Archive for the 'Padres' Category

Padres Future

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Before myworld moved to Virginia we lived in San Diego. The Padres were the team I followed but there were too many other things in my life to be a loyal fan and the Padres were rarely competetive. The last time they made the playoffs was in 2006. The last time they were in a World Series was in 1998. It was their second World Series appearance and they have yet to win one. Just like the Chargers and their lone Super Bowl appearance. My alltime favorite baseball moment was being at Jack Murphy stadium in 2005 for a playoff game against Atlanta and watching Trevor Hoffman come into the game with the loudspeaker playing “Hells Bells” and the fans waving their rally towels. That brought shivers to my spine.

The Padres tried to make a playoff run a few years ago, trading away a number of prospects for veterans. They were the cool pick to make the playoffs but when the season was done they finished near the bottom of the division with a record similar to the previous year. They traded all those veterans for prospects the following year and the rebuilding has begun again. Time will tell whether this new group will take the Padres to the playoffs. They certainly have the pitching to get them there.

Below is the future of the Padres.

Outfield

1) Manuel Margot (CF) - The power numbers have dropped this year and his stolen base efficacy has taken a turn for the worse. His defense at center has been solid but in his third year with the Padres they were hoping for some improvement on his .704 OPS. When he was a minor league prospect there was some potential for power but that has not appeared. He is still only 23 so there is still time for him to break out.

2) Franmil Reyes (RF) - Coming into this year he had never had an OPS greater than .792. He did not appear on any prospect lists. Early this season he was the minor league homerun leader resulting in a promotion to the Padres. He struggled a bit in his major league debut and a month later was demoted to the minors. When he hits the ball it goes a long way. His OPS in AAA is 1.042 with 16 homeruns in 58 games. In the majors it is his minor league career average equivalent of .739. He needs to improve on his 7/43 walk to whiff ratio to make a major league impact.

3) Franchy Cordero (CF) - Not a lot of players hit balls farther than Franchy early this season before arm issues sent him to the disabled list in May. Take what was said about Franmil and apply it to Franchy. If you look at their major league numbers they are almost similar. A poor walk to whiff ratio (14/55) results in a low batting average (.237). Franchy has the speed to play centerfield if Margot is traded.

4) Buddy Reed (RF) - A possible five tool player drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft. His legs can fly and his arm is a rocket. The Padres have promoted him aggressively with a recent appearance in AA after dominating High A (.921 OPS). Expect double digit homerun power with 30 plus stolen bases each year.

5) Jorge Ona (LF) - The Padres signed Ona out of Cuba for $7 million. Like many of the Cubans who came over the projections were a bit over rated. His defense is below average in the outfield. A bulky frame limits his speed but his arm could play right field. He needs to hit to get into the lineup and that is not happening in the minor leagues. A slugging average of .396 is not going to get him playing time with his spotty defense.

Catcher

1) Austin Hedges - A solid defensive catcher, he appears to be providing enough offense to stay at the position. Elbow injuries have sidelined him for a chunk of the season. Last year he hit 18 homeruns. This year his batting average and slugging percentage have increased so the bat seems to be improving. The elbow issues have made it more difficult to assess his ability to gun down runners. He has not been as effective this year, but the elbow issues could be contributing to that.

2)Francisco Mejia - Is he the catcher of the future? Or is third base/left field in his future? Few catchers have as strong an arm as Mejia. The bat is also impressive. The indians were trying him at other positions because there were other intangibles in the catching area that were not as strong. With his bat ready for the major leagues and his glove not yet ready to catch the Indians wanted his bat in the lineup. The Padres already have a catcher, but that is the position he has been playing in El Paso, where he is hitting .382 in 10 games.

3) Luis Torrens - The Padres selected him as a Rule V pick from the Yankees and he lost development time sitting on the bench in 2017 with the Padres. Dropped down to High A he is hitting .288. He needs to improve blocking the plate (16 passed balls) but his arm is strong enough to stop the running game.

4) Luis Campusano - A 2017 second round pick of the Padres. He is still raw behind the plate but his arm is strong and he blocks the ball well. His bat should produce power but there are three talented catchers ahead of him.

Infielders

1) Fernando Tatis Jr (SS) - His dad played a number of years at third. Many feel that will be his ultimate position. Myworld was impressed with his fielding at the futures game and if he doesn’t bulk up he should be able to handle short. His bat should provide plenty of power for a move to third base with 16 homeruns in AA. His speed has also allowed him to steal 16 bases. The Padres will probably wait until 2019 before calling him up to the big club.

2) Luis Urias (2B/SS) - He started as a second baseman but the Padres moved him to short and he proved he can handle that position. His bat will not produce much power but his ability to make contact and spray the gaps should put his batting average consistently north of .300. At AAA he is hitting .272 but that has come with a greater propensity to strike out. He could end up playing a Marwin Gonzalez utility role in 2019 for the Padres.

3) Josh Naylor (1B) - The Padres have put him out in left field but his 250 pound frame gives him the range of a redwood (1.29 range factor and a .894 fielding percentage). His bat carries significant power but Eric Hosmer appears to have first base sewn up for the immediate future. Josh makes good contact for a power hitting and is drilling it in AA, hitting .301 with a career high 15 homeruns. Expect to see him in a Padres uniform sometime in 2019 but not as a left fielder. His best bet may be as a trade to an American League club where he can DH.

4) Gabriel Arias (SS) - The Venezuelean’s glove is smooth but the bat is a question. In Low A he is only hitting .228 with a .303 slugging. Those kind of numbers will keep him in the minors.

5) Allen Cordoba (SS) - Like Torrens, he was a rule V pick up in 2017 from the Cardinals and was forced to spend most of his development time on the bench. He did win the batting title in the Rookie league in 2016 with a .362 average, but this year in High A he is only hitting .205. The defense will play but the bat needs to improve. He missed the beginning of the season with a concussion so perhaps he needs some time to get his head cleared.

6) Javier Guerra (SS) - At one point the Panamania was the number one prospect of the Padres. That was a few years ago. His bat has gone silent since. From .279 with 15 homeruns in 2015 to barely above the Mendoza line and failing to reach double digits in dingers in the subsequent years. This year he is hitting .209 in AAA. The glove is more than capable to play the position but time is running out as his bat sputters.

7) Hudson Potts (3B) - The Padres first round 2016 pick has some pop with 17 homeruns in High A. The Padres would like to see more patience at the plate (37/111 walk to whiff ratio). He is still raw at third. If Tatis has to move to the position Potts defensive skills are far below that of Tatis. Drafted out of high school the Padres can be patient with him.

Pitchers

1) MacKenzie Gore (LHP) - The last high school baseball player before Gore voted the Gatorade sportsman of the year was Dylan Bundy. Gore may be one of the best lefthanders in the minor leagues. Blisters have been haunting his season and pitch counts lowering his win totals (1-5) but when he is ready in 2021 he could be the ace of the staff. A mid-90s fastball with three quality secondary pitches to complement the fastball make him a top of the line, ace pitcher.

2) Michel Baez (RHP) - At 6′8″ his tall frame can be intimidating on the mound. The Padres signed the Cuban in 2016 for $3 million. His fastball flashes across the plate in the high 90s with a plus slider. He should be able to develop the full complementary of pitches and command to fit in the top of the rotation. He and Gore should be ready at about the same time.

3) Adrian Morejon (LHP) - Another Cuban who shined at the 15 and under Baseball World Cup and then fled Cuba at 16. He signed for $11 million in 2016. His fastball can also touch the mid-90s with a plus change to make it appear faster. Both he, Gore and Baez should arrive at the same time giving them three top of the line starters, provided they can all stay healthy.

4) Cal Quantril (RHP) - The son of Paul was a first round pick of the Padres in 2016. His overall tools are short of the top three but a changup that is one of the best in the minors will make him effective. He is struggling a bit in AA (5.15 ERA) with the opposition hitting him at a .288 clip. He has not racked up the K’s in the minors and hitters have hit him pretty good. Improving his secondary pitches will keep him in the rotation, otherwise he may have to move to the bullpen like his father.

5) Anderson Espinoza (RHP) - Tommy John surgery did not allow him to pitch in 2017 and he has yet to take the mound this year. Prior to the surgery he was one of the top arms in the minor leagues, compared to Pedro Martinez. His slight frame and arm injuries may force him to work out of the bullpen once he is healthy.

6) Joey Lucchesi (LHP) - At 6′5″ he has a large frame. The fourth round pick is not a power pitcher, but does sit in the low 90s with his fastball. Last year he dominated at AA (1.79 ERA) and a good spring got him his major league opportunity. He is pitching well (5-6, 3.70) with the Padres where he will ultimately settle into the middle or back end of what should be an impressive starting rotation.

7) Chris Paddock (RHP) - The eighth round 2015 pick of the Marlins was acquired by the Padres for Fernando Rodney. After a dominating 2016 season (0.85 ERA) in A ball, Tommy John surgery forced him to miss a chunk of that season and all of 2017. He has bounced back where he has left off dominating at the High A and AA levels (1.91 ERA) limiting the opposition to a .191 average. The Padres want to be very tolerant of his pitch count so don’t expect him in the major leagues until 2020. Not overpowering, he relies on his change to set up his fastball to retire hitters.

8) Ryan Weathers (LHP) - The Padres 2018 first round pick will not overpower you with his fastball, but like many lefthanders he will dazzle you with his movement and breaking pitches. He does have good bloodlines being the son of ex-major league pitcher David Weathers.

9) Logan Allen (LHP) - The line of lefthanded pitchers keeps on growing. The large framed 6′3″ pitcher was one of the players acquired for Craig Kimbrel. The Padres seem to be focusing on pitchers with solid changeups and for Logan that is his best pitch. His fastball dances across the plate in the low 90s.

10) Eric Lauer (LHP) - The first round 2016 pick has had his troubles against major league hitters (5.30 ERA and .314 opposition average). It may have been a little early for him to see major league hitters. His fastball is pedestrian, sitting in the high 80s to low 90s but he changes speeds well.

The top Lefthanded Pitchers in the Minors

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Most of these pitchers are starters but that does not preclude them from working out of the pen once they reach the major leagues. Lefthanders generally lack the velocity of righthanders by a couple miles an hour on average. For some reason their pitches seem to move more. Or at least that is the perception. Perhaps there is a study out there that explains why or why not. Below are myworld’s top lefthanded pitchers still in the minor leagues.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The Padres 2017 first round pick has been battling blisters. Those blisters have put him on the disabled list twice. Gore has at least three quality pitches in a 92-95 mile per hour fastball, curveball and change that he can throw to get hitters out. He also has the command to locate those pitches. The lower pitch counts starve Gore for wins (1-5) but opposing hitters are only batting .228 against him. This year he has pitched all season in Low A. The Padres will be patient with him promoting him a level at a time until he reaches AA.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted him in the third round of the 2016 draft out of Parkland High School, where the shootings occurred in Florida. Last year the Nationals included him and Blake Treinen in a trade for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching the 2016 season. He appears to be healthy now, dominating at High A (1.23 ERA) to earn a promotion to AA. There has been no let down at the higher level (2.29 ERA). Hitters are only pinging the ball at a .191 clip against him. He can light up the radar in the high 90s and has a quality curveball and change. Good command limits the solid contact. Expect him to compete for a spot in the Athletics rotation next year if they want to eat up a early 40-man rotation spot on him.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - Height is not as important with lefthanders as righthanders. Justus stands 5′10″ but can still light the radar in the high 90s. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a quality slider and change. The 2014 first round pick started the season in AA but after only five starts (2.25 ERA) was promoted to AAA where he continues to thrive (2.31 ERA). The opposition is hitting just .191 against him. His command can be a little spotty but it has improved as he has gained experience. He may get a September callup to work in the bullpen or the Yankees could wait until next year to promote him for their starting rotation.

4. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - After being drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft Puk was on his way to earning a spot in the Athletics rotation this year until the dreaded sprained elbow turned into Tommy John surgery. At 6′7″ he falls just short of being Randy Johnson intimidating. His fastball holds in the mid-90s but can register at the higher readings. He spins a quality slider and has a good change. What is his Achilles heel is his lack of command. He won’t pitch this year and hopes to get some innings in early next year. The surgery will delay his major league debut until 2020.

5. Luiz Gohara (Braves) - He has the potential to transform into the physique of Bartolo Colon, which is not good when you are 22. His fastball hits the high 90s with great regularity and he has a plus slider to complement the fastball. A lack of a third pitch and inconsistent command could send the Brazilian to the bullpen. Luiz was expected to compete for a rotation spot but struggles in AAA (5.56 ERA and .275 opposition average) have kept him in the minors. Nine of the 47 hits he has given up this year have left the yard. A little less of Luiz (265 pounds) could help his pitching mechanics and the velocity on his fastball.

6. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Myworld remembers when the Cuban dominated at the 15 and under World Cup. A year later, at 16 he had left Cuba for the major leagues. The Padres signed him for a $11 million bonus. That would be enough cash for a 16 year old to survive without parental support. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The change is probably his best pitch. Still in his teenage years Adrian has already reached High A where his 3.36 ERA is pretty impressive for the California League.

7. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The radar readings for the number one pick of the 2015 draft are not impressive, sitting in the high 80s to low 90s. He relies on doing what lefties do best, putting lots of movement on the ball and showing quality breaking pitches and changing speeds effectively. His command also limits quality barrel of bat on ball contact. His ultimate destination may be to the bullpen where he retires lefties and righties equally well. Kolby made one major league start this year and did not far well, giving up 9 hits and five runs in five innings. He generally limits the opposition to a .250 average in the minor leagues.

8. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - The 2013 fourth round pick does not light up the radar either but entering the 2018 season Stephen has limited the opposition to a .202 average. His change is above average making the velocity of his fastball appear to have more smoke. This year he continues to dominate (3.04 ERA and .188 opposition average). At some point the Twins will find room in their rotation for him. Perhaps September of this year will be his debut. Expect him to compete for a rotation spot next year.

9. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals first round 2017 pick has the stuff. Whether his character flaws will allow him to show that stuff in the major leagues is open to question. He was kicked off his college team Houston after being suspended twice. The Nationals suspended him at the beginning of the year for his tardiness. That is all in the past as he shows off his mid-90s fastball at Hagerstown (Low A) where the whiffs are prevalent (31 in 23 innings) and the opposition is hitting him at .211 but the ERA is bloated (4.24 ERA). If he behaves himself the promotions should come quickly. If he continues to have character flaws he will be buried in the minors.

10. Logan Allen (Padres) - The fastball is pedestrian but the eighth round 2015 pick has a swing and miss pitch that dives as it crosses the plate. At AA the opposition is hitting him at a .199 clip and he has struck out more than a hitter per inning. Logan is the third lefthander on the Padres on this list but he is ahead of Gore and Morejon and should get the first opportunity to make the rotation. His best fit may be in the bullpen because of a lack of quality pitches other than his change.

Top Leftfield Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

It is tough to identify left field prospects. Teams like to see power from this position, but it usually fits a player who is lacking one or two tools. Sometimes a team will move a corner infielder here, or they may have two corner outfielders who have the ability to play right field. If a team is blessed with too many centerfielders the player with the lesser arm will move here. The players identified below have played some left field in the minor leagues, but that still may not be their ultimate position as they rise through the ranks.

1. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Taylor was a first round supplemental pick in the 2016 draft. He has the speed to play center but his arm is short and if he doesn’t fit in center his best position will be left. In the Florida State League the Reds have moved him around all three outfield positions. The bat should provide power while his legs will steal bases giving the Reds a possible 20/20 player or better. In the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has only sent six balls over the fence but he has hit .295 with 16 stolen bases. He shows good patience at the plate with a .394 OBA. The Reds have been promoting him one level at a time so expect him not to play AA until 2019.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - Julio signed out of Cuba for $2.8 million. The speed is there to play center. The arm may be better suited for left. While he is listed at 5′11″ reports list him more at 5′9″. He dominated when he played in the Dominican Summer League hitting .409 with a 1.288 OPS. That resulted in a promotion state side. It will take him awhile to get used to minor league pitching. Cubans have struggled when they are first exposed to breaking pitches, especially the slider and Julio has struck out in 23 of his 21 games, struggling with a .234 average. At 22 years of age you would like him to make the adjustments in a league dominated by high schoolers. Most of his time has been in centerfield but he has seen three games in left. Adonis Garcia came over as a smallish centerfielder and eventually moved to the infield. Myworld believes Julio has more tools than Adonis, but time will tell.

3. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) - The Dodges originally signed the 6′5″ Cuban for $2 million but then traded him shortly after to the Astros. The best position for Yordan may be first base, but that position is a bit crowded in the Astros organization. He is not a bad runner but his arm is below average. That won’t be a problem if Yordan continues to dominate with the bat. In AA he hit .303 with 13 homeruns and a .949 OPS. The Astros are looking for some production from the leftfield position and if the players they put out there continue to struggle Yordan may get the opportunity. First he must master AAA where in minimal at bats (19) he is hitting only .105.

4. Josh Naylor OF (Padres) - At 5′11 and 250 pounds Josh is a big guy who can hit the ball a long way. The Canadian was a first round pick of the Marlins and traded to the Padres for Andrew Cashner. Since he has already made eight errors in 54 games for an .899 fielding percentage myworld does not see how the Padres can make him a left fielder. At AA Texas he is finally showing the bat that made him a first round pick. He has already hit a career high 12 homeruns and his .319 average is his highest since his rookie season in 2015. A 46/47 walk to whiff ratio shows a rare combination of power and contact. Expect him to get a September promotion.

5. Willie Calhoun OF (Rangers) - The Dodgers drafted the 5′8″ slugger in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and stuck him at second. He did not fit there defensively and when the Dodgers traded him to the Rangers they moved him to left. With Leody Taveras destined for center Willie and Julio Pablo will have to fight it out for the left field position. Julio is probably the better defensive player but Willie packs more pop in his small frame. Last year he hit 32 homeruns. This year he only has seven, but he tends to warm up with the weather. Willie has hit 26 doubles with a .300 average.

6. Christin Stewart OF (Tigers) - A first round pick in 2015. Christin is the typical bat first and defense later type of player. His best position may be as a designated hitter. His arm is weak and his speed is below average. That weak defense has kept Christin in the minors. The last two years his bat has produced 24 and 28 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 17 homeruns, 15 of them in AAA. Expect the rebuilding Tigers to give him his major league debut this year where he will play primarily at the DH position with spot starts in left field.

7. Brent Rooker OF (Twins) - Brent was a first round pick of the Twins in 2017. The speed in his legs are best suited for first and his arm is below average. First base is the position he played in college, but to get his power bat in the lineup the Twins have been giving him a lot of time in left field, despite his defensive weaknesses. This year he has slugged 15 homeruns with a .493 slugging average. Reducing his swings and misses (107 in 86 games) could increase his average (.264) and his power numbers.

8. Chris Shaw OF (Giants) - The dilemma for the first round 2015 pick is Brandon Belt at first base. That happens to be the best position for Chris. His legs are plodding but his arm is decent for the outfield. Getting his bat in the lineup without having to trade Belt or keep Buster Posey behind the plate during his declining years is the reason for his outfield move. Last year he hit a career high 24 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 18. A 13/104 walk to whiff ratio in just 67 games is a cause for concern and a reason for his low .255 average. Major league pitchers will exploit that lack of patience weakness but the Giants will find out if Chris can hang when they call him up in Sepember.

9. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - The Athletics shelled out $3 million to sign the Cuban in 2016. He is a toolsey outfielder except for his arm. The speed is there to play center but because he expects to get bigger as he matures left field should be his ultimate position. After playing in the Rookie league last year the Athletics have him in the full season Low A league this year. Injuries have limited him to 36 games but he has shown the power to play corner with five homeruns with a .469 slugging percentage. Still a teenager at 19 the Athletics can be patient with Lazaro, giving him a full season in Low A.

10. Buddy Reed OF (Padres) - Buddy Reed was a second round pick of the Padres in 2016. He is a better defensive leftfielder than Naylor but lacks the burner speed to play center and the rocket arm to fit in right. At 6′4″ the power had yet to manifest itself in his first two years. This year he has broken out with 12 homeruns with a .542 slugging percentage. While he does not have great speed, he has shown the base stealing acumen to steal 33 bases this year. The .324 average in the California League has gotten him a promotion to the less pitcher friendly San Antonio ball park. If the power continues the Padres will have to find room for him in what is turning out to be a crowded outfield picture.

Top Minor League Shortstops

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

This is the cream of the crop. The players who have the potential to help your team to the playoffs. Willy Adames received a promotion and will probably be with the Rays for the rest of the year so he was not considered. Brendan Rodgers and Nick Gordon were identified on our second base list while Kevin Maitan was listed with the top third base prospects. That is not to say they would appear on this list, but they were not considered because of their major league status or being chosen for another position.

1. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - Hard to believe the White Sox traded him for James Shields. They were border line contending when they traded him. The next year they were selling off their veterans for prospects. This is a trade they would want back. Tatis is not a great defensive player at this position. An eventual move to third is a possibility for this Dominican whose father played third base for the Cardinals and hit two grand slams in one inning. That could be the ultimate position for Junior. What is attractive about him is his bat. It has the potential to hit for .300 with 20 plus homeruns. This year he is hitting .285 with 14 homeruns in 77 games at AA. If there is one weakness in his game it is his ability to make contact. This year it has gotten worse with 97 whiffs in 77 games. One thing that has been reduced has been his errors. Last year he made 30 errors at short. This year he has only committed 9 errors.

2. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays) - Another son of a major leaguer (Dante) who also may move to second base. His bat is good enough for third but that will be Vladimir Guerrero Jrs position and the way Cavan Biggio is hitting second base could be occupied. The Blue Jays would like to see him succeed at short, but his range will be limited. The bat should play anywhere. Coming into the 2018 season the second round pick in the 2016 draft had a career .372 average. The Blue Jays have been aggressive with him, promoting him to AA after just 40 games in High A last year. His bat has slowed a bit, hitting .278 but he is making good contact and hitting the gaps for power with 21 doubles. He also has stolen 26 bases in 32 attempts. At short he needs to improve his consistency with 16 errors. A lack of range will not be tolerated if he commits a number of errors to go with that.

3. Royce Lewis (Twins) - Royce was the very first pick in the 2017 draft. The tools are there for him to stay at shortstop with solid range and a strong arm. He also has a good gene pool with his mom being a pretty talented softball player while playing for San Jose State. He just needs to improve on his consistency. The Twins are having him repeat at Low A where he finished last year. He is hitting .319 with 8 homeruns to run his slugging percentage to .491. His speed is also showing on the bases with 19 steals in 23 attempts. One area of improvement would be his patience at the plate. Currently his K to whiff ratio is above 2 to 1 (43/19) which would be an indicator that he is swinging at too many pitcher’s pitches. Considering his age (19) there is plenty of time for him to improve on that part of his game.

4. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played baseball in the Netherlands but moved to the United States to attend college in Illinois, where he also played baseball. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system, Tommy John surgery preventing him from playing for Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Carter was the Nationals first round pick in the 2016 draft. Spencer was a fifth round pick of the 2012 draft. It is obvious who has the tools. Carter may eventually have to move to second since his range and arm fall into the average category for short. If he sticks at short he will be an offensive oriented player who will struggle to help you on defense. After showing good power in High A this year, hitting 11 homeruns for a .494 slugging the Nationals promoted him to AA Harrisburg. In AA his bat continues to shine with a .375 average and two homeruns in 12 games. The Nationals have kept him at short despite his 14 errors in 68 games.

5. Kevin Smith (Blue Jays) - The fourth round pick in the 2017 draft has the tools to play shortstop. He earned the position as a freshman out of Maryland and played there for three years. The range may not be great but there is consistency in fielding the balls that he gets to. He also showed a little power in his bat, hitting 8 homeruns last year in the rookie league and going a perfect 9 for 9 in stolen bases. The one area of concern was his patience at the plate (16/70 walk to whiff ratio). This year his bat has been electric. A .355 average with 7 homeruns and a 1.046 OPS got him a promotion to High A. The bat continues to shine there with a .311 average and a .892 OPS. He is a year behind Bo but is probably the better defensive alternative of the two. Expect him to ultimately be the shortstop of the Blue Jays.

6. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - At 6′6 we can’t see the Dominican staying at short. His 24 errors in 71 games has put his fielding percentage just above .900. The Pirates did play him more at third his first couple years, but this year all his games have been at short. The long length gives him a large strike zone where last year he struck out 132 times in 105 games. This year his contact rate has improved and his power has taken off with 10 homeruns and a .525 slugging percentage. His long legs have enabled him to leg out seven triples. Unless his consistency in the field improves myworld sees him moving to third. At 19 years of age the Pirates have time to see if his consistency improves at short.

7. Nicky Lopez (Royals) - The Royals selected Nicky in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. They have been so impressed with his progress that in 2017 he skipped Low A and started in High A, hitting .295 to be promoted to AA. The defensive tools exist for him to be an above average shortstop. His instincts around the baseball field will allow him to play above his tools. The power is not there but his line drive swing will find the gaps. This year he raked at Arkansas hitting .331 with two homeruns. That got him a promotion to AAA. In his first three games there he hit .417 with two homeruns. The Royals have a couple defensive players at short who have struggled providing offense this year. Don’t be surprised to see Lopez promoted to the Royals for a September debut. The only thing holding him back would be to keep him off the 40 man roster so they can protect other players in 2019.

8. Jasardo Chisholm (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox is his half brother. The Diamondbacks signed Chisholm out of the Bahamas after watching his half brother play. Fox has the better speed but Jazz has the better defensive tools. He needs to improve his consistency on defense, committing 18 errors in 63 games. His bat was not supposed to carry a lot of power but this year he has already swatted 12 homeruns for a .475 slugging percentage. Improving his patience at the plate (27/77 walk to whiff ratio) could improve his .249 average. Time will tell if he can sustain the power. At 20 years of age he should fill out more and get stronger. If the power stays he could turn into an offensive oriented shortstop who plays a solid defense.

9. Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - Lux was the Dodgers first round pick in 2016. With Corey Seager at short Gavin would be the ideal player the Dodgers could trade to provide veteran help in a playoff run. Or they could move him to second. His uncle Augie Schmidt was the second overall pick in the 1982 draft but did not make a major league impact. After a poor 2017 season Gavin did not look deserving of his first round status. This year he seems to have found his bat, though his numbers are enhanced by the hitter friendly California League environment. He is hitting .310 with 8 homeruns and a .894 OPS. His fielding at short has lacked consistency so the Dodgers have been giving him some time at second base. Last year his speed allowed him to steal 27 bases in 37 attempts. This year he has been limited to seven stolen bases in 14 attempts.

10. Richie Martin (Athletics) - Richie was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2015. The big knock on him was his lack of a bat, which dropped him down the prospect ladder. Jorge Mateo and Franklin Barreto rated ahead of him with Marcus Semien the major league alternative. The defensive tools are gold glove caliber if he can find his bat. This year at AA the bat has been located. He entered this season with a career average of .236. In the Texas League he is hitting .311. The power is still absent limiting him to a bottom of the order placement in the lineup but the glove will make up for his lack of run production. If he continues to hit over .300 the Athletics may give him a September opportunity.

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

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

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 First Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The following are myworld’s top ten first base prospects in the minor leagues.

1. Pavin Smith (D-backs) - Smith was the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2017 draft. He played for Virginia, mashing more homeruns (13) than he struck out (12) in his junior season. He failed to hit a homerun in his minor league debut last year but hit .312 with 15 doubles and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. This year the Diamondbacks were aggressive promoting him to High A where he has hit his first three homeruns. Unfortunately he is only hitting .214 with a slugging percentage of .331. His walk to whiff ratio is still excellent at 25/23. His lack of speed means playing the outfield would be tough requiring his power to break out if he wants to replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Defensively he will be average at first base.

2. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Another 2017 first round pick, Nick was drafted seven picks after Smith. He was one of four first basemen selected in the draft, though one may turn into a lefthanded pitcher. Nick does not have to worry about Eric Hosmer blocking him at first base. He slugged four homeruns last year in his minor league debut, but was a little more prone to striking out (58 in 52 games). Though he is not noted for his speed he did steal 10 bases in 14 attempts last year. Defensively he plays his position well. A strong arm and adequate speed makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility. This year he is playing in Low A where he has slugged 7 homeruns with a .426 slugging percentage. Those power numbers will have to improve if he hopes to fill the first base job in Kansas City.

3. Brenadan McKay (Rays) - Brendan was another first baseman drafted in the first round in 2017, the fourth player selected in the draft. The higher selection is based on his ability as a lefthanded pitcher as well. Baseball America voted him the 2017 College Player of the Year. After the draft he started six games (1.80 ERA) striking out 9.5 hitters per 9 innings. He also slugged four homeruns with a .232 average. Defensively he is solid at first base but lacks the speed to move to the outfield. While his bat continues to struggle in 2018 (.233/.300 slugging) his pitching has been stellar (4-0, 0.76). He was used for six starts in Low A, pitching just a little over three innings per start. In High A he has been used in relief twice, working 11 innings. On the bright spot offensively he has a 30/20 walk to whiff ratio (.425 OBA). At some point his bat will click and he will hit for a high average with moderate power. Whether he can handle both hitting and pitching is open to question.

4. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Bradley was a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The power is there for 20 plus homeruns per year as he has done his last three seasons. Strikeouts are a big problem, though last year was the first time since his rookie season when he struck out less than the number of games he played. A lack of speed makes a move to the corner outfield difficult and his defense at first is below par making the DH the best position for him. He is repeating AA this year where he is struggling with a .176 average. Myworld saw him take a ball out, one of his seven homeruns on the year. If his bat can heat up he has a chance for a major league callup this year.

5. Peter Alonso (Mets) - Myworld does not have a lot of faith that Dominic Smith can hold down the future first base position for the Mets. Peter has more power, though neither player is adept at fielding the position well. There is no speed in the legs of Alonso making a move to the outfield not a consideration, not with the surplus of talented outfielders the Mets have. This year the 23 year old is hitting .333 with 14 homeruns for a .632 slugging percentage. The Mets could look for Peter to fill the first base hole before the season is over. He will need to cut back on the 19 errors he made at first base last year. A trade to an American League team where he can play DH is also a possibility.

6. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The 2015 first round pick from Canada by the Marlins probably has more power than any first baseman on this list. Taking advantage of that power has always escaped him. In two full season leagues his high for one season has been 12 homeruns. His strikeout numbers are not high but making better bat on ball contact would increase those homerun numbers. The Padres traded Andrew Cashner in a five player trade to acquire Naylor. His younger brother Noah should be a first round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh has that Babe Ruth look, but unfortunately in his later years at 6′0″ 260. This year Josh seems to have acquired his power stroke in AA with 9 homeruns in 49 games for a .528 slugging percentage. For a big power hitter he does draw a number of walks (25 walks to 27 whiffs).

7. Evan White (Mariners) - Another right handed bat, Evan was drafted in the first round in 2017. He was the last of the four first baseman taken in the draft, falling two positions behind Nick Pratto. Nick has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base, plus the speed to move to the outfield. In his minor league debut he hit 3 homeruns with a .277 average in 14 games. Promoted to the California League to start the 2018 season Evan is hitting .294 with three homeruns. As a college drafted player Evan should rise quickly through the organization, this year starting his season in the California league.

8. Brent Rooker (Twins) - Brent was a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft. In his first year the Twins they tried him in the outfield but his lack of speed makes covering ground a challenging task. The Twins have still used him in the outfield this year but his main use has been as a first baseman. Last year Brent hit 18 homeruns in just 62 games with a .930 OPS. The power has dropped in 2018 with 7 homeruns and a .722 OPS in 47 games. A propensity for the swing and miss will always prevent him from hitting for a high average.

9. Jake Bauers (Rays) - Jake was a 7th round pick in 2013 by the Padres. He was traded to the Rays in 2014. Jake has never really hit for power with 14 homeruns his minor league high in 2016. He has a career .416 slugging average. His athleticism and decent speed would make a move to the outfield a possibility. A weak arm makes left field his best bet. The Rays would still like to see him hit for more power before making the major league club. This year Jake has hit 5 homeruns and is slugging .454 in his second season in AAA. This could result in a late season promotion by the Rays. Eventually he may have to move to left field if Brendan McKay finds his way to the major leagues.

10. Jake Gatewood (Brewers) - Jake was a middle infielder when he was drafted as a first round supplemental pick in 2014. Sprouting to a height of 6′6″ forced a move to first base in 2017. With that kind of length the power numbers have creeped up with a minor league high of 15 homeruns last year. This year Jake has already slugged 9 homeruns with a .445 slugging percentage. As an ex-middle infielder Jake has good defensive instincts at first base. He could see some time with the Brewers before the 2018 season ends.

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.

Soto Energizes Nats Offense

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The Nationals had trouble scoring runs off the Dodgers during their weekend series. Robbie Erlin retired them in order in the first inning for the game tonight. It appeared to be more of the same for the Nats. A Mark Reynolds single and Pedro Severino double down the left field line in the second inning got the crowd excited. Juan Soto came to the plate for his second major league at bat. He struck out in his first at bat, a pinch hitting appearance on Sunday. Juan sent the first pitch he saw from Erlin into the left field bullpen to give the Nats an early 3-0 lead. They would go on to win the game 10-2.

The Nats would score two more runs in that second inning. Wilmer Difo followed the Soto homeruns with a bloop single to right. A Gio Gonzalez bunt moved Difo to second. Back to back doubles by Trea Turner and Bryce Harper upped the Nationals lead to 5-0.

The homer by Soto led to more homeruns by Nationals hitters. Mark Reynolds homered twice in the third and seventh inning to the same location in left field near the foul pole area, both of them solo shots to lead off the innings. Bryce Harper led off the fifth with a homerun, one that he watched as it went into the second row of the bleachers in left field. He might have been a bit embarrassed if the ball did not leave the park. That has happened to him before.

The Padres scored their only run in the fourth inning. Gio Gonazlez had only given up one hit up until that point. A one out walk to Jose Pirela set it up for rookie Franmil Reyes, who was only batting .188 entering the game. He tagged the first pitch he saw from Gonzalez deep into the right field bleachers, also his first major league homerun. After the homerun Gio Gonzalez retired 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced.

The Nationals scored two runs in the sixth. Juan Soto started the inning with a bouncing single up the middle into center. With one out Michael Taylor hit a soft single to left field. Rookie Franmil Reyes made the unwise decision to try to dive for the ball. It skipped past him and rolled just short of the warning track. Juan Soto scored on the hit. Trea Turner slapped a double into the left centerfield gap for a double to score two more and make the score 8-2.

Game notes: The homerun by Soto was the first by a 19 year old in the major leagues since Bryce Harper did it in 2012…With a 10-2 lead the Nationals brought up Tim Collins to pitch the eighth. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2014, two Tommy John surgeries putting him on the shelf.