Archive for the 'Dodgers' Category

2018 Top Ten Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

This completes our top ten lists from around the world. I put this together before the season started so players like Ronald Acuna might not be considered prospects anymore. Eiias Diaz and Jose Martinez graduated from this list because of their major league time last year.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Hard to believe he was only number four on the list from last year. After one year in the minor leagues he shot up to the best prospect in baseball (tied with Shohei Ohtani from myworld’s list). After a short 17 game warm up in AAA where he looked a bit rusty, hitting just .232 Acuna was promoted to the Braves. He started out strong but has cooled down to a .265 average with 5 homeruns. A knee injury in late May put him on the disabled list. He will be a player who provides all five tools, gold glove defense in centerfield, a strong arm, power, speed and the ability to hit for average.

2. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - When the 2017 list was put together Keibert was playing in rookie ball. Maybe myworld should have noted his .374 average in 56 games. Last year in full season ball his bat kept on raking, hitting .316 between Low and High A. He also showed a little bit of pop with 8 homeruns and good patience at the plate with a 25/53 walk to whiff ratio. He needs a little work on his defensive game and teams are not afraid to run against him. Last year he only caught 26 runners while 91 achieved success. This year he is 11 for 43 in catching base stealers. The bat has also cooled this year in AA (.255). At 19 he is one of the youngest players in AA and playing at a very demanding position. The Dodgers will show some patience with his development.

3. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Last year he appeared at the top of the list but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2017 season and dropped him down a couple notches. Ironic the Padres acquired Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, then complained about a pre-existing injury and it was Espinoza to miss the 2017 season because of injury. He still has not started the 2018 season and will probably pitch a rehab in rookie ball before he sees full season. Prior to the surgery Espinoza hit mid to high 90s with his fastball and threw a plus change. Only time will tell whether those pitches will be impacted after the surgery.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Many consider him the best fielding shortstop in their system, and that is including Ahmed Rosario. Whether he can push Rosario off of shortstop once he establishes himself is another story. The big question with Andres is whether he can hit. There is very little power in his bat, but last year he showed a good ability to make contact in his first season at Low A, hitting .265. This year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has shown some pop in his bat, hitting .273 with four homeruns, 13 doubles and a .421 slugging percentage. A move to second base is still a possibility, but Andres is still a couple years away from seeing the major leagues.

5. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - Another gold glove potential shortstop with a rocket for an arm. The Padres paid him a $1.9 million bonus in 2016 to sign him. Last year he got his first exposure to playing in the minor leagues, hitting .265 with nary a homerun. Still a teenager at 18 entering the 2018 season he is hitting just .212 in Low A, but he did hit his first homerun. The Padres would like to see him make better contact as he strikes out like a power hitter (61 times in 55 games). His fielding has been a little erratic with 16 errors in 49 games at shortstop.

6. Eduardo Diaz OF (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks got a bargain when they signed Eduardo, shelling out just $10,000 on him. Last year he exhibited some power, hitting .312 with 7 homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. He has the speed and the arm to play center or right field. As he gets older and packs some more muscle on his frame there could be more juice from his bat. This year that juice is absent, with a .226 average and only two homeruns in 31 games. A poor 3/36 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and possible pitch recognition.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - The brother of Wilson with similar tools. The bat can hit for power and the arm is above average. The last three years since his signing he has only played rookie ball, hitting .295 with a .414 slugging percentage in those three years. This is his first year in full season ball and he is impressing with a .290 average and .410 slugging percentage. The power will improve as he matures. There are still some things he needs to work on from his defensive side of the game, such as lessoning his 8 errors in 22 games at catcher, but he has a long ways to go before reaching the major leagues.

8. Yonathan Daza OF (Rockies) - A late bloomer since he signed in 2010. Last year he broke out for a .341 average. His power is restricted to the gaps, but it did get him 34 doubles with 87 RBIs, a lot of runs driven in for a player who only hit 3 homeruns. He also showed some speed with 31 stolen bases. That speed will allow him to play centerfield. This year in AA Yonathan is hitting .306 but the stolen base speed has been absent with more caught stealings (5) than stolen bases (4). The Rockies outfield situation is very crowded so he will probably stay in AA the entire season.

9. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - Last year his velocity jumped to the Low 90s and his strikeout rate increased to over one per inning, putting him on many prospect lists. He also dominated at Low A with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts. Signed in 2012 Ranger shows control and pitching smarts from having to survive with a less than explosive fastball. In 2017 he only got 8 starts in AA but the Phillies thought that was enough and promoted him to AA to start the 2018 season. The numbers have not been awe inspiring but with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts the results have been good.

10. Arquimedes Gamboa SS (Phillies) - Arquimedes has the tools to be a solid defensive shortstop. There was some questions about his bat, but last year at Low A he hit .261 with 6 homeruns, respectable numbers for someone with his defensive chops. His power will stay below average, but with the speed to steal double digits and the ability to hit over .260 would put him at a utility role at worst and a starting shortstop job at best. This year in High A his hitting is making progress (.273) and he shows enough patience at the plate to have his OBA rise to .351.

2017 top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

United States 18 and Under Team Dominates MLB Draft

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Last year in Thunder Bay Canada the United States 18 and under team won the gold medal, defeating Korea 8-0 for their fourth consecutive gold. Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in the game to get the win. Triston Casas drove in three runs with a double and homerun to trigger the offense. Brice Turang made the first team as a shortstop, Alek Thomas and Michael Siani made it as outfielders and Ethan Hankins was named the top starting pitcher. Major league teams were paying attention. Ten players on the United States 2017 18 and under World Cup team were drafted in the first round by major league teams. Only 16 high school players were taken in the first round, and that does not include Canadian Noah Taylor, who played for Canada’s 18 and under team and was drafted in the first round by the Indians giving them two world cup stars.

Below are the ten players taken in the first round of the major league draft:

6. Jarred Kelenic (OF) Mets - first high school player selected in draft
7. Ryan Weathers (LHP) Padres - didn’t allow a run in 9.2 innings. Won two games.
16. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays - won championship game, 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12 innings
19. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
21. Brice Turang (SS) Brewers - Hit .364 and made all-tournament team as shortstop
23. Anthony Siegler (C) Yankees
26. Triston Casas (3B) Red Sox - drove in 13 runs and voted MVP of the tournament
27. Mason Denaburg (RHP) Nationals
30. J.T. Ginn (RHP) Dodgers
35. Ethan Hankins (RHP) Indians - Voted top pitcher with 27 whiffs in 12 innings

Alek Thomas, who made the all tournament team as an outfielder was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round (63rd pick) and Mike Siani who also made the all tournament team was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds (109th pick).

Ryan Rolison, who played on the 2015 18 and under team was drafted in the first round (22nd pick) by the Colorado Rockies as a lefthanded pitcher out of Ole Miss.

Top Cuban Prospects National League

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The only player to graduate from last year’s list is Albert Almora, who is more a fourth outfielder. Four National League teams seem to be more prolific in signing Cuban players, but too date those expenses have not panned out. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects who play on National League teams, or at least four of them.

1. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed him in 2016 for a mere $3 million. He stands tall at 6′8″ with a fastball that slices the plate in the mid-90s but often hits the high 90s. Quality secondary pitches (slider, change and curve) moved him not just to the top ten list but the top prospect on the list. Last year was his first taste of professional ball and he dominated at Low A striking out 12.7 hitters per 9 innings. He did have a tendency to give up the long ball, allowing 8 homeruns in just 59 innings, leaving his ERA at 2.45. This year a promotion to High A has been more of a struggle with a 4.29 ERA and a 11/20 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. The good news is he has yet to give up a dinger. Prior to leaving for Cuba he pitched one year in the Series Nacional, walking more hitters (16) that he struck out (14). With his large frame throwing strikes may always be a challenge.

2. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Not as tall as Baez (6′3″) but still good pitcher’s height. His fastball also hits the mid-90s with lots of readings in the high 90s. That motivated the Dodgers to sign him for $16 million. Lack of quality secondary stuff and poor command make it a challenge for Alvarez to retire hitters. Last year he had a 50/97 walk to whiff rate in 92 innings. In order for him to stick in the rotation he will need to improve his secondary offerings and command or make a move to a closer role. The 2018 season still sees him in the starting rotation but still struggling with control (20 walks in 15 innings) at the AA level. The Tulsa Drillers put Yadier on the disabled list the beginning of May with a groin injury.

3. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - He may not throw as hard as Baez but the Padres liked him enough to give him a franchise record setting $11 million bonus. The lefty starred in the 15 and under World Cup in Mexico City striking out 12 United States hitters in a complete game victory. Royce Lewis and Hunter Green were part of that United States team. For a lefthander carrying a fastball that hits the mid-90s is a quality pitch that most teams would envy. He also has a change that shouts swing and miss as well as quality breaking pitches. Pitching in the hitter friendly California League Adrian is holding his own with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts and a 14/36 walk to whiff ratio in 34 innings. The Padres hope he fills a solid spot in the middle of the rotation.

4. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent $15.5 million for Diaz in 2015. As he fills out his tools will be prolific. The power began to show last year at AA with his .491 slugging average with three homeruns in 31 games. The growth may detract from his speed, leaving him best suited for a corner outfield, but with an arm for right field. The Dodgers started his 2018 season back in AA where he showed increased power (.513) with three homeruns in his first 20 games. A hip issue put him on the disabled list mid-May so that will stall some development time. The Dodgers have thrown a lot of resources at Cuban players with little result. They hope Yusniel will not develop into one of those busts.

5. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - Don’t know where the Dodgers were when the Reds shelled out $4.75 million in 2016 to sign Vladimir. He has a fastball that flashes mid-90s with decent secondary stuff to keep him in the rotation. Last year was his first year stateside where he started 19 games with a 4.46 ERA. His pitches seem hittable (.267) and can carry a long way (10 homeruns) but the Reds have a need for starting pitchers. This year the Reds have promoted him to AA where his struggles with getting hit continue (6.08 ERA and .270 average). Again the long ball seems to bother him (8 homeruns) and perhaps a bit of a temper (8 hitbatsman and 8 walks).

6. Jose Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The younger brother of Adonis Garcia is taller (6′1″) which allows him to carry more power. He won an MVP award in the Nacional Series in 2015/2016 and was briefly farmed out to Japan. The Cardinals signed him early in 2017 for $2.5 million and started him out in AA. His arm is a cannon but he still needs improvement moving to the ball. His bat and legs gave him 15 homeruns and 15 stolen bases between AA and AAA. The Cardinals outfield is very crowded but with the struggles of Randall Grichuk the Cardinals may give Garcia an opportunity before the year is out. He needs to show a little more consistency with the bat (.218) at AAA if he wants to get a callup. Better patience at the plate (8/40 walk to whiff ratio) will help with that.

7. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid the other Jose Garcia a $5 million bonus. His glove is smooth but his bat is a question. A 6′2″ frame seems to show some power could develop. The 2018 season is his first opportunity to show what he can do. So far it has been disappointing. In Low A he is only hitting .189 with a 5/33 walk to whiff ratio. He has also committed 10 errors, eight of them at shortstop.

8. Jorge Ona OF (Padres) - The Padres spent $7 million to sign the hulk like 220 pound outfielder. His large frame makes him a slow runner but an above average arm gives him an opportunity to choose his corner. His best position may be DH. What attracted the Padres to Ona was his prodigious power. He showed some of that with 11 homeruns in his first stateside season last year. There were also a lot of swings and misses to his game (115 whiffs in 107 games), dropping his average to .277. This year the Padres have started him in High A where his walk to whiff ratio has digressed (9/47) dropping his OBA from a .351 to .298. He still shows the potential to hit for power, but developing more patience at the plate is needed to draw more of that out.

9. Randy Arozarena OF (Cardinals) - The crowded outfield has dropped Randy to AA. The Cardinals signed Randy for $1.25 million in 2016, a relative bargain for Cuban prospects. He shows a nice combination of power and speed which could allow him to finish as a 20/20 player. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps (32 doubles) but he carried 11 over the fence. In the winter league in Mexico that power was displayed with 14 round trippers and a .558 slugging average. A demotion to AA and a .654 slugging average in 13 games could give him another opportunity for AAA or even with the Cardinals as a September callup.

10. Jonatan Machado OF (Cardinals) - Machado could give the Cardinals an all Cuban outfield. The Cardinals signed him for $2.35 million in 2016. As a young teenager he struggled in his first year (.209) in the Dominican League but stateside last year he broke out in the Gulfcoast League (.323). A taste of full season ball this year (.185) has shown that Machado needs a lot of work with the bat. At 5′8″ he does not have a lot of power, but relies more on contact. His best bet is to improve on his defense to play centerfield. His lack of power is not a good fit for a corner position.

Matt Counters Matt Pinch hit to Ensure Dodgers sweep

Monday, May 21st, 2018

The rainout on Friday forced myworld to attend a split game doubleheader on Saturday, not getting home until past midnight. A wakeup call for 5 AM for a volleyball tournament on Sunday and a gold medal victory created a time for celebration. I don’t know if myworld is built for these up and down swings in emotion. Needless to say, it created a delay in our reporting of the double header. We crashed early Sunday evening.

The night cap on Saturday was the more exciting game. The Nationals came from behind 2-0 to score four in the sixth, two of those runs scoring on a Matt Adams two run single to finally excite the crowd in what was a downer day waiting for the Nat bats to awake. But the celebratory mood was only temporary as the Dodgers Matt Kemp hit a two run pinch hit double in the top of the ninth to erase a 4-3 deficit and give the Dodgers a 5-4 win.

The Nationals are in trouble with their bats. Bryce Harper is scuffling, Michael Taylor is mister swing and miss and half the lineup is on the disabled list. In the opener the Nationals could not muster an extra base hit against starter Ross Stripling and three different relievers. It was the kind of game that left you blankly staring at the scoreboard waiting for the Nationals to generate some excitement.

Ross Stripling struck out the side to start the game, the lack of aggressiveness at the plate a concern for the Nationals. Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon were called looking and six of the nine Stripling K’s were caught looking. Stripling would end his day striking out the last five National hitters he faced, going six innings and giving up just four hits. He struck out nine for the day, a career high for him.

Tanner Roark had a decent outing giving the Nationals seven innings. He gave up a leadoff triple in the first inning to Joc Pederson, who later scored on a Yasmani Grandal fly ball. His fastball no longer hits 95, sitting in the low 90s, but he battles for his outs.

The Nationals tied the game in the third, getting three of their four hits off Stripling. Bryce Harper fought off a pitch and blooped a single into centerfield to score Wilmer Difo for their only run of the game. The third, fifth and seventh innings were the only innings when the Nationals could get anyone on base.

The Dodgers took the lead in the fifth, putting runners on first and third with one out on singles by Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson. Cody Bellinger hit a hard grounder to second. The Nationals attempted to turn two but Bellinger beat the throw to first allowing Forsythe to score the second run.

Max Muncy drove in the last two runs for the Dodgers with an RBI double in the sixth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth. The rather ordinary Dodger bullpen closed out the Nationals bats for the last three innings to seal the 4-1 win.

The nightcap almost saw an interesting trivia question, i.e. the fewest pitches thrown by a starting pitcher in a no-hitter. Rich Hill could only throw two pitches before he had to be removed because of a blister. Three Dodger relievers then no hit the Nationals for the next five innings before the Nationals bats awakened for one inning in the sixth when they scored four runs.

Max Scherzer was strong for the Nationals. He went seven innings and struck out 12. He left the game with a 4-2 lead, giving up a leadoff double to Joc Pederson in the first followed by a run scoring single by Max Muncy. Scherzer struck out the next three Dodgers. Muncy did it to Scherzer again with a solo homerun in the fifth, an unlikely player to drive in the Dodgers last four runs.

The quiet Nationals bats briefly erupted in the sixth for four runs. Trea Turner started the inning off with an extra base hit bouncing off the scoreboard wall for a double. Harper was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and third and two out Mark Reynolds came through in the clutch with an RBI double that one hopped the scoreboard wall. That put runners on second and third with two outs. The Dodgers chose to walk Michael Taylor intentionally to face Pedro Severino. Matt Adams pinch hit for Severino and lines a 2-2 pitch into right field for a two run single and a 4-2 lead. All four of the Nationals hits occurred in the sixth inning.

The Nationals pen fails to hold the lead. Sammy Solis gave up a solo shot to Cody Bellinger in the eighth. Sean Doolittle gave up hits to the first three batters he faced in the ninth, the killer being a two run pinch hit double by Matt Kemp.

Game Notes: Yasiel Puig must be a terrible defensive outfielder or is still not healthy. Matt Kemp went out to right field to play for him defensively in the second game…Myworld put a jinx on the Nationals. Taking note that five games had ended in 5-4 finals and the Nationals score at 4-3 we hoped that there would not be a sixth game ending 5-4. Unfortunately, there was…Cody Bellinger is swinging and missing at too many 92 mile per hour fastballs. That does not define a feared slugger. He does look pretty good in centerfield. The fact that he is playing there over Joc Pederson is a pretty impactful statement on both players defensive capabilities…Howie Kendrick hurt his Achilles heal turning awkwardly for a fly ball he caught at the warning track. He will be out for the year. Rafael Bautista also hurt his knee and will be out for the year. Short of healthy outfielders the Nationals were forced to call up Juan Soto…Spencer Kieboom got his first major league hit in the first game of the doubleheader…Yasiel Puig had an issue with the strike zone of the umpire in the second game of the doubleheader. Puig had a couple border line pitches called strikes that resulted in whiffs his first two times to the plate…The Dodgers used eight pitchers in the second game of the doubleheader, three relievers for more than one inning…In the 18 innings played on Saturday the Nationals were only able to get hits in three of the innings.

Top Minor League Catching Prospects

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Below are the names of the top minor league catching prospects as identified by myworld. Catchers like Chance Sisco and Carson Kelly are not included since they will get enough major league playing time this year to lose their rookie status. We’ll list the top prospects at each position as well as lefthanded and righthanded pitchers. But first we start with the catchers:

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - During the AFL the Indians tried him at third base. With the bat of Jose Ramirez picking up they are now looking at him in left field. Catcher is his main position but the Indians would like to get his bat in the lineup. In 2016 he hit .342 at two levels. Last year he hit .297 at AA. A 13 at bat major league debut saw him struggle with a .154 average. His defense would not be good in left and his power would be short of what is expected of the position. Behind the plate his arm is supposedly a rocket but his results at gunning down runners last year stood at 30 percent. This year it is down to 10 percent. While it is early his bat this year is mired in the .197 range. As the weather warms his bat should pick up but 28 whiffs in just 29 games is uncharacteristic.

2. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan came into this season with a three year career average of .330. It gets tougher with each level he rises. Last year at the A levels he hit .316. In AA this year he has seen it drop to .283. He makes consistent contact but the balls are more gap oriented rather than carrying over the fence. His defense behind the plate still needs some work, with an average throwing arm susceptible to the stolen base. The bat should get him in the major league lineup with a possible September callup if his average continues to stay north of .300.

3. Tom Murphy (Rockies) - It won’t be long for Murphy to get a call to the Rockies. Injuries have kept him down in the minors. Last year he was slated to be the starting catcher but a fractured right forearm kept him out to begin the season. When he got the callup he only hit .042 in 24 at bats. The bat carries some pop with 19 homeruns and a .647 slugging percentage in 2016. This year the pop has returned with 9 homeruns and a .631 slugging average. His propensity for the swing and miss (31 K’s in 29 games) could make it a struggle in the major leagues. A strong arm allows him to control the running game. Tom needs only 40 more at bats to lose his prospect label and with the way the ball is carrying off his bat that should happen this year.

4. Jake Rogers (Tigers) - There may not be a stronger defensive catcher on this list. More runners are thrown out stealing this year (14) than successfully stealing a base (11). His movement behind the plate is crisp and he embraces a leadership role. Last year his bat showed some power with 12 homeruns. He also showed some atypical speed for a catcher with 13 stolen bases. This year has been a struggle with a .185 average in 25 games at AA. If his average does not pick up he will see the full season in AA.

5. Zack Collins (White Sox) - Zack probably has the most power on this list. The first round pick in 2016 slugged 17 homeruns in High A. There is a propensity to whiff with 118 whiffs in 101 games keeping his average below .250. His defense is also a bit dicey with a below average arm that encourages a running game. A move to first is a possibility if his defense is found to fall short. This year his bat continues the trend of power (5 homeruns), low average (.238) with lots of whiffs (37 in 32 games).

6. Danny Jansen (Blue Jays) - Another player known more for his bat than his defense. Last year at three different levels he combined for a .323 average with 10 homeruns putting the 16th round 2013 pick on the spot light. His bat continues to stay hot in AAA with a .311 average and a .883 OPS. He has not been able to control the running game (8 stolen bases in 10 attempts).

7. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks) - His father named him after his favorite catcher Darren Daulton. Now Daulton is making a name for himself behind the plate. The 2017 supplemental pick hit .311 and barraged pitchers for 7 homeruns in 50 games in short season. His arm is not strong so a move to another position is a possibility. He has the speed to move to left field. This year the Diamondbacks skipped him past Low A to High A where he is hitting .271 with 4 homeruns. His speed and instincts for running the bases has already racked up 10 stolen bases.

8. William Contreras (Braves) - The brother of Wilson has the same potent bat with the ability to hit for power. His arm is strong but his catching tools are still raw. So far this year he has only caught 18 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him. The Braves do have a surplus of talented catchers in the minor leagues so William will have to produce with the bat to get a chance.

9. M.J. Melendez (Royals) - The 2017 second round pick has a defense first mentality with a rocket arm and the ability to call a quality game. His bat also possesses power but an inability to make contact could keep his batting averages low (60 whiffs in 46 games). Last year he hit .262 but this year he is down to .237. What is impressive is his five triples in 25 games showing legs that can run the bases. It will be tough to take the catching job away from Salvador Perez, but the Royals can be patient with a couple more seasons of development before considering him for the big league club.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - Injuries to the Mets catching corp gave Nido an opportunity to win the major league job. A .135 average in 37 at bats got him demoted to the minors. The Puerto Rican’s catching tools are strong. The bat could be a question. While it has some power with 8 dingers last year the average should reside south of .250. He should get another chance with the Mets before the year is out.

Top Puerto Rican Prospects

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Compared to previous lists, last year’s Puerto Rican prospect list only graduated one player because of major league service time. Rio Ruiz got 150 at bats with the Braves, but a .193 batting average did not guarantee a return. Five players saw some major league time but not enough to lose their rookie status. Jorge Lopez got one major league appearance with the Brewers while Joe Jimenez pitched in 24 games for the Tigers, rewarding them with a 12.32 ERA. Jose Deleon got one appearance for the Rays. Tomas Nido saw a few games behind the plate for the Mets as did Victor Caratini see some plate action with the Cubs. That is six major leaguers from the top ten, but none of them with the potential impact of Carlos Correa, Joes Berrios, Francisco Lindor or Javier Baez, players who had appeared in previous lists. Below are the top ten prospects from Puerto Rico in the minor leagues.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - Heliot has the tools to be a difference maker, something not seen from the list last year. He was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017. His power and speed, with a plus arm make him a potential five tool player. One cause for concern was his lack of patience in the Arizona Rookie League where he had a 10/48 walk to whiff ratio in 35 games. Those whiffs did not prevent him from hitting .348 with six homeruns and a 1.049 OPS. The Giants started his 2018 season in Low A where the cold weather in Salem has quieted his bat (.259 average, .397 slugging). When the weather warms up the bat should start producing.

2. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Perhaps the comparisons to Carlos Correa were unfair. A failed drug test also dropped his draft status. The Cardinals still made him a first round pick in 2016 but at the back end of the first round. It’s been two years and he has yet to clear the fence. He struggled last year in rookie ball hitting just above .200. A hit by pitch broke a bone in his hand and mercifully ended his season early. His defense is above average but if his bat doesn’t produce a utility role may be his best bet. Delvin could see a third year in the rookie leagues. He has yet to appear in a game in 2018.

3. Joe Jimenez RHP (Tigers) - With his mid-90s fastball Jimenez was being groomed to be the closer for the Tigers. A 12.32 ERA in 24 appearances with the opposition hitting him at a .356 pace tempered those expectations. Command has been a problem and major leaguers will take advantage. Joe made the Tigers roster to begin the 2018 season with promising results. He has yet to give up an earned run in 10 appearances, with the opposition hitting him at a .171 clip. That is quite a bit of improvement from his numbers last year. At this rate he should stick in the Tigers bullpen and graduate from this list.

4. Victor Caratini C (Cubs) - Caratini can hit, but Wilson Contreras is ahead of him behind the plate. A move to first is a possibility but the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo there. So Caratini will take his bats where he can get them, filling a utility role. His bat is much better than his glove. Last year at Iowa he hit .342 with 10 homeruns and a .558 slugging percentage. To start the season he will play as the back up to Contreras and Rizzo. The at bats will not be plentiful but it should be enough to lose his rookie status. Expect him to be a role player for his career.

5. Isan Diaz 2B/SS (Brewers) - Isan has not been able to replicate his .360 average from his rookie league season in 2015. Last year he struggled with a .222 average. The power is there with double digit homeruns all three seasons. His defense is not stellar so he needs to hit to get in the lineup. The Brewers have been playing him at short, but his best position is second base. Last year he committed 21 errors at the two positions in just 102 games, 14 of them at second base. The Brewers have started him at AA to begin the 2018 season and his .198 average would be a further decline of his batting average. His prospect status is fading.

6. Jorge Lopez RHP (Brewers) - The Brewers appear to be moving Lopez to the bullpen. A 6.81 ERA at AAA Colorado Springs in 2016 dropped his prospect status. His fastball may be better suited for the bullpen, with his curveball a quality second pitch. The key is being able to find the plate. His move to the bullpen last year saw him lower his ERA. This year he has returned to AAA where he has picked up two saves. At 25 years of age the Brewers may put him on the roller coaster, calling him up from AAA when they need an arm for the bullpen.

7. Jose Deleon RHP (Rays) - Drafted by the Dodgers they traded him to the Rays for Logan Forsyth. The Rays were hoping to use him in their rotation last year but injuries limited him to eight minor league starts. His mid-90s fastball from previous years had trouble reaching 90 last year which made has change less effective. He also had some issues finding the plate. The Rays were hoping to get some starts from him in 2018 but Tommy John surgery will end his season. The Rays will have to hope that his fastball will return when he is healthy for the 2019 season.

8. Tomas Nido C (Mets) - Nido is an above average defensive player with a strong arm good enough to gun down 45 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him in AA last year. There is some power in his bat when he connects but there is still too much lack of barrel of bat on ball contact. Last year he hit just .232 at Binghamton. The Mets have had some injuries behind the plate, with Travis d’Arnaud out for the year, giving Nido an opportunity to show what he can do. Currently he is hitting only .182 but his ability to play defense will give him more opportunities.

9. Edwin Rios 1B/3B (Dodgers) - At 6′3″ and 220 pounds Edwin has big time power that is not seen often in Puerto Rico. Last year he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA but with Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner ahead of him at first and third his opportunity for playing time with the Dodgers may be limited. He is much better defensively at first base, with below average skills at third base. Left field is a possibility but his speed is limited there. An injury to Justin Turner this year seemed like an opportunity for Rios, but he has started the season dinged up and has yet to appear in a game. The injuries were said to be minor but he has yet to appear in a game this year.

10. Nelson Velasquez OF (Cubs) - Nelson was a fifth round pick in 2017 by the Cubs, but he was the first position player they drafted. He showed some plus power in the rookie leagues with eight homeruns with the speed to steal five bases. His poor routes may prevent a centerfield option but the arm is powerful enough to fit in right. He still is quite raw as a player but shows great potential. The 2018 season has been spent in extended spring where he may need to wait for the rookie leagues to begin play in July.

2017 top Puerto Rican Prospects

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.