Archive for the 'Nationals' Category

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.

Myworld’s Top Ten Catching Prospects

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Myworld will spin around each of the positions and give out our top ten prospects. Obviously we can’t see every player in the minor leagues so a lot of what we assess is based on what we read. There may be some bias on players we watch, especially in the Eastern League. Players drafted in 2017 have to have performed exceptionally well or be considered can’t miss prospects to make this list. We are more attracted to results rather than just tools.

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - A 50 game hitting streak and .380 batting average last year shows he has the stick. His average dropped almost 100 points this year but most teams would take a .297 average from their catchers. The power exists for double digits in homeruns. He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball. There is little not to like other than his foot speed. Expect him to be catching for the Indians by mid-season in 2018. To think they had him traded to the Brewers in 2016 for Jonathan Lucroy, but Lucroy nixed the deal.

2. Jorge Alfaro (Phillies) - He has been a prospect for quite awhile. Originally signed by the Rangers out of Colombia they traded him to the Phillies in the Cole Hamel trade. He has a power bat and a strong arm. Injuries have prevented him from development time and stalled his major league debut until last year. His batting average may suffer because of his tendency to swing and miss. In 2017 he slugged .514 in 107 at bats. Expect him to start with the Phillies to begin the 2017 season.

3. Carson Kelly (Cardinals) - Probably one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. If not for Yadier Molina he would be starting for some major league team. His arm is not as strong as Mejia or Alfaro but his catching tools, blocking the plate and framing the pitch are more polished. The bat may be a bit of a concern but the power exists for him to reach double digits. In his two major league seasons he has yet to hit over .200 with no homeruns in less than 100 at bats.

4. Zack Collins (White Sox) - A first round 2016 pick has the bat to hit 20 plus homeruns. He needs to make more contact otherwise his average will suffer. Last year he struck out 129 times in 113 games resulting in a batting average of .224. His defensive skills are spotty and could result in a move to first base, but his power should be more than enough to fit at the position. For now the White Sox will hope he can fit behind the plate.

5. Meibrys Viloria (Royals) - Last year the Colombia native hit .436. His career average stood at .391 for three seasons. This year was a clunker for him (.259). 2018 will determine if this season was an aberration. His power is mostly to the gaps with the speed not to turn too many of them into triples. His lefthanded bat gives him extra points. His arm is good and his catching skills are there for him to fit at the position. Most rate Chase Vallot ahead of him. Chase may carry more power but his hit tool is lacking and his defense is spotty.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Lots of Venezuela players finding themselves behind the plate. The Dodgers signed Keibert for $140,000 in 2014. Coming into the 2017 season Ruiz had a career average of .344. The bat continued to stay hot with a .316 average at two different levels in 2017. The power seemed to arrive in the California League with six homeruns in 150 at bats, doubling his two year career average. He lacks a strong arm but a quick release compensates.

7. Chance Sisco (Orioles) - Another player with a less than average arm, but a bat that could hit for a high average. His power is restricted to the gaps. The second round 2013 pick made his major league debut this year, hitting .333 with two homeruns in less than 30 at bats. Wellington Castillo will opt out of his contract giving the Orioles an opportunity to take a chance on Chance to begin the 2018 season.

8. Taylor Ward (Angels) - The 2015 first round pick hit .349 his first year in the minor leagues. His offensive numbers have not been that strong since. There is some power in the bat that may allow him to reach double digits in homeruns. His arm is strong with solid defensive skills which should allow him to be a backup catcher in the major leagues if his bat does not match his glove.

9. Pedro Severino (Nationals) - Myworld thought he was a better option than Jose Lobaton on the major league club. Many question whether the bat will develop. He lacks power with a hit tool that should fall below .250. Pedro did hit .321 in his major league debut in 2016 with less than 30 at bats. In 2017 that batting average dropped to .172. His defense is strong with a rifle for an arm. If his bat does not develop his defensive tools are good enough for him to fill a back up job for the Nationals.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - The Puerto Rican finished in the top three of the Captain’s Choice award, which recognizes the best defensive players at each position. The bat is strong enough to hit for double digits in homeruns and his arm is strong enough to control a running game. The Mets drafted him in eighth round in 2012. In 2016 he had a breakout year with a .320 average and seven homeruns. Last year was a down year for him with a .232 average. He did draw a career high 30 walks so that should put him on a favorable run. The Mets are known for their prospects behind the plate in the minor leagues, but it has not produced once they hit the big leagues

Other Catchers of Note:

Alex Jackson (Braves) - The Mariners drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft. Because he had one of the better bats out of high school the Mariners moved him from catcher to right field. He failed. The Mariners traded him to the Braves for a couple mid-reliever pitchers and his bat blossomed once he was returned to catcher. There is pop in his bat with an arm that was solid enough for right field.

Aramis Garcia (Giants) - He has a strong arm with a good bat that can produce for power. His biggest impediment is Buster Posey behind the plate. One of those two players needs to move to first. Aramis has the power to fit at first.

Chase Vallot (Royals) - See Meibry Viloria.

Jose Trevino (Rangers) - the Captain’s Choice catcher of the year, which is given to the catcher with the best defensive tools. He makes good contact with the potential for power.

NL East Minor League All Stars

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Below are the NL East Minor League All Stars by classification as broken out by Baseball America. Next myworld will take a look at who we think are the top ten prospects at each position. The best prospect in baseball (Ronald Acuna) is not listed here because he did not spend enough time at the three classifications he played at.

Atlanta Braves

Mike Soroka SP (AA) - The Canadian righthander is not the most overpowering pitcher in the game. The number one pick of the Braves in 2015 relies on command and the quality of his secondary pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s but the opposition hit him at only a .233 clip. At 6′5″ he has good height that makes that low 90s fastball seem like it has more velocity.

Alex Jackson C (High A) - Alex was a first round pick of the Mariners in 2014. A catcher in high school the Mariners moved him to the outfield where he struggled making contact. The Mariners traded him to the Braves last year were he was returned to his high school position. Coincidence or not his bat came alive last year with 19 homeruns and a .480 slugging. There is still a lot of swing and miss with his bat. He has a strong arm but the other tools for catching need to be refined.

Joey Wentz SP (Low A) - The lefthander may have been a supplemental first round pick in 2016 but he was paid a higher bonus than their first round pick that year. Joey has good height (6′5″) and a blazing fastball that hits mid-90s but is more comfortable in the low 90s. His secondary pitches (curve and change) are quality. He should rise quickly once he exercises better command of his pitches.

Bryse Wilson SP (Low A) - The Braves are stocked with pitchers. Bryse was a fourth round pick in 2016. The righthander does not share the same height as his teammate Wentz (6′1″) but his fastball can reach the mid-90s. While he was called on for 26 starts last year his best position with all the arms in the Braves system may be in the bullpen.

William Contreras C (Rookie) - The Venezuelan is the younger brother of Wilson so he has good bloodlines. He still has some work to do on his defense, eliminating the passed balls, but his bat was potent in the rookie league hitting .290 with a 24/30 walk to whiff ratio. He has a 28 percent success rate in gunning down baserunners.

Miami Marlins

None - Derek Jeter has a lot of work to do to make this Marlin team whole.

New York Mets

Amed Rosario SS (AAA) - The Dominican has a smooth glove with a bat that should fit at the top of a lineup. His AAA OBA was .367. That dropped below .300 in the major leagues. If he can show more patience with the big club he could fit in the leadoff spot. The bat also shows enough pop (.466) that he could find himself in the three hole. The glove plays well. Think Francisco Lindor light.

Corey Oswalt SP (AA) - With all their young pitchers you would think they would be set there. Think again. Injuries have played havoc on the rotation and now not even Matt Harvey is in their future. Corey is a 7th round 2012 pick who will fit more in the back end of a rotation. He lacks overpowering stuff but at 6′5″ the low 90s fastball comes at the hitters with the appearance of greater velocity.

Pete Alonso 1B (High A) - The second round 2016 pick carries a little more natural power than Dominic Smith and will be insurance should Smith struggle. His lack of speed prevents any kind of move to the outfield. If Smith succeeds Alonso will be trade bait.

Philadelphia Phillies

Rhys Hoskins 1B (AAA) - If the Phillies had called up Hoskins earlier he may have challenged Cody Bellinger for the rookie of the year honor. He had a nice homerun pace in AAA (29) but enhanced that when promoted to the major leagues (18 in 50 games). His lack of speed makes playing outfield a challenge so one of either Tommy Joseph or Rhys must be moved.

Tom Eshelman SP (AAA) - The second round 2015 pick is noted mostly for his command. He walks hardly anyone. A lack of overpowering stuff means he has to locate his pitches well to achieve success. AAA hitters made soft contact against him (.227 average) but he only struck out 6 hitters per nine innings. His upper 80s fastball will restrict him to a back end of a rotation or emergency starter.

Scott Kingery 2B (AA) - He went on an early homerun binge in AA hitting 18 in just 69 games for a .608 slugging. That homerun pop slowed a bit in AAA (8 homeruns and .449 slugging). History tells us the latter production is more accurate. He can hit for average (.304) and has the speed to steal bases (19). The Phillies have to find a position for him with Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and J.P. Crawford all fitting the middle infield mold. He may lack the power to move to third, unless he can replicate his AA production.

Darick Hall 1B (Low A) - The 14th round pick in 2016 banged 27 homeruns with a .533 slugging. At 21 he was advanced for low A but his 6′4″ 234 pound frame projects for power. The Phillies appear to be crowded at first base.

Nick Fanti SP (Low A) - Another late round pick (31 in 2015) to have success in Low A. The lefty has a pedestrian fastball that rarely touches 90 but he did pitch a couple no hitters in the minors in 2017. A lot of hitters had trouble with his pitches (.200 opposition average). Whether that can continue as he rises to the higher levels is open to question.

Jhailyn Ortiz OF (short season) - The Phillies shelled out $4 million for the Dominican prospect. Power is his big tool. While he has an above average arm a lack of speed may restrict him to left field. He hit .302 with a .560 slugging to show an impressive bat.

Jhordany Mezquita SP (rookie) - The lefthander was a 8th round pick in 2017. He dominated in rookie ball with a 0.72 ERA in nine starts and a .160 opposition average. His 8.4 whiffs per nine innings indicates a lack of overpowering stuff but myworld does not know really a lot about him.

Leonel Aponte SP (Dominican) - Like Mezquita, other than his 0.77 ERA in 13 starts and his .194 opposition average not a lot is known about Aponte. Pitchers tend to put up good numbers in the Dominican summer league. He appears to have command of his pitches walking only 9 hitters in 81 innings.

Washington Nationals

Victor Robles OF (High A) - A five tool athlete the Dominican was fortunate to see some time in the major leagues. He has the speed to play centerfield and steal bases and the bat to hit for average. The power has yet to come but many project it will arrive as he matures. The arm is powerful enough to move to right. Many suspect Robles will be the right fielder after the free agency departure of Bryce Harper.

Nats Bats Explode Late in Win Over Cubs

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Last year Joe Maddon got into the heads of Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. He walked Bryce six times in one game, a number intentionally to face Ryan Zimmerman, who failed to drive in the city of runners he left on base. Both would go on to have less than stellar years.

Yesterday both Harper and Zimmerman got a little revenge against Maddon. Harper launched a mammoth two run shot in the eighth that settled into the second deck over the Nationals bullpen that tied the game at 3-3. In the same inning Zimmerman lifted a fly ball into left field that just cleared the fence for a three run homer to give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.

The game started well for the Nationals when Anthony Rendon lined a pitch into the right field bullpen with two outs in the first inning for an early 1-0 lead. That was the only hit the Nationals could muster off Jon Lester through the first four innings. It was shades of the previous night when they could only collect two hits in nine innings.

The Cubs got back early in the game when Wilson Contreras powered a pitch down the left field line for a second inning leadoff homer to tie the game 1-1. Gio Gonzalez like Jon Lester would settle down after that blast and not allow a hit until the fourth.

In the fourth Kris Bryant lined a double over the head of Jayson Werth to lead off the inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a high fly ball into right that a Cubs fan caught just over the fence for a two run homer. The Nationals appealed that the Cubs fan reached over the fence to rob Bryce Harper of an opportunity to make the catch but the appeal was denied after looking at the replay. Gio worked five innings before Dusty Baker went to the bullpen.

In the bottom of the fifth Ryan Zimmerman led the inning off with a slow bouncer up the middle for their second hit of the game. After two fly outs Zimmerman baited Lester to throw to first, taking a lead that was almost one third of the way to second. Lester did not throw to first and Zimmerman stole second with a huge jump. A wild pitch advanced him to third with two outs. Michael Taylor worked a walk and Howie Kendrick pinch hit for Gio and also walked to load the bases. That brought up Trea Turner. Trea swung at and missed at what appeared to be a outside fastball for strike three to continue the frustration of Nationals fans watching the anemic bats flail.

The Nationals could not get another hit until the eighth. Lester worked six and Pedro Strop hit Wieters with two outs in the seventh but retired Taylor to leave the Nats struggling to find base runners. The bullpen of Matt Albers, Sammy Solis, Ryan Madson and Oliver Perez quieted the Cubs bats through eight, leaving the score at 3-1 entering the home half of the eighth.

Adam Lind pinch hit for Oliver Perez and does what he does best, singling into left field. A faster runner would have gotten to second, but for Nats fans it was a hit. Harper worked the count to 3-1 and then launched a pitch into the full moon, landing in the second deck high above the right field bullpen to tie the game 3-3. The crowd had something to cheer about. Myworld does not recall a “N-A-T-S Nats, Nats, Nats” cheer for the two runs but too many people were slapping high fives maybe they forgot or perhaps myworld did not notice.

A walk to Anthony Rendon ended the day for Carl Edwards Jr. Mike Montgomery came on and gave up an opposite field single to left to Daniel Murphy. Ryan Zimmerman then lifted a high fly into left field. The left fielder drifted back, appeared to have caught the ball, but once he could not produce the ball from his glove the crowd realized it had just cleared the fence into the first row. Zimmerman made the leap just before touching first and it was 6-3 Nats.

Sean Doolittle came on for the ninth. He provided a little bit of excitement by giving up a one out single to Addison Russell. Ben Zobrist grounded a 2-1 pitch to Rendon at third and he turned it into a game ending double play. The series goes back to Chicago even at 1-1.

Nats Notes: A sellout crowd of 43,860 attended the game. There were more Cubbies blue than the game on Friday night…Game three starters are scheduled to be Max Scherzer for the Nats and Jose Quintana for the Cubs…Dusty stayed loyal to Jayson Werth, starting him in left field. He was hitless for his second straight game, though he did draw a walk in the first game. Expect Howie to get a start if Jayson’s bat stays cold…The Nationals handed out red towels for the game Saturday night. There were not too many opportunities for fans to wave them until the eighth…For Adam Lind he had his first playoff at bat after 1,344 regular season games. He made the most of it by singling to left, beginning a five run rally that would send the Nationals to victory. Victor Robles pinch ran for him and scored after the Harper homer…The homerun for Rizzo was a franchise record 6 homeruns in the playoffs. He also has the record for most post season RBIs with 16.

Leather and Wood Fail the Nats in Playoff Loss to Cubs

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

The Nationals have appeared in three playoffs series. They have yet to win one. Something always fails them. The bats. The pen. The lack of starting pitching. Yesterday it was the leather after a key error by Anthony Rendon allowed two unearned runs to score in the sixth to ruin an excellent performance from Strasburg. The bats were also frigid, failing to make any solid contact off Kyle Hendricks in the 3-0 loss.

The Nationals were able to advance a runner to second in the first two innings, but failed to score. Little did they know it would be their best opportunity of the night. After the second inning no National touched second base. It was pure domination by Hendricks, whose fastball was one tick slower than the change thrown by Strasburg. Whenever he threw his change the Nats could only stir a breeze or watch it flutter in the strike zone.

Strasburg was just as dominant, but in a more swing and miss way. In the first five innings he had struck out five. In the sixth leadoff hitter Javier Baez hit a routine grounder to third. Anthony Rendon had it in his glove and then it was out of his glove. Hendricks bunted Baez to second.

After a fly out to center Strasburg got ahead of Kris Bryant 0-2. It appeared he would escape adversity, a trait he has not been known for in the past. He had yet to allow a hit, but Strasburg does not lead a charmed life when facing adversity. On an 0-2 pitch Bryant lined one into right center for the first hit of the game. The throw home from Harper was a little too high and missed the first cutoff man, but Strasburg, instead of backing up home caught the ball and fired to second, where Bryant was trying to advance on the high throw. Bryant slid under the tag and a review confirmed that. If the throw had been low enough for the first cutoff man Bryant may have been out. This proved critical when Anthony Rizzo lined a single to right field to score Bryant to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

This proved insurmountable to the Nationals impotent bats. The offense only hit five balls into the outfield, two for hits and three routine fly outs. The Cubs added one more insurance run in the eighth on a Jon Jay double that hit the left field line. A one out grounder to second advanced Jay to third. Anthony Rizzo lined a double into the left field corner to give the Cubs another run they would not need.

The Cubs bullpen of Carl Edwards Jr and Wade Davis retired the Nationals in order in the last two innings. It was almost a relief to see Hendricks gone to start the eighth, but the Nats bats could not hit anyone tonight.

Nats Notes: A nice gesture by the Nats to have Steve Scalise throw out the first pitch. He was the Congressman shot at the baseball practice held by the Republicans. His body guards were also present at the ceremony, one of the Secret Service members catching the first pitch…The Nats passed out red cardboard “K” signs. Strasburg put them to good use with his 10 whiffs in seven innings. The bullpen of Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler also struck out three, but it was all for naught by an offense that also struck out 9 times and could not get solid wood on the ball…Steven Strasburg started the game throwing all strikes and retiring the Cubs in order in the first inning. His changeup (91) was a tick faster than the Kyle Hendricks fastball (88-91. Both Strasburg and Hendricks got a lot of swings and misses with their changeups….Jayson Werth took three strikes in his first at bat. While he did walk once his bat was not impressive. Expect Howie Kendrick to play left field in the second game to generate more offense…Ryan Zimmerman struck out in the ninth and when he ran to first the throw from Wilson Contreras hit him in the shoulder. The umpire ruled him out because he was far inside the line interfering with the throw from Contreras. The crowd did not like the call but he was clearly inside the infield area of the base path.

Pirates Get Moroff Nats Closer Kintzler in Win

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

The Nationals were going into the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Sean Doolittle had pitched the previous night so the Nationals went with Brandon Kintzler to close out the game. He gave up an RBI single to Sean Rodriguez to tie the game and after walking Elias Diaz to load the bases he coughed up a back breaking three run triple to Max Moroff to give the Pirates a 4-1 win over the Nats.

Up until then it was a well pitched ball game. Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals. He went only 3.1 innings but was forced to leave the game with a tight hamstring after throwing ball three to Josh Bell. A.J. Cole replace him, walked Bell but then got Jordan Luplow to ground into a inning ending double play. He shut the Pirates out for three more innings. Enny Romero closed out the eighth, leaving the Pirates with only a one out single to Max Moroff as their only hit through the first eight innings.

Jameson Taillon, the pitcher selected second after Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft pitched well for the Pirates for seven innings. He gave up a run in the second after Daniel Murphy roped a single into right field to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Zimmerman drove him in with a single up the middle to score the only run through the first eight innings. Zimmerman ended the day 2 for 2 before being removed from the game in the fifth inning.

After George Kontos retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth the Nationals called on Brandon Kintzler to close out the game. He gave up an infield single to Starling Marte on a slow roller to short. The initial call was out, but after a review of the replay it was determined he was clearly safe. Jordan Luplow singled to advance Marte to second. Kintzler ran the count to 3-2 to Sean Rodriguez, who was hitting .158 for the season. With the runners going on the pitch Sean lined a single to left field. Jayson Werth, who appears to have lost some velocity from his outfield arm, threw it home but it was not even close to get Marte. A walk to Diaz loaded the bases. After two three ball counts in a row Kintzler threw a fat first pitch to Max Moroff, who lined it in the left field gap, past a shallow Werth to role to the wall and drive in all three runs with his triple. The Nationals could not get Moroff out all day, finishing the day with two hits and two walks in four at bats.

Ex-National Felipe Rivera came out for the ninth hitting triple digits with his fastball and retired the Nationals in order to pick up his 21st save.

Game Notes: Max Scherzer was taken out of the game in the fourth inning for precautionary reasons. Daniel Murphy noticed some awkwardness in his delivery, the whole infield went up to talk to him and Murphy waved for the trainer to come out. The assessment was a tight hamstring which should be fine for a start on Friday…The Nationals also pulled Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters from the lineup, but that was just for rest. Bryce Harper was also replaced in the ninth inning…The Nationals removed Stephen Drew from the 60 day DL. If he is placed on the playoff roster that may mean Victor Robles will not get an opportunity to appear on the roster. The list of healthy players for a bench role is thin because of injuries.

Turner Leads Nats Past Phils

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Trea Turner bounced a single just past the glove of shortstop Freddy Galvis to drive in the tying and go ahead run to give the Nationals a 4-3 win over the Phillies. The revamped Nationals bullpen did the rest with Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle each working one inning of shutout ball to seal the victory.

Tanner Roark got the start for the Nationals. He was plagued by the homerun ball in the third and fourth innings. Jorge Alfaro took him for a ride into centerfield in the third inning. Tommy Joseph lifted a high fly ball that settled just over the fence in the left field corner to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

The Phillies tacked on another run in the fifth. Cesar Hernandez slapped a one out double down the left field line. Freddy Galvis scored him with a single into right center. Another single by Odubel Herrera put runners on first and third with one out. Roark was able to battle out of the inning by striking out both Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams to end the inning.

The Nationals were gifted a run in the second after a throw by Tommy Joseph to the pitcher on a ground ball by Michael Taylor was muffed. The pitcher Aaron Nola took a poor route to first base and was approaching it at an awkward angle. Taylor stole second and scored on a clutch two out single into left by Alejandro de Aza. It was only the seventh hit for De Aza this season but it was his sixth RBI of the year.

The Nationals rallied in the sixth, Adam Lind starting the inning off with a single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a passed ball. Matt Wieters drove him in with a double into left center that split the outfielders, who appeared to be playing very shallow for Wieters. Howie Kendrick pinch hit for De Aza and walked. Rafael Bautista blooped a single into left center that fell just in front of Herrera, forcing Wieters to stop at third to load the bases. Turner drove them both in with a single.

An odd play occurred after the Turner single on a ground ball hit by Wilmer Difo. He hit a one hopper to shortstop Galvis. Bautista must have thought it was a line drive because he dove back to second. Galvis flipped to Hernandez, who stepped on the bag before Bautista got back to the bag forcing out Turner. Hernandez seeing Turner sliding just short of second and Bautista on the second base bag walked over and tagged Turner. Thinking they had completed the double play the Phillies walked off the field. Bautista began to return to the dugout but in a veteran move Turner told him to return to second. The umpires conferred and they ruled that Bautista had the right to get back to second after the force was made on Turner at second. Tagging Turner for the perceived third out did nothing. The play turned moot after Daniel Murphy struck out.

Michael Taylor made the defensive play of the game in the seventh inning when he leaped over the fence to rob Andres Blanco of a homerun. He was effortless in his leap that it appeared to be just another routine catch for Taylor.

Game Notes: Myworld has been absent a number of Nationals games because of volleyball commitments. This will probably continue until the playoffs. Once the playoffs start myworld has to relook at our priorities…Adam Lind moved poorly for a ball hit over his head in the third inning. The double put runners on second and third with two out but Roark was able to get out of the inning with a ground ball to short…Ryan Madson threw two 96 mile per hour fastballs that Ryhs Hoskins swung at and missed to complete a whiff…A young prospect driven lineup for the Phillies with Nick Williams in right, J.P. Crawford at third, Ryhs Hoskins in left and Jorge Alfaro behind the plate. Crawford made some nice defensive plays at third…With runners at first and third and one out Matt Wieters took three pitiful swings and misses at Aaron Nola curve balls…The Nationals magic number for clinching the division has dropped to four games…Victor Robles made his major league debut. He got a nice ovation from the fans when he stepped to the plate and the ovation returned after he flew out to right center. There was a lot of hustle in his legs as he almost reached second on his fly out to right…Odubel Herrera extended his hitting streak to twenty games with a double in the third. He finished the game with two hits.

Howie Homers Twice in Nats Win

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Howie Kendrick had hit a walk off grand slam on Sunday. After taking the day off Howie went deep twice in the Nationals 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. Gio Gonzalez pitched another near no-no, allowing his first hit on a Cameron Maybin infield single with two out in the sixth inning.

Tyler Skaggs pitched well for the Angles. He threw close to 50 pitches after two innings, putting himself in three ball counts to three batters in the second inning. Only Howie Kendrick could cross the plate against Skaggs, hitting solo homeruns in the third and fifth innings. He was pinch hit for in the top of the sixth with a pitch count of 91.

The Nationals scored a run in the sixth inning off Bud Norris in the sixth inning. Anthony Rendon led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Matt Wieters hit a ground ball underneath the glove of Albert Pujols, allowing the ball to trickle into right field, enough for Rendon to score from second. Pujols was given an error on the play.

Gio Gonzalez scrambled out of the sixth inning. After giving up a two out infield single to Maybin, Mike Trout lined a single into centerfield. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third. When Gonzalez got behind Pujols 3-1 the Nationals chose to intentionally walk him. Jefry Marte hit a screaming liner that appeared to be heading towards the right centerfield gap, but Daniel Murphy made a leaping catch to end the inning.

The Nationals bullpen retired the Angels in order in the last three innings, except for a one out solo shot by Cliff Pennington in the eighth off Brandon Kintzler. For Pennington it was only his second homerun of the year.

Game Notes: Anthony Rendon finished the game with three hits to elevate his average back over the .300 mark…Ryan Madson has not been available for relief because of a finger issue. Matt Albers pitched the seventh inning in his place…Brian Goodwin was placed on the disabled list because of a groin issue…Myworld was a day late in reporting this game. Volleyball tryouts kept us busy.

2017 Top Ten Prospects Carolina League

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

These are the players myworld would rate as the top ten prospects in the Carolina League. A pretty impressive group at the top of the list with some impressive names at the lower end. These prospects have put up the numbers to earn a spot on this list and are not named for just potential.

1. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians/Lynchburg) - Myworld remembered when we watched the then 19 year old Clayton Kershaw pitch in an early spring training game at Vero Beach. That is the same kind of Wow we had watching Tristan pitch in a short season game at Williamsport last year. The supplemental first round pick in 2015 reminds me of a praying mantis, all arms and legs as his 6′5″ stick frame comes at you with a mid-90s fastball. There were a lot of swings and misses in that game. Those swings and misses continue in the Carolina League with 150 in 118.2 innings. While the opposition is hitting only .199 against him, some of those balls have gone a long way, with 13 homeruns given up. His command could use some improvement, but as his body fills out with maturity that fastball could be impressive if the secondary pitches improve with it.

2. Victor Robles OF (Nationals/Potomac) - Myworld likes Victor over Eloy because of his speed and ability to play a quality defense in centerfield. As he matures the power should increase. The Dominican has the five tools you look for in a superstar. The Nationals signed him for $225,000 in 2013. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in centerfield. A .289 average with a .872 OPS resulted in a promotion to AA. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps where he blasted 25 doubles and 7 triples. The 9 homeruns he has hit over the two levels is a career high. Expect him to fit into a crowded Nationals outfield sometime in September of next year.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The Cubs signed the Dominican Eloy for a splashy $2.8 million in 2013, the same year they signed Gleyber Torres for $1.7 million. Now both have left the Cubs, Eloy traded to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Eloy has a power bat but his lack of blazing speed or a strong arm will restrict him to left field. The trade from the Cubs to the White Sox has seemed to give him a power surge. He batted .271 with 8 homeruns in 42 games for Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. For the White Sox he is hitting .362 with 8 homeruns in 28 games. It may be too late in the season to promote him to AA, but Eloy appears to be ready for that level now.

4. Forrest Whitley RHP (Astros/Buies Creek) - The 2016 first round pick was called up from Low A after 10 starts. He has not had a lot of time in the Carolina League but in six starts he has struck out 50 in 31.1 innings. At 6′7″ with a mid to high 90s fastball he can dominate games with above average breaking pitches (curve and slider) and a decent change. Opponents still get some hits off him with a .243 opposition average between the two levels. Forrest has shown good command of his pitches, walking just 9 in his 31.1 innings. Drafted out of high school it will take him a couple more years before he reaches the Astros.

5. Austin Hays RF (Orioles/Frederick) - The third round 2016 pick did not last long in the Carolina League after hitting .328 with 16 homeruns. That batting average (.350) and power (12 homeruns) have improved since his promotion to AA. He did hit 16 homeruns for Jacksonville his junior year to lead the Atlantic Sun Conference in homeruns. After being drafted he slugged another four homeruns and hit .336 in the New York Penn League. The Orioles had him skip Low A to move to the Carolina League. Austin has a right fielders arm and decent enough speed to cover ground out in right field. That speed will not result in a lot of stolen bases. The way he is tearing up each league in the minors expect Austin to be with the Orioles sometime next year. They do not have a lot of players there right now to hold him back.

6. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox/Salem) - Michael was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 2014. It has been a disappointing first three years for Michael. The Red Sox have a need for a third baseman and if Michael had hit like he has this year perhaps he would get the call. It has been a breakout year for Michael with 17 homeruns in just 59 games with a .318 average and a 1.029 OPS in the Carolina League. His strikeouts are still prevalent, but they have been reduced from his first three years. In AA he has added 12 homeruns to give him 29 for the year. His defense at third is still a little suspect with 14 errors, which could result in a move to first base or left field.

7. Zack Collins C (White Sox/Winston Salem) - Zack was a first round pick of the White Sox in 2016. The 117 whiffs in 110 games has kept his average down at .220, but he does have 17 homeruns with 75 walks for a .362 OBP. His bat should always play but a thick lower half and plodding feet has resulted in 16 passed balls. He has thrown out 45 runners so he can sling it to second. The White Sox will be patient with him. The power will play well behind the plate, but if his defense remains weak he could move to first. It is still way too early for the White Sox to give up on his catching tools.

8. Alec Hansen RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The White Sox drafted Alec in the second round of the 2016 draft. At 6′7″ with a mid to high 90s fastball he can dominate games, with frequent double digit strikeout outings. He started the season in Low A and after dominating there was promoted to High A, where he had back to back 12 K games. His secondary pitches need improvement (slider, curve and change) but that will come with time. The opposition hits him at a .210 clip with 155 whiffs in 119 innings.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros/Buies Creek) - Kyle was a 2015 first round pick of the Astros. His brother Preston plays in AAA for the Astros Fresno affiliate. Kyle got the height (6′4″) while the shorter framed Preston inherited the Popeye arms. Kyle has the greater prospect potential. He has the speed to cover the ground necessary in centerfield and the arm and power to play right. He didn’t last long in the Carolina League, promoted to AA after hitting .288 with 9 homeruns and a .932 OPS in the Carolina League. AA has been a bit more of a struggle but expect Kyle to show case his outfield abilities at Minute Maid park some time next year.

10. Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The Nationals drafted Dunning in the first round of the 2016 draft, then traded him to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade. He was the lessor of Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito but in the long run he may turn out to be the greater. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid 90s but his secondary pitches need improvement (slider/change). Dunning started his season in the South Atlantic League but needed only four starts to get his 0.35 ERA promoted to the Carolina League. His numbers (3.43 ERA) would be a little better if not for an 8 run outing in July when he coughed up four of his 12 homeruns. His command is good but a .260 opposition average could be indicative of being around the plate too much.

Other Players to Watch

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles/Frederick) - We talked about him in the AA Eastern League top ten prospects. He was leading the Carolina League in batting average at .314 but after his promotion he will not carry enough at bats to win the title. He also slugged 15 homeruns. His eventual position may be third base but the Orioles will keep him at short until he proves he can’t play it.

Ademar Rifaela OF (Orioles/Frederick) - The native of Curacao leads the Frederick League in homeruns with 22. Last year he broke out with 13 homeruns but this year he could double that quantity. The batting average (.290) and homeruns are a career high. It will be interesting if he can continue to produce as he rises up the minor league ladder.

Chase Vallot C (Royals/Wilmington) - A lesser version of Zach Collins the supplemental first round pick does not hit for average (.231) but has some pop (12 homeruns). He also has the patience to draw walks (.380). His defense with 10 passed balls and 12 errors may force a move from catcher. He only has thrown out 13 baserunners.

Josh Ockimey 1b (Red Sox/Salem) - The 2014 fifth round pick has shown the ability to hit for power. After hitting .275 with 11 homeruns in 100 games he was promoted to AA. Josh is not afraid to draw walks (.388).

A.J. Puckett RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - A second round pick of the Royals in 2016, he was traded to the White Sox mid year in the Melky Cabrera trade. He has not had a great year in the Carolina League (4.01 ERA) with a .262 opposition average, but 102 whiffs in 112 innings shows a swing and miss quality.

10 PM Start Too Much for Myworld

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Myworld was at the Nationals game last night but we were done by 9 PM. Our own personal policy is that if a game does not start an hour after the scheduled time of the game then we are gone. An earlier departure could not be done because of the deluge that started at 8 PM.

Myworld is a little surprised that the player’s union does not have in the collective bargaining agreement that no game should start past 10 PM. Players biorhythms get used to certain start times. A 10 PM start time can not be too enjoyable, especially when you have a double header the next day. It could be why relievers perform better in certain innings because they are used to getting into a game around that time. Mess with those biorhythms and performance suffers.

Bryce Harper was injured in the game last night, slipping on the wet bag when crossing first base trying to beat out a grounder. It was the first inning of the game last night. One has to wonder if Bryce would have planted himself better on the bag if not for the long layoff and late start time. Or was the wet bag the main culprit in the injury.

It appears the Nationals escaped a serious injury with Bryce. They will lose him for a month, but this will give Brian Goodwin more opportunity to play. And it will provide a spot for Jayson Werth to play when he gets healthy for September. Michael Taylor was called up to replace Bryce to play centerfield. Brian Goodwin will probably move to left. The Nationals will rotate Andrew Stephenson, Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick in right, although with Kendrick his weak arm may be better suited for left.

Volleyball camps prevented myworld from attending two National games earlier this week. The rain prevented me from staying for a third. Hopefully we can get in one Angels game when they come to town next week.