Archive for September, 2018

Elih Villanueva Throws No Hitter in Taiwan

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Elih Villanueva tossed a no hitter in the Brothers Baseball Club’s 1-0 win over last year’s champions, the La Miga Monkeys. He struck out ten, walked one and hit a batter. It is the ninth no hitter in CPBL history, none of them perfect games.

It was the second no hitter for the Brothers this year. Back in June Nick Addition threw a no hitter against the President Lions despite walking six hitters. The Brothers supported Addition with 11 runs. Catcher Huang Chen-Sheng caught both games to become the first catcher in CPBL history to catch two no hitters.

The Brothers scored their only run in the first inning off Zeke Spruil when he walked Chou Su-Chi with the bases loaded. It was the first CPBL loss for Spruil.

The other no hitters:

July 19, 1991 - Yang Jie-Ren for the Wei Chuan Dragon over the Tigers.

May 21, 1992 - Ravelo Manzanillo for the Brother Elephants over the Dragons

May 8, 1997 - Mark Kiefer for the Sinon Bulls over the Tigers.

March 1, 1998 - Alvin Brown for the Sinon Bulls over the Elephants

May 13, 1999 - Tsao Chun-Yang for the Uni Lions over the Dragons

July 10, 2008 - Pan Wei-Lun for the Uni Lions over the Whales

October 25, 2015 - Pat Misch for the LaMiga Monkeys over the Brothers

June 9 2018 - Nick Addition for the Chinatrust Brothers over the Monkeys.

None of the no hitters has been a perfect game. The above no hitter information courtesy of CPBLstats.com.

O’s End Miserable Season with Victory

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

It was a tale of two franchises going in different directions. The Orioles lost a franchise record 115 games. Even the hapless St. Louis Browns could not lose that many games, but they only played a 154 game season. The Astros won 103 games to finish with the most wins in their franchise history. They treated this game like an exhibition game, starting their stars (except Carlos Correa) but taking them out early. The Astros came out swinging, which cut the game time to two hours and 20 minutes. Three different Oriole pitchers limited the Astros to just one hit in their 4-0 win, scoring all four runs in the fourth inning.

Jimmy Yacabonis got the start for the Orioles, facing a bunch of Astro hitters anxious to get back home to prepare for the playoffs. Four of the first six hitters swung at the first pitch thrown by Yacabonis. The Astros got their first and only hit off him in the fourth inning, a line drive single by Jose Altuve into centerfield. Yacabonis hit two batters and walked one hitter in the third and fourth inning and was taken out after four. The Oriole relief corp of Paul Fry (three innings) and Mychal Givens pitched a perfect five innings of relief afterward.

The Astros started Charlie Morton, working him for three innings. He struck out four to pass the 200 mark for the season, the first time he has accomplished that feat in his career. He gave up one hit and walked one, both in the second inning.

The pitcher who gave up all the runs was Brad Peacock, who could retire only one of the six hitters he faced. Jonathan Villar, Tim Beckham and Renato Nunez rocketed doubles off him. Villar got such a big jump from second that he could have walked into third after the ball reached the catcher. Chris Devenski was able to contain the damage to four runs, retiring the last two hitters and stranding D.J. Stewart on third.

Game Notes: As they have been doing all weekend the Oriole fans gave Adam Jones a standing ovation with each at bat. In the top of the ninth Jones went out to play right field but after Mychal Givens threw his warm up pitches Joey Rickard came out to replace him, giving the fans another opportunity to give him a standing ovation. At the start of the game Jones ran out to his spot for the National Anthem and no teammates followed him. The crowd again gave him a standing ovation. All the standing O’s seemed a bit too much, but Jones was a franchise changer, responsible for putting the O’s back in the playoffs when no one thought they had a chance…Jones got to start the game in centerfield but then moved to right field in the second inning. Jones finished the day 0 for 4…Jose Altuve fell short of 200 hits, the last time that happened was in 2013. A long stint on the disabled list prevented him from reaching that goal for a fifth consecutive season…The 200 strikeouts by Morton put him with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as three Astro starting pitchers with 200 or more strikeouts. The last time that happened was in 1969 when Larry Dierker, Don Wilson and Tom Griffin accomplished that feat.

A.L. West All Stars

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Below are the Baseball American Classification picks for the A.L. West.

Houston Astros

Kyle Tucker OF (AAA) - Not a lot of success in the major leagues (.138) for the 2015 first round pick. He tore it up in AAA with a .332 average and 24 homeruns. Next year he should be the Astros starting left fielder. He can hit for average and power. His speed is not great which makes a corner outfield spot an ideal fit for him.

Ryan Hartman LHSP (AA) - The late round (9th) 2016 pick had a solid AA season (11-4, 2.69) that leaves him on the edge of the major league roster. His strikeout numbers were excellent with two career high 11 whiff games.

Alex McKenna OF (SS) - The fourth round 2018 pick does not have spectacular tools. He did hit for a .534 slugging average in the New York Penn League with five homeruns. His hits are more geared for splitting the gaps than going over the fence. That makes sticking in center crucial, but he lacks burner speed to play there. More likely a fourth outfielder type.

Gilberto Celestino OF (SS) - The Dominican shows some good speed to play centerfield. His bat lacks power now but once he matures he could find more juice. A double digit stolen base guy that needs to work on his OBA.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Taylor Ward 3B (AAA) - The 2015 first round pick moved from catcher to third base. This seemed to awaken his bat hitting .349 with 14 homeruns between AA and AAA. A 100 plus major league callup turned into a challenge with a .169 average. Too many swings and misses at the major league level (43 K’s in 124 at bats), but he can still get a hold of one.

Oakland Athletics

Jesus Luzardo SP (AA) - Tommy John surgery and the Nationals hope to keep a run for the playoffs enticed them to trade Luzardo with Blake Trienen for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. The trade helped the Nationals last year but really benefited the Athletics this year and in the future. Luzardo was in consideration for player of the year after his 10-5, 2.88 ERA run through three levels. For a lefthander to hit mid-90s with his fastball is gold and he has a plus changeup to make that fastball look even better.

Seattle Mariners

Dan Vogelbach 1B (AAA) - Power is his big game. Defense is not part of the equation for him. That power has not really showed in the major leagues. He did hit 20 homeruns in AAA with a .545 slugging. Given an opportunity to hit major league pitching that slugging dropped to .388.

Cal Raleigh DH (SS) - The 2018 third round pick has the ability to hit for pop, showing it with eight homeruns and a .534 slugging percentage in short season. His work behind the plate is a little suspect and may result in a move to first base.

Julio Rodriguez OF (Dominican) - The Mariners shelled out $1.75 million to sign him in 2017. In the Dominican league he showed that price was worth it, popping five homeruns with a .525 slugging. His lack of speed limits him to a corner outfield, though he has enough arm to play right field. Despite his lack of speed he did leg out nine triples and stole ten bases.

Texas Rangers

Jonathan Hernandez SP (High A) -Signed out of the Dominican in 2013, it has been a long ride in the minor leagues for Hernandez. He struggled in AA (4.92 ERA) after dominating in High A. His fastball hits the mid-90s and hitters have difficulty elevating it. At 22 he is still young enough to develop further and fit as a mid or back rotation starter.

Tyler Phillips SP (Low A) - At 6′5″ the late round (16th) 2015 pick has a good pitcher’s frame. His fastball sits in the low 90s and gets lots of ground ball outs. If he can increase the velocity a couple notches he could fit into the middle of the rotation. His secondary pitches (curve and change) lack consistency. Once he hammers in all the nails in his tool box he could be good to go.

Curtis Terry 1B (SS) - The 13th round 2015 pick found his bat repeating the Northwest League. His 15 homeruns and .337 average shows a good bat but at 21 and hitting right handed he could end up a career minor leaguer.

Diosbel Arias 3B (SS) - Hit .366 in short season but at 22 he was old for the league. The Cuban does show gap power but still needs to find a position. Expect him to start the 2019 season in full season ball and settle in at third base.

Hans Crouse SP (SS) - The second round 2017 pick has a mid-90s fastball and excellent slider that get lots of swings and misses. Opponents only hit .179 against him in short season ball, but he found the hitters a little more difficult when promoted to full season (.273). Needs to find his change to stay in the rotation.

Randy Florentino C (Dominican) - He showed a good bat against Dominican pitchers (.309 average) walking more than whiffing (53 to 51). His big test is coming stateside to see how he communicates to pitchers and makes contact against better pitching.

Osleivis Basabe SS (Dominican) - His bat rocked in the DSL (.344) with gap power.

Ronny Henriquez SP (Dominican) - At 5′10″ is height is not ideal for a righthander but he did whiff 79 in 58 innings and limited hitters to a .177 average. He was 5-0 in 11 starts with a 1.55 ERA.

Top Thirteen Baseball World Rankings

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The World Baseball and Softball Confederation has come out with their rankings of the top world baseball teams. The rankings go 73 deep but below is the top thirteen. The Top 12 teams are invited to the Premier 12, which is an Olympic Qualifier event.

1. United States (5515 points)

2. Japan (5245)

3. Korea (4534)

4. Cuba (3495)

5. Taiwan (3165)

6. Mexico (2672)

7. Netherlands (2263)

8. Australia (2233)

9. Canada (2142)

10. Puerto Rico (1849)

11. Venezuela (1809)

12. Dominican Republic (1481)

13. Panama (1475)

Japan picked up 146 points on the United States to close the gap on first place. Taiwan earned the most points in 2018. Latvia and the British Virgin Islands sit at the bottom of the rankings with one point each.

MLB World Select Team

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The World Select Team will be competing in the Arizona Fall Classic that will be held from October 10-14. There are 61 different teams competing in this event, including teams from Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Below are the names of the players from MLB World Select Team and the country they represent. A player from Uganda is participating.

Pitchers

Dennis Achidri (Uganda), Jiorgeny Casimiri (Netherlands), Daniele Di Monte (Italy), Liam Evans (Australia), Mathias Gonzalez (Ecuador), Jake Green (Australia), Lukas Hlouch (Czech Republic), Ky Jackson (Australia), Will Kortekaas (Australia), Luke Krkovski (Australia), Sebastian Munoz (Ecuador), Daniel Padysak (Czech Republic), Sue Sun (China), Angelo Wicklert (Netherlands)

Catchers

Ricardo Bertossi (Italy), Chris Burke (Australia), Fabian Kovacs (France)

Infielders

Travis Bazzana (Australia), Finn Bergmann (Germany), Denzel Bryson (Netherlands), Liam MacDonald (Australia), Luke November (South Africa), Delano Seiassa (Netherlands), Sunny Yang (China)

Outfielders

Jarrod Belbin (Australia), Paolo Brossier (France), Correze Nepia (New Zealand), Jaylin Rae (Australia), Brock Wells (Australia), Tyson Zamora (Australia), Ruendrick Piternella (Netherlands)

These players range in age from 16 to 20. Not only will they be performing before major league scouts, but also college scouts.

NPB Update

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

The playoff opportunities in the Nippon Professional Baseball League have all but been decided for five of the six teams. In the Pacific League the top spot appears to be the Seibu Lions. One of the benefits of taking first place is the bye in the first round, the automatic win prior to the playoffs starting and every playoff game in the conference is at your park. It is rare for a first place team not to advance to the Japan Series. The two wild card teams are the defending champion Softbank Hawks and the Nippon Ham Fighters. Last year with Shohei Otani on the team the Fighters did not make the playoffs. In 2016 they were Japan Series champions.

In the Central League the Hiroshima Carp have sewn up the conference for the third year in a row. Last year they lost to the wild card Yokohama Bay Stars in the Central League championship, a rarity in the NPB. They have not won a championship since 1984, the longest drought in the NBP. The Yakult Swallows appear to have the first wild card in hand. For them it will be their first playoff appearance since 2012.

The last playoff spot appears to be a battle between the Yokohama DENA Baystars and the Yomiuri Giants. Last year the Giants did not make the playoffs. You have to go back to 2006 to find a time when the Giants went two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. The Baystars have had back to back season when they have qualified for the playoffs as the wild card team. Last year they won the Central League championship but were beaten by the Hawks in the Japan Series. On the outside looking in with still a hope is the Hanshin Tigers, but the games are getting scarce and they are more than two games out with 12 to play.

For individual performances in the Pacific League, the leaders are:

Batting average

Yuki Yanagita (.359) Softbank Hawks, Shogo Akiyama (.325) Seibu Lions, Kensuke Kondo (.321) Nippon Ham Fighters, Hideto Asamura (.312) Seibu Lions, Masataka Yoshida (.310) Orix Buffaloes

Homerun Leaders

Hotaka Yamakawa (44) Seibu Lions, Yuki Yanagita (34) Hawks, Hideto Asamura (30) Lions, Nobuhiro Matsuda (28) Softbank Hawks, Alfredo Despaigne (27) Softbank Hawks

RBIs

Hideto Asamura (119) Lions, Hotaka Yamakawa (117) Lions, Sho Nakata (102) Nippon Ham Fighters, Yuki Yanagita (97) Hawks, Seiya Inoue (89) Chibba Lotte Marines

ERA Leaders

Takayuki Kishi (2.72) Rakuten Golden Eagles, Yusei Kikuchi (3.16) Seibu Lions, Naoyuki Uwasawa (3.24) Nippon Ham Fighters, Nick Martinez (3.49) Nippon Ham Fighters, Yuki Nishi (3.65) Orix Buffaloes

Wins

Shinsaburo Tawata (15) Seibu Lions, Yusei Kikuchi (13) Lions, Shuta Ishikawa (13), Softbank Hawks, Mike Bolsinger (13) Chibba Lotte Marines, Kodai Senga (12) Softbank Hawks

Saves

Yuito Mori (34) Softbank Hawks, Hirotoshi Masui (33), Orix Buffaloes, Tatsuya Uchi (25), Chibba Lotte Marines, Frank Hermann (18) Rakuten Golden Eagles, Naoya Ishikawa (14) Nippon Ham Fighters

Central League

Batting Average

Dayan Viciedo (.350) Chunichi Dragons, Hayato Sakamoto (.332) Yomiuri Giants, Ryosuke Hirata (.329) Chunichi Dragons, Norichika Aoki (.326) Yakult Swallows, Toshiro Miyazaki (.325) Yokohama Bay Stars

Homeruns

Yoshihiro Maru (38) Hiroshima Carp, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (38) Yokohama Bay Stars, Neftali Soto (35) Yokohama Bay Stars, Wladimir Balentien (34) Yakult Swallows, Tetsudo Yamada (33) Yakult Swallows

RBIs

Wladimir Balentien (121) Swallows, Dayan Viciedo (98) Dragons, Yoshihiro Maru (95) Carp, Kazuma Okamoto (95) Yomiuri Giants, Seiya Suzuki (91) Hiroshima Carp

ERA

Tomoyuki Sugano (2.36) Yomiuri Giants, Daichi Osera (2.53) Hiroshima Carp, Katsuki Azuma (2.54) Yokohama Bay Stars, Onelki Garcia (2.88) Chunichi Dragons, Kris Johnson (3.27) Hiroshima Carp

Wins

Daichi Osera (15) Carp, Tomoyuki Sugano (13) Giants, Onelki Garcia (13) Dragons, Randy Messenger (11) Hanshin Tigers, Katsuki Azuma (11) Bay Stars

Saves

Yasuaki Yamasaki (34) Yokohama Bay Stars, Taichi Ishiyama (31) Yakult Swallows, Shota Nakazaki (30) Hiroshima Carp, Rafael Dolis (30) Hanshin Tigers, Shinji Tajima (15) Chunichi Dragons

Italian National Team to Train in Arizona

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The Italian national team will train in Arizona from September 29 to October 13. During that time they will play games against players from the major league instructional teams. Recognizable names from the Italian national team include ex-major league Chris Colabello, minor league and NPB pitcher Allesandro Maestri and minor league catcher Alberto Mineo.

AL Central All Stars

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Baseball America broke out their classification All Star teams. These are the players from the AL Central to make the team.

Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez OF (AAA/AA) - He could be the next super star in baseball. The Cubs originally signed him but included him in a trade for Jose Quintana. He hits for power and average but lacks the speed and the arm to be a five tool player. His lack of defensive tools will limit him to left field where he could end up being a force like J.D. Martinez.

Michael Kopech RHP (AAA) - Tommy John surgery will set him back a year. Just when he appeared to get command of his pitches he suffers a set back. One of the hardest throwers in baseball, Michael was originally a Red Sox but included in the Chris Sale deal. Control was his main weakness but in four major league starts he only walked two in 14 innings.

Rigo Fernandez LH Relief (Rookie) - A 24th round pick in the 2018 draft had an excellent rookie season, saving 8 games and finishing with a 1.87 ERA. Opponents hit him at a .178 clip. The lefthander does not have dominating stuff, so his prospect status will be dictated by how well he performs at higher levels.

Cleveland Indians

Tyler Freeman SS (SS) - A 2017 pick may lack the defensive tools to be a shortstop. Currently his power is restricted towards the gap, but it could grow as he matures and learns how to pull pitches. Last year he powered 29 doubles which accounted for his .511 slugging average. His best bet may be as a second baseman or utility player.

Luis Oviedo SP (SS) - The Venezuelan does not have an overpowering fastball but it carries enough movement to get a lot of swings and misses at the lower levels. At 6′4″ the fastball could carry more heat as he matures. Currently it sits in the low 90s but it can hit the mid-90s. The change is his best secondary pitch. The biggest decision for Luis is whether he should focus on his slider or curve as his breaking pitch.

Detroit Tigers

Rodolfo Fajardo SP (Dominican) - This was his second year in the Dominican summer league. His ERA dropped more than two runs to 1.07 in 13 starts. Next year he should make it state side.

Kansas City Royals

Marcelo Martinez LH SP (Rookie) - Last year Martinez pitched in the Mexican League. In the Rookie League he had back to back games where he struck out 12 and 10 hitters. In the latter game he threw six no hit innings before he relieved. The Mexican native did strike out 71 in 57 innings but at age 22 he was old for the league.

Minnesota Twins

Stephen Gonsalves LHSP (AAA) - The lefty will not wow you with his heat but he will dazzle you with his change and the location of his pitches. At AAA he limited the opposition to a .187 average. Once promoted to the major leagues the hitters there did not find his stuff so dazzling, ripping him for a .291 average. Stephen is a pitcher who survives on his location and in the major leagues he walked 18 hitters in 21 innings. He needs to show better control if he is to survive.

Alex Kirilloff OF (High and Low A) - Despite his Tommy John surgery last year myworld thought he had the best arm of the outfielders in the Future’s game. He does carry enough power to hit for 20 plus homeruns. The 2015 first round pick makes excellent contact, giving him a .348 average in A ball.

Royce Lewis SS (Low A) - The first pick in the 2017 draft has borderline defensive tools to stay at short. His arm and range are not great but his bat is strong and his speed is electrifying. Last year he stole 84 bases in A ball. If Byron Buxton does not pan out don’t be surprised with a move to center field, where his speed could cover tons of acreage.

Ryan Jeffers C (Rookie) - The second round 2018 pick tore through the rookie league hitting .422 with a 1.121 OPS. He walked 20 times to his 16 K’s. He found the promotion to Low A a bit more challenging, hitting .288 with a .807 OPS, still good numbers.

Victor Heredia 1B (Dominican) - Victor found his second season in the Dominican League beneficial, hitting .330 with 8 homeruns. He raised his OPS 200 points from .708 to .906. As a right handed hitting first baseman, he has not shown over whelming power, which could be a deciding factor when determining major league service time.

Shumpei Yoshikawa Signs with Diamondbacks

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Shumpei Yoshikawa did not register for the NPB draft in Japan last year, expressing an interest to play major league baseball. No Japanese team drafted him. He pitched in the industrial leagues and the Diamondbacks saw enough of him to pay a $650,000 bonus to sign him. He will report to the instructional leagues in Salt River.

Yoshikawa throws in the low 90s with a splitter and slider. At some point pitching coaches may want him to develop a change. The stuff is far from Ohtani like so don’t expect an ace like pitcher. He will fit in the middle or back of the rotation, or could be used in relief. It all is dependent on how he develops his other pitches.

Voth and Bullpen Stymie Mets

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

The Nationals do not have a lot of depth in their starting rotation at the upper levels of the minor leagues. They traded most of that depth for Adam Eaton. The Nationals chose to start Austin Voth against the Mets. In 24 starts in AAA he had an ERA of 4.87. In two starts and three appearances with the Nationals his ERA sits at 6.10. In his major league debut against the Mets back in July he gave up seven runs on nine hits in just four plus innings of work. Nats fans came into this game with their fingers crossed.

Voth started the game retiring the first two hitters. His command got a little shaky after that, throwing just one strike in his next 9 pitches to put two runners on. Against Todd Frazier he got the big whiff. After that he only allowed one more base runner in his five innings of work, an infield single to the right of Anthony Rendon, who was playing at shortstop in the right field shift against Michael Conforto.

The bullpen only allowed two base runners, both on walks, giving the Mets just one hit in their nine innings, a 6-0 loss to the Nationals in front of a large group of disappointed bussed in Mets fans.

The Nationals got all the runs they needed when Trea Turner launched a pitch from Corey Oswalt into the left field bleachers in the third inning. Victor Robles had started the inning with a line drive ground rule double that one hopped over the wall down the left field line. It would be the only runs Oswalt allowed in his five innings of work. Like Voth the Mets expect Oswalt to provide them with starting depth next year.

Jeremy Blevins came on to pitch the sixth. Anthony Rendon ripped a double into the left centerfield gap. With two outs and Rendon standing on third the Mets chose to walk Ryan Zimmerman intentionally to face the disappointing Matt Wieters, who is hitting below the Mendoza line while batting righthanded. In his last at bat hitting lefthanded Wieters drove a pitch to the right field wall. This time Wieters crushed a pitch into the left field bullpen. That gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead.

They added their last run in the seventh after Trea Turner walked. He stole second, his 41st of the season and his 122nd career stolen base with the Nationals, tying him with Ian Desmond for most career stolen bases by a National. Bryce Harper then drove a hard grounder down the first base line for a double to put the score at 6-0.

Game Notes: The Nationals have a lot of needs for 2019. The general feeling is they won’t be able to address those needs economically if they sign Harper to a large contract. The bullpen needs to be rebuilt, unless they want to rely on youngsters Jimmy Cordero, Austen Williams and Koda Glover. Two starting pitchers may have to be signed. And a catcher needs to be found. If Harper leaves it would also be nice to get a veteran outfielders in case Robles continues to struggle…Jimmy Cordero has been hitting three digits with his fastball. His big issue is command of his pitches. In 15 innings he has walked 10 hitters, two of those intentionally…The Nationals were officially eliminated from the playoffs after Saturday play. In a year they were supposed to walk away with the division they finished third…The walk to Bryce Harper in the first innings was his 125th of the year. That is a Nationals franchise record…The win put the Nats one game over .500. Even though they are out of the pennant race it would be nice if they could finish over .500. They will not finish over .500 against the Mets, coming into the last game of the series against them 8-10.