Archive for March, 2017

30 Teams in 30 Days - St. Louis Cardinals

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Overview - Every year the Cardinals lose a starting pitcher to injury. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and now Alex Reyes. They were supposed to have Reyes last year but an 80 game drug suspension delayed his arrival. Now Tommy John surgery will force him to miss the 2017 season and the Cardinals hope Lynn coming back from Tommy John will make up for the loss. Lose one pitcher get another back who was absent the previous year. Last year they missed the playoffs losing Jayson Heyward to the Cubs. This year they hope to stick it to the Cardinals by signing Dexter Fowler away from the Cubs to play centerfield for the Cardinals. Now they just have to look for a starting pitcher.

Strengths - Signing Dexter Fowler did two things for the Cardinals. It strengthened the centerfield position and gave them a leadoff hitter. It also gave the Cubs a weakness in centerfield. That still may not be enough to catch the Cubs. The Cardinals also have a lot of depth in the infield, with a number of players getting used to different positions. Johnny Peralta will get used to playing third while Aledmys Diaz tries to repeat his production from last year at short. Matt Carpenter moves to first to make room for Kolton Wong at second. If either Wong or Peralta struggles Jedd Gyorko and his 30 homeruns still needs a position to play. The one strength of the Cardinals is their depth. Stephen Piscotty can move from the outfield to first if they need to move Matt Carpenter back to second or third. A lot of moving pieces to accommodate injuries or slumps. Yadier Molina is getting older but he can still play the position at catcher. He was voted the WBC Classic catcher of the tournament. The power may be less but he will still hit .300.

Weakness - The loss of Alex Reyes puts a chink in the rotation. Adam Wainwright may be the ace on paper but he needs to improve on his 4.67 ERA to keep the ace role away from Carlos Martinez. After those two the rotation is filled with question marks. Michael Wacha needs to resurrect his rookie performance and Lance Lynn is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Mike Leake has to do better than his 4.69 ERA. The Cardinals are even considering moving ex-closer Trevor Rosenthal into their rotation. Seung Hwan Oh replaced Rosenthal as the closer mid-season with great success. Before leaving Japan Oh was on a decline. Cardinals fans should not invest too much hope in his continued success as a closer. If he struggles the only alternative is returning to Rosenthal, who lost the position last year to Oh.

Break out Prospect - Luke Weaver is a replacement in the back end of the rotation if one of the starters continues his struggles. He struggled last year in his major league debut but he is the Cardinals top pitching prospect now after the injury to Alex Reyes. Marco Gonzales is another possibility for the rotation but he missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals will want to be patient with him and wait until at least after the All Star break before putting him in the rotation. Sam Tuivailala has a high 90s fastball, ideal for a closer. The Cardinals would prefer to start him in a set-up role but by midseason he could be their closer if Oh stumbles. Carson Kelly is a strong defensive catcher who failed to hit in his major league debut (.154). With Yadier behind the plate his best hope for a catching opportunity is an injury. Jose Martinez gives the Cardinals depth in the outfield. Don’t be surprised if he gets 300 at bats next year hitting over .300.

Prospects to Watch - Delvin Perez was supposed to be a top five draft pick but a positive drug test dropped him to the Cardinals. The Puerto Rican is compared to Carlos Correa. He may have less power but his glove could be better. Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader are two outfielders the Cardinals will have to make room for in 2018 or be offered as trade bait. Bader provides the power while Sierra shows the speed. A couple young arms are percolating in the minor leagues. Dakota Hudson was the Cardinals first round pick in 2016. He throws hard, hitting the mid-90s but sometimes he doesn’t know where the ball will cross the plate. Jack Flaherty is another first round pick, but in 2014. His fastball is not so overpowering but he relies on a change to make it look better. Sandy Alcantara was signed out of the Dominican Republic. His fastball is equal to Reyes, hitting three digits. Expect him to make a name for himself in 2017. Randy Arozarena and Jose Adolis Garcia are two Cuban outfielders who could make an impact if they have success in the minor leagues. Garcia is the brother of Adonis and could provide some power. Arozarena is probably more a fourth outfielder type who could play centerfield. The Cardinals could start both in AA or AAA.

Expected Finish - They have too many games to make up to catch the Cubs despite the acquisition of Fowler. If they get enough offense to make up for their depleted pitching staff they could make the wild card.

Foreigners in CPBL

Friday, March 24th, 2017

In the China Professional Baseball League they are allowed three foreigners for each of the four teams. All of the teams have signed pitchers to fill their foreign quota. Since Taiwan seemed short of quality pitching in the World Baseball Classic you would think they would want to place a restriction on the foreign players, i.e. two pitchers and one position player. This would help them develop more pitchers.

Below are the names of the foreign players on the four teams in the CPBL. The season begins March 26.

China Trust Brothers

Bryah Woodall
Bruce Kern III
Nick Additon

Fubon Guardians

Chris Seddon
Mike Loree
Scott Richmond

LaMigo Monkeys

Darin Downs
Zack Segovia
Zeke Spruill

Uni-President 7-11 Lions

Bruce Billings
Mike DeMark
Alfredo Figaro

For compete rosters you can go to CPBL English at the link below:

CPBL rosters

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Pirates

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Myworld hopes to slug through the final eight teams before the season starts. We’ll also provide our top ten overall prospects plus finish our all country or regional top prospects now that the WBC is over.

Overview - Pirate fans were getting used to appearing in the playoffs, but getting past the wild card game has become a bit of a challenge. Last year they got back to finishing below .500, missing out on the playoffs after three consecutive appearances. Pirate fans are hoping this losing streak won’t be as long as the last one. A lot will depend on the production of Andrew McCutchen. He had a down year last year and to improve their defense and possibly improve his production the Pirates will be moving Andrew to right field. They also will be missing Jung-Ho Kang, who has had three too many DUIs in Korea and is having a hard time getting a visa to play baseball in the United States. They also have a young pitching staff that is susceptible to injuries. At least the farm system is in good shape so they should not have to worry about another 20 year losing streak.

Strengths - The Pirates probably have the strongest outfield in the major leagues. It should get stronger defensively with the move of Starling Marte to center field and Andrew McCutchen to right field. Gregory Polanco will take his strong arm to left field. What kind of offensive production is there will depend on a resurgence of McCutchen. If last year is the beginning of a veteran slide then that will down grade the outfield. There is depth with Josh Bell having the ability to play here and Austin Meadows percolating in AAA. They do have the potential for two aces in Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon. Both players are still green and have injury histories but if they can act as aces as the season progresses the Pirates will do well. Another ace in the cards could by Tyler Glasnow, but he has got to learn to throw strikes. He misses bats with the best of them.

Weaknesses - Josh Harrison had an off year, putting together a .699 OPS. If he continues down that path the Pirates will try either Allen Hanson or Adam Frazier at the position. Hanson at least has some speed to steal bases and Frazier showed some pop. Neither is a defensive equivalent of Harrison. Josh Bell is more an outfielder than a first baseman, but the Pirates outfield is crowded. There is some concern Bell will not have the power you expect from the position, slugging only .406 in a 150 at bat trial in the majors last year. In AAA his .468 slugging would be short of adequate for the position. The trade of Mark Melancon leaves the Pirates without a closer. They have some pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Jared Hughes who have played that position but have fallen short of being consistent. This could get ugly. If no one seizes the job it could be another below .500 season. The back end of the rotation is rather ordinary. Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault and Drew Hutchinson are not pitchers myworld thinks about when looking at playoff teams. They are all competing for the last two spots in the rotation.

Breakout Prospects - To hold down costs the Pirates will rely more on younger players. They will have a number of prospects vying for major league playing time. Tyler Glasnow could make the rotation if he can improve his command. The 6′8″ righthander hits the radar guns in the high 90s and sits in the mid-90s but he has no idea of the strike zone. Steven Brault has a little more command but his fastball is not as overpowering. He is a lefthander who relies on his secondary pitches to get hitters out (slider and change). If Andrew McCutchen is traded expect Austin Meadows to make his debut. Austin has had trouble staying healthy, but he has a potent bat. This would cause Polanco to move back to right while Austin takes left. Josh Bell will get most of the starts at first base, but the Pirates have John Jaso and David Freese too spell him against tough pitchers. Josh may lack the power to play first in long term. Allen Hanson is out of options and could be used in a utility role, getting time at third, second, short and in the outfield. He came up as a shortstop but his current position is second base. Elias Diaz is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors but his bat is light. He battled injuries last year and needs to have a healthy season.

Prospects to Watch - Mitch Keller has rocketed up the prospect charts with an increase in velocity that puts his fastball in the mid-90s. If he can continue that the Pirates will move Keller up to at least AA this year. He had an 18/131 walk to whiff ratio last year. Kevin Newman is primed to take over the shortstop job from Jody Mercer. He doesn’t overwhelm you with tools but he can play the position. Not a lot of power here but the potential to hit for average. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie and the Pirates first round pick in 2015. Hayes broke out his power last year hitting his first six minor league homeruns. Nick Kingham is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. If not for the surgery in 2015 he would be one of those pitchers competing for a rotation spot. The Pirates will be patient with Nick and monitor his innings in AA and then AAA. A September callup is possible. Dovydas Neverauskas is a pitcher to watch because if he does well he could be the first Lithuanian to play in the major leagues. He has pitched strictly in the bullpen in the minors, collecting 11 saves in the last two years. As a bullpen pitcher his fastball can sit in the mid-90s.

Expected Finish - With no bullpen and a young pitching staff myworld predicts the Pirates for third, missing out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.

WBC All Classic Team

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Below is the World Baseball Classic Team. Scouts have to be drooling at the numbers Balentien put up. He broke the single season Japanese homerun record a couple years ago but has been battling injuries the last couple years. It would be interesting what kind of numbers he could put up in the major leagues, though he is best used as a DH.

We also have an alternate World Baseball Classic Team. These are some players that also deserve some mention and may have been more deserving of the named team.

C - Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico) - .333, 2, 6, .917 OPS
1B - Eric Hosmer (United States) - .385, 1, 5, 1.115 OPS
2B - Javier Baez (Puerto Rico) - .296, 1, 5, .789 OPS
3B - Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico) - .333, 3, 9, 1.250 OPS
SS - Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico) - .370, 2, 4, 1.049
LF - Wladimir Balentien (Netherlands) - .615, 4, 12, 1.793 OPS
CF - Gregory Polanco (Dominican Republic) - .579, 1, 2, 1.461 OPS
RF - Christian Yelich (United States) - .310, 0, 3, .823 OPS
DH - Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico) - .435, 0, 5, .997 OPS
SP - Marcus Stroman (United States) 1-1, 2.35,
SP - Kodai Senga (Japan) - 1-1, 0.82, 11IP, 16 K’s
RP - Josh Zeid (Israel) - 1-0, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 10 IP, 10 K’s

Other players deserving of recognition:

C - Seiji Kobayashi (Japan) - .450, 1, 6, 1.055 OPS
C- Ryan Lavarnway (Israel) - .444, 1, 6, 1.287 OPS
2B - Hayato Sakamoto (Japan) - .417, 0, 1, 1.023 OPS
3B - Yurisbel Gracial (Cuba) - .435, 1, 4, 1.174 OPS
SS - Brandon Crawford (United States) - .385, 0, 6, 1.005 OPS
SS - Didi Gregorius (Netherlands) - .348, 1, 8, 1.037 OPS
LF - Alfredo Despaigne (Cuba) - .474, 3, 6, 1.531 OPS
LF - John Andriolli (Italy) - .316, 3, 7, 1.192 OPS
CF - Jurickson Profar (Netherlands) - .464, 1, 4, 1.266 OPS
RF - Chih-Hao Chang (Taiwan) - .400, 1, 5, 1.067 OPS
DH - Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh (Japan) - .320, 3, 8, 1.113 OPS
SP - Jason Marquis (Israel) - 1-0, 0.93
SP - Danny Duffy (United States) - 2-0, 1.13
RP - Miguel Lahera (Cuba) - 0-1, 0.00, 1 save

United States Pummells Puerto Rico for WBC Championship

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Marcus Stroman had a choice. His mother was born in Puerto Rico so he could have played for the United States team or the Puerto Rican team. He chose the United States team. His mother supported his choice using social media as a venue to announce her support. She was quite disappointed with the vulgar comments she got from Puerto Ricans criticizing her for supporting her son’s choice.

The first time Stroman faced Puerto Rico he gave up hits to the first six hitters in the lineup to fall behind 4-0. He took the loss with Puerto Rico defeating the United States team 6-5. The second outing was much different. He did not give up a hit the second time he faced the Puerto Ricans until Angel Pagan led off the seventh inning with a double. By then the United States had a 7-0 lead. Sam Dyson came on to replace Marcus Stroman and as Marcus came off the mound he was very animated, pounding his chest. Could it have been vindication for all the vulgar comments his mother received for supporting her son? Whatever it was, he was voted the MVP of the tournament as the United States went on to beat Puerto Rico 8-0 to win the championship.

Dusty Baker was also a bit critical of the paucity of at bats Jim Leyland was giving his second baseman Daniel Murphy. He thought it would have been better for Murphy to stay with the Nationals to get his at bats. Leyland stuck with Ian Kinsler at second base for the championship game. Kinsler came through for Leyland in the third inning, following a Jonathan Lucroy single with a two run homerun into center, just above the leaping grasp Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez to give the United States an early 2-0 lead.

Kinsler helped add on to that lead in the fifth with a lead off single. Adam Jones drew a walk. Christian Yelich has been getting a number of critical hits this tournament and he added to the list with a single into right field that scored Kinsler. Joe Jimenez came on to replace Seth Lugo. Andrew McCutchen tacked on another run with a two out infield single that scored Christian Yelich to give the United States a 4-0 lead.

Puerto Rico could do nothing against Marcus Stroman. They had a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning but he was quickly erased on a double play hit by Yadier Molina. Other than that Stroman retired the Puerto Ricans in order in every inning through the sixth, facing the minimum 18 hitters. His pitch count was at less than 70 so if he continued to retire the hitters in order he may have come close to his 95 pitch count. Only one no hitter has been thrown in the WBC and that was by Shairon Martis pitching for the Netherlands in a game called after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.

Stroman wasn’t really needed to pitch anymore after giving up the leadoff double to Pagan. The United States had erupted for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and had taken a commanding 7-0 lead. They scored all their runs after the first two hitters had been retired. Nolan Arenado, who had struck out in all four of his at bats yesterday and his first two at bats in this game, came through with a single. Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch and Andrew Mucutchen walked to load the bases. J.C. Romero replaced Jose Berrios on the mound. He could not stop the bleeding with Brandon Crawford ripping a two run single to center field. Giancarlo Stanton ended the scoring with a RBI single off Hiram Burgos.

The United States again scored one more run after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer and Andrew McCutchen all ripped singles to increase the carnage to 8-0.

The United States bullpen kept the Puerto Ricans scoreless through the last three innings, giving up just two more hits, Angel Pagan getting two of the three Puerto Rican hits in the game. The attendance for the game was 51,565 with many of them draping American flags over their shoulders and chanting “U-S-A” throughout the game. It appears the WBC has finally gotten an audience.

It was not easy for the United States to win the championship. On their path to glory they had to beat the defending champions the Dominican Republic to escape from their pool and qualify for the final four. They then had to beat an undefeated two time champion Japanese team to advance to the finals, a Japanese team that had previously beaten the United States in a final four back in 2006. Finally, they had to beat an undefeated Puerto Rican team to win the championship, a team that had beaten them earlier in pool play and a team who seemed destined the championship was theirs to take.

For Puerto Rico it was their second loss in the finals of the WBC. This team was more talented than the underdogs that appeared in the finals in 2013. It is a young team that should be geared to battle in the next WBC in 2021.

Another Thriller in WBC; United States Prevails Over Japan

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Another one run ball game. In a previous final four Japan had beaten the United States 9-4 on their way to their first WBC championship back in 2006. The faces have changed in 2013 but this time the United States wins 2-1. A ground ball out to third scored the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. The United States will now face Puerto Rico for the WBC championship. This is the farthest the United States has gone in a WBC event. The undefeated Puerto Ricans lost in the finals in 2013 to the Dominican Republic.

Both starting pitchers were excellent. Tanner Roark went four innings allowing just two hits. The Japanese could only get four hits against the United States pitching staff. Tomoyuki Sugano went six innings and allowed just three hits. An uncharacteristic error by Japan allowed an unearned run to score in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game.

Ryosuke Kikuchi booted a Christian Yelich grounder with one out in the fourth inning to help the United States score their first run. After Nolan Arenado struck out Eric Hosmer coaxed a walk. Andrew McCutchen bounced a single into left field to score Yelich with the first run of the game.

After Tanner Roark cruised through the first four innings Nate Jones came on to start the fifth. Ryosuke Kikuchi balanced the books for his error with one out in the sixth by roping a ball over the center field fence for a homerun to tie the game 1-1. Andrew Miller came on to replace Nate Jones after the homerun. He walked the first hitter he faced but retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and pop up to end the inning. Miller has been struggling in this tournament so it was good to see him keep the game tied.

In the eighth a one out single by Brandon Crawford got the final United States rally started. Ian Kinsler doubled to put Crawford on third. With one out Japan chose to play the infield deep and Adam Jones grounded to third. Crawford broke for the plate and Nobuhiro Matsuda chose to make the out at first after bobbling the ball, giving the United States a 2-1 lead. If not for the bobble Matsuda may still have been able to get Crawford out at home.

Japan got a leadoff single from Seiichi Uchikawa in the eighth. A bunt moved pinch runner Kosuke Tanaka to second. Tetsuto Yamada bunted the ball, a player capable of hitting 30 plus homeruns. Mark Melancon struck out Kikuchi for the second out. A walk to Norichika Aoki brought in Sam Dyson to face Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who brought a charge to the crowd when he lined hard to right field, but Andrew McCutchen was able to track the ball for the third out.

Luke Gregerson retired the Japanese in order in the ninth to pick up the save to the delight of the 33,462 in attendance. Marcus Stroman will get the start for the United States. He will pitch against Seth Lugo, representing Puerto Rico. Stroman’s last start he gave up six consecutive hits to open the game against Puerto Rico.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Milwaukee Brewers

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Overview - Another team in rebuilding mode. You’d think a team releasing a player who hit 41 homeruns in 2016 would have a solid lineup. Chris Carter was not much of a first baseman and the Brewers took a chance at KBO MVP Eric Thames to hold down the position. Cost was the biggest reason for the pink slip to Carter. They also have the stolen base leader in Jonathan Villar on their roster but the Brewers decided to keep him. It will still be a rebuilding year but some of the blocks will be appearing on the major league roster in 2017 giving the Brewers a sneak preview of what 2019 will be about.

Strengths - Enhanced by steroids or not Ryan Braun provides the Brewers some power in left field. He hit 30 homeruns and drove in 91 runs. Last year he had to spend some time in right field, but this year he will be at his more comfortable position in left field. The Brewers hope this will help him offensively. The Brewers will find a place for stolen base leader Jonathan Villar to play. After hitting .285 with 19 homeruns Villar stole a league leading 62 bases. The Brewers acquired Travis Shaw to play third base so expect Villar to knock Scooter Gennett into a utility role. Hernan Perez had a wonderful season hitting .272 with 13 homeruns and 34 stolen bases. The Brewers traded for Travis Shaw so Perez will probably fit in a utility role as well. This gives the Brewers a lot of flexibility with their infield.

Weaknesses - As a rebuilding club they have lots of them, and it usually starts off with pitching. There ace is Junior Guerra who a couple years ago was pitching in Europe. He came to the United States and limited the opposition to a .213 average. Repeating that success will be difficult. After Guerra finding a starting pitcher with an ERA under 4 is a real challenge. With the trade of Tyler Thornburg the bullpen lacks a big time closer. Nefteli Perez at one time was supposed to be the closer for the Rangers but arm injuries ended those hopes. Carlos Torres is another option. He led the team in appearances (72) last year with an ERA of 2.73. Jonathan Lucroy will be missed with his presence behind the plate. Jett Mandy, Andrew Susac and Manny Pina will battle for playing time at catcher. Finding any offense in that trio will be a challenge. The outfield will struggle to score runs unless Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton meet their potential. Myworld expects Lewis Brinson to be playing centerfield before the All Star break.

Non-Roster Invitees - The Brewers have a lot of arms in camp. Myworld likes Forest Snow as a sneaker pick with Joba Chamberlain trying to show he still has his fastball.

Breakout Prospects - Lewis Brinson could win the centerfield job by mid-season after Broxton gets injured or fails to produce any offense. Brinson has speed to play center and take the extra base with the bat to generate an offense to slug multiple balls over the fence. With Brinson, Villar and Perez in the lineup the Brewers will again lead the National League in stolen bases. Josh Hader is a pitcher who has bloomed late, a lefthanded arm that can dial it up at 98 to 99. He has already been on three teams in his short career in the minors. Luis Ortiz is another pitcher who can rise to the top spot in the rotation. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Jonathn Lucroy trade and will start his season in AAA. Jorge Lppez had a rough AAA last year but has been pitching well for the Puerto Rico WBC team and finished last year with a 3.97 ERA in eight starts in AA.

Prospects to Watch - Corey Ray was the Brewers first round pick in 2016. A combination of speed and power makes him a potential impact player. Isan Diaz is a hitting machine. His 2016 season paled in comparison to his 2015 but he did hit a career high 20 homeruns. Defense is his weakness and a move from shortstop to second base is necessary. Trent Clark had a rough year last year, hitting just .231 but injuries limited him to 59 games. He was the Brewers first round pick in 2015 but falls short of Ray in the power and speed category. Lucas Erceg hit .400 in a 100 at bat season in rookie ball. His bat has pop and the tools are there for him to stick at third. Keep an eye on Demi Orimoloye. The Nigerian born outfielder who settled in Canada has five tools, but an inability to recognize pitches and make contact with the ball has held him back.

Expected Finish - Both the Reds and Brewers are forfeiting the 2017 season as they rebuild with prospects. The Brewers are stronger in the position areas and this will put them ahead of the Reds.

Puerto Rico Books Second Trip to the Finals

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

It took 11 innings and the initiation of the international rule of putting runners on first and second with no outs but Puerto Rico finally won the semi-final game 4-3. A crowd of 24,865 watched as the Netherlands failed to score in the top of the 11th, Curt Smith grounding into a bases loaded double play. Puerto Rico pulled the same strategy with a bunt moving the runners over. The Netherlands Loek Van Mil walked Javier Baez to load the bases but Eddie Rosario lifted a line drive fly ball deep enough into centerfield to score Carlos Correa with the winning run, the throw Profar just a little off line.

It was an epic battle between two talented teams. Both scored in the first but for the Netherlands it could have been so much more. Yadier Molina made his arm known after a single by Andrelton Simmons and a hit by pitch to Xander Bogaerts put runners on first and second with no out. Yadier caught Andrelton leaning too far off second and picked him off. Jurickson Profar followed with a single advancing Bogaerts to third. Jurickson Profar was picked off at first when the throw after the single went to Yadier Molina who threw to T.j. Rivera to nail Profar for the second out. When Wladimir Balentien slugged a homer into centerfield to make it 2-0 the Netherlands thought they should have had so much more to the inning.

Puerto Rico climbed back to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom half. Francisco Lindor doubled with Carlos Correa following with a homerun into centerfield. A Carlos Beltran single was proved null and void after Yadier Molina grounded into a double play to end the inning.

T.J. Rivera went deep in the bottom of the second inning to give Puerto Rico a 3-2 lead. That would be the extent of the Puerto Rican offense until the 11th. Jair Jurrjens replaced Rick VanDen Hurk in the third and the Netherlands bullpen quieted the Puerto Rican bats.

Puerto Rico was able to put runners on second and third with just one out in the third. Stolen bases by Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario taking advantage of the Netherlands battery. T.J. Rivera popped out and Reymond Fuentes grounded out to end the threat.

The Netherlands scored again in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3 but had another runner thrown out at the bases. A double by Wladimir Balentien and an intentional walk to Jonathan Schoop put runners on first and second with two out. Shawn Zarraga lined a double to left field scoring Balentien, but Jonathan Schoop was thrown out at home by a throw from Angel Pagan to Javier Baez to Yadier Molina for the last out of the inning.

Edwin Diaz pitched the last two innings to get the win. He struck out the side in the tenth inning. Puerto Rico turned four double plays, all of them in the seventh inning or after. The only time Puerto Rico did not turn a double play after the seventh inning was in the tenth inning when Edwin Diaz struck out the side. The Netherlands turned three double plays.

Eddie Rosario has been making a name for himself in these games, throwing out base runners and getting key hits for the undefeated Puerto Rican team. They now wait to see who wins the battle between the United States and Japan, playing the winner for the WBC championship.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Myworld would have nailed this division but we picked Pittsburgh for second and St. Louis for third. St. Louis finished second after a Pirate collapse.

Overview - The Reds are more favored to finish with the highest pick in the draft than a first place finish. They are in the process of a major rebuilding project. They do have one nice piece in Joey Votto, but his salary, age and the surplus at the position he plays makes it tough for the Reds to get anything for him. The team was at or near the bottom in most defensive, offensive and pitching statistics except stolen bases. A young team with speedsters like Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza put them second in the major leagues in stolen bases with 139, though many teams seem to de-emphasize the need to steal a base. The Reds were finally able to trade Brandon Phillips after three years of trying, failing to get any minor leaguer of note. This opens up a spot for Jose Peraza at second base.

Strengths - Joey Votto had a career year last year with a .326 average, .434 OBA and .550 slugging percentage. He walked 108 times and he could see an increase in that number in 2017 because there is no good bat that can hit behind him. Billy Hamilton seems to have figured it out. His defense in centerfield was near gold glove and he seemed to have finally figured it out with his bat (.260/.321/.343). He was second in the National League in stolen bases with 58. Jose Pereza has now been given a position to lose - second base. Last year he had a career year in his rookie seasons hitting .324 with 21 stolen bases. It is doubtful he can repeat those numbers. Zach Cosart gives you solid production at short with his 16 homeruns and solid defense. It is unclear how long he will be in the Reds lineup before being traded to a playoff contender.

Weaknesses - It looks like they lost their veteran Homer Bailey to begin the season. It is unclear how much Homer has left even when he comes back. Their ace of last year Anthony Desclafina will miss the start of the season with a UCL sprain leaving the opening day starter a fight between Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan. Feldman has the experience while Finnegan brings the youth. After that the Reds starting five will bring out the youth in their first or second year of major league service. That is usually a recipe for disaster. The relief pitching lacks a proven closer, though that was Raisel Iglesias position in the Cuban professional league. The Reds were hoping to make him a starting pitcher but durability issues became a concern. The corner outfield is a little weak with the unproved Scott Schebler in right field and the defensively Adam Duvall in left field. Duvall struck out in 164 at bats which left his average down to .241. Schebler had some issues hitting lefthanders (.195) but the power stroke came easy with 9 homeruns in just 82 games. The catching has Devin Mesoraco behind the plate but he is having trouble staying healthy. Tucker Barnhart will get the starts in his place. His bat is too much vanilla but his defense Is solid.

Non-Roster Invitees - The starting pitching for the Reds is so thin Bronson Arroyo has a shot to make the rotation provided he can show his arm can stay healthy. Rob Brantley could take the back up catching position if Devin continues to battle injuries. Ryan Raburn is a right handed bat that the Reds could platoon with Schebler.

Breakout Prospects - The Reds are rebuilding, especially in the pitching rotation. Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson are two pitchers who can make the rotation with decent springs. Amir is an ex-basketball player with a left handed fastball that can hit mid-90s but with rudimentary secondary pitches. Stephenson throws from the right side with a fastball in the high 90s. His big issue is getting command of the strike zone. The Reds would like to see more power generated from the bat of outfielder Jesse Winker. He is not a strong defensive player so if he doesn’t hit he probably will not play. Nick Travieso was a former number one pick in 2012. The stuff is not there with a low 90s fastball and average to below secondary offerings.

Prospects to Watch - The Reds have delved into the Cuban market, signing pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez and shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. This will be the first year for Vladimir facing major league hitters. His fastball has gained velocity since arriving in the United States going from the high 80s to low 90s. His curveball is a good pitch. The Reds signed him for a $4.75 bonus. Alfredo Rodriguez struggled in rookie ball (.234) not something you want to see from a 22 year old. He will play a superb defensive shortstop but his bat will hit near the bottom of the order. Nick Senzel was the Reds first round pick in 2016. A college bat who can rise quickly if he can show the power for third base. Last year he slugged .567 at Dayton. Aristides Aquino can hit for power with 23 homeruns last year in High A. At 6′4″with a rifle for an arm he will eventually fill right field for the Reds. Tyler Stephenson was a Reds 2015 first round pick. The catcher struggled with the bat (.216) but injuries limited him to 44 games with the injuries probably having an impact on his offensive struggles. The Reds hope he can find his offense in 2017.

Expected Finish - The Reds will be battling for the first round pick in 2018. They have no expectation to contend.

MyWorlds Top 100 - 20-11

Monday, March 20th, 2017

20. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) 7.83 - Michael was the Red Sox first round pick in the 2014 draft. He created quite a buzz last year when his fastball hit 105. The Red Sox made him part of the prospect haul of the White Sox in the David Price trade. Maturity issues are his big obstacle. He has two suspensions in his short career, one for drugs and one for fighting. His fastball is probably one of the top five in the minor leagues consistently hitting triple digits. He complements that fastball with a nice low 90s slider, with a change that he can throw as his third pitch. Single A hitters managed to hit only .147 against him and he was filthy with the strikeouts. Command could use improvement but that should come with time. The White Sox will probably start Kopech in AA. Because he has not eaten up a lot of innings they will be patient with his pitch count. If a major league promotion occurs it will not be until September.

19. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) 8.05 - At 6′0″ with a fastball in the mid 90s the Domincan Espinoza is compared to Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox shelled out a $1.8 million bonus to sign him then traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. What separates Anderson from many pitchers his age is his ability to throw his change with a similar delivery as his fastball, giving him two plus pitches. His curve needs more consistency but it has the makings to be a plus pitch. Despite the glowing reports on his mid-90s fastball that can hit triple digits and a plus change hitters had success against him last year with a .276 opposition average at Low A. His small stature brings discussions of durability, which could result in a move to the pen as a closer. Expect Anderson to start the 2017 season in High A.

18. Nick Senzel 3B (Reds) 8.27 - Myworld has not seen much of Senzel. He was the Reds first round pick in the 2016 draft and to rise this high in many prospect rankings this early in his career is impressive. He has a college bat so a lot is already known about him. In his professional debut in Low A he hit .329. He also had a .982 OPS hitting seven homeruns. What was surprising was his 15 stolen bases, a lot for a player with average speed who plays the hot corner. More will be known about him as he rises up the minor league ladder and faces better pitching. A .415 OBA with a 32/45 walk to whiff ratio was also eye opening and his defensive tools should play out at third. As a college bat expect him to rise quickly in the minor leagues, with a start in High A and a promotion to AA if he continues to find success.

17. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8.3 - The Tigers originally signed Adames but traded him to the Rays in their playoff drive to acquire David Price. Adames has a lot of upside with a bat that could hit for average and the power to hit for 20 plus homeruns. His tools should allow him to stay at short, though there is some question about his range. A strong arm and quick feet should help with that issue. The Rays have a shortstop opening and Adames hit .274 with a .802 OPS last year in AA. Myworld expects him to start the season in AAA but would not be surprised to see him with the major league club by mid-season.

16. Ozzie Albies 2B/SS (Braves) 8.38 - Ozzie was one reason the Braves felt they could trade Jose Peraza. The 20 year old from Curacao lost out on the shortstop job to Dansby Swanson and appears to be destined for second base. A late season injury last year may have prevented him from joining Dansby on the major league club. Ozzie has speed, the tools to play shortstop and the bat to stay near .300. What he lacks is power. An ability to draw walks with a .358 OBA between AA and AAA will allow him to hit at the top of the order to set the stage for the run producers. Myworld expects him to start his season in AAA with a quick callup when the Braves need help at second base or in a super utility role.

15. Tyler Glasnow RHP (Pirates) 8.68 - Tyler was a fifth round pick in 2012 but at 6′8″ with a lefty arm that hits the mid to upper 90s with his fastball his stock rose quickly. He also has a curve that misses bats and a change that is serviceable. His big issue is finding command. The opposition only hit .190 against him and he averaged over a strikeout per inning. Runners reached base consistently as he walks more than one hitter per two innings. In the major leagues his 4.24 ERA was inflated by a 13/24 walk to whiff ratio in just 23 innings. That lack of command also impacts hitters looking for the fastball when he gets behind in the count and major league hitters burned him for a .250 average. Expect him to start the 2017 season in AAA as he further tries to improve his command by working on a consistent delivery.

14. Rafael Devers 3B (Red Sox) 8.78 - Devers is one player the Red Sox tried to avoid having in conversations in trade talks. The Red Sox have hopes that he will take over the third base position when Pablo Sandoval is done. His lefthanded swing should find the .300 neighborhood with 30 plus homeruns an achievable goal. As a teenager in High A he slugged .448 with most of his power dedicated towards the gaps. As he matures and gets stronger those gap shots should get closer to the fences. His fielding at third will not win any gold gloves but it should do the job. If not a move to first is still a possibility. He lacks the foot speed to fit in the outfield. The 2017 season will see him do damage to AA pitchers.

13. Lucas Giolito RHP (White Sox) 8.82 - Lucas was a first round pick of the Nationals in 2012. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching but one start that year and in 2013 it was only rehab. He was considered the top pitching prospect entering the 2016 season but struggles against major league hitters in his major league debut dropped him down a notch. It also convinced the Nationals that they could include him in a trade for Adam Eaton. At 6′6″ with a fastball in the mid to high 90s Giolito can be intimidating. He also has a nice break to his curve and a dropping changeup that leads to a lot of swings and misses in the minor leagues. His velocity dropped when promoted to the major leagues and his command was poor with a 12/11 walk to whiff ratio. He also saw seven balls leave the park in just 21 innings of work, equaling the number of jacks he gave up in the minors in 115 innings. A good spring and a return to the high 90s in velocity could see him open the season in the White Sox rotation. The better bet is he starts the season in AAA.

12. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 8.83 - Austin was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2013. Injuries last season limited him to just 87 games. He did reach AAA but in 126 at bats he only hit .214 with a .297 OBA. The left handed stroke of Austin should hit for average as his .311 batting average in AA attests. His power should also come where he should hit 20 plus homeruns every year. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases and cover centerfield, but the arm is below average so if centerfield is not a possibility a move to left would be an alternative. The Pirates outfield is a little crowded so expect Austin to spend his 2017 season in AAA. He is just a major injury away from getting a callup, or a Andrew McCutchen trade away if the Pirates should fall out of the playoff race.

11. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) 8.85 - Victor Robles has all five tools to make him a superstar. He will hit for average (.305 in low A), carries the potential power to hit 20 plus homeruns, has the foot speed to steal 50 plus bases and the tools and arm to play either center or right. At 19 years of age he held his own in High A, hitting .262 with a .354 OBA. A good work ethic and a leader in the clubhouse could add a sixth tool to his skills. It is difficult to watch these tools and show patience with him to allow him to develop in the minor leagues. With less than 200 at bats it may be best for Robles to start the season in High A with a promotion to AA once he achieves success.