Archive for March, 2018

Rangers Sign Cuban Julio Pablo Martinez

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Julio Pablo Martinez is considered the next superstar from Cuba. The Rangers were able to sign the 21 year old for only $2.8 million, his bonus restricted by the recently imposed international salary caps. If he had been eligible to sign last year he may have gotten a $20 million bonus.

Julio showed some rare speed in the Cuban league, where stolen bases are not abundant. His last season there (2016/2017) he was able to steal 24 bases while hitting .333. As is quite common in Cuba his walks (52) exceeded his whiffs (30) but don’t expect that to happen once he hits stateside. His ability to make contact is a concern. He did slug .498 but most of his power was restricted to the gaps. As his body matures his power should increase. His most impressive stat was his .469 OBA, evidence that even as a 21 year old pitchers in Cuba feared him.

Julio was good enough to make the Premier 12 roster for Cuba. He did not get a lot of playing time, only eight at bats, where he struck out in five of those eight at bats. He doubled and singled in two other at bats to hit .250 and was also credited with a stolen base. Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel were also part of that Premier 12 team.

Julio is stated to be 5′10″ but on baseball reference he is listed at 5′8″. I’d be more confident with his future success if he was 5′10″.

Royals Are Looking at a Rebuild

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The Royals could not sign a number of their free agents that gave them one World Series win and two World Series appearances. They were hoping for a third last year but it didn’t happen. Don’t know what the market would have been for Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or Erik Hosmer but hanging on to them deprived them of building up their prospect bank. Currently it appears light. Their top two picks of the last two years are their premium prospects but after that it gets thin

Nick Pratto was their first round pick in 2017. The slugging first baseman has decent pop but at 6′1″ is not a towering figure for the position. One thing that cannot be questioned is his ability to win. He played on a California team that won the Little League World Series, beating Japan with a game winning hit and he played for two 18 and under World Cup teams that won gold in both. A lack of speed should keep him at first base. In his first minor league season the power was absent (.414 slugging) but he did slug four homeruns. At 18 years of age he is still too far from the majors to replace Hosmer, but the Royals will start that trek in 2018 by starting his second season in Low A.

Khalil Lee was the Royals first round pick in 2016. He is a potential five tool player with good speed, a strong arm and the potential for power. Last year he had trouble making contact (171 whiffs) which led to a low .236 average. His above average speed also did not result in stolen base success as he was caught stealing 18 times in his 38 attempts. Khalil will work on improving those two areas when he heads to High A in 2018.

Myworld likes the potential of catcher Meibrys Viloria from Colombia, though he went from a .376 average in rookie ball in 2016 to a .259 average last year in Low A. Weight issues could have a negative impact on his rise to the major leagues. His catching skills need to improve on defense, last year committing 14 errors with a less than stellar arm. So with average defense the bat needs to work. Viloria will start the 2018 season in High A.

Catching is a strength with the Royals with 2017 second round pick M.J. Melendez and 2014 supplemental first round pick Chase Vallot ahead of Viloria. Melendez is a quality defensive catcher with a strong arm who also has the potential for a good bat. His .262 batting average in Rookie ball surpassed Viloria and he outslugged him with a .417 slugging percentage. Melendez has the potential to be an All Star catcher in the major leagues as he develops. He will start the 2018 season in Low A groomed to replace Savador Perez behind the plate.

Chase is a catcher who lacks strong defensive tools. His major asset is his ability to hit for power. Last year he hit 12 homeruns with a .438 slugging percentage. A tendency to swing and miss (127 whiffs) kept his average down to .231. With a career average of .226 he is not expected to win any batting titles. A lack of speed will keep him behind the plate where he will play his 2018 season in AA.

Seuly Matias is another toolsy outfielder who has the speed to play centerfield with the arm to fit in right. At 6′3″ he may slow down as he bulks up making him a likely fit for right. There is the potential for power with 15 homeruns his last two years in the short season leagues. His proclivity to swing and miss has kept his average to .250 or less. Next year should be his first year in full season ball (Low A) where a breakout season could put him on the prospect map.

Hunter Dozier was a first round pick in 2013 who has not equaled his hype. Injuries last year limited him to just 33 games. He did make his major league debut in 2016. He has the power to fill in at a corner outfield spot but not the speed to play center. His natural position is third base, where he will not win any gold gloves. His ability to play third base and the outfield could give him an eventual promotion to the big club but first he needs to spend some time in AAA to recuperate from his injuries and get his swing back.

Marten Gasparini is from Europe (Italy) who broke Max Kepler’s international signing bonus record with a $1.3 million payout. His fielding at short was too inconsistent to stick there resulting in numerous errors so the team has moved him to centerfield. His speed will allow him to cover a lot of ground, but his bat may be too weak to justify him being in the lineup. Last year he only hit .227 with a 27 to 121 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are his best tools. Marten will try to improve his hit tool starting the 2018 season in AA.

The Royals top pitching prospect is perhaps Josh Staumont. His fastball has premium velocity that can hit triple digits and sits in the high 90s. The biggest struggle is his ability to find the plate. Last year he walked 97 hitters in 125 innings. He was also susceptible to the homerun ball at AAA giving up 14 dingers in just 76 innings, resulting in an ugly 6.28 ERA. Josh needs to find the plate more to get the trust of the Royals for a major league callup. Expect him to repeat his 2018 season in AAA.

Eric Skoglund and Foster Griffin have been around for awhile. Eric was a third round pick and Foster was drafted in the first round, both in 2014. Both have made a slow trek to the majors with Eric seeing his major league debut last year. They both throw lefthanded. Eric stands tall at 6′7″ but his fastball lacks big time velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His pedestrian stuff resulted in a poor major league debut with .375 opposition average and a 9.50 ERA. A good spring could provide him a shot to slot in the back end of the Royals rotation. Foster is not as tall (6′3″) and also lacks premium velocity. He has developed a quality change that makes his fastball appear to have more hop. A AAA promotion in 2018 will leave him a step away from the major leagues.

Scott Blewett was drafted between the two lefthanders in 2014. The righthander stands 6′6″ but also lacks velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His secondary pitches are also not very challenging, resulting in minor leaguers hitting him at a .268 clip. If his command is not good he also has the tendency to give up the long ball.

Kyle Zimmer has seen the prospect status dim through the years. The first round 2012 pick has had trouble staying healthy limiting his innings. Last year he debuted in AAA, pitching mainly in relief but struggling with a 5.79 ERA. When healthy Zimmer has quality stuff. To keep his arm intact the Royals will probably move him to the bullpen, starting the season in AAA. His major league debut could arrive if he has success and stays healthy.

Prospects Impressing in Spring

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Below are some of the top prospects impressing in spring. This may not lead to a trip with the major league club in April, but it has opened the eyes of major league managers when they have a need for a player. Also, much of their production may be coming against similar minor league prospects. Myworld does know that Tim Tebow struck out on three pitches against Max Scherzer. He would be a tough assignment for any prospect.

Ronald Acuna (Braves) - He hit his first homerun of the spring yesterday and is hitting .429. The trade of Matt Kemp certainly created a nice hole in left field for Acuna but there are still a few free agent outfielders to sign.

Ryan McMahon Utility (Rockies) - Ryan is hitting .409 with one homerun, strafing the gaps with three doubles. The Rockies may not have room for him at first base but could use him in a utility role if they think they could give him the at bats.

Willie Calhoun LF (Rangers) - His defense may be short but his bat is hitting .389 with one homerun. The Rangers left field spot is open for him to win.

Fernando Tatis Jr SS (Padres) - Still a little young to see time with the Padres in 2018 but he is hitting .381 with one homerun and 8 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases in three attempts.

Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - He may not be hitting for a high average (.294) but his .882 slugging percentage is enhanced by two triples and two homeruns. He has scored more times (6) than he has hits (5).

Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - After hitting four early in the spring his homerun pace has slowed. He is still hitting .429 with a 1.579 OPS.

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Maikel Franco is not hitting so perhaps the Phillies will try Kingery at third. He has blasted three homeruns with a .389 average and a .944 slugging percentage

Kyle Tucker OF (Astros) - His homer pace has slowed after hitting three early in the spring but a .333 average and 8 RBIs would be nice production if the Astros are in need of an outfielder.

Luis Arias SS (Padres) - Five of his seven hits have been doubles, creating a .538 average. As he has done in his minor league career he has more walks (4) than whiffs (2).

Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) - Luis is gunning for the Marlins centerfield position with a .400 average. Four of his six hits have been doubles but he has also struck out five times in 15 at bats.

Sandy Alcantara RHP (Marlins) - Sandy is another Marlins acquisition they would like to see perform. He has pitched in two games with one start and worked five innings for a 1.80 ERA. Only three whiffs but a .235 opposition average and no walks.

Tyler Mahle RHP (Reds) - He has been getting innings (6.2) with three relief appearances and seven whiffs. The opposition has struggled with a .190 average but a 4.05 ERA could keep him in AAA.

Chih-Wei Hu RHP (Rays) - Hu has pitched three perfect innings in his two appearances. The Rays could use him in their bullpen.

A.J. Puk LHP (Athletics) - One start and one relief appearances has given him five innings where he has only allowed one hit, an unearned run and struck out four.

David Paulino RHP (Astros) - David is gunning for the Astors bullpen with his two relief appearances with five whiffs in 4.2 innings. He has only allowed one hit but walked two.

Myworld’s Top 100 - 20 - 11

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The penultimate 10. Two players from this list will already miss a chunk of the season or all of it. There are four cut and pastes from my top ten Dominican prospects list.

20. Willy Adames SS (Rays) 8 - Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. He has a better bat than Adeiny Hechavarria with much greater power opportunities with the possibility of consistently hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he can make better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later. A start in AAA would delay his major league clock.

19. Forest Whitley RHP (Astros) 8.06 - Forest is the second big time starter in the Astros system suspended by baseball for a drug issue. Last year it was David Paulino. The 6′7″ 2016 first round pick is the top prospect of the Astros and will have to wait 50 games into the season before he gets his season started. He got as high as AA last year, dominating as a 19 year old with a 1.84 ERA and a .157 opposition average. This suspension could be used to the Astros advantage, saving him innings if they choose to promote him later in the year to the major leagues to be used in the bullpen for a playoff race. Forest throws his fastball in the mid-90s and has shown an assortment of quality secondary pitches that puts him at close to 14 whiffs per nine innings. The Astros would like to be patient with him but if he continues to dominate it would not surprise to see him in the Astros bullpen by August for the playoff run.

18. Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) 8.08 - The son of Fernando Sr, who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher. Tatis hopes to play shortstop but many suspect the 6′3″ infielder will have to move to third base where his father played. Last year his power played out for 22 homeruns. It will be more than enough to fit at the corner, where he could end up being a Gold Glover. The Padres acquired Tatis from the White Sox for James Shields, a trade the White Sox may ultimately regret now that they are in a rebuilding mode. Tatis is a very patient hitter who is not afraid to draw a walk (75) leading to a .390 OBA last year. The Padres skipped him past High A for the 2017 season, moving him from Low A to AA. The 2018 season should see him start in AA.

17. Mitch Keller RHP (Pirates) 8.42 - The second round 2014 pick has a fastball in the mid-90s and a 6′3″ height that gives it good plane as it travels across the plate. The Pirates consider his curveball the best in the system, giving him two quality pitches. He shows excellent command of the two pitches giving him the potential to be the ace of the staff should his change develop into a quality third pitch. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode and have no reason to call him up this year. Last year he rose up to AA where he will probably start the 2018 season.

16. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) 8.44 - The Cardinals expected Reyes to be in their rotation two years ago but a drug suspension put a halt to that. Last year was supposed to be his debut but Tommy John surgery squelched another opportunity. For the 2018 season the Cardinals will start him in the bullpen to prevent him from throwing too many innings. His fastball should consistently click triple digits from the bullpen where he could end up in the closer role before April turns to May. He and Michael Kopech may have the best fastballs in the minor leagues but what separates the two is Alex has quality secondary pitches that should make him an ace in the rotation. The one area he needs to improve on is command. He tends to walk a hitter every two innings. The beginning of the 2018 season should see Alex start in the bullpen, eventually moving to their closer, or the Cardinals could put him in the rotation close to the end of the season to use him in the playoffs.

15. Lewis Brinson OF (Marlins) 8.56 - The Marlins lost outfielders Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, probably one of the best trio in baseball. It will be tough to find three quality outfielders to replace them. Lewis Brinson was one of the acquisitions from the Brewers for Yelich. The Marlins hope two other outfielders, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison will equal the three they let go. Brinson with his five tool talent will patrol centerfield. He has the power to be a slugger taking a little bit of the strengths of Yelich and Ozuna. His speed does not allow him to steal a lot of bases but it does allow him to roam massive territory in center. With the rebuilding Marlins he could find himself in centerfield to show fans some of the value they got for their tanking.

14. Francisco Mejia C (Indians) 8.62 - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

13. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) 8.68 - When you think of the Dodgers you are always thinking of ace pitchers. The 2015 first round pick has the potential to take over from Kershaw as the new ace of the Dodgers staff, once Kershaw has left for free agency. Tommy John surgery forced Walker to miss the 2015 season and almost all of the 2016 season, but he has bounced back with a fastball that sits in the high 90s. Some think his curveball is the best in the Dodgers minor leagues. Despite his quality stuff he did not dominate in the minor leagues, fashioning an ERA of close to 4 despite the opposition hitting him at a .220 clip. Despite the pedestrian numbers the Dodgers still promoted him to the major league club where he struggled in the bullpen, major league hitters tagging him for a .306 average. Walker will probably start the season in AAA to allow the Dodgers to be conservative with his innings useage. He has yet to reach 100 innings in a season but if he shows success the Dodgers are not averse to using him again in a bullpen role with hopefully better results.

12. Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) 8.9 - Rodgers has not ceded the shortstop position from Trevor Story, though the Rockies have been giving him some starts at second base so the transition would not be so difficult in case he has to move. His big problem with the shortstop position is his lack of range and his proclivity to commit errors. What will get him in the lineup is his bat, with the potential to win batting titles. His power bat has the ability to hit 20 plus homeruns, possibly more with the atmosphere in Colorado. The Rockies appear to be satisfied with Story at short and can wait a couple more years before Brendan is ready to knock at the major league door. AA is where he should start the 2018 season.

11. Brent Honeywell RHP (Rays) 8.98 - Tommy John surgery has ended the 2018 season for Brent. He had all the pitches including the enigmatic screwball to be an ace starter. He tried to follow in the path of Blake Snell, but now his trip to the major leagues will be delayed by one year. The fastball sits on the high side of the low 90s with four other quality pitches to average 11.1 whiffs per nine innings at AAA. With all those pitches AAA hitters were still able to hit him at a .268 pace. How he comes back from the surgery will be key to the future of the Rays rotation.

Japan Sweeps Australia

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Japan started off strong with an opening 2-0 win over Australia. Japan starter Kodai Senga struck out all six hitters he faced and Yuki Yanagita ended a 0-0 tie with an RBI single in the sixth. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo drove in Yanagita with a double for the second run in the sixth inning. Both Yuki and Yoshitomo would be quality offensive players in the major leagues.

Travis Blackley pitched well for Australia tossing five scoreless innings and striking out six. Travis pitched briefly for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2014. Steve Kent gave up the two runs, retiring only one of the four hitters he faced, that on a sacrifice bunt. Five Japanese pitchers struck out 16 Australian hitters before the day was done. A little over 33,000 came to watch the game.

Japan again showed superior pitching in the second game shutting out Australia 6-0 in front of a crowd that was close to 28,000. Takahiro Norimoto, the top strikeout pitcher in Japan over the last couple years got the start and struck out five in his two innings of work. Go Matsumoto was the big hitter for Japan driving in three runs. Trent D’Antonio tried to end the shutout streak in the ninth inning but his long fly ball hit the right centerfield wall.

The rosters for Japan and Australia:

Japan

PITCHERS (13): Yuki Matsui, Takahiro Norimoto, Yuhei Takanashi (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles), Shinji Tajima (Chunichi Dragons), Nao Higashihama, Sho Iwasaki, Kohdai Senga (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yasuaki Yamasaki, Shota Imanaga, Haruhiro Hamaguchi (Yokohama DeNa Baystars), Tsuyoshi Ishizaki (Hanshin Tigers), Mizuki Hori (Hokkaido Nippom Ham Fighters), Kazuto Taguchi (Yomiuri Giants)

CATCHERS (3): Seiji Kobayashi (Yomiuri Giants), Tatsuhiro Tamura (Chiba Lotte Marines), Takuya Kai (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)

INFIELDERS (7): Kosuke Tanaka, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Ryoma Nishikawa (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), Hideto Asamura, Shuta Tonosaki (Saitama Seibu Lions), Kenta Imamiya (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yusuke Ohyama (Hanshin Tigers)

OUTFIELDERS (5): Go Matsumoto (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters), Yuki Yanagita, Seiji Uebayashi (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh (Yokohama DeNa Baystars), Shogo Akiyama (Saitama Seibu Lions)

Australia

PITCHERS (12): Tim Atherton, Travis Blackley, Sam Holland, Ryan Searle, Matt Timms (Brisbane Bandits), Steve Kent (Canberra Cavalry), Cameron Lamb (Perth Heat), Greg Mosel, Matt Williams (Adelaide Bite), Sam Street, Josh Tols (Melbourne Aces): Todd Van Steensel (Sydney Blue Sox)

CATCHERS (3): Allan de San Miguel (Melbourne Aces), Alex Hall (Perth Heat), Kyle Perkins (Canberra Cavalry)

INFIELDERS (9): Trent D’Antonio (Sydney Blue Sox), Darryl George (Melbourne Aces), Robbie Glendinning, Luke Hughes (Perth Heat), Boss Moanaroa (Canberra Cavalry), Mitch Nilsson, Davi Sutherland, Logan Wade (Brisbane Bandits), Zac Shepherd, Yacob Younis (Sydney Blue Sox)

OUTFIELDERS (3): Andrew Campbell (Brisbane Bandits), David Kandilas (Canberra Cavalry), Tim Kennelly (Perth Heat)

Top European Prospects

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

The pickings are a bit thin. Prospects from Curacao are included in this list since they are considered a part of the Netherlands. Even players from Curacao have dropped in talent. From the list last year Ozzie Albies and Dovydas Neverauskas saw major league time, with Ozzie getting enough playing time at second base to lose his rookie eligibility. Myworld is generous in our classification of European. If they are eligible to play on a World Baseball Classic team they will be included on this list. The only exception we made was for Israel since religion and not birth of a sibling or residence determine origin. For the most part it is the same cast of characters from last year.

1. J.B. Bukauskas RHP (Lithuania/Astros) - This could be a stretch. His Wikipedia page identifies him as having a Lithuanian background. There is an article detailing that background linked but it is in Lithuanian. He was actually born in Ashburn, Virginia but if Lithuania ever got a WBC team they would find a way for J.B. to play on it. After dominating at the high school and college level he was a first round 2017 pick of the Houston Astros. He is not a tall pitcher at 6′0″ but he carries a fastball that sits in the low 90s but can hit the mid-90s. The slider is his swing and miss pitch and what will bring him success in the major leagues. Last year he only pitched 10 innings of minor league ball after a heavy college workload. As a college pitcher he will start the season in a Low A full season league.

2. Carter Kieboom SS (Netherlands/Nationals) - Another player born in the States whose dad played baseball as a youngster in Netherlands only to leave for college in the United States. Kieboom was the Nationals first round pick in 2016. With Trea Turner ahead of him and no exceptional tools to stay at short could force a move to second. Last year he played all his games at short. The bat will get him to the major leagues with decent power (.497) and hit tools (.296) at Low A Hagerstown. The 2018 season should see him play at High A. For the short term the Nationals see no need to move him from short.

3. Dovydas Neverauskas RHP (Lithuania/Pirates) - Dovydas made headlines for being the first Lithuanian to pitch in the major leagues. There has been some discussion that Joe Zapustas, who debuted in 1933 lived in the area that would be considered Lithuanian but was considered Russia during that time. He played two games in the outfield. So without a doubt Dovydas is the first pitcher from Lithuania. He has pitched his whole career in the bullpen, carrying a fastball that hits the high 90s. The absence of quality secondary pitches prevents him from pitching in the rotation. Last year he made his major league debut (3.91 ERA) earning the right to continue his roller coaster ride up and down the transaction ladder when bullpen help is needed. A good spring will see him in the major league bullpen but myworld suspects he will begin the season in AAA.

4. Ray-Patrick Didder OF/SS (Netherlands/Braves) - The Curacao native is one of the better athletes in the Braves minor league system and one of their fastest players. His ability to fly had the Braves move him from short to center where he can cover maximum acreage. The bat needs to be more dangerous for him to be considered for a major league job. There is little pop in his bat and last year he hit .230 in High A. There are also too many swings and misses (123 whiffs) with his bat. The speed and defense could allow him to be a fourth outfielder type. At 23 years of age he needs to be promoted to AA to have relevance.

5. Tom de Blok RHP (Netherlands/Tigers) - A strong performance in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands got him a contract with the Tigers. He had originally signed with the Mariners as a 17 year old but was not ready for baseball. He made his debut a couple years later with the Tigers pitching in Low A. At 6′4″ he has good height for a pitcher. It is possible that with more work in his delivery his low 90s fastball could gain velocity. He pitched in both the bullpen and as a starter but myworld suspects he will settle in the bullpen. The 2018 season should see him begin at High A.

6. Sven Schuller RHP (Germany/Dodgers) - Sven has good height at 6′3″ allowing him to put up some good numbers in Low A (1.49 ERA) but struggled a bit when promoted to High A (5.25 ERA). All his appearances were in relief. His command abandoned him in High A with lefthanded hitters battering him at a .310 clip. Up until last year he had pitched his first three years in rookie ball. A repeat of High A is expect for the 2018 season.

7. Ademar Rifaela OF (Netherlands/Orioles) - The Curacao native had a breakout year last year slugging 24 homeruns at High A Frederick. A lack of speed prevents him from being a defensive asset in the outfield but if his bat continues to produce the Orioles will find a place for him. His lefthanded bat seemed to have good success against left handed pitching (.265) so that could prevent a platoon role for him. The big test is whether he can replicate his numbers when promoted to AA where he will face better pitching.

8. Marten Gasparini OF (Italy/Royals) - He surpassed Max Kepler with his $1.3 million bonus being the highest paid for a European player. The Royals signed him as a shortstop but his fielding was very erratic resulting in the Royals shifting him to center field last year. His speed will allow him to be an adequate defender once he learns his routes. The bat is the big question mark. He just has not shown he can hit. A repeat of Low A saw his average rise from .196 to .227. Poor plate discipline are the big cause of his troubles, not being able to recognize pitches as they come to the plate. This will get tougher as he rises up the minor league ladder. Myworld suspects the Royals will promote him to High A for the 2018 season, but spring training could have an impact on that.

9. Martin Cervenka C (Czech Republic/Orioles) - Martin signed with the Orioles as a six year minor league free agent. Myworld liked the way he handled himself when he watched him in Taiwan a couple years ago. An Oriole scout was sitting with me during one of the games myworld was watching him play. Don’t know if this had any influence in his signing with the Orioles. Last year he replicated his 2016 break out season with a .278 average and a .418 slugging percentage. He also threw out 40 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. Myworld should see more of him if he is assigned to Bowie for the 2018 season.

10. Spencer Kieboom C (Netherlands/Nationals) - The older brother of Carter. His best bet to make it is as a backup catcher in the major leagues. In 2016 he did appear in one game when he replaced the injured Wilson Ramos. His bat is not strong enough to produce a lot of offense and his defense does not justify putting his soft bat in the lineup. In the last two years he has only thrown out baserunners at less than a 25% clip. An injury to the Nationals catching corp could give him an opportunity to fill a back up role, but that would require him to be added to the 40 man roster. He will bide his time in AAA for the 2018 season, possibly reuniting with his brother at some point.