Archive for February, 2020

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Many of last year’s top ten Canadian prospects graduated to the major leagues last year. The top four prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Mike Soroka, Tyler O’Neil and Josh Naylor all had impacts on their major league teams and are no longer considered rookies. Cal Quantrill, the number 6 prospect also pitched enough major league innings to no longer qualify for this top ten list. That leaves the pickings for this current top ten list very slim, with just three returners. There is no sure fire major leaguer among this list. It is possible we could have missed a player who lived in Canada long enough as a youth to qualify, but if we learn of him we’ll add him to the list for next year, like Abraham Toro..

1. Abraham Toro 3B (Astros) - Last year he did not make this list because we were not aware he was born in Canada. He may have been rated seventh on the list if we had known his origins last year. This year he was voted by Canadian baseball as the top Canadian player, which gave us a hint to look him up. He has some good offensive tools, hitting .306 in AA and then .424 in a 16 game AAA debut, which got him a promotion to Houston. He has Alex Bregman in his way at third, and his bat may not carry enough power to start at a corner infield spot. He did hit 19 homeruns last year, including two in the major leagues, so the power could be developing. Defensively he is a average to below average, so that will hinder him in his quest to start a third if his bat doesn’t develop. His best bet would be to earn a job as a bench player, perhaps playing some second base and left field.

2. Bo Naylor C (Indians) - He is the younger brother of Josh and possibly the best bet to win regular major league time. Josh weighs in at over 250 while Bo is a more svelte 190. The Indians drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft. His bat shows decent gap power with 18 doubles and 10 triples and there was enough power to carry 11 balls over the fence. The 10 triples tells you he has decent speed for a catcher, more than his brother Bo who is trying to make it as an outfielder. His arm is strong and his defensive tools are strong enough to stay behind the plate. Next year he should see time in High A.

3. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - Adam is more a defensive shortstop. The Orioles drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. His one big attribute is his speed which allowed him to steal 22 bases in 2018 and 33 in 2019. His bat has also been decent the last two years, hitting just a few points shy of .300 both years. The power is limited with slugging averages less than .400 and as he rises up the ranks those numbers could decrease. His best bet may be to make it as a utility player if the bat does not improve. His defense will play.

4. Jordan Balazovic RHP (Twins) - The Twins waited until the fifth round in 2016 to draft Jordan. His first two seasons did not light any fires to draw the scouts attention, but last year he had a breakout season, striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings between Low A and High A. He also limited the opposition to a .193 average. The fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he complements it with a quality slider and change. Next year will be key when he will face more advanced AA hitters.

5. Dasan Brown OF (Blue Jays) - Dasan was the first Canadian selected in the 2019 draft, the Blue Jays grabbing him in the third round. Speed and the ability to cover centerfield will be his game. His bat does not show a lot of power now, but he was one of the youngest players selected in the draft so it could develop as he matures. He has excellent bat speed. With his speed defensively he should cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Last year he hit just .222 in 14 Rookie league games. He may have to start the season in extended spring, get a few games of Rookie league ball in him and with success move on up to Low A.

6. Otto Lopez SS/2B (Blue Jays) - Otto was born in the Dominican Republic but his parents moved to Canada when he was young. He got his start playing ball in Canada before his dad moved him down to the Dominican where he felt he could get a better opportunity to be seen by major league scouts. The Blue Jays signed him for $60,000. Not much was thought of him until he hit .324 in Low A, winning the Midwest League batting title. Lopez is not flashy for shortstop so his best bet would be at second base or in a utility role.

7. Tristan Pompey OF (Marlins) - The younger brother of Dalton. Dalton may have the more impressive tools but injuries hurt his major league development time. Tristan was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, much earlier than his brother Dalton who had to wait until the 16th round in 2010. Tristan has above average speed, but his arm is short and will limit him to left field. At 6′4″ he could develop some power in the bat to fit in left field. Last year he started the season in extended spring training, got a late callup and struggled with a .194 average in the Florida State League. His .271 slugging with no homeruns needs to improve.

8. Brandon Markland RHP (Royals) - Brandon was a player who never got drafted after a high school or college (Bryan College) career. It was only after he pitched in the Coastal Plain Independent League that he got some interest in a team from Australia, the Auckland Tuatara, who are actually a team from New Zealand that plays in the ABL. The Royals found his mid-90s fastball there getting Australian hitters out with ease. In his first season stateside he finished with a 0.46 ERA, getting lots of ground ball outs and limiting the opposition to a .162 average. He is probably destined for the bullpen because of his control issues and ability to only throw two quality two (fastball and slider). At 23 years of age he might have been a bit old for Low A.

9. Andy Yerzy 1b/C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. Last year Andy split his time between catching and first base. His tools to stay behind the plate are limited. While he has a little bit of pop, his bat may not have enough to stay at first base. He struggled at High A, hitting just .104 in 33 games, resulting in a demotion back to Low A. He did hit six homeruns in Low A but his .220 average was 70 points lower than his 2018 average. The 2020 season will be a critical season where he needs to replicate the slugging numbers he put up in 2017 and 2018.

10. Adam Macko LHP (Mariners) - He was born in Slovakia and just missed making the European list. The Mariners drafted him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. The other choice for this slot would be Demi Orimoloye, who is blessed with tools but has trouble making contact. Adam studied pitching in Slovakia by watching YouTube videos of David Price and Justin Verlander. He moved to Ireland where he played for a Little League team ironically named the Mariners and then moved to Alberta, Canada. He doesn’t throw hard, with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, but he relies on his breaking pitches and command to retire hitters. In Rookie ball he struck out 31 hitters in 21 innings and limited the opposition to a .224 average. As he climbs up the minor league ladder he will find better hitters who have the ability to hit breaking pitches if he lacks the command to throw them where they can’t be hit.

Major League Farm Rankings - 15 - 6

Friday, February 28th, 2020

These are the next 10 as ranked by myworld. Last week we ranked 30-16. Since there are more prospects to write about we limited this list to the next ten and will finish out the final five next week.

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (14.32)

This is a team filled with mid-level prospects. The cream could be Bahamian outfielder Kristian Robinson, who they signed for $2.5 million in 2017 and another outfielder, 2018 second round pick Alek Thomas, who in two years has a .312 minor league average. Their 2019 first round pick Corbin Carroll will fill out their future outfield. Catcher Daulton Varsho is about to make his presence known with a .301 average and 18 homeruns in AA last year. Geraldo Perdomo is a smooth fielding shortstop who carries very little power. Another Dominican shortstop, Liover Peguero, who was signed a year after Geraldo will have the better bat but not the better glove. Seth Beer was drafted in the first round by the Astros but traded to the Diamondbacks. He has a big time bat but his best position may be DH, a position that does not yet exist in the National League.

Blake Walston is a left handed pitcher to watch. He stands 6′5″, was drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft and lights the radar in the mid-90s. Two other players drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft are Brennan Malone and Drey Jameson, both righthanded pitchers. Brennan has the height (6′4″) and the fastball to achieve success while Drey stands just 6′0″ but has a swing and miss curveball. Pavin Smith is a first baseman/outfielder with a good hit tool that lacks elevation. Last year he slugged .466, which is a good sign.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (16.06)

The top prospect that lights up the radars in the triple digits is Nate Pearson, a first round pick in 2017. He could be in the Blue Jay rotation in 2020. Jordan Groshans was a 2018 first round pick who has a decent glove for short, but will probably need to move to third. The power bat is there for the corner spot. Don’t know how they will fit the name Simeon Woods Richardson on the back of his uniform but the 2018 second round pick has shown the ability to hit all four quadrants of the plate with a low 90s fastball with plus movement. Orelvis Martinez was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $3.51 million. He has impressive power but lacks the range to stick at short.

Others to watch are 2019 first round pick Alek Manoah, who in his debut struck out 14.3 hitters per nine innings with his mid-90s fastball.

13. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals traded two pretty good outfielders to improve the opportunity of 2016 first round pick Dylan Carson making the roster out of spring training. He hit .361 with five homeruns in his 18 game debut at AAA last year. Those outfielders were traded to acquire the Rays 2018 first round pick Matthew Liberatore, a lefthander with a mid-90s fastball. Nolan Gorman, the 2018 first round pick is a power bat that plays third base.

Zack Thompson was the Cardinals first round pick in 2019. He is a lefty who now has the best curveball in the organization. Elehuris Montero had an off year last year. The Dominican third baseman doesn’t have the power of Gorman but he should hit 20 plus homeruns per year. Malcolm Nunez is another third baseman who came from Cuba in 2018. He showed massive power his first year, slugging .774 with 13 homeruns in 44 games in Rookie ball. That power disappeared last year when promoted to Low A.

12. San Francisco Giants (20.46)

The Giants are rebuilding and what better way to start than the replacement for Buster Posey. Joey Bart was the Giants first round pick in 2018, the second overall pick in the draft after Casey Mize. He will be a good hit and glove man behind the plate. Marco Luciano has some pretty impressive power with the tools to play shortstop. The Giants signed him for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. He could be the next Wander Franco. Heliot Ramos, the Giants first round pick in 2017 out of Puerto Rico will end the Giants dearth of weak hitting outfielders. Hunter Bishop, a 2019 first round pick and Venezuelan Luis Matos, who was also signed in 2018, could join Ramos in the outfield. Seth Corry, a 2017 third round pick dominated last year at Low A (9-3, 1.76 ERA) with a low to mid 90s fastball. Mauricio Dubon became the first player born in Honduras to play in the major leagues. He was acquired from the Brewers and should win the second base job this year.

Alexander Canario showed some impressive power in rookie ball with 16 homeruns in 59 games. He could be ready for a break out season in 2020 if he can avoid the strikeouts. Will Wilson was a first round pick in 2019 and hopes to fill a middle position with the Giants. His lack of speed could prevent a permanent job at shortstop. Jaylin Davis may not be a prospect next year after slugging 35 homeruns last year. The Giants acquired him from the Twins last year, who acquired him in the 24th round of the 2015 draft.

11. Minnesota Twins (20.75)

Royce Lewis was the first player selected in the 2017 draft. Last year he struggled with the bat, failing to get it over .250 but he could become a power hitting shortstop, or move to third if Polanco stays at short. Alex Kirilloff was a first round pick in 2016, had Tommy John surgery then came back to hit .348 with 20 homeruns. Injuries again plagued the outfielder last year (wrist) which sapped the power from his bat. Trevor Larnach led Oregon State to the College World Series championship in 2018. His power bat will join Alex in the outfield after being drafted by the Twins in the first round in 2018. Jordan Balazovic is a burley Canadian pitcher who saw his fastball hit the mid to high 90s last year. Brent Rooker is a defensively challenged outfielder who may move to first base where his power bat will fit. He was a first round supplemental first round pick in 2017.

Misael Urbina is an outfielder from Venezuela who played last year in the Dominican Summer League. He is a good contact hitter with good speed to play centerfield. Keoni Cavaco was the Twins 2019 first round pick. He struggled in his first year, hitting just .172.

10. Baltimore Orioles (20.76)

Adley Rutschman was the first player selected in the 2019 draft who also played on the Oregon State College World Series champions in 2018. If he can survive injuries behind the plate he will be a special kind of catcher with a power bat and top rated defensive skills. Grayson Rodriguez throws from the right side while D.L. Hall throws from the left. Grayson is a big 6′5″ fireballer of a pitcher with a fastball in the mid-90s drafted in the first round in 2018. Hall was a first round pick in 2017, is not as tall (6′0″) but has excellent stuff, including a fastball that consistently hits the mid-90s. His curveball is a knee bender for hitters. Ryan Mountcastle is a hitter without a position to play. The 2015 first round pick was the MVP of the International League with his 25 homeruns. Austin Hays recovered from his poor, injury prone 2018 season and is expected to win the centerfield job in 2020.

Gunnar Henderson was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft and signed him for $2.3 million. His tools may not fit at short but his power bat will look good at third. Adam Hall was also a second round pick (2017) but he is more a defensive shortstop with a questionable bat.

9. Oakland Athletics (21.22)

They have perhaps two of the best lefthanded pitchers in the minor leagues in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Injuries prevented them from making the Athletics rotation last year, but if they stay injury free this year they will be in the starting rotation. Jesus was a third round pick of the Nationals in 2016, dropping in the draft after Tommy John surgery in his senior year in high school. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 and had Tommy John surgery in 2018. Sean Murphy a 2016 third round pick may be one of the best defensive catchers in the game who could provide a little pop with the bat. Robert Puason was signed out of the Dominican for $5.1 million in 2019. He appears to be a smooth fielding shortstop who will have a good bat.

Logan Davidson was the Athletics first round pick in 2019. The son of ex-major league Mark has the tools to stick at short but the power to move to third. Lazaro Armenteros was supposed to be a Cuban sensation when he signed for $3 million in 2016. The bat has not justified the hype to this point, but last year he did hit 17 homeruns, despite a poor .222 average to go with 227 whiffs in 126 games. If he can figure out how to hit a breaking ball he could justify his 2016 hype.

8. Miami Marlins (22.38)

Sixto Sanchez is a fireballing Dominican the Marlins acquired from the Phillies. He is slight of frame and has durability issues, but the fastball sizzles in triple digits. Jesus Sanchez is a five tool outfielder the Marlins acquired from the Rays. The Dominican could win the centerfield job in 2020 if Lewis Brinson continues to struggle. JJ Bleday is a slugging right fielder out of Vanderbilt the Marlins selected with their first pick in the 2019 draft. Jazz Chisholm was acquired from the Diamondbacks. The shortstop was signed out of the Bahamas in 2015 and slugged 21 homeruns last year. The tools are there for him to be a power hitting shortstop. Edward Cabrera is another pitcher that can hit the radar in triple digits, but at 6′4″ the Dominican has a towering plane. Monte Harrison is the last player in the Christian Yelich trade that has yet to reach the major leagues. He has good power and speed, but his swing and miss resulted in 215 whiffs in 2018. A wrist injury last year limited him to 58 games.

Lewin Diaz is a big power hitting first baseman the Marlins acquired from the Twins. Last year he slugged 27 homeruns. Jose Devers is the younger brother of Rafael, but is more a defensive stalwart at shortstop. He lacks the power of his brother. Jorge Guzman may be the hardest thrower in baseball but he has no command and lacks a third pitch. He is destined for the bullpen, perhaps in a closer role. Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. are two brothers signed out of Cuba, whose dad was a star on the early Cuban teams. Victor Victor is said to have the better tools. Jerar Encarnacion hit two homeruns early in spring training, showing the power the outfielder possess.

7. Atlanta Braves

Lots of pitching on this team but outfielders Chistian Pache and Drew Waters could join Ronald Acuna in a couple years to form an impressive outfield. Both have burner speed to fit in center and good power to move to a corner. Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson will all compete for the Braves starting rotation before the 2020 season ends. Bryse was a fourth round pick in 2018 while Anderson (2016) and Wright (2017) were first rounders. Shea Langliers was the Braves first round pick in the 2019 draft. The catcher may always get lost in the shadow of Rutschman but he is a superb defensive catcher with good hit tools.

Braden Shewmake was a first round supplemental pick in the 2019 draft and has already played in AA. He is a 6′4″ shortstop who could develop into a pretty impressive two way shortstop. Bryce Ball had to wait until the 24th round to hear his name called in the 2019 draft, but the first baseman hit .329 with 17 homeruns in his minor league debut.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (27.14)

Not only is their major league team stacked, but their minor leagues is filled with prospects. Gavin Lux, the 2016 first round pick should win the second base job, but has the tools for short. He pulverized minor league pitcher for 26 homeruns in 113 games. Dustin May could fit in the Dodgers rotation this year. The 2016 third round pick has a red mane with a mid to high 90s fastball that makes it appear fire his coming out of his right hand. The Red Sox did not like Brusdar Graterol because he did not have the arm to start. The Dodgers will use his triple digit fastball out of the bullpen. Keibert Ruiz is blocked by Will Smith at the catcher position. A finger fracture ended his season early, but he can hit for average and has good defensive tools. Josiah Gray was acquired from the Reds in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp deal and last year rose three levels to AA with good life on his low to mid 90s fastball. He could be the next rookie in the Dodger rotation for 2021. Tony Gonsolin had a big homerun bat in college but the Dodgers drafted him as a pitcher and in 2018 he was their pitcher of the year. He will be competing for a rotation spot in 2019. Kody Hoese was their first round pick in 2019. The third baseman slugged .779 in college and should carry that power to the major leagues. Diego Cartaya is a Venezuelan catcher the Dodgers signed for $2.5 million in 2018. He is an above average defensive catcher with a strong arm that has good hit tools.

Michael Busch was another first round 2019 pick who has a good bat, despite his .182 average last year. The Dodgers are trying him at second base but he has yet to establish himself at a defensive position. Outfielder Luis Rodriguez was signed out of Venezuela in 2019 for $2.6 million. He has all five tools to be a difference maker in centerfield. Andy Pages is an outfielder from Cuba who swatted 19 homeruns in 63 games in rookie ball.

Korea Cancels Pre-season Because of Coronavirus

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

The KBO has cancelled its 50 game pre-season scheduled for March 14-24 because of the coronavirus fears. Outside of China Korea is the country that has been impacted the most by coronavirus cases.

The regular season is supposed to start on March 28th but that could be in doubt. It would be hard to think Korea would start their season without any exhibition games to get their players and pitchers ready. An emergency meeting of the executive committee is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss potential changes to the regular season.

Korea already plans to halt the regular season in 2020 to allow their professional players to participate in the Olympics. Any further delay could result in a reduction in the number of games played during the season.

As reported yesterday, Japan has decided to play their exhibition season, but will not allow any fans to attend the games.

Tim Tebow to Play for Philippines in WBC Qualifier

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Your opportunity to see Tim Tebow play baseball in a close and intimate setting. He will be playing for the Philippines in a World Baseball Classic qualifier on March 20th in Tucson, Arizona. The Philippines will be competing against Spain, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Panama and New Zealand.

For those not familiar with Tebow he was a Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback prior to his baseball career. He was born in the Philippines to missionary parents and lived there his first five years. He can speak a little Tagalog. Tebow hit a homerun this year in his first spring training at bat. It is expected he will be soon be moved down to the minor league AAA camp where he will begin his 2020 season.

The top two teams from this event will advance to the WBC. The favorites would be Panama and Czech Republic.

Japan to Play Remaining Preseason without Spectators Because of Virus

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Japan will play the remaining 72 games of their exhibition season without fans because of the corona virus concern. The regular season for Japan baseball begins March 20. This follows the Japan Rugby Football Union postponing 16 games over two rounds of its Top League season. It will be interesting their policy once the season begins.

The Olympics are scheduled for Japan in late July/early August and moves like these could impact plans fans had for attending the games.

Source - Japan Times

Major League Farm Rankings - 30-16

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

With the top 100 out myworld has ranked the farm teams in major league baseball. This is principally done by ranking how many top 100 players each major league team has since those players will have the greatest impact. Not the most analytic, but myworld has been doing it this way for awhile now. We’ll rank from worst to first, beginning with 30-16.

30. Milwaukee Brewers (0.04)

The barely significant prospect on the Brewers is Brice Turang, their first round pick in 2018 who plays shortstop. He also starred for the gold medal USA baseball team. The Brewers have been trading their top prospects to stay in the playoff race. The players who could make an impact next year are Tristin Lutz (outfielder), Ethan Small (LHP) and Mario Feliciano. Lutz was a first round pick in 2017, Small a first rounder in 2019 and Feliciano a second round supplemental in 2016.

29. New York Mets (4.48)

The Mets have always gone the bargain basement route when searching for primetime players and their prospects reflect that. Ronny Mauricio is their top prospect, a shortstop who may have to move to third. He signed for $2.1 million in 2017. Francisco Alvarez is a Venezuelan catcher who signed with the Mets in 2018 for $2.7 million. Brett Baty is another power bat that can play third base. He was the Mets first round pick in 2019. Andres Gimenez is a slick fielding shortstop who will probably reach the majors in a utility role who signed way back in 2015 for $1.2 million.

A couple players to watch are two 16 year olds from the Dominican Republic, Robert Dominguez, a right handed pitcher who can hit 97 and outfielder Alexander Ramirez who has the potential to be a power/speed player.

28. Texas Rangers (5.82)

Years ago they used to be the cream of the crop in the international market. Those years have passed. Their top prospect is 2019 first round pick Josh Jung, who has good hit tools. Nick Solak should make the Rangers roster in 2020 in a utility role and catcher Sam Huff is getting a lot of buzz because of his power bat. Hans Crouse is their top rated pitcher on a team looking for pitching pieces.

Luisangel Acuna is the younger brother of Ronald and he hopes to be making some noise. He signed in 2018 but does not have the same tools as his older brother. Bayron Lora was a 2019 international signing for $3.9 million. The Dominican outfielder has big time power.

27 Cincinnati Reds (7.58)

The Reds are hoping that Hunter Greene can come back from his Tommy John surgery and keep the triple digit velocity he had prior to the surgery. Nick Lodolo does not have the same heat but the 2019 first round pick can hit the mid 90s, sitting at the higher edges of the low 90s. His curve ball is his bread and butter pitch. Jonathan India like Nick Senzel is a first round pick (2018) who plays third base but may have to move because of Eugenio Suarez. Shogo Akiyama was signed out of Japan and could win the centerfield job, or roam around all three outfield spots, hitting .300 with double digit homerun power just below 20.

Rece Hinds is another third baseman who is a player to watch. He was a second round pick in the 2019 draft who participated in the high school homerun derby at Nationals park against Bobby Witt Jr and lost, but he took some balls deep.

26. Boston Red Sox (7.8)

The trade with the Dodgers of Mookie Betts got them a couple farm pieces, one of them Jeter Downs, who has already been traded twice. He could be a shortstop with 20 plus homerun pop. Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec play the infield corners and also carry some big time pop. Unfortunately for the Red Sox that position is crowded on the major league roster.

Jarren Duran was a seventh rounder in the 2018 draft but he shows excellent centerfield speed and hit .387 in a 200 at bat performance in High A. Jay Groome has only pitched 66 innings in his three years with the Red Sox because of Tommy John surgery but the 2016 first round pick has good velocity with a 6′6″ frame.

25. Houston Astros (8.68)

Losing two years of number ones because of the cheating scandal will keep them down. Also, there top prospect Forest Whitely has struggled with control, drug suspensions and injury. If he can overcome these obstacles he has the stuff to be an ace. Jose Urquidy has already made his presence known in the playoffs. He lacks the stuff of Whitely but has better command. Abraham Toro has a good hit tool but may lack the power to play third base.

Bryan Abreu could be the next rookie to make the Astros rotation. He has three plus pitches but lacks the ability to find the strike zone.

24. Colorado Rockies (8.8)

Brendan Rodgers is their big time prospect who could win the second base job in 2020. Shoulder surgery limited him to 25 major league games and it could delay his 2020 season until May. Sam Hilliard is an outfielder with power who could win the left field job in 2020, or at worst platoon with Ian Desmond, playing against righthanders. He has power that could be accentuated in Colorado. Ryan Rolison was the Rockies 2018 first round pick who relies on a sweeping hammer that can get swings and misses.

Keep an eye on newcomers Adael Amador, a Dominican shortstop who signed in 2019 for $1.5 million and Michael Toglia, a 2019 first round pick who has good power.

23. Washington Nationals (8.88)

The Nationals hope Carter Kieboom puts up decent numbers as he replaces Anthony Rendon in the lineup, either at third base or second base. He struggled in a brief trial last year. Luis Garcia has been a recent ask from a lot of teams. He plays shortstop and has been one of the younger players at each classification he plays, so his numbers have not been impressive.

Jackson Rutledge is the Nationals 2019 first round pick with a mid to high 90s fastball and an impressive 6′8″ frame. Mason Denaburg, the Nationals 2018 first round pick had a rough 2019 season in rookie ball but he has a good fastball/curve combination. Andry Lara is another pitcher, a 2019 international signing out of Venezuela who already stands 6′4″ and throws mid-90s.

22. Cleveland Indians (9.54)

Nolan Jones shows big time power at third base who was the Indians second round pick in 2016. Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio are both middle infielders, Freeman a second round supplemental pick in 2017 and Rocchio a 2017 signing out of Venezuela. Freeman is the better hitter while Rocchio has the smoother glove. George Valera is a Dominican outfielder that draws comparisons to Juan Soto. Triston McKenzie was the Indians first round pick in 2015 who did not pitch last year because of back issues. Injuries have prevented him from reaching the major leagues. Aaron Bracho could be a nice utility player with hit tools. Daniel Espino was the Indians first round pick in 2019 who was born in Panama and slings his fastball in the upper 90s.

Bo Naylor was a first round pick in 2018, a catcher from Canada with a little bit of pop in his bat. He is the younger brother of Josh. Bobby Bradley is a first baseman with pop. Emmanuel Clase was acquired from the Rangers last year. He hits triple digits with his fastball and is a possible closer. Last year Will Benson hit four homeruns in a game. He is a 2016 first round pick who needs to make more contact before he plays left field for the Indians.

21. New York Yankees (9.62)

Jasson Dominguez has superstar stuff but he is only 16, The Yankees signed the outfielder for $5.1 million in 2019. The Tommy John surgery to Luis Severino may put Deivi Garcia in the rotation. He stands only 5′10″ but his fastball has some fire. Clarke Schmidt is the rare Yankee draft pick (2017 first round) that is high on the Yankee prospect list. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a plus change makes the fastball harder to read. Estevan Florial has five tools, but a rough year dropped him down many prospect rankings. All he needs is to replicate his 2017 numbers.

Everson Pereira is an outfielder to watch. He was a lessor version of Dominguez when he signed with the Yankees for $1.5 million in 2017. Luis Medina, Albert Abreu and Luis Gil are all pitchers from the Dominican ready to make an impact in the Yankees rotation in 2020.

20. Chicago Cubs (10.76)

Nico Hoerner is their 2018 first round draft pick who may have to move from shortstop to second base to make the Cubs roster. Brailyn Marquez is a lefthander out of the Dominican with heat that hits triple digits. The Cubs have been waiting for years to develop a pitcher and Marquez could be the first. Brennen Davis split his time between basketball and baseball, but now that he is focusing on baseball he could become a nice power hitting outfielder. The Cubs have Wilson Contreras, but Miguel Amaya has a good hit/glove tool that could be ready for the Cubs in 2021.

Ryan Jensen was the Cubs first round pick in 2019, a pitcher with a mid-90s fastball who needs to develop a third pitch and find the plate more to stay in the rotation, otherwise he becomes a bullpen piece.

19. Los Angeles Angels (11.96)

Jo Adell is a five tool outfielder who could be playing right field for the Angels in 2020. Brandon Marsh is another outfielder who will have to wait until 2021. Marsh has not shown a lot of power but at 6′4″ he could be a late bloomer.

Jordyn Adams is a first round pick in 2018 who has tremendous centerfield speed with a bat that can hit. His development could make the outfield crowded. Arol Vera is a 2019 signing out of Venezuela who plays shortstop but may eventually have to move to third. His bat carries some impressive pop. Jose Soriano will miss the 2020 season because of Tommy John surgery, but the Dominican had a break out year last year with a mid-90s fastball that hit triple digits.

18. Kansas City Royals (13.34)

Bobby Witt Jr was the Royals first round pick in 2019. He plays shortstop and has impressive power, winning the high school homerun derby during the All star break at Nationals park last year. His dad was a pitcher in the major leagues. Daniel Lynch, Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar could make three fifths of the Royals rotation in two years. Kowar and Singer were teammates in Florida who the Royals drafted in the first round in 2018. Lynch is a lefthander who was also drafted in the first round in 2018. Erick Pena signed an international contract in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic. At 6′3″ he has the potential for impressive power.

Khalil Lee is knocking on the centerfield door for the Royals. Kris Bubic is a lefthander who was also drafted in 2018 in the supplemental first round.

17. Philadelphia Phillies (13.36)

Alec Bohm has a power bat but his 6′5″ height may force a move from third to first. He was the Phillies 2018 first round pick. Spencer Howard throws hard, touching triple digits. The 2017 second round pick could see the Phillies rotation sometime in 2020, but missed two months last year because of shoulder issues and needs to eat innings. Bryson Stott was the Phillies first round pick in 2019 who may lack the tools to stay at short.

Adonis Medina throws hard but struggled in the second half last year.

16. Pittsburgh Pirates (13.88)

Mitch Keller has spent a lifetime in the minor leagues, drafted in the second round in 2014. He finally made his major league debut last year but got lit up. He has ace like stuff with a mid-90s fastball that rises to the high 90s. O’Neil Cruz is 6′7″ but plays shortstop with tremendous power potential. Many expect him to eventually move to the outfield. Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie that plays excellent defense at third base but may not hit enough for a corner.

Ji-Hwan Bae had originally signed with the Braves, but had to negate the signing when they were found in violation of international signing rules. The Pirates took advantage and signed Bae, a shortstop with speed but very little power. Travis Swaggerty was a first round pick in 2018 who carries average or above average tools in all categories.

World Baseball Classic Venues Announced

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

The World Baseball Classic will be played in four venues in 2021. The two foreign venues for pool play and quarterfinals will be Taichung, Taiwan and Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo will host both a pool round and a quarterfinal.

Chase Field in Arizona will host a pool round. Tucson, Arizona is also hosting two qualifying rounds for the World Baseball Classic in March 2020. Miami will be hosting a pool round, a quarter final and the finals.

Myworld was at a pool round match between the United States and the Dominican Republic at the last World Baseball Classic. We have not witnessed a more electric crowd at a baseball game in all our travels around the world watching baseball games. It should be entertaining to have three rounds of matches played in Miami.

The one down side with playing in Miami is the difficulty getting to the stadium with the traffic. It may be best to stay in the down town area. Also, the best parking available is usually in the back yards of neighboring houses. That has got to change. Don’t know if that is the same for major league games but even spring training has gotten away from back yard parking.

AL Central Predictions

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

The Cleveland Indians appear to be rebuilding. That is good news for Twins and White Sox fans.

Minnesota Twins

Good - Last year they broke the record for homeruns in a season with 307. They signed Josh Donaldson to play third base. He should be good for thirty plus more homeruns to add to that total. The big question is whether Mitch Garver can replicate his 2019 season when he hit 31 homers in just 93 games for a .630 slugging percentage. Twin fans may want to temper down expectations and hope for a 20 plus season, which is still pretty good for a catcher. Nelson Cruz will hit 40 in July. He has been good for 40 plus homeruns in four of his last six seasons. When he fell short it was by less than a handful. The corners in the outfield of Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler each combined for 30 plus homeruns. It would stay good news if Kepler stayed at the corner and did not have to play 60 plus games in centerfield because of injuries to Byron Buxton. He is not noted for his defense but Miguel Sano has some pop. If he can stay healthy for a full season he could hit 40 plus homeruns at first base or DH. This lineup has the potential for three or more 40 plus homerun hitters in their lineup and another season of 300 plus homeruns. Jose Berrios could turn into the ace the Twins need to cut down on those losing streaks.

Bad - The bullpen looks a little leaky. They will rely on Taylor Rogers to repeat his 30 save performance. He entered the 2019 season with only two saves. Relievers can be temperamental. Expecting back to back seasons from first year closers is asking a lot. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard are veterans who have done the role, but Trevor May has the closer stuff if Rogers falters. The starting pitching looks a little thin after Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. Kenta Maeda and Homer Bailey have had issues being reliable for full seasons. The return of Michael Pineda from suspension in May would lengthen the rotation, dropping Maeda and Bailey to more acceptable back of rotation spots. Byron Buxton could be a star but he has played in more than 100 games once in his five years in the major leagues. Marwin Gonzalez could fill the outfield role if Buxton does not play but the defense and offense would be impacted.

Ugly - If the balls are not flying out of the park the Twins could be hurting. Also, the lack of depth in their starting rotation cannot afford an injury to Berrios or Odorizzi. Not a lot of big time pitching prospects waiting in the minor leagues to replace them.

Rookies - This is a veteran laden roster. Injuries to the starting rotation could provide opportunities for Devin Smeltzer or Lewis Thorpe. Neither are considered ace material pitchers. If either Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach tear it up in the minors and injuries hit the outfield depth they could get opportunities. Royce Lewis is also waiting for his opportunity if an infield spot should open up.

Expected Finish - First place, and if their offense is running on all cylinders they should get past the first round in the playoffs.

Chicago White Sox

Good - It is a young team with a lot of upside. Eloy Jimenez last year had a rookie season in which he hit 31 homeruns. His defense in left field is very dicey and he belongs more at the DH. Everyone expects Luis Robert to play center and put up Cody Bellinger like numbers. His centerfield defense may be challenged as a rookie. The starting rotation has a lot of depth and promise. Lucas Giolito seemed to figure it all out last year and Dallas Keuchel will show him what it is like to be an ace. The White Sox hope Reynaldo Lopez figures it out, making the trade with the Nationals for Adam Eaton a steal. If not, Michael Kopech could be ready. Before the Tommy John surgery he had an easy triple digit fastball. Gio Gonzalez could make it a ex-Nationals threesome for the White Sox rotation, but his best years are behind him. Yoan Moncada finally pulled it all together last year. The White Sox hope that more improvement is on the horizon. Yasmani Grandal was a good free agent signing. He has hit 20 plus homeruns in his last four years, turning last year’s starter James McCann into a backup and future catcher prospect Zach Collins an after thought or a move to first base or DH.

Bad - There still appears to be a hole at second base. Yolmer Sanchez won a gold glove there last year but was not much of a bat. The White Sox may go with Leury Garcia there this year but his glove may not be as strong as Yolmer and his bat is very vanilla. With a good spring Nick Madrigal could win the starting job. The defense does not look very strong with Jimenez in left field and average or below average defenders at every position except catcher. If Leury Garcia is starting at second base the White Sox lack a utility option they can fill in at a number of positions.

Ugly - The starting staff is young and if injuries or poor performance hit too many of them any shot at contending for the playoffs will be eliminated. Though there is some depth in the rotation it only goes six deep. There is a lack of depth in the outfield should Roberts struggle or injuries make for extended absences.

Rookies - Luis Robert and Michael Kopech are the two big rookies since they are expected to play big roles on the team. Nick Madrigal is a sleeper and could be called up by midyear.

Expected Finish - Second place but just short of the wild card berth and the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians

Good - Francisco Lindor is one of the best shortstops in baseball, but the Indians have spent a lot of time trying to trade him. He provides offense and defense. This would become a big hole if he is traded. Roberto Perez had a break out year behind the plate, hitting 24 homeruns. His batting average (.231) was a little weak. Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger are new names in the rotation that had solid years last year. If they can stay healthy the Indians can be competitive for two of their five games. Carlos Carrasco has to prove he is healthy before myworld mounts him as a benefit to this rotation. Jose Ramirez needs to show the 2019 season was a fluke and bounce back to his previous years numbers to make third base a strength.

Bad - A lot of vanilla in the outfield. Jordan Luplow is a terror against left handed pitching (.320) but an automatic out versus right handers (.216). Franmill Reyes is a defensive liability, but can hit the ball a long ways, as his 37 homers show. Oscar Mercado had a nice rookie season but his numbers fall far short of others at the position. Not a lot at the back end of the rotation, especially if Carlos Carrasco does not stay healthy. The DH spot seems like an empty hole for offense. They hope for better production from Jake Bauers or Carlos Santana or Franmil Reyes could be moved there.

Ugly - By midseason it could get ugly after the Indians fall out of the playoff race and trade Francisco Lindor and other veterans for prospects. They will then fall closer to the Tigers and Royals than contend with the White Sox and Twins.

Rookies - The farm system is loaded more at the lower levels than the upper levels. Logan Allen could be ready for the Indians rotation by mid season. He was acquired from the Padres with Franmil Reyes in the three team Trevor Bauer trade. Bobby Bradley could move to first or fill the DH slot if there continues to be lack of production. He is capable of 30 plus homerun pop. Emmanuel Clase could take over the closer role by the end of the season if the Indians start to trade their veterans and send Brad Hand packing.

Expected finish - Third place, far from the playoffs

Detroit Tigers

Good - They have a future starting five in Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez. This will not help them much in 2020 but fans could see a sprinkle of their abilities before the season ends. Matt Boyd showed ace potential with 200 plus strikeouts last year, but was still too inconsistent to be placed in the ace category. The best “good” that can come for the Tigers with Boyd is that he meets his ace potential and the Tigers get a bagful of prospects for him. Niko Goodrum is good as a utility player but falls short as a starter at one position.

Bad - Let’s just say they are stacking their lineup with a bunch of fillers. They hope Christin Stewart has a better year but all the other positions are filled with journeyman who have no future in the Tigers rebuild. Miguel Cabrera will eat a lot of salary at the DH spot.

Ugly - The starting rotation behind Boyd will give up lots of runs. Can’t imagine the starter ERA being any less than 5.

Rookies - A lot of potential in the starting five mentioned in the “good”. During a bad season there is little incentive to lose service time calling them up, but Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal could fit in the rotation by mid-season. Isaac Paredes could win the third base job out of spring training. He may not have the power for the corner infield spot but he can find the gaps. Willie Castro and Jake Rogers lack the offense to make an impact, but they both got major league time last year.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Royals for last place in this division. Whoever wins that battle may get the number one pick next year.

Kansas City Royals

Good - Like the Tigers the Royals are collecting a number of good arms for the future starting rotation. Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar are three first round picks rising up the minor league ladder. Jorge Soler has a good bat but a terrible glove. His 48 homeruns last year will see most of his games at DH. Salvador Perez used to be one of the best catchers in the major leagues. He missed last year because of Tommy John surgery. He should be ready to play this year. Whit Merrifield may not be with the Royals before the year ends. He has hit .300 his last two years and can play either second base or centerfield. Adalberto Mondesi, the son of Raul, relies on his legs to create havoc. The shortstop has stolen 30 or more bases his last two years. Last year was a down year compared to his breakout 2018.

Bad - The corner infielders are question marks. Ryan O’Hearn had a down year last year slugging just .369. That is more than 200 points lower than last year’s numbers. Maikel Franco signed as a free agent this year. Last year in Philadelphia his slugging was just .409. Teams expect more offense from their infield corners. The team resigned Alex Gordon to play left field, but his best days are behind him. Last year he slugged .396. Nicky Lopez is their promising rookie second baseman, but he finished the year with an OBA of .276. These bats are not going to support a rag tag group of pitchers who will give up runs in bunches. Their bullpen will not protect a lot of leads. The biggest issue is getting a lead to Ian Kennedy, who converted from starter to bullpen and saved 30 games.

Ugly - The starting rotation will eat up innings and give up runs. There is no real ace and they are just filling a need until Singer, Lynch and Kowar are ready.

Rookies - Khalil Lee could see some time in centerfield if the Royals trade Merrifield or return him to second base. Most of the other minor league prospects are too low in the minor leagues to rush to a last place team and waste service time.

Expected Finish - The Royals have more offensive talent than the Tigers. That talent may not stay with the team the whole year. Expect them to battle the Tigers for that first round pick in 2021.

Astroball

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

It was a book written by Ben Reiter. He was a Sports Illustrated writer who predicted the Astros would win the World Series in 2017 in an article written in 2014, when the Astros were in the process of losing 100 games for the fourth straight season. It was a bold prediction at that time but created quite the sensation when it came true in 2017.

The book discusses the history of the Astros rebuilding efforts. There is a chapter in the book “in search of Carlos Beltran”. Beltran was a key acquisition for the Astros in 2017. Why? Because of his veteran presence and his ability to read pitcher’s tendencies with the ability to predict what type of pitch he would throw based on his delivery. There was some discussion how he would look at video replay to identify those tendencies, but no real time review of replay and nothing about banging of trashcans to tell the hitter what pitch would be coming.

In light of the Astros cheating scandal it would be a good read of what the Astros players and management did not tell Reiter as he was preparing to write the book. There was no mention of any program called “Codebreaker”. I guess some things are best left unsaid, until they come out.

Myworld Top 100 - 10-1

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

The final ten.

10. Nate Pearson RHP (Blue Jays) - The Blue Jays 2017 first round pick throws one of the hardest fastballs in baseball, hitting 104 on the radar. At 6′6″ he sits in the high 90s making it very difficult to hit when all you see is what appears to be a right arm coming at your face. What makes his fastball tough is the development of his slider, giving him a quality second pitch. In six starts in the Florida State League he averaged 15 whiffs per nine innings. He relied on those two pitches and decent command to finish with a 2.30 ERA and a .176 opposition average at three different levels in 2019, finishing with three starts at AAA. He does throw a decent curve, but that pitch is more a show me pitch. Last year he threw 102 innings so there is concern with innings usage if he makes the major leagues out of spring training. Expect a 2020 callup sometime mid-season.

9. Jarred Kelenic OF (Mariners) - The Mets drafted Jarred in the first round of the 2018 draft then traded him to the Mariners with other prospects for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Mets got little from Cano and Diaz last year in a disappointing season and may regret the future production of Kelenic. He is a multi-tooled athlete that can hit for both power and average. Last year he hit .291 with 23 homeruns, rising three levels to AA. His defensive attributes fall short of his offensive skills, but he does have the speed to play centerfield and an above average arm to fit in right. Last year he stole 20 bases to be one of ten minor leaguers to achieve a 20/20 season. His OBA and speed would make him a typical leadoff hitter but he has the bat to hit in the more productive two or three spot in the lineup. Next year he should start the season in AA with a potential major league debut in 2021.

8. Casey Mize RHP (Tigers) - Casey was the first pick of the Tigers in the 2018 draft. He quickly justified that selection by throwing a no hitter last year in his first AA start. His last half dozen starts were ugly (7.09 ERA) but they were preceded by shoulder soreness. Injuries have followed him so there is some concern there. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and can reach the upper spectrum of the 90s. His best pitch may be a splitter that dives toward the plate. He throws strikes with plus command. If he can stay healthy he will be an ace in the rotation. Casey will start the 2020 season in AA and could see the major leagues later that year, though service time issues could push that back to 2021.

7. Jesus Luzardo LHP (Athletics) - The Nationals are known for drafting quality pitchers who have fallen in the draft because of Tommy John surgery. They were able to get Luzardo in the third round of the 2016 draft after this surgery his senior season in high school. The Nationals traded him in 2017 to improve their bullpen, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle for their playoff run. Jesus broke out after the trade showing a mid to high 90s fastball and an excellent change. He may have made the Athletics rotation last year if not for rotator cuff issues in spring training. He did make his major league debut in the bullpen late in the 2019 season. The 2020 season should see him start it in the Athletics rotation.

6. Adley Rutschman C (Orioles) - The first pick in the 2019 draft led Oregon State to the College World Series. The last catcher the Orioles drafted in the first round, Matt Wieters also carried a lot of hype, but fell short of those expectations. The Orioles hope for more from Adley. He is a four tool catcher who should hit for power and average, carries a rifle arm to control the running game and has the defensive tools to shine behind the plate. The only thing he lacks is running speed but he will not clog the bases. Last year he made a quick rise to Low A, hitting just .154 there after shining in the New York Penn League with a .325 average. The expectation is that Adley will rise to the top of the catchers order providing both offense and defense. He should make his Oriole debut sometime late in 2021 or early in 2022 depending on the status of the Orioles rebuilding process.

5. McKenzie Gore LHP (Padres) - The 2017 first round pick has some nasty stuff. Blisters made for a poor 2018 season but he bounced back last year to show what he was capable of (1.02 ERA in 15 AA starts). He dominates with four plus pitches, a low to mid-90s fastball, two plus breaking pitches (slider and curve) and a change. All his pitches are thrown with superb command resulting in a career whiff rate of 12 hitters per nine innings. He did struggle a bit in five starts in AA (4.15) with the opposition hitting him at a .250 clip when compared to his High A .137. His only weakness is an inability to hold runners on base, which creates struggles for him in games. Gore should start the 2020 season in AA with a possible late season callup to prepare for the starting rotation in 2021.

4. Jo Adell OF (Angels) - The Angels first round 2017 pick is a five tool athlete that could impact the Angels outfield in 2020. His 2019 season was delayed by two months because of leg injuries suffered during spring training. When he returned he slugged 10 homeruns, but none in 120 plus AAA at bats. He also combined for a .289 average at three different levels. In High A and AA his slugging percentage was over .500, but in AAA it dropped to .355. Adell will probably slide into right field sometime by mid-season in 2020 because of the Mike Trout factor, but he has the tools to play center. If he had put together a good AAA season he might have had a chance to compete for the starting right field spot out of spring training, but the Angels will bring him up once he has proven himself in AAA.

3. Gavin Lux SS (Dodgers) - The Dodgers 2016 first round pick was a disappointment in 2017, hitting just .244 with a .693 OPS in 111 games. That changed with his breakout season in 2018 and his repeating that success in 2019. In 49 AAA games he hit .392 with 13 homeruns. The defensive tools are there for him to play shortstop, but Corey Seager has that position covered. So Gavin has been working a lot at second base. His power should allow him to eclipse 30 homeruns per season with an average above .300. He lacks stolen base speed but it should not prevent him from taking the extra base when running the bases. The Dodgers are hoping he wins the starting second base job out of spring training, though their lineup is pretty stacked.

2. Luis Robert OF (White Sox) - Luis is a five tool athlete the White Sox signed out of Cuba for $26 million in 2017. His second year was filled with disappointment with White Sox fans wondering “where’s the beef” after he failed to hit a homerun in close to 200 at bats. Thumb issues impacted the quality of his at bats. Last year he made up for that disappointment with 32 homeruns and a .297 average. In AAA he hit 16 homeruns in just 47 games for a .974 OPS. For the year he had a combined 1.001 OPS. He stole 36 bases to become one of two 30/30 players in the minor leagues (Kyle Tucker being the other). His stolen base numbers may not be as prevalent once he reaches the major leagues. Luis has the potential to be a superstar in centerfield with a White Sox arrival time right out of spring training in 2020.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - The Rays spent $3.8 million to sign Wander in 2017. In his two years since he has hit .336 with a .928 OPS. Wander has 30 plus homerun pop and the ability to hit for a high average. His tools sit slightly above average for a shortstop but if he bulks up too much he may have to make the move to third. The power is there for the position. For a power hitter Wander makes excellent contact with a 83/54 walk to whiff ratio. His uncle is shortstop Erick Aybar so the genes are there to play short. Last year he dominated in 52 High A games so the Rays should start his 2020 season in AA. He could make the major league roster by 2021.