Archive for the 'Reds' Category

Top 100 - 10 -1

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Finally complete. Lots of good bloodlines in the top ten. The Blue Jays and Astros were able to squeeze two players each in the top ten.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) - The son of Dante has a potent bat. It’s a mixture of power and batting average. The power is mainly in the gaps, with 42 doubles, but as he matures the balls will carry over the fence. His defense should be adequate for short. It would be better at third or even second but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, two other sons of Hall of Famers have those positions covered. So the Blue Jays will take his adequate defense at short. He also has the speed and instincts to steal 32 bases last year. He will not be as fast as Trea Turner, but he could make just as big of an impact. The second round pick of 2016 will start the season in AAA and could be with the Blue Jays by mid-season, joining Vladimir.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His older brother Preston was also drafted by the Astros. Kyle has a lot more talent. Preston could make it as a fourth outfielder. Kyle should be an All Star. The Astros outfield is currently crowded but many think Kyle will earn a starting spot by mid-season. Josh Reddick has the most to fear. Last year Kyle hit .332 with 24 homeruns, evidence of his ability to hit for power and average. He stumbled in his promotion to the majors last year, hitting just .141. His fringe speed will limit him to a corner with his best fit in left field. AAA is where Kyle will spend his time until the Astros feel he is ready.

8. Nick Senzel OF/3B/2B (Reds) - The Reds are trying to find a position for him. His original position is third base, but Eugenio Suarez has that position covered. He could find himself at second base after the Scooter Gennett injury. The Reds insist he will be in AAA to learn to play centerfield. If he can stay healthy it will not take him long before he reaches the Reds. Vertigo last year limited him to 44 games. The bat has big time power and his career minor league average is .314. That is incentive enough to get his bat to the major leagues after the Reds drafted him in the first round in 2016.

7. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) - The only pitcher in the top ten. The Astros 2016 first round pick has a plethora of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball that can touch triple digits. He also works with the technology to improve the spin rates on his breaking balls (curve and slider) to make them quality pitches and his change up is a swing and miss pitch. Injuries limited him to just eight starts last year where the opposition only hit .160 against him in AA. He did some extra credit work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) to eat up innings and should be ready for AAA to start the 2019 season. Expect him to be called up by mid-season.

6. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - It may be too early in his career to anoint him the next Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the minor leagues. The Rays signed him in 2017 for $2.8 million. His first year in rookie ball he hit .351 with 11 homeruns. The bat hits for power and average. His defense will not be Gold Glove caliber for shortstop, but the bat will play at third where he would be an above average defensive player. The only tool that is not above average is his speed. Wander will see his first season at Low A in 2019 as an 18 year old. He should rise through the minor league system quickly, something the Rays are not normally prone to do.

5. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) - The first player selected in the 2017 draft has the tools to be a premium shortstop. The bat should be something special, hitting for both power and average. His speed should also play havoc on the bases, making him a threat to be a 30/30 player if his power develops more than expected. Lewis struggled a bit in the Florida State league last year (.255) so the Twins may start him there to begin the 2019 season with a quick promotion to AA if he finds success. A five tool infielder once he is ready.

4. Victor Robles CF (Nationals) - With Bryce Harper leaving for Philly, the center field job was given to Victor. Currently his speed is the best part of his game. It will allow him to be a Gold Glover on defense in centerfield and a pest on the bases. His bat should hit for average, but it won’t be as potent as teammate Juan Soto. The concern for some is his average exit velocity for the ball off his bat is just 82-84. He needs to get over 86 to reach the average exit velocity of major leaguers. The Nationals will be patient with him and allow the speed to create havoc as they wait for the power to arrive.

3. Eloy Jimeniz OF (White Sox) - The White Sox rewarded him with a major league spot on opening day after he signed a big contract extension that gave them one year after free agency. The bat will be special. The defense in left field will not. He could spend most of his time at the DH spot. Once the Dominican develops he could vie for batting titles with 40 plus homerun power. Don’t be surprised to see him win a Triple Crown before his career is complete. Eloy will start his season with the White Sox in left field.

2. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr., he did not sign a long term extension as Eloy, but he had newly signed free agent Manny Machado recommending Padre management forget keeping him in the minors for a couple weeks to get an extra year. The Padres agreed. Fernando is ready now. His defense at short should be passable, better than what Manny could provide at short, which is a reason why Manny is playing third. The bat will generate big time power and hit for a decent average. He will battle with Victor Robles for the National League Rookie of the Year award.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays) - The son of Vladimir Sr. was going to be sent to the minor leagues to give the Blue Jays another year of service time despite the fact he is ready for the major leagues now. An early season injury will give them an opportunity to have him spend some time in rehab and then get promoted. His defense is average and his body could get too bulky for third. So a move to first could be in his future. His bat will be special with a .330 career minor league average and a slugging average of .529. Unlike his dad Vladimir is not afraid to take a walk. Expect him to be called up by May and win the American League rookie of the year award.

Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

20. Carter Kieboom 2B (Nationals) - Two homeruns in spring training off Justin Verlander this year is pretty impressive. The 2016 first round pick will follow in the footsteps of Juan Soto and Victor Robles to vie for rookie of the year in 2020. Shortstop is his main position and he has the tools to play it. With Trea Turner cemented at short for the Nationals Carter will need to move to second or third. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns which would also make him a good fit for third base. If the Nationals do not sign Rendon to an extension that position will be open in 2020. The Nationals will promote Kieboom sometime late this year to get him ready for the 2020 season.

19. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Marlins) - The Phillies included Sixto in a trade as one of the players to send to the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto. Sixto has a good fastball, sitting in the mid-90s and hitting the high 90s. He also has quality secondary pitches (slider and change) and the command to carve the plate. The 6′1″ height brings out questions of durability. Last year injuries limited him to just 8 minor league starts. The Marlins are rebuilding and will be in no rush to promote Sanchez to the major leagues. They could start his year in High A and promote him to AA once he achieves success.

18. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) - Brent missed the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery. The 2014 second round supplemental pick has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches high 90s. He also has a quality screwball that can enhance his repertoire. How those pitches survive after Tommy John is open to question. After the success he was having in AAA and during spring training the Rays were ready to promote him to they Rays to take the same flight path to the majors as Blake Snell. The Tommy John surgery delayed that major league arrival by a year. Expect him to be in their rotation by 2020.

17. Mackenzie Gore LHP (Padres) - Blisters interrupted his 2018 season after dominating in Rookie ball in 2017. The first round 2017 pick may have the best stuff of any pitcher in the minors. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a curve, slider and change as quality pitches. Last year the blisters limited him to 16 starts and impacted the quality of his pitchers. Hitters hit .260 off him after barely making contact the previous year (.180). If healthy he should start the 2019 season in High A.

16. Alex Kiriloff RF (Twins) - One of the top outfielders did not play in 2017 because of Tommy John. The 2016 first round pick bounced back last year hitting .348 between Low A and High A, with 20 homeruns and 101 runs driven in. Myworld also saw him at the Future’s Game and despite his surgery he seemed to have a very strong arm. He lacks the speed to play center leaving the corners where his power will fit well. Expect him to begin the 2019 season in AA with a September promotion a possibility. The 2020 season he will join Byron Buxton to form an impressive outfield group.

15. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Another Future game player, he won the MVP award with a homeruns and triple. The 2016 supplemental first round pick is one of those five tool players, minus the arm. The speed is there to play center and steal bases. The arm is fringe which limits him to left field if he is moved from center. His bat will produce power and if he can contain his whiff rate hit for average. Don’t be surprised if his bat breaks out for power when he starts the season in AA in 2019. A promotion to the major leagues is just around the corner.

14. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Athletics) - The Nationals 2016 third round pick will see his season delayed because of arm issues. The Nationals traded him to the Athletics along with Blake Treinen for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. He missed much of his senior year of high school after Tommy John surgery, which dropped him to the third round. Jesus has excellent control of a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can reach north of 95. His best pitch may be his change which produces a lot of his swings and misses. Once he returns from his injury he will have to start his season at the lower levels of the minor leagues for rehab before being assigned to AAA, where he struggled last year in his four starts.

13. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) - The 2015 first round pick is ready for the major leagues if the Rockies can find a position for him. Nolan Arenado was just signed to an extension, Trevor Story is cemented at short, so second base will be his best option. He will battle Ryan McMahon for at bats there. Last year he hit 17 homeruns. The tools are there to play short and those tools should easily transfer to second. He will eventually win the second base job over Ryan McMahon because of his superior defense.

12. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers) - Perhaps the best pure hitter in the 2017 draft. Tommy John surgery limited him to DH duties his senior year in college. The Brewers drafted him in the first round despite not seeing him play defense at second. Last year his bat was good enough to play AA. In the majors it could be could be good enough to win batting titles. He won’t be a gold glover at second but he will not hurt you on defense. At some point the Brewers will want his bat in the lineup to make a playoff run for the 2019 season.

11. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - It won’t be long before the Angels have another super star outfielder to join Mike Trout. The 2017 first round pick is a legitimate five tool player. He will hit for power and average and have the speed to play center. The biggest question for the Angels when Adell is ready for the majors is who plays centerfield, Mike Trout or Adell. Fortunately for the Angels they will not need to make that decision until 2020.

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.

Reds Looking for Playoff Chase

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Last year the Cincinnati Reds had the fifth best minor league system as rated by myworldofbaseball (admittingly not the most analytic measuring device). Some of the players who appeared in the Top 100 from last year were Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Taylor Trammell, Jessie Winker and Tyler Mahle. The trades for Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig telegraph that this may be a different team in 2019 with a new goal, competing for a playoff spot rather than tanking for a high draft pick.

In 2008 the Reds had the second best farm team. Only one of those players still play on that team. Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are now elsewhere. Joey Votto is still a Red. From 2008 to present the Reds won the Central Division in 2012 and were a wild card in 2013. They failed to make the playoffs after that.

If they can find a position for him the top prospect for the Reds is Nick Senzel. The first 2016 pick has an impact bat but his best positions are occupied by more veteran players. Last year his season was limited to 44 games because of vertigo issues. This year the Reds hope to use him in centerfield. Third base is his natural position but the Reds signed Eugenio Suarez to a long term deal. Nick has decent speed to cover the centerfield territory in Cincinnati. At some of the larger parks his range could be more challenged. If they can fit his bat in the lineup that should give the Reds 20 plus homeruns per year and a solid offensive contributor. Though the Reds sent him down the Scooter Gennett injury could open a spot for him, though he had been playing centerfield in spring training.

Last year Taylor Trammell was voted the MVP of the Futures game with a triple and a homerun. The triple hit the top of the wall and Taylor had gone into his homerun trot, otherwise with his speed he could have had an inside the park homerun. The 2016 supplemental first round pick has the speed to play center, but his lack of a throwing arm could limit him to left. There is pop in his bat and the speed in his legs to become a 20/20 player. He should spend the 2019 season in AA.

The Reds 2018 first round pick Jonathan India is another third baseman. Drafted out of Florida he should rise quickly so a search for a new position for him could begin in a couple years. Currently they have him slated for third. Last year he played 27 games in Low A. He runs well, has a good arm, played some shortstop in college so his ultimate use could be as a utility player. The bat has some pop and he appears to make decent contact. He had a 15/12 walk to whiff ratio in Rookie ball but that changed to 13/28 at Low A. That could be where the Reds begin his 2019 season with a quick promotion to High A by mid-season.

Jose Siri is a multi-tooled outfielder. He has excellent speed to cover ground in center and steal 20-30 bases. The power is there to hit 20 plus homeruns. His arm is also strong enough to play right field. Where he struggles is making contact. Last year he struck out 123 times in just 96 games, while walking just 28 times. That could stunt his batting average if he fails to show more patience. Injuries last year limited him to 96 games. He should open the 2019 season in AA where he ended the 2018 season. A callup to the major leagues is possible by mid-season if he can control the strike zone and hit his pitches.

Aristides Aquino can still provide power. Last year he hit 20 homeruns at AA. A 35/112 walk to whiff ratio has kept his average down and dropped his prospect status. His outfield defense can be a little spotty so he needs to hit if he wants to play.

Two Cubans the Reds signed that have a chance of contributing this year are Jose Israel Garcia and Alfredo Rodriguez. Jose is not to be confused with the Cardinals Jose Adolis Garcia. Jose Israel is an infielder who may lack the power to play corner. He also had an alarming 19/112 walk to whiff ratio at Low A which won’t help his batting average. The range and speed exist to play shortstop but for the Cuban junior national team used him mostly at second.

Alfredo has the smooth tools to play shortstop. The Reds shelled out $7 million to sign him in 2016. The concern with him is whether he will ever develop the bat to hit in the major league. Last year he barely hit above the Mendoza line with a .210 average. A hamate bone injury limited him to just 46 games, depriving him of the much needed at bats he needs to improve his hitting.

On the pitching front Hunter Greene is their best pitcher. The 2017 first round pick has a fastball that consistently hits triple digits. Unfortunately, the pitch is a little too straight and opponents hit him at a .251 clip. He also needs to work on developing more consistency with his secondary pitches. An elbow injury shut him down after 18 starts last year, but so far he has avoided surgery. The Reds will watch him closely in 2019, perhaps starting him at extended spring training before promoting him to a full season league later in the season.

Tony Santillan is a big guy (6′3″, 240) with a hard fastball that hits just above 95. He also has a slider and a change that sits at 85. What has changed his game is his improved control. He reduced his walks, dialing down his fastball a bit, which also made him a little more hittable. Last year the second round 2015 pick gave up 13 homeruns in 149 innings. Tony appears durable and will eat up innings at the back end of a rotation.

Vladimir Gutierrez is another Cuban player who signed in 2016. The Reds paid a $4.75 million bonus to acquire him. At 6′0″ he is not a big man but his fastball can light the radar in the high 90s with a good changeup to make the pitch appear even faster. Vladimir throws strikes and could see time in the Reds rotation this year after having success at AA last year (4.35 ERA in 27 starts).

At some point in time Tyler Stephenson could catch them. The 2015 first round pick has some pop in his bat, but he has been slow to develop any consistency. His defense has improved to the point that he is an above average defensive catcher and his arm is strong to control a running game. At 6′4″ he has a lot of length to be a catcher but he sets a low target. Tyler will start the 2019 season in AA and could be with the Reds by 2020.

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 20 AFL Players to Watch

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Below are the top 20 players who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League that myworld will try to get out to watch. Austin Hays, one of the players we initially had on the list will now not be playing because of ankle surgery.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr (Blue Jays/Surprise) 3B - The son of the Hall of Famer and the minor league player of the year in most organization readings. How could you not want to go out and watch him if you have not seen him play already? Flirted with .400 this year and showed impressive power. Some question his defense at third and think a move to first may be required.

2. Luis Robert (White Sox/Glendale) OF - He came hyped with lots of tools. Those tools, especially the power did not make an appearance in his second minor league season, though he was limited to 50 games because of injuries. There were no homeruns in his bat.

3. Forrest Whitley (Astros/Scottsdale) RHP - Most pitchers who appear in the AFL are there because they pitched little in the regular season because of injuries. Forrest was limited to 8 starts last year. At 6′7″ he has length and a blazing fastball that can hit triple digits. He needs to increase the 26 innings he pitched in the regular season and show the fastball is difficult to hit.

4. Domingo Acevedo (Yankees/Glendale) RHP - The same that was said of Forrest also applies to this 6′7″ righthander except he had a few more starts (12) and innings (69) to his season. The strikeout numbers (55) were not impressive, especially when you consider he can hit the high 90s with his heat.

5. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks/Salt Lake) RHP - Last year he had an unbelievable season with a 1.39 ERA. Only Justin Verlander has had a lower ERA in the minors. This year his season was delayed by injuries. He did squeeze in 16 starts and his numbers were excellent (2.55 ERA) but not when compared to last year. Myworld expects only four starts from him in the AFL before he is gone, so get there early if you want to see him.

6. Peter Alonso (Mets/Scottsdale) 1B - In the Futures game he hit one of the longest and highest homeruns myworld has ever seen at Nationals park. He has power. Right handed hitting firstbaseman are not given a lot of respect by major league analyzers, but his 36 homeruns last year could change some minds.

7. Taylor Trammell (Reds/Scottsdale) OF - He was voted the MVP of the Futures Game, almost hitting two homeruns in his two at bats. His first almost homerun he ran into a triple after it hit the top of the wall. He began his circle around the bases with a homerun trot, but then had to shift it in high gear after the ball did not travel over the fence. This year the toolsy outfielder hit only 8 homeruns in the Florida State League, but his resume shows the potential for power and speed.

8. Bo Bichette (Blue Jays/Surprise) SS - The son of Dante is not said to have the tools to play major league shortstop. Myworld was impressed with what we saw of him in the Futures game. He does have a potent bat that sprays the gaps with doubles (40 plus) and hits his fair share of balls over the fence (15 plus).

9. J.B. Bukauskas (Astros/Scottsdale) RHP - He does not carry a lot of height (6′0″) for a right handed pitcher but he was the Astros first round pick in 2017. Last year injuries restricted him to 14 starts but they were an impressive 14 starts (2.14 ERA and .199 opposition average). He throws in the mid 90s.

10. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies/Scottsdale) RHP - Another smallish pitcher (6′0″) who throws gas. Last year injuries limited him to 8 starts (2.51 ERA). A good AFL and strong spring will put him in AA, a stone’s throw from the major leagues.

11. Keston Hiura (Brewers/Peoria) 2B - Maybe one of the purest hitters in the Fall League. Batting titles are in his future. Elbow issues restricted most of his appearances to DH duties. When he does play defense it is at second base. He may get a lot of second base playing time in the AFL.

12. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers/Glendale) C - One of the better catching prospects in the minor leagues. He can hit for pop (12 homeruns) and has a decent arm, though he was only able to gun down 26 percent of those who stole against him. Makes solid contact striking out just 33 times in over 400 at bats.

13. Carter Kieboom (Nationals/Salt Lake) SS - A first round pick of the Nationals in 2016. The reports on him is that his arm and range may be short to play shortstop in the major leagues. Since Turner has that spot locked up (whose scouting report was similar to Carter) second base may be his best position. Expect him to get some time there. He shows good pop with the bat with 16 homeruns last year.

14. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks/Salt River) C - The son of Gary, an ex-major leaguer, he was named after Darren Daulton. Another catcher with some pop who had a little more success nabbing base runners (40 percent). He showed some speed for a catcher with 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts. If he is half the player of Darren Daulton he will make it at least as a back up.

15. Estevan Florial (Yankees/Glendale) OF - The Haitian born prospect was all the talk of the Yankees prospect system last season after hitting .298 with 13 homeruns in 2017. Last year he had difficulty replicating those numbers, though his season was limited to 84 games because of injury.

16. Buddy Reed (Padres/Peoria) OF - The Padres have a wealth of minor league and young major league outfielders. Buddy shows some good tools to play center field, but will they be enough to beat out Manuel Margot. Last year he stole 51 bases to go with his 13 homeruns.

17. Pavin Smith (Diamondbacks/Salt Lake) 1B - The Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2017 draft. That is pretty high for a first baseman who may be a bit short in the power numbers. Last year he hit 11 homeruns but his batting average was only at .255, not indicative of his college numbers (.342). Pavin needs to hit for pop to justify his first round selection.

18. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox/Mesa) 1B - Because there is someone we want to see play at Mesa. The power is there with 32 homeruns last year, but it comes at the expense of having a right handed bat. There is still a lot of swing and miss in his swing that he will have to learn to tame if he wants to see Fenway park.

19. Lucius Fox (Rays/Peoria) SS - All the tools and gracefulness to play short but his bat may hold him back. The Giants signed him out of the Bahamas but made him one of the players included in the Matt Moore trade.

20. Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds/Scottsdale) SS/2B - There was a lot of hype about him and his glove when he came out of Cuba. The glove has been good but the bat has been blah (.241/.294/298 slash line for average/OBA/slugging). Injuries limited him to 46 games last year. At 24 he should be knocking on the major league door rather than scuffling in the Florida State League.

Myworld’s Top Righthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Myworld tends to gravitate towards heat but the reality is that those pitchers who can record outs win games. It does not matter how hard a pitcher throws the ball if they fail to record outs. Below is myworld’s top 20 right handed pitchers, excluding any 2018 draft picks. Since there is so much talent here we thought we would expand the list.

1. Mitch Keller (Pirates) - He may not throw the ball as hard as a number of pitchers on this list but he still gets it to the plate in the mid-90s. He also has a good curve and change with control to throw the pitch to the four quadrants of the plate. He has a history of retiring hitters, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and limiting the opposition to a .215 average coming into the 2018 season. In six starts in AAA he is finally struggling (6.67 ERA) but he is struggling with his command. He should be in the Pirates rotation by mid-season 2019 if not making the Pirates rotation at the beginning of the year with a good spring.

2. Forest Whitley (Astros) - The Astros have traded a number of prospects but they have kept their 2016 first round pick. At 6′7″ 240 pounds he has an intimidating presence on the mound. That size and mass also allows him to zip the ball across the plate in the mid 90s. He also carries a hard slider that drops down, hitting the radar in the low 90s. His swing and miss offerings gave him 13.7 whiffs per nine innings his first two seasons. A 50 game suspension for violating major league baseball’s drug testing forced him to miss the first part of the 2018 season. After six starts an oblique injury has knocked him out since July. The good news is none of that missed time is attributed to an arm injury, but it does stall his development process.

3. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The Red Sox drafted him in the first round in 2014. They included him in a trade to acquire Chris Sale. After watching Chris Sale throw in the high 90s on Sunday myworld does not see Kopech reaching that level. He may throw harder, hitting in the triple digits more consistently than Sale but he lacks the command of his pitches. In his last six starts in AAA he has been having success, giving up two or fewer runs to lower his ERA to 3.81. With Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito already in the rotation Kopech should join them at some point next season. It is possible he could get a September callup if the White Sox want to use a 40 man roster spot on him.

4. Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) - As his heat rises so does the Dominicans prospect status rises. His fastball has been clocked in the triple digits, but sits in the mid-90s. The fastball also explodes towards the plate after hitters see his plus changeup. His last four starts Sixto had only given up two earned runs in 25.2 innings of work, walking 4 and striking out 29. Elbow tenderness put him on the disabled list after his June 3 start. The Phillies say it is minor but June has turned to August and Sixto has still not pitched. The way he had been dominating he possibly could have helped the Phillies in their pennant drive.

5. Brent Honeywell (Rays) - The Rays second round 2014 supplemental pick had an opportunity to make the Rays rotation to begin the 2018 season. An elbow issue resulted in Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season. He will probably not be ready to pitch for the Rays until 2020 since most of the 2019 season will be subject to rehabilitation and pitch counts. Prior to the surgery his fastball hit the mid-90s and he had a full repertoire of pitches that included a screwball. Time will tell how those pitches will be impacted after the surgery. His command was good but it may take some time for him to recover after the surgery.

6. Mike Soroka (Braves) - The Braves 2015 first round pick out of Canada was originally not on the list. The Braves had called him up in May and it appeared he would be a part of that rotation. Shoulder issues have not allowed him to pitch since June and his season appears done after just five major league starts, retaining his prospect status. He is a pitcher who does not have a dominating fastball, sitting in the low 90s, but he has good command and a dropping slider that retires hitters. AAA hitters could only hit .204 against him this year. Major league hitters had a little more success (.288). It will take an impressive spring for Soroka to start the 2019 season in the major leagues. The Braves will want to be patient with him and control his pitch counts early in the 2019 season.

7. Hunter Greene (Reds) - Another hard thrower who consistently hit triple digits with his fastball. The 2017 first round pick was sidelined by the elbow sprain that requires Tommy John surgery. This will sideline him for most of next year. He struggled last season and at the beginning of the 2018 season. Just as he was starting to pitch well he experienced the elbow pain. At the end of May his ERA sat at 7.18. When he was placed on the disabled list his ERA dropped to 4.48. The surgery will delay his major league debut until at least 2021. His best use may also be out of the pen.

8. Tristan McKenzie (Indians) - When the 2015 first round supplemental pick puts some more meat on his 6′5″ 165 pound frame the low 90s fastball should juice up to the mid 90s. His long arms give him a nice whip like action and his curveball is a good swing and miss pitch. A solid change gives him three good pitches with good command of those pitches despite his height. In AA the opposition is hitting just .204 against him. Coming into this season he had a career .196 opposition average. Triston is tough to hit with his flailing arms firing darts across the plate. Expect him to make his major league debut sometime next year and be a fixture in the Indians rotation by 2019.

9. Dylan Cease (White Sox) - The Cubs are always looking for pitchers but they traded their sixth round 2104 pick to acquire Jose Quintana. Dylan has always had trouble finding command of his pitches and developing a third pitch to make it as a starter. His fastball has hit triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s and his curve is a decent swing and miss pitch. It appears his command and change are improving. After pitching well in the Carolina League (2.89 ERA) he was promoted to the Southern League where he has pitched even better (1.94 ERA). In eight starts the opposition is hitting just .170 against him with 64 whiffs in 46 innings. Hitters have petitioned for a cease and desist order on his fastball. The White Sox rotation is packed in the minor leagues, but with this kind of success next year he should earn his way into the rotation.

10. Alex Reyes (Cardinals) - Whether it is a drug suspension, Tommy John surgery or back injuries, some event has been blocking Alex from pitching in the major leagues. At one point he was the top pitching prospect in baseball. He should have been in a major league rotation two years ago. There are not an infinite number of next years that he can count on. His fastball flashes across the plate in the mid to upper 90s. His curve and change are quality pitches. The one knock you could have on him was his lack of command. With all this inactivity that may be more of an issue. At this point he may have to settle for bullpen work just to stay healthy. The one bright spot of last season is he did get four starts in the minor leagues without allowing a run in 23 innings and followed that up with one start in the majors without allowing a run in four innings. That is 27 innings without allowing a run in 2018. Expect him to get a major league opportunity next year working out of the bullpen to begin the season.

11. Touki Toussaint (Braves) - The Diamondbacks traded their 2014 first round pick to dump salary (Bronson Arroyo) because they felt he would never find the plate. His early years he struggled with ERAs at 5 or greater. At 6′3″ he had good pitcher’s height and with a fastball in the high 90s he was someone the Braves felt they could be patient on. The light bulb has turned on this year for Touki with a 2.93 ERA and .208 opposition average in the minor leagues in 16 AA starts. That led to a promotion to AAA where the success continued (2.01 ERA). Last night he made his major league debut, and though it was only the Marlins he held them to one run on two hits in six innings. The Braves have a number of pitchers competing for the starting rotation but Touki has elevated his status with his 2018 season.

12. Franklin Perez (Tigers) - It has not been a good season for the Tigers top prospect coming into this season. He was one of the players they acquired at the beginning of the season for Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with a mid-90s fastball you expect domination. Injuries have limited him to seven starts this season, starting with his back and moving to his shoulder. Those seven starts produced a 6.52 ERA. The Tigers will hope for better next year.

13. Michel Baez (Padres) - The 6′8″ Cuban flamethrower will be a force in a couple years. A fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a devastating change is a duo leaving hitters perplexed. He also squeezes in a curve and a slider. This is his second season in the States and he has already reached AA. He was mesmerizing in his 17 AA starts (2.91 ERA) with an opposition average of .229 and 92 whiffs in 86.2 innings. A little hiccup in his first AA start (11.57 ERA) shows he has some work to do. The rebuilding Padres hope he will be ready for their rotation in 2020 when he makes his major league debut.

14. Matt Manning (Tigers) - It is tempting to rate the 2016 first round pick ahead of Perez. He is having a solid season in the minors, pitching well enough in Low A (3.40 ERA) to get a promotion to High A (2.90 ERA). During that time the opposition is hitting just .205 against him. His fastball touches the mid-90s with a solid curve and change combination. What keeps him behind Perez is his lack of command. At 6′6″ that may take some time to improve. He has walked 44 in his 96 innings this year, which is a slight improvement over his walk rate last year. Next year he should hit AA and then compete for the rotation of the rebuilding Tigers in 2020.

15. Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks) - Last year there was no pitcher as dominating as Duplantier. The last pitcher to have an ERA lower than 1.39 in the minors was the Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. This year the third round 2016 pick has not been as dominating, but most pitchers would take his numbers (2.03 ERA, .200 opposition average). Injuries delayed the start of his season and bicep tendinitis sidelined him for two months. He missed much of the 2016 season with injuries. If he can avoid those injuries his low to mid-90s fastball, slider, curve and change are enough to retire hitters better than most pitchers. With the success he is having at AA he could reach AAA next year and perhaps compete for a rotation spot in spring training.

16. Kyle Wright (Braves) - The 2017 first round pick can get his fastball in the upper 90s. At 6′4″ he has a good frame with the requisite quality secondary pitches to dominate in the rotation (slider, curve and change). Drafted out of college the Braves have moved him up their minor league system quickly, giving him six starts at High A last year (3.18) ERA) and moving him through AA and AAA this year (3.59 ERA). His numbers are kind of blah (less than a strikeout per inning and a .232 opposition average) and myworld has not seen him pitch, which is a reason for the lower rating. Myworld expects him to compete for a spot with the other young hurlers for a Braves rotation spot in 2019.

17. Adonis Medina (Phillies) - At 6′1″ Adonis lacks the height scouts look for in their right handed starting pitchers. His low to mid-90s fastball and quality change are enough to put the Dominican on this list. His struggles in High A (4.63 ERA) made it tempting not to include him. He has almost hit as many batters (9) as he has given up homeruns (10). Right now he needs to develop consistency. There are too many dominating outings where he hits double digits in strikeouts mixed in with clunkers where he gives up seven runs. The dominating outings show his potential. Next year he should reach AA and if he finds that consistency he could be competing for a rotation spot in 2020.

18. Alex Faedo (Tigers) - Alex dominated in the 2017 College World Series and the Tigers selected him with their first round pick in 2017. With the number of innings he pitched last year in college the Tigers shut him down for the minor league season. This year the Tigers have been aggressive with Alex starting him in High A and promoting him to AA. He has had his struggles in AA (4.54 ERA) giving up 11 homeruns in just 39.2 innings. The slider was his swing and miss pitch in college but he needs to use his mid-90s fastball to set up his slider to the major league hitters. If they know it is coming they won’t swing at the pitch. With his struggles at AA the Tigers may start him there in 2019. A mid-season promotion to the majors is a possibility but don’t expect to see him as a permanent piece in the rotation until 2020.

19. Albert Abreu (Marlins) - He has the tag of the hardest thrower in the minors. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins to acquire Giancarlo Stanton. He hits triple digits with regularity with his fastball and his curve and change are good enough to reach the majors as a starter. Last year he got 9 starts in the Florida State League (4.19 ERA). This year injuries have seem him bounce on and off the disabled list keeping him at High A where his numbers have not shown improvement (4.30 ERA). As hard as he throws he doesn’t stack up a lot of strikeouts. Next year he should get his shot at AA.

20. Brusdar Graterol (Twins) - Tommy John surgery prevented the Venezuelan from playing in 2016. When he was hitting triple digits with his fastball in 2017 the scouts took notice. He has a good fastball/slider combination with the requisite secondary pitches to make it as a starter. This year he dominated in Low A (2.18 ERA) which got him a promotion to High A. There he has had his struggles (4.06 ERA, .287 opposition average) in his seven starts. If he can stay healthy he will compete for a Twins starting rotation spot in 2021. At 19 years of age he has plenty of time to learn his stuff.

Soto Leads Nats to Split with Reds

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

After losing the opener 7-1, Juan Soto continued to be the savior of the Nationals 2018 season. He doubled, singled and walked to score three times in the Nationals 6-2 win over the Reds. Anthony Rendon also contributed with two doubles and a single, driving in Soto twice with his two doubles.

Jeremy Hellickson may lack the blazing fastball but he had enough to tame the Reds bats. He gave up a lead off homerun to Jose Peraza on the second pitch he threw in the game. He also served one up to Eugenio Suarez in the fourth. Both balls were deposited into the Reds bullpen in left field.

Matt Harvey had the blazing fastball, hitting 95 on the radar. The Nationals spent the evening off him building a picket fence, scoring single runs in the first to fourth innings. Matt Adams crushed a leadoff homerun off Harvey in the fifth to send him to the showers. The Nationals added another run in the inning on a Wilmer Difo double to stop the picket fence with a two spot.

Prior to that it was all Soto. In the first inning he hit a screaming liner into right center that hit the bottom of the scoreboard. He was able to slide awkwardly into second base. Anthony Rendon followed by lining a double into the left centerfield gap to score Soto to tie the game at 1-1.

In the second inning Michael Taylor got things started with a bunt single. Hellickson laid down a nice bunt to move Taylor to second. Wilmer Difo delivered on the first of his two clutch two out hits, ripping a single to right center to score Taylor, who barely slid into home, beating a strong throw from Billy Hamilton.

It was Soto again in the third. He led off the inning with a single past the diving second baseman into right field. Rendon followed with a bloop single over the head of the shortstop. Matt Adams ripped a double down the first base line to score Soto but Rendon was held at third. The Reds walked Michael Taylor intentionally and it paid off. Spencer Kieboom popped to third and Hellickson hit a weak grounder to short limiting the damage to one run and a 3-1 lead.

Soto sparked the rally again for the Nationals in the fourth. With two out he coaxed a walk from Harvey. Anthony Rendon lined a pitch to left field. Preston Tucker appeared to get a poor break on the ball and it rolled to the wall scoring Soto.

The bullpen did the rest for the Nats, although Kelvin Herrera was not sharp. He gave up a single to Mason Williams and walked Curt Casilla. He was one ball away from walking Preston Tucker to load the bases but finally got him to fly out to right field. He struck out Preston Tucker to end the game. Because the score was 6-2 when he came into the game it was not a save situation.

Game Notes: Bryce Harper was hit on the knee from a pitch by Austin Brice. The pitch was a curve ball. Bryce was able to get to first and run the bases but was taken out of the game in the top of the seventh after Dave Martinez did not like how well he ran after the ball after a Mason Williams double. The Nationals are calling it a stinger and he is day to day…Perhaps it was just coincidence or a purposeful pitch but Joey Votto was nailed in the leg by Ryan Madson with two out in the eighth. Joey was not happy with being hit, yelling something to Madson as he trotted to first and after the third out was made…Juan Soto fouled a pitch into his nether regions in the fourth inning. He was down for awhile, but once recovered drew a walk. He had to race home from first after a Rendon double so he appears fine…After Matt Adams led off the fifth with a homerun Tucker Barnhart said something to the umpire while in his crouch. The home plate umpire did not like what was said and tossed Barnhart while Adams circled the bases. It appears Barnhart had made a comment about the strike zone and Fletcher got a little sensitive and tossed Barnhart. That is when Barnhart got more animated and started arguing with the umpire as Adams rounded the bases…Preston Tucker did not play well in left field. He reacted poorly to a line drive from Rendon that rolled to the fence. He also threw a ball that went nowhere near the cutoff man, hitting the second base bag…Jesus Reyes made his major league debut. The first batter he faced he hit Spencer Kieboom. That later resulted in the Joey Votto hit by pitch that ultimately resulted in warnings being issued to both benches…Trea Turner grounded out in all five of his at bats. The only infielder he ignored was the first baseman.

The All Star Contact/Power Lineup

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Strikeouts and homeruns are up. Most like the latter but abhor the former. Myworld takes a look at the players who hit for power at their positions but like to make contact, or at least take as many walks as they strikeout. Excitement usually pervades their at bats.

Buster Posey (C) Giants - He has been a little short in the power department this year compared to past years, but there is a shortage of catchers who make contact. Buster almost wins this by default with a 38/45 walk to whiff ratio and five taters. He has peppered the gaps for 22 doubles.

Joey Votto (1B) Reds - In most years it would be Miguel Cabrera. He has been injured for most of the year. Joey Votto has been healthy but has not found his power swing this year, limited to just nine dingers. He does have an impressive 85/72 walk to whiff ratio. That is a lot of non-contact.

Alex Bregman (2B) Astros - We had to move him to second base, the position he would probably play if Altuve was not there and Correa did not occupy short. Alex has already surpassed his homerun numbers from last year with 22 bombs. He also has a 62/61 walk to whiff ratio.

Manny Machado (SS) Orioles/Dodgers - This has been the best year for Manny in his walk to whiff ratio (56/68). He has also stroked 26 balls over the fence. When Manny comes up to the plate the concessions get empty.

Jose Ramirez (3B) Indians - Where did this guy come from? He hit 13 homeruns in his five minor league seasons. He has 32 this year after hitting 29 last year. His 70/51 walk to whiff ratio is impressive as well.

Juan Soto (LF) Nationals - Juan is on his way to breaking the record for most walks in a season by a teenager and he missed the first couple months of the season. When he learns to pull the ball on certain pitches the balls should start flying out of Nationals stadium with greater regularity. He already has 13 this year with a 43/48 walk to whiff ratio.

Mike Trout (CF) Angels - The best player in the game today. He is prone to striking out, but he also walks a ton (99/97 walk to whiff ratio). He also sends balls out of the park with great consistency (21 homeruns).

Mookie Betts (RF) Red Sox - At 5′9″ he is not a big guy, but he carries plenty of wallop with 25 homeruns and a 50/54 walk to whiff ratio.

Top Leftfield Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

It is tough to identify left field prospects. Teams like to see power from this position, but it usually fits a player who is lacking one or two tools. Sometimes a team will move a corner infielder here, or they may have two corner outfielders who have the ability to play right field. If a team is blessed with too many centerfielders the player with the lesser arm will move here. The players identified below have played some left field in the minor leagues, but that still may not be their ultimate position as they rise through the ranks.

1. Taylor Trammell OF (Reds) - Taylor was a first round supplemental pick in the 2016 draft. He has the speed to play center but his arm is short and if he doesn’t fit in center his best position will be left. In the Florida State League the Reds have moved him around all three outfield positions. The bat should provide power while his legs will steal bases giving the Reds a possible 20/20 player or better. In the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has only sent six balls over the fence but he has hit .295 with 16 stolen bases. He shows good patience at the plate with a .394 OBA. The Reds have been promoting him one level at a time so expect him not to play AA until 2019.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - Julio signed out of Cuba for $2.8 million. The speed is there to play center. The arm may be better suited for left. While he is listed at 5′11″ reports list him more at 5′9″. He dominated when he played in the Dominican Summer League hitting .409 with a 1.288 OPS. That resulted in a promotion state side. It will take him awhile to get used to minor league pitching. Cubans have struggled when they are first exposed to breaking pitches, especially the slider and Julio has struck out in 23 of his 21 games, struggling with a .234 average. At 22 years of age you would like him to make the adjustments in a league dominated by high schoolers. Most of his time has been in centerfield but he has seen three games in left. Adonis Garcia came over as a smallish centerfielder and eventually moved to the infield. Myworld believes Julio has more tools than Adonis, but time will tell.

3. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) - The Dodges originally signed the 6′5″ Cuban for $2 million but then traded him shortly after to the Astros. The best position for Yordan may be first base, but that position is a bit crowded in the Astros organization. He is not a bad runner but his arm is below average. That won’t be a problem if Yordan continues to dominate with the bat. In AA he hit .303 with 13 homeruns and a .949 OPS. The Astros are looking for some production from the leftfield position and if the players they put out there continue to struggle Yordan may get the opportunity. First he must master AAA where in minimal at bats (19) he is hitting only .105.

4. Josh Naylor OF (Padres) - At 5′11 and 250 pounds Josh is a big guy who can hit the ball a long way. The Canadian was a first round pick of the Marlins and traded to the Padres for Andrew Cashner. Since he has already made eight errors in 54 games for an .899 fielding percentage myworld does not see how the Padres can make him a left fielder. At AA Texas he is finally showing the bat that made him a first round pick. He has already hit a career high 12 homeruns and his .319 average is his highest since his rookie season in 2015. A 46/47 walk to whiff ratio shows a rare combination of power and contact. Expect him to get a September promotion.

5. Willie Calhoun OF (Rangers) - The Dodgers drafted the 5′8″ slugger in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and stuck him at second. He did not fit there defensively and when the Dodgers traded him to the Rangers they moved him to left. With Leody Taveras destined for center Willie and Julio Pablo will have to fight it out for the left field position. Julio is probably the better defensive player but Willie packs more pop in his small frame. Last year he hit 32 homeruns. This year he only has seven, but he tends to warm up with the weather. Willie has hit 26 doubles with a .300 average.

6. Christin Stewart OF (Tigers) - A first round pick in 2015. Christin is the typical bat first and defense later type of player. His best position may be as a designated hitter. His arm is weak and his speed is below average. That weak defense has kept Christin in the minors. The last two years his bat has produced 24 and 28 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 17 homeruns, 15 of them in AAA. Expect the rebuilding Tigers to give him his major league debut this year where he will play primarily at the DH position with spot starts in left field.

7. Brent Rooker OF (Twins) - Brent was a first round pick of the Twins in 2017. The speed in his legs are best suited for first and his arm is below average. First base is the position he played in college, but to get his power bat in the lineup the Twins have been giving him a lot of time in left field, despite his defensive weaknesses. This year he has slugged 15 homeruns with a .493 slugging average. Reducing his swings and misses (107 in 86 games) could increase his average (.264) and his power numbers.

8. Chris Shaw OF (Giants) - The dilemma for the first round 2015 pick is Brandon Belt at first base. That happens to be the best position for Chris. His legs are plodding but his arm is decent for the outfield. Getting his bat in the lineup without having to trade Belt or keep Buster Posey behind the plate during his declining years is the reason for his outfield move. Last year he hit a career high 24 homeruns. This year he has already slugged 18. A 13/104 walk to whiff ratio in just 67 games is a cause for concern and a reason for his low .255 average. Major league pitchers will exploit that lack of patience weakness but the Giants will find out if Chris can hang when they call him up in Sepember.

9. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - The Athletics shelled out $3 million to sign the Cuban in 2016. He is a toolsey outfielder except for his arm. The speed is there to play center but because he expects to get bigger as he matures left field should be his ultimate position. After playing in the Rookie league last year the Athletics have him in the full season Low A league this year. Injuries have limited him to 36 games but he has shown the power to play corner with five homeruns with a .469 slugging percentage. Still a teenager at 19 the Athletics can be patient with Lazaro, giving him a full season in Low A.

10. Buddy Reed OF (Padres) - Buddy Reed was a second round pick of the Padres in 2016. He is a better defensive leftfielder than Naylor but lacks the burner speed to play center and the rocket arm to fit in right. At 6′4″ the power had yet to manifest itself in his first two years. This year he has broken out with 12 homeruns with a .542 slugging percentage. While he does not have great speed, he has shown the base stealing acumen to steal 33 bases this year. The .324 average in the California League has gotten him a promotion to the less pitcher friendly San Antonio ball park. If the power continues the Padres will have to find room for him in what is turning out to be a crowded outfield picture.