Archive for January, 2012

Tiburones Bomb Tigers to Even Venezuelan Series

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

La Guaira (2-2) 9 Aragua (2-2) 1

The Venezuelan series has also turned into a best two out of three with the Tiburones 9-1 mashing of Aragua.  Hector Sanchez continued his torrid winter raking with a 3-run homer in the sixth.  Another hot winter hitter Gregor Blanco drove in two runs.  Tyson Brummett threw seven innings of shutout ball to get the win.

Aguilas Takes Third Straight to Tie the Series

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Aguilas (3-3) 2 Escogido (3-3) 1

After Escogido had taken the first three games of the series it appeared certain that a Santo Domingo team would be representing the Dominican Repbulic in the Series del Caribe.  Aguilas from Santiago won their third straight game to even the series at three games apiece.  Mauro Gomez had hit one of three straight singles in the top of the ninth to tie the game for Escogido at 1-1.  The Leones were not able to take advantage of more runs, stranding runners on first and third.  Denis Phipps struck out and Julio Lugo ended the rally grounding into a double play.

Brandon Moss started the home half for Aguilas with a base hit.  The ageless Bernie Castro moved him to second with a bunt, but Jose Cabrera muffed it making everyone safe.  With one out, Hector Luna hit a pinch hit line drive single to centerfield that was good enough to score Brandon Moss for the game winning run.

Both Nelson Figueroa and Raul Valdes were brilliant, each pitching eight innings.  The only run that was scored in the first eight innings was off of Escogido’s Figueroa on a leadoff double by Juan Perez in the third inning.  He later scored on a sacrifice fly from Pedro Ciriaco.  It was Pedro that Hector pinch hit for when he drove in the game winning run in the tenth inning.  Raul Valdes allowed only three hits and struck out 11.  Miguel Batista gave up the run in the ninth to deny him the victory.

The series now turns into a best two of three.

Heat and Bite Even Series in Australian Championship

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Both round one playoff series will go to a third game with Perth and Adelaide winning the second games to even the series at one game apiece.

Perth 9 Melbourne 5

After grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in the opener, Mitchell Graham got a bit of revenge in the second game with a 2-run homer in his first at bat.  That was followed by a Allan de San Miguel homer to give the Perth Heat a quick 5-0 lead in the second game to prove the difference in their 9-5 win.  Graham finished the game with three hits and four RBIs.  Warwick Saupold got the start and the win for the Heat, but he wasn’t particularly effective, walking four and giving up five hits.  He was fortunate to only give up three runs.  Geoff Brown got the last out of the eighth and retired the side in the ninth to pick up the save.

Adelaide 8 Sydney 3

The Bite overcame an early 3-0 deficit to even their series, Calvin Anderson driving in the first two runs with a single and then breaking a 3-3 tie in the fifth with a 2-run homerun.  He finished the day with four RBIs on three hits.  James Jones crossed the plate three times for the Bite.  Paul Mildren went the distance, throwing 124 pitches to get the victory.  He gave up a 2-run double to yesterday’s hero David Kandilas, but didn’t give up another hit after the fourth inning.  Chris Oxspring took the loss for the Blue Sox, walking five.

Aragua Outhits La Guaira for Second Win

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Aragua (2-1) 5 La Guaira (1-2) 3

Aragua out hit La Guaira 14 hits to three, but could only outscore them 5-3.  They had to rally for three runs in the last two innings to claim the victory.  RBI singles by Jose Martinez and Jonel Pacheco in the eighth gave Aragua a 4-2 lead.  Edgardo Alonzo had an RBI single in the ninth to provide an insurance run.

Seth Etherton only gave up three hits in five plus innings of work, but one of them was a solo homer to Luis Jimenez in the sixth.  Jose Mijares retired five hitters to pick up his fifth save

Aguilas Rallies for Victory

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Aguilas (2-3) 8 Escogido (3-2) 5

Escogido brought in Fernando Rodney to protect a 5-4 lead in the ninth, but Miguel Tejeda greeted him with a lead off single for Aguilas.  Back to back bases loaded walks to Elain Herrera and Carlos Gomez brought in the tying and go ahead run.  Pat Venditte then replaced Rodney and gave up a 2-run double to Joaquin Arias.  In the bottom of the ninth, Miguel Tejeda had to leave the game with an injured leg.  This could be a big blow for the Aguilas offense.

Brandon Moss continued his hot hitting with a 2-run homer in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3.  Miguel Batista got credit for the win, going one plus inning without giving up a run.

Welcome to Miami - Marlins

Friday, January 27th, 2012

They went after Albert Pujols but were just short of signing him.  They have made no secret about wanting Yoenis Cespedes.  They signed Jose Reyes despite the fact that they already had a pretty decent shortstop on the roster.  They traded two pretty good prospects just to get Ozzie Guillen as manager.  One thing you can’t call this team this year is boring.

General Overview - While they traded for veteran pitcher Carlos Zambrano, signed free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle and should have Josh Johnson in the starting rotation for a full season, their pitching still falls short from the other teams in the east.  They also have an owner who is a little too hands on, and that can normally spell disaster when it comes to roster moves.  For a team that has never won a division title, they have done pretty well to have two World Series victories.

Why They Will Win: They have one of the best young hitters in baseball in Mike Stanton.  He could approach the 40 homerun mark as he gets a better read on pitchers.  Of course, the way he strikes out he could battle to stay above .200 if the pitchers get a better read on him.  The left side of the infield with Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez has some dangerous bats.  With Hanley away from shortstop his lack of hustle on every play won’t be as noticeable at third base.  Heath Bell is a top of the line closer and if they get the player who used to be called Leo Nunez but is now called Juan Oviedo, back he could be used in a setup role.  Emilio Bonafacio has a bat that profiles better in centerfield, but there is some question on his ability to play consistent defense for a full season.

Why They Won’t Win: Josh Johnson will need a good part of the year to get back to his ace mentality.  It is not going to happen overnight.  Carlos Zambrano has always been poison in the locker room if things are not going well.  Perhaps Ozzie can tame him.  Mark Beurle has never had ace stuff, but he has always put up good numbers.  He gives up a lot of hits, but his walk numbers are always low, resulting in decent ERAs.  He has won 13 games in his last three seasons so he would like to get out of that rut.  Catching is not a strength and Omar Infante needs to hit better than .276 if this team wants to be a contender.  He doesn’t walk enough (.315) so he needs to hit for a high average to be an offensive presence.  Depth seems to be missing if a starter gets injured.

Prospects to Make the Roster: This is a veteran team whose best prospects are still at the lower levels.  Sandy Rosario could be bullpen fodder.  Matt Dominguez had the best opportunity, until they moved Hanley Ramirez to third, so unless they trade Ramirez or him Matt has got at least another year in AAA.

Long Range Prospects: Scott Cousins will always be known as the player who barrelled into Buster Posey.  He has a shot to eventually fill a fourth outfielder role.  Chris Hatcher has converted from catcher to pitcher.  He should see some time in the bullpen before the year is out.  He got in 11 major league games last year.  Jose Ceda has a fastball that hits triple digits.  The Marlins would prefer that he harness his control in the minor leagues, but they could give him an opportunity.

Significant Transactions: They traded backup catcher John Baker to the Padres in the hopes that Wade LeBlanc and his slow, slowest and slower fastball has any life to it to pitch in the major leagues.  Heath Bell was signed to take over the closing responsibilities from used to be known as Leo Nunez, reuniting with LeBlanc.  When healthy Jose Reyes is one of the best players in the game.  He has had issues staying healthy, but that didn’t stop the Marlins from signing the free agent.  Mark Buehrle signed a contract a couple days after Jose.  He could fit in the three slot in the rotation.  There used to be a day when the signing of Aaron Rowand would have been a significant transaction.  He should make it as a fourth outfielder and provide veteran leadership.  They traded one of their young pitchers in Chris Volstad to acquire veteran pitcher but volatile personality Carlos Zambrano.  Looking at their ERAs this could be a wash, but Volstad had a less volatile personality.  Marlins resigned Greg Dobbs.  He won’t play as many games at third as he did last year with Hanley moving there this year, but he is good insurance in case an injury hits and he is pretty good as a pinch hitter.

Expected Finish: Their pitching is a little short, so expect a fourth place finish.  They should be in the race for a wild card until the end but they lack the depth to overcome injuries.  Expect a fourth place finish.

Top Ten European Prospects

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Baseball America’s top 30 prospects book is out.  We usually wait until that arrives before listing our top ten prospects from each region.  We generally have an idea of how we would rank these players before receiving the book, but Baseball America always finds diamonds in the rough that we would never consider.  After all, we are only a website of one, so it becomes difficult to see all the players we write on.

Baseball America also has a grade on each player that they have ranked.  Myworld hates ranking players because sometimes the differences between two players are minute.  The prospects handbook rating system helps me in breaking ties or areas where I don’t think one player distinguishes himself over another.

Myworld used to start with Europe because it was one of the more difficult regions to identify prospects.  That is changing now, especially with all the middle infielders coming out of Curacao and the Netherlands Antilles.  We may need to have a separate breakout for the Netherlands just to allow the other European players to make this list.  Enjoy.

1. Jurickson Profar (SS) Texas Rangers (Curacao/Netherlands) - We’re not really too sure why Jurickson was not on the Netherlands team that won the gold medal at the baseball world cup in Panama.  He is a better offensive player than the shortstop that started for them Didi Gregorius, but you can not argue with the results.  They won their first gold medal, beating Cuba and the United States.  Jurickson could eventually do to Elvis Andrus what Elvis did to Michael Young and move him from the shortstop position.  Jurickson could also move to second or third depending on the need because his bat can play anywhere.  His defense is also good enough to play anywhere.  Jurickson stole 23 bases last year in 32 attempts but speed is probably the only tool where he is not above average.  Many teams wanted to sign him as a pitcher because of his low 90s fastball and plus curveball, but he wanted to hit.  Texas agreed to sign him as a position player and his bat has so far passed all challenges.

2. Andrelton Simmons (SS) Atlanta Braves (Curacao/Netherlands) - Simmons was not recruited by major league teams out of Curacao so he went to junior college in the United States where he destroyed pitchers at a .472 clip with seven homeruns, 40 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in just 38 games.  He also pitched 20 innings showing a fastball clocked at 98 miles per hour.  It became difficult for major league scouts to ignore him after that and the Braves drafted him in the second round in 2010.  Last year he hit .311 with 35 doubles.  He covers a lot of ground at short, has a plus arm and should hit for a good average.  His power will only be to the gaps.  While he has good speed his 26 for 44 success rate needs improvement if managers are going to give him the green light.  The previous year he was 18 for 22.  He should find himself in AA next year and overtake Tyler Pastornicky at shortstop, or move to second.  His lack of power does not make him a good fit for third, though he has the arm to play the position.

3. Jonathan Schoop (2B/3B/SS) Baltimore Orioles (Curacao/Netherlands) - His positional future will be dictated on where the Orioles decide to play Manny Machado.  Right now Manny is being groomed as a shortstop so Schoop will either play second or third.  Schoop did not start for the Netherlands team that won the gold medal until an injury felled Vince Rooi for the rest of the tournament.  The team did not miss a beat with Schoop at third.  Both Schoop and Manny played at Low A and High A and if you compare their offensive numbers they are almost identical.  Schoop had the better batting average, OBA and slugging percentage than the number three overall pick in 2010.  His bat and glove should be able to fit anywhere along the infield.  He is a below average runner so don’t expect a lot of stolen bases from him.

4. Xander Bogaerts (SS) Boston Red Sox (Aruba/Netherlands) - Finally, someone not from Curacao, but still a Caribbean island.  Xander also played for the gold medal Netherlands team, but did not get a lot of starting opportunities because of his youth.  At 6′3″ most feel that Xander will get too big to play shortstop.  He has the arm to easily move to third or right field.  His 16 homeruns and .509 slugging percentage at 19 years of age in low A gives an indication of the potential power that will come from his bat.  He will only get stronger as his body fills out.  He doesn’t have the speed to steal bases.  Expect him to eventually settle in right field, which is the position he played when the Netherlands put him in the lineup.

5. Didi Gregorius (SS) Cincinnati Reds (Curacao/Netherlands) - He doesn’t have the strong bat of the players listed ahead of him, but his smooth consistent glove allowed Netherlands to win the gold medal in the baseball world cup.  His father and brother both have played for the Netherlands Antilles or the Netherlands professional leagues as pitchers.  Didi has inherited their arms, one of the strongest tools about his game.  He will not hit for a lot of power, but as a lefthanded hitting shortstop he bats from a side that you don’t see from a lot of shortstops.  Right now he struggles against lefthanded pitching (borderline Mendoza last year) and will need to improve on that if he doesn’t want to end up in a platoon role.  His defense is strong enough that teams may just choose to sacrifice on that offense to get his defense in the game when lefthanders are on the mound.

6. Alex Liddi (3B) Seattle Mariners (Italy) - Alex became the first player that grew up playing in Italy to reach the major leagues.  He hit three homeruns, but struck out 17 times in a little over 40 at bats.  His 3/17 walk to whiff ratio does not bode well for future success if he doesn’t show a little more patience at the plate in the major leagues.  In the minor leagues his strikeout numbers were at 170, but he had an acceptable number of walks (61) to show that he can be patient with the pitcher to hit his pitch.  He does show a lot of power when he is not fooled by a pitch, hitting 30 homeruns with a .488 slugging percentage.  He has also driven in more than 90 runs in three straight seasons.  Right now you would call him a cripples hitter who takes pitchers mistakes a long way.  His defense is decent enough to allow him to stick at third.  He did play 24 games at shortstop last year, but he doesn’t have the range to play the position on a long term basis.

7. Max Kepler (OF) Minnesota Twins (Germany) - Max has not gotten past the rookie league and at 18 years old last year his potential for power is still unknown.  He is the son of Polish and American ballet dancers and was born in Berlin, Germany.  The Twins signed him for $800,000, setting a record for a bonus payment to a European position player.  Since hitting is all about balance, the skills taught to him by his parents should win him a batting title.  In two years he has a .272 career average, but he still has a tendency to strike out too much (54 whiffs in 50 games).  He does not have the speed to play centerfield or the arm right now to play right, so his future position could be left field or first base.  He needs to break out the power to play those positions.

8. Tom Stuifbergen RHP (Minnesota Twins) Netherlands - At 6′3″ 261 pounds he has the bulk that will allow him to stand out in the crowds.  Myworld saw him pitch at the World Games.  He doesn’t show a lot of velocity with his fastball but he still did not allow a run in 17 innings of work.  His best attribute is the command that he shows with his pitches, mixing in a solid curveball with a low 90s fastball, occasionally showing the change.  His minor league numbers at high A were not impressive last year with a 4.40 ERA and a .319 opposition average.  This was in the Florida State League, which is considered to have many pitcher’s parks.  He should try his success at AA next year and needs to start missing more bats.

9. J.C. Sulbaran RHP (Cincinnati Reds) Curacao - His birthplace is shown as Florida, but he pitched for the Netherlands team that won the gold medal in the baseball world cup, coming on in the eighth inning of the gold medal game against Cuba.  He drew attention to himself at the Honkball tournament in the Netherlands when he shut down Cuba for six innings, giving up just one run.  He was a high school teammate of Kansas City Royals firstbaseman Eric Hosmer.  Sulbaran saw his fastball velocity increase from the high 80s to the low 90s, which put him back on the prospect map.  He still doesn’t have a lot of consistency with his secondary pitches and maturity issues have dogged him in the past, but he could fit in a relief role if his secondary pitches don’t progress.

10. Kai Gronauer C (New York Mets) Germany - We just have a special thing for Kai.  We put him on our all pre-qualifying Olympic all star team back in 2008 and then two days later the Mets signed him.  So they must have seen something in him that myworld saw via the box scores.  His defense is first rate.  The big question with Kai is whether his bat will hit enough for him to play in the major leagues.  Myworld believes that he will become the first player from Germany to make the major leagues who played his ball growing up in Germany.  Last year he hit .253 at AA, which could give him a shot as a backup catcher considering the quality of his defense.

Others to Watch

Donald Lutz (1B) Cincinnati Reds (Germany) - He and Max Kepler were the big sluggers for the German team at the baseball world cup.  At 6′4″ and 236 pounds Donald has already developed his power, hitting 20 homeruns last year.  The Reds thought so much of him that they protected him on their 40 man roster.

Loek Van Mil (RHP) Los Angeles Angels (Netherlands) - At 7′1″, if he ever gets the callup to the major leagues he will put his name in the record books as the tallest player to ever play in the major leagues.  Despite his height his fastball resides in the low 90s.  He was the closer for Netherlands in international events until arm injuries left him off the team to limit his innings.  He had a career best 2.04 ERA in AA but at 28 he is getting a bit old to be considered a prospect.

Roderick Bernadina (OF) Baltimore Orioles (Curacao/Netherlands) - If that name sounds familiar it is because his brother Roger plays for the Nationals.  He will only be 20 years old entering the 2012 season and hasn’t played above rookie ball.  His career average is only .241.

Kalian Sams (OF) Seattle Mariners (Netherlands) - He was also a participant for the gold medal Netherlands team at the World Cup.  He hit 24 homeruns last year but his average (.231, 128) need a lot of work if he is to advance to the major leagues.

Shaldimar Daantji (OF) None (Netherlands) - He is not on a major league team and at 28 will probably never be given the opportunity.  But at the games in Panama he covered as much ground in centerfield as any major leaguer.  The big question with him would be whether his bat could translate to major league pitching.  He certainly deserves a shout out for his defense.

Another kudo goes to Sidney de Jong, who orchestrated the Netherlands pitching staff to a gold medal.  Talking to one of the scouts, his biggest concern about the team is whether Sidney’s knees could hold up for all the games.  He was the glue that made the pitching staff work.  He announced his retirement from the Dutch National team a couple days ago.  Sometimes life is all about timing.  If he had grown up at a later time he could be a Kai Groneur with the possibility of making it to the major leagues as a back up, but perhaps that is just me getting sentimental based on what I saw of him at the World Cup.

Aces Upset Heat in Australian Baseball Openers

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The Perth Heat have been the dominant team in the Australian Baseball League, winning the championship last year and running away with the division this year.  They led the league in both hitting and pitching.  The Melbourne Aces forgot to read those press clippings because they beat the Perth Heat in their opening playoff game 8-7, taking them 10 innings to do it and living through some excruciating moments to finally come home with the victory.  It is a best two out of three playoff round so Perth still has an opportunity to come back from the setback.

The Heat outhit the Aces 16-13 but they made three errors that allowed two unearned runs to score.  Dominic Ramos led the game off with a homerun and Perth countered with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first by Tim Kennelly off Travis Blackley.  Those would be the only homeruns in the game.  The Aces then scored two in the second and another in the third and never trailed after that.

It appeared they had the game sewn up when they erupted for three runs in the ninth to take a 7-3 lead.  Dominic Ramos started the rally with a single and Elliott Biddle walked.  Brad Harmon, who leads the ABL in homeruns then bunted the runners over, which resulted in an intentional walk to Justin Huber.  Myworld didn’t see the logic in bunting one of their best hitters and then seeing their veteran hitters walked intentionally, but it all worked out after Kevin David walked to force in a run and Mitchell Ayres singled to drive in another.  Scott Wearne drove in the last run with a sacrifice fly.

Perth took advantage of a Dominic Ramos error to rally for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score.  The Aces chose to allow the tying run to score to get the out on a ground ball to Ramos for the second out.  With two outs and the winning run on third Corey Adamson ground to first for the third out to send the game into extra innings.

The Aces took advantage of a Tim Kennelly error to score the winning run.  Ramos led off the inning with a walk and scored on an Elliott Biddle single after an error by right fielder Kennelly.  The Heat rallied to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the tenth, but Mitchell Graham grounded into a double play to end the game.

The second game between the third and fourth seeds was not quite as exciting.  The Sydney Blue Sox won their opener against the Adelaide Bite 5-3.  It was another win by the visiting team.  David Kandilas had the big hit with a 2-run homer in the third.  He also drove in a third run in the fourth on a ground out, then scored a second run after a walk and stolen base put him in position to score on a Patrick Maat single in the seventh.

Craig Anderson got the win, going six plus innings.  He gave up three runs, but all of them were unearned as a result of two Blue Sox errors.  Dae-Sung Koo pitched the ninth to pick up the save.

You can pick up the box scores for both games here:

Obregon Sweeps to Advance to Series del Caribe

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

The Obregon Yaquis crushed Guasave Algodoneros 19-0 to sweep them in four games and defend their Series del Caribe championship.  There didn’t appear to be much fight in Guasave after they lost the first three games.  Leadoff hitter Corey Wimberley probably got some good natured ribbing for his 0 for 6 performance when the rest of the team around him combined for 25 hits.  Carlos Valencia and Sergio Contreras led the charge with four hits apiece.  Contreras was the big RBI man with five.  The Yaquis hit three homeruns, two of them in the first inning when they took a 5-0 lead.  Alfreda Amezaga started the train rolling with a solo shot and Iker Franco hit a 3-run homer.  Carlos Valencia had the other homerun, a solo shot in the sixth.

The big explosion for the Yaquis was in the seventh when they scored 11 runs to turn a 7-0 ballgame into an 18-0 rout.  They combined for 10 hits and two walks in the inning with Corey Wimberley contributing to two of the three outs.  Marco Carillo got the win by going six innings and allowing only three hits.

The Obregon Yaquis join the Mayaguez Indios from Puerto Rico as two of the four teams in the Series del Caribe.  Myworld hopes to report on the games from Santo Domingo, depending on ticket costs and availability.  We only have so many resources at our disposal.  For a box score of the game you can go here:

Boer One Win From Championship

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Boer hung on to win 7-6, withstanding a 3-run ninth inning rally to pull out the game.  Boer had tallied four runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie.  Ronald Garth had led off the ninth with a homerun.  The Tigers loaded the bases and Wilson Batista stroked a 2-run double to pull the Tigers to within one run.  Barman Espinoza was able to strike out Shawn Bowman and Luany Sanchez to pick up the save.