Archive for the 'Reds' Category

Top Puerto Rican Prospects

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

The major league draft has been a drain for youths who wish to play baseball in Puerto Rico. Prior to being included in the draft major league teams followed international rules and signed Puerto Rican players once they reached 16 years of age. Once Puerto Rico was included in the draft major league teams could not sign players until after they completed high school.

The challenge with that is many high schools in Puerto Rico do not play baseball. So if a youth beyond 16 wants to continue his baseball career he has to go to one of the academies. If the family does not have money that can be a drain on the pocketbook, though myworld is certain scholarships are offered to talented prospects with pay back coming once the youth signs a contract.

Last year, in the 2020 shortened five round draft no Puerto Rican was selected by major league baseball. The draft will now be chopped to twenty rounds from the traditional forty rounds. That will make it even tougher for Puerto Rican youngsters to be drafted. That is a loss for baseball, as youths now turn to soccer or basketball for their sport of choice. If not for the academies, baseball would probably be dead in Puerto Rico.

Below are the top ten prospects to watch from Puerto Rico. I could have missed someone because many Puerto Ricans now travel stateside to continue their baseball careers. Willi Castro is the only player to graduate from last year’s list. He was the third rated prospect. Edwin Rios saw some major league time.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - I believe he may have been the last Puerto Rican drafted in the first round, selected by the Giants in 2017. Ramos has above average grades in all the tools categories, but power and a strong right field arm may be his best tools. While he has the speed to play center, it is not in the burner category, so right field could be his best fit. Much of the speed he had when drafted has been lost as he has matured and gotten bigger. The power should equate to 25-30 homeruns per year, though hitting homeruns in the Giants stadium is not easy. He did recover from a poor 2018 season when he slugged just .396. In 2019 he raised his average 45 points (.290) and his slugging average almost 100 points (.496). Expect him to make his major league debut sometime late in 2021, especially if he has a good spring.

2. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - Mario was the 75th player selected in the 2016 draft, a second round supplemental pick. Puerto Rico has been known for developing catchers with the Molina brothers, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Benito Santiago, just to name a few. Mario hopes to add his name to that list. His arm is top notch, but his bat could be even better. In 2019 his bat broke out for 19 homeruns with a .270 average. There is still too much swing and miss in his game (143 whiffs in 119 games) and he needs to improve in the other defensive areas of the game, such as pitch framing and calling a game. He played three games in AA in 2019. That may be where he starts the 2021 season with a callup possible this year. Catchers can sometimes take longer to develop so don’t expect a larger role for him until 2023.

3. Edwin Rios 3B/1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers resigned Justin Turner, but for baseball he is at that age where he will need soe down time to rejuvenate. Expect Edwin to be that replacement. The sixth round 2015 pick saw a lot of power in 2020, with eight homeruns in just 32 games. While his slugging average reached .645 his OBA was only .301. In a brief appearance with the Dodgers in 2019 he slugged .617 with a .393 OBA. That year he also hit a career high 31 homeruns in AAA. So the power in his bat is a real threat. His defense at third can be a little awkward as might be expected from someone who is 6′3″ so his best position could be first base. If the DH arrives in the National League next year he could see a more permanent presence in the Dodgers lineup. Expect him to be with the Dodgers in 2021 playing a bench role to cover the corner infield positions.

4. Matthew Lugo SS (Red Sox) - The second round 2019 second round pick has some pretty impressive blood lines. He is the nephew of Carlos Beltran. If he can harness just half of Beltran’s production the Red Sox would consider him a success. The power genes have so far not appeared with Matthew as they did for Carlos. In his first and only minor league season in 2019 he only hit one homerun and slugged .326. The Red Sox hope the power will come as he matures. His defensive actions at short may rely more on his quickness than his speed. Matthew carries above average speed to stick at short and his arm is strong, but it will never measure up to the elite shortstops on defense. The Red Sox have Jeter Downs rated ahead of him for a middle infield spot, but with a good 2021 season Matthew could put himself on the spot light. Expect him to start the 2021 season in A ball, with a Red Sox arrival time delayed until 2023.

5. Jose DeLeon RHP (Reds) - Jose has been on this list for a number of years. It took until the 24th round for the Dodgers to draft him in 2013. That would not make him a drafted player in 2021. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2017 season but arm injuries limited his first year with the Rays and Tommy John surgery prevented him from playing in 2018. The Rays traded him to the Reds after the 2019 season. Now that he is finally healthy he could be a back end rotation piece or fill a bullpen role for the Reds in 2021. His fastball has increased a couple ticks, getting to the low end of the mid-90s spectrum. His change has been his best pitch, but with the increased velocity on his fastball there is clearer separation. A slider gives him a third pitch to be a starter. The Reds gave him five opportunities to pitch in the bullpen in 2020 but he gave up 12 runs in those six innings, walking 11 and striking out 10. At 29 years of age he needs to make the Reds pitching mix for the 2021 season or be released to the free agent market. Whether he makes the team will be dependent on his spring performance.

6. Erik Rivera LHP/OF (Angels) - The Angels love their duality. After signing Shohei Ohtani from Japan as a pitcher/hitter they have made a practice of drafting players who have the ability to pitch and hit. Erik was a fourth round pick in 2019 for his ability to both hit and pitch. With a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a big bender curveball and change his best rout to the majors may be his arm. There is power in his bat, but that comes with a lot of difficulty making contact. In 2019 he struck out 31 times in 21 games. Erik should start the 2021 season in A ball, with a more games behind the mound than at the plate.

7. Yan Contreras SS (Reds) - Yan did not get drafted until the 12th round of the 2019 draft. Right now defense is his game and the tools are there for him to stick at shortstop. The big question is whether his bat will hit enough to see the major leagues. Currently, he lacks any kind of power, but the hope is that at 6′2″ that power can be developed. In his 20 game minor league debut in 2019 he hit only .145. He did show the ability to walk with 14 and his two triples and four stolen bases in five attempts does show some game like speed. It will be a stretch for him to be a major leaguer, but 2021 will see his journey start in A ball.

8. Jivani Moran LHP (Twins) - A seventh round 2015 draft pick. His first year with the Twins they put him in the rotation, but after that most of his time has been spent in the bullpen. The strikeout numbers are very impressive, but that is not because of the velocity of his fastball. His career totals are 224 whiffs in just 158 innings. Those swings and misses can be attributed to his change that is unhittable at the minor league level. Those strikeout numbers increased at AA (13.1 per 9 innings) but his ERA sky rocketed (4.98). The big challenge will be whether his change can fool major league hitters. That test may come sometime in 2021.

9. Edwin Diaz utility (Athletics) - The 2013 15th round pick has been shuttling around the game a bit. The 2019 season could see him make his debut as a utility player for the Athletics. In 2019 he played a lot of third and short. Edwin lacks the range to play short on a consistent basis and his bat lacks the power to be a starter at third, but if you need a fill in he could be a valuable commodity to play both. His minor league career high for homeruns is 15 in 2018, but he hit 14 in 2019. His batting average can be a bit problematic, sitting in the low .200s the last couple years. The Athletics have a shortage at the middle infield position so the 2021 season will be an opportunity for Diaz to fill a role. At 25 years of age, his time is now.

10. Delvin Perez (Cardinals) - To be honest myworld could not find anyone else. Delvin was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016. Perez dominated in the Puerto Rican leagues, but his bat has fallen short in the minor leagues. The defensive tools are there but the bat is awfully silent. The lack of a 2020 season gave him no opportunity to improve on his paltry .325 slugging percentage in 2019. His career slugging percentage in the minor leagues since being drafted is .317. Defensively, he made 24 errors in 2019 at short and that will also need to improve. His best hope is some power develops, he gains some defensive consistency and he rises up the minor league ladder after a successful 2021 season in High A.

Myworlds 2021 Top Prospects 60-51

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Myworld continues to whittle down our top prospect list, going through 60-51. This group of ten has a good mix, with lefthanded pitching taking the majority of slots.

60. Geraldo Perdomo SS (Diamondbacks) - Arizona got a bargain with Geraldo, signing him for just $70,000 in 2016. The Dominican has the defensive tools to remain a shortstop. The over the fence power is lacking, but he sprayed the gaps in 2019 with 21 doubles. He makes solid contact with a career walk to whiff ratio of 169/148. That could keep his on base skills (.411 OBA) high enough to fit at the top of the order. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. At 6′2″ the hope is that as he matures he develops additional power. The 2021 season should see him start at AA. If he continues to spray hits to keep that OBA at .400 he could see the Diamondbacks lineup some time late in 2021.

59. Jose Garcia SS (Reds) - The Cuban defector, who signed for a $5 million bonus in 2017 got a rough introduction to major league baseball last year, hitting just .194 with a .206 OBA. The highest level he reached in 2019 was High A where he hit .280, so struggling with major league pitching should not be a surprise. Not everyone is a Juan Soto. Jose has the defensive tools to be an asset at shortstop. At 22 years of age he may need some further refinement in the minor leagues, but the Reds still lack a shortstop. Garcia lacks power, but did contribute 37 doubles in 2019. The speed is decent but it will not result in a lot of stolen bases. Making better contact would enhance his batting average. In the minors his walk to whiff ratio was a woeful 44/195 in 229 games. With the Reds it was 1/26 in 24 games. With a good spring he could win the starting shortstop job in 2021, but it would be better for his development if he percolated a bit more in the minor leagues, with a mid season callup in 2021.

58. Nick Lodolo LHP (Reds) - The 2019 first round pick relies more on his command to retire hitters. The lefthander does not have an overpowering pitch, but at 6′6″ he has an intimidating presence. His fastball hovers around the low 90s and is made better by a quality slider and change up. Over time, as he gains strength one could see that fastball start reading the mid-90s pretty consistently. What helps him is his radar like command. In his only minor league season in 2019 he did not walk a batter in his 18 innings of work, striking out 30. Opposing hitters were able to bat .247 against him, so less time around the plate could be a positive. As a college drafted pitcher Nick should advance quickly in the minor leagues. Don’t be surprised to see a late season 2021 debut if his minor league numbers warrant it.

57. Josh Jung 3B (Rangers) - One of the best hitters in Texas Tech history was rewarded by being a first round pick in the 2019. The Rangers hope that he will be their Kris Bryant. While he played a little shortstop with Tech, the hot corner will be his position with the Rangers. His lack of speed will inhibit his range at short and at 215 pounds he is just not built for the position. The bat contains some power. Once he learns to pull more he could reach 30 plus homeruns a year in the major leagues. In his 2019 minor league debut he did hit .316 with two homeruns. Expect him to start the 2021 season in High A with a Ranger arrival date in 2022.

56. Daniel Lynch LHP (Royals) - Daniel is part of a fearsome four of pitchers selected in the 2018 draft. Lynch was drafted in the first round along with Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar and second round pick Jonathan Bowlan, who are all considered worthy of being in the Royals top ten prospect list. Lynch is the lone lefthander in the group. His fastball has some juice and like Nick Lodolo it is thrown from an angular 6′6″ frame. His slider is an excellent pitch and he also throws a decent curve and change. Despite the height and the difficulty it creates in getting the long levers to all operate in one smooth motion, Lynch has good command of his pitches. As a college drafted pitcher you would like to see him advance through the Royals minor league system at a faster rate. He finished the 2019 season in A ball, while Brady Singer is on the major league roster. The Royals could gamble with him and begin his 2021 season in AA. This would put him a stone’s throw from contributing to the major league club. Realistically, he can expect a callup to the Royals some time in 2022.

55. Nick Madrigal 2B (White Sox) - Madrigal came with enough hype in his college career to motivate the White Sox to draft him in the first round of the 2018 draft. There is a winner’s pedigree in him after leading the Beavers to a College World Series championship. If not for an injury in the 2020 season he may not have qualified for this list. He did hit .340 in his 29 game major league debut. His minor league career average sits at .309. Those numbers may look impressive, but they do not come with the power. His contribution will have to come from spraying the ball into the outfield and making quality defensive plays at second base. If not for an average arm, his defense could be proficient enough to play shortstop. Nick should be the White Sox starting second baseman to begin the 2021 season.

54. Zac Veen OF (Rockies) - The Rockies 2020 first round pick has the 6′4″ frame typical of rightfielders. The arm is a good fit for the position. He also carries some speed to be able to patrol centerfield, though not the burner speed a lot of teams prefer for the position. His path to the major leagues will be destined by the power in his lefthanded bat. Rockie offensive numbers are usually inflated because of the high altitude, but Zac does not need that to carry balls over the fence. Because there was no 2020 season Zac should begin the season in Low A. The second high school player taken in the 2020 draft is still a couple years away from impacting the Rockies lineup, but the 2023 season should see his major league debut.

53. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - Venezuela is noted for developing pretty good catchers. The Mets paid a $2.7 million bonus to sign him in 2018. Francisco has some impressive tools, especially on the offensive side. His bat should contribute power as well as a high average. In 2019 he was able to hit .312 with seven homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. There appears to be enough patience not to swing at anything close to the plate, his 26 walks in just 42 games producing a .407 OBA. On defense his arm is strong enough to slow a running game. He also moves well behind the plate, shifting his 220 pounds with ease. The other intricacies to the game such as pitch calling will come with more experience. The 19 year old will start the 2021 season in A ball with a Met appearance sometime in the 2023 season.

52. Edward Cabrera RHP (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican way back in 2015. He cost them a measly $100,000 signing bonus. Edward is one of many flame throws elevating up the Marlins system. The 6′5″ righthander hits the plate with a fastball travelling in the mid-90s. His slider is also a pretty effective pitch. Enhancing his change and improving his command will be game changers, allowing him to fit at the top of a rotation. His 2019 season was a break out season with his 2.23 ERA almost two runs better than his three previous minor league seasons. Hitters also struggled to hit just .190 against him, an improvement of 80 points or more from his three previous seasons. The 2021 season will determine whether this vast improvement was a fluke, or part of his increased understanding of becoming a pitcher. Unfortunately, it has not gotten off to a good start, with an arm injury that will sideline him for the early spring. The Marlins were considering him for the rotation towards the end of the 2020 season but arm and back issues kept him away from making his major league debut. Let us hope these injuries are not part of a pattern. Otherwise he should make his major league debut sometime in the 2021 season.

51. Matthew Liberatore LHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals were so enamored with Liberatore that they traded the homer machine Randy Arozarena to acquire him. Of course, that was before Arozarena hit all those playoff homeruns. The Rays drafted Liberatore in the first round of the 2018 draft. In the long run he could end up being the better player than Arozarena. The lefthander stands 6′5″, can throw in the low 90s and could see some increase in velo as he grows into his frame. His curveball is his quality second pitch and the slider and change also exist in his repertoire. He has no problems finding the plate. The last level Matthew pitched was in Low A. He could see High A in 2021 and hopes to show Cardinal fans, sometime in 2023 that the Cardinals got the better deal in acquiring him.

Myworlds 2021 Top 100 Prospects - 70 - 61

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

The top 2021 prospect list continues. A number of veteran minor league pitchers on this group of ten, trying to overcome injuries and inconsistency with their command.

70. D.L Hall LHP (Orioles) - The Orioles are picking up some pitching pieces in their rebuilding effort. Hall was drafted in the first round in 2017. Lefthanders are a nice commodity and when they can consistently hit the mid-90s like Hall they are gold. Plus he has two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change. There are times when he has trouble finding the plate, but with more experience he should be able to refine that. When he does gain command he will be ready for the O’s rotation sometime in 2022. Minor league hitters have a career .201 batting average against him, so once he finds the plate more his 3.46 ERA will see significant reduction. Hall should start the 2021 season in AA.

69. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) - Michael opted out of the 2020 season. The 2014 first round pick was just beginning to harness his control when pitching for the White Sox in 2018 when an elbow injury resulting in Tommy John ended his season. He did not pitch in 2019 because of the injury and he opted out for 2020. That is a lot of time off for a pitcher who struggled with finding the plate early in his career. Prior to the Tommy John surgery he was considered the hardest thrower in baseball, consistently hitting triple digits with his fastball, popping as high as 105. He also has a nice dive with his slider. If his control issues return he could move to the pen, but he does have a change and curve which gives him the requisite number of pitches to vary his repertoire. At 24 years of age he is at the point in his career where he needs to be in the major league starting rotation. After being out of baseball for two years expect him to start in AAA with a mid-season callup once he achieves success.

68. Clark Schmidt RHP (Yankees) - One thing Clark lacks is having a flashy name for a team like the Yankees. The 2017 first round pick also lacks intimidating height, standing at 6′1″. The fastball can reach the mid-90s, but normally sits in the low 90s. The curve ball may be his best pitch, keeping hitters off balance as they wait for his fastball. Clark throws strikes and gets his swings and misses in the minor leagues. Last year he made his major league debut, and the results indicate it was a little more challenging. He did struggle with his command, walking five in just six innings, so taking control of the strike zone as he does with the minor league hitters would improve his performance. The fifth starter spot in the Yankees rotation is an open competition, but expect him to start the season in AA. At 25 years of age he is ready for a second major league opportunity and that should come sometime in the 2021 season.

67. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) - The 2017 first round pick is another hard thrower that consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery prevented a 2019 season and the corona virus prevented him from pitching in any meaningful games in 2020. When he did appear in games he had struggles finding the plate and hitters found his stuff presentable, batting .261 against him. Locating his pitchers better would improve those results and enhancing his secondary offerings would give him something other than heat. Hunter throws a quality slider at times, but it lacks consistency. At 6′5 inches he has a nice plane to his delivery. If the rotation does not work out he could find a spot as the closer. Pitching in the pen would only require him to focus on commanding two pitches, rather than three or four as a starter. The last time he pitched in 2018 was in low A. He is still a couple years away from the Reds rotation and should begin 2021 in high A.

66. Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP (Blue Jays) - The Blue Jays have stocked up for a play off run. The last level this 2018 second round pick pitched was at High A. The Mets originally drafted him but sent him to the Jays to acquire Marcus Stroman. Simeon is not an overpowering pitcher by today’s standard, sitting in the low 90s, but reaching the mid-90s on occasion. A quality changeup makes the fastball seem to have more zip and two breaking pitches give him a varied repertoire. Simeon can also find the plate with all his pitches. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA. With another prospect Nate Pearson slated for the starting rotation, it would be difficult for the Jays to rely on two rookies to fill their rotation during a playoff run.

65. Daulton Varsho C (Diamondbacks) - Our first non-pitcher to this group of ten. This second round 2017 pick is not your typical catcher. He has some speed, which allows him to roam in the outfield. For the 2020 season the Diamondbacks had him play some left field. He made his major league debut in 2020 with 101 at bats, but only hit .188 with a .366 slugging average. He will need to improve on those numbers if he hopes to play outfield in the future. As a catcher those numbers are acceptable if he can bring the defense. That may not be his strength, with a fringe average arm and no spectacular attributes behind the plate to make up for his average throwing arm. He did hit 18 homeruns in the minors in 2019, so perhaps a second look at major league pitching may improve his performance. Expect the Diamondbacks to start him in AAA. He could be used as a super utility player who can play outfield and DH, but also act as a second or third catcher.

64. Triston Casas 1B (Red Sox) - The Red Sox have a glut of corner infielders. Finding a spot for their 2018 first round pick among this glut will be a challenge for the Red Sox. He has a big time power bat and a strong arm that would allow him to play in the outfield, but his legs have too much tortoise in them to allow him to cover much ground in the grass. He did play for the 18 and under United States national team that won the gold medal, hitting three homeruns but hitting just .250. That could be what he does in the major leagues, hit around .250 with 30 plus homeruns. In his one full minor league season in 2019 he did hit 20 homeruns with a .256 average. Eventually the Red Sox will have to make room for him, but that may have to wait until the 2023 season. Triston will start 2021 in High A.

63. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - The major league struggles may have took the shine off his prospect status. The Angels brought him up towards the end of the 2020 season and he hit just. 161 with 55 whiffs in 38 games. The acquisition of Dexter Fowler will keep Jo down in AAA for at least half the 2021 season. Jo has the potential to be a five tool athlete, with power, speed and a strong arm to play right field. His power has yet to show itself in the minor leagues, with 12 homeruns his high for a year. His speed does not create stolen base opportunities. On defense in 2020 he had two balls pop out of his glove and go over the fence for homeruns. So those tools still are raw and there is a lot of swing and miss present in his swing. Expect the Angels to start Jo in AAA and promote him to the Angels once he shows success.

62. Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B (Pirates) - The son of Charlie and a first round pick of 2015 had a mini super star major league season in 2020. He hit .376 with five homeruns and a .682 slugging percentage in 24 major league games. Prior to that he was considered a great defensive third baseman whose glove would lead to gold, but a questionable bat that would not hit enough to justify his position at the hot corner. His minor league career average is .279 with a .399 slugging. He shows good patience at the plate, so if his break out major league season is the result of better recognition of pitches, then he should be an All Star third baseman for the Pirates in 2021. Expect him to start the season there, but don’t be surprised if offensive struggles result in a demotion to the minor leagues.

61. Forest Whitely RHP (Astros) - At one point the velocity and stuff coming out of this first round 2016 pick’s arm had him rated as one of the top pitchers in baseball. With his 6′7″ inch frame his reach to the plate was scary for hitters. Or maybe not. He has had issues staying healthy and a 50 game suspension because of drugs has limited his development. The fastball hits triple digits but it has trouble finding the plate. His curve and change are considered quality pitches, but lack consistency. The 2019 results (7.99 ERA) show all those quality pitches do not have trouble finding bats. Opponents hit him at a .259 clip with 11 homeruns in 60 innings. He also walked 44, but struck out 86, meaning his pitches sometimes found their mark. The Astros have spent a lot of time working on his mechanics. Depending on where that process is, he could start the season in extended spring, or at the lower minor league levels, but once they are happy with where he is at he should be pitching in AAA. With success there the Astro fans should see him on the mound in 2021.

Top Right Handed Pitching Prospects

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Below are the top right handed pitching prospects. Because of five man rotations myworld has decided to list our top 20.

1. Casey Mize (Tigers) - Not a lot of first picks in the draft are the best prospects once they test the minor leagues. Mize was the first player selected in 2018 after starring at Auburn. The 2019 season was his only full minor league season where he could eat up innings. In 21 starts he chewed up 109 innings. That appeared to be good enough for him to make his major league debut in 2020, starting seven games while piecing together 28 innings. It was a struggle. He gave up seven homeruns, the same number he gave up in the minor leagues in almost 100 more innings. Major league hitters raked him for a .252 average, 43 points higher than his career minor league average. His best pitch may be his splitter, but he also throws a mid 90s fastball with a mid-80s slider. The splitter in the mid-80s can act as his off speed pitch. The Tigers could start his 2021 season in AAA then call him up after he achieves some success there. He needs a confidence booster after being mauled in 2020.

2. Nate Pearson (Blue Jays) - The 2017 pick is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. His fastball can dart across the plate at 102 miles per hour. The secondary pitches, especially the slider will keep him in the rotation. His command could probably use a little more enhancement, especially in the major leagues. Nate made his major league debut in 2020, walking 13 batters in 18 innings. He also let five balls leave the yard. He pitched much better in 2019 pitching at three different minor league levels. At 6′6 inches his pitches come right at you. Minor leaguers hit just .173 againt him. Like Casey Mize, he could start the 2021 season in AAA, then get called up once he achieves some success and gets his confidence back. A good spring could see him start his season with Toronto.

3. Sixto Sanchez (Marlins) - Sixto may have pitched the Marlins to the 2020 playoffs. He was originally signed by the Phillies for the paltry sum of $35,000 back in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. The Phillies included him in a trade for J.T. Realmuto. Ironic that the rebuilding Marlins saw the playoffs before the Phillies. Standing at just 6′0 usually does not spell success for a right handed starter. Sixto proved to be an exception, like his native countryman Pedro Martinez. Sixto slings his fastball in the high 90s and occasionally clips the three digit territory. His change is also a quality pitch and the slider acts as a third pitch enough to allow him to survive in the rotation. He made his major league debut last year and started seven games, finishing with a 3.46 ERA. Without that contribution the Marlins would not have made the playoffs. For a pitcher with his velocity he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but they make enough soft contact for Sixto to achieve success. He should start the 2021 season in the Marlins rotation.

4. Spencer Howard (Phillies) - This 2017 second round pick also made his major league debut in 2020. Like Mize and Pearson above him he struggled, with major leaguers hitting him at a .300 clip, resulting in a 5.92 ERA in six starts. In the minors in 2019 Spencer limited the opposition to just a .173 average. His fastball is explosive, hitting the mid-90s consistently and reaching the high 90s. It has enough movement that he gets a lot of swings and misses. His secondary breaking pitches (slider and curve) are a tick above average to allow him to survive in the rotation, but his change has turned into an above average pitch. His command can get off kilter but with a little more experience he could become the ace of the Phillies rotation. It would not hurt to start his 2021 season in AAA with a callup a little later in the season. The Phillies keep on acquiring veteran players, trading top prospects to achieve their goal. It could be a top prospect like Howard that could finally get the Phillies into the playoffs.

5. Forrest Whitley (Astros) - The 6′7″ first round pick in 2016 may have the best stuff of the pitchers on this list. Staying healthy and finding the strike zone have always been a challenge. He also missed 50 games for violating the minor league drug policy. In 2019 shoulder problems left his delivery out of whack and he finished with a 7.99 ERA in just 60 innings, walking 44 batters. In his four seasons he has yet to surpass 100 innings pitched. The fastball can travel across the plate in the mid-90s and a quality slider and change feed off the fastball to make him difficult to hit, if he can find the plate. If his command stays inconsistent he could always turn into a closer, but he has too many quality pitches not to keep in the rotation. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AAA, where he finished with a 12.21 ERA in 2019 in five starts.

6. Michael Kopech (White Sox) - The 2014 first round pick opted out of the 2020 season. This after missing all of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery. Michael seemed to have announced his arrival after being able to find the plate in four major league starts in 2018, but his elbow did not allow him to finish the season. His fastball cuts across the plate in the triple digits, even hitting 105 in one game. His slider has plus quality, but finding a third pitch and the plate set him back. It will be interesting to see if he can find the plate after his two year absence. The White Sox made the playoffs last year without him. If he could fill the White Sox rotation in 2021 it would be an asset to repeating a playoff run in 2021.

7. Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles) - The Orioles 2018 first round pick stands at a sturdy 6′5. He pitched out of Texas. The Orioles hope he can mimic a couple Texas icons in Roger Clemons and Nolan Ryan. With a mid-90s fastball and a quality slider, he gathers up the swings and misses in the minor leagues. In 20 starts in Low A he held opponents to a .171 average with 129 whiffs in 94 innings. He has enough command of his four pitches that should allow him to be the ace of the Orioles rotation in a couple years. For the 2021 season he will probably spend most of it in AA, not seeing the major leagues until sometime during the middle of the 2022 season.

8. Luis Patino (Padres) - The Padres signed the 6′1″ righthander for just $130,000 out of Colombia back in 2016. Despite his lack of height he has built up enough bulk to reach the mid 90s with his fastball, often lighting up the radar in the high 90s. He also has a quality slider that elicits swings and misses. In his three minor league seasons he has never had an ERA above 2.57 and he has limited opponents to a .208 average. He gets lots of swings and misses and limits balls from traveling over the fence, giving up just seven taters in 234 innings. Luis made his major league debut in 2020 and struggled with his command, walking 14 in 17 innings. Opponents hit him at a .257 clip leaving his ERA at an elevated 5.19. This will probably result him starting the 2021 season in AAA and waiting until he achieves some success there before being promoted to the Padres.

9. Matt Manning (Tigers) - The first round 2016 pick was drafted out of high school so he is taking a more patient rise up the minor league ladder than Mize. Manning is one year younger than Mize and after achieving success in AA in 2019 (2.56 ERA) he should be joining Mize in the rotation sometime in 2021. He has a nice 6′6 frame that gives him challenges finding a consistent release point, but his control improved in 2019. He is the son of Rich Manning, who played in the NBA, a sport Matt played while in high school. The fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is probably his second best pitch, with a curveball that dives to the ground and gets awkward swings and misses. An improved change in 2019 gives him the requisite three pitches to survive in the starting rotation. He will probably start the 2019 season in AAA and at some point may join Mize and Tarik Skubal to make an awesome front three for the rotation.

10. Max Meyer (Marlins) - Max was the third player selected in the 2020 draft. He pitched in relief early in his career with Minnesota but moved to the starting rotation midway through his sophomore year. At 6′0″ he does not carry the height that you like to see in right handed pitchers. His best pitch may be his slider, and when combined with his mid-90s fastball that touched triple digits, it will garner lots of swings and misses. His change shows flashes of brilliance, which should be enough for him to stick in the rotation. The 2021 season will be his first in the minor leagues, but he should rise up quickly. If he has success and the Marlins are making another playoff run do not be surprised if they don’t use him in relief to begin his major league career, with a later transition to the starting rotation.

11. Logan Gilbert (Mariners) - The 2018 first round pick is another giant, who stands at 6′6″. The fastball crosses the plate in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches and change show enough quality that will allow him to stick in the rotation. His pitches are enhanced by his ability to find the strike zone consistently, something not common among pitchers his height. Logan has only one minor league season under his built, seeing three levels in 2019. He finished in AA with a 2.13 ERA putting together 26 starts and 135 innings. Opponents hit him at a .198 clip, including a .194 average in 9 AA starts. This should make him major league ready sometime during the mid-season of 2021 after starting the year in AAA.

12. Ian Anderson (Braves) - The 2016 first round pick can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. Hitters can have a difficult time getting elevation on the pitch because of its downward spike as it travels across the plate. He mixes in a curve and a change that keeps hitters off balance. In his first three years he had only allowed three homeruns in 243 innings. In 2019 he gave up an uncharacteristic 13 homeruns in just 135 innings. The 2020 season saw him make his major league debut where he baffled major league hitters to a .172 average and a 1.95 ERA in six starts. It will be interesting if he can replicate that success in 2021. Unless he bombs during spring training he should start the 2021 season in the Braves rotation.

13. Emerson Hancock (Mariners) - The second 2020 draft pick to appear on this list and the sixth player selected in the draft. The 6′4″ righthander can reach the high 90s with his fastball, but sits in the mid-90s. He complements his fastball with two quality breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a quality change. All of those pitches are enhanced by his above average command. With no minor league experience he should begin the 2021 season in A ball and could rise quickly with some success. Mariner fans should not expect to see him until late in the 2022 season.

14. Dane Dunning (Rangers) - The Nationals first round pick in 2016 is on his third team. The Nationals traded him to the White Sox with two other pitchers (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) for Adam Eaton. The White Sox traded Dunning to the Rangers after the 2020 season to get a veteran pitcher for the 2021 season. Dunning missed all of the 2019 season after Tommy John surgery but had progressed enough that the White Sox put him in their rotation for the 2020 season seven times. He had a 3.97 ERA and limited the opposition to a .197 average. Lynn in 13 starts for the Rangers carried a 3.32 ERA. Lynn only has one more year in his contract before becoming a free agent while Dunning will be controlled by the Rangers for at least five more years. Dunning should start the season in the Rangers rotation in 2021.

15. Triston McKenzie (Indians) - The Indians supplemental first round pick in 2015 had surprising success in the Indians rotation last year, despite being limited to just 90 innings his last two years because of injuries. He did not pitch at all in 2019 because of back issues. The lanky 6′5″ righthander spun together a 3.24 ERA in six starts and 33 innings in the major leagues. Major league hitters hit only .179 against him. At 23 years of age he should gain more weight on his 165 pound frame. This should add some velocity to his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s. He has a quality curveball to go with a slider and change that keeps hitters off balance. It will be interesting to see if he can replicate his success in 2021. The Indians will start him in the rotation in 2021 and whether he stays there will be dictated by his success.

16. Edward Cabrera (Marlins) - The Marlins signed the Dominican in 2015 for the bargain price of $100,000. He has journeyed through the minor leagues impressing hitters with a mid-90s fastball that touches triple digits. At 6′5″ and 217 pounds his frame carries intimidation. His secondary pitches could use some improvement. The slider has enough downward bite to get hitters to beat the ball to the ground and there is enough separation of his change compared to his fastball to get swings and misses. The lack of quality secondary pitches and inconsistent command could move him to the bullpen. His 2019 season was a breakout year with a 2.23 ERA and .190 opposition average, both much better than his previous years. Edward could start the 2021 season in AAA with a possible promotion to the Marlins if he achieves success, or a propensity to pitch out of the bullpen.

17. Jordan Balazovic (Twins) - The Canadian was not drafted until the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He has sprouted to 6′5″ and packed on 45 additional pounds to get his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The secondary pitches (slider and change) are commendable pitches that could see him stick in the rotation, but his skills seem to fit better in the bullpen. Jordan has no trouble finding the plate, which should help him stay in the rotation. He has made a slow trek through the minors, finally reaching full season ball in 2019, reaching High A. He will probably start the 2021 season in AA with a Twins appearance sometime in 2022.

18. Hunter Greene (Reds) - It has been a long, slow trek for the player picked second in the 2017 draft. The fastball was triple digit quality but he failed to find the plate. His first year he finished with a 12.46 ERA in three starts covering 4 innings. That improved to 4.48 in 2018. Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2019 season. It will be interesting if he can sustain his three digit heat into the 2021 season. His secondary pitches (slider and change) could allow him to survive in the rotation. His surgery and his premier fastball could move him into the bullpen. He finished his 2018 season in Low A. It will not be until late in the 2022 season before the Reds see him in their rotation.

19. Shane Baz (Rays) - The Rays do a good job of developing starting pitchers. Shane was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2017. The Rays stole him, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows from the Pirates for Chris Archer. If Baz makes the Rays it will be one of the biggest swindles in baseball. Baz has a fastball that lights the radar gun in the triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s. His inability to find the plate will make it difficult for him to stay in the rotation. He also lacks a quality third pitch, showing a fastball/slider combination with a pedestrian change. Shane has yet to check in at the 100 inning level in any of his three minor league seasons. The 2021 season could see him start it in AA. Rays fans will have to wait until at least 2022 before they see him in the bullpen, or 2023 before he hits the rotation.

20. Jackson Kowar (Royals) - Kowar pitched with Brady Singer at Florida. The Royals made Singer their first pick and Kowar became pick 1A as he was drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He hopes to join Singer in the Royals rotation in 2021. His fastball sits at the lower edges of the mid-90s, but it is has change that complements the fastball that makes him a quality pitcher. His curveball has decent enough action to put him in the middle of the Royals rotation. He finished the 2019 season in AA, but was pretty hittable at that level, the opposition teeing off for a .254 average. His control is good and he gets about one whiff per inning with his fastball/change combination. Jackson should start the 2021 season in AA and could join Singer in the rotation late in 2021 or sometime in 2022.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Lefthanded pitchers are a bit different than righthanders. They tend to throw with less velocity but have more movement on their pitches. They also have to face a batting order that traditionally has more right handed hitters than left handed. But lefthanded pitchers are more valued because there are less of them, and those few are needed to retire some of the more powerful lefthanded bats. Below are the top left handed pitching prospects, some of whom will ultimately end up as relievers. Lefthanders may be one of the more valuable commodities in baseball.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - The third pick in the 2017 draft may be considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Others who have laid that claim but with little success include Archie Bradley and Mark Prior. The Padres hope Gore will have a better fate. He has four quality pitches, which is something that can not be said about most people on this list. A fastball, curveball, slider and change. The fastball slices through the plate with readings between the low to mid 90s, but it carries a lot of dart and dash. The slider is probably his best strikeout pitch. There are no issues with command of his four pitches. In 2018 when he experienced blister problems his ERA stood ugly at 4.45. When healthy in 2017 and 2019 his ERAs were an impeccable 1.27 and 1.69. Opponents have hit less than .200 in both years in which he was healthy. Myworld would not be surprised if with a good spring he is with the Padres in 2021, though mid season would be the best bet.

2. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - Injuries have prevented him from making a major league impact. The 2016 first round pick got some major league time in relief in 2019, putting together an impressive 3.18 ERA. He was ticketed for the starting rotation in 2020 but shoulder issues ended his season. Puk had Tommy John surgery that prevented him from pitching in 2018, so injuries have been an issue. At 6′7″ he does not have the same reach as Randy Johnson, but his fastball travels as fast, hitting the high 90s and clipping three digits pretty consistently. He also has more command than Randy, but the Athletics would like to see a little improvement in that area. His slider is an above average pitch but his change is average. It may be best that he abandon his curve. He is supposed to be healthy to start the 2021 season and is slotted to fit in a rotation spot. Whether he can stay healthy is another issue.

3. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The 6′4 inch Dominican lefthander signed for only $600,000 in 2015. That was still the highest international signing for a pitcher that year. At 16 years of age he was already hitting the low 90s with his fastball. Now he probably has the highest readings of any minor league lefthander in baseball, hitting triple digits consistently. He made one appearance in 2020 with the Cubs and only retired two batters, walking three and giving up two hits resulting in a 67.50 ERA. He should get another opportunity at major league hitters to lower that ERA. His other pitches do not have the quality as his fastball, with his slider and change at just average. Command has also been an issue, with a little less than one walk every two innings pitched in 2019. If he can enhance his slider and change he could become a number one starter in the major leagues. If not, there is an opportunity to fill a closer role. The 2021 season should see the Cubs give him opportunities to fill their major league rotation.

4. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers scooped up Tarik in the ninth round of the 2018 draft. He was a promising pitcher out of Seattle University who had missed a season because of Tommy John surgery. He has been dominant in his two minor league seasons, finishing with a 0.40 ERA his first year and 2.42 ERA his second year in 2019. Opponents hit him at a .195 clip and he struck out 212 hitters in just 145 innings. The Tigers called him up mid season in 2020 and he struggled with a 5.63 ERA, giving up 9 homeruns in just 32 innings. His other numbers were good with a .235 opponent batting average and 37 whiffs in 32 innings. The fastball hits the mid 90s and when combined with a quality slider result in a lot of swings and misses. He still needs to improve his changeup and perhaps abandon his curve to have success in the major leagues. Tarik could start the 2021 season in AAA and then get another mid-season callup. A lot of that will depend on how successful his spring is.

5. Garrett Crochet (White Sox) - The 2020 first round pick of the White Sox was still able to pitch in five major league games, despite not having a minor league season. In those five relief appearances he did not allow a run in six innings and struck out eight, without allowing a walk. He also showed a fastball that hit the high 90s and climbed into the triple digit category. The fastball is his premier pitch, but it will probably hover closer to the mid-90s range if the White Sox use him in a starter capacity. At 6′6″ his long arms can get out of synch at times, leading to struggles with command. While his slider is a quality pitch the change and curve need some work. The White Sox will probably have him start the season as a starter in AA and could call him up before the season expires if he is doing well. Last year was their first playoff appearance in a number of years. They don’t need to wait for Garrett to percolate in the minors accruing service time. If he can help them with their rotation, or even in the bullpen in 2021, they will call him up for the playoff run.

6. Daniel Lynch (Royals) - Daniel was one of three first round pitchers for the Royals in 2018. Brady Singer made the rotation last year. Jackson Kowar could make it in 2021. Lynch needs to eat up more innings before he is ready. Minor injuries limited him to just 96 innings in 2019. The signature pitch for Lynch is his slider. His fastball is in the mid-90s but when he wants to get a strikeout the slider is his go to pitch. The change also has potential to be a quality pitch. Standing at 6′6″ Lynch has an intimidating presence on the mound. The Royals will give him time in AA and after the 2021 season he will join Singer and Kowar in the rotation in 2022.

7. Matthew Liberatore (Cardinals) - Matthew was a first round pick of the Rays in 2016. They used his talented left arm to entice the Cardinals to trade them Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. The more heralded Martinez turned into a bust but Arozarena became a homerun machine for the Rays during the playoffs. The Cardinals hope the Rays short term gain will be the Cardinals long term success. The 6′5 lefthander relies more on his breaking pitches to retire hitters. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can climb to 95, but his curveball drops off the table, resulting in lots of ground outs. Liberatore has only seen two balls leave the park in his 111 innings of minor league work. His change is also a promising pitch, while his slider is still in the work in progress stage and may not surpass his curve. The lost 2020 season will probably delay his major league debut until sometime in 2022. He’ll start 2021 in AA and hope that success will carry him to the major leagues.

8. Asa Lacey (Royals) - The first round pick of the Royals in 2020 stands an impressive 6′4″ and carries 215 pounds. His fastball has climbed to the low and mid 90s and when used against a quality slider leave hitters guessing. He also throws a quality change that keeps hitters off balance. The area he needs to work on is the command of his pitches. Not having a 2020 season did not help with that development. After having three years of pitching success with Texas A&M, it won’t take long for him to reach the major leagues. The Royals may start him at AA and he could join Lynch in the rotation sometime by the middle of the 2022 season.

9. Shane McClanahan (Rays) - The 2018 first round supplemental pick lacks the height of the other players rated ahead of him, standing just 6′1″. Despite lacking the long levers of the taller pitchers, Shane can still sling his fastball across the plate in triple digits. He used that fastball to get himself on the Rays playoff roster, without pitching in a regular major league game. He was used in relief in the playoffs and that may be his ultimate role in the major leagues. He got 22 starts in the minor leagues in 2019, but a lack of control results in a high number of walks. The slider is a quality pitch but the change needs some work to give him the requisite three pitches to make it in the starting rotation. The Rays will send him down to the minors in 2021, perhaps placing him in AA where he struggled to a 8.35 ERA in four starts there last year. To save on innings they may then call up him up for the playoff run to use him out of the bullpen again.

10. Brendan McKay (Rays) - Myworld is not a real fan of this multi disciplined pitcher use at the DH or a position role. It has not really worked for Shohei Ohtani at the major league level and McKay has also struggled with it as well. McKay seemed very hittable in his major league debut in 2019 after dominating in the minors. Opponents hit him at a .268 clip in the majors after being limited to a .178 average in his three years in the minors. While he was mainly a hitter in college who pitched in relief, his hitting of major league pitching has become a challenge. He did not pitch the 2020 season because of shoulder issues that ultimately required surgery. He relies more on the command of his pitches to retire hitters, pinpointing his mid 90s fastball while mixing in a quality cutter. His curve ball and change still need some work to be quality major league pitches. Brendan will probably spend the 2021 season pitching in AAA, rehabbing his shoulder. Rays fans may see him late in the 2021 season, depending on how his rehab process goes.

11. Nick Lodolo (Reds) - Lodolo was a first round pick of the Reds in 2019. He pitched briefly that year, striking out 30 in his 18 innings while not allowing one hitter to reach base via a walk. A towering 6′6″, his fastball stays in the low 90s but can hit the mid 90s. Despite his tall frame, he relies on the command of his pitches to retire hitters. It is possible he relies too much in the strike zone as hitters slapped him around for a .247 average. Further development of his slider and change should allow him to remain in the starting rotation, especially with his capability to move the ball to the corners of the plate. Having pitched in college it should not take him long to be fitted into the Reds rotation. Expect him to start the season in High A and move up quickly as he achieves success, making his major league debut in 2022.

12. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The 2017 first round pick is one of many quality arms the Orioles are collecting in the minor leagues. The 6′2 lefty packs mid-90s heat to his fastball, but his biggest challenge is finding the plate enough to get called strikes. In 2019 he walked 54 hitters in 81 innings. The wildness may help because when the hitters want to hit they have been limited to .203 and .189 averages the last two years. Hall throws a change and a curve, but those pitches still need some work to become quality offerings. If he fails to develop a third pitch and continues to struggle finding the strike zone he could be moved to the bullpen. Next year Hall will start the season in AA. They may first use him out of the bullpen when they call him up to the major leagues, but they probably will not do that until 2022.

13. Seth Corry (Giants) - Corry drooped to the third round of the 2017 draft for the Giants. He was just a vanilla pitcher until his curveball developed into a plus pitch in 2019, resulting in a breakout year. In 26 starts in 2019 he limited the opposition to a .171 average, resulting in an impressive ERA of 1.76. He saw no game action in 2020. The 2021 season will determine whether he can continue the mastery of the curveball. The fastball sits in the low 90s and can have occasional mid-90s readings. His change has improved enough to be an above average offering. The 2021 season will see him start in AA with a major league debut in 2022.

14. Reid Detmers (Angels) - The Angels have always been hurting for pitching. They drafted Reid in the first round of the 2020 draft to address that need. Detmers got a lot of whiffs pitching for Louisville in college. He relies more on his curve to retire hitters since his fastball travels across the plate at a pedestrian low 90s. Whether that repertoire will work in striking out major league hitters is open to question. While the Angels need help in pitching now, it may take Detmers a couple years to toe the rubber with the Angels. The Angels may leapfrog him to AA to see how he handles the competition.

15. Jay Groome (Red Sox) - The 2016 first round pick has a pretty impressive fastball. Injuries have prevented his rise up the minor league ladder. He missed the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. He came back to make three rehab starts in shortseason ball in 2019. Besides injuries, finding the plate was also a problem. At 6′6″ with a fastball ticking in the high 90s can be intimidating, especially if it is flying all over the place. His curveball was also rated as the best in the 2016 draft. Enhancing his change would give him the three requisite pitches to make it in the starting rotation. Injuries and struggles with command may leave him in a bullpen role. Expect him to start the 2021 season in AA at best. He has had the entire 2020 season to use as rehab. The Red Sox bullpen was a shambles last year, so using him in the bullpen in 2022 is a possibility before a starting role opens up for him.

Top Right Field Prospects

Friday, December 11th, 2020

These are the players with the strong arms that are not fleet afoot. They also have power bats. In a previous post we did the top left field prospects, whose arms are usually suspect. The throw from right field to third base is the longest in baseball, requiring a strong arm. Next myworld will list our top centerfield prospects. Some players left off the centerfield prospect list could probably make the right field or left field prospect list because the centerfielders tend to be the more athletic of the three positions.

1. Julio Rodriguez (Mariners) - Only 19 years old, the Dominican signed for $1.75 million in 2017. Most five tool players are planted in centerfield. For Julio, he has all five tools, but speed may be his shortcoming. As he matures and gets bigger that speed may drop to average. A strong arm and a power bat makes him a cinch for right field. His bat was only allowed to show itself for one minor league season in the United States, where he hit .326 with 12 homeruns and a .540 slugging percentage. The bulk of those numbers were accrued in the California League where in 17 games he hit .468 with a .738 slugging percentage. He has the potential to be one of the most potent bats in the major leagues in the next couple years. Expect him to play a full season in AA in 2021 with a possible late season major league promotion in 2022. Or he could pull a Juan Soto and hit so impressively in AA that he gets a mid-season promotion.

2. J.J. Bleday (Marlins) - The Marlins 2019 first round pick has a big time power bat. His speed is a tick below average but his arm is strong. Myworld saw him play in the College World Series in 2019, so we could be a bit biased in this ranking. He was the NCAA Division homerun leader in 2019 with 27. He had part of a season in the Florida State League and slugged three more dingers, with a .257 batting average and a disappointing .379 slugging percentage. College players who have played into the World Series come into the minor league season with their energy a bit sapped. His 6′3″ frame is built for power with a lefthanded swing that makes consistent contact. He should rise quickly in Miami, perhaps making his major league debut as early as 2021.

3. Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) - The 2016 first round pick made his major league debut last season. Major league pitching proved to be a bit elusive for him, with a .200 batting average in 35 games and a poor 8/35 walk to whiff ratio. He had a breakout season in 2019 with 26 homeruns and a .542 slugging percentage. Prior to his 2019 season his batting average hovered around the .250 range, but the 2019 season saw it climb to .292, despite his poorer walk to whiff rate. The speed exists to play center, but it is not burner speed and the arm is above average, but it would not rank at the level of Rodriguez. Dylan should be the starting rightfielder for the Cardinals in 2021.

4. Kristian Robinson (Diamondbacks) - The toolsy outfielder from the Bahamas signed for a sweet $2.5 million in 2017. Like Rodriguez, he has all the tools to play center, but his speed lacks the burner quality of most of the top prospects who play that position. His arm has plenty of zip for right. As a 17 year old he was already playing in the United States rookie leagues and hitting .279, showing some pop with his seven homeruns and a .428 slugging percentage. His youth made him a bit overmatched against the top pitchers, which could explain his high 144 whiffs in 126 minor league games. The expectation is that his contact rate will improve as he sees more pitches. Expect to see him reach the major league some time late in the 2022 season.

5. Brandon Marsh (Angels) - This 2016 second round pick has all the quality tools to play centerfield. The Angels appear to have a more talented player at that position in Mike Trout. Perhaps Marsh will force Trout to slide over to right field. So far, Marsh has not shown the power his 6′4″ frame would seem to carry. He did slug .548 in his first season of minor league ball in 2017, but the next two seasons his slugging average dropped to .408. His ability to make contact seemed to improve in 2019. The Angels outfield is crowded, but Marsh should have the ability to squeeze in a role sometime in 2021.

6. Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The 2017 first round pick out of Puerto Rico took a little back step in 2018, struggling with a .245 average with 136 strikeouts in 124 games. He improved on those numbers in 2019, polishing up his prospect luster with a .290 average and raising his slugging average from .396 to .481. Speed will be his weakest tool, but it is more than capable for playing centerfield if the Giants choose to use him there. As he puts on more weight to his 6′0″ frame that speed may decrease. Over the years the Giants outfield has been traditionally weak, ever since the departure of Barry Bonds. Over the last couple years it has strengthened the farm system with Hunter Bishop and Alexander Canario also being considered top level prospects. Ramos should see his tools test major league pitching sometime in 2021.

7. Jesus Sanchez (Marlins) - The 2014 signing out of the Dominican Republic was a bargain for Tampa Bay at $400,000. They eventually traded him to the Marlins for a couple pitchers (Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards). Early in his career he carried the speed to play centerfield. He has added a bit to his 6′3″ frame and now carries about 220 pounds, making right field a better fit for him. With Bleday in right he may have to move to left field. His bat does not carry the explosive power of Bleday and could be a little short for left field. His minor league slugging percentage sits at .459, but that has been inflated by his earlier years when his numbers were much higher. Jesus made his major league debut last year and could only muster one hit, a double in 25 at bats. The 2021 season should see him start the season in AAA with another promotion from the Marlins if his minor league numbers warrant it.

8. Robert Hassell (Padres) - Not a lot is known about the 2020 first round pick. He played for the United States 18 and under team and was selected to the All World team after hitting .514 with a .886 slugging percentage created from 5 doubles and two homeruns. He also drove in 14 runs. That motivated the Padres to make him the first high school player selected in the 2020 draft. His arm is not a cannon and his speed is a tick above average. His best tool could be his ability to hit for average. It will be a couple years before the Padres see him patrolling their outfield grass.

9. Brennen Davis (Cubs) - The 2018 second round pick has the speed to cover centerfield. As his 6′4″ frame fills out his speed should reduce, making him more adaptable for right field. His power is beginning to develop. In his first year of minor league ball he failed to send a ball over the fence in 57 at bats, slugging a weak .333. The next year eight balls left the yard and his slugging average elevated to .525. He was limited to 50 games that year because of injuries. Despite his above average speed it has not translated to stolen bases. It will still be a couple more years before he sees the Cubs outfield. The 2019 injury only allowed him to play 50 games in A ball. He will probably start the 2021 season in A ball with a quick promotion if the season warrants it.

10. Austin Hendrick (Reds) - Austin was the 12th pick in the 2020 draft. The lefthanded bat carries impressive power with speed just above average that would allow him to survive in center. There is a question on his ability to make contact, but since there was no 2020 minor league season it is unclear how he will adapt to professional pitching. He struggled a bit with Team USA when facing quality pitching. Reds fans will probably have to wait until 2024 before they see him roam their outfield.

Top Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

This position holds the cream of the crop. Everyone signed out of the Dominican Republic or Venezuela seems to start out as a shortstop, even Miguel Cabrera. Many of them eventually move to second or third base, or even the outfield. Some because they have gotten bigger as they have matured so they lack the range to play the position, others because a player ahead of them also plays shortstop and the bat is there to put him in the lineup at another position. Because of this, we are going to rank 20 players at this position.

1. Wander Franco (Rays) - Wander is possibly the number one ranked prospect in baseball. So was Jurickson Profar and Yoan Moncada at one time. That ranking does not carry with it automatic stardom in the major leagues, but Wander does have a big time bat that has hit over .300 at each level he has played in the minor leagues. During his 2019 season he reached full season ball, and compared to the Rookie Leagues, his power numbers dropped a little. The Rays don’t question the bat, expecting it to hit 30 plus homeruns and hit over .300 consistently in the major leagues. What is impressive about those power numbers is that he has an 83/54 walk to whiff ratio during that two year period, facing pitchers that are three to four years older than him. His speed is not great so his range is limited at the position. The Rays already have Willy Adames at short. By the time Franco is ready for short, it may also be the time the Rays are prepared to cut salary and say goodbye to Adames. Wander should see some major league time by 2022. He went down to the Dominican to get some playing time since he did not have a 2020 season, but that was cut short as he was forced to return to the United States to have a look at his injury.

2. Bobby Witt Jr (Royals) - The 2019 first round pick has a leaner build than Franco. He is also projected to have a little more power and settle as a better fielder. What Witt won’t be able to do is hit with the consistency of Franco. He has more swing and miss plate appearances, which translates into weaker bat to ball contact, lowering that batting average as he faces more superior pitching. Myworld saw him swinging an aluminum bat at the homerun derby during the All Star break. He was top dog in the competition. Witt has a father of the same name who was a pitcher in major league baseball. The legs carry good speed, which equates to good range at shortstop. There is confidence that he has the defensive tools to stay at the position. The biggest concern is improving his ability to make contact. Witt had no 2020 season, so that put a quiet stall in his development. Myworld expects him to make his major league debut some time around the end of 2022.

3. Jazz Chisholm (Marlins) - The Bahama native was originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 2015 for $200,000. Signed the same year out of the Bahamas was another shortstop Lucius Fox, who you do not see on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him straight up in 2019 for Zac Gallen. In the last two years in the minors he has shown enough power to hit 20 plus homeruns. The bat has shown many holes with a .220 average in 2019 and whiffs of greater than 140 in those two seasons. He did get to play a bit for the Marlins in 2020, hitting just .161 over just 21 games. His tendency to swing and miss lessoned and he appeared to show better discipline at the plate the more he plays. The defensive tools are there to play a quality shortstop. If he can tweak his discipline at the plate he could become a multiple all star at the position. The 2021 season will see him start at AAA with another callup to the Marlins if he does well.

4. Royce Lewis (Twins) - The first pick in the 2017 draft has been a top prospect for so long that sometimes you take him for granted. In his 2019 minor league season he reached AA, but with the Twins in a playoff race, they did not see a reason to call him up for the 2020 season. Royce had what you could call a down 2019 season, hitting just .236 in a season split between A and AA. His OBA was a dreadful .290. That is far below his two previous seasons when he hit .279 or greater. He seemed to lack patience at the plate in 2019 with a strikeout to walk rate at better than 3 to one, much worse than his previous two seasons. Royce is one of the fastest players in the minors and could use his speed in centerfield, where the Twins used him a bit in 2019. His bat is anticipated to play in the majors and it could show 20 plus homerun pop if he can make more consistent, solid contact. The 2021 season should finally see his arrival with the Twins.

5. Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets already have two solid shortstops competing for a job in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez. Ronny could make it a third, though at 6′3″ he could bulk up too much to force a move to third. Since the lack of speed is one of his only down sides, he may lack the range to play short in the major leagues. His bat is expected to hit. The Mets signed him for $2.1 million in 2017. In 2019 he reached Low A, hitting .268 with four homeruns. His walk to whiff ratio was a concerning 23/99, which is a major reason Rosario has struggled with major league pitching. The Mets anticipate that his power will develop enough for a move to third base. Any major league time probably won’t be seen until late 2022 at the earliest.

6. Marco Luciano (Giants) - Marco signed with the Giants in 2018 for $2.6 million. They hope he turns out better than Lucius Fox, who they signed for $6 million, but traded away for a song. Marco is a different player than Lucius, one who can hit for power. He only got to play 47 games in the minors in 2019, but he hit 10 homeruns with a .564 slugging percentage. He batted .302 with a 32/45 walk to whiff ratio. If his walk percentage continues that trend he will be a slugging bat who gets on base a lot. A shortstop that hits .300 with 30 plus homeruns and a .400 OBA would be a dream for the Giants. As with Mauricio, speed is not a big part of his game, so a move to third base looks to be in his future. Myworld does not anticipate him being with the Giants until 2023.

7. Austin Martin (Blue Jays) - Myworld saw Austin in the College World Series in 2019. The 2020 season was cancelled early but Austin was good enough to be a first round pick in 2020. That means there are no stats on Austin. He hit .392 in college with a high OBA. The power was not great and is expected to be above average. He also played multiple positions with Vanderbilt. Many conjectured that he would be the first player selected in the draft but he fell to being the fifth pick. His ultimate position could be centerfield or second base since he had problems with consistency at shortstop with Vanderbilt. The bat though should allow him to reach the majors quickly, say sometime in 2022.

8. O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - If the 6′7″ O’Neil can bend down to play shortstop consistently, why not allow him to play. The consensus is the Dominican with the rocket arm will eventually move to right field. The power in his bat is immense, with the potential to hit 40 plus homeruns per year. Making consistent contact is not a major problem but he could always seek improvement, with walk to whiff ratios around 30/100. Despite his large frame, speed is not a weakness. The 2020 season was a wasted season of development. He stayed in the Dominican where he got into a car accident in which two people were killed. What kind of impact this will have on his psyche for the future is open for question. Last year he reached AA, so it is a concern the Pirates did not have room for him to work out in the alternate camp. Maybe that is why they are the Pirates and fail to develop their prospects. Cruz is playing in the Dominican Winter League and should see some major league playing time late in 2021.

9. Anderson Tejeda (Rangers) - Anderson was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for just $100,000. He seemed to have a nice breakout season in 2018 when he hit 19 homeruns. His 2019 season was cut short to 43 games because of an injured shoulder. He got an opportunity to play with the Rangers in 2020, making his major league debut and hitting three homeruns in 23 games. One of the major issues with Tejeda is poor strike zone discipline, with walk to whiff ratios of 40/130. That will keep his batting averages at .250 or below unless he improves that discipline. His speed is just a tick above average, so there is concern about his range at short. He does make up for that with one of the strongest arms in the minor leagues. With a good spring Tejeda could be the starting shortstop for the Rangers in 2021.

10. Jose Garcia (Reds) - The Cuban prospect surprised many with his power swing in spring training. Power is not expected to be his strong suit. At 6′2″ he is not considered a small guy so perhaps some power is developing. The Reds signed Garcia for his smooth defense. He improved his bat in 2019, advancing to High A and hitting .280 with an OBA of .343 (compared to .245/290). What was surprising is the Reds called him up early to play shortstop during their playoff run last season. He struggled with a .194 average and a 1/26 walk to whiff for a .206 OBA, but they still played him because of his defense. None of his 13 hits went for extra bases. He will probably need another season in the minors, but the Reds could still have him return sometime in 2021.

11. C.J. Abrams (Padres) - A 2019 first round pick by the Padres is tough to tag. He had a nice minor league debut hitting .393 with a .647 slugging. All but two of his 34 games were played in Rookie ball. He runs with the wind, ala Trea Turner, stealing 15 bases in those 34 games. If his Rookie League stats can be deciphered accurately he makes good contact with a 11/14 walk to whiff ratio. The defensive tools exist to play shortstop, including a strong arm. However, with all that speed he may be best utilized in center field. Abrams has a long way to reach the Padres. When he does, if he wants to play shortstop he will have to usurp Tatis Jr. The Padres will probably not have to make that decision until 2023, with a possible late season callup in 2022.

12. Geraldo Perdomo (Diamondbacks) - Perdomo was a bargain signing at $70,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. In 2019 he played in A ball, showing the ability to make good contact, but lacking in power. His career walk to whiff ratio is 169/148 with a batting average of .278. There is some gap power but currently his slugging average is a wimpish .368. At 6′2″ he could develop more power but not to the detriment of his defense. He has Gold Glove potential for the position so anything his bat can do is a plus. The lack of any organized play in 2020 hurt his development process so the best Geraldo can hope for in his major league debut is sometime late 2022.

13. Jordan Groshans (Blue Jays) - Bo Bichette is the current Blue Jays shortstop with the newly drafted Austin Martin right behind him. At 6′3″ Jordan has the length to develop big time power. After hitting .296 with five homeruns in 48 games in his minor league debut in 2018, his 2019 season was cut short by a foot injury, limiting him to just 23 games. With the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season the development process has been slowed even further. Currently, Jordan’s hits are gap to gap with the potential to send more of those balls over the fence as he gains strength. Jordan has the potential to hit for power and average. His speed is a tick above average, which could slow after he matures, meaning a move to third base. His power at short is not as beneficial to the team if he has to move to third. The Jays have time to develop him so myworld does not expect to see him playing with the Blue Jays before 2022.

14. Bryson Stott (Phillies) - The 2019 first round pick has all the tools except for power. That could develop with time as his 6′3″ frame develops. He slugged six homeruns in 48 games in his 2019 minor league debut. His ability to draw walks and spank the ball to the opposite field could make him an ideal number two hitter. The tools are there to stick at short as an above average defensive player. Stott is a college drafted player so he needs to rise quickly after a wasted 2020 season. Expect the Phillies to push for his major league debut time to be 2021.

15. Robert Puason (Athletics) - Puason was a recent 2019 signing, eliciting a bonus from the Athletics for $5.1 million. That is a lot of cheddar. At 6′3″ his body is currently lean and stringy. The strength can come as he matures. He currently has good speed, but he does not want to lose that with bulk. A strong arm and plus range makes him a potential Gold Glove shortstop. All we can go on now is his high signing bonus, second to potential Yankee super star outfielder Jasson Dominguez, and the reports that all his tools have the potential to be above major league average. His start time in the majors will have to wait until 2024.

16. Gabriel Arias (Indians) - The Venezuelan prospect was signed by the Padres in 2016 for $1.9 million. His bat is still a little soft but his glove is golden. Gabriel saw some power break out in 2019 when he slugged 17 homeruns and raised his slugging average from 2018 120 points to .470. The Padres included Gabriel in a trade with the Indians for Mike Clevenger. With Abrams and Tatis Jr. at shortstop the Padres are stacked. He needs to show better plate discipline if he hopes to achieve offensive success. He has a 78/344 walk to whiff ratio in his minor league career. The Indians have been talking about trading Francisco Lindor. Arias is probably a couple steps from taking the reigns at short, so do not expect a major league debut until sometime late in 2022.

17. Oswald Peraza (Yankees ) - Yankee prospects can sometimes be a bit over hyped. Peraza was signed for just $175,000 in 2016. He reached A ball in 2019. His batting averages have hovered around .260 and he has yet to hit over 4 homeruns. leaving him with a slugging average of just .346. The Yankees hope the tools defy the numbers. The speed is there to steal 23 bases in 2019 and provide the range to play short. The arm is strong. The power may always lack. With the Yankees prospects like Peraza are normally used as trade bait to acquire a veteran to make a playoff run. Trusting a rookie shortstop not named Derek Jeter to play a critical position for a win now team is not to be expected. Perhaps he will see a platoon role for the Yankees sometime in 2022.

18. Tyler Freeman (Indians) - We just see a little too much average in the 2017 first round supplemental pick. He has hit well with a .319 career minor league average, including a .352 average in rookie ball in 2018. Over the fence power is absent, but he does have the ability to spray the gaps to hit 61 doubles his last two seasons. The speed is not supposed to be great, but he has the savvy to steal 19 bases in 2019. His defensive tools may be better used in a utility role, lacking the power to play corner and the range to play short. He could see that role in 2022.

19. Keoni Cavaco (Twins) - A 2019 first round pick, he played at Eastlake High School, which is where my niece went to school. Myworld has to give him props for that. His one and only season of 25 games he hit just .172, with a 4/35 walk to whiff ratio. That is very foreboding. He was primarily a third baseman in high school, but the Twins have been impressed with his tools at short. Obviously he will have to improve his discipline at the plate if he wishes to hit for average. He is still a far cry from any major league consideration, possibly late 2023.

20. Yasel Antona (Nationals) - The last player on a Top 20 list is normally someone special. Not that any of his tools are anything special, but Yasel is above average in all phases. He also seemed to show some increased pop in camp that had a lot of players going “Wow”. The Nationals signed him in 2016 for $3.9 million. Tommy John surgery ended his 2018 season early and he only saw three games in 2019. In 2018 he was only hitting .220 with a .331 slugging. So most of the reason he appears on this list is because of hype. A lack of speed may force him to move to third, where the power needs to show if he wants to play. Expect that to be sometime in late 2022.

Top Third Base Prospects

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Just like at second base, a number of shortstops become third baseman, but those are players who lack the range to play middle infield, but carry power in their bat. And a lot of players who start as third baseman are forced to move to first base or the outfield because of their inability or lack of quickness to react to the ball. That is why it is called the hot corner. Below are the players who currently play third who myworld believes are the top prospects for the position.

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie Hayes was a first round pick in 2015. One of the biggest criticisms of his game was his lack of offense. His defense was gold glove caliber. The Pirates promoted him in September and in 24 games and close to 100 at bats he hit .376 with five homeruns for a .682 slugging average. Replicating that production will be difficult, but if his bat can produce just a portion of those numbers he can be an All Star. In the minors his best slugging percentage was .444 and his career average is .399, almost 300 points lower than his major league production. His speed is above average for a third baseman, but they would lose a lot of defense of they move him to the outfield. The 2021 season should see him starting at third base.

2. Nolan Jones (Indians) - If not for Hayes 2020 major league production, Jones, a second round 2016 pick would have been the top third base prospect. He has a nice power bat that hits from the left side. In 2019 he mashed 15 homeruns, a slight decline from his 2018 season of 19 homeruns. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but that also comes with a high number of walks. The 2019 season showed him with a 96/148 walk to whiff ratio in 126 games. He should be able to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he is major league ready. His arm is good and he has the defensive chops to be an average to possibly above average third baseman. His lack of speed prevents him from being a top caliber outfielder, but the arm keeps that possibility open. He finished the 2019 season with 48 games at AA. This should allow him to start the 2021 season in AAA with a major league promotion a possibility.

3. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - The 2018 first round pick is one of many third base prospects for the Cardinals. His scouting report would be similar to Jones. He hits lefthanded, has good power, limited speed, a strong arm with the ability to be an average to above average fielder. The big difference in their two games is his ability to take walks. Gorman’s walk to whiff ratio in 2019 was 45/152. This could result in lower batting averages. In 2019 he hit just .248, which could be better if he showed more patience. Gorman will probably begin the 2021 season in AA, not seeing the Cardinals lineup until 2022. Elehuris Montero is ahead of him in the depth chart and Cuban Malcolm Nunez is right behind him. The Cardinals also drafted third baseman Jordan Walker in the first round of the 2020 draft.

4. Josh Jung (Rangers) - The Rangers first round 2019 pick is a big time power bat. Unfortunately, he has not had a lot of minor league games to show it off. In 2019 he only played in 44 games with two homeruns. He did show the ability to hit for average finishing at .316. Drafted out of Texas Tech, the 23 year old should advance quickly. The 2019 season showed him being primarily a gap to gap hitter but as he strengthens and becomes more aware of the pitches he can drive he should hit consistently 30 plus homeruns each year. His speed is lacking, but his defense should be average to possibly above average. Josh should start the 2021 season in AA with a possible late season promotion.

5. Brett Baty (Mets) - Like Josh, the 2019 first round pick of the Mets played a minimum amount of games (51). His swing and miss was more severe (65) which resulted in a much lower average (.234). Brett showed that when he makes contact the ball will fly, with seven homeruns for a .452 slugging percentage. The left handed bat can drive the ball to all fields with 30 plus homerun a year power once he arrives in the major leagues. While he stands 6′3″ the athleticism will allow him to stay at third. The arm is strong but the speed is below average so a move to the outfield is doubtful. As an older high school pick the Mets may be more aggressive in his promotions than normal high school picks. He should start the 2021 season in A ball with quick promotions occurring with success.

6. Jonathan India (Reds) - The 2018 first round pick needs to increase his power to stick at the position. His career two year slugging percentage is .410 with 11 homeruns in 2019. As a college drafted player there may not be a lot of increase in strength. He does have the patience to take walks and gives the Reds an excellent OBA option. Defensively he has the ability to be an above average third baseman but his average speed could allow him to move to a corner or play second base. India reached AA in 2019 so he could make his major league debut in 2021. His numbers may fall short of what a team expects from a top five pick but he could end up a suitable major leaguer with decent numbers as a utility option.

7. Blaze Jordan (Red Sox) - Like Bryce Harper before him Blaze received a lot of publicity for his youthful power exploits. He was thought to be a 2021 draft pick but graduated from high school one year early. Signing concerns dropped him to the third round in the 2021 draft where the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million, which could be a bargain. Blaze was hitting 500 foot homeruns as a 13 year old. There are some concerns about his ability to make contact, his speed is below average and he lacks the quickness to field the position. He may ultimately move to first base. Since he was drafted as a 17 year old, losing a season does not hurt Blaze as other players selected in 2020. He could start the 2021 season in extended spring with a promotion to full season ball or short season if the minor leagues still have short season leagues.

8. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The 2019 second round pick only played three games in 2019 because of injuries. He failed to get a hit in his 8 at bats. Rece may have more power potential than any player on this list, but the concern is that he may have more swing and miss. There is also question marks on his ability to stay at third base. His arm is strong enough to move to a corner outfield, but his lack of speed would be a detriment to his defense. Rece is the last person on this list who needed to miss the 2020 season. He will be 21 years old in September with only 8 minor league at bats. Where he ends up on defense is a big question mark. If the National League adopts the DH that may be his best position, or a move to first base.

9. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) - Isaac is one of those players who spent most of his minor league career as a shortstop, but finally had to move to third because of his lack of range. His bat should be able to hit for a decent average, bordering around the .300 range. He makes good contact with the ability to take walks (57/61 walk to whiff ratio in 2019). His power should manifest itself into doubles and borderline 20 homerun power. He made his major league debut last year and hit .220 in a little over 100 at bats, a poor 8/24 walk to whiff ration a reason for the dismal performance. His defense should be above average at third because of his soft hands and strong arm. The Tigers lack an option at third base so with a good spring expect him to start at that position in 2021.

10. Kody Hoese (Dodgers) - A 2019 first round pick who showed some pop and hit for average in his brief 41 game performance in the minors. At 6′4″ he has good length to carry the ball when he makes contact. He also has the patience to take walks and the contact ability to avoid high strikeout rates. Lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield, but there is enough power in his bat for a move to first base. His defense should be passable to settle at third base. Kody will be turning 24 during the 2021 season so he needs to advance quickly. Expect him to start the season in AA with a good spring.

Top Ten Catching Prospects for 2021

Friday, November 6th, 2020

It is tough to rate minor leaguers when you have not had a chance to see them play. This is the first time myworld can remember not attending a ball game since probably a decade since many of these players were born. There will not be a lot of diamond in the rough prospects on this list. Just your solid minor leaguers and high draft choices. Let’s hope the 2021 season allows them to have a minor league season to develop their game playing skills.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - Matt Wieters got a lot of hype but fell short of expectations, but he was not a first overall pick. Adley has no 2020 stats, but he was the first overall pick. In 2019 his bat showed some power. As a sophomore in college he led Oregon State to the College World Series championship, so he knows how to win and lead a pitching staff. His defense and arm are above average. The only skill he is not above average at is his speed, but that is typical for catchers. In 2019 he reached Low A. Expect a step up to High A in 2021 with a quick promotion to AA if he achieves any kind of success. He has the potential to be a repeat All Star appearance catcher.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - Buster Posey chose to opt out of the 2020 season. That gave Joey an opportunity to get a late callup to the Giants. The shortened season also allowed him to keep his rookie status, despite playing almost half the season. His bat was a little quiet in 2020, hitting just .233 with very little power (.320 slugging). His two seasons in the minors in 2018 and 2019 he slugged .532 with a combined 29 homeruns. With Buster Posey returning in 2021 the Giants can afford to let Bart marinate a bit in AA with a quick promotion to AAA. Another solid defensive player with an above average arm who can break out for power. Expect him to be a major league regular by 2022 with some additional part time playing opportunities next year.

3. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Huff may have the best power potential in this group. His defense is not as strong but his arm is still above average. At 6′5″ he may be a little too tall to be a catcher, but he moves well behind the dish. The Rangers gave him his major league debut this year after he never appeared above A ball last year. In 10 games he hit a robust .355 with three homeruns. He does have the propensity to swing and miss, but when he makes contact the exit velocities hit triple digits. Ten games are not enough to measure a player’s success. Huff will probably start the season in AA next year with some more major league time in the offering.

4. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets will say good bye to Wilson Ramos. His fellow countryman Francisco is not yet ready to replace him, but he is inching closer. The Mets signed him for $2.7 million back in 2018. The 2019 season was his minor league debut where he showed off his bat in rookie ball, hitting seven homeruns and slugging .510. Besides having a good stick Francisco will not be starved for defense. His arm is above average and he moves well behind the plate. He should start the 2021 season in full season ball.

5. Luis Campusano (Padres) - Luis got a game in at the major league level after not getting past A ball in 2019. He hit his first professional homerun in his three at bat major league debut. He also struck in his other two at bats. Luis does not show big time power but he did break out to slug 15 homeruns in High A in 2019 and won the batting title with a .325 average. The Padres drafted him in the second round in 2017. His defense still needs a bit of refinement but his arm is above average, though he failed at gunning down baserunners in 2019. Luis should start the 2021 season in AA with a major league starting opportunity in 2022.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - With Will Smith behind the plate Keibert may have to move to another team to get significant playing time. A Smith injury allowed the Venezuelan prospect to make his two game major league debut. He slugged a homerun in his first at bat. His 2019 minor league season was powerless, with just six homeruns and a .347 slugging percentage. His power may not be as strong as Smith and his defense and arm would probably be considered average. That may not be enough to usurp Smith from the Dodger catching job. The 2021 season should see him begin it at AAA. His most valuable asset would be as trade bait, being a front line catcher for a play off contending club.

7. Shea Langaliers (Braves) - A first round pick in 2019. His defense and arm are so strong that if Shea can carry an average bat he will be an asset to the Braves. He has already surpassed William Contreras and Alex Jackson as the Braves catcher of the future. His bat does carry a little power but his .343 slugging at Low A in his minor league debut was a bit disappointing. The potential is there for double digit homerun power and the arm is probably the strongest of any catcher in this top ten group. Expect him to spend the 2021 season in High A with a major league debut in 2022.

8. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - Wilson Contreras has been the subject of trade rumors. Miguel could use a little more seasoning before replacing him. He did not get past A ball in 2019. The Panama native signed for $1 million in 2015. It has been a slow haul through the minor league system. There is some carry in his bat but there is a struggle to get consistent barrel on the ball contact. His defense is strong and his arm is above average. He could be the Cubs starting catcher by 2022, especially if they choose a rebuild but expect him to start the 2021 season in AA.

9. Tyler Stephenson (Reds) - The 2015 first round pick finally made his major league debut last year, hitting .294 with two homeruns in eight games. This was after a 2019 season in which he hit a career high .285. At 6′4″ he has a bit of length for a catcher but he has some solid defensive chops with an above average arm. Injuries have stalled his path to the major leagues, but now that he has reached that level he hopes not to return to the minors. With his large frame he gets high exit velocities when he makes contact. He could start the 2021 season in AAA or with a good spring get the call to lead the major league pitching staff.

10. Ryan Jeffers (Twins) - At 6′4″, another lengthy catcher. He got a major league callup in 2020, slugging three homeruns in 26 games and hitting .273. Ryan was a second round pick in 2018. The power could be there to develop into a 20 plus homerun major league catcher who is solid on defense with a strong arm. He will not be a Joe Mauer, but he could develop into a close facsimile. Next year he could start the season in AAA with another major league callup by mid season.

Top Cuban Prospects - National League

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Myworld had a tough time finding that sure number one Cuban prospect for the National League. Last year Adrian Morejon was number one. This year he has dropped. Yadier Alvarez and Yoan Lopez graduated from last year’s list. With just two players dropping (Adolis Garcia and Vladimir Gutierrez) that left room for only four new players on the list. Below are the top Cuban prospects in the National League for 2020.

1. Jose Garcia SS (Reds) - He jumped all the way up from number 9. Perhaps I was too influenced by the kind of spring he was having before the corona virus hit. Unlike Luis Robert, the number one Cuban prospect in the American League Jose is not blessed with extraordinary tools. The Reds signed him for $5 million in 2017. He moved from second to short and has shown he possesses the glove and the arm for the position. His bat was a question mark. The first year he hit just .245 in Low A with a .344 slugging average. Last year he improved his hitting in High A with a .280 average and a .436 slugging. Most of the increase in slugging was due to his 37 doubles, an increase of 15 over last year. Garcia will mainly be a gap hitter, though his 6′2″ frame could reflect double digit homerun power as he matures. Jose should play AA next year. With a good season he could get a callup in 2020, but more likely 2021.

2. Randy Arozarena OF (Rays) - He went from not appearing on this list last year to number 2. At 25 he may be a little old to be a highly rated prospect. The Cardinals traded him this year in the Matthew Liberatore trade to free some outfield space. The Rays outfield is a bit crowded as well but Arozarena should find himself somewhere in the lineup before the season ends. The Cardinals signed him for $1.25 million in 2016. His power seems to be improving with 15 homeruns between AA and AAA with a slugging percentage of .571. This led to a promotion to the major leagues where he added one more tater. He has the speed to cover centerfield and the arm to play right. As a centerfielder he would probably be average defensively, but put him on the corner and he could win gold gloves. He hopes to build on his 2019 season and earn a starting role in 2020 for the Rays.

3. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - He and his younger brother Victor Mesa Jr. defected on the same day. Victor Victor got the brunt of the bonus money signing for $5.2 million while his younger brother signed for just $1 million. Victor Victor is five years older than his younger brother so in due time Victor Jr may develop into a better player. Their dad is a Cuban Hall of Famer and one of the reasons Victor Victor left Cuba was the pressure the Cuban fans placed on him to meet their expectations of the son of a Hall of Famer. The transition has been a struggle. In High A he hit only .252 which resulted in a promotion to AA where he only hit .178 for a .235 average. He failed to have a ball sail over the park in 464 at bats and only slugged .263 with a .274 OBA. If he had put those numbers up in Cuba they would be roasting him but in the minor leagues he is barely noticed. Defensively he has great speed to cover ground in centerfield with a very strong arm. He does make good contact with the ball but the exit velocity is lacking. If he wants to make it to the major league he needs to do it with a better bat. At 24 years of age in July his best bet is to play AA to get him close to the major leagues for a 2021 debut.

4. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - At 6′8″ Michel has a dominating presence. The Padres signed him for $3 million in 2016. Last year he made his major league debut, getting 23 relief appearances. As a starter his command just wasn’t there and a quality breaking pitch was lacking. His fastball/change combination were better suited for the bullpen. His fastball reaches 99. In AA he averaged 12.7 whiffs per nine innings, but that dropped to 8.5 in the major leagues. Expect him to start the year in the Padres bullpen.

5. Malcolm Nunez 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals are a little crowded at third with Nolan Gorman and Elehuris Montero ahead of him in the minor leagues. Malcolm was signed for only $300,000 in 2018. The Cardinals were rewarded with a power bat in 2018 where a .414 average and 13 homeruns with a .774 slugging average in the Rookie League put him on the prospect map. He could not replicate those numbers last year, struggling with a .183 average in Low A. He got sent back down to Rookie ball where he hit .254, still not near his average of the previous year. His burly physique will limit him to third base or first base. His foot speed is too slow to make it as an outfielder. His power will reward his team for putting his bat in the lineup but a position may be lacking. Perhaps when he is ready the National League will have the DH. That will be around 2023 if he can get past Rookie ball.

6. Andy Pages OF (Dodgers) - Compared to what the Dodgers have spent on Cuban prospects Pages was a bargain at $300,000. They signed him in 2018 when international salary caps were in place, protecting the Dodgers against themselves. Last year was the first full year Andy played in the United States and he showed some excellent power, slugging 19 homeruns in Rookie ball. He also hit for an acceptable .298 average despite 79 whiffs in just 63 games. Pages has average speed and could survive in centerfield, but his strong arm makes him a better fit for right. At 19 he is still young, but the tools he has are impressive. There is still a couple years of minor leagues he has to play before he is ready to wear a Dodger uniform, but he is certainly a player to watch.

7. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Last year Morejon was first on this list. An off year where he got lit up in a brief major league appearance (10.13 ERA) calls into question whether his stuff is good enough to be a top of the rotation starter. Major league hitters mashed him at a .385 clip. Even his AA outings were disappointing (4.25 ERA), although he whiffed 11 hitters per nine innings and limited opponents to a .215 average. His fastball hits the mid-90s but he has too many outings where he just doesn’t know where it is going. His secondary pitches also show promise for the rotation. Another issue that keeps coming up is his susceptibility to getting injured. He has yet to pitch over 70 innings in a season. This could result in an eventual move to the bullpen. Last year his season ended early because of shoulder issues, so he will start the 2020 season in AAA. Eventually, if the injuries keep occurring he will be moved to the bullpen.

8. Johan Oviedo RHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals signed Oviedo for $1.9 million in 2016, the same year they also signed Arozarena. At 6′6″ Johan has intimidating size, but all that length makes it difficult for him to throw strikes. At 22 he is still young. He dominated at High A going 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in five starts. His mid-90s fastball can get swings and misses but his inability to find the plate resulted in 64 walks in 113 innings at AA for a 5.65 ERA in 23 starts. He may have to repeat AA in 2020 but a good year could see him crack the Cardinals rotation. He should be ready to compete for a spot in 2021.

9. Ronald Bolanos RHP (Padres) - Bolanos is the third Padre on this list. They signed him in 2016 for $2.25 million, the same year as the signings of Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon. He started his season in High A, but before the year was done he found himself wearing a major league uniform. The fastball hits the mid-90s and the breaking balls (slider and curve) are solid. His change still needs work as does the command of his pitches. In his major league debut he walked 12 batters in 20 innings resulting in a 5.95 ERA. The Padres have a lot of options for their starting rotation, so if Bolanos still struggles to find the plate he could be another arm used out of the bullpen. The 2020 season should see him work more innings for the Padres.

10. Victor Mesa Jr OF (Marlins) - Myworld was torn between Miguel Vargas of the Dodgers and Victor. Miguel may lack the power or defense to play third and his speed would be a detriment to the outfield. Without power first base would not be a good fit. So we went with Victor Jr., who signed for $1 million, $4 million less than his brother. Last year saw him have a better year than his older brother, hitting .284 in Rookie ball with the only homerun among the Mesa brothers. Like his older brother, Victor Jr. is not expected to have a power bat but his speed is not as fast as his brother. Playing a corner outfield without that power is not a good fit. He is only 18 so there is plenty of time to work on improving the bat. He is still a few years away from playing for the Marlins.