Archive for July, 2019

Japan Wins Last Two to Defeat the United States

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

The United States college national team had a 2-1 game advantage against Japan. They had not beaten Japan in a series in Japan in the last 15 series. Could have been a let down since these were the final two games of their schedule, but Japan clubbed the United States in the last two games 9-1 and 6-1. The United States still holds the overall edge in the series 24-19, but their record in Japan is 3-18.

Japan slugged four homeruns in the third through sixth innings in the 9-1 win, Yuya Gunji going deep twice with two solo blasts. Shugo Maki had a big two run single in the third to get the Japan offense going and added a solo shot in the fifth to finish the game with three RBIs. Takashi Hayakawa shut out the United States team for the first four innings. Logan Allen gave up six runs in his three innings.

In the 6-1 loss Masato Morishita shut out the United States team for five innings. Takashi Umino, who hit a solo homerun in the previous game smacked a two run double in the three run fourth to put the game out of reach for Japan.

Schoop Leads Netherlands Past Japan in Port Tournament

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Japan jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against Netherlands, fueled by an RBI single in the first from top hitter Ryuma Seki and a solo shot in the fourth from Masaya Higshimoto in the fourth. Both runs were scored against Netherlands veteran ace Rob Cordemans. The Netherlands came roaring back with 2-run double from Sharlon Schoop in the fifth and an RBI single from Schoop in the seventh.

The Netherlands shut down Japan after the fourth inning. Diegomar Markwell pitched three shutout innings to get credit for the win. Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Kevin Kelly and Tom Stuifbergen each retired two hitters to finish out the game, Stuifbergen getting credit for the save.

It is the first time the Netherlands has won the port tournament since 1999.

MVP of Torunament - Dwayne Kemp (Netherlands)
Best Hitter - Ryuma Seki (Japan) .560 batting average
Top Pitcher -Vance Ross (United States) 0.00 ERA, league leading 14 K’s
Top Power Hitter - Denzel Richardson (Netherlands) 2 homeruns
Top Rookie - Delano Selassa (Netherlands)
Most RBIs - Ryuma Seki (Japan) 11
Best On Base Man - Nick Dibenedetto (United States) .609 OBA, including 5 hit by pitch
Stolen Bases - Dwayne Kemp (Netherlands), Daisuke Ezake (Japan) 4

Japan to Face Netherlands in Finals of Port Tournament

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

Japan, which finished in last place in the first round has turned the corner and won their next two games to qualify for the championship. They knocked out Taiwan, who finished in first place in the first round 8-1. Japan erupted for four runs in the first inning to take a commanding lead. Daiki Sekino pitched three innings of shutout ball to start the game then turned it over to four pitchers who held Taiwan to one run, that being scored in the ninth inning.

Ryuma Seki, Koki Kajiwara and Ryoma Nagashima each contributed three hits for Japan in the victory. Jho Ohkanda and Masaya Higashimoto each drove in two runs. Seki crossed the plate three times, coming a homerun shy of the cycle.

The United States got a bit of revenge in the game for fourth place, shutting out Curacao 6-0 in a six inning game. In their previous meeting Curacao had beaten the United States team 20-2. Ross Vance pitched a compete game two hitter, striking out eight and walking two. Darryl George led the offense, a double short of the cycle in a 3 for 3 day, driving in three runs and scoring twice.

As it stands now, Japan (3-3) and Netherlands (4-2) will battle for first. Taiwan (4-3) finished in third, the United States (3-3) fourth and Curacao (2-5) fifth.

United States Shuts Out Japan

Friday, July 19th, 2019

The United States collegiate national team went up two games to one on Japan with a 2-0 one hit victory. Reid Detmers went five innings and only allowed one hit. Cole Wilcox and Andrew Abbott completed the final four innings to complete the shutout. Heston Kjerstad gave the United States team all the runs they needed with his solo shot in the fourth. They added an insurance run in the fifth on an Alika Williams RBI single.

The United States and Japan have two more games to complete the series.

Port Tournament Down to the Finals

Friday, July 19th, 2019

The Netherlands holds two big tournaments played every other year. During the even numbered years you have the Honkball tournament played in Haarlem, Netherlands. Myworld was actually there a couple years ago to witness one tournament. During the summer months day time lingers a bit longer in the Netherlands so when a 7 PM ends at about 10 PM you are still walking back to your car or hotel in day light. The port tournament is held in Amsterdam during the odd numbered years.

Five teams competed in the Port tournament, Curacao, Japan, Netherlands, Taiwan and Team USA. The teams from Japan and Taiwan are composed of college level players or players who participate in the industrial leagues. The United States team is composed of minor league ball players, though the names of these players would not be familiar to many.

For the first round the final standings were 1) Taiwan 3-1, 2) Netherlands 2-2, 3) Curacao 2-2, 4) United States 2-2 and 5) Japan 1-3. The United States learned that being a minor leaguer holds no stock to how competitive you would be in this tournament, losing to Curacao 20-2. They committed six errors in the game that was halted after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.

Taiwan continued their dominance in the second round by defeating Curacao 7-6. The United States was again humiliated with a 13-3 loss to Netherlands. Lars Huijer got the win for the Netherlands by pitching five innings. In the Dutch League playing for Hoofddorp Pioniers he has been unhittable with a 0.80 ERA in 12 starts limiting the opposition to a .139 average. He has also whiffed 108 hitters in just 90 innings. The United States was able to tag Lars for six hits and three runs but their pitching let them down. Josh Collmenter got the start for the United States and was battered around for nine runs in just 2.1 innings. This was another game that was ended after seven innings because of the slaughter rule. The United States played and lost the two games that were ended early because of the slaughter rule.

In the second round Curacao will play Japan in a losers bracket game. The United States appears to have been sent down to the bracket to see who finishes fourth, which knocks them out of any championship hope. They will play the loser of the Curacao/Japan game. The winner of the Curacao/Japan game will advance to play the loser of the Taiwan/Netherlands game. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Tawain/Netherlands game for the championship. The only team that appears to have been eliminated from the championship game so far has been the United States.

Top Venezuelan Prospects National League

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

There have been some graduations from the list put together last year. Rookie of the year Ronald Acuna had a pretty good year and is no longer considered a prospect. He was the top player on the National League list. Other than that no other graduating player. With all the internal strife in Venezuela the quality of prospects out of the country has dropped. The National League seems to have a lot of promising catchers. The top five players on this list appeared here last year. The bottom five are all new to the list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - After Acuna won rookie of the year last year Ruiz went from number two to the top spot. In his first couple years in the minors he hit over .300, entering the 2019 season with a .330 career average. His bat took a bit of a dive last year with a .268 average. The Dodgers kept him in AA for a second season and the hitting has continued to suffer (.245). Not noted for his power his slugging percentage has really dipped from .401 last year to .321. The bright note is his ability to make contact is strong (28/21 walk to whiff ratio) and his defense has not suffered. His arm is not strong so he will not control a running game but his ability to block pitches in the dirt is solid. If his bat had been strong myworld would have expected a promotion sometime this year. With the Dodgers in a pennant race it may not be until next year when Ruiz wears a Dodger uniform.

2. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - At one point Amed Rosario was the Mets shortstop of the future. Defensive struggles have the Mets talking about moving Rosario to centerfield, which would open up a spot for Gimenez at shortstop. The bat is not as strong as Amed but his defense is superb. If Rosario stays at short the Mets could always convert him to a utility player. Last year he carried a useable bat, hitting over .277. This year the bat has dipped to .232 in AA. Andres lacks the speed of Rosario but he still has the ability to steal bases (16). The biggest issue for Gimenez is the rise of Ronny Mauricio, coming up from A ball.

3. William Contreras C (Braves) - The younger brother of Wilson carries his brothers pop with the bat and his strong arm. The bat has struggled a bit this year with a .263 average and .368 slugging percentage in the Florida State League but that is a pitcher’s park. Myworld only became aware of Wilson when he was at AA but at this point the older brother has more power. William may develop that power but it has yet to surge with regularity. His arm is strong enough to catch and he has the intangibles to fit behind the plate defensively. The Braves have Alex Jackson in AAA but William is the stronger hitter and better defensively. Alex may have more power. William may have to wait until next year to debut for the Braves.

4. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - The world continues to wait for the Espinoza breakout. He was one of the top minor league pitchers in baseball until Tommy John surgery felled him. He has not pitched since 2016, missing more than two seasons. Despite standing only 6′0″ his fastball hit the high 90s. Scouts compared him to Dennis Martinez. Originally signed by the Red Sox in 2014 for $1.8 million they traded him to the Padres for Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox ironically complaining about the trade because of a perceived undisclosed injury to Pomeranz. A second Tommy John surgery in August of last year will delay Espinoza’s return until mid 2020.

5. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - The Phillies signed Ranger for the bargain basement price of $25,000 in 2012. He lacks an over powering fastball, sitting in the low 90s but a excellent change enhances the velocity of the fastball. Swings and misses are not part of his game with just 6.6 whiffs per nine innings. He also has excellent command of his pitches, throwing to the corners and hoping for soft contact. Last year he had some success at AAA (2.74 ERA), which led to a promotion to the major leagues. That proved to be a challenge with a 5.40 ERA and a ,339 opposition average. This year he started his season in AAA and that was a struggle (5.68 ERA and .281 opposition average). Despite those poor numbers he did get promoted to the Phillies where he worked out of the bullpen. At best he is a back of the rotation pitcher. If that does not work out he could still be used out of the pen as a middle reliever.

6. Francisco Morales RHP (Phillies) - Francisco was not the bargain as Suarez. He has a little more pop to his fastball, with his mid-90s velocity motivating the Phillies to pay $900,000 to sign him. Francisco has a plus slider but still needs more consistency with his change to give him a third pitch. Francisco has more swing and miss with his pitches. This year is his first season in full season ball and his swing and miss has not lessoned. He has given up some homerun balls (7) in just 62.1 innings, which is responsible for his high 3.90 ERA.

7. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets have had trouble finding a catcher. At 17 years old and signed in 2018 for $2.7 million Francisco will not provide any immediate answers. This is his first year of minor league baseball and the Mets have already promoted him to the rookie leagues where he has shown some pop with the bat with three homeruns in 15 games. He is also torching rookie league pitchers for a .404 average and a 1.189 OPS. He is still learning the tools of catching but the arm is strong so that is a start. If the bat continues to rake he could be one of the youngest players in full season ball next year. That is quite an accomplishment for one so young, especially at a position that is so demanding. Mets fans will have to wait at least four years before seeing him in a Mets uniform.

8. Jesus Tinoco RHP (Rockies) - Tinoco was the throw in player the Blue Jays included in the Troy Tulowitski trade. Jesus has a pretty good fastball and breaking ball combination. His change still needs work if he wants to be in the starting rotation. Coming into the 2019 season his career ERA was 4.75 with an opposition average of .286. There is also not a lot of swings and misses to his pitches. This year he has career numbers in AAA with a 4.34 ERA and a .259 opposition average. His strikeout numbers continue to be disappointing. Jesus made his major league debut this year with 7 bullpen appearances. He has been prone to the homerun ball in the NL (5 homeruns in 13 innings).

9. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Diego may be a stronger defensive player than Ruiz. He only signed in 2018 for $2.5 million and did not play last year. Only 17 years old Diego was recently called up to play in the Arizona Rookie League. His .200 average and 2/17 walk to whiff ratio is evidence that he has a long ways to go. A player to watch as possible trade bait with Ruiz and Will Smith ahead of him in the minors. Time will tell if the power will develop but at 6′2″ he has a large frame.

10. Israel Pineda C (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Pineda in 2016 for $450,000. He spent his first two years in short season ball hitting .277. He is still a teenager so there is a lot of development to do. This is his first year in full season ball and where his average has struggled (.212) but he has already hit a career high 5 homeruns. His arm is above average with the ability to throw out greater than 40 percent of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year. The Nationals have a lot of young depth at catcher in the minor leagues so it will take at least five years before Israel makes his debut.

United States College Team Battling Japan

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

The United States college national team is in the process of playing a three country series. In North Carolina they won four out of five games against Cuba. The one win for Cuba was the fourth game when they rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win. In the four losses the Cuban team was held to five runs while their pitching staff gave up 27 to the United States bats.

The next series for the college national team was in Taiwan against collegians from Taiwan. The United States may have been jet lagged in the opener as they were limited to just one run in the 2-1 loss. The bats came alive the next two games with 12-5 and 10-6 wins. Taiwan salvaged a split of the series winning the final game in 10 innings 7-6.

The United States last series is against Japan. They could not blame jet lag on their 3-0 loss in the opener since they were coming from Taiwan. The United States could only manage four hits in the loss. In the second game Alec Burleson hit a walk off homerun to even the series, winning the second game 3-2. The United States leads the series against Japan 24-18 but they have lost 15 straight series in Japan. While they do have three more games, there are ties in baseball in Japan so the United States need to at least win two games to take the series.

Rookie Hits for Cycle in All Star Game

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

It is pretty tough to hit for the cycle in a normal baseball game, but in an All Star game it is even more difficult. Most players who play in an All Star game will not get enough at bats to complete the cycle. That did not happen to the Hansin Tigers rookie Koji Chikamoto, who hit for the cycle in the second All Star Game.

Japan plays two All Star games. In the first game the Pacific League beat the Central League 6-3. Tomoya Mori hit a two run homerun in the second inning and Hideto Asamura and Hotaka Yamakawa went back to back with solo shots in the sixth to give the Central League a 4-1 lead. They went on to win the game 6-3 with both teams tacking on two runs in the ninth. Koji Chikamoto entered that game as a pinch runner and went 0 for 1 in the game.

Game two was a little different. Koji got things stared for the Central League with a lead off homerun in the bottom of the first. That made him the first rookie in Japan to ever lead the game off with a homerun in an All Star game.

The Central League then pulled away from the Pacific League with three homeruns in the second inning, hit by Tigers Fumihito Haraguchi, who led off the second inning with a homerun followed by his Tigers teammate Ryutaro Umeno who hit the first pitch he saw in the game for a homerun. Future major leaguer Yoshitomo Tsutsuhgoh, now of the Yokohama Bar Stars slugged a two run homerun and the Central League had a commanding 8-0 lead after two.

Chikamoto slugged a double in the second and added a single in the third inning to get three quarters of the way to a cycle with six innings to play. He hit another double in the fifth inning to go 4 for 4. Myworld may have tried to stretch that double into a triple to complete the cycle then. In the seventh he completed his cycle with a triple to finish the All Star game 5 for 5. The Central League also ended a five game losing streak to the Pacific League with an 11-3 win.

The only other player to hit for the cycle in an All Star game was Hall of Fame catcher for the Yakult Swallows Atsuya Furuta back in 1992.

While playing high school ball Chikamoto never played in the Koshien tournament. He played college ball, initially trying to make it as a pitcher, but finally settling on an outfielder role after arm injuries stunted his pitching development. None of the Japanese teams drafted him after college and he went on to play in the Industrial Leagues.

In the Industrial Leagues Chikamoto led his team to the championship hitting .524 resulting in him being voted the most valuable player in the league. In the 2018 draft the Hanshin Tigers selected Chikamoto as the third alternative pick during the first round after they lost the lottery picks for two other players. He made the team out of spring training and hit .268 with six homeruns and 20 stolen bases to make the All Star game. His 50 runs scored are tops on the Hanshin Tigers.

Rays Short of Perfection in Win Against O’s

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Myworld has witnessed two no hitters, a seven inning minor league game thrown by John Stephens and a nine inning major league game thrown by Max Scherzer. I don’t recall either of those games being perfect. Today Tampa Bay used two pitchers to pitch 8 innings of perfect ball. Ryne Stanek, a fireballing righthander whose fastball lights up the radar guns at 98 pitched the first two innings. Ryan Yarbrough a junk ball throwing lefty who stays in the slow lane at 88 pitched a perfect six. They each spell their first name differently, but they often act as a pair, with Ryne taking the first two innings as the opener before handing it to Ryan to take the next four to seven innings.

The perfect game was ended on the first pitch in the ninth when Hanser Alberto pushed a ground ball through the vacated right field hole, a spot where the second baseman should have been playing if he had not been on the left hand side of the bag in the shift. Stevie Wilkerson punched the second pitch of the ninth into center field for a cleaner hit. Yarbrough struck out pinch hitter Chance Sisco before departing. The Orioles would end the shutout on a Anthony Santander single but Emilio Pagan retired Trey Mancini on a strike out on a 96 mph fastball with two runners on to preserve the 4-1 victory.

Tom Eshelman got the start for the Orioles. Perhaps they should use the lefty fireballer Brandon Kline to pitch the first two innings for him and then bring in the soft tossing righthander Eshelman for the next four to seven innings. Tom’s fastball sits at 86-87 and does not even encroach on the 90 and up velocity meter on the radar. He pitched a decent game, being called up today after the trade of Andrew Cashner left open a roster spot.

The Rays were able to tag on a run in the second. They loaded the bases with no outs on back to back singles from Nate Lowe and Michael Brosseau and a Ji-Man Choi walk. Eshelman struck out Willy Adames looking on a 3-2 pitch. Joey Wendle lined one into right field where Trey Mancini made a diving catch. Nate Lowe was able to score on the out for the first run. A Mike Zunino whiff ended the inning and Eshelman had to feel good about getting out of the jam.

Austin Meadows buried a pitch deep into Eutaw Street to lead off the third. It bounced once and hit off the warehouse. Eshelman left with two outs in the sixth when Michael Brosseau hit a two run shot that just carried the right center field wall. After that homerun Michael had a .405 batting average with a 1.400 OPS in 38 at bats. Michael has a career .300 minor league batting average and was hitting .317 with a .590 slugging percentage and 15 homeruns in 68 games when the Rays called him up from Durham. He was not drafted, signed as a free agent in 2016 after the draft, playing four years at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. The Bulls used him as a utility player and after driving in 57 runs to lead the International League the Rays decided to call him up. He has now hit three homeruns in his last two games.

The Orioles pen was able to shut out the Rays for the last 3.1 innings. Paul Fry even struck out the side in the seventh. But the Orioles could not overcome the perfection of the Rays through the first eight innings.

Game notes: The crowd was announced at 14,802 but it looked sparser than that…In the second Trey Mancini came up short on a diving attempt to rob Brosseau of a single. He did dive to rob Joey Wendle of a hit. Trey is better utilized at first base, but with Renato Nunez more a DH than an infielder and with Chris Davis at first base right field is the only place left for him. He catches what he reaches but his range is not great…Chris Davis is slugging .321. He went 0 for 3 today. Myworld can’t imagine the Orioles protecting Davis on the 40 man next year, not when they are rebuilding. They might as well just eat his $20 million plus salary and give the younger players an opportunity to get playing time…There has not been a combined perfect game in major league history. They have had combined no hitters but no combined perfect games. With the opener now used by more teams that will be the next event to be shattered.

Stevie “Wonder” Wilkerson Powers O’s Over Rays

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

After giving up 16 runs the previous day the pitching staff redeemed themselves by holding the Rays to one run. After striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth Stevie Wilkerson redeemed himself by powering a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Rays.

The Orioles could not figure out Brendan McKay for the first five innings. They were able to get three hits off him, two of them in the fifth inning to put runners on first and third with no outs. McKay was able to strike out Keon Broxton and Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson did foul off four two strike pitches before swinging and missing at a 95 mile per hour fastball. Richie Martin grounded out to second to end the inning. So either the ineptness of the Orioles bats prevented them from driving in the run or the quality of McKay’s pitches were too much for the Orioles to handle. In three starts Brendan lowered his ERA to 1.69. But the three hitters he faced had a combined average of less than .200.

The Orioles started Aaron Brooks, his first in an Oriole uniform. He was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in early July. He did not allow a hit in his 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a big fly to the warning track to Joey Wendle in the third the Orioles pulled him to bring in Jimmy Yacobonis.

The Rays only got three hits all game. The first came from Mike Zunino, who powered a pitch into the left field bleachers, the first hitter Yacobonis faced in the game. Yacobonis also gave up singles to the next two batters. Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to first to end the inning. Yacobonis retired 9 of the next 10 hitters he faced, issuing a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows in the sixth.

Shawn Armstrong came on to pitch the seventh for the Orioles. He walked the only two hitters he faced. Richard Bleier came on to retire the next three hitters to bail out Armstrong. A ground ball by Zunino was bobbled a bit by Hanser Alberto, but he was able to get the throw to first in time to retire Zunino.

The Orioles were able to get two runners on in the sixth on two out back to back singles by Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino off Andrew Kittridge. Collin Poche came on to replace Kittridge and struck out Jonathan Villar to end the threat.

Poche came on to pitch the seventh. Anthony Santander tagged him for a leadoff single. With one out Stevie Wilkerson ran the count to 2-2. He again fouled off a couple two strike pitches. This time he came through with a shot into the centerfield bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Bleier walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth. This brought in Mychal Givens, who has been having trouble closing games. His last save was June 11. He retired all five hitters he faced, including getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play to pick up his seventh save.

Game Notes: It was the first game of a day/night double header. The Orioles lost the second game 12-4…Mike Zunino has a very slow bat. We were impressed how far the ball went despite his slow swing, but the ball he hit still carried over the fence. The slow bat could be responsible for him consistently hitting near the Mendoza line each year…Yacobonis has a nice fastball that hits the mid 90s. His big issue has been the homerun ball. In his last two years he has given up 15 homeruns in just 71 innings…Emilio Pagan has had an excellent rookie season. In his one inning of work he struck out two and had a pop out to the catcher, his fastball hitting 96…Pedro Severino was batting cleanup. Perhaps that was because he is hitting .316 against lefthanders. Myworld does not see that lasting…Keon Broxton struck out in all three of his at bats, dropping his average to .176. The Orioles need to find better…Anthony Santander was hitting .354 in Camden Yards…The Rays bullpen ERA of 3.65 is second best in the majors. They have only lost one lead after the sixth inning. Make that two…Bill Bundy went on the injured lost after giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Orioles also traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17 year old international prospects. That gives two other pitchers an opportunity to make the starting rotation.