Archive for May, 2018

Top First Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The following are myworld’s top ten first base prospects in the minor leagues.

1. Pavin Smith (D-backs) - Smith was the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2017 draft. He played for Virginia, mashing more homeruns (13) than he struck out (12) in his junior season. He failed to hit a homerun in his minor league debut last year but hit .312 with 15 doubles and a 27/24 walk to whiff ratio. This year the Diamondbacks were aggressive promoting him to High A where he has hit his first three homeruns. Unfortunately he is only hitting .214 with a slugging percentage of .331. His walk to whiff ratio is still excellent at 25/23. His lack of speed means playing the outfield would be tough requiring his power to break out if he wants to replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Defensively he will be average at first base.

2. Nick Pratto (Royals) - Another 2017 first round pick, Nick was drafted seven picks after Smith. He was one of four first basemen selected in the draft, though one may turn into a lefthanded pitcher. Nick does not have to worry about Eric Hosmer blocking him at first base. He slugged four homeruns last year in his minor league debut, but was a little more prone to striking out (58 in 52 games). Though he is not noted for his speed he did steal 10 bases in 14 attempts last year. Defensively he plays his position well. A strong arm and adequate speed makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility. This year he is playing in Low A where he has slugged 7 homeruns with a .426 slugging percentage. Those power numbers will have to improve if he hopes to fill the first base job in Kansas City.

3. Brenadan McKay (Rays) - Brendan was another first baseman drafted in the first round in 2017, the fourth player selected in the draft. The higher selection is based on his ability as a lefthanded pitcher as well. Baseball America voted him the 2017 College Player of the Year. After the draft he started six games (1.80 ERA) striking out 9.5 hitters per 9 innings. He also slugged four homeruns with a .232 average. Defensively he is solid at first base but lacks the speed to move to the outfield. While his bat continues to struggle in 2018 (.233/.300 slugging) his pitching has been stellar (4-0, 0.76). He was used for six starts in Low A, pitching just a little over three innings per start. In High A he has been used in relief twice, working 11 innings. On the bright spot offensively he has a 30/20 walk to whiff ratio (.425 OBA). At some point his bat will click and he will hit for a high average with moderate power. Whether he can handle both hitting and pitching is open to question.

4. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - Bradley was a third round pick in the 2014 draft. The power is there for 20 plus homeruns per year as he has done his last three seasons. Strikeouts are a big problem, though last year was the first time since his rookie season when he struck out less than the number of games he played. A lack of speed makes a move to the corner outfield difficult and his defense at first is below par making the DH the best position for him. He is repeating AA this year where he is struggling with a .176 average. Myworld saw him take a ball out, one of his seven homeruns on the year. If his bat can heat up he has a chance for a major league callup this year.

5. Peter Alonso (Mets) - Myworld does not have a lot of faith that Dominic Smith can hold down the future first base position for the Mets. Peter has more power, though neither player is adept at fielding the position well. There is no speed in the legs of Alonso making a move to the outfield not a consideration, not with the surplus of talented outfielders the Mets have. This year the 23 year old is hitting .333 with 14 homeruns for a .632 slugging percentage. The Mets could look for Peter to fill the first base hole before the season is over. He will need to cut back on the 19 errors he made at first base last year. A trade to an American League team where he can play DH is also a possibility.

6. Josh Naylor (Padres) - The 2015 first round pick from Canada by the Marlins probably has more power than any first baseman on this list. Taking advantage of that power has always escaped him. In two full season leagues his high for one season has been 12 homeruns. His strikeout numbers are not high but making better bat on ball contact would increase those homerun numbers. The Padres traded Andrew Cashner in a five player trade to acquire Naylor. His younger brother Noah should be a first round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh has that Babe Ruth look, but unfortunately in his later years at 6′0″ 260. This year Josh seems to have acquired his power stroke in AA with 9 homeruns in 49 games for a .528 slugging percentage. For a big power hitter he does draw a number of walks (25 walks to 27 whiffs).

7. Evan White (Mariners) - Another right handed bat, Evan was drafted in the first round in 2017. He was the last of the four first baseman taken in the draft, falling two positions behind Nick Pratto. Nick has the defensive chops to win a gold glove at first base, plus the speed to move to the outfield. In his minor league debut he hit 3 homeruns with a .277 average in 14 games. Promoted to the California League to start the 2018 season Evan is hitting .294 with three homeruns. As a college drafted player Evan should rise quickly through the organization, this year starting his season in the California league.

8. Brent Rooker (Twins) - Brent was a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft. In his first year the Twins they tried him in the outfield but his lack of speed makes covering ground a challenging task. The Twins have still used him in the outfield this year but his main use has been as a first baseman. Last year Brent hit 18 homeruns in just 62 games with a .930 OPS. The power has dropped in 2018 with 7 homeruns and a .722 OPS in 47 games. A propensity for the swing and miss will always prevent him from hitting for a high average.

9. Jake Bauers (Rays) - Jake was a 7th round pick in 2013 by the Padres. He was traded to the Rays in 2014. Jake has never really hit for power with 14 homeruns his minor league high in 2016. He has a career .416 slugging average. His athleticism and decent speed would make a move to the outfield a possibility. A weak arm makes left field his best bet. The Rays would still like to see him hit for more power before making the major league club. This year Jake has hit 5 homeruns and is slugging .454 in his second season in AAA. This could result in a late season promotion by the Rays. Eventually he may have to move to left field if Brendan McKay finds his way to the major leagues.

10. Jake Gatewood (Brewers) - Jake was a middle infielder when he was drafted as a first round supplemental pick in 2014. Sprouting to a height of 6′6″ forced a move to first base in 2017. With that kind of length the power numbers have creeped up with a minor league high of 15 homeruns last year. This year Jake has already slugged 9 homeruns with a .445 slugging percentage. As an ex-middle infielder Jake has good defensive instincts at first base. He could see some time with the Brewers before the 2018 season ends.

Toritani Streak Ends at 1939

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Takashi Toritani had his consecutive games streak end at 1,939. It is the second longest streak in Japan behind Sachio Kinugasa (2,215). Cal Ripken holds the major league record at 2,632 consecutive games. Like Cal, Takashi started his career with the Hanshin Tigers as a shortstop.

Toritani was no longer a starting player for the Hanshin Tigers this year having started in only 13 of their first 44 games. The manager was able to find a spot for him in the lineup in those first 44 games. In the 45th game there was no room for him in their 1-0 loss to the Softbank Hawks, even as a pinch hitter. In his last five games he had pinch hit and gone 1 for 4 with a walk.

Toritani had expressed an interest in playing major league baseball in 2014 at the ripe old age of 32. He could not come to any agreement with any major league team and returned to the NPB.

Musgrove Leads Pirates to Win Over Cardinals

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Myworld is in Pittsburgh and watched Joe Musgrove pitch and hit his way to a Pirate win over the Cardinals in his 2018 debut. Musgrove pitched seven innings of shutout ball and his first major league hit ignited a rally in the sixth inning that led to the Pirates first three runs in an 8-1 win.

Joe Musgrove was one of the players the Pirates acquired from the Astros in the Gerritt Cole trade. This was his 2018 debut after experiencing shoulder issues and he went seven innings giving up just five hits. It wasn’t until the sixth inning until he went to a two ball count on a batter. Colin Moran, Michael Felix and Jason Martin were also acquired in the trade. Moran is the starting third baseman for the Pirates. Michael Felix is a key piece in the bullpen of a surprising Pirate team who many felt were on the rebuild road.

Musgrove also used his bat last night to begin a rally for the Pirates. Cardinal pitcher John Gant had shutdown the Pirate bats for the first five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven. He was mixing slow breaking balls with his mid-90s fastball, perplexing many Pirate hitters with swings and misses. Musgrove led off the sixth inning bouncing a single into right field for his first major league hit. Josh Harrison then forced Musgrove to use his speed to round the bases lining a pitch into right centerfield for a double. Musgrove slid home for the first run of the game.

Gant was replaced in the game after hitting Francisco Cervelli with a pitch. With runners on first and third and one out the bullpen for the Cardinals imploded. Josh Bell mashed the first pitch from Brett Cecil into deep left field to score Harrison on a sacrifice fly. Corey Dickerson lined a pitch into the right field corner. Dexter Fowler was slow getting to the ball and another run scored while Dickerson stopped at third. Moran could have made it two more but his drive that cleared the right field bleachers was just foul. He lined the next pitch to second to end the inning.

In the seventh Cecil gave up a slow bounder to Meadows, who beat the throw to first. The rookie phenom outfielder who has had trouble staying healthy is hitting over .400 in his major league debut. That brought in John Brebbia, who also experienced trouble retiring Pirate hitters. Meadows stole second. Jody Mercer hit a slow bounder to the third base side of the mound. Brebbia turned to throw to third but no one was covering. When he turned again to throw to first Mercer had beaten the throw. A one out walk to Gregory Polanco loaded the bases where Francisco Cervelli cleared them with a drive that collided with the right field scoreboard for a double. Polanco was able to turn balls hitting the scoreboard into singles but Fowler could not.

The Pirates brought out Michael Felix to pitch the eighth. He failed to preserve the shutout giving up a monstrous shot into right center by Tommy Pham that cleared the seats. It would be the only run the Cardinals would score in the game.

The Pirates scored two more runs in the eighth with back to back triples. Meadows lined one down the left field line that eluded Ozuna. Mercer followed with a shot into the left centerfield gap and hustled into third for the second triple. A Josh Harrison single finished the scoring giving the Pirates an 8-1 shellacking of the Cardinals.

Game Notes: Myworld had to have the Pierogies at Ms. Ts. When in Pittsburgh you got to have the pierogies…Don’t like the net behind home plate. It blocks out a clear view of the video board for those sitting in the lower level seats. Many major league teams set up a net to protect fans from foul balls…The Cardinal outfielders seemed to be lacking a bit in range. Fowler is struggling with a .160 average and seems to lack hustle. The Pirates legged three hits that should have been doubles and turned them into triples…Harrison Bader pinch hit for Ozuna. On an 0-2 count he seemed to make a last minute half swing to make contact on what may have been a third strike. He bounced it in front of the plate where he was tagged out…Beer in Pittsburgh is much cheaper than at Nationals park. A six dollar difference, though the Nationals will argue that you are paying for premium beer…The Pirates do a Pierogi race instead of a President’s race…Meadows finished the day with two hits to raise his average to .448. His OPS is 1.345.

Korean is First with Four Homerun Game

Friday, May 25th, 2018

The KBO is known for their explosive offense. Double digit scoring is not unusual in KBO games. A player hitting four homeruns is still a difficult task.

Han Dong-win blasted four homeruns a couple days ago in the SK Wyverns 13-2 win over the Nexen Heroes. Han Dong-Min drove in six runs with the four homeruns. He started the first inning with a two run blast to get the scoring started for the Wyverns in the first inning. He hit another two run shot in a three run third to give the Wyverns a 5-0 lead. He had two solo shots in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the feat.

In his one other at bat Han grounded into a double play in the fourth inning.

Last year the 28 year old outfielder hit a career high 29 homeruns. This year he is almost halfway to that total with 13 in 43 games. In the KBO the top hitters have a batting average north of .300. Han has still not hit at that level, batting just .294 last year and hitting just .244 this year. The consistency just isn’t there yet, though his walk to whiff ratio seems to improve every year.

Myworld saw a little bit of Han when he played for Korea at the Baseball World Cup in Panama in 2011. He was also voted the best collegiate hitter in 2010. A poor 2011 senior year dropped him to the 9th round in the KBO draft, but he was the first position player from that draft promoted to the KBO when the Wyverns called him up in May. He played in only seven games that first year, but got in 99 games the following year.

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.