Archive for the 'Pirates' Category

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

30. Austin Hays OF (Orioles) 6.62 - For a third round pick in 2016 Austin shot up the minor league system quickly, beating all the first round picks to reach the majors. His 32 homeruns were tied for second in the minor leagues. He also hit for average crafting a .329 clip in two minor league seasons, never dropping below .324. For a power hitter he also makes good contact. While he played right field and is listed as having a strong arm myworld does not recall being impressed by any of his throws. The signing of Colby Rasmus could relegate him to AAA. Being the right handed bat in a platoon would not give him enough playing time to develop his game.

29. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 6.74 - The Mariners gave up on the Brazilian because of his inability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. That could be a trade they regret in a couple years. Luiz can hum a fastball in triple digits and sits in the high 90s. That is the gold standard for a lefthanded arm. He still has a little trouble getting the ball over the plate and his two pitch mix of slider/fastball may make him better suited as a closer. Luiz did get an opportunity to start five games with the Braves but command issues led to major league hitters whacking him at a .283 clip. A good spring could see him in the rotation but his best bet would be to start the season in AAA where he completed seven starts last year (3.31 ERA).

28. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) 6.78 - Touted as the next Cuban superstar, the White Sox were able to grab him for $26 million. Having fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada may have sweetened the deal. His last year in the Nacional Series as a 19 year old he put up Triple Crown numbers (.401, 12, 40) in just half a season before defecting. He was also named to the All Tournament team in the 18 and under World Cup. The legs have the speed to play center and the arm has enough zip to play right. In rookie ball he showed a good stick hitting .301 with three homeruns and a .536 slugging average. The White Sox will give him an opportunity to play full season ball, probably beginning the season in Low A.

27. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 7 - Injuries have held Austin back. In the last two years he has been limited to less than 90 games. The trade of Andrew McCutchen could have been an opportunity for him to win a starting job, but he will have to have a monumental spring training to stick on the roster. While he has all the tools to play centerfield, they still fall short of Starling Marte. A less than sterling arm could see him as a left fielder. His bat carries some pop and he makes good contact, with a .292 minor league average. Expect the Pirates to stick him in AAA to begin the season, get some at bats and gain some confidence before they call him up for the big club.

26. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 7.18 - A 6′7″ lefthander who can rain fastballs at the plate in the high 90s is a pitcher few want to face. The 2016 first round pick also has an above average slider, rated the best in the Athletics minor league system and a plus change, resulting in lots of swings and misses. In AA he averaged 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. Lefthanded hitters were also hopeless hitting against him, .196 at High A and .226 in AA. His slider also keeps the ball from leaving the park, allowing only three homeruns in 158 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Athletics in the 2018 season, but to control his innings they will start him in AAA to keep his pitch counts down.

25. MacKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) 7.28 - The Padres 2017 first round pick has ace like stuff. He proved that in his minor league debut last year limiting hitters to a .184 average and striking out 14.3 hitters per nine innings. The high school pitcher should still build some velocity on his mid-90s fastball as his 6′3″ frame matures. What sets Gore apart from many high school pitchers is his repertoire of quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). His command is also spot on. The 2018 season should see him begin it in Low A. With his quality stuff the biggest temptation for the Padres will be rushing him to the major leagues.

24. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 7.32 - If not for the crowded Dodgers outfield Alex would be the next rookie of the year candidate. His speed is a little slow to play centerfield, which would be his best opportunity on this Dodger club, but a cannon for an arm has him fit better in right. The concern for Alex is his ability to hit for power. To date it has not shown with a career .438 slugging. Last year he did spray the outfield for a .314 average, but teams are looking for power in their corner outfielders. There is also some concern whether he brings his A game every day. Myworld suspects he will start the 2018 season in AAA and be the first outfielder called up if an injury should occur. If his power fails to show he could end up as a fourth outfielder.

23. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) 7.44 - Royce was the first player selected in the 2017 draft, even though many touted the skills of Hunter Greene as the top pick. The Twins hope his career does not follow the path of another shortstop Tim Beckham, who struggled to establish himself in the major leagues after being the first pick in the draft. The tools are there for him to play shortstop with a strong arm and good range. The bat has the potential to be potent if he can survive the climb up the minor leagues as a shortstop. His speed allowed him to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he played 18 games at Low A, hitting .296. Expect him to start the 2018 season there, with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves early success at Low A.

22. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) 7.48 - A potential two way player who was expected to be the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Reds with the second pick had to be happy he was still available when it was their turn to pick. He played seven games as a DH hitting .233. The Reds then moved him to the rotation where he got three ineffective starts (12.46). His big attraction as a two way player was his ability to play shortstop, but with all the throwing at the position and the additional throwing on the mound would make it too taxing on his arm. With an arm that can hit triple digits with his fastball the Reds will start him in the rotation. If he falters there they can always turn him into a shortstop. At 6′4″ his ability to stay at short would have been in doubt. The Reds may start him at extended spring and then promote him to Dayton once the weather warms up.

21. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) 7.62 - Tristan may be one of myworld’s favorite pitchers. The last pitcher we witnessed that we were this high on as a 19 year old was a lefthander named Clayton Kershaw. Tristan has 6′5″ height and long wing spans that spells trouble for hitters. Last year there were lots of swings and misses (11.7 whiffs per nine) and little hard contact (.204 opposition average). He has a good curveball and the potential for a plus change. While his command is good he did give up 14 dingers last year. After dominating at High A the Indians will promote him to AA. With success there the Indians may have a need to promote him to the major leagues to get a spot in the playoffs.

Pirates Waving the White Flag for 2018 Season

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

With the trades of Andrew McCutchen and Gerritt Cole, the Pirates appear to have no plundering planned for the 2018 season. The prospect haul they got for the two stars was not impressive. With their recent playoff runs and their tendency to keep costs low their list of prospects is rather bland. No real superstars among this bunch, something franchises who want to make the playoffs need. It may be a long rebuilding period for the Pirates to get to the level of playoff contention they exercised a couple years ago, even though some of the prospects they acquired for McCutchen and Cole are major league ready.

The Pirates top prospect is outfielder Austin Meadows. If not for injuries he could be ready for the outfield after the trade of Andrew McCutchen. Unfortunately, he has missed significant time the last two years due to injury, failing to reach 100 games played in those two years. When he has played the power has been absent. He has average defensive tools across the board, which would allow him to play an ordinary centerfield, but he is a better fit in left. The 2013 first rounder needs to show the power that made him a high pick. His high school adversary from the state of Georgia Clint Frazier, who was also picked in the first round has seen some time in the major leagues with the Yankees. Expect Meadows to get his time in 2018 if he can avoid injury.

The recently acquired Brian Reynods does not have the same offensive tools as Meadows. Defensively his tools are average with the ability to play center but left field is his more likely position because of a below average arm. The 2016 second round pick does not have the power to be a good fit for left and is probably destined to be a fourth outfielder. There are lots of strikeouts in his swing and not a lot of stolen bases. The Pirates do not have a number of alternatives out there but Reynolds is too far down in the minor league system to get an opportunity this year. As a college level player when drafted he will rise quickly if he shows success.

Jordan Luplow is the most major league ready but his tools are limited. He is a firstbaseman playing left, lacking the speed to cover a lot of ground. What he does have is some power in his bat, slugging 23 minor league homeruns and adding three in the major leagues. In limited playing time he struggled with a .205 average with an OBA 30 points below .300. A good spring could see him win the left field job, but how long he stays will depend on his bat staying hot.

They also have a couple pedestrian shortstops in Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman, whose play will remind fans of Jody Mercer. They will not offer a lot of offensive numbers and their defense will be consistent without offering any gold gloves. Tucker offers the most intrigue with the potential for 30 stolen base speed. Playoff teams look for better tools in their shortstops, but the Pirates are happy with average.

Colin Moran was an Astro acquisition in the Gerritt Cole trade. He became a number one pick in 2013 after leading all college players in RBIs. His minor league career was rather ordinary until last year when he broke out for 18 homeruns and 63 RBIs in just 79 games. This led to a promotion to Houston where he only played a couple games before being injured. His defense at third is adequate but at 6′4″ he may be out growing the position. The Pirates could move Josh Bell to the outfield to give Colin Moran an opportunity to play first. If his bat replicates his 2017 numbers the Pirates will find room for him in the lineup.

On the pitching front Kyle Crick was another player acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade. The 2011 first round supplemental pick has lost a lot of luster since then, struggling to throw strikes with little velocity. The Giants moved him to the bullpen where he seemed to perform better. That will probably be his role in 2018.

A more heralded pitcher is Mitch Keller with his mid-90s fastball and top 100 rankings. The second round 2014 pick seemed to appear from nowhere after his fastball showed some juice in 2016 resulting in 131 whiffs in 124 innings at Low A. He continued that dominance last year at High A and AA, which should prepare him for a major league debut in 2018. An above average curveball and change give him the three pitches necessary for the rotation. Expect him to start the season in AA and with success in AAA a midseason promotion should be in his future.

Nick Kingham missed most of 2016 after Tommy John surgery. His 2017 season was rather limited with gaining arm strength a priority over results. If not for the injury he may have debuted in the major league rotation in 2016. His fastball reaches the plate in the mid-90s but at 6′6″ it seems to come at the hitter faster. Prior to the injury his career minor league opposition average was .238. Last year in AAA it stood at .271. He should be able to let loose a little this year now that he is a year away from surgery. If he can prove his arm is strong don’t be surprised to see him in the rotation by mid-season.

Shane Baz was the Pirates first pick in 2017. At 6′3″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a fastball that can split the plate in the mid-90s. As he fills out his frame this velocity should increase. His strikeout pitch may be his cutter/slider. Last year he made his minor league debut in rookie ball, struggling to find the plate and getting attacked by lefthanders at a .344 clip. Welcome to the minor leagues Mr. Baz. Improving on his change should give him better success against lefthanders and how far he goes with it will indicate how long he stays in extended spring.

Myworld’s Top Ten Righthanded Pitchers

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The last group of position players rated by myworld. This is the largest and most important one since no playoff teams can survive without an ace. Most of your aces throw from the right side. Below is myworld’s top ten right handed pitchers and others to watch:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) - A coup for the Angels to sign the best pitcher coming out of Japan since Yu Darvish. The big question is whether his elbow can hold up. If so he could become the best pitcher in major league baseball. If not he could transform himself into an All Star power hitting rightfielder. Right now, the Angels plan on him doing both, restricting his offensive performance to DH duties. To protect his elbow the Angels may go to a six man rotation. No major league starting pitcher had an average velocity higher than Otani last year, though injuries limited his starts. His splitter is also a pretty good pitch but he limited that offering severely after his elbow issues. He still has a number of other pitches in his repertoire to retire hitters. For the Angels to compete in the playoffs he needs to turn into their ace. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, something he had trouble accomplishing in Japan.

2. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year he finished with an ERA of 1.39 after 24 starts. No pitcher in the history of minor league baseball has had a lower ERA since Justin Verlander and we know what kind of pitcher he became once he arrived in the major leagues. Like Ohtani the biggest concern with Duplantier is the health of his arm. Both shoulder and elbow problems have restricted his innings. In 2016 a balky elbow limited him to just one inning after he was drafted in the third round in 2016 and a shoulder injury impacted his college appearances. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and is complemented by a plus curveball and change. Last year the opposition hit him at a .192 clip in addition to his 165 whiffs in 136 innings. After having success in High A last year he should start the season in AA, but that could depend on the success of his spring. A September callup is a possibility with a good season but it will probably be restricted to the bullpen.

3. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - Myworld has already stated that the last 19 year old we saw pitch impress me so much was Clayton Kershaw. We can still picture the smile on Joe Torre’s face after Kershaw was done pitching his one exhibition inning. That same smile will appear on the face of Terry Francona after he sees Tristan pitch. A 6′5″ inch preying mantis with long arms and a skinny frame should start slinging the ball in the high 90s once he puts some meat on his bones. His curveball and change are plus pitches resulting in a plethora of swings and misses. Like Duplantier he should start the season in AA and if the Indians need rotation help for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they do not call him up. Because of his youth and his sleight frame the Indians will be protective of his innings.

4. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox first round 2014 pick was acquired by the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade. Kopech throws harder than Sale, hitting triple digits with his fastball. Many scouts say he is the hardest thrower in the minor leagues. Throwing hard and getting outs are two different issues. A promotion to AAA saw the opposition average increase from .184 to .263, though the sample size for AAA was very small. Kopech has a good slider which allows him to get a number of swings and misses. With a good spring he could squeeze into the rotation but the White Sox have a number of pitchers higher on the depth chart to consider first. Myworld suspects mid-season will see his major league debut.

5. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - The Venezuelan started his career as a third baseman. The Astros converted him to pitcher because they liked his arm. His fastball can light up the radar in the high 90s with a couple good breaking pitches and a plus change to keep hitters guessing. The Astros traded him to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, initially signing him to a $1 million bonus in 2014. At 6′3″ he still has some frame to fill out. After starting the season at AA it should not take him long to find himself in the Tiger’s rotation, unless they do not want his option clock running by placing him on the roster too early.

6. Hunter Greene (Reds) - There was some talk of making him a two way player, but playing shortstop and having him pitch was felt to be too demanding. His fastball spits the plate in triple digits, giving Ohtani and Kopech a run for the hardest fastball. His secondary pitches could still use some polish. If they fail to develop he could always be used as a closer, or put back in the lineup as a shortstop. The first round 2017 pick struggled in his three minor league starts, giving up 8 hits in his 4.1 innings of work. Hunter may need more time in extended spring training before joining a full season team.

7. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Reyes has had some bad luck. First he was suspended in 2016 for 80 games after testing positive for drugs, then missing 2017 to Tommy John surgery. Prior to the surgery Reyes hit the high 90s with his fastball. Control has been his big issue, which could be corrected if he did not miss so much time due to suspensions and injuries. Alex did not play last year and will need some time in extended spring training and then in the minor leagues before the Cardinals risk him for the rotation. They will limit his innings since he has only pitched in 111 innings the last two years, all of those pitched in 2016. By mid-year he could be ready for a short relief role, fitting perhaps into the closer role.

8. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - He falls short in velocity when compared to the other pitchers on this list. The supplemental first round pick in 2014 can hit the mid-90s with his fastball but settles in the low 90s. The big pitch that gets the most publicity is the screw ball, which he does not throw that much, but it is a unique pitch. His change is also a pretty good pitch, enhancing the velocity of his fastball. Last year he pitched at AAA and struck out more than a hitter per inning but the opposition hit him at a .268 clip. He may stay around the plate too much making his pitches more hittable. Next year he should start the season in the Rays rotation. The team has already lost one pitcher to free agency (Chris Archer) and have another on the trading block. Spring training will seal his fate to begin the 2018 season.

9. Sandy Alcantara (Marlins) - Another one of those Cardinal finds in the Dominican Republic who slings the ball across the plate in triple digits. The Cardinals included him in the Marcell Ozuna trade giving the Marlins the benefit of his triple digit fastball. He sits in the high 90s using a slider as his breaking pitch. His change shows good potential but his command needs work. Last year he walked 54 in 125 innings and the opposition hit him at a .262 clip. Despite the heat on his fastball he struck out less than a batter per inning. Better command will result in better location of his pitches and more swings and misses. He could start the season in the Marlins rotation with a good spring, but more likely will see AAA. Last year he made his major league debut pitching eight games in relief.

10. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He seemed to arrive out of nowhere in 2016 to become a top ranked pitcher. He was a second round pick in 2014 and with his fastball hitting the mid 90s and a plus curveball and change he had a breakout 2016. Last year he did not disappoint limiting the opposition to a .202 average and whiffing a hitter per inning. Mitch is a pitcher who mixes his pitches well and locates them with precision. Last year he started six games in AA, which is where he will start the 2017 season. A good spring and an excellent start to the season will see him make his major league debut by mid season.

Others to Note:

Mike Soroka (Braves) - A first round pick in 2015. The Canadian does not throw hard but he locates well. At 6′5″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. Expect him to see the Braves rotation by mid season.

Touki Toussaint (Braves) - Once he overcomes his lack of command he will rise quickly. His fastball reaches the high 90s and his long arms give it a good whip like quality. He will start the season in AA.

Hunter Harvey (Orioles) - A first round pick and son of closer Bryan Harvey has seen his career stalled by injury. The 2018 season he hopes will be a complete season where he can unleash his mid-90s fastball to go along with his excellent curveball. A late season promotion could be in his future, but the Orioles want to be patient with him and control his innings.

Jesus Liranzo (Orioles) - Every pitch out of his arm hits the radar in triple digits with an easy delivery. He is probably slated for the bullpen because of a lack of control and secondary pitches. He is one of those pitchers who could have a breakout career if he can find a second and third pitch and the control improves. Watch out for him in the Orioles pen or rotation in 2018.

Dylan Cease (White Sox) - A sixth round pick of the Cubs in 2014 he began to draw attention to himself when he started humming his fastball in the triple digits. The Cubs traded him to their cross town rival White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. The White Sox have a lot of young depth in the rotation and Dylan needs to improve his command. He will start the season in High A.

Alec Hansen (White Sox) - Myworld likes his 6′7″ frame and his long wing spans that allows him to sizzle his fastball in the high 90s. He gets a ton of swings and misses and the opposition struggled against him, hitting just .216. He is another pitcher who needs to locate his pitches better. That will be done as he starts the season in AA.

Dane Dunning (White Sox) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 who they traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton. Don’t be surprised to see three ex-Nationals in the White Sox rotation next year in Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Dunning. His fastball reaches the mid 90s with good secondary pitches. Next year he will begin the season in AA.

Tyler Mahle (Reds) - The Reds 7th round 2015 pick made a name for himself in 2016 with a 9 inning no hitter. He had a breakout season last year catapulting him to the major league rotation for four starts. His fastball has good velocity and he has excellent command of four pitches. Expect him to fill the Reds rotation next season.

Riley Pint (Rockies) - The fourth pick in the 2016 draft hits the triple digits but tends to sit on the high side of the mid-90s. He also has got excellent command of four pitches. Despite his stuff his strikeout rate was disappointing and the opposition hit him at a .264 clip in Low A. Next year he will start the season in High A.

Matt Manning (Tigers) - The Tigers will have an excellent rotation in a couple years with Perez, Manning, Faedo and Beau Burrows. Manning stands 6′6′ and rains mid to high 90s fastballs on hitters. The 2016 first rounder has the pitches to shine at the top of a rotation, beginning that ascent at High A in 2018.

Alex Faedo (Tigers) - The 2017 first round pick has an excellent fastball slider combination. Last year he pitched Florida to the College World Series championship and was held back by the Tigers. Another top of the rotation starter should begin his year in Low A and as a college drafted pitcher move quickly through the Tigers system.

Forest Whitely (Astros) - The Astros 2016 first round pick is a popular conversation piece during trade talks. At 6′7″ and 240 pounds his mid-90s fastballs sizzle across the plate. His tall frame does not seem to impact his command. With a good season in AA he should fit in the Astros rotation by mid-season.

Walker Buehler (Dodgers) - The Dodgers first round 2015 pick made the Dodgers bullpen last year. His control wavered a bit in the major league callup, but he has four above average pitches that he can throw for strikes. The Dodgers will want to limit his innings after Tommy John surgery in 2015. He will start the season in AAA and by mid-season could be in the rotation or used out of the bullpen.

Yadier Alvarez (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed the Cuban for $16 million. His velocity hits triple digits but he has trouble finding the plate. If he continues to struggle throwing strikes he could move to the bullpen, but he has the pitches to fit in the rotation.

Jorge Guzman (Marlins) - The Marlins were able to pry this Dominican with the triple digit fastball away from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is a challenge of finding the plate and the lack of a third pitch may relegate him to the bullpen.

Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) - Another Yankee Dominican with a triple digit fastball, Domingo dominated at AA and shows better command of his pitches than Guzman. He also has three pitches to fit into a rotation. Expect him to start the season in the AAA rotation but with a good spring he could be going to New York in April.

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - At 6′0″ he is not a tall pitcher but his arm can sling a fastball to the plate in the mid 90s. Sixto also shows good command of his pitches. A good spring could see him start the season in AA but after only five starts in High A the Phillies may want to begin his 2018 season in the warm weather of Florida.

Anderson Espinoza (Padres) - Another small pitcher (6′0″) with a small frame (165 pounds), Espinoza succumbed to Tommy John surgery late in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017. It will be interesting how his mid-90s fastball responds. Noted for his plus change Anderson will probably start the season in extended spring training and see his first games in Low A if he is ready before July or in rookie ball if the Padres want to show patience. The hope is that he ends the season in High A.

Michael Baez (Padres) - A 6′8″ Cuban with high 90s heat. The Padres shelled out $3 million for him at the end of 2016 and last year he made an impressive debut. The opposition hit him at a .188 clip and he struck out 89 in 63.2 innings. He should start 2018 in High A.

Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) - The Cardinals 2104 first round pick has been percolating up the Cardinals minor leagues for a few years. Last year he made his major league debut and the Cardinals hope to see more of his mid-90s fastball in the rotation. What sets him apart is an excellent change that enhances the velocity of his fastball. A good spring could see him in the rotation.

Myworld’s Top Ten Shortstops

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

These are the players who can make or break a major league team. Many of these players move on to other positions such as second base, third base or centerfield because of their athleticism and there are only 30 spots open to them in the major leagues. This is probably the most crowded position, with many of the major league teams already filled at shortstop. The Yankees have Didi Gregorius, the Mets will have Amed Rosario, the Nationals Trea Turner, the Indians Francisco Lindor, the Astros Carlos Correa, the Dodgers Corey Seager and on and on we can go. Some teams still need shortstops to make their lineup complete. They are the quarterback of an NFL team, the point guard in the NBA. Without a quality player at this position it is difficult to win in the major leagues. Below are some of the best that are waiting for their opportunity to prove themselves.

1. Willy Adames (Rays) - Signed by the Tigers but traded away in the David Price deal. Now that the Tigers are rebuilding he would be a good piece to have in that quest. The defense is there to make the plays and the bat will be productive. The strikeouts need to be tamed (132) but his high walk total (65) gave him a .360 OBA in AAA. He has the potential to hit 30 plus doubles with double digit homerun power approaching 20. Tampa is still looking for a shortstop and Willy could grab the position out of spring training in 2018.

2. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The Twins first round pick in 2017 and the first pick overall. His bat is solid and his defensive tools are strong. The big criticism is his lack of power and an average arm that could create a move to second base. Currently his power is built for the gaps with the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He makes consistent contact with the patience to draw walks. With his speed he could steal 40 plus bases. Royce is still a couple years away and won’t be introduced to the major leagues until 2020 at the earliest as a possible September callup.

3. Gleyber Torres (Yankees) - Gleyber was signed by the Cubs in 2013 for $1.7 million. They traded him to the Yankees to acquire Aroldis Chapman for half a season. Didi Gregorius stands in his way at the major league level and Tommy John surgery cut his 2017 season short by 100 games last year. The bat seems to be his most impressive tool with the ability to hit for average and power. This would allow a move to third base if Didi stays at short. The arm is strong but his range may not be as great as Didi. Don’t be surprised if Gleyber makes an impact to the 2018 season after spending the first couple months in the minors rehabbing his elbow.

4. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr. he carries the power of his father with the speed and tools to cover ground in the middle infield. At 6′3″ he may eventually have to move to third. He made a brief appearance at AA, combining for 22 homeruns at the two levels. There is still a lot of non contact with his at bats (77 walks with 141 whiffs) but the walks but his OBA close to .400 (.379). The Padres currently lack a shortstop so a good year at AA could convince the Padres to promote him by mid-season in 2018.

5. Kevin Maiten (To be determined) - The Braves signed him for $4.25 million in 2016. He immediately appeared on Top 100 lists as a 16 year old. His bat was a little quiet in his first season, producing an unimpressive .629 OPS in rookie ball. He didn’t show the bat or the defensive tools to justify the high bonus, but some have to remember he would still be a high school kid if still in the United States. Kevin is one of 13 players the Braves had to release because of the shenanigans the team practiced in circumventing the international salary cap.

6. Carter Kieboom (Nationals) - His father played in the Netherlands. His brother Spencer is a catcher and was first drafted by the Nationals, but lacks the tools of Carter. Carter was a first round pick in 2016 and struggled to stay healthy in 2017. The bat will be strong and spray the gaps, but he may need to move to third. At 6′2″ he may lose the range to stick at short. Whether he can move to third will depend on his gap hits turning into homeruns. He is still a couple years away so Trea has no worries to peer in the rear view mirror until sometime in 2020.

7. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - A first round pick in 2015 Brendan’s bat is ready for the major leagues in 2018. Trevor Story stands in his way at shortstop. One will have to move to second base if the Rockies want to get Brendan’s bat in the lineup. The power exists for 30 plus homeruns in Colorado, which would make him a offensive force in the middle infield. Neither Story or Rodgers has the speed to cover a lot of ground at short so it could be rock, paper, scissors to see who moves to second.

8. Delvin Perez (Cardinals) - The Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He may have not fallen to them if not for a drug failure prior to the draft. At 6′3″ the Puerto Rican reminds scouts of Carlos Correa, with less power but a more consistent glove. He also has good stolen base speed. A taller Francisco Lindor may be a better comparison, with Lindor not developing the power until he hit the major leagues. Last year Delvin was limited to 34 games because of injury. His bat was disappointing with a .203 average and .585 OPS. Delvin is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

9. J.P. Crawford (Phillies) - The Phillies keep waiting for his tools to make an appearance. His bat has produced two consecutive years of disappointing performances. Most were expecting him to move Freddy away from shortstop by now, but based on performance Freddy is the better shortstop and J.P. may have to move to second or third. He does draw a lot of walks which makes his .243 average more tolerable and he did hit a career high 15 homeruns. A .214 major league average and .656 OPS may keep him in AAA to start the 2018 season. The Phillies may make him earn his promotion to shortstop.

10. Andres Gimenez (Mets) - His defense at short would make him gold glove eligible but his lack of hitting tools makes him better as a utility player. His speed should give him 20 plus stolen bases. His lack of power stunted his slugging (.349). In 2016 in the Dominican Summer League he walked more than he struck out (21/13). Against better pitching state side those numbers were reversed (28/61). At 19 the Mets can be patient with him so don’t expect him to sniff the major leagues until 2020.

Others to Consider

Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - The acquisition of Gleyber Torres moved him to second. Dealt to the Athletics in the Sonny Gray trade he has returned to short. Speed is his best asset though he has shown some surprising pop. The Athletics are a little crowded at short so a move to center field to take advantage of his speed is still in the cards.

Cole Tucker (Pirates) - Not a lot of tools. A Jody Mercer clone once Jody leaves as a free agent. Does have the speed to steal 30 plus bases.

Richard Urena (Blue Jays) - A defensive shortstop who lacks a strong bat. Injuries to Troy Tulowitski will give him opportunities to prove himself at the position, but last year only hit .206 in his major league debut.

Wander Javier (Twins) - The Twins shelled out $4 million for Wander in 2015. Royce and Wander are the same age, but Royce has seen Low A. Wander is still in Rookie ball with injuries in 2016 restricting him to 9 games. He has the tools to play the position and the bat to be an impact player but needs the reps to let those tools shine.

Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds) - Not a lot of Cubans to fill the shortstop position. The glove is there to play the position but the bat is light, lacking power and the patience.

Yu-Cheng Chang (Indians) - Chang is the atypical Asian shortstop. He hits for power but his defensive tools may force a move to third. Too many swings and misses (134) kept his average low (.220).

Hoy-Jun Park (Yankees) - An expensive sign out of Korea ($1 million), Park has a smooth glove but a silent bat.

Richie Martin (Athletics) - The 2015 first round pick has the best glove in the Athletics organization. A questionable bat that lacks power may make him fall short as a major leaguer.

Kevin Newman (Pirates) - Another Jody Mercer clone that lacks the speed of Cole Tucker. His bat lacks power but makes solid contact to hit .270 plus.

Wander Franco (Rays) - At 16 years of age he is still a long ways away. The Rays paid $3.8 million to sign him. His bloodlines are good being the nephew of Eric Aybar. Dominicans have a tendency to outgrow shortstop.

Lucius Fox (Rays) - A defensive wizard with good speed the big impediment towards Lucius making an impact is a weak bat. Willy Adames will have claimed the position by the time Fox is ready so a move to second base or center field is a possibility. He has the speed to cover the grass in center.

Logan Warmoth (Blue Jays) - The Jays 2017 first round pick hit .302 in his half season professional debut. Not great defensive tools with power more suited for second base.

Myworld’s Top Ten Third Base Prospects

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

This is a position reserved for power hitters. Many of those power hitters like Jim Thome or Miguel Sano get too big for the position and have to move to first base or DH. Below are the players myworld sees as the top ten at third base.

1. Nick Senzel (Reds) - The first round pick of the Reds in 2016 and the second player drafted overall should hit for both average and power. Last year he combined to hit .321 between High A and AA, with his average increasing from .305 to .340 when promoted to AA. He also hit 14 homeruns with a slugging average of .514. Defensively, he has the quickness to stay at the position, but do not expect any gold gloves. The Reds traded Todd Frazier to make room for Senzel. Eugenio Suarez, the current occupier of the position can play a super utility role, having played second, short and left field in his time with the Reds. Expect to see Senzel at this position in 2018.

2. Vladimir Guerrero (Blue Jays) - His bat may not be as productive as his father and his arm is not as strong. He does carry more patience, walking 76 times last year. In his last three years in the major leagues his father walked 71 times, though he did show more patience earlier in his career (or pitchers feared him so much they did not give him a pitch to hit). The big question with Junior is whether he can handle the position defensively. Last year he hit .323 with 13 homeruns and a .485 slugging average between Low and High A. Those numbers should increase as he matures. Myworld would not be surprised if he is moved to left field or first base, though his lack of speed would make him a liability on defense in the outfield.

3. Michael Chavis (Red Sox) - Rafael Devers had some success last year at third base for the Red Sox. That seems to create an impediment for Chavis to move there at the major league level. Chavis may not have the hit tool of Devers (.282) but he hits for more power with his 31 homeruns between High A and AA. Like Devers, defense is not a strong point for Chavis. His lack of speed will make moving to the outfield difficult. The Red Sox have one more year to decide who they move to first base, or use one of them as trade bait.

4. Brian Anderson (Marlins) - Myworld was impressed how frequently the third round 2014 pick peppered the gap during spring training. The ball seems to jump off his bat when he makes contact. Currently his power is more dedicated to the gaps. In a brief major league callup he hit 7 doubles in 84 at bats. At AA and AAA he combined for 22 homeruns and 21 doubles, hitting .275. His power could improve once he shows better patience at the plate. Defensively he has all the tools to play the position. He should be the starter at the position for the Marlins in 2018.

5. Austin Riley (Braves) - Austin is currently tearing it up in the Arizona Fall League. This after he hit 20 homeruns at High A and AA last year. If Austin can tame his swings and misses the average could go higher and more balls would carry the fence. Defensively he is adequate at third. With another solid performance in AA he could be with the Braves by mid-season in 2018. They do not have any top player to stop him from advancing.

6. Miguel Andujar (Yankees) - The Yankees have a glut of middle infielders (Gleyber Torres), some of whom they may have to accommodate at third to get their bat in the lineup. Currently, most of his power fills the gaps, with 38 doubles last year, two in the major leagues. As he matures those 16 homeruns he hit last year could translate to 30 plus. It would be hard to find a better arm than Miguel and if he had the speed a move to right field would be perfect (but that would require supplanting Aaron Judge). Last year he hit .571 in a seven at bat major league September callup. Expect him to see more time at the major league level next year.

7. Jake Burger (White Sox) - Jake was a first round pick of the White Sox last year. There is little doubt he will be a hitting machine, though in a 13 at bat minor league debut he hit just .154. The big concern with Jake is his stay puff marshmellow physique, which could force a move away from third. Currently his physique allows him the quickness to play third. If he continues to bulk up he may have to move to first. Not a lot of players can match his work ethic. Drafted out of college if Jake hits he will be moved up quickly.

8. Colton Walker (Rockies) - Unlike Ryan McMahon, Colton as a few more years in the minor leagues to play third base before the Rockies have to make a decision on whether to keep Nolan Arenado. The biggest strength for Colton is his defense. He was a shortstop in high school, so playing third is a good transition for him, especially because of his lack of speed. Last year in his first full season at Low A he hit .350. The power is still absent (6 homeruns) but it should come as he gains strength.

9. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The second round 2016 pick has the power to play the position. He struggled with the bat a little bit more last year than his debut 2016 half season, hitting just .256 at High A. The power showed mainly in the gaps with 33 doubles, but he did slug 15 homeruns for a .417 slugging average. As he gets stronger the power will carry more balls over the fence. He should be a stand out defensively and eventually move Travis Shaw to first base.

10. Adrian Rondon (Rays) - The Rays shelled out $2.95 million to sign him. At the time he was a shortstop. A lack of speed forced a move to third base. Too many swings and misses (129) impacted his average (.221). When he makes contact the ball travels well off the bat. Only 19, myworld would not be surprised if he spends another season in Low A to deal with his lack of contact issues. The defense will be solid.

Other players to note:

Ryan McMahon (Rockies) - On talent alone he would make this top ten just after Andujar. We already listed him at second base and do not see him playing third for the Rockies as long as Arenado fills this spot. Defensively he is not as strong as Walker so when Walker is ready and Arenado gone McMahon will be at first or second.

Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - He does not have the range to play short. When promoted to AA last year he played third. The power could be short for the position making a move to second more logical.

Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - That shortage at third base for the Red Sox is turning into a surplus. There is still too much swing and miss in his bat (132 in 85 games). If that can be toned down the power is there to play the position.

Colin Moran (Astros) - He was an RBI machine in college. That did not transition to the major leagues. Last year he had a break out season with 18 homeruns, earning a promotion to the major leagues. A hit by pitch put an early stop to his season. It will be interesting if last year was an aberration or part of his new self.

J.D. Davis (Astros) - Davis has some power in his bat but a lack of quickness and Bregman and Moran could force a move to another position. A lack of speed leaves first base as the most desirable option.

Hunter Dozier (Royals) - The first round 2013 pick has taken some time to develop. Injuries limited him to 33 games last year. Alex Gordon struggled for a number of years with the Royals while trying to play third base until they moved him to the outfield. Perhaps this will have to be done for Dozier to get his bat working.

Renato Nunez (Athletics) - He has good power in his bat but an inability to make consistent contact. His poor fielding makes a move to first almost guaranteed, especially with the depth the Athletics have at third.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The Pirates first round pick in 2015 lacks the power for the position. He is an above average defender.

Christian Arroyo (Giants) - A tweener. The first round 2013 pick does not have the range for short or the power for third.

Keller Dominates in AFL

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Myworld could not get excited for any of the performances of the AFL players on Sunday. Paul Clemons pitched four innings of no hit ball, but he is a journeyman that has been released by a couple teams already. On Monday, Mitch Keller is the winter league player of the day, though it was a very limited schedule for the Caribbean Leagues.

Mitch pitched five innings of one hit shutout ball in the Glendale Desert Dogs 3-2 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions. For Keller it was his fourth start in the AFL and his second shutout performance. His ERA sits at 1.72 and the opposition has struggled to make solid contact off him, batting .151. That performance has earned him an appearance in the AFL Fall Star game.

Last year Keller reached AA, pitching at three different levels. He compiled a 3.03 ERA while limiting the opposition to a .202 average. The second round 2014 pick sits in the mid 90s with his fastball with an above average curveball. He sprung into prospect status after whiffing 9.5 hitters per nine innings in Low A in 2016. His strikeout rate in the AFL (10 in 15.2 innings) is not as great, but he is still able to limit contact. If he continues to have success next year expect him to see some time in the Pirates rotation in 2018.

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.

Pirates Get Moroff Nats Closer Kintzler in Win

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

The Nationals were going into the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Sean Doolittle had pitched the previous night so the Nationals went with Brandon Kintzler to close out the game. He gave up an RBI single to Sean Rodriguez to tie the game and after walking Elias Diaz to load the bases he coughed up a back breaking three run triple to Max Moroff to give the Pirates a 4-1 win over the Nats.

Up until then it was a well pitched ball game. Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals. He went only 3.1 innings but was forced to leave the game with a tight hamstring after throwing ball three to Josh Bell. A.J. Cole replace him, walked Bell but then got Jordan Luplow to ground into a inning ending double play. He shut the Pirates out for three more innings. Enny Romero closed out the eighth, leaving the Pirates with only a one out single to Max Moroff as their only hit through the first eight innings.

Jameson Taillon, the pitcher selected second after Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft pitched well for the Pirates for seven innings. He gave up a run in the second after Daniel Murphy roped a single into right field to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Zimmerman drove him in with a single up the middle to score the only run through the first eight innings. Zimmerman ended the day 2 for 2 before being removed from the game in the fifth inning.

After George Kontos retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth the Nationals called on Brandon Kintzler to close out the game. He gave up an infield single to Starling Marte on a slow roller to short. The initial call was out, but after a review of the replay it was determined he was clearly safe. Jordan Luplow singled to advance Marte to second. Kintzler ran the count to 3-2 to Sean Rodriguez, who was hitting .158 for the season. With the runners going on the pitch Sean lined a single to left field. Jayson Werth, who appears to have lost some velocity from his outfield arm, threw it home but it was not even close to get Marte. A walk to Diaz loaded the bases. After two three ball counts in a row Kintzler threw a fat first pitch to Max Moroff, who lined it in the left field gap, past a shallow Werth to role to the wall and drive in all three runs with his triple. The Nationals could not get Moroff out all day, finishing the day with two hits and two walks in four at bats.

Ex-National Felipe Rivera came out for the ninth hitting triple digits with his fastball and retired the Nationals in order to pick up his 21st save.

Game Notes: Max Scherzer was taken out of the game in the fourth inning for precautionary reasons. Daniel Murphy noticed some awkwardness in his delivery, the whole infield went up to talk to him and Murphy waved for the trainer to come out. The assessment was a tight hamstring which should be fine for a start on Friday…The Nationals also pulled Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters from the lineup, but that was just for rest. Bryce Harper was also replaced in the ninth inning…The Nationals removed Stephen Drew from the 60 day DL. If he is placed on the playoff roster that may mean Victor Robles will not get an opportunity to appear on the roster. The list of healthy players for a bench role is thin because of injuries.