Archive for January, 2017

Dae-Ho Returns to Korea but Hwang Departs

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Dae-Ho Lee decided it was better to go back home and play as a regular in Korea than to continue to pursue a major league career that was only offering him a part time opportunity. A record KBO contract of $12.9 million over four years offered by the Lotte Giants was a nice inducement. The Lotte Giants have not been a player in the post season for a long time but it is hoped with the return of Lee they can regain some of their playoff magic back in the day when Lee was one of the top sluggers in the KBO.

On the other side of the ledger the Lotte Giants lost a third baseman, losing Jae-gyun Hwang to the San Francisco Giants. That contract is for a little less money, $1.5 million if Hwang should make the major league roster. The Lotte Giants and KT Wiz in the KBO reportedly offered him more money to stay in Korea, but he took the lesser contract for the opportunity to play major league baseball. Last year he was posted by the Lotte Giants but did not receive an acceptable offer from a major league club to cut him loose. This year he was an unrestricted free agent and improved numbers (.335, .394, .570 with 27 homeruns) got major league teams more interested in him.

Hwang will be competing with Eduardo Nunez and Connor Gillespie for the third base job. Neither Nunez or Gillespie put up eye shattering numbers to guarantee them a starting position.

Granma Sweeps Ciego de Avila for Cuban Championship

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

No one said it would be so easy. There have been five sweeps in Cuban championship history. Granma made it six, winning their first Cuban championship with a game four 3-2 win. Guillermo Aviles drove in Alfredo Despaigne from third with a sacrifice fly to drive in the game winning run in the bottom of the eighth. Granma scored the run without benefit of a hit, three walks loading the bases and advancing Despaigne to third.

Yoelkis Cespedes drove in the game tying run with an RBI single in the seventh. Miguel Lahera was given credit for the save, his eleventh of the season, even though he came in the game with the score tied at 2-2. The win was given to Cesar Garcia, who pitched four innings of shutout relief, allowing just two hits.

Granma pummeled Ciego de Avila in game three 10-1 with Aviles powering the team to victory with a grand slam homerun in the opening frame. Alfredo Despaigne drove in two runs in the game without benefit of a hit, coaxing walks with the bases loaded in the first and fifth innings. Lazaro Blanco improved his record to 17-4 by getting the win.

Breakout Prospects and Prospects to Watch - NL East

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

This is the last group of prospects myworld will look at who have a chance to make a major league impact in 2017 and other prospects to watch to see if they will find themselves on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States but were stars in Cuba. Today myworld takes a look at the NL East.

Atlanta Braves

Breakout Prospect (Dansby Swanson) - The Diamondbacks are going to regret trading Swanson to the Braves for an established pitcher Shelby Miller who struggled last year. Even if Miller bounces back in 2017 Swanson will be the starting shortstop for the Braves. He got a brief 100 at bat callup last year and hit .302 with an .803 OPS. Most teams would trade a starting pitcher to get a shortstop who can hit .300 or better. Defensively he is not a stellar shortstop, but he has the tools to play the position. If a better shortstop comes along his bat is good enough to move to second or third, though his lack of immense power will limit him to the low teens in homeruns. Hitting doubles in the gap will be his forte.

Prospects to Watch (Balbino Fuenmayor 1B, Touki Touissant RHP and Max Fried LHP) - With Freddie Freeman at first base and no DH Balbino will not get a big opportunity to play. He was the Independent League player of the year a couple years ago when the Royals picked him up. Last year he struggled with his bat so the Braves were able to pick him up on a waiver claim. An injury mid-season that ended his season in 2015 probably prevented him from making his major league debut after he had a monstrous season in batting average and homeruns. Myworld really likes the long limbed Touki who the Diamondbacks also traded to the Braves to rid themselves of a large contract (Bronson Arroyo). Dave Stewart did not think Touki would ever make it to the major leagues, but myworld begs to differ. His command must improve (71 walks in 132.1 innings) but you have to like his tools. The curveball may be his best pitch, but his fastball can zip past the plate at 95 miles per hour. If he can’t develop a third pitch the bullpen is always an option. Max Fried was a high school teammate of Lucas Giolito. Scouts flocking to see Giolito pitch were also impressed with Fried. When arm problems and scholarship offers scared scouts away from Giolito the Padres drafted Fried in the first round before Giolito was drafted. Tommy John surgery could have been the motivating factor for the Padres to trade Fried to the Braves during their fire sale, but Justin Upton was not going to be traded away cheap by the Braves. Fried was able to get 20 starts last year after being restricted to just five in the 2014 season and missing all of 2015. A low 90s fastball packs plenty of heat for a lefthander and his curveball is one of the best. Last year he pitched in Low A so expect him to begin in High A with a promotion to AA if he does well.

Miami Marlins

Breakout Prospect (Tayron Guerrero RHP) - Myworld was going to say Luis Castillo but the Marlins traded him a second time. They originally traded him to the Padres last year but got him back after Colin Rea came back as damaged goods. This year they traded Luis Castillo to the Reds as part of the package for Dan Straily. Myworld is not impressed with the rest of their farm system for a break out major leaguer. Tayron Guerrero is a pitcher to be watched for the bullpen. The 6′8″ Colombian throws hard, hitting triple digits with his fastball. As long as he continues to pitch out of the bullpen he could be a quick callup.

Prospects to Watch (Destin Hood OF) - Tayron was our player to watch, but we’ve bumped him up so our prospect to watch is Destin Hood. Once a highly touted prospect with the Nationals he made his major league debut with the Marlins last year. His .240 batting average did not overwhelm last year and he had some defensive lapses. With a good spring he should make the team as a fifth outfielder behind Ichiro. Stanton is also always getting hurt so he could be insurance against that. His defense is best suited for a corner.

New York Mets

Breakout Prospect (Ahmed Rosario SS) - Ahmed is a fireplug who will beat you many different ways. Power is the one tool he currently lacks, but as he matures he should hit in the teens in homerun. The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera signed through next year but Ahmed is probably the better defensive shortstop. All Ahmed is lacking is consistency. The bat is also filled with explosiveness with many of his future hits destined for the gaps. If the Mets fail to contend Cabrera will be traded and the job will be given to Rosario. It has been a long time since the Mets have had a natural shortstop who could also hit. Ruben Tejeda was the last Met true shortstop, but he lacked the offensive swag.

Prospect to Watch (Thomas Szapucki LHP) - Myworld has to admit we don’t know a lot about Szapucki. The lefthander was a fifth round pick in 2015 but an opposition batting average of .145 with 86 whiffs in 52 innings is pretty impressive. At the lower levels pitchers with good breaking pitches can amass a lot of strikeouts but Szapucki has good velocity on his fastball, hitting 92-96. A full season of work in Low A will determine whether his body of work in 2016 was a mirage or the real thing. The Mets always seem to have a knack for finding good pitchers from the lower levels of the draft.

Philadelphia Phillies

Breakout Prospect (Jorge Alfaro C) - Injuries have prevented him from making a major league impact. The Phillies already have a pretty good catcher in Cameron Rupp, but Alfaro has more tools in his tool box. The bat has power and the arm is a rifle that will limit the run game. The intangibles need to be improved such as calling a game and managing a pitching staff but that will come as he stays healthy to catch more games. A 22/105 walk to whiff ratio is a bit worrisome, which could result in a low batting average. He also struck out in close to 50 percent of his major league at bats. Jorge is the second player from Colombia on this list.

Prospect to Watch (Mickey Moniak OF) - He was the first player drafted in 2016. Those kind of players draw your attention. A .409 slugging average and one homerun gives myworld the impression power may be lacking so if his defense is not of centerfield quality he could be a bust. He runs well and makes consistent hard contact but the ball does not carry over the fence. For 2017 the Phillies should give him an opportunity for a full season league. The high school pick is still a couple years away from the major leagues,

Washington Nationals

Breakout Prospect (Koda Glover RHP) - The Nationals need a closer and Glover throws hard, hitting the high 90s with his fastball. The Nationals will probably not trust the closer role to a rookie, but expect him to get in a lot of innings as the set up reliever before the season is over. Last year he was promoted to three different levels before making his major league debut. At each level his strikeouts to innings pitched ratio was reduced but overall the opposition could only hit him at a .197 clip. That continued to ring true in the major leagues with a .200 opposition average but only 16 whiffs in 19.2 innings. At 6′5″ and 225 he is a pretty imposing force on the mound.

Prospect to Watch (Carter and Spencer Kieboom SS/C and Victor Robles OF) - Most teams wanted Victor Robles when the Nationals looked at enhancing their playoff roster. Victor is that five tool athlete with gold glove defensive ability and the speed to steal 50 plus bases, ideal for a leadoff hitter. The power is still lacking in his game but the Nationals expect it will break out once he matures. When Bryce Harper is ready to sign his $400 million free agent contact with the Yankees Victor will be ready to take his place with an outfield role in centerfield. The Kieboom brothers have a father who played baseball in the Netherlands. Carter is considered the better prospect after being drafted in the first round last year. Carter has the tools to play shortstop, but that defensive capability will not win him any gold gloves. His bat will carry him to a major league lineup. His older brother Spencer is a fringe prospect who was drafted in the fifth round in 2012. He is still down a couple levels in the totem pole of catchers ready to make a major league impact. His defense behind the plate is average, but his bat is lacking and his speed is non-existent. It would be nice if the two of them make it to the Nationals major league roster, but only Carter really has a chance for that.

Mexico - Los Mochis and Mexicali Advance to Finals

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Mexicali and Hermosillo battled 16 innings in a game seven to determine a winner. Imagine the press if that had happened in the World Series last year. Luis Juarez ended the game with a walk off single into right field to give Mexicali a 4-3 win. Chris Roberson had gotten the inning started with a lead off single. A sacrifice bunt, a Yuniesky Betancourt single and an intentional walk to C.J. Retherford loaded the bases for Juarez with one out.

For Juarez, it was his second RBI of the game. He had a sacrifice fly in a two run first to tie the game 2-2. After the first inning the two teams combined to account for one run each in the next 14 innings. Hermosillo scored their lone run in the fifth on a solo shot by O’Koyea Dickson in the fifth. Dickson had also driven in a run in the first inning with a single. Mexicali tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh on an RBI single by Yordanys Linares.

Jake Sanchez worked a starters load in relief, hauling 7.1 innings of shutout relief while striking out 11 between the seventh and the 14th innings. He gave up just two hits and walked two. Javier Solano got credit for the win pitching 1.1 perfect innings in relief.

Los Mochis rallied for three runs in the seventh to take their series in seven with a final 3-1 win over Culiacan. Sebastian Valle got the big hit with a two run double. Eugenio Velez drove him in with a triple. For Zach Dodson he had only given up one hit in six innings. A leadoff single by Leandro Castro sent him to the showers and the bullpen could not protect the lead.

Roy Merritt pitched another solid game for Los Mochis, giving up just one run in five innings of work. The bullpen shut down the Culiacan bats for the last four innings, Sergio Romo tossing the last two innings without allowing a run. It was his fifth save of the playoffs.

The last time Los Mochis represented Mexico in the Series del Caribe was 2003. The last time Mexicali represented Mexico in the Series del Caribe was 1999.

Despaigne with the Game Winner for Granma

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Alfredo Despaigne is the one Cuban star who has not bolted for the United States for the greater gold. He has played a couple years in Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines on a contract negotiated by the Cuban government but Chiba did not find themselves in a championship series. For the life of the Cuban League Granma has also been lacking in a championship series. The lights are shining brighter now as the Stallions seek their first Cuban championship. How fitting to have Despaigne hit the go ahead homerun in the top of the tenth to give Granma the 4-3 win over the defending champions Ciego de Avila in the opening round championship game.

Granma needed another Cuban veteran, Miguel Lahara, normally a starter, pitching in his third inning of relief to get the last three outs to seal the victory. He retired the big bats, the three, four and five hitters in the Ciego lineup to close out the game.

It was not an easy opener for Granma as they faced the defending champs. They fell behind early 3-0 after two innings. Their bats were silent before finding some life in the seventh, scoring three runs to tie the game. Yordan Manduley drove in the first run with a single and Carlos Benetiz banged the big hit with a two run single. The score stood at 3-3 until the big hit by Despaigne in the top of the tenth.

Game two has Noelvis Entanza pitching for Granma with Bladimir Banos pitching for Ciego de Avila.

Top 50 European Teams

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Mister Baseball has the 2016 end of season top 50 European baseball teams. Myworld will list the top ten below. If you are curious about the Top 50 you can go to the Mister Baseball site. In parenthesis was their finish from 2015.

1. L&D Amsterdam (Netherlands) 32.92 (5)
2. Unipol Bologna (Italy) 32.75 (2)
3. Curacao Neptunus (Netherlands) 32.67 (1)
4. ASD Rimini Baseball (Italy) 30.75 (3)
5. Mainz Athletics (Germany) 27.17 (NR)
6. Draci Brno (Czech Republic) 25.58 (7)
7. Rouen Baseball 76 (France) 24.50 (8)
8. Vaessen Pioniers (Netherlands) 23.67 (13)
9. Kinheim H1 (Netherlands)23.17 (6)
10. T&A San Marino (San Marino) 23 (10)

Lara and Zulia face each other in Venezuelan Finals

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Both teams won their seven game series four games to one. Lara rolled over La GuairĂ¡ 2-1 in the fifth game to win their series. Zulia won a 1-0 pitcher’s duel to send Caribes home early.

The bullpen for Lara pulled it out, throwing 5.1 innings of shutout ball. Six different pitchers came on to pitch and limited the Tiburones bats to two hits. Hassan Pena retired the side in order in the ninth to draw up his third save of the playoffs. The Cardenales got clutch RBI singles from Luis Nunez in the second and Carlos Rivero in the sixth to give them all the offense they needed. The Rivero RBI single broke a 1-1 tie, while his second inning single set up the first run in the second moving Rangel Ravelo to second.

Jordany Valdespin drove in the only run for the Zulia Aguilas with his RBI single in the seventh and Carlos Hernandez shut down the Caribes offense for seven innings to give Zulia the 1-0 win. Silvino Bracho retired the side in order in the ninth, two of them on whiffs to give himself his third save of the playoffs.

Licey and Aguilas to Play in Dominican Republic Championships

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

It will be a championship series similar to one featuring the Yankees versus Red Sox. Two teams who are bitter rivals facing off against each other. Licey, located in the capital of Santo Domingo and Aguilas located in the working class city of Santiago.

Aguilas had the easy run to the championship, finishing pool play 14-4. Licey was tied with Gigantes on the last day of pool play, both teams with 8-9 records. Aguilas assisted their hated rival by beating Gigantes on the final day 4-3. Kennys Vargas and Hector Luna each drove in two runs to give Aguilas the win. Ketel Marte drove in two runs for Gigantes, one with a solo shot in the fifth and another run with an RBI single in the seventh.

With the tying run on second base Al Alburquerque got the last out in the seventh and retired three of the four hitters he faced in the eighth. Kelvis Valerio came on to pitch the ninth and struck out the side to give Aguilas the win.

Licey downed their capital city rivals Escogido 3-1 to clinch second place. Juan Francisco hit a solo shot in the fourth to give the Tigres a 2-0 lead. Cesar Valdez pitched 5.2 innings of one run ball to hold down the Leones. Five different pitchers came in to pitch the last 3.1 innings with Jairo Asencio tossing the last inning to pick up his sixth save of the playoffs.

Escogido came into the round robin play 5-12 and did not have much to play for. Licey and Aguilas will start a seven game series on Thursday to determine who will represent the Dominican Republic in the Series del Caribe.

Breakout Prospects and Prospects to Watch NL Central

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Myworld continues to look at prospects who will have a major league impact in 2017 and other prospects to watch to see if they will find themselves on the cusp of making the major league team in 2018. Some of these prospects to watch are veteran minor leaguers trying to over come surgery, former top prospects who have tripped in their minor league ascension or Cubans who have no history at the professional level in the United States but were stars in Cuba. Today myworld takes a look at the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Breakout Prospect (Duane Underwood RHP) - The Cubs have relied on free agent signings or trading position player prospects to build a major league pitching staff. At some point injuries will force them to go to their farm system to fill their rotation needs. Duane is the most advanced and highest rated prospect on the Cubs radar having gotten 13 starts in AA. He throws hard, with a high to mid - 90s fastball with lots of movement. A good breaking pitch and change gives him the requisite three pitches to make it as a starter. What he lacks is command of his pitches, putting together a 31/46 walk to whiff ratio in 58.2 AA innings. As hard as Duane throws those strikeout numbers seem quite low and a .280 opponent average needs to improve to lower that 4.91 ERA. If the command does not improve the bullpen may be his calling.

Prospect to Watch (Eloy Jimenez OF) - Eloy is a five tool player who will probably lose some speed as he fills out, making right field a natural calling for him. In 2013 the Cubs signed him for $2.8 million. The Dominican slugger has improved his average and power each of the three levels the Cubs have played him. Last year he slugged .532 with 40 doubles and 14 homeruns for a .901 OPS in his first season at full season ball. Next year he will start the season at High A with a mid-season promotion to AA likely if he continues to have success. He should be ready for the major leagues by mid - 2018 if he continues to rake in the minor leagues. This year he will be listed in the top ten in a lot of prospect Top 100 lists.

Cincinnati Reds

Breakout Prospects (Amir Garrett LHP) - Last year was the first year he focused on baseball. In previous years his main focus was basketball while baseball filled his summertime activities. The 6′5″ lefthander whiz his fastball to the plate in the mid-90s. He complements that pitch with a slider and change that should develop more consistency now that his focus is on baseball. Last year he dominated at AA with a 1.75 ERA and a .184 opponent average. A promotion to AAA saw a little struggle with command. The Reds are rebuilding starting the process with a young rotation. Amir will probably start the season in AAA but a major league callup should be in the mix before the All Star break. A number one starter is his ceiling.

Prospect to Watch (Vladimir Gutierrez RHP) - The recent Cuban signing is not a big man at 6′0″. Reports from his workouts show a fastball that hits triple digits. In Cuba he worked mainly out of the bullpen, but like Raisel Iglesias, another Cuban reliever signed before Vladimir the Reds will try him as a starter. The experiment failed with Raisel as injuries moved him back to the bullpen. The Reds shelled out a $4.75 million bonus to acquire Vladimir so they will allow him to fail as a starter before they move him to the bullpen. He won the Cuban rookie of the year award in 2013/2014 and could be the best pitcher signed out of Cuba since Aroldis Chapman.

Milwaukee Brewers

Breakout Prospect (Josh Hader LHP and Lewis Brinson OF) - The Brewers are rebuilding so opportunities will exist for rookies to establish themselves in the major leagues. Josh has turned some heads as his fastball gets clocked in the mid-90s, transforming himself into a nondescript Orioles prospect traded to the Houston Astros to a decent prospect traded to the Brewers to a super prospect with the Brewers. Now he is ready to make his impact in the Brewers rotation. His command could see improvement, but hitters have a hard time making contact off him striking out more than 11 times per nine innings. He should be part of the Brewers rotation by the All Star break in 2017. Brinson is the Brewers best defensive alternative for centerfield in 2017. A .382 average in the high altitude of Colorado Springs has to be compared to his .237 average at AA Frisco. A little more development time in AAA is needed as he transforms himself into a power hitting centerfielder for the Brewers before the All Star break in 2017.

Prospect to Watch (Jorge Lopez RHP and Demi Orimoloye OF) - Both players struggled last year. In 2015 Jorge had what many thought was a breakout season resulting in two major league starts. The opposition barely hit above the Mendoza line against him and he struck out a batter an inning with a fastball slicing across the plate in the mid-90s. The 2016 season was a different animal with a 1-7, 6.81 ERA in AAA with a .312 opposition average. He seems to have bounced back pitching in the Caribbean Winter League in his home town of Puerto Rico, but the opposition there is far below major league caliber. The Brewers will be patient with him. Demi is one of those players with five tools if he could improve his ability to make contact. The projected first rounder slipped to the fourth round because of concerns with his ability to make contact. After having success in his first season of rookie ball after being drafted Demi stumbled in 2016 with a .205 average in the short season leagues. The Nigerian born player who moved to Canada at 10 months old may need a lot of time before he can reach his potential.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Breakout Prospect (Tyler Glasnow) - He fits all the criteria myworld likes to see in a pitcher. His height is a intimidating at 6′8″ with a fastball that comes at you in the mid to upper 90s. Minor league hitters have only hit above .200 against him in one AAA stay, a .220 average after 8 starts. Major leaguers found him a little easier to hit (.250) but his command was off (13 walks in 23.1 innings). That brief time in the major leagues should prepare him for making the opening day roster in the rotation in 2017.

Prospect to Watch (Nick Kingham RHP) - Nick was a highly touted pitching prospect for the Pirates last year who many thought would make the Pirates rotation. A rough start to the season resulted in Tommy John surgery and a delay to his major league opportunity. His 6′6″ frame and ability to reach the mid-90s with his fastball prior to his surgery put him in the elite prospect category. His recovery from Tommy John appears to be complete, allowing him to spend some time in the minor leagues on the mound in an attempt to reach his elite level status. Once he is ready the rotation should be crowded with Glasnow and Jameson Taillon sharing the top sport with Kingham, who is probably more a mid-term rotation starter.

St. Louis Cardinals

Breakout Prospect (Alex Reyes RHP) - Last year he missed the first part of the season because of a drug of abuse testing violation. If not for the suspension he would have made the Cardinals rotation out of spring training. Perhaps the hardest thrower in the Cardinals rotation, he hits 95 miles per hour with his fastball. After a couple starts he should make the rotation early next year. His fastball regularly hits triple digits and he can hold the heat into the late innings. At 6′3″ he could be more durable than Carlos Martinez. Alex saw success in his very limited 2016 major league debut. Command is the one tool he needs to improve on to have success in the major leagues. If his command falters he could find his role as a closer on the major league roster.

Prospect to Watch (Marco Gonzalez LHP) - The first round 2012 pick has been a disappointment. He saw some major league time in 2014 and 2015 but Tommy John surgery in 2016 put a blank to his season last year. The lefthander is not overpowering, with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. His big pitch was the changeup, which the Tommy John surgery should not impact. His major league numbers were spotty with a minimum quantity of strikeouts. The Cardinals will be patient with him and work him in the minors for the majority of the 2017 season. Depending on what kind of success he achieves he could return to the major leagues in 2018.

WBC Ticket Process Very Cumbersome

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Buying advanced tickets to the WBC is a very confusing process. Myworld is hoping our tickets will appear somewhere. With all the information required to complete the purchase myworld just made it under the minimum time limit set for purchase. When we tried to see our tickets the link was not yet enabled. It might be best to buy tickets the day of the game.

Currently, it appears you can only buy tickets in packages. So you either have to see all the games for that location, or a ticket package for one country. Myworld could not find a single ticket package. We chose the Dominican Republic ticket package because we planned on seeing two of their games. The other tickets we can sell or give away.

The sight requires you to have an account number with MLB and a password with them before you make your purchase. Of course, you can create an account, but this takes time as you wait for the email to come back confirming your account has been created.

Of course, I have never tried to purchase tickets from MLB online before, so perhaps this is a standard process they have for all their ticket purchases.