Archive for May, 2019

Orioles Sign International Player

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

The Orioles are not noted for going out and signing international players. Their budget is small and the players they sign are not well rated as far as international signings are concerned. They prefer to trade their international salary cap for minor league players from other teams that usually never make a big impact. Some would argue it is why they are where they are, because they are playing in the major leagues with one hand behind their back, focusing on players from the domestic draft only while virtually ignoring the international market.

They did go out and sign a Cuban infielder Yorkislandy Alvarez that was good enough to play for the Cuban under 18 national team in Montreal in 2017. He bolted to Costa Rica after that tournament and then to the Dominican Republic. The Orioles have signed Cuban players in the past that have not panned out, Dariel Alvarez being one of them. They can only hope this player provides some level of contribution to the major league team, though it is not a headline international signing.

The 2009 Draft Redo

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

MLB.com did a 2009 draft redo to see who would have actually been drafted where if every team had a crystal ball and could determine how well they would do in the future. Myworld will provide the Top 20, with the actual player they selected in 2009 following. To see a more complete list and their analysis you can go to MLB.com.

1. Mike Trout (Nationals) - selected Stephen Strasburg

2. Nolan Arenado (Mariners) - selected Dustin Ackley

3. Paul Goldschmidt (Padres) - selected Donavan Tate

4. Stephen Strasburg (Pirates) - selected Tony Sanchez

5. Matt Carpenter (Orioles) - selected Matt Hobgood

6. J.D. Martinez (Giants) - selected Zack Wheeler

7. Kyle Seager (Braves) - selected Mike Minor

8. Brandon Belt (Reds) - selected Mike Leake

9. Patrick Corbin (Tigers) - selected Jacob Turner

10. Brian Dozier (Nationals) - selected Drew Storen

11. Dallas Keuchel (Rockies) - selected Tyler Matzek

12. D.J. LeMahieu (Royals) - selected Aaron Crow

13. Jason Kipnis (Athletics) - selected Grant Green

14. A.J. Pollock (Rangers) - selected Matt Purke

15. Mike Minor (Indians) - selected Alex White

16. Mike Leake (Diamondbacks) - selected Bobby Borchering

17. Scooter Gennett (Diamondbacks) - selected A.J. Pollock

18. Kris Davis (Marlins) - selected Chad James

19. Wil Myers (Cardinals) - selected Shelby Miller

20. Kike Hernandez (Blue Jays) - selected Chad Jenkins

So only four players from the 2009 draft would have been still selected in the top 20 from the current draft. Only the Diamondbacks selected a player for their pick in 2009 that would have no longer been available because he would have already been taken.

Top Cuban Prospects in the American League

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Not a lot of graduation from the list compiled last year. Lourdes Gurriel graduated, but his minor league time is still not finished as he struggles with his defense. Myworld has always felt he is better suited for the outfield. The bottom three players fell from the list and one player from the National League moved to the American League leaving room for three new players.

1. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - He has the five tools to make him an All Star. The White Sox hope those tools stand out in the major leagues after shelling out $26 million in 2017. The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a $10 million bonus and a six year contract reaching $68 million. Robert has the speed to play centerfield with an arm capable of playing right. Last year the power did not show in an injury ravaged season, but this year he has already clubbed 10 homeruns in 41 games. He dominated High A pitching with 8 homeruns in 19 games. AA pitching has been a bit more of a challenge (.488 slugging). The one concern with Luis is his inability to take a walk and a high rate of striking out (10/42). After hitting .453 in High A he is still hitting an acceptable .274 in AA. An outfield of Eloy Jimenez and Robert could be special. If he continues to have success expect a September promotion if they can find 40 man roster space.

2. Yordan Alvarez 1B/OF (Astros) - Robert has more tools, but Alvarez has game changing power. Last year injuries limited him to 88 games but he still slugged 20 homeruns. The Astros have tried to fit him in left field but his defense is poor. A lack of speed makes his range below average. His arm is also better suited for left. This year he has already matched his 20 homerun output of last season, and he has only played in 47 games. The Astros had acquired Alvarez from the Dodgers for Josh Fields. The Dodgers had signed Alvarez to a $2 million bonus in 2016. Triple A no longer seems to be a challenge for Yordan so expect the Astros to find some room for him on their major league roster by mid-July.

3. Yusniel Diaz OF (Orioles) - The Dodgers had signed Yusniel for $15.5 million in 2015, then traded him to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade. His first half season in Bowie was a disappointment (.239), showing a lack of power. His defense is better suited for right field so he needs to hit to fit in a corner outfield position. There is power in his bat, though that has been slow to appear in games. He is repeating AA and his current average (.225) is lower than last year at Bowie and his power is lacking (.225/.338). He needs to hit for power if he hopes to fit as a rightfielder.

4. Julio Pable Martinez OF (Rangers) - The Rangers have Shohei Ohtani to thank for the signing of Martinez. They traded for extra international signing money in the hopes of signing Ohtani, but when he decided to sign with the Angels the Rangers had some money to spend. The Rangers spent $2.8 million to sign him. The speed exists to play center, but his arm can play right and his potential power is ideal for a corner. His first year he played in the Rookie Leagues. This year he has graduated to High A where he is struggling to hit for average (.156). Strikeouts can also be a problem with 62 in just 45 games. This will slow his rise up the minor league ladder. With a hot streak he could become a September callup, but like most prospects they will have to release a player to make room on the 40 man roster.

5. Lazaro Armentaros OF (Athletics) - He came from Cuba with a lot of hype. The Athletics signed him for $3 million and once he got on the field the Athletics discovered all his warts. For one, his arm is not strong, better suited for left field. He also has trouble making contact, whiffing 115 times in just 79 games. This could impact his ability to hit for a high average as he rises up the minor league ladder. This year that is proving true with his .224 average. The power is slow to appear with 9 homeruns in 45 games. This surpasses the 8 homeruns he hit in 79 games last year. At 20 years of age the Athletics have plenty of time to show patience. Don’t expect him in the major leagues until around 2021.

6. Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - He was signed for $40,000 back in 2014 as a 19 year old. This year he has repeated AAA after going 8-1, 3.74 ERA last year. His fastball can be dialed up to the mid-90s, usually sitting in the Low 90s, but it is his changeup that is his swing and miss pitch. His breaking pitches still need a lot of refinement. His spot on the 40 man roster provides him an opportunity to pitch on the major league roster if a need develops. He must first improve on his 1-4, 5.73 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .299 pace. He is a starter in the minor leagues but the Astros can still use him in relief.

7. Cionel Perez LHP (Astros) - Cionel is more than a lefthanded finesse pitcher. The Astros originally signed him for $5 million but then reduced that amount to $2 million when a medical review provided some concerns on his elbow. So far it has stayed intact since his 2016 signing. His fastball can light the radar guns in the high 90s, but usually sits in the mid-90s. The Astros have been using him in relief as well as starting so the velocity is much greater if used out of the bullpen. His breaking pitches are solid but his change needs some work. That may put him in the bullpen. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching 8 games in relief. Command was a problem with 7 walks in 11 innings. This poor command has repeated itself in AAA with 20 walks in just 32 innings, upping his ERA to 6.19. Not finding his spot has also resulted in an ugly .296 opposition average. If he wants to see himself in the major leagues in 2019 he needs to get out of his lack of command funk.

8. Osiel Rodriguez RHP (Yankees) - The first new player on this list. The Yankees signed him for $600,000 in 2018. He will not turn 18 until November but he already shows a fastball that hits the lower portion of the upper 90s, but sits in the low 90s. He has lots of arm angles and lots of pitches with a slider, change and curveball that will all see improvement as he rises up the minor leagues. Osiel will not make his debut in the minor leagues until the rookie/short season leagues start.

9. Diosbel Arias SS/3B (Rangers) - He was teammates with Julio Pablo Martinez on the 18 and under Cuban national team. When the Rangers signed Arias for $700,000 in 2017 they reunited him with Martinez. His tools are not as strong as Julio. His lack of range may make shortstop a stretch but his lack of power will make third base a bad fit. His best bet may be as a utility player ala his countryman aledmys Diaz. His batting average since his signing is .373. He makes contact but lacks the speed to be a threat on the base paths. This year his average is .306 in High A. He is still a couple years away from thinking about the major leagues.

10. Raynel Delgado SS (Indians) - Delgado was born in Cuba but came to the States as a seven year old. The Indians selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of high school. A lack of speed limits his range for short and his arm is weak, so a move is a strong possibility. His bat should hit for a decent average but he has yet to make his minor league debut. The power could develop for a move to third or he could make it as a utility player. There are miles to go before he even sniffs the major leagues.

Mr. Freese Slams Pirates

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Pittsburgh is a nice place to watch a ball game. Good site lines of the city in the background, great fans, a better appreciation of hitters bopping balls into the river and a voluminous fireworks show at the end of the Friday night game. David Freese put on his own fireworks with a grand slam homerun to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 10-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Michael Felix was one of the many players acquired by the Pirates in the Gerrit Cole trade. He was once the closer for the Texas Rangers, but those days are in the rear view mirror now. The Pirates tried him as the opener last night and he continued with his struggles. He only retired one of the six hitters he faced in the first inning. The Dodgers hit him hard with David Freese ending his outing with a grand slam homerun in the right field bleachers.

Walker Buehler bent but did not break for the Dodgers. He had a good curve ball and a fastball that clicked above 95. He limited the Pirates to a run in the second inning. Bryan Reynolds led the inning off with a single and Colin Moran hit a ground rule double over the head of Kiki Hernandez in centerfield. A Elias Diaz ground out scored the lone run.

Buehler got out of danger in the fourth. With a runner on third and one out he struck out both Colin Moran and Elias Diaz. In the fifth, with two runners on he struck out Gregory Polanco. In the first inning he stranded a runner on third. He finished the day with six whiffs.

Steven Brault came on in relief in the first. He got the Pirates to the sixth inning, saving the bullpen for the rest of the weekend. He coughed up two runs in the third after back to back walks to David Freese and Kiki. Austin Barnes drove them both in with a double over the head of Starling Marte. The second run was allowed to score when Marte missed the cutoff man.

Cody Bellinger hit a two run homer in the seventh inning off Geoff Hartlieb. Chris Stratton had to leave the game early because of injury after facing just one hitter. A Joc Pederson triple in the eighth inning scored the tenth run for the Dodgers.

The Pirates tacked on a run in the seventh on back to back doubles from Kevin Newman and Adam Frazier.

Game Notes: The scoreboard at Pirates stadium is one of the best. They show the outs, scores, runners on the bases and when there is a score they provide an update as to who drove in the run, i.e. RBI single by X, homerun by Y, etc…The Pirate outfield disappointed me with their defense. Both Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte did not show me a lot of range. Bryan Reynolds in left did not get challenged…As usual, when in Pittsburgh I had the pierogies. A little greasy but still tasty…Walker Buehler had a nice breaking curveball that a number of Pirates swung at and missed. His fastball was in the low 90s in the first inning then shot up to 97-98 after the first inning…Clay Holmes gave up a single to the leadoff hitter in the ninth and then struck out the side after that…David Freese was welcomed by the home team in his return to Pittsburgh, playing his walkup song. He thanked them with a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch…I always thought Dave Roberts was a smaller guy that stole a lot of bases. Watching him during the anthem he has some broad shoulders.

Major League Draft Prospect Stewart Signs Japanese Contract

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

There have been Japanese players who have wanted to forgo the Japanese draft and sign major league contracts. Those players ultimately played in Japan with Shohei Ohtani recently posted to the major leagues. No significant Japanese player has bypassed the Japanese draft to sign with a major league team.

Carter Stewart, who was drafted eighth by the Atlanta Braves in the 2018 draft has signed a six year $7 million contract with the Softbank Hawks. He failed to sign his contract with the Braves after a medical exam discovered a ligament issue in his wrist and the Braves significantly reduced their initial offer. He enrolled in a junior college to remain eligible for the major league draft and was projected to be selected somewhere in the second round.

That is a moot point now that he has signed a Japanese contract. This commits him to the Hawks for at least six years. The Hawks are not known for posting their players so an early departure does not seem possible. He will begin his Japanese career in the minor leagues and enjoy a cultural and educational experience.

A Cycle and Another Four Homerun Game

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Matt Sczzur hit for the cycle. Yasmany Tomas hit four homeruns. They both played for the same team as Reno pounced on Tacoma 25-7. The major league baseballs being used in AAA are flying out of the park. Kevin Cron hit two homeruns in the game to give him 21 homeruns in just 42 games.

Tomas almost hit for the homerun cycle. He had a solo homerun, a two run homer and a three run blast. He came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth but could only single. He finished the game with a career high 8 RBIs.

Chris Cron drove in six runs and scored five. He is on pace to finish with over 60 homeruns. Reno hit 8 homeruns in the game.

Will Benson was the first player this year in the minor leagues to hit four homeruns in one game.

Koji Retires

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Koji Uehara could not find a major league team to sign him at 43 years of age. So he returned to Japan to play for his old team, the Yomiuri Giants. He pitched 36 games last year but went 0-5 in a relief role with 14 holds.

He had pitched nine games in the minors this year for the Giants but his 4.00 ERA did not motivate a callup to the big club. Instead of hanging on in the Japanese minor leagues he decided to call it quits.

In Japan he began his career as a starter, winning 20 games in his rookie season. It was good enough to win the rookie of the year award and the equivalent of the Cy Young (Sawamura award). He never matched that win total or got under the 2.09 ERA the rest of his career as a starter. He was turned into a relief pitcher in 2007 saving 37 games.

In 1998 the Angels tried to temp Uehara to the major leagues with a $3 million offer. The Yomiuri Giants do not post players to the major leagues so Uehara had to wait until free agency before taking his craft to the major leagues. The Orioles signed him for two years and $10 million. That began a nine year major league career.

In his first year the Orioles tried him as a starter but he was not that effective. In 2010 he was converted to the bullpen where he became one of the more effective major league relievers. His 7.33 whiff to walk ratio is the best in major league history for a pitcher who has thrown at least 100 innings. The Orioles can thank Koji for the acquisition of Chris Davis, since the Orioles traded him to the Rangers for the Orange Crush.

Cubs Take Series from Nationals

Monday, May 20th, 2019

The Cubs took advantage of the wildness of Jeremy Hellickson, who walked the first three hitters he faced and failed to find the plate in his three innings of work, putting the Nationals in a big hole in their 6-5 loss. The Cubs did not have to do too much to win this game, with Hellickson facing three ball counts on seven of the 16 hitters he faced and hitting a batter on an 0-2 count.

This was the eighth start for Hellickson. In his first start he threw six innings of shutout baseball. After that he has failed to finish six full innings. In his last three starts he has given up 14 runs in 12 innings. He has also walked 10 batters during that time. Too much nibbling with his curveball and changeup missing the strike zone. His pedestrian fastball does not make pitching behind in the count successful.

In the first inning he threw two strikes to the first three hitters. The Nationals were fortunate the Cubs only scored one run. Daniel Descalso grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Anthony Rendon made a diving stop of a Javier Baez grounder to prevent the Cubs from having a big inning to get the first out.

In the second inning Hellickson did not walk a batter but he got behind in the count consistently. Jayson Heyward led off the inning with a single and Albert Almora Jr. started a perfect 3 for 3 day with a double down the left field line. Kyle Schwarber drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Anthony Rizzo led off the third inning with a homerun. It was the only run they got, though Wilson Contreras doubled off the right field wall. Even though Hellickson batted in the bottom of the third he did not come out to pitch in the top of the fourth.

Kyle McGowin came on to make his first appearance as a National in the 2019 season. Almora started the inning with double down the third base line. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored on another Schwarber fly out. That put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Kyle Hendricks was cruising. He had a perfect game after three and a no hitter after four. Kurt Suzuki blooped one into center for the first hit. Gerrardo Parra rammed a double down the right field line, but in his slide at second he went past the bag and was tagged out. The Nationals scored their first run on a grounder to second by Brian Dozier.

McGowin struggled in the sixth. Hayward lined a single into center and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Almora walked. Hendriks laid down a bunt. McGowin tried to do a glove flip to home, but the ball went nowhere and Heyward scored. Kris Bryant blooped a single just over the head of Dozier to score Almora to up the score to 6-1.

The Nationals failed to quit. In the home frame Anthony Rendon mashed a ball into the right field bleachers for a three run homer to close the lead to 6-4. Juan Soto followed with a double off the right field wall. A Parra single moved Soto to third and Parra advanced to second after Amora air mailed his throw over the catcher’s head and into the back stop. Brandon Kintzler got some revenge on the Nationals after his release last year, coming on to replace Hendricks and getting Brian Dozier to fly to left.

Howie Kendrick led off the seventh with a homerun off Kintzler. That closed the game to 6-5. Steve Cishek came on to get the last out of the seventh inning and shut out the Nationals the final two to close out the 6-5 win to pick up his fourth save.

Game Notes: Interesting strategy to bat Hellickson in the third and then not pitch him in the fourth. The Nationals bench is extremely shallow, as evidence by Adrian Sanchez pinch hitting in the eighth with the Nationals down by one. He struck out…Javier Baez hurt his heel in the third inning after fielding a grounder. He was later taken out of the game. He hopes to play Monday…Juan Soto struck out swinging in the second and struck out looking in the eighth. That gives him 43 whiffs in just 36 games. Last year he only struck out 99 times in 116 games. His exit velocity when he makes contact is similar to what it was last year so my world is not worried…My world loves grilled cheese sandwiches. We also have a fondness for crab. So the grilled cheese crab sandwich seemed perfect. It was not. The bread was too crunchy and the crab appeared tasteless. Not something I would repeat…Maddon dropped his protest on the delivery of Sean Doolittle.

Strasburg Tames Cubs

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

His fastball was not blistering, sitting in the low 90s, but where Stephen Strasburg excels is when his curveball and change are working. He also stayed ahead of the hitters, walking none and getting to a three ball count to just one hitter. Strasburg worked eight innings, retired the first nine in the order and pitched the Nationals to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

It was a late arriving crowd. The attendance was announced at 37,582. It was a peppery blue and red mix with most of the blue sitting along the third base side and much of the red occupying the first base side. The Nationals dugout is along the first base side. In many areas of the stands the blue seemed to drown out the red.

The Nationals struck first in the second inning when Brian Dozier lifted a high fly ball into center field that eventually settled into the bleachers. When the weather gets warm the bat starts clicking for Dozier, at least that was true during his Minnesota Twins tenure.

The Nationals poured it on off Jon Lester in the third. Trea Turner led the inning off with a single. Adam Eaton laid a bunt down the third base line. David Bote barehanded it but threw it past Anthony Rizzo at first. Turner advanced to third but Eaton stayed at first. Eaton tried to steal second but the throw from Wilson Contreras got there way ahead of Eaton. He got into a run down before being tagged out, Turner wisely staying planted on third.

Anthony Rendon walked on a 3-2 pitch. Howie Kendrick lined a pitch down the third base line for a double to score Turner. Juan Soto followed grounding a double down the first base line scoring Rendon and Kendrick. Brian Dozier blooped a single into centerfield but Soto had to wait halfway and only advanced to third. The Nationals could not add any more damage as Yan Gomes flied to shallow left and Michael Taylor struck out to end the inning.

The Cubs scored a run in the fifth when Strasburg and Gomes appeared to get confused with their signals. Singles by Wilson Contreras and Addison Russell put runners on first and second with two out. Gomes had a ball pop out of his glove and trickle behind him to allow the runners to move up a base. The next pitch glanced off his glove and hit him in the face mask, ricocheting toward the Cubs dugout. Jayson Heyward scored but Russell was thrown out at home when Rendon was able to retrieve the ball and threw to a back pedaling Gomes, who tagged him out. It appeared Gomes was expecting a fastball and got a curve ball on the first pitch and the second pitch he was expecting a curve ball and got a fastball.

The Nationals got the run back in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Rendon drove a pitch that nailed the centerfield fence for a double. Juan Soto drove him in lining a single past the second baseman into right field. That ended the day for Jon Lester.

The only big hit of the day Strasburg allowed was in the sixth when David Bote took his first pitch of that inning into the left field bullpen. It was the fourth and last hit Strasburg would allow in the game. He struck out seven and walked none. Five of the eight innings he retired the side in order and in one of the innings the baserunner was eliminated on a double play ground out.

The Nationals could have broken the game open in the eighth when they loaded the bases. Brad Brach came in and struck out Anthony Rendon to end the threat. That created the situation for the Nationals to bring in Sean Doolittle.

Joe Madden put on some theatrics, objecting to the toe tap in the delivery of Doolittle after his first pitch. He claimed the delivery of Doolittle was no different than Carl Edwards, who major league baseball had forced to revamp his toe tap. The Cubs claim this change in delivery has resulted in the Edward’s struggles this year (9.45 ERA). The umpires disagreed and Maddon protested the game. Doolittle was able to retire the side in order to seal the victory, not bothered by Madden’s attempt at getting in his head.

Game Notes: For most of the day Strasburg sat in the low 90s, hitting as high as 94. Normally he reaches 95/96 with his fastball but myworld did not see that. He struck out the side in the third and struck out three consecutive hitters between the seventh and eighth. So six of his seven whiffs came consecutively. He threw just 93 pitches in his eight innings and if not pinch hit for in the eighth may have completed the game. Strasburg has now pitched six or more innings in nine of his ten starts. He also only had one three ball count to a batter, the next to last hitter he faced in the eighth…Jon Lester came into this game with a 1.16 ERA. He could not last past the fifth, coming out of the game with more pitches thrown (98) than Strasburg threw in his eight innings. It was his first start this season where he gave up more than two runs…Myworld did not notice a lot of called third strikes on the National hitters. Trea Turner looked at a third strike in the fourth, one of the seven Nat whiffs…The Nationals have put Justin Miller on the disabled list and recalled Tanner Rainey. Tanner was acquired in the Tanner Roark trade with the Reds. He throws hard but has trouble finding the plate, though in his last seven relief appearances in the minor leagues he has struck out 18 and walked just one. Not finding the plate seems endemic to the Nationals bullpen. Tanner pitched briefly in the majors for the Reds last year and gave up 19 earned runs in seven innings for a 24.43 ERA. That appears to be the typical bullpen fodder the Nationals present.

World Cup 18 Groups

Friday, May 17th, 2019

The under 18 World Cup will be played in Gijang, Korea on August 30 to September 8 at the Gijang-Hyundai Dream Ballpark. The United States has won the last four under 18 championships.

Group A

Korea, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, Nicaragua and China

Group B

Japan, United States, Taiwan, Panama, South Africa and Spain

The top three teams from each group advance to the super round. The top two teams from the super round play for the championship. The absence of Cuba could be financial. They have also lost a number of their younger players to the major leagues.