Archive for March, 2018

Pirates Sign Bae for $1.2 million bonus

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

The Pittsburgh Pirates gave Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae a $1.2 million bonus. Bae had originally signed with the Braves but major league baseball voided the deal because of contract irregularities.

Bae is a shortstop who represented Korea in the 18 and under World Cup. He would have been a first round pick in the 2017 KBO draft. Because he signed with a major league team the KBO suspended him for two years from signing with any KBO club. After the signing the Braves had compared him to a young Trea Turner.

Yankees Versus Red Sox in London June 2019

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Major league baseball is negotiating with having a major league game in London in 2019. They are not messing around either with a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry slated to be on the schedule. The Red Sox will lose two home games but major league baseball will reward the Boston franchise handsomely for the loss of those games.

It appears the games will be played at the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Twins Not Tanking - Yet

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Last year the Twins went from last to a wild card spot. It was a busy year for them signing veteran free agents in an attempt to make another playoff run for the 2018 season. They still recognize being a small market team they will not contend signing big time free agents. So they try to keep the prospect stream strong. With this prospect review it only leaves two teams left - the White Sox and the Yankees.

The Twins lost shortstop Jorge Polanco for 80 games because of a drug suspension. This is a huge blow to their playoff chances. Two of their best prospects in the minor leagues are shortstops. Both are too young to make a contribution this year so the Twins will have to make due with utility player Eduardo Escobar at shortstop.

Royce Lewis was their top pick of the 2017 draft, the first pick of the draft, a reward for their 103 loss season in 2016. Last year Royce played 18 games in Low A. He is far from ready to make a contribution with the Twins this year. The tools are there for him to play short, though there are some who feel the arm may be light. His legs give him the speed to steal bases (18 for 21) and roam centerfield if shortstop is not available. The bat currently peppers the gaps and could create some power as he matures. Contact was not a problem for Royce in the Gulf Coast League. The Twins will start him on a full season team, his spring determining if he goes to Low A or High A.

Nick Gordon is the half brother of Dee Gordon and the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon. Like his brother his best position may be second. He lacks the plus range to play short and struggles with consistency, making 19 errors at short last year in just over 100 games. His speed may fall short of Dee in the stolen base department but he could still steal 20 bases per year. Like Royce he will pepper the gaps with homerun power coming as he learns how to turn on pitches. Last year he had a career high .408 slugging percentage with 9 homeruns. The Twins will use him more at second base but if Escobar struggles Gordon could see some time at short with the Twins. He will start the season in AAA.

Wander Javier may be their best shortstop tool’s wise. The Twins shelled out $4 million in 2015 to sign him out of the Dominican Republic. He has spent the last two years in short season ball hitting .301 with six homeruns in 50 games as a teenager. The Twins will move him to full season ball this year where he has a chance to shine.

The Twins are hoping for two power bats in outfielders Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker. Alex was their first round pick in 2016 but Tommy John surgery kept him from playing in 2017. In 2016 he did hit seven homeruns and slugged .454 in 55 games. The Twins will wait until his arm is strong enough, perhaps working him out in extended spring training until the Rookie League begins to start his rehab. Rooker was a first round supplemental in 2017. Drafted as a first baseman the Twins moved him to the outfield. He won’t win any gold gloves in left field but his bat whacked 18 homeruns last season in Rookie and High A ball. Drafted out of Mississippi State he will be moved quickly, starting the season in High A but being promoted to AA if he continues to slug .552 in High A.

The Twins have been trying to develop pitchers in their minor leagues. Stephen Gonsalves may be the best but he is not overpowering by the standards today. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but he has command, stands 6′5″ and has an excellent change. He dominated at AA (2.68) but struggled when promoted to AAA (5.56). That will be where he will begin the 2018 season. Don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Twins by mid-season.

Fernando Romero throws a little harder than Gonsalves, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball on a pretty consistent basis. He also has a solid slider. The command is not as good so he gets rocked around a little bit with the offense hitting him at a .256 clip in AA. He will join Gonsalves in AAA and may have a little higher ceiling if he can gain more command of his fastball.

Brusdar Graterol is another pitcher who can throw hard. His fastball can hit triple digits but sits in the mid to high 90s. Tommy John surgery put a blank in his 2016 season so he saw a third year in Rookie ball last year. This should be his first season in full season ball, starting the season in Low A. A plus slider and change give him three pitches to stick in the starting rotation.

For a first round pick in 2015 out of Illinois, Tyler Jay has been a disappointment. The lefthander has not advanced past High A in his three years with the Twins. Last year a series of injuries limited him to just 12 innings of bullpen work. That is where he may stick for the 2018 season. The Twins would like to get some production from the $3.9 they paid him in 2015.

Righthander Kohl Stewart is another big question mark. The 2013 first round pick has seen his stuff wrecked by injuries. His fastball still hits the mid-90s and his slider can still keep the ball on the ground. Last year he got to AAA for one start. The Twins hope to salvage his career, though he is not on the Twins 40 man roster and will need to knock someone off if he pitches well enough to get promoted to the rotation. At best he will fit at the back end of the rotation.

Last year Zack Granite hit .338 in AAA earning a promotion to the Twins. Once promoted to the Twins his holes were exposed. The power and the arm are short for him to be a starting outfielder, but decent speed could allow him to make the team as a fourth outfielder. He could be on the AAA roller coasting, getting promoted to the Twins on those days where they need help in the outfield.

Aaron Whitfield and Lewis Thorpe are two Australians on the team. Aaron is a solid outfielder who at 6′4″ has some potential for power. The speed is there for him to roam center but the arm is best for left. If he can improve his contact there is some potential there. Lewis is a lefthanded pitcher who had lots of potential until Tommy John prevented him from having a 2015 and 2016 season. Last year he had a solid season (2.69 ERA) and with more work the mid-90s fastball could return. Next year he will start the season in AA. If he does not make it as a starter he could still work in the bullpen.

Predictions - AL Central

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Myworld moves to the AL Central. Not too many surprises here though the White Sox are advancing while the Indians are starting to see some cracks in their armor.

1. Cleveland Indians

Overall - The rotation does not seem so formidable. Still, this is a very weak division they should take. Put them in the AL East or West and they might struggle a bit.

Strengths - 1) Starting Pitching. They have a Cy Young in Corey Kluber and a future Cy Young in Carlos Carrasco. Trevor Bauer is still around to give quality outings. With Danny Salazar hurting the depth is starting to thin out. Key to their season is whether the Mike Clevinger of 2016 shows up or the 2017 version.

2) Shortstop. At one time Francisco Lindor was noted for being the best defensive shortstop in the American League. Last year his bat accounted for 33 homeruns. That makes him a superstar if he can replicate that offense.

3) Set Up Reliever. Cody Allen may pick up the saves but the best reliever on this team may be Andrew Miller. The LHer limited lefties to a .164 average but got RHers out as well (.136). He also struck out 13.64 hitters per nine innings.

4) Designated Hitter. Edwin Encarnacion is a quality DH with the possibility of hitting 40 plus homers and a 100 RBI man. Other teams would love that production from their DH.

5) Utility. Jose Ramirez can play three infield positions. Like Marwin Gonzalez he can be slotted anywhere. Can he repeat his .318 average and 29 homerun season?

Weakness - 1) Catcher. Not loving the offense. Yan Gomes has forgotten how to hit and Roberto Perez is no better. Francisco Mejia may have to be called up to put some spark in this position.

2) Outfield - Mickey Brantley needs to get healthy or left field becomes a black hole. Bradley Zimmer is still unproven in center. Lonnie Chisenhall has never met his potential. Not a lot of offensive production here.

Top Rookie - If the catchers fail to hit and the Indians struggle Francisco Mejia could be called up before the All Star break, especially if his bat is hitting in the minor leagues.

Top Prospect - Tristan McKenzie. The righthander is still a couple years away but he could be special.

Expected Finish - First place, but they should not last long in the playoff race.

2. Minnesota Twins

Overall - After losing more than 100 games in 2016 they had a nice season last year to earn a wild card spot. A drug suspension, possible sexual assault suspension and a finger injury could put a damper to the start of the season and their playoff hopes.

Strengths - 1) Second Base. Twins have to be glad they did not trade Brian Dozier after the 2016 season. He is good for 30 plus homeruns a year.
2) Third Base. Miguel Sano may miss the first week of the season because of a sexual assault allegation. His defense is not strong but if his bat continues to improve he can be a run producer.
3) Centerfield. Could this be a year Byron Buxton breaks outs. His defense is gold glove, his legs can steal 30 plus bases and his power should get better as he gains confidence.

Weakness - 1) Shortstop. An 80 game drug suspension to Jorge Polanco puts a hole at this position. Utility player Eduardo Escobar may be asked to take over giving the position a little more power but hurting the defense and lessoning his value as a utility player. Royce Lewis is still too far down in the minors to contribute.
2) Starting Pitching. Ervin Santana will miss the early part of the season to a finger injury. Jose Berrios may not be ready for the ace role so sacrifice Lance Lynn for this spot. The rotation is not bad, but not what a playoff caliber team should be carrying.
3) Relief. Either Fernando Rodney or Addison Reed, two pitchers who may serve up too many blown saves to make the playoffs.

Top Rookie - Stephen Gonsalves is not overpowering but his command is good. Expect him to take over the back end of the rotation before the All Star break.

Top Prospect - Shortstop Royce Lewis. Unfortunately for the Twins he is still a couple years away.

Expected Finish - Second Place will not get them an All Star appearance this year.

3. Chicago White Sox

Overall - With the troubles facing the Twins at the start of the season it was tempting not to pick the surging White Sox team for second place. Then we looked at their rotation. It is still a young team prone to slumps. Perhaps next year.

Strengths - 1) Their Youth. If some of their younger players break out they could surprise. Yoan Moncada needs to break out and Tim Anderson needs to find consistency at short. 28 errors is too many. If Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez reach their potential early this team could surpise.
2) First Base. Surprised they have not traded Joes Abreu, but if the team does well he will be the bat to drive in the runs.

Weakness - 1)DH. They seem to be missing a power bat to play this position.
2) Outfield. Myworld does not buy Nicky Delmonico’s half a season. Centerfield is a hole. Avisail Garcia is the lone bright spot at this position but he is no sure thing.
3)Bullpen. Losing teams do not have closers and the White Sox lack a closer, hoping Joaquin Soria resurrects his days with the Royals. They will lose a number of leads after the seventh inning.
4) Ace. James Shields is not an ace but the White Sox do not want to put Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez in that role. Carlos Rodon will take some time to get healthy from his shoulder injury.

Rookie - Charlie Tilson. He was supposed to be the starting centerfielder in 2017 but an ankle injury ended his season. He should get a lot of time in the outfield if they get no production from left or centerfield.

Top Prospect - Tough to pick between outfielder Eloy Jimenez and starting pitcher Michael Kopech. Kopech could get some time in the rotation. Jimenez may have to wait until 2019 for his debut, though a monster season could change those plans.

Expected Finish - Unless the youth shine they will finish third.

4. Kansas City Royals

Overall - They were hoping for a playoff run last year but finished two games under .500. Now they will have to play without Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. A further fall in the standings is expected.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Salvador Perez is one of the better catchers in the American League. He brings both offense and defense, last year slugging 27 homeruns. The Royals will be tempted to play him every day, putting him in the empty DH spot on the days he does not catch.
2) Third Base. Mike Moustakas. One free agent they signed. They just hope he does not turn into an Alex Gordon. Last year he had a career year with 38 homeruns, but even with that production other teams were hesitant to sign him.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. Filled with mid-rotation starters and back end pitchers. No pitchers with double digit wins but three pitchers with double digit losses.
2) DH - An empty position. Hunter Dozier could fit here. If Jorge Soler finds his bat they could rotate the outfielders into this spot.
3) Outfield. Jorge Soler and Alex Gordon have to find their bats. Gordon keeps flirting with the Mendoza line since he signed his free agent contract. Jon Jay is more a fourth outfielder. If Hunter Dozier can not break into this outfield he should not have been a first round pick.

Top Rookie - Hunter Dozier may be a liability on defense in the outfield but he could be the best bat the Royals have for the outfield if Soler does not reach his potential.

Top Prospect - Very thin. Khalil Lee is their top prospect but he might not make the top ten with many other teams.

Expected Finish - Losing a few veterans and having a barren farm system won’t lead to improvement. Lucas Duda is not an improvement over Eric Hosmer and whoever they put in centerfield can not match Lorenzo Cain in production.

5. Detroit Tigers

Overall - They still have some veteran players that could move them to mediocrity. If the Tigers had a choice they would trade Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos, but they would not get a lot for them.

Strengths - 1) Ace. Michael Fulmer will keep the Tigers in games. If they want to tank they will trade Fulmer for premium prospects.
2) Miguel Cabrera - If his back is good his bat is dangerous. That could make him popular for a trade, though the Tigers would still have to eat much of his contract. At this point his best position may be DH but that leaves Victor Martinez without a position.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. It seems like the Tigers have been searching for a closer since the start of civilization. That search continues.
2) Left and Center field. Centerfield has been empty for a time. They hope to fill it with Cuban Leonys Martin but his bat has led to a couple releases. Now with the departure of J.D. Martinez they have a hole in left field. At some point Mike Gerber or Christin Stewart will be given the opportunity to fill it.
3) Second Base. Seems like Dixon Machado has been around forever, not good enough to fill the shortstop role. The Tigers will try him at second because they have no real alternatives.

Rookie - Mike Gerber or Christin Stewart will eventually fill the left field slot. Whoever carries a hot bat in the minor leagues will get the first callup.

Top Prospect - Franklin Perez will miss some time with an oblique injury. Matt Manning and Alex Faedo are also top rotation candidates that the Tigers will wait until 2019 to promote because they do not want to eat up their service time.

Expected Finish - Battling with the other tanking teams for that number one pick. They need to trade Fulmer and Cabrera to have any shot.

Myworld Rates the Farm Systems

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

For the most part players who make Top 100 prospect lists have the most impact on the future of major league clubs. The below ratings are the accumulation of points from those players rated in the Top 100. We have rated from lowest to highest.

30. Royals (0) - They have no one rated in the Top 100. They could have traded some of their free agents for prospects to stock up for next year but chose not to, leaving their farm system bare. Keeping their veterans still kept them out of the playoffs. Not a lot of hope for the future here.

29. Mets (0.14) - Andres Jimenez, a light hitting shortstop with good defensive skills is their only Top 100 player. They seem to keep stumbling along.

28. Cubs (1.36) - They’ve traded away a number of shining prospects to stay in playoff races. Now the only player they have left to brag about or trade away is Adbert Alzolay, a right handed pitcher from the Dominican who throws hard. They have put a focus on acquiring pitchers in their most recent international signings and draft picks leaving the system light on position players.

27. Giants (1.88) - They never seem to have a good farm system, but always have one or two players who rise above the fray. Heliot Ramos, an outfielder from Puerto Rico has the potential to shine. Chris Shaw should make the major league club this year. He is a first baseman who may be forced to play the outfield because of Brandon Belt.

26. Diamondbacks (3.24) - It seems they have traded most of their prospects to the Braves. They still have righthander Jon Duplantier, who had a historic 2017 season. They hope their first round pick from 2017, first baseman Pavin Smith will give them some power. Paul Goldschmidt will be an impediment to his advancement.

25. Mariners (5.2) - Kind of a blasé farm system. Kyle Lewis gets all the buzz, but he is trying to recuperate from a knee injury. Otherwise the system is bare.

24. Red Sox (6.46) - From lush forest to barren desert. What has happened to the Red Sox way of developing players. Jay Groome is a left handed pitcher who has some character issues. They hope those flaws don’t get in the way of his advancement. Michael Chavis is a third baseman with some pop, currently blocked by Rafael Devers. He will either have to move to first or be trade bait.

23. Orioles (10.9) - This is the highest position the Orioles have been in awhile. Outfielder Austin Hays was a third round pick in 2016 that outperformed many first rounders. Those kind of acquisitions can make a team. Chance Sisco should get an opportunity to catch in 2018. Ryan Mountcastle is a rising star whose best position is probably second base, but Jonathan Schoop has that position cemented.

22. Marlins (11.06) - They traded possibly the best outfield in baseball and could not jump into the top 20. The only home grown prospect to make this list is third baseman Brian Anderson. The rest of the group, outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, right handed pitchers Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman and infielder Isan Diaz were all acquired for the three outfielders. Lewis Brinson is a nice five tool player who should contribute this year. Alcantara and Guzman are pitchers who can hit triple digits. Alcantara should see some time in the rotation this year.

21. Brewers (11.22) - Despite trading some of their top prospects to the Marlins for Christian Yelich they still find themselves one spot better than the Marlins. Their most recent first round pick Keston Huira is a hitting machine who will probably play second base, making Isan Diaz obsolete. Righthanded pitchers Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Luis Ortiz give their rotation some hope for the future. Outfielder Corey Ray could rise quickly if he can produce. His numbers have not come close to equaling his potential.

20. Tigers (11.58) - If their arms can stay healthy they have their rotation of the future here in righthanders Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, Matt Manning and Beau Burrows. Only Perez was acquired in a trade with the other three being first round picks. The defensively challenged outfielder Christin Stewart should provide some power.

19. Rangers (11.66) - Jurickson Profar was once the number one prospect in baseball and was the reason for past high rankings for the Rangers. He has not come close to reaching his potential. The Rangers have better hopes for outfielders Willie Calhoun and Leody Taveras. Calhoun will provide the power while Taveras will capture the speed.

18. Twins (14.54) - Potential shortstop Royce Lewis is the star of the system. After him there is a little drop, but Nick Gordon could be his future platoon partner at second. Lefthanded pitcher Stephen Gonsalves may lack velocity with his pitches but he has moxie. The Twins hope that will lead to success. Righthanded pitcher Fernando Romero, slugging outfielder/first baseman Brent Rooker and Dominican shortstop Wander Javier are at the bottom of most lists. Javier could make the shortstop position crowded as he advances up the system.

17. Rockies (14.6) - Brendan Rodgers has the chance to be an impact player if he can move Trevor Story from shortstop. His bat will find a place in the lineup. Ryan McMahon has to dislodge Ian Desmond from first base, but myworld thinks he will succeed because his bat remains supreme. Righthanded pitcher Riley Pint exudes potential but pitching in the Rocky Mountain air can fell many a pitcher.

16. Pirates (16.28) - The Pirates are trying to convince their fan base that this is not a rebuilding year. Austin Meadows has been injury prone. Even the trade of Andrew McCutchen will not give him the left field job. The Pirates can only hope righthanded pitcher Mitch Keller will soon replace the traded Gerrit Cole. Colan Moran was the one pickup from the Cole trade they hope will help them at third base in 2018. Jordan Luplow should see some time in left field in 2018.

15. Indians (16.34) - The Indians normally like hanging onto their prospects. They would be much further down this list if catcher Francisco Mejia had been traded. They are fortunate Jonathan Lucroy negated that trade with the Rangers. Righthanded pitcher Tristan McKenzie could be a beast once he matures, putting some muscle on his frame. Bobby Bradley has the potential to be a slugging firstbaseman.

14. Nationals (16.48) - The outfield combo of Victor Robles and Juan Soto account for most of the points. This could be a motivation for the Nationals to wave goodbye to Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent after this season. Carter Kieboom could be an impact bat at second base. The Nationals could have a rotation spot for Erick Fedde by mid-season in 2018.

13. Angels (16.68) - The Angel sensation Shohei Ohtani is struggling with the bat and the arm this spring. Are there doubts in Angel land? Remember when the doubters were saying Ichiro Suzuki could not hit in his first spring performance. Outfielder Jo Adell is a five tool talent and Jahmai Jones will join him in the outfield. Jones is a lower level five tool talent to Adell. Kevin Maitan was stolen from the Braves and will probably move to third base. It is his bat the Angels want. Matt Thais has moved from catcher to first base. The Angels can only hope his power will begin to show.

12. Athletics (19.4) - They can’t spend the money so they collect the prospects, then trade them two years before they become free agents. In essence they get about four years from their players before they trade them to other teams where they make an impact for the remaining two years. Lefthanded pitcher A.J. Puk could provide rotation help for the Angels this year. Middle infield could be occupied by Franklin Barreto or Jorge Mateo. Mateo can also play centerfield. Dustin Fowler should be the starting centerfielder for the Athletics this year. Righthanded pitcher James Kaprielian, Mateo and Fowler were all acquired in the Sonny Gray trade. The Athletics have to hope Kaprielian can recover from his Tommy John surgery to justify his 2015 first round selection by the Yankees.

11. Cardinals (20.28) - Righthanded pitcher Alex Reyes has been their top prospect for two years now but drug suspensions and Tommy John surgery have kept him on the prospects list. The Cardinals hope to use him in the bullpen in 2018. Righthander Jack Flaherty should make the rotation this year. Carson Kelly is a supreme defensive catcher with a questionable bat who will back up Yadier Molina this year. Muscle bound Tyler O’Neil was stolen from the Mariners. He will provide some pop in the outfield. Harrison Bader will compete for a crowded outfield spot.

10. Astros (20.8) - The World Series champs are still fertile with prospects. Kyle Tucker is raking this spring and wants to win an outfield spot. Righthanded pitcher Forest Whitley has to sit out a drug suspension before he takes the mound in 2018. He is the second big time pitching prospect from the Astros to be suspended by major league baseball. Yordan Alvarez is a slugging outfielder for now but could move to first base. At 6′5″ the Cuban is not fleet afoot. Righthanded pitcher J.B. Bukauskas is a 2017 first round pick who could become trade bait before the year is complete.

9. Dodgers (24.54) - Remember when the previous owner had gutted the farm system with his refusal to spend money? How times have changed. Righthanded pitcher Walker Buehler is a future ace of the rotation and could rise up the system quickly. Alex Verdugo is a talented outfielder who has the potential to hit for power. Cuban righthanded pitcher Yadier Alvarez throws gas and has the long wing span that scouts love. Keibert Ruiz is the catcher of the future. Outfielders Yusniel Diaz and Jeren Kendall round out this list.

8. Blue Jays (24.76) - Their veteran team needs a shot of young blood. Thirdbaseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr and shortstop Bo Bichette maybe the best duo prospect list in baseball. Both have fathers who starred in the major leagues. Bo may eventually have to move from short. Outfielder Anthony Alford may be one of the more athletic players in the game but has trouble staying healthy. Danny Jansen is an offensive minded catcher. Righthanded pitcher Nate Pearson was the Blue Jays first round pick in 2017.

7. Phillies (25.2) - The Phillies have been building the last couple years and hope the prospect machine is ready to contribute. Shortstop J.P. Crawford and secondbaseman Scott Kingery should fill the middle infield spots. Jorge Alfaro should win the catching position this year. Righthanded Sixto Sanchez throws gas but may be a year off from contributing. Outfielder Mickey Moniak was a first pick in the draft but has yet to show his swag. The Phillies hope he becomes more than a fourth outfielder. Adonis Medina has some name value with a righthanded arm that throws gas. Outfielders Adam Haseley and Jhailyn Ortiz are a couple years away from contributing.

6. Yankees (26.1) - Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are just the beginning. Gleyber Torres may be one of the best bats in baseball but will have to move to either second or third. Miguel Andujar is making it tempting to keep him with the major league club but Brandon Drury will get the call at third base. The jewels could be with lefthanded pitcher Justus Sheffield and righthanders Chance Adams, Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo. Abreu and Acevedo clock in the triple digits with their fastball. Estevan Florial will make a crowded outfield even more crowded next year.

5. Reds (26.46) - Nick Senzel could be the next Mike Schmidt, though the Reds are talking about moving him to shortstop. Righthanders Hunter Greene and Tyler Mahle are aces in waiting. Hunter was also a hard hitting shortstop, but he has one of the hardest heaters in the game. Taylor Trammell is a multi tooled outfielder who plays excellent defense. Jesse Winker is a big stick who roams the outfield but would be better suited for DH.

4. Padres (33.22) - First they traded for veterans to make a playoff run. Then they traded those veterans for prospects. Perhaps this is the route they will take. Fernado Tatis Jr. hopes to stay at shortstop but many believe he will move to his father’s position of third base. Lefthander MacKenzie Gore has ace like potential. A duo of Cuban pitchers in righthander Michael Baez and lefthander Adrian Morejon will enhance the rotation. Baez brings the heat while Morejon will dazzle with his stuff. Middle infielder Luis Urias has the potential to win batting titles. Righthander Cal Quantril had a father who was a standout reliever but Cal hopes his stuff is good enough for the rotation. Anderson Espinoza is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but prior to going under the knife was one of the best pitching prospects.

3. Rays (35.38) - The Rays hope collecting a city of prospects will return them to the playoffs in a couple years. They had a minor setback when righthander Brent Honeywell had to have Tommy John surgery, which will force him to miss the 2018 season. Willy Adames is ready to take over the shortstop position but the Rays need to trade Adeiny Hechavarra. Brendan McKay could become a two way player, his lefthanded arm starting for the Rays while his bat plays first base or DH. Jake Bauers has the potential to play first base of left field. Outfielder Jesus Sanchez is loaded with tools but is still a couple years away. Christian Arroyo was acquired from the Giants to play third base, trading Evan Longoria to acquire him. Righthanded pitcher Jose Deleon was acquired from the Dodgers and hopes to contribute to the rotation this year.

2. White Sox (37.02) - Michael Kopech has perhaps the best fastball in baseball. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez will soon provide eye popping power. Another outfielder, Cuban Luis Roberts could rise quickly. Righthanders Alec Hansen and Dylan Cease have the stuff to sit at the top of most teams rotation. Blake Rutherford is an outfielder the Yankees may have given up on too soon. Zack Collins is a catcher the White Sox drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft. The White Sox hope he becomes a power bat in the mold of Carlton Fisk. Dane Dunning may have been the least known trio of pitchers the White Sox acquired from the Nationals but he could end up the most effective.

1. Atlanta Braves (43.96) - They had to give up a number of international prospects because they circumvented the salary cap, but they also traded for a number of pitchers who were other teams first round picks. The best prospect is outfielder Ronal Acuna, who could fill the left field job in May. Pitching is what gives the Braves the edge with Luiz Gohara, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka, Kolby Allard, Ian Anderson, Max Fried, Joey Wentz and A.J. Minter good enough to fill the rotations of two teams. Austin Riley won’t have fans forget Chipper Jones but he will be better than many of the previous faces who tried to replace him. Christian Pache is a Dominican outfielder who major league baseball allowed the Braves to keep.

Top Prospects from Mexico

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Victor Arano and Giovanny Gallegos are the two pitchers from the list last year that saw some brief major league time. Julio Urias and Daniel Castro made it from the 2016 list but a shoulder injury has sidelined Julio’s progress with the Dodgers and pedestrian talent has prevented Castro from continuing his major league stay. There was a repeat number one and five of the ten players on this list were repeats. Dropping off the list were Francisco Rios, Jose Cardona, Jose Luis Hernandez, Fernando Perez and Christian Villanueva. This is not a list filled with top prospects. Only Luis Urias has a significant shot at seeing full time major league time.

1. Luis Urias (Padres) 2B/SS - He started as a second baseman but the Padres have given him time at short. His future position may be second base but the arm is strong enough to play short and the range is there. It just would not be super elite for the position. The bat is the prize here, making contact and walking more than striking out, a trait not shared by many. He also peppers the gaps with line drives, with the capability of staying in the .300 neighborhood. There is very little power in his swing and not a lot of speed in his legs, but he would be a perfect two hole hitter. Luis could be ready to see major league time by mid-season, but the 2018 season will see him start in AAA. His career minor league average is .310.

2. Isaac Paredes (Tigers) SS/2B - Paredes was acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade. The Cubs signed Paredes out of Mexico in 2015. Isaac is another contact hitter who may lack the speed and build to stay at short. He does have a little power in his bat so a move to second or third could provide a team with an offensive second baseman or a defensive third baseman with decent power. He struggled a little bit in Low A (.217) after being traded by the Cubs. Still a teenager the Tigers could keep him at Low A to get his feet wet or challenge him with a promotion to High A where he would be considered one of the younger players in the league.

3. Jose Albertos (Cubs) RHP - Pitchers from Mexico usually are not hard throwers. The Cubs spent $1.5 million on Albertos because he can zing his fastball across the plate in the high 90s but generally sits on the higher side of the low 90s to the mid-90s. Like most pitchers from Mexico, they learn the change and Jose has a good one, making the fastball appear to have that much more velocity. A third pitch needs to be perfected for him to slide into the rotation, otherwise he may be best suited for the bullpen. Last year he pitched in the rookie leagues and did well. His career opposition batting average since signing is .176 and he strikes out 10.5 hitters per nine innings. Next year will be his big test when he starts a full season league.

4. Andres Munoz (Padres) RHP - The first new player on this list. The Padres paid out a $700,000 bonus in 2015 to sign Munoz away from the Mexico City team. Since his signing his fastball has increased from the low 90s to sitting in the high 90s to hitting triple digits. All of his work has been out of the bullpen where he does not need to hold back. Finding the plate has been a struggle walking just over six hitters per nine innings. Also, he pitches out of the bullpen because he only has a fastball/slider combination. Those limitations will keep him in the bullpen as he rises through the ranks. Last year he got three appearances at Low A. That is where he should start the 2018 season. If the Padres want to see him develop more pitches and improve his control they could move him into a starter’s role, but myworld does not see that happening this year.

5. Victor Arano (Phillies) RHP - Victor is one of two pitchers from the list last year who saw major league time. After 2015 all of his time has been spent in the bullpen where he can unleash his fastball in the mid-90s. His slider may be his best pitch, the one he uses to retire hitters. While his numbers at AA Reading were not awe inspiring (4.19 ERA) the Phillies still promoted him to their major league club. He did well, limiting the opposition to a .158 average and striking out 11 hitters per nine innings. With a good spring his strong major league performance could give him a shot to start the season with the major league club, or ride that roller coaster, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the Phillies.

6. Tirso Orneles (Padres) OF - The Padres have always talked about expanding their roster to include more players from Mexico, attracting fans from Tijuana to attend their games. Tirso is a player they signed for $1.5 million from the Mexico City club. Urias and Munoz are two other players the Padres have signed out of Mexico City. At 6′4″ Tirso has the ability to generate power in his bat, banging three homeruns last year in the Arizona Rookie League as a 17 year old. His lack of speed will keep him in the corner but his arm is a fit for right. The 2018 season should see him with another season in the Rookie League unless the Padres really want to challenge him.

7. Hector Velasquez (Red Sox) RHP - The Red Sox signed Hector after the 2016 season from Campeche after he won pitcher of the year honors for the second time. Like many pitchers from Mexico, his fastball is not overpowering. He relies more on his command of pitches and his secondary stuff to retire hitters. At 28 years of age the Red Sox started him at AAA where he limited the opposition to a .213 average. This led to a promotion to the Red Sox where he held his own with three starts and five relief appearances (2.92 ERA). With a good spring he could fill the back end of the rotation, but more likely he will start the season in AAA and will be called upon when needed, adding depth to the rotation.

8. Javier Assad (Cubs) RHP - The Cubs do a good job of signing players out of Mexico. Assad was signed in 2015 for $150,000. Assad has a large frame (200 pounds) so he needs to watch his weight. Not an overpowering pitcher he relies more on command and an assortment of pitches to throw at hitters to keep them off balance. A .275 opposition average is evidence that hitters can make hard contact against him if his command is off. The 2018 season will be his first in a full season league. His best bet is to fit in the back of a rotation or fill the middle of a bullpen.

9. Victor Ruiz (Reds) C - Victor was a third baseman for the Tijuana team but the Reds signed him in 2016 and moved him to catcher. His arm is strong for the position but last year he struggled throwing runners out with a 19 percent success rate. While there is some pop in his bat he failed to hit a homerun in his 78 at bats in the rookie league. He also needs to improve his patience at the plate with a 1/22 walk to whiff ratio leading to a .250 OBA. At 18 years old entering the 2018 season he will be a major work in progress. Expect him to stay in the Rookie League to continue to improve on his catching craft.

10. Giovanny Gallegos RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Giovanny in 2011, a year after signing Manny Banuelos. His stuff is not as good as Manny but his arm has survived to allow him to continue his major league pursuit, while Manny has transformed into a journeyman. A mid-90s fastball limited AAA hitters to a .180 average and 14.33 whiffs per nine innings. This got him a promotion to the Yankees where the hitters feasted on his lack of quality secondary pitches to hit him at a .263 pace. The 2018 season could see him rotate back and forth between the Yankees and AAA, but carrying only a fastball will leave him at the back end of the bullpen, unless he can perfect a second pitch to complement his fastball.

Predictions - AL West

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Most of the free agents have been signed so now it is time for myworld to make our Division predictions. With a number of teams in rebuilding mode many of the races will be limited. Below is myworld’s prediction for the AL West.

1. Houston Astros

Overall - They return a veteran team that only got better with the acquisition of Gerritt Cole. This creates a seven deep rotation. They led the American League in hitting by 20 points and bring all their bats back. Their pitching should be improved with Cole on the bump.

Strength - 1) Starting pitching. No team can claim a big three of Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole. That trio should combine for 60 wins. Lance McCullers is a home grown starting pitcher who will slot in the fourth spot. Few pitchers were hotter than Charlie Morton at the end of the year. He will fit in the fifth spot. Waiting in the bullpen for the opportunity to start will be Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock, who combined for 18 wins last year.
2) Up the middle. No team has a foursome up the middle like the Astros. MVP Jose Altuve starts the machine rolling at second base. Carlos Correa is a potential superstar who reminds many of Alex Rodriguez in his glory days. George Springer moved from right field to center last year and will get most of his time there. Brian McCann may be the weak link of this group, but he still has some swag behind the plate. Those four combined for 100 homeruns last year.
3) Utility - Marwin Gonzalez is a good dude to have. He plays everywhere except catcher and spent most of his outfield time in left field. Utility players usually do not come with 23 homeruns and 90 RBIs.

Weakness - 1) Catcher. At 34 Brian McCann may be headed for the down side of his career. His defense has tailed off a little. Behind him is Evan Gattis, another weak defensive catcher. Gattis may be better off in the DH role.
2) First Base. Yuli Gurriel did a good job there last year but his best position is third or second base. He will miss the first couple weeks of the season giving the Astros time to test youngsters A.J. Reed or Tyler White. Marwin Gonzalez will probably see most of the time there until Gurriel is healthy.

Top Rookie - Kyle Tucker is having a hot spring. Defensively he may be better at center than Springer. If he continues to hit in the minors the Astros may be tempted to move him to left, taking away playing time from Marwin Gonzalez, or move him to center where Springer can return to right and Josh Reddick can shift to left.

Top Prospect - Forest Whitely. His season will be delayed by 50 games because of a drug suspension but the 2016 first round pick can be dominating on the mound. At 6′7″ with a mid-90s fastball he can be scary to face.

Expected Finish - The Astros have a lot of depth in the rotation and Marwin Gonzalez can cover almost any position if an injury should occur. Astros should take this division in a walk away.

2. Los Angeles Angels

Overall - The Angels won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Add the best player in Japan to Mike Trout the best player in the United States and you have a pretty good duo. The pitching needs to stay healthy if the Angels want to stay with the Astros.

Strengths - 1) Mike Trout. He is the best player in baseball and as long as he stays healthy enough for centerfield the Angels will be tough.
2) Shortstop. Andrelton Simmons won the gold glove last year. Many consider him the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Last year his bat came to life with 14 homeruns and a .278 average.

3) Shohei Ohtani - The Angels hope he will help on the mound and with the bat. If he doesn’t hit the Angels may try to convince him to abandon the hitting.

Weakness - 1) Starting pitching. It needs to stay healthy. Their projected rotation has no starter with more than 25 starts. Garrett Richards and Shohei Ohtani could be a potent one/two but the duo each started less than 10 times. What follows them is back end of the rotation starters.
2) First Base. Albert Pujols is not the player he used to be. With his foot problems his best position could be DH but the Angels want to start Shohei Ohtani there in between his starts on the hill. So Pujols will try his hand at first where he only played six games last year.
3) Catcher. Can’t say we are enamored with the offense of Martin Maldonado or Rene Rivera. Their defense is strong but their production on offense will be lacking.
4) Bullpen. No established closer. They may eventually settle on Cam Bedrosian, who has better stuff than Blake Parker. Blake had 8 saves last year while Cam settled for 6.

Top Rookie - Shohei Ohtani. In Japan he could blow hitters away with his 100 mile per hour fastball. When he was not pitching he could mash fastballs 450 feet. He could be the first player in the major leagues to reach double digits in wins and homeruns. He has already done that in Japan. The last player to do that in the major leagues was a player named Babe Ruth.

Top Prospect - Taking Ohtani away from the equation the next best prospect is five tooled outfielder Jo Adell. The 2017 first round pick has excellent power and speed. Eventually he will replace Mike Trout in centerfield, a daunting task.

Expected Finish - They need Albert Pujols to extend his hot streaks and Ohtani not to struggle on inside fastballs. Having the best player in Japan and the United States should give them enough wins to capture the second wild card spot and second place in the West.

3. Texas Rangers

Overall - The Rangers may have passed their prime. They appear to be in that in between spot where age is settling in at a couple positions.

Strengths - 1)Infield. Adrian Beltre needs to defy his 39 years of age and Roughned Odor must show that last year’s .204 batting average was a fluke. Joey Gallo also struggled to hit for average (.209) and will take over first base. Odor and Gallo combined for 358 whiffs. They also combined for 71 homeruns. Elvis Andrus plays a good shortstop and his 20 homeruns and 88 RBIs was just a bonus. He needs to show those numbers were not a fluke.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting pitching. Cole Hamels did not have a good year by his standards (4.20 ERA) but he will be the Rangers ace. For the Rangers to do well he needs to pitch well. Behind him you have too many question marks in Martin Perez, Doug Fister and Matt Moore. The Rangers park tends to be a hitter’s park and these pitchers should see some nasty splits.
2) Bullpen. There is no established closer. Matt Bush was not good at it last year but may be their most established closer. Alex Claudio picked up 11 saves but he has trouble retiring righthanded batters. Perhaps the Rangers will go with a platoon closer.

3) Left Field. With the demotion of Willie Calhoun this position appears to have a big hole. The Rangers may settle for a group of Shin-Soo Choo, Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua. Willie will be back up when his service time is limited.

Top Rookie - Willie Calhoun may have already been sent down but he will be back up when April turns to May. His defense in left field is a concern but his bat could be good enough for 30 plus homeruns.

Top Prospect - Leody Taveras began to show some power last year. He will probably be promoted to High A to play there as a teenager. Leody is a gold glove candidate for centerfield with the speed and patience to fit into a leadoff role.

Expected Finish - The pitching staff will give up a lot of runs and the offense lacks the power to mount a come back. A third place finish with a lot of air between them and the Angels is the best they can hope for.

4. Seattle Mariners

Overall - An offense that is too pedestrian, relying on two aging veterans and a pitching staff that saw its prime whizz past them without a playoff appearance. There is no Wow in this lineup or on the mound.

Strengths - 1) Designated Hitter. Nelson Cruz missed another 40 homerun season by one. His 119 RBIs led the American League. Whether his 38 year old bat can continue his offensive production is open to question.
2) Second Base. At 35 Robinson Cano is getting up in age. His stolen base numbers have dropped to one and his power has fallen below the .500 slugging standard of power hitters, but his production is still quality for the position.
3) Shortstop. Jean Segura is one of the better offensive performers in the American League. Last year he hit 11 homeruns.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Rotation. Felix Hernandez having success is the key. Without him they can only bring the brittle James Paxton as a quality rotation pitcher. It is bleak behind Hernandez and Paxton with pitchers released by other teams. Hisashi Iwakuma was limited to six starts last year because of injuries and signed a minor league contract. He won’t be ready until mid-season.
2) First Base. Ryon Healy will get the first shot. He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics. There is power in his bat with 25 homeruns but Oakland traded him because they had better options. Dan Vogelbach brings little defense to the position and may be best used as DH. Mike Ford is an unproven third option who was dumped by the Yankees.
3) Corner Outfield. Ben Gamel will miss the first month of the season. With very little depth that will force the Mariners to settle for light hitting Guillermo Heredia or the 44 year old Ichiro Suzuki, whose bat speed leaves him far below .300. Mitch Haniger played well in his 96 game stretch in right field but needs to stay healthy. There is little quality behind Gamel or Haniger.

Top Rookie - Veterans sprinkle most of the positions but Dan Vogelbach could get enough at bats rotating between first base and DH.

Top Prospects - Injuries have forced Kyle Lewis to spend too many days away from the diamond. He was hoping for a healthy year this year but knee problems shortened his Arizona Fall League stint. He had five tool potential but the knee issues could limit his speed.

Expected Finish - Too much vanilla to finish any higher than third. Their farm system will also provide little help.

5. Oakland Athletics

Overall - The Athletics seem to be floating in an ether of nothingness. It is almost as if they are not trying to be good. They make trades but seem to get no advantage from these trades. Players are traded two years before they reach their free agency which does not give the Athletics a lot of use from their players.

Strengths - 1) DH - Khris Davis has slugged 40 homeruns two years in a row. His arm and glove are not strong for the outfield so the Athletics feel a move from left field to DH is best for the defense. Some players hit better when they are more involved in the field. Give Davis a bat in his hands and he will become one of the more productive hitters in the DH slot.
2) Corner Infielders - They have two promising youngsters to fill their corner infield positions in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Olson slugged 24 homeruns in just 59 games. Both players will get on base via the walk and have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns given a full season.

Weakness - 1) Left Field. The Athletics will go with Matt Joyce who struggles to hit lefthanders, which may bring out Davis to play left field. Joyce was able to show power last year with 25 homeruns, but he has been bounced around the league. Consistency has always been his weakness.
2) Catcher. Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley bring minimal offense. This will probably be a platoon since Maxwell has trouble hitting lefthanders.
3) Second Base. Jed Lowrie has always been a backup wherever he plays. Last year he had a career year. It will be interesting to see if he can repeat his production. Franklin Barreto is a good option behind him, but he is unproven.

4) Starting Pitching. Young and lacking anyone that can be called an ace or number two starter. Sean Manaea is the ace until Puk gets called up to fill the rotation.

Rookie - The Athletics always seem to have a plethora of rookies fill their roster. Dustin Fowler appears to have won the centerfield job. Franklin Barreto must wait until Lowrie struggles or gets injured before he gets an opportunity. Watch out for A.J. Puk.

Top Prospect - A.J. Puk, the Athletics first round pick in 2016 is having a good spring. It may not take much to get him a promotion and with the injury to Jharel Cotton his opportunity may be now.

Foreigners in the CPBL

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Taiwan allows their four professional teams to use three import players. They do not have a rule that limits the number of pitchers or hitters in that three import player rule. Because AAA and AA pitchers are more talented than the Taiwan arms the import players have all been pitchers for the last four or five years. This stunts the development of the Taiwan arms. Myworld would like to see a break out of two to one like Korea if they want to develop future pitchers for international play.

Below are the foreign players for Taiwan:

LaMigo Monkeys

LHP - Darin Downs
RHP - Bruce Kern
RHP - Michael Nix

Darin Downs pitched for the Monkeys last year and the Lions the previous year. He got some major league time with the Tigers and Astros but once he found himself pitching in the Independent Leagues the CPBL did not seem so bad. Bruce got as high as AA but like Darin pitched for the Long Island Ducks. The Monkeys were familiar with him because of his two year stint with the China Trust Brothers in 2016 and 2017 where he never survived a complete season, despite a mid-90s fastball. Michael got as high as AAA in 2008 but has spent the rest of his career pitching in the Mexican Leagues or the Independent Leagues. The Monkeys found him pitching at Sugarland in the Atlantic League last year and signed him. He has also pitched for the Uni Lions.

Chinatrust Brothers

RHP Zack Segovia
RHP Mitch Lively
LHP Nick Additon

Nick pitched for the Brothers for two years but impressed the Korean team the Lotte Giants where he was sold for the remainder of the 2017 season. He did not impress enough for the Giants to keep him and the Brothers signed him for a return engagement. Nick got as high as AAA in his 11 minor league seasons. Mitch was pitching in the Mexican League the last two years, getting as high as AAA in his minor league career when the Brothers signed him. There was also a brief stint in the NPB Japanese League in 2015 with the Nippon Ham Fighters. ZacK had two years with the major leagues pitching for the Phillies (2007) and the Nationals (2009). He pitched for the LaMiga Monkeys the last two years and now finds himself with the Brothers for his third season in the CPBL.

Uni President Lions

RHP David Jose Martinez
RHP Josh Roenicke
LHP Ryan Verdugo

Josh is the son of major leaguer Gary. He pitched for four major league teams from 2008 to 2013. After that his time was spent in AAA and in 2017 he pitched in the Mexican League. Martinez pitched two seasons for the Astros in 2013-2014 but after the 2014 season spent the remainder of his career in AAA. Ryan pitched for the Royals in 2012 but his last two years have been spent in the Mexican League. All three pitchers are new to the CPBL.

Fubon Guardians

RHP Bryan Woodall
RHP Bruce Billings
RHP Mike Loree

Bryan got as far AAA in his seven year minor league career. The Brothers found him pitching in the Atlantic League for Lancaster in 2015 where he was in his second year. Last year Bryan made the CPBL All Star team for the Chinatrust Brothers but they chose not to resign him, opening the door for the Guardians. This is his fourth year in the CPBL. Bruce pitched a couple years in the major leagues with the Rockies (2011), Athletics (2011) and Yankees (2014), only making five bullpen appearances. He last pitched in AAA in 2015 where the Lions discovered him. He pitched the last two years (2016 and 2017) for the Lions. Mike never got past AA in the minor leagues and was discovered at Long Island by the Monkeys. He began his Taiwan career in 2012, winning the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2017. This would be his sixth season pitching in Taiwan, his second with the Guardians after pitching for them last year.

Tigers Rebuild Starting with Their Rotation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The Tigers are rebuilding and it appears they are starting this rebuild with premier pitchers. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs had successful rebuilds drafting position players and trading for pitchers or signing pitchers as free agents. The Braves successfully rebuilt by developing a dominant pitching staff. One problem with trying to rebuild with pitchers is they tend to be more susceptible to injury. For every two pitchers a team develops one gets injured and never makes it to the major leagues. Position players seem to be more certain to reach their potential without career ending injuries.

The Tigers have a solid four pitchers that have potential ace stuff, three drafted in the first round by the Tigers and one acquired through trade from the Astros. Franklin Perez is the pitcher acquired in the Justin Verlander trade. The Venezuelan has a sizzling fastball that hits the mid 90s with quality secondary pitches to complement the fastball. He throws strikes, gives up lots of fly balls and limited the opposition to a .191 average in High A. Franklin was a little more hittable when promoted to AA (.266). His strikeout numbers are not as dominant as you would expect (less than one per inning) from a pitcher with his quality stuff. The 2018 season should see Franklin start in AA. There is no reason for the Tigers to eat up his service time in a losing, rebuilding season so the highest level he should see is AAA.

Beau Burrows was a first round pick in 2015. His fastball may be a tick below Perez and his secondary pitches are not as strong. Like Perez, Beau dominated at High A (1.23 ERA, .221 opposition average) but did not fare as well when promoted to AA (4.72 ERA, .269 opposition average). Normally he throws strikes, but when he was promoted to AA he had trouble finding the plate (3.89 walks per nine innings). Last year Beau had more swings and misses with his stuff (one K per inning) than Franklin. A lack of success at AA may force the Tigers to have him repeat that level for the 2018 season.

The following year the Tigers drafted Matt Manning. At 6′6″ Manning was a good basketball player, his father being Rich Manning. His height and a fastball that crosses the plate at a tick above the mid-90s made him attractive to baseball scouts. A $3.5 million signing bonus convinced him to play baseball. Matt has a power curveball and decent change that gave him 62 whiffs in 51 innings and a 1.89 ERA in Rookie ball. As Franklin and Beau did, Matt struggled when promoted to full season ball (5.60 ERA). In 51 innings of work Matt did not allow a ball to leave the park. Matt will start the season in Low A ball with a quick promotion to High A if he achieves success.

In 2017 the Tigers drafted Alex Faedo, who stands an impressive 6′5″. Like the others Faedo can reach the mid-90s with his fastball with a swing and miss slider. Alex did not pitch in the minors last year after pitching the Florida Gators into the College World Series. With his physical frame he should be an innings eater. Unlike the other pitchers his slider may be his best pitch getting a number of swings and misses or forcing hitters to bat the ball on the ground. The Tigers should start him in Low A but they may keep him in extended spring training until he is ready.

Myworld likes Kyle Funkhouser, a righthander drafted out of Louisville. The fourth round 2016 pick does not have an overpowering fastball (low 90s) but complements it with a good slider. Unlike the other pitchers Kyle got better when he was promoted (3.16 to 1.72 ERA) from Low A to High A. He averaged 14.1 K’s per nine innings in Low A. High A pitchers made better contact (9.8 per 9 innings) but the opposition average went from .254 to .205. Kyle lacks the dynamic stuff of the four pitchers ahead of him, but injuries could provide him the opportunities. Kyle should start the 2018 season in High A but as a college drafted pitcher he should be promoted quickly.

Joe Jimenez was supposed to be the closer of the future for the Tigers but he had trouble when promoted to the major leagues (12.32 ERA and .356 opposition average). Shorter spurts allows Jimenez to hit the mid-90s with his fastball, but a failing slider and lack of command resulted in his major league failure. The slider was an effective pitch in the minor leagues but if it falls flat in the major leagues hitters can sit on his fastball. Last year Joe had an easier time retiring lefthanded hitters than those hitting from the right side. A good spring could see Jimenez start the season in the Tigers bullpen. He can again be the closer of the future, but first he needs to show success in a set up role.

On the position front the Tigers are not that strong. Jake Rogers is the future catcher for these aces, known more for his glove than his bat. His bat can find the fences but it may not hit for a high average. A power arm can control the opposition run game, throwing out 45 percent of those basestealers who tried to run against him. He was a second player the Tigers got from the Astros in the Justin Verlander trade. Expect Jake to start the 2018 season in AA where a couple of the Tigers future rotation may start. Jake is a team leader who communicates well with his pitchers, so the Tigers might as well start that process early.

After Steven Moya crashed and burned and moved his craft to Japan, the next power bat in the Tigers system is expected to be Christin Stewart. Like Moya, Stewart is weak on defense with a glove and arm best suited for left field. What he does have is some power in his bat, hitting 20 plus homeruns the last two years. Because Stewart makes better contact than Moya the Tigers hope for better success in the major leagues. With the Tigers in a rebuilding mode Stewart could see some time with the Tigers by mid-season but he should start the season in AAA.

The Tigers have to hope Daz Cameron can provide shades of his father Mike. Like his dad, Daz has the speed to play center with an arm that can shift to right. The power is there to hit in the double digits in homeruns but he has not shown an ability to hit for a high average. The available tools seem to scream fourth outfielder or starting outfielder for a lower division club. Last year Daz stole 32 bases in Low A with 13 homeruns. He was the third player the Astros acquired for Justin Verlander. The Tigers hope his 2018 season will begin in High A.

Mike Gerber is the perfect definition of fourth outfielder. His defense is not strong enough for centerfield and his bat lacks the spunk to make it as a starter. Think of a Steve Pearce, a player who can make a contribution in short spurts but you don’t want to rely on him to get too many at bats where his holes get exposed. With the Tigers in a rebuilding mode Gerber could see some time in the major leagues filling up space until players with more dynamic tools are ready to fulfill their roles.

Derek Hill was the Tigers first round pick in 2014. Hill has more tools than Gerber, especially with the speed to play centerfield and steal bases. His inability to hit for average with very little power has dropped his stock on the prospect ladder. If you need defense Derek is your man. Scoring runs could be a problem. Derek still finds himself in High A, a long way away from the major leagues for a 22 year old first round pick from four years ago.

At 6′6″ Grayson Greiner could become the tallest catcher to catch in a major league game. His bat is weak and his defense not strong enough to justify putting him in the lineup, so making the major leagues could be difficult. As expected, with his size the power will show if he can get his arms extended. Grayson played in AAA last year and could see major league time if an injury requires the Tigers to bring up a catcher and Jake Rogers is not ready to fill the role..

Myworld’s Top 100 Prospects - 10 -1

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

For the first time we had a tie for the number one prospect. To break that tie we will give it to the less professional player.

10. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays) 9 - His dad was a slugger for the Colorado Rockies. His mom is from Brazil, allowing him to play for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. While shortstop is his current position the concern is that he may not carry enough range to play it at the major league level, so a future position at second base is possible. The power is there but not as great as his father. Based on his minor league numbers his hit tool could be better with a .384 batting average at Low A and a .372 two year minor league average. The second round 2016 pick should join the other famous Blue Jay son compatriot Vladimir in AA to start the 2018 season.

9. Michael Kopech RHP (White Sox) 9.08 - The 2014 first round pick throws gas, allegedly hitting 105 on one stadium radar clock. When it is his time to pitch in the majors he will replace Aroldis Chapman for most fastballs to hit triple digits. His secondary pitches are good enough to force hitters not to sit on his fastball. His one big negative is an inability to throw strikes in stretches. Last year he got three starts in AA. His career minor league ERA is 2.74. The 2018 season will see him start it in AA with an appearance at the major league to occur sometime before the season ends.

8. Kylie Tucker OF (Astros) 9.12 - The younger brother of Preston carries more impressive tools than his older brother. The first round 2015 pick has the speed to play centerfield with the arm that could shift to right. The bat carries power, especially when the arms from his 6′4″ frame can extend. Last year he hit 25 between High A and AA. In spring training he has already dazzled with four long balls. The lefthanded bat also seems to rake against lefthanded pitching, eliminating any platoon concerns. When he reaches the major leagues he could hit 30 plus homeruns with 20 plus stolen bases, though as his 6′4 frame fills out those stolen bases could drop. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AAA with regular promotions to the major leagues when the Astros need outfield depth.

7. Nick Senzel 3B (Reds) 9.26 - The Reds were talking about moving the number one 2016 pick to shortstop. The down side with that is it would make him an average shortstop on defense but at third base he has the potential to be a gold glover. Having his power bat at a middle infield position would make him attractive. In AA last year he slugged .560 with 10 homeruns with his 14 doubles giving him 40 for the year. That gap power could turn to over the fence power as he matures. Nick also has a .315 career minor league average so having a .300 plus average with 30 plus homerun potential would make him an attractive player at either short or third. The Reds could start him at AA if they want to use him at short but his bat could be ready for the major leagues now.

6. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) 9.48 - The power has not appeared yet but when it does 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 homerun numbers.

5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) 9.7 - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

4. Gleyber Torres 2B/3B (Yankees) 9.72 - Gleyber missed most of last season because of Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. If not for that absence he may be the starting second baseman for the Yankees in 2018. The Yankees will try to do without him for the first month of the season to get his bat acclimated to pitching while in AAA. He also needs to get used to second base, having played short and third for much of last season, though he did squeeze in ten games at second. Gleyber was originally a shortstop but his speed and consistency at the position will not replace Didi Gregorius. His bat should hit north of .300 with 20 plus homeruns. When April turns to May Gleyber should be in the Yankees lineup.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) 9.72 - Eloy was acquired from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

2. Shohei Ohtani RHP (Angels) 9.88 - He crushes fastballs 450 feet. He can hit triple digits with his fastball. The parks in Japan tend to be shorter than the United States so his power production may drop. His fastball can also be a little straight so major league hitters could have more success against his power arm. Ohtani does have a number of other quality pitches he can throw, but he also has some less than quality pitches he tries to squeeze across the platee. If he sticks with his best pitches he should have more success. It will be interesting if the wear and tear of hitting at the DH spot will begin to sap the strength for his pitching. The Angels have stated they plan on going to a six man rotation, but some pitchers on the team prefer a five man. Ohtani will pitch for the Angels to begin the season and should win the rookie of the year award in the American League.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) 9.88 - The Braves have an opening in the outfield. Acuna is raking in spring training. It would be hard not to take him north with them in April. At 20 years old Andrew Jones starred for the Braves, but Ronald could pass him for production. The potential five tool player slugged 21 homeruns last year while stealing 44 bases. That will translate to 30/30 capability in the major leagues. His defense should also win gold gloves in centerfield. Like Torres, when April turns to May Ronald should be in the outfield for the Braves if he fails to travel north with them after spring training.