Archive for February, 2018

Cuba Win Pool Play in Series del Caribe

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

There were some meaningless games in the Series del Caribe. Mexico won their first game but it did not help them make the playoffs. Cuba also won to give them the best record in pool play, but that only gave them a date with the Dominican Republic in the first round of the playoffs. The Dominicans gave Cuba their only loss.

Cuba 6 Puerto Rico 3

Raul Gonzalez broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI double in the seventh inning to give Cuba the victory and the honor of winning pool play. Guillermo Aviles clinched it in the eighth with a two run single to up the spread by three. Leandro Martinez shut out the Puerto Rican bats for the last four innings to preserve the win.

All of Puerto Rico’s runs were scored on solo shots, the last one in the fifth inning by Cuban native Dayron Varona. Anthony Garcia hit his second homerun of the series in the first inning and Ruben Gotay slugged one in the fifth inning, the beginning of back to backs with Varona that tied the score at 3-3.

Frank Morejon hit a solo shot for Cuba in the third inning to score their first run. He also added an RBI double in the fifth and scored three of the six Cuban runs.

Mexico 8 Dominican Republic 1

Mexico got their first win but it did not help them advance in the playoffs since it was a foregone conclusion entering the game they were out of it. Mexico broke the game open in the sixth inning with four runs, two of them driven in on a homerun by Justin Greene. Japhet Amador added a solo shot in the seventh.

Sergio Mitre worked six innings to get the win for Mexico.

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 80 - 71

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Below is our top prospects from 80-71.

80. Yordan Alvarez OF (Astros) 2.34 - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez in 2016 as they restocked their farm system with Cuban players, paying him a $2 million bonus. Soon after they traded him to the Astros for Josh Fields, not much of a return for a player with that bonus. The Astros have used him at both first base and left field. His bat is what will get him to the major leagues. At 6′5″ his lefthanded bat began showing some power at Low A with a .360 average, 9 homeruns and a .658 slugging in 32 games. The power was not as great after being promoted to High A (.393) but he showed no difficulty hitting lefthanded pitching (.355). It will take an excellent spring to start the season higher than A ball but at 20 years of age the Astros can be patient with him.

79. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) 2.38 - He was the Cuban version of Luis Ortiz except he won the 15 and under MVP in the World Cup in 2014. A couple years later he left Cuba providing the Padres an opportunity to sign him for a $11 million bonus. At 6′1″ he does not have an intimidating presence, but his fastball can reach the mid-90s and at 19 he already has a degree in pitching with a good curveball and change. He made his major league debut last year with seven starts in short season ball (3.57) and six more in low class A (4.23). He had his way with lefthanded hitters dropping their averages below .200 but righthanded hitters had their way with him hitting him close to .300. He needs to find a pitch that is more effective against right side hitters. It would not surprise myworld if he starts the 2018 season at Low A and getting promoted once he achieves success. Don’t expect him to be anything more than a mid-rotation starter.

78. Stephen Gonsalves LHP (Twins) 2.4 - Gonsalves is a lefty like Morejon but at 6′5″ he has a much larger frame. Despite his height he does not throw as hard as Morejon, but he can hit the mid-90s. Command and a quality change are the secrets to his success. He limits the walks, hits the corners and finished with a quality 2.68 ERA in AA. AAA was a bit of a struggle with righthanders assaulting him at a .350 clip in four starts. Another year in AAA would be good with a mid season promotion on the horizon. The fourth round pick of the 2013 draft had a career 2.13 ERA and limited the opposition to a .195 average entering the 2017 season. He knows how to miss bats and limit quality contact despite his lack of premium velocity.

77. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) 2.48 - Jon was a third round pick in 2016 but not because of a lack of talent but a concern for health. He missed the entire 2015 season for Rice because of shoulder injuries. After he was drafted he was limited to just one inning because of elbow issues. The 2017 season saw a break out season with his mid-90s fastball and quality curveball sifting through minor league bats for an ERA of 1.39 between Low A and High A. The last pitcher with an ERA that low in the minor leagues was a pitcher by the name of Justin Verlander. He struck out 12.36 hitters per nine innings in 12 starts at High A. At 6′3″ and 225 pounds if he can stay healthy he will be an innings eater. The 2018 season should see him start at AA and if he remains as dominant as last season expect a mid-season promotion.

76. Mickey Moniak OF (Phillies) 2.56 - The Phillies made him the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. He is one of those outfielder’s who may not have the range to fit in center or the power to earn a corner spot. The speed is good but it is not burner speed and will not accumulate stolen bases. What one has to hope for is his baseball instincts will inflate his stats and he will become a better player than his skills. His numbers were not eye popping in Low A (.236) with only a .180 average against lefthanders. He has the makings of being a fourth outfielder. The Phillies hope a stint in High A will lead to improvement with greater strength and more experience.

75. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) 2.58 - Tyler is a strong kid drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The Mariners traded him to the Cardinals where he hopes to crack one of the outfield spots. There is good power in his bat where he slugged 31 homeruns last year. He has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns consistently in the major leagues. His difficulty in making contact (151 whiffs) will keep his average at around .250 or below. A solid arm will make him a fit in right but with his bulky frame he may be a better fit in left. A good spring could see him traveling north with the Cardinals but myworld expects him to start the season in AAA.

74. Matt Manning RHP (Tigers) 2.64 - A second Tiger who could eventually fit in their starting rotation making the Top 100. Matt was a first round pick of the Tigers in 2016. At 6′6 with a fastball that can come across the plate in the high 90s can prove intimidating to hitters. His secondary pitches could use some improvement but he has the potential for a plus curve and solid change. In his debut season in 2016 at Rookie level play he struck out 14.6 hitters per nine innings. Manning continued to rack up the K’s in the New York Penn League (9.72) and Low A (13.25). A little trouble with his command in Low A saw his ERA climb (5.60) but hitters still had difficulty making hard contact (.209). Manning should start the 2018 season in Low A with a quick promotion to High A once he achieves some success.

73. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies) 2.78 - Jorge was a top prospect for the Rangers for a number of years. The Colombian was traded to the Phillies for Cole Hamels in 2015. Injuries have dogged him and stalled his ability to make quick advances up the ladder. The 2016 season saw him get a September callup. The 2017 season saw him take a more extended role with the Phillies, hitting .318 with 5 homeruns and a .514 slugging. He has a power bat and his defense is good enough to stay behind the plate. His big issue is whether his lack of patience (16/113 walk to whiff) will result in prolonged slumps in the major leagues. Expect him to win the starting catching role over Cameron Rupp for the 2018 season.

72. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox) 2.8 - Chavis was the Red Sox first pick in the 2014 draft. He plays the same position as Rafael Devers with a weaker bat. His defense is not strong enough to justify putting him at third over a superior bat. His bat does carry some pop as his 31 homeruns last year showed. He also cut down on his strikeouts which helped him hit for a higher average. The Red Sox could move Devers to first or try Chavis in left field. Both moves would help the offense but sacrifice some defense. Chavis will spend one more year at AAA as the Red Sox try to figure out what they will do with him. The best solution may be to use him as trade bait to acquire a veteran pitcher for a playoff run.

71. Blake Rutherford OF (White Sox) 2.82 - The Yankees selected Rutherford in the first round of the 2016 draft. With a surplus of outfielders they traded him to the White Sox for Todd Frazier, who became a free agent after the 2017 season. After more exposure to him there was concern his defense was a better fit for left field because of a weak arm. The lack of power in his bat made that a cause for concern. Those concerns may have been confirmed after a wasted year least year where he only hit two homeruns and slugged .349 in Low A. The positive spin is he hit lefthanders better than righthanders so the struggle may be an aberration. The question is whether the White Sox repeat him at Low A or give him a promotion to High A and hope he produces.

Mexico Gets Eliminated Early from Series del Caribe

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Wins by the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico gave every team two wins in pool play with the exception of host Mexico, who had yet to capture a win. With only one game left for Mexico they will be the team eliminated from the final four.

Puerto Rico 12 Venezuela 7

Puerto Rico clinched a spot in the final four with their bats coming alive early. David Vidal hit a three run homerun in a four run first and Rusney Castillo hit a two run homer in a four run second and Puerto Rico had sprinted to an early 8-0 lead. David Vidal drove in his fourth run of the game in the second inning with an RBI single.

In the eighth Puerto Rico had back to back homers from Jesmuel Valentin and Anthony Garcia to continue the homer barrage. Puerto Rico finished the day with 16 hits, Anthony Garcia and Jonathan Morales leading the charge with three hits each. Garcia scored three runs.

Carlos Teller got the start for Venezuela and could not get out of the second inning. The Nicaraguan hurler was charged with 8 runs. Fernando Cruz got credit for the win pitching 2.2 innings of shutout relief. David Richardson could not last past the third inning for Puerto Rico.

Venezuela was able to accumulate 13 hits but coming back from an 8-0 deficit proved to be too much. Luis Domoromo led the charge with three hits allowing him to score three runs. He is hitting .750 for the series.

Dominican Republic 7 Cuba 1

Dominican Republic sent Cuba down to their first defeat. The win also qualified them for the final four playoffs. Bryan Evans quieted the Cuban bats to just one run for seven innings, that being a Roel Santos homerun in the sixth inning. Santos was the only bat working for Cuba, stringing together three of their seven hits.

Junior Lake was responsible for the first three runs scored by the Dominican Republic. His two out walk in the first inning was followed by a stolen base. Edwin Espinal drove him in with a double. In the fifth inning Abiatal Avelino led the inning off with a double. Junior Lake corked a two run homer into centerfield for a 3-0 Dominican lead.

Dominican Republic broke the game open in the seventh. Edwin Espinal drove in the first run with an RBI single, his second RBI of the game. Ronny Rodriguez also drove in a run with a single and Luis Valenzuela drove in two with a triple.

Cuba started Vladimir Banos but only let him work three innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks. Alfredo Despaigne did make a pinch hitting appearance in the game which could mean he could be healthy for the playoffs. Cuba has to be careful with him since Japan and the Softbank Hawks have him under contract.

On the last day of pool play Mexico plays the Dominican Republic and Cuba battles against Puerto Rico, but the four playoff teams have already been decided.

Cuba Starts Off Strong in Series del Caribe

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Myworld was in Greensboro, North Carolina over the weekend coaching in a volleyball tournament so we missed the first weekend of the Series del Caribe. Below is a summary of the first weekend of activities.

Cuba 6 Venezuela 4

The first day saw Cuba knock off Venezuela in the opener. Yurisbel Gracial drove in three runs, including an RBI double in the first inning to drive in the second run of the game. Roel Santos got the inning started with a single and advanced to third after centerfielder Rafael Ortega committed an error. Yordan Manduley drove him in with a single.

Venezuela tied it with a run in the third. Back to back singles by Luis Sardinas and Rafael Ortega put runners on first and third with no out. Cuba stunted the rally turning a double play but it allowed the first run to score. In the fourth Luis Jimenez went deep with a solo shot to tie the game.

Gracial got the lead back for Cuba in the bottom of the fifth with a sacrifice fly. He scored Raul Gonzalez, who had started the inning with a single. Santos bunted him to second and Manduley advanced him to third with a single.

Cuba extended the lead to 5-2 with a two out rally. Santos started the inning with a walk, then stole second. Manduley walked and Gracial drove in his third run of the game with a single. Alexander Ayala drove in the second run with a single, pinch hitting for batting title winner Jorge Yhonson who had replaced the injured Alfredo Despaigne in left field.

Trailing 6-4 in the top of the ninth Venezuela loaded the bases. Luis Jimenez came to the plate with reliever Raidel Martinez having no place to put him. Martinez struck out Jimenez to end the inning and give Cuba the victory. The win may prove costly as Alfredo Despaigne had to leave the game with a pulled calf muscle.

Puerto Rico 7 Mexico 4

Puerto Rico got off to a good start despite an abbreviated season with a 7-4 win over Mexico. Both teams were tied at 4-4 entering the 8th but Puerto Rico scored three in the inning to put the game away. Anthony Garcia led off the inning with a double and David Vidal scored the go ahead run with a double. A wild pitch scored the second run and Dayron Varona sent one to the fence in center field for an RBI triple to extend the lead to 7-4.

In the bottom frame Mexico put runners on second and third with two out but Walter Ibarra struck out to end the inning. Miguel Mejia replaced Robby Rowland on the mound for the ninth inning, giving up only a one out single to Rico Noel, but retiring the other three hitters to earn the save and give the victory to Puerto Rico.

Venezuela 15 Dominican Republic 4

Venezuela battered Dominican pitching for 20 hits to rout the Dominican Republic. Recent National signing Balbino Fuenmayor went 5 for 5 with two homeruns a double and two singles. He drove in five runs and scored three times. Balbino got the scoring started in the second inning with a solo shot. In the third inning he made it 3-0 with a two run blast. Fuenmayor hit a two run double in the fifth just after the Dominicans scored three in the top frame to trim the lead to 4-3.

In the sixth inning after the first two hitters were retired by the Dominicans Rafael Ortega hit a two run homer and Rene Reyes also hit a two run homer to give Venezuela a commanding 10-4 lead. They scored five more in the 8th, Willains Astudillo and Alexi Amarista each contributing two run doubles to fuel the inning.

Raul Valdes got the start for the Dominican Republic and gave up four runs in four innings of work. The bullpen let the game get away allowing 9 runs in the last three innings Venezuela hit. Freddy Garcia started for Venezuela but was one out shy of getting the victory, allowing three runs.

Cuba 5 Mexico 4

Cuba sent Mexico down to their second loss, while they moved to 2-0 on Saturday. Cuba rallied to score three runs in their last two at bats to pull out the win. Raul Gonzalez led off the bottom of the 7th with a solo homerun. Frederich Cepeda tied the game later in the inning when he hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. In the 8th Raul Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Yoelqui Cespedes with the go ahead run.

Raidel Martinez came on to pitch the ninth and retired Mexico in order to send the Mexican faithful back home disappointed. Alain Sanchez went five innings in relief, allowing just one run to get the victory. He came on in relief of Cuban ace Yoennis Yera, who was not sharp, giving up seven hits and walking three to allow Mexico to score three of their runs.

Dominican Republic 6 Puerto Rico 3

The Dominicans scored five runs in the first two innings to bounce back from their Venezuelan loss in the opener. Edwin Espinal drove in the first two runs in the first inning with a two run single. Francisley Bueno pitched five innings of shutout ball to get the win.

The Dominican bullpen almost choked the game in the sixth with Samuel Deduno failing to retire any of the three hitters he faced. All of them scored to make the game close. Josh Judy was able to retire all three hitters he faced in the ninth to pull out the save for Dominican Republic for their first win.

Giovanni Soto gave up five of the six runs for Puerto Rico, failing to survive the second inning. He failed to retire the first three hitters he faced in the second inning and was pulled.

Venezuela 6 Mexico 4

The Venezuelan bats stayed hot, accumulating 14 hits in their second victory of the Series del Caribe. Willians Astudillo and Luis Domoromo led the charge with three hits apiece. Luis was a perfect 3 for 3 on the day with one walk. Rafael Ortega led the game off with a homerun, his second of the series for Venezuela. Astudillo hit a solo shot in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie giving Mexico a lead they would not relinquish.

Chris Roberson hit a pinch hit two run homer in the 9th to put Mexico within two runs of a victory. A Fernando Perez single brought up pinch hitter Japhet Amador to represent the tying run. Venezuela went to Victor Capellan on the mound. An error by third baseman Niuman Romero put runners on first and third with one out. Walter Ibarra came to the plate representing the go ahead run. Capellan coaxed him into grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.

After the first three days Cuba is the only undefeated team at 2-0. Mexico at 0-3 is close to being eliminated from the Series del Caribe they are hosting. They need a victory over the Dominican Republic in their final game of pool play just to survive. Venezuela is assured of advancing with their 2-1 record and Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico sit at 1-1, both needing one more win to clinch an advance.

Rangers Saddle Up to Restock Farm System

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

The Rangers have traded a number of prospects over the years to get veteran players for their playoff runs. Also, prospects have failed to pan out such as number one prospect Jurickson Profar, who was stalled by injuries but still has not met the potential for a player considered the top prospect in baseball a couple years ago. The upper brackets of their minor league system seems a bit bare. In the past the Rangers have been noted for their international signings, but that has been relatively quiet. Below is their rather small list of prospect hovering at the upper echelons of their system.

Willie Calhoun may be their top prospect from an offensive standpoint. They acquired him from the Dodgers where he played second base. His defense at second was poor so he has now settled in left field. DH may still be the best position for him. His short, squat frame does not run well making it difficult for him to cover a lot of ground. His arm is also a bit weak. What his 5′8″ frame can do is slug balls over the fence. Put him in the lineup and expect 30 plus homeruns. After a slow start he still finished the minor leagues with 31 homeruns. Last year he hit 27. Expect him to play LF/DH for the Rangers in 2018 with Rookie of the Year candidacy in sight.

A little further down in the system is the more talented Leody Taveras. The Dominican has the glove and speed to play an excellent centerfield with an arm to fit in right. His speed should allow him to steal 20 plus bases per year as he did last year but he still needs to work on improving his jumps. The bat lacks the wallop of Calhoun but at 6′2″ inches his frame could pack on a few more pounds of muscle. Leody will start the season in High A and in September of this year will turn 20. The Rangers can still wait for his development.

Bubba Thompson was the Rangers 2017 first round pick. An athletically gifted player who played quarterback for his high school, Bubba has the potential for five tools. He has centerfield speed and a rightfielder’s arm. Improving his bat on ball contact would up the average (.257) but this was his first year of minor league baseball. He should start the 2018 season in Low A. How he adjusts to pitchers as he rises up the minor leagues will dictate the quality of his hit tool.

The Rangers made Carlos Tocci a Rule V selection. Formerly a top prospect of the Phillies, he is still young at 23. His glove is good enough for centerfield but his bat has always been a bit soft. His career slugging average coming into the 2017 season was .327. Last year he sprayed a few balls into the gap to slug .398, but still only hit two homeruns. What made him attractive to the Rangers was his career high .362 OBA and .307 average for the year. The Rangers must keep him on the roster all year or offer him back on waivers to other teams.

Ronald Guzman is a 6′6″ plodding first baseman who is too slow to fit in the outfield. In 2016 he seemed to break out of a power outage with 15 homeruns. Last year his power took a small step backwards with just 12 homeruns and a drop in slugging percentage (.434). If Guzman hopes to play first base his power needs to start developing. His defense at first is too sketchy to support any lack of pop he provides at the position.

Andy Ibanez was a heralded Cuban middle infielder given a $1.6 million bonus. The Cubans played him at second base because of his lack of range for short. The problem with Ibanez is his lack of one overpowering tool. He lacks the range to be a quality defender at second, is absent the power to be a slugging third baseman and is too slow afoot to steal a lot of bases. So while he does a number of things well, they could fall short of major league quality. His best bet may be to make the roster as a utility infielder, though they would still need another player to back up short.

On the pitching front Yohander Mendez may be their most talented arm. The lefthander from Venezuela is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball. His best pitch is a change that elevates the velocity on his fastball. He doesn’t get a lot of swings and misses because he lacks a quality secondary breaking pitch. That could keep him in the bullpen where he pitched seven games in a September callup for the Rangers (5.11). With a good spring he could crack the back end of the rotation or become the lefthanded arm coming out of the bullpen.

Cole Ragans was their first round pick in 2016. His fastball also sits in the low 90s but he gets a lot more swings and misses with the pitch, striking out 87 batters in just 57 innings. His secondary pitches still need to be refined along with his improvement in command (37 walks) but he is set to debut in the full season leagues in 2018. The lefthander will hope to end the season in High A.

Hans Crouse was a second round pick in the 2017 draft. He was unhittable in his debut, limiting the opposition to a .109 average with a 0.40 ERA. His fastball hits the radar in the high 90s but sits in the mid-90s, the best velocity for Rangers pitchers in the minor leagues. He pitched for the United States Under 18 national team. Expect Hans to start the 2018 season in Low A.

A pitcher who could see some action in the majors this year is Connor Sadzeck. His lack of control and absence of secondary pitches makes the bullpen the best choice for him. At 6′7″ the ball rains down on the hitters, making it difficult for them to make contact (10.67 whiffs per nine innings). The bullpen also limits his requirement to face a lineup a second time in the order. A thin bullpen gives Connor a chance to go to Texas with the club if he has a good spring.

Aguilas Dominican Champions

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Aguilas pounded Licey 11-5 to win game seven of the Dominican championship. They used two innings to score nine of their 11 runs, pouncing on starter Rolando Valdez for five in the third and putting the game out of reach with four runs in the ninth. Juan Carlos Perez was the hitting star with four runs driven in on two hits.

Valdez hit a little wildness in the third, giving up two walks with a Jonathan Villar single sandwiched in between to load the bases with no outs. A Daniel Santana single scored one and finished the day for Valdez. Francisco Rosario came on to pitch and walked the first hitter he faced to force in another run. After retiring a hitter a fourth hitter in the inning was walked to up the score to 3-0. With two outs Juan Carlos Perez singled to finish off the scoring, driving in two of his four runs.

Licey pitchers had trouble finding the plate. They walked six hitters, four of them in the disastrous third, with a hit batsman in the sixth inning resulting in another Aguilas run to make it 6-2. Of the six walks, two of them drove in runs and three of the walks eventually scored.

Licey scored their first run in the fourth on a Juan Francisco solo shot. An Erick Aybar single in the bottom of the seventh drove in two to close the gap to 6-4. Aguilas stamped out the momentum in the top of the eighth when Felix Perez led off the inning with a solo shot. In the ninth Johan Camargo slashed a two run single and Juan Carlos Perez smashed a two run double and Aguilas had run up a commanding 11-4 lead.

Yunesky Maya got the start for Aguilas but did not last long enough to get the win, pitching just four innings. He gave up two runs on five hits. Jhan Marinez pitched two innings of shutout relief and got credit for the win.

Last year Licey beat Aguilas to represent Dominican Republic in the Series del Caribe. The last two times Dominican Republic has won the Series del Caribe in 2012 and 2010 the Escogido Leones were the champions. In 2007 and 2008 when the Dominican Republic won back to back Series del Caribe championships Aguilas was the champion. It has been a bit of a dry spell for the Dominican Republic, but Dominicans hope Aguilas can bring back the championship that has been absent these last five years.