Archive for the 'Astros' Category

More Prospects Raking from Walker to Palka

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Below are some more prospects doing it with the arms and the bats.

Christian Walker 1B (Diamondbacks) - He got knocked from first base to the outfield by Trey Mancini and this year the Orioles released him. Back at his normal first base position his bat has returned in the early season. Christian hit his fourth home run and drove in a season high four runs with a 2 for 5 performance. The 16 RBIs for the year have put him in a tie for first in the Pacific Coast League with Jeimer Candelario, another player featured here for his bat. At 26 years of age Walker’s prospect status is just a glimmer, but there are teams who could use a right handed bat off the bench.

Ian Happ 2B (Cubs) - Ian was already leading the Pacific Coast League in homeruns with five, but he added another one to the total to take a two homer lead. Ian has pasted two hits in five of his last six games to up his average to .311. He has also found a home at second base, with eight of his 11 games there, though he has made two errors.

Cody Bellinger 1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers have been in talks with the Brewers for Ryan Braun. After kicking the tires for Braun they may want to move Bellinger to the outfield. Cody hit his third homerun yesterday and his 2 for 3 day raised his average to .395. He has also driven in a run in his last four games. Strikeouts have been a concern with 12 in his 10 games and at least one whiff in his last six games. The Dodgers have put Bellinger in the outfield for one of his 10 games. On Saturday night he played centerfield.

Daniel Palka LF (Twins) - Daniel is not going to make you notice him because of his glove in the outfield. It is the bat that defines Palka’s game and yesterday that bat was sizzling with a 4 for 4 day. He was a triple short of the cycle but in his fourth at bat he went deep for his second homerun of the game, his fourth of the season, rather than hitting that paltry triple for the first cycle of the 2017 season. He was in a 1 for 21 slump through Friday, a slump that began after his first two homerun game. The Twins hope another 1 for 21 does not follow.

Ofelky Peralta RHP (Orioles) - The Orioles have been criticized by their lack of international resolve in looking for prospects. Ofelky is one of the rare Dominicans signed by the Orioles. At 6′5″ he has good height for a pitcher. Yesterday he allowed just one hit in five innings of work in a game the Frederick Keys lost when their bullpen gave up a trio of runs each in the last three innings. Ofelky has had some issues with command, walking 9 in 9 innings. On the bright side he has also struck out 14 with a 1.00 ERA. The opposition has a batting average of .138 against him.

Francis Martes RHP (Astros) - Another pitcher who has trouble finding the plate. Francis walked 6 in 4.1 innings of work, but no one crossed the plate in his second shutout appearance of the year in two games. Francis has walked 9 in 9.1 innings but he has struck out 10 and left the game with his 0.00 ERA intact. He left the game after throwing 93 pitches.

Jonathan Dziedzic RHP (Royals) - In a game against the New Orleans Baby Cakes Jonathan no hit them for 6.2 innings. After striking out Destin Hood on his 100th pitch the Storm Chasers removed him from the game. The Baby Cakes got their one and only hit in the ninth inning. Jonathan walked one and struck out six. It was his third start, and second without giving up a run, extending his shutout string to 13.1 innings. His ERA is now a svelte 1.04. If the Royals are looking for a starter Jonathan could be their man.

Hot Prospects in Mid-April

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - Sometimes a season can be defined by one game. For Kyle Tucker that season could have been Saturday night. Coming into the game he was hitting a modest .267. After a 4 for 5 day with two doubles, a homerun and seven RBIs that average had spiked to .343. His RBI total for the year now sits at 11 for nine games. To date 8 of Kyle’s 12 hits have gone for extra bases to put his slugging percentage at .714.

Jose Medina OF (Padres) - Coming into this game Jose was hitting .167 with no homeruns. After a 4 for 5 day with three homeruns Jose was hitting .304 and was no longer embarrassed about seeing his batting average displayed on the scoreboard. The five RBIs he produced in the Lake County 17-5 rout over Lansing were his first five RBIs of the year.

Marcus Wilson OF (Diamondbacks) - Marcus was already having a pretty solid season prior to his 3 for 5 day with two homeruns and six RBIs. The special day upped his average to .405 and doubled his homerun output for the year to 4. Pitchers have been hesitant about pitching to Marcus with 8 walks in 10 games for an OBA of .511. He has an 8/5 walk to whiff ratio.

Anthony Alford OF (Blue Jays) - The fourth outfielder on this list. Anthony has slashed hits in seven of his first eight games. All of those hits have been singles, until last night when he doubled and homered to record his first extra base hits of the year. Alford should have a combination of speed and power. His four stolen bases early in the year have shown off his speed. Now he hopes his most recent production will show off his extra base hit potential.

Chance Sisco C (Orioles) - Chance has struggled in the early part of April but he hopes a 3 for 3 day sparks his season to life. It raised his average to .276. Part of his struggles could be attributed to his inability to make contact. Chance had struck out 11 times in his first seven games, a trait not associated with his skill set.

Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) - Luis was slapped around in his first start for five runs in just four innings of work against Montgomery. He was much better in his second start, not allowing a hit in five innings of work. His command was a little off with four walks in the outing. Ironic he did not walk a batter in his first start. Maybe a little wildness is good. It creates an atmosphere of unpredictability.

Jake Jewell RHP (Angels) - So far Jake is having a jewel of a season. He shutout Visalia in the California League for seven innings, allowing just two hits and walking nary a soul. He did strike out eight. After two starts Jake has only allowed one runner to cross the plate for a 0.82 ERA. The Angels could use pitchers like that to fit in their rotation.

Merandy Gonzalez RHP (Mets) - The Mets seem to find a way to discover good pitching. Merandy is another one of these obscure finds. He pitched his second straight game of shutout ball, working 7.2 innings without allowing a run. In his first start he did not allow a run in his six innings of work. That gives him 13.2 innings of shutout ball to start the season with a .149 opposition average and a 1/11 walk to whiff ratio.

Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) - The start did not seem so special when he gave up hits to two of the first three hitters he faced. Then he struck out the last eight hitters to raise his season shutout streak to six innings. The Dodgers are being careful with Walker after his Tommy John surgery has limited Walker to five innings of work since he was drafted in the first round in 2015. The two three inning outings have exceeded the five innings he pitched in his first two years with the team.

A No Hitter in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Scott Copeland RHP (Marlins) - At 29 years of age Copeland is not considered a prospect. He still threw seven innings of no hit ball before being removed from the game in the top of the eighth for a pinch hitter. He walked one and struck out eight. Two different relievers came on to preserve the no hitter, though a couple walks spoiled the shutout.

Enyel de los Santos RHP (Padres) - Enyel pitched six innings of perfect ball, striking out seven. The bullpen failed to preserve the no hitter giving up a single in the ninth inning. San Antonio was still able to beat Arkansas 2-0. It was the second start for Santos, who has only given up one run in his 12 innings of work. The opposition is hitting just .053 against him. The Padres were able to steal the mid-90s fastball pitcher off the Mariners for Joaquin Benoit.

Ryan Olson RHP (Reds) - Ryan threw a complete game nine inning shutout, giving up just four hits in the first complete game shutout in the minor leagues this year. It was his second start of the year. In his first start he worked seven innings without allowing a run, giving up just two hits. After two starts the opposition is hitting him at a .122 clip. He has only walked one hitter in those 16 innings for a WHIP of 0.44.

Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates) - Luis Escobar struck out 11, which was one less than his first outing. That gives him 23 strikeouts in the young season, tops in the minor leagues. He allowed just one run in each of his starts to fashion a 1.64 ERA. Luis has only walked one hitter in his 11 innings of work with more than two whiffs per each inning of work.

Shane Bieber RHP (Indians) - Believe in the Bieber. He struck out 11 in six innings of work allowing just the one run. In two starts covering 10.2 innings Shane has yet to walk a batter, striking out 18. The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering but relies on his command to retire hitters.

Franklin Perez RHP (Astros) - In the low minors the Astros like to rotate their pitchers starting and relieving. Franklin gave up just one hit in 5.1 innings in his start. In a relief outing he picked up a save with four innings of perfect relief. That is one hit given up in 9.1 inning of work for an opposition average of .034.

Jomar Reyes 3B (Orioles) - Jomar has six multiple hit games in the nine games he has played. That has put his average at .444 to start the season. He is repeating his assignment in the Carolina League after hitting just .228 there last year. Last year Jomar stole three bases and he has stolen one base this year. Not noted for his speed Jomar has yet to be caught stealing in his minor league career going 7 for 7 in stolen bases.

Francisco Mejia C (Indians) - Last year Francisco put together a 50 game hitting streak in his two level performance hitting .342. He continues to hit this year with an 8 game hitting streak to start the season and a .414 average. Seven of his 12 hits have gone for doubles. If Yan Gomes struggles with the bat this year Francisco could find himself in the major leagues.

Chris Shaw 1B (Giants) - Chris is finding AA pitching to his liking, raking for a .382 average in 10 games. He is 8 for 12 in his last three games with homeruns in consecutive games and seven RBIs during that three game stretch. Brandon Belt will be a tough bat to replace and Chris does not have the foot speed to move to the outfield.

Christian Arroyo SS (Giants) - Christian has an eight game hitting streak and a 3 for 3 performance Friday raised his average to .467. Only four of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases.

Hot Starts for the Minor Leaguers

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Myworld was in Philly last week for a volleyball tournament so we got a little behind on the minor league baseball season. Rather than go through each of the players day by day we will summarize some of the hottest players in this 2017 minor league season.

Cedric Mullins CF (Orioles) - There was some talk Cedric would be the break out prospect from the Orioles system in 2017. That breakout has started early in the season. In his first seven games he has gotten at least one hit, with three or more hits in three games. The 13th round pick of the 2015 draft out of Campbell is hitting 18 for 31 (.516) with three homeruns. He was hitting .577 but a 1 for 5 day dropped his average 60 points. Last year Mullins hit 14 homeruns with 30 stolen bases in 36 attempts. In his first seven games this year he has only stolen one base.

Carlos Rincon RF (Dodgers) - The Dominican hit four homeruns in three consecutive games. Half of his hits have been homeruns with a troubling 11 whiffs in 23 at bats. The Dodgers have a crowded outfield trying to find time for Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig and Andrew Toles. Last year Carlos hit 13 homeruns in 52 games for a .661 slugging percentage. At .913 slugging this early in the season he is a player to watch.

Willy Garcia RF (White Sox) - At one point he was a top prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His bat failed him and the Pirates designated him for assignment in December 2016. The White Sox picked him up on waivers. He’s still only 24. Willy has collected at least one hit in his first six games for a .440 average. Two homeruns have travelled off his bat with RBIs in each game except one for a total of six. Garcia has shown the patience for eight walks and a .633 OBA, putting him in position to score 9 runs. It appears the White Sox have found an outfielder in their rebuilding plans.

Josh Ockimey 1B (Red Sox) - Josh has struggled his first three years in the minors. The fifth round pick in the 2014 draft did break out to hit 18 homeruns last year, but that came with a .226 average. He hopes to do better in 2017, working on his ability to make better contact. So far so good early in the season with a 12 for 27 start for a .444 average. His only homerun was hit on opening day but the power will come. The patience at the plate continues with four walks in seven games.

Jomar Reyes 3B (Orioles) - A six game hitting streak to start the season for the Manny Machado replacement at third base. The Dominican is repeating the Carolina League after hitting just .228 last year. He will not stay there for long after his 13 for 20 for a .520 average start of the year this year. His bat has only been able to power one homerun but the power will come.

Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - He was the other pitcher acquired from the Nationals for Adam Eaton. The less heralded pitcher was a first round pick in 2016. He made his opening day start, working six innings and allowing just one run. He struck out 8 in his six innings of work.

Marcos Diplan RHP (Brewers) - He threw five innings of no hit ball in his opening start in the minor leagues. The Brewers acquired Diplan from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade back in 2015. He walked three and struck out five. The Dominican is not a hard thrower with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. His slider is a good pitch. Last year Marcos struggled in the Florida State League (4.98 ERA).

Forrest Whitely RHP (Astros) - At 6′7 the 2016 first round pick of the Astros is a pretty intimidating presence. His fastball comes in at the mid-90s with lots of swings and misses (12.5 per nine in his opening season in 2016). His first start in Low A he allowed just one hit in five innings of work, striking out six in five innings of work.

Top Prospects Opening Day

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

The minor leagues had their opening day yesterday and below were some of the stars:

Cedric Mullins CF (Orioles) - Cedric may only be 5′8″ but last year he hit 14 homeruns and stole 30 bases playing at Low A Delmarva. That is a good measure of speed and power. He skipped High A Frederick to play at AA Bowie this year and went 4 for 5 with a triple and homerun with two runs batted in the leadoff spot in a 13 - 7 opening day win over Akron. The 13th round pick has gotten a lot of press about being the Orioles most likely prospect to have a breakout year.

Yu-Cheng Chang SS (Indians) - The Taiwan native drove in five runs in a 13-7 loss to Bowie. He finished the day 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. His defense may be better suited for third but the Indians will keep him at short. Last year he hit 13 homeruns in High A. If he can play short he would be a player to provide power at the position.

Forrest Wall CF (Astros) - The Rockies drafted him in the supplemental first round in 2014 but could not find a position for him. The Astros acquired him, stuck him in centerfield and he went 3 for 5 with a double and homerun on opening day. Wall could always hit. His defense at second base was always an issue. Perhaps centerfield is the answer to get his bat in the lineup.

Travis Lakins RHP (Red Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, he struggled last year in the Carolina League with a 5.93 ERA. He got the opening day nod in a start for Salem throwing 5.1 innings without allowing a run and striking out 9. His fastball sits in the low 90s with the potential to reach mid-90s. His success will come from plus secondary pitches and improvement in command. Despite his good outing the Down East Wood Ducks rallied for six runs in the ninth inning to win 7-6. The Down East Wood Ducks? Where did that name come from?

Andrew Moore RHP (Mariners) - Moore went six innings for the Arkansas Travelers, allowing just one hit and striking out seven. The Travelers also lost their game when Corpus Christi rallied for two runs in the eighth to win 2-1. Moore was a Competitive Balance Round B draft in 2015. He is not overpowering with a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s. Command and effective secondary pitches will be keys to his success.

Myworld’s Top Prospects - 30-21

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

30. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 6.62 - Myworld was a little surprised to see him rated so highly in many of the Top 100s since we did not know that much about him. The Pirates 2014 second round pick had a breakout year last year with a 2.46 ERA in 23 starts. Increased velocity in his fastball, which now hits the mid-90s plus an improved change was the reason for the turn around. His curveball was already a swing and miss pitch. Mitch hopes to repeat his 2016 performance in High A in 2017.

29. Kyle Lewis OF (Mariners) 6.62 - Kyle was the Mariners first round pick in 2016. A gruesome knee injury cut his season short but not before he impressed with a .915 OPS. Kyle has all five tools to be an impact player. His speed, especially after the injury may be a little short to play center but his arm is good enough for right. Kyle makes good contact, is patient enough to take walks and should hit over .300 with 20 plus homeruns. The knee injury will delay the start of his 2017 season. Myworld expects him to begin the season in Low A.

28. Josh Bell 1B/OF (Pirates) 6.7 - Josh Bell began as an outfielder but the Pirates moved him to first base because his speed was not extraordinary and the Pirates outfield situation was already crowded. He was a second round pick in 2011 draft but the Pirates had to pay him a $5 million bonus to convince him to give up his football career. The power has yet to arrive but it showed flashes last season with 14 minor league homeruns and three major league shots. Defensively, his play at first is below average and needs to improve if he hopes to make the major league team in 2017. Expect him to start the season in AAA with Bell playing both the outfield and first base.

27 Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 6.87 - One of the better pitchers in the minor leagues with a different pitch in the screwball. He complements that pitch with a fastball in the low 90s with a plus change and a cutter that is above average. That is four pitches hitters have to look out for. He finished his season in AA with a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts, limiting the opposition to a .231 average. His command is good and with his mix of pitches he has a chance to be a number two starter. He should begin the 2017 season in AAA and should make his major league debut this year.

26 Clint Frazier OF (Yankees) 7.22 - A first round draft pick of the Indians, they traded him to the Yankees last year to acquire Aroldis Chapman to push themselves into the playoffs. Clint is a five tool player who will hit for both average and power. His above average speed could allow him to play centerfield but a plus arm makes right field a good fit. The Yankees would like to see Clint cut down on his strikeouts, an issue that may drive his average below .300. He will see next season in AAA and is just an injury to Jacoby Ellsbury away from getting promoted to the Yankees.

25 Jose Deleon RHP (Rays) 7.28 - Deleon was acquired recently from the Dodgers for Logan Forsythe. The Puerto Rican throws in the low to mid 90s, but his change is what gets hitters out. In AAA he struck out more than a hitter an inning, threw strikes and limited the opposition to a .194 average. When promoted to the majors his command disappeared, the opposition hit him at a .288 clip and he gave up five homeruns in 17 innings pitched. The Rays hope this was a learning experience for him. He will probably start the season in AAA but the Rays have the potential to have one of the best young rotations in baseball with Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell and Jose Deleon.

24. Mickey Moniak OF (Phillies) 7.48 - The Phillies 2016 number one pick, making him the top pick in the draft. Above average speed and a rocket arm makes him flexible for center or right field. The power is absent for now but it is expected to show as he fills out. He makes solid contact now, hitting balls into the gaps. Last year in rookie ball he slugged .409. Expect him to start the 2017 season in Low A. Don’t expect the power to become evident until 2018.

23. Manuel Margot OF (Padres) 7.52 - The Padres acquired Manuel from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal. He has the speed to play center and the arm to fit in right. Last year that speed contributed to 32 stolen bases in 43 attempts. Power is lacking but he should get close to double digits and with his speed doubles should be frequent. Last year he made his major league debut hitting just .243. In AAA he was able to get the average up to .304. The Padres expect him to compete with Travis Jankowski for the centerfield job.

22. Francis Martes RHP (Astros) 7.77 - The Astros stole Martes from the Marlins in the Jarred Cosart trade. At that time he was still in rookie ball struggling to throw strikes. His control has gotten better and his fastball has climbed to the mid-90s, hitting triple digits when he really lets loose. Martes also has a plus curveball that sharply breaks down towards the plate. The one down side with Martes is his short height (6′1″) which does not give him any downward plane. After his success at AA last year it is expected the Astros will start him at AAA, with a promotion to the major leagues if an injury or ineffectiveness plagues the starting staff.

21. Lewis Brinson OF (Brewers) 7.77 - Brinson is a nice little centerfielder who the Brewers got from the Rangers in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. Brinson shows all five tools, with the ability to hit for power with 30 plus homeruns and the speed to play centerfield. That speed has not translated well to stolen bases. The Brewers would like to see him walk more to increase the OBA, making him better suited for the leadoff role. He reached AAA last year and hit .382 in less than 100 at bats. The 2017 season will see him back at AAA with the chance to see the outfield for the rebuilding Brewers.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 40 -31

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Spring training games and the WBC games are making it hard to complete this list. Here are the next ten, 40-31 as we trudge down to number one.

40. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Canadian was the Braves second first round pick in the 2015 draft. Not an overpowering pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s, he relies on the command of his above average curveball and change to force hitters to make weak contact. Last year he averaged just 7.9 whiffs per nine innings at Low A. Next year should see a promotion to High A. Eventually he will fill a role in the middle or back end of a rotation.

39. Blake Rutherford OF (Yankees) - Blake was the Yankees first round pick in 2016. He starred for the under 18 United States baseball team that won the gold medal, batting in the middle of their lineup. The Yankees hope to see enough power from him to bat in the middle of their lineup. Last year he hit .351 in rookie ball in a little over 100 at bats, slugging .570. Average speed will leave him in right field, the only tool he lacks from competing as a five tool player.

38. Bradley Zimmer OF (Indians) - Bradley was the Indians first round pick in 2014. The Indians still have hopes to put him in centerfield, but myworld thinks he lacks the speed to play there. We think he is a better fit in right field, but perhaps we have seen him on bad days when he takes poor routes. His bat should hit for enough power to fit in right field with 15 homeruns last year. That included a power outage in AAA when he could only hit one over the fence in 150 at bats. Zimmer has the speed to be a 20/20 player. If he can cut down on his strikeouts his average could rise above .250.

37. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers continue to spend big bucks on Cuban players with little success. Yadier was signed to a $16 million bonus, which is the second highest bonus they have paid to a prospect, the $28 million they signed for Hector Olivera the number one bonus. Yusniel Diaz ($15.5 million), Yasiel Puig ($12 million) and Alex Guerrero ($10,000) round out the top five bonuses for the Dodgers and they all happen to be Cuban players. Since arriving in the United States Yadier has seen his fastball hit triple digits, sitting mainly in the mid-90s range. Commanding that fastball can be an issue with 21 walks in 59 innings. Adding a change as a third pitch will put him in the rotation, otherwise he will fill a role as a closer. The Dodgers could start him in Low A where he has already achieved success in 9 starts or push him with a promotion to High A. At 6′3″ he has a good frame for a pitcher.

36. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - The Astros already have his brother Preston on the team as a fifth outfielder. When Kyle is ready to play he will be the starting centerfielder for the Astros. Kyle was the first round pick of the Astros in 2015. All the tools are there to make him an impact bat, especially since he hits from the left side. The one tool he may be short on is speed, which could move him to right field where his arm is more than adequate to play the position Last year in a brief call up to High A he hit .339 with a 1.096 OPS. The Astros may start him there to begin the 2017 season and then promote him if he continues to maul High A pitching.

35. Josh Hader LHP (Brewers) - He has already been traded twice, from the Orioles to the Astros and now to the Brewers. For the Orioles he was their 19th round pick in 2012. His hair has grown since then and his velocity has increased, hitting the mid-90s. That is plenty of speed for a left handed pitcher. Last year he average 11.5 whiffs per nine innings at AA and AAA. A slider gives him a good second pitch but his change is still lacking. Trouble with finding the strike zone in AAA resulted in a 5.22 ERA when he walked 36 in 69 innings. The Brewers would like to see him have success at AAA before they promote him to their major league rotation. They would also like to see him improve his change to give him three pitches.

34. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - His talent level falls short of his dad. His arm is not as powerful and his hitting tools also fall short. He’s probably a little better at taking pitches, but still puts his bat on the ball when he swings (33/35 walk to whiff). His arm is not a rifle but it is good enough for third. More stocky than his dad, he should hit for power. Despite his 15 steals last year Vladimir is not fleet afoot. This makes third base a better position for him. Expect to see him start the 2017 season in Low A.

33. Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - The Athletics may regret trading Addison Russell but they got Barretto in the Josh Donaldson trade. He could be the player Russell is now, with good pop for a shortstop. His defensive tools do not stand out so a shift to second is possible, but the Athletics will keep him at short to let his average tools develop. He has decent speed, stealing 30 bases last year so a move to centerfield is also a possibility. Where ever he plays a plus bat that should hit in the neighborhood of .300 with 20 plus homerun pop will find a position to play. Expect the A’s to start him at AAA with a promotion to the major league team in September. Marcus Semien also has average tools for a shortstop so the Athletics will have to find a match and move one of the players to second.

32. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - The Braves traded for a number of pitching prospects who were first round picks from other teams. Kolby was drafted by the Braves in the first round of the 2015 draft. The fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s but he complements it with a plus curve and a solid change, besides throwing lefthanded. His command is also excellent. He didn’t appear to be bothered by a back problem that dropped him in the draft and limited his 2015 season to three starts. For the 2017 season he may start it in Low A where he had some success last year.

31. Jason Groome LHP (Red Sox) - Jason would not have dropped as far as he did in the 2016 draft to get to the Red Sox in the first round if not for some questions about his character. At 6′6″, throwing lefthanded with a fastball hitting the mid-90s with room for more growth as he matures, Jason could end up in the top of a rotation. His curve is good and his change is in the developmental stage since he did not use it much in high school. The Red Sox hope to begin his 2017 season in Low A.

Stevenson With Walkoff Hit for Nationals

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Andrew Stevenson lined a single over the drawn in outfielder’s heads to drive in Wilmer Difo with the winning run to give the Nationals a 5-4 win over the Astros. Myworld was supposed to be in Miami to watch Colombia take on the Dominican Republic, but we couldn’t deal with a third day of snarling traffic and searching for parking that we went to the quiet, sedate surroundings of Nationals/Astros spring training complex. We traded the party atmosphere and cleavage for controlled applause and tank tops.

It was not quite as noisy and there were no instruments blaring but they were still playing baseball. We left for the park fifteen minutes before game time, there was no line for the large lot that charged for parking and it was $5 cheaper than parking in the back yard of a house. We would have arrived inside the park at game time if we didn’t pay by credit card and they had to wait for paper to print out my receipt. Of course, they only had to accommodate for 5,400 while the Marlins had to prepare for 36,000.

The Nationals scored their first three runs on homeruns. Adam Eaton hit a solo shot in the fourth inning that at first appeared to be a little pop up but carried over the fence just inside the left field foul pole. Bryce Harper hit a ball a little farther in the fifth, a two run shot that carried to the top of the grassy berm in right field.

The Astros bounced back in the top of the seventh with one swing of the bat by one of their hottest hitters this spring A.J. Reed. He came into the game late, replacing Josh Reddick. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Reed. Jacob Turner continued to struggle to throw strikes, fell behind to Reed 3-1 and he drove the next pitch into the right field bullpen for a grand slam homerun to give the Astros a 4-3 lead. It was his third homerun of the spring.

Drew Ward tied the game in the eighth with a two out opposite field homerun down the left field line. In the ninth a Pedro Severino lead off single got the ninth inning started. Wilmer Difo pinch ran for him, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Stevenson hit his single over the drawn in outfield.

Game Notes: Ryan Zimmerman continues to hit .000 for the spring. He grounded out to third twice and walked. Zimmerman is 0 for 5 with three ground outs to third and two walks since we’ve watched him…Jack Mayfield looked good at short, diving at a ball up the middle to rob Corban Joseph of a hit. Mayfield also singled into right field to load the bases for Reed…Joe Nathan had a jump in velocity the second time myworld saw him. His fastball hit 91 but he still had trouble controlling the pitch. He walked one and ran three ball counts to two hitters…Jacob Turner was hitting 97 with his fastball, but he also had trouble finding the plate. He gave up six hits and four runs in less than three innings. He did strike out four…There were pockets of “Nats. Nats. Nats. Woo.” shouted around the stadium, but it was not in unison.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

70. Kevin Maitan SS (Braves) 3 - The Braves shelled out $4.25 million for him in 2016. At 17 years of age he has no minor league experience so this rating may be a bit optimistic. He can hit for power from both sides of the plate and is expected to hit for average. The Braves compare him to Chipper Jones. At 6′2″ he may have to move to third, but Dansby Swanson could also be a reason for that move. It will be interesting if the Braves have him start in the Dominican League or bring him to the United States for the rookie leagues.

69. Aaron Judge OF (Yankees) 3.15 - With a good spring he could win the right field job, though Aaron Hicks will have a say about that. At 6′7″ Judge has tremendous athleticism. He can cover ground in right field and has a strong throwing arm. What makes Yankee fans drool is his Giancarlo Stanton type power possibilities. What is a cause of concern is his plethora of strikeouts. He cut down on the whiffs last year in the minor leagues, but when promoted to the majors the whiffs returned, 42 of them in less than 100 at bats.

68. Raimel Tapia OF (Rockies) 3.25 - In the minor leagues Raimel has yet to hit less than .300. His career minor league average is .317. The Rockies outfield situation is a bit crowded so he will have to again spend most of his time in the minor leagues. With a little more meat on his bones he could surpass 20 homerun power but 40 double gap power is his current projection. The arm is good enough for right field and his defensive prowess should put him at the top of the league. If he wants to steal bases he must improve his jumps. A 63 percent career success rate will not allow managers to give him the green light.

67. Dominic Smith 1B/Of (Mets) 3.32 - Dominic may be the second coming of James Loney, with a little better bat and less of a glove. In 2016 he did break out for 14 homeruns after hitting only seven in his first two years. Also at 250 pounds Dominic will have to watch his weight so Pablo Sandoval comparisons do not creep into the conversation. He is a Lucas Duda injury away from making the Mets. His glove is solid despite his girth, however his speed would make him a liability in the outfield. Dominic hits the gaps and should consistently hit near the .300 neighborhood. If he could sprinkle in some power that would be ideal.

66. Braxton Garrett LHP (Marlins) 3.35 - The Marlins 2016 first round pick. He pitched for the gold medal winning United States team in the 18 and under World Cup of baseball. His fastball does not have great velocity, sitting in the low 90s. The curve is his best pitch, allowing him to strike out two hitters per inning in high school. He did not pitch in 2016 so extended spring training with rookie league action seems a possibility.

65. Kevin Newman SS (Pirates) 3.47 - Kevin was the Pirates first round pick in 2015. He should replace Jody Mercer at shortstop at some point in 2018. He’ll start this season in AA with a possible late season callup to get him acclimated to the major leagues. He is not a player who will light you up with his tools, but neither was Jody Mercer. He makes contact, does not have a lot of power, is consistent at shortstop but lacks gold glove type range.

64. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) 3.5 - Leody is a $2.1 million bonus baby out of the Dominican Republic. He is a potential five tool talent, though he only took one ball over the fence in over 300 at bats in rookie ball last season. At that point he was a high school player competing against first round picks. He makes solid contact, is patient enough to draw walks, has the speed to play center and the arm to fit in right. He should begin the 2017 season in full season Low A.

63. Anthony Alford OF (Blue Jays) 3.53 - Anthony would be a five tool player with a better arm. His speed and range are good enough for center, but if that doesn’t work out he will be a better fit in left field. A top notch defensive back in football he has the speed to steal bases but the power to sail balls over fences. He did strike out 117 times in 92 games but the Blue Jays hope that gets reduced now that his focus is on baseball. A knee injury in 2016 slowed him down so the Blue Jays hope a healthy 2017 will show the real Alford.

62. David Paulino RHP (Astros) 3.57 - A history of injuries may keep Paulino in the bullpen. At 6′7″ with a mid to high 90s fastball he can be a very intimidating presence on the mound. He missed the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery and has not pitched close to 100 innings in his last two seasons. David did make his major league debut last year, throwing seven innings. With potential for a plus slider and change Paulino has the requisite number of pitches to be a successful starter. He just needs to stay healthy.

61. Jorge Mateo 2B/SS (Yankees) 3.6 - The acquisition by the Yankees of Gleyber Torres will move Jorge to second base. It is unclear how he will take that since the Yankees had to suspend him last year after he pouted about not being promoted to AA last season. Compared to the numbers he put up in 2015 Jorge was not deserving of the promotion, his stolen base totals dropping from 82 to 36 and his batting average slipping 20 points. Speed will be his game but Jorge has deceptive power. Last year he showed it with 8 homeruns.

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

There is one graduate from the 2016 list which is a good thing for Europe. Max Kepler put up decent numbers for the Twins and will get another opportunity to start in right field. The current list is filled with players from Curacao (a colony of the Netherlands). Ozzie repeats as the number one prospect on this list. There are only two other countries represented in this list, the other eight are from the Netherlands. Perhaps next year Netherlands gets its own billing.

1. Ozzie Albies 2B/SS (Braves) Curacao - Ozzie was the number one last year and if not for an elbow injury he may have made his major league debut with a September callup. The tools are there to play shortstop but the Braves have chosen Dansby Swanson to play there. Ozzie will move to second base. The speed is there to steal 20 plus bases per year. Coming into the 2017 season his career minor league average was .310. With the combination of speed and high OBA Ozzie could find himself perched in the leadoff position for the Braves with a good spring.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) Netherlands - His father was born in the Netherlands, moving to the States at 17, His brother Spencer was drafted by the Nationals a couple years ago, but Carter was a first round pick. Carter also plays the middle of the diamond while Spencer is a catcher. Carter has all the tools to play shortstop and his bat showed some life with a .452 slugging percentage. The one area of concern was his tendency to strike out in bunches. Last year he struck out 43 times in just 36 games. Expect Carter to start the 2017 season in Low A Hagerstown

3. Davydas Noverauskas RHP (Pirates)Lithuania - Myworld is not aware of any major leaguer born in Lituania. Dovydas could be the first. The Pirates spotted him at a European academy in Italy and signed him for $60,000. His fastball climbs the radar guns into the high 90s and he mixes in a slider and cutter. Last year he pitched in relief moving all the way to AAA. While he limited the opposition to a .129 average in AA, in AAA that shot up to .308. He was suspended last year for a week towards the end of the season because of his involvement in a fight at a bar. With a good season next year could be his major league debut.

4. Marten Gasparini 2B/SS (Royals) Italy - Marten broke the signing bonus record held by Max Kepler, the Italian signing for $1.3 million in 2013. He has had trouble keeping up with the hype, last year hitting only .198 in his first year of full season ball. His actions are smooth at shortstop but he needs to develop some consistency fielding the ball, last season committing 48 errors. Those errors may force a move to the outfield where centerfield could be a pretty good fit. He could repeat Low A for the first part of the 2017 season, then get promoted once he finds some success.

5. Ray-Patrick Didder (Braves) Aruba - Aruba is also a Dutch colony. Didder has the speed to play centerfield and the arm to slot into right field. The one tool he is missing is power, but that does not prevent him from lining the ball into the gaps. With his lack of power he needs to show he can play centerfield with the corners reserved for the outfielders who show the power. Last year the speed of Didder copped him 37 stolen bases in 49 attempts.

6. Juremi Profar 2B/SS (Brewers) Curacao - His younger brother Jurickson was at one time the top prospect in baseball until injuries delayed his major league career by two years. Juremi does not have the range or speed of Jurickson to fit at shortstop. In fact most of his tools fall below his older brother. Last year he did break out for some power, hitting a career high 13 homeruns with a .473 slugging average. He has never stolen more than one base in any league. If Juremi can hit .250 with 20 plus homeruns he has a major league career ahead of him.

7. Chris Pieters RHP (Cubs) Curacao - Chris signed out of Curacao for $350,000 in 2011 as a lefthanded pitcher. He was converted to a hitter in 2015 and showed enough promise the Cubs decided to keep him. The arm is good enough for him to slot in any outfield position. While he does not have great speed he was good enough to steal 20 bases last year in 23 attempts. There was more swing and miss in his bat last season than he had in the 2015 season. He also drew fewer walks. Expect Chris to start the 2017 season in Low A.

8. Stijin Vandermeer SS (Astros) Netherlands - Myworld saw him play in the Honkball tournament in Haarlem last year. He was voted the MVP of the tournament. With Carlos Correa cemented at short for the next ten or so years Stijin may want to learn to play another position other than shortstop. Stijin was recently named to the Dutch roster for the WBC to replace outfielder Chris Garia. Last year the 34th round pick hit .329 in his 29 game professional debut. He had a nice 7/12 walk to whiff ratio.

9. Spencer Kieboom C (Nationals) Netherlands - Spencer was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. The Nationals have a number of good young catchers ahead of him in Pedro Severino, Jakson Reetz and Raudy Read. Spencer continues to be a better glove man than bat, hitting only .230 with a .314 slugging. He will probably always be considered a back up catcher type if the bat does not improve. His ability to make contact continues to excel with a 43/61 walk to whiff ratio, but that contact does not result in hits.

10. Martin Cervenka C (Indians) Czech Republic - We were impressed with what we saw of Cervenka when we watched him in a tournament in Taiwan two years ago. He was one of the better hitters on the team and a leader of the pitching staff. Unfortunately, the bat did not translate to the minor leagues. Until this year when Martin hit .263. There is little to brag about from the power side but give him a couple more years to see if he gets increased playing time. The 2017 season could be his make or break year. With Francisco Mejia behind the plate the best hope Martin has for the major leagues is as a backup.

2016 top European Prospects