Archive for May, 2018

Top Cuban Prospects National League

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The only player to graduate from last year’s list is Albert Almora, who is more a fourth outfielder. Four National League teams seem to be more prolific in signing Cuban players, but too date those expenses have not panned out. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects who play on National League teams, or at least four of them.

1. Michel Baez RHP (Padres) - The Padres signed him in 2016 for a mere $3 million. He stands tall at 6′8″ with a fastball that slices the plate in the mid-90s but often hits the high 90s. Quality secondary pitches (slider, change and curve) moved him not just to the top ten list but the top prospect on the list. Last year was his first taste of professional ball and he dominated at Low A striking out 12.7 hitters per 9 innings. He did have a tendency to give up the long ball, allowing 8 homeruns in just 59 innings, leaving his ERA at 2.45. This year a promotion to High A has been more of a struggle with a 4.29 ERA and a 11/20 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings. The good news is he has yet to give up a dinger. Prior to leaving for Cuba he pitched one year in the Series Nacional, walking more hitters (16) that he struck out (14). With his large frame throwing strikes may always be a challenge.

2. Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Not as tall as Baez (6′3″) but still good pitcher’s height. His fastball also hits the mid-90s with lots of readings in the high 90s. That motivated the Dodgers to sign him for $16 million. Lack of quality secondary stuff and poor command make it a challenge for Alvarez to retire hitters. Last year he had a 50/97 walk to whiff rate in 92 innings. In order for him to stick in the rotation he will need to improve his secondary offerings and command or make a move to a closer role. The 2018 season still sees him in the starting rotation but still struggling with control (20 walks in 15 innings) at the AA level. The Tulsa Drillers put Yadier on the disabled list the beginning of May with a groin injury.

3. Adrian Morejon LHP (Padres) - He may not throw as hard as Baez but the Padres liked him enough to give him a franchise record setting $11 million bonus. The lefty starred in the 15 and under World Cup in Mexico City striking out 12 United States hitters in a complete game victory. Royce Lewis and Hunter Green were part of that United States team. For a lefthander carrying a fastball that hits the mid-90s is a quality pitch that most teams would envy. He also has a change that shouts swing and miss as well as quality breaking pitches. Pitching in the hitter friendly California League Adrian is holding his own with a 3.57 ERA in seven starts and a 14/36 walk to whiff ratio in 34 innings. The Padres hope he fills a solid spot in the middle of the rotation.

4. Yusniel Diaz OF (Dodgers) - The Dodgers spent $15.5 million for Diaz in 2015. As he fills out his tools will be prolific. The power began to show last year at AA with his .491 slugging average with three homeruns in 31 games. The growth may detract from his speed, leaving him best suited for a corner outfield, but with an arm for right field. The Dodgers started his 2018 season back in AA where he showed increased power (.513) with three homeruns in his first 20 games. A hip issue put him on the disabled list mid-May so that will stall some development time. The Dodgers have thrown a lot of resources at Cuban players with little result. They hope Yusniel will not develop into one of those busts.

5. Vladimir Gutierrez RHP (Reds) - Don’t know where the Dodgers were when the Reds shelled out $4.75 million in 2016 to sign Vladimir. He has a fastball that flashes mid-90s with decent secondary stuff to keep him in the rotation. Last year was his first year stateside where he started 19 games with a 4.46 ERA. His pitches seem hittable (.267) and can carry a long way (10 homeruns) but the Reds have a need for starting pitchers. This year the Reds have promoted him to AA where his struggles with getting hit continue (6.08 ERA and .270 average). Again the long ball seems to bother him (8 homeruns) and perhaps a bit of a temper (8 hitbatsman and 8 walks).

6. Jose Adolis Garcia OF (Cardinals) - The younger brother of Adonis Garcia is taller (6′1″) which allows him to carry more power. He won an MVP award in the Nacional Series in 2015/2016 and was briefly farmed out to Japan. The Cardinals signed him early in 2017 for $2.5 million and started him out in AA. His arm is a cannon but he still needs improvement moving to the ball. His bat and legs gave him 15 homeruns and 15 stolen bases between AA and AAA. The Cardinals outfield is very crowded but with the struggles of Randall Grichuk the Cardinals may give Garcia an opportunity before the year is out. He needs to show a little more consistency with the bat (.218) at AAA if he wants to get a callup. Better patience at the plate (8/40 walk to whiff ratio) will help with that.

7. Jose Israel Garcia SS (Reds) - The Reds paid the other Jose Garcia a $5 million bonus. His glove is smooth but his bat is a question. A 6′2″ frame seems to show some power could develop. The 2018 season is his first opportunity to show what he can do. So far it has been disappointing. In Low A he is only hitting .189 with a 5/33 walk to whiff ratio. He has also committed 10 errors, eight of them at shortstop.

8. Jorge Ona OF (Padres) - The Padres spent $7 million to sign the hulk like 220 pound outfielder. His large frame makes him a slow runner but an above average arm gives him an opportunity to choose his corner. His best position may be DH. What attracted the Padres to Ona was his prodigious power. He showed some of that with 11 homeruns in his first stateside season last year. There were also a lot of swings and misses to his game (115 whiffs in 107 games), dropping his average to .277. This year the Padres have started him in High A where his walk to whiff ratio has digressed (9/47) dropping his OBA from a .351 to .298. He still shows the potential to hit for power, but developing more patience at the plate is needed to draw more of that out.

9. Randy Arozarena OF (Cardinals) - The crowded outfield has dropped Randy to AA. The Cardinals signed Randy for $1.25 million in 2016, a relative bargain for Cuban prospects. He shows a nice combination of power and speed which could allow him to finish as a 20/20 player. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps (32 doubles) but he carried 11 over the fence. In the winter league in Mexico that power was displayed with 14 round trippers and a .558 slugging average. A demotion to AA and a .654 slugging average in 13 games could give him another opportunity for AAA or even with the Cardinals as a September callup.

10. Jonatan Machado OF (Cardinals) - Machado could give the Cardinals an all Cuban outfield. The Cardinals signed him for $2.35 million in 2016. As a young teenager he struggled in his first year (.209) in the Dominican League but stateside last year he broke out in the Gulfcoast League (.323). A taste of full season ball this year (.185) has shown that Machado needs a lot of work with the bat. At 5′8″ he does not have a lot of power, but relies more on contact. His best bet is to improve on his defense to play centerfield. His lack of power is not a good fit for a corner position.

China National Team to Play Independent Ball in United States

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The Chinese national team (Beijing Shougang Eagles) will share a roster with the Texas Air Hogs of the Independent American Association. The 30 members of the national team will rotate in and out of the roster. The team is sponsored by Shougang Sports.

The manager of the Texas Air Hogs is John McLaren, who managed the China National Team at the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic. Song Ping-Shan is part of the coaching staff of the Airhogs. Ping-Shan is a manager of the Beijing Tigers in the Chinese Baseball League. Other coaches from China will rotate in to help McLaren.

Some United States players on the roster of the Airhogs include left handed pitcher Tyler Matsek, outfielder Greg Golson and right handed pitcher Calvin Drummond. Garth Iorg is a coach with the team.

After five games the Airhogs are 1-4, in last place in the South Division. The St. Paul Saints are in the American Association but play in the North Division.

Soto Energizes Nats Offense

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The Nationals had trouble scoring runs off the Dodgers during their weekend series. Robbie Erlin retired them in order in the first inning for the game tonight. It appeared to be more of the same for the Nats. A Mark Reynolds single and Pedro Severino double down the left field line in the second inning got the crowd excited. Juan Soto came to the plate for his second major league at bat. He struck out in his first at bat, a pinch hitting appearance on Sunday. Juan sent the first pitch he saw from Erlin into the left field bullpen to give the Nats an early 3-0 lead. They would go on to win the game 10-2.

The Nats would score two more runs in that second inning. Wilmer Difo followed the Soto homeruns with a bloop single to right. A Gio Gonzalez bunt moved Difo to second. Back to back doubles by Trea Turner and Bryce Harper upped the Nationals lead to 5-0.

The homer by Soto led to more homeruns by Nationals hitters. Mark Reynolds homered twice in the third and seventh inning to the same location in left field near the foul pole area, both of them solo shots to lead off the innings. Bryce Harper led off the fifth with a homerun, one that he watched as it went into the second row of the bleachers in left field. He might have been a bit embarrassed if the ball did not leave the park. That has happened to him before.

The Padres scored their only run in the fourth inning. Gio Gonazlez had only given up one hit up until that point. A one out walk to Jose Pirela set it up for rookie Franmil Reyes, who was only batting .188 entering the game. He tagged the first pitch he saw from Gonzalez deep into the right field bleachers, also his first major league homerun. After the homerun Gio Gonzalez retired 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced.

The Nationals scored two runs in the sixth. Juan Soto started the inning with a bouncing single up the middle into center. With one out Michael Taylor hit a soft single to left field. Rookie Franmil Reyes made the unwise decision to try to dive for the ball. It skipped past him and rolled just short of the warning track. Juan Soto scored on the hit. Trea Turner slapped a double into the left centerfield gap for a double to score two more and make the score 8-2.

Game notes: The homerun by Soto was the first by a 19 year old in the major leagues since Bryce Harper did it in 2012…With a 10-2 lead the Nationals brought up Tim Collins to pitch the eighth. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2014, two Tommy John surgeries putting him on the shelf.

Matt Counters Matt Pinch hit to Ensure Dodgers sweep

Monday, May 21st, 2018

The rainout on Friday forced myworld to attend a split game doubleheader on Saturday, not getting home until past midnight. A wakeup call for 5 AM for a volleyball tournament on Sunday and a gold medal victory created a time for celebration. I don’t know if myworld is built for these up and down swings in emotion. Needless to say, it created a delay in our reporting of the double header. We crashed early Sunday evening.

The night cap on Saturday was the more exciting game. The Nationals came from behind 2-0 to score four in the sixth, two of those runs scoring on a Matt Adams two run single to finally excite the crowd in what was a downer day waiting for the Nat bats to awake. But the celebratory mood was only temporary as the Dodgers Matt Kemp hit a two run pinch hit double in the top of the ninth to erase a 4-3 deficit and give the Dodgers a 5-4 win.

The Nationals are in trouble with their bats. Bryce Harper is scuffling, Michael Taylor is mister swing and miss and half the lineup is on the disabled list. In the opener the Nationals could not muster an extra base hit against starter Ross Stripling and three different relievers. It was the kind of game that left you blankly staring at the scoreboard waiting for the Nationals to generate some excitement.

Ross Stripling struck out the side to start the game, the lack of aggressiveness at the plate a concern for the Nationals. Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon were called looking and six of the nine Stripling K’s were caught looking. Stripling would end his day striking out the last five National hitters he faced, going six innings and giving up just four hits. He struck out nine for the day, a career high for him.

Tanner Roark had a decent outing giving the Nationals seven innings. He gave up a leadoff triple in the first inning to Joc Pederson, who later scored on a Yasmani Grandal fly ball. His fastball no longer hits 95, sitting in the low 90s, but he battles for his outs.

The Nationals tied the game in the third, getting three of their four hits off Stripling. Bryce Harper fought off a pitch and blooped a single into centerfield to score Wilmer Difo for their only run of the game. The third, fifth and seventh innings were the only innings when the Nationals could get anyone on base.

The Dodgers took the lead in the fifth, putting runners on first and third with one out on singles by Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson. Cody Bellinger hit a hard grounder to second. The Nationals attempted to turn two but Bellinger beat the throw to first allowing Forsythe to score the second run.

Max Muncy drove in the last two runs for the Dodgers with an RBI double in the sixth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth. The rather ordinary Dodger bullpen closed out the Nationals bats for the last three innings to seal the 4-1 win.

The nightcap almost saw an interesting trivia question, i.e. the fewest pitches thrown by a starting pitcher in a no-hitter. Rich Hill could only throw two pitches before he had to be removed because of a blister. Three Dodger relievers then no hit the Nationals for the next five innings before the Nationals bats awakened for one inning in the sixth when they scored four runs.

Max Scherzer was strong for the Nationals. He went seven innings and struck out 12. He left the game with a 4-2 lead, giving up a leadoff double to Joc Pederson in the first followed by a run scoring single by Max Muncy. Scherzer struck out the next three Dodgers. Muncy did it to Scherzer again with a solo homerun in the fifth, an unlikely player to drive in the Dodgers last four runs.

The quiet Nationals bats briefly erupted in the sixth for four runs. Trea Turner started the inning off with an extra base hit bouncing off the scoreboard wall for a double. Harper was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and third and two out Mark Reynolds came through in the clutch with an RBI double that one hopped the scoreboard wall. That put runners on second and third with two outs. The Dodgers chose to walk Michael Taylor intentionally to face Pedro Severino. Matt Adams pinch hit for Severino and lines a 2-2 pitch into right field for a two run single and a 4-2 lead. All four of the Nationals hits occurred in the sixth inning.

The Nationals pen fails to hold the lead. Sammy Solis gave up a solo shot to Cody Bellinger in the eighth. Sean Doolittle gave up hits to the first three batters he faced in the ninth, the killer being a two run pinch hit double by Matt Kemp.

Game Notes: Yasiel Puig must be a terrible defensive outfielder or is still not healthy. Matt Kemp went out to right field to play for him defensively in the second game…Myworld put a jinx on the Nationals. Taking note that five games had ended in 5-4 finals and the Nationals score at 4-3 we hoped that there would not be a sixth game ending 5-4. Unfortunately, there was…Cody Bellinger is swinging and missing at too many 92 mile per hour fastballs. That does not define a feared slugger. He does look pretty good in centerfield. The fact that he is playing there over Joc Pederson is a pretty impactful statement on both players defensive capabilities…Howie Kendrick hurt his Achilles heal turning awkwardly for a fly ball he caught at the warning track. He will be out for the year. Rafael Bautista also hurt his knee and will be out for the year. Short of healthy outfielders the Nationals were forced to call up Juan Soto…Spencer Kieboom got his first major league hit in the first game of the doubleheader…Yasiel Puig had an issue with the strike zone of the umpire in the second game of the doubleheader. Puig had a couple border line pitches called strikes that resulted in whiffs his first two times to the plate…The Dodgers used eight pitchers in the second game of the doubleheader, three relievers for more than one inning…In the 18 innings played on Saturday the Nationals were only able to get hits in three of the innings.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Friday, May 18th, 2018

A number of Cubans have signed contracts with large bonuses but not a lot of them are seeing major league playing time. At least yet. The Dodgers have thrown a boatload of money at Cuban prospects but have gotten very little benefit from those signings. One, Alex Guerrero is now tearing it up in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Last year a couple players from the 2017 top Cuban prospects in the American League top ten list saw some major league playing time that they are no longer eligible for the 2018 list. The top prospect Yoan Moncada is one of them. Problems making contact have resulted in some initial struggles in the major leagues, but he seems to be doing better in 2018 now that he has the starting second base job for the White Sox. The fourth rated prospect Yandy Diaz also graduated, but a lack of power at a position (third base) where power is expected has put him back in the minor leagues to begin the 2018 season. His best bet may be as a utility player. The ninth rated prospect veteran Yulieski Gurriel made it as a first baseman with the Astros, a position he did not play in Cuba. The eighth rated prospect Guillermo Heredia plays superb defense but has still not shown the bat to be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. The suspension of Robinson Cano may move Dee Gordon back to second, giving Heredia another opportunity to show he can make it as a starter.

With Norge Ruiz dropping from the 2017 list that leaves five open spots for new players to appear on the 2018 list. Below are the top ten Cuban prospects playing for American League teams.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - if the White Sox can keep Jose Abreu they could have a lineup with one third of their players originating from Cuba. The White Sox shelled out a record $26 million bonus to sign Luis. With the new international cap restrictions Luis may be the last of the big time Cuban signings. Luis has the five tools to make him a superstar. So did Yasiel Puig. What he does with those tools will determine his fate in the major leagues. His best tool is his speed with an arm that will allow him to move to right field. At 6′3″ he has the bulk to hit for power. Many Cubans struggle hitting the diet of breaking pitches they see when they get to the States but Luis showed decent contact last year playing in the Dominican League. A sprained thumb has delayed the start of his 2018 season until mid May. Last year in the Dominican League Luis hit .310 with 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts, three homeruns and a .536 slugging average in 28 games, missing a lot of time with minor injuries. Hopefully his tightly wound up body is not plagued by injuries, something that has hampered the production of Yoenis Cespedes.

2. Julio Pablo Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers lost out on the Shohei Ohtani signing, but they did sign Martinez for $2.8 million. Martinez does not have the size of Robert (5′8 to 5′10″) or the 100 mile per hour fastball of Ohtani but he has a collection of speed and power that makes him attractive. His speed may be a tick faster than Robert but his arm is not as strong. His power is also short of Robert. His speed resulted in a number of stolen bases in Cuba and should allow him to stick in centerfield. If he fails in center it will send him down the same path as Adonis Garcia, a fourth outfielder who lacks the power to play corner. Julio had a career .430 slugging average in Cuba but much of his career there was played as a teenager. The Rangers have not assigned him to a minor league team as of yet. When ready he is expected to play at Low A.

3. Lourdes Gurriel 2B/SS (Blue Jays) - In Cuba the teams there could not find a position for him. The Blue Jays are also finding it difficult to fit him at a position. He started as a shortstop in Cuba but has played second and third. A lack of consistency in the field has resulted in him moving to a number of positions. Myworld would like to see how he handles the outfield where his oldest brother Yuniesky plays. Lourdes is the younger brother of Yuli Gurriel and the son of Lourdes who played on the Cuban national team that won a number of gold medals in Olympic and World Cup play. Last year the Blue Jays tried him at second and short. At short his fielding percentage was .837 in the Florida State League. This year his fielding has been more consistent at second and short, even seeing eight games in the major leagues at short and committing just one error. His bat is what teams want to see in the lineup. The Blue Jays are filled with players of famous fathers who played in the major leagues (Guerrero, Biggio, Bichette, Dwight Smith) and Gurriel is another whose father could have played in the major leagues. The power is there for him to hit 20 plus homeruns if he can show a little more patience at the plate and not swing at pitcher’s pitches.

4. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - The Dodgers originally signed Alvarez for $2 million but traded him to the Astros before he ever played a game. At 6′5″ Yordan is a big guy oozing with power potential. Defensively his best position may be first base. The Astros are using him in left field. A lack of speed and arm makes that the only outfield position he would be best fitted for. Last year a wrist injury limited him to 90 games. It also sapped his power, his slugging average dropping from .658 in Low A to .393 in High A. In his first 27 games this year he was slugging .542 but a collision at third base but him on the disabled list again. Myworld hopes this does not become part of a pattern.

5. Lazaro Armenteros OF (Athletics) - He came with a lot of hype. The nickname for him was Lazarito. The hype may have been a bit exaggerated. A below average arm and lack of burner speed has put him in left. It is hoped that as his body fills out he will hit for power to fit the position. In his debut in the rookie league he did hit four homeruns and slugged .474 as an 18 year old. The strikeouts are prevalent, but he did steal 12 bases in 15 attempts. The Athletics assigned him to Low A in early May where in 10 games he is hitting .324 with two homeruns. The Athletics paid him a $3 million bonus. If he is restricted to left field his bat needs to show some power if they want to get their money’s worth.

6. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel was a bit upset when the Astros originally offered him a $5.15 million bonus in 2016 then reduced it to $2 million when they found problems with his elbow. Not an overpowering pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s the elbow was not an issue last year when he started 16 games. His results were rather ordinary with AA hitters mashing him at a .294 clip. The start of the 2018 season has seen different results with AA hitters flailing away at a .229 clip with a 1.59 ERA in five starts. The Astros are quite satisfied with their starting pitching at the moment so Cionel may have to wait until the 2019 season to get a major league opportunity.

7. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - Rogelio was an unheralded Cuban prospect who signed for $40,000 in 2014. He is a crafty pitcher who relies on an above average change that makes his low 90s fastball appear faster. He also controls the plate with above average command. Since signing he has been carving up minor league hitters to a .231 average. After limiting AAA hitters to a .207 average last year in 10 starts he has not had the same success this year, getting tagged for a .274 average. His last two outings have been better, giving up just one earned run in 10.2 innings. Expect him to pitch the full season in AAA, unless injuries decimate the depth the Astros have in their starting rotation.

8. Yanio Perez OF/3B (Rangers) - The Rangers signed Yanio for $1.14 million in 2016 after he starred for Cuba in 2013 in the 18 and under World Cup. He played two uneventful seasons in Cuba as a teenager before leaving for the United States. His lack of speed restricts him to the outfield corners. The Rangers moved him to third base this year but he was injured after just three games and has yet to return. Power is what the Rangers are hoping from him. Last year he hit 14 homeruns in his professional debut at Low and High A. They won’t see that if he doesn’t avoid the disabled list.

9. Andy Ibanez 2b/3B (Rangers) - Ibanez was a star in the making in Cuba, the youngest player to make the World Baseball Classic team. The Rangers signed him in 2015 for $1.6 million after he played three years in Cuba as a teenager. His tools are not off the charts and his lack of speed and power restrict him to second base, where Rougned Odor currently plays. Even at second base his defense does not make up for what appears to be an average bat. Last year he hit .265 in AA with six homeruns and a .400 slugging average. This year he is in AAA hitting an impressive .325 with two homeruns and a .447 slugging average. If he can keep putting up those 2018 numbers that could get him a major league opportunity but it won’t be long term. There just isn’t enough there.

10. Elian Rodriguez RHP (Astros) - Elian replaces Norge Ruiz as the number 10 on this list because he has more flashy tools. At 6′4″ he has a good pitcher’s frame. His fastball zips across the plate in the mid-90s as he attacks hitters with quality stuff. At 20 years old he is also young enough to improve. The Astros signed him for $2 million last year. He was roughed up a bit in the Dominican League, walking 30 hitters in just 25 innings and getting ripped for a .313 average. He has yet to appear in a game this year but will probably begin his season in the rookie level leagues.

Australian Baseball League to Have Korean Team

Friday, May 18th, 2018

The Australian Baseball League (ABL) is considering expanding to eight teams. They are in the process of getting ownership licenses for the six current teams, Sydney Blue Sox, Canberra Cavalry, Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat, Brisbane Bandits and Adelaide Bite. Currently only the Blue Sox and Cavalry have announced a licensed ownership. The deadline for getting the license is May 31.

Another team expected to join the ABL is an all Korean team. The Korean team will be based in Geelong, which is near Melbourne. Happy Rising will handle the marketing and promotions of the Korean team in Australia. According to Yonhap News ABL CEO Cam Vale will attend a ceremony in Seoul next Monday to announce the new addition. This will not be a team of prospects from the KBO future league. Players will have to try out for the team. The team can be composed of players who have been released or retired from the KBO.

It is rumored that the eighth team may be from New Zealand, though other international interest has surfaced from the NPB and the CPBL. Major league baseball sends a number of prospects down to Australia to play in the ABL and they could be an eighth team, though myworld has not seen any discussion of that.

Nats and Yankees Battle to Tie

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Rain can be a pain in the rear at the ballpark, especially when you know there is a 100 percent chance that it will arrive sometime in the middle of the game. That means standing around in the concourse with nothing to do, not something that is enjoyable as you reach your elder years. It also means waiting around for at least an hour doing nothing when there are so many things you can get accomplished if you were not waiting around standing at the concourse, watching the deluge in front of you and the Capitals get beaten on the video board.

When the game started the sun was out. There was some hope the game would get in, but the forecast was for rain one hour after game time. There is always hope the sun will win out. Anthony Rendon lifted the spirits of Nationals fans early by lining a Masahiro Tanaka pitch into the left field bleachers to take a 1-0 lead.

The second inning was even more productive for the Nats. Howie Kendrick started the inning by one hopping the wall in left field for a double. Andrew Stevenson grounded a single past Didi Gregorious into left center to score Kendrick to up the score to 2-0. Pedro Severino lined a double into the left centerfield gap to score Stevenson and the National fans were celebrating.

The thunder started growling in the distance around the fourth inning, reminding one of Godzilla making his trek to the stadium. There was not much hope of getting this game in before the arrival of Godzilla. In that fourth inning Didi Gregorius hit a routine fly ball to left center. Matt Adams looked as if he had it covered but Stevenson wanted the ball too. They collided and the ball hopped out of the glove of Stevenson. Tyler Austin fouled a number of two strike pitches, worked the count to 3-2 and then drove a Gio Gonzalez pitch over the scoreboard into right centerfield. The Yankees had pulled to within one.

In the fifth inning the Yankees sandwiched in a Giancarlo Stanton bloop single in between two walks to load the bases with no out. They were only able to score one run on a Tyler Austin fly ball to the warning track in centerfield. The score was tied and the roar of Godzilla was getting louder. Fans were asked to move to the concourse to get away from the threat of Godzilla.

It was a game of wasted opportunities for the Yankees. In the first inning they had second and third with two out and Didi Gregorius grounded to second. In the second a Tyler Austin single followed by a Miguel Andujar double put runners on second and third with no outs. Gonzalez struck out the side to squelch the rally. The fifth saw them load the bases with no outs and come out of it with just one run.

Godzilla arrived in the sixth inning. After Aaron Judge struck out to end the inning the umpires called for the tarp. The rains came crashing down after that. It would not stop to allow the game to continue, though myworld was gone long before they called the game. Godzilla had won.

Game Notes: Aaron Judge takes a lot of pitches. This results in a lot of inactivity. In his second at bat he took all six pitches for a walk. All that taking resulted in two walks and two strikeouts…Andrew Stevenson took over in centerfield to give Michael Taylor a rest. He did not look good in center. In the third inning he did not take charge of a fly ball forcing Bryce Harper to lurch for the ball at the last second to make a catch. In the fourth he was too aggressive running into Matt Adams who had settled under a routine fly ball, resulting in a two base error and an unearned run…In the fifth inning the fans were told to take cover because of an impending storm. While the fans took cover the game went on for another inning and a half. One had to wonder what the players were thinking about when the fans were told to go to the concourse for their safety…Didi Gregorius did not look too good going for a ball to his right for a backhand play. It showed a lack of range…Aaron Hicks lost the ball in the lights in the fourth inning. He was fortunate Aaron Judge had come all the way from right field to make the catch…Gio Gonzalez had reached 110 pitches by the fifth inning. He was pinch hit for in the bottom of the fifth.

Top Minor League Catching Prospects

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Below are the names of the top minor league catching prospects as identified by myworld. Catchers like Chance Sisco and Carson Kelly are not included since they will get enough major league playing time this year to lose their rookie status. We’ll list the top prospects at each position as well as lefthanded and righthanded pitchers. But first we start with the catchers:

1. Francisco Mejia (Indians) - During the AFL the Indians tried him at third base. With the bat of Jose Ramirez picking up they are now looking at him in left field. Catcher is his main position but the Indians would like to get his bat in the lineup. In 2016 he hit .342 at two levels. Last year he hit .297 at AA. A 13 at bat major league debut saw him struggle with a .154 average. His defense would not be good in left and his power would be short of what is expected of the position. Behind the plate his arm is supposedly a rocket but his results at gunning down runners last year stood at 30 percent. This year it is down to 10 percent. While it is early his bat this year is mired in the .197 range. As the weather warms his bat should pick up but 28 whiffs in just 29 games is uncharacteristic.

2. Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) - The Venezuelan came into this season with a three year career average of .330. It gets tougher with each level he rises. Last year at the A levels he hit .316. In AA this year he has seen it drop to .283. He makes consistent contact but the balls are more gap oriented rather than carrying over the fence. His defense behind the plate still needs some work, with an average throwing arm susceptible to the stolen base. The bat should get him in the major league lineup with a possible September callup if his average continues to stay north of .300.

3. Tom Murphy (Rockies) - It won’t be long for Murphy to get a call to the Rockies. Injuries have kept him down in the minors. Last year he was slated to be the starting catcher but a fractured right forearm kept him out to begin the season. When he got the callup he only hit .042 in 24 at bats. The bat carries some pop with 19 homeruns and a .647 slugging percentage in 2016. This year the pop has returned with 9 homeruns and a .631 slugging average. His propensity for the swing and miss (31 K’s in 29 games) could make it a struggle in the major leagues. A strong arm allows him to control the running game. Tom needs only 40 more at bats to lose his prospect label and with the way the ball is carrying off his bat that should happen this year.

4. Jake Rogers (Tigers) - There may not be a stronger defensive catcher on this list. More runners are thrown out stealing this year (14) than successfully stealing a base (11). His movement behind the plate is crisp and he embraces a leadership role. Last year his bat showed some power with 12 homeruns. He also showed some atypical speed for a catcher with 13 stolen bases. This year has been a struggle with a .185 average in 25 games at AA. If his average does not pick up he will see the full season in AA.

5. Zack Collins (White Sox) - Zack probably has the most power on this list. The first round pick in 2016 slugged 17 homeruns in High A. There is a propensity to whiff with 118 whiffs in 101 games keeping his average below .250. His defense is also a bit dicey with a below average arm that encourages a running game. A move to first is a possibility if his defense is found to fall short. This year his bat continues the trend of power (5 homeruns), low average (.238) with lots of whiffs (37 in 32 games).

6. Danny Jansen (Blue Jays) - Another player known more for his bat than his defense. Last year at three different levels he combined for a .323 average with 10 homeruns putting the 16th round 2013 pick on the spot light. His bat continues to stay hot in AAA with a .311 average and a .883 OPS. He has not been able to control the running game (8 stolen bases in 10 attempts).

7. Daulton Varsho (Diamondbacks) - His father named him after his favorite catcher Darren Daulton. Now Daulton is making a name for himself behind the plate. The 2017 supplemental pick hit .311 and barraged pitchers for 7 homeruns in 50 games in short season. His arm is not strong so a move to another position is a possibility. He has the speed to move to left field. This year the Diamondbacks skipped him past Low A to High A where he is hitting .271 with 4 homeruns. His speed and instincts for running the bases has already racked up 10 stolen bases.

8. William Contreras (Braves) - The brother of Wilson has the same potent bat with the ability to hit for power. His arm is strong but his catching tools are still raw. So far this year he has only caught 18 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him. The Braves do have a surplus of talented catchers in the minor leagues so William will have to produce with the bat to get a chance.

9. M.J. Melendez (Royals) - The 2017 second round pick has a defense first mentality with a rocket arm and the ability to call a quality game. His bat also possesses power but an inability to make contact could keep his batting averages low (60 whiffs in 46 games). Last year he hit .262 but this year he is down to .237. What is impressive is his five triples in 25 games showing legs that can run the bases. It will be tough to take the catching job away from Salvador Perez, but the Royals can be patient with a couple more seasons of development before considering him for the big league club.

10. Tomas Nido (Mets) - Injuries to the Mets catching corp gave Nido an opportunity to win the major league job. A .135 average in 37 at bats got him demoted to the minors. The Puerto Rican’s catching tools are strong. The bat could be a question. While it has some power with 8 dingers last year the average should reside south of .250. He should get another chance with the Mets before the year is out.

Victor Mesa Leaves Cuba

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Victor Mesa Jr. has left Cuba for an opportunity to play major league baseball. He is the son of Victor Mesa Sr. who played 19 years in Cuba and managed the 2013 Cuban World Baseball Classic team. Think of a mix of the Gurriel family and Leonys Martin. The father has a long tradition of playing baseball in Cuba and Victor Mesa and Leonys Martin play a similar game. Victor Mesa Jr. also played for Cuba in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Victor Jr. played in six games for Cuba in the 2017 WBC but got only seven at bats hitting .333.

Victor started playing in the Cuban Nacional Series as a 16 year old with Matanzas back in 2012. He has the speed to play centerfield and steal 30 plus bases. There is very little power in his bat though at 21 years of age that may still develop. He did hit .354 and .355 in his last two seasons in the Cuba with OBAs at .400, but those numbers will be greatly reduced in the major leagues, especially with the lack of quality pitching in Cuba.

At 21 years old he will be subject to the international bonus cap, even though he has played six years in Cuba. His younger brother, Victor Victor also defected with him. Not much is known about the younger brother.

London Calling

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

It was officially announced by major league baseball. The New York Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox in a two game series June 29-30 in London Stadium. The stadium can seat 55,000 so if it is a sellout there is an economic incentive to hold multiple series there. Another series is scheduled for 2020 with the teams and dates to be announced later.