Archive for the 'Brewers' Category

Dodgers Even Series; Astros Strike First Against Red Sox

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Dodgers 4 Brewers 3

Normally myworld would not consider Justin Turner an unlikely hero, but after the game last night when he struck out to end the game with the tying run on third, one of his four strikeouts in five at bats, we had to reconsider. He was the hero last night with a two run homer off Brewer closer Jeremy Jeffress in the top of the eighth to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. The bullpen was able to secure the victory, with Kenley Jansen pitching the ninth to get the save.

The Brewers had jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Wade Miley throwing 5.2 shutout innings but the Brewers bullpen coughed up two in the seventh and two in the eighth to take the loss.

Myworld has a saying - forget the past, focus on the present because that will impact your future. Turner forgot about his ineptness last night, focused on his current at bat and won the game.

The probable MVP of the National League, Christian Yelich came up with the tying run on second and grounded out to end the game. Perhaps he will be the hero in game three.

Astros 7 Red Sox 2

Yulieski Gurriel was a big time player in Cuba. He is a solid hitter in the major leagues, but doesn’t really hit for the power teams expect from their first baseman. That power comes in spurts and last night he had one of his spurts. His three run homerun in the ninth inning sealed the win for the Astros, turning the Red Sox seats empty as they won the opening game in their American League championship series. Josh Reddick had opened the inning with a homerun, turning a 3-2 lead into 4-2. The two homeruns in the ninth extended the Astros streak of homeruns in playoff games to 13, becoming the second team in history to accomplish that feat.

Carlos Correa provided the game winning hit with a broken bat single off a 100 mile per hour fastball delivered by Joe Kelly. Chris Sale lasted just four innings, walking four and hitting one batter. The Astros were only able to collect five hits, but 10 walks and three hit batsmen gave them the opportunities they needed to score runs.

Brewers Hang on Against Stumbling Dodgers

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

The Brewers took advantage of some poor fielding plays and a homerun from a most unlikely source to beat the Dodgers 6-5 in their opener. It truly was a most unexpected person that was the difference in this game in our continued quest to identify the most unlikely heroes.

Rookie Brandon Woodruff took over for Gio Gonzalez after he could go only two innings by design. The Brewers only wanted Gio to go through the order once and let the bullpen do the rest. Enter Woodruff who worked two perfect innings, striking out four to get credit for the win. But it was not his arm that won the game. It was his bat. In the bottom of the third, against Clayton Kershaw, Woodruff went deep with a blast measured at just over 400 feet. It is the first time in post season play that a pitcher hitting lefthanded has hit a homerun against a lefthanded pitcher. It is not the first time that Clayton Kershaw has pitched poorly, as his disappointing playoff appearances continue.

That tied the game at 1-1. Nothing could go right after that for the Dodgers in the next two innings. A single and walk put two runners on when Yasmani Grandal had a nightmare inning. A passed ball advance the runners to second and third and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases. Hernan Perez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 but Grandal allowed the throw home to get by him allowing the other runners to advance. Fortunately the last error did not hurt.

The poor fielding continued in the fourth when Chris Taylor allowed a single to get by him to put runners on second and third. Santana singled to score both runners. With one out Santana stole second but was originally called out. Replay reversed the call and the Brewers took advantage with a Ryan Braun single to score Santana. That made the score 5-1.

Josh Hader was extended three innings, keeping the Dodgers at one run going into the eighth. With a 6-1 the Dodgers fought back with three in the eighth. Chris Taylor hit an RBI triple in the ninth to make it 6-5 but Corey Knebel was able to strike out Justin Turner to win the game. For poor Justin it was his fourth whiff in five at bats.

Brewers Sweep Rockies; Braves Stay Alive

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Last year Wade Miley had trouble getting anyone out. The opposition hit him at a .287 clip while he was pitching for the Orioles, finishing with an 8-15 record with a 5.61 ERA. It was his second straight season with an ERA over 5, spanning a career where his ERA rose every year starting with the 2012 season.

This year Miley had a career year, starting the season in the minor leagues, getting a call up in May but missing a couple months with an oblique injury. When he pitched he was exceptional, limiting the opposition to a career low .237 batting average while going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts.

Last night the Brewers called on him to continue the magic and he threw zeroes for 4.2 innings to lead the Brewers to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies, extending their winning streak to 11 games. It was the second consecutive game in which the Rockies were shutout.

The Brewers got homeruns from some unexpected players in this game, when you considered the season they had or the season they were expected to have. The great fielding shortstop Orlando Arcia, who only hit .233 during the regular season bashed a solo shot in the ninth. Keon Broxton, who spent much of his 2018 season in the minor leagues made it back to back with a pinch hit homer. Jesus Aguilar, who was not the starting first baseman when the season started but hit 35 homeruns after injuries and homeruns put him in the starting lineup hit a solo shot in the fourth, his first career post season hit. The 38 year old catcher Erik Kratz also contributed with three hits and is now hitting .625 for his post season debut.

The Braves kept their series alive getting a grand slam homerun from rookie Ronald Acuna to take a 5-0 lead. Acuna became the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a grand slam homerun. Mickey who? After the Dodgers came back to tie the game at 5-5 it came upon the longest tenured Brave, veteran Freddie Freeman to break the tie with a solo homerun in the sixth.

The Braves called on their young pitching staff to keep the victory alive, rookies Touki Touissant and A.J. Minter each tossing an inning of shutout ball, before Arodys Vizcaino closed out the ninth to pick up the save, striking out Muncy, Machado and Dozier with two runners on. Viz knows how to increase the gray hairs of all those who watched the game.

Unsung Heroes in this Foursome of Playoff Games

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Myworld continues to look at some of the unsung heroes in these playoff games. Those players who were not really expected to contribute, especially when you looked at their career path before the 2018 season started.

Houston Astros 7 Cleveland Indians 2

The usual suspects in George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve went deep in the Astros win. An unusual suspect also went deep in Martin Maldonado, a seventh inning shot that turned the momentum on the Indians. The Indians had scored two in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2 but Maldonado’s solo shot in the seventh tamed their celebratory mood. Prior to the season Maldonado was an Angel. The Astros acquired him after an injury to Brian McCann. They liked his defense. Yesterday they liked his offense as well. To many Astro fans he has become an angel.

Justin Verlander did not allow a hit through the first five innings. When he got in trouble in the sixth, giving up two runs the Astros called on Ryan Pressly, not a usual choice in the Astros pen. Pressly also started his 2018 season with another team (the Minnesota Twins) stitching together an ERA north of 3 in his six years with Minnesota. Since being acquired from the Twins Pressly has appeared in 26 games with the Astros, limiting the opposition to a 0.77 ERA and a .136 opposition average. He retired all five hitters he faced, striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning, though he did allow both inherited runners to score on a wild pitch and a ground out.

Boston Red Sox 5 New York Yankees 4

J.D. Martinez slugged a three run homer for the Red Sox. There were no unsung heroes unless you want to tout the defensive play of Sandy Leon behind the plate, stopping many balls from crashing into the back stop.

Milwaukee Brewers 4 Colorado Rockies 0

The Brewers went up 2-0 on the Rockies. The pitching staff shut down the Rockies offense, but it was the usual suspects quieting the bats. For the Brewers it was their tenth straight win.

Myworld has to go to our third catcher named as an unsung hero, the 38 year old Erik Kratz, who was appearing in his first playoff game in his career, a career that has always found him as the back up catcher for the seven or so major league teams he has played for since 2010. He started this year as the back up catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting only .236 during the regular season, which was above his .211 career average. Yesterday, besides calling a good game that did not allow the Rockies a run, he also got a clutch hit in the eighth inning, a two run single that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. It has been since 1905 when a position player older than Erik Kratz started his first playoff game, that player being the equally non-descript Lave Cross, a third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Asked if that was the biggest hit of his career Kratz remarked that he did hit a homerun in a AAA playoff game. Come on Erik. I’d take a two run single in a major league playoff game over a homerun in AAA.

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 Atlanta Braves 0

The Braves bats have certainly had a power outage. After being shutout by Ryu the day before they were also shutout by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw pitched 8 innings of shutout ball, striking out three. Manny Machado swatted a two run homer in the first and Yasmani Grandal hit a solo shot in the fifth. This game was absent unsung heroes, but in the playoffs Kershaw has always struggled. Coming into this playoff game his playoff ERA sat at 4.35. The eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.05. That still falls far short of his career regular season ERA of 2.39.

Top 20 AFL Players to Watch

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Below are the top 20 players who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League that myworld will try to get out to watch. Austin Hays, one of the players we initially had on the list will now not be playing because of ankle surgery.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr (Blue Jays/Surprise) 3B - The son of the Hall of Famer and the minor league player of the year in most organization readings. How could you not want to go out and watch him if you have not seen him play already? Flirted with .400 this year and showed impressive power. Some question his defense at third and think a move to first may be required.

2. Luis Robert (White Sox/Glendale) OF - He came hyped with lots of tools. Those tools, especially the power did not make an appearance in his second minor league season, though he was limited to 50 games because of injuries. There were no homeruns in his bat.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros/Scottsdale) RHP - Most pitchers who appear in the AFL are there because they pitched little in the regular season because of injuries. Forrest was limited to 8 starts last year. At 6′7″ he has length and a blazing fastball that can hit triple digits. He needs to increase the 26 innings he pitched in the regular season and show the fastball is difficult to hit.

4. Domingo Acevedo (Yankees/Glendale) RHP - The same that was said of Forrest also applies to this 6′7″ righthander except he had a few more starts (12) and innings (69) to his season. The strikeout numbers (55) were not impressive, especially when you consider he can hit the high 90s with his heat.

5. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks/Salt Lake) RHP - Last year he had an unbelievable season with a 1.39 ERA. Only Justin Verlander has had a lower ERA in the minors. This year his season was delayed by injuries. He did squeeze in 16 starts and his numbers were excellent (2.55 ERA) but not when compared to last year. Myworld expects only four starts from him in the AFL before he is gone, so get there early if you want to see him.

6. Peter Alonso (Mets/Scottsdale) 1B - In the Futures game he hit one of the longest and highest homeruns myworld has ever seen at Nationals park. He has power. Right handed hitting firstbaseman are not given a lot of respect by major league analyzers, but his 36 homeruns last year could change some minds.

7. Taylor Trammell (Reds/Scottsdale) OF - He was voted the MVP of the Futures Game, almost hitting two homeruns in his two at bats. His first almost homerun he ran into a triple after it hit the top of the wall. He began his circle around the bases with a homerun trot, but then had to shift it in high gear after the ball did not travel over the fence. This year the toolsy outfielder hit only 8 homeruns in the Florida State League, but his resume shows the potential for power and speed.

8. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays/Surprise) SS - The son of Dante is not said to have the tools to play major league shortstop. Myworld was impressed with what we saw of him in the Futures game. He does have a potent bat that sprays the gaps with doubles (40 plus) and hits his fair share of balls over the fence (15 plus).

9. J.B. Bukauskas (Astros/Scottsdale) RHP - He does not carry a lot of height (6′0″) for a right handed pitcher but he was the Astros first round pick in 2017. Last year injuries restricted him to 14 starts but they were an impressive 14 starts (2.14 ERA and .199 opposition average). He throws in the mid 90s.

10. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies/Scottsdale) RHP - Another smallish pitcher (6′0″) who throws gas. Last year injuries limited him to 8 starts (2.51 ERA). A good AFL and strong spring will put him in AA, a stone’s throw from the major leagues.

11. Keston Hiura (Brewers/Peoria) 2B - Maybe one of the purest hitters in the Fall League. Batting titles are in his future. Elbow issues restricted most of his appearances to DH duties. When he does play defense it is at second base. He may get a lot of second base playing time in the AFL.

12. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers/Glendale) C - One of the better catching prospects in the minor leagues. He can hit for pop (12 homeruns) and has a decent arm, though he was only able to gun down 26 percent of those who stole against him. Makes solid contact striking out just 33 times in over 400 at bats.

13. Carter Kieboom (Nationals/Salt Lake) SS - A first round pick of the Nationals in 2016. The reports on him is that his arm and range may be short to play shortstop in the major leagues. Since Turner has that spot locked up (whose scouting report was similar to Carter) second base may be his best position. Expect him to get some time there. He shows good pop with the bat with 16 homeruns last year.

14. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks/Salt River) C - The son of Gary, an ex-major leaguer, he was named after Darren Daulton. Another catcher with some pop who had a little more success nabbing base runners (40 percent). He showed some speed for a catcher with 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts. If he is half the player of Darren Daulton he will make it at least as a back up.

15. Estevan Florial (Yankees/Glendale) OF - The Haitian born prospect was all the talk of the Yankees prospect system last season after hitting .298 with 13 homeruns in 2017. Last year he had difficulty replicating those numbers, though his season was limited to 84 games because of injury.

16. Buddy Reed (Padres/Peoria) OF - The Padres have a wealth of minor league and young major league outfielders. Buddy shows some good tools to play center field, but will they be enough to beat out Manuel Margot. Last year he stole 51 bases to go with his 13 homeruns.

17. Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks/Salt Lake) 1B - The Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2017 draft. That is pretty high for a first baseman who may be a bit short in the power numbers. Last year he hit 11 homeruns but his batting average was only at .255, not indicative of his college numbers (.342). Pavin needs to hit for pop to justify his first round selection.

18. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox/Mesa) 1B - Because there is someone we want to see play at Mesa. The power is there with 32 homeruns last year, but it comes at the expense of having a right handed bat. There is still a lot of swing and miss in his swing that he will have to learn to tame if he wants to see Fenway park.

19. Lucius Fox (Rays/Peoria) SS - All the tools and gracefulness to play short but his bat may hold him back. The Giants signed him out of the Bahamas but made him one of the players included in the Matt Moore trade.

20. Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds/Scottsdale) SS/2B - There was a lot of hype about him and his glove when he came out of Cuba. The glove has been good but the bat has been blah (.241/.294/298 slash line for average/OBA/slugging). Injuries limited him to 46 games last year. At 24 he should be knocking on the major league door rather than scuffling in the Florida State League.

Yelich Slam Sinks Nationals

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Christian Yelich blasted his first grand slam of his career and it was enough for the Milwaukee Brewers to blast past the Washington Nationals 9-4. Keon Broxton also homered that inning, a three run bomb that was really the big blow of the inning giving the Brewers a 5-4 lead. The win gives the Brewers the top wild card spot in the National League over the St. Louis Cardinals. For the Nationals, their season is over even though they are not yet mathematically eliminated.

Jefry Rodriguez got the start for the Nationals. At the start of the game his fastball was hitting 96-98 but had no location. The first two hitters walked. A Mike Moustakas two run single scored both to give the Brewers an early 2-0 lead.

The Nationals responded back in the bottom of the second off Junior Guerra. With two outs Wilmer Difo lifted one high into left center field. Keon Broxton went to the fence but lost the ball in the sun. The ball travelled over the fence into the corner of the left field bullpen for a homerun. It was doubtful Broxton could have caught the ball if he saw it.

The Nationals took the lead in the third, scoring all of their runs after two were out. An Adam Eaton single and two out walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loaded the bases. That brought up Juan Soto. As poorly as the Nationals season has gone, imagine what it would have been if not for Soto. Soto lined a clutch single into left center to score one to tie the game at 2-2. Mark Reynolds broke the tie and drove in two with his bounce single up the middle.

Jefry Rodriguez continued to struggle with his command. He had six walks through four innings. His fastball had dropped from 96-98 to 93-94 in the fourth inning. In the fifth most of his pitches were read as changeups because they were only lighting the radar up at 87-90. With Manny Pina up and Eric Thames on second and two out my comment was “This will be Rodriguez last batter”. His stuff was just not there. Pina hit a infield single.

Rodriguez stayed in the game. Dave Martinez had bounced back and forth between warming up Tim Collins, to Austen Williams back to Tim Collins in the bullpen. Because Tim Collins was the current pitcher warming up Martinez stuck with Rodriguez to face the right hander Keon Broxton. Maybe he was trying to give Rodriguez a baseball life lesson by telling him to dig deep. The life lesson failed. Rodriguez got behind 2-0. The next pitch Broxton drove deep into centerfield for a three run homer. My comment “Martinez waited one batter too late before removing Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez continued to pitch. He gave up a single to light hitting Orlando Arcia. The pitcher Brandon Woodruff came up and Rodriguez walked him on four pitches. Martinez finally came out. In comes lefty Tim Collins. He was not much better.

The first pitch from Collins sailed over the head of catcher Spencer Kieboom to advance the runners to second and third. Collins walked pinch hitter Hernan Perez on four pitches. Collins first two pitches to Christian Yelich were off the plate. The next pitch was served to Yelich’s liking. He clobbered it into centerfield for a grand slam homerun. All seven runs had scored after two were out.

The Nationals had trouble hitting Brandon Woodruff. He pitched four innings of relief and did not allow a runner until his third inning of work. In the seventh inning, his fourth inning of work he allowed two singles but got out of the inning without the Nationals scoring. Xavier Cedeno and Corey Knebel each pitched one inning to finish the six shutout innings of relief.

Game Notes: The more myworld sees of Jefry Rodriguez the more convinced we are that he belongs in the bullpen. The fastball has good velocity, but it lasts only three innings. Myworld only sees a fastball/curve combination, which tells me he lacks a third pitch, or throws it so infrequently that myworld does not notice it…Eric Thames did not look good on defense at first base. His primary position in Korea was DH. Myworld would not be surprised if the Brewers traded him to an American League team. It is either him or Jesus Aguilar…Orlando Arcia is a smooth fielding shortstop. It is too bad he lost his bat…It worries me when Bryce Harper swings and misses at 97 mile per hour fastballs. He used to feast on fastballs. Brandon Woodruff blew one by him for a K…Juan Soto may be able to hit, but he is not the most graceful defensive outfielder…Christian Yelich had quite the road trip. He had his first two homer game, his first six hit game, his first cycle and his first grand slam. Myworld always considered his bat good for batting titles, but now that he is adding power with 27 homeruns it puts him with the elite bats in the National League…With the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez, another poor outing by Junior Guerra may knock him out of the Brewers rotation. Over his last nine starts his ERA sits at 7.62…National pitchers walked 11 hitters, tying a team record for a nine inning game…Austen Williams made his major league debut with two scoreless innings of relief.

A Tale of Two Seasons

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Yesterday was a shining example of the two teams that have gone out on the field for the Nationals in 2018. Prior to the rain delay the group out in the field appeared lethargic. Disinterested. Just going through the motions as they stumbled their way through the game. It is not a group filled with energy so when they make mistakes the perception is they lack the intensity to win.

Myworld does not know what happened after the two hour rain delay but they rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to pull out a 5-4 win. Myworld was not there for the rally. Call me lethargic. Disinterested. Just going through the motions in watching the games.

Both pitchers started out well. Strasburg mowed down the Brewers using an economy of less than 30 pitches to retire the first 9 Brewers in three innings. Jonathan Schoop touched him for a leadoff single in the third but he was erased on a line out double play. Chase Anderson had done the same, going through the first 9 batters in order. He walked Carter Kieboom in the third but he was erased when Stephen Strasburg grounded into a double play.

Strasburg began his struggles in the fourth when he threw over 30 pitches to retire five batters. He walked two of them and had 3-2 counts to four batters and a 2-2 count to the leadoff hitter before striking him out. In the fifth his frustration began to show.

The fifth also mirrored the Nationals worst stretches of the season. Mike Moustakas doubled into right field on a ball many thought Adam Eaton could have caught. It one hopped the fence and bounced past Eaton. Jonathan Schoop ripped a one bouncer that glanced off the glove of Anthony Rendon. It was originally ruled an error but correctly changed to a double. It was a tough play for Rendon, but the horror was watching Rendon jog for the ball out in short left field foul territory while the slow footed Mike Moustakas chugged his away around third and raced home. Perhaps he thought Soto was going to get the ball but Moustakas never should have scored on that play.

Turner made a nice diving stop on a ball hit by Manny Pina but his one hop throw could not be scooped by Zimmerman. A failed bunt attempt by Anderson and a ground out to Rendon put runners on first and third with two out. Christian Yelich then lined the first pitch by Strasburg over the head of Difo into left field. Eaton tried to pick the ball up twice and dropped it twice allowing Cain to hustle to third. Fortunately, it did not hurt the Nationals as Jesus Aguilar grounded out to third.

The Nationals scored a run in the bottom frame. Juan Soto started the inning off lining a single into right field. Ryan Zimmerman followed lining a single to left, Soto hustling to third. Wilmer Difo hit a ball that glanced off the diving Aguilar at first. He still attempted to flip it to the pitcher who failed to catch it allowing Soto to score and Zimmerman to advance to third. With first and third and one out the Nationals failed to score when Carter Kieboom hit a shallow fly to right. Yelich made a diving catch but Zimmerman could not score, stuck halfway between home and third. Strasburg grounded out to catcher to end the inning with only one run.

The Nationals pen is one of strangers as Mike Rizzo has traded many of them to playoff teams (Kintzler,Kelly and Madson) and the rest are on the disabled list (Kieboom and Herrera). So Dave Martinez called on Jimmy Cordero in the seventh and he gave up a solo shot to Manny Pina into the left field bullpen area to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead. The rains began to fall in the bottom of the seventh and myworld had seen enough.

Needless to say the Nationals rallied for four runs in the eighth after the two hour rain delay. Juan Soto got the clutch two run single that put the Nationals ahead. Justin Miller almost gave the game away, giving up two hits and a run, including a solo shot to pinch hitter Tyler Saladino, but he is the fifth closer the Nationals have tried this season and the only bullpen presence that has been with the team for most of the year.

Game Notes: Bryce Harper has either lost a step or has issues moving quickly out of the batter’s box. He grounded into a double play in the fourth that was not hit that hard. A fast runner should have made it to first…The bullpen for the Nationals last night was Jimmy Cordero, Tim Collins, Wander Suero, Matt Grace, Greg Holland and Justin Miller. That is a far cry from the bullpen the Nationals started with to begin the 2018 season…The velocity for Strasburg sat at 93 to 94 miles per hour and he got Jesus Aguilar swinging and missing at a third strike fastball. So his velo appears to have returned…The crowd gave Gio Gonzalez a nice standing ovation. He was traded to the Brewers while they were in town so he was in a Brewers uniform…The loss prevented the Brewers from capturing the top wild card spot in the playoffs. A win could have put them one half game ahead of the Cardinals…Travis Shaw looked good at second. He fielded all the balls hit at him and even started two double plays. It would have been interesting to see his double play pivot…Chase Anderson only threw 79 pitches in five innings. The month of September has arrived meaning an expansion of the bullpens.

Top Minor League Third Base Prospects

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Below are myworld’s Top minor league third base prospects for 2018. Nick Senzel would be here but we listed him as a second base prospect since we don’t anticipate him playing there with Eugenio Suarez signed to a long term contract.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) - The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr. may be the best prospect in baseball right now. He is on the disabled list currently with a leg injury. Prior to the injury his bat could not be quieted hitting .407 with 11 homeruns in AA in just 53 games. His OPS was 1.124. If not for the injury he could be up with the Blue Jays playing third base. The concerns over his inability to play the position have evaporated. His arm is strong like his dad and his glove has developed more consistency. Unlike his dad he does not swing at everything, having the patience at the plate to take a walk. His 20/21 walk to whiff ratio is impressive for a hitter with power.

2. Austin Riley (Braves) - Another player currently on the disabled list since early June. Prior to that the 2015 supplemental first round pick was tearing it up in both AA and AAA. Combined he is hitting .308 with 10 homeruns and a .922 OPS. Last year he slugged 20 homeruns. If not for the injury he also could be playing with the Braves. He does swing and miss a lot (66 in 53 games) and ideally the Braves would like to see him show more patience. This lack of patience could be exploited by major league pitchers. He has improve his quickness at third base and should be an above average defensive player.

3. Kevin Maitan (Angels) - At one point he was with the Braves signing for $4.25 million out of Venezuela in 2016. The Braves had to release him after they were found in violation of international salary cap rules. The Angels signed him for $2.2 million. Signed as a shortstop his body has gotten too stocky in the lower half to play the position. The Angels have still played him five games at short and two at third in the Rookie League this year. He has made four errors in the seven games he has played, three of them at short. His bat has been explosive with a .433 average. His only extra base hit of his 13 hits has been a homerun. Maitan is only 18 years old and should develop power as he matures in the minor leagues.

4. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The 2016 second round pick has a big time power bat. Last year he hit 15 homeruns with 33 doubles. Improving his plate discipline (35/95 walk to whiff ratio) would help improve his batting average (.256) and consistency at the plate. Waiting to swing at his pitch rather than the pitchers would increase the homerun output. This year in AA his power has dropped with only five homeruns and a .342 slugging average. His walk to whiff ratio has improved (21/44) but his batting average has not (.235). It may take him some time to acclimate to AA pitching. He should have a good glove for third though he needs to be more consistent there as well and reduce his error total (13 in 64 games).

5. Taylor Ward (Angels) - Originally drafted as a catcher in the first round of the 2015 draft the Angels felt his bat would be better served if he did not have to catch. His arm was good for behind the plate and he showed some of the other intangibles needed for catching but his bat was a disappointment. This year he moved to third and his bat has exploded, hitting .336 with 9 homeruns between AA and AAA. Defensively he has been a bit shaky with 8 errors in 47 games but the Angels hope with continued repetition he will adapt to the position. If he continues to hit as he does expect him to make his major league debut sometime in September to help the Angels make the playoffs.

6. Randy Cesar (Astros) - The Astros signed the Dominican back in 2011. He played a couple years in the Dominican League and a couple years in the short season leagues. In 2016 in the New York Penn League he showed what he could do with a .389 average. This year he is setting the Texas League on fire, breaking their record for the longest hitting streak at 37. As his frame has filled out his power is starting to develop. This year he is hitting .354 with 8 homeruns and a .927 OPS. Better patience at the plate (14/58) could enhance those numbers. His defense at third is a bit marginal with 9 errors 39 games. He also has played some first base this year to improve his versatility. Wherever he plays the Astros have a crowded position but as long as his bat plays the Astros will find room for him.

7. James Nelson (Marlins) - James was a 15th round pick in 2016. He is the nephew of former 2004 first round pick Chris Nelson, who did not have a long major league career. As a 15th round pick James does not come with the high expectations. A quick bat has produced 41 doubles in 145 games with a .302 average. That got him the Marlins player of the year award last year. This year he has spent most of his time on the disabled list. Recently activated he is hitting .300 in eight games in High A. With Brian Anderson seeing most of his time in the outfield the third base job is open for him in a couple years.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - The second round 2016 pick has a power bat, last year slugging 4 homeruns with a .482 slugging in the short season league. He showed excellent patience at the plate with 43 walks for a .430 OBA. This year that power is being shown for the first time in a full season league with 8 homeruns and a .425 slugging. His patience is still there (40 walks, .385 OBA) leading to a .266 average. Defensively he still needs to find more consistency at third, committing 13 errors in 50 games. A move to the outfield is still a possibility.

9. Colton Welker (Rockies) - The fourth round 2016 pick has Nolan Arenado in his way at third. By the time Colton is ready for the major leagues Nolan will be a free agent or signed to a long term deal. In the California League Colton is showing good pop with 7 homeruns, 16 doubles and a .448 slugging percentage. A lack of speed will prevent a move to the outfield. This year his third base play has improved so he appears to have the arm and glove for the position. A lack of quickness may impact his range, but if his bat continues to hit for power the Rockies will keep him at third.

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie was drafted in the first round by the Pirates in 2015. His power has been a disappointment, a tool he will need to play this position. Last year he only hit two homeruns with a .363 slugging. This year in AA he has improved on that with three homeruns and a.428 slugging, still a bit short of what teams are looking for in a third baseman. He is a plus defender, so if the bat develops the glove will be an asset at the position.

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

United States 18 and Under Team Dominates MLB Draft

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Last year in Thunder Bay Canada the United States 18 and under team won the gold medal, defeating Korea 8-0 for their fourth consecutive gold. Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in the game to get the win. Triston Casas drove in three runs with a double and homerun to trigger the offense. Brice Turang made the first team as a shortstop, Alek Thomas and Michael Siani made it as outfielders and Ethan Hankins was named the top starting pitcher. Major league teams were paying attention. Ten players on the United States 2017 18 and under World Cup team were drafted in the first round by major league teams. Only 16 high school players were taken in the first round, and that does not include Canadian Noah Taylor, who played for Canada’s 18 and under team and was drafted in the first round by the Indians giving them two world cup stars.

Below are the ten players taken in the first round of the major league draft:

6. Jarred Kelenic (OF) Mets - first high school player selected in draft
7. Ryan Weathers (LHP) Padres - didn’t allow a run in 9.2 innings. Won two games.
16. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays - won championship game, 2-0 with 0.00 ERA in 12 innings
19. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
21. Brice Turang (SS) Brewers - Hit .364 and made all-tournament team as shortstop
23. Anthony Siegler (C) Yankees
26. Triston Casas (3B) Red Sox - drove in 13 runs and voted MVP of the tournament
27. Mason Denaburg (RHP) Nationals
30. J.T. Ginn (RHP) Dodgers
35. Ethan Hankins (RHP) Indians - Voted top pitcher with 27 whiffs in 12 innings

Alek Thomas, who made the all tournament team as an outfielder was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round (63rd pick) and Mike Siani who also made the all tournament team was drafted in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Reds (109th pick).

Ryan Rolison, who played on the 2015 18 and under team was drafted in the first round (22nd pick) by the Colorado Rockies as a lefthanded pitcher out of Ole Miss.