Series Del Caribe will Crown a New Champion

February 8th, 2019

Junior Lake hit a walk off single in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Dominican Republic to a 5-4 win over Puerto Rico. For Puerto Rico they dropped to 0-3 ending any hope they would win a third consecutive Series del Caribe championship. The Dominican Republic improved to 2-1 but must beat Panama to stay alive for the championship match.

Anuery Taveras had tied the game for the Dominican Republic in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single. Jumbo Diaz got the win by pitching a scoreless ninth, though he did put two runners on with a walk and single. Diego Goris drove in the first Dominican run leading off the fourth with a homerun.

Puerto Rico had opportunities to score but stranded 14 runners on base. They left two runners on in the first, fourth, eighth and ninth and left the bases loaded in the fifth. They can still be spoilers with their final game against Panama.

The day game went 11 innings with Mexico virtually eliminating Cuba 3-2. In their previous loss the Cubans lost when the leadoff batter got on via an error. The misplays continued after Cuban native Dariel Alvarez struck out but reached first when the ball got past the catcher. Ramon Rios drove in Alvarez with a single.

Cuba went out meekly in the bottom of the 11th. They have had trouble generating any offense, collecting only six hits in 11 innings against the Mexican pitchers. The only two runs they scored were in the first inning on a Frederich Cepeda double and an Alfredo Despaigne double. Despaigne has driven in five of the six runs the Cubans have scored.

Mexico scored their first run on a wild pitch in the first inning. In the sixth Victor Mendoza tied the game with an RBI single. Sergio Romo retired all eight hitters he faced to get the victory, three of them by strikeouts.

For Cuba Yordanis Samon got three of the six hits for Cuba but they did not result in any runs.

The big game will pit Dominican Republic against Panama. A win by Panama would clinch their spot in the finals. Their final match is against winless Puerto Rico who they had beaten earlier. A loss to Puerto Rico would still leave them 3-1 with two victories against the Dominican Republic should they win today.

Venezuela can clinch their spot in the championship with a win over Mexico today. A loss to Mexico could result in a three way tie should Cuba beat Venezuela on the final day.

Venezuela Stays Alive and Panama Continues to Roll

February 7th, 2019

The Cuban bats had trouble against Wilfredo Boscan, accumulating just three hits in his 6.2 innings of work as Venezuela won the pitcher’s duel 1-0. Three different relievers continued the shutout of the Cuban bats with Pedro Rodriguez getting the final three outs to pick up the save. Cuba got six strong innings from their veteran Freddy Alvarez, probably the best pitcher in Cuba not in the major leagues but the anemic Cuban bats failed to support his effort.

The two teams traded zeros for the first six innings. Cuba put runners on first and third with two outs in the second but failed to score. Venezuela perched runners on first and second with just one out but a double play ended that threat. The lone run scored in the seventh when Alexander Ayala booted a ground ball hit by Cuban native Rangel Ravelo. The Cubans chose to replace Alvarez with Yoennis Yera and he walked Luis Jimenez. Livan Moinelo replaced Yera. Juniel Querecuto, who grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and one out in the fourth chose to bunt and advanced the runners to second and third. Alejandro de Aza hit a ball deep enough in the outfield to score Rangel for the only run of the game.

Cuba never mounted a threat after that with their last six batters failing to reach base. Alfredo Despaigne, the hero of the game yesterday lined a shot into centerfield but it was caught by de Aza.

Panama continued to surprise rocking the two time defending champ Puerto Rico 8-7. They scored seven runs in the final two frames to pull out the game. Puerto Rico still rallied for one run in the bottom of the ninth but left the tying run stranded at first. Manny Corpas got the last three outs to pick up the save.

The big hit for Panama was a two run two out double by Jilton Calderon that gave Panama a 7-6 lead in the ninth. Allen Cordoba added an insurance run with his RBI single into left field.

The game changing moment for Panama is when they scored four runs after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Elmer Reyes had a two run single with the bases loaded and Javy Guerra had another big hit with a two run double that pulled Panama to within one.

Puerto Rico had a well pitched game from Ivan Maldanado, who only allowed one run in his six innings of work. The bullpen had trouble retiring Panama hitters with four different relievers coming in to pitch, all coughing up runs in less than an inning of work each. With the scored tied 1-1 after five Puerto Rico seemed to have pulled away, scoring five runs in the next two innings. At 0-2 their hopes of a three peat appears slim.

Athletics Future Looks Bright

February 6th, 2019

The last time the Athletics appeared in a World Series was in 1990. A year prior they won the World Series. In the American League only the Orioles (1983) and the Mariners (never) have a longer drought. Yet if you look at their young roster and the players in the farm system the future looks bright.

In 2015 the Athletics had the worst farm system in baseball. That has changed over the years, rising up to 12th last year. Players who made top 100 prospect lists last year include A.J. Puk, Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielen.

When the Athletics made the playoffs they usually did it with pitching. They have a pretty good one/two punch in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Luzardo was acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trades. The Nationals had drafted Luzardo in the third round despite having undergone Tommy John surgery. Jesus has blossomed with the Athletics with three top of the line pitches, a low 90s fastball that can ride the plate in the mid-90s, an excellent change and a knee buckling curve. After dominating in A ball (1.23 ERA) and AA (2.29 ERA) he had a little blip in AAA (7.31). He strikes out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a batting average south of .200 at High A and AA. Expect him to repeat in AAA to stall his service time and gain confidence in retiring higher level hitters.

A.J. Puk was poised to join the rotation last year until an elbow injury resulted in Tommy John surgery prior to the close of spring training. Puk was the Athletics first round pick in 2016 out of Florida. At 6′7″ the lefty has an intimidating presence on the mound with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can hit the high 90s. Not surprising that with his long limbs he has had issues finding the plate. His slider is a good secondary pitch but he lacks a quality third offering. This could result in a move to the bullpen, but with a quality arm like Puk that is a last resort. The 2019 season should be a rehab season as the Athletics monitor his innings. At best he could see a September callup.

The Yankees gave up on their 2015 first round pick James Kaprialian, trading him to the Athletics for Sonny Gray. Since being drafted in 2015 James has only pitched 29 innings, missing the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Prior to his surgery his fastball had been clocked in the high 90s. Whether he can continue that post surgery is open to question. Good secondary offerings could have him slip in the middle of the rotation. Expect the 2019 season to be a rebuilding year and an attempt by the Athletics to give Kaprialian some innings.

Grant Holmes is another first round pick (2014) the Athletics have taken a chance on. He did not do much for the Dodgers after being a first round pick and they included him in a trade with other prospects for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. The stuff is there with a mid-90s fastball and curveball and change mix. The control can be a little spotty with walk rates near one for every two innings. Last year shoulder problems limited him to two starts. At 23 years of age entering the 2019 season the time is soon for Holmes if he wants to make a career in the major leagues.

On the offensive side there is concern they will not be able to keep Heisman Trophy winner Kyle Murray. Football has prevented him from developing his baseball tools. His speed is lightening quick, enabling him to play centerfield. The bat also shows potential for raw power, giving him an opportunity to be a rare five tool player. Despite being a quarterback his arm is not that strong, so if centerfield does not work out there is always a spot in left field. Myworld predicts the Athletics will lose Murray to the bright lights of NFL football. It is a bit more glamorous than minor league parks.

Jorge Mateo has dropped down in his prospect status but myworld still loves his tools. The Athletics just need to find a position for him, or make him a super utility player. Last year was a wasted year as he struggled at .230 but he still excited with 16 triples and 25 stolen bases. A lack of patience at the plate brings imbalance to his walk to strikeout ratio (29/139). The 2019 season could be his opportunity to make a major league roster. Jorge has sneaky power and can run with the wind.

Lazaro Armenteros was the next wave of Cuban superstar prospects. With a little more exposure some of his flaws were made more apparent. A weak arm could restrict him to left field. There are a lot of strikeouts in his swing. With those flaws comes impressive power and blazing speed that could create havoc on the basepaths. If he can make it as a power hitting centerfielder it will be a plus for Oakland.

One of the better defensive catchers in baseball is Sean Murphy. He has an arm to discourage basestealers, handles a pitching staff well and keeps the ball from rolling to the back stop. All he needs to do is hit and he will slide into the Athletics major league lineup in 2019. Another half year in AAA would be good. Expect him to be catching for the Athletics by mid-season.

Sheldon Neuse was another player the Athletics acquired from the Nationals in the Jesus Luzardo trade. Myworld thinks his line drive swing could sit him in the .300 neighborhood. The concern is third base is his best position and he will not usurp Matt Chapman from his spot. His lack of speed makes the outfield a risk. Despite his line drive swing his 172 K’s need to be reduced. That will make hitting .300 in the major leagues difficult. Expect him to be used as trade bait for a veteran player that can help the Athletics in their playoff run.

We like the name more than the tools but Skye Bolt did mash 19 homeruns last year, rising all the way to AA. He also stole 19 bases so he was one short in both areas from being a 20/20 player. The speed is there for him to play a quality centerfield. A role as a fourth outfielder could be in the cards.

Panama with the Big Upset in Series del Caribe

February 6th, 2019

The Series del Caribe has considered expanding the tournament to other countries, but one of the concerns is these other countries (Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua) would not be competitive. Panama proved this notion not so true with their 4-2 upset of the Dominican Republic last night, a day after Panama native and Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch to open the tournament. The loss dropped the Dominicans to 1-1 while Panama sits atop their division at 1-0.

Panama starter Harold Arauz shutout the Dominican bats for the first five innings, allowing just three hits. The 23 year old Panama native played for Toros del Este in the Dominican League this past winter. He signed a minor league free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals for 2019.

Panama scored first in the second inning on a homerun from Padres shortstop prospect Javy Guerra. He scored the second run in the fourth after reaching on a single and scoring on a sacrifice fly hit by Jonathan Galvez.

When Panama took out Arauz the Dominican bats were relieved. In the top of the sixth Severino Gonzalez put two runners on via a walk and an infield single. Edwin Espinal drove them both in with a single to tie the game at 2-2. The Dominicans appeared to have woken from their slumber.

The Panama bullpen, especially the smallish 5′9″ Andy Otero made sure that did not happen. Otero shut down the Dominican bats for two innings. That gave the Panama bats another opportunity to take the lead. A hit by pitch, bunt and wild pitch by Jhan Marinez put a runner on third with just one out. Rodrigo Orozco grounded a single up the middle to break a 2-2 tie. Gerald Chin added another RBI single to put up an insurance run and give Panama a 4-2 lead.

Manny Corpas came on to pitch a perfect ninth inning to complete the upset.

Cuba chose not to play in the port tournament in the Netherlands this July because they stated they felt they could not field a competitive team. For their opener in the Series del Caribe they relied on the seven shutout innings from veteran Lazaro Blanco to defeat Mexico 3-1. For Mexico it was their second loss of the tournament, diminishing any chances they have for appearing in the final.

Cuban veteran Alfredo Despaigne drove in all three runs for Cuba. He had a two run single in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. Despaigne is one of the few Cuban superstars who did not defect to the major leagues. He was a teammate of Yoenis Cespedes in Cuba and considered the better player with more power than Cespedes. His defense in left field is a bit suspect. At 32 years of age he may be too late for the major leagues, though he is now playing in the NPB in Japan.

Mexico rallied in the ninth scraping together three hits to score one run. They had the go ahead run at the plate but Agustin Murillo flied out to right to end the game. Cuban Dariel Alvarez was playing for Mexico.

Series del Caribe Openers with Two Nestors Winning

February 5th, 2019

A lot of new teams representing their country in the Series del Caribe. Las Tunas is representing Cuba for the first time. The same applies to Charros de Jalisco, who is representing Mexico for the first time. Panama is playing for the first time since prior to 1960 when they were one of the regulars participating in the tournament. Their only championship is 1950. Estrellas Orientales last represented the Dominican Republic way back in 1968. Lara was supposed to host the tournament but the violence there forced the organizers to move the games to Panama. Lara last represented Venezuela in 2001. Only Santurce is a regular in these competitions, last representing Puerto Rico in 2016.

Because major league spring training is beginning next week the organizers did not have much time to hold the tournament. With six teams in the tournament the traditional pool of everyone playing each other was scraped. The six teams are broken out into three team pools with the top team in each pool slated to play each other in the championship. The double headers will be played at Rod Carew stadium.

The opening salvos began yesterday with the Dominican Republic shutting down two time defending champion Puerto Rico 3-1. Nestor Cortes restricted the Puerto Rican bats to just one hit in five innings. Three different relievers worked the final four innings and held the Puerto Rican bats hitless, with Jumbo Diaz pitching a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth Diego Goris drew a bases loaded walk to give the Dominicans the go ahead run. A wild pitch with a runner on third in the top of the ninth gave the Dominicans an insurance run. Meanwhile the Puerto Ricans could not buy a hit. Their only hit came in the fourth on a David Vidal RBI single, after a walk and hit by pitch put two runners on.

In the nightcap Venezuela trounced Mexico 5-1. Carlos Rivera went deep with a two run homer in the sixth, the first homerun in the tournament. Luis Jimenez drove in a run with a single in the fourth and then scored a run in the sixth. Another Nestor, this one Molina, worked five innings of four hit one run ball to get the win. The Venezuelan bullpen then limited Mexico to one hit in the final four innings.

Today Panama will make their debut against the Dominican Republic to show they belong in the Series del Caribe. The opener will see Cuba take on Mexico.

TopTen Dominican Prospects American League

February 4th, 2019

We begin our scan of the world identifying the top ten prospects from particular countries or areas. Some are much easier than others. The easiest is the Dominican Republic where prospects abound. We begin with those players in the American League.

Two prospects from last year’s list graduated. Willy Adames (4th) started for the Tampa Bay Rays. He should be the Rays starting shortstop for a number of years to come. The eighth ranked player was Miguel Andujar. He was second to the wonderman from Japan Shohei Ohtani in the Rookie of the year battle last year. There is some concern about his defense at third. When it was thought the Yankees would sign Manny Machado there were rumors Andujar would be traded. Those talks have quieted now.

Below is the list.

1. Vladimir Guerrero 3B (Toronto Blue Jays) - He was everyone’s minor league player of the year, replacing Eloy Jimenez who appeared on top of this list last year. The only down side to his year was his injury at mid season which influenced the Blue Jays not to call him up in September. That despite a .381 average through four different levels, 20 homeruns and an OPS of 1.073. There is no question that the bat will play. The big concern is whether his stocky build will eventually make Guerrero a liability at third. A move to first or DH would negate his fire power since players who can produce big time numbers play there. Based on ability alone he should break with the major league team out of spring training, but don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays hold him back for a month. Once called up the race for the Rookie of the Year award will begin. His father last year was voted to the Hall of Fame. Junior hopes to take a similar path in his baseball journey.

2. Wander Franco SS (Tampa Bay Rays) - Everyone is expecting him to be the breakout star for 2019, even though Wander kind of broke out last year with his .351 average in rookie ball. Only 19 to begin the 2019 season, this dude can hit for average and power. Last year his OPS was 1.005. His defense is not as strong as his offense and with Willy Adames, who appeared on this list last year, their current shortstop, a move to third may be likely. Fortunately the Rays have some time to watch him percolate up their minor league system. He could move quickly, beginning next year in the full season league at Low A with a promotion to High A if he continues to assault minor league pitching. Expect a major league arrival to be late in 2020.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (Chicago White Sox) - The number one prospect from this list last year has not really dropped in talent. He has just been surpassed by two superstar prospects. Injuries have always cropped up through the season to prevent Eloy from putting up monster stats. Muscle pulls caused him to miss about a month of the 2018 season. Perhaps he is wound up a bit tight. The offense was there when he played, hitting .337 with 22 homeruns. His OPS fell just short of 1.000 (.961). Defensively, Eloy will be a liability, restricted to left field but possibly best used as a DH. The arm is not strong, the legs lack speed and his instincts for playing with the glove are lacking. Expect him to battle Guerrero for the rookie of the year award in 2019.

4. Jesus Sanchez OF (Tampa Bay Rays) - At this point there is a large drop off in talent, but Sanchez still would be considered a five tool player. He has the speed to play centerfield with the arm to move to right. His bat showed some pop in High A with a .462 slugging but that falls short of the three players above him. Jesus struggled a bit when promoted to AA hitting only .214. Despite his speed he has yet to achieve double digits in stolen bases. The expectation is he should hit 20 plus homeruns. If he can do that as a centerfielder that will be a big plus. As a rightfielder not so amazing. Expect Jesus to get another shot at AA with a mid-season promotion a possibility.

5. Jorge Mateo SS (Oakland Athletics) - Myworld loves his speed and quiet power potential. Sometimes that fascination with power gets Jorge in trouble. In 2017 he slugged 12 homeruns. Last year he dropped to three with a 29/139 walk to whiff ratio evidence of his impatience at the plate, dropping his average to .230. The stolen bases also do not come as frequently, with a high of 82 in 2015 dropping to 52 in 2017 and further dropping to 25 last year. There is also a quandary about the position Jorge will play. He appears to play a decent shortstop but the Athletics are deep there. Centerfield and second base are other possibilities. His ultimate role could be as a utility player. Expect Jorge to make his major league debut in 2019. Myworld still loves his tools.

6. Wander Javier SS (Minnesota Twins) - What are the odds of two Wanders appearing in the same list. The Twins shelled out $4 million to sign Javier in 2015. He may be another player wound up too tightly. Hamstring issues limited his playing time in 2015 and a torn labrum in his non-throwing soldier prevented him from playing in 2018. He is still a bit of a mystery. The injuries may have given Royce Lewis a head start at winning the shortstop job. The bat should contain enough pop to fit at third and his speed could make him an asset in centerfield. The Twins will keep him moving up the system at shortstop. Reps are what is needed most. Expect him to stay in extended spring training until the Twins are confident his shoulder is healthy.

7. Leody Taveras OF (Texas Rangers) - Leody may have the best glove among this group. His prowess in centerfield should result in numerous gold glove awards. The big concern among the Rangers is the bat may be a little light. Last year in High A he hit .246 with a .332 slugging average. This is consistent with his minor league career average entering the 2018 season (.257/.362). He is the cousin of Willy Taveras, another quality centerfielder who carried a light bat. At 6′2″ Leody needs to put on some muscle in his frame to assist him in driving pitches to the gaps. Last year just 28 of his 128 hits went for extra bases.

8. Julio Rodriguez OF (Seattle Mariners) - Julio was signed for $1.75 million in 2017. He made his professional debut last year, hitting .315 with a .525 slugging. His biggest tool is his potential for power. His lack of speed but a strong arm makes him a perfect fit for right field. The Mariners are in a rebuilding process so Julio should be an important piece in that transition. Expect him to begin the 2019 season in Low A.

9. Albert Abreu RHP (New York Yankees) - Finally a pitcher to fall in this group. Abreu has a juicy fastball that hits triple digits. A bad appendix delayed the start of his 2018 season and a tender elbow ended it earlier than he wanted. In between the numbers were not great (5.20 ERA). A lack of command puts him behind in the count too many times allowing the opposition to hit him at a decent .241 clip. He has four average to above average pitches to fit in a starting rotation, but if his command remains spotty his best use may be out of the bullpen. Abreu finished his 2018 season with five no hit innings in his only start in AA. That is where he will probably begin his 2019 season, with a callup to the bullpen happening when a need arises.

10. Seuly Matias OF (Kansas City Royals) - Seuly has an impressive power bat that slugged 31 homeruns last year. A 24/131 walk to whiff ratio depressed his batting average to .231. When you consider those homeruns came even after he missed the last month of the season because of a thumb injury makes his season incredibly impressive. He may have ended up winning the minor league homerun race, which was won by Peter Alonso with 36 homeruns if he could have stayed healthy. At 6′3″ with average speed and a plus arm makes him perfectly cloned for right field. He should start the 2019 season in High A. The higher up he advances the more adept pitchers will be to get him to chase pitches. If he hopes to achieve his potential he needs to improve his ability to make contact.

Brisbane Bandits Take Fourth Straight Australian Title

February 2nd, 2019

At one point the Perth Heat were the dominant team in Australian baseball taking four titles in five years from the 2010/11 season to the 2014/15 season. The Brisbane Bandits have ruled Australian baseball the last four years.

They swept a best two out of three against the Perth Heat, winning the second game 9-4. A six run third inning put the game out of reach, with solo homeruns by T.J.Bennet, Wade Dutton and Andrew Campbell in the first, second and fourth innings tallying the other three runs. David Sutherland cleared the bases with a three run double in the third to fuel that inning.

Tim Atherton dominated the Heat bats striking out 10 in eight innings. He gave up seven hits, but four of them left the park two by Robbie Glendinning.

The Bandits won the opener of the best two out of three on the road 3-2. Logan Wade slashed two doubles to score twice. His second double set the stage for an RBI single by Wade Dutton to break a 2-2 tie. Loek Van Mil preserved the win with two shutout innings. Ryan Searle picked up the save with a perfect ninth. Ryan Bollinger got the win with six solid innings of work.

Angels Look to Restock to Keep Trout

February 2nd, 2019

The last time the Angels were near the top ten in prospects was in 2011 when Mike Trout was second on the list to Bryce Harper. They hope to find some players in the near future that can guide the Angels in the playoffs to motivate Trout to stay with them past 2021. Trout has been in the top five in MVP voting the last five years but the Angels have fallen short of the playoffs in all those years except one. Last year their 13th place finish on the prospect list was their highest since 2011 with Shoei Ohtani finishing at the top of the list and earning his ranking with his performance last year. Jo Adell, Kevin Maitan and Jahmai Jones joined Ohtani on many of these top 100 lists.

The Angels biggest strength is the outfield with Jo Adell, their first round pick in 2017 at the top of the list. He is a five tool performer who could supplant Trout in a couple years in centerfield. The expectations are he will hit for average and power with the speed to steal 20 plus bases per year. That speed will also allow him to cover centerfield and win gold gloves in the process. The arm is strong enough to move to right if Trout is not ready to move. Last year he made a 17 game debut in AA so he still has a couple years in the minors before the major league team gets to see him. In the minors he hit .290 with 20 homeruns and 15 stolen bases. Expect him to see a September callup sometime in 2019.

Brandon Marsh is another talented outfielder with an arm easily suited for right field. There is speed in his game but not at the level of Adell. At 6′4″ he has a frame that can send balls into orbit if he can extend his arms. The large frame leaves a big strike zone making Marsh prone to the whiff (158 K’s). The good news is there is enough plate discipline for him to coax 73 walks last year. Back issues limited him to just 39 games his first two years after being drafted second in 2016. Those seem to have been resolved after he played in 127 games last year.

Jahmai Jones is a third talented outfielder that the Angels moved to second base last year. The speed is there to play centerfield, but the need at second base is greater than a third outfielder. In 2017 the second round pick in 2015 hit .282 with 14 homeruns and 27 stolen bases. The change in positions seemed to have impacted his bat as he only hit .239 with 10 homeruns and 24 stolen bases. His defense still lacks fluidity but the arm is strong for turning the pivot. He just needs to improve his reads on angles but that comes with experience.

As if they did not need outfielders the Angels drafted Jordyn Adams in the first round of the 2018 draft. The tools are less exciting than Adell, Jones and Marsh, with some doubting whether he will hit for power but his speed is top notch allowing him to play wide receiver for his high school football team. That speed will cover an extensive amount of real estate in centerfield but a weak arm could move him to left, where his bat would not be as attractive.

The Angels were able to steal two international players from the Braves. Kevin Maitan was made available after the Braves were found guilty of international signing violations. At one time Kevin was considered one of the top prospects in baseball. As he has become more visible his blemishes have stood out. His stocky build will force him to a move to third where his bat will have to play. The power is there but an inability to make contact drops his average down a few points. He had a second straight season in Rookie ball where his average stayed below .250 (.248). Next year should be his first year in full season ball where his tools can be fully evaluated.

Livan Soto does not come as highly rated but his defensive tools are better for him to stick at short. A smaller frame gives his bat minimal power but he has good speed and the ability to make contact. The strength could pick up as he matures. Last year at the rookie level he slugged just .349 but his 24/24 walk to whiff ratio gave him a .385 OBA. He could also make his full season debut next year.

The Angels acquired another shortstop Luis Rengifo from the Rays last year, trading them C.J. Cron. Like Soto, the Rengifo package was supposed to carry very little power, but last year he broke out to slug .452 with seven homeruns, 30 doubles and 13 triples at three different levels. He finished his season at AAA, hitting .274 after hitting over .300 in A and AA ball. The speed is impressive resulting in 41 stolen bases. The defensive tools are there to play shortstop, but he also saw time at third and second making a super utility player an option for the 2019 season. Myworld also was impressed with his 75/75 walk to whiff ratio. Expect him to make his debut with the Angels next year.

Matt Thaiss was drafted in the first round in 2016 as a catcher. His defense behind the plate did not stand out so the Angels moved him to first. There was some question whether his power would play there but last year he hit 16 homeruns and slugged .467. His lack of speed will prevent him from moving to the outfield so he must continue to hit for power to justify playing him at first. The 2019 season for the Angels is crowded at first and DH so expect to see Thaiss play a full season in AAA an injury away from making his major league debut.

The pitching front is a little light. Griffin Canning may be their top prospect, reaching AAA last year. His 6′1″ frame is a bit small for a righthander but his fastball flashes across the plate in the mid 90s with a quality changeup making it appear faster. He also carries two breaking pitches (curve and slider) that also show above average potential. With the way the Angels pitching staff is always plagued by injuries expect to see Canning in the rotation by mid season 2019. Last year the opposition hit him at .170 in AA but when promoted to AAA that rose to .294. A little more seasoning in AAA would be good.

The two Joses, Soriano and Suarez are other starting rotation possibilities. Suarez throws from the left side whose best pitch is the changeup. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good command. While there is a lot of swing and miss with his stuff (142 whiffs in 117 innings) the opposition also hit him for over.280 in AA and AAA. Soriano throws righthanded and hits the mid 90s with his fastball. That big velocity also comes with less command of the plate and his 35/42 walk to whiff ratio rings up concerns. If he fails to find a third pitch he could end up in the bullpen.

The Angels closer for next season could be Ty Buttrey. The Angels acquired Ty from the Red Sox last year for Ian Kinsler and in 16 major league appearances he gave the Angels four saves. His fastball was hitting triple digits but a lack of control plagued him prior to last season. Whether he can replicate his 2018 numbers is open to question. The Red Sox with their bullpen problems felt he was expendable to fill a need at second base.

That Did Not Last Long

February 1st, 2019

The first female general manager in baseball has been replaced. She lasted on the job for two weeks. The Kiwoom Heroes have hired Kim Chi-Hyun to replace Im Eun-Ju. Kim had been hired to be head of strategies, international affairs and player development. The Heroes will look into placing Im in a new position with the club.

When it was first announced Im was hired as the GM for the Kiwoom Heroes a newspaper reported on past misconducts by her in her previous executive position. While she was a football executive it was alleged she hired a friend and a nephew for positions with the club, even though they clearly were not qualified for the job. It was also alleged Im was a meddling executive who was always talking to the head coaches about strategy. Im has denied the claims.

Im did make the statement that she did feel out of her depth in her first baseball job and felt the change might be best. So it is possible the change would have been made despite these allegations. So the hiring of the first female GM in baseball will have to wait.

Five Teams Confirmed for the World Port Tournament

January 29th, 2019

The Honkball and World Port tournament play every other year. The Honkball is in Haarlem while the World Port tournament is played in Rotterdam. Taiwan will be returning to defend their championship against the local team Netherlands and Curacao. Japan will also be participating as well as a United States group.

Cuba is not playing for the first time since 1993. Their absence is because they are unable to send a strong team to compete in the tournament. That is a sad sign of the decline of Cuban baseball.

The dates for the tournament are July 12 to 21.