Archive for May, 2017

Roel Santos to Play for Marines

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Cuban outfielder Roel Santos has signed a contract to play for the Chibba Lotte Marines in the NPB. The contract according to YakyuDB is estimated at $200,000. He will begin the season once he gets a work visa.

Santos does not have any power. He could hit for average which would allow him to use his speed to steal bases. His defense fits the mold of a centerfielder. The Marines currently have the worst record in the NPB. They have not been getting a lot of production from their foreign bats Matt Duffy (.213) and Jimmy Paredes (.174).

Kang Loses DUI Appeal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

If anyone was wondering where Pirate third baseman Jung-Ho Kang is he has been in Korea and had been apparently drinking a lot of alcohol during the off season. He was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to eight months in prison. The problem with this most recent DUI was it was his third DUI and there was hit and run involved with a guard rail. He had DUI convictions in 2009 and 2011 and evidently had a reputation in Korea as a party animal. The Pirates were evidently caught by surprise with this information. It certainly does not help future Korean players negotiate contracts with major league teams.

The prison time was suspended, but the felony conviction prevented Kang from getting a work visa. He appealed the conviction, hoping to reduce it to a fine, which would make it easier to get a work visa but that appeal was lost yesterday. Now it is unclear whether he will get a work visa for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019. The Pirates are still working on getting him a visa.

What may not help him is his sexual assault allegation that still hangs around in Chicago. That investigation involves a woman who initially alleged she was drugged and raped. That doesn’t sound like someone I would want in my country, regardless of what country it is if I was the official issuing the work visa. The sexual assault case has not been pursued because the woman has not cooperated with the investigation after the allegations were made. The police investigation for that case remains open as of March 2017 but with Kang still in Korea it may be difficult to pursue.

Even if Kang can return to the United States he could be facing suspensions as a result of the sexual assault allegations and/or drunk driving convictions. Hopefully the party animal has been behaving himself while stranded in Korea. Another bad incident will be a death sentence to his major league career and a bad look for other Korean players looking at the major leagues.

At this point it would be interesting to see if the KBO would allow him to play if he tried to continue his career in Korea if the major league opportunities dry up.

NPB Review - Central League

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The more popular league in Japan with two of the older teams in the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers. Many compare their rivalry equal to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Hanshin Tigers (23-12)

They have a number of stars on this team but their most consistent hitter is probably Yoshio Itoi. Last year Itoi stole a career high 53 bases at age 35. The stolen bases have slowed but his bat continues to glow with a .323 average, 5 homeruns and team leading 28 RBIs. Takashi Toritani found no major league interest in his services last year, slumped to a .236 average and was asked to move from shortstop. This has created a resurgence in his bat with a .325 average and one homerun. The power is gone but he can still get on base. Ex-major leaguer Kosuke Fukudome continues to shine with the bat, hitting .306. His five homeruns is tied with Itoi and Masahiro Nakatani for the team lead and his 23 RBIs is second to Itoi. Eric Cambell (.227) has been a major disappointment as a foreign bat.

Many feel Shintaro Fujinami will be a better pitcher in the long haul than Shohei Otani. He was the ace on the 18 and under team with Otani the number two starter. Otani is on the disabled list while Fujinami is 3-1, 1.67. The down side is the strikeout numbers are down for Fujinami (15) while the walk numbers are up (25) in just 32 innings. Randy Messenger is in his eighth year with Hanshin and continues to shine (5-0, 2.38). Rafael Dolis failed as a closer with the Cubs, but his 15 saves leads the Central League. Marcus Mateo (3-0, 2.04, 12 holds) is the main setup man.

Hirshima Carp (23-15-1)

The Carp have cooled off since sitting perched at the top of the standings early in the season. Brad Eldred (.327, 10, 29) hopes to have a healthy year where his power bat leads the Carp. In his first five years with the team Brad has played in more than 100 games in just one season. At 22 years of age Seiya Suzuki (.303, 8, 31) is one of the shining stars in this league. His 31 RBIs lead the Carp. This is his second full season in the NPB. Yoshihiro Maru (.322, 6, 22) gets on base for the sluggers where he has scored 31 runs. Tomohiro Abe (.371) is another table setter.

Yusuke Nomura (3-1, 1.91) has been their most consistent starter. Last year was a breakout season for Nomura with 16 wins. Akitake Okade (4-1, 3.56) is picking up the wins in his second year but showing some inconsistency and command issues. Jay Jackson has picked up 11 holds and has yet to give up a run in 17 appearances.

Yomiuri Giants (19-17)

The Giants best player is shortstop Hayato Sakamota (.362, 6, 20). Watch for him jumping to the major leagues in a couple years. Casey McGehee (.315, 6, 24) has been the most productive foreign bat for the Giants. Veteran Shinnosuke Abe (.292, 8, 33) started the season strong but has slowed a bit. His 33 RBIs is tops on the team. Abe has 381 career homeruns and needs two more to reach double digits in homers for 17 straight seasons.

Tomoyuki Sugano (5-1, 1.78) has been the ace. Last year he was 11 whiffs shy of 200. Miles Nikolas (4-2, 2.74) is the top foreign pitcher in the starting rotation. Two foreigners close out the games. The high 90s heat of Arquimedes Caminero (0-1, 1.59, 10 saves) closes out the games. His stuff fits well in the NPB. Scott Mathieson (0.98, 11 holds) is the set up man for the Giants pitching in his sixth season. In 2014 he accumulated 30 saves. Tetsuya Utsumi (1-3, 5.54) continues to struggle and the Giants may need to look for an alternative for the veteran.

Yokahama Bay Stars (16-19-2)

They have not been getting a lot of production from their young superstar Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (.278, 3, 18). Last year Yoshitomo hit 44 homeruns and drove in 110. He is one of the many WBC performers struggling early in the season. Making up for the sleeping bat of Tsutsugo is Jose Lopez (.333, 7, 28). Lopez is in his fifth NPB season, his third with the Bay Stars. Last year he had a career year in the NPB with 34 homeruns and 95 RBIs. Takayuki Kajitani (.255, 7, 21) also has seven homeruns.

Pitching has been the trouble spot for the Stars. Joe Wieland (3-0, 2.63) is the only starter with an ERA less than 4. Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1, 1.02, 2 saves) may return to his role as the closer with the struggles of Spencer Patton (2-2, 4.15, 6 saves). In his first two years Yasuaki converted 70 saves, though last year his ERA was at a high 3.59.

Yakult Swallows (15-22)

The highlight to their season are the two walkoff grand slam homeruns. No team in the history of the NPB has blasted two walk off grand slam homeruns in the same season. And they still have 100 games to go before the 2017 season is done. Like the Bay Stars the Swallows are getting very little production from Tetsuto Yamada (.233, 4, 14). The last two years Yamada has hit over .300 with 38 homeruns in each season. He was a 30/30 man in 2015 and 2016 but only has four homeruns and six stolen bases this year in a quarter of the season. Wladimir Balentien (.290, 5, 16) is another bat that needs to start hitting for the offense to thrive. In 2013 he broke the NPB record for homeruns in a season with 60 but injuries have limited him. He has hit 31 homeruns in four of his other six NPB seasons but the fans expect more.

Yasuhiro Ogawa (3-2, 1.98) and David Buchanan (2-2, 2.40) are having solid seasons but are not being supported by an anemic offense.

Chunichi Dragons (12-23-3)

The only good thing the Dragons can say about their season is they are better than the Marines. So far. They have the troubled Alex Guerrero (.256, 7, 19) who finds the uniform he is wearing very similar to his old team in Los Angeles. At least with the Dragons he has found a position he can play. Dayan Viciedo (.271, 6, 21) is his Cuban mate. The duo are about the only offense on this Dragon team. Yohei Oshima (.327, 1, 11) hits for average but his run production is unimpressive.

The starting pitching has Katsuki Matayoshi (2-0, 2.16) and foreign contributors Jordan Norberto (2-0, 1.76) and Raul Valdes (1-1, 1.98). Raul is another Cuban connection. The Japanese have always had pretty good success against the Cubans in international events. Having too many Cubans on your professional team may not be an advantage. At least not for the Dragons.

Another May Prospect Review

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Christian Walker 1B (Diamondbacks) - At 26 and recently put on waivers by the Orioles Christian is not much of a prospect. But he did hit for the cycle in a 4 for 6 game, driving in five runs. He is an RBI machine with his 42 leading the Pacific Coast League. His 10 homeruns is second in the league, but the league leader Jamie Romak has left for the KBO.

Colton Welker 3B (Rockies) - Colton will not move Nolan Arenado from third base. At 19 years of age the Rockies have a long time to figure out where they want to place him. He is wearing out Low A pitchers. A 13 for 21 five game hitting streak has elevated his average to .355. He has homered in his last two games driving in 7 of the 18 runs he has driven in all year.

Johan Mieses CF (Dodgers) - When Johan hits the ball they usually go over the fence. In a three game stretch he collected five of his 10 hits for the year, four of them clearing the fence. Five of his 10 hits have cleared the fence. The 36 whiffs in 24 games has anchored his average at .125 in AA.

Tyler Wade SS (Yankees) - Shortstop appears to be well stocked in the Yankees minor league system. Tyler may not be the most heralded, but a seven game hitting streak (14 for 33) raised his average to .326 and produced his first two homeruns. Tyler has 12 steals in 15 attempts and has already appeared on this list twice, one more than Gleyber Torres.

Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) - Brendan is in the midst of a 13 game hitting streak that puts his average at a Ted Williams like .405. A promotion from the California League looks to be on the horizon.

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles) - The Orioles will be looking for a shortstop in a couple years after J.J. Hardy departs and Machado follows him a year later. The 2015 first round pick had a four hit game to raise his average to .342. Ryan is showing some power with his bat, unloading for seven homeruns and 14 doubles for a .596 slugging average.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - In five starts Jon has not given up an earned run in four of them. He pitched another five innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and striking out eight. The whiffs give him 48 for his 36 innings. The opposition is hitting only .142 against him.

Kyle Lloyd RHP (Padres) - Kyle threw the third no hitter of the year, going all nine innings. He walked one and only struck out three. There was a three game stretch in which he gave up 14 runs in just under 13 innings. His other five starts he has only allowed two earned runs.

Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - His back problems seem to be gone. In eight starts he has only given up six runs. The strikeout numbers are not great (35 in 44 innings) but hitters are not making solid contact (.190). Last year Kolby only went 87 innings. This year he has already reached 44 innings.

Lucas Sims RHP (Braves) - Up a level in AAA Sims threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits, striking out 10. Lucas could be an option for the Braves in mid-season.

Chance Adams RHP (Yankees) - Chance dominated in AA, allowing just four earned runs in six starts. The opposition hit just .183 against him. Promoted to AAA he pitched five more shutout innings, allowing just two hits. The Yankees could use some starters with Tanaka struggling.

Wilmer Font RHP (Dodgers) - Wilmer had a day with 15 whiffs in just seven innings of work. He gave up one run on two hits. For the year Font has been a whiff machine with 63 in 42 innings. Font has bounced around with his high 90s fastball putting him in the closer role for a couple years. Font did not pitch in 2015 after being released by the Rangers but the Dodgers signed him in 2016 and moved him into the rotation.

King Wang Drawing Interest from NPB and Major Leagues

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Like Korea, the Taiwan League (CPBL) is geared a little toward offense. Last year when the 23 year old Po-Jung Wang hit .414 with 29 homeruns and 105 RBIs with 24 stolen bases to win the MVP award as well as rookie of the year, there were some NPB teams that showed some interest in Wang. This year Wang is terrorizing Taiwan pitchers at a .431 clip with 8 homeruns in just 35 games. Now some major league teams have taken notice. You don’t put up those numbers and not have some thunder in the bat.

Taiwan requires a player to play at least three years in the CPBL before he is declared a free agent. He played a portion of a season in 2015 (29 games) so he will not become a free agent until after the 2018 season. It is possible teams could negotiate a posting fee to acquire Wang after this season, though Taiwan teams have never officially posted any of their players. Wang is the first player to make such an impact in his first full season in the CPBL.

After 180 games his career average is .404 with a 1.146 OPS. According to the CPBL English website the Orix Buffaloes, Softbank Hawks, Lotte Marines, Seibu Lions and Hanshin Tigers are some of the Japanese teams interested in his services.

Wang plays outfield for the LaMiga Monkeys.

Nats Win Bullpen Blowup Battle with the Phillies

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Or perhaps you can say more accurately the Phillies won, since their bullpen was the last to blow a lead. The Phillies bullpen let a 4-0 lead disappear on Friday, giving up a walk off Bryce Harper homerun. The Nationals returned the favor on Friday giving away a 3-0 lead, allowing three runs in the top of the ninth. After the Nationals let a 4-3 lead escape in the top of the eighth the Phillies Pat Neshek was lit up in the bottom of the eighth by a Micahel Taylor two run homer. Dusty Baker turned to the only bullpen guy that has been getting hitters out, a pitcher released by the Orioles who has the least velocity on the team, Matt Albers. He got the save by retiring the Phillies in order. Despite his lack of stuff he could be the bullpen answer because he gets outs.

The Nationals drew first blood in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a Cesar Hernandez error on a hard bouncer hit by Trea Turner that bounced off the foot of Hernandez. A wild pitch advanced Turner to second where he scored on a Bryce Harper single. Bryce tried to advance to second on the throw, but Brock Stassi cut the ball off and easily threw Harper out at second.

In the top of the fourth the Phillies took advantage of video replay to show a ball glanced off the knee of Aaron Altherr. Michael Saunders rocketed a shot off the knee of Max Scherzer, who spent the next five minutes hobbling around the mound. He did not seem as sharp after he was hit. Brock Stassi slapped a single through the hole in right field to tie the game at 1-1 and Andrew Knapp rifled a single to right to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

The Nationals recaptured the lead in the fifth. Despite throwing between 95-98 Vince Velasquez struggled. Jose Lobaton hit a shot that rolled into the gap in right center to hustle it into a double. Lobaton again used his legs to advance to third on a fly out to right by Max Scherzer. The throw from Michael Saunders was a little off line. Trea Turner lifted one to left and again Lobaton used his legs to race home, barely beating the throw from Aaron Altherr. Chris Heisey kept the inning alive with a single. Bryce Harper smacked his third hit of the day, pulling a pitch into the right field corner for a double and scoring Heisey from first for a 3-2 lead.

Scherzer could not hold the lead in the sixth. Michael Saunders opened the inning with a double against the right centerfield wall. Andres Blanco drove him in with a single. The inning could have been worse. With runners on first and second and two out Daniel Nava bounced a single up the middle. Trea Turner made a diving stop to prevent it from going into centerfield. Stassi had rounded third, Turner threw it to third and Rendon fired home to get Stassi at the plate for the third out and prevent the Phillies from taking the lead.

The Nationals took the lead back after a leadoff single and stolen base from Anthony Rendon. With a runner on second and two out Dusty Baker chose to pinch hit Brian Goodwin instead of Adam Lind. Goodwin poked a double into the left field corner just over the outstretched glove of Aaron Altherr.

It does not matter who Dusty Baker brings in as a reliever. All of them have failed to protect the lead. Shawn Kelly and Koda Glover were failures in the opener. Baker tried Matt Grace and Jacob Turner in game two. Grace was successful in his first inning of work, retiring the side in order. In his second inning he threw four straight balls to lefthanded hitter Michael Saunders. With a runner on second and one out and Tommy Joseph pinch hitting for lefthander Brock Stassi Baker went with Jacob Turner from the right side. Turner walked Joseph and Freddy Galvis gave the Phillies the lead with a two run triple. The boos rained in on the bullpen for blowing another lead. Turner was able to strike out Andrew Knapp with Galvis at third and one out, and got Ty Kelly to fly out to left to keep the Philly lead at one.

It was the Phillies turn to blow a lead. That task went to Pat Neshek. He gave up an Anthony Rendon single and then the two run shot by Michael Taylor that hit the foul pole in left field. The two runs were the first to be given up by Neshek.

Dusty Baker went to the Nationals most effective reliever Matt Albers. He retired the Phillies in order in the ninth to give the Nationals a win.

Game Notes: Max Scherzer struck out the side in the fifth inning on nine pitches. That ties a record held by many…Ryan Zimmerman made a lob throw to second on a double play grounder. A crisper throw may have gotten a double play. He was rescued by Trea Turner who made a diving stop on a grounder up the middle and threw out the runner at home, who should have been erased on a double play…It was Trea Turner bobble head day…Vince Velasquez throws the ball hard, with his fastball consistently hitting 95-98. You wonder why his ERA is at 5.63. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, then showed his wildness giving up a hit and walking two to load the bases. He threw close to 30 pitches in the first inning…Michael Taylor struck out his first three times up, failing to make contact with the ball on 12 pitches. Dusty Baker stuck with him in the eighth and he came through with a big two run homer, hitting the first pitch thrown by Neshek…Cesar Hernandez was called out on a bunt attempt after the ball hit him out of the batter’s box. The Phillies asked for a review and when the umpires put the headsets on to get a ruling they were told this event was not reviewable…Only three teams have a worse ERA than the Nationals bullpen of 5.20 (Mariners, Padres and Tigers). The Phillies bullpen is not that far ahead at 4.77. The Phillies are tied with the Rays and Mariners for most blown saves at 9. The Nationals only have 7 blown saves. The Phillies bullpen is tied with the Mariners for giving up the most homeruns at 24. The Nationals are not that far behind giving up 20, but they have been a little stingy giving up homeruns the last week. The Nationals .484 slugging percentage is the worst in the major leagues. The Phillies are next to last at .470. The worst AL team is the Tigers at .468.

NPB Update - Pacific League

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Rakuten Golden Eagles (22-9)

The Eagles have not really contended since the departure of Masahiro Tanaka. They have started the 2017 season off strong. In his second season 23 year old Eigoro Mogi is the straw that stirs the drink for this offense. He is hitting .313 with seven homeruns. Last year he hit seven homeruns in 117 games. Eigoro has only stolen one base but he has scored 23 runs. Carlos Peguero hit some early season homeruns before slowing down. He leads the team with 8 and his 25 runs driven in are tops on the team.

Where the Eagles shine is their starting pitching. Takahiro Norimoto has taken over the ace role once held by Tanaka. He is 4-1, 2.72 with 56 whiffs in 43 innings. Manabu Mima has also equaled his record (4-1) but his 2.51 record is slightly better. Manabu is not as overpowering with the K’s. Yuki Matsui has bounced back from a down season last year, leading the Pacific League in saves with 14 and allowing just 9 hits in 21 innings. His 0.43 ERA is about 5 runs better than last season. The foreign face Frank Hermann (1.98 ERA) is tied with Kohei Morihara (1.00 ERA) for the team lead in holds with 12. Hiroyuki Fukuyama has 10 holds in 15 appearances and has yet to give up a run. That is a potent bullpen.

Softbank Hawks (23-13)

The Hawks have been the top team of this division over the last couple years. They pulled a coup signing Alfredo Despaigne as a free agent, stealing him from the Lotte Marines this year. Alfredo has not been dominant, hitting just .240 but his 9 homeruns and 30 RBIs lead the team. Seiichi Uchikawa is their most consistent hitter (.346, 6, 27). His 20 runs scored is tied with Kenta Imamiya (.274, 1, 13) for the team lead. Seiichi also has a 22/14 walk to whiff ratio. Yuki Yanagita (.252, 4, 15) is scuffling. When he gets hot the Hawks will take off. Yuki is one of many WBC players who are struggling early in the season.

Kodai Senga is the ace with his 5-1, 3.21. His 55 whiffs is one short of Norimoto for the league lead. The 24 year old pitcher had a breakout season last year with his 12 wins. Nao Higashihama (3-1, 2.52) is a solid number two starter. Rick Vandenhurk (3-2, 2.52) is having success as a starter in his second Asian country after pitching in the KBO. This is his third season with the Hawks. Dennis Sarfate is tied with Matsui for the league lead in saves with 14. He has yet to give up an earned run in 16 appearances.

Seibu Lions (16-16-1)

The veteran Takeya Nakamura is again sending balls over the fence with 9 in his first 32 games. His 30 RBIs is tied for the team lead. Nakamura had 330 career homeruns coming into this season with two years of 48 homeruns and a year with 46 homeruns. Last year was an off year with 21 homeruns leading to talk that at 33 years of age his bat had slowed down. Ernesto Mejia (.291, 6, 21) is the foreign power source. This is his fourth season with the Lions. Last year he slugged 35 homeruns and reached triple digits in RBIs (105) for the first time. Shogo Akiyama (.323, 5,11) benefits from the power hitters with his 29 runs scored tops in the league. Hideto Asamura is having a career year with his .350 average.

Yusei Kikuchi is living up to his number one pick status with a 4-1, 1.08 ERA. He has struck out 53 in 50 innings and has only allowed 24 hits. At 25 years of age he probably has some major league scouts looking at him. Brian Wolfe has equaled his record with a 2.13 ERA but has been less dominant.

Orix Buffaloes (17-17)

Like Seibu Orix has been mired in mediocrity. They lack star power in their bats. Their foreign presence Brent Morel has only been able to play 8 games and their other foreign bat Stefan Romero (.281, 5, 12) is rather ordinary. Takahiro Okada (.339, 9, 19) is probably their best hitter, leading the team in RBIs and runs scored (21).

The Buffaloes rely on their starters to win games. Chihiro Kaneko (5-1, 1.70) and Brandon Dickson (4-2, 2.80) have combined to win more than half their games. Neither pitcher is overpowering, but they know how to elicit soft contact with the bat.

Nippon Ham Fighters (14-21)

The defending champions are struggling since an injury to Shohei Otani has knocked his bat from the Fighter lineup. He was hitting .407 with two homeruns in his first 8 games before his injury. An ankle injury prior to that prevented him from taking the mound. He has yet to pitch in a game and should miss most of May before his return. Brandon Laird has been hot (.246, 11, 25) hitting homeruns in four consecutive at bats. Kensuke Kondo has a nice average (.426) but not a lot of production with just three homeruns and 22 RBIs. Veteran Sho Nakata (.217, 3, 12) is another WBC performer who is struggling. Last year Sho drove in 110 runs, his third straight season driving in 100 or more runs. Once the Fighters get Otani back and when Nakata gets his bat working the Fighters should rise to the top.

Takayuki Kato (3-1,1.93) has been their top pitcher. This is only the second season for the 24 year old. The Fighters need Otani back to anchor this rotation.

Lotte Marines (9-25-1)

This has been a horrible season for the Marines. Jimmy Paredes (.130) was a failure as a foreign signing and sent to the minor leagues. He has recently returned. Matt Duffy (.218, 3, 8) may be the next to go if his bat does not get hot. Daichi Suzuki (.270, 4, 12) is probably their best player. No player on this team has more than 12 RBIs.

This is the 10th year for Jason Stanridge in Japan and it could be his last. His 5.34 ERA is his second worst of his NPB career. Given his history the Marines may give him some rope to bounce back. The pitching has been about as ugly as the hitting. It will be a long year for Marine fans. Bring back Bobby Valentine.

Prospects Raking in May

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Below are the prospects making a name for themselves in the month of May. Some of them have earned a call up to the major leagues or a promotion to the next level of the minor leagues.

Raimel Tapia CF (Rockies) - Tapia had a 16 game hitting streak where he saw his batting average climb from .341 to .400. That got him a promotion to the major league club. Tapia does not hit for a lot of power but he spreads the gaps with 9 doubles and three triples during his streak. He can also move around the outfield with the arm to play right and the range to play center. Stolen bases are also in his repertoire with 8 in 10 attemepts.

Josh Ockimey 1B (Red Sox) - Josh was a fifth round pick of the Red Sox in 2014. A nine game hitting streak was recently ended where he drove in nine runs. He’s hitting .327 but his biggest contribution is his RBIs. His 31 RBIs is second in the Carolina League. The power has not been eye popping with just four homeruns, but he has a .529 slugging percentage and a .961 OPS.

Jake Gatewood 3B/1B (Brewers) - Jake was a first round pick of the Brewers in 2014. He has gotten a hit in all the games he has played in May to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. The strikeouts are a little prevalent with 39 in 34 games but his hitting streak has maintained his average at .333. His 13 doubles top the Carolina League.

Alex Jackson C (Braves) - The trade of Alex to the Braves has rejuvenated his career, or perhaps it is his return to catching. The number one pick of the Mariners in 2014 is hitting .312 with 10 homeruns in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. He is 9 for 21 in his last five games. His 10 homeruns and 30 RBIs lead the Florida State League. Alex has bounced between catching and designated hitter.

Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) - Raimel is not the only Rockie minor leaguer to raise his average to .400. A 10 game hitting streak in which he hit .488 moved his average from .276 to .400. Brendan has driven in 12 runs during the streak. All this production will only get him a promotion to AA despite the early season struggles of Trevor Story.

Yoan Moncada 2B (White Sox) - Yoan is making AAA look easy with a .352 average and six homeruns. His OPS sits at .971 and he has stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts. Despite all that and a hole at second base on the major league roster the White Sox are not calling him up. At least not right now. If he continues to assault AAA pitching they may have no choice.

Victor Caratini C (Cubs) - The Cubs are loaded at catcher. Back to back four hit games by Victor put his average at .361. If Wilson Contreras does not get out of his hitting funk Caratini will make his presence known. The defense is not as strong but the Cubs needs some offense and Victor has shown he can provide that. The second round 2013 pick of the Braves was traded to the Cubs in 2014 for Emilio Bonafacio.

Mauricio Dubon SS (Brewers) - Mauricio was drafted in the 26th round by the Red Sox but was born in Honduras. The Red Sox traded him to the Brewers as part of the Tyler Thornburg swap. A six game hitting streak (11 for 27) has raised his average to .294. Mauricio has speed stealing 30 bases in 2015 and 2016. In only 35 games this year Mauricio has stolen 18 bases in 22 attempts.

Carson Kelly C (Cardinals) - No one questions his defense. Some say his bat is a little soft. Carson is trying to change that with a 15 for 26 seven game hitting streak that has raised his average to .329. With Yadier Molina still functioning behind the plate the Cardinals can be patient with Carson. His bat is also showing a little pop with five homeruns and a .576 slugging percentage.

Ronald Acuna CF (Braves) - The 19 year old Venezuelan was recently promoted to AA and he keeps on raking. After hitting .287 with three homeruns and five triples in the Florida State League Ronald had back to back three hit games in his AA debut. He hit homeruns in each of those games and is now batting .500 after four games. Many compare his quick ascent up the minor league ladder to Andrew Jones.

Travis Demeritte 2B (Braves) - The bat is starting to come to life for Travis. After slugging 28 homeruns last year Travis had just one in his first 28 games of 2017. He has now slugged three in his last five games and a 10 for 23 six game hitting streak has elevated his average to .274. The whiffs are still there with 33 in 33 games.

James Nelson 3B (Marlins) - The 2016 15th round pick is raising eyebrows in the South Atlantic League with his .357 average. A recent 10 game hitting streak (19 for 41) has seen his average climb 150 points. The production is still lacking with only seven RBIs.

Mike Gerber CF (Tigers) - Mike may not solve the Tigers center field problem from a defensive perspective, but there is some juice in his bat. He has hit three homeruns in his last two games to give him five for the year. A four game multiple hit streak (11 for 18) has raised his average to .331. Last year Mike slugged 18 homeruns between High A and AA. The Tigers could be prepared to sacrifice some defense for offense if they continue their struggles in centerfield.

Rhys Hoskins 1B and Dylan Cozens RF (Phillies) - The duo have taken their homerun show to the International League where their 8 homeruns are tied with two others for the league lead. Last year the duo were 1-2 in the Eastern League in homeruns. Rhys is having the more consistent year with a .339 average. His 26 RBIs tie him for the league lead. Dylan is struggling a little bit, but a three game hitting streak of 8 for 15 has raised his average to .221. He has hit three homeruns and driven in five during that streak.

Jorge Mateo SS (Yankees) - Jorge has not been heard from in awhile, with his batting average slumming around the low .200 range. This is his third year in A ball and he would like to get promoted before he throws another temper tantrum. Last night could be the impetus to that after a 4 for 6 day in which he hit his first two homeruns. The whiffs need to be reduced with 39 in just 35 games but he has stolen 15 bases in 17 attempts despite his struggles to get on base (.290 OBA).

Cole Tucker SS (Pirates) - The 2014 first round pick had a day with two homeruns, a triple and a double in a 4 for 6 performance in which he drove in seven. Cole was just a single short of the cycle. A three game multiple hit streak (8 for 16) has raised his average to .285. The seven RBIs in one game almost equaled the 9 he drove in for his first 33 games.

Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - The 2014 first round pick is dominating AA with a 0.99 ERA in seven starts. The two runs he gave up in his last start is the most he has given up this year. The start previous to that he struck out 12. The opposition is hitting him at .185 and he has only walked 6 in 45 innings for a 0.79 WHIP. Expect a promotion to AAA or the Cardinals soon.

Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) - Mitch has not given up a run in his last three starts covering 18.2 innings. He was taken out of his last start after just 4.2 innings when a bee stung him. The bee may have been confused by the black and yellow uniforms the Marauders wear. For the year Mitch has an ERA of 2.54 with the opposition hitting him at .196.

Ronald Herrera RHP (Yankees) - Ronald gave up his first run after three starts, a span covering 18.1 innings. That puts his ERA at 0.49. The Venezuelan stands only 5′11″ and does not put up the strikeout numbers but the soft contact is evident by the .188 opposition average. This is his third year in AA for the 22 year old.

Luke Weaver RHP (Cardinals) - Another Cardinal heard from. Luke was put on the disabled list after his first two inning start. Returning in May Luke has not given up a run in 13 innings to extend his 2017 scoreless streak to 15 innings. He has yet to walk a batter and the opposition is hitting just .167 against him. If Luke can show he is healthy it could result in a quick promotion to the major leagues.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - The third round 2016 pick only saw one appearance last year. This year in six appearances and five starts he has only given up runs in one of those appearances. His ERA sits at 0.86 and the opposition is hitting him at a .146 clip. He has 40 whiffs in 31.1 innings.

Logan Shore RHP (Athletics) - Logan tossed five innings of no hit ball in his last start. The 2016 second round pick has now lowered his ERA to 2.37. The five inning outing was the longest of the year.

Josh Staumont RHP (Royals) - Josh had his second double digit strikeout game with 10 in five innings. His five walks continue to show his wild side with a 23/52 walk to whiff ratio in 37 innings. This has kept his AAA ERA at 3.62 and given pause by the Royals brass for a promotion. Almost half of his 15 runs were given up in his opening start.

Top Prospects from South America

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Last year myworld did a breakout of the top prospects from Colombia. Most of those players struggled last year and it would be pointless to create a top ten of players, many of whom struggled to get above the Mendoza line. So we added a couple players from Brazil and created a top South American prospect list.

1. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies/Colombia) - Injuries have slowed his ascent to the major leagues. Last year he got 16 at bats in a September call up but struck out in about half of them. His defense is solid with an arm strong enough to throw out 44 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. There is power in the bat with 15 homeruns last year with a .458 slugging percentage. One major weakness is his lack of patience at the plate with a 22/105 walk to whiff ratio. This could keep his average down once he hits the majors. The 2017 season has not seen an improvement in his walk to whiff ratio (2/32 in 26 games). Cameron Rupp is ahead of him in the major leagues so the Phillies can show patience with his development. He won’t turn 24 until June.

2. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves/Brazil) - The Mariners signed Luiz in 2012. For a pitcher who can hit triple digits with his fastball the Mariners seemed to trade him on the cheap, obtaining Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith for him. Hard throwing lefthanders are tough to find. Luiz is currently in the starting rotation but with only two pitches (fastball/slider) he could eventually move to the bullpen. He can be tough to hit if his command is right, but that is not always the case. This year in seven starts his ERA sits at 1.98 with just 10 walks in 36.1 innings. Luiz has a body type that can pack on the pounds so he needs to watch his weight to stay effective.

3. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals/Colombia) - Last year was a break out season for the player signed out of Colombia in 2013. He led the Pioneer League in hitting (.376), doubles (28) and RBIs (55). He also threw out 34 percent of those base stealers who tried to take the extra base against him. His arm is not a gun and he still has a lot of work to do to enhance his craft but his left handed bat would be valuable behind the plate. He started out slow this year but a recent hot streak has brought his average up to .263. His power is more towards the gaps than over the fences.

4. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays/Brazil) - The son of Dante Bichette and the younger brother of Dante Bichette Jr. His mother is from Brazil. The Blue Jays drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft. There is some question whether he can stay at short. The arm is strong but the range could be lacking. In his debut season he hit .427 in the Gulf Coast League with four homeruns and a .732 slugging percentage. His bat has the pop to make him an offensive oriented shortstop should he stick at the position. The Blue Jays have him playing in the Low A Midwest League where he continues his assault on pitchers with a .360 average and three homeruns. Myworld witnessed Dante Bichette Jr hit three homeruns in three at bats in a rainy spring training game, so Blue Jay fans should not get too excited with the offensive exploits of Bo until he reaches the higher levels.

5. Thyago Vieira RHP (Mariners/Brazil) - The Mariners signed Vieira in 2010. Vieira can also hit three digits with his fastball, but he pitches out of the pen where it is easier to show velocity. The Mariners are grooming him to be their closer. He still has trouble finding the plate with 9 walks in his first 12 innings of work this year. An improved curve ball has made him tougher to hit, with the opposition hitting him at only a .200 clip. The lack of command has kept his ERA at 5.67. Depending on how he progresses this year Vieira could see a September call up.

6. Tayron Guerrero RHP (Marlins/Colombia) - At 6′7″ Tayron has some impressive height, especially when he is throwing his fastball in the high 90s. The Padres signed him in 2009 then traded him to the Marlins last year with Andrew Cashner for Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps. Last year Tayron made his major league debut with one appearance. With all the long limbs he has trouble keeping to one delivery so it is easy for him to get out of whack. He walks a lot of batters with six walks in just three innings this year before being placed on the disabled list with a sore foot. At 26 years of age Tayron needs to advance past AA. With only two pitches and no command Tayron has been pitching out of the bullpen since 2014.

7. Harold Ramirez OF (Blue Jays/Colombia) - Last year myworld put him at the top of the list. An inability to stay in shape soured the Pirates on his potential and they traded him to the Blue Jays to rid themselves of the salary of Francisco Liriano. The last three years he has kept his average above .300 but has hit for very little power. The added weight eats into his range and the below average arm makes him a better fit for left field, which isn’t suited for slap hitters. This is a big year for him to punch up that power.

8. Erling Moreno RHP (Cubs/Colombia) - The Cubs signed Moreno in 2013 but lost a season because of Tommy John surgery. As a starter the most innings he has pitched was last year when he threw 62 innings. The velocity is coming back with his fastball hitting the low 90s, still a little down from his pre surgery heat. His change is a pretty good pitch. In his first start this year he was hit hard giving up six hits and three runs in three innings. The Cubs put him on the disabled list shortly after the outing.

9. Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates/Colombia) - Signed by the Pirates in 2013, Luis has the three pitches necessary to make it in the rotation. His fastball hits the mid-90s with a change and curve to complement those pitches. The opposition is hitting only .222 against him but he has bouts of inconsistency where he can not find the plate, hitting 8 batters last year in only 62 innings. This year he pitched well in his first five starts but a seven walk outing ballooned his ERA to 4.99 when he gave up seven runs in less than four innings.

10. Mauricio Ramos 3B (Royals/Colombia) - Signed by the Royals in 2010 Ramos may lack the power to play a corner position. He has a minor league career .391 slugging average and has yet to reach double digits in homeruns. He also needs to work on his patience with a 19/92 walk to whiff ratio which could stunt his average with good pitching. Mauricio is repeating the AA Texas league but is not improving with a 4/29 walk to whiff ratio and a .354 slugging percentage. At age 25 he needs to have his break out season or become a journeyman minor leaguer.

Wieters Walkoff Against Old Mates

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

It was supposed to be a good day in D.C. with the Capitals battling the Penguins in game 7 and the Wizards in Boston to face the Celtics for game 5. Nationals park was relatively empty as the Nationals battled with their cross town rivals the Baltimore Orioles. Only the Nationals prevented this day from being a disaster.

The Capitals could muster no offense in losing to the Penguins to continue their disappointing playoff appearances. The Wizards played no defense in getting spanked by Boston and now face elimination in their NBA playoff series. At the same time the Orioles were controlling the game against the Nationals until the ninth inning.

Stephen Strasburg struggled early. He got the strikeouts with nine in six innings of work but a rough second inning did him in. He hit Jonathan Schoop to start the inning. J.J. Hardy rifled a single into right field. Caleb Joseph barely got his bat on the ball and blooped a hit over the head of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman to drive in the first run. With runners on first and third Wade Miley laid down a bunt for a base hit to load the bases. The Nationals were not expecting the bunt, playing the infield back. Seth Smith drove a pitch deep into centerfield. Michael Taylor caught it at the fence and Nationals fans breathed a sigh of relief as only one run scored instead of four. Adam Jones slapped a single into right field to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth the Nationals rallied for a run after two were out. Anthony Rendon walked. Matt Wieters began his torment of the Orioles with his second hit of the day, a single to right center. Michael Taylor got his first of two clutch hits lining a single into left field. In his first at bat he struck out with runners on first and third and one out.

The Orioles did the Nationals one better after Strasburg retired the first two hitters. Chris Davis lined a single up the middle. Mark Trumbo put an end to his power outage by almost reaching the Red Porch bar in center field with a shot that easily cleared the left field bull pen to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead.

In the bottom frame the Nationals pecked back, loading the bases with no out on singles by Trea Turner and Bryce Harper with a walk sandwiched in between by Jayson Werth. They could only salvage one in the inning after Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Daniel Murphy barely beat a throw to first on what was almost a double play ground out. Turner scored to make it 5-2.

Blake Treinen came on to pitch the seventh. The Nationals bullpen has given up more homeruns than any other bullpen in the National League. After retiring the first two hitters Treinen continued that trend grooming a pitch to Manny Machado who stroked it into the left field bleachers for a solo shot. The Orioles appeared to have a commanding 6-2 lead.

Michael Taylor whittled into that lead. Daniel Murphy started the inning with a single. Alec Asher came on to strike out the first two hitters he faced. Michael Taylor did not take long in his at bat, flicking his wrists on Asher’s first pitch and lining a drive into the left field bleachers to pull the Nationals to within 6-4.

The Orioles went with Brad Brach in the ninth with their closer Zach Britton on the disabled list. Jayson Werth ran the count full and then poked one into right field that barely landed into the bleachers for a solo shot. Bryce Harper also went the other way by slicing a double into left field. Ryan Zimmerman had an opportunity for a walk off, something he has not done in awhile, but he grounded to the pitcher. After throwing three balls to Daniel Murphy the O’s put him on with an intentional walk on the fourth pitch. Anthony Rendon lined a single into centerfield to load the bases with one out. Matt Wieters swung at the first pitch from Brach and lined one the other way, past the glove of Chris Davis and into right field for a base hit to score two and give the Nationals the 7-6 win. Wieters was mobbed at first base.

Game Notes: The Orioles now know how the Nationals felt after their bullpen blew a lead the previous day. The Orioles are struggling to find a closer after an injury to Zach Britton could keep him off the field for a couple months…The attendance was listed as 32,984, a small crowd considering this was an Orioles game. The Penguins and Celtics playoff matches could not have had that big an influence on advanced ticket sales…Michael Taylor did strike out in the second inning with runners on first and third and one out. He made up for it in two of his next three at bats with clutch two out hits…Bryce Harper swings and misses at too many fastballs…Ryan Zimmerman had a rough night going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and a ground into double play. He was robbed of a hit in the first inning when J.J. Hardy made a leaping catch on his line drive. He is 1 for 14 in the first three games of this series, dropping his average below .400…Hyun-Soo Kim is not hitting for a lot of power, which could limit his playing time in left field. With no DH spot available Seth Smith got the start with Kim slugging only .311. Kim got an opportunity to pinch hit but struck out in his one at bat against Strasburg…The loss ended a six game winning streak by the Orioles…Matt Albers, another former Oriole struck out the side in the top of the ninth.