Archive for the 'Cubs' Category

Myworld’s 2018 Top 100 Prospects - 100 - 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018

It is now time for myworld to rank our top 100 baseball prospects. It is not really my personal rankings but a measurement system used taking the top 100 rankings of Haven, CBS Fantasy Baseball, MLB.com, Baseball America and Fangraphs. There may be some that we miss and myworld refuses to access the paid subscription sites. You can see past lists at our website starting from 2008 when Jay Bruce was the number one prospect.

100. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) 1.02 - Not much activity on Espinoza since he was inactive after Tommy John surgery last year. Prior to that he was considered a Pedro Martinez clone because of his mid-90s fastball and small stature (6′0″). It will be interesting to see what he gains or loses from the surgery. The Padres acquired him from the Red Sox in the controversial Drew Pomeranz trade. Pomeranz was determined to be damaged goods but it was Espinoza that ultimately had the season ending surgery. An excellent fastball and curve give him the pitches to be a starter but he could move to the bullpen if durability becomes an issue. Expect the Padres to limit his innings as his arm gains strength.

99. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) 1.02 - Another Dominican but Acevedo stands 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball that can also reach triple digits. He also has a good change and once he gets more consistency with his slider he could be dominant. The high spending Yankees only had to pay a $7,500 bonus to sign him back in 2012. He dominated at AA with a 9/1 whiff to walk ratio but a promotion to AAA led to some control issues in his two starts. Expect him to start the season in AAA with a possible promotion should he have the same success in AAA that he had in AA.

98. Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) 1.06 - Originally a first round pick of the Rangers, they traded him to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy. He won the MVP for the United States 18 and under gold medal team back in 2013. There have not been a lot of highlights since then. Injuries have limited his innings and he has yet to reach 100 innings since being drafted in 2014, but he did reach a high of 94 innings last year. His fastball reaches the mid-90s but he isn’t an overpowering pitcher, striking out just 7.5 hitters per 9 innings at AA and being a bit homer prone with 12 of his pitches leaving the park. This should be the year he makes his major league debut provided he achieves success in AAA. At best he fits in as a mid-rotation starter.

97. Zack Collins C (White Sox) 1.1 - The 2016 first round pick is noted more for his bat than his glove. The bat had enough juice to hit 17 homeruns in High A with two more added in a brief AA callup. Finding the backstop was a common occurrence with Collins with 16 passed balls evidence of his lack of flexibility behind the plate. He also had trouble hitting lefthanded pitching with a .167 average dropping his overall average to .223 in High A. He takes a lot of walks (76) but stirs a breeze a lot with his swings (118 whiffs). He should start the 2018 season in AA. If his defense does not improve behind the plate he should have the bat to move to first. His 6′3″ frame is tall for a catcher.

96. Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) 1.12 - He may be a Marlin after we write this with his name being discussed in the J.T. Realmuto trade talks. The Nationals drafted him in the first round of the 2016 draft. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system while his father played baseball in the Dutch leagues. Carter has the bat that should play with good power but his speed will fall short in the stolen base department. If he can’t overtake Trea Turner at short his best position would be second, with the power lacking for third. Next year should see him continue his progress in High A either in the Nationals system or the Marlins.

95. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) 1.12 - A second Yankee righthander on this list who can throw in the mid-90s but can dial it up to the high 90s. Abreu is a little below Acevedo in the development chart. The Astros originally signed him for $175,000 but the Yankees were able to acquire him in the Brian McCann trade. His secondary pitches need to be more consistent to play off his fastball but if they don’t develop the bullpen could become his home. Albert could start the season in High A where he finished with a 4.19 ERA last year and was fairly hittable (.252). A promotion to AA will occur once he shows he can tame Florida State League hitters.

94. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) 1.24 - The Dodgers have spent a king’s ransom for Cuban prospects and the only player to see some success is Yasiel Puig, who some would argue has yet to reach his potential. Diaz signed for $15.5 million back in 2015. He played in the junior national leagues in Cuba. There is some potential for power in his bat. Last year he hit 11 homeruns between High A and AA with a .333 average in AA in a 31 game trial. His speed is best suited for a corner outfield with an above average arm that will allow him to play in right. You don’t want him stealing bases as his 9 for 23 success rate spells doom. He also committed 13 errors in the outfield. The Dodgers may assign him to AA where he will continue to refine his game trying to improve his defense and jump on the bases.

93. Monte Harrison OF (Marlins) 1.26 - A trade from the Brewers to the Marlins for Christian Yelich could provide Monte an opportunity for a quicker path to the major leagues. The speed is there for him to cover centerfield with an arm to play right. His power seemed to break out last year with 21 homeruns. Combine that with his 27 for 31 success rate in stolen bases and you have the potential for at least a 20/20 player. With some improvement in making contact (139 whiffs) could make him an impact player. A good spring with the Marlins could start him in AA. They will need to show something soon for their Christian Yelich trade but an appearance in the major leagues will probably have to wait until 2019.

92. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Astros) 1.28 - J.B. was the Astros first round pick in 2017 out of North Carolina. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s that has hit triple digits. If Lithuania should need a player for a World Baseball Classic team he could be eligible. J.B. got three starts and 10 innings in his professional debut but two of those starts were at Low A. Expect him to start there in 2018. At 6′0″ he is not a large pitcher so there could be some concern about his durability as a starter.

91. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) 1.36 - Coming into the 2017 season the Venezuelan was not on any prospect lists. His small stature (6′0″) and lack of an overpowering fastball left him off any lists. He gained a couple ticks on his fastball last year to hit the mid-90s and he achieved some success against righthanders in AA limiting them to a .197 average. He also struck out close to 9 hitters per 9 innings. It will be interesting if he can repeat that success in 2018 or if his Cub pedigree enhanced his prospect status. The 2018 season will determine that.

Cubbies Cupboard Getting Bare

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Now that the Cubs are winning they have lost an opportunity to select the best player in the draft. They have also felt the need to trade some of their top prospects for veterans to get them through the playoff race, losing players like Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and Jeimer Candelario. Also, many of their superstars who they drafted early have graduated to the big leagues, most recently Ian Happ, Albert Almora and Wilson Contreras but Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber two now veterans who were once high first round picks. Now the minor leagues is filled with players who have lesser talents, but with time could become contributors to the Cubs major league roster, or be used as trade fodder. It needs to be restocked soon.

Surprisingly, it is the pitching in the minor leagues that is now the Cubs strength. Their top ten prospect list is littered with pitchers who the year before were listed in the middle of the pack. Duane Underwood was once one of their top pitchers but a poor year has dropped him back in the prospect list. He went 13-7, but poor command and a low strikeout rate led to a 4.43 ERA. His fastball can hit the mid-90s but his secondary pitches are a bit inconsistent. His best bet for the major leagues may be to work out of the bullpen next year.

A trio of foreign pitchers have percolated up the system. Adbert Alzolay is small at 6′0″ but can hit the mid-90s. He reached AA and limited the opposition to a .220 average. Oscar de la Cruz has a pitcher’s frame at 6′4″ who also hits the mid-90s with his fastball. He was signed by the Cubs in 2012 and at 22 years of age has finally reached High A. Jose Albertos is another smaller pitcher at 6′1″ who has a good change to complement his mid-90s fastball. The Cubs can hope one of these three makes an impact in the rotation in the still somewhat distant future.

Now that they are selecting lower in the draft they have been using their picks to focus on pitchers. Alex Lange and Brendon Little are two first round picks from the 2017 draft. Lange throws from the right side and Little the left. Both rely on curveballs to retire hitters with fastballs that sit in the low 90s but can reach mid-90s. At 6′3″ 190 Lange can add some more meat to his frame which could add a tick or two to his velocity. Both pitchers started in Low A but as college drafted pitchers could rise quickly. If the Cubs can get one of these two to have success in the rotation they have accomplished something in the draft.

Jen-Ho Tseng put himself back on the prospect map after falling off last year. The Taiwanese native had a 2.54 ERA combined between AA and AAA with 24 starts. There is not a lot of velocity in his fastball so command of his pitchers and keeping them low in the strike zone will allow him to retire hitters. He could get an opportunity to fit in the back end of the Cubs rotation next year.

Myworld is not enamored with their position prospects. Victor Caratini is a tweener prospect who does not have the defensive chops to usurp Wilson Contreras from the catcher position and lacks the power to play first base. Last year he had a career year in AAA, hitting .342. His best role could be as a DH or get traded to a team lacking a firstbaseman. He could also be used as a backup catcher.

Eddy Martinez is an outfielder signed out of Cuba. He has the arm for right field and the speed to be serviceable in center but his bat will limit him to be a fourth outfielder. At 22 he is still young. Last year he slugged 14 homeruns so the power could still emerge but at this point the Cubs have to wonder why they threw in that extra $500,000 to get to a $3 million bonus to outbid the Giants.

David Bote is a player to watch. At 24 his line drive bat could be ready to make an impact. He showed good power in the AFL, hitting four homeruns and hitting .333. If he can stay in the .300 neighborhood with moderate power he could become useful as a role player. Unfortunately his defensive tools limit him to second base and his legs do not have the speed to make him an impact player with the stolen base. He should start the season in AAA but don’t be surprised not to see him with the Cubs by mid-season.

Michael Cruz is being groomed as the possible catcher of the future after Contreras has filled his purpose. Cruz has some pop in the bat but still needs to work on his defense. Last year he committed 9 errors and five passed balls in just 27 games. Those numbers will have to improve if he wants to see the major leagues.

A final prospect to watch is Chad Hockin. His numbers were not overwhelming but he throws a mid-90s fastball and he is the grandson of Harmon Killebrew. Myworld would be a little higher on him if he was a hitter instead of a pitcher.

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.