Archive for the 'Marlins' Category

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.

Nationals Remain a Magnet to .500

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

At this point in the season a team should recognize they are what they are. You can blame injuries, poor years, bad bullpens, whatever. As you head into September you are either a good team as reflected by your won loss record, an average team or a poor team. The Nationals are an average team. They can not escape .500.

Even the infusion of youth could not light a fire under these group of veterans. Juan Soto has had one of the more phenomenal rookie seasons in baseball, but even this has not been able to get the Nationals past .500. They have even had team meetings once they creeped a couple games below .500 but two weeks later they remain at .500. They are what they are.

A 7-5 loss to the poor Miami Marlins put them at 62-62. A porous bullpen was again the cause of the loss. Koda Glover, the newest National closer since Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson are now on the disabled list had trouble finding outs in the tenth inning. With runners on first and third and two outs the Nationals chose to walk J.T. Riddle intentionally to load the bases to face Isaac Galloway.

Riddle had been riddling the Nationals pitching staff all night with a double, single and homerun in four at bats, driving in four of the five Marlins runs. You can’t fault them for choosing to walk Riddle. Unfortunately, the walk put the pressure on Glover to throw strikes. He got behind in the count 2-0, was forced to throw a meat ball to Galloway and Isaac ripped the ball into center for a two run single. Bryce Harper tried to charge the ball to make the throw home but the ball hit off his glove and prevented any play on the second runner coming home.

It was not a bad night for National starter Jefry Rodrigiuz. He gave up a solo homerun to Derek Dietrich to lead off the second and J.T. Riddle laced one into the right centerfield gap in the fifth inning to score Austin Dean to make it 2-2. In the sixth he gave up two singles to J.T. Realmuto and Brian Anderson to start the inning. Dave Martinez has been careful with not letting Rodriguez face a lineup a third time but with Rodriguez pitching so well and the bullpen shaky he extended his outing.

Tim Collins came on and struck out the lefthanded hitter Dietrich. Jimmy Cordero came on after that, a tough spot to place on the rookie. Coming into the season he was not considered one of the Nationals top prospects but was having a good season at AAA with a 1.96 ERA in 41 games. He also throws hard, hitting the high 90s with his fastball. The Nationals acquired Cordero from the Phillies last year for a playerd to be named later, but later in the season put him on waivers. No other team picked him up leaving him a National for next season.

Cordero appeared to be out of the inning when Starlin Castro hit a hard ground ball to Daniel Murphy. A tailor made double play ball. The ball clanked off Murphy’s glove and everyone was safe, loading the bases. Cordero struck out Austin Dean for the second out. J.T. Riddle ripped a hard line drive over the head of Murphy for a single to drive in two. One could argue a better fielding, more flexible second baseman could have caught the liner, but that is all conjecture. Even Murphy admitted he did not play the line drive well.

The Nationals had difficulty hitting Wei-Yin Chen. Trea Turner clubbed a two run drive in the second to give the Nationals an early 2-1 lead. Jefry Rodriguez helped his cause by driving a single prior to the Turner at bat. That was all the Nationals could muster against Chen. He lasted 5.2 innings and the Nationals could only touch him for five hits.

Down 4-2 in the seventh the Nationals rallied for a couple. Daniel Murphy started the inning off with a single to left center. Adam Eaton pinch hit for Michael Taylor and hit a slow roller to third baseman Brian Anderson, who let the ball roll underneath his glove. The scorer generously gave Eaton a hit. Matt Wieters was hit on the foot with a pitch, a call the Nationals had to challenge to get the hit by pitch ruling. With the bases loaded and no outs Tayron Guerrero bounced one past the catcher for a wild pitch to score one. Adams popped out to shortstop for the first out. Trea Turner blooped a pitch to centerfield. Galloway just missed making a diving catch, Eaton scoring on the hit but Wieters stopping at third. The potential rookie of the year came up to win the game. The crowd was hopeful. But it was not to be. Soto grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and keep the score tied.

J.T. Riddle began the top of the ninth with a homerun off Justin Miller over the Nationals bullpen into the second deck. Adam Eaton led off the bottom of the ninth with a blast into the right field bleachers off Drew Streckenrider, sprinting around the bases as if his hair was on fire.

The Nationals bullpen was spent. Glover came out to hold the lead in the tenth but failed. After making two comebacks the Nationals three hitters could not get the ball out of the infield, all three grounding out to end the game. The magnet had brought them back to .500.

Game Notes: The Marlins had an outfield loaded with AAA players. Rafael Ortega was in right field, Austin Dean played left, Isaac Galloway was in center. Even Brian Anderson, their third baseman was in the minors last year, but he has been playing with the team all season this year…Myworld did not like how Bryce Harper walked after a loose ball sitting in foul territory in right field in the second inning. He picked the ball up, flipped it to the fans in right field then casually walked back to his position while everyone waited. At least do a slow jog. It was as if he had no energy…For J.T. Riddle the four RBIs in a game tied his career high. If not for the intentional walk in the tenth he could have surpassed it. He was also a triple short of hitting for the cycle…Wei-Yin Chen entered this game with a road ERA of 10.27. Perhaps because D.C. is so close to Baltimore, where he started his major league career he did not consider this a road game…The Marlins bullpen lacks veteran presence but they still pitched well. Brett Graves picked up his first career save. Drew Rucinski, Tayron Guerrero, Adam Conley and Drew Streckenrider all came out of the pen for the Marlins.

Myworlds Top Centerfield Prospects

Monday, July 30th, 2018

These are the shortstops of the outfield. They usually have burner’s speed. Ideally it would be nice to have a productive bat but defensively they need to stop the runs. Ideally, these players would be five toolers with the arm to throw and the legs to steal bases. Power is probably the last thing you need from the centerfielder.

Mike Trout started his major league career as a left fielder, deferring to the defensively superior Peter Bourjos. Bourjos struggled with the bat and Trout was moved to centerfield while Bourjos became a bench player. Sometimes teams will stick with the veteran (Andrew McCutchen) even though the rookie (Starling Marte) is the better defensive centerfielder.

Myworld did not include any of the players we named as left fielders or right fielders, or at least we hope we did not include them. Some of those corner outfielders could still pan out as centerfielders depending on how the roster shakes out.

1. Victor Robles (Nationals) - At one time he was considered a better prospect than Juan Soto. The success Soto has had in the major leagues has moved him to the second best Nationals outfield prospect, but still one of the top ten in the minors. An elbow injury early in the 2018 season sidelined him for much of the year but he has recently returned to AAA. He has all five tools. If not for his injury he would have been called up before Soto. Last year he made his major league debut but hit only .250. This year he has been showing some impressive discipline at the plate, walking 11 times to just 8 strikeouts. Victor should see some time with the Nationals in September. If Bryce Harper leaves as a free agent Robles could fight for the centerfield job with Michael Taylor.

2. Jo Adell (Angels) - Jo was a first round pick of the Angels in 2017. While he only played half a season he still displayed all five tools. His defense is top notch in center, his bat can hit for power and average and his legs can steal bases and cover a lot of real estate in center. He won’t be a prolific basestealer since he will eventually fit in the middle of the order. This year he is hitting .296 with a .557 slugging average. The Angels would like to see some improvement on his 14/60 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to reach AA before the season is done and find himself in the Angels lineup sometime before the 2019 season is complete. It will be interesting if he moves Trout from centerfield or if Adell is the player who is forced to move to one of the corners.

3. Jesus Sanchez (Rays) - Jesus is another five tool player. His power began to show last year when he hit 15 homeruns in Low A. This year he has already deposited 10 balls into the bleachers. Jesus has the speed to cover ground in center, but he does not steal a lot of bases (six this year to put his career total at 23). His career minor league slugging percentage is .492, but this year he sits at .472. He is probably still a couple years away from competing for the Rays center field job.

4. Leody Taveras (Rangers) - The Dominican has already reached High A at 19 years of age. This is already his third year in the minor leagues. Leody possesses all five tools but his batting average and power have yet to appear in High A. His slugging percentage is only .317. Perhaps the Rangers have been too aggressive with him. Last year in a full season at Low A he hit .249. He needs to improve his ability to make solid contact, though his strikeout rate is not high (71 in 98 games). Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep him in High A to begin the 2019 season. A lot will depend on his ability to finish out the 2018 season.

5. Esteven Florial (Yankees) - Last year Estevan had a break out season hitting .298 with 13 homeruns and 23 stolen bases. He finished the season with an impressive .850 OPS. A promotion to High A has seen him revert to the struggles he had prior to the 2017 season with a .247 average and 56 whiffs in 46 games. He is only slugging .343 which is more than 100 points below his career average. The Florida State League has some large parks so perhaps he is having some struggles coping. In rehab assignments at the Gulf Coast League he is hitting over .500 in 31 at bats against pitchers that match his 20 years of age.

6. Christian Pache (Braves) - Pache covers a lot of territory in center field. In his first two seasons covering close to 700 at bats he had yet to see a ball carry over the fence. His batting averages have been solid (.290) but his slugging has been weak (.358). This year he has found his homerun swing with 8 without sacrificing his average (.287). He makes decent contact but the Braves would like to see him walk more to raise his .311 OBP. The Dominican is probably still a couple years away from patrolling center field but Ronald Acuna could force him to find another position. Christian has more speed but Acuna has a stronger arm.

7. Jeren Kendall (Dodgers) - Myworld is not enamored with his strikeout totals. Last year he struck out 45 times in 40 games, but in college he also had the propensity to whiff. If he can improve his contact rate he has the speed and defensive tools to win gold gloves. The Dodgers currently lack a true centerfielder but Jeren may still be a couple years away. This year he is showing some power with 10 homeruns, but his propensity to swing and miss (117 whiffs in 85 games) keeps his batting average low (.223). A first round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017 the Dodgers were hoping Kendall would acclimate to the minor league pitching quicker than he has so far. His speed could make him a 20/20 player once he reaches the major leagues.

8. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players sent to the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. The Brewers outfield situation was crowded and Monte struggled with his bat early in his minor league career. Last year he broke out with his power hitting 21 homeruns split between Low and High A. The Marlins promoted him to AA and his power is still there (13 homeruns) but his average has struggled (.233). He has regressed in his ability to make contact with a worrisome 166 whiffs in just 104 games. His speed combined with his power will make him a 20/20 major leaguer but he needs to improve his ability to make contact if he wants to see a major league outfield. Lewis Brinson has been playing centerfield for the Marlins but he has had difficulty generating offense.

9. Khalil Lee (Royals) - A local boy (Flint High School) who was drafted by the Royals in the third round in 2016. He is a five tool player that can handle all three outfield positions but the Royals would prefer he play center. As a high school draftee the Royals have been aggressive with his promotion. This year he went from High A to AA where he has combined for a .253 average with six homeruns. His patience at the plate is good with 48 walks in just 71 games at High A. Khalil still has a couple years to play in the minors before the Royals need to put him on the 40 man roster so expect him not to arrive until 2020.

10. Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Last year the Athletics gave Jorge a lot of centerfield time. This year all his time has been at shortstop or second base. We see those two positions blocked for the immediate future and Jorge is ready to get his major league opportunity now. He is not the prolific base stealer he was in 2015 when he stole 81 bases. Last year he found his happy feet with 52 stolen bases, but this year he has slowed again with only 18 in 28 attempts. Jorge shows some sneaky power with 12 homeruns last year, but this year the bat has been quiet. His .236 average and .285 OBA will not get him promoted in 2018 but we still like the potential for Mateo to make an impact in the major leagues. His speed is indicative of the 31 triples he has hit in the last two seasons.

Myworld’s Top Right Field Prospects

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Our last prospect post we did the top left field prospects. We forgot to include Eloy Jimenez in that list, saving him for the right field prospect list until we realized he will be more a leftfielder when he hits the major leagues. The right fielders tend to have the strong arms and the big bats. Eloy lacks the strong arm to play right. Below are the top right field prospects in the minor leagues, including 11 here. Next myworld will name the centerfielders and then the right handed and left handed pitchers.

1. Eloy Jimenez (White Sox) - What always fools me about Eloy is his 6′4″ height, which seems to be perfect for right fielders in this day and age. Unfortunately, the Dominican lacks the arm and the speed to play right so he is best suited for left. Since I did not include him among the leftfielders myworld will list 11 right fielders on this list. Most of his games this year have been in left field, but he has gotten some time in right. Because of his bat Eloy would rank at the top of either the leftfield or rightfield list. He will hit for power and average. At AAA Charlotte he is hitting .351 with a 1.022 OPS in 20 games. His .317 average with 10 homeruns in 50 plus games at AA got him promoted to AAA. Injuries have been the only issue stopping Eloy from being a superstar player. Expect him to get a September callup if he can stay healthy when September comes.

2. Kyle Tucker (Astros) - The younger brother of Preston was a first round pick of the Astros in 2015. Most of his time with the Astros has been in leftfield because that is the current positional opening for the Astros. In the minors he has been primarily a right fielder. His arm and speed are average making centerfield an emergency option. Despite his lack of burner speed he was able to steal 20 bases becoming a 20/20 player with 25 homeruns last year. This year he has stolen 14 bases with 14 homeruns as he gears towards another 20/20 year. His .304 batting average is the highest in his minor league career at those levels when he gets over 100 at bats. This year he has seen some time in the major leagues, struggling with a .162 average. Expect at least a September callup to give him additional at bats but a hot spell in the minors could get him promoted earlier.

3. Luis Robert (White Sox) - Currently the speed is there for the Cuban to play centerfield. As he gets older Luis may build bulk on his 6′3″ frame, losing the speed required to play centerfield. His arm is strong enough for right. Luis was a star as a teenager in the Cuban professional league. He slipped out of Cuba halfway through the 2016 season when he was on his way to winning the Triple Crown as a 19 year old. The tools are there for him to be a superstar. This was expected to be his first year in a full season league but thumb injuries have limited him to just 21 games. He has yet to carry a ball over the fence this year, but his bat makes solid contact with the potential to hit .300 or better. If the speed stays he could be a 30/30 player (homeruns/stolen bases). The White Sox would like him to play more games to assign him to AA to begin next year.

4. Heliot Ramos (Giants) - The Puerto Rican was the Giants first round pick in the 2017 draft. His first year in the rookie league he hit .348 with 6 homeruns and a 1.049 OPS. His legs have the carry to stay in centerfield and his arm is solid enough to fit in right. This year has been a little more of a challenge for Heliot, especially trying to make contact with pitches. He has a poor 28/101 walk to whiff ratio. Last year it was a more acceptable (10/48). This has resulted in a low batting average (.238). The power is still there with 8 homeruns, but it has been limited by his inability to make contact. Ranos was selected to the World Team.

5. Alex Kirilloff (Twins) - Alex was a first round pick in the 2016 draft with Tommy John surgery preventing him from playing the 2017 season. He was selected to play for the United States team in the prospect game and warming up he had the best arm of any of the outfielders we saw warming up. Right field has been his primary position in the minor leagues with a few games in center. In the rookie league he showed a good bat (.306 with a .454 slugging) but not much was expected of him after a year away from the game. Alex has been a hitting machine in Low A (.333 with a .607 slugging) that led to a promotion to High A where his bat continues to explode (.370, .571 slugging). His homerun numbers have dropped in some of the larger parks in the Florida State League but he has hit .525 in his last 10 games with seven multiple hit games. Expect him to be in AA next year.

6. Alex Verdugo (Dodgers) - We are not as enamored of Alex as many are. The second round pick of the 2014 draft seemed to lack the power to play right field. He also exhibits a low motor which could have an impact on his overall success. This year the power seems to have come with a .506 slugging, 70 points above his .438 slugging coming into the season. Alex does have the ability to make solid contact which could result in hitting for a high average (.305 career minor league average). That good contact continues in the major leagues, but the averages the last two years has been low (.174 and .213). His arm is excellent and perhaps his best tool, but that will not keep him on a major league roster by itself.

7. Brandon Marsh (Angels) - The second round 2016 pick was prevented from showing his stuff the first year because of a back issue. Last year in rookie ball he powered his way to a .350 average with a .944 OPS. He has the arm and speed to play center but the Angels already have a premium centerfielder there (Jo Adell) leaving right field for Brandon. His 2018 season has seen a little more time in centerfield. The bat will get his name in the lineup. Currently, his bat is doubles power but as he matures more balls should carry over the fence. He is hitting .274 with a .410 slugging percentage between Low and High A. A propensity to swing and miss (113 whiffs in 92 games) cuts into his production.

8. Tyler O’Neil (Cardinals) - The father of a weight lifter (Mr. Canada) also has a fondness for lifting the weights. The Mariners may have traded him so cheap (Marco Gonzalez) because of their concern that he did it to excess. Drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft two of his last three years he has hit for 30 or more homeruns. This year appears to be another 30 homerun season. Tyler has had 14 multiple homer games in his career and five taters in his last two games. Between AAA and the major leagues he has already jacked 28 balls over the wall in just 76 games. His major league time has been a struggle to make contact (20 whiffs in 44 at bats) resulting in a low .227 average, but if he continues to pop balls over the fence in the minor leagues he will get another opportunity with the Cardinals this year.

9. Monte Harrison (Marlins) - Monte was a second round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He was one of the players the Marlins acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. This year centerfield has been his primary position with a smattering of games in right. His lack of burner speed and Lewis Brinson will probably result in his movement to right. Last year his bat showed some power with 21 homeruns between Low A and High A. The power continues with 13 homeruns this year, but a struggle to make contact has resulted in a 33/159 walk to whiff ratio and a poor .240 average in AA. The speed is there to steal 20 plus bases a year, which combined with his power should make him a 20/20 player.

10. D.J. Peters (Dodgers) - This is the outfielder myworld was hoping the Orioles got in the Manny Machado trade. At 6′6″ he reminds you of an Aaron Judge with the ability to hit for power (27 homeruns last year) but with the propensity to swing and miss (189 whiffs). Tame that whiff rate and the potential is tremendous. The Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round in 2016. This year in AA the whiffs are still prevalent (133) but the power is still perverse with 20 homeruns. His lack of contact puts his average at .238. This creates a risk of a Dave Kingman type player, but that is what critics were saying about Judge in the minor leagues. The difference is Peters does not have the ability to walk as much as Judge.

11. Yusniel Diaz (Orioles) - This is the player the Orioles got instead. Myworld watched the Cuban hit two dingers for the World team in the Prospect game. The speed is there to play centerfield but his best fit is to play right. The Dodgers paid a $15.5 million bonus to sign him so they recognized the tools. The power is more gap to gap now but it could expand as he matures and turns those line drive doubles into homers with a little more launch angle. Coming into this season he had a .281 career minor league average. This year he sits at .301. At Bowie he is struggling with a .125 average in his first 16 at bats as he tries to impress. At Tulsa he hit .314 with a 41/39 walk to whiff rate.

Reynolds Drives in Ten in Nationals Rout

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

The night before Mark Reynolds had hit a walk off homerun. He started last night driving the first pitch he saw into almost the same spot in the left field bullpen. Dejavu. He finished the day 5 for 5 with two homeruns, a double and two singles with 10 RBIs. For the month of July he is hitting .625. The Nationals went on to win the game in easy fashion 18-4.

Wei-Yen Chen got the start for the Marlins. For the first three innings he did not look bad. In the second inning Harper touched him for a single and Reynolds followed by slamming his first pitch into the left field bullpen. It was still a game.

Max Scherzer did not look sharp. He ran two three ball counts to the first three hitters he faced in the first inning, but then settled down the next two innings. In the fourth he gave up back to back jacks to Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto, both on breaking pitches. Those two shots seemed to wake up the beast in him as he struck out both Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with mid-90s plus fastballs to end the fourth.

In the bottom of the fourth the Nationals got the lead back. Bryce Harper lined a single into right centerfield, the second of what would be three singles for the day. Mark Reynolds hit a hard grounder past third that pinged off the fence just behind where the ball girl sits. Harper flung off his helmet as he rounded third, scoring the Nationals third run for a 3-2 lead.

Scherzer gave the run right back in the top of the fifth. J.T. Riddle laced one into the right centerfield gap. Harper dropped the ball when he first tried to pick it up from the warning track and Riddle streaked around second to get credited with a triple. Miguel Rojas poked a pitch over the drawn in infield to tie the game at 3-3. A double play cleared the bases but the pitcher Chen singled. At that point the fans were beginning to understand that this was not going to be one of the best nights for Scherzer and the Nationals were going to need to score a bunch of runs to win this game.

They obliged. Scherzer started the fifth with a single. Turner followed by hitting a hard ground ball to Starlin Castro that had double play written all over it. Castro dropped the ball and could only get a force on Scherzer. An error that wasn’t. Soto lined a single into left center to put two runners on. Anthony Rendon lined a pitch into left field corner. Soto was waved home even though the throw from Dietrich had hit the cutoff man Castro as he was rounding third. Castro turned around and heaved a throw over the head of catcher Realmuto. An error that was. Two misplays by Castro opened the flood gates.

Harper was intentionally walked. Elieser Hernandez came on to replace Chen to face the righthanded Reynolds. A wild pitch advanced Harper to second but Rendon stayed glued to third. Reynolds then punched a pitch into short left field that scored two. A single by Difo put two runners on for the light hitting Pedro Severino and four runs looked like all the Nats would get. Severino then jacked a pitch over the left field bullpen to change that four spot to a seven and give the Nationals a 10-3 lead.

The Nationals tacked on three more in the sixth. A walk to Turner and single by Harper set the stage for Mark Reynolds. He deposited a pitch deep into the Brewhouse in centerfield to give him eight RBIs and the Nationals a commanding 13-4 lead.

Nats fans were not too concerned when Scherzer gave up a homerun to Yadiel Rivera in the seventh. For Rivera it was his first major league homerun of his career. For Scherzer it would be his last inning of work.

The Nationals punctuated the game with a five spot in the home half. Juan Soto drove in two with a double into right field and Mark Reynolds got to double digits in RBIs with a two run single. Shawn Kelley retired all six hitters he faced in his two innings of work and the Nationals cruised 18-4.

Game Notes: The Nationals made history with Reynolds 10 RBIs. They became the first team in major league history to ever have two players hit for 8 RBIs or more in the same week. Trea Turner had driven in 8 RBIs on Thursday when the Nationals came from behind 9-0 to win 14-12…Max Scherzer was 0-4 with one no decision in his last five games. During that time he had only given up two or less runs in four of them and three runs in one game. The Nationals offense was shutout three times and scored just five runs in the two other games…In a game the Nationals were ahead 15-4, Brian Goodwin pinch hit for Bryce Harper. He singled to left center, which could have scored Soto but the third base coach held him at third, not wanting to run up the score. Goodwin did not stop running and advanced to second, showing a bit too much enthusiasm after he reached second. Hopefully that is something the Marlins do not remember on Sunday…The win increased the Nationals winning streak over the Marlins to 14 games…The 10 RBIs by Reynolds tied Rendon for the franchise record…The seven runs off Chen raised his road ERA to 10.47. He is 1.89 when pitching at Marlins park…To keep Reynolds on the roster when Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list, Mark will have to show an ability to play another position. When he first came up he played third base. Dave Martinez used him there for the last two innings last night. You could see Rendon shift to second and Reynolds play third in games against lefthanded pitching, or if Martinez needs to spark up his offense.

Nats Win with Reynolds Walkoff

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

The Nationals had the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the eighth. The next three National hitters could not drive a runner home. Daniel Murphy pinch hit for Spencer Kieboom and flew out to center. Michael Taylor was standing in the on deck circle to pinch hit for the pitcher if Murph had got on base. In the bottom of the ninth Dave Martinez chose to lead off the inning with Mark Reynolds instead of Taylor. There was just one thing on his mind for that change. A walkoff. Reynolds got ahead in the count 3-1 and then obliged the wishes of Martinez, driving the next pitch into the Marlins bullpen off Kyle Barraclough for the walkoff 3-2 win. Not quite as dramatic as the win the day before when they came back from a 9-0 deficit, but another exciting win just the same.

Gio Gonzalez did not have a good start. Five of the first seven hitters he faced saw a three ball count. In the third inning Cameron Maybin hit a hard ground ball that Turner made a nice back hand stop on, but his throw to the base was just a tad wide, pulling Matt Adams off the bag. A bunt by Dan Strailey advanced Maybin to second. Starlin Castro roped a pitch down the third base line, just fair, but as it rolled toward the ball girl and reached the fence a fan scooped it up with their glove to turn it into a ground rule double. Maybin scored and the Marlins had a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals came back in the fourth when Dan Strailey had difficulty finding the strike zone. Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper started the inning with back to back walks. Back to back RBI singles by Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead. With runners on first and third and one out Spencer Kieboom laid down a safety squeeze bunt. Eaton tried to score from third but was thrown out.

Gio had loaded the bases in the top of the fourth but was saved by Anthony Rendon who made a five unassisted to first double play to escape the inning. In the fifth Gonzalez gave up three straight hits to pitcher Dan Strailey, Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson to load the bases with no out. Turner made a back hand stab at short and went home with the ball to get the first out. Gonzalez walked the next batter to force in a run and tie the game at 2-2. He got behind Justin Bour 3-0 but then rallied to strike out Bour and also Garrett Cooper to get out of the inning. He would not start the sixth, with a pitch count that exceeded 110.

The wasted opportunity for the Nationals was in the eighth when back to back walks to Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper and an infield single by Matt Adams loaded the bases with no outs. Adam Eaton hit a fly to left that was too shallow to score Rendon. Cooper threw a strike to home. Perhaps with one out you take the chance and send the runner home but with no outs you hope for another opportunity. It never came. Wilmer Difo pooped to short and Daniel Murphy flew to center to end the inning.

Doolittle came on to pitch the top of the ninth, but got the win instead of the save when he retired the side in order and was rewarded by the Reynolds walkoff.

Game Notes: Mark Reynolds has been playing well but once Ryan Zimmerman comes off the disabled list myworld does not see the Nationals keeping three first baseman. Reynolds will probably be the one to go…Gio was rescued by three double plays in his five innings of work. He walked four and gave up eight hits…The fan who scooped the ball up in the third had the ball taken away from him. Perhaps he was given a choice. Keep the ball and we will escort you out of the park or surrender the ball and you can stay to watch the game…Trea Turner over slid second base on what would have been a successful steal. Myworld has seen a lot of players over slide second, most of them coming in on head first slides…Cameron Maybin made a nice diving catch on a ball Wilmer Difo hit into the right centerfield gap. Adam Eaton was on second and would have scored easily if Maybin had not made the play…The Nationals have now won 13 consecutive games against Miami. They also won back to back games for the first time since early June (5th and 6th)…Kyle Barraclough was voted National League reliever of the month in June. After giving up the walkoff to Mark Reynolds it will be tough for him to win back to back months.

Top Minor League Third Base Prospects

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Below are myworld’s Top minor league third base prospects for 2018. Nick Senzel would be here but we listed him as a second base prospect since we don’t anticipate him playing there with Eugenio Suarez signed to a long term contract.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) - The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr. may be the best prospect in baseball right now. He is on the disabled list currently with a leg injury. Prior to the injury his bat could not be quieted hitting .407 with 11 homeruns in AA in just 53 games. His OPS was 1.124. If not for the injury he could be up with the Blue Jays playing third base. The concerns over his inability to play the position have evaporated. His arm is strong like his dad and his glove has developed more consistency. Unlike his dad he does not swing at everything, having the patience at the plate to take a walk. His 20/21 walk to whiff ratio is impressive for a hitter with power.

2. Austin Riley (Braves) - Another player currently on the disabled list since early June. Prior to that the 2015 supplemental first round pick was tearing it up in both AA and AAA. Combined he is hitting .308 with 10 homeruns and a .922 OPS. Last year he slugged 20 homeruns. If not for the injury he also could be playing with the Braves. He does swing and miss a lot (66 in 53 games) and ideally the Braves would like to see him show more patience. This lack of patience could be exploited by major league pitchers. He has improve his quickness at third base and should be an above average defensive player.

3. Kevin Maitan (Angels) - At one point he was with the Braves signing for $4.25 million out of Venezuela in 2016. The Braves had to release him after they were found in violation of international salary cap rules. The Angels signed him for $2.2 million. Signed as a shortstop his body has gotten too stocky in the lower half to play the position. The Angels have still played him five games at short and two at third in the Rookie League this year. He has made four errors in the seven games he has played, three of them at short. His bat has been explosive with a .433 average. His only extra base hit of his 13 hits has been a homerun. Maitan is only 18 years old and should develop power as he matures in the minor leagues.

4. Lucas Erceg (Brewers) - The 2016 second round pick has a big time power bat. Last year he hit 15 homeruns with 33 doubles. Improving his plate discipline (35/95 walk to whiff ratio) would help improve his batting average (.256) and consistency at the plate. Waiting to swing at his pitch rather than the pitchers would increase the homerun output. This year in AA his power has dropped with only five homeruns and a .342 slugging average. His walk to whiff ratio has improved (21/44) but his batting average has not (.235). It may take him some time to acclimate to AA pitching. He should have a good glove for third though he needs to be more consistent there as well and reduce his error total (13 in 64 games).

5. Taylor Ward (Angels) - Originally drafted as a catcher in the first round of the 2015 draft the Angels felt his bat would be better served if he did not have to catch. His arm was good for behind the plate and he showed some of the other intangibles needed for catching but his bat was a disappointment. This year he moved to third and his bat has exploded, hitting .336 with 9 homeruns between AA and AAA. Defensively he has been a bit shaky with 8 errors in 47 games but the Angels hope with continued repetition he will adapt to the position. If he continues to hit as he does expect him to make his major league debut sometime in September to help the Angels make the playoffs.

6. Randy Cesar (Astros) - The Astros signed the Dominican back in 2011. He played a couple years in the Dominican League and a couple years in the short season leagues. In 2016 in the New York Penn League he showed what he could do with a .389 average. This year he is setting the Texas League on fire, breaking their record for the longest hitting streak at 37. As his frame has filled out his power is starting to develop. This year he is hitting .354 with 8 homeruns and a .927 OPS. Better patience at the plate (14/58) could enhance those numbers. His defense at third is a bit marginal with 9 errors 39 games. He also has played some first base this year to improve his versatility. Wherever he plays the Astros have a crowded position but as long as his bat plays the Astros will find room for him.

7. James Nelson (Marlins) - James was a 15th round pick in 2016. He is the nephew of former 2004 first round pick Chris Nelson, who did not have a long major league career. As a 15th round pick James does not come with the high expectations. A quick bat has produced 41 doubles in 145 games with a .302 average. That got him the Marlins player of the year award last year. This year he has spent most of his time on the disabled list. Recently activated he is hitting .300 in eight games in High A. With Brian Anderson seeing most of his time in the outfield the third base job is open for him in a couple years.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - The second round 2016 pick has a power bat, last year slugging 4 homeruns with a .482 slugging in the short season league. He showed excellent patience at the plate with 43 walks for a .430 OBA. This year that power is being shown for the first time in a full season league with 8 homeruns and a .425 slugging. His patience is still there (40 walks, .385 OBA) leading to a .266 average. Defensively he still needs to find more consistency at third, committing 13 errors in 50 games. A move to the outfield is still a possibility.

9. Colton Welker (Rockies) - The fourth round 2016 pick has Nolan Arenado in his way at third. By the time Colton is ready for the major leagues Nolan will be a free agent or signed to a long term deal. In the California League Colton is showing good pop with 7 homeruns, 16 doubles and a .448 slugging percentage. A lack of speed will prevent a move to the outfield. This year his third base play has improved so he appears to have the arm and glove for the position. A lack of quickness may impact his range, but if his bat continues to hit for power the Rockies will keep him at third.

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The son of Charlie was drafted in the first round by the Pirates in 2015. His power has been a disappointment, a tool he will need to play this position. Last year he only hit two homeruns with a .363 slugging. This year in AA he has improved on that with three homeruns and a.428 slugging, still a bit short of what teams are looking for in a third baseman. He is a plus defender, so if the bat develops the glove will be an asset at the position.

O’s Break Nine Game Losing Streak

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

It was tough for myworld to be motivated to drive all the way to Baltimore to watch two of the worst teams in baseball battle it out for the second round pick in the 2019 draft. The Orioles had lost the first two games, but the Sunday performance their bats came alive for a 10-4 win. Jace Peterson had a big day with a two run double in the second and a two run homer in the fifth, his first homerun of the year.

Trevor Richards got the start for the Marlins. The rookie had nothing, giving up six runs in less than four innings. The first inning he retired the O’s in order. The subsequent innings were less than glamorous. Mark Trumbo started the second inning slapping a single to right. Jonathan Schoop grounded a pitch down the third base line to the left field corner for a double. Jace Peterson drove them both in with a blast into center field that bounced into the bleachers for a ground rule double, driving in the first two runs.

In the third Richards retired the first two hitters. Manny Machado lined a single to left field. Mark Trumbo followed by driving a pitch deep to left. Derek Dietrich ran back for the ball, leaped at the wall, but the ball fell short, dropping below his glove for a double. After Jonathan Schoop walked to load the bases Trey Mancini grounded a single up the middle to score two more runs.

Dylan Bundy has been susceptible to the homerun ball. In the first three innings he shut down the Marlins. With one out in the fourth Justin Bour drove one into the right field bleachers to score the Marlins first run.

The Orioles responded in the bottom of the fourth, Craig Gentry and Austin Wynns starting the inning with back to back singles. Adam Jones drove a pitch into centerfield that one hopped the wall for a double driving in two runs and increasing the O’s lead to 6-1. The double ended the day for Richards.

Merandy Gonzalez came in and saved the Marlin bullpen, working two outs into the eighth inning. His work was not without blemish. Jace Peterson lined a pitch over the right field scoreboard to give the Orioles another two runs for an 8-1 lead.

Justin Bour tried to make a game of it in the sixth. Dietrich started the inning with a bloop single into center and Brian Anderson walked. With one out Justin Bour tagged a Bundy pitch over the right field bleachers hitting the gates behind the bleacher seats. Starling Castro followed with a double down the right field line. Bundy was able to retire the next two hitters to keep the Orioles ahead 8-4 but his day was done.

Miguel Castro started the seventh for the O’s. He could not get anyone out, giving up back to back singles and then walking the next hitter to load the bases with no outs. Mychal Givens came on to pitch, striking out Brian Anderson and then getting J.T. Realmuto to fly to shallow left. Buck went with lefty Tanner Scott to face the lefty swinging Bour, despite his trouble finding the strike zone. Scott ran the count 2-2, freezing Justin Bour on a 96 mile per hour fastball for strike three. A third homerun would have tied the game.

That was it for the Marlins. Mark Trumbo hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Manny Machado drove in a run with a single in the eighth. Zach Britton came on in the ninth to preserve the lead and end the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Game Notes: The O’s gave all the males coming to the game father’s day ties with the word Orioles scripted into the tie. Myworld wears a tie once every four years or so…The Orioles have a steal second base contest in the bottom of the fifth as the grounds crew replaces the bases. As a girl was running toward second base Cameron Maybin, the Marlins centerfielder grabbed the wrong base (the replacement base) and handed it to the girl. The grounds crew was able to retrieve the base and replace the second base bag in the bottom of the sixth…Derek Dietrich has shown me he does not play left field well. He allowed the double to fall in front of him as he leaped at the fence, and he almost missed a routine fly ball in the fourth, landing to his knee as he caught the ball…Journeyman Corban Joesph played first base instead of Chris Davis. He batted leadoff going 0 for 4. Chance Sisco was optioned to the minors and his brother Caleb Joseph was promoted. That has got to be a thrill for the two brothers, to be in the major leagues for the first time together. The Orioles do not have much else to play for so why not make two brothers happy and put them both in the lineup for the Nationals game.

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.

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.