Archive for March, 2017

30 Teams in 30 Days - Miami Marlins

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Overview - The 2016 season had to be one of the worst for the Marlins. Even though they finished in third place how can you close out a season when one of your more popular players, Jose Fernandez dies in a boating accident. Myworld does not know how anyone can motivate themselves to finish the remainder of the season, especially when there were no playoff implications. It will be difficult replacing their ace pitcher. Another third place finish awaits them because they lack their ace. Edinson Volquez was signed as a free agent to replace the lost arm of Fernamdez, but he falls far short of what Fernandez could give the Marlins. It would be ideal if they could finally get one complete season out of Giancarlo Stanton to determine if he could hit 40 homeruns. It is a large park they play in and the team was 29th in the majors in homeruns.

Strengths - Their outfield is one of the best in baseball. Giancarlo Stanton provides the power and is a solid defender in right field. Marcell Ozuna has some pop in his bat and will move over to left field. Christian Yelich should compete for batting titles and his superior defensive skills will put him in center field. Yelich does not have the arm for center but covers more ground than Ozuna. Ichiro Suzuki is more than a capable backup in left or right field. Myworld likes J.T. Realmuto and what he can provide behind the plate and with the bat. Last year he hit .303 with 11 homeruns, strafing righthanded pitching at a .322 clip. It would not surprise myworld to see Realmuto make the All Star team this year. Dee Gordon has speed and with a full season can still 50 plus bases. He does need to improve on his .305 OBA.

Weaknesses - The starting pitching has holes. Wei-Yin Chen is not an ace. He is usually good for six innings but then his pitches start to fade. Last year was a bit of a struggle for him, giving up 22 homeruns in just 123 innings. He is better suited for someplace in the middle of the rotation. Myworld does not really see an ace on this staff with Edinson Volquez and his 5.37 ERA taking on that role. Dan Straily was acquired from the Reds but he is more back end of the rotation. His 3.76 ERA would be tops in this rotation. Adam Conley and Tom Koehler should complete this very vanilla starting staff. Adeiny Hechivarria is a superb defensive shortstop but he provides little in offense. Justin Bour provides the potential for power at first base but he struggles against left handed pitching and his defense is suspect.

Break out Prospects - Myworld liked what we saw from Brian Anderson at spring training. He showed some good pop with defensive skills to play third base. His only chance to play this year would be an injury to Martin Prado and Dee Gordon that forces Derek Dietrich to move to second. Tayron Guerrero needs to work on throwing strikes. His whole minor league career has been spent in the bullpen, but he throws hard and misses bats. We also liked what we saw from Drew Steckenrider. He has a burly frame at 6′5″ and splits the plate in the mid-90s. He pitched out of the pen last year but that could have been because of his 2013 Tommy John surgery. Myworld would like to see him in the rotation. J.T. Riddle could break out as a utility player but he does not offer a lot to get excited about.

Prospects to Watch - It will be the professional debut for Braxton Garrett, their 2016 number one pick. The Marlins decided to rest him after he pitched for the 18 and under USA team. His best pitch is his curveball but the lefthander can get low 90s velo on his fastball. Tyler Kolek was the Marlins first round pick in 2014 but missed all of last year after Tommy John surgery. He is 6′5″ and 260 with a fastball that hits the triple digits on the radar guns. We put Stone Garrett on this list because we like his name. He does have some potential for power but has a lot of swing and miss in his swing, which is a reason for his .213 batting average.

Expected Finish - This team will be closer to fourth than to second.

Brett to Throw Out First Pitch in Korea

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Hall of Famer George Brett will be throwing out the first pitch in the NC Dinos third game of their series opener. The Koreans are pretty unique about their opening pitches, usually relying on acrobatic gymnasts to twist and turn when throwing out a first pitch. As far as myworld knows this is the first time a major league Hall of Famer will be throwing out a first pitch in a KBO game.

Brett got to know some of the executives of the NC Dinos during their spring training work outs in Arizona. Brett happened to be in Korea during that time to attend to some personal business so the effort was made to have him toss out the first pitch.

Info obtained from mykbo news via Yonhap news agency.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Philadelphia Phillies

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

General Overview - Philly fans will not have Ryan Howard to kick around anymore. He has left as a free agent with no team having the courage to sign him as of yet. Like the Braves the Phillies are rebuilding, but they are not sprinkling in veterans to enhance their lineup. They are giving opportunities to some of their younger players, with more down in the minors ready to show they are worthy. For Philly fans they hope these youngsters improve over their performance from last year. This is an offense that was at the bottom of the league in almost all categories, so the ability to score runs was challenging. The same bats who struggled to score runs last year are returning this year. The pitching was also pretty bad, near the bottom in most of the categories. For the most part the same group returns for an encore. Hard to believe it has now been five years since the Phillies last made the playoffs.

Strengths - Hard to find one. They have some promising players that they hope become strengths. Odubel Herrera showed a mixture of speed and power for centerfield. He was a Rule V pick for the Phillies a couple years ago that has panned out nicely. There was some concern about his centerfield defense, with his nine errors on the season leading all National League outfielders. Maikel Franco could provide the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He struggled a bit, slugging only .427 with a .306 OBA. The Phillies will be looking for more from him next year. It will be interesting to see if Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis can continue to put up their 20 plus homeruns power numbers from last year.

Weaknesses - The outfield is not going to hit for a lot of power but they hope Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders hit for average. Howie has bounced around a bit and Saunders has battled injuries, but did hit a career high 24 homeruns last year. The starting staff lacks an ace. Jerad Eickhoff finished three innings shy of 200 and could be the best starter, but his ERA was 3.65. Jeremy Hellickson has more experience and may take on the ace role with his 3.71 ERA. Vince Valasquez has the best stuff among the starters, but he is still learning the art of pitching. The Red Sox finally gave up on Clay Buchholtz and the Phillies are taking a flyer on him. The bullpen lacks a closer but rebuilding teams normally do not need one. Jeanmar Gomez saved 37 games for the team last year but his numbers were not good. Joely Rodriguez is a young pitcher who has high 90s heat now that he has moved into the bullpen. He could take over the closer role by mid-season if Gomez continues to struggle with consistency. Joaquin Benoit was a free agent signing that has closer experience, but it has been a couple years since he has had success in that role. Hector Neris did an excellent job in the setup role last year and could find himself in the closer role.

Breakout Prospects - J.P Crawford is the Phillies top prospect. He should be occupying the shortstop position by mid-season. At that time the Phillies will have to find some place for Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Crawford is a defensive whiz who has the bat to sting the ball. He won’t hit for a lot of power or steal bases but he will pepper the gaps. Cameron Rupp is a solid catcher so it may be hard for Jorge Alfaro to get a callup. Jorge has a strong arm and a power bat but he has had his issues with staying healthy. An injury to Rupp would put him in a starting role. A couple power bats in Rhys Hoskins at first base and Dylan Cozens in right field will try to show it was not Reading that padded their power numbers. If the Phillies want speed they can call on Roman Quinn for centerfield, though with Herrera in center it may be tough for Quinn to get an opportunity. Andrew Knapp will back up Rupp. He lacks the tools of Alfaro but has a solid bat and can play the position. The Phillies are a little weak in pitching, especially with any arm that can make an immediate impact. Nick Pivetta has had AAA experience but he is more a back of the rotation starter. Mark Appel was once the first pick of the draft by the Astros, but his prospect status has dulled considerably. The Phillies could always promote him to see what he has got. Joely Rodriguez saw a significant increase in velocity when moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. In the minor leagues he had a lot of success against left handed hitters.

Prospects to Watch - Mickey Moniak was a first pick in the 2016 draft. Myworld is not impressed with his overall tools. His power is absent and he lacks the burner speed to cover ground in center. Perhaps he will develop those tools as he matures. The Phillies do have other outfielders crowding their system. Nick Williams needs to improve on his contact to improve upon his .258 average. A 19/136 walk to whiff ratio is frightening, but he does have the potential to hit for power. Cornelius Randolph was a first round pick in 2015. He has been moving up the minors slowly as the Phillies wait for his power to develop. His speed is absent so the power must be found for him to be of any use. Sixto Sanchez is a young pitcher with a mid-90s fastball who can throw an excellent changeup. After two seasons in rookie ball he should be ready for Low A. Franklyn Kilome has the long arms a 6′6″ frame will provide, winging darts in the mid-90s. His secondary pitches are not as developed as Sixto.

Expected Finish - The Phillies will be battling with the Braves for the bottom of the AL East. They have four young hitters with the potential to hit 20 or more homeruns. They also have a couple power bats waiting in the minors. This should help them overcome the Braves for fourth place in the AL East.

Foreigners in the KBO

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The KBO season starts today (or tomorrow). Below are the foreign players on each KBO team. Each team is allowed three foreign players, but no three foreign players can be all pitchers or position players. It must be a two to one mix. Most teams choose to have two foreign pitchers.

Doosan Bears

Michael Bowden RHP
Dustin Nippert RHP
Nick Evans 1B

NC Dinos

Jeff Manship RHP
Eric Hacker RHP (not currently on active roster)
Xavier Scruggs 1B

Nexen Heroes

Sean O’Sullivan RHP
Andy VanHekken LHP
Danny Dorn 2B/Infield

LG Twins

Henry Sosa RHP
David Huff LHP (not on active roster)
Luis Jimenez 1B/DH

Kia Tigers

Hector Noesi RHP
Pat Dean LHP (not on active roster)
Roger Bernadina OF

SK Wyverns

Merril Kelly RHP
Scott Diamond LHP (not on active roster)
Danny Worth 3B

Hanwha Eagles

Alexi Ogando RHP
Carlos Villaneuva RHP
Wilin Rosario 1B/DH

Lotte Giants

Brooks Raley LHP
Nick Addition RHP (recently purchased from Taiwan to replace Parker Markel
Andy Burns Inf

Samsung Lions

Zach Petrick RHP
Anthony Renaudo RHP (not on active roster
Darin Ruf 1B

KT Wiz

Ryan Feierabend (LHP)
Donn Roach (RHP)
Johnny Monell (1B)

Players sent down to the minor leagues (not on active roster) must stay down there for a minimum of ten days.

Top Prospects from Australia

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Not a lot of these players will ever see the major leagues but they are the top prospects from Australia based on my assessments. In all honesty I don’t know a lot about Aussie players because I have not seen many of them play. My assessments are geared basically on the numbers they put up in the minor leagues and what little is written about them. Most of these players made the World Baseball Classic team so there was some information gleamed from those games. Only Warwick Saupold from the list put together last year got a sniff in the major leagues.

1. Aaron Whitefield OF (Twins) - To think he was just a softball player a couple years ago. He has only been playing baseball since 2015 when the Twins signed him to a contract. Now he has gone from playing on the Australian national softball team to the Australian World Baseball Classic team. He only played in one game and got one at bat, yielding to Aussie veterans Trent Oeltjen, Mitch Denning and David Kandilas. Last year he played in rookie ball where he hit .298 with only a .736 OPS. As he plays the game more the bat should improve once he improves his ability to make contact. Last year he struck out 47 times in 51 games. He shows excellent speed with 31 stolen bases in 40 attempts. He could start in Low A in 2017.

2. Lewis Thorpe LHP (Twins) - He ranked atop this list last year. Tommy John surgery has prevented him from playing in 2015 and 2016. The Twins paid out a $500,000 bonus to him in 2012. Aussies are usually not hard throwers but Lewis can hit the radar in the mid-90s prior to the surgery. He also has a plus change to complement the fastball. The Twins will be patient with him. Expect him to work on his delivery in extended spring training and to limit his innings he will probably start in the rookie leagues. In 2014 he started 16 games and struck out 10 hitters per nine innings while limiting the opposition to a .232 average. There was some upside there before the injury.

3. Warwick Saupold RHP (Tigers) - We first saw him pitch in Taiwan at the Asian Series. His fastball hit the mid-90s, but the opposition hit it pretty good so it is probably a little too straight to the plate. He was a late sign by the Tigers in 2012 as a 22 year old. He played for the 2013 and 2017 Aussie WBC teams. The Aussies gave him a start and he threw four shutout innings against Cuba. In the Australian Baseball League he is used as a closer. When the Tigers brought him up they used him in six games of relief, though the opposition feasted on him for a .395 average. He still was able to strike out a batter per inning. In AAA he was more effective, used as both a starter and reliever, compiling an impressive 2.30 ERA. He will begin the 2017 season in AAA and at 27 years of age his prospect days are pretty well done.

4. and 5. Lachlan Wells and Alex Wells LHP (Twins and Orioles) - The two pitchers are twins in the literal sense of the word. Lachlan is the only Twin from a baseball perspective. He is the more established pitcher climbing up to High A. In 12 starts he stitched together a 1.77 ERA limiting the opposition to a .218 average. Lachlan is not overpowering and his 5′8″ height may limit his major league opportunities. Alex may offer more of an upside. He stands 6′2″ but still lacks overpowering stuff. Alex signed a year after Lachlan and pitched at rookie level Aberdeen last year. Expect Lachlan to be promoted to the Florida State League while Alex will see time in a full season league, starting at Low A. Both pitchers made the roster for the WBC team but only Lachlan appeared in a game, getting two relief appearances and getting smoked for four runs in only 2.2 innings.

6.Robbie Perkins C (Rockies) - Robbie is the first player who did not appear on the list last year. He ripped through the ABL in the winter, hitting .353 with three homeruns with a 1.023 OPS. Last year he was limited to just 15 games in the California League hitting .238. In the WBC he got one opportunity, striking out in his lone at bat. At 20 years old there appears to be a lot of upside in Perkins, so we will put him on this list and wait to see how his career develops.

7. Todd Von Steensel RHP (Twins) - At 26 Todd is getting up there to be considered a prospect. He did get five relief appearances in AA and pitched well crafting a 2.25 ERA. His efforts at High A were not as successful (4.12 ERA). Command was a big issue with 27 walks in 54 innings. In 2015 he was used as a closer with 13 saves but in 2016 those saves did not come so easy. In the WBC Todd appeared in one game and did not allow a run in his one inning of work. This will be the big year for him. He should start the season in AA which is a knock on the door away from the major leagues if he shows some success.

8. Jon Kennedy LHP (Braves) - Jon is a big 6′5″ lefthander. At 21 years old the Braves can show some patience with him. His fastball sits in the low 90s, velocity good enough for a lefthander with his height. Trying to find success is a big challenge. With the Braves he has been used exclusively out of the bullpen in his first year of professional baseball, putting together a 4.40 ERA. He returned back to Australia to play in the ABL and had his best year there, starting six games with a 4.01 ERA. For his height he does show good command of his pitches, walking just 1.2 hitters per nine innings. The 2017 season is the year he should establish his identity. Kennedy did get one appearance in the WBC but failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced.

9. Zach Shepherd 3B (Tigers) - Zach was number two on this list last year but the big concern was his lack of power. He only hit five homeruns with a .339 slugging. This year his power numbers went up (15 homers and .350 slugging) at the sacrifice of his batting average, dropping 60 points to .186. He also struck out an alarming 159 times. We were tempted to take him off this list but there are not a lot of candidates to replace him.

10. Samuel Holland RHP (Angels) - He had one of the better years of the Australian players, pitching 29 games in relief and fashioning a 0.83 ERA, with some of that time spent in the hitter friendly California League. The opposition combined to hit only .151 against him. At 23 years of age he should be ready for AA. Holland was on the designated pool pitcher list, but did not get in a game after Australia was eliminated after the first round.

2016 Top Australian Prospects

30 Teams in 30 Days - Atlanta Braves

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Myworld missed a bit on this division. We had the Marlins right for third place but you would have to reverse the Nationals and Mets at the top of the division and the Braves and Phillies at the bottom of the division to make it perfect.

Overview - They are moving into a new stadium and they have signed a number of veteran pitchers. That will not extricate them from the bottom of the division. Last year they finished last in slugging percentage, last in homeruns and 29th in runs scored. A full season from Matt Kemp will help the offense, but that only gives them two power hitters. Dansby Swanson is still an unproven rookie, but if he wins the rookie of the year award as many predict that will help the Braves at the top of the lineup. Once the innings have been controlled for the younger pitchers you will see the Braves either try to trade the veterans they acquired or waive them to give their younger pitchers an opportunity.

Strengths - The one big strength the Braves have is Freddie Freeman. A few more men on base and he could have driven in more than 100 runs. He plays a solid defense, should be more protected in the lineup with Matt Kemp hitting behind him and provides leadership to the younger players. Shortstop should be well taken care of with rookie Dansby Swanson starting the season there. The Braves lack alternatives should he struggle, unless they promote Ozzie Albies, who they are grooming to fill the second base slot next to Dansby. If Ender Inciarte can stay healthy he can cover a lot of ground in centerfield and provide the Braves with a solid 1-2 punch ahead of the power hitters Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp. Matt Kemp will provide some power in left but he is far from the player he was with the Dodgers. His defense has tumbled and his hitting is no longer as feared as it once was. He will still hit the ball a long way and with the top of the order getting on base this could be a 100 RBI season for him.

Weakness - Myworld is not enamored with the two 40 year old arms R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Dickey throws a knuckle ball so his arm could be ageless, but like Kemp he is far from his days when he won a Cy Young with the Mets. Colon finds ways to get hitters out but he gave up a lot of hits last year and doesn’t miss bats. Jaime Garcia is another arm the Braves are relying on but he has had trouble staying healthy. He started 30 games last year but with a 4.67 ERA. Adonis Garcia did hit 14 homeruns last year but at 32 he does not provide a lot of upside at third base. Brandon Phillips was acquired to strengthen second base but he is another player on the down side of his career. In right field Nick Markakis drove in 89 runs but his power has disappeared. A .397 slugging percentage is not what you want to see from your corner outfielders. The bullpen lacks a closer, but that is never a priority with a team recognizing they will not be winning a lot of games. Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino have both had closing opportunities and have both struggled to find success in those roles. The best closer may be Mike Foltynewics, who will be used as the fifth starter. Mauricio Cabrera is another hard thrower who has closer stuff but he will begin the season on the disabled list. Expect him to earn that role by mid-season if he can get healthy.

Breakout Prospects - Dansby Swanson is the most obvious choice. He is the favorite to win rookie of the year in the National League. The Braves are hoping for a .300 bat with double digit homeruns and close to gold glove level defense. Ozzie Albies should join him soon from the second base side. The acquisition of Brandon Phillips delayed Albies arrival but expect Phillips to be traded to a contender by mid-season opening up the spot for Albies. Travis Demeritte has some interesting tools, especially carrying a bat loaded with power. He still swings and misses a lot but if Adonis struggles at third Travis could be called on to replace him. Where the Braves hope to really cash in is with their younger pitchers. The Braves acquired a number of veteran pitchers to allow their younger pitchers to gain more experience at the minor league level. Sean Newcomb may be the first youngster ready to be promoted. Sean throws from the left side with a fastball in the mid-90s and a curve and change that should play against major league hitters. Lucas Sims should be able to help from the right side but he needs to prove that he can throw strikes.

Prospects to Watch - There are a lot of them, especially from the mound. Touki Toussaint was acquired from the Diamondbacks. Myworld loves his 6′3″ frame and high 90s heat, but throwing strikes has always been a challenge for Touki. Kolby Allard and Max Fried are number one draft picks who throw from the left side. Both are trying to recover from injuries, Allard from his back and Fried from his elbow. The hardest thrower of the bunch may be recently acquired Luiz Gohara from the Mariners via Brazil who has trouble throwing strikes but consistently hits triple digits with his fastball. His conditioning could also be a problem. Mike Soroka comes from Canada and is another first round pick. He is probably the least overpowering of this group with a fastball in the low 90s but his secondary pitches are quality and he commands his pitches well. On the position side Kevin Maitan appeared on many top 100 prospects lists but he has yet to have a professional at bat. He was signed by the Braves out of the Dominican for a $4.25 million bonus last year. Ronald Acuna is a potential five tool light outfielder. He dominated the Australian baseball league last year as a teenager. Rio Ruiz was given a nice signing bonus for a fourth round pick by the Astros but he has fallen short of his hype. He needs to pick up on his career if he expects to meet his promise.

Expected Finish - Too many players on the down side of their careers as they wait for the young players to percolate up. They will fight with the Phillies for the last place spot, but trading all their veterans toward the end of the season will cinch the fifth spot for them.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 10 -1

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Myworld finally finishes our top 100 list. It took awhile to post the top ten. Next in line are the organizational rankings for the major league farm teams.

10. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 8.85 - J.P. did not have a good year from an offensive perspective, hitting just .244 in AAA with a .318 slugging percentage. He does have a smooth glove and makes solid contact, walking almost as many times as he whiffs (232/243). The Phillies current shortstop Freddy Galvis also has a smooth glove so J.P. will have to show a better bat if he wants to replace Galvis. The power may be less than Galvis but the overall consistency with the bat and glove may tip the job to Crawford. He lacks the speed to steal bases but the Phillies hope his high walk rate will be enough to make him a successful leadoff hitter.

9. Brendan Rodgers SS/2B (Rockies) 8.87 - The Rockies currently have Trevor Story at short but his 27 homeruns would make him a nice fit at third. A lot will depend on how Rodgers handles short as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he hit .281 with 19 homeruns at Low A. The 2015 first round pick also has the power to move to third. Brendan won’t give you tremendous range at short, but he will give you consistency, though he did make 16 errors in 70 plus games in Low A last year. Look for Brendan to start the season in High A. His bat will determine if he gets a promotion to AA.

8. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) 8.87 - The Cubs have another big bat lying in wait in Low A. Last year the Dominican hit .329 with 14 homeruns in Low A, stitching together a .901 OPS. Eloy would be a five tool player if he carried a better arm. If his speed does not allow him to play center field he will move to left. The speed is not burner so there will not be a plethora of stolen bases. What will separate Eloy from the others is his power accompanied by a high batting average.

7. Cody Bellinger 1B (Dodgers) 9.12 - Combine a glove that should win gold gloves with a bat that should produce 30 plus homeruns a year and you could have an Anthony Rizzo type of player. Adrian Gonzalez is currently occupying first base for the Dodgers so Cody is getting some playing time in the outfield. His speed is good for a first baseman and he has a strong arm, but he won’t win any gold gloves in the outfield as he will do at first base. In an 11 at bat debut at AAA he hit three homeruns and hit .545. This is where he will start the 2017 season. At AA he socked 23 balls over the fence for a .843 OPS.

6. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) 9.13 - The Mets have been dealing with the redwoods of Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores at shortstop. Once they see the ground Amed can cover in the dirt Met fans will realize what a true shortstop can do. Last year he hit .324 at High A and AA with five homeruns. He will not show a lot of power but if he can hit above .270 his defense will justify his play at short. Expect him to start the season in AA. Myworld was impressed by what we saw from him in spring training. The dilemma the Mets face in a couple years is they have another gold glove fielding shortstop in Andres Gimenez, who will make his United States debut in 2017.

5. Gleyber Torres SS (Yankees) 9.58 - The Yankees acquired Torres in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Torres spent the season in High A. With Didi Gregorius at shortstop the Yankees can show patience with him. When he is ready he will show tools far greater than Didi, with the bat and with the glove. The power began maturing last year with a career high 11 homeruns. He shows enough patience at the plate to take walks, putting together a .354 OBA. The only tool in his game that is not above average is his speed, which is considered average. Torres should start the season in AA in 2017.

4. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 9.72 - He would not be on this list if not for a 50 game suspension for a drug of abuse that delayed his start to the major league season. He should appear on this list next year after learning he will undergo Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2017 season. His fastball explodes to the plate in the high 90s, occasionally hitting triple digits. His breaking ball and change are also plus pitches leading to 10.2 whiffs per nine innings in a 46 inning major league debut. The Cardinals were hoping he would team up with Carlos Martinez to give them two fireballers to head their rotation. Time will tell how much his pitches will be impacted upon his return in 2018.

3. Dansby Swanson SS (Braves) 9.73 - The Diamondbacks made Dansby the first pick in the 2015 draft. They made a horrible trade, giving him away to the Braves as one of three players for Shelby Miller. Dansby went from High A to the Braves major league roster last year, hitting .302 for the Braves. He appears to have beaten out Ozzie Albies for the Braves shortstop job. Miller struggled with the Diamondbacks for a 6.15 ERA. Dansby will be the starting shortstop for the Braves next year. His defense is smooth, his offense should contend for batting titles and his all around game should make him an All Star.

2. Yoan Moncada 2B (White Sox) 9.8 - He was number one on this last year but his struggles in his major league debut dropped him down a notch. Now he has traded his Red Sox for White Sox. There is no question that Moncada will hit, but 12 whiffs in 20 major league at bats indicate he still has some issues to work on. Perhaps trying to learn a new position (third base) impacted his bat. The White Sox will keep him at second. His bat should hit for power and average and his speed could translate to 30 plus stolen bases. As he matures he could eventually be a 30/30 player (homeruns/stolen bases). Expect Yoan to start the season in AAA with a major league callup possible once he achieves consistent success.

1. Andrew Benintendi OF (Red Sox) 10 - Andrew should win batting titles with enough power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He also has the speed and range to play centerfield but the Red Sox have that position covered with Jackie Bradley. Andrew will fit in left field. If he finds success in the major leagues maybe his next goal will be to find world peace. There doesn’t seem to be anything Andrew has trouble achieving success at. Starting the season Andrew will be favored to win the Rookie of the year award.

Opening Day in KBO Will See Rotation of Foreign Pitchers

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Don’t know if this is a testament to Korean pitchers, but opening day for the KBO begins Friday and all ten teams will start foreign pitchers to begin the season. Below are the teams and their starters for opening day.

Doosan Bears (Dustin Nippert) vs Hanwha Eagles (Carlos Villanueva)
Nexen Heroes (Andy Van Hekken) vs LG Twins (Henry Sosa)
NC Dinos (Jeff Manship) vs Lotte Giants (Brooks Raley)
SK Wyverns (Merrill Kelly) vs KT Wiz (Donn Roach)
Samsung Lions (Zach Petrick vs Kia Tigers (Hector Noesi)

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings

30 Teams 30 Days - Chicago Cubs

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Overview - These are the defending World Series champions. It is not hard to pick them to win this division. They have lost Dexter Fowler and that puts a hole in centerfield and at the lead off spot. The team is young so the upside is still apparent. The pitching was number one in the major leagues last year but the loss of Jason Hammel could put another chink in their armor. They hope to replace him internally with Mike Montgomery. The big question that will be facing the Cubs next season is where to put Kyle Schwarber. He is more a DH playing in a league without a DH so left field or an occasional catching assignment will be enough to get his bat in the lineup.

Strengths - When John Maddon sets the lineup he really does not have a set positional pattern. Kris Bryant will see most of his time at third base. He can also play a corner outfield. His 39 homeruns and the Cubs division win got him the MVP award last year. The Cubs need a spot to play Javier Baez so when Bryant plays a corner outfield the Cubs will use that opportunity to play Baez at third. Last year Baez showed his versatility by playing every position on the infield. The Cubs could use his bat in the lineup. Shortstop is capably handled by Addison Russell. His batting average was low last year (.238) but his defense was strong and he slugged 21 homeruns with his 95 RBIs third on the team. The veteran Ben Zobrist can also play any position, but second base is his main spot. He hit 18 homeruns with 76 RBIs, fourth on the team. Anthony Rizzo could have also won the MVP when you look at his numbers, finishing fourth in the voting. He drove in more runs than Bryant (109 versus 102) and equaled him in just about every other statistical category. Kyle Schwarber provides a solid bat in the outfield but his glove is shaky. He missed almost all of last season due to a knee injury. Jayson Hayward is a gold glove winner in right field but his bat has never met his promise. Combine the skills of Schwarber and Heyward and you would have a superstar. Starting pitching is strong with the first three starters. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks all finished in the top ten in Cy Young award voting. They each won 16 or more games. The bullpen lost Aroldis Chapman but they hope to replace him with Wade Davis. Davis is coming off an arm injury so there may be a little drop off. Hector Rondon has closing capability and it will be interesting to see how long Koji Uehara will stay effective. At 42 years of age with a fastball not near 90 he still strikes out more than a hitter per inning.

Weakness - Not a lot of weaknesses. The loss of Dexter Fowler leaves a hole in centerfield. They signed Jon Jay to replace him but his skill sets fall far below that of Fowler. It also lessons their bat at the leadoff spot. Albert Almora Jr. is a prospect who can also play the position but he is not proven. His defense is excellent but his bat has been light. A third option would be to move Jason Heyward to center and allow Ben Zobrist to play the outfield. This would open a more permanent spot for Javier Baez at second base.

Breakout Prospects - A number of young players are already in the Cubs starting lineup leaving little room for prospects. Albert Almora Jr. has an opportunity to squeeze into centerfield as a result of the departure of Dexter Fowler to the Cardinals. No one questions his glove, which many consider gold glove caliber. The bat has always been light, last year hitting .303 but with a .317 OBA in AAA. Rob Zastryzny is a lefthanded starter who could see time in the bullpen or fit into the fifth rotation spot if Mike Montgomery struggles. He is one of those lefties that relies more on deception rather than power. Alec Mills is a right handed arm who can fill the back end of the rotation. He lacks overwhelming stuff and needs to locate his pitches well to get hitters out.

Prospects to Watch - Eloy Jimenez has the potential to be an All Star, with excellent power, a solid arm for right field and the ability to hit for average. The only tool he lacks is speed. Ian Happ is a man without a position, bouncing back and forth between second and outfield. His bat should play if a position can be found for him. Dylan Cease and Duane Underwood are two hard throwers who can hit mid to high 90s with their fastball. Injuries have slowed both in their progression to major league opportunity. Jeimer Candelario is a hit machine who plays the same position as Kris Bryant. Defensively he could require a move to first, but that position is occupied by Anthony Rizzo. A trade is more likely for him to get playing time.

Expected Finish - Myworld does not see a lot of competition for them and a first place finish is pretty certain. How far they can travel in the playoffs is the biggest concern.