Archive for the 'Reds' Category

Top 20 AFL Players to Watch

Friday, September 14th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myworld’s Top Righthanded Pitching Prospects

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soto Leads Nats to Split with Reds

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The All Star Contact/Power Lineup

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Leftfield Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

Draft Picks in the Top 100

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Fangraphs did an updated top 100 (actually 133) including recently drafted players on the list. Myworld would not be bold enough to create a top 100 including draft picks until we see them play in rookie leagues and their familiarization to the wood bats. Below are the players listed in the top 100. There is no Brady Singer even after he outdueled Casey Mize in the Super Regional game.

31. Casey Mize (RHP) Detroit
33. Nick Madrigal (2B) White Sox
57. Joey Bart (C) Giants
68. Travis Swaggerty (OF) Pirates
77. Alec Bohm (3B) Phillies
93. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays
95. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
96. Jarred Kelenic (CF) Mets
97. Jonathan India (3B) Reds
98. Carter Stewart (RHP) Braves
100. Cole Winn (RHP) Rangers

If this list proves accurate this should be a nice draft for third baseman.

Top Cuban Prospects National League

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The only player to graduate from last year’s list is Albert Almora, who is more a fourth outfielder. Four National League teams seem to be more prolific in signing Cuban players, but too date those expenses have not panned out. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects who play on National League teams, or at least four of them.

1. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed him in 2016 for a mere $3 million. He stands tall at 6′8″ with a fastball that slices the plate in the mid-90s but often hits the high 90s. Quality secondary pitches (slider, change and curve) moved him not just to the top ten list but the top prospect on the list. Last year was his first taste of professional ball and he dominated at Low A striking out 12.7 hitters per 9 innings. He did have a tendency to give up the long ball, allowing 8 homeruns in just 59 innings, leaving his ERA at 2.45. This year a promotion to High A has been more of a struggle with a 4.29 ERA and a 11/20 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. The good news is he has yet to give up a dinger. Prior to leaving for Cuba he pitched one year in the Series Nacional, walking more hitters (16) that he struck out (14). With his large frame throwing strikes may always be a challenge.

2. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Not as tall as Baez (6′3″) but still good pitcher’s height. His fastball also hits the mid-90s with lots of readings in the high 90s. That motivated the Dodgers to sign him for $16 million. Lack of quality secondary stuff and poor command make it a challenge for Alvarez to retire hitters. Last year he had a 50/97 walk to whiff rate in 92 innings. In order for him to stick in the rotation he will need to improve his secondary offerings and command or make a move to a closer role. The 2018 season still sees him in the starting rotation but still struggling with control (20 walks in 15 innings) at the AA level. The Tulsa Drillers put Yadier on the disabled list the beginning of May with a groin injury.

3. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - He may not throw as hard as Baez but the Padres liked him enough to give him a franchise record setting $11 million bonus. The lefty starred in the 15 and under World Cup in Mexico City striking out 12 United States hitters in a complete game victory. Royce Lewis and Hunter Green were part of that United States team. For a lefthander carrying a fastball that hits the mid-90s is a quality pitch that most teams would envy. He also has a change that shouts swing and miss as well as quality breaking pitches. Pitching in the hitter friendly California League Adrian is holding his own with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts and a 14/36 walk to whiff ratio in 34 innings. The Padres hope he fills a solid spot in the middle of the rotation.

4. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent $15.5 million for Diaz in 2015. As he fills out his tools will be prolific. The power began to show last year at AA with his .491 slugging average with three homeruns in 31 games. The growth may detract from his speed, leaving him best suited for a corner outfield, but with an arm for right field. The Dodgers started his 2018 season back in AA where he showed increased power (.513) with three homeruns in his first 20 games. A hip issue put him on the disabled list mid-May so that will stall some development time. The Dodgers have thrown a lot of resources at Cuban players with little result. They hope Yusniel will not develop into one of those busts.

5. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - Don’t know where the Dodgers were when the Reds shelled out $4.75 million in 2016 to sign Vladimir. He has a fastball that flashes mid-90s with decent secondary stuff to keep him in the rotation. Last year was his first year stateside where he started 19 games with a 4.46 ERA. His pitches seem hittable (.267) and can carry a long way (10 homeruns) but the Reds have a need for starting pitchers. This year the Reds have promoted him to AA where his struggles with getting hit continue (6.08 ERA and .270 average). Again the long ball seems to bother him (8 homeruns) and perhaps a bit of a temper (8 hitbatsman and 8 walks).

6. Jose Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The younger brother of Adonis Garcia is taller (6′1″) which allows him to carry more power. He won an MVP award in the Nacional Series in 2015/2016 and was briefly farmed out to Japan. The Cardinals signed him early in 2017 for $2.5 million and started him out in AA. His arm is a cannon but he still needs improvement moving to the ball. His bat and legs gave him 15 homeruns and 15 stolen bases between AA and AAA. The Cardinals outfield is very crowded but with the struggles of Randall Grichuk the Cardinals may give Garcia an opportunity before the year is out. He needs to show a little more consistency with the bat (.218) at AAA if he wants to get a callup. Better patience at the plate (8/40 walk to whiff ratio) will help with that.

7. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid the other Jose Garcia a $5 million bonus. His glove is smooth but his bat is a question. A 6′2″ frame seems to show some power could develop. The 2018 season is his first opportunity to show what he can do. So far it has been disappointing. In Low A he is only hitting .189 with a 5/33 walk to whiff ratio. He has also committed 10 errors, eight of them at shortstop.

8. Jorge Ona OF (Padres) - The Padres spent $7 million to sign the hulk like 220 pound outfielder. His large frame makes him a slow runner but an above average arm gives him an opportunity to choose his corner. His best position may be DH. What attracted the Padres to Ona was his prodigious power. He showed some of that with 11 homeruns in his first stateside season last year. There were also a lot of swings and misses to his game (115 whiffs in 107 games), dropping his average to .277. This year the Padres have started him in High A where his walk to whiff ratio has digressed (9/47) dropping his OBA from a .351 to .298. He still shows the potential to hit for power, but developing more patience at the plate is needed to draw more of that out.

9. Randy Arozarena OF (Cardinals) - The crowded outfield has dropped Randy to AA. The Cardinals signed Randy for $1.25 million in 2016, a relative bargain for Cuban prospects. He shows a nice combination of power and speed which could allow him to finish as a 20/20 player. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps (32 doubles) but he carried 11 over the fence. In the winter league in Mexico that power was displayed with 14 round trippers and a .558 slugging average. A demotion to AA and a .654 slugging average in 13 games could give him another opportunity for AAA or even with the Cardinals as a September callup.

10. Jonatan Machado OF (Cardinals) - Machado could give the Cardinals an all Cuban outfield. The Cardinals signed him for $2.35 million in 2016. As a young teenager he struggled in his first year (.209) in the Dominican League but stateside last year he broke out in the Gulfcoast League (.323). A taste of full season ball this year (.185) has shown that Machado needs a lot of work with the bat. At 5′8″ he does not have a lot of power, but relies more on contact. His best bet is to improve on his defense to play centerfield. His lack of power is not a good fit for a corner position.

Predictions - NL Central

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

This is the strongest division in the NL. We’d like to select the Milwaukee Brewers to surprise but we just don’t like the pitching.

1, Chicago Cubs

Overall - Their farm system will no longer offer them any help. The position players are still young and able to contribute. It is the starting rotation that may see some cracks, with little depth behind four veteran starters.

Strengths - 1) Infield. They are solid all around, providing a combination of excellent defense and productive offense. Anthony Rizzo is the big bat with his 32 homeruns and 109 RBIs. At second base Javier Baez came into his own, slugging 23 homeruns. Addison Russell struggled last year with his offense hitting only.239 with 12 homeruns but his defense is solid. At third base is the slugging Kris Bryant with his 29 homeruns. They also have Ben Zobrist who can rotate around any of those positions.
2) Starting pitching. Signing Yu Darvish as a free agent gives them four solid starters. The Cubs have built this rotation through free agent signings and trades. Kyle Hendricks was acquired from the Rangers but was developed in the Cubs minor leagues. Jon Lester was acquired as a free agent back in 2014 and Jose Quintana was acquired via a trade from the White Sox last year. All four pitchers have the potential to win 15 games.
3) Catching. Many are calling Wilson Contreras the top catcher in the National League. His 13 errors need to be reduced but he should increase his 21 homeruns from last year.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. Brandon Morrow is not a proven commodity in the closer role. In his injury marred early years as a starter many felt he would be better used as a closer. That time has arrived now that he is turning 34 years old.
2) Right field. Jason Heyward won a gold glove. His bat has been a big disappointment, especially for a corner outfielder. Last year he slugged .389.

Top Rookie - Victor Caratini will get most of the rookie playing time as the back up catcher to Contreras. He can also play first and third base in a pinch and Joe Maddon likes his flexibility. No other rookie should contribute.

Top Prospect - The farm system is a little barren. Adbert Alzolay is considered their top prospect. He had success at High A and AA but may fit best as a mid-rotation starter.

Expected Finish - First Place. They will again battle the Dodgers in the National League championship series.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Overall - The starting rotation will be young, but the arms are talented. If they can get Alex Reyes on track this rotation has the ability to be dominant.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Yadier Molina may be aging but he is still the heart and soul of this team. His 82 RBIs led the team.
2) Left Field. The Cardinals traded for Marcell Ozuna to provide more production in the lineup. His 37 homeruns and 124 RBIs is the kind of production a championship lineup needs from their team.
3) Ace. Carlos Martinez has the potential to turn into one of the top five starters in the National League. His 217 strikeouts were only topped by three pitchers in the National League. Expect him to get better as he gains experience.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. They have no established closer, 31 saves departing when Seung-Hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal left the team. Alex Reyes may eventually win the job, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be able to pitch until mid-May. Luke Gregerson was signed as a free agent to fill that role but he will also start the season on the disabled list and accumulated one save last year.
2) Young Back End of Rotation. The Cardinals hope that rookie Jack Flaherty and second year starter Luke Weaver can anchor the back end of the rotation. Miles Mikolas has also come over from Japan to show that he has improved on his rookie season with the Rangers.

Top Rookie - Jack Flaherty will get the biggest and earliest test. He will slide in the fifth spot of the Cardinals rotation. Alex Reyes will eventually get a callup in May but will start his career in the bullpen to prevent his arm from throwing too many innings. Reyes has the potential to be the better starter in 2019.

Top Prospect - Alex Reyes. He has missed two years because of drug suspensions and injuries. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching last year.

Expected Finish - Second Place but enough to get one of the two wild card spots.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Overall - They will have some bashers in the lineup but their pitching could also give up a lot of runs. A trade of some of their outfield depth for a starting pitcher would make this team better.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. They have more quality outfielders than positions for them. Christian Yelich will fit in left with a bat that can hit over .300 with 20 plus homeruns. He was acquired in a trade from the Marlins. Lorenzo Cain was signed as a free agent. He made the Royals offense roll and will now get that machine rolling for the Brewers. Domingo Santana had a breakout year last year with 30 homeruns. The Brewers tried to trade him to make room for Ryan Braun in the outfield. With no DH he may have to rotate between first base and the two corner outfield positions.
2) Third Base. The Red Sox needed a third baseman last year. Before the season started they traded Travis Shaw to the Brewers for Tyler Thornburg feeling that Shaw was not an answer to their third base quandary. All Shaw did was hit 31 homeruns and drive in 101 runs. That kind of production may have gotten the Red Sox to the World Series.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. This is what separates the Brewers from the Cubs and Cardinals. Losing Jimmy Nelson hurt. Zach Davies did win 17 games last year but he only struck out 5.8 hitters per nine innings and the opposition hit him at a .275 clip. Chase Anderson also had a solid year but there is some question whether he can repeat. Rookie Brandon Woodruff will probably fill the fifth spot in the rotation.
2) Catcher. Steven Vogt struggles on defense and last year did not hit enough. Manny Pina is better suited for a back up role though he did well when thrust into a starting role. Replicating those numbers may be difficult.

Top Rookie - Brandon Woodruff will slot into the fifth spot in the rotation.

Top Prospect - Keston Hiura their first round 2017 pick has shown he can hit. It will not take him long before he is playing second base for the Brewers and challenging for batting titles.

Expected Finish - They will squeeze into the second wild card spot with their third place finish in the Central.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

Overall - The Pirates would like to have fans believe the team is not rebuilding but trading Andrew McCutchen and Gerritt Cole was the waving of the white flag.

Strength - 1) Closer. Felipe Rivero was a nice acquisition by the Pirates a couple years ago. He dominated left handed hitters who only hit .082 against him.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jody Mercer has always been a pedestrian shortstop. He carries no quality offensive or defensive tools, though he hit a career high 14 homeruns last year.
2) Third Base. They will turn to rookie Colin Moran to fill this position. Last year it appeared he came into his own until a hit by pitch knocked him out after a seven game major league debut. David Freese will act as insurance in case Moran fails.
3) Starting Pitcher. They traded their ace Gerritt Cole. Jameson Taillon has the potential to be an ace but he was too hittable last year (.290 opposition average). The pitching staff is filled with pitchers whose ERA was north of 4.00 last year.

Top Rookie - Colin Moran appears to have a shot to start at third base. A starting pitcher like Nick Kingham or Mitch Keller could squeeze into this rotation.

Top Prospect - Mitch Keller is their top pitcher. Austin Meadows their top position player. Both will get opportunities to play for the Pirates this year.

Expected Finish - Far out of the playoff race where the motivation will be to trade more veterans and finally admit this is a rebuilding year.

5. Cincinnati Reds

Overall - The rebuild has gone slower than expected. It is a big surprise to see Joey Votto still on the roster.

Strengths - 1) First Base. Joey Votto may be the best hitter in baseball. Last year he was second in the MVP voting despite the Reds last place finish. Votto drove in 100 runs and walked 134 times.
2) Corner Outfield. Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler each hit 30 plus homeruns. The small park could have something to do with that but not many teams have that kind of power in their corners.
3) Second Base. Scooter Gennett hit four homeruns in one game and 27 for the year. His 97 RBIs was tops among second baseman in the National League.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jose Peraza may be better suited for second base. His speed should produce more stolen bases and his OBA needs to get over .330 to make him effective.
2) Starting Pitching. Homer Bailey is the ace until he gets traded, but he has yet to pitch effectively since his return from injury. After Homer the pitching is young. Luis Castillo showed some success last year but the others are a work in progress. Last year no pitcher reached double digits in victories.
3) Centerfield. Other than speed and defense Billy Hamilton provides little production. His inability to get on base (.299 OBA) limits his speed opportunities.

Top Rookie - Tyler Mahle will be tried in the starting rotation. Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis have all struggled. The new blood keeps on flowing but being rejected by the host.

Top Prospect - Nick Senzel. He could become a gold glove third baseman but the Reds may try him for some games at short. Not a lot of shortstops carry the thunder he has in his bat.

Expected Finish - Another last place finish.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Nick Pivetta was the only player to graduate from the top ten list from last year, but it was not a good season for the Philly righthander (8-10, 6.02). The Phillies will give him another opportunity to prove his value in the rotation. Seven players repeated from last year’s list with a shift in placement. Curtis Taylor and Gareth Morgan dropped out of the list. Below is the 2018 top ten minor league prospects from Canada. To qualify for this list you have to be eligible to win rookie of the year, eliminating Dalton Pompey, who was out most of last year and has not seen major league action in a couple years. Myworld predicts a return of Pompey in 2018.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - Born in Montreal, Canada from a Hall of Famer from the Dominican. This is the second country Vladimir appears in after placing second in the top Dominican prospects list in the American League. Here he is number one. The following is a cut and paste from our Dominican article. His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

2. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - Like most Canadians pitchers, he is not an overpowering pitcher. That did not prevent the Braves from using a number one pick in 2015 to draft him. His fastball can hit 95 but usually glides into the plate in the Low 90s. His ability to pitch, command those pitches and offer quality secondary pitches separates him from most pitchers. Righthanders really struggle against his repertoire, hitting just .209 against him in AA. His strikeout numbers will never be flashing but he will eliminate baserunners with double play groundouts. Soroka could find himself pitching for the Braves by midseason in a very crowded rotation. It all depends on his success at AAA to begin the 2018 season.

3. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) - The son of Paul, the Padres selected Cal in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford, despite his undergoing Tommy John surgery his sophomore season. Cal was born in Port Hope, Ontario. His fastball carries a little zip, chasing the plate in the upper bracket of the low 90s. What makes Cal special is a quality changeup that makes his fastball carry a little extra charge to it. Enhancing his breaking pitches will improve his stock. Last year he was tagged pretty good with righthanded batters hitting over .300 against him in AA. That is where he will repeat the 2018 season.

4. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - The son of a Canadian weight lifter, the Cardinals would like to see less bulk weight lifting from Tyler and more repetitions with lighter weights. Tyler was drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The bulky Tyler generally hits between 25 and 35 homeruns per year. Last year he bombed 31 over the fence. That power usually comes with a lot of swings and misses and lower batting averages. His speed is not quick enough to cover center, but a strong arm and average speed allows him to be a solid defender in right. The 2018 season could be his opportunity to debut in the major leagues. The Cardinal outfield is a bit crowded, but if his bashing continues in AAA it will be difficult to keep him down.

5. Josh Naylor 1B (Padres) - Josh was a surprise first round pick of the Marlins in 2015. A knife incident brought up character issues and the Marlins traded him to the Padres. At 6′0″ and close to 250 pounds Josh may have to watch his weight if he hopes to continue his professional career. He hits the ball a long ways with light tower power in batting practice, but that has not translated into the games. Despite his large size his athleticism allows him to run well and play an adequate defense at first base. With the eight year contract given to Eric Hosmer that puts Naylor in a black hole. He will start the season in AA and hope to impress some team in need of a first baseman to trade for him.

6. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The Orioles drafted Hall in the second round of the 2017 draft. He only got nine at bats in the rookie league but six of them went for hits for a .667 average. An oblique injury ended his season early. This may rob him of an opportunity to play full season ball next year. It appears he has the tools to stick at short with a good arm and decent range. His power is limited to the gaps now but with maturity and a better read of pitches that could increase. The 2018 season will be a big one for Hall to gauge whether he is geared for short.

7. Andy Yerzy C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. His first year in rookie ball was uneventful. His second year in rookie ball he smashed 13 homeruns and slugged .524. That should earn him a full season Low A team for 2018. His 6′3″ height gives him some problems defensively. He struggles with throws to second and handling pitches in the dirt. If his power continues to progress his bat could be moved to first base. His lack of speed makes a move to the outfield unrealistic. The D-backs will still continue to tutor him as a catcher in hopes he will improve as he gets more repetitions, beginning in the Low A league in 2018.

8. Miles Gordon OF (Reds) - Gordon has played three consecutive seasons in the Rookie League. The Reds drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but at that time his primary sport was hockey. Last year he had his breakout year, slugging his first eight homeruns of his minor league career and slugging .530, almost .200 points greater than his previous season. Like Yerzy that kind of production will get him promoted to a full season league in 2018. Gordon has the speed to fit in center but may be better suited for a corner.

9. Landon Leach RHP (Twins) - A second round pick in 2017 with a nice 6′4 inch frame that can sling the ball in the high 90s. For the most part he sits in the Low 90s. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. He pitched as a closer out of his high school so there is not a lot of use in his arm. When he was not closing he was catching for his high school team and the Junior National Canadian team. Now he has the opportunity to focus on the mound full time. He will probably start the 2017 season in extended spring training and pitch again in the Rookie League to continue to develop his mechanics.

10. Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) - Myworld still likes his tools. The results are slower than expected, with an inability to make contact and recognize pitches leaving him off prospect lists. He was projected to be a first rounder in 2015 but he dropped to the fourth round where the Brewers selected him. He was actually born in Nigeria so if he makes the major leagues he could be the first Nigerian to play in the major leagues. Last year he played at Low A, slugging 11 homeruns with 38 stolen bases. His 40/139 walk to whiff ratio kept his average at .214, though he did hit .252 against lefthanders. His speed will allow him to play center and his arm will fit him in right. The bat just needs to develop more consistency. He should see High A in 2018.