Archive for the 'Brewers' Category

Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, December 14th, 2020

These are the shortstops in the grass. They are expected to cover a lot of ground and should have decent throwing arms. If they have average to weak throwing arms they should have a quick release. If they lack exceptional speed they move to a corner. Because these are the most athletic of the outfield prospects, my world will rate 15 top centerfield prospects.

1. Jarred Kelenic (Mariners) - The Mets made a good choice by drafting Kelenic in the first round of the 2018 draft. They made a poor choice by trading him and a couple other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Jarred has all the tools you want in a centerfielder. Speed to patrol the outfield and an arm baserunners have to respect. He also has above average hitting tools that should make him a 20-20 player when he reaches the major leagues. His stolen base production may decrease if he moves to the third slot in the lineup. He was a 20-20 player in 2019 in the minor leagues, slugging 23 homeruns and stealing 20 bases. A reduction in strikeouts (111) could make his average slide above the .300 neighborhood. Expect him to be with the Mariners some time in 2021.

2. Cristian Pache (Braves) - The Braves signed Cristian in 2015 for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic. Shortly after that the Braves were penalized severely for violating international signing limits, losing a number of international players signed in 2015 and 2016. Fortunately for the Braves, Pache was not one of the 12 players lost. He is a better defensive centerfielder than Kelenic, with a stronger arm and greater speed. Once he arrives with the Braves he will appear every year on Gold Glove lists. His bat is not as strong and his tremendous speed does not result in a lot of stolen bases. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 2020 but only got four at bats. In 2019 in the minor leagues he hit .277 with 12 homeruns and 8 stolen bases. His strikeout numbers increased dramatically, but this didn’t seem to impact his overall numbers. Cristian should start the 2021 season as the Braves starting centerfielder.

3. Drew Waters (Braves) - A luxury of riches for the Braves. Obviously both can not play centerfield. The Braves could use the second round 2017 pick as trade bait, or move him to a corner outfield. They could also keep him in centerfield and move Pache to right field, though Pache is the better defensive player. Currently Waters is a player who can drive the ball from gap to gap hitting from both sides of the plate. His Achilles heel is his inability to make consistent contact, with a 39/164 walk to whiff ratio in 2019. More contact and a better read of pitchers could lead to more power and a higher average. He should also arrive with the Braves sometime late in 2021. With both Pache and Waters patrolling the outfield they should have one of the better defensive outfields in the major leagues.

4. Jasson Dominguez (Yankees) - Jasson signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 for $5.1 million. As a Yankee signing he comes with a lot of accolades. Since he has yet to swing a bat in the minor leagues a lot is unknown about what kind of numbers he will put up. The tools are impressive. He could bulk up, lose some speed and he would still probably be swift enough to cover centerfield. Combine his bat and his speed he should hit in the neighborhood of .300 consistently while creating 30-30 homerun/stolen base numbers. Since there was no 2020 season the 2021 season will do a lot to define this pending superstar. The Yankees will start him somewhere in A ball where he can exhibit his plus five tools. Yankee fans should not expect to see him until 2023.

5. Garrett Mitchell (Brewers) - The 2020 first round pick can run with the wind and has a power arm. The big question mark is whether he can hit minor league pitching. An injury prevented him from putting up any decent numbers in his last college season prior to the draft. His draft prospects dropped and the Brewers could not be happier. Major plusses for Garrett are his 6′3″ frame with a left handed bat that should develop power. The power is already evident in his batting practice swings. A concern is how he will keep his health and maintain his Type 1 diabetes. Since Garrett lacked a minor league season he will probably start 2021 in A ball and will not be seen by Brewer fans until late 2022 at the earliest. As a college drafted player he should move a lot quicker.

6. Hunter Bishop (Giants) - The 2019 first round pick of the Giants is one reason the Giant outfield of the future looks so promising. Heliot Ramos and Alexander Canario are two more reasons. Hunter may have the more complete tools, with the speed to play center and an arm that is strong, but a little light to compete with Ramos for right. Prior to being drafted he showed power with his 22 homeruns in college. That power continued in the minor leagues with five more homeruns in 32 games. A propensity to swing and miss kept his batting average low (.229) but a 38/39 walk to whiff ratio had his OBA rise to .438. Perhaps a little more aggressiveness at the plate could improve his numbers. At 6′5″ he is a pretty intimidating presence at the plate, but he also carries a large strike zone. A good athlete, Bishop thought of playing football as a wide receiver, but chose to focus on baseball. He will rise quickly in the minor leagues, seeing the Giants outfield sometime in 2022.

7. Corbin Carroll (Diamondbacks) - The 2019 first round pick of the Diamondbacks is another player who covers a lot of grass when he chases flyballs in the outfield. The big question with Corbin is his ability to hit for power. He slugged .487 in his minor league debut in 2019, but those numbers were inflated by his speed to hit 7 triples and 9 doubles. His speed should consistently result in 30 plus stolen bases per year. The patience is there to take walks (.409 OBA) but he needs to improve his ability to make more consistent contact to take advantage of his speed. While his arm is strong enough for right field, he could lack the power expected from a corner outfielder. Next year he should start at A ball with a 2023 major league debut sometime late in the season.

8. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - Like Corbin, the 2015 Dominican signing has a lot of speed to cover the middle of the outfield. The questions remain about his ability to hit. He has spent a lot of years in the minors, stitching together a career .260 batting average with a .358 slugging. Those numbers fall short of being welcome in a corner outfield, but could be acceptable with gold glove defense in centerfield. The glove is exceptional and the speed will result in 20 plus stolen bases per year. Leody made his major league debut last year. The bat was a little light (.227) but he slugged four homeruns for a .395 slugging percentage in 33 games. The batting average was a career low but the slugging was a career high. Spring training will dictate where he plays in 2021. Myworld suspects he will start in AAA and be promoted mid season if he improves his bat.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - Myworld has a soft spot for the 2016 third round pick. We coached his sister for a little bit ( a couple clinics) in volleyball. He played high school at Flint Hill where he earned Gatorade player of the year for Virginia. The arm is suited for right field but his speed is enough to patrol center. His bat showed some trouble making contact in 2019 with 154 strikeouts, limiting his average to .264. He did have an impressive 53 steals in 2019. With improved barrel of bat on ball contact his power should rise as his ability to get on base improves. The Royals did not see enough in him to call him up in 2020 so expect him to spend the year in AAA in 2021, with a callup late in the year.

10. Daz Cameron (Tigers) - The son of Mike and the Astros supplemental first round pick in 2015 has the above average tools to be a five tool player light. The Tigers acquired him in the Justin Verlander trade. It has been awhile since the Tigers had a true centerfielder. Daz could fit that role. The one major question mark is his ability to hit. In 2019 he could only muster a .214 average with 152 whiffs. The Tigers gave him an opportunity to roam their outfield last year, but in 17 games his bat was only good for a .193 average. He has shown patience at the plate, taking enough walks to keep his OBA above .330. With that he would be on base enough to steal 30 plus bases per year. With a good spring, showing an improved bat he could start out the 2021 season as the Tigers centerfielder. Myworld suspects AAA will be his most likely start.

11. Estevan Florial (Yankees) - As he bulks up myworld suspects right field will be his ultimate destination, but he missed out on making the top ten there. The Yankees outfield is a little crowded and Estevan did not help himself any by putting up a .237 average in 2019. He has also been limited to less than 100 games his last two years because of injuries. The power is there but he has not slugged over .500 since his first year in the minors in 2015. Haitian born, based on his birth certificate, he spent most of his youth going to school in the Dominican Republic. Last year Estevan appeared in one major league game, striking out in two of his three at bats, but getting a single in his other. He will start 2021 in AAA but with the always fragile Yankee outfield, it would not be a surprise to see him in the Yankee outfield at many points during the season.

12. Pete Crow-Armstrong (Mets) - Like Hassell on the right field prospect list, Armstrong also made the All World team at the 18 and under World Cup. It was enough for the Mets to make him a first round pick in 2020. He lacks the tools of a Jarred Kelenic, especially in the power department. There is the ability to make good contact to hit for a decent average. He did hit .364 with three triples and three stolen bases at the 18 and under world cup. Since he has not seen any professional time, Pete will probably begin the season in A ball. Mets fans should not expect to see him until 2023, right after Kelenic wins the American League rookie of the Year award.

13. Josh Lowe (Rays) - The 2016 first round pick has a big time power bat that is expected from a 6′4″ frame. He also carries a strong arm and glides with deer like speed in the outfield. In 2019 he had a breakout season, slugging 18 homeruns with a career high .442 slugging. His 132 whiffs in 121 games was too much for his batting average, keeping it at .252. Last year he stole a career high 30 bases. Since he will be hitting in a power spot in the lineup, this should not be expected to last. The position he may be best suited for is right field but he needs to develop more power in the games, rather than leave it at batting practice. Next year he should be patrolling the Rays AAA outfield with a good chance of promotion in 2021 to take advantage of his power bat and cheap salary.

14. Gilberto Jimenez (Red Sox) - Jimenez signed for the paltry amount of $10,000 in 2017. The tools have been in evidence, especially his blazing speed. The power is negligible. He did hit his first three homeruns last year. His career .444 slugging percentage is attributed to his speed, turning singles into double and doubles into triples. He has stolen 30 bases in his two minor league seasons. In 2019 he won the batting title in the New York Penn League with a .359 average. Gilberto has yet to play full season ball and with short season absent for 2021 he should start next year somewhere in A ball with a major league appearance expected for 2023.

15. Luis Barrera (Athletics) - The 2012 Dominican signing has risen past Lazaro Armenteros, Austin Beck and Skye Bolt for outfield relevance in the Athletics minor league system. His speed is top shelf but his power is invisible. His highest homerun total in his snailish pace up the minor league ladder was seven in 2017. His ability to hit triples keeps his slugging average at a respectable .412. Despite his blazing speed his stolen base numbers are tame, but that could be the result of the Athletics deemphasis on the stolen base. His 2019 season was shortened to 54 games, but not before he hit .321, with a .513 slugging, both of which would have been career highs if he maintained that pace. The 2021 season should be spent in AAA, but Luis deserves a shot in the Athletics outfield at some point during the season.

Top Second Base Prospects

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Finding prospects at second base is one of the more difficult challenges. These players are usually shortstops who failed to make it at that position because another player was better. Myworld does not want to guess what shortstops will eventually move to second so the players on this list have played some games at second base, even though for some their primary position may still be shortstop.

1. Vidal Brujan (Rays) - Myworld likes his speed. The Rays are deep at shortstop with major leaguer Willy Adames and minor leaguers Wander Franco, the top prospect in baseball and the smooth fielding Xavier Edwards. Vidal was a bargain basement $15,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic. He is probably the fastest player on this list, stealing over 100 bases combined the last two years. He does not have a lot of power but he has hit over .300 in two of his five seasons. He is primarily a second baseman but last year played some shortstop. He has the range and the arm for short but his defensive tools are better suited at second. He did not see any time last year, but should start 2021 at AAA with the likelihood of making his major league debut.

2. Jeter Downs (Red Sox) - Jeter was drafted as a supplemental first round pick in 2017 by the Reds and has already played for three different teams. The Reds traded him to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade and in 2020 the Red Sox acquired him in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. His primary position is shortstop, named after one of the best in the game (Derek Jeter) but his tools may be better for second base. There is some pop in his bat as his 24 homeruns in 2019 showed. He did not play any last year. He also has enough speed to steal bases with 61 in the last two seasons. In 2019 he was a 20/20 player. While he has yet to hit for average (.267) he does show the ability to take walks with OBAs above .350 the last three years. He has only played in 12 games at AA but could make his major league debut in 2021 with a good minor league season. Second base is a wide open position for the Red Sox.

3. Nick Madrigal (White Sox) - The 2018 first round pick is said to also be skilled at shortstop, but he has lived at second base during his college and professional career. He lacks power but can spray the ball to all fields with line drives. At 5′8″ power is not expected, but as he matures he could elevate his homerun numbers to double figures. He has hit over .300 at every level he has played, including a 29 game major league debut last year when he hit .340. Only three of his 35 hits with the White Sox went for extra bases. In his two year minor league career he had a 51/21 walk to whiff ratio, so he makes contact with the best of them. He should be the White Sox second baseman starting the 2021 season.

4. Michael Busch (Dodgers) - Busch was the Dodgers first round pick in 2019. He only played 10 games in the minor leagues until an injury ended his season, hitting just .125, but with an impressive 7/5 walk to whiff ratio for a .371 OBA. He lacks speed and has a below average arm playing primarily at left field and first base in college. He lacks the power teams look for at first base but it should consistently be 20 plus with an average near .300. The lost season did not help in his development, especially defensively, where the Dodgers were hoping he could fit at second base. Expect him to start the 2021 season at A ball. The Dodgers are hoping he will provide solid offensive tools for the position and be adequate defensively.

5. Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels drafted Jones in the second round in 2015 as an outfielder. With a crowded outfield they moved him to second base after his first season, a position he had played in high school. The last two seasons in the minor leagues he has failed to hit over .250. He made his major league debut last year and hit .429 in seven at bats. He does not have a lot of power so he needs to hit for a better average to be an effective major league player. The patience is there to take walks and the speed exists to steal 20 plus bases a year. He has the versatility to play outfield so his ultimate role could be as a utility player in the outfield and at second base. A good spring could see him start the season at the major league level, but expect some time at AAA to start the season to further develop his offensive tools.

6. Justin Foscue (Rangers) - The first round 2020 pick led Mississippi State to a couple college World Series. His lack of speed makes outfield a question so the Rangers are hoping he will be an offensive second baseman who can provide adequate defense. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns a year. He did play third base his first year at Mississippi State so that is another defensive option. He has yet to play in the minor leagues. Expect him to start the 2021 season in A ball.

7. Aaron Bracho (Indians) - Aaron was signed out of Venezuela in 2017 for $1.5 million. He did not play in the minor leagues until 2019, never getting past rookie ball. He showed some pretty good sock with a .570 slugging and good patience at the plate with a 28/29 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are just average, which makes playing shortstop a stretch for him. The tools for playing second base should make him an above average defensive player with the offensive capability to hit 20 plus homeruns per year. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball and hope to continue his offensive exploits to the major leagues in 2022.

8. Xavier Edwards (Rays) - The 2018 supplemental first round pick is a smooth fielder with an arm that lacks the strength of a true shortstop. He spent most of the 2019 season at second base. The Rays acquired him from the Padres in the Tommy Pham/Jacob Cronenworth trade. Now that Hunter Renfroe has been released Xavier may be the only piece to make that trade look good. The bat lacks power but he does carry a .326 minor league average with an excellent 75/79 walk to whiff ratio. The speed is there to steal bases with 56 in his two years. So while he will lack power there are other tools in his game that will make him an offensive force. Next year he should see time in AA and could make a September debut with a solid minor league season.

9. Brice Turang (Brewers) - The 2018 first round pick was a star on the junior circuit of the United States national team. The tools exist for him to play shortstop, but he would be no more than average at that position. With a potent line drive bat and excellent speed he could be a major contributor at second base. His power has not really developed yet, but it could come with a little more maturation and elevation in his swing. Currently he is a gap hitter with the ability to use his speed to stretch bases. He stole 30 bases last season. If the power develops he could turn into a 20/20 player but expect the homerun numbers to settle in the teens. There is still some development time needed so 2021 should be spent in AA with a major league debut time somewhere in 2022.

10. Nick Gonzales (Pirates) - Another 2020 first round pick, the seventh player taken overall. He has had some pretty impressive hitting numbers where ever he has played, but many feel his numbers at New Mexico State were inflated because of the environment. Not having a 2020 season raises questions about his offensive abilities. There is the ability to make contact and he showed some power in the Cape Cod League with seven homeruns, including a .351 average. He lacks the range and the power arm to play short, but his defensive tools should make him a solid second baseman. The 2021 season will see him start in A ball. How fast he moves up will be dependent on how well he hits.

Wang Signs 5 Year Contract with Dragons

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Ex-Major League and KBO pitcher Wang Wei-Ching signed a five year $2.08 million contract with the Wei Chaun Dragons of the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL). Though he has not had success as a major league or KBO pitcher it still did not stop the Dragons from making him their top pick in the CPBL draft.

Wang pitched for the 2004 Taiwan Little League World Series team. Instead of playing in the CPBL he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 and then was a Rule V pick up by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013. He made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2014.

He did not have a lot of success in the major leagues, finishing with a 6.52 career ERA. After being released by the Brewers in early 2018 he tried his luck in the KBO with the NC Dinos. That did not turn out as well either with a 7-10 record and a 4.26 ERA in 25 starts. He tried to make his return to the major leagues in 2019, pitching first for the Oakland Athletics and next for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates released him at the end of the 2019 season.

Wang expressed an interest in returning to Taiwan to play baseball and the Dragons selected him as the first pick in the 2020 draft. Scott Boras was his negotiating agent. The $2.08 million is one of the largest contracts in CPBL history. Leave it to Boras to accomplish that. It also has an escape clause that allows the Dragons to release Wang from the contract after three years if he has an opportunity to pitch for an overseas team using the CPBL posting system.

Top Prospects from Puerto Rico

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

A couple years ago Puerto Rico was flush with prospects like Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and the list goes on. The discussion about the major league draft stunting the development of Puerto Rican players from being drafted seemed to have disappeared (high school baseball does not exist in Puerto Rico so they rely on academies for players between 14-18). Finding prospects the last couple years has been difficult. Even having Puerto Ricans drafted higher than the second round is rare. Below are the top rated prospects that myworld was able to link to Puerto Rico.

Isan Diaz (# 2 prospect) and Tomas Nido (#3) were the only players to graduate from last year’s list. Four players dropped off. That left room for six new players to appear on the list, one of those who has appeared in previous lists when he was a Dodger.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - The only true top rated prospect on this list, he was the number one Puerto Rican prospect last year and he will probably be number one next year. Heliot was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017, the last first round pick from Puerto Rico. The tools are average or above in all areas of his game. The speed is there to play centerfield, but he may fit better in right. Last year he hit .306 with 13 homeruns in High A but slumped to .242 in AA. The power is there but so is the ability to swing and miss. With his arrival, along with Hunter Bishop, to the major league club it would end the drought the Giants have had of developing outfielders. It will be 2021 before he wears a Giant uniform, unless he tears it up in the minor leagues.

2. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - The island nation has been a breeding ground for developing catchers with Ivan Rodriguez, the Molina brothers, etc. as exemplary examples. Mario hopes to add his name to that list. The Brewers drafted him in the second round (supplemental) draft in 2016. He was eighth on this list last year but his season was limited to 42 games because of injuries and he hit only .205. His strong defense and arm got him placed on this list. This year his bat showed up with a .273 average and 19 homeruns in High A for a .477 slugging. A 29/139 walk to whiff ratio is cause for concern, but the underlying factor is Mario plays a solid defense, and if that power shows up enough it will be good enough to get him in the starting lineup. He is still a year away from the Brewers.

3. Willi Castro SS (Tigers) - Myworld just assumed Willi was from the Dominican Republic, but he was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Dominican. The Indians signed him in 2013 then shipped him off to the Tigers in the Leonys Martin trade. While Martin now spends his time in Japan, Castro made his major league debut with the Tigers last year. There are not any tools that wow you with Castro. He is a decent fielder, could hit for double digit homerun power and last year in AAA slapped the ball around for a .301 average. That will probably translate to a .250 average in the major leagues, especially if he does not improve on his 6/34 walk to whiff ratio in his major league debut. While the Tigers rebuild he could fill the shortstop position, then move to a utility role once they find a better alternative.

4. Edwin Rios 1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers drafted Rios in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Last year the souped up baseball in AAA allowed Edwin to slug 31 homeruns. He hit another four when making his major league debut with the Dodgers. Defensively there is not a lot there to make you want to play him, so the bat needs to stay alive to keep him in the lineup. The Dodgers seem to be loaded with power bats they can put at first base and at 26 the time for Rios to be playing is now. His best bet for a starting role may be a trade or movement to the KBO.

5. Matthew Lugo SS (Red Sox) - Lugo was the highest Puerto Rican selected in the 2019 draft, the last pick of the second round regular phase. He is the nephew of Carlos Beltran and trained in his facility. The bat has the potential for power, even though it failed to show last year with his .326 slugging percentage in 46 rookie league games. His lower half could be a bit thick to stay at short so a move to second is in his future. Expect him to play full season ball next year. Any discussion of the major leagues is a few years away.

6. Yan Contreras SS (Reds) - Another Puerto Rican middle infielder drafted in 2019, but Yan lasted until the 12th round. He was signed mostly for his defense but he will need to hit better than .145 for the Reds to continue to throw him out there. The bright spot was that he drew 14 walks in 20 games, so his ability to get on base (.298 OBA) was not bad. He also runs well, hitting two triples and stealing four bases. He will probably see another year in rookie ball before the Reds expose him to full season ball pitching. He is a few years away from the major leagues, and if his bat does not produce may never climb higher than A ball.

7. Victor Torres C (White Sox) - Victor was an 11th round pick in 2019. He was expected to go higher in the draft. Defense is his calling card with the arm and quickness to control a running game. He also has the ability to call a game and run a pitching staff. Last year he hit only .219, with just two of his 21 hits going for extra bases (both doubles). The Sox thnk he has the ability to hit, but he will probably need one more year in short season ball to prove that. If he can play defense making it as a backup is a possibility, but the bat will have to show up to be an impact catcher in the majors.

8. Erik Rivera OF/LHP (Angels) - Rivera was a fourth round pick in 2019. The Angels are looking at him as a two way player to take advantage of the new roster rules. The big hitting tool for Rivera will be his power, but his inability to make contact will inhibit his ability to get to that power. Last year he failed to go deep in 72 at bats, hitting just .208. His arm is strong enough to play right field, where when pitching his fastball sits in the low 90s. He needs to work on a third pitch if he wants to work as a starter.

9. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Delvin was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016, despite rumors that he had failed a drug test prior to the draft. Perez dominated in the Puerto Rican leagues. Once arriving in the major leagues his bat has grown silent, with just two homeruns in four years. Myworld kept him on the list because he did make the All Star team in Low A last year and the tools are there for him to play short. He needs to raise that .317 slugging percentage and lower his 24 errors to have a chance at the major leagues.

10. Jose DeLeon RHP (Reds) - Jose was drafted in the 24th round of the 2013 draft. While with the Dodgers he was considered a top prospect. The Dodgers traded him to the Rays in 2017 for Logan Forsythe and then the injuries happened. Despite being major league ready injuries limited DeLeon to one major league appearance in 2017. Tommy John surgery in 2018 kept him out of action that year. He rebounded in 2019 with 15 starts and three major league appearances. He struck out 73 in 51 AAA innings. After the year ended the Rays traded him to the Reds where he hopes to squeeze himself onto the major league roster. At 27 years of age he doesn’t have that much more time to make prospect lists.

NL Central Predictions

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

With the baseball season postponed myworld has more time to provide our predictions for the 2020 season. But why delay. This is the toughest division to predict because there are four teams that will be battling for the first spot. The only team to be left out of the dance - the Pirates.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Good- When we look at teams we always look at the starting pitching. The Cardinals may not have the best starting pitching, but they have a lot of depth to get through injuries. John Flaherty could turn into an ace but at 24 it may be too early to lay that mantle on him. His numbers last year, especially in the second half were ace like. There is a solid group behind him in Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas. Korean newcomer Kwang-Hyun Kim was an ace in Korea, but in St. Louis he will only have to fill the five hole. Myworld likes Carlos Martinez better in the bullpen where he can replace John Hicks as the closer and also stay healthy, but when Hicks returns he can always be moved into the rotation. Paul DeJong has silently turned himself into a quality shortstop that hits 30 plus homeruns and plays quality defense. All he needs to do is reduce his strikeouts and improve his average. Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina provide veteran leadership even if there numbers are falling.

Bad - With John Hicks not available for the start of the season the bullpen would be better off with Carlos Martinez as the closer. Andrew Miller has struggled the last two years and can not be trusted with protecting leads. Kolton Wong is a quality defensive player but does not provide the lineup with a lot of offense. Matt Carpenter needs to hit to get into the lineup and it would be more potent with him at third and Tommy Edman at second. Last year he had multiple nagging injuries that kept him out of the lineup and may have impacted his swing.

Ugly - Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez were supposed to be ace 1 and 1a when they were coming up as prospects. Neither have been able to stay healthy to compete in the rotation. Carlos has had some success, especially out of the bullpen. Injuries and suspensions have prevented Alex from pitching 100 innings since 2016. The Cardinals will see how he fits out of the bullpen. He has the velocity to be a closer, but not the experience.

Rookies - Dylan Carlson could win the centerfield spot. He hits for big time power and will combine with Tyler O’Neil to make for a young and promising outfield. Genesis Cabrera may start in the bullpen but he can also be used in the rotation. His left handed arm has lots of velocity but finding the plate has been a challenge.

Expected Finish - It will be a battle to the finish, but the Cardinals will prevail with the top spot.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Good - The outfield is extremely talented, moving Ryan Braun to first base. Christian Yelich should recover from his knee injury to provide MVP numbers again. Lorenzo Cain does not put up gaudy numbers but he steals bases, plays solid defense in centerfield and usually hits in the .300 neighborhood. Last year was an off year. Avisail Garcia was a free agent signing who will put together a solid offense but has a habit of missing 20 to 30 games each season because of injuries. That is where Ryan Braun can come in handy to play outfield. Keston Hiura is a hitting machine at second base. His defense may be spotty but his bat will drive in runs.

Bad - Left side of the infield will be short on offense. Orlando Arcia may pop some homeruns but he has a .292 career OBA and .652 OPS. Mike Moustakas departure leaves a hole at third. They would like to see Jedd Gyorko find his bat that he seemed to have lost last year. If Braun moves to the outfield their first base options are limited. Justin Smoak and his 2017 season of 38 homeruns seem to be an outlier and Ryan Healy has had two poor seasons back to back. The starting pitching is questionable after Brandon Woodruff. Josh Lindblom comes from Korea where he was the top pitcher there. He hopes that translates to success in the major leagues. Too many pitchers better suited for the back end of the rotation appear to be slotted in the two and three hole.

Ugly - Christian Yelich needs to stay healthy. If he gets injured this lineup looks ugly, lacking any power. Ryan Braun is getting older, Omar Narvaez showed some pop last year behind the plate, but bats that can consistently hit 30 plus homeruns are absent from this roster. Disaster could strike the rotation if Woodruff goes down. No reliable ace in the rotation and not a lot in the minors. Myworld and many others have rated the Brewers minor league system the worst in baseball. That will hurt when depth is needed to accommodate injuries.

Rookies - Myworld rated this farm system the worst in the major leagues. There may be some players who can squeeze their name on the roster, but making an impact is another story.

Expected Finish - It all depends on the health of Christian Yelich. If he plays 145 plus games a wild card finish is possible.

3. Cincinnati Reds

Good - There top position is the infield where Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas give them two players with 30 plus homerun power. Moustakas is better defensively at third but his offense will make up for any defensive inefficiencies. Joey Votto needs to have a better season than last year if the Reds want to compete. The outfield has a lot of depth but lacks power. Free agent signings Shogo Akiyama from Japan and Nick Castellanos from the Cubs created the crowded outfield. The key to its success could be the production of Nick Senzel, but he could also move to second base. The top three in the rotation (Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer) need to be good for this team to compete. They have the potential but they have also had their bad years. Which Jekyll and Hyde shows up will define the Reds season.

Bad - Tucker Barnhart is a solid catcher but he does not provide much offensively. Tyler Stephenson is probably a year away from making his debut. Raisel Iglesias had a career high 34 saves but his ERA was almost two runs higher than his previous two seasons. Amir Garrett is not proven but if Iglesias continues to struggle he could take over. The back of the rotation will need a good bullpen to win games.

Ugly - The Reds have built this team to contend. Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer have had some horrendous years, Bauer struggling last year. They need those two to pitch to their potential if they hope to stay in it. Joey Votto has to have a better year and it would be nice if Aristedes Aquino could hit like he did when first called up last year than the Aquino of September who hit just .196. Nick Senzel also needs to show his potential. Myworld sees an easy scenario where it all goes bad and the hopes for 2020 crash.

Rookies - It would be tough to see Tyler Stephenson get in the lineup after only finishing AA last year. Catchers need more time to develop. He could be called up mid-season if Barnhart has a long term injury and Tyler is tearing it up in AAA. Shogo Akiyama is technically a rookie, even though he has had a lot of success in Japan. The Reds hope to utilize him best as a fourth outfielder, unless his bat makes him too valuable to leave him out of the lineup.

Expected Finish - Out of the wild card race and in third place.

4. Chicago Cubs

Good - They still have a strong base of hitters in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Wilson Contreras. These players are getting older while no young arms have been able to work themselves in the rotation. If the Cubs trade one it may be a sign of rebuilding. Kyle Schwarber is a power bat that provides suspect defense in left field. His 38 homeruns last year were a career high and his average keeps on rising with each year. Javier Baez moving from second to short gives rookie Nico Hoerner an opportunity to win the second base job. Another top bat finding its way into the lineup.

Bad - They need to get more from their free agent pitchers Jon Lester and Yu Darvish. The Cubs would probably like a mulligan on the Jose Quintana for Eloy Jimenez trade. Jose has turned into a borderline fifth rotation piece. The outfield appears a bit unsettled. Jason Heyward always seems to underperform, though his 21 dingers last year were his most since 2012. Despite being a first round pick, Ian Happ has not established himself as a quality major league hitter. He hopes to win the centerfield job over Albert Almora, who has a good glove but quiet bat. Craig Kimbrel was a disaster in the bullpen last year. He hoped to have a full spring training to get ready this year, but now the corona virus has put a stop to spring training. If the Cubs want to compete he needs to have a better year or find another closer.

Ugly - The Cubs development of pitching. It means they have to sign expensive free agents, or trade good, young talent for veteran pitchers who have a limited number of bullets left in their arm. Since the arrival of Theo Epstein they have not drafted a pitcher that has made an impact on the major league roster. They have drafted a number of bats that have gotten them to the playoffs but the arms have remained absent from the rotation.

Rookies - Nico Hoerner could win the second base job. His primary position is shortstop but Javier Baez seems to have that position covered now. Nico should hit for a decent average but may lack the over the fence power. Most of their other young players are down in the lower minors, including Brailyn Marquez, who was signed in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. He probably won’t be ready until 2021, unless the Cubs become desperate and he is dominating.

Expected Finish - not enough pitching to get anything but fourth place.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Good - Brian Reynolds had a good rookie year last season, hitting .314 with 16 homeruns. If he was a veteran he would have been traded by now but the Pirates will try to build around him. Josh Bell appeared to reach his potential last year with 37 homeruns and 116 RBIs. He plays first base. Left field and first base are not where championship teams are formed, but it’s a start.

Bad - Gregory Polanco had a forgettable year and Jarrod Dyson is more a fourth outfielder type, but each will form two thirds of the Pirates outfield. Austin Meadows would sure look nice here but see ugly for why he is not here. The middle of the field is filled with backups and second tier players. Kevin Newman at short may be there only true quality player up the middle. Jacob Stallings may be best as a backup catcher, Adam Frazier is a utility player and Dyson is a fourth outfielder type. As stated, championship clubs are developed by the quality up the middle.

Ugly - The Pirates hope Chris Archer becomes their ace, recovering from his down year last year. The Pirates traded Austin Meadows (.291, 33 homeruns) and Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78) to Tampa Bay for Archer. Shane Baz, a top prospect in the minors was also sent to the Rays. They made the trade when they thought they were competing. Shortly after that the Pirates went into rebuilding mode. Meadows and Glasnow would look nice on any rebuilding club or could fetch a pretty penny if traded.

Rookies - The Pirates have waited a long time for Mitch Keller to arrive in the major leagues. He appears to have regressed since his early days in the minors. The fastball is still there but his pitches are more hittable. Ke’Bryan Hayes plays a gold glove defense but his bat is short of expectations for the corner. It would take an injury to Colin Moran, trade or a complete collapse before Hayes takes over the third base job this year. The Pirates are very patient with their rookies, valuing service time. Kevin Kramer could win a job at utility but he needs to beat the better bat in Cole Tucker.

Expected Finish - Last place and perhaps the worst record in the National League. For the Pirates it may be best for the corona virus to shorten the length of the season.

Major League Farm Rankings - 30-16

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

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

30. Milwaukee Brewers (0.04)

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

29. New York Mets (4.48)

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

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

28. Texas Rangers (5.82)

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

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

27 Cincinnati Reds (7.58)

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

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

26. Boston Red Sox (7.8)

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

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

25. Houston Astros (8.68)

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

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

24. Colorado Rockies (8.8)

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

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

23. Washington Nationals (8.88)

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

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

22. Cleveland Indians (9.54)

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

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

21. New York Yankees (9.62)

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

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

20. Chicago Cubs (10.76)

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

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

19. Los Angeles Angels (11.96)

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

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

18. Kansas City Royals (13.34)

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

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

17. Philadelphia Phillies (13.36)

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

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

16. Pittsburgh Pirates (13.88)

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

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

NL Central Lower Draft Pick Success

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

Myworld takes a look at the NL Central to see how they have done selecting with the 25th round pick or later. We start with 1998 when drafts were established at 50 picks, further reduced to 40 a few years later. Also, we did not include any player signed in the 25th round or later who did not sign but made the major leagues after a later draft. Myworld did not look at draft years 2015 or later since any late round picks making the major league roster in four years or less would be slim to none.

Chicago Cubs

Randy Wells C (2002/38th round) - 28-32, 4.08 in 98 games, 86 starts
Dallas Beeler RHP (2010/41st round) - 0-3, 6.05 in five games, all of them starts

Russ Canzler 3B (2004/30th round) - .269, 3, 11 in 26 games
Justin Bour 1B (2009/25th round) - .253, 92, 303 in 559 games

Cincinnati Reds

Todd Coffey RHP (1998/41st round) - 25-18, 4.10 in 46 games of relief - more than a cup of coffee
Mike Neu RHP (1998/29th round) - 0-0, 3.72 in 33 games of relief
Curtis Patch RHP (2007/26th round) - 1-1, 5.52 in 22 games of relief

Milwaukee Brewers

Manny Parra LHP (2001/26th round) - 29-41, 4.90 in 322 games, 74 starts
Craig Breslow LHP (2002/26th round) - 23-30, 3.45 in 516 games, two starts
Tim Dillard C (2002/34th round) - 1-4, 4.70 in 73 games of relief
Brent Sutter LHP (2012/31st round) - 65 games, 34 of them starts
Tyler Alexander LHP (2013/27th round) - 1-4, 4.86 in 13 games, 8 starts

Taylor Green 2B (2005/25th round) - .207, 3, 15 in 78 games of relief
Jason Rogers 1B (2010/32nd round) - .258, 4, 18 in 117 games

Pittsburgh Pirates

Ian Snell RHP (2000/26th round) - 152 games, 136 starts
Shane Youman LHP (2001/43rd round) - 3-7, 5.13, 21 games, 11 starts
Todd Redmond C (2004/39th round) - 5-8, 4.25 in 67 games, 16 starts
Casey Sadler RHP (2010/25th round) - 5-1, 3.55 in 42 games, two of them starts

Nate McLouth 2B (2000/25th round) - .247, 101, 333 in 1,045 games
Chris Shelton C (2001/33rd round) - .273, 37, 124 in 299 games
Rajai Davis 2B (2001/38th round) - .262, 62, 387, 415 stolen bases in 1,448 games
Nyjer Morgan OF (2002/33rd round) - .282, 12, 136, 120 stolen bases in 598 games

St. Louis Cardinals

Tyler Johnson 1B (2000/34th round) - 3-5, 4.32 in 116 games of relief
Blake Hawksworth RHP (2001/26th round) - 10-13, 4.07 in 124 games, 8 starts
Kyler McClellan RHP (2002/25th round) - 19-24, 3.79 in 268 games, 17 starts
Luke Gregerson RHP (2006/28th round) - 35-36, 3.15 in 646 games of relief
Michael Blazek RHP (2007/35th round) - 8-6, 4.50 in 113 games, only one start
Sam Freeman LHP (2008/32nd round) - 8-7, 3.62 in 264 games of relief
Kevin Siegrist LHP (2008/41st round) - 18-10, 3.04 in 276 games of relief

Bo Hart ss/2B (1999/33rd round) - .272, 4, 30 in 88 games
Mike McCoy 2B (2002/34th round) - .190, 3, 20 in 170 games
Tony Cruz 3B (2007/26th round) - .216, 6, 61 in 272 games
Adron Chambers OF (2007/38th round) - .216, 0, 9 in 84 games

Status of KBO and NPB International Signings

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

It was a big week for major league baseball as well as baseball in Japan and Korea. The Rays signed Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from Japan while the Cardinals inked lefthanded Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim. Both should make an impact for their teams.

Myworld has always liked Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. His defense is not that strong so it is unclear where he will play for Tampa Bay. Depth wise the Rays have better defensive outfielders in Hunter Renfroe, Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier. The Rays also have a crowded first base field with Ji-Man Choi and Nate Lowe. That leaves the DH position as his most viable spot, with occasional starts in the outfield.

The bat is what attracts the Rays to Yoshitomo. In 2016 he had his best year for the Yokohama Bay Stars hitting 44 homeruns with a .322 average and 110 RBIs. His 2019 season was a disappointment with 141 whiffs, his only season in which he struck out more times than games played. He also drove in just 79 runs. Yokohama is a hitter’s park so the dimensions are small and homeruns are prevalent. Teammates Neftali Soto, who could not get major league playing time, slugged 43 homeruns and Jose Lopez hit 31.

The 28 year old only signed for two years and $12 million. Another $2.4 million will be paid to the Bay Stars as compensation for his posting. After the two years he could become another free agent at 30 years of age making him eligible for another rich contract if he shows success. He just needs to reduce those strikeouts that were so prevalent last year.

From another country Korean Kwang-Hyun Kim signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in his second posting opportunity. He was posted back in 2014 when the Padres won a bidding process for him. Kim seemed to be on the down side of his career at that point, suffering from injuries that saw his ERA climb by two runs the last two years. He and the Padres could not agree on a contract and he returned to Korea. He eventually had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and this seemed to be the answer to all his ailments. The last two years he has been the ace of the SK Wyverns pitching staff with ERAs under 3 the last two seasons. Last year the offense in Korea was down so the 2.51 ERA is not as impressive. He did go 17-6 in 30 starts.

Kim throws a fastball in the low 90s but it can hit the mid-90s. He also has an above average slider. The contract is for two years at $8 million. There are also incentives that can add an additional $1.5 million to the contract. How much the Cardinals will owe the SK Wyverns in the posting fee will depend on whether he meets any of those incentives.

There are three more professional international players out there looking for a contract after having been posted or as a free agent. Myworld thinks the Rays and Cardinals have signed the two top players.

Japanese pitcher Shun Yamaguchi had a good year for the Yomiuri Giants. He was 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA. There are reports that the Blue Jays have signed him to a contract. He will probably fit in the back end of the rotation, though in his early years he was the closer for the Yokohama Bay Stars. Last year was his career year so the Blue Jays may be signing buying him when his stock is at its peak, or perhaps he figured things out.

Shogo Akiyama was the free agent outfielder that may be the fourth outfielder type. He can play centerfield but there may be a question with his bat. Last year he hit .303 with 20 homeruns for the Seibu Lions. His last three years he has hit over 20 homeruns with a batting average over .300. Myworld would be surprised if his bat translates to the major leagues. He could be a solid player for a second division team, but a fourth outfielder for a playoff team. He is a free agent so there is no posting fee required to sign him.

The same can be said for Hiroshima Carp second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, though his defense is supposedly at the gold glove level. The problem for Kikuchi is his weak bat, where his average will sit around .250 and his OBA may fall below .300. He has hit double digits in homeruns the last four years but myworld would be surprised if he can reach those levels in the major leagues.

The Doosan Bears outfielder Jae-Hwan Kim has been posted but there has not been a lot of news on him. After hitting 35 or more homeruns between 2016-2018 and winning the MVP award in 2018, he had a down year last year. Offensive numbers were down in the KBO but Kim’s numbers were really down, at 15 homeruns and a .283 average. At 31 years of age it will be interesting to see if he gets any major league teams interested in him.

Not Korean, but playing in the KBO, Josh Lindblom signed a big contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the teammate of Kim and may put in a good word for him, though the Brewers are a little stacked in the outfield. Lindblom won the KBO MVP award last year with his 20-3, 2.50 ERA. This is his third attempt at making a major league team. After having some success in the KBO in 2015-2016 he tried to return to the major leagues. He found himself back in the KBO late in 2017 after failing to stick on a major league roster. He signed a three year contract for a little over $9 million.

NC Central Minor League All Stars

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Baseball America ranked the All Stars from each of the classifications. The NL West had the strongest representation of all the divisions. The NC Central will have the least represented, until we do the NL East tomorrow and then they will have the least. Chicago and Cincinnati became the second and third teams without any All Star representative.

Chicago Cubs

None

Cincinnati Reds

None

Milwaukee Brewers

Keston Hiura 2B/AAA - The inability of Travis Shaw to hit gave Keston an opportunity to get an early start to his major league career. The 2017 first round pick hit .329 with 19 homeruns in just 57 AAA games, then got called up to the majors and hit another 19 homeruns in 84 game with a .303 average to cement his status as a major leaguer. Next year he should be an All Star performer.

Max Lazar SP/Low A - The 11th round 2017 pick does not rely on velocity to retire hitters. Eventually it may come from the maturity of his 6′3″ frame but currently it straddles the low 90s or below. The reliance on command gave him a 2.33 ERA and .224 average with 119 whiffs in 85 innings. The 20 year old could end up filling the back end of a rotation.

Trent Grisham OF/AAA - The 2015 first round pick of the Brewers is more noted for his error in the playoff game that gave the Nationals an opportunity to advance in the wild card game and win the World Series. When the season ended the Brewers dealt Grisham to the Padres in the Eric Lauer trade. He hit .384 with 13 homeruns in just 34 AAA games and had an additional 13 homeruns in AA. The callup to the majors was not as dominating (.236 average) but six additional homeruns gave him 32 for the year. His defense is not as bad as his error in the wild card game would seem to indicate, an error he will leave as a memory permanently etched in the minds of Brewer and Nationals fans.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Mitch Keller SP/AAA - The Pirates do not like to spend money, so they have kept their 2014 second round pick down in the minors forever. In AAA his numbers were not dominating (7-5, 3.56). Once promoted to the major leagues his performances turned awful (1-5, 7.13 ERA). His upper level mid-90s fastball says he should be in the Pirates rotation in 2020, but he needs to perform.

Mason Martin 1B/Low A - The power hitting firstbaseman slugged 35 homeruns last year, very good for a player the Pirates waited for until the 17th round of the 2017 draft. The whiffs are just as prevalent (168). His defense is not stellar and his lack of speed prevents a move to the outfield. He will have to hit if he wants a major league career.

St. Louis Cardinals

Randy Arozarena OF/AAA - He doesn’t have the tools of some of the other prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. The Cuban hit .358 with 12 homeruns in AAA. That led to a major league promotion and success (.300) in limited action. The bat does not carry big time power but the speed and defense will allow him to stay in centerfield.

Dylan Carlson OF/AA - The 2016 first round pick is possibly the Cardinals top prospect. He has five tools that are all just above average. Last year in AA he hit 21 homeruns. He outdid himself when promoted to AAA, hitting .361 with five additional homeruns. He should find himself patrolling the Cardinals outfield next year.

Ivan Herrera C/Low A - At some point in his career Yadier Molina will have to yield his catching position. This Panamanian who signed for $200,000 is next on the list. He is more noted for his defense but his bat showed promise with a .289 average and eight homeruns.

Jhon Torres OF/Rookie - The Indians signed this Colombian for $150,000 in 2016. They traded him to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Torres hit six homeruns with a .242 average. His defense is good enough for centerfield but a powerful arm makes him a better fit in right.

A Wild Nats Win in a Wild Card Game

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

In the Nationals recent playoff history they have had trouble advancing past the first round. Winning a wild card game in a one game playoff may not count as advancing, but the Nationals will take any win they can get. They got two clutch hits from two of their clutch players, Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman in the 8th inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. Many strange events occurred in that inning, but myworld will detail them below.

Max Scherzer got the start over Stephen Strasburg in this game. That was one of the big questions in D.C., who do you start in a must win wild card game? There was no consensus among the Nat fans. The Brewers chose to start Brandon Woodruff. He started 22 games in 2019. This is his third season and while he has lots of talent, he is not considered an ace in the mold of Scherzer or Strasburg.

The game did not start well for Max. He appeared too amped up, his fastball getting to the plate at 97-99 miles per hour. Normally he is at 95-97. Many may think faster is better, but Max could not find the plate. He walked leadoff hitter Trent Grisham on a 3-2 count. Yasmani Grandal then took his first pitch and sent a line drive into the left field bullpen. Nats fans were stunned.

In the second inning Max got behind the first hitter Eric Thames 1-0. Eric drove the next pitch from Max high into right center and just reaching the bleachers to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead. In his second at bat in the fourth inning Eric would send a high fly to left field that just fell short of being a homerun. Juan Soto lept for the ball at the fence, but it fell behind him and Eric cruised into second with a double. There were a lot of discussions in the stands about starting Strasburg instead.

Max only worked five innings before being pinch hit for Brian Dozier in the bottom of the fifth. Stephen Strasburg came on in relief for the first time since he was the closer his freshman year at San Diego State. He pitched three brilliant shutout innings, dropping his playoff ERA to 0.41. If the game had turned differently there would have been some serious Monday morning quarterbacking about who should have started the first game of the wild card.

Brandon Woodruff pitched well for the Brewers. Myworld did not think he threw as hard as he did, but his fastball was hitting 99-100 miles per hour. He was only supposed to be used as an opener but he pitched so well the Brewers extended him for four innings. Trea Turner tagged him for a solo shot in the third inning, a line drive that found its way into the left field bullpen. He gave up only one other hit in his four innings of work.

The Brewers went with little used Brent Suter and Drew Pomeranz to shut down the Nationals the next three innings. For the eighth Josh Hader was called on to get a two out save. He struck out leadoff hitter Victor Robles. The Nats called back Ryan Zimmerman from the on deck circle and instead went with Michael Taylor. It was the second time Ryan was called back from the on deck circle as a pinch hitter. Myworld questioned the move thinking this was a strikeout waiting to happen.

For the Brewers it was the start of a chaotic eighth inning. On a 3-2 pitch a Hader fastball came inside and hit Taylor. Or did it hit the bat? I did not see where the ball landed after Taylor was hit but the Brewers threw to first and then appealed the ruling saying the ball hit the bat before it hit Taylor. Video replays were not conclusive and the call stood. Trea Turner then struck out and it was two down.

Dave Martinez finally chose to use his ace to bat for Adam Eaton, trying to take advantage of the lefty/righty split. Hader had trouble throwing strikes, running the count to 2-1. Zimmerman was jammed on the next pitch and his bat split as he plunked a pitch into center field. Lorenzo Cain was playing him deep and the ball fell in front of him. Lorenzo was questionable for the start of this game because of a sprained ankle. Was his ankle bothering him as he charged the ball? Andrew Stevenson pinch ran for Zimmerman. The bat died a happy death.

Anthony Rendon worked the count to 3-2 and walked to load the bases. Up strode the young but confident Juan Soto. Hader is a killer against lefthanders. They are hitting just .143 against him. Soto was not deterred. He lined a 1-1 pitch into right field. Pinch runner Stevenson was being waved home. It appeared a close play at the plate was in the future, but the ball skipped past the glove of right fielder Trent Grisham as he tried to charge the ball to make the throw. Now Rendon was being waived home and he scored easily for the go ahead run. Soto was thrown out at third, stopping before he reached the base and being tagged in the run down. Normally Christian Yelich plays right field, but a fractured knee cap ended his season in September. Would he have made the play?

The Nationals went with Daniel Hudson to close out the game. The same Daniel Hudson that had been released by the Los Angeles Angels during spring training this year and traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Nationals for a song. He had also pitched in 40 games for the Dodgers in 2018, but they chose not to resign him. He gave up a one out single to Lorenzo Cain, but retired the next two batters, the last on a deep drive to center by Ben Gamel that Victor Robles caught short of the warning track. The celebrations began, something the Nationals had not done in the post season. Now it’s on to L.A. where the Nationals will face the Dodgers. Daniel Hudson is probably looking forward to it.

Game Notes: On the video board before the game the Nationals had clips of Morgan’s Minute, as Morgan, a young girl interviewed various players and people in the Nationals organization. She did a good job and has a future in the broadcasting industry. Myworld enjoyed the interviews…Aaron Barrett threw out the first pitch for the Nationals. He made his first appearance with the Nationals this year after Tommy John and a fractured elbow took him four years to recover, then had an emotional scene in the dugout weeping over his first appearance since his struggles. Good luck to him next year…There appeared to be a power outage somewhere in the Nationals stadium, with fire alarms going off in the distance and the stadium without sound for a half inning. The racing Presidents ran in silence and then did a dance with no music from the loud speakers…This was Juan Soto’s first playoff appearance. Perhaps his clutch hit will change the narrative of the Nationals performing so poorly during playoff games. He was 0 for 3 with two whiffs before his clutch hit against a tough pitcher…It was an emotional night for the fans in the stands. There was a lot of hugging among strangers and high fives as people were leaving the stadium. In Panama it is tradition that when the home team wins beer is thrown in the air in celebration. Of course, beer in Panama is only $1 per cup while at Nats stadium they charge about $9. There were reports of a lot of beer raining down on the stadium after the win. The 50-50 winner also came home $27,000 richer. Perhaps he or she will buy the next beers after a Nationals victory…The Nationals had gone 8-0 in their last home stand. Losing a home playoff game after that 8-0 finish would have been tough to deal with.