Archive for the 'Astros' Category

Top Minor League Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astros One Win Away from World Series Title

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astros Take Advantage of Nats R and R

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

The Nationals bullpen has been decent in these playoffs, but it imploded on Saturday night. The Astros took advantage of five walks in the seventh inning from Tanner Rainey and Fernando Rodney and a grand slam from Alex Bregman to erupt for four runs to bury the Nationals 8-1. Astros starter Jose Urquidy also did the unexpected, giving the Astros five shutout innings in what was supposed to be a bullpen start.

It was essentially over after the first inning. Patrick Corbin struck out the leadoff hitter George Springer. After that the Astros stringed together four consecutive hits from Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel to score two runs. For Bregman he would end the day with five RBIs. A walk to Carlos Correa loaded the bases, but the Nationals averted disaster when Robinson Chirinos grounded into a 5-3 double play, Rendon stepping on third to get the first out and throwing to first to retire Chirinos.

Chirinos would not be so kind in the fourth inning when he took Corbin deep into the left field bleachers for a two run homer. Carlos Correa had started the inning with his second walk of the game. He would end up walking three times in the game.

The Nationals could not figure out Urquidy. He gave up just two hits in his five innings of work. The only time he got into trouble was in the third when Yan Gomes led off the inning with a double. Corbin tried to advance him to third with a bunt but hit it too hard to the pitcher and Gomes was forced to stay while Corbin was thrown out. Trea Turner grounded out to first, advancing Gomes to third. Too little too late with Adam Eaton popping to short to end the inning.

The Nationals were finally able to score after Urquidy was pulled. Josh James started the sixth and walked two of the first three hitters he faced. The Astros then turned to Will Harris, who was making his 10th post season appearance. In his first nine he had not given up an earned run, two shy of the record for post season appearances without allowing an earned run. Harris gave up an infield single to Anthony Rendon that glanced off the leg of Harris. With the bases loaded and one out Juan Soto hit an easy grounder to Gurriel, who made the play at first, allowing the run to score. Howie Kendrick swung and missed at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

In the top of the seventh the Nationals bullpen let the game get away. Tanner Rainey walked the first two hitters he faced. He got Jose Altuve to fly to right, but Dave Martinez went to Fernando Rodney to get the last two outs. Rodney failed. Michael Brantley singled into center to load the bases. Bregman then deposited Rodney’s second pitch deep into the left field bleachers for a grand slam. Rodney seemed to lose it after that, walking three batters, but he was able to get the last two outs without allowing the Astros to score another run.

Secure with an 8-1 lead the Astros finished the game with Hector Rondon, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to get the last six outs.

Game Notes: Josh Hader and Aroldis Chapman were awarded the relievers of the year prior to the game. Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera were present to issue them the award. Only Aroldis made an appearance. After losing the wild card game Josh Hader was a no show at Nationals park…Frank Howard was introduced at the game. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Howard is now relegated to a wheel chair. Attendance was announced at 43,889, 22 more than last night. Two standing room only fans took advantage of the two seats next to me. They paid more for their standing room only seat than myworld paid for section 300 seats. Those $164 seats were going for $1,200 or more on stub hub…Jose Urquidy became the second pitcher to make his starting debut in the post season without allowing a run. Jon Lester (2007) was the first. Urquidy also became the second Mexican pitcher to get a victory in a World Series game. Fernando Valenzuela was the first (1981). And in a final Urquidy buzz, he had more 1-2-3 inning in his five innings than Scherzer, Strasburg, Verlander and Cole had in their starts…The Astros are the best team hitting lefty starters. They are 38-11 when facing lefty starters during the regular season and now 3-1 in the playoffs. The fact they are also the best hitting team against pitchers with sliders and Corbin’s signature pitch is his slider made it a tough match for Corbin.

Pen Gives Astros First Win

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Zack Greinke could only go 4.2 innings so the Astros relied on their pen to get the remaining outs to beat the Nationals 4-1. They will need to rely on their pen in game four if they hope to even the series. For myworld it was another bucket list completed. My first World Series.

Anibal Sanchez was not sharp for the Nationals. He lasted one out into the sixth. In the second he gave up his first run. Carlos Correa clothes lined a double down the left field line. Josh Reddick followed by blooping a single into left field. Juan Soto tried to gun down Correa but threw it way over the head of the catcher and into the back stop. Reddick advanced to second. A single by Robinson Chirinos into right field put runners on first and third with one out but Sanchez was ableto wiggle out of the inning giving up just the run.

In the third Jose Altuve led off the inning bouncing a double past the diving Rendon and into the corner. Soto bobbled the ball and Altuve advanced to third. Michael Brantley lined a single off Sanchez for a hit to score Altuve. Sanchez again got out of the inning giving up just the one run.

The Nationals had their opportunities in the first and second innings. In the first Anthony Rendon doubled down the left field line. Juan Soto could not drive him in grounding to first. The Nationals had first and second with one out in the second inning when Victor Robles grounded into a double play. They also loaded the bases in the third but a Asdrubal Cabrera whiff ended that threat.

In the fourth the Nationals were finally able to put their lone run across. Ryan Zimmerman led the inning off with a walk. After a Kurt Suzuki strikeout Victor Robles hit a ground ball down the third base line and into the corner. Zimmerman scored and Robles stopped at third. They could not get the run across when Sanchez bunted a third strike foul and Turner grounded out to the pitcher.

Altuve got the run back for the Astros in the top of the fifth. He hit a one out double down the left field line and scored when Michael Brantley grounded a single into right field past a diving Cabrera. In the sixth Robinson Chirinos hit the left field foul pole for a homerun to make it 4-1. After a walk to pinch hitter Kyle Tucker the day was done for Sanchez.

The Nationals bullpen did well, shutting down the Astros the rest of the way. Rodney walked two in the sixth, one intentionally to load the bases but got Alex Bregman out on a hard grounder to short. Joe Ross pitched two innings giving up just a two out single in the eighth. Wander Suero retired the Astros in order in the ninth.

Greinke did not last five. Asdrubal Cabrera lined a two out double into the right field bullpen wall. Reddick played the ball perfectly off the wall and held Adam Eaton to third. With runners on second and third and two out Josh James came in from the pen and struck out Ryan Zimmerman on a 3-2 count.

Brad Peacock walked two in the sixth, forcing the Astros to turn to Will Harris a little early. He struck out Turner and got Eaton to ground to first to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the seventh. The Nationals had a hard time making contact off his curveball.

Joe Smith and Robert Osuna finished the game off, each giving up a one out single, but the Nationals could do nothing after that.

Game Notes: Myworld’s first World Series. A lot of pomp and circumstance for opening ceremony. The crowd also seemed a little different. It appears many sold their $164 dollar tickets for the stub hub price of $1,200…Carlos Carrasco was announced as the Roberto Clemente award winner…Buzz Aldrin threw out the first pitch. Based on his throw he did not have much of a baseball career. It did not reach home plate. Chad Cordero also threw out a first pitch to catcher Brian Schneider…There were 43,867 in attendance…Game again tonight as well as a volleyball match this afternoon, so myworld will have to cut this short.

Top Second Base Prospects

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Normally your second baseman of the future are shortstops who have to move to second base because another shortstop is better than them. This list is thin with a number of former shortstops on it. Not a big fan of Isan Diaz, though he is currently up with the Marlins.

1. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Rodgers was the Rockies first round pick in 2015. He has Trevor Story ahead of him on the Rockies roster. Last year he was troubled by shoulder issues. This year his season ended early because of a torn labrum that required surgery. He did hit .350 with 9 homeruns in his 37 AAA games before getting a callup to the Rockies after a Story injury. He did not put up awe inspiring numbers, hitting just .224 with a .250 slugging. That is when they discovered the torn labrum. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but this surgery could make a move to second base more likely. His bat is solid with a .490 slugging percentage entering the 2019 season. If he recovers from his shoulder issues and the Rockies find an alternative at second base (Ryan McMahon) he could become trade bait. Expect him to start the 2020 season in the minor leagues if he is healthy and a later promotion once he has seen some games.

2. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - The Rays found a bargain in Brujan, signing him for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. His bat has shown the ability to make contact with more walks (150) than whiffs (136) during his minor league career. His speed could make him a top of the order hitter, with 55 stolen bases last year. The down side in Brujan’s game is his lack of power. Despite his small frame (5′9″) he does not drive the ball like an even smaller Jose Altuve or Jose Ramirez. Defensively the tools are there for him to play short, but with Wander Franco climbing the minor league ladder the Rays have been using him at second base. This year he has stolen 46 bases in 93 games. His strikeouts have increased since his climb to AA (18/31 walk to whiff) resulting in a drop in average (.263). Brujan can make an impact if he can get on base and allow his speed to create havoc.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - Nick was the White Sox first round pick in 2018. He led Oregon State to the College World Series. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, with an arm that may be borderline, but there always seems to be a better defensive option ahead of him. At Oregon he was forced to play second because of a better defensive shortstop. The White Sox have been using him at second base. Despite his small frame (5′8″) Nick has some pop in his bat. That pop will be defined mainly by hits into the gaps but he should reach double digit homerun numbers. Last year he did not hit a ball out of the park in 155 at bats but did hit .303. This year he has already found himself in AAA, hitting .307 at the three levels with a .414 slugging percentage. He has also stolen 34 bases. Defensively he will be an asset to the White Sox at second base and with Yoan Moncada moving to third there is little to stop him from playing there in 2020.

4. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - Jones was a second round pick of the Angels in 2015. Because of a crowded outfield the Angels moved him to second base in 2018. What appeared to be a solid bat struggled in his first year at second base, dropping below .250 with a slugging average under .400. When he played outfield his bat played above those numbers. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. The Angels were hoping he would become comfortable in his second year at second base and his bat would return to their 2016 and 2017 numbers, but he continues to struggle (.236). His power numbers have also dropped. His defense is not at the level where he will survive in the major leagues at second base unless the bat returns to where it was at when he played the outfield.

5. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac may be best used as a utility player. He lacks the range to play short on an every day basis and his power is not there for third base. Second base could be a move but his 225 pound frame makes playing a middle infield position challenging. He will need his bat to carry him if he is to play second base. He was first signed by the Cubs out of Mexico for $500,000 in 2015. The Cubs traded him to the Tigers for some relief help (Justin Wilson). The one big tool Isaac has is his bat. Power could come like a Jose Ramirez later in his career. As it is now he is hitting .288 in AA with 11 homeruns. That is about where his bat should be in the major leagues. Speed and defense are lacking from his game.

6. Xavier Edwards (Padres) - Edwards has the defensive tools to play shortstop but with Fernando Tatis there the Padres have been using him more at second base. He was a first round supplemental pick of the Padres in 2018. In his first season at rookie ball Xavier hit .346. He lacks the strength to hit for power so he needs to rely on his ability to make contact. Speed will be a big part of his game. Last year he stole 22 bases in just 45 games. His arm may be a little weak for short, but it will be fine at second base, making him above average defensively. This year his bat continues to shine at the full season level with a .323 average and 31 stolen bases. As he matures he could pick up some gap power.

7. Nick Gordon (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon started his career as a shortstop, just like his half brother Dee. He was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It has taken some time for him to climb the minor league ladder, but he has finally reached AAA where he is hitting .298 with four homeruns. That is a big improvement over his .212 average in AA last year. Like Dee, Nick does not hit for power and his speed lacks the burner capability of Dee. He will need to hit if the Twins want to keep a spot open for him. The concern is there is no one tool that makes him great. His best spot may be as a utility player.

8. Mauricio Dubon (Giants) - Mauricio is the only player in minor or major leagues born in Honduras. He came to the United States at 15 years old to attend high school and improve his baseball abilities. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the 26th round of the 2013 draft and then made him part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire the recently released Tyler Thornburg. The Brewers traded him to the Giants this year for bullpen help. His bat carries very little power but he had a career .299 batting average entering the 2019 season. His range falls a little short to be playing short on a regular basis. With Marco Luciano ahead of him in the depth chart a move to second base is in his future.

9. Freudis Nova (Astros) - The Astros signed Nova for $1.2 million in 2016. He could have gotten more but he failed a drug test and his signing price dropped in half. Nova has the tools to play short, with a strong arm his best tool, but with Carlos Correa at short he has played some second in anticipation that short will not be available when he is ready. His bat has the potential to hit for power, though that power has yet to appear. This year is his first in a full season league. A 12/61 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and could result in a lower batting average as he rises up the minor league ladder if he does not improve. At Low A he is hitting .255 with a .293 OBA. He has good speed to run the bases, but it appears not to be stolen base speed. It will take some time for him to reach the major leagues. At 19 years of age and playing in Low A expect him to be ready no earlier than 2021.

10. Luis Garcia (Nationals) - Luis was signed by the Nationals in 2016 for $1.3 million. That is similar to Nova, but Luis is already playing at AA. Shortstop is occupied by Trea Turner and the power is lacking to move to third. It could develop as he matures but not in time to play third after Rendon’s departure next year. Last year he split time between Low A and High A, his average falling just a couple points short of .300. This year he is finding AA a bit of a challenge. His lack of patience is being exposed with the AA pitchers (17/81 walk to whiff) resulting in a lower batting average (.253). The Nationals have no barriers in front of him to take over second base in 2020 if he can show the bat to play the position. He may have to start the first part of 2020 in AAA.

Astros Blame it on Rio for Walkoff Loss

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Mychal Givens and the Orioles had just given up three runs in the top of the ninth to lose a 5-4 lead. Roberto Osuna hit Chance Sisco to put the tying run on. Chris Davis came to the plate representing the go ahead run. In years past you could hope for a walk off homerun. With four K’s in four at bats you just hoped he did not hit into a double play to end the game. He hit a ball to shallow left and Jace Peterson was able to tag up and give him a sacrifice fly. It was kind of surprising Josh Reddick threw the ball home since that run did not really matter and Sisco could have advanced to second. Rio Ruiz, an unlikely hero came to the plate and with the count 2-2 he hit a no doubter that landed on Eutah Street for a 8-7 Orioles victory, their first walk off win of the year and the first for Ruiz in his career.

Asher Wojciechowski retired the Astros in order in the top of the first so it appeared to be a better start than their 23-2 loss of yesterday. The Orioles even got a run in the bottom of the first on two singles and a RBI double from Jace Peterson to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second the homer gods again frowned down on the Orioles. Carlos Correa smashed a 3-run homerun deep into the Astros end of the bullpen for a 3-1 lead. Visions of the nightmare of yesterday began dancing into the heads of the Oriole fans. The O’s bounced back in the bottom frame on an RBI single from Trey Mancini to cut the lead to 3-2.

Asher settled down after the second inning. The Astros got baserunners in every inning he pitched, but Asher was able to prevent any Astro from crossing the plate until the seventh, his last inning when a single by Josh Reddick and double by George Springer put Astros on second and third. A ground out scored a run, brought in the bullpen, but the Orioles still had a one run lead.

They were able to take the lead in the fifth off Justin Verlander. He struck out 11 hitters in his five innings of work, but in the fifth he gave up two runs to allow the Orioles to go ahead. Pedro Severino got the inning started with a ground ball double just inside the third base bag. Jace Peterson roped a pitch over the head of center fielder George Springer for a triple to tie the game. Hanser Alberto hit a foul ball into left field but it was caught by Michael Brantley. His throw was not strong enough to get Peterson racing home with the go ahead run.

The Orioles scored an insurance run in the sixth after Chris Devinski had whiffed the first two hitters he faced. Jonathan Villar singled, stole second and scored on a Trey Mancini single. Mancini had also contributed an RBI single in the second. Santander doubled down the right field line to put runners on third and second but Devinski whiffed Pedro Severino to end the inning.

The Orioles had a chance to put the game away in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. Santander hit a fly ball to shallow center, not deep enough to score Rio Ruiz from third. Severino then hit one over the left field fence, but it was just a couple feet foul from being a grand slam homerun. On the next pitch he grounded out to third.

The top of the ninth was another nightmare for Mychal Givens, who came into the game with five blown saves. He got out of a jam in the eighth by striking out Josh Reddick with the tying run at second. He could not get anyone out in the ninth. Springer singled to left, Peterson falling short of making a shoe string catch. Altuve laid down a bunt single down the third base line. Michael Brantley hit a ball down the right field line. Santander chased it. Brantley headed to third and as Santander picked the ball up to throw it the ball slipped out of his hand and fell behind him. By the time Santander picked the ball up Brantley had scored. Givens hit Alex Bregman on a 1-2 pitch and he was replaced by Richard Bleier.

Bleier got out of the inning with a whiff and double play. That gave the Orioles the opportunity for the walk off in the ninth.

Game notes: Santander got a bloop single off Verlander in the first. Verlander struck out Santander on six pitches in his next two at bats. Santander looked overmatched in the two at bats and saw a total of nine pitches in his three at bats against Verlander…Verlander was hitting 95-96 with his fastball. The 11 K’s shows he still has his swing and miss stuff. It also gave him double digit strikeouts for five consecutive games, the first time he has established that in his career…The Orioles can not keep Chris Davis with the at bats he has been having this year. There are just too many swings and misses in his game and not enough balls deposited over the fence. Four whiffs today upped his strikeout total to 118 in 87 games. There are at least 60 other first baseman that are better than him (other teams starters and backups and Mancini and Mountcastle). Keeping him on the roster is an effort in futility, just because they are paying him $25 million per year. Even the fans have turned against him, booing him after each whiff…Trey Mancini made a nice sliding catch with runners on first and second and two out in the fifth, saving at least one run from scoring…For Rio Ruiz it was his first walk off homerun in his career and his second consecutive day with a homerun after his recent callup…The win by the Orioles erased the Astros eight game winning streak…Rio Ruiz was named player of the game but Jace Peterson deserves some accolades with his two doubles and a triple, all contributing to runs.

Forbes List of Top Paid Baseball Players

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Soccer players are the top three salaried athletes on the Forbes Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list. The process was to figure out a player’s salary or winnings and endorsements, add them up and come up with their 2019 earnings. The one difficulty with that is the endorsements were based on publicly identified endorsements or word of mouth by talking with representatives about the worth of those endorsements. So the list may not be totally accurate.

Soccer takes the first three, a boxer is number four, tennis at five, football takes 6-7, basketball dominates 8-10 and golf is at 11. You have to go to the 17th spot to find your baseball player. Only one woman makes this list and she plays tennis. Myworld will force you to go the Forbes list to get the names of the above listed athletes associated with their sport.

For baseball, endorsement money was a small portion of their value. I’ll list the endorsement money for the top three, but after that it was under $1 million.

17. Mike Trout (Angels) - $56 million ($3 million in endorsements)
23. Bryce Harper (Phillies) - $44.5 million ($6.5 million in endorsements)
30. Manny Machado (Padres) - $34.8 million
50. David Price (Red Sox) - $31.7 million
54. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) - $30 million
61. Justin Verlander (Astros) - $29.5 million
62. Yoennis Cespedes (Mets) - $29.4 million
63. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) - $29.2 million
68. Jake Arrieta (Phillies) - $28.8 million
73. Albert Pujols (Angels) - $28 million
77. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) - $27.4 million ($2 million in endorsements)
84. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) - $26.6 million
94. J.D. Martinez (Red Sox) - $25.6 million
96. Joey Votto (Reds) - $25.4 million

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

Top 100 - 10 -1

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Finally complete. Lots of good bloodlines in the top ten. The Blue Jays and Astros were able to squeeze two players each in the top ten.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) - The son of Dante has a potent bat. It’s a mixture of power and batting average. The power is mainly in the gaps, with 42 doubles, but as he matures the balls will carry over the fence. His defense should be adequate for short. It would be better at third or even second but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, two other sons of Hall of Famers have those positions covered. So the Blue Jays will take his adequate defense at short. He also has the speed and instincts to steal 32 bases last year. He will not be as fast as Trea Turner, but he could make just as big of an impact. The second round pick of 2016 will start the season in AAA and could be with the Blue Jays by mid-season, joining Vladimir.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His older brother Preston was also drafted by the Astros. Kyle has a lot more talent. Preston could make it as a fourth outfielder. Kyle should be an All Star. The Astros outfield is currently crowded but many think Kyle will earn a starting spot by mid-season. Josh Reddick has the most to fear. Last year Kyle hit .332 with 24 homeruns, evidence of his ability to hit for power and average. He stumbled in his promotion to the majors last year, hitting just .141. His fringe speed will limit him to a corner with his best fit in left field. AAA is where Kyle will spend his time until the Astros feel he is ready.

8. Nick Senzel OF/3B/2B (Reds) - The Reds are trying to find a position for him. His original position is third base, but Eugenio Suarez has that position covered. He could find himself at second base after the Scooter Gennett injury. The Reds insist he will be in AAA to learn to play centerfield. If he can stay healthy it will not take him long before he reaches the Reds. Vertigo last year limited him to 44 games. The bat has big time power and his career minor league average is .314. That is incentive enough to get his bat to the major leagues after the Reds drafted him in the first round in 2016.

7. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) - The only pitcher in the top ten. The Astros 2016 first round pick has a plethora of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball that can touch triple digits. He also works with the technology to improve the spin rates on his breaking balls (curve and slider) to make them quality pitches and his change up is a swing and miss pitch. Injuries limited him to just eight starts last year where the opposition only hit .160 against him in AA. He did some extra credit work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) to eat up innings and should be ready for AAA to start the 2019 season. Expect him to be called up by mid-season.

6. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - It may be too early in his career to anoint him the next Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the minor leagues. The Rays signed him in 2017 for $2.8 million. His first year in rookie ball he hit .351 with 11 homeruns. The bat hits for power and average. His defense will not be Gold Glove caliber for shortstop, but the bat will play at third where he would be an above average defensive player. The only tool that is not above average is his speed. Wander will see his first season at Low A in 2019 as an 18 year old. He should rise through the minor league system quickly, something the Rays are not normally prone to do.

5. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) - The first player selected in the 2017 draft has the tools to be a premium shortstop. The bat should be something special, hitting for both power and average. His speed should also play havoc on the bases, making him a threat to be a 30/30 player if his power develops more than expected. Lewis struggled a bit in the Florida State league last year (.255) so the Twins may start him there to begin the 2019 season with a quick promotion to AA if he finds success. A five tool infielder once he is ready.

4. Victor Robles CF (Nationals) - With Bryce Harper leaving for Philly, the center field job was given to Victor. Currently his speed is the best part of his game. It will allow him to be a Gold Glover on defense in centerfield and a pest on the bases. His bat should hit for average, but it won’t be as potent as teammate Juan Soto. The concern for some is his average exit velocity for the ball off his bat is just 82-84. He needs to get over 86 to reach the average exit velocity of major leaguers. The Nationals will be patient with him and allow the speed to create havoc as they wait for the power to arrive.

3. Eloy Jimeniz OF (White Sox) - The White Sox rewarded him with a major league spot on opening day after he signed a big contract extension that gave them one year after free agency. The bat will be special. The defense in left field will not. He could spend most of his time at the DH spot. Once the Dominican develops he could vie for batting titles with 40 plus homerun power. Don’t be surprised to see him win a Triple Crown before his career is complete. Eloy will start his season with the White Sox in left field.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr., he did not sign a long term extension as Eloy, but he had newly signed free agent Manny Machado recommending Padre management forget keeping him in the minors for a couple weeks to get an extra year. The Padres agreed. Fernando is ready now. His defense at short should be passable, better than what Manny could provide at short, which is a reason why Manny is playing third. The bat will generate big time power and hit for a decent average. He will battle with Victor Robles for the National League Rookie of the Year award.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - The son of Vladimir Sr. was going to be sent to the minor leagues to give the Blue Jays another year of service time despite the fact he is ready for the major leagues now. An early season injury will give them an opportunity to have him spend some time in rehab and then get promoted. His defense is average and his body could get too bulky for third. So a move to first could be in his future. His bat will be special with a .330 career minor league average and a slugging average of .529. Unlike his dad Vladimir is not afraid to take a walk. Expect him to be called up by May and win the American League rookie of the year award.

AL West Predictions

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

With the start of the major league baseball season tomorrow in Japan, myworld thought we would begin our predictions, beginning with the
AL West. There are still some talented free agents out there so teams can still improve if they want to spend the money.

1. Houston Astros

Strengths - This lineup will hit. Except for catcher and first base the other positions will play above average on offense. It also has depth, especially around the infield. Losing Marwin Gonzalez hurt but they hope Tony Kemp will fill his role. Yuli Gurriel and Almedys Diaz can also play three different infield positions.

Weakness - While the starting rotation is still pretty solid losing two starters, Dallas Keuchel to free agency and Lance McCullers to injury, hurts their depth. Colin McHugh is being moved to the rotation after having success in the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation starter, but in the bullpen he was the setup guy. That is a minus. Robinson Chirinos has hit 35 homeruns the last two years but compared to their other position players the catching position is a bit too much vanilla.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With holes in the rotation Forrest Whitley could be the Dodgers version of Walker Buehler last year. Expect him to be up by mid-season. The outfield is a bit crowded with George Springer, Mickey Brantley and Josh Reddick but Kyle Tucker has some game changing tools. Last year he only hit .141 but he will be better next year. Astros need a lefthander out of the bullpen. Eventually they will need to callup Cionel Perez. Josh James and Framber Valdez could be used out of the bullpen or in the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - A potent lineup and two starting pitchers who can dominate a lineup give the Astros the AL West and possibly a visit to the World Series.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Sttrengths - Having the best player in baseball in Mike Trout is a good start. It has been a couple years since the Angels made the playoffs so having Trout in the lineup is no guarantee. With Justin Upton in left they need a bounce back season from Kole Calhoun to make the outfield quiet formidable. The defense on the left side with Zach Cozart at third and Andrelton Simmons at short will save a lot of runs for the Angels pitching staff.

Weakness - Teams make the playoffs with a good rotation and the Angels do not have one. They lack an ace unless the newly acquired Dark Knight Matt Harvey has a rebirth. Trevor Cahill is the only arm in this rotation who saw his ERA south of 4 last year. If Albert Pujols plays more than 100 games this lineup is in trouble. The one time slugger had an OPS of .700 and that is not what you want from your DH.

Prospects to Make an Impact - An injury to Jo Adell will put him on the disabled list to start the season but if Calhoun struggles as he did last season expect him to be put in the outfield. He is a five tool player. If the rotation struggles as is expected Griffin Canning could make his debut at the back end of the rotation.

Expected Finish - They could win enough games to make the Wild Card but the rotation needs to stay healthy and Mike Trout needs to have an MVP like season. Shohei Ohtani needs to bounce back quickly from his Tommy John surgery and occupy the DH spot.

3. Oakland Athletics

Strengths - The corner infielders Matt Chapman at third and Matt Olson at first may be the best in baseball. The two combined last year for 54 homeruns and could improve on that in 2019. Khris Davis at DH gives this lineup a threesome with the possibility of hitting 30 plus homeruns each. Myworld expects Jurickson Profar to have a break out year now that he has a set position at second base.

Weakness - The rotation is young and lacks an ace. Sean Manaea could fill that role but he will be out until after the All Star break. They will need to replace the 37 starts they lost with the departure of Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill. Proven commodities are not available.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The starting rotation should see Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk become 40 percent of the rotation. Puk is still recovering from Tommy John and like Manaea will probably not be available until after the All Star break. Sean Murphy could be their catcher before the season is out. Eventually the Athletics will have to find a position for Jorge Mateo. Expect him to play a utility role, filling in at centerfield and in the middle infield.

Expected Finish - It will be hard for Blake Treinen to repeat his closer performance from last year. That will be the difference from making the playoffs and falling short with a third place finish.

4. Texas Rangers

Strengths - Joey Gallo should hit a lot of homeruns, but he needs to improve his average. Whether he plays left field or centerfield will all depend on the offense of Delino Deshields. Not a lot to see here with one of many teams choosing to tank for the 2019 season.

Weakness - The retirement of Adrian Beltre gives them a hole at third base that Asdrubal Cabrera will try to fill. Starting pitching will let this team down with a collection of arms that have seen their best years in the rear view mirror.

Expected Finish - Battling with the Mariners for the basement of the AL West.

5. Seattle Mariners

Strengths - Mitch Haniger is a player you would come to the ball park to see play. Yusei Kikuchi will try to replicate his numbers in Japan to the major leagues. After that it gets bleak, unless you like watching a DH like Edwin Encarnacion hit 30 plus homeruns.

Weakness - Losing Kyle Seager to begin the season could have a negative impact on the defense, putting Ryon Healy at third and playing a couple DHs in Dan Vogelbach or Edwin Encarnacion at first. Losing teams don’t need a closer and the Mariners lack one.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Rangers for the last spot in the AL West. Whoever trades their most assets first before the trading deadline reaches will get to the bottom first.