Archive for the 'Cubs' Category

Nats Bats Explode Late in Win Over Cubs

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Last year Joe Maddon got into the heads of Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. He walked Bryce six times in one game, a number intentionally to face Ryan Zimmerman, who failed to drive in the city of runners he left on base. Both would go on to have less than stellar years.

Yesterday both Harper and Zimmerman got a little revenge against Maddon. Harper launched a mammoth two run shot in the eighth that settled into the second deck over the Nationals bullpen that tied the game at 3-3. In the same inning Zimmerman lifted a fly ball into left field that just cleared the fence for a three run homer to give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.

The game started well for the Nationals when Anthony Rendon lined a pitch into the right field bullpen with two outs in the first inning for an early 1-0 lead. That was the only hit the Nationals could muster off Jon Lester through the first four innings. It was shades of the previous night when they could only collect two hits in nine innings.

The Cubs got back early in the game when Wilson Contreras powered a pitch down the left field line for a second inning leadoff homer to tie the game 1-1. Gio Gonzalez like Jon Lester would settle down after that blast and not allow a hit until the fourth.

In the fourth Kris Bryant lined a double over the head of Jayson Werth to lead off the inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a high fly ball into right that a Cubs fan caught just over the fence for a two run homer. The Nationals appealed that the Cubs fan reached over the fence to rob Bryce Harper of an opportunity to make the catch but the appeal was denied after looking at the replay. Gio worked five innings before Dusty Baker went to the bullpen.

In the bottom of the fifth Ryan Zimmerman led the inning off with a slow bouncer up the middle for their second hit of the game. After two fly outs Zimmerman baited Lester to throw to first, taking a lead that was almost one third of the way to second. Lester did not throw to first and Zimmerman stole second with a huge jump. A wild pitch advanced him to third with two outs. Michael Taylor worked a walk and Howie Kendrick pinch hit for Gio and also walked to load the bases. That brought up Trea Turner. Trea swung at and missed at what appeared to be a outside fastball for strike three to continue the frustration of Nationals fans watching the anemic bats flail.

The Nationals could not get another hit until the eighth. Lester worked six and Pedro Strop hit Wieters with two outs in the seventh but retired Taylor to leave the Nats struggling to find base runners. The bullpen of Matt Albers, Sammy Solis, Ryan Madson and Oliver Perez quieted the Cubs bats through eight, leaving the score at 3-1 entering the home half of the eighth.

Adam Lind pinch hit for Oliver Perez and does what he does best, singling into left field. A faster runner would have gotten to second, but for Nats fans it was a hit. Harper worked the count to 3-1 and then launched a pitch into the full moon, landing in the second deck high above the right field bullpen to tie the game 3-3. The crowd had something to cheer about. Myworld does not recall a “N-A-T-S Nats, Nats, Nats” cheer for the two runs but too many people were slapping high fives maybe they forgot or perhaps myworld did not notice.

A walk to Anthony Rendon ended the day for Carl Edwards Jr. Mike Montgomery came on and gave up an opposite field single to left to Daniel Murphy. Ryan Zimmerman then lifted a high fly into left field. The left fielder drifted back, appeared to have caught the ball, but once he could not produce the ball from his glove the crowd realized it had just cleared the fence into the first row. Zimmerman made the leap just before touching first and it was 6-3 Nats.

Sean Doolittle came on for the ninth. He provided a little bit of excitement by giving up a one out single to Addison Russell. Ben Zobrist grounded a 2-1 pitch to Rendon at third and he turned it into a game ending double play. The series goes back to Chicago even at 1-1.

Nats Notes: A sellout crowd of 43,860 attended the game. There were more Cubbies blue than the game on Friday night…Game three starters are scheduled to be Max Scherzer for the Nats and Jose Quintana for the Cubs…Dusty stayed loyal to Jayson Werth, starting him in left field. He was hitless for his second straight game, though he did draw a walk in the first game. Expect Howie to get a start if Jayson’s bat stays cold…The Nationals handed out red towels for the game Saturday night. There were not too many opportunities for fans to wave them until the eighth…For Adam Lind he had his first playoff at bat after 1,344 regular season games. He made the most of it by singling to left, beginning a five run rally that would send the Nationals to victory. Victor Robles pinch ran for him and scored after the Harper homer…The homerun for Rizzo was a franchise record 6 homeruns in the playoffs. He also has the record for most post season RBIs with 16.

Leather and Wood Fail the Nats in Playoff Loss to Cubs

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

The Nationals have appeared in three playoffs series. They have yet to win one. Something always fails them. The bats. The pen. The lack of starting pitching. Yesterday it was the leather after a key error by Anthony Rendon allowed two unearned runs to score in the sixth to ruin an excellent performance from Strasburg. The bats were also frigid, failing to make any solid contact off Kyle Hendricks in the 3-0 loss.

The Nationals were able to advance a runner to second in the first two innings, but failed to score. Little did they know it would be their best opportunity of the night. After the second inning no National touched second base. It was pure domination by Hendricks, whose fastball was one tick slower than the change thrown by Strasburg. Whenever he threw his change the Nats could only stir a breeze or watch it flutter in the strike zone.

Strasburg was just as dominant, but in a more swing and miss way. In the first five innings he had struck out five. In the sixth leadoff hitter Javier Baez hit a routine grounder to third. Anthony Rendon had it in his glove and then it was out of his glove. Hendricks bunted Baez to second.

After a fly out to center Strasburg got ahead of Kris Bryant 0-2. It appeared he would escape adversity, a trait he has not been known for in the past. He had yet to allow a hit, but Strasburg does not lead a charmed life when facing adversity. On an 0-2 pitch Bryant lined one into right center for the first hit of the game. The throw home from Harper was a little too high and missed the first cutoff man, but Strasburg, instead of backing up home caught the ball and fired to second, where Bryant was trying to advance on the high throw. Bryant slid under the tag and a review confirmed that. If the throw had been low enough for the first cutoff man Bryant may have been out. This proved critical when Anthony Rizzo lined a single to right field to score Bryant to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

This proved insurmountable to the Nationals impotent bats. The offense only hit five balls into the outfield, two for hits and three routine fly outs. The Cubs added one more insurance run in the eighth on a Jon Jay double that hit the left field line. A one out grounder to second advanced Jay to third. Anthony Rizzo lined a double into the left field corner to give the Cubs another run they would not need.

The Cubs bullpen of Carl Edwards Jr and Wade Davis retired the Nationals in order in the last two innings. It was almost a relief to see Hendricks gone to start the eighth, but the Nats bats could not hit anyone tonight.

Nats Notes: A nice gesture by the Nats to have Steve Scalise throw out the first pitch. He was the Congressman shot at the baseball practice held by the Republicans. His body guards were also present at the ceremony, one of the Secret Service members catching the first pitch…The Nats passed out red cardboard “K” signs. Strasburg put them to good use with his 10 whiffs in seven innings. The bullpen of Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler also struck out three, but it was all for naught by an offense that also struck out 9 times and could not get solid wood on the ball…Steven Strasburg started the game throwing all strikes and retiring the Cubs in order in the first inning. His changeup (91) was a tick faster than the Kyle Hendricks fastball (88-91. Both Strasburg and Hendricks got a lot of swings and misses with their changeups….Jayson Werth took three strikes in his first at bat. While he did walk once his bat was not impressive. Expect Howie Kendrick to play left field in the second game to generate more offense…Ryan Zimmerman struck out in the ninth and when he ran to first the throw from Wilson Contreras hit him in the shoulder. The umpire ruled him out because he was far inside the line interfering with the throw from Contreras. The crowd did not like the call but he was clearly inside the infield area of the base path.

NL Central Minor League All Stars

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Below are the classification All Stars for the NL Central as provided by Baseball America. These are not necessarily the top prospects at each classification but they are players who performed the best over their time in that classification.

Chicago Cubs

Fernando Kelli OF (Dominican) - The fact you have to go as far down as the Dominican summer league to find an All Star tells a lot about the Cubs minor league system. Speed appears to be the best tool in his game with 58 stolen bases in 67 games. He also got on base with a .327 average and a .437 OBA. He does seem to swing and miss a lot, not what you want to see in a lead off hitter and his power is limited to the gaps.

Cincinnati Reds

Tyler Mahle SP (AA) - The seventh round pick threw no hitters in 2016 and 2017. His fastball can hit the mid-90s but is not overpowering. He relies more on mixing in his secondary pitches (curve, slider and change) to complement the fastball. Between AAA and AA he limited the opposition to a .208 average. They hit him a little better when promoted for four starts in the major leagues (.253) and his control of the strike zone was a bit shaky (11 walks in 20 innings) but his ERA was good (2.70).

Jose Siri OF (Low A) - There is a lot of raw power in his bat (24 homeruns) and his legs can steal bases (46). That speed allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. His arm is strong leading to the possibility of a five tool athlete if he can develop. His only downside is his patience at the plate (33/130) with a tendency to swing and miss too much.

Taylor Trammell OF (Low A) - A two sport athlete in high school you can count the same tools for Taylor with Jose. He showed speed with 41 stolen bases and power (13 homeruns). Taylor has better patience at the plate (71 walks) with the speed to cover center. His arm is not as strong as Siri so when not playing center he fits better in left.

Debby Santana 3B (Dominican) - He was the youngest player on the Dominican All Star team (16 years). The power is limited to the gaps but as he matures many of those balls will carry over the fence.

Milwaukee Brewers

Lewis Brinson OF (AAA) - Drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2012 draft, the Brewers acquired him in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. The speed and power exist for him to be a 30/30 player, though his stolen base numbers were not high last year. He struggled when called up by the Brewers (.106), but he should be the centerfielder of the future for the Brewers.

Corbin Burnes SP (AA) - The fourth round 2016 pick does not rely on power, with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s but often sits in the low 90s. His slider gives him a good swing and miss pitch to complement his fastball. He needs to develop his change or move to the pen. The opposition hit him at a .212 clip and he showed good command of his pitches only walking 20 in 86 innings.

Nate Griep (High A) RP - Nate picked up 30 saves but bullpen pitchers with low strikeout rates (7.5 per nine innings) are not commodities to get excited about. He did limit the opposition to a .191 average so there was a lot of soft contact with his offerings.

Jean Carlos Carmona SS (Dominican) - He hit .302 but with very little power and no stolen base speed. Myworld anticipates that he carries a good glove but we don’t have much info on him.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Steven Brault SP (AAA) - The Orioles have traded a number of mid-rotation pitchers to keep their playoff hopes alive. Brault is another one of those pitchers that fits on the cusp of being mid to back rotation pitcher. He throws lefthanded relying on breaking pitches to retire hitters. Minor league hitters struggled with a .199 opposition average, major league hitters juiced him at a .287 average. He might be best used out of the pen as an emergency starter.

Luis Escobar SP (Low A) - At 6′1″ he is small, but his fastball has easy mid-90s velocity. His command is a bit erratic but he has swing and miss stuff. He needs to enhance his secondary pitches (curve and change) to stay in the starting rotation.

Mason Martin DH (Rookie) - The 17th round 2017 pick opened some eyes with his 11 homeruns and .630 slugging. He also walked 32 times in 39 games for a .457 OBA. Mason played most of his games at first base but did see some time in the outfield.

Sherten Apostel DH (Dominican) - The Curacao native did show some pop with 9 dingers. He also had an impressive 56/49 walk to whiff ratio. This was his second season in the Dominican League and he made enough improvement to go stateside next year. He has played third base the last two seasons.

St. Louis Cardinals

Evan Mendoza 3B (short season) - The 11th round 2017 pick hit .370 in short season. When promoted to Low A it dropped 100 points. There is gap power but if he hopes to stick in the infield corner slot there needs to be more.

Scott Hurst OF (short season) - Hurst was a third round pick in 2017 but the first player the Cardinals selected in the draft. Speed is his best tool which allows him to play centerfield. There does not appear to be much power in his bat to play a corner.

Ivan Herrera C (Dominican) - The native of Panama carries a mean stick (.335). He also threw out 34 of the 85 runners who stole off him.

Myworld’s Top Southern League Prospects

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Last week myworld took a look at the Pacific Coast League and had trouble finding pitchers we liked. This week we took a look at the Southern League and found plenty of pitchers to include in our top ten. Again, the prospects are selected based on the numbers they have put up this year. If they do not have good numbers they do not appear on this list.

1. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - The first round pick of the Red Sox in 2014 is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. He was one of the headline players the Red Sox shipped to the White Sox for Chris Sale. As a starting pitcher his fastball can hit triple digits, but it will sit in the 95-97 range. His slider and change need to be enhanced to achieve success in the major leagues, but if not his velocity will allow him to survive in the bullpen as a closer. There were off field incidents last year that make some question his character but he appears to be pretty behaved this year. Command has been a problem with more than one walk every two innings. A .191 opposition average and 126 whiffs in just 98 innings of work make him an ace in process, if he can avoid injury, improve his secondary pitches and find the strike zone a little bit more.

2. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - The Braves have been aggressive with the promotions of the Venezuelan native. Every level he has played at he has found success. Ronald was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for just $100,000 and his speed and power mix now finds him knocking on the major league door at AAA. Many compare him to Andrew Jones. Ronald started his year in the High A Florida State League and is currently playing in AAA. During that time he has combined for a .305 average with 15 homeruns and 35 stolen bases. His OPS has never fallen below .814 at all three levels. Expect a September promotion before the season is done.

3. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Braves drafted the Canadian in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is not the kind of pitcher who will light your eyes up with his velocity. He works around the plate with a low 90s fastball, curveball and changeup to achieve soft barrel on the ball contact. Last year he pitched at Low A. The Braves decided to skip him past High A and put him in AA. In 19 starts he has a 2.32 ERA, a .224 opposition average and 97 whiffs in 112 innings. His walk to whiff ratio is greater than 4 to 1. At 19 years of age he is one of the younger pitchers in AA. Expect his major league debut to be some time next year.

4. Luis Castillo RHP (Reds) - Castillo was originally signed by the Marlins in 2011. For some reason they were very intent on trading him, first dealing him to the Padres until an injury to one of the players (Colin Rea) the Marlins acquired brought Castillo back to the Marlins. The Marlins then found a taker in the Reds to acquire Dan Straily. Castillo, with his triple digit fastball that sits in the high 90s has the potential to be a much better pitcher than Straily. But the Marlins thought they were playing for now. Castillo also has a slider and change for his secondary pitches. Castillo had a nice 14 starts (2.58 ERA) though you would expect more whiffs (81 K’s in 80 innings) based on his fastball. The success has resulted in a promotion to the Reds. There he has held his own (4.05 ERA) but giving up too many long balls in the small park (7).

5. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - Kolby was the Braves first round pick in 2015 who dropped in the draft because of a back injury that limited his high school season. Last year he was able to start 16 games, rising to Low A for 11 starts. His fastball sits in the low 90s, plenty of heat for a left handed pitcher with an excellent curveball. His change is a third pitch. Like Mike Soroka the Braves skipped him past A ball and put him in AA where at 19 he is nine days younger than Soroka. In twenty starts he has not had as much success with a 3.75 ERA, a .268 opposition average and 86 whiffs in 105 innings. Expect the Braves to be patient with him and keep him at AA.

6. Brian Anderson 3B (Marlins) - A third round pick in 2014 myworld was impressed with what we saw of him in the spring. He had power to the gaps, played solid defense and carried a couple balls over the fence. Drafted out of college the Marlins can be aggressive with his promotion. With Martin Prado missing the remainder of the season this may be a good opportunity for Anderson to make his major league debut. In AA he slugged 14 homeruns with a .251 average leading to a promotion to AAA. In 12 games at AAA Brian is hitting .349 with three homeruns. Between the two levels his OPS is .816.

7. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - Players drafted in the seventh round, as Tyler was drafted in 2013, are not considered the best prospects. Tyler had height (6′4″) and a skinny frame to fill. Once he matured his fastball went from low 90s to mid 90s. Tyler threw a no hitter last year and a complete game no hitter this year. In the Southern League he dominated the hitters with a 1.59 ERA and a .190 opposition average. A promotion to AAA has not led to the same success (2.88 ERA) but enough so that he should see a September callup this year if not sooner.

8. Nick Gordon SS (Twins) - The half brother of Dee Gordon was drafted in the first round in 2014. Unlike his half brother he may have the tools to stick at short. The power is a little short but the speed is there for him to be an impact player on the bases. Like Dee he would move to second if the Twins felt shortstop was a bit too much of a challenge for him. Nick is hitting .292 but showing a little more pop with a career high seven homeruns. He does not steal as frequently as his brother and the strikeout numbers need to be reduced, but a .362 OBA is good enough to fill the lead off role. The Twins have played Nick a little bit at second this year, but they have a bigger need at short. Expect him to make his debut there next year.

9. Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) - Luis was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2014. The Rangers traded him to the Brewers in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. His claim to fame was winning the MVP award at the 18 and under World Cup in 2014. As he has gotten older the weight has gotten greater and he will have to watch that. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a slider and change as his secondary pitches. He still needs a lot of work on the change to make it an effective third pitch. He is repeating AA where he has limited the opposition to a .207 average. Injuries have been the biggest impediment to his advancement to date.

10. Luiz Gohara RHP (Braves) - The Mariners originally signed Luiz out of Brazil in 2012. Just before spring training this year they traded him to the Braves in the Mallex Smith deal. At 6′3″, 210 Luiz is a big boy with triple digit velocity to his fastball. The challenge has always been finding the plate. His secondary pitches (slider and change) were also below average so it appeared he would be destined for the bullpen. The Braves kept him in the rotation and he won a promotion to AA from High A and just recently his success at AA has led to a promotion to AAA. His combined opposition average at the two levels is .228 with 99 whiffs in 88 innings. He may still end up in the bullpen with the surplus of starters the Braves have, but with the success he is having the Braves will keep him in the rotation.

Other Prospects to Like

Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers) - Originally signed by the Red Sox after drafting the Honduran born Dubon in the 26th round of the 2013 draft. He was made part of the Travis Shaw trade to acquire Tyler Thornburg, which could turn into a disaster if Dubon pans out. Dubon lacks power and is probably a bit short on the tools to play shortstop full time. But he appears to have the ability to hit for average and steal bases. Coming into this season he has a .306 minor league average. He hit .276 at AA with 31 stolen bases to earn a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .300 with six stolen bases. The Brewers have been rotating him between second and short. He could end up being a solid utility player.

Jen-Ho Tseng RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs signed Tseng out of Taiwan for $1.6 million in 2013. With a fastball in the low 90s he is not overpowering and at 6′1″ he will not intimidate hitters. His numbers up until this year have not been good. In 15 starts at AA this year he finished with a 2.99 ERA with more whiffs per innings pitched than in previous years (83 whiffs in 90 innings). His opposition average is at .232 when last year at AA it was .308. This success earned him a promotion to AAA where his success has continued with a 1.42 ERA and a .204 opposition average.

Fernando Romero RHP (Twins) - Romero was signed out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2011. He missed the 2015 season because of Tommy John surgery. Despite his 6′0″ height he still gets the ball to the plate in the mid-90s. In his first season at AA Fernando has been good with a 2.64 ERA in 19 starts and 112 whiffs in 105 innings. He has held the opposition to a .231 average. At 105 innings pitched he has reached his career high so expect him to stay in AA with the Twins watching his work load, especially after the Tommy John surgery. If he continues to see success expect him to make his major league debut next year, though the Twins could promote him for the bullpen this year if they want to limit his innings.

Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) - The fourth round 2013 pick is not overpowering, but he can hit the mid-90s, but generally sits in the low 90s. A plus change is what leads to his success. In 13 starts he has a 2.47 ERA with a .206 opposition average. Despite his lack of heat he still strikes out more than a hitter an inning, the changeup making that heater look that much better. An injury resulted in a late start to the season but after his success in AA last year Gonsalves earns at least a promotion to AAA.

Quintessential Quintana Quiets O’s Bats in Cubs Debut

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Jose Quintana did give up three hits in his seven innings of work, so he was not perfect. He was close striking out a season high 12 in the Cubs 8-0 win over the free falling Orioles. The Orioles did get a runner to third in the fourth inning when Adam Jones led off the inning with a double, but after advancing to third with one out Jose got Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo to strike out to preserve the shutout.

The bad Ubaldo Jimenez showed up for this game. Myworld does not know how much longer the Orioles can tolerate the bad Ubaldo. His downfall came in the second when Wilson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ hit back to back to back doubles into left center, all of varying heights, but rolling or bouncing against the left centerfield wall. Jason Heyward made it four hits in a row driving in the third run with a single. Ben Zobrist drove in Heyward with a two out single and the Cubs had staked Quintana out to a 4-0 lead.

In the fourth Kris Bryant sent a bullet into the left centerfield seats for a two run homer to give the Cubs a 6-0 lead. After Wilson Contreras got his third hit of the game, lining a pitch off Jimenez, Buck was out to the mound almost as quickly as the ball Bryant sent to the bleachers in left center to remove Ubaldo. There were some boos from the few Oriole fans who were at the game.

A bevy of Orioles relievers shut the Cubs out until the ninth. Anthony Rizzo rifled a pitch from Darren O’Day into the right field bleachers to make the game 8-0. The Orioles had no chance. Other than Jones advancing to third in the fourth inning they did not advance a runner past first base in the remaining eight innings. It was a sweep for the Cubs with only one of the three games close.

Game Notes: Zach Britton came into the game in the eighth to pitch. The Orioles have been on the loss side in so many games that Buck has not had a lot of opportunity to pitch Britton. His fastball hit 96. The Orioles have said that Britton is available on the trade market…Jon Jay hustled from first to third on a ground ball in front of the plate. He later scored on the Bryant homerun…Johnny Giavotella did not show a strong arm on a double play pivot throw to second…Joey Rickard showed a strong arm from right field, throwing Wilson Contreras out at home on a tag up attempt…Jose Quintana struck out the side in the sixth inning, three of his 12 whiffs. He was hitting 94 with his fastball, good velocity for a lefthander…Wilson Contreras had a career high four hits in the game. He has raised his average to .278. He has started hitting after the departure of Miguel Montero…Only 31,000 were in attendance, most of them Cub fans. The Oriole fans were soured by the higher ticket prices being charged for the Cubs and the Orioles collapse in the month of June (12-16). In six of those 16 losses the opponents have scored 10 or more runs. July has also been unkind to the O’s (3-9). The Orioles are now seven games under .500.

Strasburg Dominates Cubs

Friday, June 30th, 2017

It is a little late but between volleyball camps, softball games and attending baseball games myworld has been a little busy. Strasburg started on Thursday and struck out 13 Cubs in seven innings of work, leading to the Nationals 8-4 win. He allowed three runs, two coming on a Wilson Contreras two run homer in the fourth and the other coming as a result of a Ryan Zimmer boot.

John Lackey of the Cubs was not so fortunate. He gave up eight runs in just a little over five innings of work, six of those runs coming in the first three innings. He retired the first two hitters he faced but a Bryce Harper double into the right center field gap and a Ryan Zimmerman single into left center gave the Nationals an early 1-0 lead.

They poked a hole through Lackey in the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters led off the inning with back to back homeruns. A Strasburg single followed by a Trea Turner single seemed to unnerve Lackey. Walks to Brian Goodwin and Bryce Harper forced in a run and a boot by Kris Bryant scored another run. Daniel Murphy grounded into a double play to keep Lackey in the game.

In the third a Rendon leadoff double led to the sixth run to up the lead to 6-0. Albert Almora took a poor route to the ball and let it get by him. Rendon advanced to third on a ground out to second and scored on a fly ball to Almora in center. Lackey settled down after that, shutting the Nationals down in the fourth and allowing only a solo homerun in the fifth to Daniel Murphy.

A one out Trea Turner double down the third base line in the sixth finished the day for Lackey. A Bryce Harper hustle double up the middle off lefty Brian Duensing scored Turner and notched eight runs given up by Lackey to his total, raising his ERA to an unsightly 5.24.

Strasburg was dominant for most of the game. He struck out the side in the second and third innings. In the fourth Kris Bryant doubled down the left field line. Wilson Contreras got ahead of Strasburg 2-0 and then drove a pitch high and far into the left field bleachers. That made the score 6-2.

Albert Almora drove a pitch over the head of Brian Goodwin for a double to lead off the fifth. He scored from second when Ryan Zimmerman booted a Mark Zagunis grounder. A first baseman that could throw the ball may have been able to get Almora at the plate but the Cubs recognized the bad limb of Zimmerman and had Almora break for home. After that Strasburg retired the final eight hitters he faced.

The Cubs added another run in the eighth inning when Anthony Rizzo drove an Enny Romero 98 mile per hour fastball into the second deck of the right field bleachers.

Game Notes: In a fluke play the Cubs will miss Kris Bryant for a couple weeks. He caught a routine pop up, evidently did not know where the third base bag was and when he made a step forward he caught the corner of the bag and twisted his ankle. Cubs trainers had to help him off the field. The final injury report is a high ankle sprain, which can take some time to heal. The Cubs anticipate two days but myworld believes it will be longer…The Cubs also released Miguel Montero after he was critical of Jake Arrieta keeping runners on base. He faulted Arrieta for failing to hold the runners, resulting in seven National steals, adding to his poor 1 for 32 success rate in caught stealing. The Cubs did not like him airing his grievances in public and released him…John Lackey did not give in to Bryce Harper when he walked him in the second inning to load the bases. All four pitches to him were breaking balls…Seeing Jon Jay hitting fifth for the Cubs makes me wonder if I was dreaming that the Cubs won the World Series last year…Stephen Strasburg was forced to leave his start after seven innings because of back spasms.

Future Games Rosters Selected

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

The futures game is played before the All Star team and features the best prospects outside of the United States against the best prospects inside the United States. The game is scheduled for July 9. Below are the rosters of the two teams.

World Team

Pitchers

Domingo Acevedo (Dom Rep/Yankees), Yadier Alvarez (Cuba/Dodgers), Jaime Barria (Panama/Angels), Luis Escobar (Colombia/Pirates), Tayron Guerrero (Colombia/Marlins), Jonathan Hernandez (Dominican Republic/Rangers), Jairo Labourt (Dom Rep/Tigers), Cal Quantrill (Canada/Padres), Mike Soroka (Canada/Braves), Thyago Vieira (Brazil/Mariners)

Catchers

Tomas Nido (Puerto Rico/Mets), Francisco Mejia (Dom Rep/Indians)

Infielders

Yordan Alvarez (Cuba/Astros), Josh Naylor (Canada/Padres), Yoan Moncada (Cuba/White Sox), Mauricio Dubon (Honduras/Brewers), Lucius Fox (Bahamas/Rays), Ahmed Rosario (Dom Rep/Mets), Rafael Devers (Dom Rep/Red Sox), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Dom Rep/Blue Jays)

Outfielders

Ronald Acuna (Venezuela/Braves), Estevan Florial (Haiti/Yankees), Eloy Jimenez (Dom Rep/Cubs), Victor Robles (Dom Rep/Nationals), Alex Verdugo (Mexico/Dodgers)

United States team

Beau Burrows (Tigers), Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks), Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), Foster Griffen (Royals), Jimmy Hegert (Reds), Brent Honeywell (Rays), Michael Kopech (White Sox), Triston McKenzie (Indians), A.J. Puk (Athletics), Tanner Scott (Orioles)

Catcher

Zack Collins (White Sox), Chance Sisco (Orioles)

Infielders

Rhys Hoskins (Phillies), Ryan McMahon (2B/3B) Rockies, Scott Kingery (Phillies), Bo Bichette (Blue Jays/Brazil), Nick Gordon (Twins), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies), Brian Anderson (Marlins), Nick Senzel (Reds)

Outfielders

Lewis Brinson (Twins), Derek Fisher (Astros), Corey Ray (Brewers), Bryan Reynolds (Giants), Kyle Tucker (Astros)

Cubs Hold Off Nationals in Opener

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Joe Maddon has got to be in the head of Ryan Zimmerman. Last year Maddon walked Bryce Harper six times in a game to face Zimmerman who struck out in a number of those at bats. With the tying run on third and the winning run on second and first base open after a wild pitch scored a run, Maddon chose to pitch to Zimmerman rather than walk him to face Murphy. Zimmerman struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt and the Cubs held on to win 5-4.

Gio Gonzales had a strong outing. Wilson Contreras was a surprise selection for the leadoff spot and Maddon looked like a genius when he sent the fourth pitch from Gio into the left field bleachers. It was the last run Gio would give up in his six innings of work. A high pitch count triggered by eight whiffs and four walks led to his early departure.

The Nationals had trouble scoring off Cubs starter Eddie Butler. He worked five innings and did not allow a National to reach third. With runners on first and second and two out in the top of the sixth the Cubs chose to pinch hit for him. Addison Russell struck out to end the inning.

The Nationals could not get to the Cubs bullpen until the ninth inning. The Cubs were able to take advantage of a Nationals fielding miscue in the eighth to score a second run. Javier Baez hit a one out single off Blake Treinen. Jeimer Candelario grounded a ball to Murphy who chose to throw to second. Javier Baez beat the throw, with a video replay reversing the umpire’s initial out call. Baez stole third and scored on a bunt single by Albert Almora junior.

The Nationals had an opportunity to score in the bottom frame. Brian Goodwin and Bryce Harper hit back to back two out singles. Maddon chose to have Justin Grimm face Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman hit a weak grounder to third to keep the Nationals scoreless.

Matt Grace came on to pitch the ninth. Tommy Lastella topped a slow roller down the first base line. Grace pounced on the ball, whirled around to throw it, but fired it on the inside part of the bag. The ball ended up in right field and La Stella stopped at second. Anthony Rizzo beat the Nationals shift with a slow roller to the left side that trickled into left field. Brian Goodwin charged the ball, fired the ball home but six feet over the head of the catcher, hitting high off the netting of the back stop. Bryant was intentionally walked. Rizzo was thrown out at third on a double steal. Ian Happ singled to right. Bryce Harper appeared to have a play on Bryant racing home but chose to throw to second. Javier Baez finished the scoring by lacing a double into the right centerfield gap off Matt Albers.

Down 5-0 the escape to the Metro had begun. Daniel Murphy gave the few faithful sticking the game out some hope leading off the inning with a double. A single into right field by Matt Wieters scored the Nationals first run, averting their first shutout of the year. Wade Davis replaced Hector Rondon on the mound. Michael Taylor doubled off the right centerfield wall. Stephen Drew doubled down the right field line to score two bringing the tying run to the plate. Trea Turner walked and with two outs Bryce Harper singled to load the bases. A wild pitch scored the fourth run and with runners on third and second Mr. used to be clutch struck out to end the game.

Game Notes: Blake Treinen used to be 96 to 97 miles per hour with his fastball up until this week. Now he is hitting triple digits consistently…Javier Baez made two spectacular plays at shortstop filling in for Addison Russell. He made a diving back hand grab on a liner by Bryce Harper in the third and in the eighth he made a sliding catch into the third base fence to take an at bat away from Adam Lind…Wilson Contreras picked Trea Turner off first in the third. He was initially ruled safe but a replay confirmed the Contreras throw beat Turner to the base…Carl Edwards Jr. struck out the side in his one inning performance in the sixth. He hit 97 with his fastball…Blake Treinen had a brain cramp. With a runner on first and one out Rizzo hit one back to him. Blake turned to throw to first, must have heard someone screaming second and made an awkward throw to second to get the out. Fortunately the Cubs did not score, but Blake has a habit of forgetting about baserunners…The Nationals have yet to be shutout this year…The Nationals showed their desperation about the bullpen situation by signing Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract. This could end up like the Joe Nathan contract, who was eventually released after not appearing on the major league club. Rodriguez has not seen 90 with his fastball in a couple years and was released by the Detroit Tigers this year, one of the two teams with a bullpen that is worse than the Nationals.

2017 Top Cuban Prospects - National League

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Myworld only includes those Cubans signed prior to April so Luis Robert and Hector Mendoza would not be included on this list. They will probably appear on the 2018 list. The Dodgers seem to control the Cuban market in the National League, though they have not been getting their money’s worth yet as far as major league contribution. Alex Guerrero is leading the NPB in homeruns with 20, but that does not do the Dodgers much good.

1. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - His fastball has tweaked triple digits on the radar gun but sits in the mid-90s. That is something not common with Cuban pitchers. While he throws hard he struggles with command. He did not make the Cuban 18 and under team because of his inability to throw strikes. The potential exists for a plus curve and change, which would put him in the rotation. Last year he started 14 games in rookie ball and Low A. The Dodgers controlled his pitches limiting him to under five innings per start. This year he is pitching in the California League which can be tough on pitchers. For Yadier it has been tough on him with a .275 opposition average and a 5.32 ERA.

2. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - He does not throw as hard as Yadier but he is more a complete pitcher. While Yadier did not make the 18 under team because of his lack of control Adrian won the MVP award in the 15 and under World Cup tournament. He sits in the low 90s, touching the mid 90s, pretty good for a lefthanded arm. His curve and change are a little more developed than Yadier and his command of the strike zone is better. The tools may not be as great but his potential to succeed is better. The two starts at Tri-City are his first as a professional. He did not walk any in his 11 innings but the opposition hit him at a .333 clip.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) - Yusniel left Cuba after his first season in the Cuban Nacional Series. He has decent speed, but like many Cubans does not steal bases because of poor jumps. Power is lacking in his bat but he should hit the gaps and hit for average. His speed and a strong arm will make him a good fit defensively in center field. He signed with the Dodgers after the 2015 season for $15 million and hit .272 in the California League. He is repeating the California League and is showing slightly better numbers across the board. His stolen base success is still poor going from seven out of 15 to five out of 13.

4. Jorge Ona OF (Padres) - The Padres paid Jorge a $7 million bonus in July 2016. His tools are not as impressive as Yusniel. His lack of speed will restrict him to a corner outfield with an average arm pinning him to left. What he does have is the potential to hit for power. The Padres are being aggressive with the 20 year old starting him at Low A for his first season. The power has not shown yet with a .406 slugging, but he has hit six homeruns with a .283 average. He needs to reduce the strikeouts (55 in 55 games) to keep that average up at the higher levels. The Padres have played him mostly in right field, but he has also played 12 games in left.

5. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - The Reds signed him for $4.75 million in 2016. He left his Cuban national team prior to their tournament in the Caribbean Series in 2015. His curveball was considered the best in Cuba and his fastball sits in the low 90s but has hit the mid-90s. He needs to develop his change to make it in the starting rotation. In Cuba he pitched as a reliever, picking up 13 saves. In his first minor league season he shows an ability to get the whiff with 74 in 68 innings. He does give up too much of the barrel on bats (.268) which has driven up his ERA (4.63). A couple poor starts have accounted for his pedestrian numbers.

6. Jose Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - His older brother is Adonis. He is bigger than his brother which allows him to carry more power. The NPB Yomiuri Giants signed him but he struggled with them, hitting only .234 with a .396 slugging average in the minor leagues. He went 0 for 7 with three K’s with the Giants. His outfield defense is more suited for the corner and at 23 years of age he needs to move quickly. His brother Adonis was 27 when he defected and did not make his major league debut until he was 30 years old. The Cardinals have started Jose in AA where he is hitting .284 with six homeruns and a .432 slugging.

7. Randy Arozarena OF (Cardinals) - Randy played on the same 18 and under team as Yoan Moncada in 2013. The Cardinals only paid $1.25 million for him, a good bargain for a player with good speed and outfield skills that could see center. His bat will not hit for power but it should pepper the gaps. He played last year in the Mexican League struggling with a .100 average in only 20 at bats. The Cardinals have started him in High A and he is doing better, with a .276 average and eight homeruns with a .480 slugging. Most of his time has been spent in left field but he has played some center and right. The Cardinals were hoping for a leadoff type hitter but with the power he is showing in High A they could have a middle of the order hitter.

8. Albert Almora OF (Cubs) - A superb defender, the Cubs made him a first round pick in the 2012 draft. He is probably the Cubs top centerfielder but his bat is a little too quiet and may limit him to being a fourth outfielder. Despite his Cuban background he has played on a number of youth United States national teams. His father played baseball in Cuba before he defected but Albert was born in Florida. Albert has stayed up with the Cubs for the 2017 season, mostly as a backup, hitting a decent .270.

9. Omar Esteves 2B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers paid $6 million to a player lacking in above average tools. His defense at second is below average, his speed is not great and his arm is weak. His bat could play but it will be limited to gap power. Omar made his debut in 2015 hitting .255 with a .389 slugging. He was an 18 year old playing in Low A. This year he is playing in High A hitting just .232. Myworld doesn’t believe the Dodgers will get much major league production from their $6 million investment.

10. Alfredo Rodriguez SS (Reds) - Alfredo has some defensive tools but his bat is lacking. The Reds signed him for $7 million at the same time they signed Vladimir Gutierrez. He hit .234 in the Dominican League absent any power (.299 slugging). He does have the speed to steal bases. While he hit his first minor league homerun in the Florida State League this year his slugging sits at .308 but his batting average has improved to .266. At best he could end up as a utility player or a number 8 hitter in a potent offense that can ignore his bat for his glove.

Hot Prospects for the End of May

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Memorial Day has ended and with it the month of May. Myworld will take a look at those prospects heating up as the month draws to a close.

Jose Marmolejos 1B (Nationals) - Jose got a late start to the season but it did not take his bat long to get heated. A 5 for 6 day in which he hit his second homerun for the year and drove in five began a nine game assault on AA pitching. He got his average up to .420 but the next five games he cooled down to drop it to .385. Jose was signed by the Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. His power is probably lacking to be an every day first baseman, but last year he hit a career high 13 homeruns.

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles) - The Orioles need to prepare for the day when J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado depart from the Orioles and they need to fill the hole at short. Ryan could be that fit. He had a three homerun day with four runs scored and three RBIs to up his tater total to 11. Ryan was a first round pick of the Orioles in 2015. Last year he hit a career high 10 homeruns for Delmarva but hit only .281. This year he is raking with a .330 average.

Max Moroff 2B (Pirates) - The Pirates waived prospect Alen Hanson and optioned Gift Ngoepe to the minor leagues. One of the players expected to be called up to replace them is Moroff, who has a career high 13 homeruns in AAA. He did have nine major league at bats earlier in the season, garnering only one hit. Max has been seeing most of his time at shortstop, but he has been playing second and third base. Strikeouts can be a problems (48 in 42 games but he does show patience at the plate with a high walk rate.

Socrates Brito CF (Diamondbacks) - The oft injured Brito is working his way back to the major leagues with a .375 average at AAA Omaha. He has gone 8 for 14 in his last three games with two doubles and two triples. The Diamondbacks would like to see Brito patrol centerfield for the Diamondbacks but he has not been able to stay healthy.

Shed Long 2B (Reds) - Shed has been ripping through the Florida State League with a .321 average. That has been fueled by a .350 average in his last 10 games that have included three three hit games. Three of his nine homeruns have been hit in his last four games. A 12th round pick of the Reds in 2013 has an opportunity to be an offensive oriented second baseman despite his 5′8″ frame.

Francisco Mejia C (Indians) - Francisco is heating up in AA, his .436 average in his last 10 games elevating his season average to .331. Francisco also has one of the strongest arms for a catcher in the minor leagues. This year he has thrown out 8 of the 20 baserunners who have attempted to steal against him. Last year he threw out 30 of 69 baserunners.

Nick Williams OF (Phillies) - Nick is sending balls out of the park. He had a three game stretch in which he sent four over the fence to give him 10 for the year. Nick has always shown batting practice power but the swings and misses have stunted his homerun production. The strikeouts are still prevalent (57 in 50 games) but the homerun totals are seven shy of his career high of 17.

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Reading tends to be a friendly park for homeruns and Williams teammate Kingery is leading the minors in homeruns with 16. The career high for the second round 2015 pick is five. It was expected that most of the power for Scott would be to the gaps but he has been rewriting that book. He also had a recent six game multiple hit hitting streak that has raised his average to .309. Power is not his only tool. Scott has also stolen 12 bases in 48 games, on his way to a 30/30 season.

Orlando Calixte LF (Giants) - Injuries to the Giants outfield has provided an opportunity for Orlando to show his power bat this season is not a fluke. Orlando was originally signed by the Royals but after six years became a minor league free agent. The Giants signed him this year and his eight homeruns is just six shy of his career high 14. Orlando has also shown some speed with 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts.

Colton Welker 3B (Rockies) - Colton has been on this list before, but when you keep on hitting myworld feels an obligation to keep noting that. An eight game hitting streak has seen his average rise to .370, especially after the last four games when he has gone 11 for 16. Expect Colton to see a promotion to High A soon.

Tyler Marlette C (Mariners) - Four games ago Tyler had hit one homerun in 32 games. After those four games his homerun total climbed to five. He also drove in 10 runs in that four game stretch. RBIs have not been a problem for Tyler with 37 in 36 games. Tyler was the fifth round draft pick of the Mariners in 2011. His career high for homeruns has been 17.

Derek Fisher CF (Astros) - Derek is hot for the Astros with homeruns in three consecutive games, bringing his homeruns total to 13. The supplemental first round pick of the Astros has a six game hitting streak (12 for 25) that has raised his average to .335. His one down side to the season is being caught stealing 10 times in 19 attempts. The Astros outfield is not crowded with talent so if Fisher keeps on hitting he could get a call up.

Max Schrock 2B (Athletics) - The last time we saw Max he was spraying line drives for Potomac. Now he is doing that for AA Midland. A nine game hitting streak (17 for 36) has raised his average to .304. During that streak he had a two homerun game to give him five for the season, four shy of his career minor league high. Max does not have a lot of tools except for the line drives that are sprayed from his bat.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - In his 10 appearances, nine of them starts Jon has only given up runs in one of those appearances. His latest shutout start he gave up one hit in six innings, striking out six. That extends his shutout streak to 29 innings. During that time his ERA is 0.50 and the opposition is hitting .139 against him. A third round 2016 pick his best pitch is his curveball. His fastball is not overpowering, reaching 95 at its peak.

Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) - The 6′7″ righthander was promoted to AA and threw two shutouts in his first two starts covering 13.2 innings. He gave up only seven hits in those two starts and struck out 14. His last outing he got smacked around a bit, allowing three runs in 5.2 innings, but he did not walk anyone. In 19 innings of AA ball Domingo has only walked two. His delivery is a lot of arms, but his fastball can cross the plate in triple digits. He also has an excellent change. The development of a breaking pitch will determine whether he spends his time in the bullpen or the starting rotation.

Jake Junis RHP (Royals) - Drafted in the 29th round in 2011 Jake has already gone above expectations with three appearances and one start in the major leagues. His latest minor league start Jake struck out 12 in seven innings, allowing just two hits in the shutout outing. With a major league ERA at 2.70 and an opposition average in AAA at .222 Jake will get another opportunity on a major league mound.

Taylor Clarke RHP (Diamondbacks) - Watch out for the young pitching down on the farm in the Diamondbacks system. Taylor is another pitcher with double digit whiffs, striking out 12 in just 6.1 innings. In ten starts Taylor has kept his ERA at 2.70 with a 17/53 walk to whiff ration in 50 innings. The opposition is hitting him at a .215 clip.

Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - The Reds paid a $4.5 million bonus to sign the Cuban. The smallish 6′0″ Cuban has a fastball that sits in the low 90s with a good curveball and developing slider and change. It has been two years since he has pitched in a competitive environment so in his nine starts he has been tagged around some. His ERA dropped below 5.00 after his last outing when he failed to give up a run in 6.1 innings. Like future team mate Raisel Iglesias, Vladimir was a reliever in Cuba but the Reds are trying to convert him as a starter.

A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - In his last two outings Puk has given up just one hit in 10.1 innings. After pitching five innings of no hit ball Puk followed that up with five innings of one hit ball. He struck out 15 in the two outings lowering his ERA to 3.43. Finding the plate is a bit of a challenge with 8 walks in his last two games. For the year A.J. has a 20/69 walk to whiff ratio in 44.2 innings with a .179 opposition average.

Thomas Hatch RHP (Cubs) - The third round 2016 draft pick had an impressive outing in his last start, whiffing 13 in just 5.1 innings. He did give up two runs and allowed six hits so he was not unhittable. Despite the 13 K’s Thomas finds himself with an 0-5 record with a 5.19 ERA.

Alec Hanson RHP (White Sox) - The 6′7″ righthander struck out 15 hitters in a seven inning outing in which he gave up one run. That gives him 25 whiffs in his last two starts and 67 total whiffs in 54.2 innings. Alec was drafted in the second round in 2016. His fastball lights up the radar in the high 90s but usually sits at 95 of below. Before Hanson can reach the major leagues he needs to develop more consistency with his secondary pitches.

Nick Neidert RHP (Mariners) - Nick went on to pitch six innings of no hit ball in the California League. The no hitter lasted until the ninth with Modesto eventually losing the game in the tenth. Nick struck out nine on the day and walked one. Nick keeps the ball around the plate with just 10 walks in 56.2 innings.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - Tyler already has a nine inning no hitter to his resume, as well as a one hitter in just seven innings. In his last start he gave up just three hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out a career high 9. With a fastball that sends radar guns buzzing in the high 90s Tyler has struck out 72 in 69 innings with an opposition average at .177.