Archive for the 'Marlins' Category

Top Minor League Shortstop Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top minor league shortstop prospects. There is a bundle of athletic talent at this position. With this list our infield is complete. Next will be the outfield and then the pitching staff.

1) Wander Franco (Rays) - Any player who would be considered the top prospect in baseball in 2020 has to be considered as the top shortstop prospect. But at one time Jurickson Profar was the top prospect in baseball, but he is still struggling to make his mark in the major leagues. Wander has the ability to hit for average and power. In 2018 he hit .351 with a 1.005 OPS, slugging 11 homeruns in just 61 games in the rookie league. In 2019 he got his opportunity to play full season ball and hit .327 with an .885 OPS and 9 homeruns. His defensive tools are not superb, but they are good enough to play shortstop. If he has to move to second or third base the bat is certainly strong enough for him to be an All Star at any position he plays. Next year he should start his season in AA and he could reach the majors as a teenager. Willy Adames is currently the shortstop but he has yet to break out the offensive tools that Franco possesses.

2) Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) - With newness comes expectations of grandeur. No one has witnessed the warts yet. Witt was the second pick in the 2019 draft. Myworld saw him put on a homerun derby spectacle at the All Star game in D.C. His dad is Bobby Witt and he was a first round pick way back in 1985. His son has chosen to swing the bat rather than pitch. He has five pretty impressive tools. The bat carries plenty of pop and he should be able to hit for average. In his first taste of minor league baseball he hit .262 with just one homerun for an uninspiring .670 OPS. His legs show a lot of speed as witnessed by his five triples and 9 stolen bases in just 37 games. Defensively he has good range and a rocket arm that can throw in the mid-90s if he was asked to pitch. Next year he should make his debut in full season ball where he will be expected to show a little more pop than he did in 2019.

3) Royce Lewis (Twins) - Back in 2017 Royce was the first pick in the draft. You would think this would still make him the top prospect among shortstops but some warts have popped up. In the AFL the Twins have been playing him at other positions, using him at centerfield and third base, in case shortstop continues to be occupied by Jorge Polanco and they need his bat in the lineup. His bat should hit for average and power, but in 2019 he could only manage a .236 average. His strikeout rate went up leading to a drop in average. An OPS of .661 is very disappointing for a player of his tools. He has great speed and should be an above average defender at shortstop, but needs to improve his consistency fielding his position. Last year he finished at AA, which is where he should start the 2020 season. He could see some time in the majors next year if he can find some quality at bats.

4) Ronny Mauricio (Mets) - The Mets are flush with shortstops, with Amed Rosario improving on his defense in the second half, with a bat that has come to life, filling the major league roster. Mauricio is another live bat that can play the position. He is still a few years away from the major leagues. At 6′3″ he could out grow the position, but at this point he would have the bat to move to third or second base. As he fills out the bat will hit for power. In 2019 he hit for a .665 OPS in Low A ball. The arm is good enough to play third or short, but his lack of speed could limit his range at short as he fills out. He also needs to show a little more patience at the plate to take advantage of his hitting potential. Next year Ronny should see half a season at High A and perhaps half a season at AA, depending on how he develops. He could see the majors in 2021 as a 20 year old.

5) Jazz Chisolm (Marlins) - Two shortstops were signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. Lucius Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million and Jazz signed with the Diamondbacks for just $200,000. Jazz is the player on this list. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Marlins in 2019 for Zac Gaillen. Though Zac is a nice pitching prospect, Jazz may turn out to be a premier shortstop. With the Diamondbacks he struggled to make contact, which resulted in a low average (.204), but he did show some power with 18 homeruns. With the Marlins the average went up (.284) and the power was still there to hit three homeruns in 23 games. Defensively, he has the tools to stay at shortstop. The Marlins might see him with their big league club some time by mid-season in 2020.

6) O’Neil Cruz (Pirates) - The Pirates have been developing some pretty vanilla shortstops over the years in Jody Mercer, Kevin Newman, Kevin Cramer and Cole Tucker. If Cruz can stay at shortstop he could fall far right of that Bell curve. At 6′7 myworld expects him to move to first base or right field, but if he can stay at short he could provide consistent 30 plus homerun power at the position. For a big man with a large strike zone he makes pretty good contact. In 2019 he reached AA but he did not make a big impact, hitting just .269 in 35 games with one homerun and a .412 slugging percentage. After a down 2019 the Pirates will be in rebuilding mode for 2020 and Cruz should be a big part of that. Expect him to start next year in AA.

7) Gavin Lux (Dodgers) - After an injury to Max Muncy, the Dodgers called Gavin up in September to handle second base. With Corey Seager at short that position could be filled for the future years. The 2016 first round pick had hit .392 in AAA and combined for 26 homeruns between AA and AAA in just 113 games. He struggled a bit with the Dodgers, hitting just .240 with two homeruns. After a poor 2017 season many were calling him a bust. After two years of hitting .320 plus he is now firmly entrenched in the Dodgers plans. The tools are there to play shortstop, but he has shown a lack of consistency in finding first base with his throws. A move to second may make the throws just a bit easier. Expect him to start the 2020 season with the Dodgers either as their second baseman, or someone who can play second, short and third.

8) Jose Devers (Marlins) - With the acquisition of Jazz the Marlins have two quality defenders they can put at short. Jose is the brother of Rafael, who plays third base for the Red Sox. Jose may not carry the power of his older brother, but time will tell. He just finished his third year with the Marlins and he has only hit one homerun. Jose makes good contact with the bat and last year hit .322 at three different levels, rising all the way to High A. He also has the speed to steal bases and turn singles into doubles. Defensively he has the tools to be an above average shortstop. Next year in his age 20 season he should see AA.

9) Marco Luciano (Giants) - The Giants are in a rebuilding mode and Marco should be a important part of that process. He is another shortstop discovered in the Bahamas, as they replace San Pedro de Macoris and Curacao as the land of the next wave of shortstops. The Giants traded Lucius Fox, who they signed out of the Bahamas for $6 million to the Rays, then went back to the well to sign Marco for $2.6 million. He has the potential for five tools, showing the tools for a strong bat, good speed, solid arm and strong defense. The 2019 season was his first year to show off those tools and he hit .322 with 10 homeruns. This should allow him to start the 2020 season in a full season league.

10) Jorge Mateo (Athletics) - Jorge has been around awhile, signed by the Yankees way back in 2012. He complained back in 2016 when he was not promoted to AA. His prospect status dropped after the 2018 season when he hit only .230 in AAA with just three homeruns. He got his mojo back in 2019 after hitting .289 with 29 doubles, 14 triples and 19 homeruns. There is some sneaky power in his bat. The Athletics have tried him in centerfield and second base. With Marcus Semien at shortstop they do not need help at that position. Expect Jorge to make the Athletics roster in the 2020 season as a super utility player who can move all around the diamond. His speed is terrorizing on the bases, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.

Strasburg Almost Perfect; Rendon More of the Same

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

The Nationals relied on their Cy Young contender Stephen Strasburg and their MVP candidate Anthony Rendon to cruise over the Miami Marlins 7-0. Strasburg was almost perfect, giving up two hits in the first inning and then retiring his last 22 hitters, 14 on strikeouts, 12 of those whiffs of the swing and miss variety. Rendon mashed two homeruns into the left field bleachers to continue his assault on National League pitchers.

Strasburg struggled a bit in the first inning. He gave up back to back singles to Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro with one out. Neil Walker grounded one up the middle, which was fielded by Strasburg, who started the 1-6-3 double play. After that only 7 of the next 21 hitters put the ball in play as Strasburg showed his dominance with 14 strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first Rendon put his stamp on the game. He launched a 3-2 pitch from Pablo Lopez high into the left field bleachers. Juan Soto followed by going the opposite way on the second pitch he saw, trying to kiss the Rendon shot by also depositing it into the left field bleachers. The back to backs were the 30th homeruns for Soto and Rendon.

Pablo Lopez did not have it this night. In the second inning he gave up a run, Stephen Strasburg ripping a two out single into the third base hole to score Kurt Suzuki. In the third inning Rendon was hit on the elbow with a pitch. Soto lined a hit and run double down the right field line, scoring Rendon. Kurt Suzuki mashed a pitch into the center field bleachers to make it 6-0.

Wei-Yin Chang replaced Lopez and pitched well. He gave up a leadoff double to Victor Robles. After that he retired the next 12 hitters he faced, combining with Strasburg to pitch a perfect game. He was not quite as dominant as Strasburg, striking out just two in his four innings of work, but he got seven ground ball outs with the 13 hitters he faced.

Adam Conley came on to pitch the eighth. Anthony Rendon took his first pitch and launched it into the left field bleachers to finish off the scoring. Tanner Rainey came on to complete the shutout striking out three and walking one. He tested the patience of the National’s fans by getting behind Harold Ramirez 3-0 after walking Jon Berti, but he recovered to strikeout Ramirez.

Game Notes: The Nationals honored the South Loudoun Little League team, who were the first team from Virginia in 25 years to advance to the Little League World Series. They represented themselves well in the games, reaching the finals of the winner’s bracket before losing their last two games…The last time two Nationals had 30 plus homeruns in the same season was in 2009 when Adam Dunn hit 38 and Ryan Zimmerman swatted 33…The homerun in the first inning advanced the hitting streak for Rendon to 16 games…The 14 whiffs gives Strasburg the league lead in strikeouts with 215. He also leads the National League in innings pitched (179) and wins (16). A couple bad outings puts his ERA at 3.47…Strasburg now has a 12 game winning streak against the Marlins…Lewis Brinson was ejected from the game in the eighth inning for objecting to a called third strike, the last of Strasburg’s strikeouts. The replays show that the ball crossed over the plate into the strike zone. Perhaps that is a reason Brinson is struggling to hit major league pitching…With a runner on third and one out Trea Turner grounded out to third, not a place you want to hit the ball. If you want to score that run you have to hit the ball to the opposite side of the infield or find the outfield.

Rendon Walkoff Secures Sloppy Victory Over Marlins

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The Nationals played the game last night as if they did not want to win. Sloppy fielding plays and the usual poor pitching by the bullpen would have resulted in a loss against most teams except they were fortunate to be playing the Marlins, who have their own issues finding victories. The Marlins can play as poorly as the next team and Anthony Rendon took advantage of a wild pitch that put two runners in scoring position and blooped a single into left field that scored the tying and winning run to give the Nationals a 7-6 win.

Neither starting pitcher had their best stuff. In the first inning Harold Ramirez deposited a pitch from Anibal Sanchez into the centerfield bleachers, just to the right of the bullpen. Elieser Hernandez gave the run right back and added another in the bottom frame. The first three hitters in the order, Trea Turner, Gerardo Parra and Anthony Rendon all singled for one run. A ground out scored the second run and it was 2-1 Nationals.

In the second inning Victor Robles started it off with a double. Anibal bunted him to third and on a slow grounder to Starlin Castro at third he chose to go to first rather than taking the risky throw home. Hernandez settled down after that, retiring the Nationals in order in the next three innings.

The Nationals exhibited some poor fielding in the third inning. A walk by Sanchez to Jon Berti started the inning off. Harold Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to Turner that should have been a double play. Turner’s throw to Asdrubal Cabrera was high, Asdrubal tried to catch it barehanded to make the throw to first but dropped the ball. The error was given to Turner. With one out Neil Walker hit a hard grounder to Matt Adams at first that could have been two. The ball popped out of his glove. He recovered quickly and flipped the ball to Sanchez covering first but Sanchez bobbled the throw and the runner was safe to load the bases. The Nationals got out of the inning when Sanchez struck out Jorge Alfaro on three pitches and Isan Diaz popped to short.

Anibal gave up a run in the fourth, but it was a sloppy fielding play from former gold glover Parra that created a run. He poorly tracked what should have been a routine fly ball to right, turning the wrong direction and letting the ball bounce to the left of him and into the right field bullpen for a ground rule double. What should have been an out was a double for Brinson. Sanchez had trouble throwing strikes and walked his fourth hitter of the game. Hernandez bunted the runners over and a ground out to second scored a run for the Marlins that shouldn’t have scored.

The Nationals took advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Marlins in the sixth. In some generous scorekeeping by the home team Rendon hit a single that bounced in front of the right fielder and then glanced off his leg. If he could have fielded the one hopper cleanly Rendon would have been held to a single. Because it bounced off his leg and trickled behind him Rendon was able to advance to second on what was ruled a generous double. A balk advanced Rendon to third where he scored on a legitimate double by Juan Soto.

Hunter Strickland came back from his paternity leave and the Marlins treated him rudely in the seventh. Jon Berti started the inning off with a bloop single to right. Harold Ramirez and Starlin Castro followed with hard singles to center to score one. Strickland walked Neil Walker to load the bases and after striking out Jorge Alfaro for the first out was replaced by Roenis Elias to face the lefthander. Elias walked Isan Diaz, a player who doesn’t like to walk, to force in a run and tie the game. Lewis Brinson grounded into a double play to Rendon to keep the game tied.

The Nationals scored one run off Kyle Keller without putting the ball in play. Keller walked two and struck out two and was replaced by the lefty Jarlin Garcia to face Juan Soto. Soto lined one into the right field bullpen wall for a double scoring Max Scherzer, who had pinch run for Adam Eaton. With the uncertainty of the Nationals bullpen it would have been nice to score more, but they didn’t.

In the ninth Dan Hudson came on to close the game. Harold Ramirez hit a slow roller to Rendon and beat the throw the throw to first by an eye lash. The play was reviewed and the call could have gone either way. Starlin Castro lifted one into right center and the ball hit off the top of the fence just in front of the right field bleachers for a delayed call homerun. Castro had stopped at third when the third base umpire circled his fingers to complete the four bagger. Hudson was able to retire the next three hitters to keep the deficit at one.

Ryne Stanek, who came from the Rays was asked to close out the game. For the Marlins coming into this game he had been given four save opportunities, succeeded in one and blown three. Howie Kendrick led off the ninth with a pinch hit single and Trea Turner took a walk. Para tried to bunt the runners over and popped it up to the pitcher. Stanek though could not take the generosity and advanced the runners over, throwing a pitch high over the catcher’s head that was for some reason ruled a passed ball. Stanek succeeded in doing what Parra could not. With the count 2-1 Rendon did not hit the ball hard, but hard enough, blooping it over the shortstop for a single and allowing Turner to race home with the winning run. That was the fourth blown save for Stanek, who was used a lot as an opener for the Rays.

Game Notes: The Marlins had two players from Colombia in their starting lineup, Jorge Alfaro and Harold Ramirez. That has to be a first for a major league team to have two Colombians as regulars in the starting lineup…Myworld still likes the construction of the Nationals new bullpen once Sean Doolittle gets healthy. Daniel Hudson and Hunter Strickland are two setup relievers who throw 95 plus along with Wander Suerro. They can get the ball to Doolittle. Myworld is also comfortable using either Hudson or Strickland as closers if Doolittle continues to struggle. Roenis Elias is a better lefthanded option than Matt Grace…After the leadoff hitter got on in the second inning Elieser Hernandez retired the next 12 hitters before running into trouble in the sixth…Anibal Sanchez takes a long time getting to home plate from his stretch position. The Marlins runners were getting some big jumps off him…The three hits by Rendon extended his hitting streak to 15 games and he is leading the National League in hitting with his .333 average.

Top First Base Prospects in Minor Leagues

Monday, August 12th, 2019

Not a stellar list. Many of your top first base prospects struggle in the outfield in the minor leagues but have a good bat and eventually move to first base, making it tougher for minor leaguer first baseman to make the major leagues. Right hand hitting first baseman are not liked by scouts. For one, their glove is on the wrong side of their hand for making a tag during pickoffs and two, if you are going to have a left handed bat in the lineup put him at first base. Christian Walker is one of those rare right handed bats who plays first base, but it took him until his 28th year to become a major league starter. He still platoons with the left hand hitting Jake Lamb. So on to the unimpressive list of first base prospects.

1. Andrew Vaughn (White Sox) - He is the right handed bat that many scouts fear putting at first. The third pick in the 2019 draft is said to have a productive bat that will force itself into the lineup. He was the Golden Spikes winner in 2018 in college while playing for California, finishing his college career with a .374 average and a .688 slugging percentage. His bat is expected to produce power that is slotted for the position and because he hits the ball to all fields he will be impossible to defend with shifts. At 6′0″ he does not have the tall frame that you want to see from a first baseman, but his defense will be steady. He pitched a bit in college so he has the arm for a move to third base. In his first minor league season he has already seen himself promoted to High A. His bat has been below average in the full season leagues, hitting just above .250 with a slugging average below .430. Major league teams will want to see more from their first baseman, but he is still learning, getting his first exposure to minor league pitching.

2. Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles) - The arm is his biggest down side. The Orioles tried him at short and third but the loopy throws to first would not cut it in the major leagues. Left field is another option but the arm could be a hindrance there. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues and while he does not have the power of Yordan Alvarez, a rotation between first base and DH will be in his future. This year has been a breakout season for him power wise. His 20 homeruns is a career high and he is slugging .516. The big cause of concern is his 17/107 walk to whiff ratio, which means his .314 average in AAA will not be sustainable if he keeps swinging at pitcher’s pitches. The Orioles roster is filled with first baseman/DH types (Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo) so finding room for him will mean the O’s will have to say bye to Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo and keep Mancini and his sub par defense in the outfield (Renato Nunez is another DH player on their roster). His bat should be ready for the major leagues next year and a September callup is a strong possibility this year.

3. Seth Beer (Diamondbacks) - The bat is what will get him into a major league lineup. The Astros drafted him with their first pick in 2018. He was included in a trade to the Diamondbacks for Zack Greinke. So he has gone from a DH league to a non-DH league, depriving him of an opportunity to play his best position, unless the major leagues adopts the DH for both leagues. He is the first left handed bat in this list, but he throws right handed, meaning his glove is on the wrong side for pickoffs. The Astros have used him in the outfield, but his lack of speed and weak arm make him a liability there. His best position is DH. Last year he hit himself into High A, slugging 12 homeruns. He struggled a bit when trying to hit High A pitching (.262 average, 4/22 walk to whiff ratio). This year he was better at High A (.314, .602 slugging) that the Astros promoted him to AA after only 35 games. He has 25 homeruns (none in his 8 games with the D-backs AA team) with 93 RBIs. If he was in AAA with the juiced baseballs his homer numbers could be video game like. Christian Walker and his inconsistent bat is his only impediment in the major leagues so there is no one stopping him from a promotion if his bat keeps producing.

4. Triston Casas (Red Sox) - The Red Sox first round pick in 2018. He only played in two games last year because a torn ligament in his thumb ended his season early. At 6′4″ he has the size teams are looking for in their first baseman. He also throws right handed so the Red Sox are looking at him for third. That size is normally a hindrance at that position if he lacks the quickness and flexibility to handle the hot shots. He has tremendous power, so his bat is what will get him in the lineup somewhere. He played for Team USA where he showed an ability to hit to all fields, making him tough to shift against. This year he has been a bit strikeout prone with 105 whiffs in 101 games. He has clobbered 17 homeruns, but his .247 average keeps his slugging average at .468. Those are Bobby Bradley like numbers. Next year the Red Sox will promote him to High A. If he does well there that could result in a quick promotion to AA but at 19 years of age there is no reason to rush his bat until it is ready for the next level. It will be a couple years before he sees the major leagues, especially with Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers ahead of him.

5. Evan White (Mariners) - Evan was a first round pick in 2017. He is noted for his defense, which is good. There is some question about his power, which is bad when you are playing first base. He also hits right handed, another tick against him. But he throws lefthanded so good for pickoff throws. Bottom line is if Evan can hit he will make the major leagues. Last year in High A he sprayed the gaps with 27 doubles, but hit only 11 homeruns, resulting in a .458 slugging. His batting average was an impressive .303 which led to a promotion to AAA, skipping AA. This year Evan finds himself in AA and his power has impressed with 16 homeruns and a .500 slugging. With his superior glove that could get him to the major leagues. It is not like the Mariners have anyone there that can stop his promotion in 2020 except for the DH entrenched Dan Vogelbach.

6. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - The third round pick in 2014 has been hitting a lot of balls out of minor league parks. A troubled glove and an inability to hit for average has kept him pummeling minor league pitchers. Last year at AA he repeated that level and his average dropped 40 points. Despite the struggles (.214 average) he still got his promotion to AAA. This year he has hacked at AAA pitching for a .272 average and a career high 29 homeruns. It led to his first promotion to the major leagues, where he struggled (.178), hitting only one homerun in 45 at bats. Next year he may be given more of an opportunity. He’ll get to show his stuff in September. DH may still be his best position in the major leagues.

7. Nate Lowe (Rays) - Nate Lowe, like catcher Will Smith (Dodgers) may not be considered a prospect next year if he gets a few more at bats. He was a 13th round pick in 2016 out of college. His younger brother was a first round pick of the Rays in the 2016 draft out of high school. Nate is the one that has made an impact for the Rays, with a .294 average and 5 homeruns. At 6′4″ and 245 pounds he can mash a baseball when he gets ahold of it. His large frame hinders his speed for the outfield making first base his only viable position. His younger brother is the same 6′4″ and 205 pounds with the speed to one day join him with the Rays playing the outfield. Defensively Nate can handle first base, but he will not win any gold gloves. Expect Nate to be the Rays starting first baseman next year.

8. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Nick was a first round pick of the Royals in 2017, a couple picks ahead of White. Like White, Nick is noted for his glove at first base. There is some concern whether his bat will break out enough to be an offensive contributor at the position. To go along with that lack of power he also has a propensity to swing and miss with 150 whiffs last year and already 145 this year in less games. Last year he slugged .443 with just 14 homeruns, but had the ability to find the gaps with 33 doubles. This year he is really struggling with a .185 average and a .302 slugging. We’ll chalk it up to a bad season. One tool he is above average in for a first baseman is speed. Last year he stole 22 bases and this year he has 15. It is still not enough to make him an effective outfielder at any position but possibly left field.

9. Lewin Diaz (Marlins) - Diaz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 for $1.4 million by the Twins. They traded him to the Marlins for bullpen help (Sergio Romo). Myworld likes his 6′4″ height and his lefthanded bat. Diaz has had a breakout year with his power, slugging 24 homeruns between High A and AA. His ability to hit for average has improved, raising his High A average from .225 last year to .290, resulting in a promotion to AA. His lack of speed will restrict him to first base where his defense will be adequate. For a power hitter he does have a good ability to make contact. He could make a contribution to the Marlins next year.

10. Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) - The 2016 fourth round pick will rely on his power. Bobby can also play third base, but Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers could hinder his major league progress there. He is one of those players whose at bats do not result in a lot of balls hit in play. He takes a lot of walks, whiffs a ton and sends many a ball over the fence. Last year he slugged 32. This year he has 22. The strikeouts will leave his batting average below .250 but his OBA should still be good with his walks. He has a solid arm and just below average speed so a move to left field could be an option, but the Red Sox outfield is a little crowded now for that to happen. He will probably see the Red Sox next year and if J.D. Martinez is not resigned he could see time as a DH.

Corbin Wins One for Skaggs

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Tyler Skaggs was a first round supplemental pick of the Angels back in 2009, the same draft the Angles selected Mike Trout in the first round. Patrick Corbin was selected in the second round by the Angels. They were both traded to the Diamondbacks in 2010 in the Dan Haren trade, both making their major league debuts with the Diamondbacks in 2012. Skaggs returned to the Angels in 2013 in a trade for Mark Trumbo. Skaggs and Corbin both had Tommy John surgery around the 2014/2015 time period so both were on rehab from that procedure. Skaggs was at Corbin’s wedding November of last year. So after the unexpected death of Tyler Skaggs a couple days ago, Patrick Corbin pitched last night wearing the uniform number of Skaggs (45) to honor his friend.

It did not start off well. The first three Marlins he faced got base hits off him to score the first run of the game. He settled down after that to strike out the next two hitters and get a third out on a fly out. He put up zeroes the next two innings and then the rains came. It was an hour and 15 minute delay. Normally the starting pitcher does not go out to pitch after that long a rain delay. The Marlins brought out a new pitcher. Corbin came out to work the fourth.

Corbin pitched another four shutout innings to leave the game ahead 2-1. If not for the deplorable Nationals bullpen he may have gotten the win. But Wander Suerro coughed up a run in the 8th and the game was tied. His opportunity to win the game was negated.

Zac Gallen got the start for the Marlins, his second major league start, both against the Nationals. He gave up a lead off single to Trea Turner. After retiring the next two hitters Juan Soto deposited his second pitch into the right field bleachers. He pitched only two innings. Once the rains came he was replaced by Adam Conley.

Both teams remained scoreless until the eighth. Wander Suerro did not pitch that bad after replacing Corbin. He gave up a leadoff double to Cesar Puello. A ground out advanced Puello to third and a fly out by Miguel Rojas scored Puello to tie the game.

The Marlins got some good bullpen work from Adam Conley and Austin Brice, who combined for five shutout innings of work. Nick Anderson added another shutout inning in the eighth, getting out of a bases loaded jam. Jose Quijada probably should have not taken the loss in the ninth. A Neil Walker error put Yan Gomes on first base. With two outs Trea Turner drove one into the right centerfield gap. It rolled long enough to allow Gomes to be sent home and a dropped throw on the cutoff allowed Gomes to score all the way from first to give the Nationals a 3-2 win.

Game Notes: Trevor Richards, the pitcher pinch hit for Adam Conley in the fifth. He popped out to second…Brian Anderson injured himself when he leaped into the right field scoreboard to try to catch the Juan Soto homerun. The prognosis was a right elbow contusion and the hope is that he will be ready to play tomorrow…Miguel Rojas had a good day for the Marlins. He finished it 3 for 3 with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. The only down side is he got picked off first in the fifth inning…Adam Conley has good velocity to his fastball hitting 96 to 97. Myworld can see why the Marlins like him despite his ugly six plus ERA…Anthony Rendon was voted to the All Star team for the first time. Usually, he likes to take a little vacation during the All Star break, relishing the opportunity to take the time off. It will be interesting to see if he chooses to participate in this game…Cesar Puello was once a highly touted prospect. He has had a checkered past, serving a 50 game suspension for being implicated with Alex Rodriguez in the Biogenesis drug scandal. The Mets released him in August 2015 after he had missed almost all of the season due to a back injury. The Marlins are the sixth team to sign/trade for him after the Mets release.

Top Prospects from Colombia

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Last year we included the top prospects in the “Best Prospects from South America” List. Five Colombian players were named on that list. One of them graduated to major league baseball (Jorge Alfaro) and is no longer considered a prospect. The four remaining reappear on the top prospects from Colombia list. Myworld was able to find ten players who we felt had enough skills to make it to the major leagues. Below are the top ten prospects from Colombia.

1. Ronaldo Hernandez C (Rays) - The Rays signed the infielder for $225,000 and then converted him to catcher. His biggest asset is his arm and the ability to hit for power. While the arm can control a running game he is still learning the other aspects of the game such as blocking the ball and framing the pitch that will get him to the major leagues. His defensive mechanics other than his arm would fall below average. On the offensive side, the bat showed it can hit for some power, crashing 21 homeruns last year and slugging .494 at Low A. This year he is trying to tackle High A in the Florida State League which is more of a pitcher’s park. He has five homeruns, but a much worse walk to whiff ratio (6/32), which could be a cause for concern. His batting average is still high (.287) but his OBA has dropped 20 points (.313). He is still a couple years from the major leagues.

2. Luis Patino RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Patino back in 2016 for $130,000. At the time he was still a teenager lacking meat on his bones. He has picked up 40 pounds since that signing and his fastball velocity has gone up ten miles per hour, hitting the high 90s but sitting in the mid-90s. He also has an excellent slider that crosses the plate in the mid-80s. Finding an off speed pitch (curve or change) would make him effective as a starter. The one concern is his smallish frame, which at 6′0″ is death for right handed starters. Last year he dominated at Low A (2.16 ERA). This year a promotion to High A has not impacted his pitching, his ERA (2.92) and opposition average (.194) still showing he can dominate at that level. The Padres are flush with pitching prospects so there will be no rush to move him up the system. Expect him to make the major leagues sometime in 2020.

3. Luis Escobar (Pirates) - Luis signed back in 2013 for $150,000. He was signed as a third baseman but the Pirates moved him to the mound. He has bulked up another 60 pounds since his signing and his fastball now hits 97, but sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range. He has the secondary pitches to make it as a starter (curve and change) but he lacks the command to get them over the plate with any regularity. Last year he walked 59 hitters in 129 innings. That is almost a walk every other inning. This year he has walked 18 in 40 innings. Last year he got seven starts in AA (4.54 ERA). This year the Pirates have tried him out in the bullpen in High A, then skipping him to AAA where he has been used as a starter and reliever. His career opposition batting average entering the 2019 season was a pretty impressive .216. This year he has gotten it down to .150. The Pirates have had dome frustration as they have promoted their younger pitchers to the major leagues and achieved very little success. With every failure comes a greater opportunity for Escobar to show what he can do. Before the 2019 season ends he could start his career in the Pirates bullpen.

4. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals) - The Royals signed him back in 2013 for $460,000. In his first year stateside he shocked the minor league world in 2016 with a .376 average in rookie ball. The last two years he has been stuck at .260. Last year with the injury to Salvador Perez he got his major league opportunity, appearing in 10 games and hitting .259. That first year batting average appears to be a bit of an outlier. After getting off to a slow start in 2019 he has gotten his average up to .254. He is more noted for his defense and his strong arm that can control the running game than his bat. The Royals appear to have a top flight catcher (M.J. Melendez) ahead of him on the depth chart, which could cause a move to another organization if he wants to get playing time. He is currently in AA and should see some time in September, or earlier if an injury results in a promotion. At worst his solid defense would make him an excellent backup catcher.

5. Oscar Mercado OF (Indians) - Oscar was a second round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, signing for $1.5 million. He was traded to the Indians last year for two lower level outfielders. Mercado moved from Colombia to the United States when he was eight years old, growing up in Florida and gaining a reputation as an excellent shortstop. He was moved to the outfield in 2017. There is not a lot of power in his game. Playing good defense and stealing bases will be his specialities. Last year he stole 37 bases in AAA, scoring 85 runs. The Indians are very weak in the outfield and that weakness led to a promotion to the major leagues this year. After hitting .294 in AAA Mercado continues to hit for the Indians with a .306 average. He has also shown some surprising pop with three homeruns in just 26 games. If this kind of production continues with the Indians he will graduate from prospect status and not appear on this list next year.

6. Harold Ramirez OF (Marlins) - With the Pirates he was once a big time prospect. Signed way back in 2011 he got a bit heavy and out of shape and his prospect status suffered. The Pirates traded him in 2016 to the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays did not see anything in him and outrighted him last year. That is where the Marlins picked him up as a minor league free agent. He has resurrected his career, killing it in AAA with a .355 average and a .999 OPS. The Marlins promoted him and have been using him in centerfield, where they had hoped Luis Brinson would have been the answer. His success in the major leagues (.325) appears to indicate that he will be another player to graduate from the prospect list.

7. Jhon Torres OF (Cardinals) - Jhon was signed by the Indians in 2016 for $150,000. Ironic that he was one of the two outfielders the Indians traded to the Cardinals for Oscar Mercado. Could be the first trade where two Colombians were traded for each other. He did not make his state side debut until last year when he hit .397 in 17 games at the Gulf Coast League. At 6′4″ he can generate some power in his swing, hitting 8 homeruns last year in just 44 rookie league games. His arm is built to play right field. The Indians may be getting some good use out of Mercado now, but in the future they may regret trading Torres. The Cardinals have him playing Low A, where he has struggled in his 21 games (.167 average). When the rookie leagues begin he will probably be demoted there to get his bat working.

8. Jordan Diaz 3B (Athletics) - Jordan signed in 2016 for $275,000. Last year he played in the Arizona Rookie League where he showed a good ability to get on base (.371). He has the defensive tools to play third base. His power is currently restricted to the gaps. Whether his 5′10″ frame can generate more pop is open to question. Last year he hit his first and only professional homerun. In the New York Penn League he went deep early where in three games he is hitting .364. He is still a long way from the major leagues. A lot of developing needs to be done.

9. Santiago Florez RHP (Pirates) - Signed in 2016 for $150,000 Santiago has the height (6′5″) and the fastball (mid-90s) to get the Pirates excited. His curveball has some promise but there is no real third pitch yet and his command is suspect. Last year he walked 23 hitters in 43 innings and saw his innings limited because of a barking elbow. There is a lot of development to do. He will work on that in the 2019 season when the rookie level leagues begin.

10. Danis Correa RHP (Cubs) - We needed a tenth player but don’t know a lot about Danis other than his fastball has hit triple digits, but sits at the mid-90s. At 5′11″ his height goes against him as a right handed pitcher. Last year he only was able to pitch in two games of relief at the rookie level. The year before he pitched 40.2 innings. At 19 years of age the Cubs are possibly waiting for the rookie leagues to begin before they put Correa on the mound.

Top Cuban Prospects in National League

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

The list from last year had a player traded to the American League (Yusniel Diaz) and three drop from the list. No player from the list from last year graduated to the major leagues. We expect that to change after this year with Yoan Lopez providing the Diamondbacks with good bullpen work.

1. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - Since pitching for the 15 and under gold medal team and winning the MVP, Adrian has added some meat on his bones. That has upped his velocity to a steady diet of 93-95 mile per hour fastballs with an occasional helping of 97-98. His curve ball is also a high quality pitch. The Padres signed him for $11 million as a 17 year old. The pitches are all there, the command of those pitches can be a little spotty. This year he is pitching at AA as a 20 year old. He is struggling a bit with 11 walks in 20.2 innings, resulting in a 5.66 ERA. Unless he improves his command he will probably pitch all season in AA and will not see the major leagues until late next year. One of the strengths of the Padres is their depth in starting pitching.

2. Victor Victor Mesa OF (Marlins) - The Marlins season is not going well and the attendance is lagging. They did pull a coup signing one of the top international prospects and his brother in 2018. The father, Victor Mesa was a star of many international tournaments and played with Lourdes Gurriel, whose youngest son Lourdes Jr. appeared on this list last year. The big tool for Mesa is his speed, which will allow him to cover a lot of ground in center field with a strong arm. There is some question whether his bat will be one that will have an impact. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million with his younger brother Victor signing for $1 million. The older brother had some up and down seasons in the Nacional Series, but felt the pressure of being the son of a legend. He is not making much of an impact in the Florida State League, hitting just .224 with a .274 OBA and a .260 slugging. All the defense in the world will not support that offense.

3. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed Baez for $3 million, the same year they signed Morejon (2016). He is an imposing figure at 6′8″ 220 pounds. His fastball splits the plate in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are promising but with his long limbs a consistent delivery is difficult resulting in poor command. If he fails to make it as a starter he has the velocity and intimidating presence to make it as a closer. He got a late start to the season but in AA he has made four relief appearances, striking out 13 in 8.2 innings, but giving up 10 hits. If he can show dominance in the bullpen he could see some time with the Padres as a September callup.

4. Malcom Nunez 3B (Cardinals) - The Cardinals signed Malcom in 2018 for just $300,000, the maximum salary they could sign international players because of penalties. They stuck him in the Dominican Summer League where he crashed the party, hitting .415 with 13 homeruns. The bat carries some big time power, with the potential to hit for 30 plus homeruns once he reaches the major leagues. He led Cuba to the gold medal in the 15 and under World Cup in Japan in 2016. His defense needs improvement, otherwise a move to first may be necessary, chipping away at his value. He is finding the Midwest League a little tougher than the Dominican Summer League, hitting just .183 in 21 games. Currently only one of his 13 hits has gone for extra bases, resulting in a paltry .197 slugging average.

5. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent a rich $16 million in 2015 to sign Yadier. His high 90s fastball convinced the Dodgers to give him his suitcase full of cash. His breaking ball pitches show promise but his change needs more work. His control is poor and he will need to improve on that if he hopes to stay in the rotation. This is his fourth year of pitching in the minors and the results have been mixed. Last year he walked 43 hitters in just 48 innings in AA, leading to a inflated 4.66 ERA. This year has not looked any better with a 14.73 ERA in two starts. Yadier needs to harness his command to get an opportunity to pitch for the Dodgers sometime in 2020.

6. Yoan Lopez RHP (Diamondbacks) - Yoan signed for $8 million in 2015. His indoctrination to United States baseball was rough as he quit his minor league teams his first two seasons in baseball. After his first year the D-Backs moved Yoan from the rotation to the bullpen. There his fastball hits in the high 90s. His persistence has paid off with his major league debut being made last year. This year he has been one of the better bullpen arms for the D-Backs major league team with a 1.52 ERA. The swings and misses are not prevalent but the opposition average is just .223.

7. Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The Cardinals paid him $2.5 million to leave Cuba. In the Nacional Series back in 2016 he was voted the MVP. Adonis is his older brother, who played briefly with the Braves before leaving for Korea to play in the KBO. Adolis is bigger than his brother and carries a bit more power. Last year he slugged 22 homeruns, leading to a promotion to the major leagues where he could only muster a .118 average. This year he has slugged 12 homeruns but is only hitting .224 in AAA. Strikeouts have been a big problem with 74 in 56 games.

8. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - At 6′0″ and throwing right handed, Vladimir is not a big presence. The Reds still shelled out $4.7 million to sign him in 2016. He does not throw hard, with his fastball sitting in the low 90s, but he can dial it up to the high 90s. His big swing and miss pitch is a quality curveball. His first two seasons Vladimir has been kind of vanilla, with ERAs above 4 and strikeouts to innings pitched just a shade under 9 per 9 innings pitched. This year he is struggling even more with a 7.64 ERA in 11 starts in AAA. He has been a victim of the new AAA balls, where 9 have left the park in just 74 innings. Vladimir needs to turn his 2019 season around if he hopes to reach the Reds this year.

9. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid $5 million to sign Jose to a contract in 2017. He is a defensive oriented player with a questionable bat. Last year the Reds placed him in Low A where he hit .245 with a .290 OBA. His walk to whiff ratio was 19/112. This year the Reds promoted Garcia to the Florida State League where he shows more of the same (.252, 9/31 walk to whiff). He is still a few years away from impacting the Reds.

10. Miguel Vargas 3B (Dodgers) - Miguel is the son of another Cuban legend, two time gold medalist Lazaro Vargas. Miguel starred on the Cuban youth teams before leaving with his father for the States. The Dodgers signed Miguel for $300,000 in 2017. Defensively he may lack the tools to play third so he will have to develop the power to fit at first. His slow foot speed rules out the outfield. Last year he dominated at the rookie levels, hitting .400. He struggled a little at Low A, hitting just .213 in 75 at bats. Another year in the Midwest League and he is hitting .316. The power is lacking but a 29/30 walk to whiff is evidence that he could hit for average.

Stat of the Week - Speed

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Who is the fastest player in major league baseball? Some would say Byron Buxton. Others could argue Billy Hamilton. The fastest player will surprise you. Below is the top ten fastest players in the major leagues according to baseballsavant. It measures feet per second travelled by the player.

1. Tim Locastro (Diamondbacks) - 30.4. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Blue Jays in 2013. The Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers in 2015 for two international bonus slots and Chase DeJong. He got into 21 major league games for the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, hitting less than .200. The Dodgers traded him to the Yankees at the end of the 2018 season for Drew Finley and cash. In January 2019 the Yankees traded Locastro to the Diamondbacks for Ronald Roman and cash. A couple nights ago he hit a walk off single for the Diamondbacks and is hitting .275 while playing the outfield. He has yet to hit a homerun, but is 4 for 4 in stolen bases making him 9 for 9 in the major leagues. What is even more amazing is he has been hit 8 times in just 20 games this year.

2. Byron Buxton (Twins) - 30.3. The Twins keep waiting for him to have his breakout season after drafting him in the first round of the 2012 draft, the second player selected in the draft. Injuries have kept him harboring in the minor leagues for too long. Currently the starting centerfielder for the Twins.

3. Trea Turner (Nationals) - 30.2. Led the league in stolen bases last year with 43. The Padres drafted him in the first round in 2014 then traded him to the Nationals in 2015 for basically Will Myers. Injuries have kept from making a larger impact in the major leagues.

4. Terrance Gore (Royals) - 30.2. A player whose only worth so far in the major leagues is as a pinch runner. Drafted in 2011 by the Royals in the 20th round he has appeared in more games (86) than at bats (46). He has also stolen more bases (33) than he has gotten base hits (11). The 2019 season has been his first year where he has actually gotten an opportunity to play going 10 for 30 for a .333 average, racing for a double and triple, the first extra base hits of his career.

5. Isaac Galloway (Marlins) - 30.1. Drafted in the 8th round way back in 2008. Finally got a major league opportunity in 2018 only to be designated by the Marlins to the minors this year. A career .186 major league average. You can’t steal first base.

6. Adalberto Mondesi (Royals) - 30.0. The second Royal on this list and the first international player, signed in 2011 and making his major league debut in 2014. The son of slugger Raul Mondesi. Leads the majors in stolen bases this year with 20.

7. Jon Berti (Marlins) - 30.0. The second Marlin on this list, but those teams accentuating speed are at the bottom of the standings. Berti has bounced around, drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round in 2011 and being released and signed by teams throughout his career. He signed with the Marlins after the 2018 season. This season has been his biggest major league opportunity with 22 games.

8. Socrates Brito (Blue Jays) - 29.8. Once a top prospect for the Diamondbacks but injuries set him back. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and released by the Diamondbacks in spring training this year. The Padres picked him up on waivers and traded him to the Blue Jays where he was hitting .077 in 43 at bats. Despite his speed he has not stolen a base in the major leagues since 2016.

9. Keon Broxton (Orioles) - 29.6. The Diamondbacks drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. Traded a couple times, most recently by the Mets to the Orioles in May 2019 for international bonus slot money.

10. Garrett Hampson (Rockies) - 29.6. Recently called up by the Rockies and played centerfield. Only hitting .194 this year, and is just 1 for 3 in stolen bases. Drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft.

To date, only two of the top ten speed players are impact players in the major leagues (Turner and Mondesi). Two others have a chance (Hampson and Buxton). The others appear to be disappointments, though teams continue to pick them up via free agency based on the current stat metrics.

Top 100 - 20 - 11

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NL East Predictions

Friday, March 29th, 2019

The last of our division predictions.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Strengths - The new guys. Bryce Harper is the most publicized new guy, but there were more important additions prior to the Harper signing. The trade for J.T. Realmuto provides a more experienced catcher to lead a younger starting rotation. They traded their previous catcher Jorge Alfaro to upgrade at this position. The same holds true for Jean Segura, a quality shortstop who they acquired from the Mariners, including in the trade their previous shortstop J.P. Crawford and again upgrading this position. Signing Andrew McCutchen as a free agent upgrades left field from a defensive stand point and moves the big bat of Rhys Hoskins to first base where his power belongs. Seranthony Dominguez won their closer job last year and did a good job in saving games. Newly acquired David Robertson provides the team choices at the closer position and gives the team an experienced arm in case Dominguez falters.

Weakness - The starting rotation looks slim after Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez all have talent but suffer from youthful inconsistency. They certainly fall short of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves starting rotation. Defense is not a strength here. No gold glovers covering the infield or outfield.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Most of their top prospects who were close to the major leagues were traded. What’s left are mostly relievers like Enyel de los Santos and Ranger Suarez. Ranger could help in the rotation but his ceiling is as a fifth starter.

Expected Finish - It will be a four team battle but the Phillies will rise to the top because of improvement in their offense, provided injuries don’t eat into their depth.

2. Washington Nationals

Strengths - The top three starters are the best trio in baseball. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin can not be matched by any other team, provided they stay healthy. That is no sure thing for Strasburg and Corbin needs to show that last year was not a fluke. The left side of the infield with Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner is strong both offensively and defensively. Turner provides the speed while Rendon shows the power.

Weakness - The Nationals have failed to make the playoffs twice, both times when they were favored to win the division. When they make the playoffs they get eliminated in the first round. Much of that is blamed on a lack of leadership in the locker room. That is still a problem, with too many quiet players reluctant to lead. Max Scherzer is the one vocal leader but pitchers are tough to lead since they only appear in the lineup every five days. The outfield lacks depth. Adam Eaton gets injured a lot. This could create a problem if Victor Robles struggles as a rookie and Michael Taylor stays inconsistent.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Victor Robles will not make as great an impact as Juan Soto. His defense will be better but the bat will not be as productive. The speed should create havoc on the bases provided he has the instincts to make the right choices. Carter Kieboom shined during spring training, hitting two homeruns off Justin Verlander. He could be called up by mid-season once injuries eat away at depth. Tanner Rainey has trouble finding the plate but the fastball hits triple digits. The Nationals traded Tanner Roark for him so expect him to get an opportunity.

Predicted Finish - They will fight with the Braves for the wild card spot and win it by a game or two. Starting pitching will prove the difference.

3. Atlanta Braves

Strengths - The depth of the Braves starters is impressive. It is being used early with the injuries to Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Guasman. Not a good start to the season. The rookie of the year Ronald Acuna should have a better year his sophomore season, moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the lineup. Freddie Freeman is a potential MVP at first base.

Weakness - When the Braves were winning consecutive division titles one of their weak areas was the bullpen. This could create a problem in 2019. A.J. Minter served as the closer last year but he will also start the season on the disabled list. Arodys Vizcaino is another option but he has had trouble staying healthy.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Lots of possibilities to fill the rotation to begin the year. Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka and Bryse Wilson are part of the first wave. Ian Anderson and Luiz Gohara are the second options. On the offensive side Austin Riley could be ready for third base. If Josh Donaldson struggles to stay healthy or his bat fails the Braves will not hesitate to bring up Riley. Kolby Allard is a lefthander who lacks explosiveness with his fastball. Command is his strength and he could fill out the bullpen.

Predicted Finish - Starting pitching lacks experience and this will prove critical as they fall short of the Nationals for the last wild card spot.

4. New York Mets

Strengths - Starting pitching if they stay healthy. They don’t get any better than Jacob deGrom, who won the Cy Young last year. Noah Syndergaard has the potential to win a Cy Young but has struggled to stay healthy the last two years. Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz are two other talented pitchers who have spent much of their career on the disabled list. The acquisition of Edwin Diaz gives them a 50 save closer from last year.

Weakness - Too many hopes and ambitions. They hope Amed Rosario will be one of the best shortstops in baseball. They hope Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith can provide answers at first base. And they hope Yoennis Cespedes can come back healthy to enhance an outfield lacking in power, except for Michael Conforto. They hope Wilson Ramos can stay healthy for a full year and Robinson Cano does not start feeling his age. And they hope their starting rotation stays healthy. All those hopes will not come to fruition.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Peter Alonso has a powerful bat that has the potential of hitting 30 plus homeruns. His defense is not good but if his bat can be productive the Mets will take the tradeoff. Tomas Nido will act as the back up for Ramos, but this will result in a lot of playing time to keep Ramos healthy. Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme will vie for the Mets utility job. Both are superior defensive players but Gimenez may have the better bat.

Predicted Finish - Health and lack of depth will drop them down to fourth but they will stay competitive for a playoff spot into September.

5. Miami Marlins

Strengths - They have the strength to play poorly enough to fight for the first pick in the 2020 draft, if they can be called a strength. Brian Anderson may lack the power to play third but he is the one bat to fear in the lineup. Starlin Castro is a veteran bat who will probably be traded before the year is out.

Weakness - Two of their three outfielders they traded, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich both won MVPs the last couple years. The outfield the Marlins are trotting out this year would be hard pressed to make an All Star team in AAA. Starting rotation will not limit runs and it will get ugly. Same holds true for the bullpen. A lot of ugly on this roster. This team would be more competitive in AAA.

Prospects to Make an Impact - The Marlins have no motivation to use up service time on another wasted season. Isan Diaz could be called up mid-season after Castro is traded. He has been highly touted but his strikeouts have hampered his offensive performance. Sandy Alcantara has made the rotation. His fastball is impressive but his command is lacking.

Predicted Finish - They will fight with the Orioles and Royals for the first pick in the 2020 draft.