruce (233) - He has blasted 18 homeruns but a low batting average indicates a lot of soft contact in his game.
3) Anthony Rendon (229) - They call him Tony Two Bags because of all the doubles he hits into the gaps.
4) Joey Gallo (227) - Number one on our exit velocity list
5) Jorge Polanco (225) - Not noted for his homerun pop but lots of doubles this year. His 10 homeruns is approaching his career high of 13.
6) Justin Smoak (222) - Seems to be having a quiet year with a .237 average and only 12 homeruns and 6 doubles.
7) Mike Trout (220) - About time this superstar appears somewhere on this list.
8) Daniel Vogelbach (219) - We never saw his major league homerun production coming.
9) Brandon Belt (218) - His offensive numbers seem to be down. Perhaps a lot of fly ball outs to the warning track.
10) Cody Bellinger (216) - If not for Yelich he would be gunning for the NL MVP honors. A NL league leading .362 average

As far as distance, the top five homeruns for distance have been hit by Nomar Mazara (482), Ketel Marte (482), Keon Broxton (474), Josh Bell (474) and Mike Trout (473). Marte and Broxton are two interesting names I wouldn’t associate with power, though Marte has been hitting some homeruns this year.

A lot more interesting stats at baseballsavant.com. Hope to give you more next week but you can check the numbers yourself.

Top Cuban Prospects in National League

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Freese Slams Pirates

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Pittsburgh is a nice place to watch a ball game. Good site lines of the city in the background, great fans, a better appreciation of hitters bopping balls into the river and a voluminous fireworks show at the end of the Friday night game. David Freese put on his own fireworks with a grand slam homerun to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 10-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Michael Felix was one of the many players acquired by the Pirates in the Gerrit Cole trade. He was once the closer for the Texas Rangers, but those days are in the rear view mirror now. The Pirates tried him as the opener last night and he continued with his struggles. He only retired one of the six hitters he faced in the first inning. The Dodgers hit him hard with David Freese ending his outing with a grand slam homerun in the right field bleachers.

Walker Buehler bent but did not break for the Dodgers. He had a good curve ball and a fastball that clicked above 95. He limited the Pirates to a run in the second inning. Bryan Reynolds led the inning off with a single and Colin Moran hit a ground rule double over the head of Kiki Hernandez in centerfield. A Elias Diaz ground out scored the lone run.

Buehler got out of danger in the fourth. With a runner on third and one out he struck out both Colin Moran and Elias Diaz. In the fifth, with two runners on he struck out Gregory Polanco. In the first inning he stranded a runner on third. He finished the day with six whiffs.

Steven Brault came on in relief in the first. He got the Pirates to the sixth inning, saving the bullpen for the rest of the weekend. He coughed up two runs in the third after back to back walks to David Freese and Kiki. Austin Barnes drove them both in with a double over the head of Starling Marte. The second run was allowed to score when Marte missed the cutoff man.

Cody Bellinger hit a two run homer in the seventh inning off Geoff Hartlieb. Chris Stratton had to leave the game early because of injury after facing just one hitter. A Joc Pederson triple in the eighth inning scored the tenth run for the Dodgers.

The Pirates tacked on a run in the seventh on back to back doubles from Kevin Newman and Adam Frazier.

Game Notes: The scoreboard at Pirates stadium is one of the best. They show the outs, scores, runners on the bases and when there is a score they provide an update as to who drove in the run, i.e. RBI single by X, homerun by Y, etc…The Pirate outfield disappointed me with their defense. Both Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte did not show me a lot of range. Bryan Reynolds in left did not get challenged…As usual, when in Pittsburgh I had the pierogies. A little greasy but still tasty…Walker Buehler had a nice breaking curveball that a number of Pirates swung at and missed. His fastball was in the low 90s in the first inning then shot up to 97-98 after the first inning…Clay Holmes gave up a single to the leadoff hitter in the ninth and then struck out the side after that…David Freese was welcomed by the home team in his return to Pittsburgh, playing his walkup song. He thanked them with a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch…I always thought Dave Roberts was a smaller guy that stole a lot of bases. Watching him during the anthem he has some broad shoulders.

Top Ten Mexican Prospects

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Only one player graduated from last year’s top ten. Victor Arano was myworld’s number 5 prospect from Mexico and he appeared in 60 games of relief for Philadelphia last year. We expect a couple players to graduate from this year’s list. A number of new faces to keep this list fresh.

1. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) - Alex was born in Tucson but his dad is from south of the border. That was enough to qualify Alex for the Mexican national team. He probably should have made the list last year. A second round pick of the Dodgers in 2014 Alex is more of a gap hitter than over the fence power. The arm is strong enough for right field but he lacks the speed for center. He will hit for average but the homerun numbers could fall shy of 20. This could put him in the fourth outfielder category. The trade of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig opened up some outfield room for Verdugo this year. The average is there (.345) and his .635 slugging comes with three homeruns. That will be enough to graduate from this list after this year. The Dodgers outfield is crowded so playing time will be dependent on a productive bat.

2. Florencio Serrano RHP (Rangers) - The Cubs had originally signed him for $1.2 million but major league baseball voided the contract after a dispute with Mexico over the distribution of the bonus money. When major league baseball and Mexico came to an agreement the Rangers swooped in and signed Serrano for $850,000. Serrano was born in Texas but moved to Mexico after his freshman year in high school. He signed with the Mexican League team the Tijuana Toros. His fastball sits in the low 90s but has reached the mid-90s in try outs. He also has a decent slider and developing change. At 19 years of age he has time to develop his pitches. After pitching in extended spring training he will join one of the short season leagues.

3. Luis Urias 2B/SS (Padres) - He was supposed to start the season as the Padres shortstop but Fernando Tatis impressed so much in spring training that Urias was sent down while Tatis was kept to play shortstop. Luis was later called up to play second but struggled with the bat and was sent down. In the minor leagues Luis has no problem hitting for a high average. His struggles have come in the major leagues where hitting for an average above .200 has been a struggle. He has the defensive tools to play short but will probably fit better at second base, deferring to Tatis at short. The power is lacking and his legs do not carry enough speed to steal bases, so he needs to hit for average to make an impact. Expect him to be called up again by mid-season and at some point figure out major league pitching.

4. Isaac Paredes 2B/3B (Tigers) - The hit tool is impressive. Isaac was originally a shortstop but his lower half is a bit thick to have the range to play that position. This year the Tigers have moved him to third base where the power could be there to play the position. Last year he hit 15 homeruns. He tends to be a pull heavy hitter where most of his power is and as he rises up the minors the pitchers could become more savvy to that approach. How he responds to being pitched away could have an impact on his major league development. At worst he will become a solid utility player with the Tigers. At best he could be an offensive oriented second baseman or solid third baseman. He is currently playing in AA where last year he hit .321 in 150 at bats last year. He should hit for a high enough average and decent power to be a good major league contributor.

5. Luis Verdugo SS (Cubs) - The Cubs seem to do a pretty good job of mining prospects down in Mexico. They lost Serrano but they have three other prospects in the minor leagues who were discovered in Mexico. Verdugo may be the best, signed in 2017 for $1.2 million. He played on the Mexican National team as a 15 year old. The arm is there to play short but a lack of speed could limit his range for the position. His bat is solid with some potential for power, which could allow for a move to third base if his range is found lacking. Last year he struggled with a .193 average in the Arizona Rookie League. At 18 years old he is young enough to repeat at that level.

6. Andres Munoz RHP (Padres) - The Padres are the closest team to take advantage of the south of the border talent. Andres was signed by the Padres in 2015 for a $700,000 bonus. His fastball has gone from the low 90s as a 16 year old to touching triple digits now that he is 20. Last year he pitched 25 games in relief for the Padres and averaged 100 miles per hour with his fastball. Over his three year minor league career he has only had one start, but his whiffs per nine innings sit at 11.8. Command and the improvement on his slider would make him closer material. It is unusual to find a hard thrower out of Mexico, but Munoz fits the bill.

7. Jose Albertos RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs shelled out $1.5 million in 2015 to sign Jose. There is a lot of talent in his arm, with a fastball that can rise to the mid-90s but often falls to the low 90s. This resulted in a horrible year last year where he could not get anyone out. His ERA was in double digits, hitters whacked him at an over .300 average and his walks to whiff ratio hit an ugly 65/38 in just 30 innings. That is usually not the numbers for a prospect but he has shown the Cubs some good seasons. The 2019 season will be key to determine whether he stays a prospect or becomes a journeyman. Some time in extended spring to work on his delivery is best and perhaps a callup to Low A or wait until the short seasons starts before making his 2019 debut. At 20 years old he needs to start showing more consistency on the mound.

8. Reivaj Garcia SS (Cubs) - Garcia was signed in 2017 for $500,000. He doesn’t have the tools of Verdugo and lacks the power bat to fit at third base. The ability to make contact is there so if he can hit for a high average he could eventually move to second base. Last year in his minor league debut he hit .302, but only nine of his 52 hits went for extra bases. At 18 years of age coming into this season he will probably see another year of short season. As he matures the Cubs hope enough power develops to give him a shot at making it as a utility player.

9. Gerardo Carrillo RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers got a bargain with Carrillo, signing him for just $75,000 in 2016. Despite his lack of size (6′0″, 155) he throws the ball hard, hitting the mid 90s with his fastball. He also has the ability to find the plate and as pitchers in Mexico learn, uses a multitude of pitches to retire hitters. His change is probably his best pitch. Last year when promoted to Low A he put together a 1.65 ERA in nine starts, limiting hitters to a .200 average. He relies more on soft contact than swings and misses to retire hitters, but as he bulks up that could change.

10. Tirso Ornelas OF (Padres) - Tirso signed for $1.5 million in 2016. At 6′3″ he has the potential to hit for some pop, last year hitting eight homeruns in Low A. The speed is lacking but the arm is enough to allow him to play either corner. Once he learns to pull the ball more effectively the power numbers should improve. He makes good contact for a power hitter. As he grows he will have to watch his weight. A move to first base would lesson his value and require that he fulfill his power potential to make it to the major leagues. The big advantage he has is he hits lefthanded.

NL West Predictions

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

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

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

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

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

2. Colorado Rockies

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

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

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

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

3. San Diego Padres

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

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

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

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

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

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

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

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

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

5. San Francisco Giants

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

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

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

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