Archive for the 'Astros' Category

Top Ten Prospects from Venezuela - American League

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Venezuela has been overtaken by the Dominican Republic and even Cuba in the number of quality prospects in baseball. The political situation there has made major league scouts reluctant to travel to Venezuela. This forces Venezuelan prospects to travel to the Dominican Republic or other countries to be seen. The top ten from the American League list in 2017 did not have any top ten prospects graduate and become ineligible for the list this year. Franklin Barreto is the only player who saw significant time in the majors. Anthony Santander was a Rule V pick but did not stay healthy enough to lose his rookie status. Myworld put this list together before the season started so Gleyber Torres will obviously graduate from this list after this year. Below are the top ten prospects from Venezuela playing in the American League before the start of the 2018 season.

1. Gleyber Torres SS/3B/2B (Yankees) - Tommy John surgery last year prevented him from making his major league debut. It did not take long into the 2018 season before the Yankees called him up to fill a hole at second. He has performed well enough (.294, 10, 28) that he should stay with the Yankees all year and compete for the rookie of the year award. Last year he was number one on this list. Didi Gregorius at short and the performance of Miguel Andujar at third forces Gleyber to make his home at second base. He should hit over .300 and be a 20 plus homerun hitter in the major leagues.

2. Franklin Perez (RHP) Tigers - Franklin Perez was acquired from the Astros in the Justin Verlander deal. A right lat strain during spring training this year has delayed his season. It was expected he would miss three months but the Tigers will be patient with him. He has a fastball that hits the mid-90s but what separates him from the other pitchers with mid-90s fastballs is his control and a quality curve that freezes hitters anticipating the fastball. His change is also a pitch he can use to keep him in the starting rotation. Last year the strikeout numbers were not there, falling below a strikeout per inning. In high A he was tough to hit (.191) but in AA he was less of a mystery (.266). Expect some time in rehab at perhaps Low A or a rookie league before the Tigers assign him to their AA team.

3. Franklin Barreto (SS/2B) Athletics - The Athletics seem to like Marcus Semien as their shortstop and Jed Lowrie is having a career year playing second so Franklin will have to show even more patience this year before earning a starting spot in the major leagues. He was acquired from the Blue Jays back in 2014 in the Josh Donaldson trade. Last year he made his major league debut, getting 71 at bats but only hitting .197. This year he got a brief 6 at bat callup and did not get a hit. During his major league time his strikeout rate is above 40 percent. He shows some power with 15 homeruns last year, but his struggles making contact leave him as a question mark if that power can present itself in the major leagues. Last year he played most of his games at shortstop and committed 18 errors in 83 games. This year he is playing more at second base. He will have to wait until Jed Lowrie cools down before seeing significant major league time this year.

4. Kevin Maitan (SS/3B) Angels - Last year he was number two on the National League list. The Braves lost him to the Angels when he was declared a free agent after the Braves were found violating the international salary cap rule. At one time he was considered the top international prospect in baseball. He has grown heavier in the lower half since, turning into a Carlos Baerga type build which has lowered his prospect status. Many feel he no longer has the range to play short. Last year he made his stateside debut in the rookie leagues as a 17 year old. The reviews were mixed, but with a new organization he gets a fresh start. The Angels will start him in the Rookie Leagues once they get started at the end of the month. Where they put him will define his role.

5. Jairo Solis (RHP) Astros - The Astros signed Solis in 2016 for $450,000. His fastball has shown increased velocity since the signing, hitting 96 but sitting in the low 90s. At 6′2″ and only 160 he should gain some more velo as his 18 year old frame fills out. Last year he missed a lot of bats with an above average slider and change, striking out 10.1 hitters per nine innings in rookie ball. After some time in extended spring he was given an opportunity to pitch at Low A but in his first start retired only one batter. His second start he went five innings. He has yet to strikeout a hitter and walked five. If he continues his early season struggles the Astros may return him to the Rookie Leagues to give him some confidence.

6. Brusdar Graterol (RHP) Twins - Signed at 16 for $150,000 in 2014 he had to have Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of the 2016 season. He returned last year and his fastball jumped almost 10 miles per hour after his surgery, hitting the mid-90s and reaching triple digits. Quality breaking pitches and good command have changed his prospect status and he has jumped ahead of Fernando Romero as having the best fastball in the Twins organization. His second year after Tommy John he is dominating at Low A (1.95 ERA) striking out more than 11 hitters per nine innings and limiting the opposition to a .192 average. Expect a promotion to High A after the All star break.

7. Thairo Estrada SS (Yankees) - A gunshot wound to the hip in Venezuela delayed the start of his season. He played eight games at AAA after a rehab in the Florida State League and only hit .152. The Yankees put him back on the disabled list in early May and he has not returned. Last year in AA he hit .301 and played a smooth shortstop. His bat carries little power but he makes good contact. The tools fall short for him to make it as a starter, but he could be used as a utility player.

8. Yohander Mendez (LHP) Rangers - Last year he was number three on the list. His fastball is not overpowering and his breaking pitches are below average. What he possesses is a quality change that makes his fastball look livelier. Last year in the major leagues he got seven relief appearances and was hit pretty hard, with not a lot of swings and misses. With only two pitches this may end up his role in the majors. This year he has returned to the rotation in AAA with less than stellar results. Hitters are hitting .294 against him and his strikeouts are not there. This did not prevent the Rangers from recently promoting him and using him in the bullpen. If he is going to make the starting rotation he must improve on one of his breaking pitches (slider or curve).

9. Samir Duenez (1B) Royals - Last year Samir broke out for power with 17 homeruns. The Royals signed him way back in 2012 and have been waiting for that. He won’t turn 22 until June 11 so there is still time for Samir to develop. While he is not fast he is excellent at running the bases, collecting 26 stolen bases in 2016. This year the Royals are having him repeat AA where his power has ticked up a little bit with five homeruns and a .451 slugging. His defense is not gold glove but it is adequate to fill the position. With Lucas Duda at first the Royals do not have a quality first baseman preventing him from getting a major league callup in September. The Royals 2017 first round pick Nick Pratto may prevent him from keeping that position long.

10. Carlos Hernandez (RHP) Royals - The Royals only spent $15,000 to sign him last year because he was 19 years old. At 6′4″ he had a nice pitcher’s frame and could whip the ball across the plate in the mid-90s. His breaking pitch was below average and he did not have much of a change but the Royals saw some future in his arm. Last year in rookie ball he struggled (5.49 ERA). Promoted to full season ball this year his numbers have gotten better (4.03 ERA). He just needs innings to improve on his pitches.

2017 Top Venezuelan Prospects in the American League

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Friday, May 18th, 2018

A number of Cubans have signed contracts with large bonuses but not a lot of them are seeing major league playing time. At least yet. The Dodgers have thrown a boatload of money at Cuban prospects but have gotten very little benefit from those signings. One, Alex Guerrero is now tearing it up in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Last year a couple players from the 2017 top Cuban prospects in the American League top ten list saw some major league playing time that they are no longer eligible for the 2018 list. The top prospect Yoan Moncada is one of them. Problems making contact have resulted in some initial struggles in the major leagues, but he seems to be doing better in 2018 now that he has the starting second base job for the White Sox. The fourth rated prospect Yandy Diaz also graduated, but a lack of power at a position (third base) where power is expected has put him back in the minor leagues to begin the 2018 season. His best bet may be as a utility player. The ninth rated prospect veteran Yulieski Gurriel made it as a first baseman with the Astros, a position he did not play in Cuba. The eighth rated prospect Guillermo Heredia plays superb defense but has still not shown the bat to be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. The suspension of Robinson Cano may move Dee Gordon back to second, giving Heredia another opportunity to show he can make it as a starter.

With Norge Ruiz dropping from the 2017 list that leaves five open spots for new players to appear on the 2018 list. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects playing for American League teams.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - if the White Sox can keep Jose Abreu they could have a lineup with one third of their players originating from Cuba. The White Sox shelled out a record $26 million bonus to sign Luis. With the new international cap restrictions Luis may be the last of the big time Cuban signings. Luis has the five tools to make him a superstar. So did Yasiel Puig. What he does with those tools will determine his fate in the major leagues. His best tool is his speed with an arm that will allow him to move to right field. At 6′3″ he has the bulk to hit for power. Many Cubans struggle hitting the diet of breaking pitches they see when they get to the States but Luis showed decent contact last year playing in the Dominican League. A sprained thumb has delayed the start of his 2018 season until mid May. Last year in the Dominican League Luis hit .310 with 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts, three homeruns and a .536 slugging average in 28 games, missing a lot of time with minor injuries. Hopefully his tightly wound up body is not plagued by injuries, something that has hampered the production of Yoenis Cespedes.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers lost out on the Shohei Ohtani signing, but they did sign Martinez for $2.8 million. Martinez does not have the size of Robert (5′8 to 5′10″) or the 100 mile per hour fastball of Ohtani but he has a collection of speed and power that makes him attractive. His speed may be a tick faster than Robert but his arm is not as strong. His power is also short of Robert. His speed resulted in a number of stolen bases in Cuba and should allow him to stick in centerfield. If he fails in center it will send him down the same path as Adonis Garcia, a fourth outfielder who lacks the power to play corner. Julio had a career .430 slugging average in Cuba but much of his career there was played as a teenager. The Rangers have not assigned him to a minor league team as of yet. When ready he is expected to play at Low A.

3. Lourdes Gurriel 2B/SS (Blue Jays) - In Cuba the teams there could not find a position for him. The Blue Jays are also finding it difficult to fit him at a position. He started as a shortstop in Cuba but has played second and third. A lack of consistency in the field has resulted in him moving to a number of positions. Myworld would like to see how he handles the outfield where his oldest brother Yuniesky plays. Lourdes is the younger brother of Yuli Gurriel and the son of Lourdes who played on the Cuban national team that won a number of gold medals in Olympic and World Cup play. Last year the Blue Jays tried him at second and short. At short his fielding percentage was .837 in the Florida State League. This year his fielding has been more consistent at second and short, even seeing eight games in the major leagues at short and committing just one error. His bat is what teams want to see in the lineup. The Blue Jays are filled with players of famous fathers who played in the major leagues (Guerrero, Biggio, Bichette, Dwight Smith) and Gurriel is another whose father could have played in the major leagues. The power is there for him to hit 20 plus homeruns if he can show a little more patience at the plate and not swing at pitcher’s pitches.

4. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez for $2 million but traded him to the Astros before he ever played a game. At 6′5″ Yordan is a big guy oozing with power potential. Defensively his best position may be first base. The Astros are using him in left field. A lack of speed and arm makes that the only outfield position he would be best fitted for. Last year a wrist injury limited him to 90 games. It also sapped his power, his slugging average dropping from .658 in Low A to .393 in High A. In his first 27 games this year he was slugging .542 but a collision at third base but him on the disabled list again. Myworld hopes this does not become part of a pattern.

5. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - He came with a lot of hype. The nickname for him was Lazarito. The hype may have been a bit exaggerated. A below average arm and lack of burner speed has put him in left. It is hoped that as his body fills out he will hit for power to fit the position. In his debut in the rookie league he did hit four homeruns and slugged .474 as an 18 year old. The strikeouts are prevalent, but he did steal 12 bases in 15 attempts. The Athletics assigned him to Low A in early May where in 10 games he is hitting .324 with two homeruns. The Athletics paid him a $3 million bonus. If he is restricted to left field his bat needs to show some power if they want to get their money’s worth.

6. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel was a bit upset when the Astros originally offered him a $5.15 million bonus in 2016 then reduced it to $2 million when they found problems with his elbow. Not an overpowering pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s the elbow was not an issue last year when he started 16 games. His results were rather ordinary with AA hitters mashing him at a .294 clip. The start of the 2018 season has seen different results with AA hitters flailing away at a .229 clip with a 1.59 ERA in five starts. The Astros are quite satisfied with their starting pitching at the moment so Cionel may have to wait until the 2019 season to get a major league opportunity.

7. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - Rogelio was an unheralded Cuban prospect who signed for $40,000 in 2014. He is a crafty pitcher who relies on an above average change that makes his low 90s fastball appear faster. He also controls the plate with above average command. Since signing he has been carving up minor league hitters to a .231 average. After limiting AAA hitters to a .207 average last year in 10 starts he has not had the same success this year, getting tagged for a .274 average. His last two outings have been better, giving up just one earned run in 10.2 innings. Expect him to pitch the full season in AAA, unless injuries decimate the depth the Astros have in their starting rotation.

8. Yanio Perez OF/3B (Rangers) - The Rangers signed Yanio for $1.14 million in 2016 after he starred for Cuba in 2013 in the 18 and under World Cup. He played two uneventful seasons in Cuba as a teenager before leaving for the United States. His lack of speed restricts him to the outfield corners. The Rangers moved him to third base this year but he was injured after just three games and has yet to return. Power is what the Rangers are hoping from him. Last year he hit 14 homeruns in his professional debut at Low and High A. They won’t see that if he doesn’t avoid the disabled list.

9. Andy Ibanez 2b/3B (Rangers) - Ibanez was a star in the making in Cuba, the youngest player to make the World Baseball Classic team. The Rangers signed him in 2015 for $1.6 million after he played three years in Cuba as a teenager. His tools are not off the charts and his lack of speed and power restrict him to second base, where Rougned Odor currently plays. Even at second base his defense does not make up for what appears to be an average bat. Last year he hit .265 in AA with six homeruns and a .400 slugging average. This year he is in AAA hitting an impressive .325 with two homeruns and a .447 slugging average. If he can keep putting up those 2018 numbers that could get him a major league opportunity but it won’t be long term. There just isn’t enough there.

10. Elian Rodriguez RHP (Astros) - Elian replaces Norge Ruiz as the number 10 on this list because he has more flashy tools. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. His fastball zips across the plate in the mid-90s as he attacks hitters with quality stuff. At 20 years old he is also young enough to improve. The Astros signed him for $2 million last year. He was roughed up a bit in the Dominican League, walking 30 hitters in just 25 innings and getting ripped for a .313 average. He has yet to appear in a game this year but will probably begin his season in the rookie level leagues.

Top Central American/Caribbean Prospects

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

There was one major league player from the top ten list of last year. The number 10 prospect from the list last year, Allen Cordoba played in 100 games with 202 at bats as a Rule V pick. He is back in the minor leagues this year but has lost his rookie eligibility. The Bahamas seems to be a popular place for prospects this year. Below are the top ten from this year:

1. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees/Haiti) - He was a sleeper last year, fitting in the 8th spot. A break out season last year rockets him to the top. He showed off his impressive tools with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases between Low A and High A. His above average arm will allow him to play right field, but his speed appears to make center his best position. The Yankees outfield is crowded right now so the Yankees can be patient with him. The Yankees have him repeating High A where he hit .303 with two homeruns in only 19 games last year. He’s gotten off to a slow start this year at High A, hitting just .240 where he has struck out 37 times in just 27 games. Making contact has been his Achilles heel. Last year Florial struck out 148 times in 110 games.

2. Jamie Barria RHP (Angels/Panama) - At 6′1″ with a low 90s fastball, Jamie relies on his location to retire hitters. An above average change tends to make the fastball have a bit more hop. Last year he was rated sixth on this list but some decent starts saw him get promoted from High A to AAA. His strikeout numbers were not impressive but he kept the other team from scoring. A good start at AAA (2.92 ERA) and injuries to the Angels rotation gave him an opportunity to pitch in the major leagues this year. He got his first major league win in April and is now 2-1, 3.46 ERA in three starts. He will never be overpowering and is best used in the back end of a rotation.

3. Lucius Fox SS (Rays/Bahamas) - One of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues. The Giants signed him for $6 million in 2015 and included him in a trade to acquire Matt Moore, a deal the Giants may ultimately regret. Generating an offensive game has been his biggest issue. He lacks power, with a minor league career .313 slugging percentage. Excellent speed will get him a lot of stolen bases if he can find a way to get on base. A .241 batting average and .330 OBA needs to show improvement. It is still early in the season but this year Fox is hitting .340 in 26 games at High A. This would be enough juice to put him in the leadoff spot.

4. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves/Haiti) - Touki was born in Florida but returned to Haiti when he was three months old. He returned to the United States with his mother when he was six years old. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2014 draft but were not impressed with his ability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves so they could rid themselves of the Bronson Arroyo contract. The only player they got in return was the journeyman Phil Gosselin. Touki still has not found the plate but his numbers are getting better. Last year he struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited AA hitters to a .207 average. He has repeated AA and continues to impress (2-1, 3.56 with a .196 opposition average). He is starting to find the plate more and with a mid-90s fastball and hard breaking curve with long arms he could end up at the top of a rotation in a couple years.

5. Jonathan Arauz SS (Astros/Panama) - With Carlos Correa at short it limits his opportunity to play there for the Astros. At 19 years of age the Astros can still be patient with him and either move him to second or trade him for a veteran player to help in a playoff run. He was acquired from the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade. Giles has helped them in the bullpen and Arauz will help them in the infield in a couple years. His season was shortened last year by 50 games because of a drug suspension. Eventually Arauz may have to move to second because of his limited range. His bat has made an appearance this year in Low A with a .340 average and .540 slugging percentage. This after hitting just .220/.276 last year in Low A. If the power stays a move to third is a possibility.

6. Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers/Honduras) - Dubon was born in Honduras but played high school ball in the United States. The Red Sox drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft. They included him along with Travis Shaw in a trade for Tyler Thornberg. Shaw has already made the trade look bad. Dubon’s ability to make contact, hit for average and play a solid shortstop could make it look worse. He won’t hit for a lot of power but his speed could get him 30 plus stolen bases a year. In the past that would make him an ideal number two hitter. This year a 30 game hitting streak in AAA has put his average at .343 with a .574 slugging average. He is in a zone.

7. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks/Bahamas) - Not as talented defensively as his half brother Lucius Fox but his bat appears to show more power. A knee injury limited him to just 29 games last year. In 2016 he slugged 9 homeruns in rookie ball. The big swing makes him more susceptible to strikeouts with 112 in 91 games the last two years. He is starting this year in Low A where his knee injury limited him to 29 games and is working for a promotion, hitting .324 with a .606 slugging percentage. That is rare power for a Diamondback middle infielder.

8. Jonathan Loaisiga RHP (Yankees/Nicaragua) - At 5′10″ he lacks the height scouts like to see in a righthander. His mid-90s fastball and healthy breaking curveball with an ability to find the plate gives him an opportunity to stay in the rotation. Injuries have prevented him from throwing more than 31 innings in a season. Last year he started 11 games in the short season rookie leagues, pitching well with more than a strikeout per inning and limiting the opposition to an average that is quite a bit south of .200. He pitched well in four starts at High A (3-0, 1.35) resulting in a promotion to AA. The Yankees have a surplus of talented pitchers in their minor league rotations so he will probably settle in AA to limit his innings.

9. Leonardo Jimenez SS (Blue Jays/Panama) - A long career in youth tournaments has given Leonardo instincts for the game other players in the Caribbean lack. A lack of range may force a move from short but Jimenez was not signed until 2017. He will be making his debut in the minor leagues in 2018. At 17 years of age determining his position will have to wait until the short season leagues begin. He is expected to be a contact hitter with gap power.

10. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks/Bahamas) - Another player signed to a 2017 contract that has not played yet. The Diamondbacks shelled out $2.5 million to sign him. At 6′3′ he has the potential for power and with the genes of an Olympian sprinter in his blood has the potential for speed. He could end up fitting in centerfield. He will not begin his season until the rookie leagues start in July.

2017 Central American/Caribbean Prospects

Predictions - AL West

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Most of the free agents have been signed so now it is time for myworld to make our Division predictions. With a number of teams in rebuilding mode many of the races will be limited. Below is myworld’s prediction for the AL West.

1. Houston Astros

Overall - They return a veteran team that only got better with the acquisition of Gerritt Cole. This creates a seven deep rotation. They led the American League in hitting by 20 points and bring all their bats back. Their pitching should be improved with Cole on the bump.

Strength - 1) Starting pitching. No team can claim a big three of Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole. That trio should combine for 60 wins. Lance McCullers is a home grown starting pitcher who will slot in the fourth spot. Few pitchers were hotter than Charlie Morton at the end of the year. He will fit in the fifth spot. Waiting in the bullpen for the opportunity to start will be Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock, who combined for 18 wins last year.
2) Up the middle. No team has a foursome up the middle like the Astros. MVP Jose Altuve starts the machine rolling at second base. Carlos Correa is a potential superstar who reminds many of Alex Rodriguez in his glory days. George Springer moved from right field to center last year and will get most of his time there. Brian McCann may be the weak link of this group, but he still has some swag behind the plate. Those four combined for 100 homeruns last year.
3) Utility - Marwin Gonzalez is a good dude to have. He plays everywhere except catcher and spent most of his outfield time in left field. Utility players usually do not come with 23 homeruns and 90 RBIs.

Weakness - 1) Catcher. At 34 Brian McCann may be headed for the down side of his career. His defense has tailed off a little. Behind him is Evan Gattis, another weak defensive catcher. Gattis may be better off in the DH role.
2) First Base. Yuli Gurriel did a good job there last year but his best position is third or second base. He will miss the first couple weeks of the season giving the Astros time to test youngsters A.J. Reed or Tyler White. Marwin Gonzalez will probably see most of the time there until Gurriel is healthy.

Top Rookie - Kyle Tucker is having a hot spring. Defensively he may be better at center than Springer. If he continues to hit in the minors the Astros may be tempted to move him to left, taking away playing time from Marwin Gonzalez, or move him to center where Springer can return to right and Josh Reddick can shift to left.

Top Prospect - Forest Whitely. His season will be delayed by 50 games because of a drug suspension but the 2016 first round pick can be dominating on the mound. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he can be scary to face.

Expected Finish - The Astros have a lot of depth in the rotation and Marwin Gonzalez can cover almost any position if an injury should occur. Astros should take this division in a walk away.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Overall - The Angels won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Add the best player in Japan to Mike Trout the best player in the United States and you have a pretty good duo. The pitching needs to stay healthy if the Angels want to stay with the Astros.

Strengths - 1) Mike Trout. He is the best player in baseball and as long as he stays healthy enough for centerfield the Angels will be tough.
2) Shortstop. Andrelton Simmons won the gold glove last year. Many consider him the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Last year his bat came to life with 14 homeruns and a .278 average.

3) Shohei Ohtani - The Angels hope he will help on the mound and with the bat. If he doesn’t hit the Angels may try to convince him to abandon the hitting.

Weakness - 1) Starting pitching. It needs to stay healthy. Their projected rotation has no starter with more than 25 starts. Garrett Richards and Shohei Ohtani could be a potent one/two but the duo each started less than 10 times. What follows them is back end of the rotation starters.
2) First Base. Albert Pujols is not the player he used to be. With his foot problems his best position could be DH but the Angels want to start Shohei Ohtani there in between his starts on the hill. So Pujols will try his hand at first where he only played six games last year.
3) Catcher. Can’t say we are enamored with the offense of Martin Maldonado or Rene Rivera. Their defense is strong but their production on offense will be lacking.
4) Bullpen. No established closer. They may eventually settle on Cam Bedrosian, who has better stuff than Blake Parker. Blake had 8 saves last year while Cam settled for 6.

Top Rookie - Shohei Ohtani. In Japan he could blow hitters away with his 100 mile per hour fastball. When he was not pitching he could mash fastballs 450 feet. He could be the first player in the major leagues to reach double digits in wins and homeruns. He has already done that in Japan. The last player to do that in the major leagues was a player named Babe Ruth.

Top Prospect - Taking Ohtani away from the equation the next best prospect is five tooled outfielder Jo Adell. The 2017 first round pick has excellent power and speed. Eventually he will replace Mike Trout in centerfield, a daunting task.

Expected Finish - They need Albert Pujols to extend his hot streaks and Ohtani not to struggle on inside fastballs. Having the best player in Japan and the United States should give them enough wins to capture the second wild card spot and second place in the West.

3. Texas Rangers

Overall - The Rangers may have passed their prime. They appear to be in that in between spot where age is settling in at a couple positions.

Strengths - 1)Infield. Adrian Beltre needs to defy his 39 years of age and Roughned Odor must show that last year’s .204 batting average was a fluke. Joey Gallo also struggled to hit for average (.209) and will take over first base. Odor and Gallo combined for 358 whiffs. They also combined for 71 homeruns. Elvis Andrus plays a good shortstop and his 20 homeruns and 88 RBIs was just a bonus. He needs to show those numbers were not a fluke.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting pitching. Cole Hamels did not have a good year by his standards (4.20 ERA) but he will be the Rangers ace. For the Rangers to do well he needs to pitch well. Behind him you have too many question marks in Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Matt Moore. The Rangers park tends to be a hitter’s park and these pitchers should see some nasty splits.
2) Bullpen. There is no established closer. Matt Bush was not good at it last year but may be their most established closer. Alex Claudio picked up 11 saves but he has trouble retiring righthanded batters. Perhaps the Rangers will go with a platoon closer.

3) Left Field. With the demotion of Willie Calhoun this position appears to have a big hole. The Rangers may settle for a group of Shin-Soo Choo, Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua. Willie will be back up when his service time is limited.

Top Rookie - Willie Calhoun may have already been sent down but he will be back up when April turns to May. His defense in left field is a concern but his bat could be good enough for 30 plus homeruns.

Top Prospect - Leody Taveras began to show some power last year. He will probably be promoted to High A to play there as a teenager. Leody is a gold glove candidate for centerfield with the speed and patience to fit into a leadoff role.

Expected Finish - The pitching staff will give up a lot of runs and the offense lacks the power to mount a come back. A third place finish with a lot of air between them and the Angels is the best they can hope for.

4. Seattle Mariners

Overall - An offense that is too pedestrian, relying on two aging veterans and a pitching staff that saw its prime whizz past them without a playoff appearance. There is no Wow in this lineup or on the mound.

Strengths - 1) Designated Hitter. Nelson Cruz missed another 40 homerun season by one. His 119 RBIs led the American League. Whether his 38 year old bat can continue his offensive production is open to question.
2) Second Base. At 35 Robinson Cano is getting up in age. His stolen base numbers have dropped to one and his power has fallen below the .500 slugging standard of power hitters, but his production is still quality for the position.
3) Shortstop. Jean Segura is one of the better offensive performers in the American League. Last year he hit 11 homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Rotation. Felix Hernandez having success is the key. Without him they can only bring the brittle James Paxton as a quality rotation pitcher. It is bleak behind Hernandez and Paxton with pitchers released by other teams. Hisashi Iwakuma was limited to six starts last year because of injuries and signed a minor league contract. He won’t be ready until mid-season.
2) First Base. Ryon Healy will get the first shot. He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics. There is power in his bat with 25 homeruns but Oakland traded him because they had better options. Dan Vogelbach brings little defense to the position and may be best used as DH. Mike Ford is an unproven third option who was dumped by the Yankees.
3) Corner Outfield. Ben Gamel will miss the first month of the season. With very little depth that will force the Mariners to settle for light hitting Guillermo Heredia or the 44 year old Ichiro Suzuki, whose bat speed leaves him far below .300. Mitch Haniger played well in his 96 game stretch in right field but needs to stay healthy. There is little quality behind Gamel or Haniger.

Top Rookie - Veterans sprinkle most of the positions but Dan Vogelbach could get enough at bats rotating between first base and DH.

Top Prospects - Injuries have forced Kyle Lewis to spend too many days away from the diamond. He was hoping for a healthy year this year but knee problems shortened his Arizona Fall League stint. He had five tool potential but the knee issues could limit his speed.

Expected Finish - Too much vanilla to finish any higher than third. Their farm system will also provide little help.

5. Oakland Athletics

Overall - The Athletics seem to be floating in an ether of nothingness. It is almost as if they are not trying to be good. They make trades but seem to get no advantage from these trades. Players are traded two years before they reach their free agency which does not give the Athletics a lot of use from their players.

Strengths - 1) DH - Khris Davis has slugged 40 homeruns two years in a row. His arm and glove are not strong for the outfield so the Athletics feel a move from left field to DH is best for the defense. Some players hit better when they are more involved in the field. Give Davis a bat in his hands and he will become one of the more productive hitters in the DH slot.
2) Corner Infielders - They have two promising youngsters to fill their corner infield positions in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Olson slugged 24 homeruns in just 59 games. Both players will get on base via the walk and have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns given a full season.

Weakness - 1) Left Field. The Athletics will go with Matt Joyce who struggles to hit lefthanders, which may bring out Davis to play left field. Joyce was able to show power last year with 25 homeruns, but he has been bounced around the league. Consistency has always been his weakness.
2) Catcher. Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley bring minimal offense. This will probably be a platoon since Maxwell has trouble hitting lefthanders.
3) Second Base. Jed Lowrie has always been a backup wherever he plays. Last year he had a career year. It will be interesting to see if he can repeat his production. Franklin Barreto is a good option behind him, but he is unproven.

4) Starting Pitching. Young and lacking anyone that can be called an ace or number two starter. Sean Manaea is the ace until Puk gets called up to fill the rotation.

Rookie - The Athletics always seem to have a plethora of rookies fill their roster. Dustin Fowler appears to have won the centerfield job. Franklin Barreto must wait until Lowrie struggles or gets injured before he gets an opportunity. Watch out for A.J. Puk.

Top Prospect - A.J. Puk, the Athletics first round pick in 2016 is having a good spring. It may not take much to get him a promotion and with the injury to Jharel Cotton his opportunity may be now.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 10 -1

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prospects Impressing in Spring

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Below are some of the top prospects impressing in spring. This may not lead to a trip with the major league club in April, but it has opened the eyes of major league managers when they have a need for a player. Also, much of their production may be coming against similar minor league prospects. Myworld does know that Tim Tebow struck out on three pitches against Max Scherzer. He would be a tough assignment for any prospect.

Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He hit his first homerun of the spring yesterday and is hitting .429. The trade of Matt Kemp certainly created a nice hole in left field for Acuna but there are still a few free agent outfielders to sign.

Ryan McMahon Utility (Rockies) - Ryan is hitting .409 with one homerun, strafing the gaps with three doubles. The Rockies may not have room for him at first base but could use him in a utility role if they think they could give him the at bats.

Willie Calhoun LF (Rangers) - His defense may be short but his bat is hitting .389 with one homerun. The Rangers left field spot is open for him to win.

Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - Still a little young to see time with the Padres in 2018 but he is hitting .381 with one homerun and 8 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases in three attempts.

Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - He may not be hitting for a high average (.294) but his .882 slugging percentage is enhanced by two triples and two homeruns. He has scored more times (6) than he has hits (5).

Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - After hitting four early in the spring his homerun pace has slowed. He is still hitting .429 with a 1.579 OPS.

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Maikel Franco is not hitting so perhaps the Phillies will try Kingery at third. He has blasted three homeruns with a .389 average and a .944 slugging percentage

Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His homer pace has slowed after hitting three early in the spring but a .333 average and 8 RBIs would be nice production if the Astros are in need of an outfielder.

Luis Arias SS (Padres) - Five of his seven hits have been doubles, creating a .538 average. As he has done in his minor league career he has more walks (4) than whiffs (2).

Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) - Luis is gunning for the Marlins centerfield position with a .400 average. Four of his six hits have been doubles but he has also struck out five times in 15 at bats.

Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy is another Marlins acquisition they would like to see perform. He has pitched in two games with one start and worked five innings for a 1.80 ERA. Only three whiffs but a .235 opposition average and no walks.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - He has been getting innings (6.2) with three relief appearances and seven whiffs. The opposition has struggled with a .190 average but a 4.05 ERA could keep him in AAA.

Chih-Wei Hu RHP (Rays) - Hu has pitched three perfect innings in his two appearances. The Rays could use him in their bullpen.

A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - One start and one relief appearances has given him five innings where he has only allowed one hit, an unearned run and struck out four.

David Paulino RHP (Astros) - David is gunning for the Astors bullpen with his two relief appearances with five whiffs in 4.2 innings. He has only allowed one hit but walked two.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 80 - 71

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Below is our top prospects from 80-71.

80. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) 2.34 - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez in 2016 as they restocked their farm system with Cuban players, paying him a $2 million bonus. Soon after they traded him to the Astros for Josh Fields, not much of a return for a player with that bonus. The Astros have used him at both first base and left field. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues. At 6′5″ his lefthanded bat began showing some power at Low A with a .360 average, 9 homeruns and a .658 slugging in 32 games. The power was not as great after being promoted to High A (.393) but he showed no difficulty hitting lefthanded pitching (.355). It will take an excellent spring to start the season higher than A ball but at 20 years of age the Astros can be patient with him.

79. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) 2.38 - He was the Cuban version of Luis Ortiz except he won the 15 and under MVP in the World Cup in 2014. A couple years later he left Cuba providing the Padres an opportunity to sign him for a $11 million bonus. At 6′1″ he does not have an intimidating presence, but his fastball can reach the mid-90s and at 19 he already has a degree in pitching with a good curveball and change. He made his major league debut last year with seven starts in short season ball (3.57) and six more in low class A (4.23). He had his way with lefthanded hitters dropping their averages below .200 but righthanded hitters had their way with him hitting him close to .300. He needs to find a pitch that is more effective against right side hitters. It would not surprise myworld if he starts the 2018 season at Low A and getting promoted once he achieves success. Don’t expect him to be anything more than a mid-rotation starter.

78. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 2.4 - Gonsalves is a lefty like Morejon but at 6′5″ he has a much larger frame. Despite his height he does not throw as hard as Morejon, but he can hit the mid-90s. Command and a quality change are the secrets to his success. He limits the walks, hits the corners and finished with a quality 2.68 ERA in AA. AAA was a bit of a struggle with righthanders assaulting him at a .350 clip in four starts. Another year in AAA would be good with a mid season promotion on the horizon. The fourth round pick of the 2013 draft had a career 2.13 ERA and limited the opposition to a .195 average entering the 2017 season. He knows how to miss bats and limit quality contact despite his lack of premium velocity.

77. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) 2.48 - Jon was a third round pick in 2016 but not because of a lack of talent but a concern for health. He missed the entire 2015 season for Rice because of shoulder injuries. After he was drafted he was limited to just one inning because of elbow issues. The 2017 season saw a break out season with his mid-90s fastball and quality curveball sifting through minor league bats for an ERA of 1.39 between Low A and High A. The last pitcher with an ERA that low in the minor leagues was a pitcher by the name of Justin Verlander. He struck out 12.36 hitters per nine innings in 12 starts at High A. At 6′3″ and 225 pounds if he can stay healthy he will be an innings eater. The 2018 season should see him start at AA and if he remains as dominant as last season expect a mid-season promotion.

76. Mickey Moniak OF (Phillies) 2.56 - The Phillies made him the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. He is one of those outfielder’s who may not have the range to fit in center or the power to earn a corner spot. The speed is good but it is not burner speed and will not accumulate stolen bases. What one has to hope for is his baseball instincts will inflate his stats and he will become a better player than his skills. His numbers were not eye popping in Low A (.236) with only a .180 average against lefthanders. He has the makings of being a fourth outfielder. The Phillies hope a stint in High A will lead to improvement with greater strength and more experience.

75. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) 2.58 - Tyler is a strong kid drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals where he hopes to crack one of the outfield spots. There is good power in his bat where he slugged 31 homeruns last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns consistently in the major leagues. His difficulty in making contact (151 whiffs) will keep his average at around .250 or below. A solid arm will make him a fit in right but with his bulky frame he may be a better fit in left. A good spring could see him traveling north with the Cardinals but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

74. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) 2.64 - A second Tiger who could eventually fit in their starting rotation making the Top 100. Matt was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2016. At 6′6 with a fastball that can come across the plate in the high 90s can prove intimidating to hitters. His secondary pitches could use some improvement but he has the potential for a plus curve and solid change. In his debut season in 2016 at Rookie level play he struck out 14.6 hitters per nine innings. Manning continued to rack up the K’s in the New York Penn League (9.72) and Low A (13.25). A little trouble with his command in Low A saw his ERA climb (5.60) but hitters still had difficulty making hard contact (.209). Manning should start the 2018 season in Low A with a quick promotion to High A once he achieves some success.

73. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) 2.78 - Jorge was a top prospect for the Rangers for a number of years. The Colombian was traded to the Phillies for Cole Hamels in 2015. Injuries have dogged him and stalled his ability to make quick advances up the ladder. The 2016 season saw him get a September callup. The 2017 season saw him take a more extended role with the Phillies, hitting .318 with 5 homeruns and a .514 slugging. He has a power bat and his defense is good enough to stay behind the plate. His big issue is whether his lack of patience (16/113 walk to whiff) will result in prolonged slumps in the major leagues. Expect him to win the starting catching role over Cameron Rupp for the 2018 season.

72. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox) 2.8 - Chavis was the Red Sox first pick in the 2014 draft. He plays the same position as Rafael Devers with a weaker bat. His defense is not strong enough to justify putting him at third over a superior bat. His bat does carry some pop as his 31 homeruns last year showed. He also cut down on his strikeouts which helped him hit for a higher average. The Red Sox could move Devers to first or try Chavis in left field. Both moves would help the offense but sacrifice some defense. Chavis will spend one more year at AAA as the Red Sox try to figure out what they will do with him. The best solution may be to use him as trade bait to acquire a veteran pitcher for a playoff run.

71. Blake Rutherford OF (White Sox) 2.82 - The Yankees selected Rutherford in the first round of the 2016 draft. With a surplus of outfielders they traded him to the White Sox for Todd Frazier, who became a free agent after the 2017 season. After more exposure to him there was concern his defense was a better fit for left field because of a weak arm. The lack of power in his bat made that a cause for concern. Those concerns may have been confirmed after a wasted year least year where he only hit two homeruns and slugged .349 in Low A. The positive spin is he hit lefthanders better than righthanders so the struggle may be an aberration. The question is whether the White Sox repeat him at Low A or give him a promotion to High A and hope he produces.

Myworld’s 2018 Top 100 Prospects - 100 - 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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