Archive for February, 2016

Top Ten European Prospects

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

There are only about three or four European players on this top ten list who will make it to the major leagues. For some of these players it may only be for a cup of coffee or a September of fun. Too many of the true European prospects are raw and it takes them awhile to get acclimated to the United States game. After the sixth rated player it is like throwing darts at a board and letting it find a name for you. That is my level of confidence on these ratings after the sixth pick.

Aaron Altherr was the only player from the list last year to lose rookie eligibility. Donald Lutz made the list last year, played very little because of injury, was released by the Reds and resigned, but he actually lost his rookie eligibility in 2014. Max Kepler had a break out year. He became the first player born and raised in Germany to play in the major leagues when he got a September call up. Donald Lutz also played in Germany, but he was born in New York and his mother moved him back to Germany when he was an infant. One of the more talented European prospects the last couple years Lars Hujer decided to return to Europe to play in the Dutch League, ending his major league career ambitions for one closer to home when the European professional league will make its debut.

You can see the list from last year at the link below.

1. Ozzie Albies SS (Braves/Curacao) - The Braves traded Jose Peraza because they felt Ozzie was the better middle infield prospect. Then they traded Andrelton Simmons, their gold glove fielding shortstop also from Curacao. The only player standing in the shortstop path for Ozzie is Eric Aybar, who will become a free agent after next year. It may be expecting a lot from Ozzie to find him playing shortstop for the Braves in 2017. Last year was his first in full season where he hit .310 in Low A. Like Jose Peraza he lacks power, but his arm strength makes him a better fit for short. He may not steal as many bases as Jose, but he has the patience to take walks and get on base, duties valued when looking for a lead off hitter. The best the Braves can hope for is a September callup in 2017, when he will be a 20 year old youngster with a starting position available to him in 2018. The Braves hope he can maintain his .328 minor league career average as he rises up the minor league ladder and faces more talented pitchers.

2. Max Kepler OF/1B (Twins/German) - Myworld rated him a bit low last year, but he was a first baseman/corner outfielder with little power. He had a breakout season this year, hitting .322 at AAA with a .947 OPS. That resulted in a September callup where he hit only .143, but still getting a baseball for achieving his first major league hit. Max was able to bunch together 56 extra base hits, nine of them going over the fence, so his power is really more to the gaps. In the outfield he lacks the speed to play center and lacks the power to really be a solid corner outfielder. A gig as a fourth or fifth outfielder in the major leagues is not a bad job. Currently the Twins have some talented outfielders and a crowd at first base so it could be difficult for Max to find major league time next year. If he continues to hit the Twins will have to find room for him, or trade him to a team that has an outfield need.

3. Marten Gasparini SS/2B (Royals/Italy) - Marten signed for $1.3 million in 2013, breaking the European signing bonus record previously held by Max Kepler. There are some questions whether Marten will have the bat to find himself wearing a major league uniform. His legs can churn out speed and his arm is strong but his 37 errors in 52 games is a cause for concern. A move to second may be required if he can not correct his fielding flaws. Last year he stole 26 bases in 54 games and of his 16 extra base hits, ten of them were for triples. Recognizing breaking pitches has been his biggest challenge resulting in 80 whiffs in 54 games. The 2016 season should see his first season in a full season league, a true test of his abilities over a long season.

4. Spencer Kieboom C (Nationals/Netherlands) - His father was born in the Netherlands but he moved to the United States when he was 17. That allows him to be eligible to play for Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. In 2013 he was supposed to be one of their catchers but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss much of the 2013 season. The Nationals have a number of talented catchers ahead of him, forcing him to toil in High A as a 24 year old. Defense is his forte. His bat tends to fall a little short (.248, 2, 6) but he did have an impressive 36/30 walk to whiff ratio. The Royals have shown how important it is to have someone who can make contact with the ball and Spencer is a good barrel of the bat on ball kind of hitter.

5. Carlton Daal SS/2B (Reds/Netherlands) - A Didi Gregorius protégé, he has 2014 first round pick Alex Blandino ahead of him in the Reds minor league system. While he may be a better defensive shortstop than Alex, with more speed, his bat falls quite a bit short. Power is the big tool he lacks with a .308 minor league career slugging average and just one homerun in his three year minor league career. While his defense will be good enough to start at a middle infield position, his bat may restrict him to a utility role. He did get named as the shortstop on the All Premier 12 team.

6. Marek Minarik RHP (Pirates/Czech Republic) - At 6′7″ he has the height to intimidate hitters. The fact he has trouble throwing the ball over the plate makes him a bigger pitcher to fear. Originally signed by the Phillies they gave up on him ever mastering the strike zone and released him. The Pirates signed him last year and hope to put him into their rotation. Last year with the Phillies he could only master a 6.32 ERA with 21 walks in 52.2 innings, but worse yet, 11 jacks and 13 hit batsman. His fastball has good velocity, sitting in the low 90s but his secondary stuff is a bit iffy. At only 22 years of age Marek still has plenty of time to master his game.

7. Matz Schutte RHP (Twins/Netherlands) - He is still a young kid at 19 years old. At 6′3″ and 185 he has a good pitcher’s body. Last year was his first season in the minor leagues after spending some time in Australia. In the rookie league he finished with a 3.07 ERA, showing good control with a 4/18 walk to whiff ratio in 29.1 innings. He played for the European team that went to Taiwan to play winter league ball there. It would not be a surprise if he spends another season in the short season leagues.

8. Markus Solbach RHP (Diamondbacks/Germany) - Another pitcher with a large frame (6′5″) who was released by the Twins. He put up some good numbers in A ball (2.88 ERA) even though his whiff numbers (58) per innings pitched (121) were not awe inspiring. At least he did not walk a lot of hitters (30). He struggled a bit when promoted to the California League (5.58 ERA), but that tends to be a hitters league. At 25 years of age in the 2016 season it would be nice if he hit AA. Like most European pitchers his fastball is not overpowering, sitting at 88-91 so location is critical for continued success.

9. Alberto Mineo C (Cubs/Italy) - Not much of an offensive player, failing to hit over in his four seasons of minor league ball. He replaces Martin Cervenka who will turn 24 and has yet to reach High A. Albert has shown little power (.287 slugging) but makes good contact. He needs to make it as a catcher where his stolen base success rate is 26 percent. He’s been mainly a backup for the minor league teams he has played for as he rises up the system, but at 21 he is still young enough to make an impact. Next year should be his first complete year in High A ball.

10. Loek Van Mil RHP (Twins/Netherlands) - Loek has been around for awhile. He has played in Australia, Japan and Netherlands. He was supposed to be the Dutch closer in the Olympics but an arm injury ended that hope. At 7′1″ if he puts on a major league uniform he will break the record for tallest pitcher ever to throw a pitch in the major leagues. His fastball generally sits in the low 90s, but with his height the arm appears to come right down at you. At 31 years of age he is a bit old to be considered a prospect, but with any kind of success in the minors the Twins may end up putting him in the bullpen. Command has been a problem with his large, lanky frame and all the elongated body parts flying all over the place trying to find consistency in his windup. In Japan last year he appeared in seven games in relief for Rakuten, walked 7 and struck out 7 in 8.2 innings of relief, finishing with a 4.15 ERA.

European Top Ten Prospects 2015

Highest Salaries by Position in KBO

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

They do not make a lot of money when compared to major leaguers. With four Koreans now leaving either Japan or Korea to play in the high stakes of the major leagues, who are the highest salaried players by position in the KBO courtesy of Korea Joongang Daily.

Catcher - Kang Min-Ho (Lotte Giants) - $800,000
First Base - Kim Tae-Kyun (Hanwha Eagles) - $1.3 million
Second Base - Jeong Keun-Woo (Hanwha Eagles) - $579,000
Third Base - Choi Jeung (SK Wyverns) - $827,000
Shortstop - Kim Jae-Ho (Doosan Bears) - $339,000
Left Field - Park Yong-Taik (LG Twins) - $662,000
Centerfield - Lee Byung-Kyu (LG Twins) - $662,000
Right Field - Choi Hyung-Woo (Samsung Lions) - $575,000
Right Field - Lee Yong-Kyu (Hanwha Eagles) - $575,000
Designated Hitter - Lee Seung-Yeop (Samsung Lions) - $827,000
Pitcher - Yoon Suk-Min (Kia Tigers) - $1,034,000

Myworld is a bit surprised the shortstop position is the lowest salary. It is the fifth year in a row Kim is the highest paid KBO player, not including foreign players. Kim is also the highest paid athlete in Korea. Esmil Rogers is currently the highest paid player in the KBO at under $2 million per year (2.28 billion won).

Below are the total salaries per team:

Hanwha Eagles ($8.5 million)
Samsung Lions ($6.8 million)
LG Twins ($6 million)
Lotte Giants ($5.9 million)
SK Wyverns ($5.8 million)
Doosan Bears ($5.6 million)
Kia Tigers ($5 million)
NC Dinos ($4.6 million)
KT Wiz ($3.6 million)
Nexen Heroes ($3.4 million)

KBO salaries

Major League International Bonus Pools

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Baseball America has listed the International bonus pool allotments. Those teams with asterisks by their name exceeded their previous bonus pools and can not sign an international player under 23 years of age for more than $300,000. Any player 23 and older who has played five seasons in a professional league is not subject to the bonus allotment caps. The amount of pool provided to a team is based on their finish in the 2015 season, with the Phillies getting the highest allotment and the Cardinals getting the least. Teams can trade salary allotments to avoid penalties. Baseball America anticipates the Braves, Nationals, Padres and Cardinals will exceed their 2016 allotments. The Cuban free agents and the bonus commitments made to Central and South American prospects have made the bonus allotments tiny when compared to need, unless you are the Baltimore Orioles, who rarely use theirs.

Philadelphia Phillies ($5,610,800)
Cincinnati Reds ($5,163,400)
Atlanta Braves ($4,766,000)
Colorado Rockies ($4,412,700)
Milwaukee Brewers ($4,098,500)
Oakland Athletics ($3,818,700)
Miami Marlins ($3,569,600)
San Diego Padres ($3,347,600)
Detroit Tigers ($3,150,000)
Chicago White Sox ($2,973,500)
Seattle Mariners ($2,875,400)
***Boston Red Sox ($2,783,800)
***Arizona Diamondbacks ($2,697,400)
***Tampa Bay Rays ($2,615,900)
Baltimore Orioles ($2,539,600)
Cleveland Indians ($2,467,400)
Minnesota Twins ($2,399,100)
Washington Nationals ($2,335,000)
***San Francisco Giants ($2,274,400)
***Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ($2,217,300)
Houston Astros ($2,197,000)
***New York Yankees ($2,177,100)
Texas Rangers ($2,157,400)
New York Mets ($2,138,200)
***Los Angeles Dodgers ($2,118,900)
***Toronto Blue Jays ($2,100,200)
***Kansas City Royals ($2,081,200)
***Chicago Cubs ($2,063,100)
Pittsburgh Pirates ($2,044,800)
St. Louis Cardinals ($2,027,300)

Aussies Bash Way to WBC

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

South Africa battled, getting a three run homerun from Kyle Botha in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead, but it was a lead they could not hold. Australia took advantage of a weak South Africa bullpen and battered the pitching staff for 11 of their 12 runs in the last four innings for a 12-5 win. A six run sixth was the inning that tore apart any chance of South Africa appearing in the WBC.

Gift Ngoepe got the scoring started early for South Africa in the first inning when he led the game off with a homerun off starter Travis Blackley. During his youth Gift slept and lived in the clubhouse of a South African baseball team while his mother was employed by them to work in the clubhouse. Now he is an integral part of their lineup, a step away from appearing in the major leagues.

Australia came back in the bottom of the first, getting a contribution from veteran Trent Oeltjen, an ex major leaguer coming out of retirement to participate in this game. After the first two hitters were retired by South African starter Kyle Gaddin a hit by pitch to Mitch Dening provided an opening for Australia. A single by Stefan Welch put two runners on for Trent to gap one into right field to score one. South Africa was able to throw out Welch trying to score on the play to end the inning, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for the assist.

Another ex-major leaguer and an ex Bowie Bay Sox hit back to back homeruns for Australia to lead off the fifth. Brad Harmon, who played briefly for the Phillies and Alan de san Miguel led off the inning with back to back homeruns off South African pitcher Carl Michaels, who had come on in relief for Kyle Gaddin in the third. Those two blasts had given Australia a 3-1 lead.

Travis Blackley had been cruising after giving up his first inning homerun. In the sixth he got into a little bit of trouble with the Phillips brothers causing most of the damage. With one out Anthony Phillips singled and Jonathan Phillips followed with a double, advancing his brother to third. Kyle Botha stopped the hearts of many Australian fans when he launched a pitch from Blackley over the left field fence for a three run homerun to give South Africa a 4-3 lead.

That lead was brief with Australia coming back in the bottom half of the sixth. Trent Oeltjen got things started with a one out double. A walk to another ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes set the table for Trent D’Antonio who lined a double to centerfield to score Oeltjen. South Africa replaced Carl Michaels with Callan Pearce and he was able to get the last two outs without allowing the runner on third from scoring, Harman hitting a fly ball to right fielder Brett Willemburg not deep enough to score Hughes. Willemburg had already thrown one Aussie out at the plate. Allan de san Miguel grounded out to leave the game tied at 4-4.

James Beresford led off the seventh inning with a single. After being bunted to second Mitch Dening drove him in with a single to give Australia the lead again 5-4. Dening stole second and was advanced to third on a single by Stefan Welch. Trent Oeltjen drove in the second run of the inning with a single but was gunned down trying to advance to second, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for his second assist of the game.

The eighth inning was the back breaker for South Africa. The Phillips brothers did their job getting on base to start the inning, Anthony singling and Jonathan getting on base by coaxing a walk. A Kyle Botha ground out advance the runners to second and third where Anthony scored on a ground out by Brett Willemburg. Keegan Swanepoel had an opportunity to tie the game but Ryan Searle struck him out to end the inning, leaving Australia with a 6-5 lead.

They blew the game wide open with six runs in the bottom of the eighth, a bunt and a throwing error by third baseman Jonathan Phillips allowing the first two runs to score. At one point in the inning South African pitchers walked three straight hitters to force in one run. Trent D’Antonio singled in the last two runs after the three walks to finish off the scoring and give the Aussies an insurmountable 12-5 lead.

South Africa had battled but they were toast after the eighth inning. Ryan Searle retired the side in order in the ninth returning the Aussies to the WBC. The Aussies finished the game with 17 hits, seven of their players finishing the game with multiple hits. The veteran Trent Oeltjen was the ring leader with three hits. Trent D’Antonio led the team in RBIs with three. Mitch Dening led the team in runs scored with three. Peter Moylan and Ryan Searle followed Travis Blackley with 3.1 innings of relief. Moylan got credit for the win while Searle earned his second save.

South Africa Eliminates New Zealand

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

It might help the World Baseball Classic if some of the games were closer. The closest game was the three run difference between South Africa and Australia. These two teams will battle again after South Africa proved their superiority over New Zealand with a 9-2 romp, the second time they have squashed New Zealand.

Keegan Swanepoel was the hitting star for South Africa with four hits, driving in both his runs in the four run fourth inning that blew the game wide open. Anthony Phillips drew four walks allowing him to score three runs and Kyle Botha drove in three runs to lead the offense. Gift Ngoepe finally got his first hit of the qualifier, a bat South Africa will need to be competitive against Australia.

The third inning was evidence of the struggles for the New Zealand pitching staff. Three walks, one of them intentionally resulted in South Africa exploding for four runs. In total, New Zealand pitchers walked 10 batters, not the kind of performance you want to get from a pitching staff to win games.

In the sixth inning after a Gift Ngoepe single, two more walks loaded the bases to set up a bases clearing double by Botha.

New Zealand scored both their runs in the fourth inning, Moko Moanaroa, brother of Boss and also an ex-Red Sox minor leaguer, doubled in both runs after two walks put runners on base. South Africa was less generous with the walks, but they will have to do better than the seven walks they issued against New Zealand. The 17 walks issued in the ball game makes for a long night of baseball.

Australia Rides Good Pitching to Finals

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Good teams are defined by the quality of their pitching staff. When compared to the three other teams competing in the Australia World Baseball Classic qualifier Australia has the superior pitching. That was again on display with four pitchers limiting South Africa to one run on six hits in their 4-1 win to get them to the finals.

Warwick Saupold got the start and worked the first three innings. He gave up the lone run to South Africa in the third inning after a Kyle Botha RBI single. Ryan Rowland Smith followed him with three shutout innings of two hit ball. Todd Van Steensel was called on for two shutout innings and Ryan Searle struck out three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth.

Australia erupted for three runs in the opening frame off South African starter Carl Michaels. James Beresford and Logan Wade started the game with back to back double with Stefan Welch following with an RBI single. Fans were still not settled in their seats and Australia was already up 2-0. A sacrifice fly by Trent Oeltjen upped the lead to 3-0.

What looked to be a rout after the first inning settled into a pitcher’s duel. Australia would not score their next run until the sixth inning after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third and David Kandilas scored on a James Beresford ground out.

The earlier match showed New Zealand pound the Philippines 17-7 in a game that lacked good pitching. The Philippines had actually taken a 7-4 lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. New Zealand hammered the Philippine bullpen with six in the bottom half of the sixth, another five in the seventh and two more in the eighth to end the game as a result of the slaughter rule.

Ex-Red Sox prospect Boss Moanaroa drove in seven runs with his four hits. His RBI onslaught started with an RBI double in the fifth, it went into overdrive with a 3-run homer in the sixth and was completed after a two run single in the seventh. If Boss was a little faster with the feet he could have extended one of his two doubles for a triple to hit for the cycle.

Eric Farris collected four hits for the Philippines from the leadoff spot and Brady Conlan bashed a two run homer in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3 but the production went for naught for lack of a bullpen. The Philippine hurlers did not help their cause by walking 10 batters. By contrast New Zealand issued only one walk.

The Philippines now go back home while New Zealand does battle with South Africa to see who will attempt to knock Australia from the top of the hill.

South Africa and Australia Open with WBC Qualifier Victories

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

South Africa used two big innings to rout New Zealand 7-1 in a World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Dylan Unsworth pitched eight shutout innings to quiet the bats of New Zealand. Brett Willemburg provided all the offense South Africa needed with two hits while driving in two runs. New Zealand pitchers walked seven and their defense committed three errors, two of them in a three run third that led to the first three runs scoring for South Africa. A wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Connar O’Gorman was responsible for two South African runs.

New Zealand scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth on a walk to Boss Moanaroa that forced in a run. Jared Elario came on to face the final batter, forcing him to ground into a double play to end the game.

Australia scored seven in the seventh to rout the Philippines 11-1 in a game shortened by seven innings because of the ten run rule. James Beresford slammed four hits and drove in three runs to lead the Aussie offense. Beresford drove in two runs in the seven run seventh on a single. Stefan Welch also drove in three runs, including two in the seventh on a double and the first run for Australia in the first inning with a single.

Steven Kent worked six innings allowing only one run to get the win. That run came in the opening frame when the Philippines jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after two singles and a walk. Eric Farriss got things going with a single and Brady Conlan drove him in with a single.

In the double elimination tournament Australia will play South Africa while New Zealand will battle the Philippines to survive another day. You can view the boxscores of the game at the link below:

World Baseball Classic boxscores

Hacking the International Bonus Cap for the Gurriel Brothers

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The Gurriel brothers may not need this scheme because it takes major league baseball about seven months to clear a player for signing. There are between 100 to 150 Cuban players out there waiting to achieve foreign residency before they are cleared as free agents, making them eligible to sign a major league contract. The resources for major league baseball must be stretched in their attempt to process all these players as well as process the normal players from the Caribbena who are all registering to be eligible for the international signing day on July 2, i.e. age verification and drug tests for the top players. At this point, the process may be faster just to move to the United States, become eligible for the domestic draft and hope to get drafted by a major league team and get a decent signing bonus.

For the Gurriel brothers Yuliesky and Lourdes they have a third option. Yuliesky has no limit on his salary since he is older than 23 and has played in his professional league for more than five seasons. Lourdes is 22 but has played five seasons in the Cuban professional league. He will turn 23 on October 19 when that restriction will be lifted. He can wait until he turns 23 or….

Both players can sign with the same team. The team overpays Yuliesky and with a wink and a nudge tells him to give some of that money to Lourdes. They underpay Lourdes to stay under the salary cap and with a wink and a nudge say some of his money was given to his older brother. I’m sure myworld is not the first to think of this alternative. Major league baseball would surely not approve of any such scheme by a major league team and agent to scheme the system, but it is an option.

Because major league baseball takes awhile to clear Cuban players for free agency it will probably be September before the two brothers get cleared for free agency. There will be show cases to present to allow major league teams to take a look at the players and then negotiations to slog through. By the time all that is completed October 19th will have long passed.

Top Ten Dominican Prospects - National League

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The following are the top ten prospects from the Dominican Republic who play in the National League. Last week we debuted the top ten prospects from the Dominican Republic who play in the American League. We forgot to mention some of the graduates from the top ten in the American League last year who made an impact in the major leagues. The two big names were 1) Miguel Sano and 3) Luis Severino with a special appearance from the number two prospect Raul Mondesi who made his major league debut in the World Series last year and was bumped to number one.

From the National League the only graduate no longer eligible for the top ten prospect list is number one Maikel Franco. Some players have remained on the list and some have fallen off. The Nationals seem to have developed a stream of Dominicans ready to make an impact in the major leagues. These names do not end with the top ten list. You can see the list from last year from the National League at the link below.

1. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - A 50 game drug suspension will delay his arrival to the Cardinals rotation. Alex was a favorite to win a spot in the rotation this year. Now he will need some starts in the minor leagues to strengthen up his arm before he sees the Cardinal rotation this year. It shouldn’t take long for him to reach the rotation with a fastball that easily ticks into three digits. His curve is also a good major league pitch, allowing him to keep his pitches down, allowing only one homerun in his 102 innings pitched last year. His stuff was dominant in High A and AA as he averaged more than 13 whiffs per nine innings. Alex will need to improve his command to be successful at the higher levels as he walked about a hitter every two innings last year. Hitters struggle against his assortment of pitches, flailing away at close to or below a .200 clip. Alex signed a $950,000 bonus with the Cardinals.

2. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - The over the fence power has yet to show but many feel that is an eventuality. In two years in the States he has a career average of .334, hitting .370 in the rookie league before being promoted to a short season league and hitting .343, all at the tender young age of 18. His gazelle like speed allowed him to steal 24 bases in 29 attempts. He covers a lot of real estate in centerfield, but has the arm to also play right field. The year ended with an impressive 18/33 walk to whiff ratio. Once his power arrives this could be a player to watch. The Nationals were able to acquire him for only a $225,000 bonus payment.

3. Reynaldo Lopez RHP (Nationals) - Pitching at High A was a little more of a challenge for Reynaldo. In 2014 he dominated at the lower levels with an ERA of close to 1.00. While his strikeout rate rose last year his ERA also ballooned by almost three runs to 4.09. He gave up four more homeruns than last year and the opposition average increased by more than 100 points. The fastball still touches triple digits, sitting in the mid-90s and his curve ball is a swing and miss pitch. An improvement in location and the mix of his pitches should improve his 2016 season, getting him to AA. The Nationals signed Reynaldo to the bargain based price of $17,000.

4. Manuel Margot OF (Padres) - The Red Sox included Margot in the trade for Craig Kimbrel. The Padres are stocked in the outfield, but none of those players covers centerfield like Margot. Making contact and speed is his game with enough power to slice the gaps. If he is forced to move to the corner his bat may not profile well for the position. Last year he hit over .275 at two levels, peaking at AA. His ability to make consistent contact could see those averages rise as he learns to control the bat. Last year he stole 39 bases making him a prime candidate for the Padres leadoff role as early as 2017. The Red Sox signed Margot for a bonus of $800,000.

5. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) - Amed is not as flashy as some of the American League Dominican shortstops. The Mets signed him $1.75 million in 2012 and wait patiently for him to learn his craft. With the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera as their shortstop the Mets can show some patience with Amed. His defense is probably better than what the Mets can produce at shortstop now, but his bat still needs a lot of work. As he matures he could develop more power, but it will be a challenge for him to reach double digits in homeruns. He is destined for AA in 2016 after hitting only .100 there in a brief 10 at bat trial. There is some speed in his legs but they are not used to steal bases, stealing only 13 last year in 17 attempts. If the power fails to develop he could fit comfortably in the number eight hole, providing good defense to prevent runs from scoring rather than driving them in.

6. Wilmer Difo SS/2B (Nationals) - Myworld believes he would make a better shortstop than Trea Turner. From what we have seen his arm is stronger. Wilmer made his major league debut this year, playing in short bursts and hitting to the tune of .182 in 11 at bats. Once he makes it to the major leagues he has the potential to hit over .300. His fielding percentage at shortstop was close to 50 points higher than Turner but one of them must move to second. With the signing of Brendan Ryan, Stephen Drew and Dan Murphy the Nationals appear to have a lot of veteran options in the middle infield area. Difo may have to wait for next season to make an impact with the Nationals.

7. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) - The Cubs outfield is a bit crowded for the bonus baby who signed for $2.8 million as the number one international free agent in 2013. Next year Eloy should see a first season in a full season league. The last two years he has displayed his skills in the short season leagues weaving together an OPS of .702. This was all done as a 19 year old. No current Cub minor leaguer can claim the power that exists in his bat. His speed fits best in a corner outfield position, with enough arm to play right field.

8. Jeimer Candelario 3B (Cubs) - Jeimer signed for $500,000 in 2010 and it has taken him awhile to climb up the minor league ladder. His batting average has also increased with each level he has risen, climbing to .291 at AA Tennessee. Kris Bryant will have to move to the outfield if Jeimer wants a major league opportunity with the Cubs. He may not develop the power to profile at third base and he will certainly not supplant Bryant at the hot corner. His power is restricted to the gaps with 35 doubles last year. At this point he may be a better defensive option at third than Bryant, but his bat is not close to reaching his power production.

9. Francellis Montas RHP (Dodgers) - The Dodgers acquired Montas in the trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox. His fastball can touch triple digits, but sits in the higher 90s. Last year he made his major league debut with the White Sox striking out 12 hitters per nine innings, a better rate than he has achieved in the minor leagues. Poor command and weak secondary pitches may leave him in the bullpen. Conditioning is another area he needs to work on as his body is a little doughy. Expect him to compete for a job in the Dodgers bullpen.

10. Raimal Tapia OF (Rockies) - Another career .300 hitter in the minor leagues with the speed to play centerfield and the arm to play right. Last year he hit a career high 12 homeruns so the power could eventually develop to make him a five tool player. His stolen base totals of 97 in a three year period are evidence of his speed, but he has also been caught 54 times showing he still needs a lot of work on his game. His career average is .314 but that comes with a poor 24/105 walk to whiff ratio in High A last year. This could drop as he rises up the minor league ladder with pitchers taking advantage of his weak points.

Top Dominican Prospects 2015

Gurriel Brothers Defect

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Despite the protestations that they would wait until Cuba allowed the two brothers to play legally in the major leagues reports have surfaced that Yulieski Gurriel and his younger brother Lourdes have defected. The last couple years have been a bit rocky for the Gurriel brothers in their dealings with the Cuban baseball association and their selections of national team players. The two also failed to complete their contracts with the Yokahama Bay Stars in Japan, preferring to rest for the Cuban season.

Yulieski is the player ready to play now for a major league team. He plays both third and second, with third his best position. While many have touted his fielding myworld has noticed he is prone to making errors. Some have attributed that to the boredom of playing in the less talented Cuban League. In the Series del Caribe he committed three errors, two at second base and one at third base. Yulieski has the opportunity to hit 20 plus homeruns in the major leagues but at 31 years of age his window is closing.

The big prize is Lourdes Gurriel, who at 22 maybe the best hitting prospect of all the Cubans currently looking for a contract. The big question mark on him is his defense. He has tried playing short, second and third with little success and lots of errors. His most recent position has been the outfield, which is where he may be best suited. At 6′2″ he has the potential to hit for a lot of power, but has yet to find a starting role for the Industriales.

The two brothers are close so a team willing to sign them both could be at an advantage. A third brother Yunesky plays for the same Industriales team but would receive no interest from major league teams. He is a light hitting outfielder who is older than Yulieski so his time has passed.