Archive for April, 2020

Manny Talks About a Return to Taiwan Baseball

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Manny Ramirez would like to return to baseball in the CPBL. The problem is, all the foreign roster spots are filled. These foreign roster spots are filled with pitchers, who are considered a more valuable commodity than position players. Last year Taiwan brought in some foreign position players but that was met with disappointment and they were quickly released to strengthen the pitching staff.

Manny would like to return as a player manager. When he played in Taiwan in 2013 he was 41 years old. Now he is 48. As a 41 year old he hit .352 with 8 homeruns and 43 RBIs in 49 games. Of course, production may not be an issue if he can drive up attendance, television ratings and attention to the CPBL.

According to the interview in the Taiwan Times he starts his day at 6 AM by reading the bible and then watching one hour of Taiwan baseball. The team he played for in 2013 was the EDA Rhinos. They are now the Fubon Guardians. After six years they probably no longer have the player rights to Manny.

Comparing Yoenis to Yoelkis Cespedes from Cuban League Numbers

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

July 2 is coming up and that is the time major league teams normally sign international prospects. This year could be a little different because of the corona virus and the suspension on scouting. Most teams have had their players for this year committed by 15 and probably already have informal contracts in place so there probably should not be that big an impact on signings. The one player getting a lot of buzz is the half brother of Yoenis Cespedes, Yoelkis. When you compare their Cuban numbers you have to wonder why, unless it is a down year for international prospects.

Yoennis was a stud in the Cuban League. You look at his Cuban numbers and as a 20 year old through his early years he was among the league leaders in homeruns, hitting between 15 to 33 his last year, finally defecting at the age of 26. His first couple years he had walk to whiff ratios of 28/65 and 34/59 but after that the number of walks to whiffs were about equal in his last six years. His career Cuban batting average was about .319.

His major league seasons have been impressive when healthy, but staying healthy has been an issue. His best season was in 2015 when he hit 35 homeruns, followed the next season with the Mets when he hit 31. After that his last three years have been major disappointments, plagued by injuries. One has to wonder about his motivation to continue playing.

Looking at the Cuban numbers for Yoelkis brings up some rather unimpressive stats. This is a league that has also been watered down with defections. The pitching is not as strong as when Yoenis played.

Yoelkis put in four years in the Cuban League, half the time as his brother. Both started their careers at 18 years of age. Yet according to the stats on Baseball Reference, Yoelkis highest homerun numbers are just six. Yoennis hit 9 hist first year, 15 his second year and 23 his third year with a career batting average of .319. Yoelkis has just 12 homeruns in his four years in the Cuban League with a career batting average of .287. His walk to whiff rate is also not impressive (37/133).

Finally, if you look at slugging numbers Yoennis slugged .585 over his eight year career, including slugging over .500 in his first four years in the Cuban League. Yoelkis has a career .415 slugging average and has yet to reach the .500 slugging mark in his four years of Cuban ball.

Myworld would be cautious about spending big bucks for Yoelkis, based on the numbers in baseball reference. He is also listed at 5′7″ for his height where Yoennis is shown at 5′10″. We see nothing more than a fourth outfielder or organizational player in the minor leagues, if those numbers at Baseball Reference are accurate.

Mexican League Hoping to Start in July

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

The Mexican League is hoping to start their season in July. Since they are considered a AAA team that could bring hope to the minor leagues that they could start their season also in July. The problem with a July start is the season would run into September, with playoffs following. Mexico also has a winter league and many of the players who play in the summer league also play in the winter league.

With very little to no television revenue it would not be feasible for the league to play their games with no fans so a lot will depend on the status of the corona virus and the social distancing requirements. Even if they were allowed to have large crowds would the people come to sit in seats where touching the person next to you is quite common.

One player looking at playing in the Mexican League is Adrian Gonzalez. Mexico is one of four countries that have qualified for the Olympics. If Adrian feels he can contribute to Team Mexico he could have interest in extending his playing career. He has not played professionally since June of 2018. Gonzalez was born in San Diego but his parents are from Mexico, making him eligible to participate for Mexico in the Olympics. Gonzalez has played for Mexico in World Baseball Classics in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

KBO Foreign Players

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

The KBO is scheduled to start their season May 5. ESPN has a lot of dead time on their channels. Too many talking heads or “classic games” that aren’t so classic. They were trying to get free broadcast rights to televise KBO games from Eclat. The contract for these free games was supposed to be for an as needed or monthly basis. Once major league baseball started the KBO games would be discontinued.

Eclat saw no benefit in that and said no dice. Their request was a bit of an insult. Now ESPN is negotiating with Eclat to pay for broadcast rights. They have until May 5 before games start. Let the games begin.

The KBO allows three foreign players on each roster, but no more than two position players or two pitchers. So teams usually populate their teams with two pitchers and one position player. If a team has more than three players once has to play in the minor leagues. Shuttling is discouraged since a player sent down has to spend a minimum of 10 days in the minor leagues.

Below are the foreign players for each team in the KBO, rosters courtesy of MyKBO.net.

Doosan Bears

Raul Alcantara (RHP)
Chris Flexen (RHP)
Jose Miguel Fernandez (Infield/DH)

Hanwha Eagles

Chad Bell (LHP)
Warwick Saupald (RHP)
Jared Hoying (OF)

Kia Tigers

Michael Baek (LHP)
Aaron Brooks (RHP)
Drew Gagnon (RHP)
Preston Tucker (OF)

Kiwoom Heroes

Jake Brigham (RHP)
Eric Jokisch (LHP)
Taylor Motter (Infield)

KT Wiz

William Cuevas (RHP)
Odrisamer Despaigne (RHP)
Mel Rojas Jr (OF)

LG Twins

Casey Kelly (RHP)
Tyler Wilson (RHP)
Roberto Ramos (Infield)

Lotte Giants

Adrian Sampson (RHP)
Dan Straily (RHP)
Dixon Machado (Infield)

NC Dinos

Drew Rucinski (RHP)
Mike Wright (RHP)
Aaron Altherr (OF)

Samsung Lions

David Buchanan (RHP)
Ben Lively (RHP)
Tyler Saladino (Infielder)

SK Wyverns

Nick Kingham (RHP)
Ricardo Pinto (RHP)
Jamie Romak (Infield)

Japan Baseball Season Delayed

Monday, April 27th, 2020

Like the United States, Japan did not make the best decisions to contain the corona virus. With an increase in cases recently a state of emergency was put in place for seven prefectures that included Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama. One of the conditions of the state of emergency was to discourage large sporting events. Many of the baseball teams from the NPB play in those areas so playing baseball there would not be possible.

It is expected that baseball will not start in Japan until at least June 11 and possibly no earlier than July. A meeting of NPB executives is scheduled for May 11 when they will discuss the start of their season. It is unclear how much time teams will need to prepare for the season. Exhibition games in Japan were being played with no fans.

Myworld has been to all of the stadiums in Japan, except for Nippon, which is located in Hokkaido. All the stadiums are just a bullet train away. The Nippon Ham Fighters are a plane ride away. Soon there may be more stadiums to see.

Japan is talking about expanding, especially to areas outside Tokyo to grow the game and provide more opportunities for people outside the Tokyo area to watch baseball. Some places they are looking at include Okinawa (where they play most of their spring training games), Nigata, Matsuyama and Shizuoka. Some of the proposed conditions that must be met in order to expand include:

1) There must be a home stadium available that is dedicated to baseball
2) Ownership (stockholders) must be at least 51 Japanese
3) a team needs to be able to pay a $30 million start up fee
4) and once all those requirements are met, 75 percent of the teams must vote for approval

It appears expansion may be a couple years away, but with the lack of a full season the economic costs may require a surge of capital and what better source of revenue than expansion.

Foreign Players in CPBL

Sunday, April 26th, 2020

The CPBL has now gone through 9 to 11 games of their season. The Rakuten Monkeys finally lost their first game, losing to the Uni-Lions 8-7 after winning their first seven. No team other than the Monkeys has a winning record in the CPBL, but it is still early in the season. Motivated by their win the Uni Lions again beat the Monkeys the next day 12-5 to take the series. Yu-Hsien Chu of the Monkeys has started the season hitting .548 with 8 homeruns and 17 RBIs after just 8 games.

Myworld thought we would identify some of the foreign players in the CPBL. As you can see from the list, it is dominated by pitchers. Only three foreign players are allowed on the roster. If teams have more than three the fourth player will play in the minor leagues. The teams won loss record is shown in parenthesis.

Rakuten Monkeys (7-2)

Ryan Carpenter (LHP)
Elih Villanueva (RHP)
Lisalverto Bonilla (RHP)

Fubon Guardians (4-6)

Henry Sosa (RHP)
Bryan Woodall (RHP)
Ryan Bollinger (LHP)
Mike Loree (RHP)

China Trust Brothers (4-6)

Jose de Paula (RHP)
Mitch Lively (RHP)
Ariel Miranda (LHP)
Esmil Rogers (RHP)

Uni-Lions (5-6)

Josh Roenicke (RHP)
Donn Roach (RHP)
Ryan Feierabend (LHP)

Roster information courtesy of CPBLstats.com.

Starved for Baseball

Friday, April 24th, 2020

When the Rakuten Monkeys decided to provide temporary English broadcasts to five games they were not aware of how popular it would be. If people did not listen they would discontinue the English broadcasts.

People listened. There were 7 million views of the English commentary in the five games. That was enough for the three other teams to add an English broadcast.

The Twitter feed Eleven Sports provided the English broadcasts of the game. The Monkeys will now extend their English broadcasts to all 60 of their home games. Not only was their a brawl in one of the games, but the 2019 MVP Yu-Hsien Chu hit five homeruns in the first two games for the Monkeys.

The Uni President Lions will also use the Twitter feed Eleven Sports to broadcast their games. The Fubon Guardians will use their Twitter feed to broadcast games and have Chen Chin-Feng, the first Taiwan player to appear in the major leagues provide color commentary.

The Brothers will provide commentary on May 5.

The CPBL is taking advantage of being the only professional baseball league playing right now, though the KBO is scheduled to begin their games on May 5.

Top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

While the American League Venezuelan prospects were dominated by shortstops the National League is filled with catchers. No player from the list last year graduated. Five players from the list last year dropped out, including Anderson Espinosa, a pitcher who has not been on the mound in two years because of arm injuries. Francisco Morales dropped from the list when Brusdar Graterol was traded to the National League. His addition gave the Dodgers four players on this list.

1. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - The Dodgers seem to be loaded at this position with rookie Will Smith winning the catching job last year. The Dodgers also have Diego Cartaya rising up the ranks. Keibert was signed back in 2014 for $140,000. A finger injury limited his season to 85 games, but he did see nine games in AAA. He does not show as much power as Smith, but his hitting tool and ability to make contact could be better. Last year he had a 30/22 walk to hit ratio with a .261 average. His defensive tools may be a tick above that of Smith, but it will be a tough decision for the Dodgers to make once Ruiz is ready. The 2020 season will see him play in AAA and called up if a long term injury should happen to Smith. It would hurt his development time if he stayed on the major league roster long term as a back up.

2. Brusdar Graterol RHP (Dodgers) - The Red Sox may not have wanted him because his arm did not allow him to be a starter, but the Dodgers were happy with his triple digit velocity to groom him as a closer. He did miss a year in 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He also needs to work on his conditioning, standing at just 6′1″ but weighing in at 261 pounds. The bullpen was probably his ultimate destination since he only had two quality pitches (fastball and slider) when the trade was made. He did have a nice year at AA last year (6-0, 1.71 ERA) but his strikeout numbers were a little disappointing (50 in 52 innings) for a pitcher with his velocity. The Twins used him in the bullpen late in the season but he got hit for a .278 average. He should squeeze into the Dodgers bullpen at some point in 2020. The Twins got a bargain when they signed him, only paying him $150,000 in 2015.

3. Francisco Alvarez C (Mets) - The Mets spent $2.7 million to sign Francisco in 2018. Last year he made his debut stateside as a 17 year old catcher in the Rookie League. He held his own, hitting .312 with seven homeruns and a .510 slugging average. Further polishing of his defensive tools is needed, but he has a good tool set to work with. His arm is strong and he moves well behind the plate. He might need to watch his weight to make sure it does not go further north of his 220 pounds. His bat is impressive and should carry some power, making him a potential two way player that can hit for average and power while playing good defense. He could see a full season league in 2020 but at 18 years of age the Mets could have him start in the Rookie League.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Andres is currently blocked by Amed Rosario. His glove is top notch, highly superior to Rosario. The Mets were so impressed they signed him for $1.2 million in 2015. The bat could be a question mark. Last year he reached AA and hit just .250 with a .309 OBA. He did hit a career high 9 homeruns but a 24/102 walk to whiff ratio are cause for concern. The speed is there for him to steal 20 plus bases per year. With his speed and quality defense he should eventually make it as a utility infielder, or be used as trade bait for the Mets to acquire a veteran to use in a playoff run. Eventually, the Mets could decide to move Rosario to centerfield. In the meantime, Gimenez will bide his 2020 season at AAA being used at both middle infield positions.

5. Luis Matos OF (Giants) - No relation to the Luis Matos from Puerto Rico who played for the Orioles. The Giants found this Matos in Venezuela and signed him for $2.6 million in 2018. He has average to above average tools in all categories. Power may be his weakest area, but he did slug .566 sharing time at the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. The speed is there for him to fit in center and the arm is strong enough for him to slide over to right. He does have a couple cousins who play the game (Luis Basabe and Osleivis Basabe) so his baseball IQ is sharp. At 18 years of age, the Giants will start him in rookie ball if there is a 2020 season.

6. Diego Cartaya C (Dodgers) - Another talented Dodger catcher who they signed for a $2.5 million bonus in 2018. He played for a number of Venezuelan junior national teams in international tournaments. His bat carries some pretty good power and in his 36 game trial in the rookie league he hit .296. The arm is strong and the tools appear to be there to be a quality catcher. He will play the entire 2020 season as a teenager so the Dodgers have plenty of time to develop him. Another year in Rookie ball with a possible promotion to Low A is a possibility for 2020.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - William is the younger brother of Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras. At one point he was considered the Braves catcher of the future, but then Shea Langeliers was drafted in the first round in 2019 and Contreras has some competition. Like his older brother Contreras has average to above average tools in all areas but speed. His foot speed is below average. His defense falls short of Langeliers but offensively he could carry more pop. Last year he hit only six homeruns and slugged less than .400 so it was a disappointment for him on the power side. In 2018 he bashed 11 homeruns in Low A and had a slugging percentage of .463. Numbers wise he will probably fall short of his older brother but he has a chance to be a starting catcher. Even though he played 60 games last year at AA, he may have to repeat that level to start the 2020 season.

8. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - The Padres whipped out a $1.9 million bonus to sign Gabriel in 2016. He is probably a smoother fielder than Fernando Tatis Jr. but he may never fill his position, unless Tatis moves to third. Arias has a strong arm and smooth fielding actions that garner Gold Glove accolades. His speed is not great, but his actions are quick and smooth. Last year the bat was pretty impressive. He hit .302 with 17 homeruns playing at a hitters park at High A (Lake Elsinore). He has trouble recognizing breaking balls and in 2018 only hit .240 in a pitcher’s park. In 2019 he cut down his whiff rate, which allowed him to hit for a better average. He still had a poor 25/128 walk to whiff ratio. The 2020 season will see him start at AA.

9. Luis Rodriguez OF (Dodgers) - Not much is known about Luis other than the Dodgers spent $2.7 million to sign him in 2019. He did not play last year. His bat is impressive, with the ability to hit the ball to all fields, finding the elevation to carry balls over the fence. The speed is there for him to play centerfield and he has the arm where he could slide easily to right and be an above average fielder there. He will turn 18 in September so there is plenty of growth ahead. The Dodgers may start him in the Dominican Summer League and move him to the rookie leagues once the short season starts.

10. Andy Lara RHP (Nationals) - The Nationals signed Lara for $1.2 million in 2019. He stands 6′4″ so he has a good frame for a pitcher. He will start the 2020 season as a 17 year old. He has yet to play in the minor leagues. At 16, when most are going through their sophomore year in high school Andy was throwing his fastball in the low to mid 90s. His curveball is already a quality pitch and his change shows potential. He could start the 2020 season in the Dominican Summer League before hitting the Rookie Leagues stateside. It will be awhile before Lara steps on the bump at Nationals stadium.

Nicaragua Playing Baseball

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

It seems Taiwan is not the only country playing baseball. Nicaraguan teams have played three games of their second stage of their baseball season. Their first stage consisted of 30 games. Myworld hears they do not restrict fan attendance, but I have not been able to validate that fact. But you can google Nicaragua scoreboard to follow their results.

It is different from their winter league when they have just four teams competing. In this league they have 12 teams competing in the second stage. They appeared to have more teams competing in the first stage. When I was in Nicaragua a number of years ago they talked about a summer league, but it is not as strong as the winter league.

But they are playing ball. So Taiwan is not alone.

Italy to Start Season June 14

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

One of the hardest hit countries with the corona virus, Italy, is planning on beginning their baseball season June 14. It is unclear whether spectators will be allowed in the stadium. It will be a shortened season that will end in early August, followed by the playoffs.

There are ten teams in the Italian baseball league. They will be broken out into two leagues of five teams each. The top two finishers of each league will compete in the playoffs.

Cool.