Archive for the 'Pirates' Category

Top Third Base Prospects

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top third base prospects. Interesting the list lacks any internationals players. Perhaps some of those shortstops will move to third base, crowding out some of the players below.

1. Alec Bohm (Phillies) - The 2018 first round pick of the Phillies has some height (6′5″) which creates some massive power to his game. He kind of reminds me of Troy Glaus without the swing and miss. The concern is his defensive game is below par based on his lack of first step quickness. Last year his power was absent with zero homeruns in 139 at bats. This year he has hit 21 homeruns, climbing all the way to AA. For a power hitter he makes good contact, which could result in a high average. This year his average sits at .305, though a .367 average in Low A pads those stats. If his agility does not improve and a move to first is a necessity it would drop his value to the team.

2. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - Gorman was also a first round pick in 2018. The Cardinals have a glut of third baseman in the minor leagues, but Gorman is ahead of them all at this point. His defense is solid and his power is exceptional. In his first year after being drafted he slugged 17 homeruns in just 68 games. The big issue in his game is his inability to make contact and his struggle to hit lefthanded pitching. This year his splits are not as pronounced as they were last year but his 152 whiffs in just 125 games has dropped his average to .248. His slugging average has also dropped below .500.

3. Josh Jung (Rangers) - Josh was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2019. Josh dominated in college for Texas Tech, even showing the ability to play shortstop. That won’t happen in the major leagues, but it shows his ability to play a solid defense at the hot corner. His bat should show enough power to play the position and he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average. After tearing up Rookie level pitching (.588) he earned a promotion to full season ball. In Low A his power is a little short with just one homerun, but after a full college season he could be a bit fatigued. Bohm did not hit any homers his first year.

4. Jonathan India (Reds) - The Reds drafted India in the first round in the 2018 draft. He showed some power last year for the Florida Gators. With the Reds he may have to switch positions like Nick Senzel with Eugenio Suarez hitting 40 plus homeruns for the Reds. India is still low enough in the minors that the Reds can show some patience with him but as a college drafted position player you can’t show too much patience. India has already hit his way to AA with 11 homeruns, though his slugging average in AA is a disappointing .378. Defensively he has the glove to stay at third. His speed is also decent enough that a move to a corner outfield would not be without possibility.

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The first round 2015 pick is known more for his glove than his bat. He is the son of Charlie Hayes, who played quite a bit of third base in the major leagues. Power will not be part of his game, but he makes good contact where he could hit for average. Last year he hit .293, splitting the gap for 31 doubles. This year has been a bit more swing and miss in AAA, dropping his average to .265, though his homerun numbers have increased to 10. Next year he should battle for the third base job with the Pirates.

6. Brett Baty (Mets) - Bret was the Mets 2019 first round pick. Brett led all high school players with 19 homeruns. He has had some challenges making contact in his first year and his lack of agility may make a move away from third base a possibility. His speed is not impressive so a move to the outfield would still be a defensive liability and with Pete Alonso at first he is blocked there. The Mets will keep him at third and hope he improves with the glove. His first year in professional ball has been a bit of a challenge with a .234 average playing at three different levels.

7. Sheldon Neuse (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted Sheldon in the second round of the 2016 draft then traded him to the Athletics in the Sean Doolittle trade. With Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen also a part of that trade to the Athletics it could be a trade the Nationals regret. Neuse did not show a lot of big time power with the Nationals to justify using him at third base. Entering into the 2018 season he had a career slugging average of .415. This year he has blasted 27 homeruns in the hitter friendly AAA with a .317 average and 102 RBIs. That has led to a promotion to the A’s where his playing time is spotty. He is stuck behind Matt Chapman, and while his glove is solid it falls short of Chapman. If he continues to show power the Athletics could trade him for some pitching help. At 24 years of age his time is now.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - Myworld is always confusing him with Nolan Gorman. Jones was a second round pick of the Indians in 2016. He has big time over the fence power that also comes with a lot of swings and misses. Despite his struggles to make contact he has hit for a good average, coming into the 2019 season with a .289 average. His glove should allow him to play third, but he has the speed to move to a corner outfield if the need should arise. Nolan has worked his way to AA where his 15 homeruns is just short of his career high last year of 19. Nolan has also shown some patience at the plate with 96 walks.

9. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The Reds second round 2019 pick has some impressive power for the position. At 6′4″ the agility could be lacking to stay at third base. The speed is a tick slow so a move to a corner outfield would be a defensive liability at a different position. What makes him attractive is his size gives him the ability to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he shows he can handle the major leagues. Myworld was impressed with some of his batting practice shots in the homerun derby with Bobby Witt Jr last year at the All Star Break. There is some concern about his ability to make contact.

10. Mark Vientos (Mets) - As a second round pick in the 2017 draft Mark is ahead of Brett Baty on the Mets third base depth chart. He doesn’t have the power of Baty and his 22/110 walk to whiff ratio makes one wonder if he can continue to hit for average as he rises up the minor league ladder. At 6′4″ he has some size that limits his agility, but with Alonso at first he will need to play third to stay with the Mets. This is his first season in full season after two years in rookie ball. His batting average and slugging percentage has struggled with that. The arm is strong so a move to first would negate that strength.

Clippers Hold Off Indians

Friday, June 28th, 2019

The Columbus Clippers scored three early runs, two of them plated as a result of a fifth inning homerun by Tracye Thompson to down the Indianapolis Indians 3-2. Aaron Civale kept the Indians off the scoreboard for seven innings, retiring the last 11 hitters he faced. The Indians fell short of a victory at Victory Field.

Alex McRae started strong for the Indians, retiring the first seven hitters he faced, four of them on strikeouts. In the third he loaded the bases before escaping the jam. In the fourth he hit Brandon Barnes, who eventually stole second base and advanced to third when the catcher’s throw sailed into centerfield. Mark Mathias drove him in with a single for the first run.

In the fifth he gave up a two run homer to Thompson. After a two out single from Ryan Flaherty, McRae was gone.

Chih-Wei Hu had a rough ninth inning for the Clippers. After striking out the leadoff batter he gave up a hit to Tracye Robinson and back to back doubles to Logan Hill and Eric Wood, the last driving in two runs. Neil Ramirez replaced Hu and retired the last two hitters to get the save.

Myworld likes Victory Field. It has an old fashioned look to it, with a power plant lurking in the background. They also have a pretty large bar out in leftfield. Myworld was not too impressed with the concessions, the standard fare of hot dogs, chicken tenders, pizza or burgers. They have a rather ordinary looking bear mascot by the name of Rowdie.

The interesting aspect about AAA is finding the ex-major league players on the roster. Brandon Barnes has blasted 16 homeruns. Ryan Flaherty was playing shortstop for the Clippers and J.B. Schuck did not look too happy to roam centerfield in AAA. Jake Elmore was hitting .362. The only players I would identify as prospects are Cole Tucker and Kevin Kramer for the Indians and Adam Civale for the Clippers. Another Clipper Daniel Johnson, is a borderline prospect. Myworld does not believe he has enough game power to make it as a corner outfielder.

The Clippers had some big bats in the lineup. Tracye Thompson and Eric Haase each have 18 homeruns, with Tracye hitting his 19th tonight. Brandon Barnes has 16 homeruns

Top Prospects from Colombia

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last year we included the top prospects in the “Best Prospects from South America” List. Five Colombian players were named on that list. One of them graduated to major league baseball (Jorge Alfaro) and is no longer considered a prospect. The four remaining reappear on the top prospects from Colombia list. Myworld was able to find ten players who we felt had enough skills to make it to the major leagues. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - The Rays signed the infielder for $225,000 and then converted him to catcher. His biggest asset is his arm and the ability to hit for power. While the arm can control a running game he is still learning the other aspects of the game such as blocking the ball and framing the pitch that will get him to the major leagues. His defensive mechanics other than his arm would fall below average. On the offensive side, the bat showed it can hit for some power, crashing 21 homeruns last year and slugging .494 at Low A. This year he is trying to tackle High A in the Florida State League which is more of a pitcher’s park. He has five homeruns, but a much worse walk to whiff ratio (6/32), which could be a cause for concern. His batting average is still high (.287) but his OBA has dropped 20 points (.313). He is still a couple years from the major leagues.

2. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Patino back in 2016 for $130,000. At the time he was still a teenager lacking meat on his bones. He has picked up 40 pounds since that signing and his fastball velocity has gone up ten miles per hour, hitting the high 90s but sitting in the mid-90s. He also has an excellent slider that crosses the plate in the mid-80s. Finding an off speed pitch (curve or change) would make him effective as a starter. The one concern is his smallish frame, which at 6′0″ is death for right handed starters. Last year he dominated at Low A (2.16 ERA). This year a promotion to High A has not impacted his pitching, his ERA (2.92) and opposition average (.194) still showing he can dominate at that level. The Padres are flush with pitching prospects so there will be no rush to move him up the system. Expect him to make the major leagues sometime in 2020.

3. Luis Escobar (Pirates) - Luis signed back in 2013 for $150,000. He was signed as a third baseman but the Pirates moved him to the mound. He has bulked up another 60 pounds since his signing and his fastball now hits 97, but sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range. He has the secondary pitches to make it as a starter (curve and change) but he lacks the command to get them over the plate with any regularity. Last year he walked 59 hitters in 129 innings. That is almost a walk every other inning. This year he has walked 18 in 40 innings. Last year he got seven starts in AA (4.54 ERA). This year the Pirates have tried him out in the bullpen in High A, then skipping him to AAA where he has been used as a starter and reliever. His career opposition batting average entering the 2019 season was a pretty impressive .216. This year he has gotten it down to .150. The Pirates have had dome frustration as they have promoted their younger pitchers to the major leagues and achieved very little success. With every failure comes a greater opportunity for Escobar to show what he can do. Before the 2019 season ends he could start his career in the Pirates bullpen.

4. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals) - The Royals signed him back in 2013 for $460,000. In his first year stateside he shocked the minor league world in 2016 with a .376 average in rookie ball. The last two years he has been stuck at .260. Last year with the injury to Salvador Perez he got his major league opportunity, appearing in 10 games and hitting .259. That first year batting average appears to be a bit of an outlier. After getting off to a slow start in 2019 he has gotten his average up to .254. He is more noted for his defense and his strong arm that can control the running game than his bat. The Royals appear to have a top flight catcher (M.J. Melendez) ahead of him on the depth chart, which could cause a move to another organization if he wants to get playing time. He is currently in AA and should see some time in September, or earlier if an injury results in a promotion. At worst his solid defense would make him an excellent backup catcher.

5. Oscar Mercado OF (Indians) - Oscar was a second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, signing for $1.5 million. He was traded to the Indians last year for two lower level outfielders. Mercado moved from Colombia to the United States when he was eight years old, growing up in Florida and gaining a reputation as an excellent shortstop. He was moved to the outfield in 2017. There is not a lot of power in his game. Playing good defense and stealing bases will be his specialities. Last year he stole 37 bases in AAA, scoring 85 runs. The Indians are very weak in the outfield and that weakness led to a promotion to the major leagues this year. After hitting .294 in AAA Mercado continues to hit for the Indians with a .306 average. He has also shown some surprising pop with three homeruns in just 26 games. If this kind of production continues with the Indians he will graduate from prospect status and not appear on this list next year.

6. Harold Ramirez OF (Marlins) - With the Pirates he was once a big time prospect. Signed way back in 2011 he got a bit heavy and out of shape and his prospect status suffered. The Pirates traded him in 2016 to the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays did not see anything in him and outrighted him last year. That is where the Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent. He has resurrected his career, killing it in AAA with a .355 average and a .999 OPS. The Marlins promoted him and have been using him in centerfield, where they had hoped Luis Brinson would have been the answer. His success in the major leagues (.325) appears to indicate that he will be another player to graduate from the prospect list.

7. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - Jhon was signed by the Indians in 2016 for $150,000. Ironic that he was one of the two outfielders the Indians traded to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Could be the first trade where two Colombians were traded for each other. He did not make his state side debut until last year when he hit .397 in 17 games at the Gulf Coast League. At 6′4″ he can generate some power in his swing, hitting 8 homeruns last year in just 44 rookie league games. His arm is built to play right field. The Indians may be getting some good use out of Mercado now, but in the future they may regret trading Torres. The Cardinals have him playing Low A, where he has struggled in his 21 games (.167 average). When the rookie leagues begin he will probably be demoted there to get his bat working.

8. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Jordan signed in 2016 for $275,000. Last year he played in the Arizona Rookie League where he showed a good ability to get on base (.371). He has the defensive tools to play third base. His power is currently restricted to the gaps. Whether his 5′10″ frame can generate more pop is open to question. Last year he hit his first and only professional homerun. In the New York Penn League he went deep early where in three games he is hitting .364. He is still a long way from the major leagues. A lot of developing needs to be done.

9. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Signed in 2016 for $150,000 Santiago has the height (6′5″) and the fastball (mid-90s) to get the Pirates excited. His curveball has some promise but there is no real third pitch yet and his command is suspect. Last year he walked 23 hitters in 43 innings and saw his innings limited because of a barking elbow. There is a lot of development to do. He will work on that in the 2019 season when the rookie level leagues begin.

10. Danis Correa RHP (Cubs) - We needed a tenth player but don’t know a lot about Danis other than his fastball has hit triple digits, but sits at the mid-90s. At 5′11″ his height goes against him as a right handed pitcher. Last year he only was able to pitch in two games of relief at the rookie level. The year before he pitched 40.2 innings. At 19 years of age the Cubs are possibly waiting for the rookie leagues to begin before they put Correa on the mound.

Stat of the Week

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Baseballsavant.com carries some interesting statistical numbers. Last week we listed the top ten players for speed. Some of the names surprised us. This week we list the top ten players in exit velocity on average and distance to see how they marry. Not too many surprises here.

Exit Velocity

1) Joey Gallo (96.3) - Having a career year in batting average (.276) with 17 homeruns.
2) Nelson Cruz (94.5) - At 38 years of age his homerun numbers are going down, but it appears he still hits the ball hard.
3) Josh Bell (94.4) - Having a career year with 18 homeruns and leading the NL in RBIs (57).
4) Christian Yelich (93.8) - Gunning for another MVP award with 23 homeruns leading major league baseball.
5) Gary Sanchez (93.4) - A good bounce back year for him with his 19 homeruns already exceeding last year’s totals in less at bats.
6) Shohei Ohtani (93.3) - He can still throw the ball harder than he hits, but that exit velocity is still impressive.
7) Josh Donaldson (93) - The flyer the Braves took on him signing him to a big one year contract is paying off
8) Franmil Reyes (93) - One of the best young hitters in baseball. Staying with the big boys with his 19 homeruns
9) Carlos Santana (92.9) - Not changing his evil ways against American League pitchers. Homerun numbers are down (12).
10. Yoan Moncada (92.9) - Finally reaching his number one prospect potential. Also only 12 homeruns but a .284 average.

Tommy Pham just missed the top ten at number 11 with an average exit velocity of 92.8.

The top ten in average homerun distance has some surprise names because some of the players on the list have not hit a lot of homeruns. So myworld took a look at the average distance a player hits the ball and the top ten from that list:

1) Gary Sanchez (236) - He appears in our top ten exit velocity.
2) Jay Bruce (233) - He has blasted 18 homeruns but a low batting average indicates a lot of soft contact in his game.
3) Anthony Rendon (229) - They call him Tony Two Bags because of all the doubles he hits into the gaps.
4) Joey Gallo (227) - Number one on our exit velocity list
5) Jorge Polanco (225) - Not noted for his homerun pop but lots of doubles this year. His 10 homeruns is approaching his career high of 13.
6) Justin Smoak (222) - Seems to be having a quiet year with a .237 average and only 12 homeruns and 6 doubles.
7) Mike Trout (220) - About time this superstar appears somewhere on this list.
8) Daniel Vogelbach (219) - We never saw his major league homerun production coming.
9) Brandon Belt (218) - His offensive numbers seem to be down. Perhaps a lot of fly ball outs to the warning track.
10) Cody Bellinger (216) - If not for Yelich he would be gunning for the NL MVP honors. A NL league leading .362 average

As far as distance, the top five homeruns for distance have been hit by Nomar Mazara (482), Ketel Marte (482), Keon Broxton (474), Josh Bell (474) and Mike Trout (473). Marte and Broxton are two interesting names I wouldn’t associate with power, though Marte has been hitting some homeruns this year.

A lot more interesting stats at baseballsavant.com. Hope to give you more next week but you can check the numbers yourself.

Mr. Freese Slams Pirates

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Pittsburgh is a nice place to watch a ball game. Good site lines of the city in the background, great fans, a better appreciation of hitters bopping balls into the river and a voluminous fireworks show at the end of the Friday night game. David Freese put on his own fireworks with a grand slam homerun to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 10-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Michael Felix was one of the many players acquired by the Pirates in the Gerrit Cole trade. He was once the closer for the Texas Rangers, but those days are in the rear view mirror now. The Pirates tried him as the opener last night and he continued with his struggles. He only retired one of the six hitters he faced in the first inning. The Dodgers hit him hard with David Freese ending his outing with a grand slam homerun in the right field bleachers.

Walker Buehler bent but did not break for the Dodgers. He had a good curve ball and a fastball that clicked above 95. He limited the Pirates to a run in the second inning. Bryan Reynolds led the inning off with a single and Colin Moran hit a ground rule double over the head of Kiki Hernandez in centerfield. A Elias Diaz ground out scored the lone run.

Buehler got out of danger in the fourth. With a runner on third and one out he struck out both Colin Moran and Elias Diaz. In the fifth, with two runners on he struck out Gregory Polanco. In the first inning he stranded a runner on third. He finished the day with six whiffs.

Steven Brault came on in relief in the first. He got the Pirates to the sixth inning, saving the bullpen for the rest of the weekend. He coughed up two runs in the third after back to back walks to David Freese and Kiki. Austin Barnes drove them both in with a double over the head of Starling Marte. The second run was allowed to score when Marte missed the cutoff man.

Cody Bellinger hit a two run homer in the seventh inning off Geoff Hartlieb. Chris Stratton had to leave the game early because of injury after facing just one hitter. A Joc Pederson triple in the eighth inning scored the tenth run for the Dodgers.

The Pirates tacked on a run in the seventh on back to back doubles from Kevin Newman and Adam Frazier.

Game Notes: The scoreboard at Pirates stadium is one of the best. They show the outs, scores, runners on the bases and when there is a score they provide an update as to who drove in the run, i.e. RBI single by X, homerun by Y, etc…The Pirate outfield disappointed me with their defense. Both Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte did not show me a lot of range. Bryan Reynolds in left did not get challenged…As usual, when in Pittsburgh I had the pierogies. A little greasy but still tasty…Walker Buehler had a nice breaking curveball that a number of Pirates swung at and missed. His fastball was in the low 90s in the first inning then shot up to 97-98 after the first inning…Clay Holmes gave up a single to the leadoff hitter in the ninth and then struck out the side after that…David Freese was welcomed by the home team in his return to Pittsburgh, playing his walkup song. He thanked them with a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch…I always thought Dave Roberts was a smaller guy that stole a lot of bases. Watching him during the anthem he has some broad shoulders.

Top Prospects from Bahamas

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

We have not done a top prospect from the Bahamas list because there were not enough prospects to make the list. That has changed with the number of recent signings. There have been six major leaguers from the Bahamas. The first to sign was Andre Rodgers in 1954. The most recent was Antoan Richardson. The ten players below hope to be the seventh major leaguer from the Bahamas. Because many of them are in rookie ball or recently signed myworld has not seen many of these players.

1. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - Lucius Fox was who everyone was looking at. During that showcase the Diamondbacks liked Jazz. They signed him for just $200,000, much less than what Lucius was asking. Now Jazz appears to be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there to stick at shortstop. The bat could be impactful, with above average power for the position. Last year he slugged 25 homeruns between Low A and High A. This year he has hit 9 homeruns. An inability to make contact could impact his ability to hit for a high average. Last year he struck out 149 times in just 112 games. This year he has struck out 44 times in just 29 games, dropping his average to .184 in AA. If he can get that average up Jazz could see some time in the major leagues. Jazz is one of three players on this list who played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, starting at shortstop.

2. Kristian Robinson OF (Diamondbacks) - Two years later the Diamondbacks sign Kristian, but they had to shell out $2.5 million to sign him. He has the five tools to become an impact player. The speed is there to play centerfield while the arm is strong enough to fit in right. The bat has big time power. At 6′3″ he has the frame that could fill out and move him to a corner. Like Chisholm there is a tendency to swing and miss. Last year he struck out 67 times in 57 games but still hit .279 in rookie ball. He has yet to make an appearance in 2019. At 18 years of age he is probably in extended spring training and will see a second year of rookie ball.

3. D’Shawn Knowles OF (Angels) - Imagine finding a prospect and learning he has a twin. The Angels signed D’Shawn in 2017. The Yankees took a flyer on his brother D’Vaughn in 2019. Speed is the big tool for D’Shawn. This could allow him to be a premium centerfielder. His power is limited to the gap, but last year the stroke was solid enough to hit .311 in rookie ball. At 18 years of age Knowles has yet to make an appearance in 2019, showcasing his skills in extended spring until the short season leagues begin in July.

4. Lucius Fox SS (Rays) - He signed with the Giants for $6 million. The Rays traded Matt Moore to acquire him. The biggest impact Lucius can make is with his speed and defense. His bat has been a little slow to progress, especially in the power department where he is lacking. Defensively he needs to gain some consistency in the field. Last year he committed 15 errors in 105 games at shortstop between High A and AA. He also struggled with a .221 average and .298 slugging percentage at AA. No surprise he is repeating at that level this year, where his average is still disappointing (.188) but his OBA has improved (.341). With Wander Franco ahead of him on the depth chart Fox may have to play shortstop for another team if he wants to contribute in the major leagues.

5. Tahnaj Thomas RHP (Pirates) - The first pitcher on this list. The Indians first signed him, paying him a $200,000 bonus and then converted him from a shortstop to a pitcher. The Pirates acquired him last year for Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff. At 6′4″ Thomas has the look of a pitcher, with a fastball that can reach the plate consistently in the low 90s. The pitch that improved his game was the development of his slider, which raised his whiffs per nine innings from 8 to 12.4. He still needs to improve on his change as his third pitch and find the plate more often. It appears he will have a third year in rookie ball. At 19 years of age he needs to make the jump to full season Low A before the year is out.

6. Trent Deveaux OF (Angels) - The Angels signed Trent in 2017 for $1.2 million. It would be an accomplishment that in five years Knowles and Deveaux share the same outfield with Trout. Trent lacks the overall tools of Knowles. His bat has a ways to go, hitting only .199 last year with 68 whiffs in 48 games. He was a sprinter in the Bahamas, so the speed is there to play center. If the bat can develop his game breaking speed could make him a pest in the lineup. He has yet to play this year.

7. Keithron Moss 2B (Rangers) - Moss played in the Dominican Summer League last year, where he hit just .196. The Rangers signed him for $800,000, part of the money they had accumulated for Shohei Ohtani. He is a line drive hitter who preys on the gaps and uses his speed to take the extra base. He is not a big guy, standing 5′11 and 165 so he could mature as he gets older. This should be his first season state side where he will start at one of the rookie level clubs.

8. Chavez Young OF (Blue Jays) - Chavez was born and raised in the Bahamas but went to high school in Florida and Georgia. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 39th round in 2016 and then used $200,000 to entice him to sign. Chavez has the speed to play centerfield and last year used that speed to steal 44 bases at Low A. He hits more line drives into the gaps and is not expected to hit for a lot of pop, though last year he slugged 8 dingers to accumulate a .445 slugging average. This year he finds himself at High A struggling with a .207 average with only four of his 18 hits (.287 slugging) going for extra bases. He will make a greater impact if he can stick in centerfield. Chavez played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

9. D’Vaughn Knowles (Yankees) - The twin brother of D’Shawn. The Yankees signed D’Vaughn in 2019 for $300,000. Like his brother his speed is suited for centerfield. His arm could also fit well in right. He has yet to make his minor league debut. Just look at his brother above and you will find the same tools, maybe just not as developed.

10 Reshard Munroe OF (Reds) - Shard is one of those players signed way back in 2014. While he is not expected to hit for power he did slug .455 in his last season of Rookie ball, before being promoted to Low A. This year he has already slugged two homeruns and is slugging, so the power could be developing. The Reds have used him primarily as a corner. If he hopes to reach the major leagues that power will need to develop. He played for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, backing up fellow Bahamian Antoan Richardson in left field.

NL Central Predictions

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

1. Chicago Cubs

Strengths - Overall the lineup is strong, especially the infield. Kris Bryant should have a bounce back year, hampered by injuries the previous year. Anthony Rizzo had his fourth consecutive season of driving in 100 runs. Those two will man the corners. Up the middle Javier Baez will either play short or second, depending on the need. He put up MVP numbers last year. When Baez is at second Addison Russell will play short and when Baez is at short either David Bote or Ben Zobrist will play second. Lots of depth with lots of bats to choose from. Wilson Contreras had a down year at catcher last year but he should bounce back. If Yu Darvish can return to health the starting rotation is a formidable five with Jon Lester, Darvish, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendriks and Jose Quintana.

Weakness - The starting outfield is either short on offense or weak on defense. Albert Almora and Justin Heyward carry silent bats but the defense is gold glove caliber. Kyle Schwarber needs his bat to produce because his defense is subpar. The bullpen has depth but it could use a closer. Brandon Morrow has trouble staying healthy and a proven closer is absent if he is not available.

Prospects to Make an Impact - This is a veteran team so it will be tough for a rookie to break into the lineup. Two pitchers have a shot if injuries to the rotation happen. Adbert Alzolay started just 8 games in AAA until a lat injury ended his year. Give him a half year of AAA pitching and he should be ready. Duane Underwood Jr. was a second round pick in 2012. He got one start for the Cubs last year after seeing 20 AAA starts. His fastball is not what it used to be but it is serviceable in emergencies.

Predicted Finish - A solid rotation with an offense that has the ability to score runs will be too much for this division.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Strengths - The Brewers will also score a lot of runs. The outfield is especially dangerous with MVP Christian Yelich leading the charge. Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun fill out center and left and Ben Gamels is depth if you should need a fourth outfielder.

Weakness - Not a big fan of their rotation. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes will bring youth and inconsistency. Both pitched mostly out of the bullpen for the Brewers last year. No real number one starters with Jhoulys Chacin, Freddy Peralta and Zach Davis filling out the rotation. All would be mid-rotation starters for playoff teams.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Keston Hiura is a batting title waiting to happen. Last year he hit .272 at AA with six homeruns. Mike Moustakas is playing out of position at second base. Corbin Burnes has won a spot in the rotation for the Brewers. Last year he pitched for them out of the bullpen. Mauricio Dubon was hitting .343 after 27 games at AAA until a knee injury ended his season. Another start like that and he could see a role as a utility player.

Predicted Finish - As the NL east adversaries beat each other up the Brewers should sneak into the playoffs as a wild card team.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

Strengths - The Cardinals got some pop for first base when they picked up Paul Goldschmidt. He has hit 30 or more homeruns in four of his last six seasons and driven in 100 or more runs in three of his last six. Picking up Andrew Miller in free agency and using the oft injured Alex Reyes in the bullpen gives the Cardinals three pitchers with closer like stuff when you add in current closer Jordan Hicks. Carlos Martinez may also be used out of the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list. There will be lots of swings and misses in the late innings.

Weakness - The starting rotation lacks an ace. Jack Flaherty may turn into one before the season is complete. Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez looked like aces a couple years ago but now injuries could force them to be used out of the bullpen. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha started just 23 games last year, not enough starts to fill one rotation spot. No defense made more errors last year than the Cardinals. Giving teams four outs in an inning can be frustrating to a pitcher.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Alex Reyes will be used out of the bullpen to start the season and could be used out of the rotation later. He has been felled by drug suspensions and injuries. Tyler O’Neil appears to have won one of the corner outfield jobs. He has the power that should exceed 20 plus homeruns. He also has the ability to record 200 whiffs. With the injury of Carlos Martinez it appears Dakota Hudson will be in the starting rotation. He pitched 26 games in relief last year for the Cardinals, limiting the opposition to a .186 average. Genesis Cabrera is a hard throwing lefthander with a mid-90s fastball who could be used in the bullpen by mid-season. The Cardinals lack depth with lefties out of their bullpen. The Cardinals are stacked at corner outfield but Adolis Garcia slugged 22 homeruns out of AA last year. The brother of Adonis is 26 and ready for the major leagues, while packing enough corners he could be surplus his rookie year.

Predicted Finish - Doesn’t appear to be enough flash or depth to pull the Cardinals into the playoffs.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Strengths - The Scooter Gennett injury puts a big dent in what was a solid offensive infield. Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball and will occupy first while Jose Peraza shifts to second. Last year Peraza increased his power numbers by close to 100 slugging points. Joey is the new human walk machine with OBAs north of .400. Eugenio Suarez homerun numbers keep on rising from 13 to 21 to 26 to 34 in the last four years. The Reds appear to be going with defensive minded Jose Iglesias at short as Peraza moves over to second. The Reds starting rotation was certainly juiced up with Sonny Gray, Tanner Rourke and Alex Wood. That is a change in pace from the young pitchers they trotted out last year.

Weakness - The outfield defense is certainly not a strength with Scott Schebler in center and Jessie Winker, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig fighting out for the corner spots. The catching could be offensively challenged with Tucker Barnhart the best of what they have for offense.

Prospects to make an Impact - Nick Senzel was going to get some more defensive experience in center. Now another injury may delay his call to the majors. The bat has the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. His original position of third base is occupied by Suarez. Jose Siri is a multi tooled outfielder who has the potential to hit 20 plus homers while stealing 20 plus bases.

Predicted Finish - Still a little too young to make the playoffs but they will make a run for it.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Strengths - They have two catchers in Francisco Cervelli and Elais Diaz who could start for many of the other 29 teams. The outfield of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson is one of the most talented in baseball, especially if you take into account the number of runs they erase because of their defense. They have one of the top closers in Felipe Vazquez.

Weakness - The middle infielders are two unproven players in Erik Gonzalez and Adam Frazier. Both may be better suited for utility roles. Adding to the offensive squalor along the infield there is uncertainty whether Jung Ho Kang can provide consistent offense at third. He hit a number of homeruns in spring training, but they were also most of his hits. Josh Bell is below average for a first baseman in pop. Back end of their rotation will be feasted upon by some of the more powerful offenses.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Mitch Keller is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Last year he struggled in 10 starts at AAA but he should make his major league debut by mid-season. There are no sure things at the middle infield positions which could open up opportunities for Kevin Kramer, Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman. None of the trio will put up better than average numbers.

Predicted Finish - They may not say they are rebuilding or tanking but they are.

Top 100 - 30-21

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Though the Braves added one more righthanded pitcher after including three in the 40-31 prospect list, the White Sox dominated this ten with two righthanded pitchers and an infielder.

30. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - The Canadian pitcher and first round pick of the Braves in 2015 was limited to 11 starts last year because of injury, five of those starts in the major leagues. At 6′4″ with a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can touch mid 90s he has the quality secondary pitches to be a perfect fit as a mid-rotation starter. Injuries to Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Guasman could improve his opportunities. The Braves will be in a pennant race but it may be wise to limit his innings and start his 2019 season in AAA. What sets Soroka apart from other pitchers is his excellent command. He throws it to all quadrants of the plate and appears to have a purpose for each pitch.

29. Nick Madrigal 2B/SS (White Sox) - Nick was a first round pick of the White Sox in 2018. He played second base for NCAA champion Oregon, but he could have just as well played shortstop. At 5′8″ he is small in stature but his bat sprays line drives to all parts of the park. His bat will not hit for a lot of power, but batting titles could be in his future. The arm may be better suited for second base but if Nick can make it as a shortstop he would increase his value to the lineup. He should rise quickly, finishing at AA in 2019.

28. Dylan Cease RHP (White Sox) - The Cubs traded Cease to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade sacrificing a pitcher for the future for one that could help them in the present. The sixth round pick in 2014 throws in the mid 90s and can hit triple digits. His secondary pitches lack consistency and he has trouble finding the plate. Last year he had success in AA with a 1.72 ERA, limiting the opposition to a .168 average. The White Sox are in rebuilding mode. Dylan will probably start the season in AAA and be promoted to the major league team by mid-season if he shows success in AAA.

27. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) - Last year Mitch Keller struggled for the first time since being drafted in the second round in 2014. He finished with an ERA of 4.82 in 10 AAA starts. His fastball hits the mid-90s and reaches the high 90s. Normally it is unhittable, but AAA hitters assaulted him for a .280 average last year. Both his fastball and curveball are the best in the Pirates system so they expect a bounce back. He is a better alternative than Nick Kingham or Jordan Lyles in the rotation so after a few starts in AAA he will be the Pirates number five starter by mid-May.

26. Francisco Mejia C (Padres) - With Manny Machado at third and the Padres outfield crowded Mejia will have to make it as a catcher. His arm is one of the strongest in baseball but his other tools for the position are fringy. Austin Hedges is the better defensive catcher but Mejia has the better bat. The Padres acquired the Dominican from the Indians last year for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Francisco has the potential to hit for a high average with good gap power. Last year he slugged 17 homeruns. If he starts the season with the Padres he will be the starting catcher with Hedges taking on the back up role.

25. Austin Riley 3B (Braves) - The Josh Donaldson signing delayed the arrival of Riley to the Braves by one year. The 2015 first round pick is a potential All Star who can provide quality defense and hit bombs far over the fence. If Riley has an Achilles heel it is his penchant for not making contact. The Braves will accept that as long as it comes with light tower pops. Last year Riley played at AAA hitting .282 with 11 homeruns. His .456 slugging average was below his norm. For the 2019 season he will start the season in AAA and if Donaldson is injured or struggles to find any offensive consistency Riley will be with the Braves by mid-season.

24. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - Drug suspensions, Tommy John surgery and injured lat muscles have kept Alex on the prospect lists two years longer than he would like. He was supposed to be in the Cardinals rotation a couple years ago. Because of his injuries he may start the year in the bullpen to lesson his innings and could move into the rotation towards the end of the year. His fastball is electric, consistently hitting the mid-90s and shaving the triple digits. He’s also got excellent secondary pitches which would make a move to the bullpen a waste. If he can’t stay healthy enough to stay in the starting rotation Alex would be a top notch closer. He should start the 2019 season in the Cardinals bullpen.

23. Casey Mize RHP (Tigers) - Casey was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2018. He has lept ahead of the other Tiger pitching prospects by being the first player selected in that draft. The fastball flashes across the plate in the mid-90s but what makes it so impactful is a quality splitter that gets a lot of swings and misses as it dives out of the strike zone. As a college drafted pitcher Casey should rise quickly. Last year he got four starts in High A, but hitters attacked him for a .295 average. High A is where he should begin his 2019 season.

22. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - He owned the best fastball in the minor leagues, reaching triple digits consistently and sitting north of 95. Tommy John surgery will put a halt to his 2019 season. Command of his pitches had been his biggest impediment, but just when he appeared to be mastering his control he was felled by his UCL. Prior to his injury he did get four starts in the major leagues and they hit him at a blistery .328 clip. It will be probably sometime in mid 2020 before he can again try to make an impact with the White Sox.

21. Luis Urias SS/3B (Padres) - The 2016 signing out of Mexico will begin the 2019 season playing shortstop for the Padres. Once Tatis is called up he will move over to second base. The arm is strong enough to play short but the range is lacking. Second base he could win gold gloves. His bat lacks power but will fill the gaps. In time Luis could win batting averages. Rookie of the year will be within his grasp for 2019 if his teammate Fernando Tatis does not take it away from him.

Top 100 - 50 - 41

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

The Reds have two prospects on this group of ten, but one is injured and the other is not tested.

50. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick had one of the hardest fastballs in the minor leagues. It reached 103 and sat in the high 90s. Unfortunately it was relatively straight and batters hit him at a .251 clip at Low A with six homeruns in just 68 innings. After 18 starts he was shut down in July with an elbow injury for the remainder of the season. No Tommy John but myworld cringes whenever we hear elbow issues. Success has been difficult for Greene with a career 4.95 ERA in his two half seasons. If everything goes well with his elbow he should be ready for High A but at some point he will have to start showing some success.

49. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - A poor man’s five tool player. Jesus should hit for 20 plus homerun power once he reaches the major leagues. The batting average has consistently finished above .300 at every level he has played except last year in AA when he only hit .214 in 98 at bats. The speed exists to play center field but it is absent for stealing bases. The arm has enough juice to slide over to right if another centerfielder is found. Expect Jesus to repeat AA to find some success. He could see the Rays sometime in September this year and next year be their starting centerfielder.

48. Jonathan India 3B (Reds) - Jonathan was the first round pick of the Reds in 2018. He plays the same position as Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds recently signed to a long term contract. The Reds top prospect Nick Senzel also plays that position and the Reds are trying to find another position for him. That scenario could hold true for Jonathan but he still has some time to play third base in the minors before experimenting with other positions. The tools are there for him to play third, but he has also played shortstop at Florida and has the tools to play second. His bat hits for power and should spray the gaps for a .270 plus average. Last year he reached Low A so expect him to rise quickly. His fringy speed could allow him to play left field, but his best fit is in the infield.

47. Triston McKenzie RHP (Indians) - An injury will delay the start of the 2019 season for the 2015 first round pick. The righthander does not throw hard, sitting in the low 90s, but he is all arms and has some maturing to do. At 6′5″ he only weighs 165 so a little bit more girth could put more velocity on his fastball. For such a gangly frame Triston has excellent control. His curveball is a quality pitch and he can get swings and misses with his change. While he did not blow away hitters there was a lot of soft contact against him, with opponents hitting just .191. There is some durability concerns because of his thin frame. Last year the Indians did not start him until June because of injury issues. This will be the second straight season his season is delayed. Once healthy he should start the season in AA.

46. Cristian Pache CF (Braves) - The Dominican has the speed and defensive chops to be a gold glove centerfielder. The hope is that the bat develops so he can hit at the top of the lineup. He needs to show a little more patience at the plate in order to improve his OBA (.327). His speed has also not resulted in a lot of success stealing bases (50 for 77 in three years). The power is lacking so he needs to rely on his speed game to make an impact. His first two years Cristian went homerless but last year he carried nine balls over the fence. Next year he should repeat at AA and with some success move up to AAA. With Ender Inciarte in centerfield the Braves do not have to rush Pache.

45. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charles was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2015. His defense is also gold glove caliber for third base, but his power could be lacking to play the position. Last year he slugged .444 with the 31 doubles accounting for most of his power. Ke’Bryan makes good contact and should hit for a high enough average. His speed is not great but he did steal 39 bases the last two years. The Pirates are a little crowded at third with Moran and Kang so Hayes should see a full season in AAA in 2019.

44. Yordan Alvarez LF/1B (Astros) - The Cuban has some big time power, hitting 20 homeruns last year. Finding him a position could be a challenge. At 6′5″ his arm is not strong enough to play right field but he has enough speed to fit in left. He still needs a lot of work on his routes in the outfield so a move to first may be in his future. His lefthanded bat has the ability to hit to all fields with no issues hitting for average when facing lefthanders. Kyle Tucker is currently ahead of Alvarez for the next left field opportunity so Yordan will start his 2019 season in AAA. If the power in his bat dominates AAA expect him to make his major league debut this year.

43. Justus Sheffield LHP (Mariners) - The Yankees traded away their 2014 first round pick to acquire a pitcher with more experience in James Paxton. A short term gain could end up a long term loss. His left handed arm can dial the fastball up to 95 and his slider is a hard pitch. He needs to improve his change to get more separation in velocity to prevent hitters from always looking for the hard stuff. The Mariners may start him in AAA to begin the season but expect an early callup to the major leagues. Sheffield and Kikuchi are two good pieces for building a rotation.

42. Chris Paddock RHP (Padres) - Like the Atlanta Braves, the Padres have a number of starting pitching options. The 2015 eighth round pick of the Marlins was acquired for Fernando Rodney. He has had nothing but success in the minor leagues with his ERA sitting at 1.82. He did not pitch in 2017 because of Tommy John surgery but bounced back last year tossing 90 innings. He is not overpowering, with a fastball sitting in the low 90s but his command of the fastball and his quality change made a number of hitters look like fools. In seven AA starts he finished with a 1.91 ERA with opponents hitting him at .171. A good spring could see him start at AAA with a major league promotion occurring quickly if he can have immediate success. Because of the recent Tommy John surgery the Padres will have to watch his innings.

41. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - The Cuban dominated the Naccional Series in his last season, putting up Triple Crown numbers before defecting halfway through the season. The speed is there to play centerfield and the bat should hit for power. His big issue is staying healthy. Thumb injuries cost him significant time last year, limiting him to just 50 games. In close to 200 at bats he failed to hit a homerun in 2018. The White Sox will like to see what they have got with a healthy Robert. Next year he should start his season in High A where the White Sox hope he improves on his .244 average and 8/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Top 100 - 70-61

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Continuing with our Top 100 list

70. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - In the Arizona Fall League Nate was consistently reaching the plate north of 100 miles per hour. The reason the 2017 first round pick was pitching in the AFL is because injuries limited him to just one start and less than two innings for the regular season. In 2017 he started eight games, tossing 20 innings and limited the hitters to a .106 average. While he possesses lots of heat his secondary pitches are a little raw and he needs to find the plate more. This could force him into a bullpen role. At 22 years of age the Jays will start him in High A and hope for quick promotions to get him ready for the major league roster. At 6′6″ he has the intimidation factor going for him.

69. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks) - The smooth fielding shortstop is just one of many players that seem to be cropping up from the Bahamas. The Diamondbacks were actually in the Bahamas to watch Lucius Fox when they spotted Jazz. His price ($200,000) was more reasonable than Fox ($6 million) and now it appears Jazz may be the better prospect. The defensive tools are there for him to stay at shortstop. The bat looks like it can carry some pop with 25 homeruns last year. The hope is that he reduces his strikeouts (149 in 112 games) to allow him to be an offensive threat. The AA season in 2019 should be a real test for him.

68. Luis Garcia SS/2B (Nationals) - This is the oldest and best of the two Luis Garcias. The other is a shortstop prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. Luis has the bat to hit for average with his .298 last year and .303 in 2017. The concern is finding a position for him. Trea Turner plays short, Carter Kieboom will play second or third and the Nationals would like to sign Anthony Rendon to an extension. That fills up the infield. A super utility role could be in his future. There is not a lot of power in his bat but he has the capability to compete for batting titles. He could start the 2019 season in AA.

67. Travis Swaggerty OF (Pirates) - The 2018 first round pick was part of the United States gold medal winning national team in the 18 and under division. He does have raw power that allows him to clear the fence pretty easily. His other tools are also average to plus with a solid arm that will put him in right and decent speed that will allow him to play centerfield in a pinch. Last year he struggled in his first taste of full season ball (.129) so expect him to repeat that level in 2019.

66. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) - The Tigers 2016 first round pick has a fastball that can fly across the plate in the mid-90s. His 6′6″ inch frame also makes him an intimidating presence on the mound. His hammer curve is a tough pitch for hitters to make contact with, resulting in 154 whiffs in 117 innings. His success resulted in two appearances in AA which is where he should start the 2019 season. The Tigers have four pitchers competing to be the ace of the future staff.

65. Sean Murphy C (Athletics) -Sean will be a solid defensive catcher whose arm will scare base stealers from trying to take the extra base against him. His bat carries some power but it could be a challenge to hit north of .250. He came into the 2018 season with a .246 minor league average. In AA he hit .288 with a .498 slugging average until a July injury put him out for two months. If not for the injury he probably would have seen his major league debut in 2018. Barring another injury expect that to happen in 2019, with a start to the season in AAA.

64. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Another pitcher who pitched in the Junior Nationals for the 15 and Under World Cup Team in Mexico City, but he threw for Cuba, defecting as a 16 year old. At 6′0″ he is not a big pitcher, but he throws lefthanded and knows where the strike zone is located. While he can get the ball across the plate in the mid-90s his best pitch may be a knee buckling curve ball. The majority of his starts were in High A so expect a promotion to AA in 2019.

63. Estevan Florial OF (Yankees) - After a break out season last year where the Haitian born Florial hit .298 with 13 homeruns in the two A leagues, the Yankees were expecting big things in 2018. Injuries slowed him down, limiting him to just 84 games. His results were disappointing with a .256 average in A ball with just three homeruns. The strikeouts need to be reduced but the five tools are there for him to be a superstar. Strong arm, deer like speed and a power bat make him a player to watch. The Yankees have a crowded outfield so he will probably see a full season in AA in 2019.

62. Drew Waters OF (Braves) - The Braves just don’t develop pitchers. They also appear to develop outfielders with Ronald Acuna winning rookie of the year last year and Cristian Pache and Drew ready to contribute in a couple years. The second round 2017 pick went to high school in Georgia. The speed exists to play centerfield but if Acuna captures that position he has the arm to play right. His current power is dedicated towards the gaps but with time and maturity he could hit twenty plus homeruns. He should see AA next year which would make him a knock on the door away from the Braves.

61. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Colombian righthander dominated in low A with a 2.16 ERA in 17 starts, with the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. At 6′0″ he is small in stature, but his fastball hits the high 90s, usually sitting in the low 90s. His slider is a swing and miss pitch and the change is a work in progress. Continued success could see him hit AA in 2019.