Archive for the 'Pirates' Category

2017 Top Asian Prospects

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Not a great exodus of Korean players, which bulked up this list last year. This made the 2017 list tough to put together. Almost all the players who made the list last year are no longer eligible after playing in the major leagues. Kenta Maeda was the top prospect, but his second year has not gone so well. Byung-Ho Park struggled to make contact and has been sent to the minor leagues to get his swing back. Hyun Sun Kim was in a platoon role for the Orioles. His power has not translated to the major leagues and it would surprise myworld if the Orioles resign him. Dae-Ho Lee, the sixth rated prospect is back playing in Korea after one season in the major leagues. The seventh rated prospect Seung-Hwan Ho took over the closer job for the Cardinals but the 2017 season isn’t going as well even though he maintains the closer position.

This whittles the prospect list to five. Rob Refsnyder did not return to the list because of his paucity of tools. Sean-Reid Foley, who was born in Guam jumped up to be the number one rated Asian prospect. Most of the other players are fringe prospects.

1. Sean Reid Foley (RHP) Guam/Blue Jays - Sean was born in Guam to American parents. His brother, who was a catcher in the Dodgers system taught him a curveball, which he broke out last year. That, along with a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s and a slider gives him a good selection of pitches to choose from. Last year he had a break out season at Low and High A with 21 starts and ERAs below 3.00. The opposition hit him at less than .200. This year a promotion to AA has not been kind to him. Hitters are slaying him at a .272 pace, his command is off with a walk every two innings pitched which leaves his ERA at a ugly 5.40. It appeared he had turned things around when he pitched six innings of shutout ball on his 11th start, but his last start he was smacked around for 6 runs in three innings. A September call up may have to wait until he turns his season around.

2. Chih-Wei Hu (RHP) Taiwan/Rays - It is rare to see Taiwan pitchers hit the upper 90s with their fastball, but Hu has that ability. He stands only 6′1″ but he mixes his change with his fastball well to stymie AA hitters last year. There are not a lot of strikeouts to his game but an improvement in a breaking pitch could change that. The Rays have moved him to the bullpen after three early starts to begin the season. They called him up for four bullpen sessions with the major league club where he only gave up three hits in his eight innings of work. Expect a return to the major leagues if he continues with his success in the bullpen in 2017. His fastball shows mid to high 90s velocity in the pen.

3. Jae-Gyun Hwang (3B) Giants/Korea - In his last two years in the KBO he hit 26 and 27 homeruns. Prior to that the power did not show. His career average in the KBO was only.286, which is below average for a hitter’s league where almost everyone shoots for .300. His last year he did hit .335. The Giants signed him, but despite their weakness at third base Hwang was sent to the minor leagues. The Giants needs have not really been addressed at the position and Hwang is hitting .291 at AAA. The power is not there with only 6 homeruns and a .478 slugging average. Christian Arroyo struggled in his major league opportunity, hitting just .192. He is hitting better than Hwang in AAA with a .417 average and a .643 slugging. At some point the Giants have to give him an opportunity.

4. Yu-Cheng Chang (SS) Taiwan/Indians - In 2016 Chang made the Carolina League All star team, hitting .259 and showing some pop for the middle infield position with 13 homeruns. This year he is struggling with a .211 average. The power is there with 11 homeruns and a .464 slugging but there are too many whiffs in his game (66 in 54 games). He is also committing too many errors for the shortstop position (12 in 51 games) but a move to third has not reduced those errors (5 in 16 games). Chang needs to improve his contact, become more consistent with the glove and find a position where his power bat can benefit a lineup before he can sniff the major leagues.

5. Hoy-Jun Park (SS) Yankees/Korea - The Yankees are very crowded at short. Park has the glove for the position but his bat is a little too quiet. He has also had trouble with the glove this year with a fielding percentage less than .900. They have played him a little at second base. Unless they trade Gleyber Torres or Didi Gregorius the best spot for Park looks to be second base. His power is not there to play third. This is his second season in Low A. His bat appears to be improved (.250/.349/.370) but his fielding has been more inconsistent and his stolen base percentage has dropped from 32 of 35 last year to just 8 of 12 this year. While his homerun numbers have increased his triple numbers have dropped.

6. Tzu-Wei Lin (SS) Red Sox/Taiwan - The Red Sox shelled out just over $2 million for Lin. His glove is solid and he has some speed, but that is what they said about Hak-Ju Lee who was last seen playing in Japan in the Independent Leagues. The bat needs to start showing some spark if he is to separate himself from some of the other Red Sox shortstops. After hitting just .223 with a .580 OPS in AA last year Lin is back there for the 2017 season. His bat seems to have found some life with a .306 average and a .866 OPS. The Red Sox have also played him a few games in centerfield. If he can keep his offense at this level some team will find a spot for his glove if the Red Sox lack the room.

7. Wei-Chieh Huang (RHP) Taiwan/Diamondbacks - Durability concerns have moved Huang to the bullpen. It could improve the velocity on his fastball, which sits in the low 90s and allow Huang to survive on a fastball/change repertoire. So far so good. In 14 relief appearances his ERA sits at 1.71 with a .177 opposition average. He recently returned from a one month stay on the disabled list.

8. Jin-De Jhang (C) Taiwan/Pirates - Jhang is a defensive catcher who the Pirates hope will develop with the bat. There is some pop in his swing, but that has not showed in games. His big year for the homerun was in 2013 and 2015 when he hit five. He makes good contact and can spray balls into the gap. This year he is struggling with a .197 average with only one extra base hit in his 16 games. The best Jhang can hope for if his bat does not develop is as a back up catcher. Or he can return to Taiwan and play in the CPBL.

9. Daniel Missaki (RHP) Japan/Brewers - He was born in Japan but he pitched in Brazil, playing for the 2013 World Baseball Classic team as the youngest player in the tournament. The Mariners signed him in 2013 after the WBC. He was traded last year to the Brewers in the Adam Lind trade even though Tommy John surgery had ended his 2015 season. Prior to that he had combined with two other pitchers to throw a no hitter. His fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the high 80s but his curveball and change are decent pitches. Daniel has not pitched since 2015 and will probably begin his comeback in the rookie league.

10.Shao-Ching Chiang (RHP) Taiwan/Indians - Durability issues have also plagued Chiang. He signed with the Indians in 2011 and saw a delay in the start of his career after Tommy John surgery limited him to two appearances in two games. Last year he did start 27 games, but he is a contact type pitcher with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s but mostly sits in the low 90s. He pitched for Taiwan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This year he has started strong with a 7-3, 2.57 ERA in 11 starts. The opposition is hitting him at a .238 clip, which would be the lowest in his career. He still doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses.

2016 Asian Prospects

Kang Loses DUI Appeal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

If anyone was wondering where Pirate third baseman Jung-Ho Kang is he has been in Korea and had been apparently drinking a lot of alcohol during the off season. He was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to eight months in prison. The problem with this most recent DUI was it was his third DUI and there was hit and run involved with a guard rail. He had DUI convictions in 2009 and 2011 and evidently had a reputation in Korea as a party animal. The Pirates were evidently caught by surprise with this information. It certainly does not help future Korean players negotiate contracts with major league teams.

The prison time was suspended, but the felony conviction prevented Kang from getting a work visa. He appealed the conviction, hoping to reduce it to a fine, which would make it easier to get a work visa but that appeal was lost yesterday. Now it is unclear whether he will get a work visa for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019. The Pirates are still working on getting him a visa.

What may not help him is his sexual assault allegation that still hangs around in Chicago. That investigation involves a woman who initially alleged she was drugged and raped. That doesn’t sound like someone I would want in my country, regardless of what country it is if I was the official issuing the work visa. The sexual assault case has not been pursued because the woman has not cooperated with the investigation after the allegations were made. The police investigation for that case remains open as of March 2017 but with Kang still in Korea it may be difficult to pursue.

Even if Kang can return to the United States he could be facing suspensions as a result of the sexual assault allegations and/or drunk driving convictions. Hopefully the party animal has been behaving himself while stranded in Korea. Another bad incident will be a death sentence to his major league career and a bad look for other Korean players looking at the major leagues.

At this point it would be interesting to see if the KBO would allow him to play if he tried to continue his career in Korea if the major league opportunities dry up.

Prospects Raking in May

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Below are the prospects making a name for themselves in the month of May. Some of them have earned a call up to the major leagues or a promotion to the next level of the minor leagues.

Raimel Tapia CF (Rockies) - Tapia had a 16 game hitting streak where he saw his batting average climb from .341 to .400. That got him a promotion to the major league club. Tapia does not hit for a lot of power but he spreads the gaps with 9 doubles and three triples during his streak. He can also move around the outfield with the arm to play right and the range to play center. Stolen bases are also in his repertoire with 8 in 10 attemepts.

Josh Ockimey 1B (Red Sox) - Josh was a fifth round pick of the Red Sox in 2014. A nine game hitting streak was recently ended where he drove in nine runs. He’s hitting .327 but his biggest contribution is his RBIs. His 31 RBIs is second in the Carolina League. The power has not been eye popping with just four homeruns, but he has a .529 slugging percentage and a .961 OPS.

Jake Gatewood 3B/1B (Brewers) - Jake was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He has gotten a hit in all the games he has played in May to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. The strikeouts are a little prevalent with 39 in 34 games but his hitting streak has maintained his average at .333. His 13 doubles top the Carolina League.

Alex Jackson C (Braves) - The trade of Alex to the Braves has rejuvenated his career, or perhaps it is his return to catching. The number one pick of the Mariners in 2014 is hitting .312 with 10 homeruns in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. He is 9 for 21 in his last five games. His 10 homeruns and 30 RBIs lead the Florida State League. Alex has bounced between catching and designated hitter.

Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) - Raimel is not the only Rockie minor leaguer to raise his average to .400. A 10 game hitting streak in which he hit .488 moved his average from .276 to .400. Brendan has driven in 12 runs during the streak. All this production will only get him a promotion to AA despite the early season struggles of Trevor Story.

Yoan Moncada 2B (White Sox) - Yoan is making AAA look easy with a .352 average and six homeruns. His OPS sits at .971 and he has stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts. Despite all that and a hole at second base on the major league roster the White Sox are not calling him up. At least not right now. If he continues to assault AAA pitching they may have no choice.

Victor Caratini C (Cubs) - The Cubs are loaded at catcher. Back to back four hit games by Victor put his average at .361. If Wilson Contreras does not get out of his hitting funk Caratini will make his presence known. The defense is not as strong but the Cubs needs some offense and Victor has shown he can provide that. The second round 2013 pick of the Braves was traded to the Cubs in 2014 for Emilio Bonafacio.

Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers) - Mauricio was drafted in the 26th round by the Red Sox but was born in Honduras. The Red Sox traded him to the Brewers as part of the Tyler Thornburg swap. A six game hitting streak (11 for 27) has raised his average to .294. Mauricio has speed stealing 30 bases in 2015 and 2016. In only 35 games this year Mauricio has stolen 18 bases in 22 attempts.

Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) - No one questions his defense. Some say his bat is a little soft. Carson is trying to change that with a 15 for 26 seven game hitting streak that has raised his average to .329. With Yadier Molina still functioning behind the plate the Cardinals can be patient with Carson. His bat is also showing a little pop with five homeruns and a .576 slugging percentage.

Ronald Acuna CF (Braves) - The 19 year old Venezuelan was recently promoted to AA and he keeps on raking. After hitting .287 with three homeruns and five triples in the Florida State League Ronald had back to back three hit games in his AA debut. He hit homeruns in each of those games and is now batting .500 after four games. Many compare his quick ascent up the minor league ladder to Andrew Jones.

Travis Demeritte 2B (Braves) - The bat is starting to come to life for Travis. After slugging 28 homeruns last year Travis had just one in his first 28 games of 2017. He has now slugged three in his last five games and a 10 for 23 six game hitting streak has elevated his average to .274. The whiffs are still there with 33 in 33 games.

James Nelson 3B (Marlins) - The 2016 15th round pick is raising eyebrows in the South Atlantic League with his .357 average. A recent 10 game hitting streak (19 for 41) has seen his average climb 150 points. The production is still lacking with only seven RBIs.

Mike Gerber CF (Tigers) - Mike may not solve the Tigers center field problem from a defensive perspective, but there is some juice in his bat. He has hit three homeruns in his last two games to give him five for the year. A four game multiple hit streak (11 for 18) has raised his average to .331. Last year Mike slugged 18 homeruns between High A and AA. The Tigers could be prepared to sacrifice some defense for offense if they continue their struggles in centerfield.

Rhys Hoskins 1B and Dylan Cozens RF (Phillies) - The duo have taken their homerun show to the International League where their 8 homeruns are tied with two others for the league lead. Last year the duo were 1-2 in the Eastern League in homeruns. Rhys is having the more consistent year with a .339 average. His 26 RBIs tie him for the league lead. Dylan is struggling a little bit, but a three game hitting streak of 8 for 15 has raised his average to .221. He has hit three homeruns and driven in five during that streak.

Jorge Mateo SS (Yankees) - Jorge has not been heard from in awhile, with his batting average slumming around the low .200 range. This is his third year in A ball and he would like to get promoted before he throws another temper tantrum. Last night could be the impetus to that after a 4 for 6 day in which he hit his first two homeruns. The whiffs need to be reduced with 39 in just 35 games but he has stolen 15 bases in 17 attempts despite his struggles to get on base (.290 OBA).

Cole Tucker SS (Pirates) - The 2014 first round pick had a day with two homeruns, a triple and a double in a 4 for 6 performance in which he drove in seven. Cole was just a single short of the cycle. A three game multiple hit streak (8 for 16) has raised his average to .285. The seven RBIs in one game almost equaled the 9 he drove in for his first 33 games.

Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - The 2014 first round pick is dominating AA with a 0.99 ERA in seven starts. The two runs he gave up in his last start is the most he has given up this year. The start previous to that he struck out 12. The opposition is hitting him at .185 and he has only walked 6 in 45 innings for a 0.79 WHIP. Expect a promotion to AAA or the Cardinals soon.

Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) - Mitch has not given up a run in his last three starts covering 18.2 innings. He was taken out of his last start after just 4.2 innings when a bee stung him. The bee may have been confused by the black and yellow uniforms the Marauders wear. For the year Mitch has an ERA of 2.54 with the opposition hitting him at .196.

Ronald Herrera RHP (Yankees) - Ronald gave up his first run after three starts, a span covering 18.1 innings. That puts his ERA at 0.49. The Venezuelan stands only 5′11″ and does not put up the strikeout numbers but the soft contact is evident by the .188 opposition average. This is his third year in AA for the 22 year old.

Luke Weaver RHP (Cardinals) - Another Cardinal heard from. Luke was put on the disabled list after his first two inning start. Returning in May Luke has not given up a run in 13 innings to extend his 2017 scoreless streak to 15 innings. He has yet to walk a batter and the opposition is hitting just .167 against him. If Luke can show he is healthy it could result in a quick promotion to the major leagues.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - The third round 2016 pick only saw one appearance last year. This year in six appearances and five starts he has only given up runs in one of those appearances. His ERA sits at 0.86 and the opposition is hitting him at a .146 clip. He has 40 whiffs in 31.1 innings.

Logan Shore RHP (Athletics) - Logan tossed five innings of no hit ball in his last start. The 2016 second round pick has now lowered his ERA to 2.37. The five inning outing was the longest of the year.

Josh Staumont RHP (Royals) - Josh had his second double digit strikeout game with 10 in five innings. His five walks continue to show his wild side with a 23/52 walk to whiff ratio in 37 innings. This has kept his AAA ERA at 3.62 and given pause by the Royals brass for a promotion. Almost half of his 15 runs were given up in his opening start.

Hot Prospects at the Close of April

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Hard to believe that the baseball season has already finished April. Some of those hot prospects we have identified have already been called up. Others have been promoted. Even though April has ended there are still five more months of baseball to be played, with those coveted September call ups a reward for an outstanding season.

Gleyber Torres SS (Yankees) - Gleyber spent a little time on the disabled list. He was hitting .237 with nary a homerun. Upon his return the ball started jumping off his bat. His last two games he has gone 5 for 7 with his first homerun and four RBIs. Now his average has climbed to a more respectable .292. He still needs to work on his stolen base efficiency, going 2 for 4 in stolen base success rate.

Elias Diaz C (Pirates) - Elias is noted for his superb defense. A four game hitting streak in which he has gone 7 for 15 with a homerun and six RBIs, plus a Francesco Cervelli toe injury has gotten him a call up to the Pirates. For the season Elias is hitting .305. Last year Elias had trouble staying healthy, playing in only 34 games. The year before he won the Captains Choice award for being the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues.

Yanio Perez RF (Rangers) - Yanio has five straight multiple hit games to go with an 8 game hitting streak that has his average shooting to .348. The Cuban has also homered in three consecutive games and in his last four games driven in 12 runs. A 1.095 OPS could result in a promotion to High A for the 21 year old. Yanio signed a minor league contract with the Rangers in September 2016.

Danny Jansen C (Blue Jays) - The 22 year old is raking in the Florida State League. A 4 for 5 day put his average at .416. The 16th round pick in 2013 has been a bit of a surprise with the bat. The last two season injuries have limited him to less than 60 games.

Jon Kemmer OF (Astros) - Jon was another late round draft pick, drafted by the Astros in the 21st round in the 2013 draft. In his last three games Jon has been raking at a 10 for 15 clip with two homeruns and seven RBIs. At 26 Jon is a little old to be considered a prospect, but 5 got 5 days are enough to get him major league attention.

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles) - In a couple years Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy will be gone and the Orioles will be looking for a replacement. Ryan could be that guy, especially after a 4 for 5 performance in which he hit a homerun and drove in four. The homerun was his fifth to go along with his blistering .323 average.

Garrett Stubbs C (Astros) - The 8th round 2015 pick has been smoking in the Texas League. A five game hitting streak in which he has gone 10 for 20 to raise his average to 341. Garrett has homered three times in his last two games, which equals his number for the year.

Trent Clark RF (Brewers) - Trent was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2015. The Brewers outfield is crowded in the minor leagues. Last year Trent hit just .231 with hamstring issues limiting his season to 59 games. He got off to a slow start this year with a .183 average entering the Sunday game. A 5 for 6 performance raised that average to .239.

Luis Guillorme SS (Mets) - Luis is noted more for his glove and takes a back seat on the prospect ladder to Amed Rosario. A 4 for 5 day put his average in AA to .342, almost 100 points higher than his average from last year. Luis has no power with just one homerun as he enters his fifth year in pro ball. Only five of his 26 hits have gone for extra bases, all of them doubles.

Dustin Fowler OF (Yankees) - Dustin hit for the cycle on Sunday, going 5 for 6 with a walk off homerun in the 11th inning to complete the cycle. A 9 for 13 spurt has raised his average to .293 with a .573 slugging average. Dustin was an 18th round pick in 2013 that is starting to show that he could be a five tool player.

Anderson Franco 1B and Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) - On the same day Anthony Rendon drove in 10 runs in the Nationals 23-5 win over the Mets, the Hagerstown team beat the Lexington Legends 22-4 with Anderson and Carter combining for 10 RBIs. Carter exploded for three homeruns and five RBIs on his 5 for 7 performance. Anderson only hit one homerun but he drove in five runs in a 4 for 6 day.

Sean Newcomb LHP (Braves) - Not a day noted for pitching highlights, but Sean had a game with 11 whiffs in seven innings of work. He allowed just one hit. This is his second shutout performance in a row in which he has only allowed three hits in 12 innings. After his first three starts his ERA was 5.65. Now it is 3.08.

Austin Sodders LHP (Tigers) - Austin also pitched his second shutout start in a row and has three in the four games he has started. In the six inning outing he struck out 10 and allowed just three hits. He has struck out 19 in his last two starts covering 11 innings. Austin lacks a power packed pitch, with a fastball that sits at a pedestrian 88-92. He gets outs with command of his pitches.

Pirates Promote First African Born Player

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Just a day after promoting the first Lithuanian born player to the major leagues the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted the first African born player. Gift Ngoepe was promoted by the Pirates as depth to the infield after the injury to David Freese. Gift was born in South Africa and lived in a clubhouse of a semi-professional baseball team because his mother worked as their cook and clubhouse person. The team gave her free room and board and Gift got plenty of exposure to baseball.

Gift is a solid defensive shortstop who is not gifted with the bat. The Pirates have Kevin Newman as their shortstop of the future with Jody Mercer their shortstop of the present. The best bet for Gift for an extended stay in the major leagues would be as a utility player.

Hot Prospects for the Weekend - Arroyo Makes the Most of the Weekend

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Myworld was coaching volleyball over the weekend in Minnesota. The Twins were in town but all my time was spent in the gym. Now that we are back it is time to look back to see who was hot over the weekend.

Christian Arroyo SS (Giants) - My world has never been enamored with Arroyo but his bat is certainly changing my mind. It is difficult to find a hitter hotter than Christian. He had his first 0 for of the season on Thursday but bounced back with a 4 for 6 Sunday that raised his average to .446. After that outburst the Giants promoted him to their major league team to help at both third base and shortstop. His OPS for his first 16 games in AAA is 1.171.

Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) - Unlike Christian Demi is a player who flashes some impressive tools. His challenge has always been in his ability to make contact with the ball. An 8 game hitting streak raised his average to .300. He hit four homeruns while driving in 9. What is most impressive about his at bats is only two whiffs in his last 24 at bats. For the year Demi has five homeruns with five stolen bases. Before the season is over his average will probably dip below .250.

Luis Urias 2B/SS (Padres) - Back to back four hit games raised his average to .357. Luis scored five runs in his second four hit game. The native from Mexico is not supposed to carry any power in his bat but a .650 slugging percentage includes a couple homeruns with six doubles and three triples. Eleven of his 21 hits have gone for extra bases. A second baseman coming into this season the Padres have used him 14 games at short early in the season.

Amed Rosario SS (Mets) - Met fans are clamoring for the promotion of Rosario. He is a better fielding shortstop than what they currently have on their major league roster. A 6 for 9 streak in his last two games has raised his average to .403. Only four of his 27 hits have gone for extra bases but the Mets will not complain about his 23 singles when combined with his gold glove fielding potential.

Marcus Wilson CF (Diamondbacks) - Marcus sprayed the Midwest league with four three hit games in a six game span to raise his average to .411. He drove in 11 runs during that streak with three homeruns. The Diamondbacks drafted Marcus in the second round of the 2014 draft, moving him up slowly because of his .244 career average coming into this season. His biggest challenge is an ability to make consistent contact.

Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) - The son of Dante has a 12 game hitting streak that has raised his average to .373. He was able to play for Brazil in the qualifier last year because of his Brazilian mother. Brazil failed to qualify for the 2017 WBC but Bo was not the reason hitting .400 with a .538 OBA. Bo has hit one homerun this year and that was on opening day as he splits his time between shortstop and second base.

Anthony Alford OF (Blue Jays) - Another Blue Jay prospect with a hot bat is Alford who had a streak of five games of two hits or more in six games to raise his average to .469. He hit two homeruns and drove in five during the streak with four stolen bases. Anthony has a potent combination of power and speed that will result in a quick ascent through the minors now that his focus is on baseball.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - Tyler threw the first nine inning no hitter of the season, a perfect game 1-0 win over the Mobile Bay Bears. He threw only 88 pitches in his complete game no hitter striking out eight. Tyler was a seventh round pick of the Reds in 2013 and has a checkered minor league career. The 2017 season has started out well with only two runs given up in his four starts for a 4-0 record and a 0.68 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .082 clip.

Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - Another pitcher who has started his season 4-0. In his four starts Jack has only given up one run for a 0.33 ERA. In his last two starts he has not allowed a run in 13.2 innings, giving up just eight hits. A 3/24 walk to whiff ratio and .161 opposition average could result in a promotion to the big club before the year is out.

Merandy Gonzalez RHP (Mets) - The Colombian has yet to give up a run in his three starts in the Low A South Atlantic League. The 20.2 shutout string has been because of a 1/18 walk to whiff ratio with a .143 opposition average. Merandy stands only 6′1″ but his fastball can still cross the plate in the mid-90s with an above average curve ball to keep hitters off balance.

First Lithuanian to Pitch in Major Leagues

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Dovydas Neverauskas was promoted to the Pirates yesterday. Chad Kuhl had a rough start giving up nine runs in less than two innings. That gave Dovydas an opportunity to pitch the last two innings of the Cubs 14-3 rout of the Pirates. Myworld is not aware of any other Lithuanian that has pitched in the major leagues.

Dovydas had yet to give up a run in his five relief appearances for his AAA team, limiting the opposition to a .138 average. He did give up a run making his major league debut.

The Pirates signed Dovydas for $60,000 as a 16 year old back in 2009. His fastball can hit the high 90s but his breaking pitches are only adequate (slider and cutter). His minor league numbers show some inconsistency so it will be interesting how much success he will have with the Pirates.

The Pirates added him to their 40 man roster last year to prevent him from becoming a six year minor league free agent.

A No Hitter in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Scott Copeland RHP (Marlins) - At 29 years of age Copeland is not considered a prospect. He still threw seven innings of no hit ball before being removed from the game in the top of the eighth for a pinch hitter. He walked one and struck out eight. Two different relievers came on to preserve the no hitter, though a couple walks spoiled the shutout.

Enyel de los Santos RHP (Padres) - Enyel pitched six innings of perfect ball, striking out seven. The bullpen failed to preserve the no hitter giving up a single in the ninth inning. San Antonio was still able to beat Arkansas 2-0. It was the second start for Santos, who has only given up one run in his 12 innings of work. The opposition is hitting just .053 against him. The Padres were able to steal the mid-90s fastball pitcher off the Mariners for Joaquin Benoit.

Ryan Olson RHP (Reds) - Ryan threw a complete game nine inning shutout, giving up just four hits in the first complete game shutout in the minor leagues this year. It was his second start of the year. In his first start he worked seven innings without allowing a run, giving up just two hits. After two starts the opposition is hitting him at a .122 clip. He has only walked one hitter in those 16 innings for a WHIP of 0.44.

Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates) - Luis Escobar struck out 11, which was one less than his first outing. That gives him 23 strikeouts in the young season, tops in the minor leagues. He allowed just one run in each of his starts to fashion a 1.64 ERA. Luis has only walked one hitter in his 11 innings of work with more than two whiffs per each inning of work.

Shane Bieber RHP (Indians) - Believe in the Bieber. He struck out 11 in six innings of work allowing just the one run. In two starts covering 10.2 innings Shane has yet to walk a batter, striking out 18. The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering but relies on his command to retire hitters.

Franklin Perez RHP (Astros) - In the low minors the Astros like to rotate their pitchers starting and relieving. Franklin gave up just one hit in 5.1 innings in his start. In a relief outing he picked up a save with four innings of perfect relief. That is one hit given up in 9.1 inning of work for an opposition average of .034.

Jomar Reyes 3B (Orioles) - Jomar has six multiple hit games in the nine games he has played. That has put his average at .444 to start the season. He is repeating his assignment in the Carolina League after hitting just .228 there last year. Last year Jomar stole three bases and he has stolen one base this year. Not noted for his speed Jomar has yet to be caught stealing in his minor league career going 7 for 7 in stolen bases.

Francisco Mejia C (Indians) - Last year Francisco put together a 50 game hitting streak in his two level performance hitting .342. He continues to hit this year with an 8 game hitting streak to start the season and a .414 average. Seven of his 12 hits have gone for doubles. If Yan Gomes struggles with the bat this year Francisco could find himself in the major leagues.

Chris Shaw 1B (Giants) - Chris is finding AA pitching to his liking, raking for a .382 average in 10 games. He is 8 for 12 in his last three games with homeruns in consecutive games and seven RBIs during that three game stretch. Brandon Belt will be a tough bat to replace and Chris does not have the foot speed to move to the outfield.

Christian Arroyo SS (Giants) - Christian has an eight game hitting streak and a 3 for 3 performance Friday raised his average to .467. Only four of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases.

Pitchers Shine on Hot Prospect List

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

A number of pitchers appear on this hot prospect list proving that early in the season the pitchers have the upper hand.

Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox) - Lucas Giolito has had trouble finding the plate but Dunning has not. He did not walk a batter in a eight inning outing in which he struck out 13 batters. In his last outing he did not walk a batter in six innings of work. That gives him 14 innings without walking a batter. Dunning and Giolito were two pitchers acquired in the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals.

Josh Staumont RHP (Royals) - Josh came into his second start with an ERA of 18.90 after giving up seven runs in less than four innings. His second start is more what the Royals would like to see from Josh. He allowed just one hit in six innings of work striking out 12, with just two walks. That lowers his ERA to a more respectable 6.75.

Tyler Eppler RHP (Pirates) - Tyler is a 6′6″ pitcher who sits in the low 90s with his fastball but can hit 95. Last year at Altoona the opposition hit him at a .280 clip in 27 starts. His first two starts at Indianapolis have been pretty impressive. Tyler started the season with a five inning shutout start and followed that up with six innings of shutout ball. He allowed only four hits in those 11 innings for a .108 opposition average. That is a pretty solid start to begin the season.

Max Povse RHP (Mariners) - Max stands a little taller at 6′8″ with an uninspiring fastball that sits in the low 90s. His second start he had some command problems walking three in 5.2 innings of work. On the bright spot he did not give up any runs extending his shutout streak to 12.2 innings after two starts. Max was acquired from the Braves last year for the then struggling Alex Jackson.

Alex Jackson OF (Braves) - Speaking of Alex Jackson he has strung together an impressive eight game hitting streak to put his average at .314 to start the season. A .314 average may not seem impressive, but coming from a player who hit .207 in 2015 and struggled to get over the Mendoza line last year the Braves will take that. He has also hit three homeruns and two doubles among his 11 hits.

Luis Carpio 2B (Mets) - The Mets have an impressive collection of middle infielders coming up their minor league system. Carpio lacks the arm for short and after having labrum surgery will have to settle for second base. The Venezuelan has started his season hitting .364 with four stolen bases. He is halfway to the total number of at bats he got last year after the labrum surgery shortened his season. Six walks has put his OBA at .463.

Wuilmer Beccerra OF (Mets) - The Mets continue to wait for a power break out from Beccerra. In eight games this year he has yet to go deep, but he has tagged at least one hit in these eight games to put his average at .429. Three of his 12 hits have gone for doubles. Beccerra has shown power potential in batting practice, but those long drives have not translated once the game begins.

Kevin Kramer 2B (Pirates) - A second round college pick in 2015, Kevin could move quickly, especially if he continues to hit .464 at Altoona. He has gotten at least one hit in his first eight games and he showed off some power with a two homer game on Thursday. The three homeruns that he has hit in his first eight games of this year are just one less than the four he hit in 118 games last year. He has also walked seven times to put his OBA at .583.

Tyler Marlette C (Mariners) - Tyler has four multi hit games in six games to start the season, as well as two games in which he has not gotten a hit. His average sits at .455 to start the season. Marlette was a fifth round pick in 2011.

Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) - The Nationals first round pick last year saw his seven game hitting streak end yesterday with an 0 for 4 performance. That dropped his average to .424. The extra base hits have not been prevalent with just two doubles and one homerun amongst his 14 hits, but the Nationals will take his production.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Pirates

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Myworld hopes to slug through the final eight teams before the season starts. We’ll also provide our top ten overall prospects plus finish our all country or regional top prospects now that the WBC is over.

Overview - Pirate fans were getting used to appearing in the playoffs, but getting past the wild card game has become a bit of a challenge. Last year they got back to finishing below .500, missing out on the playoffs after three consecutive appearances. Pirate fans are hoping this losing streak won’t be as long as the last one. A lot will depend on the production of Andrew McCutchen. He had a down year last year and to improve their defense and possibly improve his production the Pirates will be moving Andrew to right field. They also will be missing Jung-Ho Kang, who has had three too many DUIs in Korea and is having a hard time getting a visa to play baseball in the United States. They also have a young pitching staff that is susceptible to injuries. At least the farm system is in good shape so they should not have to worry about another 20 year losing streak.

Strengths - The Pirates probably have the strongest outfield in the major leagues. It should get stronger defensively with the move of Starling Marte to center field and Andrew McCutchen to right field. Gregory Polanco will take his strong arm to left field. What kind of offensive production is there will depend on a resurgence of McCutchen. If last year is the beginning of a veteran slide then that will down grade the outfield. There is depth with Josh Bell having the ability to play here and Austin Meadows percolating in AAA. They do have the potential for two aces in Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon. Both players are still green and have injury histories but if they can act as aces as the season progresses the Pirates will do well. Another ace in the cards could by Tyler Glasnow, but he has got to learn to throw strikes. He misses bats with the best of them.

Weaknesses - Josh Harrison had an off year, putting together a .699 OPS. If he continues down that path the Pirates will try either Allen Hanson or Adam Frazier at the position. Hanson at least has some speed to steal bases and Frazier showed some pop. Neither is a defensive equivalent of Harrison. Josh Bell is more an outfielder than a first baseman, but the Pirates outfield is crowded. There is some concern Bell will not have the power you expect from the position, slugging only .406 in a 150 at bat trial in the majors last year. In AAA his .468 slugging would be short of adequate for the position. The trade of Mark Melancon leaves the Pirates without a closer. They have some pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Jared Hughes who have played that position but have fallen short of being consistent. This could get ugly. If no one seizes the job it could be another below .500 season. The back end of the rotation is rather ordinary. Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault and Drew Hutchinson are not pitchers myworld thinks about when looking at playoff teams. They are all competing for the last two spots in the rotation.

Breakout Prospects - To hold down costs the Pirates will rely more on younger players. They will have a number of prospects vying for major league playing time. Tyler Glasnow could make the rotation if he can improve his command. The 6′8″ righthander hits the radar guns in the high 90s and sits in the mid-90s but he has no idea of the strike zone. Steven Brault has a little more command but his fastball is not as overpowering. He is a lefthander who relies on his secondary pitches to get hitters out (slider and change). If Andrew McCutchen is traded expect Austin Meadows to make his debut. Austin has had trouble staying healthy, but he has a potent bat. This would cause Polanco to move back to right while Austin takes left. Josh Bell will get most of the starts at first base, but the Pirates have John Jaso and David Freese too spell him against tough pitchers. Josh may lack the power to play first in long term. Allen Hanson is out of options and could be used in a utility role, getting time at third, second, short and in the outfield. He came up as a shortstop but his current position is second base. Elias Diaz is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors but his bat is light. He battled injuries last year and needs to have a healthy season.

Prospects to Watch - Mitch Keller has rocketed up the prospect charts with an increase in velocity that puts his fastball in the mid-90s. If he can continue that the Pirates will move Keller up to at least AA this year. He had an 18/131 walk to whiff ratio last year. Kevin Newman is primed to take over the shortstop job from Jody Mercer. He doesn’t overwhelm you with tools but he can play the position. Not a lot of power here but the potential to hit for average. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie and the Pirates first round pick in 2015. Hayes broke out his power last year hitting his first six minor league homeruns. Nick Kingham is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. If not for the surgery in 2015 he would be one of those pitchers competing for a rotation spot. The Pirates will be patient with Nick and monitor his innings in AA and then AAA. A September callup is possible. Dovydas Neverauskas is a pitcher to watch because if he does well he could be the first Lithuanian to play in the major leagues. He has pitched strictly in the bullpen in the minors, collecting 11 saves in the last two years. As a bullpen pitcher his fastball can sit in the mid-90s.

Expected Finish - With no bullpen and a young pitching staff myworld predicts the Pirates for third, missing out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.