Archive for February, 2018

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 30 - 21

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The prospect list continues.

30. Austin Hays OF (Orioles) 6.62 - For a third round pick in 2016 Austin shot up the minor league system quickly, beating all the first round picks to reach the majors. His 32 homeruns were tied for second in the minor leagues. He also hit for average crafting a .329 clip in two minor league seasons, never dropping below .324. For a power hitter he also makes good contact. While he played right field and is listed as having a strong arm myworld does not recall being impressed by any of his throws. The signing of Colby Rasmus could relegate him to AAA. Being the right handed bat in a platoon would not give him enough playing time to develop his game.

29. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves) 6.74 - The Mariners gave up on the Brazilian because of his inability to get the ball over the plate and traded him to the Braves for Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith. That could be a trade they regret in a couple years. Luiz can hum a fastball in triple digits and sits in the high 90s. That is the gold standard for a lefthanded arm. He still has a little trouble getting the ball over the plate and his two pitch mix of slider/fastball may make him better suited as a closer. Luiz did get an opportunity to start five games with the Braves but command issues led to major league hitters whacking him at a .283 clip. A good spring could see him in the rotation but his best bet would be to start the season in AAA where he completed seven starts last year (3.31 ERA).

28. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) 6.78 - Touted as the next Cuban superstar, the White Sox were able to grab him for $26 million. Having fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada may have sweetened the deal. His last year in the Nacional Series as a 19 year old he put up Triple Crown numbers (.401, 12, 40) in just half a season before defecting. He was also named to the All Tournament team in the 18 and under World Cup. The legs have the speed to play center and the arm has enough zip to play right. In rookie ball he showed a good stick hitting .301 with three homeruns and a .536 slugging average. The White Sox will give him an opportunity to play full season ball, probably beginning the season in Low A.

27. Austin Meadows OF (Pirates) 7 - Injuries have held Austin back. In the last two years he has been limited to less than 90 games. The trade of Andrew McCutchen could have been an opportunity for him to win a starting job, but he will have to have a monumental spring training to stick on the roster. While he has all the tools to play centerfield, they still fall short of Starling Marte. A less than sterling arm could see him as a left fielder. His bat carries some pop and he makes good contact, with a .292 minor league average. Expect the Pirates to stick him in AAA to begin the season, get some at bats and gain some confidence before they call him up for the big club.

26. A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) 7.18 - A 6′7″ lefthander who can rain fastballs at the plate in the high 90s is a pitcher few want to face. The 2016 first round pick also has an above average slider, rated the best in the Athletics minor league system and a plus change, resulting in lots of swings and misses. In AA he averaged 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. Lefthanded hitters were also hopeless hitting against him, .196 at High A and .226 in AA. His slider also keeps the ball from leaving the park, allowing only three homeruns in 158 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Athletics in the 2018 season, but to control his innings they will start him in AAA to keep his pitch counts down.

25. MacKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) 7.28 - The Padres 2017 first round pick has ace like stuff. He proved that in his minor league debut last year limiting hitters to a .184 average and striking out 14.3 hitters per nine innings. The high school pitcher should still build some velocity on his mid-90s fastball as his 6′3″ frame matures. What sets Gore apart from many high school pitchers is his repertoire of quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). His command is also spot on. The 2018 season should see him begin it in Low A. With his quality stuff the biggest temptation for the Padres will be rushing him to the major leagues.

24. Alex Verdugo OF (Dodgers) 7.32 - If not for the crowded Dodgers outfield Alex would be the next rookie of the year candidate. His speed is a little slow to play centerfield, which would be his best opportunity on this Dodger club, but a cannon for an arm has him fit better in right. The concern for Alex is his ability to hit for power. To date it has not shown with a career .438 slugging. Last year he did spray the outfield for a .314 average, but teams are looking for power in their corner outfielders. There is also some concern whether he brings his A game every day. Myworld suspects he will start the 2018 season in AAA and be the first outfielder called up if an injury should occur. If his power fails to show he could end up as a fourth outfielder.

23. Royce Lewis SS (Twins) 7.44 - Royce was the first player selected in the 2017 draft, even though many touted the skills of Hunter Greene as the top pick. The Twins hope his career does not follow the path of another shortstop Tim Beckham, who struggled to establish himself in the major leagues after being the first pick in the draft. The tools are there for him to play shortstop with a strong arm and good range. The bat has the potential to be potent if he can survive the climb up the minor leagues as a shortstop. His speed allowed him to steal 18 bases in 21 attempts. Last year he played 18 games at Low A, hitting .296. Expect him to start the 2018 season there, with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves early success at Low A.

22. Hunter Greene RHP (Reds) 7.48 - A potential two way player who was expected to be the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Reds with the second pick had to be happy he was still available when it was their turn to pick. He played seven games as a DH hitting .233. The Reds then moved him to the rotation where he got three ineffective starts (12.46). His big attraction as a two way player was his ability to play shortstop, but with all the throwing at the position and the additional throwing on the mound would make it too taxing on his arm. With an arm that can hit triple digits with his fastball the Reds will start him in the rotation. If he falters there they can always turn him into a shortstop. At 6′4″ his ability to stay at short would have been in doubt. The Reds may start him at extended spring and then promote him to Dayton once the weather warms up.

21. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians) 7.62 - Tristan may be one of myworld’s favorite pitchers. The last pitcher we witnessed that we were this high on as a 19 year old was a lefthander named Clayton Kershaw. Tristan has 6′5″ height and long wing spans that spells trouble for hitters. Last year there were lots of swings and misses (11.7 whiffs per nine) and little hard contact (.204 opposition average). He has a good curveball and the potential for a plus change. While his command is good he did give up 14 dingers last year. After dominating at High A the Indians will promote him to AA. With success there the Indians may have a need to promote him to the major leagues to get a spot in the playoffs.

Rockies High on a Small Group of Prospects

Monday, February 26th, 2018

The Rockies have not gone through any major rebuilding project. They rarely finish with the worst record in baseball so their picks are normally middle of the pack. This does not prevent them from selecting good young players they can incorporate into the major league lineup. Some of their players put up video game like numbers in the minor leagues. The list does not carry a lot of depth, but it has some star players ready to make an impact.

The player they hope to get immediate impact from is Ryan McMahon. He started as a third baseman but with Nolan Arenado hogging the major league position he has had to work out some new gloves. They tried him at second but his defense was lacking in range. His best bet may be at first base. The Rockies would like to see his bat in the lineup where it produced a .374 average in AAA last year with a .613 slugging. Unfortunately that did not translate when promoted to the major leagues (.158) but it was only a 19 at bat trial. He did show some patience at the plate walking (5) as many times as he struck out. The left handed hitter did not hit as well against lefthanders which could result in a platoon role for him.

Brendan Rodgers won’t be ready for the major leagues next year but the 2019 season Rockie fans should be ready to welcome him into their stadium. Just like McMahon the Rockies have to find a position for him. They currently have him at shortstop but Trevor Story seems to have that position locked up. A move to second base would be the next logical spot, where the Rockies found some time for him in High A and AA. Like McMahon, Rodgers has a bat they want to see in the lineup hitting .383 with a .667 slugging average in 51 games at High A. Injuries limited him to 89 games last year. The Rockies would love to have his impact bat sliding into a middle infield position.

Another player who showed a potent bat last year was Colton Welker. The fourth round pick in 2016 hit .350 in Low A but missed two months of the season because of an abdominal strain. Like McMahon third base is his position, but the Rockies will keep him there since he is still a couple years away from the major leagues. He did play shortstop in high school but lacks the range to play it in the major leagues. Like Rodgers and McMahon his bat is his best asset and they want to get that into the lineup. It is suspect whether the Rockies can sign Arenado when he becomes a free agent in 2019, which should be the time frame when Welker should be ready.

Tom Murphy started last season with the expectation he would be the Rockies starting catcher but he fractured his right arm in a spring training game and spent all but 12 games in the minor leagues. A good spring could see him recapture that role. While his defense is okay, with a strong arm to limit the running game the Rockies like his bat. It shows some pop. In major league callups in 2015 and 2016 he slugged .543 and .659 respectively in limited at bats. Last year he struggled, achieving just one hit in 24 at bats. The Rockies signed Chris Ianneta to fill the catchers role but it would not take much to get Murphy’s bat in the lineup.

Forrest Wall was another player whose bat was far ahead of his defense. The 2014 first round supplemental pick started as a second baseman but showed poor defensive skills to be even adequate there. The Rockies have moved him to the outfield where they hope his speed will allow him to patrol centerfield. A separated shoulder diving for a ball in centerfield ended his season early limiting him to just 22 games. His arm is not strong and the power is short but he can get on base and steal bases. Wall may have to repeat High A to reorient himself to the outfield.

The Rockies selected a pretty good pitcher in the first round of the 2016 draft. Riley Pint stands 6′4″ and can zip his fastball to home plate in triple digits. Unfortunately he does not know where his fastball is going. His 5.7 walks per nine innings and .264 opposition average are not numbers indicative of a future ace in the rotation. Because he only needed a fastball in high school his secondary pitches need consistency. When he puts all his pitches together he could rise up the ladder fast.

Pitching is where the Rockies always need help, but myworld is not enamored with the remaining pitchers in their minor league system. We either do not know enough about them to be impressed or know too much about them to be unimpressed. Some of them could still come through and make an impact at the back end of the Rockies rotation.

Nicaragua Takes Cuba to Ten Before Falling

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Cuba swept Nicaragua but the last game was not easy. Nicaragua had a 3-2 lead going into the top of the ninth. Wilber Bucardo was going into his third inning of work but could not hold the lead. Frederich Cepeda tied the game with an opposite field RBI single between short and third to tie the game. Cuba then rallied for three in the 10th to secure the victory, Lazaro Cedeno getting the big hit with a double down the third base line that scored one with the second run scoring after the throw skipped past the catcher. Vladimir Garcia came on to pitch the bottom of the tenth, walking two but getting a ground out double play to end the game.

Guillermo Aviles strung together three hits for Cuba to continue his hot hitting. Nicaragua got three hits from Jilton Calderon, including a two run single in the sixth to give Nicaragua a promising 3-1 lead. Elmer Reyes scored two of the three runs for Nicaragua.

Freddy Alvarez got the call to start for Cuba and pitched five innings of one run ball. Nicaragua started Gustavo Martinez, who had trouble finding the plate, walking five hitters in his three innings of work. Despite the heavy doses of walks he allowed only one run to cross the plate. Cuban slugger Frederich Cepeda was walked three times.

Evereth Cabrera batted leadoff in the game and collected one hit with one walk in five at bats.

Cuba Wins Game Two Against Nicaragua

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Cuba scored two runs each in the first three innings and coasted to a 7-1 win over Nicaragua in their second game of a three game series at newly built Dennis Martinez stadium. New Cuban National team player Jorge Tartabull drove in two runs with a single. Alexander Ayala drove in two runs without benefit of a hit. Roel Santos and Juan Torriente led the way from the top two spots in the order, combining for five hits and each scoring two runs. Lazaro Cedeno went a perfect 4 for 4 and also scored two runs.

Vladimir Banos went six innings for Cuba, giving up only four hits and striking out five. Carlos Teller could not survive past the second inning for Nicaragua, giving up four runs on six hits.

Interesting to see the names of some ex-prospects like Dwight Britton, Elmer Reyes and Ivan Marin playing for Nicaragua. Evereth Cabrera did not play this game.

Top 10 Dominican Prospects - Nationals League

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

It is almost a completely new top ten with Reynaldo Lopez, Manuel Margot, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Difo, Jeimer Candelario and Raimel Tapia graduating to the major leagues. Eloy Jimenez transferred to the American League list and Francellis Montas dropped out. Only the top two prospects repeated the list, Alex Reyes and Victor Robles. Alex may not have repeated this list if Tommy John surgery had not ended his season last year. Below is the top ten Dominican prospects in the National League:

1. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Victor was number two last year and switched with Alex for the top spot this year. While the power has not shown yet Victor should be a five tool player who will patrol centerfield once Bryce Harper leaves for free agency. After a September callup the Nationals kept him on their playoff roster. This year the Nationals outfield is a bit crowded for him to get playing time but he will be the first player called up if a significant injury occurs to knock out a National for significant time. Last year he had a career high 10 homeruns with 27 stolen bases. His speed should result in 30 plus stolen bases each year but his base stealing acumen is still absent. Victor should start the 2018 season in AAA where his power should start developing into 20 plus numbers.

2. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. Last year the Padres moved him from Low A to AA, skipping High A. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

4. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

5. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto despite a number of requests about his availability. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

6. Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - One of the players the Marlins were able to acquire for Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals have a lot of success finding pitchers with triple digit heat. Sandy is one of those pitchers who sits in the high 90s but hits triple digits regularly, shades of Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez before him. He still has not developed any consistent secondary pitches, still trying to master a slider and curve. His command is not quite there as well. He did get 8 relief appearances with the Cardinals last year where he struck out 10 in eight innings, but he also walked six. If his command does not improve and his secondary pitches do not develop he could always be used out of the bullpen. The Marlins will keep him in the rotation in 2018 in AAA. His lack of secondary pitches and command resulted in the opposition hitting him at a .262 clip with his whiff rate sitting at a disappointing 7.6 per nine innings.

7. Adonis Medina RHP (Phillies) - Adonis does not throw as hard as Sixto but his fastball can hit the mid-90s. It sits in the low 90s. The Phillies signed Adonis the year before they signed Sixto, shelling out just $70,000 for the 17 year old, so for $100,000 they were able to acquire two of the top pitchers on this list. Adonis has a quality change that can make his fastball appear to arrive at the plate with greater velocity and a slider that can be a swing and miss pitch. In Low A Adonis struck out 10 hitters per nine innings and limited the opposition to a .227 average. In three minor league seasons his career ERA sits at an impressive 2.81. The Phillies seem to be promoting him one level at a time so expect him to pitch at High A for the 2018 season.

8. Jorge Guzman RHP (Marlins) - You would have thought the Marlins could have gotten more from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees had more advanced Dominican throwers who hit the radar in triple digits. The Marlins chose the less developed Guzman, who has yet to advance past the rookie leagues since signing in 2014, but has shown some impressive heat. Guzman was ranked as one of the hardest throwing Yankee hurlers, averaging 99 miles per hour with his fastball. He could replace Reyes and Kopech as having one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues. He has not really had the need to work on his secondary pitches, but as he reaches the full season leagues those pitches will need to be developed. His command has been good in the lower levels. His first test of full season league will be in 2018 where he will either break out or fall into obscurity.

9. Adbert Alzolay RHP (Cubs) - The Cubs need pitching and Adbert built some additional velocity on his fastball to rise up the ranks. It sits at 93-95. The secondary pitches still needs some work as well as his ability to throw strikes. He has yet to strike out a hitter per inning but an improvement of his change and curve would change that. The opposition struggled to make quality contact, hitting him at a .220 clip. He did get seven starts in AA, which is where he would start the 2018 season. An appearance at the back end of the rotation by the end of the season could be possible.

10. Jhailyn Ortiz OF (Phillies) - The third Philly Dominican on this list, but the one who the Phillies paid a lot to sign. Jhailyn was able to squeeze out a $4.01 million bonus from the Phillies in 2015. At 6′3 he carries 250 pounds, which carries balls far over the fence. He has a strong arm to play right field but his legs lack speed and may result in an eventual move to first base. Last year in the rookie league he slugged eight homeruns with a .560 slugging average. Jhailyn should begin the 2018 season in Low A where his ability to hit for power will begin to get noticed.

Cuba Tops Nicaragua

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

In a three game exhibition series Cuba took the first game 6-4. The high light of the series is that it is being played in the new Dennis Martinez stadium. Nicaraguans have always had a passion about playing against Cuba and judging by the photos it was a well attended event.

The rosters for the two teams:

Cuba

PITCHERS (10) Lazaro Blanco, Erlys Casanova, Ulfrido Garcia, Yariel Rodriguez, José Angel Garcia, Alain Sanchez, Vladimir Garcia, Freddy Alvarez, Bladimir Banos, Misael Villa
CATCHERS (2) Frank Morejon, Yunior Ibarra
INFIELDERS (8) Guillermo Aviles, Juan Carlos Torriente, Carlos Benitez, Yordan Manduley, Alexander Ayala, Lazaro Cedeno, Raul Gonzalez, Yorbert Sanchez
OUTFIELDERS (4) Frederich Cepeda, Roel Santos, Jorge Tartabull, Raiko Santos

Nicaragua

PITCHERS (13) Wilton López, Carlos Teller, Gustavo Martínez, Fidencio Flores, Wilber Bucardo, Jorge Bucardo, José Elías Villegas, Berman Espinoza, Juan Bermúdez, Jason Aburto, Ernesto Glasgon, Armando Montenegro, Pedro Torres.
CATCHERS (3) Janior Montes, Rafael Estrada, Ronald Rivera
INFIELDERS (8) Darrel Campbell, Ofilio Castro, Benjamín Alegría, Iván Marín, Elmer Reyes, Edgar Montiel, Moisés Flores, Iván Hernández.
OUTFIELDERS (5) Jilton Calderón, Dwight Britton, Renato Morales, Javier Robles, Norlando Valle
UTILITY (1) Williams Vásquez.

Cuba jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off Nicaraguan starter Wilton Lopez, a Carlos Benitez high hopping seeing eye single with two out in the first inning scoring the first run.

Lazaro Blanco did not pitch well for Cuba giving up all four runs to Nicaragua in the second inning. Norlando Valle started the scoring with an RBI double into the left field corner and Ofilio Castro got the big hit for Nicaragua with a 2-run single into centerfield to break a 2-2 tie.

Wilton Lopez couldn’t retire any of the three hitters he faced in the fourth inning. With the infield in a throwing error by Evereth Cabrera allowed the go ahead run to score. Fidencio Flores replaced Lopez on the mound and except for one walk retired 9 of the 10 Cuban hitters he faced.

Guillermo Aviles finished off the scoring by pulling a pitch into the right field bleachers to give Cuba a 6-4 lead. Vladimir Garcia came out to pitch his second inning of shutout relief to close out the victory for Cuba.

Alain Sanchez pitched 4.2 innings of shutout relief to keep Cuba in the game. He yielded to Vladimir Garcia to open the eighth.

Myworlds Top 100 Prospects - 40 - 31

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Myworld continues our top 100 list.

40. Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) 5.6 - The Braves have traded for a number of pitchers who were number one picks for their team. Kolby was a number one pick for the Braves in 2015. His velocity is not impressive (high 80s to low 90s) so his command needs to be good for him to have success. Last year at AA was his first year his whiffs per 9 innings fell below 9 and his opposition average was .258, with lefthanded hitters having greater success hitting him (.292). He still kept his ERA low (3.18) relying on an above average curveball and change to enhance his fastball. Because the Braves chose to skip High A he was one of the younger pitchers in AA so his success was impressive. AAA could be his destination in 2018 or he could repeat AA. Wherever he pitches he is just a stone’s throw away from the major leagues. His lack of velocity will always make him a back of the rotation starter.

39. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) 5.62 - Injuries limited the talented outfielder to just 32 games last year. After two seasons his career minor league average sits at an impressive .362 with an OPS of .953. This could be one of the reasons the Nationals were hesitant to trade Soto. While his bat is pretty impressive his defense could limit him to left field because of a less than spectacular arm. He still has not grown into what should be impressive power. Despite the limited playing time because of injuries the Nationals should start him in High A to begin the 2018 season. He will still be a teenager when playing at that level.

38. Franklin Perez LHP (Tigers) 6.1 - The prized prospect the Tigers obtained from the Astros for the trade of Justin Verlander. At 6′3″ with the ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, those are attributes that teams drool over with lefthanded pitchers. Prior to 2017 he was striking out more than a hitter per inning. The 2017 season saw him fall below that, though at High A he limited the opposition to a .190 average. His excellent command and plus curveball are his strengths. Getting more consistency with his change will make him a major league pitcher. The Venezuelan only started six games in AA so that is probably where he will begin the 2018 season. The Tigers have an impressive group of starters percolating up their minor league system. If they all can stay healthy it will be an impressive rotation with Franklin leading the charge.

37. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) 6.16 - The Canadian lacks velocity, his fastball sitting in the low 90s. Quality secondary pitches and good command allow him to achieve soft contact with the bats. His strikeout numbers will never be impressive but he has limited hitters to a .239 average. His big challenge is retiring lefthanded hitters, who battered him for a .269 average. The 2015 first round pick should start the 2018 season in AAA with a major league mid-season callup a possibility. His 6′4″ height gives him good downward plane on his pitches.

36. Sixto Sanchez RHP (Phillies) 6.16 - The Dominican has a fastball that can hit triple digits, which creates comparisons to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″). The Phillies signed him in 2015 for only $35,000. Despite the velocity on his fastball he does not miss a lot of bats (6.5 K’s per 9 innings in High A). This could be because his secondary pitches are a work in progress. His command is excellent as he has yet to hit double digits in walks at any level he has played and he has only given up two homeruns in his 175 innings of pitching. He had some rough five starts in High A so myworld expects that will be where he begins his 2018 season, getting a promotion mid-season if he has success there.

35. Willie Calhoun 2B/LF (Rangers) 6.18 - The power was slow to develop early in the year. By the time the season ended he had 32 homeruns, including one in the major leagues. At 5′8″ he would not strike you as a hitter who could hit for power but he has had back to back seasons of 27 plus homeruns. Prior to being drafted he led all junior college hitters in homeruns with 31. The Dodgers traded him to the Rangers in the Yu Darvish loan. His one big weakness is with the glove. The Dodgers used him mainly at second base with a thought to move him to left field. The Rangers will try him out in left. His arm is not strong and DH is probably his best position. With a good spring he could start the season with the Rangers in left field.

34. J.P. Crawford SS (Phillies) 6.4 - J.P. is one of those players whose physical tools are impressive but the numbers fail to match those tools. The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres at the beginning of the year to hand the shortstop job to him. The 2013 first round pick committed 17 errors at short in AAA, but none at the major league level where he played third, short and second. The bat has been a little disappointing, especially last year where he struggled to make contact. J.P. can be a very patient hitter, walking 95 times between AAA and the major leagues. There is no stolen base speed in his legs, but if he can hit and draw walks he could fill a leadoff role with the Phillies. The shortstop job is his to lose in 2018.

33. Brendan McKay LHP/1B (Rays) 6.54 - Shohei Otani got most of the publicity for being a two way player but McKay along with Hunter Greene were two players who hit and pitched in the minor leagues. McKay has a lefthanded fastball that can hit the low 90s with a plus breaking pitch. Last year he achieved six starts with the opposition hitting him at a .149 clip. His lefthanded bat has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns. The 2017 first round pick lacks the speed to play any place other than first, DH or pitcher. He should start the 2018 season in full season ball (Low A) where the Rays will continue the experiment of letting him hit and pitch until he consistently fails at one of the skills.

32. Kyle Wright RHP (Braves) 6.6 - The 2017 first round pick is the third Braves pitcher on this list. At 6′4″ Kyle has a beast of a fastball with excellent movement that can slice the plate in the mid-90s. In his 9 starts, six of them at High A he limited the opposition to a .186 opposition average. With four quality pitches Kyle is a good fit to pitch at the top of the rotation. The Braves could have him start the 2018 season at AA but myworld suspects he will begin the season at High A.

31. Scott Kingery 2B/3B (Philles) - Scott started the season with a homer barrage in hitter friendly AA. As the season progressed his homer barrage slowed. He hit 18 in 69 games in AA then finished with 8 in 41 games at AAA. Most of his time was spent at second base, but he did play some short and third. Expect a power drop in 2018, which could make third base an unattractive spot for his pop. The second round 2015 pick is not a quality defensive player but he will not embarrass you. If Maikel Franco continues to struggle at the plate Kingery could take over for that position. A good spring could give him an opportunity to travel with the Phillies to begin the season.

The Hoisting of the White Flags Tarnishing Pennant Races

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It used to be that when you entered spring training almost every team had hopes that they could compete in the pennant race. That was then. This is now. A new building block has been created for creating playoff caliber teams. It is called tanking.

Baseball tends to be a copycat league. Ever since the Cubs built the blue print of tanking and building up through high draft choices created by 100 loss seasons, other teams have followed. The Astros won the World Series last year using that blue print. Now there are a number of other teams who are following the blue print.

What is the harm in this approach? Major league baseball has at least 11 of their 30 teams going through a rebuilding process. This will result in few pennant races and probably at least three 100 win teams who spend their day beating up on those teams that would have 100 losses if there were not so many other poor teams in a rebuilding stage. This will result in a drop in attendance and a lessoning of interest in a season that many already feel drags on too long.

The teams in the rebuilding process are: Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres. A couple of those teams are in the final stages of their rebuilding effort and could be more competitive. In other words, you will have perhaps five expansion teams and six weak teams battling for the first round pick.

Other teams who probably should rebuild because their rosters are so weak with a number of players ready to become free agents in a year: Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.

This leaves only 14 teams who have some hope of competing in the playoff race. More teams will be out of the playoff race before the season starts than teams who have slight hopes of a playoff season. This has also created a thin market for free agents. If you have no interest in competing for a playoff spot, why would you choose to spend a lot of money to sign a free agent? You may look for a bargain player that you hope to trade later on once he proves his worth. Taking on a high salary is out of the question. Some agents have misread the free agent market. There may not be enough teams in the market willing to bid for the available free agents out there.

Next year myworld sees the Baltimore Orioles and perhaps a couple other teams to be added to the tank brigade. It makes no sense to spend a large salary on a mediocre team. Cut salary, finish at the bottom, collect some revenue and then in three to four years use that savings to sign free agents. By then the collective bargaining contract will expire, the players will be pissed by the lack of signings and you can see discontent entering the bargaining process. So not only will major league baseball have sagging attendance, but they will have some angry ballplayers upset with the money tanking owners are making because of low salaries at the expense of a number of players forced to sign minor league contracts, or sitting out the season because of a lack of offers.

Trouble awaits.

Cuba and Japan Complete Honkball Itinerary

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

The six teams have been selected for Honkball. It will be played July 13-22 at Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem. Haarlem is one of those quiet, pleasant cities that have more bikes on the roads than automobiles. It also has canals, windmills, a town square and a baseball stadium. The stadium is just a couple miles from the town square. Myworld could not pick a better spot to relax in a tranquil setting and then spend your time at the ballpark.

The six teams participating in the tournament are:

Netherlands, Curacao, Italy, Taiwan, Cuba and Japan

After the last Honkball tournament there was some discussion to end the tournament. The crowds are loyal with fans waiting two hours inside the stadium waiting for the second game to be played. When you buy a ticket it is for the day, with the first game scheduled for 2 PM and the evening affair for 7 PM. There is a tented area and a stage for a band, so if the crowd is large enough a band could be made available to entertain those who wait the couple hours inside the stadium for the second game to start.

Despite the decent crowds the organizers were not able to collect enough revenue to continue the tournament. Lack of advertisers and sponsors are the large revenue generators for most tournaments. Another group has stepped in to hold the tournament. Hopefully they will be more successful in continuing the tournament every two years.

United States New Number One

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

With their win in the World Baseball Classic the United States has ended the three year reign of Japan and taken over the number one spot in baseball, according to the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC). With the top 12 teams qualifying for the Premier 12 in 2019 myworld will list the top 13 teams as ranked by the WBSC. Mexico sitting at number five has never been ranked higher.

1. United States (5025 points)
2. Japan (4609 points)
3. South Korea (4158 points)
4. Cuba (3152 points)
5. Mexico (2613 points)
6. Taiwan (2520 points)
7. Canada (2142 points)
8. Australia (2095 points)
9. Netherlands (2002 points)
10. Puerto Rico (1796 points)
11. Venezuela (1765 points)
12. Dominican Republic (1227 points)
13. Nicaragua (1155 points)

You can see the complete list at wbsc.org/rankings/