Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

Predictions - NL East

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

The last division prediction for my world.

1. Washington Nationals

Overall - This is not as strong a team as last year but they have no competition for the NL East. As they have been prone to do throughout the years with this roster, winning a playoff series will be a challenge.

Strengths - 1) Two aces. They may be the only team with a legitimate ace 1A and ace 1B in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Scherzer has been more durable, limiting right handed bats to a .137 average. The duo is good for 30 wins if both stay healthy. After those two the rotation gets dicey. Don’t expect a repeat year from Gio Gonzalez.
2) RF. Perhaps everyone expected too much from Bryce Harper. He has fallen short of Mike Trout in production and staying healthy has been an issue with his all out play. He is one of the best right fielders in the game when he is in the lineup with a .595 slugging percentage. If he can play 150 plus games expect MVP consideration.
3) Infield. When everything is clicking this is the best infield in baseball. Anthony Rendon is one of the more consistent performers in the lineup. Last year he was second to Ryan Zimmerman in RBIs with 100. Trea Turner at short can steal bases (46) but also hit for pop. Last year was a down year for him as he battled injuries. Daniel Murphy will miss the first month of the season but he is usually good for 20 plus homeruns and his .322 average was second in the National League. Staying healthy has always been a challenge for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Last year he stayed healthy and hit .303 with 36 homeruns and 108 RBIs. Despite that production he got no consideration in the MVP voting.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. Matt Wieters had an off year hitting .225. His defense is not that strong to rely on weak production with his offense. He does work with pitchers well.

Top Rookie - We suspect Erick Fedde will get more opportunities in the starting rotation than Victor Robles in the outfield.

Top Prospect - The five tool player may have to wait until next year to show his stuff. The Nationals expect him to replace Bryce Harper if they can’t resign Bryce.

Expected Finish - First place, but winning a playoff series is probably not in the cards. The Nationals are still winless in their three playoff series.

2. New York Mets

Overall - The Mets were plagued with a number of injuries last year, which torpedoed their assault on the playoff race. They hope to avoid those injuries this year.

Strengths - 1) Starting Pitching. Two years ago this rotation was anticipated to be the rotation of the ages. Injuries prevented that from happening last year. Noah Syndergaard is healthy and will be the ace of the staff. Last year he was limited to 7 starts. Jacob DeGrom was the only starter to start over 30 games last year but his 28 homeruns put his ERA at 3.53. He needs to keep more balls in the park. Steven Matz may never have a completely healthy year but the Mets are hoping to get 20 plus starts and get that ERA (6.08) dropped by at least 2.5 runs. Matt Harvey looked good in the spring but like Matz he was very hittable last year (6.70 ERA). If these four can’t find their mojo the Mets have no chance to compete.
2) Outfield. When healthy it can be one of the best in the National League. Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto each have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns each. Staying healthy has been an issue. Michael Conforto will start the season on the disabled list. That will help out the defense in centerfield, but the offense will be restricted. Yoenis Cespedes has not stayed healthy in his two years in the major leagues.

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Adrian Gonzalez has seen his best years. The Mets may be better off using Jay Bruce at first base to improve their outfield defense, allowing Conforto to play a corner.
2) Catcher. Travis d’Arnaud is another player with health issues. Last year he did catch 93 games, hitting 16 homeruns. The Mets will take that kind of production but relying on d’Arnaud to stay in the lineup has been a Tulowitski like challenge.

Top Rookie - If the Mets continue to have problems with the health of their starting pitchers Marcus Molina could get a number of opportunities to start. He is not overpowering, but he has command and a plus slider.

Top Prospect - No clear favorite here, but most seem to think Andres Gimenez is the Mets top prospect. His glove is gold glove, but it may have to move from shortstop to second base because Amed Rosario may be entrenched at short when Gimenez is ready to contribute. Gimenez lacks power but he is a contact hitter with the ability to hit .300 or greater.

Expected Finish - Second Place, but they fail to avoid injuries and miss out on the wild card.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Overall - Their prospects are being filtered into the lineup. The team also signed a couple of veteran free agents to fill leadership roles to the offense and the rotation. It may take another year before the Phillies see the roots of their rebuilding process take growth.

Strengths - 1) First Base/Left Field - They should get a lot of offense from Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. Myworld does not feel Hoskins will hit 54 homeruns in 2018 if he plays 150 games as would his projection from last year. The duo should combine for 60 plus homeruns next year. Their defense will also be less than stellar.
2) Catcher. Jorge Alfaro will finally get his opportunity. Health has delayed his major league career. He should provide 20 plus homerun pop and more consistent hitting than their catching corp last year.
3) Utility. Scott Kingery could play a number of different positions in 2018. The Phillies could use him like the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez, sticking him out at second, third and left field. He has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns if he can play 120 plus games.

Weaknesses - 1) Defense - This will not be a strong team defensively. To get all the productive bats in the lineup they may be forced to put square pegs in round holes filling out the positions.
2) Closer. Hector Neris had trouble retiring lefthanders. He also allowed too many balls to leave the park (9), but was still able to string together 26 saves.
3) Starting Pitching. They were able to sign Jake Arrieta to a free agent contract, but he struggled last year. Aaron Nola had a strong year but with Jake taking over the number one role that would take the pressure off Nola. The Phillies are hoping that the young pitchers who follow them will have more productive years than last year (Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively).

Top Rookie - J.P. Crawford will get the starting nod at short. His bat may not produce enough to get considered for Rookie of the Year. Myworld expects Scott Kingery to have the more productive bat as he plays multiple positions and vies for the top rookie.

Top Prospect - J.P. Crawford is considered the top prospect but his bat has disappointed the last two years, despite having the tools to be able to hit.

Expected Finish - Third place, but if their pitching surprises they could sneak into the playoff race.

4. Atlanta Braves

Overall - Their rebuilding process took a hit when they were forced to release a number of prospects for violating the international cap. They need to sort out the pitchers that will take them to the playoff race.

Strengths - 1) First base. Got to feel sorry for Freddie Freeman to have to battle through this rebuilding process. He hit .307 with 28 homeruns despite being limited to 117 games last year.
2) Talented Youth. You don’t know when prospects with impressive tools like Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies break out. Also the pitching staff will trout out a number of young arms to the mound in Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka, Max Fried and A.J. Minter. Not all these players will succeed but the Braves are hoping three or four will have impact years.

Weaknesses - 1) Left Field. There is a black hole there now. When Ronald Acuna fulfills his minor league time for the month of April he should take over the position. It may take some time before he produces.
2) Third Base. Austin Riley is the future here, but young Rio Ruiz will try to hold down the position until Johan Camargo gets healthy. Ruiz hit .193 last year in limited playing time. Camargo lacks the power one expects from this position.
3) Closer. Arodys Vizcaino has never permanently claimed the closer role despite being the expected closer for the last three years. One of the younger pitchers with lots of stuff like Gohara may be better suited for the role.

Top Rookie - Ronald Acuna will take over the left field job in May and battle for the rookie of the year award.

Top Prospect - Acuna, but after him it would be a any one of the pitchers mentioned to fill the starting rotation.

Expected Finish - Still a year or two away. Fourth Place finish is the best they can hope for.

5. Miami Marlins

Overall - New ownership same results. Marlins fans will have to sit through another rebuild. Trading away the best outfield in baseball had to be like breaking up with your girlfriend not because you wanted to but because you had to.

Strengths - 1) Youth. They will be starting a number of talented rookies in Lewis Brinson, Brian Anderson and Magneuris Sierra. Watching them grow and become stars is better than watching a bunch of veterans stumble into last place.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. J.T. Realmuto is starting the season on the DL. He also has requested to be traded. Without him they will have a couple backups in Tom Tellis and Chad Wallach man this position.
2) Shortstop. J.T. Riddle and Mel Rojas are just place setters for a player to be drafted later. This will be a tough position to stock with Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter overseeing the process.
3) Outfield. It will be tough to replace Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. They will lose 60 homeruns at that position.
4) Starting Pitching. This is where they will really get beat up with a handful of journeyman filling the position until their young arms are ready. No sense in using up service time for a last place finish.

Top Rookie - Lewis Brinson will take over the centerfield job. There will be some hiccups in his play, but when the season is done he will hit around .270 with 20 plus homeruns and compete with Ronald Acuna for the National League rookie of the year award. Brian Anderson is also a potent bat who could make some waves with his production.

Top Prospect - Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman are two young pitchers they acquired who throw the ball hard. Don’t expect them to pitch until the 2019 season.

Expected Finish - They will battle for the top pick in the 2019 draft.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 10 -1

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

For the first time we had a tie for the number one prospect. To break that tie we will give it to the less professional player.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) 9 - His dad was a slugger for the Colorado Rockies. His mom is from Brazil, allowing him to play for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. While shortstop is his current position the concern is that he may not carry enough range to play it at the major league level, so a future position at second base is possible. The power is there but not as great as his father. Based on his minor league numbers his hit tool could be better with a .384 batting average at Low A and a .372 two year minor league average. The second round 2016 pick should join the other famous Blue Jay son compatriot Vladimir in AA to start the 2018 season.

9. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) 9.08 - The 2014 first round pick throws gas, allegedly hitting 105 on one stadium radar clock. When it is his time to pitch in the majors he will replace Aroldis Chapman for most fastballs to hit triple digits. His secondary pitches are good enough to force hitters not to sit on his fastball. His one big negative is an inability to throw strikes in stretches. Last year he got three starts in AA. His career minor league ERA is 2.74. The 2018 season will see him start it in AA with an appearance at the major league to occur sometime before the season ends.

8. Kylie Tucker OF (Astros) 9.12 - The younger brother of Preston carries more impressive tools than his older brother. The first round 2015 pick has the speed to play centerfield with the arm that could shift to right. The bat carries power, especially when the arms from his 6′4″ frame can extend. Last year he hit 25 between High A and AA. In spring training he has already dazzled with four long balls. The lefthanded bat also seems to rake against lefthanded pitching, eliminating any platoon concerns. When he reaches the major leagues he could hit 30 plus homeruns with 20 plus stolen bases, though as his 6′4 frame fills out those stolen bases could drop. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA with regular promotions to the major leagues when the Astros need outfield depth.

7. Nick Senzel 3B (Reds) 9.26 - The Reds were talking about moving the number one 2016 pick to shortstop. The down side with that is it would make him an average shortstop on defense but at third base he has the potential to be a gold glover. Having his power bat at a middle infield position would make him attractive. In AA last year he slugged .560 with 10 homeruns with his 14 doubles giving him 40 for the year. That gap power could turn to over the fence power as he matures. Nick also has a .315 career minor league average so having a .300 plus average with 30 plus homerun potential would make him an attractive player at either short or third. The Reds could start him at AA if they want to use him at short but his bat could be ready for the major leagues now.

6. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) 9.48 - The power has not appeared yet but when it does Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus homerun numbers.

5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) 9.7 - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

4. Gleyber Torres 2B/3B (Yankees) 9.72 - Gleyber missed most of last season because of Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. If not for that absence he may be the starting second baseman for the Yankees in 2018. The Yankees will try to do without him for the first month of the season to get his bat acclimated to pitching while in AAA. He also needs to get used to second base, having played short and third for much of last season, though he did squeeze in ten games at second. Gleyber was originally a shortstop but his speed and consistency at the position will not replace Didi Gregorius. His bat should hit north of .300 with 20 plus homeruns. When April turns to May Gleyber should be in the Yankees lineup.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) 9.72 - Eloy was acquired from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

2. Shohei Ohtani RHP (Angels) 9.88 - He crushes fastballs 450 feet. He can hit triple digits with his fastball. The parks in Japan tend to be shorter than the United States so his power production may drop. His fastball can also be a little straight so major league hitters could have more success against his power arm. Ohtani does have a number of other quality pitches he can throw, but he also has some less than quality pitches he tries to squeeze across the platee. If he sticks with his best pitches he should have more success. It will be interesting if the wear and tear of hitting at the DH spot will begin to sap the strength for his pitching. The Angels have stated they plan on going to a six man rotation, but some pitchers on the team prefer a five man. Ohtani will pitch for the Angels to begin the season and should win the rookie of the year award in the American League.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) 9.88 - The Braves have an opening in the outfield. Acuna is raking in spring training. It would be hard not to take him north with them in April. At 20 years old Andrew Jones starred for the Braves, but Ronald could pass him for production. The potential five tool player slugged 21 homeruns last year while stealing 44 bases. That will translate to 30/30 capability in the major leagues. His defense should also win gold gloves in centerfield. Like Torres, when April turns to May Ronald should be in the outfield for the Braves if he fails to travel north with them after spring training.

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.

Top 10 Dominican Prospects - Nationals League

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

It is almost a completely new top ten with Reynaldo Lopez, Manuel Margot, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Difo, Jeimer Candelario and Raimel Tapia graduating to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez transferred to the American League list and Francellis Montas dropped out. Only the top two prospects repeated the list, Alex Reyes and Victor Robles. Alex may not have repeated this list if Tommy John surgery had not ended his season last year. Below is the top ten Dominican prospects in the National League:

1. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Victor was number two last year and switched with Alex for the top spot this year. While the power has not shown yet Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus numbers.

2. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - 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.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - 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. Last year the Padres moved him from Low A to AA, skipping High A. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

4. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

5. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto despite a number of requests about his availability. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

6. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - One of the players the Marlins were able to acquire for Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals have a lot of success finding pitchers with triple digit heat. Sandy is one of those pitchers who sits in the high 90s but hits triple digits regularly, shades of Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez before him. He still has not developed any consistent secondary pitches, still trying to master a slider and curve. His command is not quite there as well. He did get 8 relief appearances with the Cardinals last year where he struck out 10 in eight innings, but he also walked six. If his command does not improve and his secondary pitches do not develop he could always be used out of the bullpen. The Marlins will keep him in the rotation in 2018 in AAA. His lack of secondary pitches and command resulted in the opposition hitting him at a .262 clip with his whiff rate sitting at a disappointing 7.6 per nine innings.

7. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - Adonis does not throw as hard as Sixto but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. It sits in the low 90s. The Phillies signed Adonis the year before they signed Sixto, shelling out just $70,000 for the 17 year old, so for $100,000 they were able to acquire two of the top pitchers on this list. Adonis has a quality change that can make his fastball appear to arrive at the plate with greater velocity and a slider that can be a swing and miss pitch. In Low A Adonis struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .227 average. In three minor league seasons his career ERA sits at an impressive 2.81. The Phillies seem to be promoting him one level at a time so expect him to pitch at High A for the 2018 season.

8. Jorge Guzman RHP (Marlins) - You would have thought the Marlins could have gotten more from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees had more advanced Dominican throwers who hit the radar in triple digits. The Marlins chose the less developed Guzman, who has yet to advance past the rookie leagues since signing in 2014, but has shown some impressive heat. Guzman was ranked as one of the hardest throwing Yankee hurlers, averaging 99 miles per hour with his fastball. He could replace Reyes and Kopech as having one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues. He has not really had the need to work on his secondary pitches, but as he reaches the full season leagues those pitches will need to be developed. His command has been good in the lower levels. His first test of full season league will be in 2018 where he will either break out or fall into obscurity.

9. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs need pitching and Adbert built some additional velocity on his fastball to rise up the ranks. It sits at 93-95. The secondary pitches still needs some work as well as his ability to throw strikes. He has yet to strike out a hitter per inning but an improvement of his change and curve would change that. The opposition struggled to make quality contact, hitting him at a .220 clip. He did get seven starts in AA, which is where he would start the 2018 season. An appearance at the back end of the rotation by the end of the season could be possible.

10. Jhailyn Ortiz OF (Phillies) - The third Philly Dominican on this list, but the one who the Phillies paid a lot to sign. Jhailyn was able to squeeze out a $4.01 million bonus from the Phillies in 2015. At 6′3 he carries 250 pounds, which carries balls far over the fence. He has a strong arm to play right field but his legs lack speed and may result in an eventual move to first base. Last year in the rookie league he slugged eight homeruns with a .560 slugging average. Jhailyn should begin the 2018 season in Low A where his ability to hit for power will begin to get noticed.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 40 - 31

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Myworld continues our top 100 list.

40. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) 5.6 - The Braves have traded for a number of pitchers who were number one picks for their team. Kolby was a number one pick for the Braves in 2015. His velocity is not impressive (high 80s to low 90s) so his command needs to be good for him to have success. Last year at AA was his first year his whiffs per 9 innings fell below 9 and his opposition average was .258, with lefthanded hitters having greater success hitting him (.292). He still kept his ERA low (3.18) relying on an above average curveball and change to enhance his fastball. Because the Braves chose to skip High A he was one of the younger pitchers in AA so his success was impressive. AAA could be his destination in 2018 or he could repeat AA. Wherever he pitches he is just a stone’s throw away from the major leagues. His lack of velocity will always make him a back of the rotation starter.

39. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) 5.62 - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

38. Franklin Perez LHP (Tigers) 6.1 - The prized prospect the Tigers obtained from the Astros for the trade of Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, those are attributes that teams drool over with lefthanded pitchers. Prior to 2017 he was striking out more than a hitter per inning. The 2017 season saw him fall below that, though at High A he limited the opposition to a .190 average. His excellent command and plus curveball are his strengths. Getting more consistency with his change will make him a major league pitcher. The Venezuelan only started six games in AA so that is probably where he will begin the 2018 season. The Tigers have an impressive group of starters percolating up their minor league system. If they all can stay healthy it will be an impressive rotation with Franklin leading the charge.

37. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) 6.16 - The Canadian lacks velocity, his fastball sitting in the low 90s. Quality secondary pitches and good command allow him to achieve soft contact with the bats. His strikeout numbers will never be impressive but he has limited hitters to a .239 average. His big challenge is retiring lefthanded hitters, who battered him for a .269 average. The 2015 first round pick should start the 2018 season in AAA with a major league mid-season callup a possibility. His 6′4″ height gives him good downward plane on his pitches.

36. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) 6.16 - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

35. Willie Calhoun 2B/LF (Rangers) 6.18 - The power was slow to develop early in the year. By the time the season ended he had 32 homeruns, including one in the major leagues. At 5′8″ he would not strike you as a hitter who could hit for power but he has had back to back seasons of 27 plus homeruns. Prior to being drafted he led all junior college hitters in homeruns with 31. The Dodgers traded him to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish loan. His one big weakness is with the glove. The Dodgers used him mainly at second base with a thought to move him to left field. The Rangers will try him out in left. His arm is not strong and DH is probably his best position. With a good spring he could start the season with the Rangers in left field.

34. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 6.4 - J.P. is one of those players whose physical tools are impressive but the numbers fail to match those tools. The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres at the beginning of the year to hand the shortstop job to him. The 2013 first round pick committed 17 errors at short in AAA, but none at the major league level where he played third, short and second. The bat has been a little disappointing, especially last year where he struggled to make contact. J.P. can be a very patient hitter, walking 95 times between AAA and the major leagues. There is no stolen base speed in his legs, but if he can hit and draw walks he could fill a leadoff role with the Phillies. The shortstop job is his to lose in 2018.

33. Brendan McKay LHP/1B (Rays) 6.54 - Shohei Otani got most of the publicity for being a two way player but McKay along with Hunter Greene were two players who hit and pitched in the minor leagues. McKay has a lefthanded fastball that can hit the low 90s with a plus breaking pitch. Last year he achieved six starts with the opposition hitting him at a .149 clip. His lefthanded bat has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns. The 2017 first round pick lacks the speed to play any place other than first, DH or pitcher. He should start the 2018 season in full season ball (Low A) where the Rays will continue the experiment of letting him hit and pitch until he consistently fails at one of the skills.

32. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) 6.6 - The 2017 first round pick is the third Braves pitcher on this list. At 6′4″ Kyle has a beast of a fastball with excellent movement that can slice the plate in the mid-90s. In his 9 starts, six of them at High A he limited the opposition to a .186 opposition average. With four quality pitches Kyle is a good fit to pitch at the top of the rotation. The Braves could have him start the 2018 season at AA but myworld suspects he will begin the season at High A.

31. Scott Kingery 2B/3B (Philles) - Scott started the season with a homer barrage in hitter friendly AA. As the season progressed his homer barrage slowed. He hit 18 in 69 games in AA then finished with 8 in 41 games at AAA. Most of his time was spent at second base, but he did play some short and third. Expect a power drop in 2018, which could make third base an unattractive spot for his pop. The second round 2015 pick is not a quality defensive player but he will not embarrass you. If Maikel Franco continues to struggle at the plate Kingery could take over for that position. A good spring could give him an opportunity to travel with the Phillies to begin the season.

Myworld’s 2018 Top 100 Prospects - 100 - 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nationals Trade Prospects for Playoffs

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Myworld thought the Nationals gave up too much pitching when trading Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton. The Nationals were able to make the playoffs but Adam Eaton was injured early in the year and did not contribute much to the season. Now Nationals fans wait for who the team will trade in 2018 to make another run at the playoffs.

The outfield has the strongest group of prospects. The best of this bunch is probably Victor Robles, who is considered one of the top ten prospects in baseball. The Dominican has five tool talent, though the power has yet to show. Last year he slugged 10 homeruns but found the gaps enough to settle for 37 doubles. The Nationals hope as he matures more balls will carry over the fence. His speed will make him a premier centerfielder but he also has the arm to fit in right. If the Nationals have a long term injury to Eaton, Bryce Harper or Michael Taylor expect the Nationals to turn to Robles to fill the need. Expect him to start the season in AAA with the outfield currently filled and the replacement for Bryce Harper when he leaves for free agency after the 2018 season.

Juan Soto is another outfielder with superstar offensive potential. Last year injuries limited him to 32 games. During that time he was able to hit .351 with a 12/9 walk to whiff ratio. Last year Soto had a breakout season in the rookie league hitting .368. Juan lacks the speed of Robles and does not have a great arm so he will be destined for left field should the Nationals not trade him for a playoff piece. Don’t be surprised to see the Nationals show some boldness and start Soto in High A for the 2018 season to challenge his bat.

Daniel Johnson had a breakout year in 2017. The fifth round 2016 pick slugged 22 homeruns between two levels and hit more like a first rounder. His arm has plenty of carry for right field and his legs allow him to cover ground in centerfield. The Nationals will start him in High A next year and hope his bat will continue to produce. As a college drafted player turning 23 in 2018 the Nationals will move him up quickly.

Two outfielders with the speed to play centerfield are Rafael Bautista and Andrew Stevenson. Both have a lot of speed to steal bases and cover centerfield. Neither has any power. Each will fill the AAA outfield and act as insurance should the Nationals need their services. They appear to be fourth outfielder types at best.

Erick Fedde could be the lone pitching prospect for the Nationals ready to contribute quality outings to the major league team in 2018. The 2014 first round pick was drafted despite needing Tommy John surgery. His fastball sits in the low 90s but tends to have more velocity when used out of the bullpen. With a crowded rotation the Nationals may give him his major league opportunities in relief until an injury to the rotation creates a need. Fedde has a good slider but lacks a quality third pitch, which may make the bullpen a more attractive option for him.

Seth Romero was the Nationals first round pick in 2017, despite having some character flaws. He was suspended a couple times from his college team before finally being released after continued infractions. Curfew, fighting and drug issues were at the center of his suspensions, though there were concerns over his lack of conditioning. His fastball hits the mid-90s with a plus slider and above average change to give him all the pitches he needs to succeed in the major leagues. His biggest challenge appears to be inside his head.

Carter Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. His brother Spencer has played in the Nationals minor league system for a couple years as a catcher. Carter has the talent with the bat to become an offensive force in the game. His defensive quickness to stay at short could be questioned and with Trea Turner supplanted there it may be wise to find Carter another spot in the infield. Expect him to join a power packed group in Potomac.

The Nationals have two catchers that are close to major league ready. Pedro Severino is a quality defensive catcher with a strong arm to limit a running game. His offensive output may limit him to a back up role. Raudy Read, a fellow Dominican signed a year later than Severino may have surpassed him because of a superior offensive game. Last year Read slugged 17 homeruns which earned him a major league callup. Read may not play the quality defense of Severino but it is still major league quality. The Nationals were not pleased with their catching last year, but it may be too risky for them to turn to a rookie to guide a veteran pitching staff. Expect Severino to start the season as the Nationals back up with Read ready to take over should an injury shelve Wieters for the long term.

Myworld’s Top Ten Lefthanded Prospects

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

The story on lefthanders is they do not throw as hard as righthanders, but their ball moves much better. Don’t know if there has been a study to explain why that happens. Righthanders are generally better to have on your staff because hitters who bat from the same side as the pitcher tend to struggle more and there are more righthanded hitters in baseball. Baseball has all sorts of givens that are based on anecdotal evidence such as short righthanders are not as effective as short lefthanders and right handed power hitting firstbaseman are usually ignored in favor of firstbaseman who can hit lefthanded based on the prevalence of right handed pitching. Personally, myworld will take pitchers who can get hitters out or hitters who can hit regardless of their physical characteristics. So here are my top ten lefthanded pitchers to watch and others to keep an eye on.

1. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - You have to like a pitcher who stands 6′7″, consistently hits the high 90s with his fastball and throws lefthanded. If he doesn’t find a spot in the rotation he could be a knock out closer. He does have a pretty good slider and if his changeup gets better he will have the pitches to settle at the top of a rotation. Tall pitchers tend to have problems finding the strike zone and that is true with A.J. He got as far as AA last year. Hitters at the A level struggled against him(.196) but the AA found his pitches more hittable (.256). The 2016 first round pick should see the Athletics rotation by mid season if he shows success at AA.

2. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third player selected in the 2017 draft dominated at the rookie level in his professional debut, limiting the opposition to a .184 average, a 1.27 ERA and 14 whiffs per nine innings pitched. The Padres were conservative with him allowing him to pitch three innings per start. With those limitations he could rear back on his fastball, hitting the mid-90s. He has a deep selection of quality secondary pitches that will be effective as an ace in the rotation. Next year he will start the season in Low A and at the most optimistic won’t be ready for the Padres until 2020, building up innings and arm strength in the minor leagues. As his innings extend maintaining the fastball velocity and getting hitters out the second and third time he faces them in the order will be tested.

3. Justus Sheffield (Yankees) - At 5′11″ if he threw from the right side he would be bullpen fodder. The Yankees first pick in 2014 throws lefthanded and despite his small stature has good velocity and movement on his fastball. He did not get a lot of swings and misses with his repertoire in AA (7.9 per nine innings) but lefthanders only hit him at .217. His challenge is to retire righthanded hitters more consistently (.276). The Yankees will be in the thick of a playoff race next year and it is tough for rookies in New York to have success in that type of environment. Expect the Yankees to be patient with him. If he can improve his pitches against righthanders he could see some time in the rotation next year, otherwise it could be bullpen opportunities against lefthanders when the Yankees need arms.

4. Yohander Mendez (Rangers) - He stands tall (6′5″) but his fastball stands out more for its sink than velocity. His best pitch is also the change which makes the fastball appear to have greater velocity. He was able to retire both lefties and righties equally (.228 average) in AA which gave the Rangers confidence to promote him to the show. Giving up the long ball could be his Achilles heel, allowing 23 in AA and 3 in his 12 innings with the Rangers. With the Rangers all his appearances were in relief. The Rangers signed a number of fringe starting pitchers as free agents so Mendez will spend the first part of the season in AAA. His success and the back end of the rotations failures will determine his future.

5. Seth Romero (Nationals) - The Nationals have had success with players who have fallen in the draft because of injury. Romero did not have an injury that resulted in his drop, but he was kicked off his college baseball team because of character flaws. Most teams will tolerate a few character flaws for a lefty who touches mid-90s with his fastball. He got a lot of swings and misses with his pitches (14 K’s per nine innings) but had trouble retiring lefthanded hitters (.364). He should start the season in Low A and with success should rise quickly as a pitcher drafted out of college.

6. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The Red Sox 2016 first round pick stands 6′6″ and looks like a giant on the mound. The curveball is said to be his best pitch but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. At 220 pounds he could fill out some more adding some velocity. He got battered and bruised a bit in Low A, but his command was poor (5 walks per nine innings) resulting in 6 taters in just 44 innings. That gave him an ugly 6.70 ERA. The good news is lefthanded hitters struggled (.184) but not righthanders (.287). He also got a lot of swings and misses (11.77 K’s per nine innings). It would not hurt for him to repeat Low A to find some success before being promoted to High A.

7. Stephen Gonsalves (Twins) - Even though he stands 6′5″ he is one of the softer tossers on this list. His fastball only crosses the plate in the low 90s but he complements it with an excellent change. At AA hitters could only muster a .207 average against him. A promotion to AA saw more barrel on the ball contact (.293) but he did continue to get swings and misses with his pitches, averaging a strikeout per inning. Expect to see him start the year in AAA and find himself promoted to the Twins once he has achieved some success. If the Twins need a lefty in the bullpen that could be his short term role, but long term he will fit in the middle of the rotation.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian is one of the many investments the Padres have delved in from Cuba. He was the MVP of the 15 and under World Cup and left Cuba shortly after that. At 18 he has already pitched at High A. He is not overpowering with his fastball, sitting in the Low 90s, but he has command of all his pitches and his short stature (6′0) forced him to know how to pitch. The velocity could increase as he gets stronger but currently his pitches are hittable (.265 opposition average). He was the ace of the Cuban youth teams he played for but myworld feels he might fit more in the middle of a rotation. If his fastball shows better velocity he could creep higher. As he rises up each level he needs to show he can miss bats or consistently get poor contact on the balls that are hit.

9. Kolby Allard (Braves) - The Braves are loaded with lefthanded pitching but Kolby may be the best of the group. The Braves 2015 first round pick was bothered by back problems soon after being drafted but last year seemed to show he has recovered from that. His fastball sits in the low 90s but a good curve ball and change give him three quality pitches he can show hitters. Gohara and Fried made their major league debuts last year while Allard toiled in AA all season, so they may be ahead of him in the depth chart. Kolby’s success at AA last year (3.18 ERA) will put him in the pecking order to make the Braves rotation this year. He is not the kind of pitcher who will miss a lot of bats, but he should eat up innings and limit run production, fitting in the middle of the rotation.

10. Tanner Scott (Orioles) - The sixth round 2014 pick throws heat, consistently hitting 100 plus with his fastball. The Orioles limited him to three innings per start, which restricted hitters from seeing him a second time, but a .188 opposition average against him shows the lack of success they had the first time they faced him in the order. His lack of command and secondary pitches may relegate him to the bullpen, but he could be one of those pitchers who develops that second and third pitch in the minors and turns into a monster. Tanner will start next season in AAA. If all he can throw is a fastball hitters will communicate to him how badly he needs other pitches.

Others to Watch

Anthony Banda (Diamondbacks) - A good fastball/curveball combination. Improved command could see better results. Started four games in the majors last year and with a good spring and a trade of Greinke he could find himself in the rotation next year.

Luiz Gohara (Braves) - Luiz was acquired from the Mariners for two minor leaguers. Last year the Brazilian made his major league debut featuring a fastball that hits triple digits. Lack of command and weight issues could give Luiz problems in the future. He also needs to develop a third pitch (change) or be relegated to the bullpen where pitchers with his velocity and lack of command thrive.

Max Fried (Braves) - Lucas Giolito was the star of his high school team but Max got drafted higher after arm issues dropped Lucas in the draft. Tommy John surgery also felled Fried but last year he bounced back after a slow start, making his major league debut. Throwing strikes is a challenge and a start in AAA could be good for him. He did dominate in the Arizona Fall League which was indicative how he turned his season around last year after a horrendous start.

Alex Wells (Orioles) - His twin brother Lachlan pitches for the Twins. The Australian is not blessed with impressive stuff but he was able to get hitters out in Low A. His fastball travels in the high 80s/low 90s with no high quality secondary pitches, retiring hitters mainly on location. Next year he will settle in High A. The higher up the minor league ladder he climbs the greater the test of how his pedestrian pitches survive against better hitters.

D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles 2017 first round pick has a good fastball but struggled throwing strikes in his 10 inning professional debut. The Orioles have had issues developing pitchers drafted in the first round, often seeing them become more effective after they have left the organization (Jake Arrieta).

Cionel Perez (Astros) - The Cuban is slight of frame (5′11″) but still juices the fastball into the Low 90s. The Astros spent $2 million plus another $2 million penalty to sign him. Hitters found him not to be a mystery hitting him at a .266 clip. He’ll start the season in AA but myworld anticipates Perez in the Astros bullpen by mid-season.

Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Athletics acquired Jesus from the Nationals in the Ryan Madsen/Ryan Doolittle trade. At 6′1″ he doesn’t stand as tall as Puk but his fastball has been clocked in triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. He had Tommy John surgery in high school so there are concerns about the number of bullets he still has left in his arm. He won’t be ready for the Athletics until 2019, building up his innings in the minor leagues.

Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld likes him better as a firstbaseman but the fourth pick in the 2017 draft has a pretty good curve and hits the low 90s with his fastball. If he focuses on pitching the improvements could be exponential.

Ryan Yarbrough (Rays) - Myworld thinks Ryan is a bit underrated. Last year he drifted through AAA like knife through mayonnaise. He gets swings and misses from his low 90s fastball and his 6′5″ height gives him an imposing presence. Don’t be surprised to see him at the back end of the rotation for the Rays next year, especially after the Rays trade one or two of their veteran pitchers. Myworld liked what we saw of him last year.

MyWorld’s Top Ten Centerfielders

Friday, December 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others to Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld’s Top Ten Shortstops

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

These are the players who can make or break a major league team. Many of these players move on to other positions such as second base, third base or centerfield because of their athleticism and there are only 30 spots open to them in the major leagues. This is probably the most crowded position, with many of the major league teams already filled at shortstop. The Yankees have Didi Gregorius, the Mets will have Amed Rosario, the Nationals Trea Turner, the Indians Francisco Lindor, the Astros Carlos Correa, the Dodgers Corey Seager and on and on we can go. Some teams still need shortstops to make their lineup complete. They are the quarterback of an NFL team, the point guard in the NBA. Without a quality player at this position it is difficult to win in the major leagues. Below are some of the best that are waiting for their opportunity to prove themselves.

1. Willy Adames (Rays) - Signed by the Tigers but traded away in the David Price deal. Now that the Tigers are rebuilding he would be a good piece to have in that quest. The defense is there to make the plays and the bat will be productive. The strikeouts need to be tamed (132) but his high walk total (65) gave him a .360 OBA in AAA. He has the potential to hit 30 plus doubles with double digit homerun power approaching 20. Tampa is still looking for a shortstop and Willy could grab the position out of spring training in 2018.

2. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The Twins first round pick in 2017 and the first pick overall. His bat is solid and his defensive tools are strong. The big criticism is his lack of power and an average arm that could create a move to second base. Currently his power is built for the gaps with the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He makes consistent contact with the patience to draw walks. With his speed he could steal 40 plus bases. Royce is still a couple years away and won’t be introduced to the major leagues until 2020 at the earliest as a possible September callup.

3. Gleyber Torres (Yankees) - Gleyber was signed by the Cubs in 2013 for $1.7 million. They traded him to the Yankees to acquire Aroldis Chapman for half a season. Didi Gregorius stands in his way at the major league level and Tommy John surgery cut his 2017 season short by 100 games last year. The bat seems to be his most impressive tool with the ability to hit for average and power. This would allow a move to third base if Didi stays at short. The arm is strong but his range may not be as great as Didi. Don’t be surprised if Gleyber makes an impact to the 2018 season after spending the first couple months in the minors rehabbing his elbow.

4. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr. he carries the power of his father with the speed and tools to cover ground in the middle infield. At 6′3″ he may eventually have to move to third. He made a brief appearance at AA, combining for 22 homeruns at the two levels. There is still a lot of non contact with his at bats (77 walks with 141 whiffs) but the walks but his OBA close to .400 (.379). The Padres currently lack a shortstop so a good year at AA could convince the Padres to promote him by mid-season in 2018.

5. Kevin Maiten (To be determined) - The Braves signed him for $4.25 million in 2016. He immediately appeared on Top 100 lists as a 16 year old. His bat was a little quiet in his first season, producing an unimpressive .629 OPS in rookie ball. He didn’t show the bat or the defensive tools to justify the high bonus, but some have to remember he would still be a high school kid if still in the United States. Kevin is one of 13 players the Braves had to release because of the shenanigans the team practiced in circumventing the international salary cap.

6. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played in the Netherlands. His brother Spencer is a catcher and was first drafted by the Nationals, but lacks the tools of Carter. Carter was a first round pick in 2016 and struggled to stay healthy in 2017. The bat will be strong and spray the gaps, but he may need to move to third. At 6′2″ he may lose the range to stick at short. Whether he can move to third will depend on his gap hits turning into homeruns. He is still a couple years away so Trea has no worries to peer in the rear view mirror until sometime in 2020.

7. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - A first round pick in 2015 Brendan’s bat is ready for the major leagues in 2018. Trevor Story stands in his way at shortstop. One will have to move to second base if the Rockies want to get Brendan’s bat in the lineup. The power exists for 30 plus homeruns in Colorado, which would make him a offensive force in the middle infield. Neither Story or Rodgers has the speed to cover a lot of ground at short so it could be rock, paper, scissors to see who moves to second.

8. Delvin Perez (Cardinals) - The Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He may have not fallen to them if not for a drug failure prior to the draft. At 6′3″ the Puerto Rican reminds scouts of Carlos Correa, with less power but a more consistent glove. He also has good stolen base speed. A taller Francisco Lindor may be a better comparison, with Lindor not developing the power until he hit the major leagues. Last year Delvin was limited to 34 games because of injury. His bat was disappointing with a .203 average and .585 OPS. Delvin is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

9. J.P. Crawford (Phillies) - The Phillies keep waiting for his tools to make an appearance. His bat has produced two consecutive years of disappointing performances. Most were expecting him to move Freddy away from shortstop by now, but based on performance Freddy is the better shortstop and J.P. may have to move to second or third. He does draw a lot of walks which makes his .243 average more tolerable and he did hit a career high 15 homeruns. A .214 major league average and .656 OPS may keep him in AAA to start the 2018 season. The Phillies may make him earn his promotion to shortstop.

10. Andres Gimenez (Mets) - His defense at short would make him gold glove eligible but his lack of hitting tools makes him better as a utility player. His speed should give him 20 plus stolen bases. His lack of power stunted his slugging (.349). In 2016 in the Dominican Summer League he walked more than he struck out (21/13). Against better pitching state side those numbers were reversed (28/61). At 19 the Mets can be patient with him so don’t expect him to sniff the major leagues until 2020.

Others to Consider

Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - The acquisition of Gleyber Torres moved him to second. Dealt to the Athletics in the Sonny Gray trade he has returned to short. Speed is his best asset though he has shown some surprising pop. The Athletics are a little crowded at short so a move to center field to take advantage of his speed is still in the cards.

Cole Tucker (Pirates) - Not a lot of tools. A Jody Mercer clone once Jody leaves as a free agent. Does have the speed to steal 30 plus bases.

Richard Urena (Blue Jays) - A defensive shortstop who lacks a strong bat. Injuries to Troy Tulowitski will give him opportunities to prove himself at the position, but last year only hit .206 in his major league debut.

Wander Javier (Twins) - The Twins shelled out $4 million for Wander in 2015. Royce and Wander are the same age, but Royce has seen Low A. Wander is still in Rookie ball with injuries in 2016 restricting him to 9 games. He has the tools to play the position and the bat to be an impact player but needs the reps to let those tools shine.

Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds) - Not a lot of Cubans to fill the shortstop position. The glove is there to play the position but the bat is light, lacking power and the patience.

Yu-Cheng Chang (Indians) - Chang is the atypical Asian shortstop. He hits for power but his defensive tools may force a move to third. Too many swings and misses (134) kept his average low (.220).

Hoy-Jun Park (Yankees) - An expensive sign out of Korea ($1 million), Park has a smooth glove but a silent bat.

Richie Martin (Athletics) - The 2015 first round pick has the best glove in the Athletics organization. A questionable bat that lacks power may make him fall short as a major leaguer.

Kevin Newman (Pirates) - Another Jody Mercer clone that lacks the speed of Cole Tucker. His bat lacks power but makes solid contact to hit .270 plus.

Wander Franco (Rays) - At 16 years of age he is still a long ways away. The Rays paid $3.8 million to sign him. His bloodlines are good being the nephew of Eric Aybar. Dominicans have a tendency to outgrow shortstop.

Lucius Fox (Rays) - A defensive wizard with good speed the big impediment towards Lucius making an impact is a weak bat. Willy Adames will have claimed the position by the time Fox is ready so a move to second base or center field is a possibility. He has the speed to cover the grass in center.

Logan Warmoth (Blue Jays) - The Jays 2017 first round pick hit .302 in his half season professional debut. Not great defensive tools with power more suited for second base.