Archive for July, 2017

Lee and Kim Heroes to Watch in KBO

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Lee doesn’t turn 19 until August 20. Yet he made the Korean All Star team, only the second rookie to do so. The first rookie to make a KBO All star team was the Kia Tigers Chi-Hong An in 2009. Jeong-Hoo Lee has some branding to back him up. His father, Jong-Beom Lee is one of the more famous baseball players in Korea. He won the MVP award in 1994 after hitting .393 with 19 homeruns and 84 stolen bases for the Haitai Tigers.

The younger version is not doing so bad. He was drafted in the first round like his dad, the first father/son duo to be drafted in the first round. Jeong-Hoo is a Nexon Heroe. In his first year without any minor league experience he is hitting .336 batting in the leadoff position for the Heroes and patrolling centerfield. The power has yet to come (two homeruns and a .442 slugging percentage) and his stolen bases are not there (5 for 8) but would you expect this kind of production from an 18 year old in the major leagues?

Lee currently has a 13 game hitting streak. At 47-43 the Nexen Heroes are still in the playoff hunt. As they battle for a playoff spot in the present, their future looks bright. In addition to the 18 year old Lee in centerfield they also have 21 year old shortstop Ha-Seong Kim. Kim replaced Jung-Ho Kang as the Heroes shortstop when Kang went to the major leagues to play and now not to play for the Pirates. Kim is hitting .288 with 14 homeruns and 64 RBIs. In a league where everyone seems to hit .300, the batting average is a little low but the production is good, especially when you consider he is only 21. The Heroes have been batting him cleanup in their lineup, a lot of responsibility for a 21 year old.

Lee and Kim, two youngsters to watch in Korea who should make the Nexen Heroes the next dominant team in the KBO.

2017 Top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

The 2016 group of prospects did a better job of making the major leagues last year. The number one prospect Orlando Arcia earned the starting shortstop job for the Brewers to begin the season. The number two prospect Wilson Contreras saw significant playing time behind the plate and in the outfield by mid season. The number four prospect Jose Peraza earned playing time at second base for the rebuilding Reds. With all that success new players will fit the bill. Below are the top Venezuelan prospects in the National League, some of them already getting enough playing time in the major leagues this year not to be eligible for this list next year.

Below is the list of National League top prospects from Venezuela:

1. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Injuries have delayed the start to his 2017 season. Last year he pitched in Low A and had some success, though his ERA was at 4.49 and his whiff rate was below one per inning. The opposition hit him at a .276 clip. Someone with his mid-90s fastball and top of the class change should put up better numbers at Low A, though he was one of the youngest players in the league. The Red Sox signed him in 2014 for $1.8 million then traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz. Missing a full year could have an impact in his development, especially as he tries to develop a work load that will allow him to pitch 200 innings in the major leagues. At 6′0″ he draws comparisons to Pedro Martinez and Yordano Ventura, with the potential to be a top shelf starter. If his small stature makes it difficult for him to stay healthy he could always move to the bullpen as a closer.

2. Kevin Maitan SS (Braves) - It is unusual for a 2016 international signing to find himself on top 100 prospect lists. That is the case for Maitan, but the $4.2 million the Braves shelled out for him could have had an influence. Maitan did not play last year and at 17 years of age had to wait until July for the Rookie Leagues to begin to make his debut. His .302 batting average in minimal at bats (43) validates the Braves faith in his offense. Power should develop as he matures. Maitan has the tools to play short, but if he physically matures he has the bat to move to third base.

3. German Marquez RHP (Rockies) - The Rays signed German in 2011 for $225,000. The Rockies acquired Marquez in the Chris Dickerson trade. Last year he made his major league debut. This year he has cemented himself in the Rockies rotation after two starts in AAA. The fastball hits the mid 90s and his curve ball is considered above average. The change will need to develop more consistency if he hopes to stick in the rotation. Currently he has a 4.34 ERA after 15 starts with the Rockies. His .276 opponent batting average is influenced by the High Colorado air. Staying in the rotation will require improved consistency.

4. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Acuna signed for only $100,000 in 2014. Despite his young age the Braves are speeding him through their minor league clubs. This year he has played at three levels despite his 19 years of age, currently at AAA where he is hitting .250 with two homeruns in his first six games. All the tools are there with the speed to play defense in center and the arm for right. He should hit for both average and power as he matures. His strikeout numbers are up this year but he appears to have improved his stolen base numbers with a career high 33 in just 91 games. In his first two years he stole 30 bases. It would not surprise my world to see Acuna get a September callup. The biggest comp for Acuna is Andrew Jones. Expect him to have an impact in 2018.

5. Elias Diaz C (Pirates) - The Pirates signed Diaz in 2008. Last year he made his major league debut as a September callup. This year he returned to the major league team after injuries to their catchers. Nobody questions his defense. Elias has a strong arm with good mobility behind the plate. The big question mark with him is his inability to hit major league pitching. The Pirates turned to Elias once injuries decimated the catching staff. After a hot start his average has dropped to .266. If he can show a decent bat he should at least make it as a back up in the major leagues.

6. Antonio Senzatela RHP (Rockies) - Another Rockie pitcher. Antonio signed in 2011. He was limited to seven starts because of a shoulder problem. That did not stop the Rockies from promoting him to the major leagues after only one start in AAA. Last year he only pitched 35 innings. The previous year he threw a career high of 154 innings. This year he has already gone over 100 innings with a 4.57 ERA, not bad when half of your games are played in Colorado. Antonio has a low 90s fastball with excellent command. In between he can throw a slider, curve and change.

7. Luis Torrens C (Padres) - The Yankees like to sign catchers with offensive potential but limited on defense, as evidence by Gary Sanchez and Jesus Montero. Luis was considered the better defensive catcher early in his career, one of the reasons the Yankees signed Torres for $1.3 million. Injuries have limited his ascent up the minor league ladder with 62 games in 2014 his minor league career high. The Padres acquired him in the Rule V draft and despite never getting past Low A kept him on the major league roster. Luis is hitting .188 with a .225 slugging in limited playing time. At 20 years of age he is young enough to develop in the minor leagues next year.

8. Jose Martinez OF (Cardinals) - Jose Martinez is a hitting machine. In 2015 he combined for a .382 average. Last year he slipped to .278 but made his major league debut, hitting .438 in 12 games. The Royals traded him to the Cardinals mid season and this year Jose has spent most of the year on the major league club as a fourth outfielder. He is best suited for left field defensively but lacks the power for the position. The Cardinals have been using him at first and the two corners. Expect him to stick in the major leagues as a fourth outfielder/pinch hitter.

9. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - The Mets signed Andres in 2015 for $1.2 million. With Amed Rosario a couple levels ahead of him second base may be his best position. Gimenez does not have a lot of power but the tools are there for him to play shortstop. This year in Low A he is making his domestic debut, having played in the Dominican Summer League last year. A .274 average with a .676 OPS shows his offensive limitations. The Mets have a bevy of depth in the minor leagues at shortstop so the Mets will be patient with him as he rises up the minor leagues.

10. Ricardo Sanchez LHP (Braves) - The Braves acquired Ricardo from the Angels for Kyle Kubitza. For a lefthander he has good velocity on his fastball throwing in the mid-90s. Command is the area that results in his ERA rising above 5 and the opposition hitting .296 against him. At 5′11 he is not a big guy, but lefthanders under 6′0″ have a better opportunity to survive as a starter.

2016 National League Prospects - Venezuela

United States Wins Game Five Over Japan

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

The United States college national team won their Japan five game series 3-2 with a 3-1 game five win. They finished with victories in all the series they played against Cuba, Taiwan and Japan.

Pitching was again the key for the U.S. team. Tyler Holton went four innings allowing just an unearned run in the first inning. Patrick Raby went 3.2 innings and Dallas Woolfolk picked up the save, though he made it exciting by putting two runners on. The United States pitchers combined to strike out 11 Japanese hitters.

The offensive hero was Andrew Vaughn who broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double in the sixth. He later scored in the inning on a Japanese error. Nick Madrigal contributed an RBI single in the third inning that tied the game 1-1.

First Half of German Season Ends

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

The first half of the German season has ended with the top four teams in the North and the top four teams in the South being placed in one division to play in a four week round robin play. The won loss record for their games against each other is transferred to the standings.

The teams advancing from the North are 1) Bonn Capitals (21-3), 2) Dohren Wild Farmers (15-9), 3) Solingen Alligators (14-10), 4) Untouchables Paderborn (13-11)

The teams advancing from the South are 1) Heidenheim Heidekopfe (22-6), 2) Mainz Athletics (20-8), 3) Munchen Haar Disciples (20-8), 4) Mannheim Tornados (18-10)

The teams that may be relegated, i.e. knocked down to the second division are from the North 1) Cologne Cardinals (2-22), and from the South 1) Saarlouis Hornets (3-25), 2) Bad Hombug Hornets (2-26).

Not a good year to be a Hornet. When in Durham I sat next to a guy who played in the German League. They were in the second division but had the best record. He was concerned about being bumped up because their stadium is small and they didn’t think they would be able to support themselves in the top division. If you are losing games fans have a tendency not to show up, which impacts the minimal revenue you get from attendance.

Since they have no grounds crew to landscape their infield and outfield the manager or team organizer on the team would randomly announce at one of the practices that today was landscaping day. So no batting or fielding practice. This day would be established for caring for the field.

Myworld hopes our next stop for European baseball will be in Germany.

United States Evens Series with Japan

Monday, July 17th, 2017

The United States won the fourth game in ten 3-1 to even their five game series with Japan at two games apiece. What myworld does not like about the international extra inning rule is the predictability of the first at bat. There is always the bunt to move the runners placed on first and second to put them in scoring position. Those teams who are successful with the bunt usually win. Those teams who are not successful lose. Perhaps tinkering the rule and only putting a runner on second may vary the strategy teams use to get the run across.

The United States was successful with their bunt attempt, but credit has to be given to the Japanese team making a throwing error to allow the two runners to score to gift the United States to a 3-1 lead. Daiki Sakamoto came on for Japan after the error and struck out the side to limit the damage. The home team, now down by two runs has to play for more than one run so the bunt may not be the best option. Dallas Woolfolk shut down the Japanese in the 10th as well as the 9th to pick up the victory.

Gianluca Dalatri pitched well in his start for the United States, allowing just two hits and no runs in his four innings. The Japanese starter Katsuki Azuma out did him, tossing seven innings of shutout five hit ball, striking out 11 hitters. The United States was able to score their first run in the eighth once Japan went to the bullpen. Grant Koch smacked the RBI single to tie the game up 1-1.

Yoshitaka Nagasawa drove in the only run for Japan with an RBI single in the fifth. He collected two of the four Japanese hits in the game. The two teams play the deciding fifth game tonight.

Quintessential Quintana Quiets O’s Bats in Cubs Debut

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Jose Quintana did give up three hits in his seven innings of work, so he was not perfect. He was close striking out a season high 12 in the Cubs 8-0 win over the free falling Orioles. The Orioles did get a runner to third in the fourth inning when Adam Jones led off the inning with a double, but after advancing to third with one out Jose got Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo to strike out to preserve the shutout.

The bad Ubaldo Jimenez showed up for this game. Myworld does not know how much longer the Orioles can tolerate the bad Ubaldo. His downfall came in the second when Wilson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ hit back to back to back doubles into left center, all of varying heights, but rolling or bouncing against the left centerfield wall. Jason Heyward made it four hits in a row driving in the third run with a single. Ben Zobrist drove in Heyward with a two out single and the Cubs had staked Quintana out to a 4-0 lead.

In the fourth Kris Bryant sent a bullet into the left centerfield seats for a two run homer to give the Cubs a 6-0 lead. After Wilson Contreras got his third hit of the game, lining a pitch off Jimenez, Buck was out to the mound almost as quickly as the ball Bryant sent to the bleachers in left center to remove Ubaldo. There were some boos from the few Oriole fans who were at the game.

A bevy of Orioles relievers shut the Cubs out until the ninth. Anthony Rizzo rifled a pitch from Darren O’Day into the right field bleachers to make the game 8-0. The Orioles had no chance. Other than Jones advancing to third in the fourth inning they did not advance a runner past first base in the remaining eight innings. It was a sweep for the Cubs with only one of the three games close.

Game Notes: Zach Britton came into the game in the eighth to pitch. The Orioles have been on the loss side in so many games that Buck has not had a lot of opportunity to pitch Britton. His fastball hit 96. The Orioles have said that Britton is available on the trade market…Jon Jay hustled from first to third on a ground ball in front of the plate. He later scored on the Bryant homerun…Johnny Giavotella did not show a strong arm on a double play pivot throw to second…Joey Rickard showed a strong arm from right field, throwing Wilson Contreras out at home on a tag up attempt…Jose Quintana struck out the side in the sixth inning, three of his 12 whiffs. He was hitting 94 with his fastball, good velocity for a lefthander…Wilson Contreras had a career high four hits in the game. He has raised his average to .278. He has started hitting after the departure of Miguel Montero…Only 31,000 were in attendance, most of them Cub fans. The Oriole fans were soured by the higher ticket prices being charged for the Cubs and the Orioles collapse in the month of June (12-16). In six of those 16 losses the opponents have scored 10 or more runs. July has also been unkind to the O’s (3-9). The Orioles are now seven games under .500.

Japan Takes Series Lead with Two Wins

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Japan evened the five game series at 1-1 with a 10 inning 6-3 win over the United States team. The two teams played by the international rules, putting runners on first and second to begin the tenth inning. A two run double by Keita Nakagawa, his third hit in the game was the key hit in the inning.

The United States pitchers were a bit wild in the game, combining to walk 10 hitters. Tim Cate pitched four hitless innings in relief, walking two and striking out seven. Japanese starter Masato Morishita went six innings, striking out nine. He did allow two runners to score, one of them on a balk.

In the second game Japan rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win 5-4. Taishi Kusumoto hit a two run triple to tie the score. A sacrifice fly by Ryosuke Tatsumi drove in the game winner. Tatsumi had tripled earlier in the game and scored a run. Daiki Sakamoto shut down the United States on no hits for his fourth straight inning to close out the game and earn the win.

The United States pitchers had better control in this game walking just three. The Japanese pitchers were a little wild, issuing seven free passes.

Pacific Pitchers Dominate in Game Two Japan All Star Game

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Takahiro Norimoto pitched the first two innings without allowing a hit and striking out three. The other pitchers who followed only gave up four hits as the Pacific League All Stars won game two over the Central League 3-1. Other than a homerun from Central catcher Seiji Kobayashi in the third the Central did not have a runner advance past first in the game.

Alfredo Despaigne hit a solo shot in the fourth to tie the game at 1-1. Shogo Akiyama doubled in the fifth to give the Pacific All Stars the lead. Daichi Suzuki had led the inning off with a single. Suzuki hit a solo shot in the seventh to give the Pacific All Stars an insurance run.

2017 Top Ten Prospects from Venezuela - American League

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

No one from the list last year had any significant major league time last year. A couple players who made the National League list last year are now on the American League list. As a result only five players from the list last year made the list this year. The others dropped off. Myworld is not confident of the major league qualities of any of the players on this list after you get past the top five.

1. Gleyber Torres SS (Yankees) - Tommy John surgery has prevented him from making his major league debut. Originally signed by the Cubs in 2013 for $1.7 million, Gleyber was traded to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade rental last year. Gleyber has the tools to play shortstop but may not get the opportunity to play there now that Didi Gregorious has established roots at the position. With Chase Headley a disappointment at third there was talk of moving him there but his injury has stalled that development. Prior to his injury he got 15 games at third base. His bat shows the potential for plus power as he matures and should play at third. He slugged .480 between AA and AAA but at 20 years of age he has room to grow. With Chase Headley a free agent expect Gleyber to take over the third base position, though Miguel Andujar could have some influence over that and his injury could delay his start there.

2. Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - Franklin was signed by the Blue Jays in 2012 for $1.45 million. Like Gleyber he was packaged in a trade for a pennant race, Josh Donaldson going to the Jays and Barreto and a number of other prospects going to the Athletics. Franklin does not quite have the defensive tools of Gleyber or the power bat so if shortstop does not work for him he may move to second. The injury to Marcus Semien forced the Athletics to call up Barreto sooner than they wanted. In 11 games he hit .190 with two homeruns, playing mostly at short but getting some time at second. In AAA he has seen most of his time at short but has found some time to play second. His bat has been as expected with a .279 average but he has shown a little more pop with 9 dingers. His minor league high has been 13 and including his two major league homeruns Franklin is two short of his career high. Expect him to get a September callup and more opportunities at second. The Athletics have a number of options at short in Semien, Chad Pinder and Richie Martin so versatility is a key.

3. Yohander Mendez LHP (Rangers) - Yohander was signed by the Rangers for $1.5 million in 2011. It has been a patient ascent up the minor league ladder for Yohander but last year he made his major league debut with a September callup. The Rangers have him repeating AA even though he did well last year in seven AAA appearances (0.57 ERA). His fastball has gained velocity over the years, now touching the mid-90s and his change is an excellent pitch. An inability to find a third breaking pitch has been stalling his major league career. That may ultimately see him finding a role in the bullpen.

4. Franklin Perez RHP (Astros) - Franklin was signed by the Astros for $1 million in 2014. He was originally a third baseman but the Astros saw an arm destined for the mound. His fastball currently sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid-90s. He has the potential for a good change with a nice break on his curveball and the command of the strike zone needed for a starting pitcher. A 6′3″ frame gives him good height for coming down on the hitters. The Astros have him at High A in the Carolina League where he has limited hitters to a .191 average. He has more than three whiffs to every walk and is just short of a strikeout per inning. A 2.98 ERA could lead to a promotion to AA before the season is out. It will be 2018 before Franklin sees the major leagues and that may be as a September call up.

5. Renato Nunez 3B (Athletics) - Renato was one of the big bonus babies of 2010, signing for $2.2 million. The Athletics are crowded at the corner infield positions with power bats. It may result in the best defensive player earning the right to play the corner positions. Renato falls short of that and may see a move to first base with DH as his best position. He does have a power bat with consistent seasons of double digit homeruns. This year there seems to be more swing and miss in his at bats but the 24 homeruns he has hit in AAA are already just five short of his career high. Last year he struggled with a .228 average but this year despite the increased strikeouts he has raised it to .250. The Athletics have been playing him a lot in left field this year but a lack of speed will never make him a gold glove there. Expect a September callup where Renato hopes to improve on his .133 average from his debut last year.

6. Luis Alexander Basabe OF (White Sox) - The Red Sox signed both him and his twin brother Luis Alejandro as a package. The Red Sox traded his brother to the D-backs in July of 2016 and included Luis in a trade to the White Sox with more heralded players Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech in the Chris Sale trade. Luis is expected to be the better of the twins. The tools are there for him to be a quality defensive outfielder, with the range to play center and the arm to play right. An inability to make consistent contact has prevented him from showing his offensive tools. The power is there but getting barrel of the bat on the ball is not. Down in the Carolina League Luis is hitting just .218 with a .641 OPS. If he can improve his ability to get on base his steal (15 for 19) opportunities will increase. His brother is also in High A with the D-Backs hitting .229 with a .655 OPS.

7. Anthony Santander 1B/OF (Orioles) - The Indians signed Santander in 2011. Injuries to his elbow limited his 2013 and 2014 seasons. He stayed healthy for 2016 hitting 20 homeruns while playing 128 games. The Orioles made Santander a Rule V acquisition in an attempt to spruce up their farm system. Another arm injury has prevented Anthony from making a 2017 appearance. If the Orioles can not put him on their major league roster this year because of the injury they will be forced to keep him on their major league roster in 2018 if they hope to keep him. This will slow his development for a player who did not get past High A last year. Anthony has good power but his arm issues could force a move to first base, a position the Orioles find quite crowded with Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini.

8. Samir Duenez 1B (Royals) - Samir was signed by the Royals in 2012. His first three years the Royals moved him slowly, reaching Low A in 2015. During that time he hit all of two homeruns in the three years. Last year his promotion was a little more accelerated as he hit three levels, finishing at AA. During that time he slugged 13 homeruns. This year he already has 12 in AA. His speed will limit him to first so the power will have to develop if he hopes to play there in the major leagues.

9. Miguelangel Sierra 2B (Astros) - The Astros signed Miguelangel for $1 million in 2014. Last year in the rookie league he showed some pop with 11 homeruns and a .620 slugging percentage. With Carlos Correa firmly planted at short Miguel may have to play another position if he hopes to reach the major leagues with the Astros. The tools are there for him to play short. This year the power bat has been absent with two homeruns in 19 games in short season ball with a slugging average buried at .317. Sierra is a long way away from the majors so they will keep him at short. They can always move him to another position as he gets higher in the minors or use him as trade bait to acquire a veteran to help them in a playoff race.

10. Wilkerman Garcia SS (Yankees) - The Yankees are not shy about throwing around money in the international arena. They signed Garcia for $1.35 million in 2014. Last year in rookie ball he struggled hitting .198 with a .284 slugging. He has the tools to play short but with so many ahead of him with better tools his best position could be at second. The bat is expected to be able to hit for average but not with a lot of power. This year Garcia is hitting much better in the short season Penn League (.276) but still lacking power (.303 slugging). With the amount of depth in the middle infield positions for the Yankees Wilkerman may have to be traded to see the major leagues.

Top 2016 Venezuelan prospects in the American League

Pacific League Wins First All Star Game

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Shogo Akiyama led the game off with a homerun for the Pacific League, one of three homeruns they hit to down the Central League 6-2 in their first of three All Star games. Alfredo Despaigne hit an RBI single in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2 and Seiichi Uchikawa broke the 2-2 tie with an RBI single in the eighth. Haruki Nishikawa hit a two run homer in the eighth and Sho Nakata blasted a solo shot in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Shohei Otani played in the All Star game as the DH and went 0-2. He was replaced at the DH spot by Uchikawa, who finished 2 for 2 with the go ahead RBI single.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit a solo shot in the fourth to tie the game 1-1. It was the third consecutive All Star game in which he has hit a homerun. Alex Guerrero, who is having an offensive explosion in the NPB, went 1-4 in the DH spot with an RBI double that gave the Central League a brief 2-1 lead.