Archive for the 'Mets' 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.

Top Third Base Prospects

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top third base prospects. Interesting the list lacks any internationals players. Perhaps some of those shortstops will move to third base, crowding out some of the players below.

1. Alec Bohm (Phillies) - The 2018 first round pick of the Phillies has some height (6′5″) which creates some massive power to his game. He kind of reminds me of Troy Glaus without the swing and miss. The concern is his defensive game is below par based on his lack of first step quickness. Last year his power was absent with zero homeruns in 139 at bats. This year he has hit 21 homeruns, climbing all the way to AA. For a power hitter he makes good contact, which could result in a high average. This year his average sits at .305, though a .367 average in Low A pads those stats. If his agility does not improve and a move to first is a necessity it would drop his value to the team.

2. Nolan Gorman (Cardinals) - Gorman was also a first round pick in 2018. The Cardinals have a glut of third baseman in the minor leagues, but Gorman is ahead of them all at this point. His defense is solid and his power is exceptional. In his first year after being drafted he slugged 17 homeruns in just 68 games. The big issue in his game is his inability to make contact and his struggle to hit lefthanded pitching. This year his splits are not as pronounced as they were last year but his 152 whiffs in just 125 games has dropped his average to .248. His slugging average has also dropped below .500.

3. Josh Jung (Rangers) - Josh was a first round pick of the Rangers in 2019. Josh dominated in college for Texas Tech, even showing the ability to play shortstop. That won’t happen in the major leagues, but it shows his ability to play a solid defense at the hot corner. His bat should show enough power to play the position and he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average. After tearing up Rookie level pitching (.588) he earned a promotion to full season ball. In Low A his power is a little short with just one homerun, but after a full college season he could be a bit fatigued. Bohm did not hit any homers his first year.

4. Jonathan India (Reds) - The Reds drafted India in the first round in the 2018 draft. He showed some power last year for the Florida Gators. With the Reds he may have to switch positions like Nick Senzel with Eugenio Suarez hitting 40 plus homeruns for the Reds. India is still low enough in the minors that the Reds can show some patience with him but as a college drafted position player you can’t show too much patience. India has already hit his way to AA with 11 homeruns, though his slugging average in AA is a disappointing .378. Defensively he has the glove to stay at third. His speed is also decent enough that a move to a corner outfield would not be without possibility.

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates) - The first round 2015 pick is known more for his glove than his bat. He is the son of Charlie Hayes, who played quite a bit of third base in the major leagues. Power will not be part of his game, but he makes good contact where he could hit for average. Last year he hit .293, splitting the gap for 31 doubles. This year has been a bit more swing and miss in AAA, dropping his average to .265, though his homerun numbers have increased to 10. Next year he should battle for the third base job with the Pirates.

6. Brett Baty (Mets) - Bret was the Mets 2019 first round pick. Brett led all high school players with 19 homeruns. He has had some challenges making contact in his first year and his lack of agility may make a move away from third base a possibility. His speed is not impressive so a move to the outfield would still be a defensive liability and with Pete Alonso at first he is blocked there. The Mets will keep him at third and hope he improves with the glove. His first year in professional ball has been a bit of a challenge with a .234 average playing at three different levels.

7. Sheldon Neuse (Athletics) - The Nationals drafted Sheldon in the second round of the 2016 draft then traded him to the Athletics in the Sean Doolittle trade. With Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen also a part of that trade to the Athletics it could be a trade the Nationals regret. Neuse did not show a lot of big time power with the Nationals to justify using him at third base. Entering into the 2018 season he had a career slugging average of .415. This year he has blasted 27 homeruns in the hitter friendly AAA with a .317 average and 102 RBIs. That has led to a promotion to the A’s where his playing time is spotty. He is stuck behind Matt Chapman, and while his glove is solid it falls short of Chapman. If he continues to show power the Athletics could trade him for some pitching help. At 24 years of age his time is now.

8. Nolan Jones (Indians) - Myworld is always confusing him with Nolan Gorman. Jones was a second round pick of the Indians in 2016. He has big time over the fence power that also comes with a lot of swings and misses. Despite his struggles to make contact he has hit for a good average, coming into the 2019 season with a .289 average. His glove should allow him to play third, but he has the speed to move to a corner outfield if the need should arise. Nolan has worked his way to AA where his 15 homeruns is just short of his career high last year of 19. Nolan has also shown some patience at the plate with 96 walks.

9. Rece Hinds (Reds) - The Reds second round 2019 pick has some impressive power for the position. At 6′4″ the agility could be lacking to stay at third base. The speed is a tick slow so a move to a corner outfield would be a defensive liability at a different position. What makes him attractive is his size gives him the ability to hit 30 plus homeruns per year once he shows he can handle the major leagues. Myworld was impressed with some of his batting practice shots in the homerun derby with Bobby Witt Jr last year at the All Star Break. There is some concern about his ability to make contact.

10. Mark Vientos (Mets) - As a second round pick in the 2017 draft Mark is ahead of Brett Baty on the Mets third base depth chart. He doesn’t have the power of Baty and his 22/110 walk to whiff ratio makes one wonder if he can continue to hit for average as he rises up the minor league ladder. At 6′4″ he has some size that limits his agility, but with Alonso at first he will need to play third to stay with the Mets. This is his first season in full season after two years in rookie ball. His batting average and slugging percentage has struggled with that. The arm is strong so a move to first would negate that strength.

An Epic Comeback by Nationals

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Myworld did not attend this game. We were at the game yesterday that the Nationals slept through, losing to the Mets 7-3. The greatest comeback we’ve ever witnessed was when the Angels came back from a 12-5 deficit, scored 8 runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped off by a Dick Schofield grand slam to win 13-12. This would have been close to that Angels win if we had attended.

Myworld listened to the game on the radio. We had just gotten back from our volleyball match in which we made a great comeback to win our first game. The Mets were winning 5-4 going into the ninth. Based on the announcers account of the game the Nationals were making a number of mental errors, mistakes they should not be making in September.

The bullpen gave up five runs in the top of the ninth, four of them unearned after a Matt Adams error and a Trea Turner mental error when he could have turned a double play but he forgot how many outs there were in the inning. That put the score at 10-4. Met fans at the stadium were probably rubbing it in, ready to celebrate their second straight victory over the Nationals and hopefully put themselves in the playoff race.

With a 10-4 lead Mets manager Mickey Calloway saw no need to keep their most effective bullpen pitcher Seth Lugo in the game. Juan Soto had just hit a 2-run homer off Jacob deGrom in the eighth and Lugo came on to protect what was then a narrow 5-4 lead. He retired the Nationals in order to keep it at 5-4.

When the Mets scored five runs in the top of the ninth Mickey Calloway went with Paul Sewald to start the ninth. He got the one out in the inning, a Howie Kendrick fly out after Victor Robles led off the inning with an innocent single. Trea Turner made up for his mental blunder when he forgot how many outs there were and doubled to right, scoring Robles. Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Anthony Rendon singled to score Turner to make the score 10-6. The tying run was not yet coming to the plate but Calloway saw another need for a change.

Calloway replaced Sewald with Luis Avilan to pitch to the lefty hitting Juan Soto, who had homered in the eighth. Soto singled to right to load the bases. Matt Adams was scheduled to hit but Davey Martinez went with Mr. Walkoff Ryan Zimmerman to pinch hit for Adams. Calloway went with their failed closer Edwin Diaz, who the Mets shed a number of prospects to acquire. The Z-man doubled to right to score two and make it 10-8. Michael Taylor came in to pinch run for Z-man, who was the tying run at second.

Kurt Suzuki came to the plate, a 2019 addition by Mike Rizzo to replace what had been a woeful catching position last year. He put the biggest exclamation point to the game and perhaps the season with a booming shot deep into the left field bleachers. He knew the ball was gone as soon as he hit it, pointing to the dugout, whose players were already beginning their celebration.

Coming into this game this year teams were 274-0 when leading by six. The Nationals changed that narrative. Wow!!!!

Myworld has lost our momentum to do the write up for the Monday night loss that we attended. That would be such a downer after this win.

Top Catching Prospects

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Myworld attempts to identify the top ten catching prospects in the minor leagues. This is my opinion based on numbers since we have not seen all of these players play. For the next couple weeks we’ll try to go around the diamond.

1. Adley Rutschman (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft. The last time the Orioles drafted a catcher in the first round (2007 fifth overall pick) his name was Matt Wieters. Matt has had a good career in the major leagues but when he was in college his bat was going to make him special. That bat never really showed up. Like Matt, Adley is a switch hitter and comes with the same two way press clippings, a powerful bat who can play the defensive game. He makes good contact, walking more than he struck out in college and has the potential to hit for power. He also has a strong arm that can control the running game. At 6′2″ he is solidly built but still agile enough behind the plate. In his professional debut he has walked (5) more than he has struck out (4), but his batting average is less than desired (.176). It is a small sample size of only 34 at bats and it comes after a heavy college season. Adley should get enough experience that he should play in the full season league next year.

2. Joey Bart (Giants) - A similar story for Bart who will eventually be called upon to replace Buster Posey, who has had a good career with the Giants. Like Wieters, Posey was a fifth overall pick (2008) but his offensive game has been better. At 32 years of age his catching shelf life is about to expire and Bart is poised to replace him. Joey was a first round pick in 2018 and was the second overall pick, coming out of the same college as Wieters (Georgia Tech). His first season in rookie ball he shined with 13 homeruns and a .364 average. Those are the kind of numbers we expected from Adley. Joey is also a two way player with a powerful arm to control the running game and a good bat to hit in the middle of the lineup. At 6′3″ he is also a big catcher but very agile behind the plate. For the 2019 season the Giants started him in the California League where his bat continues to shine (.270, 12 homeruns) with a .815 OPS. His speed and ability to make contact is not as strong as Adley but he should make an impact with the Giants by 2021.

3. Will Smith (Dodgers) - Will was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2016. At the start of the season he wasn’t even considered the best catcher in the Dodgers system. After the way he has handled major league pitching this year (.326, 6 homeruns, 1.199 OPS) he may not be eligible as a rookie next year since he is now the Dodgers starting catcher in the middle of a playoff race. Based on his career minor league numbers (.236 average) the batting average should not stay at that level, but his power is real. He also has a strong arm and is showing good maturity with a veteran Dodger pitching staff in a playoff race. Keibert Ruiz will find it tough to wrest the catching job from Smith, but the Dodgers appear to be set at catching for the long term. This year Will did hit .269 with 20 homeruns in just 60 games at AAA, where the baseballs may have been a little juiced. For a power hitter he makes good contact.

4. Miguel Amaya (Cubs) - With Wilson Contreras behind the plate the Cubs are not in an immediate need to find a catcher. They found Miguel in Panama, where they signed him for $1.25 million in 2015. His defensive game at this point is above his offensive game, but his power began to show last year with 12 homeruns in his first exposure to the full season leagues. A promotion to the Carolina League for 2019 has seen some offensive struggles (.232) but he has shown some patience at the plate (.347 OBA) and continues to display his power (8 homeruns). His defensive game has improved to such a point that he may be one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. Despite his offensive struggles Miguel should see AA next year and Wilson should start looking in the rear view mirror at his next replacement.

5. Francisco Alvarez (Mets) - The Mets have had a number of promising catchers that have performed less than their expectation once they reached the major leagues. Francisco comes from the catching haven of Venezuela and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million. He did not play last year. At 17 years of age he still has some work to do on his defensive game. He has been pretty impressive with the bat in his first year hitting .462 with two homeruns in just 26 at bats. The Mets promoted him to Kingsport where he continues to rake with a .355 average with two more homeruns. His OPS sits at an impressive 1.073. At 5′11″ and 220 pounds Francisco is a bulky catcher. To stay agile behind the plate he will have to watch his weight. A promotion to the full season league next year is expected.

6. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - Keibert was signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $140,000. Will Smith has been a step ahead of him on the catching ladder. Keibert was signed for his defense, but his bat has been pretty impressive as well, with a .309 career average entering the 2019 season. The power may not be as great as Smith but he has a better ability to make contact and hit for a higher average. Both players have a strong defensive game. This year Keibert struggled a bit in AA, where he played last year (.254) but a promotion to AAA has seen him increase that average (.324). The Dodgers could leave Ruiz in AAA next year as insurance to an injury to Smith but at some point they will have to make a decision who their starting catcher is.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez (Rays) - Ronaldo was signed out of Colombia in 2014 for a bargain price of $225,000. No catcher on this list has a stronger arm than Hernandez. The other parts of his game still need some work. The Rays converted him to catcher after signing him so his experience is still limited behind the plate. Last year Ronaldo played his first year in a full season league and clubbed 21 homeruns. His career average entering the 2019 season is .306. Playing in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he is hitting .274 with 7 homeruns. His .413 slugging is about 70 points under his career minor league average. The Rays will show patience with him but he could be the Rays first home grown catcher in more than a decade.

8. Shea Langeliers (Braves) - Shea was a first round pick of the Braves in 2019, the ninth player selected in the draft. His defensive tools are supreme with an arm equal to Hernandez. He was considered the best defensive catcher in college baseball. His bat could be a question mark, but he did break an NCAA tournament record with 11 RBIs in one game. The Braves debuted him in Low A where he has struggled with the bat (.211). When you consider the Orioles have started Adley in the rookie leagues the immediate promotion of Shea to full season was an aggressive move. They may start him in Low A to begin the 2020 season but he could be up with the Braves very quickly.

9. Sam Huff (Rangers) - Sam was a seventh round pick in 2016 out of high school. Catchers drafted out of high school usually do not have the same success as catchers drafted out of college. At 6′4″ Sam is large for a catcher but his athleticism and strong arm keep him behind the plate. His large frame gives him exceptional power. Last year he hit 18 homeruns at Low A. The downside was a troubling 23/140 walk to whiff ratio. This could hurt him average wise as he sees more advanced pitching. The Rangers repeated him at Low A this year and after hitting .333 with 15 homeruns in just 30 games they quickly promoted him to High A. The homerun numbers have slowed (10 in 70 games) but the average still remains high (.278). He still continues to struggle to make contact (23/116 walk/whiff ratio in 101 games) so that will have to be monitored. His defense is strong enough that if he hits below .250 with 20 plus homeruns he should make it as a starter.

10. William Contreras (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson. His offensive game is probably just above his defensive game at this point. He has a strong arm behind the plate, good athleticism and with more experience should be an upper level defender like his older brother. His offensive game has the same potential for power as his brother. Last year he hit 11 homeruns at Low A but failed to hit a homerun in his 83 at bats in the Florida State League. That is where he started his 2019 season and though his offensive numbers were not great (.263, 3 homeruns) he was still promoted to AA. William makes good contact and his power should improve as he matures. Expect him to be with the Braves sometime late next year as a September callup.

Top Venezuelan Prospects National League

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

There have been some graduations from the list put together last year. Rookie of the year Ronald Acuna had a pretty good year and is no longer considered a prospect. He was the top player on the National League list. Other than that no other graduating player. With all the internal strife in Venezuela the quality of prospects out of the country has dropped. The National League seems to have a lot of promising catchers. The top five players on this list appeared here last year. The bottom five are all new to the list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - After Acuna won rookie of the year last year Ruiz went from number two to the top spot. In his first couple years in the minors he hit over .300, entering the 2019 season with a .330 career average. His bat took a bit of a dive last year with a .268 average. The Dodgers kept him in AA for a second season and the hitting has continued to suffer (.245). Not noted for his power his slugging percentage has really dipped from .401 last year to .321. The bright note is his ability to make contact is strong (28/21 walk to whiff ratio) and his defense has not suffered. His arm is not strong so he will not control a running game but his ability to block pitches in the dirt is solid. If his bat had been strong myworld would have expected a promotion sometime this year. With the Dodgers in a pennant race it may not be until next year when Ruiz wears a Dodger uniform.

2. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - At one point Amed Rosario was the Mets shortstop of the future. Defensive struggles have the Mets talking about moving Rosario to centerfield, which would open up a spot for Gimenez at shortstop. The bat is not as strong as Amed but his defense is superb. If Rosario stays at short the Mets could always convert him to a utility player. Last year he carried a useable bat, hitting over .277. This year the bat has dipped to .232 in AA. Andres lacks the speed of Rosario but he still has the ability to steal bases (16). The biggest issue for Gimenez is the rise of Ronny Mauricio, coming up from A ball.

3. William Contreras C (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson carries his brothers pop with the bat and his strong arm. The bat has struggled a bit this year with a .263 average and .368 slugging percentage in the Florida State League but that is a pitcher’s park. Myworld only became aware of Wilson when he was at AA but at this point the older brother has more power. William may develop that power but it has yet to surge with regularity. His arm is strong enough to catch and he has the intangibles to fit behind the plate defensively. The Braves have Alex Jackson in AAA but William is the stronger hitter and better defensively. Alex may have more power. William may have to wait until next year to debut for the Braves.

4. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - The world continues to wait for the Espinoza breakout. He was one of the top minor league pitchers in baseball until Tommy John surgery felled him. He has not pitched since 2016, missing more than two seasons. Despite standing only 6′0″ his fastball hit the high 90s. Scouts compared him to Dennis Martinez. Originally signed by the Red Sox in 2014 for $1.8 million they traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox ironically complaining about the trade because of a perceived undisclosed injury to Pomeranz. A second Tommy John surgery in August of last year will delay Espinoza’s return until mid 2020.

5. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - The Phillies signed Ranger for the bargain basement price of $25,000 in 2012. He lacks an over powering fastball, sitting in the low 90s but a excellent change enhances the velocity of the fastball. Swings and misses are not part of his game with just 6.6 whiffs per nine innings. He also has excellent command of his pitches, throwing to the corners and hoping for soft contact. Last year he had some success at AAA (2.74 ERA), which led to a promotion to the major leagues. That proved to be a challenge with a 5.40 ERA and a ,339 opposition average. This year he started his season in AAA and that was a struggle (5.68 ERA and .281 opposition average). Despite those poor numbers he did get promoted to the Phillies where he worked out of the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation pitcher. If that does not work out he could still be used out of the pen as a middle reliever.

6. Francisco Morales RHP (Phillies) - Francisco was not the bargain as Suarez. He has a little more pop to his fastball, with his mid-90s velocity motivating the Phillies to pay $900,000 to sign him. Francisco has a plus slider but still needs more consistency with his change to give him a third pitch. Francisco has more swing and miss with his pitches. This year is his first season in full season ball and his swing and miss has not lessoned. He has given up some homerun balls (7) in just 62.1 innings, which is responsible for his high 3.90 ERA.

7. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets have had trouble finding a catcher. At 17 years old and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million Francisco will not provide any immediate answers. This is his first year of minor league baseball and the Mets have already promoted him to the rookie leagues where he has shown some pop with the bat with three homeruns in 15 games. He is also torching rookie league pitchers for a .404 average and a 1.189 OPS. He is still learning the tools of catching but the arm is strong so that is a start. If the bat continues to rake he could be one of the youngest players in full season ball next year. That is quite an accomplishment for one so young, especially at a position that is so demanding. Mets fans will have to wait at least four years before seeing him in a Mets uniform.

8. Jesus Tinoco RHP (Rockies) - Tinoco was the throw in player the Blue Jays included in the Troy Tulowitski trade. Jesus has a pretty good fastball and breaking ball combination. His change still needs work if he wants to be in the starting rotation. Coming into the 2019 season his career ERA was 4.75 with an opposition average of .286. There is also not a lot of swings and misses to his pitches. This year he has career numbers in AAA with a 4.34 ERA and a .259 opposition average. His strikeout numbers continue to be disappointing. Jesus made his major league debut this year with 7 bullpen appearances. He has been prone to the homerun ball in the NL (5 homeruns in 13 innings).

9. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Diego may be a stronger defensive player than Ruiz. He only signed in 2018 for $2.5 million and did not play last year. Only 17 years old Diego was recently called up to play in the Arizona Rookie League. His .200 average and 2/17 walk to whiff ratio is evidence that he has a long ways to go. A player to watch as possible trade bait with Ruiz and Will Smith ahead of him in the minors. Time will tell if the power will develop but at 6′2″ he has a large frame.

10. Israel Pineda C (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Pineda in 2016 for $450,000. He spent his first two years in short season ball hitting .277. He is still a teenager so there is a lot of development to do. This is his first year in full season ball and where his average has struggled (.212) but he has already hit a career high 5 homeruns. His arm is above average with the ability to throw out greater than 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year. The Nationals have a lot of young depth at catcher in the minor leagues so it will take at least five years before Israel makes his debut.

Forbes List of Top Paid Baseball Players

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Soccer players are the top three salaried athletes on the Forbes Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list. The process was to figure out a player’s salary or winnings and endorsements, add them up and come up with their 2019 earnings. The one difficulty with that is the endorsements were based on publicly identified endorsements or word of mouth by talking with representatives about the worth of those endorsements. So the list may not be totally accurate.

Soccer takes the first three, a boxer is number four, tennis at five, football takes 6-7, basketball dominates 8-10 and golf is at 11. You have to go to the 17th spot to find your baseball player. Only one woman makes this list and she plays tennis. Myworld will force you to go the Forbes list to get the names of the above listed athletes associated with their sport.

For baseball, endorsement money was a small portion of their value. I’ll list the endorsement money for the top three, but after that it was under $1 million.

17. Mike Trout (Angels) - $56 million ($3 million in endorsements)
23. Bryce Harper (Phillies) - $44.5 million ($6.5 million in endorsements)
30. Manny Machado (Padres) - $34.8 million
50. David Price (Red Sox) - $31.7 million
54. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) - $30 million
61. Justin Verlander (Astros) - $29.5 million
62. Yoennis Cespedes (Mets) - $29.4 million
63. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) - $29.2 million
68. Jake Arrieta (Phillies) - $28.8 million
73. Albert Pujols (Angels) - $28 million
77. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) - $27.4 million ($2 million in endorsements)
84. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) - $26.6 million
94. J.D. Martinez (Red Sox) - $25.6 million
96. Joey Votto (Reds) - $25.4 million

Ramos Further Buries Nationals

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The bullpen has been bad for the Nationals as has been their defense. It was their defense that extended the first inning. Wilson Ramos made them pay with a grand slam homerun to give the Mets a 6-2 win over the Nationals. The loss dropped the sliding Nationals to 16-25. With the win the Mets pounced back onto .500 at 20-20.

Jeremy Hellickson was again the victim of the poor defense. It appeared to be a quick inning after a double play grounder hit by Robinson Cano appeared to end the inning. The call was originally ruled out at first base, but upon further review it was determined that Gerrado Parra was drawn off the bag by the throw from Wilmer Difo and never secured the ball as he fell off the bag.

Hellickson had an opportunity to still get out of the inning. Pete Alonso grounded the slowest of ground balls that somehow squirted through the infield out into centerfield. Michael Conforto walked to load the bases. Wilson then hit a line drive that had enough elevation to carry into the left field bleachers for an early 4-0 lead.

It was all the runs Noah Syndergaard needed. The Nationals were one hit on Sunday by the Dodgers. Noah did not give up a hit to the Nationals until the sixth inning. Wilmer Difo and pinch hitter Adrian Sanchez hit back to back singles. Adam Eaton grounded a ball up the middle which Ahmed Rosario turned into a double play. Victor Robles then blasted one deep into the middle row of the left field bleachers to close the Mets lead to 6-2.

The Nationals poor defense also gave the Mets a run in the top of the sixth. Hellickson gave up a single to Michael Conforto and walked Wilson Ramos to start off the inning. That ended the day for him and brought on lefty Matt Grace. Brandon Nimmo lined a 1-2 pitch into centerfield. Victor Robles seemed to dart left, then shifted his feet to try to move backwards but it was too late. The ball travelled over his head for an RBI double. Grace was able to get out of the inning, retiring the next three hitters without allowing another run to score.

In the top of the ninth pinch hitter Dominic Smith mashed a pitch into centerfield, over the 402 foot marker. On this day the Mets would not need their closer, though he was warming up in the bullpen.

Nats Notes: It was a sparse crowd on this night, with the temperatures dipping more towards fall like weather. Attendance was listed at 23,315, but it was a late arriving crowd…Noah was hitting 97-99 with his fastball. Jeremy Hellickson was hitting 87-90….The Nationals have to lead the league in called third strikes. Juan Soto took two called strikes and struck out swinging once. His average has dropped to .235. Brian Dozier took a called third strike and Gerrado Parra ended the game with a called third strike…Eric Fedde pitched two innings of solid relief, but he did have some adventures in the seventh inning. On a ground ball to first where he went to cover, his foot missed the base and then he tried to swipe over the bag and barely made contact. The next batter popped one up, but instead of waiting on the mound for the catcher or third baseman to make the catch he ran off the mound, called it and barely secured it in his glove…The Nationals have now lost 14 of their last 19 games. They have the second worst record in the Nationals League. Only the Marlins have a worse won/loss record…The good news is that Trea Turner is playing some rehab games and could be available

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.

deGrom spoils Nationals Opener

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Jacob deGrom won the Cy Young last year. He carved out the Nationals bats in the opener, creating a good start to the 2019 season. The Nationals had opportunities to score runs off him early, but once those failed deGrom cruised through six, striking out 10 Nats. The bullpen completed the final three innings to shut out the Nationals 2-0.

Max Scherzer was brilliant as well, finishing second to deGrom in the Cy Young voting. He gave up a solo homerun to Robinson Cano on a changeup in the first inning with two outs that landed in the centerfield bleachers. Except for Cano he struck out the side in the first inning. He went to strike out 12 for his 7.2 innings of work. He only gave up two hits on the day. The Nationals chose not to pinch hit for him in the seventh with two out and no one on, behind 1-0, but he only worked two outs into the eighth before walking Dominic Smith and seeing his day complete without the win.

Robinson Cano drove in the second run with a single in the eighth off Matt Grace, scoring Dominic Smith. The Mets received good production in the trade with the Mariners that got them Cano and Edwin Diaz when Diaz came on in the ninth and closed out the game with a save. He retired the side in order.

The Nationals had opportunities to score early in the game. With runners on first and second and two outs in the first Ryan Zimmerman lined one between short and third. Jeff McNeil made a diving catch for the third out. The ball was hit so hard it may have been difficult for Trea Turner to score from second.

In the third the Nationals had runners on first and third with no outs. Trea Turner showed some impatience, swinging at a couple high pitches and striking out when he probably could have drawn a walk. Victor Robles then made a base running mistake when Anthony Rendon grounded to third. Robles darted back to third, McNeil threw to second to get the second out, Robles broke for the plate and Cano threw it home to get Robles in a run down. He was tagged out to end the inning.

There are still 161 games to play. The two players acquired by the Mets in the Mariners trade were responsible to win game one. With another four months of the season left to play the other 161 games can turn out very differently.

Nats Notes - It was a sellout crowd of 42,263. The concessions were crowded. Myworld chose one of the stands with the least amount of people. We tried the pupusas on the first floor near the third base side and would highly recommend them…Both Scherzer and deGrom were hitting the radar at 95-97 with excellent secondary pitches. They became only the second duo to strike out 10 or more batters on opening day since Dave McNally and Sam McDowell did it in 1950…Jake Noll made the opening day roster. On opening day every trainer, coach and player is introduced. Noll made his opening day introduction unique. As he was introduced he stumbled getting out of his crouch as he ran to the first base line to join his other teammates. Rookie mistake, but one that did not hurt as much as Victor Robles in the third inning…Lots of activity at the Shake Shake and the Chinese/Korean concession nest to it Chieko. I can’t imagine people getting their food until two innings had passed.

Top 100 - 40 - 31

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

The Braves dominate this ten with 30 percent of the players, all of them right handed pitchers. The Dodgers and Mets both have a duo of position players that will impact their future lineup. That accounts for 70 percent of the players.

40. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) - The Braves 2017 first round pick is having such a strong spring that he may force his way into the rotation. Last year he appeared in four games in relief. His low to mid 90s fastball and curve are good one-two punches but 43 walks in 109 innings is a cause for concern. Even in his six inning major league debut he had a 6/5 walk to whiff ratio. Another half season in AAA would be ideal. He was the first player in the 2017 draft to get promoted to the major leagues.

39. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres may be a better defensive shortstop than Ahmed Rosario, but that is like trying to argue over which of two models is the most beautiful. Since Ahmed did not do anything to disappoint Andres will have to move to second. Offensively he does not appear to be a difference maker in the lineup. His power is lacking and except for his debut season in the Dominican Summer League he has not hit over .300 in his two years playing in the States. Robinson Cano has the next couple years at second base so Gimenez will play one more season at AA/AAA. A September callup is in the cards and a utility role may be his assignment in 2020.

38. Alex Verdugo RF (Dodgers) - Alex Verdugo may hit for average. Myworld looks at his tools and sees a fourth outfielder. The arm has the strength to play right field but his ability to hit for power is lacking. He also feels a bit of entitlement to the right field job after only hitting .260 last year with a .706 OPS. That is not the kind of production playoff teams look for in their corner outfielders. Perhaps he will mature and earn his position in right field with solid production. The Dodgers traded their two corner outfielders from last year, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp so there is an opening for Alex to take.

37. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan has the chance to be a two way player. He has the arm and defensive tools to be a solid defensive catcher. He also has the bat to hit for average and power. He has a .309 minor league career average and slugged 12 homeruns last year. The Dodgers do not have any catchers on their roster who can prevent Ruiz from taking over the position once he is ready. Trusting a rookie catcher with playoff implications on the line is tough so he will start the season in AAA and could be promoted by mid-season if injuries or struggles give the Dodgers no choice to salvage the 2019 season.

36. Peter Alonso 1B (Mets) - In the Futures game myworld witnessed a jaw dropping homerun that landed on the pavilion at Nationals Park. Only Albert Pujols has hit one there. The second round 2016 pick is not a defensive specialist at first base and has a propensity to swing and miss. His batting average will probably float around the .250 range but when he hits the ball it will travel a long way. Last year he slugged 36 homeruns between AA and AAA. Dominic Smith has been a disappointment at first base and also plays a poor defense. Both are having excellent springs. If push comes to shove Dominic has the most experience which will mean Alonso has to spend at least a half season in the minor leagues. Eventually he will beat out Smith for the first base job and if the National League adopts the DH the Mets could keep both and DH one.

35. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) - Ian Anderson was a first round pick of the Braves in 2016. He has a lively fastball that can hit the mid-90s with a curve to buckle knees. The walks could be reduced but High A hitters struggled with a .198 average against him. Drafted out of high school he is still a couple years away from being considered for a rotation spot but at 6′3″ he has a good frame to be a durable starting pitcher. Ian got four AA starts last year and will probably start the 2019 season there. The Braves have no reason to rush him with their surplus of pitching.

34. Touki Toussaint RHP (Braves) - Dave Stewart did not think he would ever become a major league pitcher and sent him to the Braves with Bronson Arroyo to reduce salary. In his defense Toussaint did have trouble finding the plate but those issues appear to be rectified. Touki made his major league debut last year and is the favorite to win a spot in the back end of the rotation in 2019, especially with Mike Foltynewicz starting the season on the disabled list. Touki was born in Florida but his parents come from Haiti. The Diamondbacks wasted a first round pick for him in 2014 to get nothing in return.

33. Joey Bart C (Giants) - Joey “Bay Area Rapid Transit” Bart has a perfect name for San Francisco. With Buster Posey declining in his catching skills Bart is in a great position to take over that spot, especially now that the Giants are close to that tank and rebuild mode. Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018. The bat will hit for big time power as his 13 homeruns in rookie ball prove. His arm is strong enough to control the running game. The other intangibles will develop with experience. Joey will start the 2019 season in a full season league. As a drafted college player he should move up the ranks quickly.

32. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching in 2018, just as he was dominating in spring and the talk was that he was earning a spot in the Athletics rotation. The 2016 first round pick has an explosive fastball that is clocked in the high 90s. At 6′7″ and throwing lefthanded that is a keeper. He needs to improve on his third pitch (change) and enhance his control to make it as a starter. Also, after missing all of last season the Athletics will be patient with him as he eats up innings in rehab. Myworld does not expect to see him in the Athletics rotation until 2020.

31. Brendan McKay 1B/LHP (Rays) - The Rays are hoping to make the 2017 first round pick a two way player. Currently his arm is way ahead of his bat. During his college days his primary position was at first base and he was used as a reliever. Facing minor league pitching he has only been able to hit .221 with a .366 slugging. That will not cut it as a first baseman in the major leagues. It could make him a third or fourth pinch hitting possibility. His left handed arm has been a pleasant surprise with a fastball in the low 90s with an excellent feel for the strike zone. Joe Kelly found his arm rising higher up the minor league level than his bat could keep up and eventually focused on pitching. The same may apply to McKay as his arm outpaces his bat. He could start next season in AA but his bat may not be ready yet for that level.