Archive for the 'Phillies' Category

Phillies Announce their Arrival to Nats

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Prior to the start of the season many had predicted the Nationals would easily win the NL East. The Braves and Phillies have changed that narrative. The Braves find themselves in first place in the NC East and the Phillies blew past the Nationals after beating them a second straight day to take second place. The Nationals are bottomed in third place.

Yesterday Maikel Franco had a perfect 4 for 4 day, running the bases like a wild man. He made headfirst slides into third, second and slid into home twice as part of his four hits. On his slide into second he was called out for over sliding the base. His two slides home scored the tying and go ahead runs. He also drove in a run with a single in the eighth.

Aaron Nola got the start for the Phillies. The Nationals got to him early. After Nola retired the first two hitters Anthony Rendon beat out an infield roller to third. Juan Soto blasted a pitch to left center field that bounced into the bullpen for a ground rule double. Daniel Murphy finally put some juice in his bat grounding a single up the middle to score two runs.

After the first inning the Nationals could not get to Nola. He gave up a leadoff hit to Wilmer Difo in the second inning, but that was the last hit off him through six. The Phillies pinch hit for Nola in the seventh.

The Nationals started rookie Erick Fedde. He gave up the early 2-0 lead very quickly. Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, Jorge Alfaro and even the .036 hitting Aron Nola touched Fedde for singles scoring two runs. On the Nola single to score the second run it appeared Maikel Franco was a dead duck as he raced toward home, but the throw from Eaton was to the first base side of the bag and by the time Specer Kieboom reached over to tag Franco he had just touched the plate.

The game remained scoreless until the seventh. Maikel Franco led off with a line drive double into left center. He raced to third on a slow high bouncer to short. Jesmuel Valentin pinch hit for Nola and drove one to medium deep right field. Franco tagged and again the throw from Eaton was to the first base side of home, allowing Franco to slide in ahead of the throw.

In the eighth inning the Phillies did not treat newly acquired Kelvin Herrera well. Carlos Santana popped an opposite field shot into the Phillies bullpen to make it 4-2. Scott Kingery walked and stole second. The pesky Maikel Franco bounced a pitch up the middle. Wilmer Difo could have knocked the ball down to prevent Kingery from scoring but it skipped past his glove and into centerfield, Kingery cruising home with the fifth run.

The Nationals got their sixth hit and third run in the eighth when Anthony Rendon blasted a Adams Morgan pitch into the corner front row seats of the right center field bleachers.

Game Notes: The Nationals are now 6-9 versus the Braves and the Phillies…In addition to his two off the line throws home, Adam Eaton went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Not a good day at the ballpark for Adam…Tommie Hunter has always liked talking about food. That food is starting to take shape in his body as he is looking more like Bartolo Colon. He still throws his fastball at 96/97…The win for Aaron Nola improves his record to 9-2. You could say he is the Max Scherzer of the Phillies….Seranthony Dominguez looks good early for the Phillies. He retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out two of the three hitters he faced for his fifth save. His fastball pounds the plate at 98…The two starting pitchers, Aaron Nola and Erick Fedde were first round picks in the 2014 draft. Fedde is a later arrival after undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2014 draft.

2018 Top Ten Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

This completes our top ten lists from around the world. I put this together before the season started so players like Ronald Acuna might not be considered prospects anymore. Eiias Diaz and Jose Martinez graduated from this list because of their major league time last year.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Hard to believe he was only number four on the list from last year. After one year in the minor leagues he shot up to the best prospect in baseball (tied with Shohei Ohtani from myworld’s list). After a short 17 game warm up in AAA where he looked a bit rusty, hitting just .232 Acuna was promoted to the Braves. He started out strong but has cooled down to a .265 average with 5 homeruns. A knee injury in late May put him on the disabled list. He will be a player who provides all five tools, gold glove defense in centerfield, a strong arm, power, speed and the ability to hit for average.

2. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - When the 2017 list was put together Keibert was playing in rookie ball. Maybe myworld should have noted his .374 average in 56 games. Last year in full season ball his bat kept on raking, hitting .316 between Low and High A. He also showed a little bit of pop with 8 homeruns and good patience at the plate with a 25/53 walk to whiff ratio. He needs a little work on his defensive game and teams are not afraid to run against him. Last year he only caught 26 runners while 91 achieved success. This year he is 11 for 43 in catching base stealers. The bat has also cooled this year in AA (.255). At 19 he is one of the youngest players in AA and playing at a very demanding position. The Dodgers will show some patience with his development.

3. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Last year he appeared at the top of the list but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2017 season and dropped him down a couple notches. Ironic the Padres acquired Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, then complained about a pre-existing injury and it was Espinoza to miss the 2017 season because of injury. He still has not started the 2018 season and will probably pitch a rehab in rookie ball before he sees full season. Prior to the surgery Espinoza hit mid to high 90s with his fastball and threw a plus change. Only time will tell whether those pitches will be impacted after the surgery.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Many consider him the best fielding shortstop in their system, and that is including Ahmed Rosario. Whether he can push Rosario off of shortstop once he establishes himself is another story. The big question with Andres is whether he can hit. There is very little power in his bat, but last year he showed a good ability to make contact in his first season at Low A, hitting .265. This year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has shown some pop in his bat, hitting .273 with four homeruns, 13 doubles and a .421 slugging percentage. A move to second base is still a possibility, but Andres is still a couple years away from seeing the major leagues.

5. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - Another gold glove potential shortstop with a rocket for an arm. The Padres paid him a $1.9 million bonus in 2016 to sign him. Last year he got his first exposure to playing in the minor leagues, hitting .265 with nary a homerun. Still a teenager at 18 entering the 2018 season he is hitting just .212 in Low A, but he did hit his first homerun. The Padres would like to see him make better contact as he strikes out like a power hitter (61 times in 55 games). His fielding has been a little erratic with 16 errors in 49 games at shortstop.

6. Eduardo Diaz OF (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks got a bargain when they signed Eduardo, shelling out just $10,000 on him. Last year he exhibited some power, hitting .312 with 7 homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. He has the speed and the arm to play center or right field. As he gets older and packs some more muscle on his frame there could be more juice from his bat. This year that juice is absent, with a .226 average and only two homeruns in 31 games. A poor 3/36 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and possible pitch recognition.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - The brother of Wilson with similar tools. The bat can hit for power and the arm is above average. The last three years since his signing he has only played rookie ball, hitting .295 with a .414 slugging percentage in those three years. This is his first year in full season ball and he is impressing with a .290 average and .410 slugging percentage. The power will improve as he matures. There are still some things he needs to work on from his defensive side of the game, such as lessoning his 8 errors in 22 games at catcher, but he has a long ways to go before reaching the major leagues.

8. Yonathan Daza OF (Rockies) - A late bloomer since he signed in 2010. Last year he broke out for a .341 average. His power is restricted to the gaps, but it did get him 34 doubles with 87 RBIs, a lot of runs driven in for a player who only hit 3 homeruns. He also showed some speed with 31 stolen bases. That speed will allow him to play centerfield. This year in AA Yonathan is hitting .306 but the stolen base speed has been absent with more caught stealings (5) than stolen bases (4). The Rockies outfield situation is very crowded so he will probably stay in AA the entire season.

9. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - Last year his velocity jumped to the Low 90s and his strikeout rate increased to over one per inning, putting him on many prospect lists. He also dominated at Low A with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts. Signed in 2012 Ranger shows control and pitching smarts from having to survive with a less than explosive fastball. In 2017 he only got 8 starts in AA but the Phillies thought that was enough and promoted him to AA to start the 2018 season. The numbers have not been awe inspiring but with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts the results have been good.

10. Arquimedes Gamboa SS (Phillies) - Arquimedes has the tools to be a solid defensive shortstop. There was some questions about his bat, but last year at Low A he hit .261 with 6 homeruns, respectable numbers for someone with his defensive chops. His power will stay below average, but with the speed to steal double digits and the ability to hit over .260 would put him at a utility role at worst and a starting shortstop job at best. This year in High A his hitting is making progress (.273) and he shows enough patience at the plate to have his OBA rise to .351.

2017 top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

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.

Nats Steal One from Phillies

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Down 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth the Nationals scored two in each inning to steal a win from the Philadelphia Phillies. They took advantage of four walks, a hit batsman and an error to eliminate the deficit. Wilmer Difo took advantage of the two man outfield driving a pitch to centerfield to drive in the game winner.

Max Scherzer deserved to get a win in this game. He struck out 15 in just 6.1 innings. Unfortunately all those strikeouts drove up his pitch count and after he struck out Jorge Alfaro with his 111th pitch Dave Martinez came out to pull him. At the time the Nationals were ahead 1-0. The bullpen was ineffective, giving up four runs.

Jake Arrieta pitched well for the Phillies. In the second inning Matt Adams led off with a drive over the right field bullpen into the second deck. It was the second time in three days he had provided a souvenir to the fans in that area. Jake gave up a single to Andrew Stevenson later in the second inning, but did not allow another hit through six innings. The Phillies pinch hit for him in the seventh inning.

Between the second and fourth inning Max Scherzer had struck out seven in a row. In the seventh he gave up a leadoff single to Pedro Florimon. After a stolen base and strikeout the lefty swinging Nick Williams was announced as a pinch hitter for Arrieta. Martinez chose to go with the lefthander Sammy Solis.

Solis got ahead in the count 1-2 but Nick Williams blooped the next pitch into centerfield. It was enough to score Pedro Florimon from second, stealing the win away from Scherzer. Brandon Kintzler was asked to get out of the inning, but with two out Rhys Hoskins drove a 1-2 pitch into left centerfield for a double, Williams scoring on the hit. Hoskins had struck out in all three of his at bats against Scherzer. Odubel Herrera chopped a slow single up the middle to score Hoskins. With the anemic Nationals bats the 3-1 deficit appeared daunting.

Maikel Franco made it tougher by driving a ball into the left field bullpen off Carlos Torres for a 4-1 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, after a Michael Taylor strike out Luis Garcia walked pinch hitter Moises Sierra. That brought in Tommy Hunter to close out the inning. He walked Wilmer Difo but had to face Bryce Harper, who represented the tying run. He got Harper to swing and miss for strike three. Trea Turner had a check swing grounder that rolled to second, but beat the throw to first to load the bases. Anthony Rendon, a day back from the disabled list bounced a single through the third base hole to drive in two. Hunter threw a pitch to the back stop to put the winning run at second, but he struck out Matt Adams on a pitch in the dirt for the third out.

The Phillies closer Hector Neris came on for the ninth. Matt Wieters bounced one to short right field, beating the throw by Florimon. Rafael Bautista pinch ran for him and got the attention of Neris. After a couple throws to first he made one too many, bouncing a throw past Carlos Santana. Bautista streaked around second and slid into third representing the tying run with no out. Howie Kendrick was hit by a pitch and Michael Taylor walked to load the bases. Ryan Zimmerman stood in the on deck circle as a pinch hitter during the Taylor at bat. After Taylor walked Pedro Severino was announced to pinch hit for the pitcher. The day before Severino walked in all three of his at bats. He made it four in a row, Bautista scoring on the free pass to tie the game. With the bases loaded and no outs Kapler stacked the infield with five players, settling for only two outfielders. Difo took a pitch for a ball and then drove the next pitch up the gut in center to drive in the go ahead run.

Game Notes: Ryan Zimmerman indicates he should be healthy for the game Monday, but if he could not pinch hit in a crucial situation in today’s game myworld would be surprised to see Zimmerman play. His injuries tend to stretch out until it makes more sense to put him on the disabled list…Jorge Alfaro made back to back throws to second, gunning down both Andrew Stevenson and Michael Taylor at second base. His throw to second to get Stevenson was clocked at 88.2 miles per hour, the second fastest time for a throw to second. He holds the top spot with the hardest throw (90.1). Alfaro still has problems making contact, striking out three times today, all of them against Scherzer…After Howie Kendrick pinch hit for Stevenson it was Matt Adams who went out to left field and Howie Kendrick played first. Last year Howie played a number of games in left field…Scherzer became the first pitcher to strike out 15 hitters in 6.1 innings. If not for pitch counts he could have broken a record he shares with five other pitchers of 20 K’s in a nine inning game.

The Force is With the Phils; Breaks Nats Six Game Winning Streak

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

The Nationals celebrated Star Wars for their second game with the Phillies. The lineup looked more like the Syracuse Chiefs, with only Bryce Harper and the just returning from the disabled list Anthony Rendon the only starters. Wilmer Difo was at short, Howie Kendrick was at second, Matt Adams first and Andrew Stevenson and Rafael Bautista patrolled the outfield with Harper. Pedro Severino was behind the plate.

Vince Velasquez sliced through this overmatched offense, with only his inability to find the plate keeping his outing short. In four innings the only baserunners he allowed were his three walks and a hit batsman. He gave up his only hit to Wilmer Difo in the fifth, a ball he smoked into the Nationals bullpen in right field. Another walk in the inning put his pitch count at 92. The bullpen came on to finish the game in the sixth.

Tanner Roark got the start for the Nationals. Cesar Hernandez started the game with a bloop single to left field. Rhys Hoskins followed by blasting one into the third row of the centerfield red seats to give the Phillies an early 2-0 lead. Roark settled down after that.

In the sixth Carlos Santana hit a triple into the right field corner. Santana ran more like a 22 year old centerfield prospect than a 32 year old designated hitter playing first base. Maikel Franco drove him in lining a single to center. Tanner struck out the next two batters. He faced just two hitters in the seventh before being replaced by Sammy Solis.

The Nationals had an opportunity to score in the sixth off A.J. Ramos, with Andrew Stevenson slapping a single and Pedro Severino drawing his third walk of the game. Rafael Bautista topped a grounder to third toward the bag. Franco alertly stepped on the bag and rifled a throw to first to end the inning with a double play.

In the top of the ninth the Phillies loaded the bases with one out off Nationals rookie Wander Suero. Cesar Hernandez hit a hard grounder to the drawn in shortstop Wilmer Difo, who threw home to retire Nick Williams. Rhys Hoskins appeared to have jacked his second homer of the day, this one a grand slam, but Rafael Bautista was able to reach it just shy of the wall for the third out.

In the bottom frame pinch hitter Trea Turner led off the inning with a walk. He broke for second when pinch hitter Matt Wieters hit a high popup to second base. Turner claimed he did not hear the ball off the bat, slid into second. Pedro Florimon applied a tag to Turner even though he did not have the ball. Turner brushed himself off at second as Hernandez caught the popup and threw to second to double off the duped Turner.

Game Notes: Myworld was impressed with the defense of Maikel Franco at third. He caught two popups after long runs and also made a nice double play in the critical sixth inning to kill a Nationals rally…Myworld was also impressed with the speed of Carlos Santana on a triple into the right field corner. He looked more like a 22 year old centerfield prospect than a 32 year old firstbaseman…The game dragged on with 14 walks and nine hits. National pitchers combined to walk eight hitters. The lineup that appeared to resemble the Syracuse Chiefs was held to just two hits…Tanner Roark does not have the velocity he once had, the pitch sitting more at 90. His curveball is an excellent swing and miss pitch…Odubel Herrera got on base in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 34 games….Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch from the lineup with stiffness to his side.

Nats/Harper Erupt Early to Rip Phillies

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

The Nationals erupted for seven early runs off ex-Nats minor league pitcher Nick Pivetta to extend their winning streak to six games with a 7-3 victory over the Phillies. Bryce Harper led the game off with a homerun and added a two run shot in the second inning to support the early onslaught.

Nick Pivetta was traded to the Phillies in the Jonathan Papelbon deal. Last year he found himself in the Phillies rotation but was not yet ready for the challenge, finishing the season with a 6.02 ERA in 26 starts. This year has been better with the Phillies starting out strong four games over .500 and Pivetta coming into the game with an ERA under 4. It would not be under 4 when the game ended.

Bryce Harper led the game off popping a 2-1 pitch to the opposite field to lead the game off with a homerun in the left field bleachers. Back to back walks to Trea Turner and Matt Adams set up a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single. A bloop single by Matt Wieters into left field scored the third run of the inning.

The second inning did not get much better for Pivetta. He walked Wilmer Difo to lead off the inning. Bryce Harper then unloaded on his first pitch and sent it deep into the centerfield berm for a two run homer, 473 feet from home plate, his longest homerun measured by statcast. A Trea Turner single ended the day for Pivetta. Drew Hutchinson came on to face Matt Adams and he deposited the first pitch over the right field bullpen and into the second deck to give the Nationals a 7-0 lead.

Gio did not seem too sharp for this game. His control was erratic, walking two hitters in the first inning. A Wilmer Difo error loaded the bases but Gio was able to get out of it by getting Maikel Franco to ground out to Difo.

The defense played exceptional behind Gonzalez. Trea Turner made back to back defensive gems. In the third he robbed Cesar Hernandez of a hit ranging up the middle to snag a grounder, spinning 360 degrees to make a one hop throw to Zimmerman at first. Rhys Hoskins followed with a slow chopper past Gonzalez to the third base side of the mound. Turner made a bare hand pick up to throw Hoskins out at first. In the fourth Maikel Franco hit one deep towards the left field bullpen. The less than agile Matt Adams plodded to the fence, reached high in the air and may have taken a two run homer away from Franco.

The rains came in the bottom of the fourth, delaying the game for 40 minutes. Gio came out for one more inning to salvage a win to his totals. He gave up a two out double to Cesar Hernandez but finished keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard in his five innings of work.

Trevor Gott tried to make the game interesting in the sixth. Matt Wieters seemed to notice an injury to Gott while he was pitching and motioned to the dugout. It appeared Gott turned his ankle landing on the wet mound. Gott gave up a cheap single to Aaron Altherr on a slow roller that hugged the third base line. There was nothing cheap about Carlos Santana mashing a ball into Bryce Harper territory into the centerfield berm. Maikel Franco followed with a high drive deep into the left field bleachers to make the score 7-3. Gott was replaced by Wander Suero and Nationals fans grew uneasy.

Suero pitched well retiring all five hitters he faced. His fastball sits at 90-91 but the Phillies were prevented from making consistent hard contact off him. Ryan Madson worked the eighth and Brandon Kintzler was called on for the ninth to secure the 7-3 victory.

The Nationals managed just two hits after the second inning.

Game Notes: It was Max Scherzer bobblehead night. Despite how well the Phillies are playing and with a bobblehead distribution there were only 35,000 in attendance. Phillie fans may wait for the Saturday and Sunday games to take the train to D.C….Jorge Alfaro had a rough night striking out three times. He swings and misses at some pretty bad pitches, which could explain why his average sits at .222…The two homeruns give Harper 12 for the year and four since moving to the leadoff spot. The 12 homeruns leads the National League. Pretty good for a leadoff hitter…Anthony Rendon will be available to play third base today, knocking either Wilmer Difo or Howie Kendrick out of the lineup…It was the shortest outing of Nick Pivatta’s career. In his last two starts he is 0-2 with a 15.00 ERA with six walks in six innings…A Odubel Herrera single in the 8th inning extended his on base streak to 33 games. It is the longest on base streak for the Phils since Darin Ruff had a 33 game on base streak in 2012/2013. Ruff is now playing in Korea.

Top Prospects from South America

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

No major league graduates from the first top prospect list from South America last year. The top prospect Jorge Alfaro got more major league time and the 2018 season should see him as a regular major leaguer. The number two prospect Luz Gohara and the number five prospect Thyago Vieira, both flame throwers from Brazil made their major league debuts. Gohara got five starts for the Braves while Vieira made one relief appearance for the Mariners. After that the cupboard gets bare. Below are the top ten prospects in the minor leagues from South America for 2018.

1. Bo Bichette SS (Brazil/Blue Jays) - He played for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. His mother is Brazilian and his father is Dante Bichette, once a Blake Street bomber for the Rockies. His brother Dante Jr. played briefly for the Yankees. Myworld saw him hit three homeruns in an exhibition game and thought he would be a star, but one game does not make a major leaguer, especially in spring training. Now Bo is trying for major league status. Last year was a breakout season for him hitting .384 in Low A and getting promoted to High A and hitting .323. His career minor league average is .372 after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. He does not have the power of his dad, but the batting average will play. Currently, shortstop is his position but there are many who think he does not have the range to play there in the major leagues. The dilemma: his teammate Vladimir Guerrero plays third while another player with major league bloodlines Cavan Biggio plays second. This year Bo is hitting .299 in AA. With Troy Tulowitski seeing his last days as a shortstop the Blue Jays will give Bo every opportunity to succeed at short.

2. Jorge Alfaro C (Colombia/Phillies) - Injuries delayed his permanent arrival to the major leagues. He was signed by the Texas Rangers and included in the deal that got the Rangers Cole Hamel. There is big time power in his bat and his arm has the strength to zip the ball to second base. Those are his strengths. One concern with his bat is his poor walk to whiff ratios (16/113 last year) which could lead to struggles against savvy major league pitchers. Last year he hit .318 with five homeruns in just 29 games to earn the starting catchers job. He lacks speed on the bases and is prone to the passed ball (12 last year), so those are his defensive deficiencies. This year his .235 average with the Phillies is evidence his poor patience could impact his batting average rising to .250 consistently in the major leagues. If the power is there he should stick as the starter.

3. Luiz Gohara LHP (Brazil/Braves) - Despite his ability to throw in triple digits the Mariners traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. There was concern with his doughy physique keeping him from his major league aspirations. Last year he got five starts for the Braves and overpowered hitters with his high 90s fastball. A lack of a quality third pitch resulted in major leaguers hitting him at a .283 clip. An injury in spring training prevented him from competing for a starting role for the Braves in 2018. His first three starts in AAA have been a struggle to find the plate walking seven hitters in just 12 innings with the opposition assaulting him at a .347 pace. That kind of production will delay any major league appearance until he can start retiring minor league hitters.

4. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Peru/Athletics) - Luzardo was born in Peru but attended high school in Florida. His high school Parkland was involved in a mass shooting and he has done a lot to help the school heal. The Nationals were able to draft him in the third round in 2016 because Tommy John surgery had dropped his draft status. He was one of the players they traded to the Athletics for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Last year he only pitched 43 innings but his lefthanded arm was able to sling fastballs across the plate in the mid-90s, resulting in 48 whiffs. At 6′1″ he is not a tall pitcher but his secondary pitches should augment his fastball. The Athletics promoted him from Rookie ball to High A where he only started three games before they promoted him to AA. A 1.23 ERA and 25 whiffs in just 14.2 innings was a reason for that. If he continues at this rate he could see some major league time in September, though that would be optimistic for the 20 year old.

5. Eric Pardinho RHP (Brazil/Blue Jays) - As a 15 year old he was pitching for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. That motivated the Blue Jays to shell out $1.4 million to sign him in 2017. It’s possible Bo Bichette could have recommended him highly after playing behind him. At 5′9″ the righthander is very short. Despite the stature his fastball sits in the low 90s and can hit the mid-90s. He still needs to make improvements on his secondary pitches, though throwing strikes is not a problem. The 2018 season will be his first and it will start in the short season leagues.

6. Luis Escobar RHP (Colombia/Pirates) - Luis has climbed three spots from his ranking last year. The 2017 season was his first in full season ball where he went from 68 innings pitched to 132. A sizzling mid-90s fastball resulted in a lot of swings and misses (168 in 132 innings pitched) resulting in the South Atlantic League strikeout lead. His curveball has a nice break and his change is still in the development stage. Trying to find control of his pitches is his biggest downfall with 60 walks in 132 innings. This year he has started in the Florida State High A where his strikeout rate is not as prevalent (22 in 26 innings) but hitters still have trouble making hard contact (.213 average).

7. Meibrys Viloria C (Colombia/Royals) - Last year he was rated third based on his .376 batting average. The 2017 season saw him debut in Low A where he only hit .259. More strikeouts and less walks were the main culprit in the batting average drop. His power is more gap to gap but as he gets stronger he should reach double digits in homeruns. The arm is strong allowing him to gun down 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him. The Royals have a number of catchers in the minor leagues rated ahead of him so his task will be to find that patience to replicate his 2016 season. After a slow start in High A he has gotten that average up to .250.

8. Oscar Mercado OF (Colombia/Cardinals) - Mercado was five years shy of being a teenager when he left Colombia for Florida. He was impressive enough at his high school the Cardinals drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft. While a shortstop in his early years he struggled to generate any kind of offense. A move to centerfield last year put the pressure off him and he slugged a career high 13 homeruns with a .287 average. The speed is there to steal 40 bases each season. The Cardinals outfield is crowded but a .319 average in AAA is enough to draw attention to himself. If he can play centerfield and hit for double digits in homeruns he will be more than a fourth outfielder.

9. Thyago Vieira RHP (Brazil/White Sox) - The Mariners signed Thyago two years before they signed Luiz. But like Luiz they were not impressed with his triple digit fastball and traded him to the White Sox for international slot money when they had hopes of signing Shohei Ohtani. Lack of quality secondary pitches have kept him in the bullpen. He also lacks the swing and miss one would expect for his triple digit fastball (7.4 whiffs per nine innings). If he can find a breaking pitch to throw for strikes he could become closer material. His 2018 season in AAA has come with more whiffs (20 in 11 innings) but more walks (9) and a higher opponent batting average (.295).

10. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Colombia/Rays) - The third catcher from Colombia on this list. Myworld smells a trend. Ronaldo played on the 18 and under Colombian team as a 15 year old in 2013. The Rays signed him the next year for $225,000. All he has done since his arrival is hit, with a .326 minor league career average in his first three years, all in Rookie short season ball. Each year his slugging average increased, climbing to .507 last year. A strong arm resulted in a 57 percent success rate against runners trying to steal against him. This year he has made his debut in full season ball and is hitting .302 with a 17 percent success rate in gunning down runners. It is still early so there is plenty of time to change those numbers.

2017 South American Prospects

Predictions - NL East

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

The last division prediction for my world.

1. Washington Nationals

Overall - This is not as strong a team as last year but they have no competition for the NL East. As they have been prone to do throughout the years with this roster, winning a playoff series will be a challenge.

Strengths - 1) Two aces. They may be the only team with a legitimate ace 1A and ace 1B in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Scherzer has been more durable, limiting right handed bats to a .137 average. The duo is good for 30 wins if both stay healthy. After those two the rotation gets dicey. Don’t expect a repeat year from Gio Gonzalez.
2) RF. Perhaps everyone expected too much from Bryce Harper. He has fallen short of Mike Trout in production and staying healthy has been an issue with his all out play. He is one of the best right fielders in the game when he is in the lineup with a .595 slugging percentage. If he can play 150 plus games expect MVP consideration.
3) Infield. When everything is clicking this is the best infield in baseball. Anthony Rendon is one of the more consistent performers in the lineup. Last year he was second to Ryan Zimmerman in RBIs with 100. Trea Turner at short can steal bases (46) but also hit for pop. Last year was a down year for him as he battled injuries. Daniel Murphy will miss the first month of the season but he is usually good for 20 plus homeruns and his .322 average was second in the National League. Staying healthy has always been a challenge for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Last year he stayed healthy and hit .303 with 36 homeruns and 108 RBIs. Despite that production he got no consideration in the MVP voting.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. Matt Wieters had an off year hitting .225. His defense is not that strong to rely on weak production with his offense. He does work with pitchers well.

Top Rookie - We suspect Erick Fedde will get more opportunities in the starting rotation than Victor Robles in the outfield.

Top Prospect - The five tool player may have to wait until next year to show his stuff. The Nationals expect him to replace Bryce Harper if they can’t resign Bryce.

Expected Finish - First place, but winning a playoff series is probably not in the cards. The Nationals are still winless in their three playoff series.

2. New York Mets

Overall - The Mets were plagued with a number of injuries last year, which torpedoed their assault on the playoff race. They hope to avoid those injuries this year.

Strengths - 1) Starting Pitching. Two years ago this rotation was anticipated to be the rotation of the ages. Injuries prevented that from happening last year. Noah Syndergaard is healthy and will be the ace of the staff. Last year he was limited to 7 starts. Jacob DeGrom was the only starter to start over 30 games last year but his 28 homeruns put his ERA at 3.53. He needs to keep more balls in the park. Steven Matz may never have a completely healthy year but the Mets are hoping to get 20 plus starts and get that ERA (6.08) dropped by at least 2.5 runs. Matt Harvey looked good in the spring but like Matz he was very hittable last year (6.70 ERA). If these four can’t find their mojo the Mets have no chance to compete.
2) Outfield. When healthy it can be one of the best in the National League. Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto each have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns each. Staying healthy has been an issue. Michael Conforto will start the season on the disabled list. That will help out the defense in centerfield, but the offense will be restricted. Yoenis Cespedes has not stayed healthy in his two years in the major leagues.

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Adrian Gonzalez has seen his best years. The Mets may be better off using Jay Bruce at first base to improve their outfield defense, allowing Conforto to play a corner.
2) Catcher. Travis d’Arnaud is another player with health issues. Last year he did catch 93 games, hitting 16 homeruns. The Mets will take that kind of production but relying on d’Arnaud to stay in the lineup has been a Tulowitski like challenge.

Top Rookie - If the Mets continue to have problems with the health of their starting pitchers Marcus Molina could get a number of opportunities to start. He is not overpowering, but he has command and a plus slider.

Top Prospect - No clear favorite here, but most seem to think Andres Gimenez is the Mets top prospect. His glove is gold glove, but it may have to move from shortstop to second base because Amed Rosario may be entrenched at short when Gimenez is ready to contribute. Gimenez lacks power but he is a contact hitter with the ability to hit .300 or greater.

Expected Finish - Second Place, but they fail to avoid injuries and miss out on the wild card.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Overall - Their prospects are being filtered into the lineup. The team also signed a couple of veteran free agents to fill leadership roles to the offense and the rotation. It may take another year before the Phillies see the roots of their rebuilding process take growth.

Strengths - 1) First Base/Left Field - They should get a lot of offense from Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. Myworld does not feel Hoskins will hit 54 homeruns in 2018 if he plays 150 games as would his projection from last year. The duo should combine for 60 plus homeruns next year. Their defense will also be less than stellar.
2) Catcher. Jorge Alfaro will finally get his opportunity. Health has delayed his major league career. He should provide 20 plus homerun pop and more consistent hitting than their catching corp last year.
3) Utility. Scott Kingery could play a number of different positions in 2018. The Phillies could use him like the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez, sticking him out at second, third and left field. He has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns if he can play 120 plus games.

Weaknesses - 1) Defense - This will not be a strong team defensively. To get all the productive bats in the lineup they may be forced to put square pegs in round holes filling out the positions.
2) Closer. Hector Neris had trouble retiring lefthanders. He also allowed too many balls to leave the park (9), but was still able to string together 26 saves.
3) Starting Pitching. They were able to sign Jake Arrieta to a free agent contract, but he struggled last year. Aaron Nola had a strong year but with Jake taking over the number one role that would take the pressure off Nola. The Phillies are hoping that the young pitchers who follow them will have more productive years than last year (Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively).

Top Rookie - J.P. Crawford will get the starting nod at short. His bat may not produce enough to get considered for Rookie of the Year. Myworld expects Scott Kingery to have the more productive bat as he plays multiple positions and vies for the top rookie.

Top Prospect - J.P. Crawford is considered the top prospect but his bat has disappointed the last two years, despite having the tools to be able to hit.

Expected Finish - Third place, but if their pitching surprises they could sneak into the playoff race.

4. Atlanta Braves

Overall - Their rebuilding process took a hit when they were forced to release a number of prospects for violating the international cap. They need to sort out the pitchers that will take them to the playoff race.

Strengths - 1) First base. Got to feel sorry for Freddie Freeman to have to battle through this rebuilding process. He hit .307 with 28 homeruns despite being limited to 117 games last year.
2) Talented Youth. You don’t know when prospects with impressive tools like Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies break out. Also the pitching staff will trout out a number of young arms to the mound in Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka, Max Fried and A.J. Minter. Not all these players will succeed but the Braves are hoping three or four will have impact years.

Weaknesses - 1) Left Field. There is a black hole there now. When Ronald Acuna fulfills his minor league time for the month of April he should take over the position. It may take some time before he produces.
2) Third Base. Austin Riley is the future here, but young Rio Ruiz will try to hold down the position until Johan Camargo gets healthy. Ruiz hit .193 last year in limited playing time. Camargo lacks the power one expects from this position.
3) Closer. Arodys Vizcaino has never permanently claimed the closer role despite being the expected closer for the last three years. One of the younger pitchers with lots of stuff like Gohara may be better suited for the role.

Top Rookie - Ronald Acuna will take over the left field job in May and battle for the rookie of the year award.

Top Prospect - Acuna, but after him it would be a any one of the pitchers mentioned to fill the starting rotation.

Expected Finish - Still a year or two away. Fourth Place finish is the best they can hope for.

5. Miami Marlins

Overall - New ownership same results. Marlins fans will have to sit through another rebuild. Trading away the best outfield in baseball had to be like breaking up with your girlfriend not because you wanted to but because you had to.

Strengths - 1) Youth. They will be starting a number of talented rookies in Lewis Brinson, Brian Anderson and Magneuris Sierra. Watching them grow and become stars is better than watching a bunch of veterans stumble into last place.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. J.T. Realmuto is starting the season on the DL. He also has requested to be traded. Without him they will have a couple backups in Tom Tellis and Chad Wallach man this position.
2) Shortstop. J.T. Riddle and Mel Rojas are just place setters for a player to be drafted later. This will be a tough position to stock with Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter overseeing the process.
3) Outfield. It will be tough to replace Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. They will lose 60 homeruns at that position.
4) Starting Pitching. This is where they will really get beat up with a handful of journeyman filling the position until their young arms are ready. No sense in using up service time for a last place finish.

Top Rookie - Lewis Brinson will take over the centerfield job. There will be some hiccups in his play, but when the season is done he will hit around .270 with 20 plus homeruns and compete with Ronald Acuna for the National League rookie of the year award. Brian Anderson is also a potent bat who could make some waves with his production.

Top Prospect - Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman are two young pitchers they acquired who throw the ball hard. Don’t expect them to pitch until the 2019 season.

Expected Finish - They will battle for the top pick in the 2019 draft.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Victor Arano and Giovanny Gallegos are the two pitchers from the list last year that saw some brief major league time. Julio Urias and Daniel Castro made it from the 2016 list but a shoulder injury has sidelined Julio’s progress with the Dodgers and pedestrian talent has prevented Castro from continuing his major league stay. There was a repeat number one and five of the ten players on this list were repeats. Dropping off the list were Francisco Rios, Jose Cardona, Jose Luis Hernandez, Fernando Perez and Christian Villanueva. This is not a list filled with top prospects. Only Luis Urias has a significant shot at seeing full time major league time.

1. Luis Urias (Padres) 2B/SS - He started as a second baseman but the Padres have given him time at short. His future position may be second base but the arm is strong enough to play short and the range is there. It just would not be super elite for the position. The bat is the prize here, making contact and walking more than striking out, a trait not shared by many. He also peppers the gaps with line drives, with the capability of staying in the .300 neighborhood. There is very little power in his swing and not a lot of speed in his legs, but he would be a perfect two hole hitter. Luis could be ready to see major league time by mid-season, but the 2018 season will see him start in AAA. His career minor league average is .310.

2. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) SS/2B - Paredes was acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade. The Cubs signed Paredes out of Mexico in 2015. Isaac is another contact hitter who may lack the speed and build to stay at short. He does have a little power in his bat so a move to second or third could provide a team with an offensive second baseman or a defensive third baseman with decent power. He struggled a little bit in Low A (.217) after being traded by the Cubs. Still a teenager the Tigers could keep him at Low A to get his feet wet or challenge him with a promotion to High A where he would be considered one of the younger players in the league.

3. Jose Albertos (Cubs) RHP - Pitchers from Mexico usually are not hard throwers. The Cubs spent $1.5 million on Albertos because he can zing his fastball across the plate in the high 90s but generally sits on the higher side of the low 90s to the mid-90s. Like most pitchers from Mexico, they learn the change and Jose has a good one, making the fastball appear to have that much more velocity. A third pitch needs to be perfected for him to slide into the rotation, otherwise he may be best suited for the bullpen. Last year he pitched in the rookie leagues and did well. His career opposition batting average since signing is .176 and he strikes out 10.5 hitters per nine innings. Next year will be his big test when he starts a full season league.

4. Andres Munoz (Padres) RHP - The first new player on this list. The Padres paid out a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz away from the Mexico City team. Since his signing his fastball has increased from the low 90s to sitting in the high 90s to hitting triple digits. All of his work has been out of the bullpen where he does not need to hold back. Finding the plate has been a struggle walking just over six hitters per nine innings. Also, he pitches out of the bullpen because he only has a fastball/slider combination. Those limitations will keep him in the bullpen as he rises through the ranks. Last year he got three appearances at Low A. That is where he should start the 2018 season. If the Padres want to see him develop more pitches and improve his control they could move him into a starter’s role, but myworld does not see that happening this year.

5. Victor Arano (Phillies) RHP - Victor is one of two pitchers from the list last year who saw major league time. After 2015 all of his time has been spent in the bullpen where he can unleash his fastball in the mid-90s. His slider may be his best pitch, the one he uses to retire hitters. While his numbers at AA Reading were not awe inspiring (4.19 ERA) the Phillies still promoted him to their major league club. He did well, limiting the opposition to a .158 average and striking out 11 hitters per nine innings. With a good spring his strong major league performance could give him a shot to start the season with the major league club, or ride that roller coaster, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the Phillies.

6. Tirso Orneles (Padres) OF - The Padres have always talked about expanding their roster to include more players from Mexico, attracting fans from Tijuana to attend their games. Tirso is a player they signed for $1.5 million from the Mexico City club. Urias and Munoz are two other players the Padres have signed out of Mexico City. At 6′4″ Tirso has the ability to generate power in his bat, banging three homeruns last year in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17 year old. His lack of speed will keep him in the corner but his arm is a fit for right. The 2018 season should see him with another season in the Rookie League unless the Padres really want to challenge him.

7. Hector Velasquez (Red Sox) RHP - The Red Sox signed Hector after the 2016 season from Campeche after he won pitcher of the year honors for the second time. Like many pitchers from Mexico, his fastball is not overpowering. He relies more on his command of pitches and his secondary stuff to retire hitters. At 28 years of age the Red Sox started him at AAA where he limited the opposition to a .213 average. This led to a promotion to the Red Sox where he held his own with three starts and five relief appearances (2.92 ERA). With a good spring he could fill the back end of the rotation, but more likely he will start the season in AAA and will be called upon when needed, adding depth to the rotation.

8. Javier Assad (Cubs) RHP - The Cubs do a good job of signing players out of Mexico. Assad was signed in 2015 for $150,000. Assad has a large frame (200 pounds) so he needs to watch his weight. Not an overpowering pitcher he relies more on command and an assortment of pitches to throw at hitters to keep them off balance. A .275 opposition average is evidence that hitters can make hard contact against him if his command is off. The 2018 season will be his first in a full season league. His best bet is to fit in the back of a rotation or fill the middle of a bullpen.

9. Victor Ruiz (Reds) C - Victor was a third baseman for the Tijuana team but the Reds signed him in 2016 and moved him to catcher. His arm is strong for the position but last year he struggled throwing runners out with a 19 percent success rate. While there is some pop in his bat he failed to hit a homerun in his 78 at bats in the rookie league. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate with a 1/22 walk to whiff ratio leading to a .250 OBA. At 18 years old entering the 2018 season he will be a major work in progress. Expect him to stay in the Rookie League to continue to improve on his catching craft.

10. Giovanny Gallegos RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Giovanny in 2011, a year after signing Manny Banuelos. His stuff is not as good as Manny but his arm has survived to allow him to continue his major league pursuit, while Manny has transformed into a journeyman. A mid-90s fastball limited AAA hitters to a .180 average and 14.33 whiffs per nine innings. This got him a promotion to the Yankees where the hitters feasted on his lack of quality secondary pitches to hit him at a .263 pace. The 2018 season could see him rotate back and forth between the Yankees and AAA, but carrying only a fastball will leave him at the back end of the bullpen, unless he can perfect a second pitch to complement his fastball.

Prospects Impressing in Spring

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Below are some of the top prospects impressing in spring. This may not lead to a trip with the major league club in April, but it has opened the eyes of major league managers when they have a need for a player. Also, much of their production may be coming against similar minor league prospects. Myworld does know that Tim Tebow struck out on three pitches against Max Scherzer. He would be a tough assignment for any prospect.

Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He hit his first homerun of the spring yesterday and is hitting .429. The trade of Matt Kemp certainly created a nice hole in left field for Acuna but there are still a few free agent outfielders to sign.

Ryan McMahon Utility (Rockies) - Ryan is hitting .409 with one homerun, strafing the gaps with three doubles. The Rockies may not have room for him at first base but could use him in a utility role if they think they could give him the at bats.

Willie Calhoun LF (Rangers) - His defense may be short but his bat is hitting .389 with one homerun. The Rangers left field spot is open for him to win.

Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - Still a little young to see time with the Padres in 2018 but he is hitting .381 with one homerun and 8 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases in three attempts.

Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - He may not be hitting for a high average (.294) but his .882 slugging percentage is enhanced by two triples and two homeruns. He has scored more times (6) than he has hits (5).

Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - After hitting four early in the spring his homerun pace has slowed. He is still hitting .429 with a 1.579 OPS.

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Maikel Franco is not hitting so perhaps the Phillies will try Kingery at third. He has blasted three homeruns with a .389 average and a .944 slugging percentage

Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His homer pace has slowed after hitting three early in the spring but a .333 average and 8 RBIs would be nice production if the Astros are in need of an outfielder.

Luis Arias SS (Padres) - Five of his seven hits have been doubles, creating a .538 average. As he has done in his minor league career he has more walks (4) than whiffs (2).

Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) - Luis is gunning for the Marlins centerfield position with a .400 average. Four of his six hits have been doubles but he has also struck out five times in 15 at bats.

Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy is another Marlins acquisition they would like to see perform. He has pitched in two games with one start and worked five innings for a 1.80 ERA. Only three whiffs but a .235 opposition average and no walks.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - He has been getting innings (6.2) with three relief appearances and seven whiffs. The opposition has struggled with a .190 average but a 4.05 ERA could keep him in AAA.

Chih-Wei Hu RHP (Rays) - Hu has pitched three perfect innings in his two appearances. The Rays could use him in their bullpen.

A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - One start and one relief appearances has given him five innings where he has only allowed one hit, an unearned run and struck out four.

David Paulino RHP (Astros) - David is gunning for the Astors bullpen with his two relief appearances with five whiffs in 4.2 innings. He has only allowed one hit but walked two.