Archive for January, 2018

Myworlds Top 100 - 90 to 81

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The continuation of our Top 100 with three Brewers rated in this ten:

90. Corey Ray OF (Brewers) 1.42 - The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain gives Ray more development time in the minor leagues. The Brewers 2016 first round pick is now their top outfield prospect after the trade of Lewis Brinson. He doesn’t cover as much ground as Brinson in centerfield and his arm is not as strong but his bat should hit for some pop. There were too many swings and misses last year (156) resulting in an abysmal .238 average with a .368 slugging. The lefthanded bat digressed in his bat on ball contact and must learn to recognize breaking pitches if he wants to draw comparisons to Brinson. A repeat of High A would not be surprising since the Brewers outfield has so much depth. He will turn 24 this year so playing AA by mid-season will keep his prospect status intact.

89. Max Fried LHP (Braves) 1.54 - A slow first month gave the appearance of a wasted season. The 2012 first round pick of the Padres missed the entire 2016 season because of Tommy John surgery. Max was traded to the Braves in the ill advised Justin Upton deal, one of many prospects the Padres traded to teams for veterans in a playoff run that failed to produce a playoff team. Max does not have overpowering stuff, with a fastball in the low 90s that can hit the mid-90s. The curveball is his best pitch getting most of his swings and misses. Max recovered from his slow start to get four starts with the Braves. A good spring could see him go north with the Braves to start the 2019 season.

88. Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) 1.7 - Tyler was a seventh round pick in the 2013 draft but his 6′4″ pitcher’s frame allows him to dominant in games. He threw a nine inning no hitter in 2016 and last year made four starts with the Reds, finishing with a 2,70 ERA. His fastball cuts across the plate in the mid-90s but his secondary pitches are inconsistent. After his four starts with the Reds he will probably begin the season there unless a poor spring or an extension of service time keeps him in the minors.

87. Danny Jensen C (Blue Jays) 1.74 - The sleeper 16th round pick in 2013 seemed to find his bat last year. Coming into the 2017 season the catcher had a career .234 average with a slugging percentage of .336. He raked in the Florida State League hitting .369 with a .541 slugging percentage. This resulted in a promotion to AA where he still hit (.291, .419) and AAA where he hit even better (.328, .552). From a defensive standpoint he is a decent catcher with an average arm who catches the ball and does not allow passed balls (4 in 98 games). If his bat is real and he can duplicate the numbers he put up last year he should make his major league debut and at worst be a very good back up for the Blue Jays. His defense may not be to the high standard that he would play if his bat did not play.

86. Brandon Woodruff RHP (Brewers) 1.98 - Another player drafted low in the draft (11th round in 2014). His fastball ticked a couple clicks higher in 2016 going from the low 90s to 93-95 and his whiff numbers increased from 6 per nine innings to almost 10 per nine innings. The opposition also went from hitting him at a .265 clip going down to a .208 clip. A hamstring injury limited him to 16 starts in AAA and his numbers went back to his earlier years, but he was pitching in Colorado Springs. He also made his major league debut with 8 starts and a 4.81 ERA. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a good slider and change, three pitches necessary for the rotation. He will probably fit at the end of the Brewers rotation.

85. Corbin Burnes RHP (Brewers) 2 - The fourth round 2016 pick is not overpowering with a fastball in the Low 90s. He still is developing his secondary pitches (slider, curve and change) with all having the potential to be average offerings. So while the stuff is not awe inspiring the numbers he put up last year were very impressive. In 10 high A starts he finished with an ERA of 1.05 with a .181 opposition average. This led to a promotion to AA where in 16 starts his ERA was at 2.10 with a .212 opposition average. His strikeout rate was also pretty good, falling just short of one per inning. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA but if hitters still struggle to make solid contact off him the Brewers will find room for him in their rotation by mid-season.

84. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) 2.02 - The Venezuelan is not known for his strong arm or his strong defensive tools. Those areas are still a work in progress. What he does have is a strong bat that entered the 2017 season with a career .344 average in two seasons. Coming into this season his power was restricted to the gaps. Last year the bat continued to smoke with a .317 average in Low A and a .315 average in High A. The switch hitter did have some trouble hitting against left handed pitching, seeing his average fall below .250 at both levels. The power increased with a .497 slugging and a career high six homeruns in the hitter friendly California League. Keibert now appears to be the Dodgers catcher of the future with a stint in AA next on his schedule. That is just a stone’s throw from Los Angeles.

83. Alex Faedo RHP (Tigers) 2.04 - The Tigers 2017 first round pick did not pitch last year but at 6′5″ with a mid-90s fastball and a wicked slider, he should rise quickly up the minor league ranks after being drafted out of college. It was the second time the Tigers drafted him, the first time after high school. At his high school (Braulio Alonso High School) he was a teammate of Jose Fernandez. As a college drafted player the Tigers will probably start him in a full season league. His last two years of college he struck out over 11 hitters per nine innings.

82. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) 2.22 - There does not seem to be a lot of room for Miguel on the Yankee roster with Gleyber Torres destined for third base. Miguel has some good pop in his bat with 16 homeruns last year between AA and AAA. He also makes decent contact for a power hitter resulting in an average north of .300 at both AA and AAA. In his brief major league debut he hit .571 in less than 10 at bats. His defense could use some polish with 17 errors in just over 100 games. With Gleyber Torres coming back from injury Miguel could start the season with the Yankees, but he has to show he is ready.

81. Dustin Fowler OF (Athletics) 2.22 - The Yankees centerfielder of the future was not drafted until the 18th round of the 2013 draft. The five tool athlete stole 25 bases and slugged 12 homeruns in 2016. His future as a Yankee ended when he was part of the trade with the Athletics for Sonny Gray. The 2017 season was more of the same with his homeruns (13) equaling his stolen bases in his first 70 games. After the trade to the Athletics he was promoted to the major league club where he was injured early in his first game. His speed allows him to play center but his arm could force him to left. When he is ready to contribute expect him to approach 20/20 (homeruns. stolen bases).

Aguilas and Licey Will Fight a Game Seven

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

With the Series del Caribe approaching and postponements delaying a best of nine series now cut to best of seven, Aguilas and Licey played a double header yesterday and split. That evens the series at three apiece with game seven scheduled today. The Series del Caribe will begin this weekend with the winner of the final game packing their bags to travel to Mexico.

Aguilas won the opener 5-2. Junior Lake drove in three runs, contributing an RBI single in the third to tie the game at 2-2 and delivering on a two run single in the fourth to give Aguilas the 4-2 lead. Rich Rodriguez and Josh Judy were dominant in relief, striking out six hitters in the last two innings to secure the victory.

Licey came back to tie the series in the second game with a 4-3 win. Sergio Alcantara drove in two runs with an RBI double in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. Juan Francisco added a solo shot in the fourth.

Lisalverto Bonilla pitched a solid six innings allowing just two runs to pick up the victory. Jairo Asencio retired the last five hitters to earn the save.

Australian Playoff Teams Set

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The battle for the Claxton Shield begins this weekend in Australia. The Brisbane Bandits will host the Melbourne Aces in a best of three affair. The Canberra Cavalry will travel to Perth to play a best of three match. The two semifinal games will begin Friday night. The winners of the semifinal games will play the finals the next weekend with the top seed being the host.

Licey Evens Series Against Aguilas

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

It’s been four days since the last game was played but Licey evened their series against Aguilas at two games apiece with a 10-1 thrashing. Michael Roth was not nearly as effective as he was in the opener for Aguilas giving up five runs in 2.1 innings. In the opener Roth went six innings and allowed just one run. Jair Jurrgens pitched well for Licey, allowing just one unearned run in 6.1 innings to get the win.

Licey scored early and often tallying at least one run in the first three innings to take a 6-0 lead. The lineup collected 14 hits on the game with only Juan Francisco hitless in the game (0 for 5).

Myworld’s 2018 Top 100 Prospects - 100 - 91

Monday, January 29th, 2018

It is now time for myworld to rank our top 100 baseball prospects. It is not really my personal rankings but a measurement system used taking the top 100 rankings of Haven, CBS Fantasy Baseball, MLB.com, Baseball America and Fangraphs. There may be some that we miss and myworld refuses to access the paid subscription sites. You can see past lists at our website starting from 2008 when Jay Bruce was the number one prospect.

100. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) 1.02 - Not much activity on Espinoza since he was inactive after Tommy John surgery last year. Prior to that he was considered a Pedro Martinez clone because of his mid-90s fastball and small stature (6′0″). It will be interesting to see what he gains or loses from the surgery. The Padres acquired him from the Red Sox in the controversial Drew Pomeranz trade. Pomeranz was determined to be damaged goods but it was Espinoza that ultimately had the season ending surgery. An excellent fastball and curve give him the pitches to be a starter but he could move to the bullpen if durability becomes an issue. Expect the Padres to limit his innings as his arm gains strength.

99. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) 1.02 - Another Dominican but Acevedo stands 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball that can also reach triple digits. He also has a good change and once he gets more consistency with his slider he could be dominant. The high spending Yankees only had to pay a $7,500 bonus to sign him back in 2012. He dominated at AA with a 9/1 whiff to walk ratio but a promotion to AAA led to some control issues in his two starts. Expect him to start the season in AAA with a possible promotion should he have the same success in AAA that he had in AA.

98. Luis Ortiz RHP (Brewers) 1.06 - Originally a first round pick of the Rangers, they traded him to the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy. He won the MVP for the United States 18 and under gold medal team back in 2013. There have not been a lot of highlights since then. Injuries have limited his innings and he has yet to reach 100 innings since being drafted in 2014, but he did reach a high of 94 innings last year. His fastball reaches the mid-90s but he isn’t an overpowering pitcher, striking out just 7.5 hitters per 9 innings at AA and being a bit homer prone with 12 of his pitches leaving the park. This should be the year he makes his major league debut provided he achieves success in AAA. At best he fits in as a mid-rotation starter.

97. Zack Collins C (White Sox) 1.1 - The 2016 first round pick is noted more for his bat than his glove. The bat had enough juice to hit 17 homeruns in High A with two more added in a brief AA callup. Finding the backstop was a common occurrence with Collins with 16 passed balls evidence of his lack of flexibility behind the plate. He also had trouble hitting lefthanded pitching with a .167 average dropping his overall average to .223 in High A. He takes a lot of walks (76) but stirs a breeze a lot with his swings (118 whiffs). He should start the 2018 season in AA. If his defense does not improve behind the plate he should have the bat to move to first. His 6′3″ frame is tall for a catcher.

96. Carter Kieboom SS (Nationals) 1.12 - He may be a Marlin after we write this with his name being discussed in the J.T. Realmuto trade talks. The Nationals drafted him in the first round of the 2016 draft. His brother Spencer is a catcher in the Nationals system while his father played baseball in the Dutch leagues. Carter has the bat that should play with good power but his speed will fall short in the stolen base department. If he can’t overtake Trea Turner at short his best position would be second, with the power lacking for third. Next year should see him continue his progress in High A either in the Nationals system or the Marlins.

95. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) 1.12 - A second Yankee righthander on this list who can throw in the mid-90s but can dial it up to the high 90s. Abreu is a little below Acevedo in the development chart. The Astros originally signed him for $175,000 but the Yankees were able to acquire him in the Brian McCann trade. His secondary pitches need to be more consistent to play off his fastball but if they don’t develop the bullpen could become his home. Albert could start the season in High A where he finished with a 4.19 ERA last year and was fairly hittable (.252). A promotion to AA will occur once he shows he can tame Florida State League hitters.

94. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) 1.24 - The Dodgers have spent a king’s ransom for Cuban prospects and the only player to see some success is Yasiel Puig, who some would argue has yet to reach his potential. Diaz signed for $15.5 million back in 2015. He played in the junior national leagues in Cuba. There is some potential for power in his bat. Last year he hit 11 homeruns between High A and AA with a .333 average in AA in a 31 game trial. His speed is best suited for a corner outfield with an above average arm that will allow him to play in right. You don’t want him stealing bases as his 9 for 23 success rate spells doom. He also committed 13 errors in the outfield. The Dodgers may assign him to AA where he will continue to refine his game trying to improve his defense and jump on the bases.

93. Monte Harrison OF (Marlins) 1.26 - A trade from the Brewers to the Marlins for Christian Yelich could provide Monte an opportunity for a quicker path to the major leagues. The speed is there for him to cover centerfield with an arm to play right. His power seemed to break out last year with 21 homeruns. Combine that with his 27 for 31 success rate in stolen bases and you have the potential for at least a 20/20 player. With some improvement in making contact (139 whiffs) could make him an impact player. A good spring with the Marlins could start him in AA. They will need to show something soon for their Christian Yelich trade but an appearance in the major leagues will probably have to wait until 2019.

92. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Astros) 1.28 - J.B. was the Astros first round pick in 2017 out of North Carolina. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s that has hit triple digits. If Lithuania should need a player for a World Baseball Classic team he could be eligible. J.B. got three starts and 10 innings in his professional debut but two of those starts were at Low A. Expect him to start there in 2018. At 6′0″ he is not a large pitcher so there could be some concern about his durability as a starter.

91. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) 1.36 - Coming into the 2017 season the Venezuelan was not on any prospect lists. His small stature (6′0″) and lack of an overpowering fastball left him off any lists. He gained a couple ticks on his fastball last year to hit the mid-90s and he achieved some success against righthanders in AA limiting them to a .197 average. He also struck out close to 9 hitters per 9 innings. It will be interesting if he can repeat that success in 2018 or if his Cub pedigree enhanced his prospect status. The 2018 season will determine that.

Garcia Leads Criollos to Puerto Rican Championship

Monday, January 29th, 2018

In a season that almost wasn’t Puerto Rico played an abbreviated winter league season to find a champion amongst their four team league. After all, they are the defending champions of the Series del Caribe and needed to find a representative to defend that championship. The Caguas Criollos gave them their 2017 Series del Caribe championship and they will be returning in 2018. In a repeat of the finals between Caguas and the Santurce Crabbers from last year the Criollos swept through the playoffs, winning the best of five championship in three.

Anthony Garcia clubbed a solo shot in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie to give Caguas the 2-1 win and the Puerto Rican championship. For Garcia it was his second homerun of this three game series. His two run homer in game one was the difference in Caguas 2-1 win.

Rusney Castillo doubled in the first run in the fifth inning, driving in Dayron Varona who had doubled to begin the inning. The Criollos bullpen held the Crabbers to just one hit in the final 3.2 innings, Miguel Mejia retiring the last three hitters to pick up the save.

Rey Fuentes got four of the six hits for Santurce in a 4 for 4 day, but it was all for naught.

Garcia Pitches Caribes to the Venezuelan Championship

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Freddy Garcia had another gem in him. After Luis Jimenez slugged a grand slam homerun in the top of the first Freddy Garcia made the lead stick with 6.1 innings of three hit shutout ball. For Garcia it was sweet revenge after he took the loss in his first start, getting banged around for three runs on five hits in just 2.1 innings. Nick Struck pitched the ninth and retired the side in order to give Caribes the championship.

Jorge Martinez struggled early for the Lara Cardenales, walking the first two hitters he faced. A Rene Reyes single loaded the bases with no outs. Martinez retired Balbino Fuenmayor on a ground ball, getting the out at home. Jorge was not so lucky with Jimenez.

For Nick Struck he did not allow a run in his eight playoff appearances, picking up five saves. He gave up just three hits in his 7.2 innings of work, striking out 10 and walking three.

Caribes will be representing Venezuela in the Series del Caribe for the first time since 2011. Lara was the defending champion.

Culiacan Wins Game Seven in Mexican Championship

Monday, January 29th, 2018

The Culiacan Tomateros will represent Mexico in the Series del Caribe after their exciting game seven 6-4 12 inning win over the Navojoa Mayos. Joey Meneses, who hit a two run homer earlier in the game, led off the 12th with a single to get the inning started. With the bases loaded and one out Alfredo Amezaga singled to score Meneses with the go ahead run. Jonathan Aceves added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly. Chad Gaudin came on to pitch the 12th and after giving up a leadoff hit struck out the last two hitters to earn the save and give Culiacan the championship.

Novojoa had a 4-3 lead going into the top of the ninth but Daniel Moskos could not close the game out. A lead off walk and Maxwell Leon double put runners on second and third with one out. An intentional walk loaded the bases to set up a double play but Sebastian Elizalde elevated the ball into the outfield to score Jose Chavez with the tying run.

Jesus Castillo was most of the offense for the Mayos. His solo shot in the bottom of the eighth had given the Mayos a 4-3 lead. He also added a two run homer in the bottom of the fifth.

Joey Meneses launched a two run homer for the Tomateros in the top of the fourth. Meneses finished the day with three hits, in addition to his two runs scored and two RBIs.

For Culiacan it is their first appearance in the Series del Caribe since 2015. Navojoa fans have not seen a champion since 2000 and they will have to wait another year to find one.

Granma Repeats as Cuban Champions

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Daniel Castro hit a walk off grand slam homerun to give Las Tunas a 6-2 win in game six to send the Cuban championship to a final game seven. Jose Garcia pitched two innings of shutout relief to get the win. Vladimir Banos pitched a solid seven innings for Las Tunas, allowing just one earned run.

A walk to Raul Gonzalez, a sacrifice bunt and a two base throwing error by Las Tunas catcher Yosvany Alarcon allowed Granma to score the first run in the third inning without benefit of a hit. Granma got their first hit off Banos in the fourth inning. In the sixth Granma scored their second run on a single by Roel Santos, a stolen base and a ground out and sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

In the bottom of the sixth Las Tunas strung together four hits to score two runs and tie the score. Alexander Ayala and Yordanis Alarcon each drove in a run to tie the game at 2-2.

Granma hung on to win game seven 3-2. Alain Sanchez lasted for eight innings and a couple batters into the ninth to be relieved by Raidel Martinez. Raidel gave up three hits allowing two runs to score but still salvaged the win.

Carlos Benitez drove in the first run in the opening frame with a single. Alfredo Despaigne had walked ahead of him and Carlos took advantage of that lack of respect. In the fifth singles by Yoelkis Cespedes and Roel Santos put two runners on. A wild pitch advanced them to second and third where Cespedes scored on a fly ball from Yordan Mandulay.

Alfredo Despaigne showed some life doubling to lead off the sixth. Las Tunas pitchers have spent a lot of time walking him. He scored on a Raul Gonzalez sacrifice fly to give Granma a 3-0 lead.

Granma will now represent Cuba in the Series del Caribe that will be played in Jalisco, Mexico. Their back to back championships followed the back to back championships of Ciego de Avila. Las Tunas was denied their first ever Cuban championship.

Pirates Waving the White Flag for 2018 Season

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

With the trades of Andrew McCutchen and Gerritt Cole, the Pirates appear to have no plundering planned for the 2018 season. The prospect haul they got for the two stars was not impressive. With their recent playoff runs and their tendency to keep costs low their list of prospects is rather bland. No real superstars among this bunch, something franchises who want to make the playoffs need. It may be a long rebuilding period for the Pirates to get to the level of playoff contention they exercised a couple years ago, even though some of the prospects they acquired for McCutchen and Cole are major league ready.

The Pirates top prospect is outfielder Austin Meadows. If not for injuries he could be ready for the outfield after the trade of Andrew McCutchen. Unfortunately, he has missed significant time the last two years due to injury, failing to reach 100 games played in those two years. When he has played the power has been absent. He has average defensive tools across the board, which would allow him to play an ordinary centerfield, but he is a better fit in left. The 2013 first rounder needs to show the power that made him a high pick. His high school adversary from the state of Georgia Clint Frazier, who was also picked in the first round has seen some time in the major leagues with the Yankees. Expect Meadows to get his time in 2018 if he can avoid injury.

The recently acquired Brian Reynods does not have the same offensive tools as Meadows. Defensively his tools are average with the ability to play center but left field is his more likely position because of a below average arm. The 2016 second round pick does not have the power to be a good fit for left and is probably destined to be a fourth outfielder. There are lots of strikeouts in his swing and not a lot of stolen bases. The Pirates do not have a number of alternatives out there but Reynolds is too far down in the minor league system to get an opportunity this year. As a college level player when drafted he will rise quickly if he shows success.

Jordan Luplow is the most major league ready but his tools are limited. He is a firstbaseman playing left, lacking the speed to cover a lot of ground. What he does have is some power in his bat, slugging 23 minor league homeruns and adding three in the major leagues. In limited playing time he struggled with a .205 average with an OBA 30 points below .300. A good spring could see him win the left field job, but how long he stays will depend on his bat staying hot.

They also have a couple pedestrian shortstops in Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman, whose play will remind fans of Jody Mercer. They will not offer a lot of offensive numbers and their defense will be consistent without offering any gold gloves. Tucker offers the most intrigue with the potential for 30 stolen base speed. Playoff teams look for better tools in their shortstops, but the Pirates are happy with average.

Colin Moran was an Astro acquisition in the Gerritt Cole trade. He became a number one pick in 2013 after leading all college players in RBIs. His minor league career was rather ordinary until last year when he broke out for 18 homeruns and 63 RBIs in just 79 games. This led to a promotion to Houston where he only played a couple games before being injured. His defense at third is adequate but at 6′4″ he may be out growing the position. The Pirates could move Josh Bell to the outfield to give Colin Moran an opportunity to play first. If his bat replicates his 2017 numbers the Pirates will find room for him in the lineup.

On the pitching front Kyle Crick was another player acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade. The 2011 first round supplemental pick has lost a lot of luster since then, struggling to throw strikes with little velocity. The Giants moved him to the bullpen where he seemed to perform better. That will probably be his role in 2018.

A more heralded pitcher is Mitch Keller with his mid-90s fastball and top 100 rankings. The second round 2014 pick seemed to appear from nowhere after his fastball showed some juice in 2016 resulting in 131 whiffs in 124 innings at Low A. He continued that dominance last year at High A and AA, which should prepare him for a major league debut in 2018. An above average curveball and change give him the three pitches necessary for the rotation. Expect him to start the season in AA and with success in AAA a midseason promotion should be in his future.

Nick Kingham missed most of 2016 after Tommy John surgery. His 2017 season was rather limited with gaining arm strength a priority over results. If not for the injury he may have debuted in the major league rotation in 2016. His fastball reaches the plate in the mid-90s but at 6′6″ it seems to come at the hitter faster. Prior to the injury his career minor league opposition average was .238. Last year in AAA it stood at .271. He should be able to let loose a little this year now that he is a year away from surgery. If he can prove his arm is strong don’t be surprised to see him in the rotation by mid-season.

Shane Baz was the Pirates first pick in 2017. At 6′3″ he has a good pitcher’s frame with a fastball that can split the plate in the mid-90s. As he fills out his frame this velocity should increase. His strikeout pitch may be his cutter/slider. Last year he made his minor league debut in rookie ball, struggling to find the plate and getting attacked by lefthanders at a .344 clip. Welcome to the minor leagues Mr. Baz. Improving on his change should give him better success against lefthanders and how far he goes with it will indicate how long he stays in extended spring.