Archive for February, 2017

KBO Average Salary Reaches All Time High

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Playing baseball is becoming a worthwhile endeavor in Korea. The average salary for a Korean ballplayer has risen to $209,305 according to Yonhap. That is still below the major league minimum. Foreign players are not included in this average since they are paid in U.S. dollars.

The highest paid player is Dae-Ho Lee, who played in Japan and last year played one season for the Seattle Mariners. The Lotte Giants are paying him over $2 million a year to put on their uniform this year, man first base and hit a few balls over the fence. This also makes Lee the highest paid professional athlete in Korea. Who says soccer is king?

Among foreign players Dustin Nippert is the highest paid at $2.1 million. That is the highest salary ever paid for a foreign player, or at least one that is recognized in the books.

Lack of Insurance Leaves Gray out of the WBC

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

One of the problems created with professional athletes competing in events like the Olympics, the World Cups or the World Baseball Classics is who pays the athletes if an injury ends his career and that $45 million contract which is not guaranteed is now ruled null and void by the team who signed him, or the athlete has the potential to earn that much but an injury ends what could have been a promising career. The Olympics surely do not want to pay that kind of money.

Sonny Gray wanted to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Unfortunately he could not find an insurance company willing to insure him against injury. He missed most of last year because of injury. Don’t expect the World Baseball Classic to step in to find an insurer. It will be easier to find another pitcher.

Most of these organizations who make millions off the city that bids for the event and more millions from running an event in which they have no responsibility of paying an athlete except the travel, room and board they provide that the city paid for in building. There may be prize money to the winners or a nice gold medal to hang from the neck but for the losers they are left with little. They expect the athlete to take all the risks for country and possible fame and endorsements. As the salaries get higher that is getting to be too much to ask from many of these professional athletes, many of whom already have fame and endorsements.

These organizations will now have to settle for second best and hope the fans are still willing to pay out big money to watch second best.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Baltimore Orioles

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Overview - We’re tired of selling the Orioles short. Every year we pick them for the bottom of the division based on their lack of depth in the farm system and the paucity of their rotation, but three of the last five years they have still made the playoffs. This year could be the last season for Oriole greatness with the departures of Manny Machado and Adam Jones on the horizon. They have lost Nelson Cruz and still won. Perhaps it doesn’t matter who they have on their team. Buck Showalter knows how to get the best out of any lineup he presents. One thing about this Orioles iteration, no team will outslug them.

Strengths - Jonathan Scoop broke out last year and is ready to improve upon the 2016 season giving the Orioles three infielders with the potential to hit 30 or more homers. Chris Davis hits the ball a long ways with 40 plus homerun potential, but he also swings and misses a lot with 200 plus K’s a year not unusual. They also have one of the best players in the game in Manny Machado at third base. He can also do a very good job at shortstop as well once he becomes a free agent. What team would not sign a potential 40 homerun player as a shortstop? As a third baseman he is a gold glover but as a shortstop he is not quite as spectacular. At 31 Adam Jones is slowing down. He doesn’t cover quite as much range as he did as a centerfielder and his stolen base numbers have dropped but he also has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns. And finally, the Orioles were able to re-sign the American League homerun leader in Mark Trumbo. The nice thing about this signing is they have a hole at DH so this is a perfect place to put his bat while hiding his glove in the dugout. On the pitching front the Orioles have the potential to have a decent starting staff. Most baseball experts thought Kevin Guasman and Dylan Bundy would be co-aces. That may not be true anymore but as they gain more experience they will become close to that categorization. If Chris Tillman stays healthy he is the veteran presence that will guide the two youngsters to their potential. The Orioles also have a decent bullpen with the best closer in baseball in Zack Britton. Darren O’Day and Brad Brach are two good arms to work as setup men with Mychal Givens giving teams two sidearm looks in the bullpen.

Weaknesses - Losing Matt Wieters will hurt, no matter what the metrics people say about his pitch framing. The pitchers loved pitching to him, though with his injuries his availability was becoming less needed. Caleb Joseph lost his bat but plays solid defense and Wellington Castillo has a chance to hit for power but is not known for his defense. If they could combine their two skills it would make for one pretty good catcher, but as is they will always be lacking in one category. Still having Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation is a downer. When he had sizzling stuff and couldn’t find the plate he was good. His stuff is not sizzling anymore and not finding the plate is not helping (Is that too many nots in a sentence?). When Trumbo is missing from the outfield the corners lack power. Seth Smith and Hyun-Soo Kim will platoon and hit only against righthanders. Both are line drive hitters that get on base, but balls rarely carry over the fence. That leaves Joey Rickard another line drive hitter who at least has speed to hit against lefthanders and may give Trey Mancini an opportunity to DH as Trumbo moves to the outfield, once somebody locates his glove.

Breakout Prospects - The Orioles finally gave up on Christian Walker. They now need to give Trey Mancini an opportunity to play. He will DH against righthanders and may play some first base to give Chris Davis a rest. Last year he clubbed three homeruns in a 14 at bat major league debut. He has nothing left to prove in the minors. His defense is lacking so like Trumbo DH is the best place for him. If Caleb Joseph continues to struggle with the bat Chance Sisco could see some opportunity behind the plate by mid-season. Defense is not his strong suit, but he has a good bat that hits the gaps. Joe Gunkel has an opportunity to make the rotation by mid-season as does Mike Wright (who is no longer considered a prospect). Wright has nice velocity to his fastball but it travels too straight. Gunkel has the stuff to fit in the back end of a rotation, but no higher. Both my be a better alternatives than Jimenez.

Prospects to Watch - The Orioles have not had a lot of luck with their arms drafted in the first round. Cody Sedlock was the Orioles first round pick in 2016. While drafted out of college would seem to indicate a fast rise to the majors, he was a reliever and the Orioles want to convert him to a starter. That means building up his innings. Hunter Harvey is one of those first round picks who has not really pitched in the last couple years because of injuries. If he pitches this year it will be in September. Don’t know if we are enamored with any of the other prospects to spend time writing about them. Preston Palmeiro has name value being the son of Rafael but he has average tools across the board. Jomar Reyes could be a potential replacement for the departure of Manny Machado. He won’t be Manny but he’ll offer glimpses with his power.

Expected Finish - We pick them for second. Last year both wild cards came from the East. This year as we’ve looked at the Divisions both wild cards will come from the West.

Puerto Rico - 2017 WBC Review

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Overview - Puerto Rico is very independent when it comes to international baseball. In the Series del Caribe they fly their own flag and play their own national anthem. They also won the Series del Caribe this year after getting off to a slow start in pool play, the first time they have won the event since 2000. They also finished a surprising second place in the 2013 WBC. This year’s roster should be stronger even though it will be tough to repeat the second place finish.

Puerto Rico has always been a hotbed for baseball. They claim major league baseball including Puerto Ricans in the domestic draft killed the sport in Puerto Rico. They don’t play baseball in high school in Puerto Rico so in the past the kids were signed after their 16th birthday. When the draft rules were changed to include Puerto Ricans scouts had nowhere to watch kids between the ages of 16-18 years of age. They were lost in a black hole. To accommodate this hole kids who want to continue to play after their 16th birthday enroll in the baseball academies that have sprouted across the island to fulfill those needs. Carlos Correa was part of one of those academies. Some of the kids move to the States to play baseball in high school such as Javier Baez. It is not the hotbed that it once was, but there is still breath in the game.

You look at the World Cups and Puerto Rico was competitive until around 1976. That was the last time Puerto Rico finished in the medal round, right behind Cuba for second place. In 1951 they won their only gold medal in the World Cups, and they have had nine medal finishes in the 16 World Cups that were held between 1947 and 1976. During that same time the United States only won five medals, though they did not become competitive in the World Cups until 1969.

The second place finish in the 2013 World Baseball Classic may have created renewed interest in baseball in Puerto Rico. The domestic drafts have included higher picks with Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Jose Berrios and Carlos Correa among number one draft picks. Delvin Perez is the latest number one pick, though he did not make the 2017 WBC roster.

In the 2006 World Baseball Classic Puerto Rico was a surprise team, finishing undefeated in their pool. This included a 12-2 shellacking of Cuba in a game that did not mean much since both teams were advancing to the second round prior to the game starting. In the second round Puerto Rico found things a little tougher, losing to the Dominican Republic and then in a game to determine who advances to the medal round, losing to Cuba 4-3.

In the 2009 double elimination format Puerto Rico again swept through their opponents, their pitchers allowing only one run in their three wins, two versus the Netherlands and one versus Panama. In a second round opening game Puerto Rico crushed the United States 11-1. Perhaps there was too much celebration after that win because they lost their next two games, first to Venezuela 2-0 and in a repeat match with the United States they lost 6-5. The United States rallied for three runs in the last inning to win that game.

In 2013 Puerto Rico finally lost a first round game to the Dominican Republic, but it was the last game of the pool when both teams were guaranteed of advancing. In the second round they turned the tides on the United States. They lost the opener to the United States 4-3 to drop into the losers bracket. They barely escaped in their game against Italy winning 4-3 to give them another game against the United States. This time it was Puerto Rico with the win, Nelson Figueroa twirling six innings of shutout two hit ball.

A second loss to the Dominican Republic did not prevent them from advancing to the medal round. It just forced them to play the two time defending champions Japan instead of the Netherlands. Puerto Rico shocked the world by eliminating Japan 3-1. In the championship game they were shutout by the Dominican Republic for the second game in a row to finish in second place.

Puerto Rico qualified for the 2015 Premier 12 as a result of their 9th place international ranking. Without their major leaguers they did not do so well. They advanced out of their pool as the fourth seed with a 2-3 record, finishing just ahead of Taiwan in a tie breaker. Japan got a measure of revenge against them in the single elimination playoff round, crushing them 9-3.

This year Puerto Rico may have a better team than the 2013 WBC team. It may not result in a better finish because teams will not underestimate Puerto Rico this year.

International Baseball Ranking - Puerto Rico is ranked 12th. Three teams in their pool are ranked ahead of them. Mexico (6th), Venezuela (7th) and Italy (11th) would seem to have the upper hand in advancing. The advantage Puerto Rico has is they have their major leaguers participating in this event, some of them young superstars shaping the major league game.

Rosters

Pitchers - Jose Berrios, Hiram Burgos, Alex Claudio, Joseph Colon (DPP), Edwin Diaz, Joe Jimenez, Jorge Lopez, Seth Lugo, Miguel Mejia (DPP), Emilio Pagan, Orlando Roman, J.C. Romero, Hector Santiago, Giovanni Soto

Designated Pitchers Pool - Andrew Barbosa, Jose De La Torre, Jose DeLeon, Rayan Gonzalez, Joel Pineiro, Dereck Rodriguez, Andres Santiago, Mario Santiago

Catchers - Yadier Molina, Roberto Perez, Rene Rivera

Infielders - Mike Aviles, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, T.J. Rivera, Kennys Vargas

Outfielders - Carlos Beltran, Reymond Fuentes, Enrique Hernandez, Angel Pagan, Eddie Rosario

Strengths - They will have one of the best catchers in baseball Yadier Molina leading the pitching staff. His skills may have fallen off a little bit as injuries nag him as he gets older, but he should be fresh for these games. He also has a couple solid back up catchers to spell him in Roberto Perez and Rene Rivera. This is a solid group. The manager will have a tough choice choosing his shortstop. Will it be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor? My guess is Correa will see some time at third. The starting pitching also has some talented youngsters to throw on the mound. This is usually a team weakness but with Jose Berrios and Jorge Lopez they have two good young starters. Joe Jimenez is a young relief candidate, with Edwin Diaz their certain closer. Seth Lugo, Hector Santiago and Hiram Burgos may be the veterans called on for making the starts, another tough call by the manager. Jose Deleon is another talented young starter available for the second round should Puerto Rico advance.

Weakness - The outfield does not really have a lot of power. Carlos Beltran is listed as an outfielder but he will see most of his time at DH. At first base Kennys Vargas has not found success at the major league level and can be a liability on defense. He appears to be the only player on this roster who can play that position. The starting pitching may also rely on young unproven pitchers who have not achieved a lot of success in the major leagues, or go with veteran hurlers who lack the stuff of their young arms. It will be a tough call for the manager on game day.

Prospects to Watch - Jose Berrios got lit up by major league hitters last year, but he is a pitcher with lots of stuff. Jorge Lopez is another pitcher who struggled last year with the Brewers but he is ready to make amends for his poor season. The Dodgers had to trade Jose Deleon to fill their second base hole. Another young pitcher to call on in the second round. Joe Jimenez is the closer of the future for the Tigers. Those are the pitchers to watch. The position players are less talented, all now young veterans who have made their mark in the major leagues with the exception of Reymond Fuentes and Kennys Vargas. Fuentes was once a first round pick of the Red Sox but he looks more like a fourth outfielder now. Vargas has not had a chance to win a first base job in the major leagues.

Expected Finish - A lot will depend on the young pitching. Myworld expects them to get past the first round and possibly find themselves in the medal round. They will fall short of their second place finish in 2013.

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 - 81

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

A compilation of the six top 100 lists rolled into one. Below is 90-81.

90. Matt Chapman 3B/SS (Athletics) 1.35 - Myworld does not think Chapman will be playing shortstop, but with so many corner infielders the Athletics will have to find room for them all. Chapman is probably the best defensive third baseman of the group and has a strong arm. His range is good for third base but would fall far short of what is needed for a shortstop. His bat also gives the Athletics power, with 36 homeruns last year. There is a tendency for him to swing and miss (173 whiffs) which could lead to averages falling below .250.

89. Max Fried RHP (Braves) 1.4 - He was drafted in the first round by the Padres. The Padres traded him to the Braves to acquire Justin Upton. Tommy John surgery has knocked some luster off his prospect status. Last year was his first year back and he averaged 9.8 whiffs per nine innings with a fastball that sat at 92-95. With a little more pitching that velocity could increase. His secondary pitches (slow breaking ball and change) need some improvement as does his control. He’ll start the season in High A and could see AA by the end of the year.

88. Chance Sisco (Orioles) 1.4 - Playing for so long at Bowie myworld has seen a lot of Chance. His defense behind the plate needs work and his power is absent. As he matures he may hit ten plus homeruns. The best part of his game is his ability to get hits and strike the gaps. He is not afraid to take walks and will give you OBAs of over .400. Being a catcher he does not have great speed but he will not clog the bases. Expect him to make his major league debut this year after at least half a season in AAA. With Matt Wieters gone the Orioles do not really have a viable catching option blocking him from making a contribution. His lack of power makes a move to first base questionable.

87. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) 1.42 - The son of All Star reliever Paul Quantril and the 2016 first round pick of the Padres. Cal hopes to make it in the starting rotation with a fastball that slides between low to mid 90s. He also has a good change and is working to improve his slider to give him three pitches for the rotation. Tommy John surgery as a sophomore in high school is a concern. He should make his debut next season in full season Low A where he can work on improving his slider and his command of pitches.

86. Carson Fulmer RHP (White Sox) 1.43 - The White Sox may have rushed him last year. Fulmer only stands 6′0″ and with the recent acquisitions of Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez his best spot may be in the bullpen. Despite being the same height as Lopez he lacks his velocity, hitting the low 90s with his fastball. His best pitch may be his curveball and he does throw a plus change to give him three above average pitches. A 8.49 ERA, 7 walks in 12 innings and a .273 opposition average in eight relief outings in the major leagues is not what the White Sox were looking for but many top prospects struggle in their first exposure to major league hitters.

85. Brady Aiken RHP (Indians) 1.5 - The Astros drafted him as the first pick in the draft in 2014 but concerns over his arm led them to reduce his bonus leaving a sour taste in Brady’s mouth for not signing. Brady later had to undergo Tommy John surgery. This did not prevent the Indians from selecting them as their number one pick when he fell to them as the 17th pick in the 2015 draft. He struggled in his first professional debut in 2016 with an ERA combined of 5.83 between two rookie leagues with an opposition average of .274. The bright spot is his K rate was 11.1 per nine innings and his fastball sat in the low 90s but touched 97. He also throws an above average curve and change. This was his rehab year so 2017 should see greater velocity on his fastball and sharper breaks on his curve with improved command, at least that is how the Indians would like it drawn up on their blueprint.

84. German Marquez RHP (Rockies) 1.58 - Soon he will have to deal with pitching in the high altitudes of Colorado. German throws the ball hard with a mid-90s fastball touching into the high 90s. He also carries an above average curve with a changeup in the developmental stages. Last year he made his major league debut with three starts and three relief appearances, fashioning a 5.23 ERA. His strikeout rate has never been above 9 but has always been in the neighborhood, but against major league hitters it dropped to 6.5. Expect at some point the Rockies stick him in their rotation after he has success in AAA.

83. Willie Calhoun 2B (Dodgers) 1.6 - At 5′8″ you could compare him to Jose Altuve, except he does not have his speed and he is not a good defensive player. What he does have is the ability to carry the ball over the fence with 27 homeruns in AA. Ideally, he could fit in left field but slow foot speed and a below average arm make that a liability. His best position may be DH but they don’t have that in the National League so the Dodgers will keep him at second base and if he keeps on hitting bombs they will not complain.

82. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 1.67 - Stephen is a pitcher the Twins used to thrive on putting in their rotation during their playoff years. He doesn’t throw hard with a fastball in the low 90s, but he is able to hit the corners, throw up and down in the strike zone and give hitters different looks. Despite the lack of velocity he still struck out more than a hitter an inning last year and kept opponents to a batting average at less than .200. He also throws a change and a curve with the changeup being his second best pitch. After dominating in 13 starts at AA expect him to begin next season in AAA with a shot at making his major league debut before mid-season.

81. Ian Anderson RHP (Braves) 1.83 - Anderson is one of many number one draft pick pitchers in the Braves camp. However, with Anderson he will be a home grown pick, drafted by the Braves in the first round in 2016. The New Yorker throws hard with a fastball sliding in to the mid-90s and touching 97 with the potential for an above average curveball and change. He made a promising professional debut and should start 2017 in Low A.

Mexico - 2017 WBC Review

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Overview - Mexico has its own professional league. The longer league plays in the summer but they also have a winter league that competes in February in the Series del Caribe with four other countries. Mexico has been one of the better countries in the tournament winning three of the last four Series del Caribes until last year when Puerto Rico won.

Major league teams must pay Mexican teams for the right to use players from Mexico. Mexican teams draft locals young so the opportunities do not exist for major league teams to scour Mexico for young talent. This payment of players is part of an informal agreement that was put in place when a Mexican team owner bought a number of major league players who were in contract disputes. Fearing a rise in salary the major leagues agreed not to raid Mexican League teams for players and the Mexican League in turn would not raid the major league teams for players. Most of the bonus paid to a Mexican League team for a player like Julio Urias goes to the team. Very little of that bonus money is ever pocketed by the player.

When the baseball world cup was being played Mexico did not field a lot of competitive teams. Most of their players were committed to playing in their summer leagues so the rosters have always been watered down. The last medals Mexico won was in 1961 and 1965 when they won silver medals. They also won silver medals in 1943 and 1944 and a bronze in 1941.

Mexico also had difficulty overcoming the United States and Cuba in the Pan Am games, which was a vehicle for teams to qualify for the Olympics. They won bronze medals in 1951, 1963, 2003 and 2007 but they have never been able to finish higher than third. While they have never been to an Olympic event they have been able to upset the United States in an America’s Cup game to eliminate them from appearing in the 2004 Olympics, four years after the United States won gold in the 2000 Olympics.

Mexico has competed in all three World Baseball Classics. In 2006 they were able to advance to the second round after finishing in a three way tie for first with the United States and Canada at 2-1. The United States and Mexico advanced based on the tie breaking formulae in place leaving Canadian fans fuming. They did not advance past the second round, winning only one game, but that game brought them satisfaction. The 2-1 win over the United States was the second time in two years they had eliminated the United States from a major event. With the loss to Mexico the United States did not advance to the final four.

In the 2009 WBC Mexico was able to advance to the second round. After being spanked by Australia 17-7 in the opening game they played them again in a losers bracket game with the loser going home. This time Mexico did the spanking with a 16-1 win. In the final game against Cuba they got spanked again 16-4. The lack of pitching did not bode well for them in the second round and they lost both games, first to South Korea (8-2) and then to Cuba (7-4).

In the most recent 2013 WBC Mexico was able to beat the United States again, but they lost to Canada and Italy to fail to advance for the first time in the three WBCs. The bright spot was the victory over the United States but because of their last place finish in the pool they had to qualify for the 2017 WBC. They did that with wins over Czech Republic and Nicaragua, getting an opportunity to host a tournament.

Because Mexico was ranked as one of the top 12 teams in baseball they qualified for the Premier 12 in 2015. A fourth place finish in their pool allowed them to advance to a single elimination playoff round. They were able to beat Canada 4-3 in the first game but this time the United States got revenge by eliminating Mexico 6-1.

Mexico hopes to advance to the second round in this WBC tournament, but the pool they are in will not make it easy.

Current ranking - Mexico is currently ranked sixth in the World Baseball Rankings, their highest ranking ever. There is a lot at stake for them to advance to the second round. They are the highest ranked team in their pool with Venezuela just below them at seventh and Italy at number 11. Puerto Rico, which finished second in this tournament in 2013 is ranked 12th but they may have a better roster than they had in 2013.

Roster

Pitchers - Jorge de la Rosa, Yovani Gallardo, Giovanny Gallegos, Jaime Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Luis Mendoza (DPP), Vidal Nuno, Roberto Osuna (DPP), Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Fernando Salas, Jake Sanchez, Joakim Soria, Carlos Torres

Designated Pitchers Pool - Miguel Aguilar, Andres Avila, Marco Estrada, Carlos Fisher, Rafael Martin, Mario Meza, Ivan Salas, Julio Urias

Catchers - Xorge Carrillo, Sebastian Valle

Infielders - Japhet Amador, Daniel Castro, Luis Alfonso Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon Laird, Esteban Quiroz, Jose Manuel Rodriguez

Outfielders - Jose Aguilar, Khris Davis, Efren Navarro, Chris Roberson, Alex Verdugo

Strengths - The bullpen should be strong with Roberto Osuna, Sergio Romo, Oliver Perez and Joakim Soria all capable of shutting down opponents after the sixth inning. The starting pitching may not be as strong in the first round as the second with Yovani Gallardo, Jaime Garcia and Jorge de La Rosa all solid starters. If they can get past the first round Julio Urias and Marco Estrada can be added to the rotation from the designated pitchers pool. If Adrian Gonzalez is healthy the Mexican team is set at first base with he and Japhet Amador providing the power. Amador failed in his major league opportunity and is now playing in Japan but his bat can carry the ball a long way. Brandon Laird can provide additional pop at third base. He is one of the top power hitters in Japan and was a top prospect with the Yankees before heading to Japan.

Weakness - They have no major leaguer behind the plate. Sebastian Valle was once a top prospect but now he is a journeyman. The outfield has been hit by the loss of Khris Davis. If he is unable to play this outfield becomes weak. Alex Verdugo is a top 100 prospect and Chris Roberson is a star in the Mexican league, but neither are a strength. Up the middle is where teams win games and Mexico is weak there. Shortstop, second base, centerfield and catching all lack any player with major league quality, though Daniel Castro is a solid utility player.

Prospects to Watch - Alex Verdugo is a top 100 prospect on most lists. He is a Dodger outfielder who carries all five tools, though none of them at a high level. He is the only prospect myworld would be interested in.

Expected Finish - Mexico will battle but will fall short advancing to the second round if they can’t upset either Venezuela or Puerto Rico. Myworld just likes the roster of Venezuela and Puerto Rico better. If Julio Urias was in the starting rotation in the first round Mexico would have a better shot at pulling an upset.

MyWorld’s Top 100 Prospects - 100 -91

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

They are not really our top 100 prospects. They are a collection of top 100 lists that we have put together and then assigned values, i.e. 10 points for a number 1 and 9.9 for a number 2 all the way down to a .1 for a number 100. The numbers are compiled and averaged. Below are the 100-91 prospects.

100. Bobby Bradley 1B (Indians) 0.85 - When Bradley is ready for the major leagues Carlos Santana will move to DH. There is pop in is bat, but also a lot of swing and miss. He will hit 30 plus homeruns in the majors but may also fall below .250 with his average. Don’t expect an upgrade over Santana at first base and his lack of speed makes the outfield not an option.

99. Casey Gillespie 1B/3B (Rays) 0.88 - Casey will have to hope for a better career than his brother Conner. The Rays drafted him in the first round but he appears to be more a gap hitter. The homeruns will not be frequent but he could hit for a decent average with lots of doubles. It doesn’t hurt that he is a switch hitter and can play two positions, though he appears to be more suited defensively for first base.

98. Franklin Perez RHP (Astros) 1.03 - The Venezuelan has increased his fastball to where it is now hitting in the mid-90s. At 6′3″ and 220 pounds he has a good frame for pitching. He also throws two breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change so he has the repertoire to start. Another good season at High A will raise his profile.

97. Grant Holmes RHP (Athletics) 1.03 - Originally drafted by the Dodgers in the first round in 2014. They soured on his numbers and less than overpowering fastball (92-95) trading him to the Athletics in the Rich Hill and Josh Reddick trade. Lefthanded hitters had his way against him (.303) and in five starts California League hitters smacked him around for a .355 average. He will begin his Athletic career in High A.

96. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 1.05 - The Brazilian pitcher can throw hard, his fastball zipping across the plate in the mid to high 90s, sometimes even hitting triple digits. His big issue is getting control of his pitches. Lefties with hard fastballs tend to take a bit longer to develop. His secondary pitches also need improvement (slider/change) otherwise he will end up in the bullpen.

95. Cody Reed LHP (Reds) 1.2 - Cody also has a slider/fastball combination, but his fastball sits more in the 93-95 range. He got beat and battered a bit in 10 starts with Cincy (7.39 ERA, .328 opposition ave) so it will be back to AAA where he needs to enhance the change to give him a third pitch. He also gave up 12 homeruns in the majors in just 48 innings of work.

94. Jahmai Jones OF (Angels) 1.23 - The Angels do not have the strongest farm system but the second round pick in 2015 has been a pleasant surprise. Speed is his best asset with developing power. He does not have any one outstanding tool, but he has five above average tools that will play.

93. Tyler Beede RHP (Giants) 1.25 - Beede was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft. He’s been a bit slow to develop for a pitcher drafted out of college, but his fastball had dropped in velocity as he tried to acclimate to professional baseball and pitching twice a week instead of once. The fastball is back in the low 90s and there is more swing and miss in the hitter’s swing. He could make his major league debut this year after starting the season in AAA.

92. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) 1.32 - Acuna had it rough over the winter having to play baseball in Australia. The Venezuelan has the potential to bring to the major leagues five impressive tools, with the speed to steal bases and play centerfield, the arm to play right and the hit tool to fit in the .300 neighborhood and as he matures the power to fit in a corner outfield.

91. Albert Almora OF (Cubs) 1.32 - With Dexter Fowler gone via free agency Cub fans will see a lot more of Almora patrolling centerfield. He has excellent defensive tools. The big concern is whether his bat can survive against major league pitching. In a brief major league 100 plus at bat debut Almora hit .270 with a .763 OPS. They will take that kind of production with his defensive tools.

India Constructs First Baseball Field

Friday, February 24th, 2017

India has constructed its first baseball field, six acres of green that will host five international trainers to improve the Indians baseball skills. The Co-founder of Grand Slam Baseball Raunag Sahni helped support the development of the field along with major league baseball and Play Global.

It may also one day be used to host the West Asia baseball tournament, which is currently being played and hosted by Pakistan. Six teams are entered in the tournament, India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Nepal, Iran and Pakistan. The winner of the tournament will compete in the Asia Baseball Championships held this year. Pakistan is the defending champ of the West Asia baseball tournament, but there skill level still falls far below that of Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Cardinals Sign Jose Garcia

Friday, February 24th, 2017

The Cardinals signed Jose Adolis Garcia, who is the younger brother of Adonis Garcia for a bonus estimated at $2.5 million. Major league baseball declared Garcia a free agent in December. Adonis Garcia had originally signed with the Yankees but has bounced around since. He was a couple years older than his younger brother Jose when he defected.

At 6′1″ Jose is a couple inches taller than his older brother Adonis. He should hit for a little more power than his older brother, who also began his career as an outfielder before the Braves moved him to third base. His defense in the outfield is a battle for consistency. Garcia struggled in the Japanese minor league system hitting just .234 with a .396 slugging percentage. In four games with the NPB Yomiuri Giants Jose went 0 for 7 with three whiffs. Those poor numbers did not discourage the Cardinals from still signing the 23 year old.

Jose could start the season in extended spring training but at age 23 the Cardinals would prefer he move quickly through their minor league system. Don’t be surprised if he begins his minor league career in low A with some time in extended spring training.

Korea - 2017 WBC Review

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Overview - This may be a tough year for Korea. A number of injuries to their local stars and injuries or reluctance of major league teams to have their Korean players participate in the WBC has impacted the quality of talent on the roster. One player Jung-Ho Kang was removed from the roster because of multiple DUI offenses, one involving a hit and run.

Korea has always played second fiddle to Japan for baseball supremacy in Asia. In the Asian baseball championships Japan has dominated, allowing Korea with an occasional gold medal to keep their interest in the competition. The last Asian championship in 2015 Korea won the gold medal. They have also had some success in other international events that have put the spot light on them as a team to watch.

The biggest event that catapulted them to prominence was probably the 2008 Olympics. This was two years after the 2006 WBC when they surprised the world by going undefeated in the first two pools before losing in the semi final round to Japan 6-0. It left a bitter taste in Korea’s mouth after they had defeated Japan twice to have to settle for third place after only one loss in the tournament.

In what was thought to be the last Olympics for baseball Korea again ran through their competition in pool play with a 7-0 record. They defeated the United States 8-7 with two runs in the final frame to win the game, Dae-Ho Lee hitting a homerun in the game. Hyun-Jin Roo was the winning pitcher as they shutout Canada 1-0 and Dae-Ho Lee hit his second homerun of the event in their 5-3 victory over Japan. Of their seven wins, four were by one run.

In the semi-finals South Korea shocked Japan again 6-2. Hyun-Jin Ryu got the start against Cuba and Seung-yeop Lee hit his second homerun of the Olympics and South Korea won another one run ball game, defeating Cuba 3-2 to win the gold medal. South Korea had made a statement to the baseball world that they were a force to contend with.

In the old baseball world cups Korea got their ascension to prominence with a bronze medal finish in 1978, their first baseball medal in international competition. They improved to a silver in the next baseball world cup in 1980 and then won the gold medal in 1982. The 1982 gold medal was tainted by the fact the best team in the world, Cuba did not participate in this event. After that Korea won a bronze in 1990 and silvers in 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2005. The reward for many of these players was an exemption from the compulsory military service all Korean males have to complete in their youth.

Korea continued their success in the 2009 World Baseball Classic winning pool A and finishing second in the second round to advance to the semifinals. There they walloped Venezuela 10-2 to play Japan in the championship match, a team they had already beaten twice in the tournament and lost to once. Japan defeated them in the finals in 10 innings 5-3. This was just another untimely loss in the life of baseball for Korea.

Korea stumbled in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, failing to get past Taiwan and Netherlands, with the three tied for first place at 2-1. South Korean fans felt a little ripped off not being allowed to advance after only losing one game. They got a measure of revenge in the Premier 12 where they got past the first round despite losses to Japan and the United States. In the single elimination playoff stage they eliminated Cuba, upset Japan and then knocked off a team of minor leaguers from the United States 8-0 to win the gold medal.

Now they are hosting the first round of the WBC in a brand new state of the art stadium. It will be a tough pool with Taiwan, Israel and the Netherlands in it. One interesting note about the Korean team - their manager does not want to use the designated pitcher pool. He will win with the 28 players currently on the roster.

International Ranking - Korea is currently ranked third, fueled by their recent gold medal victory in the Premier 12. The Netherlands will be their toughest test despite their ninth place ranking, but this team has a bevy of major leaguers on their roster. Taiwan, who is ranked fourth is another tough test. Israel is ranked 41st, but that is a bit misleading since their roster is sprinkled with players who have major league experience.

Roster

Pitchers - Woo-Chan Cah, Won-Jun Chang, Si-Hwan Jang, Hyun-Seung Lee, Chang-Yong Lim, Jung-Woo Lim, Seung-Hwan Oh, Hee-Soo Park, Dae-Eun Rhee, Chang-Min Sim, Jong-Hyun Won, Kyu-Min Woo, Hyeon-Jong Yang

Catchers - Tae-Gun Kim, Eui-Ji Yang

Infielders - Kyoung-Min Hur, Ha-Seong Kim, Jae-Ho Kim, Tae-Kyun Kim, Dae-Ho Lee, Jae-Won Oh, Sok-Min Park, Geon-Chang Seo

Outfielders - Hyun-Wook, Choi, Yong-Kyu Lee, Byung-Hun Min, Kun-Woo Park, Ah-Seop Son

Strengths - The one major leaguer they have is Seung-Hwan Oh, the closer for the St Louis Cardinals. Oh was also a closer in Japan. There was some controversy about including him on the roster because of his affiliation with gamblers. If he comes back to the KBO to finish out his career he will have to serve a suspension because of the violation. Dae-Ho Lee played in the major leagues last year but signed a lucrative contract to return to Korea. He played a few years in Japan but in his early years he was one of the most prolific homerun hitters in baseball. Lee holds the international baseball record for most consecutive games with a homerun with nine. Geon-chang Seo is the only Korean player to finish with 200 hits in a season. He will play second base for the Koreans. Offense tends to reign supreme in the KBO so offensive numbers have to be taken lightly, but the power source for Korea appears to be Sok-Min Park who hit 32 homeruns. He will handle third for Korea. Tae-Kyun Kim was second in hitting at .365 in the KBO. His defense is limited to DH or pinch hitting.

Weakness - The starting pitching may be better than given credit for because of the offensive oriented KBO. Hyun-Jong Yang was the only Korean pitcher to reach 200 innings with a 3.68 ERA. Woo-Chan Cha will be their other ace. The fact that a number of their players who left for the major leagues such as Shin-soo Choo, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hyun-Soo Kim, Jung-Ho Park and Byung-Ho Park are not playing for the team because of their need to fight for roster spots decreases the quality of the team. Even the recently signed San Francisco Giant third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang is not on the roster.

Prospects to Watch - This is an older team. Some of the younger players such as Ha-Seong Kim myworld does not know enough about to comment.

Expected Finish - Myworld thinks the Koreans have enough to escape into the second round, but that is probably as far as they get.