Archive for the 'Astros' Category

Top Prospects from Mexico

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

The graduating class from last year’s list include Alex Verdugo, the number one prospect and Luis Urias, who was at number three. Four players were dropped from last year’s list (Florencio Serrano, Luis Verdugo, Jose Albertos and Reivaj Garcia). Serrano was ranked as the number two prospect last year based on the wild invalid signing issues by the Cubs allowing him to slip to the Rangers as an international signing prospect for $1.5 million. He then bombed in his first season in rookie ball with a 6.49 ERA. Myworld will wait another year before ranking him in our top ten. That leaves six new names to propagate this year’s list. Below are the 2020 top ten prospects from Mexico playing in the minor leagues.

1. Andres Munoz RHP (Padres) - He moved up from number six last year. The fastball is quite impressive, hitting triple digits pretty consistently. It got him 22 appearances with the Padres last year in the bullpen. He is expected to compete for their closer job this year. In AA he struck out 18.4 hitters per nine innings. In the major leagues it dropped to 11.7. While his fastball is impressive, his second pitch, the slider is just a show me pitch to keep hitters from sitting on the fastball. He also has issues finding the plate and staying healthy for a full season. So the bullpen is where he stays. In his minor league career he has given up 69 hits in 106 innings and walked 65.

2. Alejandro Kirk C (Blue Jays) - Last year Kirk did not appear on this list even after he hit .354 with 10 homeruns and a 1.001 OPS in rookie ball. For the 2019 season he split his time between Low A and High A where he combined for a .290 average with seven homeruns. At 5′9″ and 220 he doesn’t have the body to impress scouts, but he makes consistent contact with the ball, resulting in a 89/60 walk to whiff ratio. His power will probably be restricted more to the gaps and his lack of speed will prevent him from taking the extra base. So far, he has not shown a lot defensively and may have to move from the catcher spot, with DH and first base his only real alternatives. Kirk may lack the power to play first base. So the Blue Jays will keep him at catcher and hope his weight stays in check and his defensive skills progress as he rises up the minor league ranks.

3. Jose Urquidy RHP (Astros) - Jose also rose from the ranks of the non-existent. Myworld watched him pitch in a playoff game against the Nationals. His stuff is not impressive, but he gets hitters out. He stands only 6′0″ and his fastball sits in the low 90s, but he can tip the mid-90s with a little effort. His excellent changeup and the command he shows with his pitches is what gets hitters out. In the minor leagues opponents were able to hit .248 off him, but Jose limited the runners from scoring by limiting his walks and whiffing 9.8 hitters per nine innings. Next year he will fit at the back end of the Astros rotation. Whether major league hitters can figure him out in his second year will determine his staying power.

4. Isaac Paredes 2B/3B (Tigers) - Isaac was rated fourth last year and he remains in that position this year. He started as a shortstop, but like Kirk his 5′11, 225 pound frame makes it tough for him to stay at that position. His hit tool is impressive, with a .274 minor league average and his power could develop. Last year he hit 13 homeruns with a .416 slugging percentage. That will fall short if he wants to fit into a corner slot. His defense at second may remind people more of Carlos Baerga. It will be his bat that will put him in the lineup. His best bet may be to make it as a utility player, with the possibility to even add left field to his defensive repertoire.

5. Gerardo Carrillo RHP (Dodgers) - Gerardo moved up four spots from the ninth position he occupied last year. At 6′1″ Gerardo is not a big man on the mound, but his fastball can cross the plate in the mid-90s, with lots of movement. Last year he struck out a hitter per inning. Developing his secondary pitches and finding the plate are his next challenges. Last year he walked 51 hitters in 86 innings and plunked 17. That wildness alone can send a message. His cutter is his most developed secondary pitch. Last year he pitched in High A and his 5.44 ERA and .263 opponents average told the tale of a year of struggle.

6. Tirso Ornelas OF (Padres) - He was the 10th rated prospect last year and his 2019 season may have been worse. He struggled to hit for average (.217) and his slugging percentage was below .300. The Padres paid $1.5 million on the talent they saw in Tirso. At 6′3″ he has impressive height but his swing is slow, not allowing him to catch up on fastballs. There is the potential for good plate discipline and a tinge of power, but that won’t develop until he speeds up his swing. His speed is a little above average, not enough to play centerfield and his below average arm may be a better fit for left field. This will put more pressure on him to develop that power that won’t be seen unless he can quicken his swing.

7. Victor Gonzalez LHP (Dodgers) - The last six guys on this list are all borderline prospects. Victor makes it because he throws lefthanded and his fastball sits in the mid-90s. The secondary pitches sit average at best but need a lot of work if he does not want hitters sitting on his fastball. Last year he rose up three levels, finishing the season at AAA. At each level he rose he got easier to hit, going from a .174 opposition average at High A to a .286 at AAA. He does throw strikes but he needs to improve his secondary pitches if he hopes to have success against major leaguers.

8. Ramon Urias 2B (Orioles) - When myworld first started working on this list Ramon was a Cardinal. He was placed on waivers and the Orioles picked him up. He was originally signed by the Rangers in 2010 but he returned to the Mexican League to play there during the 2013 season. The Cardinals then picked him up in 2018. He has a decent hit tool with limited power that could get him into the double digits in homeruns. His defense will not overwhelm you, but as a hitter he could end up fitting as a utility player. Last year he reached AAA, hitting .263 with 9 homeruns and a .793 OPS.

9. Aldo Ramirez RHP (Red Sox) - Aldo throws a vanilla mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can travel in the mid-90s on occasion. His curve and change give him three average pitches. The Red Sox signed him in 2018 and last year he made his minor league debut, stitching together a 3.94 ERA in 13 starts and one relief appearance. Opponents hit him at a .245 clip but he did strike out more than a hitter an inning. He turns 19 in May so he has plenty of time to develop. At only 6′0 at best he will fit in the back of the rotation or be used in middle relief.

10. Manuel Rodriguez RHP (Cubs) - Manuel does not reach 6′0″ but his fastball sits in the mid-90s and he can reach the upper 90s. The Cubs signed him in 2016 for $400,000. All of his minor league appearances have been in the bullpen. His secondary pitches are average or below, which will keep him in the bullpen. Last year he improved his command, throwing more strikes and the opposition average went from .308 to .242. He won’t be anything more than a situational reliever that is used to get right handed hitters out.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Many of last year’s top ten Canadian prospects graduated to the major leagues last year. The top four prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Mike Soroka, Tyler O’Neil and Josh Naylor all had impacts on their major league teams and are no longer considered rookies. Cal Quantrill, the number 6 prospect also pitched enough major league innings to no longer qualify for this top ten list. That leaves the pickings for this current top ten list very slim, with just three returners. There is no sure fire major leaguer among this list. It is possible we could have missed a player who lived in Canada long enough as a youth to qualify, but if we learn of him we’ll add him to the list for next year, like Abraham Toro..

1. Abraham Toro 3B (Astros) - Last year he did not make this list because we were not aware he was born in Canada. He may have been rated seventh on the list if we had known his origins last year. This year he was voted by Canadian baseball as the top Canadian player, which gave us a hint to look him up. He has some good offensive tools, hitting .306 in AA and then .424 in a 16 game AAA debut, which got him a promotion to Houston. He has Alex Bregman in his way at third, and his bat may not carry enough power to start at a corner infield spot. He did hit 19 homeruns last year, including two in the major leagues, so the power could be developing. Defensively he is a average to below average, so that will hinder him in his quest to start a third if his bat doesn’t develop. His best bet would be to earn a job as a bench player, perhaps playing some second base and left field.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - He is the younger brother of Josh and possibly the best bet to win regular major league time. Josh weighs in at over 250 while Bo is a more svelte 190. The Indians drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft. His bat shows decent gap power with 18 doubles and 10 triples and there was enough power to carry 11 balls over the fence. The 10 triples tells you he has decent speed for a catcher, more than his brother Bo who is trying to make it as an outfielder. His arm is strong and his defensive tools are strong enough to stay behind the plate. Next year he should see time in High A.

3. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - Adam is more a defensive shortstop. The Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. His one big attribute is his speed which allowed him to steal 22 bases in 2018 and 33 in 2019. His bat has also been decent the last two years, hitting just a few points shy of .300 both years. The power is limited with slugging averages less than .400 and as he rises up the ranks those numbers could decrease. His best bet may be to make it as a utility player if the bat does not improve. His defense will play.

4. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - The Twins waited until the fifth round in 2016 to draft Jordan. His first two seasons did not light any fires to draw the scouts attention, but last year he had a breakout season, striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings between Low A and High A. He also limited the opposition to a .193 average. The fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he complements it with a quality slider and change. Next year will be key when he will face more advanced AA hitters.

5. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Dasan was the first Canadian selected in the 2019 draft, the Blue Jays grabbing him in the third round. Speed and the ability to cover centerfield will be his game. His bat does not show a lot of power now, but he was one of the youngest players selected in the draft so it could develop as he matures. He has excellent bat speed. With his speed defensively he should cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Last year he hit just .222 in 14 Rookie league games. He may have to start the season in extended spring, get a few games of Rookie league ball in him and with success move on up to Low A.

6. Otto Lopez SS/2B (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but his parents moved to Canada when he was young. He got his start playing ball in Canada before his dad moved him down to the Dominican where he felt he could get a better opportunity to be seen by major league scouts. The Blue Jays signed him for $60,000. Not much was thought of him until he hit .324 in Low A, winning the Midwest League batting title. Lopez is not flashy for shortstop so his best bet would be at second base or in a utility role.

7. Tristan Pompey OF (Marlins) - The younger brother of Dalton. Dalton may have the more impressive tools but injuries hurt his major league development time. Tristan was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, much earlier than his brother Dalton who had to wait until the 16th round in 2010. Tristan has above average speed, but his arm is short and will limit him to left field. At 6′4″ he could develop some power in the bat to fit in left field. Last year he started the season in extended spring training, got a late callup and struggled with a .194 average in the Florida State League. His .271 slugging with no homeruns needs to improve.

8. Brandon Markland RHP (Royals) - Brandon was a player who never got drafted after a high school or college (Bryan College) career. It was only after he pitched in the Coastal Plain Independent League that he got some interest in a team from Australia, the Auckland Tuatara, who are actually a team from New Zealand that plays in the ABL. The Royals found his mid-90s fastball there getting Australian hitters out with ease. In his first season stateside he finished with a 0.46 ERA, getting lots of ground ball outs and limiting the opposition to a .162 average. He is probably destined for the bullpen because of his control issues and ability to only throw two quality two (fastball and slider). At 23 years of age he might have been a bit old for Low A.

9. Andy Yerzy 1b/C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. Last year Andy split his time between catching and first base. His tools to stay behind the plate are limited. While he has a little bit of pop, his bat may not have enough to stay at first base. He struggled at High A, hitting just .104 in 33 games, resulting in a demotion back to Low A. He did hit six homeruns in Low A but his .220 average was 70 points lower than his 2018 average. The 2020 season will be a critical season where he needs to replicate the slugging numbers he put up in 2017 and 2018.

10. Adam Macko LHP (Mariners) - He was born in Slovakia and just missed making the European list. The Mariners drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. The other choice for this slot would be Demi Orimoloye, who is blessed with tools but has trouble making contact. Adam studied pitching in Slovakia by watching YouTube videos of David Price and Justin Verlander. He moved to Ireland where he played for a Little League team ironically named the Mariners and then moved to Alberta, Canada. He doesn’t throw hard, with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, but he relies on his breaking pitches and command to retire hitters. In Rookie ball he struck out 31 hitters in 21 innings and limited the opposition to a .224 average. As he climbs up the minor league ladder he will find better hitters who have the ability to hit breaking pitches if he lacks the command to throw them where they can’t be hit.

Major League Farm Rankings - 30-16

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

With the top 100 out myworld has ranked the farm teams in major league baseball. This is principally done by ranking how many top 100 players each major league team has since those players will have the greatest impact. Not the most analytic, but myworld has been doing it this way for awhile now. We’ll rank from worst to first, beginning with 30-16.

30. Milwaukee Brewers (0.04)

The barely significant prospect on the Brewers is Brice Turang, their first round pick in 2018 who plays shortstop. He also starred for the gold medal USA baseball team. The Brewers have been trading their top prospects to stay in the playoff race. The players who could make an impact next year are Tristin Lutz (outfielder), Ethan Small (LHP) and Mario Feliciano. Lutz was a first round pick in 2017, Small a first rounder in 2019 and Feliciano a second round supplemental in 2016.

29. New York Mets (4.48)

The Mets have always gone the bargain basement route when searching for primetime players and their prospects reflect that. Ronny Mauricio is their top prospect, a shortstop who may have to move to third. He signed for $2.1 million in 2017. Francisco Alvarez is a Venezuelan catcher who signed with the Mets in 2018 for $2.7 million. Brett Baty is another power bat that can play third base. He was the Mets first round pick in 2019. Andres Gimenez is a slick fielding shortstop who will probably reach the majors in a utility role who signed way back in 2015 for $1.2 million.

A couple players to watch are two 16 year olds from the Dominican Republic, Robert Dominguez, a right handed pitcher who can hit 97 and outfielder Alexander Ramirez who has the potential to be a power/speed player.

28. Texas Rangers (5.82)

Years ago they used to be the cream of the crop in the international market. Those years have passed. Their top prospect is 2019 first round pick Josh Jung, who has good hit tools. Nick Solak should make the Rangers roster in 2020 in a utility role and catcher Sam Huff is getting a lot of buzz because of his power bat. Hans Crouse is their top rated pitcher on a team looking for pitching pieces.

Luisangel Acuna is the younger brother of Ronald and he hopes to be making some noise. He signed in 2018 but does not have the same tools as his older brother. Bayron Lora was a 2019 international signing for $3.9 million. The Dominican outfielder has big time power.

27 Cincinnati Reds (7.58)

The Reds are hoping that Hunter Greene can come back from his Tommy John surgery and keep the triple digit velocity he had prior to the surgery. Nick Lodolo does not have the same heat but the 2019 first round pick can hit the mid 90s, sitting at the higher edges of the low 90s. His curve ball is his bread and butter pitch. Jonathan India like Nick Senzel is a first round pick (2018) who plays third base but may have to move because of Eugenio Suarez. Shogo Akiyama was signed out of Japan and could win the centerfield job, or roam around all three outfield spots, hitting .300 with double digit homerun power just below 20.

Rece Hinds is another third baseman who is a player to watch. He was a second round pick in the 2019 draft who participated in the high school homerun derby at Nationals park against Bobby Witt Jr and lost, but he took some balls deep.

26. Boston Red Sox (7.8)

The trade with the Dodgers of Mookie Betts got them a couple farm pieces, one of them Jeter Downs, who has already been traded twice. He could be a shortstop with 20 plus homerun pop. Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec play the infield corners and also carry some big time pop. Unfortunately for the Red Sox that position is crowded on the major league roster.

Jarren Duran was a seventh rounder in the 2018 draft but he shows excellent centerfield speed and hit .387 in a 200 at bat performance in High A. Jay Groome has only pitched 66 innings in his three years with the Red Sox because of Tommy John surgery but the 2016 first round pick has good velocity with a 6′6″ frame.

25. Houston Astros (8.68)

Losing two years of number ones because of the cheating scandal will keep them down. Also, there top prospect Forest Whitely has struggled with control, drug suspensions and injury. If he can overcome these obstacles he has the stuff to be an ace. Jose Urquidy has already made his presence known in the playoffs. He lacks the stuff of Whitely but has better command. Abraham Toro has a good hit tool but may lack the power to play third base.

Bryan Abreu could be the next rookie to make the Astros rotation. He has three plus pitches but lacks the ability to find the strike zone.

24. Colorado Rockies (8.8)

Brendan Rodgers is their big time prospect who could win the second base job in 2020. Shoulder surgery limited him to 25 major league games and it could delay his 2020 season until May. Sam Hilliard is an outfielder with power who could win the left field job in 2020, or at worst platoon with Ian Desmond, playing against righthanders. He has power that could be accentuated in Colorado. Ryan Rolison was the Rockies 2018 first round pick who relies on a sweeping hammer that can get swings and misses.

Keep an eye on newcomers Adael Amador, a Dominican shortstop who signed in 2019 for $1.5 million and Michael Toglia, a 2019 first round pick who has good power.

23. Washington Nationals (8.88)

The Nationals hope Carter Kieboom puts up decent numbers as he replaces Anthony Rendon in the lineup, either at third base or second base. He struggled in a brief trial last year. Luis Garcia has been a recent ask from a lot of teams. He plays shortstop and has been one of the younger players at each classification he plays, so his numbers have not been impressive.

Jackson Rutledge is the Nationals 2019 first round pick with a mid to high 90s fastball and an impressive 6′8″ frame. Mason Denaburg, the Nationals 2018 first round pick had a rough 2019 season in rookie ball but he has a good fastball/curve combination. Andry Lara is another pitcher, a 2019 international signing out of Venezuela who already stands 6′4″ and throws mid-90s.

22. Cleveland Indians (9.54)

Nolan Jones shows big time power at third base who was the Indians second round pick in 2016. Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio are both middle infielders, Freeman a second round supplemental pick in 2017 and Rocchio a 2017 signing out of Venezuela. Freeman is the better hitter while Rocchio has the smoother glove. George Valera is a Dominican outfielder that draws comparisons to Juan Soto. Triston McKenzie was the Indians first round pick in 2015 who did not pitch last year because of back issues. Injuries have prevented him from reaching the major leagues. Aaron Bracho could be a nice utility player with hit tools. Daniel Espino was the Indians first round pick in 2019 who was born in Panama and slings his fastball in the upper 90s.

Bo Naylor was a first round pick in 2018, a catcher from Canada with a little bit of pop in his bat. He is the younger brother of Josh. Bobby Bradley is a first baseman with pop. Emmanuel Clase was acquired from the Rangers last year. He hits triple digits with his fastball and is a possible closer. Last year Will Benson hit four homeruns in a game. He is a 2016 first round pick who needs to make more contact before he plays left field for the Indians.

21. New York Yankees (9.62)

Jasson Dominguez has superstar stuff but he is only 16, The Yankees signed the outfielder for $5.1 million in 2019. The Tommy John surgery to Luis Severino may put Deivi Garcia in the rotation. He stands only 5′10″ but his fastball has some fire. Clarke Schmidt is the rare Yankee draft pick (2017 first round) that is high on the Yankee prospect list. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a plus change makes the fastball harder to read. Estevan Florial has five tools, but a rough year dropped him down many prospect rankings. All he needs is to replicate his 2017 numbers.

Everson Pereira is an outfielder to watch. He was a lessor version of Dominguez when he signed with the Yankees for $1.5 million in 2017. Luis Medina, Albert Abreu and Luis Gil are all pitchers from the Dominican ready to make an impact in the Yankees rotation in 2020.

20. Chicago Cubs (10.76)

Nico Hoerner is their 2018 first round draft pick who may have to move from shortstop to second base to make the Cubs roster. Brailyn Marquez is a lefthander out of the Dominican with heat that hits triple digits. The Cubs have been waiting for years to develop a pitcher and Marquez could be the first. Brennen Davis split his time between basketball and baseball, but now that he is focusing on baseball he could become a nice power hitting outfielder. The Cubs have Wilson Contreras, but Miguel Amaya has a good hit/glove tool that could be ready for the Cubs in 2021.

Ryan Jensen was the Cubs first round pick in 2019, a pitcher with a mid-90s fastball who needs to develop a third pitch and find the plate more to stay in the rotation, otherwise he becomes a bullpen piece.

19. Los Angeles Angels (11.96)

Jo Adell is a five tool outfielder who could be playing right field for the Angels in 2020. Brandon Marsh is another outfielder who will have to wait until 2021. Marsh has not shown a lot of power but at 6′4″ he could be a late bloomer.

Jordyn Adams is a first round pick in 2018 who has tremendous centerfield speed with a bat that can hit. His development could make the outfield crowded. Arol Vera is a 2019 signing out of Venezuela who plays shortstop but may eventually have to move to third. His bat carries some impressive pop. Jose Soriano will miss the 2020 season because of Tommy John surgery, but the Dominican had a break out year last year with a mid-90s fastball that hit triple digits.

18. Kansas City Royals (13.34)

Bobby Witt Jr was the Royals first round pick in 2019. He plays shortstop and has impressive power, winning the high school homerun derby during the All star break at Nationals park last year. His dad was a pitcher in the major leagues. Daniel Lynch, Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar could make three fifths of the Royals rotation in two years. Kowar and Singer were teammates in Florida who the Royals drafted in the first round in 2018. Lynch is a lefthander who was also drafted in the first round in 2018. Erick Pena signed an international contract in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic. At 6′3″ he has the potential for impressive power.

Khalil Lee is knocking on the centerfield door for the Royals. Kris Bubic is a lefthander who was also drafted in 2018 in the supplemental first round.

17. Philadelphia Phillies (13.36)

Alec Bohm has a power bat but his 6′5″ height may force a move from third to first. He was the Phillies 2018 first round pick. Spencer Howard throws hard, touching triple digits. The 2017 second round pick could see the Phillies rotation sometime in 2020, but missed two months last year because of shoulder issues and needs to eat innings. Bryson Stott was the Phillies first round pick in 2019 who may lack the tools to stay at short.

Adonis Medina throws hard but struggled in the second half last year.

16. Pittsburgh Pirates (13.88)

Mitch Keller has spent a lifetime in the minor leagues, drafted in the second round in 2014. He finally made his major league debut last year but got lit up. He has ace like stuff with a mid-90s fastball that rises to the high 90s. O’Neil Cruz is 6′7″ but plays shortstop with tremendous power potential. Many expect him to eventually move to the outfield. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie that plays excellent defense at third base but may not hit enough for a corner.

Ji-Hwan Bae had originally signed with the Braves, but had to negate the signing when they were found in violation of international signing rules. The Pirates took advantage and signed Bae, a shortstop with speed but very little power. Travis Swaggerty was a first round pick in 2018 who carries average or above average tools in all categories.

Astroball

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

It was a book written by Ben Reiter. He was a Sports Illustrated writer who predicted the Astros would win the World Series in 2017 in an article written in 2014, when the Astros were in the process of losing 100 games for the fourth straight season. It was a bold prediction at that time but created quite the sensation when it came true in 2017.

The book discusses the history of the Astros rebuilding efforts. There is a chapter in the book “in search of Carlos Beltran”. Beltran was a key acquisition for the Astros in 2017. Why? Because of his veteran presence and his ability to read pitcher’s tendencies with the ability to predict what type of pitch he would throw based on his delivery. There was some discussion how he would look at video replay to identify those tendencies, but no real time review of replay and nothing about banging of trashcans to tell the hitter what pitch would be coming.

In light of the Astros cheating scandal it would be a good read of what the Astros players and management did not tell Reiter as he was preparing to write the book. There was no mention of any program called “Codebreaker”. I guess some things are best left unsaid, until they come out.

Major League Predictions - AL West

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Most of the top free agents have been signed. Some teams are still looking to upgrade while others are looking to tank. Now that spring training has started it is time to make the predictions. We start first with the AL West - the good, the bad and the ugly.

1. Oakland Athletics

Good - The rotation would look pretty solid if Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk prove they belong. Seth Manaea will have to stay healthy. He was pretty dominant in his five starts last year. They have Chris Bassitt as their ace in the hole in case one of the rookies is not ready or Seth can not get healthy. The potential is there for five above average starters. Not too many teams have corner infielders who combined for 70 plus homeruns last year and provide some help with the glove as well. It would also be nice to get Kris Davis on track with his normal 40 homerun seasons. Marcus Semien had a breakout year last year with 33 homeruns. That gives the infield 100 plus homeruns without including second base.

Bad - Second base is currently a hole but there are top prospects ready to fill it. Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo are former shortstops who will be competing for the position. Barreto has not had a lot of success in his three trials in the major leagues. Mateo has been in the minor leagues since 2012 with his prospect status fading each year he has failed to be called up. They lack an established closer. Liam Hendriks stitched together 25 saves last year, but in his nine year major league career he has 26 saves.

Ugly - Injuries to the starting rotation or failures of the two rookies could create some issues for the Athletics. They would have to hope the offense bludgeon teams to death with their 200 plus homerun season while they patch up the rotation.

Possible Rookies - Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are the favorites. Both are expected to fit in the rotation. Jorge Mateo could be used in a utility role if he does not win the second base job.

Expected Finish - First in the AL West. Too much offensive talent here to go with pitching potential.

Houston Astros

Good - The Astros have two veterans in their rotation in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke that will be ace 1 and 1a. After that are question marks. The infield is probably one of the best in baseball. Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel are two more corners who combined for 70 plus homeruns. The big question is whether Gurriel can replicate the numbers he produced last year or if he falls closer to his first year numbers. If Carlos Correa can stay healthy they will get a lot of production out of shortstop. He has had trouble showing that. Jose Altuve puts up numbers close to MVP caliber. He does not seem to be as dominant as in previous hears, but expectations can make players fall short. Altuve also needs to stay healthy, limited to a career low 124 games because of injuries last year. George Springer is another player that did not escape injury last year. He still hit a career high 39 homeruns while playing in a career low 122 games. It will be interesting to see what kind of sophomore year Yordan Alvarez will have. Last year he got a late callup, limiting him to just 87 games, but he still slugged 27 homeruns. His defense is so bad he might as well leave his glove in his locker. The DH position was made for him.

Bad - Robert Osuna was a good pick up from the Toronto Blue Jays mid-season. In his five major league seasons he has not had less than 20 saves. He comes with a little baggage after his domestic violence issues. That baggage may be hidden after the cheating scandal. The corner outfield is not filled with super stars with Josh Reddick and Mickey Brantley putting up decent numbers. Some teams would like to have their numbers put up in the bad category. If one of the two should falter Kyle Tucker waits in the wings.

Ugly - The cheating scandal will make things difficult for the Astros on the road. There also appears to be a lot of hate from major league players on opposing teams. This will put a target on the Astros back making it more difficult to pick up victories.

Possible Rookies - This is a veteran team so starting spots are slim. Jose Urquidy appears to have a mid-rotation spot sealed up based on his performance at the end of the year last year.

Expected Finish - Second place but a Wild Card spot will put them in the playoffs. There is just too much talent on this team not to win, despite the gambling issues that will follow them throughout the season.

Los Angeles Angels

Good - They may have the top two offensive players in baseball in Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout. The two of them could combine for 80 plus homeruns and MVP votes if they hang around for the playoffs. The problem with the Angels is those are their two big bats. Shohei Ohtani can provide some offense in the DH spot, but his production may be limited once he is ready to be fit in the starting rotation. Staying healthy has been as issue for Ohtani.

Bad - The starting pitching lacks an ace. They are also hoping for good years from two pitchers, Dylan Bundy and Julio Tehran whose best years are in the rear view mirror. There is not a lot of depth in the minor leagues to fill in should the starters fail or fall to injury. Albert Pujols is a below average first baseman for both his offense and defensive production. The main reason he is on the roster is because of his veteran leadership and large salary. Andrelton Simmons is a great defensive player but will not provide much offense. The corner outfields are lacking starter material with Justin Upton seeing his best years behind him. This could be an opportunity for Jo Adell, one of the top prospects in baseball, to make an impact. Behind the plate will provide below average production. Starter Jason Castro has been released by a number of clubs.

Ugly - Pitching will be the death of them. The lack of aces in the starting rotation and an uncertain bullpen will give away what Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout can produce. They also have two aging large contracts in Pujols and Upton that will be an anchor on the team. It is nice to have two superstars on the team, but the surrounding cast is not playoff caliber.

Possible Rookies - They appear to have a hole in right field. This could provide an opportunity for Jo Adell, who is considered one of the top five prospects in baseball. A good spring could win him a spot.

Expected Finish - Third place and short of the playoffs no matter what Rendon and Trout can do.

Texas Rangers

Good - The corner outfield could provide some impressive power. It would be hard to find a player with more muscle than Joey Gallo. He had trouble staying healthy last year, but his two previous seasons he hit 40 plus homeruns. Willie Calhoun could also break out for some pop. He hit 21 homeruns in just 83 games and his minor league career shows he has 40 homerun power despite his 5′8″ inch height. His defense is rather limited so he could see a lot of time in the DH slot. Can Corey Kluber return to his Cy Young years. He had five years of 200 innings or more and in four of those years he had 18 wins or more. Last year was a dud.

Bad - The rotation does not have any ace if Corey Kluber does not return to his Cy Young form. They need Mike Minor and Lance Lynn to replicate their 2019 season when history says that may be difficult. Rougned Odor has hit below .210 in two of his last three years. In both those years he did hit 30 homeruns, but the Rangers need more consistency from him. If not Nick Solak could take the job from him. Willie Calhoun would see most of his time at the DH spot if the Rangers did not also have the aging Shin-Soo Choo fill the position. Choo has put up decent offensive numbers but they fall short of what playoff teams get from their DH spot. This will hurt the defense in the outfield.

Ugly - The bullpen lacks a closer. They have a group of arms that once were closers but that was back in the day. Keeping leads in the seventh inning on will be difficult.

Possible Rookies - Nick Solak could win the second base job if Odor continues to struggle with consistency. If he fails to win the second base job he could be used in a utility role in the outfield and at third base. The Rangers could call up Leodys Taveras by mid-season to plug the hole defensively in centerfield. He is a gold glove caliber defender but his bat is lacking.

Expected Finish - Fourth place.

Seattle Mariners

Good - Mariners fans will see a lot of rookie prospects filling a number of positions. The best one may be Evan White who they signed to a six year contract. His defense is gold glove at first base but the Mariners are not sure if his bat is ready yet.

Bad - The hope is that talented rookies will fill positions adequately and not make them bad. Second base has the light hitting Dee Gordon whose stolen base production has fallen now that he has turned north of 30. The starting staff was hoped to be led by Japanese star Yusei Kikuchi, but he bombed last year in his major league debut. They hope for better in 2020. Dan Vogelbach is a big guy at 250 pounds. Last year he slugged 30 homeruns but his career major league average is .205 in 205 games. That needs to improve.

Ugly - When you have a bad team you don’t need a bullpen and the Mariners do not have one. Their closer Matt Magill has been released by a couple teams. If he fails it could be a bullpen by committee.

Possible Rookies - The Mariners lineup will be filled with rookies in this rebuilding year. Evan White may be the most talented player. He should win the first base job. Justus Sheffield is a talented pitcher who should find himself in the middle of the rotation. If his spotty control makes the starting rotation a struggle the Mariners could try him in the bullpen, perhaps as their closer. The outfield is thin which could provide an opportunity for talented Kyle Lewis. Jake Fraley is another player who could win a starting spot or a fourth outfielder position.

Expected Finish - Talented rookies will not prevent the Mariners from finishing at the bottom of the division.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

The penultimate ten.

20. Brendan McKay LHP (Rays) - In college he was noted more for his bat. The Rays drafted him in the first round of the 2017 draft with the expectation of making him a two way player. Now it is the arm that has gotten him to the major leagues with a fastball that sits in the upper edges of the low 90s. He also has quality breaking pitches in his cutter and curveball and his change has potential to be major league quality. All of those pitches are thrown with tight command resulting in a 0.84 ERA at AAA Durham in six starts and one relief appearance. AAA hitters hit only .156 against him. When promoted to the majors he could not replicate that success (5.14 and .268 opposition average) but in time the Rays expect he will. The bat does not appear to be major league ready. There is some power in his swing, but he could only put together a .200 average and a .629 OPS in AAA/AA. That will not cut it in the major leagues. Expect him to be in the Rays rotation next season as a starting pitcher. The Rays could also use him in a pinch hitting role as well as an occasional DH to qualify him as a two way player.

19. Bobby Witt Jr. SS (Royals) - The son of the major league pitcher of the same name was the Royals first round pick in the 2019 draft. Junior has chosen to take his journey to the major leagues as a shortstop, while his dad was a pitcher. Myworld watched him at the homerun derby send balls far into the left field bleachers using an aluminum bat. The tools are there defensively for him to play shortstop. He has a strong arm like his dad and good range to cover the position. The power in his bat and his ability to hit to all fields will make him an A-Rod type shortstop with a little more speed and the ability to consistently hit for 30 plus homeruns each year. In his debut season last year he only hit one homerun in 164 at bats in rookie ball. In 2020, when he is playing his first season of full season ball he should eclipse double digits. His major league arrival time probably will not occur until 2023, unless he finds success at each level quickly and then it could come as early as 2021, provided the Royals are not fixated by service time.

18. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) - Back in 2015 three shortstops were the first three picks in the draft. Rodgers was the third shortstop selected with Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman selected ahead of him. Rodgers was drafted out of high school and finally made his major league debut last year. Trevor Story sits at shortstop now for the Rockies, so the best hope for Rodgers to see the major leagues will be at second base. He has a strong arm and enough range to play the position. The bat is what the Rockies are hoping will be special. Last year he hit .350 with a 1.035 OPS in 37 AAA games, earning him a promotion to the major leagues. Season ending shoulder surgery ended his season after just 25 major league games. Rodgers has the potential to hit for power and average. His 2020 season will be delayed as he recovers from his surgery, but expect him to be back in the major leagues sometime late in 2020.

17. Cristian Pache OF (Braves) - This Dominican has tremendous speed to cover centerfield and a rocket arm to fit easily in right. He signed with the Braves back in 2015. With Ronald Acuna, Drew Waters and Pache patrolling the outfield they have the potential to steal all the gold gloves once they all arrive in the major leagues. Cristian stole 32 bases in 2017 but his speed has not resulted in any significant stolen base numbers after that. His walk to whiff ratio could be better (43/122) but he tends to sit in the .270 to .280 area. The lack of power could be an issue if he has to play corner, but last year he did hit 12 homeruns. Last year he played 26 games in AAA. He is on target to make his Braves debut sometime in 2020.

16. Forrest Whitely RHP (Astros) - The 2016 first round pick of the Astros lost some development time in 2018 because of a 50 game drug suspension. When he returned oblique injuries limited him to just eight starts and 26 innings. The Astros started him at AAA to begin the 2019 season but he was absolutely horrific. He had a 12.21 ERA with the opposition hitting him at a .343 clip. He had real issues trying to find the plate. If not for those struggles he would already be a member of the Astros starting rotation. His stuff is much better than his performance last year. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and hits the high 90s. His cutter, slider and change are all excellent pitches. His ability finding the strike zone can be a little dicey and at 6′7 there are a lot of moving pieces that make that more of a challenge. If Forrest can find the strike zone more consistently he will be a solid member of the Astros starting rotation in 2020.

15. Andrew Vaughn 1B (White Sox) - If you are a right hand hitting first baseman and you only stand 6′0, there must be something special in you that makes a team draft you as the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. What the White Sox think is special about Vaughn is his bat. Last year in college he hit .374 with a .704 slugging. In his major league debut he hit well enough (.278) to get promoted to High A in his first year. Andrew could be a fast riser with a good hit tool and power. Last year he showed good contact ability with a 30/38 walk to whiff ratio. His defense is not considered a strong suit, but it would not be any worse than current first baseman Jose Abreu. Vaughn will be a fast riser as long as he continues to have success with the bat as he rises up the minor league level. With the White Sox having playoff aspirations his bat could be in the lineup by 2021.

14. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) - Royce was the first pick in the 2017 draft. All the tools are there. He has the speed that could result in a move to center if the Twins do not have a need at short. He also has the tools to play short. The power is also there that he could be a fit for third base. Last year was a bit of a struggle for him. His batting average cratered to .236 at High A and AA, with his inability to make good contact creating his low batting average. If he can simplify his swing the power is there for him to hit 20 plus homeruns. The speed is also there for him to steal 20 bases. His arrival to the Twins will depend on need and Royce’s ability to improve his hit tool. If the bat plays the 2020 season could be the year when he makes his major league debut.

13. Dylan Carson OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2016 first round pick is a fringe five tool athlete. His arm is borderline for right and his speed could allow him to play center but it would be better utilized at a corner. The two biggest tools for Dylan are his power and his ability to hit for average. Last year was a break out year for him with 26 homeruns, with five in 18 games at AAA for a .681 slugging average. Between AA and AAA he slugged .542 with a .914 OPS. He also stole 20 bases putting him on a list of ten minor leaguers to hit 20 homeruns and steal 20 bases. The Cardinals are always loaded in the outfield, but they traded a couple outfielders in the offseason to possibly make room for Carson. A good spring could find Dylan in the Cardinal outfield in 2020.

12. Julio Rodriguez OF (Mariners) - At 6′4 inches this Dominican has that rightfielder look. The Mariners signed him for $1.75 million in 2017. Last year he made his stateside debut at Low A and High A as a 19 year old, hitting .326 with a .540 slugging and a .929 OPS. In 17 games in the California League he hit .462. When the ball hits off his bat it makes its own unique explosive sound, which makes people turn and take notice. He could be a quick riser like Juan Soto, reaching the major leagues by 2021. His speed is a better fit for the corners and his arm is a cannon best fitted for right field. Julio has super star potential.

11. Carter Kieboom SS/3B/2B (Nationals) - Gone is Anthony Rendon. The Nationals don’t want to say the first round 2016 pick is the player to replace him, but whether he plays second or third, his is the new name in the lineup. Last year Carter made his major league debut and in 11 games he hit .128. His natural position is shortstop, but Trea Turner has that position covered. There is some pop in Carter’s bat, with 16 homeruns last year in AAA. He also hit .303. As a shortstop, he has the range to play second and the arm to cover third. Unless he trips and stumbles in the spring he should be going north with the Nationals. Starlin Castro was signed as insurance and Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick were resigned so the Nationals are not obligated to put Kieboom on the roster after spring training. If he earns the spot the Nationals will be pleased.

AL West Lower Draft Round Success

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Now we look at the AL West to see how they have done selecting with the 25th round pick or later. The Rangers could almost create a starting rotation. We start with 1998 when drafts were established at 50 picks, further reduced to 40 a few years later. Also, if any player signed in the 25th round or later did not sign they were not included in this list. Myworld did not look at draft years 2015 or later since any late round picks making the major league roster in four years or less would be slim to none.

Houston Astros

Mike Burns RHP (2000/30th round) - 3-5, 5.75, 15 games, 8 starts

Tyler White 3B (2013/33rd round) - .236, 26, 103 in 256 games

Los Angeles Angels

Bobby Wilson C (2002/48th round) - .203, 18, 102 in 386 games
Efren Navarro 1B (2007/50th round) - .241, 3, 22 in 157 games
Jett Bandy C (2011/31st round) - .218, 16, 45 in 156 games
Michael Hermosillo OF (2013/28th round) - .183, 1, 4 in 49 games

Oakland Athletics

Ron Flores LHP (2000/20th round) - 1-4, 3.05, in 53 games in relief
Connor Robertson RHP (2004/31st round) - 0-1, 8.00 in 9 games of relief
Jeff Gray RHP (2004/32nd round) - 9-3, 4.99 in 115 games of relief
Brad Kilby LHP (2005/29th round) - 1-0, 1.07 in 16 games, one start
Mickey Storey RHP (2008/31st round) - 0-1, 4.19 in 29 games of relief
Ryan Dull RHP (2012/32nd round) - 8-9, 4.31 in 171 games of relief

Seattle Mariners

Scott Atchison RHP (1998/49th round) - 17-11, 3.63 in 298 games with just one start

T.J. Bohn OF (2002/30th round) - .211, 1, 5 in 32 games

Texas Rangers

Jason Botts 1B (1999/46th round) - .230, 5, 28 in 93 games

Jesse Chavez RHP (2002/42nd round) - 41-58, 4.48 in 463 games, 79 starts
Scott Feldman RHP (2003/30th round) - 78-84, 4.43 in 342 games, 204 starts
Derek Holland LHP (2006/25th round) - 78-78, 4.54 in 295 games, 222 starts
Danny Herrera LHP (2006/45th round) - 5-8, 3.72 in 131 games of relief
Tanner Roark RHP (2008/25th round) - 74-64, 3.71 in 213 games, 172 starts
Cody Eppley RHP (2008/43rd round) - 2-3, 4.61 in 71 games of relief
Alex Claudio LHP (2010/27th round) - 15-8, 3.38 in 291 game, with two starts
Phil Klein RHP (2011/30th round) - 2-3, 5.50 in 40 games, with four starts
C.J. (Carl) Edwards (2011/48th round) - 9-8, 3.58 in 194 games of relief
Joe Palumbo LHP (2013/30th round) - 0-3, 9.18, seven games with four starts

AL West Minor League All Stars

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Below are the players identified by major league baseball as All Stars from teams representing the AL West. Not all these players are prospects but to be All Stars they had to have a pretty good year.

Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez OF/AAA - This year the Cuban defector was voted American League Rookie of the Year. Prior to that he destroyed AAA pitching with 23 homeruns in 56 games and a .343 batting average. Add his 27 homeruns in the major leagues gave him 50 for the year. His lack of defensive tools makes his best position DH but he can play the outfield or first base in a pinch.

Abraham Toro 3B/AAA - The 2016 fifth round pick also tore up AAA with his .424 average, but that was in just 18 games. His .324 minor league average led to a promotion to the major leagues where he saw a bit of a struggle (.218). But in AA he slugged 16 homeruns and hit .306. It will be tough for him to move Alex Bregman from third so another trip to AAA is in his future. His defense at third will not win any gold gloves and with a full infield he may have to move to the outfield where his speed is below average. A big year in AAA will make the 22 year old attractive in a trade.

Valente Bellozo SP/SS - Signed by the Astros in 2017 out of Mexico, even at just 5′10 Valente was impossible to hit in the New York Penn League. The opposition hit him at a .164 clip and he finished with a 1.39 ERA. He is not a hard thrower, sitting in the low 90s, but he gets hitters out with his secondary pitches (change and slider).

Kyle Tucker DH/AAA - The Astros first round pick in 2015 used up his rookie eligibility last year playing 22 games. Hitting AAA pitching was not a problem last year with his 34 homeruns. This time when promoted to the Astros he had some success (.269) as opposed to the previous year when he hit only .141 after hitting .332 in AAA. His lack of speed and average arm probably limit him to left field. He should have a starting role next year for the Astros.

Los Angeles Angels

Jared Walsh DH/AAA - Walsh was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft. Last year he had a breakout season with a .325 average and 36 homeruns. The previous year at three different levels he hit 29 homeruns and was one shy of 100 RBIs. His lack of speed makes first base his ideal position, but his left arm has the ability to throw low 90s fastballs. He could become a two way player.

Jeremiah Jackson 2B/Rookie - The 2018 second round pick had a nice offensive year for a middle infielder, slugging 23 homeruns. He hit .266 but his 96 strikeouts in just 65 games is a cause of concern.

Oakland Athletics

None

Seattle Mariners

Evan White 1B/AA - The Mariners signed their first round 2017 pick to a six year $24 million contract. He has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base and the speed to move to the outfield. Last year he hit 18 homeruns in 92 games. Evan has the power to play first base or in a corner outfield position.

Jake Fraley OF/AA - Jake needs his legs and his ability to get on base to be effective in the major leagues. He fell one homerun short of being a 20/20 player last year and hit .313 in AA. This got him a promotion to AAA and the majors. His arm is more suited to left field but he has the range to play centerfield.

Logan Gilbert SP/High A - The Mariners first round 2018 pick was a mystery to minor league hitters at all three levels, limiting them to a .198 opposition average. He was especially dominating at Low A where hitters only tagged him for a .118 average in his five starts. Gilbert could be a fast riser with his mid-90s fastball that can reach the upper reaches of the 90s.

Dayelson Arias Relief/Low A - The 22 year old Dominican was unhittable at the two A levels with a 1.15 ERA and a .146 opposition average in 44 relief appearances. He had a 15/80 walk to whiff ratio in 55 innings.

Jarred Kelenic OF/AA - The Mets 2018 first round pick was acquired in the Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. He has the potential to be a five tool player, combining to hit .291 with 23 homeruns and a .904 OPS at three minor league levels last year. His 20 steals made him a 20/20 player.

Sam Delaplane Relief/AA - The 23rd round 2017 pick used his two pitch mix to dominate at AA (0.49 ERA and .107 opposition average). A lack of a third pitch will keep him in the bullpen but his mid-90s fastball will get hitters to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 120 in just 69 innings.

Texas Rangers

Curtis Terry DH/High A - The 2015 13th round pick showed his pop in A ball hitting 25 homeruns at the two levels. His normal position is first base, the only position he has played in the minors. At 6′3″ he has the potential to hit for power but as a right handed bat the stakes are against him.

Blaine Crim 1B/Short Season - The 19th round pick from last year also plays first base. Last year he slugged 8 homeruns for a .954 OPS in the short season leagues. He is only the second player from Mississippi college to be drafted where he hit 11 homeruns and broke a season record with 21 doubles. He is from Mobile, Alabama, which has a rich crop of homerun hitters, Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey just to name two.

Heribeto Hernandez OF/Rookie - Hernandez was a cheap $10,000 sign out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He showed some potential with the bat last year in the Arizona League hitting .344 with 11 homeruns and a 1.079 OPS. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner.

Demarcus Evans Relief/AA - The 25th pick of the 2015 draft found his stride last year with a 0.90 ERA and .119 average at two levels, rising all the way up to AA. He pitched 60 innings in relief and had an impressive 39/100 walk to whiff ratio. If he continues that success next year Evans could find himself in a major league bullpen.

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

There were so many talented righthanders that myworld extended the prospect list to 20 players. Some notable pitchers we left off include Ian Anderson, Hunter Greene, Tristan McKenzie, Deivi Garcia and Logan Gilbert. Not that we don’t like those pitchers, the others just appeal to me more. Predicting pitchers is a crap shoot. One injury can ruin a prospect standing.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - The first pick of the 2018 draft dominated at High A (0.88 ERA) which led to a quick promotion to AA. He continued to pitch well (3.20 ERA) in AA but his opposition average went from .110 to .234. Despite a fastball that rides the plate in the mid-90s, his strikeout numbers are rather pedestrian, less than a whiff per inning. You would expect more from a pitcher with that kind of heat and two other above average pitches (slider and splitter) that he commands well. The Tigers hope he will be an ace in the rotation, a position the team has a plethora of potential candidates to take over that role. Casey was a bit injury prone in college and saw his AA season end with three poor starts that led to a mid-August shutdown. Expect to see him pitch by mid-summer in 2020, unless the Tigers hold him back in order to not eat up service time in what is expected to be a wasted 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The Jays first round pick of the 2017 baseball draft woke up the baseball world in the Arizona Fall League by blazing triple digit fastballs across the plate. Prior to that a series of injuries in 2018 (back and fractured arm) limited him to just one start of two innings in 2018. This year he got his innings count above 100, finishing with three starts in AAA. His fastball was still hitting triple digits, sitting in the high 90s and he complemented that pitch with three above average secondary pitches. His one down side is some inconsistency in his command. He walked 21 in 63 innings in AA. He should compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but the Jays may want to control his innings by starting him in AAA. They don’t want to go beyond 150 innings for him next year.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - Despite their battle for the playoffs the Astros were able to hang onto their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he gives a number of batters shaky knees when they come up to the plate. Last year he was considered the top pitcher in baseball, but was limited to just eight starts because of a couple injuries. The 2019 season saw some struggles with command which resulted in elevated ERAs. In the homer happy AAA he served up nine homeruns in just 24 innings. The 2019 season was his third complete season and he has yet to throw over 100 innings. The Astros could start him in AA next year after his struggles in (AAA). He has the quality secondary pitches and heat on his fastball to dominate so the 2020 season could be a critical year.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - The Phillies traded Sixto to the Marlins to acquire J.T. Realmuto, thinking they had a replacement for him in the minor leagues (Adonis Medina). Sixto had good success in the minors (2.53 ERA) while Adonis struggled. The Phillies only shelled out $35,000 to sign him out of the Dominican Republic. While he only stands 6′0″ his fastball crosses the plate in triple digits. He lacks the swing and miss results you expect to see with someone with his heat, but he has success with weak ground ball outs. Sixto also has a good breaking pitch and change with excellent command to keep hitters off balance. The Marlins are getting deeper in the rotation with all the prospects they have acquired in trade, but having had success in AA Sixto is due to pitch in Miami some time by mid-2020.

5. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers have a pretty impressive future rotation in the minor leagues with leftyTarik Skubal and righthanders Franklin Perez, Beau Burrows, Alex Faedo and Casey Mize. Manning was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2017, nine picks ahead of Faedo. At 6′6″ Manning was the top pitcher in the Tigers minor league system until they drafted Casey Mize with the first pick of the 2018 draft. Manning hits the mid-90s with his fastball, but sits in the low 90s, so the blazing heat isn’t there. The secondary pitches are quality (curve and change) and his command is above average. His stuff would seem to indicate a mid-rotation starter instead of an ace, but he should start showing that with the Tigers some time next year. In AA last year he limited the opposition to a .192 average in 24 starts with a 2.56 ERA.

6. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Myworld still cannot forget his 2017 season when he finished with an ERA below 1.50, the lowest ERA in the minor leagues since some dude named Justin Verlander. Even last year he was dominant in AA but he was limited to 16 starts because of injuries. And that has been his down fall. Last year he made his major league debut mostly in relief but hitters did not find his pitches a mystery, raking him at a .283 clip. His season was hijacked by his inability to throw strikes. His fastball has radars spitting out mid-90 readings and his secondary pitches are quality enough to stay in the rotation. The third round 2016 pick needs to maintain his health to stay in the rotation, otherwise the Diamondbacks may want to move him to the bullpen. He should compete for a spot in the rotation in 2020. Pitch counts could keep him in AAA to limit his innings.

7. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick at one time had the top fastball in the minor leagues hitting well into the triple digits. With his first four starts in the major leagues it appeared he would become a main stay in the rotation, but a torn elbow ligament resulted in Tommy John surgery and prevented him from pitching in 2019. A lack of command of his pitches has always haunted him, but it appeared he had controlled those demons in 2018. Now after the surgery he will need some time in AAA to get his pitches back and hope his control returns. His slider is a nice swing and miss pitch. Expect the White Sox to call him up once he shows his velocity has returned and he has command of his pitches.

8. Brady Singer (Royals) - The 2018 first round pick had dropped to the number 18 pick, even after winning the College Baseball Player of the Year award. He did not pitch in the 2018 season because of the heavy work load the Florida Gators had put him through in college games. The 2019 season saw the Royals call his number 26 times, 16 of them in AA. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can hit the mid-90s, with an above average slider. His change could need more work if he wants to stick in the rotation. A 6′5″ build can be intimidating but a .247 opposition batting average tells a story that his pitches are not impossible to hit. The slider does force more ground balls and will keep the ball in the park. The Royals are on a rebuilding path so they will be patient with Singer, not wanting to use up his service time. He could be a September callup in 2020 with a move to the Royals permanent rotation spot in 2021.

9. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles have always had trouble developing major league pitchers that came to them with superstar potential based on their performance in high school or college. Super studs like Matt Riley, Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy have never reached their potential. They hope that changes with this new regime and Rodriguez will be one of their first examples. The 2018 first round pick has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but it can hit the mid 90s, with good movement. He also has two good breaking pitches and a decent changeup to stay in the rotation. Last year the opposition hit only ,171 off him and he struck out 129 batters in just 94 innings at Low A. His 6′5″ height and decent command allows him to hit the edges of the plate where he tended to dominate at this level. A rise to High A and AA should occur in 2020 with a major league shot sometime late in 2021. By that time the Orioles hope their rebuilding process will be bearing fruit.

10. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - Blake Snell has turned into a pretty good pitcher in the major leagues. Brent was taking a similar career path in the minors following Blake but Tommy John surgery put an end to his 2018 season. The Rays were hoping to see him return in 2019 but a fracture in his elbow during rehab ended his 2019 season. Brent has an amazing array of pitches that includes a screwball, fastball in the low to mid 90s, slider and change, as well as command of those pitches to be a co-ace with Snell. How those pitches react after his return from a second surgery will determine whether he can join Snell as the co-ace in the rotation or fill in at the back end. The Rays will be patient with him in 2020 and at best he could get a September call up as a reward for all his work in rehab. Brent did not rely on his fastball for his success so Myworld thinks his route to the major leagues will not be altered much because of the injuries.

11. Dustin May (Dodgers) - The long, flowing locks of the 2016 third round pick is the first thing you notice about the righthander. After that comes the mid-90s fastball and the sharp breaking curve that bites downward towards the plate. His pitches create a number of ground ball outs, as well as swings and misses. Last year minor leaguers hit just .231 off him. The Dodgers saw another Walker Buehler possibility and promoted him. He worked a little bit in the starting rotation but pitched mostly in relief, with major leaguers hitting him at a better .250 clip. He does not have the stuff of Buehler but he has enough to fit in the middle of the rotation. A good spring could see him start the season with the Dodgers.

12. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - The Pirates 2014 second round pick has been one of the top pitching prospects for a number of years now. Last year he got his first opportunity to face major league hitters and his .348 opposition average, 7.13 ERA and six homeruns given up in 48 innings is evidence the debut did not go well. Keller has too good of stuff for that to continue. His fastball hits the high 90s and settles in the low 90s with a curve ball and change good enough to keep hitters honest. Perhaps a better sequencing of the pitches and improved command will result in better outcomes. Mitch has been sitting too long in the minor leagues to stay there. At some point the Pirates have to see what they have and 2020 should be the year Keller rises to a level where he will battle for Rookie of the Year consideration.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - At 6′8′ the Cuban fireballer is a very intimidating pitcher with his high 90s heat. That heat may fit better in the bullpen. Michel does have two breaking pitches and a decent change to stay in the rotation but the pitches lack consistency. He has also been limited by back issues which has prevented him from pitching long stretches. The Padres used him out of the bullpen last year and he made his major league debut, limiting hitters to a .223 average. His future for the Padres could be as their closer. His fastball carries more velocity in shorter spurts and with his innings limited his health will be good. Expect him to compete for a Padre bullpen job in 2020 and take over the closer job after the departure of Kirby Yates.

14. Shane Baz (Rays) - Shane was the Pirates first round pick in 2017. The Rays stole him in the Chris Archer trade mid season in 2018. His first two years Shane was stuck in Rookie ball. A lack of command sabotaged many of his outings. Last year he got 17 starts in Low A. His command improved and his ERA went from 4.26 in Rookie ball to 2.99 in Low A. The opposition only hit .213 off him, a vast improvement over the .273 average in two seasons of Rookie ball. His fastball rides the plate in the mid-90s and can hit triple digits. It is the command of that fastball that has been the real challenge. He has a good slider and improving change. If his command stays inconsistent and his change does not develop he could always work out of the bullpen. His fastball shows closer stuff. Shane is still a couple years away from the big leagues, especially with the patience the Rays show with their pitchers. Don’t expect a major league appearance until sometime late in 2021.

15. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - The second round 2017 pick has gotten his fastball up into the high 90s and it consistently hits the mid-90s. The previous year he had some triple digit readings. His secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) are not outstanding but they show average potential. His big issue is finding consistent command with those pitches. In 2018 he walked 40 in 118 innings. Last year it was 16 in 91. He does get a lot of swings and misses with his pitches. Last year opponents hit him at a .173 clip, which is 70 points less than last year. Spencer was limited to 91 innings because of shoulder issues. Because he only got six starts in AA he will probably start his season there with the possibility of joining the major league rotation by mid-season, if he continues to dominate hitters in the minors.

16. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Colombian is not big at 6′0″ but his fastball shoots across the plate in the mid-90s, hitting in the high 90s on occasion. The Padres signed him for $130,000. He does throw two good breaking pitches, as well as a change that should improve with more use. At 20 years old he was one of the youngest players in AA. In the California League opponents hit him at a .192 clip and he struck out 113 hitters in just 87 innings. Two more dominant starts in AA (1.17 ERA) show that he could be ready in 2020. Despite his small stature his innings total continue to rise, hitting 95 last season. The Padres will try to get him above 100 in 2020. With success in AA he could get a September callup with the Padres.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - With the trade of Sixto Sanchez the Phillies expected Adonis to step in his place as the fireballing Dominican with a mid-90s fastball. The Phillies got a bargain with Adonis, signing him for just $70,000 in 2014. In addition to his mid-90s fastball Adonis has a swing and miss slider and solid change that gives his fastball a greater velocity look. In 2018 his ERA rose by a run to 4.12. The Phillies were hoping for a bounce back season for him in 2019 but a poor second half saw his ERA climb to 4.94. His secondary pitches have been inconsistent allowing opponents to sit on his fastball, raking him at a .254 clip. With his stuff he should put up better numbers. The 2020 season will be a critical one for him. He could see his second season in AA. If he does well during the season the Phillies could promote him to their major league staff. But Spencer Howard has leap frogged Adonis as their possible first choice for the rotation.

18. Kyle Wright (Braves) - Kyle was a first round pick of the Braves in 2017. The Braves seem to have a bucketful of pitchers in their minor league system and any one of them can slip into the rotation with a good season. Wright worked four major league starts and failed miserably (8.94 ERA) showing a lack of command that allowed hitters to swat him at a .304 rate. His 4.17 ERA in AAA may have been hurt by the super juiced baseballs that saw 13 of his pitches leave the yard. His fastball is electric, crossing the plate in the mid-90s with the potential to hit high 90s, with two quality breaking pitches and an above average change. So the pitches are there for him to have success. He just needs to find the strike zone once he reaches the major leagues. With a good spring he could fit into the rotation, but the Braves will probably start him in AAA and call him up when they have a need.

19. Justin Dunn (Mariners) - Justin was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. They included him in a trade with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. It could be a trade that could haunt the Mets if Cano and Diaz do not have better years. Dunn sits at the lower end of the mid-90s. His two breaking balls have the potential to be quality pitches but his change still needs work. Dunn pitched well at AA (3.55 ERA), striking out 158 hitters in just 131 innings and limiting the opposition bats to a .236 average. This earned him a promotion to the Mariners where there was some good (2.70 ERA and .105 opposition average) and some ugly (9 walks in just 6.2 innings) in his outings. He showed pretty decent command in AA walking just 39 in 131.2 innings. The Mariners will probably start him in AAA next year and see how he performs before promoting him to the Mariners in 2020.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - The Dominican signed for $150,000 in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery shortly after. He has put on some weight to his 6′1″ frame since, carrying 265 pounds. That has to be watched if he wants to remain effective. The extra weight has allowed his fastball to climb into the triple digits and sit in the high 90s. His secondary pitches need to improve if he hopes to stay in the rotation. The slider has some swing and miss qualities, but he needs to develop a slower pitch to keep hitters off balance. He pitched well enough in the minors with a .179 opposition average to earn a callup to the Twins. There he pitched in the bullpen and was hit a little more often (.278). Next year he may start the season in the rotation at AAA. How the Twins use him will depend on their need in 2020.

Astros One Win Away from World Series Title

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

When myworld arrived at the park on Sunday night we thought the Nationals were doing a special Halloween celebration. It appeared that Max Scherzer was on the mound disguised as Joe Ross. It was not until we settled in that reality struck and it was actually Joe Ross on the mound. Max Scherzer was having a resurgence of his back problems and would not be available to pitch on Sunday.

The Astros took advantage of the lack of Scherzer in the second when Yordan Alvarez slugged a two run homerun into the centerfield bleachers. Yuli Gurriel had started the rally with an infield single that glanced off Joe Ross and bounced toward Anthony Rendon, who could not make the throw to first. Alvarez got an opportunity to play left field by his manager after sitting out the first two games to get some swings in. Alvarez rewarded Hinch in his first at bat.

The Nationals had an excellent opportunity to rally in the bottom half of the second. Back to back singles by Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick put runners on first and third with no one out. Normally clutch hitter Ryan Zimmerman struck out. Victor Robles ended the threat by grounding into a double play. That would be the last time the Nationals would get a runner past first, with the exception of the solo homerun by Soto in the seventh.

The Astros struck again in the fourth on a two run homer by Carlos Correa. This was the start of the Nationals complaint with the home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Joe Ross thought he had strike three on him but Barksdale disagreed, even though the pitch appeared to catch the outside corner. The next pitch Correa deposited into the left field bleachers.

The Nationals tried to make a comeback in the 7th with a solo homer by Soto. Ryan Zimmerman drew a two out walk and Victor Robles ran the count to 3-2 against Cole. The next pitch was clearly high and outside but Barksdale emphatically rang Robles up for strike three. The umpire probably knew he had blown the call with the boos raining from the stadium and getting even louder when they saw the replay on their phones, and as Robles threw his bat, batting gloves and everything else in the direction of Barksdale near home plate he was not ejected. Except for Astro fans Barksdale was the most hated person in the world for that particular moment.

The Astros put the game away in the last two innings, scoring a run on a Yuli Gurriel single in the 8th and two more on a two run homer by George Springer in the 9th.

Game Notes - Trump arrived at the ball park after the first pitch was thrown. Don’t know if that was purposeful intent. Juan Andres, a Trump critic was throwing out the first pitch. When Trump was introduced in the third inning the “boos” overwhelmed any cheers that may have been in the stadium. There were also chants of “lock him up”. D.C., Virginia and Maryland are strongly Democratic areas, so those “boos” may not have been as prevalent in Ohio…The Nationals were outscored 19-3 in the three home games. The Nationals were not really in any of the games, a disappointment to the 130,000 in attendance. Under the 2-3-2 format the Astros became just the second team to win the middle three games on the road without trailing. The Yankees were the other team against the Dodgers in 1949…Barksdale did not show any accountability for the blown call, blaming it on the catcher Yan Gomes for standing up too quickly after the pitch.