Archive for February, 2012

Top Prospects 30-21

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Three more posts to get to number one, but it won’t be difficult for those fans of prospects to figure out the top three.  Depending on how the road trip goes, posting may be difficult tomorrow.

30. Jarrod Parker RHP (Athletics) United States (6.34) - This will be his fifth year appearing on the myworld Top 100 list.  His highest ranking was last year when he finished 21.  He rocketed to prospect status almost immediately after high school, reaching AA at age 20.  Tommy John surgery ended his 2009 season early and did not allow him to pitch in 2010.  Last year was his first year back, reaching AA again and matching what he did as a 20 year old.  He doesn’t throw as hard as he did prior to the surgery, but he still hits the mid-90s consistently with his fastball.  He also has a swing and miss slider and a change.  He should make the A’s starting rotation, so hopefully this will be his last appearance on this top 100 list.

29. Arodys Vizcaino RHP (Braves) Dominican Republic (6.41) - At the Series del Caribe they spelled his name Arodis.  The Braves have so many young starting pitchers that the Braves used Arodys out of the bullpen last year.  Durability concerns because of arm soreness and a 6′0″ frame put him in the bullpen.  He did start 17 games last year in the minors, so starting is not out of the question.  His 114 innings pitched last year was the most in his career.  He throws a mid-90s fastball and a sharp breaking curveball that are two plus pitches.  His change has improved so he has the repertoire to start.

28. Archie Bradley RHP (Diamondbacks) United States (6.51) - Archie was a first round pick in 2011 out of Oklahoma.  He beat Dylan Bundy’s high school team in the Oklahoma state championship, though Dylan had pitched in the quarter final game.  He was selected three picks after Dylan but his $5 million bonus was $1 million more than Dylan, but Dylan signed a major league contract.  Archie throws a fastball that travels 92-98 and has a plus curveball.  Since he didn’t really need a changeup in high school that is still in the developmental stage.  He got in two games after he signed late last year, striking out four of the seven hitters he faced, giving up just one hit.

27. Taijuan Walker RHP (Mariners) United States (7.01) - Taijuan was a first round supplemental pick in 2010.  At 6′4″ his fastball gets to the plate in the mid-90s and can reach the high 90s.  His curveball is already above average and his change is improving.  In 18 starts in the Midwest League he averaged 10.5 whiffs per nine innings.  He was voted the top prospect in the Midwst League.  The Mariners have a trio of prospects with the potential to join Feliz Hernandez for the number one spot in the rotation, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton being the other two.  Taijuan is the younger of the three reaching 20 this year.  With his success at Low A he should see High A and with success there a promotion to AA before the season is out.  His major leage debut should be sometime at the end of 2013.

26. Bubba Starling OF (Royals) United States (7.14) - One of the most athletic players in the draft coming out of high school, most felt that his committment was to football, where Nebraska wanted him to be their quarterback. That still didn’t prevent the Royals from drafting the local boy in the first round of the 2011 draft. They have to hope for similar success after another quarterback a number of years ago who was drafted by his local team, Joe Mauer. Because Bubba didn’t play baseball year round he is still a bit raw, but eventually his bat should show excellent power. He also has plus speed to cover a lot of ground in center field. His quarterback arm should easily fit in right should they decide to move him there. He did have an issue with a citation for underage drinking, but that is something most of us have done when we were young. Some of us just never got caught.

25. Carlos Martinez RHP (Cardinals) Dominican Republic (7.14) - His fastball was voted the best in both the Midwest League and Florida State League. The Red Sox had initially signed him, but that was under the name Carlos Matias.  He got a little more money ($1.5 million) signing his contract as Carlos Martinez. His fastball hits the triple digits and even as a starter consistenly hits the high 90s. We’ll see how long that lasts before Tommy John surgery is needed. He has a good sinker, an inconsistent curve that has plenty of potential and a developing change. He had some command issues when promoted to the Florida State League, walking 30 in 46 innings, but still striking out 48. Batters also hit him at a .269 pace there as opposed to the .196 average he limited the Midwest League hitters to in Low A. He should repeat High A to improve his command, but it shouldn’t take much to see him in AA before mid-season.

24. Martin Perez LHP (Rangers) Venezuela (7.43) - His hype has never matched his production. Martin is always rated high on the prospect lists, but his 4.22 career ERA shows that his on field success has been lacking. After struggling in AA in 2009 and 2010 (5.57/5.96) he finally achieved some success there in 2011 (3.16) but when promoted to AAA he reverted back to his old ineffective form (6.43). In 10 starts the opposition batted .343 against him and he struck out only 6.8 batters per nine innings. His fastball sits in the low 90s, with his changeup being his best pitch. He also has a nice breaking curveball, but he struggles getting that pitch over the plate. The Rangers have a number of pitchers that they can use in the starting rotation, so his debut to the major leagues may come out of the bullpen, especially if he continues to struggle with his command.

23. Danny Hultzen LHP (Mariners) United States (7.44) - Danny was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of Virginia. He is the third of the three Mariner pitchers that have tremendous potential (James Paxton listed at 61). He signed a bit late so never played in the minors in 2011. He did impress in the Arizona Fall League, fashioning an impressive 1.40 ERA for six starts in a hitter’s league. For a lefthander, his fastball has plenty of zip, hitting the mid-90s quite consistently. He also has two other plus pitches in the slider and change. It will be hard to see him make the major league team out of spring training after no minor league experience, but his domination in the AFL certainly was impressive. Expect a AA start that will turn into a AAA promotion with any kind of success.  A job in the major league rotation will await him at the end of the year.

22. Anthony Rendon 3B/2B (Nationals) United States (7.5) - Coming into the 2011 season he was projected as the first pick in the draft.  A shoulder injury forced him to DH most of the year, which dropped him to the Nationals as the sixth pick in the draft.  His college position is third base, but with the recent contract extension to Ryan Zimmerman he will be worked a little bit at second and short.  He signed too late to play any in 2011, but most believe that he was the best hitter selected in the draft.  While he has a good arm I don’t see where he will have the range to play short.  The Nationals also had the same idea about Ryan Zimmerman moving to short when Vinny Castilla occupied third.  After playing a few games there, they abandoned the thought.  Rendon has decent speed to move to an outfield position, but that could become very crowded with corner outfielders after the promotion of Bryce Harper.

21. Manny Banuelos LHP (Yankees) Mexico (7.59) - There is always a player that comes out of spring training that impresses myworld.  We can still see Joe Torre gushing after the debut of Clayton Kershaw and the long bombs of Mike Stanton.  Rafael Furcal impressed with his cannon arm and impressive sock for a little guy.  Manny impressed more with his poise and smooth delivery than with his tools.  He also had no problems throwing strikes.  His fastball hits the low 90s, but he locates it well and disguises it with a plus change.  His strikeout to innings pitched ratio dropped last year below nine per nine innings after staying above 10 the previous two years.  With the acquistion of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda the Yankees can be patient with Manny and allow him to achieve some success in AAA before promoting him to the big club.  He will be the depth that Brian Cashman has always wanted for his minor leagues, rather than be forced to trade young prospects who were not quite ready for the major leagues for expensive veterans who ballooned his salary structure.

Korean Walk to K Ratio

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

In the United States, stat lovers including myself look at a pitcher’s walk to K ratio to guage whether they will have success in the major leagues.  If a pitcher achieves two strikeouts for each walk or anything above that it would be a good indicator of success.

In Korea, it appears a pitcher was arrested for his gambling ties.  It has been reported by the Japanese press via http://yakyubaka.com/2012/02/28/kbo-prosecutors-continuing-to-investigate-alleged-match-fixingspot-fixing-attempts/ that the pitcher arrested in Korea, Seong-Hyeon Kim walked a batter in the first inning of a game twice and received 3M won for each action.  Those that bet that there would be a walk in that inning would win the bet.

http://www.mykbo.net/KBO_news reports the player name as Sung-hyun Kim.  Whatever the correct derivation of his name the news reports that he is a pitcher for the LG Twins.  The numbers for Sung-hyun Kim on the LG Twins was 4-9, 5.43.  More importantly, his walk to ratio was 67 to 68.  In the United States we would rate this pitcher’s success rate as pretty poor.  In Korea they may suspect that perhaps this pitcher is walking too many batters in particular innings to accomodate Korean gamblers.

So in the KBO they will be watching their pitchers walk to K ratio a little closer now, but it will be in a completely different context as we do here in the United States.  There are some other pitchers on that LG Twins team that have some pretty suspicous walk to K ratios, at least when compared to other pitchers on the team.

Prospects 40 to 31

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Myworld was hoping to finish this before heading to Florida, but we will have to finish it in Florida, or doing some massive typing.

40. Anthony Rizzo 1B (Cubs) United States (5.46) - Rizzo got a higher prospect ranking than Alonso, but the Padres decided to make Rizzo the expendable one.  Alonso has proven he can hit in the major leagues while Rizzo has not.  Rizzo had an incredible year in AAA, hitting .331 with 26 homeruns and 101 RBIs in just 93 games.  He probably would have led the minor leagues in homeruns if not promoted to the Padres.  There his numbers were not as impressive (.141, 1, 9) even after hitting a double, triple and homerun in his first three major league games.  He is the better defensive player than Alonso at first base.  The only thing he hasn’t done yet is prove that he can hit major league pitching.  He will get another opportunity by the Cubs to dominate AAA pitching while Bryan LaHair gets an opportunity to prove that he is not that fictitious AAAA player.

39. Billy Hamilton SS (Reds) United States (5.54) - There is a saying that the one thing you can’t teach in baseball is speed.  Billy has a lot of that.  He stole 103 bases in just 123 attempts in Low A.  He started out the season struggling to stay above the Mendoza line, but still getting on enough to steal bases.  He finished the season hitting .278.  The big number is his .340 OBA.  If he is going to be a prolific base stealer he just needs to get on base.  He may not have the arm to play short on a regular basis and a move to second base could be in the cards, but the Reds will give him every opportunity.  Zack Cozart could make that decision easy for the Reds if he takes over the shortstop position.

38. Matt Harvey RHP (Mets) United States (5.63) - The Mets have been gushing about Harvey’s character all spring.  He was their first round draft pick in 2010.  Last year was his debut professional season and he averaged an impressive 10.3 whiffs per nine innings.  An 8-2 record and 2.37 ERA with a .238 opposition average got him a promotion to AA where he was a little more hittable (5-3, 4.53, .254 average).  It wouldn’t hurt the Mets to give him another shot at AA to start the season.  He has a mid-90s fastball that can reach the high 90s when Matt reaches back.  His slider is his second best offering with his curveball and change works in progress.

37. Jean Segura SS (Angels) Dominican Republic (5.66) - Jean started as a second baseman and then moved to shortstop.  Normally, the switch is the other way around.  He has plenty of arm to play short, but Eric Aybar could create his move back to second.  His season was curtailed by injuries last year, limiting him to just 52 games.  He has the speed to steal 30 plus bases and in 2010 he hit for a triple double (24 doubles, 12 triples and 10 homeruns), showing that there is some pop in his bat.  It would be best if he starts the season in High A and then work his way up to AA.  With a little success he could get a September call up.

36. Zach Wheeler RHP (Mets) United States (5.96) - The Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants for Zach.  The Giants do have a habit of developing good pitchers with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain two examples.  Zach had a nice 2011 season, striking out over 10 batters per nine innings.  His command seemed to improve when he was traded to the Mets, though being around the plate so much may have increased the opposition average from .224 to .252.  He throws a low to mid-90s fastball and at 6′4″ he can be intimidating to right handed hitters.  In addition to his fastball he throws a good curveball, a passable change and a nascent cutter/slider.

35. Hak-Ju Lee SS (Cubs) Korea (5.97) - The Cubs were able to sign Lee as an 18 year old, not drawing the same ire as the Orioles for signing a player still in high school.  Lee didn’t get off to the best start to his United States career, missing the first season because of Tommy John surgery.  He has come back from that with three seasons of batting near .300.  The average would be over .300 but he struggled at AA, hitting just .190 in over 100 at bats.  He runs like a gazelle, but that did not translate into efficient stolen base ratios (33 for 49).  He has gold glove ability at short stop with a strong arm.  There was some expectation of power developing when he first signed, but there is now an acceptance that the power may not come.  The Rays do not have anyone for shortstop, but Lee has to go back to AA and show some success before being given the position by the Rays.

34. Christian Yelich OF (Marlins) United States (6) - He gets a lot of hype after being drafted in the first round in 2010.  Last year was his first full season and he hit .312 to keep his two year minor league career average to .317.  He doesn’t have burner speed to play centerfield, but a weak arm will limit him to left if he can’t make the grade in center.  If he doesn’t hit for power left may not be a good fit.  He has the risk of becoming a fourth outfielder type player.  As long as he continues to hit that won’t be an issue.  He mashed 15 homeruns last year and slugged .484.  He also was successful on 32 of 37 stolen base attempts, giving him the potential to be at least a 20/20 player.

33. Wily Peralta RHP (Brewers) Dominican Republic (6.03) - Wily was supposed to make his rotation debut sometime last year, but a poor spring and a healthy Brewer pitching staff kept that from happening.  He is a thick pitcher, at 6′2″, 240 pounds, using all that weight to heave fastballs in the low 90s.  He still needs to develop consistency with his secondary pitchers (slider, change).  This will be his seventh year pitching in the Brewers minor league system.  At 23 years of age this year he is ready to pitch in the majors.  injuries coudl make that wish happen.

32. Brett Jackson OF (Cubs) United States (6.16) - Watching him play for the United States team in the Baseball World Cup makes me want to define him as a fourth outfielder.  We don’t think he has the range for centerfield or the power for right.  The United States team seemed to prefer Jordan Danks for centerfield.  He did hit 20 homeruns last year between AA and AAA, but his strikeout numbers were high (138) and his batting average numbers were a bit low (.274).  His 21 stolen bases made him a 20/20 player.  If he can continue that in the major leagues, with quality defense in right he will be a quality player just short of an All Star.

31. Gary Brown OF (Giants) United States (6.27) - There is no doubt where Gary will be playing when he reaches the major leagues.  Center field.  He was voted the best defensive outfielder, fastest baserunner and most exciting player in the California League.  He was a one man wrecking crew on offense, hitting .336 with 34 doubles, 13 triples, 14 homeruns and 53 stolen bases in 72 attempts.  For a player that has below average power his .519 slugging percentage was very impressive.  Gary will start the season in AA and if he has the same season as he did last year the Giants will not hesitate to bring him up to fortify their centerfield position.

Series del Caribe to Expand to Asia

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It appears that the Series del Caribe plans on expanding to six teams next year in Hermosillo, Mexico according to http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/blogs/index?entryID=1472307&name=Ignacio_Serrano&cc=3888.

The Series del Caribe wishes to add both the Korean champion and Cuban champion to the series.  If Cuba does not agree to participate then Mexico will have two teams, the winner and the runnerup to the tournament.  Korea appears to be a certainty to participate.

The participation of six teams will allow the tournament to have a 2-game playoff between the top two teams after the round robin games.  Last year, the Dominican Republic team virtually clinched the series after the fourth game, making the last two rounds of games meaningless .  Adding two teams would add more interest in the later rounds, plus attract additional spectators.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.  Another team the Series del Caribe should consider is the champion of the Australian League.  They have a similar season to the Series del Caribe.

College Baseball Roundup

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Myworld again will select three top college series that we will review in what we hope to be a weekly Monday wrap up.

Stanford 3 Texas 0

This was a big series, especially for the then seventh ranked Texas Longhorns, who hoped to rise in the top 20 with a series victory over the number two rated Stanford Cardinal. Stanford thrashed them in the series sweep 28-5.

It didn’t get off to a good start for Texas, who entered the series 2-2. They had to face Cardinal ace Mark Appel in the opener. He was dominant, earning his reputation by striking out 10 Longhorns in the Cardinal’s opening 7-2 win. Appel went seven innings and gave up only one run on three hits. The first two hitters in the Cardinal lineup, Jake Stewart and Tyler Gaffney combined for three hits each, scoring five of the seven runs between them. Stewart led the game off, rifling the second pitch he saw for a homerun. Cardinal cleanup hitter Brian Ragira also had three hits, driving in three runs. After Appel departed, Texas made things interesting by loading the bases in the eighth inning, down only 6-2, but David Schmidt came in and got a ground out to end the threat and then got three outs in the ninth to pick up the save.

The Cardinal got another well pitched game from Brett Mooneyham, who went eight innings and limited the anemic Longhorn bats to just three hits and one run in the 6-2 win. Jake Stewart again contributed three hits, but he was also helped by Kenny Diekroeger, who went 3 for 3 with two doubles and two runs batted in. Austin Wilson went deep with a solo shot for the Cardinal, one of his two hits in the game. It was Stanford’s first 6-0 start since 1998.

The Cardinal completed the sweep over the Longhorns with a 15-1 win in the final game, scoring 13 runs in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie and put the game away. Stephen Piscotty was the big bat with his two hits driving in four runs. John Hochstatter, who pitched more than six innings of no hit relief last week, got the start and the win, going six plus innings and giving up just one run. For Texas it was their fifth straight loss after beating Duke in the first two games and knocked them down to number 20 in the polls. Stanford stayed at number two behind the Florida Gators.

Baylor 2 vs UCLA 1

UCLA was upset by Maryland last week in their opening series. After getting blown out in the opener the Bruins won the next two to salvage the series and stay in the top 25. Baylor dropped to number 25.

The series opened up like roses for Baylor as they began their season 6-0 with a 15-3 victory over UCLA, battering the Bruin pitching staff for 19 hits and drawing 10 walks. Leadoff hitter Nathan Orf had four hits as did Logan Vick. Three of the four hits by Vick were for doubles. Baylor put the game away with eight runs in the seventh inning to extend a 6-2 lead into 14-2.

UCLA got even with the Baylor Bears with a 9-3 win in game two, led by Beau Amaral, who went 3 for 5 in the victory. Jeff Gelalich also hit his third homerun of the season, a 2-run shot in the first inning to get the Bruins started. The Bruins scored five runs in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie.

The rubber match was a tighter game, with UCLA overcoming a 6-4 deficit to score four in the eighth to escape with an 8-6 win and the series victory. Cody Regis had a critical 2-run double in the bottom of the eighth to give the Bruins a 7-6 lead. Pat Valaika finished the scoring with an RBI double, his third hit of the game and fourth RBI. Baylor got two long balls from Max Muncy to drive in three and a solo homerun from Logan Vick. Scott Griggs pitched the last inning to get the save, though he made things interesting with two walks to put the winning run at the plate.

Appalachain State 2 versus LSU 1

LSU shut out the Mountaineers in the series opener 4-0. Kevin Gausman limited the ASU bats to four hits in seven innings of work, striking out seven. The four runs would be the last bit of offense the Tigers would see. Ryan Arrowood threw seven innings of two hit shutout ball, striking out 10 and Nathan Hyatt completed the shutout going the last two innings in the ASU 1-0 victory in game two. Daniel Kassouf drove in the only run of the game with a solo shot in the fourth, his second homerun of the year. ASU then routed LSU 11-1 in the series clincher, Daniel Kassouf getting three hits and Tyler Zupcic driving in three runs. Rob Marcello pitched a shutout into the ninth before finally giving up his first run. David Port got the last two outs to finish the game. The last time LSU was held to as few as five runs in a series was in 2007, when they played Vanderbilt.

In other games, the Maryland Terrapins continued their stellar play, defeating East Carolina 2-1 to finish undefeated in the Keith LeClair Classic. The Terps 5-1 start is the best in 25 years.

Number 21 ranked Oregon State would have just as soon skipped their trip to San Diego after getting beaten by the San Diego State Aztecs 18-2 and the University of San Diego Torreos 13-2. They saved a bit of face with a 15-3 win over Kansas State in the San Diego State tournament.

Despaigne On Homerun Tear in Cuba

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Alfredo Despaigne is on another homerun tear.  He went 4 for 4 going deep twice in the Stallions 16-3 thrashing of Pinar del Rio.  The Stallions clubbed five homeruns in the knockout that only went six and a half innings because of the ten run rule.  This gives him four homeruns in his last three games, with 12 runs driven in.  He has five homeruns in his last five games with 15 runs driven in.  He now has 26 homeruns for the season, seven away from the record set by Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Abreu at 33 with over 30 games left to play in the season.  As locked in as Alfredo is he could surpass the 33 homerun figure by the end of the week.  The closest pursuers to him in the homerun race are the All Star homerun derby winner Hector Olivera with 17 and Jose Abreu who also has 17.

In other Cuban action, Villa Clara kept pace with Las Tunas with a 2-0 win over second place Industriales.  Both teams are tied for first place in the West.  Matanzas could not take advantage of the Industriales loss, losing to Sancti Spiritus 10-3.  They still maintain a half game lead over the Industriales in the East.

Myworld will try to bring you a more detailed update of the Cuban League at the end of the week.

Prospects 50-41

Monday, February 27th, 2012

50. Yasmani Grandal C (Padres) United States/Cuba (4.39) - Ironic that Yasmani should follow Alonso on this list.  He was also born in Cuba and fled to the United States with his parents.  He played at the University of Miami like Alonso, but was drafted in the first round of 2010, two years after Alonso.  And he was traded to the Padres with Alonso for Matt Latos.  These two guys are joined at the hip.  He will eventually have to compete with Austin Hedges for the starting catcher job with the Padres.  Right now he is ahead of him on the depth chart.  Yasmani will not be a great defensive catcher, but will still get the job done.  His arm is not strong and he allows a lot of passed balls.  If he makes it his bat will be the deciding force.  He has power, switch hits and should hit for a decent average.

49. Jarred Cosart RHP (Astros) United States (4.51) - Jarred was one of the players the Phillies traded to acquire Hunter Pence.  His fastball travels in the mid-90s with pretty good secondary pitches in a curve and change.  Interesting that a pitcher with his stuff could see his strikeout average go from nine plus strikeouts per nine innings to just six whiffs per nine in one year.  He was also easier to hit, with the opposition increasing their average by close to twenty points off him to .240.  At 6′3″ 180 pounds team officials would like to see him build a bit more mass to that frame to help in his durability and get a little more velocity on his fastball.

48. Gary Sanchez C (Yankees) Dominican Republic (4.73) - The Yankees admit that they do not draft their catchers with defense in mind.  Sanchez is another example of a catcher whose bat is far ahead of his glove.  At least his defense is a little better than Jesus Montero at the same stage.  Gary still suffered through 26 passed balls in just 60 games he played behind the plate.  He only played a little over 82 games because the Yankees suspended him two weeks for insubordination and he missed the last three weeks because of a thumb injury.  It sounds as if he has some maturity issues to overcome as well as his defense.

47. Anthony Gose OF (Blue Jays) United States (4.74) - Gose has been traded three times and you would like to think that is because team’s like his tools.  He does have gold glove level defense in centerfield with an arm that can fit for right.  His speed allows him to cover a lot of pasture in the outfield as well as contributes to his ability to steal 70 bases in 85 attempts.  He also hit 16 homeruns from the leadoff position.  The one thing the Blue Jays would like to see him work on is the reduction of strikeouts, which could allow him to hit for a higher average.  Despite a .253 average he still had a .349 OBA that can be attributed to his patience to draw 62 walks.  He’ll get some AAA time this year but with Colby Rasmus in center and his struggles to stay healthy last year Gose could make his debut in 2012.

46. Jake Odorizzi RHP (Royals) United States (4.84) - One of the many treasures the Brewers traded to the Royals for Zack Grienke.  The Royals had a number of position prospects make the 25 man roster last year.  Jake is one of the two or three pitching prospects that should make their Royals debut on the mound, joining at least Mike Montgomery.  Jake’s best pitch is a fastball that runs in the low 90s.  He complements the fastball with decent secondary pitches (curve, slider and change).  He averaged close to 12 whiffs per nine innings in High A, but when promoted to AA that figure dropped to 7.1.  He also gave up nine more homeruns in AA than in High A despite pitching almost the same amount of innings.  Jake will probably repeat AA in 2012 to give him success there before advancing to AAA and then the major leagues.

45. Mike Montgomery LHP (Royals) United States (4.91) - Speaking of Mike, here he is, just one position ahead of Jake.  He throws lefthanded and his fastball can cross the plate in the mid-90s.  Last year he struggled with consistency, finishing with a 5.32 ERA.  Mike struggled with the command of his fastball and still needs to find a curveball to throw that can get opposing hitters out.  His change is a decent pitch at this point.  Last year the opposition hit him at a .271 clip so his pitches were not that difficult to figure out.  If he has a good spring and start to his minor league season Mike should be the first starting pitcher called up to replace an injury or ineffective starter in the Royals rotation.

44. Jacob Marisnick OF (Blue Jays) United States (4.91) - Jake was a 2009 third round pick that has worked his way to top prospect status with the Blue Jays.  The Jays signed him for $1 million because they could not sign three of their top five picks (James Paxton being one of those unsigned).  The Jays got the pick courtesy of the Yankees signing A.J. Burnett as a free agent.  Jacob has centerfield range, but not to the extent of Gose and an arm that could fit in right.  Repeating Low A he raised his average 100 points to .320 with ten more homeruns.  He may have to eventually move to right field once Gose establishes himself in center.

43. Jonathan Singleton 1B (Astros) United States (5.09) - The Phillies tried Singleton in the outfield because they had Ryan Howard at first with just about the same success when they tried Howard in the outfield because they had Thome at first.  The Phillies included Jonathan in a trade for Hunter Pence and he moved back to his more comfortable first base position.  He will never be stellar defensively but should have the power bat that will fit in the middle of the lineup.  He seemed to hit better once he left the Florida State League (.333 to .284).  The one thing Singleton will have to watch is to keep his weight in check.

42. Michael Choice OF (Athletics) United States (5.17) - Choice was troubled by hamstring problems last year, otherwise he would have been one of the more prolific homerun hitters in the minors.  Despite playing just 118 games he had 30 homeruns.  He also contributed 134 strikeouts, so with that success comes lots of failure.  Because of his hamstring issues it was difficult to assess his ability to cover ground in center.  He doesn’t have burner speed but he gets good jumps on balls.  If he continues to chase breaking pitches his average could settle around the .250 margin while he hits 30 plus homeruns.  With Cespedes signed to play right field the Athletics will hope that Choice can fit in center.

41. Randall Delgado RHP (Braves) Panama (5.39) - Randall had a little more major league success than the more highly touted Julio Teheran.  His strikeout numbers dropped significantly in the major leagues, going from just under nine whiffs per nine innings to just 4.6.  He throws a hard fastball that hits the mid-90s but settles in the low 90s.  His curveball and change are already pretty good pitches.  His big challenge will be getting better command of his pitches.  The Braves are already struggling with injuries to their starting rotation, with Tim Hudson already said to be missing the first month because of a back problem and Tommy Hanson missing the first few days of spring to a concussion.  This could speed up Randall’s ascent to the Braves rotation on a more permanent basis.

Fourth Adventure - Spring Training

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Myworld is preparing for our fourth adventure, a month in Florida watching spring training games.  It won’t be as unknown as Panama, Taiwan or the Dominican Republic, since we have been in Florida every year for at least twenty years.  We call it an adventure because we will still be away from home on another road trip in life.  We plan to spend most of our time at Kissimmee watching the Houston Astros play.  Many think they will be the worst team in baseball next year, but they will be a young team.  We will be reporting on their games as well as other games when they do not have a home game.  Myworld also hopes to be visiting some minor league complexes as well as watching some college games while in Florida.

In previous years we have always been limited to a week for spring training.  We have never had an opportunity to spend a whole month in Florida.  The downside is the warm weather that is in the Washington D.C. area.  I was hoping that I would be substituting snow and cold for sand and warmth, but the weather has been unseasonably warm here with no blizzards in sight.  That won’t make people in Europe feel good, unless they are baseball fans and also plan to spend some time in Florida.  A few of the European professional teams will be training there.

As we approach another baseball season it is interesting to take a look at some of the wacky events that took place last year in the major leagues, courtesy of the Athlon Sports Magazine.

Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez of the Brewers become the first team in 42 years to open its season with back to back homeruns.  That was a very auspicious start to a season in which they made the playoffs.

Adrian Gonzalez had stolen one base in his previous 858 games.  In his first start with the Red Sox he stole a base.  It was his only stolen base of the year.

Bryce Harper makes his professional debut with the Hagerstown Suns.  His first professional hit was a bunt single.

The Kansas City Royals on May 18th send in two pinch runners (Mike Aviles and Jarrod Dyson) in the ninth inning.  Both of them get picked off.  Is that manager still managing there?

Wilson Valdez becomes the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to earn a pitching win after starting the game at another position.  The Phillies didn’t seem too impressed with that feat because they traded him after the season was over.

Felix Hernandez becomes the first pitcher to get a hit at Safeco Park.  The game was supposed to be played in Florida, but was relocated to Seattle because of weather issues.  Florida was the home team so the DH rule did not apply at the American League park and Felix got to bat.  They are not used to seeing hitters bat in Seattle since the DH applies there.

Gavin Floyd and Jason Hammel are both 6′6″ and 28 year old righthanders.  They both achieved identical box scores of sevin innings pitched, two runs given up, six hits, two walks, no strikeouts and both gave up 12 ground ball outs.  Unfortuantely, baseball did not allow both of them to get a win.  There must have been some wierd cosmic forces taking place on June 28th for that to happen.

Because of an umpire error Cameron Maybin was allowed to take first on a walk, even though he had only taken three balls.  He scores the only run of the game on July 2.

A.J. Burnett has not had a victory with the Yankees in his 12 career August starts.  The Yankees stake him to a 13-1 lead on August 3 and even with that generous support he fails to get the win.  No wonder they traded him to the Pirates.

Speaking of the Pirates, they become the first team since 1885 to lose at least seven games in a winless homestand against opponents who had a losing record.  They hope to avoid extending their 19 season losing streak to 20 next year.

Yoshinori Tateyama becomes only the second pitcher in major league history to allow a grand slam to two straight batters.  It is events like those that probably make him wish that he stayed in Japan.

Johnny Damon becomes the first hitter to hit a walk off homerun for his fifth different team.  That should motivate some team to sign him to make it six.

Ryan Zimmerman only needs seven seasons to hit eight walkoff homeruns.  He hopes to break the major league record for the number of walk off homers by a major league player while wearing a Nationals uniform, now that he has signed an extension with the Nationals that will keep him playing in Washinton until his mid-30s.

So it is with the above events that Myworld looks forward to the 2012 season and spring training.

Top Cuban Prospects

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

We will give a break to the top 100 prospect breakdown and list our top ten Cuban prospects.  We actually use a different laptop on the weekend which does not include our Top 100 spread sheet.  There seem to be more and more Cubans that are defecting to try their skills against major league pitching.  Since only one unsigned Cuban player would make this list we will include him.  Interesting that the players with the most potential were born in Cuba but left as youths and played their high school ball in the United States.

1. Yoenis Cespedes OF (Athletics) - We don’t know if Yoenis will be a better hitter than Alonso, but he is definitely a better defensive player, which allows him to rank at the top of this list.  Myworld is a little concerned that he may not have seen the quality of breaking pitches that are thrown in the major leagues that he saw in Cuba so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts.  He struggled in his few at bats in the Winer League, but he was also batling rust.  I also don’t see him settling in centerfield.  He has the arm, range and bat to be a quality right fielder.  He was the second best player on his Cuban team, but that player, Alfredo Despaign is the best player in Cuba and younger than Yoenis.  Myworld would hate to see what he would command on the free agent market.

2. Yonder Alonso 1B (Padres) - The good news is that he got traded by the Reds and will no longer have to play left field.  Like Yoenis with the Granma Stallions, Yonder was the second best first baseman on their team, with Joey Votto in the forefront.  The bad news is that he got traded to the Padres, so his bat will be quieted a bit by the large park.  He is not a strong defensive player, even at first base, but with the Reds he has already shown he can hit major league pitching (.330 with five homeruns).  If he can be content with 40 plus doubles and 100 plus RBIs by spraying balls through the gap he will be a solid offensive player.

3. Yasmani Grandal C (Padres) - Yasmani seems to be taking a similar path as Yonder.  His family left Cuba when he was a child and like Yonder he went to the University of Miami.  Both were first round draft picks of the Reds, Yonder in 2008 and Yasmani in 2010.  Finally, they are both included in the same trade for Matt Latos.  Yasmani was going to be stuck behind Devin Mesoraco with the Reds so for him the trade opens up a position.  Now, instead of looking up at Devin he has to look in the rearview mirror for Austin Hedges.  Yasmani will be noted more for his bat rather than his defensive play behind the plate.  His gap type swing in which he uses the whole field should be a good fit in Petco.

4. Jorge Soler OF (Free agent) - He hasn’t signed with anyone yet, still trying to estblish residency in the Dominican Republic, but it is just a matter of time.  Eventually he may become a better outfielder than Yoenis.  He played on Cuba’s Junior National team.  Like Yoenis he doesn’t quite have the speed to play centerfield and as he gets older the body will fill out giving him less speed.  He does have a strong arm and a power bat that will fit in right field.  At twenty years old he will probably start his minor league career in Low A and it will take a couple years before he is ready to play in the major leagues.  He will at least have the opportunity to develop in the minor leagues.

5. Jose Fernandez RHP (Marlins) - The Marlins were unsuccessful in signing Cespedes, but they still have a Cuban that they can parade before their fan base.  He was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft after coming over from Cuba as a child and then developing his baseball skills in a United States high school.  He can already heave his fastball in the mid-90s.  He got two starts last year in the lower minor leagues, one a good one and the other not so good.  He should begin the 2012 season in Low A.  He may have to decide between a slider or curve ball as his breaking pitch.  He also throws a change plus a 2 and 4 seam fastball.

6. Leonys Martin OF (Rangers) - Leonys was a fourth outfielder for the Cuban national team.  In one international tournament he did replace Yoenis Cespedes as the starter after Cespedes struggled.  He consistently made All Star teams in the Cuban professional league.  He has a bit more speed that Yoenis that allows him to cover more ground in center.  To be effective he needs to show 40 plus stolen base speed and a .300 plus average.  He is not going to hit for any great power, though every few years he could reach double digits in homeruns.  The centerfield job for the Rangers is his to take.  He hit .375 in an eight at bat trial with the Rangers.  At Frisco he rocked with a .348 average but stole only ten bases in 18 attempts.  When promoted to Round Rock he only hit .263 but was successful on nine of his 11 attempts.

7. Jose Iglesias SS (Red Sox) - The Red Sox signed him to a four year $8.25 million contract back in 2009.  There was some expectation that he would be ready for the major leagues by 2011.  His defense is major league caliber but his bat is anemic.  In AAA he only hit .235 with a microscopic .554 OPS.  When promoted to the Red Sox after injuries took their toll on the 2011 team Jose hit .333, but that was only in six at bats.  Myworld feels that the Red Sox will give him every opportunity to show them that he is ready to play shortstop in the major leagues.  We just don’t see Nick Punto and Mike Aviles as long range alternatives, especially if a team wants to make the playoffs.

8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS (Blue Jays) - Adeiny was also a member of Cuba’s junior national team, but fled a year after Jose.  Iglesias set the market and Adeiny signed a four year $10 million contract with a $4 million bonus.  Despite defecting a year after Jose, Adeiny is also a year older.  He has been a bit of a disappointment, hitting only .235 last year in AA, but catching on fire in AAA (.389) but with 350 less at bats.  Defense and speed define him, though he must improve on his 20 for 35 success rate last year in stolen bases.  The Blue Jays have fellow Cuban Yunel Escobar holding down the position, but he certainly does not have his roots planted at the position.

9. Noel Arguelles LHP (Royals) - He and Jose defected together at the same Edmonton Junior National tournament.  Noel has been a bit of a disappointment, injured his first year because of surgery on his labrum.  Last year was his first opportunity to pitch in the United States and he pitched well.  His fastball only hit the high 80s, which is tolerable for a lefthander.  He mixes in a change which makes his fastball seem to have that much more velocity.  His secondary pitches still need a lot of work.  Now that he has gotten one year of work under his belt the Royals are hoping that his velocity can return to its original low 90s speed prior to the surgery.

10. Gerardo Concepcion LHP (Cubs) - He won the Cuban rookie of the year award when the Industriales won the championship in Cuba, but there was so much dissent in the locker room on that team that a number of players left.  Besides Gerardo there was left handed pitcher Joan Socarras and right handed pitcher Armando Rivero that fled Cuba.  Gerardo can throw hard with a fastball that can peak in the mid-90s, but it mostly resides in the high 80s to low 90s.  His secondary pitches (curve and change) need a lot of work before he is ready to challenge major league hitters.  Expect him to start his major league season in Low A and depending on his success he could rise quickly.

Back in early January we broke down some of the Cuban free agents who had yet to sign contracts.  You can go to that here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/wordpress/?p=301

Prospects 60 - 51

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

This is a continuation of the top 100 prospects as identified by seven publications.  We average out these seven publications to come up with our own Top 100.

60. Javier Baez SS (Cubs) Puerto Rico (3.84) - You can never have too many shortstops in your organization.  With young Starlin Castro holding down the position for what appears the next decade, Javier will have to hope for a trade or a shift in positions to make it to the major leagues.  The 2011 first round pick still has a few years to worry about that.  He has a good bat that should hit for average and power and average defensive tools to stick at shortstop.  With his bat his best move may be to third base where Cubs fans thought was the future of Josh Vitters.  He will need to tone down his emotions a bit, keeping focused on the game and not on a yesterday’s call.

59. Dellin Betances RHP (Yankees) United States (3.99) - The Yankees stocked up their starting pitching this year, making it more difficult for Dellin to get an opportunity.  At 6′8″ he has some impressive height to whip his low 90s fastball that can reach the mid-90s.  He has a good change but loses command and location of the curvball.  He walked six batters in his three innings of major league work, showing the Yankee brass he probaly still needs a little more seasoning.  Still, he is older than Manny Banuelos and already has major league experience, so if a major league opening occurs, Dellin should get the first call.  Back in 2006 the Yankees knew they had something special in the eighth round pick when they offered him a $1 million bonus.  Dellin has averaged 10.4 whiffs per nine innings pitched and limits the opposition to a .217 average for his minor league career.

58/28. Yoenis Cespedes OF (Athletics) Cuba (4.07/7.13) - For those publications that rated Yoenis he falls at number 28 in the top 100.  There is no question he will hit.  Will he provide enough production to justify his 8 figure $36 million contract.  The Athletics have to hope so.  He tied Jose Abreu last year for the most homeruns in one season in the Cuban League at 33.  Despite that accomplishment, he was still considered the second best hitter on his team, the Granma Stallions.  Alfredo Despaigne is the best offensive player in Cuba and he is on pace to break that 33 homerun mark this year.  Yoenis may not have the long term speed to stay in centerfield.  He does have the arm and should hit for the power to be a good fit for right field.  He may need some minor league seasoning to shake off the rust before he is expected to hit major league pitching.  He struggled in winter ball against many journeyman pitchers, failing to catch up on mediocre fastballs and flailing at sliders that bit in the dirt.

57. Michael Olt 3B (Rangers) United States (4.14) - He raked in the Arizona League Fall League, falling one short of the homerun record (14) and one short of the RBI record (43).  He also hit a pretty decent .349.  Two things working against him are Adrian Beltre currently cemented at third base and his propensity to swing and miss.  He doesn’t have the defensive acumen of Beltre, but he could stick at the position and provide a pretty potent bat if given the opportunity.  A move to first or the outfield, where his below average speed would not be ideal, could be in his future if he sticks with the Rangers.  Olt was the Rangers supplemental first round pick in 2010.  He hopes to improve on the 14 homeruns he hit in High A last year, and based on his production in the AFL, that should not be a problem.

56. Nick Franklin SS (Mariners) United States (4.14) - He was hurt for much of last year, playing in only 88 games.  He showed excellent power for the position in 2010 hitting 23 homeruns.  His range may not be what you would like to see in the elite shortstop prospects and his arm is a bit weak, so a move to second could be a possibility.  Nick was a 2009 first round pick and needs another season like 2010, otherwise he will have people thinking that 2010 was an aberration.

55. Oscar Taveras OF/2B (Cardinals) Dominican Republic (4.16) - He had a phenomenal year last year with the bat, hitting .386, the second highest batting average in the minor leagues.  He only got around 350 at bats so he didn’t qualify for the minor league batting title, but he did win the Midwest League batting title by sixty points.  He will be a line drive hitter that finds the gap, rather than drives them over the fence.  Oscar will eventually settle in right field.  He signed for just $145,000 as an international prospect, showing that teams do not have to spend millions to find decent players out of the Dominican Republic.

54/4. Yu Darvish RHP (Rangers) Japan (4.17/9.73) - It is hard to call a player a prospect that has dominated another professional league, but those publications that rated him slipped him fourth after the big three.  He dominated Japan, striking out 276 hitters last year.  Any pitcher accomplishing that feat in the major leagues would not have any trouble winning the Cy Young Award.  Clayton Kershaw, had the most strikeouts in the major leagues at 248 and he threw one more inning than Darvish.  Darvish’s fastball has hit 97 but he tends to sit at 91-95.  He also mixes in a myriad of other pitches, throwing a slider, cutter, curveball and splitter.  One of those pitches is probably the enigmatic shutto that many Japanese pitchers claim to throw.  He may want to limit his repertoire so major league hitters do not beat him with his fifth best pitch.  He only walked 36 in his 232 innings of work, 18 less than Kershaw in his 233 innings.  It will be interesting to see how Darvish adjusts to the major leagues.  Most expect him to have a greater impact than Daisuke Matsuzaka.

53. Francisco Lindor SS (Indians) Puerto Rico (4.18) - The second player on this list of ten born in Puerto Rico but moved to the mainland to get his baseball experience.  Javier Baez was the first.  Lindor was the Inidans 2011 first round pick.  He has better tools than Baez to stick at short, showing plus range and a strong arm.  He will fall far short of Baez in the power department.  The Indians are hoping for a gap to gap hitter.  He only got 20 at bats last year, but hit .316, with all of his hits singles.  He has the speed to reach double figures in stolen bases, but he won’t approach the league leaders in stolen bases.

52. Xander Bogaerts SS (Red Sox) Aruba (4.29) - Most feel that as he fills out his 6′3″ frame he will outgrow shortstop, forcing a move to right field.  He didn’t get a lot of playing time for the Netherlands in their gold winning performance in the World Cup, but then he was the youngest player on the roster.  He broke out last year with 16 homeruns and many project him to double that as he fully matures.  He has the arm to play right field.  His speed won’t be a detriment, unless he fills out too much.  Xander will play in High A next year and will probably stay at shortstop until he outgrows the position.  The Red Sox are a little thin at that position and only have Jose Iglesias as a real alternative.  Some question that Jose may not have the bat to stick in the major leagues so they hope Xander can handle the position.

51. Yonder Alonso 1B (Padres) United States/Cuba (4.39) - Yonder was born in Cuba but played his high school ball in Florida.  He showed last year that he can hit major league pitching, hitting .330 with five homeruns for a .545 slugging.  unfortunately, he had to get most of his playing time in left field where his defense may have let in as many runs as his bat drove in.  With the Padres he will be back at first base, where his defense is adequate.  The Padres can only hope that he is happy settling for the gaps rather than trying to carry the ball over the fence.  Many a power hitter has seen is average decline as he tries to adjust to the spacious environs of Petco Park.