West Asian Results

February 27th, 2015

Pakistan appears to be dominating the West Asian baseball tournament. The winner qualifies for the Asian Series to compete against Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Every game has ended in a shutout. Pakistan has won both their games 20-0 against Iraq and 12-0 against Iran. Their next opponent is India, who has lost to Iran 15-0, but beaten Iraq 20-0.

Iraq is the only winless team. They hope to change that with a win over their next opponent Iran. If India can beat Pakistan and Iran defeats Iraq you could end up with a three way tie for first. Knowing the political issues between Pakistan and India, this would probably be an entertaining game to watch, but myworld expects a 20-0 Pakistan win.

You can follow the results below:

West Asia tournament results

International Bonus Pools for 2015-16

February 27th, 2015

These are the dollar amounts teams can pay bonuses for international players beginning July 2. Teams that go over this amount are subject to penalty and can be restricted to a maximum $300,000 bonus for any player over the next two years. While the Diamondbacks have the highest bonus pool, they have a $300,000 limit they can pay a player because they exceeded their bonus allotment based on the Yoan Lopez signing. So they can sign 18 players for $300,000 or trade some of their dollars to other teams (based on what the value of a first round, second round or third round pick would be). The Angels, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are all subject to the $300,000 limit, three of those teams being in the AL East.

The value of the international bonus salaries for each team are:

1. Diamondbacks - $5,393,900
2. Rockies - $4,966,300
3. Rangers - $4,586,600
4. Astros - $4,248,800
5. Twins - $3,948,500
6. Red Sox - $3,681,000
7. White Sox - $3,443,000
8. Cubs - $3.230,700
9. Phillies - 3,041,700
10. Reds - $2,873,000
11. Marlins - $2,779,300
12. Padres - $2,691,800
13. Rays - $2,609,200
14. Mets - $2,531,300
15. Braves - $2,458,400
16. Brewers - $2,389,300
17. Blue Jays - $2,324,100
18. Yankees - $2,262,800
19. Indians - $2,204,900
20. Mariners - $2,150,300
21. Giants - $2,139,900
22. Pirates - $2,111,900
23. Athletics - $2,093,100
24. Royals - $2,074,700
25. Tigers - $2,056,200
26. Cardinals - $2,038,200
27. Dodgers - $2,020,300
28. Orioles - $2,002,900
29. Nationals - $1,985,400
30. Angels - $1,968,600

The Dodgers were rumored to have offered Yoan Moncada more than the Red Sox bonus payment, but the condition was he had to wait until after July 2 to sign. Many teams have already established dollar commitments to 2015/16 international free agents and if they had signed Moncada to the bonus he was asking for prior to July 2 they would have had to renege on many of those bonus promises they had made to the 2015/16 international free agents. Expect the Dodgers to be a team that will go over their international bonus ceiling next year and major league baseball looking to add more teeth to the penalties to discourage teams from going over their international allotment. Teams seem to avoid the penalties established under the domestic draft.

Why the Diamondbacks were able to pay Yasmany Tomas a seven year contract with a minimal bonus while the Red Sox were forced to shatter the bonus payment record is because of the requirement major league baseball placed on the signing of players who are under 23 years of age. They can no longer be immediately placed on the 40 man roster, which prevents them from offering multi year contracts. So the Red Sox were forced to pay the high bonus, which they have three years to pay, plus a posting fee (penalty) of $33 million to sign Moncada.

These assessments of international penalties could be a reason for the absence of Japanese premier players being posted. The Japanese teams are unwilling to accept an artificially low posting payment (set at a maximum of $20 million) when they see major league teams are willing to pay $33 million in a penalty for a premium Cuban player. Restrictions and regulations can be a dangerous web we weave, establishing unexpected conditions, such as $30 million plus bonus payments.

Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 60 - 51

February 26th, 2015

Mother Nature has decided to place another layer of coconut frosting on the D.C. landscape. Myworld is getting a little tired of the coconut frosting and are counting down the days when we will be in Florida to enjoy the baseball and sunshine. Waiting for the snow to stop has given us the opportunity to put together prospects 60-51.

60. Michael Taylor OF (Nationals) 3.38 - Michael was a 2009 sixth round pick. With the shoulder injury to Jayson Werth he will get a lot of time to prove himself in spring training this year and could get an opportunity to begin the season in the major leagues, depending on the health of Werth and opportunities for playing time. As he has matured physically his power has increased, and while there are some that question his ability to hit for average he has the potential to be a five tool player. Last year he showed he could hit for average, hitting .313 with 22 homeruns and 34 stolen bases in AA. Except for the stolen base totals all those numbers were career highs. He got a September callup to the major leagues where he only hit .205, but .333 against lefthanders. He also hit his first of what the Nationals hope are many major league homeruns. Michael has the speed and the instincts to play a gold glove caliber centerfield, perhaps not as polished as Denard Span is yet, but it will get there. Expect him to settle in AAA after Werth returns from his shoulder rehab.

59. Kyle Zimmer RHP (Royals) 3.4 - Zimmer was a 2012 first round pick out of the University of San Francisco. Injuries have prevented Kyle from making a fast ascent to the major leagues. His fastball hits three digits, sitting in the low to mid-90s and he complements that with a good slider and curveball. His change still needs some development. Shoulder soreness limited him to 22 starts in 2013 but the Royals did not anticipate any lingering effects. Last year a variety of injuries limited him to five rehab starts limited to five innings in rookie ball. Minor shoulder surgery after the 2014 season ended will delay the start of his 2015 season. The Royals hope the shoulder issues are past him so he can have success in AA where he finished his 2013 season. This would make a 2015 September callup a possibility. If nothing else, it could make him available for the rotation in 2016.

58. Kyle Freeland LHP (Rockies) 3.52 - Kyle was the Rockies first round pick in the 2014 draft. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but his big pitch is the slider. As a college drafted pitcher he is expected to move up the system quickly. Last year Freeland dominated both rookie level and Low A ball, finishing with a 1.56 ERA at rookie ball and a 0.83 ERA at Low A, both in five starts. He does have more success against lefthanded batters, limiting them to a .059 average at Low A. He also has shown excellent command, walking less than 1.5 batters per nine innings, while whiffing close to eight per nine. The Rockies will probably start him at High A with a promotion to AA if he sees success. The Rockies have no reason to promote him this early to the major leagues and speed up his service time if they are not contending, so expect a 2016 debut to the major leagues.

57. Albert Almora OF (Cubs) 3.52 - Albert was a 2012 first round pick by the Cubs. While he signed for $3.9 million, his Cuban heritage must have him smiling at some of the contracts the players leaving Cuba are getting from major league teams. If his parents had waited a little longer leaving Cuba he might have won a better lottery ticket. Almora is expected to be the Cubs centerfielder of the future once Dexter Fowler has slowed down. He lacks the speed of Fowler, but he has excellent instincts to cover the position. His Spanish speaking ability was a big help for Jorge Soler to get acclimated to the United States. Almora had a good year in High A (.283) but struggled when promoted to AA (.234). The Cubs would like to see him draw more walks to get his OBA above the .350 range. The AA experience last year was his first hiccup where he saw failure for the first time. The Cubs will have him repeat AA and with success he could be making his major league debut in September.

56. Aaron Blair RHP (Diamondbacks) 3.53 - Blair was a first round supplemental pick by the Diamondbacks out of the 2013 draft. At 6′5″ with a fastball that hits the mid-90s he should be an innings eater in a rotation. His change is a plus pitch already, with a breaking pitch (both slider and curve) still being developed. As the highest drafted player ever out of Marshall he is expected to rise quickly through the ranks. After starting the season in Low A he quickly was promoted to High A. At both levels his ERA was over 4 and while he struck out a batter per inning there was still a lot of barrel of bat on ball. When promoted to AA his pitches must have clicked with his ERA at 1.95 in eight starts and his opposition average down to .185. He also continued to strike out a hitter per inning. The Diamondbacks would like to see him continue his AA magic, perhaps having him repeat at AA to avoid the high altitudes of AAA. With success he should see a spot in the major league rotation by mid-season.

55. Brandon Nimmo OF (Mets) 3.6 - Nimmo has the distinction of being the first player drafted in the first round out of Wyoming when the Mets drafted him in 2011. It stays a little too cold in the Cowboy state up through May, so high schools in Wyoming don’t even bother to put together baseball teams. Nimmo has the range to play center field but not the blazing speed to cover a lot of ground or steal bases. His bat has also been short of power, which could restrict him if he has to move to a corner. Some say that the power will come as he matures. Last year Nimmo hit .322 at High A with a 50/51 walk to whiff ratio, giving him an impressive .448 OBA. Only a quarter of his hits went for extra bases. When promoted to AA close to 40 percent of his hits went for extra bases, including six homeruns, more than he hit in High A with fewer at bats. The down side is his average dropped to .238 and his walk to whiff ratio suffered (36/54). Another year in AA won’t hurt. It would be surprising for the Mets to promote him to the major leagues this year to begin his service time clock early, so expect a 2016 major league debut.

54. Lucas Sims RHP (Braves) 3.62 - The Braves have been trading a number of veteran players and getting back young pitchers in the deal. Lucas was drafted in the first round by the Braves in 2012 in their own back yard of Snellville, Georgia. His fastball sits in the low to mid-90s and he complements that with a good curve and change. The Braves let him see all his time in High A where he got 28 starts and ate up 157 innings. His success did not justify a promotion with an ERA of 4.19 and a walk to whiff ratio that was under 2. Lucas was not a big mystery to the bats at High A despite his premium stuff, but a slow start inflated those numbers. He came on at the end of the season which justifies the Braves promoting him to AA to start the 2015 season. The Braves can only hope he starts the 2015 season as he ended the 2014 season which could lead to a September callup.

53. Jose Pereza SS/2B (Braves) 3.62 - Jose was signed out of Venezuela in 2010 for $350,000. He has the tools to play shortstop, with the arm the biggest question mark, but with Andrelton Simmons covering the position the Braves have been getting him playing time at second base. Jose does not have any power but he is one of the fastest players on the team, slashing singles to all fields. Some of those singles are stretched into doubles. Last year in High A he hit .342, but .435 against lefthanders, stealing 35 bases. Promoted to AA the hits just kept on coming with a .335 average but .349 against righthanders. He added 25 more stolen bases to his total to give him 60 for the year. The Braves traded Tommy LaStella, their starting second baseman last season and there is not a major impediment for him to take over the role by mid-season in 2015. Alberto Callapso and Phil Gosselin will keep the position warm for him until he is ready to take over.

52. Stephen Piscotty OF (Cardinals) 3.83 - Piscotty was a first round supplemental pick of the 2012 draft. At 6′3″ you would expect him to hit for power. In 2013 he hit 15 homeruns, but last year in AAA those numbers dropped to 9. He lacks the speed to play centerfield so as a corner outfielder the Cardinals hope the power will come. Piscotty has hit for average every place he has played (.288 at Memphis) and shows the patience to take walks (.355). The Cardinals have a loaded outfield so he will continue to play in AAA to begin the season, but don’t be surprised by his major league debut in 2015. He is good at making contact with the ball so perhaps he will sacrifice some of that contact with a harder swing to generate more power.

51. Dalton Pompey OF (Blue Jays) 3.87 - Pompey has a reservation for centerfield for the Blue Jays in April. He hopes a poor spring will not cancel that reservation, or at least postpone it until mid-season. Pompey was a 16th round pick in 2010 out of Canada. Sometimes those Canadians don’t develop as quickly because of the artic air and the hockey skates. Dalton saw three seasons in rookie ball and two in Low A before he broke out this year. He has the five tools you want in a centerfielder, though until this year his batting average tool could be questioned. He started the season in High A (.319), got a promotion to AA (.295), got a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito in AAA (.358) before getting a promotion to the major leagues (.231). All this success has given the Blue Jays the confidence he can be the Blue Jays starting centerfielder in 2015. He makes contact, has shown the patience to take walks, all he has to prove is he can do that in the major leagues.

Mariners - 2015

February 25th, 2015

General - The Mariners were once one of the worst hitting teams in baseball. They had King Felix on the mound, but no bats to score him runs. The park generally prevents the Mariners from scoring runs but they moved the fences in to generate more offense. It has not met with a lot of success. After signing Robinson Cano away from the Yankees in the free agent market it was thought this would improve their offense. The Mariners scored ten more runs than the 2013 team and finished only ahead of the Astros in batting average. So now they have signed Nelson Cruz, who was the only player last year to hit 40 or more homeruns to add a few more runs to the offense. On the bright side the pitching staff had the top ERA in baseball and overall they scored 80 more runs than the opposition. They fell just a game short of appearing in the playoff race. It is hoped the acquisition of Nelson Cruz will be enough to make up for that one game. The Mariners are the only team in the American league lacking a pennant.

Key 2015 Additions - The big acquisition was Nelson Cruz to put in the DH spot. The Mariners did not get any production from that spot last year. They also added another bat for the outfield in Seth Smith trading one of their bullpen pitchers to the Padres. To make up for the loss of Brandon Maurer they traded oft injured Michael Saunders to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ. Time will tell if the pitcher/outfield swaps will improve the club. While the club is set at second base the Mariners signed Rickie Weeks as a free agent. Rickie seems more inclined to play a position other than second base in 2015. The Mariners are expected to use his right handed bat in the outfield.

Catcher - Mike Zunino hit for power last year with 22 homeruns but the Mariners would like to see an improvement in his .199 average and his .254 OBA. Part of the struggle can be linked to his 17/158 walk to whiff ratio. It is hoped one more year of experience will help improve his plate discipline. They have kind of given up on Jesus Montero making it as the catcher. Jesus Sucre is the player who got the second most starts at the position last year. His offense was almost non-existent, with a .213 average and OBA and a .246 slugging. In 61 at bats Sucre did not take one walk. John Baker is a non-roster invitee that has experience behind the plate. He played for the Cubs last year but only hit .192, the second straight year he has failed to hit over .200.

First Base - Justin Smoak is gone and the Mariners are hoping for more offensive output from Logan Morrison. Logan does not hit for as much power as Justin, but he will hit for a higher average and a better OBA. Last year Logan hit .262, far surpassing Smoak in offensive production. Jesus Montero could make the team as his back up against tough lefthanders. He wants to prove that he is no flop, slimming down this year in an attempt to improve on his .235 average last year in limited at bats. In AAA he did have an OPS of .839. This could also be a position the right handed bat of Rickie Weeks plays. Last year the Brewers thought of making Rickie a first baseman, but he insisted on staying at second base and lost a lot of playing time. Rickie is not smooth on defense, but he has a potent bat, slugging .452 last year.

Second Base - Last year Robinson Cano played 157 games here. That does not leave a lot of room for Rickie Weeks. Cano should improve on his .314 batting average with Nelson Cruz batting behind him. His power will never match what he produced in the hitter’s park of Yankee stadium. If Cano should be injured Weeks will still have competition for the second base job. Willie Bloomquist has been mister utility for a number of years now. Last year he hit .278 but missed much of last year because of injury. Willie lacks any kind of power, but his glove fits anywhere on the field.

Third Base - The Mariners hope for a better offensive year from Kyle Seager. He hit 25 homeruns last year to help him become their leading run producer with 96 RBIs. If he can improve on his .268 batting average that could lead to better production. Last year he struggled against lefthanders (.242). With Cano and Cruz in the lineup, adding the potent bat of Seager will make for a big three in the offense. Bloomquist will be the main replacement at this position, but the Mariners may also see how Weeks can respond with the glove here.

Shortstop - This will be a spring training battle between Brad Miller and Chris Taylor. Taylor was bumped by Cano from the second base position. When Miller struggled with the bat (.221) and committed 18 errors the Mariners moved Taylor to short. Taylor did not hit for the power of Miller, but carried the better average (.287) and the more consistent glove, but in much fewer games. Willie Bloomquist will be the backup allowing the Mariners to option the loser of this battle to the minors (if they have options) to get more at bats.

Left Field - Neither Seth Smith or Dustin Ackley have a right field arm. Dustin tends to have a very weak arm so he will settle in left field. The Mariners have not got the production they expected from the second player selected in the 2009 draft after Bryce Harper. Last year Ackley only hit .245 with a .291 OBA. Those numbers took a downturn against lefthanders. This is where you may see a lot of Rickie Weeks, especially against the lefthanders. If Ackley continues to struggle with the bat and Weeks shows he can play the position and shows some offense with the bat, Ackley could see less playing time. When the Mariners want to give Nelson Cruz some time away from the DH spot this will be the position he roams. He is not a bad outfielder.

Center Field - The Tigers were frustrated with the propensity for Austin Jackson to strike out and traded him mid-season, even though they did not have a great alternative to back him up. Jackson would be an ideal leadoff hitter if he did not strike out so much. Last year he had a 47/144 walk to whiff ratio and a .308 OBA, not what you are looking for in a leadoff hitter. The Brewers thought of converting Weeks to a centerfielder. The Mariners may try him here. They also have James Jones, who played the position last year until Jackson came along. Jones has a lot of speed (27 for 28 in stolen bases) but an impotent bat (.278 OBA and .311 slugging). Willie Bloomquist is probably getting a little old to play here. Justin Ruggiano is on the roster. He played last year with the Cubs hitting .281. He is best utilized as a fourth outfielder, defensive replacement.

Right Field - Seth Smith is the man here against right handed pitchers. Last year he hit .266 with 12 homeruns. He has always been a platoon player, but if Rickie Weeks plays left field against lefthanded pitchers for Ackley, the Mariners will need someone to platoon here. This may be where Nelson Cruz comes in handy, fitting in the right field spot against lefthanders and allowing the DH spot to be used to rest players or get the bat of Jesus Montero in the lineup.

Designated Hitter - Nelson Cruz will bring his 40 homeruns and 108 RBIs here. He will give Cano great protection in the lineup. He also is not a bad outfielder, so against left handed pitching you can move him to the outfield and let Jesus Montero get some bats in this spot. Willie Bloomquist could roam around the infield to give Cano, Seager and Morrison a rest from their positions. Cruz will not be set in stone at this position, but he will get the majority of at bats.

Starting Rotation - Led by King Felix, this has the potential to be one of the best rotations in the American League. Felix Hernandez was second in the Cy Young voting last year with his 15 wins, 2.14 ERA and 248 whiffs. The opposition hit only .200 off him. If their is a definition of an ace it is King Felix. Hisashi Iwakuma almost won a Cy Young in 2013. He saw some regression last year, especially towards the end of the season when he seemed much more hittable. He also won 15 games but his ERA went from below 3.00 to 3.52. Lefthanders seemed to have an easier time hitting him (.273), 60 points above their 2013 average. Their could be a battle for the last four spots in the rotation. Roenis Elias had the third spot last year, but like Iwakuma he staggered in his last few starts, finishing with a 3.85 ERA. J.A. Happ was acquired from the Blue Jays to start. His numbers (11-11, 4.52) may be the worst of the four. Two youngsters will battle for the final two spots. James Paxton had a 3.04 ERA with a .223 opposition average that only a bad spring will keep him off this rotation. Taijuan Walker (2.61 ERA) may have the best stuff of the group but nagging injuries delayed his start to the 2014 season.

Closer - The Mariners hope Fernando Rodney displays his bow and arrow pose another 48 times. He will be 38 entering the 2015 season but he can still get hitters out (2.85 ERA and a .244 opposition average). Lefthanded bats found his stuff a bit inviting with a .289 average.

Other Relievers - The bullpen has some young arms and they were one of the best in the league last year. Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina and Rodney each had more than 60 appearances with ERAs less than 3. Medina sometimes shows a little problem with command, walking 4.5 hitters per nine innings. Tom Wilhelmsen limited the opposition to a .171 average and was just three appearances short of making it four relievers with over 60 appearances and ERAs less than 3. They lack a proven lefthanded relief option. Charlie Furbush throws from the left side, but he didn’t have any greater success at getting lefties out than Medina, Farquhar and Wilhelmsen. There probably is no room in the starting rotation for Erasmo Ramirez, sending his 5.26 ERA to the bullpen to fill the long man role. Dominic Leone is another returning bullpen piece that was dominant against righthanders (.166) bit was too much barrel of the bat against lefties (.295).

Top 2015 Rookies - Carson Smith was dominant for 9 relief appearances last year (0.77 opposition average). With a good spring he could work himself into a bullpen role. Ji-Man Choi was signed out of Korea and moved from his catching position to first base. He has a power bat that could see some time at first base or DH if the Mariners are looking for offense. This will be a veteran team without a lot of room for rookies.

2015 Finish - The Mariners pitching is too strong and with the addition of Nelson Cruz they should score enough runs to win ball games in the AL West.

Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 70 - 61

February 24th, 2015

70. Mike Foltynewicz RHP (Braves) 2.77 - Mike was a first round draft pick of the Astros in 2010. They traded him to the Braves after the 2014 season, one of the prospects sacrificed to acquire Evan Gattis. Mike is one of the hardest throwers in the game, often hitting three digits on his fastball. A lack of quality secondary pitches and command issues (4.5 walks per nine) have many think his best role will be in relief. Last year, after an inconsistent run in the starting rotation (5.08 ERA and .260 opposition average) the Astros promoted him to the majors where he pitched in relief. His numbers did not improve much (5.30 ERA and .299 opposition average). For someone who throws as hard as Mike his whiffs per nine innings pitched falls below one per inning. The Braves will return him to the starting rotation where he will compete for the fifth spot. He could make it in the bullpen if he does not win the fifth spot.

69. Rusney Castillo OF (Red Sox) 2.83 - Rusney comes out of Cuba, inked to a signing bonus of $5.2 million and a seven year contract at $72.5 million. He signed too late last year to shake of the rust in the minor leagues and in a September call up to the Red Sox the 27 year old was still able to hit .333 in 36 at bats with two homeruns. He will be competing with Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley for the centerfield job this year, the favored candidate to win the position. He relies more on his speed than his power to separate himself from the rest. Rusney is a five tool player who should make an impact in the rookie of the year voting this year, though most of the tools fall just above average and just miss getting tagged as elite.

68. Steven Matz LHP (Mets) 2.87 - The 2009 second round pick of the Mets seems to have come out of nowhere to make this list. Tommy John surgery prevented him from playing in 2010 and 2011. The Mets have shown patience with him, giving him six starts in 2012 (1.55 ERA) and getting him over 100 innings in 2013 (2.62 ERA). While he can hum his fastball in the mid-90s, impressive for a lefthander, his secondary pitches, especially the change are quality pitches as well. Last year the Mets saw his innings count hit 140 at High A and AA with ERAs less than 3. He is expected to see the Mets rotation sometime before the 2015 season is done, but he will begin the season in AAA to control his innings count. They will try to get him up to 180 innings this year so he can join Harvey as a solid member of the rotation starting in 2016.

67. A.J. Cole RHP (Nationals) 3.03 - He was considered a tough sign, a first rounder that went in the fourth to the Nationals in 2010 as a draft eligible sophomore. The Nationals traded him to Oakland for Gio Gonzalez, then got him back in the Michael Morse trade. At 6′4″ he has nice long arms for a pitcher and whips the ball across home in the mid-90s, sometimes hitting 97. His slider and change have also developed into above average pitches. Cole enhanced his command this year and found himself at AAA where he went 7-0, 3.43 in 11 starts. The opposition raked him at a .283 clip and he whiffed just seven hitters per nine innings, but he threw strikes. The Nationals rotation is loaded this year so he will start the season in AAA. With both Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister eligible to depart after the 2015 season the Nationals have targeted a 2016 job for him in the rotation. Expect him to make his debut with a September call up.

66. Jake Thompson RHP (Rangers) 3.07 - Jake was a second round pick of the Tigers in the 2012 draft. The Rangers traded Joaquin Soria at the end of last season to acquire Thompson. Soria did not do much for the Tigers, providing them with only one save. The Rangers hope Thompson can eventually fill the starting rotation for the Rangers. His fastball sits in the low 90s and can reach mid-90s and he complements it with a slider/change combination. He got two starts for the Tigers AA team before getting traded to the Rangers and continued to shine for the Rangers in his final six AA starts. In 2015 he should start the season in AAA with the possibility of getting a callup should the Rangers have a need.

65. Sean Manaea LHP (Royals) 3.12 - Though he was a supplemental first round pick drafted after first round pick Hunter Dozier, he got a higher bonus payment than Hunter. Sean was considered a top five pick until an injury dropped his stock and prevented him from pitching in 2013. He throws a mid-90s fastball with a slider/change combination. Last year was his professional debut and being a college level pitcher the Royals pushed him to High A. He started 25 games, struck out more than a batter per inning and limited the opposition to a .228 average in the 122 innings worked. Next year he will see AA with the major leagues more probable in 2016 than this year. If the Royals are in a playoff run and they believe Manaea can help them now that could hasten his major league service time clock.

64. Hunter Renfroe OF (Padres) 3.15 - The Padres have not yet traded all their top prospects. Renfroe was a 2013 first round pick by the Padres. He was rumored as being one of the players offered for Cole Hamels, but the Phillies did not think what was offered was enough. He has the potential to be a big time power threat with an arm strong enough for right field. His big issue is a propensity to swing and miss with 134 whiffs in 120 plus games. He slugged .565 at hitter friendly Lake Elsinore, but could only manage .353 at pitcher friendly San Antonio. If the Padres do not trade him, they will probably start him at AA. With a outfield crowded with veterans and Rymer Liriano ahead of Hunter on the depth chart, it may not be until 2016 when he gets a glimpse of the major leagues.

63. Kyle Crick RHP (Giants) 3.25 - The Giants never seem to have trouble developing pitchers to slip into their rotation. Kyle was a first round supplemental pick in 2011 by the Giants and has worked his way up the minor league level one affiliation at a time. His fastball hits the mid-90s and touches 98 with a curveball and change. An oblique injury limited him to 14 starts and 60 plus innings in 2013, but that did not deter the Giants from starting him at AA. He was again limited to less than 100 innings last year, but command was a big issueas he walked just over six hitters per nine innings. When he starts a game with his 11 whiffs per nine innings, there is not a lot of contact in the game. The Giants may repeat his time in AA so he can work on finding his command. If he continues to struggle with strikes his best option could be to move to the bullpen, though the Giants feel he has potential ace like stuff.

62. Clint Frazier OF (Indians) 3.25 - The Georgia red head was drafted in the first round out of high school last year by the Indians. Once he polishes off the rough edges the Indians hope he can become a power hitting center fielder. He has all the five tools you look for in a player. Hamstring issues slowed him down last year, though he was still able to hit .266 with 13 homeruns and a .760 OPS. He needs to cut down on his 161 strikeouts to enhance his hitting tool. In 2015 he should start at High A and with some success in making contact could move up to AA. He will always be linked with another Georgia first round pick Austin Meadows.

61. Maikel Franco 3B (Phillies) 3.37 - Myworld does not see Cody Asche blocking his path at third base, though the concern is his fielding at the position is less than adequate. The Phillies were able to sign the Dominican for only $100,000 in 2010. He made that seem like a bargain with his 31 homeruns in 2013. A slow start hampered him last year, but he was still able to hit 16 homeruns in AAA and raise his average up to .257 after struggling around the Mendoza line for the early part of the year. He struggled with his major league debut, hitting only .179 with two doubles. Last year he only made 10 errors in 107 games at third base at AAA and one in his 12 games in the major leagues. With his power he could bring back memories of Michael Schmidt at third base. Cody Asche will bring back no such memories.

Phillies - 2015

February 24th, 2015

General - When Pat Gillick was general manager of the Orioles he tried to warn Peter Angelos the Orioles were getting older and he should consider rebuilding. Angelos fired Gillick, got one more playoff run before stumbling into a 14 year losing streak. Myworld has to wonder if Gillick gave that same warning to Ruben Amaro before he left the Phillies. After their last playoff appearance in 2011 they have felt they could make another playoff appearance with the same core of aging players that won their division for five years in a row from 2007 to 2011. They have not finished above .500 since their last playoff appearance in 2011. Entering the 2015 season the Phillies have finally recognized their playoff veterans just don’t have it anymore. Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers and Cole Hamels was dangled but Amaro found no enticing offers. They would love for a team to take Ryan Howard off their hands but he may be an albatross they are forced to keep until his contract expires. With the losing becoming endemic their consecutive game sellout streak has ended, good news for those who wanted to get tickets but were unable to because the games were always a sellout. Phillie fans can only hope it won’t take 14 years as it did with the Orioles to rebuild a winner.

2015 Key Additions - This is a rebuilding team trading aging players for prospects. One prospect, Ben Lively, obtained in the trade for Marlon Byrd, could see some time in the rotation by mid-season. The Phillies also signed two free agent pitchers, Chad Billingsley for the bullpen and Aaron Harang for either the bull pen or the starting rotation. For the most part they will throw out the same veteran starters with a few prospects sprinkled in.

Catcher - It is amazing this team is looking for a catcher for the 2015 season. Carlos Ruiz and his age has prevented him from playing 130 plus games behind the plate. His offensive game has dropped and he has fallen into the also rans that hit 36 year old catchers. One of the strengths the Phillies thought they had was catching depth. Sebastian Valle has been released and is now playing for the Pirates. Tommy Joseph has been struggling with concussion issues which is jeopardizing his career. He was the main character acquired in the Hunter Pence trade to the Giants. That leaves Cameron Rupp to fill the back up role for the Phils. Eventually, it may be Joseph and Rupp sharing the position as starters.

First Base - It isn’t fun being Ryan Howard. He gets a lot of abuse from Philly fans for making over $20 million and slugging just .380. He did lead the team in RBIs (95) and was second in homeruns (23) but his .223 batting average and 190 whiffs were despised. They thought they would give the position to Darin Ruf but his .235 batting average was too Howard like. By mid-season, this position may be turned over to Maikel Franco, who raked in the winter leagues. Franco did not match his 2013 season of 31 homeruns but after a slow start he hit 16 in AAA.

Second Base - The Phillies have held on to Chase Utley and he has been able to stay healthy for two years in a row, playing in 155 games last year. His OPS is down to .746 and he is not the feared threat he once was in the playoff years when his OPS was approaching .900. Utley could be traded before the season is over and the only viable alternative is Cesar Hernandez. His OPS did not even eclipse .500 last year. They also have Rule V pick Odubel Herrera, who had a good winter, but spent most of that playing the outfield.

Shortstop - Jimmy Rollins was traded and the Phillies are prepared to give the position to Freddy Galvis and his .176 average. He had such a good spring last year that he appeared to win the job away from Rollins. When he got hurt and returned after a month into the season he forgot how to hit, his average plummeting into the .050 range. Cesar Hernandez is another option for short, as well as a number of non-roster invitees such as Chase d’Arnaud and Andres Blanco. The big hope for the Phillies is J.P. Crawford, but they will probably have to wait until 2016 for him.

Third Base - Cody Asche has been the player here Phillie fans have found it hard to get excited about. He lacks power for the position, hitting only 10 homeruns last year and doesn’t really excel at defense to make up for his offensive deficiencies. Ideally, they would like to move Maikel Franco here, but as long as Asche has a pulse he will get the starting nod. Cesar Hernandez will get back up time, but Franco would be move here if the Phillies need someone for an extended period of time.

Left Field - Myworld watched a spring training game when a ball hit off the glove of Darin Ruf and carried over the fence. His outfield play is poor, which is why the Phillies would prefer to move him to first base. He does have a power bat but it was impotent for most of last year. Grady Sizemore is a better defensive option but his bat is not the force it once was. Odubel Herrera had a good winter playing outfield, but the Phillies view him more as a reserve player. Not a lot to work with here.

Center Field - Ben Revere was fifth in the league in hitting with a .306 average. He also proved to be a catalyst from the leadoff spot with 49 stolen bases. The only downside is Revere has the arm of a leftfielder playing center. Herrera and Sizemore can back him up, but Sizemore is not the defensive player he once was. The Phillies also claimed Jordan Danks on waivers and he can play here as well in a back up capacity. No one here to make Phillie fans forget Shane Victorino or Aaron Rowand.

Right Field - Dominic Brown had a break out year in 2013, making the All Star team. All that has been forgotten after a .235 season in 2014 with only 10 homeruns. Dominic was going to be a building block for future playoff seasons, but his offensive output has been a disappointment. Sizemore and Danks will act as backups. Jeff Francouer was an interesting signing. He played right field in his peak years, but the Phillies will try him on the mound. As long as they have him, perhaps they will convince him to play some right field.

Starting Pitching - This used to be an invincible lot. With Roy Halladay retired and Cliff Lee injured for only 13 starts the position self destructed. Cole Hamels is now their ace, but he wants to be traded to a playoff contender. He is easily the ace of their staff, pitching over 200 innings with a 2.46 ERA but only a 9-9 record to show for it. Cliff Lee hopes to be healthy for 2015 and will follow Hamels. After those two the rotation really gets ugly with Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, David Buchanan and Miguel Gonzalez all vying for the last three spots. Spring training should sort the rotation out. Williams last year could not even make the Astros starting rotation out of spring training.

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon with his 39 saves is the closer. He signed a lengthy contract about the time the Phillies transformed themselves into a below .500 franchise. Like Hamel, he would prefer to be traded to a contender. Ken Giles has the three digit velocity on his fastball and can replace him in the closer role if Papelbon sees better opportunities on the horizon.

Other Relievers - It was one of the worst bullpens in the league last year. Jake Diekman struck out over 10 hitters per nine innings. Mario Holland struggled from the left side (4.40 ERA), walking about four hitters per nine innings. Justin DeFratus was their most consistent pitcher (2.39 ERA), but last place teams do not get many save opportunities. Chad Billingsly and Aaron Harnag will make the pen if they fail to make the starting rotation. The rest will be decided by who has the most success in spring training.

2015 Rookies - The Phillies have not had good drafts, selecting players like Kyle Drabek, Joe Savery, Anthony Hewitt, Kelly Dugan, Michael Constanzo, Greg Golson, all first round picks who have gone nowhere. Maikel Franco is the big power bat who should make the most impact. His best position is third, but if the Phillies decide to keep Cody Asche there he may move to first. Jesse Biddle and Ben Lively are pitchers Phillie fans hope to see in the starting rotation. Jesse has had big issues with command, forcing him to take a leave of absence last year to clear his head. Severino Gonzalez has the small frame that may be more suitable for the bullpen. There is not a lot of depth in the outfield so expect Aaron Altherr and Cameron Perkins to both get an opportunity by mid season. Altherr played for Germany in the World Baseball Classic and both stand 6′5″, a trait the Phillies seem to be enamored with in their right fielders. Tommy Joesph can still recover from his concussion issues and find himself catching for the major league team.

2015 Finish - They still have a number of players from their 2008 World Series team, but they have lost the skills that got them there seven years ago. Another last place finish is in store for Phillie fans in 2015. That will be three consecutive losing seasons and counting.

Top 100 Prospects 2015 - 80 - 71

February 23rd, 2015

The Red Sox and Rangers dominate this list with five of the ten players.

80. Garrin Cecchini 3B (Red Sox) 2.13 - Garin was drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. His brother Gavin was a first rounder for the Mets in 2012. The Red Sox have to hope for a Wade Boggs clone. He gets on base with a career OBA of .417 entering the 2014 season. Last year in AAA that dropped to a .341, but his batting average was only .263, down from his .312 average entering 2014. One tool he lacks is power. He has yet to see double digits in his homerun production, hitting only seven in 2014. What he did do was hit doubles, over 30 his last two years. Last year he only hit 21. The Red Sox have a number of players who can generate greater offensive numbers who they can slide to third because of a glut of middle infielders. This could leave Garrin as the odd man out and trade bait for another team.

79. Marco Gonzalez LHP (Cardinals) 2.15 - Marco was a 2013 first round pick of the Cardinals coming out of Gonzaga. As a college pitcher the Cardinals have moved him up quickly, promoting him to High A in 2013 and giving him a taste of the major leagues last year. He had some command issues with the Cardinals walking a little over 5 batters per nine innings. That rate was at about 2 in the minor leagues. Unlike many Cardinal pitchers he will not blow you away with mid-90s heat, so he needs to command his pitches to be effective. If Carlos Martinez makes the starting rotation Marco would be the sixth starter, so he may start the season in the bullpen. There he will have to show he can throw strikes so if a need arises Marco can slide into the starting rotation. Lefties hit him at a .143 clip in the major leagues.

78. Manuel Margot OF (Red Sox) 2.25 - Manuel signed for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He is the typical five tool player who got an opportunity to play for the first time in a full season league last year. After hitting .286 for Low A Greenville with 39 stolen bases he tore it up in a 50 at bat debut at High A hitting .340. The Red Sox will probably start him there to begin the 2015 season. The Red Sox are over stocked with talented centerfielders in Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts. Margot is another to add to the list with the potential to steal 30 plus bases and hit between 10 to 20 homeruns. His contact rate was much improved over his first two years and he could soon enter the fray for center field time with the Red Sox in 2016.

77. Aaron Judge OF (Yankees) 2.38 - Aaron was a 2013 first round pick. Standing at 6′7″ he carries a large strike zone, but if he gets his arms extended and makes contact with the ball it will go a long way. A leg injury prevented him from showcasing his stuff in 2013 but last year the Yankees started him at Low A. A 958 OPS in 250 at bats got him promoted to High A where he continued to rake for an .853 OPS. His strike out rate increased at the higher level and his average dropped but he still could have earned the right to begin 2015 in AA. His speed will limit him to a corner. How high he hits for average will depend on how well he can extend his arms to get the barrel of the ball contact his height requires. His batting practice displays often do not translate into games where the pitches are not quite as grooved and juicy.

76. Max Fried LHP (Braves) 2.58 - Max Fried was a first round pick of the Padres in 2012. He was discovered when scouts came out to watch teammate Lucas Giolito pitch and noted Max was a pretty good pitcher as well. Lucas draft stock was harmed by an arm injury resulting in Tommy John and a commitment to Stanford. Max was ultimately selected higher in the draft. Now Lucas is healthy and it is Max trying to recover from a forearm injury that limited him to five starts and just 10 innings, eventually resulting in Tommy John surgery that will force him to miss the 2015 season. When healthy he has a fastball that can hit mid-90s and a sharp break to his curve. The Braves best hope for Max is some rehab starts late in 2015 and to make up those innings in the Arizona Fall League. He was acquired from the Padres in the Justin Upton trade.

75. Eduardo Rodriguez LHP (Red Sox) 2.68 - Rodriguez signed a 2010 contract with the Orioles out of Venezuela for $175,000. The Orioles gave him up to the Red Sox for Andrew Miller. Eduardo seemed to turn it on when he arrived in the Red Sox organization. With the Orioles AA team at Bowie Rodriguez was struggling with a 3-7 record and a 4.79 ERA. Despite his wicked stuff righthanders were able to hit him at a .310 clip. Once the Red Sox got ahold of him his ERA in six starts was 0.96 and righthanders struggled for a .194 average. He also struck out more than one batter per inning. Eduardo throws hard, hitting the mid-90s and he has a slider as his breaking pitch. An improved change could be the reason for his increased effectiveness against right handed hitters. He should start the season in AAA with a possible promotion by mid-season.

74. Tim Anderson SS (White Sox) 2.62 - Anderson was the White Sox first round pick in 2013 out of high school. He had a good year in High A to get himself a promotion to AA where he hit .364 in 44 at bats. He has the tools for shortstop, with an average arm his only question mark. His bat does not translate into enough power for a move to a corner so second base is another option if his arm proves too soft for shortstop. He does have speed but he lacks stolen base quickness. Tim will start the 2014 season in AA. The issues he needs to work on is reducing his 34 errors at short from last year and increasing the 9 walks he accumulated in over 300 at bats.

73. Nomar Mazara OF (Rangers) 2.68 - The Rangers signed Mazara out of the Dominican Republic for a mystifying $4.95 million in 2011. Most other scouts did not have him rated that high to pay him that kind of bonus. The 6′4″ Mazara made his full season debut in 2013 and struggled, hitting .236 with minimal power. There were a lot of questions about his ability to meet the $4.95 million expectations. The 19 year old exploded in 2014, moving all the way up to AA with his 22 homeruns. He also showed the patience to walk 66 times, slugging .518 in AA despite skipping High A. His below average speed will limit him to a corner outfield. At low A he was credited with a team high 12 assists. With the success he had in AA it is expected he will start his season there in 2015 with a move to AAA before the season ends. How quickly the Rangers want to put him on the 40 man roster will dictate whether he gets promoted there in 2015.

72. Nick Kingham RHP (Pirates) 2.7 - Kingham was a fourth round pick of the Pirates in 2010, playing in Las Vegas with a catcher now outfielder named Bryce Harper. At 6′5″ he has a good frame for a pitcher. His velocity sits in the low 90s and he shows good command with his pitches to earn his spot in the Top 100. He doesn’t come with the overpowering stuff of some Pirate pitchers such as Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow but he had enough success to reach AAA last year. His strikeout numbers will not impress bit he throws a good curveball and change giving him three above average pitches to show hitters. He will start the 2015 season in AAA but may be the first pitcher called up if the Pirates need help in the rotation.

71. Alex Gonzalez RHP (Rangers) 2.77 - The player they call “Chi Chi” was a 2013 first round pick. The Rangers have moved him quickly, giving him 14 starts in AA. His fastball is not overpowering, relying more on a slider to get hitters out. Alex will not get a lot of whiffs, but he throws strikes and has the ability to miss the barrel of the bat with his pitches. With has AA success (2.70 ERA) the Rangers could start him at AAA with a promotion to the majors once the Rangers need help in the rotation. He will be no better than a mid-rotation starter, lacking the stuff to be an ace but someone has to get the mid-rotation starts.

Yoon Turns Down Orioles Minor League Spring Invite

February 23rd, 2015

Suk-Min Yoon was having some rough years with the Kia Tigers. He was no longer one of the top pitchers in the KBO. That did not prevent the Orioles from signing the now 28 year old pitcher once he became a free agent. For Yoon his ERA had climbed his last three years in the KBO, going from 2.45 (when he finished 17-5), to 3.12 to 4.00. His strikeout per nine innings had also dropped from 9.3 to 8.1 to 7.8. Not the type of trends you want to see from a pitcher.

Yoon did not make the Orioles major league roster after spring training. It was hoped he would not be long in the minor leagues after a few outings to get used to major/minor league hitters. That did not happen. He struggled to get minor league hitters out, finishing with a 5.74 ERA and allowing 125 hits in just 95 innings. Those are not the numbers to earn a promotion to the major leagues. He did not even get a September call up, was removed from the 40 man roster and returned to Korea.

The Orioles still have him signed to a contract this year and invited him to the minor league spring training site. Yoon refused. He is now working out in the Boras camp in hopes for a major league spring training invite or he will return to Korea to finish his career in the KBO. The Orioles would probably have to release him. The Kia Tigers will probably be the team to benefit from his return, if they still want to sign him.

So while everyone waits for the results of Jung-ho Park with the Pirates, the arrival of Suk-Min Yoon looks to be a bust for the Orioles.

West Asia Baseball Cup

February 23rd, 2015

Jinnah stadium in Islamabad, Pakistan is hosting the West Asia Baseball Cup. In addition to Pakistan, the teams competing in the event are Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and India. In a political environment, getting countries like this together would be difficult. The games begin today.

The schedule for the games can be found below:

West Asia Baseball Cup

Moncada to Sign with Red Sox

February 23rd, 2015

Yoan Moncada was considered one of the top prospects out of Cuba. The Red Sox seemed to think so, breaking out their wallets to pay him a record breaking $31 million plus bonus. This is one reason why major league teams have to protect themselves against themselves. The actual cost of the signing to the Red Sox could be $63 million, because in addition to the bonus the Red Sox will also have to pay a 100 percent penalty cost on the amount of salary they go over their international salary cap. Since they were already over their international salary cap they now have to pay tit for tat one dollar for each dollar they spend on Moncada. The Red Sox will also be restricted to a maximum payment of $300,000 for the next couple years for any future international prospects, putting a damper on signing any future international stars.

The previous high bonus had been $8 million paid by the Diamondbacks for another Cuban, pitcher Yoan Lopez. Let this year be the year of the Yoan. It was also suspected Moncada would hit the $100 million salary structure, but perhaps a large chunk of that bonus is part of the salary. It was not stated what his yearly salary would be but the Red Sox have up to three years to pay out his bonus. They have only until July to pay major league baseball the $31 million penalty they owe them. This will make the commissioner’s office quite wealthy.

Moncada is expected to start his season in High A, playing second or third base. He should rise quickly provided his offense is as projected. Baseball America has reported they would put him at number 10 in their current top 100 prospect list. He has not played in a competitive environment in a year so it may take some time before he gets his swing back. This type of salary will have big time repercussions in Cuba, providing incentives for many players to want to come to the United States. It is like winning the lottery.

The best thing Cuba can hope for to keep their players in Cuba is normalized relations with the United States so they can establish a system with major league baseball similar to what exists in Japan, Korea and Mexico. Then the Cuban teams can share in some of that money major league baseball has to shell out to attract the talented players. Right now Cuba is renting out their players to Japanese teams, and any other leagues that are interested in renting out their players, but that money is the equivalent of a pauper’s fee when compared to what major league teams are willing to shell out for talented players.

Lourdes Gourriel, the riches await you if you go north.