Foreign Players in the KBO

April 2nd, 2018

The Korean Baseball Organization allow three foreign players on the KBO roster. Unlike Taiwan, they must be broken out into either two position players and one pitcher or two pitchers and one position player. A team can not have three position players or three pitchers. Most teams choose to stock their team with two pitchers and one position player.

NC Dinos

Wang Wei-Chung (RHP) - He is the first pitcher from Taiwan to pitch in the KBO. He got a major league opportunity with the Brewers as a Rule V pick but did not pitch well. He never really got another opportunity. He won his first two starts in the KBO, creating some excitement in the Taiwan community. His ERA sits at an impressive 2.08 with 13 whiffs in 13 innings. In the offensive oriented KBO this is an impressive start for Wang.

Logan Veret (RHP) - This is also Logan’s first year in the UBL. Logan has been a bit wild in his first two starts walking 7 in 10.2 innings but a 3.38 ERA is still excellent in the KBO.

Xavier Scruggs (1B/DH) - There was some pressure on Xavier, replacing MVP Eric Thames on the roster. Last year he passed the test with a .300 average, 35 homeruns and 111 RBIs. The Dinos resigned him for the 2018 season. In eight games he is only hitting .261 with two homeruns and four RBIs. It is still early with the Dinos in first place. Pitchers are certainly showing him respect with 8 walks and four whiffs.

SK Wyverns

Merill Kelly (RHP) - This is his fourth season with the Wyverns. He seems to get better with each year he pitches. Last year he was 16-7 with a 3.60 ERA in 30 starts. In his one start this year he struck out 10 in just five innings of work but gave up four runs.

Angel Sanchez (RHP) - This is his first season in the KBO. So far so good, giving up just one run in each of his starts for a 1.50 ERA.

Jamie Romak (RF) - Last year Jamie slugged 31 homeruns but only produced 64 RBIs. A .242 average with 116 whiffs in 102 games gave him an all or nothing bat. This year he hopes for a little more consistency, hitting .367 with four homeruns and 9 RBIs in his first 8 games.

Doosan Bears

Seth Frankoff (RHP) - His first year in the KBO. His first start he did not give up any runs in six innings of work. His next start he gave up two bombs for three runs. Overall his ERA sits at a 2.45 ERA which should keep him on the team for a few more starts.

Josh Lindblom (RHP) - His first three years in the KBO Josh pitched for the Lotte Giants. His third year injuries limited him to 12 starts after he had a down second year. The Giants chose not to resign him and the Bears pounced on the opportunity to sign the veteran KBO hurler. He got smacked around in his first start but gave up just one run in his second start leaving his ERA at 4.35.

Jimmy Paredes (OF) - Myworld never liked Jimmy Paredes as a minor leaguer. His first year in the KBO is not going well, with a .207 average. His one RBI for the season was a solo shot. Korean teams do not have a lot of patience for a hitter to start producing, especially the Doosan Bears, who were prevented from three peating last year.

Nexen Heroes

Esmil Rogers (RHP) - He’s made a return to the KBO after pitching for the Hanwha Eagles in 2015/2016. An arm injury ended his Eagle career after a half season. He appears healthy now, though Samsung put a hurt on him with six runs in six innings allowing his ERA to climb to 5.54.

Jake Brigham (RHP) - This is his second year with the Heroes. His first was pedestrian (4.38). He gave up a lot of hits and doesn’t get swings and misses with his pitches. In his first two starts this year he has gotten the swings and misses (14 K’s in 11 IP) but still gives up hits for a high ERA (4.91).

Michael Choice (OF) - The one time top prospect of the Oakland Athletics is in his second year with the Heroes. In a half season last year he slugged 17 homeruns in just 46 games. There have been some early season struggles this year with a .212 average that have been absent of any long ball. The KBO does not have a lot of patience for consistent failure in their foreign players.

KT Wiz

Ryan Feierabend (LHP) - In his first year in the KBO in 2015 he pitched for the Nexen Heroes. This is his third year with the expansion Wiz. Last year his 3.04 ERA was his career best. In two starts this year he has a 4.50 ERA, numbers that will not get him through the season if he does not improve.

Dustin Nippert (RHP) - He pitched seven seasons for the Doosan Bears, winning an MVP in the 2016 championship season when he went 22-3 with a 2.95 ERA. He was too average last year (4.06 ERA) even though he finished 14-8. The Bears chose not to resign him. Mediocrity does not allow for high salary demands. The Wiz pounced. He has yet to pitch this year, though his signing was relatively late.

Mel Rojas Jr (OF) - A late season signing of the Wiz last year, his 18 dingers in just 83 games convinced the Wiz to sign him for one more year. Early season returns are good with a .343 average and 4 homeruns in just 8 games.

Kia Tigers

Pat Dean (LHP)- His second season with the defending champion Tigers. His first season he gave up 211 hits in 176 innings so the Tigers must have seen something in him to bring him back. Despite the number of hits his ERA was a respectable 4.14. He also throws strikes. In two starts this year he has a win with a 3.86 ERA.

Hector Noesi (RHP) - This is his third season in the KBO. His first season he was 15-5, 3.40. He topped those numbers last year with a 20-5, 3.48. With only a 144 game season it is harder to win 20 games in the KBO than the major leagues. He did give up 14 more homeruns last year than he did in 2016. This year he is just getting started with a 4.76 ERA in two starts.

Roger Bernadina (OF) - In his first season in the KBO last year Roger did it all. He hit for average (.320), power (27 homeruns) and showed some speed (32 stolen bases). He started the season as the leadoff hitter but moved to number three in the order where he drove in 111 runs. He has gotten off to a good start this season with a .394 average, 2 homeruns and 7 RBIs in 8 games with four stolen bases.

LG Twins

Henry Sosa (RHP) - This is his seventh season in the KBO. His first two were with the Kia Tigers, then he spent one year with the Nexon Heroes. This is his fourth year with the Twins. He seems to bounce around between having a good year followed by a bad year. Last year his 11-11 record with a 3.88 ERA can be defined as having a good year. He has only one start this year, not getting a decision and giving up two runs in six innings.

Tyler Wilson (RHP) - This is the first year for the former Bowie Bay Sox to pitch in Korea. He lost both his starts but pitched well, striking out 16 in 12 innings with a 3.75 ERA. In both starts he went six innings and did not give up more than three runs.

Adonis Garcia (3B) - The Cuban got a couple years in the major leagues. He has not shown a lot of power in his first 8 games in the KBO with only two doubles, but he has a .394 average. He has driven in 9 runs with at least one RBI in his last five games.

Samsung Lions

Tim Adleman (RHP) - His first year in the KBO. He got rocked in his first start giving up five runs in just over six innings. His next start was much better, allowing just two runs in six innings.

Lisalverto Bonilla (RHP) - Another rookie to the KBO he took the loss in his first start, being assaulted for 9 runs in just over three innings. He gave up three dingers. The Lions will give him a little more rope, but they expect better results from their foreign pitchers.

Darin Ruf (1B) - Last year was his first year in the KBO and he slugged 31 homeruns, driving in 124 with a .315 average. That got him another year with the Lions where he has started out strong with a .333 average, three homeruns and 9 RBIs in eight games.

Hanwha Eagles

Keyvius Sampson (RHP) - I always liked Sampson and wondered why he didn’t get more of an opportunity with the Padres. In his first year in the KBO he is working on getting a one way plane ticket back to the United States. He lost his first two starts, failed to reach the fifth inning and sits with a 12.46 ERA. He has struck out 16 in his 8.2 innings of work but he has also walked 8 and allowed three homeruns.

Jason Wheeler (LHP) - Jason is also experiencing his first season in the KBO. He got one of the two Eagles wins this year in his first start, limiting Nexen to just one run in seven innings. He got rocked in his next start, not last five and giving up seven runs. Not looking good for the two Eagles starters.

Jared Hoying (RF) - Also a rookie in the KBO, the Eagles went for the obscure foreign player, saving some coin in signing him. He’s been raking in his first seven games with a .462 average with two homeruns and five RBIs. Myworld will be surprised if this lasts.

Lotte Giants

Felix Doubront (LHP) - Also a KBO newbie he has been finding the mound rough in his first two starts. He has given up five runs in each of his starts for an 8.10 ERA and has an unimpressive 8/5 walk to whiff ratio, with six of his walks occurring in his first game.

Brooks Raley (LHP) - The lefty never impressed with his stuff in the major leagues but he has pitched three seasons with the Giants, going on his fourth year. Last year he was 13-7 with a 3.80 ERA. Brooks is a very consistent pitcher who gives a team 180 innings with his arm. In his first two starts this year he has a 3.75 ERA with one loss.

Andy Burns (2B) - The Giants appear to be saving money with Burns. He hit .303 but only slugged 15 homeruns with 57 RBIs with the Giants last year. Most teams try to get 100 RBIs plus from their foreign player. Andy is back for a second season with a .214 average and only one RBI in 8 games. Giant fans have started to throw chicken boxes at their players for the one win performance in their first eight games. Getting a more productive foreign bat would be a way to try to appease those fans that they are trying to win. Even Dae-Ho Lee is hitting .226 but they will not let him go.

Berrios Blanks Birds

April 1st, 2018

The last time myworld saw Jose Berrios pitch was in an exhibition game a couple days ago against the Nationals where he pitched three innings of no hit ball. Against the Orioles he allowed his first hit to Chance Sisco in the third inning when the ball just went past the outstretched glove of left fielder Eddie Rosario. He would give up two hits in the ninth inning with a walk loading the bases, but a strikeout to Adam Jones secured the shutout 7-0 win.

Brian Dozier got the Twin offense started early in the first inning on the first pitch from Kevin Gausman, lofting a pitch that barely cleared the left field fence. The next hitter Joe Mauer drew a walk and Eddie Rosario beat the shift by laying down a bunt single down the third base line. With two out Eduardo Escobar blooped a double down the left field line to score one run. A wild pitch scored another and a single by Byron Buxton made it 4-0 before the Orioles even had an opportunity to hit. It would not matter because their only base runner in the first eight innings was the two out third inning double from Chance Sisco.

The Twins tacked on two more runs in the third. Miguel Sano went the opposite way launching a ball over the score board into the right field pavilion to lead off the third. Eduardo Escobar hit a two out missle that went on a line over the centerfield fence to up the lead to 6-0. Gausman was able to get out of the fourth inning without allowing any more runs, but he did not start the fifth, finishing the day with 72 pitches after four innings.

Dozier hit his second solo shot of the day, popping a Pedro Araujo pitch again just barely clearing the left field bleachers. That made it 7-0 Twins. The O’s bullpen retired 10 of the next 11 hitters, giving up a two out single to pinch hitter Ryan LaMarre in the ninth inning.

The big issue came in the ninth with the Twins in a shift against Chance Sisco. Like Eddie Rosario earlier Chance exploited the shift by laying down a bunt down the third base line. A couple Twin players complained about the unwritten rules of baseball and his bunting in a 7-0 game. But if the Twins thought the game was over why were they still in the shift? That is just as bush as Sisco bunting to defeat the shift.

In the bottom of the ninth a walk to Chris Davis and a line single up the middle by Manny Machado gave the fans something to finally get excited about. The O’s would disappoint, Jonathan Schoop popping the ball straight up to the catcher. Adam Jones then stranded the three baserunners by striking out.

Game Notes: Gausman finished the game with 72 pitches after four innings. Berrios had 71 pitches after seven. Berrios also hit 93-95 consistently throughout the game. Gausman sat his fastball in the 91/92 range and could not get his slider over the plate, bouncing it in the dirt on numerous occasions. Last year Gausmann hit the mid-90s with his fastball. In the third inning he hit 94-95 with his first couple pitches, but before the inning was over it was down to 91/92…Miguel Sano played up the middle in the shift. He roamed back to the outfield to catch a popup and fielded a grounder up the middle in the sixth….Chris Davis is not impressing from the leadoff spot, starting the season in an 0 for 11 slump. He has drawn a couple walks.

Two Korean Teenage Superstars and Three Returning Players Excite KBO Fans

March 31st, 2018

The KBO is entering an exciting season with the Shohei Otani equivalent exciting crowds. He is just one of two teenage superstars who are making an impact in the KBO. So are the three returning major leaguers, who may have struggled in the United States, but they hope to find their bats in the hitter friendly KBO.

Kang Baek-Ho was touted as being the Shohei Ohtani of Korea. He played for the silver medal Korean team in the 18 and under World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada, breaking out a fastball that clicked the radar guns at 95 and hitting bombs over the fence. He was a first round pick of the newest Korean team, the KT Wiz. The crowds came out to see him. He did not disappoint.

Kang hit the first KBO homer of the season. The 18 year old has slugged three more, his latest a grand slam homerun in the 20-8 win of the Wiz over the Doosan Bears. In seven games Kang is hitting .370 with two doubles, four homeruns and 10 RBIs. Six of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases. The Wiz are getting some positive results from his slugging, winning four of their first seven games. Kang has decided to focus on hitting in the KBO, abandoning the hill for the time being.

The other teenage superstar is 19 year old Jung-Hoo Lee, who was voted Rookie of the year in the KBO last year. He was the first player taken out of high school to appear in every KBO game for his team, bypassing the KBO Futures League, which is the equivalent of a high school player going straight to the major leagues without playing any minor league ball. His father Jong-Beom Lee was an MVP in the KBO a number of years ago so the blood lines are there to play baseball.

Last year Nexon Heroes centerfielder Jung-Hoo hit .324 with 2 homeruns and 47 RBIs. His 179 hits were the most ever for a first year player in the KBO. This year he is hitting .407 with four walks and three whiffs. He does not seem to carry the power of Park in his early years but the power is expected to show once he matures. His only extra base hits this year are the three doubles, and despite batting lead off with some speed he has yet to steal a base.

One of his teammates is former Minnesota Twins first baseman/designated hitter Byung-Ho Park. Stuck in the minor leagues Park negotiated out of his four year contract with the Twins to resign with the Nexon Heroes. In 2014 and 2015, his last two years with the Heroes, Park slugged 52 and 53 homeruns. In the major leagues he had trouble making contact, which is also an issue in the KBO (303 whiffs in 268 games in 2014 and 2015). In seven games in the KBO he has already slugged three homeruns and is hitting .435. His patience has improved since returning from the major/minor leagues with 9 walks and five whiffs. Those are still early returns, but in his career he has never walked more than he has struck out, coming closest in 2013 with a 92/96 walk to whiff ratio.

Jae-Gyun Hwang signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants last year. Despite the Giants struggles at the position Hwang only got an 18 game opportunity late in the year, hitting .154 with one homerun. In AAA he achieved some success, hitting .285 with 10 homeruns. In his 2016 KBO season Hwang hit .335 with 27 homeruns and 113 RBIs. In his first seven KBO games this year Hwang is hitting .300 with two homeruns. In the KBO that is not lighting up the league.

The last of the returning players is Hyun Soo-Kim, who had success in his first year with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting over .300 but showing little power. In his second year he did not get a lot of starting opportunities, was traded to the Phillies and never got on track. No major league team signed him as a free agent for the 2018 season and he signed with the LG Twins. In 2015 he played for the Doosan Bears, hitting .325 with a career high 28 homeruns with 121 RBIs. He also had a 101/63 walk to whiff ratio. In his return to the KBO he is showing less patience (3/8 walk to whiff ratio) resulting in a .241 average with one homerun. The LG Twins are struggling with a 2-5 record in the early start to the season.

Predictions - NL East

March 31st, 2018

The last division prediction for my world.

1. Washington Nationals

Overall - This is not as strong a team as last year but they have no competition for the NL East. As they have been prone to do throughout the years with this roster, winning a playoff series will be a challenge.

Strengths - 1) Two aces. They may be the only team with a legitimate ace 1A and ace 1B in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Scherzer has been more durable, limiting right handed bats to a .137 average. The duo is good for 30 wins if both stay healthy. After those two the rotation gets dicey. Don’t expect a repeat year from Gio Gonzalez.
2) RF. Perhaps everyone expected too much from Bryce Harper. He has fallen short of Mike Trout in production and staying healthy has been an issue with his all out play. He is one of the best right fielders in the game when he is in the lineup with a .595 slugging percentage. If he can play 150 plus games expect MVP consideration.
3) Infield. When everything is clicking this is the best infield in baseball. Anthony Rendon is one of the more consistent performers in the lineup. Last year he was second to Ryan Zimmerman in RBIs with 100. Trea Turner at short can steal bases (46) but also hit for pop. Last year was a down year for him as he battled injuries. Daniel Murphy will miss the first month of the season but he is usually good for 20 plus homeruns and his .322 average was second in the National League. Staying healthy has always been a challenge for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Last year he stayed healthy and hit .303 with 36 homeruns and 108 RBIs. Despite that production he got no consideration in the MVP voting.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. Matt Wieters had an off year hitting .225. His defense is not that strong to rely on weak production with his offense. He does work with pitchers well.

Top Rookie - We suspect Erick Fedde will get more opportunities in the starting rotation than Victor Robles in the outfield.

Top Prospect - The five tool player may have to wait until next year to show his stuff. The Nationals expect him to replace Bryce Harper if they can’t resign Bryce.

Expected Finish - First place, but winning a playoff series is probably not in the cards. The Nationals are still winless in their three playoff series.

2. New York Mets

Overall - The Mets were plagued with a number of injuries last year, which torpedoed their assault on the playoff race. They hope to avoid those injuries this year.

Strengths - 1) Starting Pitching. Two years ago this rotation was anticipated to be the rotation of the ages. Injuries prevented that from happening last year. Noah Syndergaard is healthy and will be the ace of the staff. Last year he was limited to 7 starts. Jacob DeGrom was the only starter to start over 30 games last year but his 28 homeruns put his ERA at 3.53. He needs to keep more balls in the park. Steven Matz may never have a completely healthy year but the Mets are hoping to get 20 plus starts and get that ERA (6.08) dropped by at least 2.5 runs. Matt Harvey looked good in the spring but like Matz he was very hittable last year (6.70 ERA). If these four can’t find their mojo the Mets have no chance to compete.
2) Outfield. When healthy it can be one of the best in the National League. Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto each have the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns each. Staying healthy has been an issue. Michael Conforto will start the season on the disabled list. That will help out the defense in centerfield, but the offense will be restricted. Yoenis Cespedes has not stayed healthy in his two years in the major leagues.

Weaknesses - 1) First Base. Adrian Gonzalez has seen his best years. The Mets may be better off using Jay Bruce at first base to improve their outfield defense, allowing Conforto to play a corner.
2) Catcher. Travis d’Arnaud is another player with health issues. Last year he did catch 93 games, hitting 16 homeruns. The Mets will take that kind of production but relying on d’Arnaud to stay in the lineup has been a Tulowitski like challenge.

Top Rookie - If the Mets continue to have problems with the health of their starting pitchers Marcus Molina could get a number of opportunities to start. He is not overpowering, but he has command and a plus slider.

Top Prospect - No clear favorite here, but most seem to think Andres Gimenez is the Mets top prospect. His glove is gold glove, but it may have to move from shortstop to second base because Amed Rosario may be entrenched at short when Gimenez is ready to contribute. Gimenez lacks power but he is a contact hitter with the ability to hit .300 or greater.

Expected Finish - Second Place, but they fail to avoid injuries and miss out on the wild card.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Overall - Their prospects are being filtered into the lineup. The team also signed a couple of veteran free agents to fill leadership roles to the offense and the rotation. It may take another year before the Phillies see the roots of their rebuilding process take growth.

Strengths - 1) First Base/Left Field - They should get a lot of offense from Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. Myworld does not feel Hoskins will hit 54 homeruns in 2018 if he plays 150 games as would his projection from last year. The duo should combine for 60 plus homeruns next year. Their defense will also be less than stellar.
2) Catcher. Jorge Alfaro will finally get his opportunity. Health has delayed his major league career. He should provide 20 plus homerun pop and more consistent hitting than their catching corp last year.
3) Utility. Scott Kingery could play a number of different positions in 2018. The Phillies could use him like the Astros use Marwin Gonzalez, sticking him out at second, third and left field. He has the potential to hit 20 plus homeruns if he can play 120 plus games.

Weaknesses - 1) Defense - This will not be a strong team defensively. To get all the productive bats in the lineup they may be forced to put square pegs in round holes filling out the positions.
2) Closer. Hector Neris had trouble retiring lefthanders. He also allowed too many balls to leave the park (9), but was still able to string together 26 saves.
3) Starting Pitching. They were able to sign Jake Arrieta to a free agent contract, but he struggled last year. Aaron Nola had a strong year but with Jake taking over the number one role that would take the pressure off Nola. The Phillies are hoping that the young pitchers who follow them will have more productive years than last year (Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively).

Top Rookie - J.P. Crawford will get the starting nod at short. His bat may not produce enough to get considered for Rookie of the Year. Myworld expects Scott Kingery to have the more productive bat as he plays multiple positions and vies for the top rookie.

Top Prospect - J.P. Crawford is considered the top prospect but his bat has disappointed the last two years, despite having the tools to be able to hit.

Expected Finish - Third place, but if their pitching surprises they could sneak into the playoff race.

4. Atlanta Braves

Overall - Their rebuilding process took a hit when they were forced to release a number of prospects for violating the international cap. They need to sort out the pitchers that will take them to the playoff race.

Strengths - 1) First base. Got to feel sorry for Freddie Freeman to have to battle through this rebuilding process. He hit .307 with 28 homeruns despite being limited to 117 games last year.
2) Talented Youth. You don’t know when prospects with impressive tools like Dansby Swanson, Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies break out. Also the pitching staff will trout out a number of young arms to the mound in Luiz Gohara, Mike Soroka, Max Fried and A.J. Minter. Not all these players will succeed but the Braves are hoping three or four will have impact years.

Weaknesses - 1) Left Field. There is a black hole there now. When Ronald Acuna fulfills his minor league time for the month of April he should take over the position. It may take some time before he produces.
2) Third Base. Austin Riley is the future here, but young Rio Ruiz will try to hold down the position until Johan Camargo gets healthy. Ruiz hit .193 last year in limited playing time. Camargo lacks the power one expects from this position.
3) Closer. Arodys Vizcaino has never permanently claimed the closer role despite being the expected closer for the last three years. One of the younger pitchers with lots of stuff like Gohara may be better suited for the role.

Top Rookie - Ronald Acuna will take over the left field job in May and battle for the rookie of the year award.

Top Prospect - Acuna, but after him it would be a any one of the pitchers mentioned to fill the starting rotation.

Expected Finish - Still a year or two away. Fourth Place finish is the best they can hope for.

5. Miami Marlins

Overall - New ownership same results. Marlins fans will have to sit through another rebuild. Trading away the best outfield in baseball had to be like breaking up with your girlfriend not because you wanted to but because you had to.

Strengths - 1) Youth. They will be starting a number of talented rookies in Lewis Brinson, Brian Anderson and Magneuris Sierra. Watching them grow and become stars is better than watching a bunch of veterans stumble into last place.

Weaknesses - 1) Catching. J.T. Realmuto is starting the season on the DL. He also has requested to be traded. Without him they will have a couple backups in Tom Tellis and Chad Wallach man this position.
2) Shortstop. J.T. Riddle and Mel Rojas are just place setters for a player to be drafted later. This will be a tough position to stock with Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter overseeing the process.
3) Outfield. It will be tough to replace Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. They will lose 60 homeruns at that position.
4) Starting Pitching. This is where they will really get beat up with a handful of journeyman filling the position until their young arms are ready. No sense in using up service time for a last place finish.

Top Rookie - Lewis Brinson will take over the centerfield job. There will be some hiccups in his play, but when the season is done he will hit around .270 with 20 plus homeruns and compete with Ronald Acuna for the National League rookie of the year award. Brian Anderson is also a potent bat who could make some waves with his production.

Top Prospect - Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman are two young pitchers they acquired who throw the ball hard. Don’t expect them to pitch until the 2019 season.

Expected Finish - They will battle for the top pick in the 2019 draft.

Countries Established for Women’s Baseball World Cup

March 30th, 2018

The Women’s Baseball World Cup will be held at Space Coast Stadium in Vierra, Florida from August 22 -31. The following teams have qualified to compete in this tournament. Japan is the class of the group (rankings in parenthesis).

Asia - Japan (1), Taiwan (6), South Korea (7), Hong Kong (10)

Americas - Canada (2), United States (3), Venezuela (5), Cuba (9), Dominican Republic (NR), Puerto Rico (NR)

Europe - Netherlands (8)

Oceania - Australia (4)

Predictions - NL Central

March 28th, 2018

This is the strongest division in the NL. We’d like to select the Milwaukee Brewers to surprise but we just don’t like the pitching.

1, Chicago Cubs

Overall - Their farm system will no longer offer them any help. The position players are still young and able to contribute. It is the starting rotation that may see some cracks, with little depth behind four veteran starters.

Strengths - 1) Infield. They are solid all around, providing a combination of excellent defense and productive offense. Anthony Rizzo is the big bat with his 32 homeruns and 109 RBIs. At second base Javier Baez came into his own, slugging 23 homeruns. Addison Russell struggled last year with his offense hitting only.239 with 12 homeruns but his defense is solid. At third base is the slugging Kris Bryant with his 29 homeruns. They also have Ben Zobrist who can rotate around any of those positions.
2) Starting pitching. Signing Yu Darvish as a free agent gives them four solid starters. The Cubs have built this rotation through free agent signings and trades. Kyle Hendricks was acquired from the Rangers but was developed in the Cubs minor leagues. Jon Lester was acquired as a free agent back in 2014 and Jose Quintana was acquired via a trade from the White Sox last year. All four pitchers have the potential to win 15 games.
3) Catching. Many are calling Wilson Contreras the top catcher in the National League. His 13 errors need to be reduced but he should increase his 21 homeruns from last year.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. Brandon Morrow is not a proven commodity in the closer role. In his injury marred early years as a starter many felt he would be better used as a closer. That time has arrived now that he is turning 34 years old.
2) Right field. Jason Heyward won a gold glove. His bat has been a big disappointment, especially for a corner outfielder. Last year he slugged .389.

Top Rookie - Victor Caratini will get most of the rookie playing time as the back up catcher to Contreras. He can also play first and third base in a pinch and Joe Maddon likes his flexibility. No other rookie should contribute.

Top Prospect - The farm system is a little barren. Adbert Alzolay is considered their top prospect. He had success at High A and AA but may fit best as a mid-rotation starter.

Expected Finish - First Place. They will again battle the Dodgers in the National League championship series.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Overall - The starting rotation will be young, but the arms are talented. If they can get Alex Reyes on track this rotation has the ability to be dominant.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Yadier Molina may be aging but he is still the heart and soul of this team. His 82 RBIs led the team.
2) Left Field. The Cardinals traded for Marcell Ozuna to provide more production in the lineup. His 37 homeruns and 124 RBIs is the kind of production a championship lineup needs from their team.
3) Ace. Carlos Martinez has the potential to turn into one of the top five starters in the National League. His 217 strikeouts were only topped by three pitchers in the National League. Expect him to get better as he gains experience.

Weaknesses - 1) Bullpen. They have no established closer, 31 saves departing when Seung-Hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal left the team. Alex Reyes may eventually win the job, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be able to pitch until mid-May. Luke Gregerson was signed as a free agent to fill that role but he will also start the season on the disabled list and accumulated one save last year.
2) Young Back End of Rotation. The Cardinals hope that rookie Jack Flaherty and second year starter Luke Weaver can anchor the back end of the rotation. Miles Mikolas has also come over from Japan to show that he has improved on his rookie season with the Rangers.

Top Rookie - Jack Flaherty will get the biggest and earliest test. He will slide in the fifth spot of the Cardinals rotation. Alex Reyes will eventually get a callup in May but will start his career in the bullpen to prevent his arm from throwing too many innings. Reyes has the potential to be the better starter in 2019.

Top Prospect - Alex Reyes. He has missed two years because of drug suspensions and injuries. Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching last year.

Expected Finish - Second Place but enough to get one of the two wild card spots.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Overall - They will have some bashers in the lineup but their pitching could also give up a lot of runs. A trade of some of their outfield depth for a starting pitcher would make this team better.

Strengths - 1) Outfield. They have more quality outfielders than positions for them. Christian Yelich will fit in left with a bat that can hit over .300 with 20 plus homeruns. He was acquired in a trade from the Marlins. Lorenzo Cain was signed as a free agent. He made the Royals offense roll and will now get that machine rolling for the Brewers. Domingo Santana had a breakout year last year with 30 homeruns. The Brewers tried to trade him to make room for Ryan Braun in the outfield. With no DH he may have to rotate between first base and the two corner outfield positions.
2) Third Base. The Red Sox needed a third baseman last year. Before the season started they traded Travis Shaw to the Brewers for Tyler Thornburg feeling that Shaw was not an answer to their third base quandary. All Shaw did was hit 31 homeruns and drive in 101 runs. That kind of production may have gotten the Red Sox to the World Series.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. This is what separates the Brewers from the Cubs and Cardinals. Losing Jimmy Nelson hurt. Zach Davies did win 17 games last year but he only struck out 5.8 hitters per nine innings and the opposition hit him at a .275 clip. Chase Anderson also had a solid year but there is some question whether he can repeat. Rookie Brandon Woodruff will probably fill the fifth spot in the rotation.
2) Catcher. Steven Vogt struggles on defense and last year did not hit enough. Manny Pina is better suited for a back up role though he did well when thrust into a starting role. Replicating those numbers may be difficult.

Top Rookie - Brandon Woodruff will slot into the fifth spot in the rotation.

Top Prospect - Keston Hiura their first round 2017 pick has shown he can hit. It will not take him long before he is playing second base for the Brewers and challenging for batting titles.

Expected Finish - They will squeeze into the second wild card spot with their third place finish in the Central.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

Overall - The Pirates would like to have fans believe the team is not rebuilding but trading Andrew McCutchen and Gerritt Cole was the waving of the white flag.

Strength - 1) Closer. Felipe Rivero was a nice acquisition by the Pirates a couple years ago. He dominated left handed hitters who only hit .082 against him.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jody Mercer has always been a pedestrian shortstop. He carries no quality offensive or defensive tools, though he hit a career high 14 homeruns last year.
2) Third Base. They will turn to rookie Colin Moran to fill this position. Last year it appeared he came into his own until a hit by pitch knocked him out after a seven game major league debut. David Freese will act as insurance in case Moran fails.
3) Starting Pitcher. They traded their ace Gerritt Cole. Jameson Taillon has the potential to be an ace but he was too hittable last year (.290 opposition average). The pitching staff is filled with pitchers whose ERA was north of 4.00 last year.

Top Rookie - Colin Moran appears to have a shot to start at third base. A starting pitcher like Nick Kingham or Mitch Keller could squeeze into this rotation.

Top Prospect - Mitch Keller is their top pitcher. Austin Meadows their top position player. Both will get opportunities to play for the Pirates this year.

Expected Finish - Far out of the playoff race where the motivation will be to trade more veterans and finally admit this is a rebuilding year.

5. Cincinnati Reds

Overall - The rebuild has gone slower than expected. It is a big surprise to see Joey Votto still on the roster.

Strengths - 1) First Base. Joey Votto may be the best hitter in baseball. Last year he was second in the MVP voting despite the Reds last place finish. Votto drove in 100 runs and walked 134 times.
2) Corner Outfield. Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler each hit 30 plus homeruns. The small park could have something to do with that but not many teams have that kind of power in their corners.
3) Second Base. Scooter Gennett hit four homeruns in one game and 27 for the year. His 97 RBIs was tops among second baseman in the National League.

Weaknesses - 1) Shortstop. Jose Peraza may be better suited for second base. His speed should produce more stolen bases and his OBA needs to get over .330 to make him effective.
2) Starting Pitching. Homer Bailey is the ace until he gets traded, but he has yet to pitch effectively since his return from injury. After Homer the pitching is young. Luis Castillo showed some success last year but the others are a work in progress. Last year no pitcher reached double digits in victories.
3) Centerfield. Other than speed and defense Billy Hamilton provides little production. His inability to get on base (.299 OBA) limits his speed opportunities.

Top Rookie - Tyler Mahle will be tried in the starting rotation. Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis have all struggled. The new blood keeps on flowing but being rejected by the host.

Top Prospect - Nick Senzel. He could become a gold glove third baseman but the Reds may try him for some games at short. Not a lot of shortstops carry the thunder he has in his bat.

Expected Finish - Another last place finish.

Predictions - NL West

March 27th, 2018

Hard to believe the major league season will begin this week. Myworld will try to finish our predictions by the end of this week. Today the NL West.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Overall - Despite their riches the Dodgers have worked hard to stay under the salary cap. They failed to sign any big name free agents and are going with the team that brought them to the World Series last year. That does not always spell success.

Strengths - 1) 1B. Cody Bellinger made an impact last year, winning rookie of the year after finishing second in the National League in homeruns. He also has the flexibility to move to the outfield. The problem with that is with Adrian Gonzalez gone the depth at first base is minimal.
2) Ace. Clayton Kershaw may not be overpowering but he has a bender that gets hitters out. Last year he was second in the Cy Young voting with an 18-4 record. The major concern is this was his second season in a row he missed some starts because of back injuries. This could become an issue.
3) Shortstop. After winning the rookie of the year award in 2016 Corey Seager avoided the sophomore slump with a solid 2017. He is one of the best shortstops in the NL combining both offense and a consistent defense to his game.
4) Third Base. A broken wrist will keep Justin Turner out for a couple months. When he returns midseason it will be as if the Dodgers accomplished a big trade to acquire a power hitter.
5) Closer. Few are better in the bullpen than Kenley Jensen, who a few years ago was a catcher with the Netherlands team in the WBC. Last year righthanders hit a miniscule .120 against him.

Weaknesses - 1) Third Base. Losing Justin Turner for two months will create a hole here, especially against righthanded pitching where Logan Forsythe, his possible replacement hit .190 against righthanded pitching. They may need to follow the waiver wire to acquire a left handed bat that can play here.
2) Second Base. No clear alternative here. Chase Utley saw his best days with the Phillies and is better suited as a role player. Enrique Hernandez lacks an offensive game and also struggles against right handed pitching (.159). With a loaded outfield they may have to return Chris Taylor from center field to play here.
3) Rotation Injuries. The rotation has depth, but every member of it has had some significant injury that has left them incapable of pitching for significant time.

Top Rookie. Walker Buehler. The Dodgers may be deep in their rotation but because they are susceptible to injuries Buehler may get the call here. He did pitch eight games in relief with the Dodgers last year.

Top Prospect - Buehler, but after him myworld likes the tools of outfielder Jeren Kendall. He is still a couple years away, but he has game breaking speed and his power could come to shine if he improves his ability to make contact.

Expected Finish - First place and an appearance in the World Series where they will create a retro scene playing the New York Yankees. It has been awhile since the two have faced each other in the final championship series.

2. Colorado Rockies

Overall - They hope to cash in on their playoff appearance from last year. They went out and got a closer to replace one that had given them 41 saves but left for free agency. They also went out to find a new catcher after losing Jonathan Lucroy.

Strengths - 1) 3B. Nolan Arenado is one of the best in the game at his position both offensively and defensively. Last year he was second to Giancarlo Stanton in RBIs in the National League, resulting him in being fourth in the MVP voting.
2) Outfield. Lots of depth. Charlie Blackmon can bat either first or third in the lineup. No player in baseball scored more runs or accumulated more total bases than Blackmon. The Rockies hope they will see the 2016 version of Carlos Gonzalez than the 2017. After a slow start Carlos began to resurrect his hitting after the All Star break. If Ryan McMahon wins the first base job Ian Desmond, Gerado Parra and Raimel Tapia will contribute on offense or defense when called upon at the other outfield spot.
3) Closer. Wade Davis replaces Greg Holland. Holland won the save war last year but Davis may have better stuff. The Rocky mountain air has destroyed many a pitcher with good stuff.

Weaknesses - 1) High Altitude. The Rockies have tried many methods to lower the ERAs of pitchers having to deal with the altitude in Colorado, with little success. Now they hope to just ignore it and let the pitchers handle the environment.
2) Ace. It is a lot to ask for Jon Gray to become the ace of the staff. He will clearly be their number one pitcher. After him it is a rotation filled with mid to back end rotation arms, not what you would expect from a playoff team.

Top Rookie - Tom Murphy was supposed to be the catcher last year but an injury spoiled that and he hit just .042 in a 12 game trial. The Rockies went out and signed Chris Ianetta to start but Murphy should see a major role by mid season. Ian Desmond was slated to play first base, but Ryan McMahon is showing too good a bat to keep him down. Both will fight for major roles in the Rockies season this year.

Top Prospect - Brendan Rodgers. It is unclear whether he will play shortstop or second base. Trevor Story currently occupies short. The Rockies still have a couple years to sort it out. Wherever Rodgers plays he will be an offensive force.

Expected Finish - Second place, but just missing the playoffs.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

Overall - The Snakes went out and acquired Steven Sousa to give their lineup pop, but he will miss the first month of the year because of injury. That may slow the Diamondbacks charge.

Strengths - 1) 1B - Paul Goldschmidt is the heart and soul of these Diamondbacks. He provides the power to this offense with his 36 homeruns and 120 RBIs putting him third in the MVP voting last year. He could approach 100 walks with no intimidating bat hitting behind him.

Weaknesses - 1) Right Field. The injury to Steven Sousa puts a giant hole in the offense. They have no real alternatives unless they look to their farm system and call upon Socrates Brito. Yasmany Thomas is another option, but if he was good enough the Diamondbacks would have added him to the 40 man roster.
2) Bullpen. Lacks an established closer. Archie Bradley was at one time going to be an ace starter but failures have dropped him into the bullpen where he is more effective. He might be best used in shorter spurts. The Diamondbacks will test that theory early in the season.
3) The middle. Championship teams are usually strong up the middle. The D-backs carry very little power there. Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte may combine for double digit homeruns between them at short and second. Chris Ianetta has some pop behind the plate but was limited to less than 100 games last year. Centerfielder A.J. Pollock is better at spreading the gaps. Chris Owings will play a utility role but did show some surprising pop last year.

Top Rookie - Injuries have socked the opportunities Socrates Brito had for a starting spot. With a hole in right field it would appear Brito has an opportunity to fill it.

Top Prospect - Jon Duplantier had the best minor league season since a player named Justin Verlander dominated the competition a number of years ago.

Expected Finish - Third.

4. San Francisco Giants

Overall - They acquired some aging veterans in the hopes they will resurrect their careers. Age is not a pleasant issue to deal with when you’re playing in the dog days of August.

Strengths - 1) Catcher. Even though they keep talking about moving Buster Posey to first, they keep him behind the plate because he is one of the best at this position. Last year his .320 average was fifth in the National League.

Weaknesses - 1) Age. Except for Joe Panik all their starting eight will be at the northern end of 30 years of age. Experience can be good but without a lot of rest it can get tiring as July turns to August.
2) Losing their Ace. Last year they missed Madison Bumgarner for the first couple months of the season and they floundered in last place to start the season. This year a broken hand will sideline Bumgarner for the first couple months of the season. They will have to turn to the disappointing Johnny Cueto for their ace.
3) Bullpen. They signed Mark Melancon last year to be their closer. He failed and had some arm injuries at the end of the season. Can he bounce back? There is not a lot behind him that could take over the closer role.

Top Rookie - Chris Shaw lacks the speed to play the outfield. Brandon Belt plays his position at first base. His bat will force the Giants to try to give him an opportunity somewhere.

Top Prospect - Heliot Ramos could be the first power bat the Giants have drafted since Buster Posey. The outfielder from Puerto Rico has five tool potential.

Expected Finish - They will battle the Padres again for the last spot in this division.

5. San Diego Padres

Overall - Unlike the Giants the Padres have their youth to hope for a better future. When that youth will be ready is probably 2019, when they can load the pitching staff with some decent starters.

Strengths - 1) Youth. They have to hope second year outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges get better. The loss of Dinelson Lamet could hurt their rotation if his injury proves serious.
2) First Base. Not one of the best first baseman in the league, but Eric Hosmer is noted for his solid leadership, important for a rebuilding team. With Kansas City he hit 25 homeruns and drove in 94.

Weaknesses - 1) Starting Pitching. It looks pretty ugly. If Lamet is gone for an extended period it could look even uglier. The young pitchers could use a veteran hurler for a mentor but he is not yet in the rotation. Clayton Richard and his .308 opposition average will be the ace of this rotation.
2) Third Base. Chase Headley returns to San Diego but his skills have been sharply reduced. He will fill a role Fernando Tatis Jr may eventually occupy in 2019.
3) Bullpen. Losing teams do not need a closer and the Padres lack one. Brad Hand will fill the role. Last year he had success with 21 saves and a .192 opposition average. Time will tell whether he can repeat that performance.

Top Rookie - Franchy Cordero should fill an outfield role in left field if Hunter Renfroe continues his struggles. He shows a combination of power and speed and could spell Margot in centerfield.

Top Prospect - MacKenzie Gore. The Padres hope he will be their version of Clayton Kershaw.

Expected Finish - The lack of pitching will drop the Padres down to last place, which will give them a high draft pick for next season.

KBO Opened It’s Season

March 26th, 2018

The KBO has started their season. Below is a summary of their opening games:

Nexen Heroes 6 Hanwha Eagles 3

Esmil Rogers pitched against his old teammates and went 6.2 innings allowing just two runs in the Heroes opening day win. Rogers had to leave the Eagles after arm injuries forced him to leave in mid-season back in 2015. He’s back in the KBO and got into a little bit of trouble tormenting the Heroes players with antics the Eagles complained about with the KBO. Rogers was admonished and promised to behave, stating that his antics were all in fun.

The Eagles were able to collect 9 hits against Rogers but could only cross the plate twice. The Eagles were able to score early with runs in the first two innings. The Heroes roared back in the next three innings with six runs. The bottom of their order drove in four of the six runs. Tai-Wan Kim hit the only homerun in the game with a solo shot in the third to get the scoring stared for the Heroes. Newcomer Keyvius Sampson took the loss, giving up all six runs in his four innings of work. Sampson did strike out 8 in those four innings so the day held some promise.

KT Wiz 5 Kia Tigers 5

Mel Rojas Jr. hit solo shots in the sixth and seventh innings to send the defending champions down to defeat. His solo shot in the seventh broke a 4-4 tie.

NC Dinos 4 LG Twins 2

Wei-Chung Wang, ex of the Milwaukee Brewers is the first player from Taiwan to play in the KBO. He worked seven innings, giving up just one run in leading the Dinos to their opening day victory. Tyler Wilson had a solid outing for LG, coughing up just two runs in six innings. Xavier Scruggs hit a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth that extended a 2-1 lead to give the Dinos the win. Scruggs also drove in a run in the third inning with a sacrifice fly.

SK Wyverns 6 Lotte Giants 5

Felix Doubront was a little wild, walking six in four innings and giving up six runs in the Giants loss. Dong-Yeop Kim drove in two runs, the game winner his solo shot in the bottom of the seventh to break a 5-5 tie. Choi Jeong drove in two runs for the Wyverns with a two run single in the first, both players ahead of him getting on base via walks and advancing to second and third on a wild pitch. Kim drove in two runs in the third with a single, one of those baserunners getting on base via a walk.

For the Giants Ah-Seop Son scored three times in the game, getting on base via the walk three times.

Samsung Lions 6 Doosan Bears 3

Sung-Hwan Yoon was the only Korean pitcher to get an opening day start. While he gave up three runs in 6.2 innings it was good enough to get him the win. Won-Seok Lee drove in three runs for the Lions, an RBI single in the third and a two run double in the ninth. Jae-Il Oh hit a two run homerun off Yoon in the seventh to drive him from the game. Darin Ruf strung together three hits, including a double to drive in one run and score two.

Top Ten Canadian Prospects

March 24th, 2018

Nick Pivetta was the only player to graduate from the top ten list from last year, but it was not a good season for the Philly righthander (8-10, 6.02). The Phillies will give him another opportunity to prove his value in the rotation. Seven players repeated from last year’s list with a shift in placement. Curtis Taylor and Gareth Morgan dropped out of the list. Below is the 2018 top ten minor league prospects from Canada. To qualify for this list you have to be eligible to win rookie of the year, eliminating Dalton Pompey, who was out most of last year and has not seen major league action in a couple years. Myworld predicts a return of Pompey in 2018.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - Born in Montreal, Canada from a Hall of Famer from the Dominican. This is the second country Vladimir appears in after placing second in the top Dominican prospects list in the American League. Here he is number one. The following is a cut and paste from our Dominican article. His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

2. Mike Soroka RHP (Braves) - Like most Canadians pitchers, he is not an overpowering pitcher. That did not prevent the Braves from using a number one pick in 2015 to draft him. His fastball can hit 95 but usually glides into the plate in the Low 90s. His ability to pitch, command those pitches and offer quality secondary pitches separates him from most pitchers. Righthanders really struggle against his repertoire, hitting just .209 against him in AA. His strikeout numbers will never be flashing but he will eliminate baserunners with double play groundouts. Soroka could find himself pitching for the Braves by midseason in a very crowded rotation. It all depends on his success at AAA to begin the 2018 season.

3. Cal Quantril RHP (Padres) - The son of Paul, the Padres selected Cal in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Stanford, despite his undergoing Tommy John surgery his sophomore season. Cal was born in Port Hope, Ontario. His fastball carries a little zip, chasing the plate in the upper bracket of the low 90s. What makes Cal special is a quality changeup that makes his fastball carry a little extra charge to it. Enhancing his breaking pitches will improve his stock. Last year he was tagged pretty good with righthanded batters hitting over .300 against him in AA. That is where he will repeat the 2018 season.

4. Tyler O’Neil OF (Cardinals) - The son of a Canadian weight lifter, the Cardinals would like to see less bulk weight lifting from Tyler and more repetitions with lighter weights. Tyler was drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2013 draft. The bulky Tyler generally hits between 25 and 35 homeruns per year. Last year he bombed 31 over the fence. That power usually comes with a lot of swings and misses and lower batting averages. His speed is not quick enough to cover center, but a strong arm and average speed allows him to be a solid defender in right. The 2018 season could be his opportunity to debut in the major leagues. The Cardinal outfield is a bit crowded, but if his bashing continues in AAA it will be difficult to keep him down.

5. Josh Naylor 1B (Padres) - Josh was a surprise first round pick of the Marlins in 2015. A knife incident brought up character issues and the Marlins traded him to the Padres. At 6′0″ and close to 250 pounds Josh may have to watch his weight if he hopes to continue his professional career. He hits the ball a long ways with light tower power in batting practice, but that has not translated into the games. Despite his large size his athleticism allows him to run well and play an adequate defense at first base. With the eight year contract given to Eric Hosmer that puts Naylor in a black hole. He will start the season in AA and hope to impress some team in need of a first baseman to trade for him.

6. Adam Hall SS (Orioles) - The Orioles drafted Hall in the second round of the 2017 draft. He only got nine at bats in the rookie league but six of them went for hits for a .667 average. An oblique injury ended his season early. This may rob him of an opportunity to play full season ball next year. It appears he has the tools to stick at short with a good arm and decent range. His power is limited to the gaps now but with maturity and a better read of pitches that could increase. The 2018 season will be a big one for Hall to gauge whether he is geared for short.

7. Andy Yerzy C (Diamondbacks) - Yerzy was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2016. His first year in rookie ball was uneventful. His second year in rookie ball he smashed 13 homeruns and slugged .524. That should earn him a full season Low A team for 2018. His 6′3″ height gives him some problems defensively. He struggles with throws to second and handling pitches in the dirt. If his power continues to progress his bat could be moved to first base. His lack of speed makes a move to the outfield unrealistic. The D-backs will still continue to tutor him as a catcher in hopes he will improve as he gets more repetitions, beginning in the Low A league in 2018.

8. Miles Gordon OF (Reds) - Gordon has played three consecutive seasons in the Rookie League. The Reds drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, but at that time his primary sport was hockey. Last year he had his breakout year, slugging his first eight homeruns of his minor league career and slugging .530, almost .200 points greater than his previous season. Like Yerzy that kind of production will get him promoted to a full season league in 2018. Gordon has the speed to fit in center but may be better suited for a corner.

9. Landon Leach RHP (Twins) - A second round pick in 2017 with a nice 6′4 inch frame that can sling the ball in the high 90s. For the most part he sits in the Low 90s. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. He pitched as a closer out of his high school so there is not a lot of use in his arm. When he was not closing he was catching for his high school team and the Junior National Canadian team. Now he has the opportunity to focus on the mound full time. He will probably start the 2017 season in extended spring training and pitch again in the Rookie League to continue to develop his mechanics.

10. Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) - Myworld still likes his tools. The results are slower than expected, with an inability to make contact and recognize pitches leaving him off prospect lists. He was projected to be a first rounder in 2015 but he dropped to the fourth round where the Brewers selected him. He was actually born in Nigeria so if he makes the major leagues he could be the first Nigerian to play in the major leagues. Last year he played at Low A, slugging 11 homeruns with 38 stolen bases. His 40/139 walk to whiff ratio kept his average at .214, though he did hit .252 against lefthanders. His speed will allow him to play center and his arm will fit him in right. The bat just needs to develop more consistency. He should see High A in 2018.

Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

March 24th, 2018

Only six countries will be eligible to play in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. One of them will be Japan since they are the host country. The other five teams will be determined from these tournaments:

Premier 12 in November 2019 - The WBSC top 12 ranked countries compete. The Top Finisher from the Americas and the Top Finisher from Asia (excluding Japan) will advance to Tokyo.

Africa/Europe Qualifier in TBD 2019 - Six teams, the top five finishers from the European Baseball Championships and the winner of the African Baseball Championship/Qualifier 2019 will compete. The winner of this tournament will advance.

Americas Qualifier in TBD 2019 - Eight teams would compete from the Premier 12, excluding the top finisher from the Americas. Currently seven teams would be eligible so the eighth team would be the winner of the Pan American Games 2019. I’m assuming if that winner was one of the seven teams already eligible they would drop down to the second place, third place or fourth place finisher until they found an eligible country. If only six teams from the Americas are ranked in the Top 12 perhaps they will select two teams from the Pan American Games?

Intercontinental Qualifier in TBD 2019 - A six team tournament that would include 1) 2nd place finisher from Europe/Africa, 2) 2nd and 3rd place finishers from Americas, 3) Top two finishers from the Asia championships who have not already qualified for the Olympics, 4) Winner of the Oceania Qualifier 2019. The winner of this tournament would earn a spot in the Olympics.

Interesting the World Baseball Classic will have no bearing on the Olympic qualifiers.