Brazillian Triples his Chances to Stick in the Major Leagues

April 22nd, 2015

Paulo Orlando thought he would be the first Brazilian to make a major league roster. He was in the minor leagues long before Yan Gomes. Unfortunately as the Rolling Stone wrote, “you can’t always get what you want..” and his advancement stalled while Gomes got all the hype for being the first Brazilian to play in the major leagues. Even pitcher Andre Rienzo beat him to the punch.

Paulo became the third Brazilian to reach the major leagues. He is getting some hype because of the unusual way he has achieved results in his major league debut. A good spring opened some eyes on the Royals management staff and an Alex Rios injury gave him his opportunity. At 29 years old Paulo Orlando was finally getting his shot at the major leagues.

In his first eight games Paulo has eight hits in 29 at bats for a .276 average. Nothing unusual about that. Except for the fact that five of his hits have been for triples. To put that in perspective he now leads all of major league baseball in triples, with the closest player behind him Sam Fuld sitting at three. Sam has had 50 at bats to get his three triples. To make this even weirder, the team with the most triples in major league baseball is the San Francisco Giants with 6. And they have done that in 519 at bats. There are five teams tied with five triples each, including the Kansas City Royals, whose only triples have been hit by Paulo Orlando.

So Paulo hopes his triples continue so he can continue his ride in the major leagues. To continue with the Rolling Stone song “…but if you try some time you get what you need.”

Yunel Drops the Cards with Walk-off

April 22nd, 2015

Ryan Zimmerman leads the team with nine walkoff homeruns. He has not hit one in a couple years and in the bottom of the tenth he got an opportunity. He lined one to centerfield, which was chased down by John Jay for the second out. Yunel Escobar followed. He drove the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva, an ex-teammate with the Blue Jays into the left field bullpen, a line drive that cleared by plenty to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. You could tell by the dejected look of the Cardinal bullpen as they watched the ball sail at them they knew it was out of here once bat met ball.

It was another game in which the Nationals inability to manufacture runs only wasted a strong pitching effort by Gio Gonzalez. In the second inning Ryan Zimmerman lined a double into the right centerfield gap past a diving John Jay (about the only ball he was not able to chase down last night). Yunel Escobar did a good job of advancing him to third by grounding out to the right side. Wilson Ramos failed to make contact and struck out. The Cardinals walked Danny Espinosa intentionally to face Gio Gonzalez, who popped to catcher.

In the sixth they had runners on first and third with one out. Yunel Escobar, who is one of the few players myworld is confident can manufacturer a run hit the ball hard to the right side, but it was turned into a 4-6-3 double play. Ian Desmond, who has trouble making contact struck out with a runner on third in the seventh and ninth innings. In the ninth there was only one out and all he had to do was drive the ball into the outfield to score Danny Espinosa from third. He swung and missed at three pitches. John Jay then broke the hearts of Nat fans by making a diving catch off a Jayson Werth line drive to send the game into extra innings.

The Nationals did score their lone run in regulation time in the third inning. Ian Desmond ripped one over the head of Jason Heyward. It appeared Jason gave up on the ball too soon to play it off the scoreboard wall and if he had kept on running he may have caught it. A walk to Jayson Werth brought up Bryce Harper. He bounced a high grounder the opposite way into left field to score Ian Desmond. Ryan Zimmerman drove one deep to the warning track in centerfield that John Jay tracked down. Harper was already at second and returned to first. The Cardinals appealed Harper passed second and did not re-touch the bag on his return. The umpire agreed and called Harper out. Myworld did not think Harper passed second so did not have to touch it again upon his return but we’d like to see the replay. You have to think the umpire saw it because he called it.

The Cardinals also had their opportunities to score, massing together 13 hits but failing to cross the plate until the ninth inning. They did not reach third until the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs on a Mark Reynolds walk. John Jay grounded to Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat. The Cardinals put runners on first and second with no out in the sixth, but a nice play by Wilson Ramos on a bunt by Lance Lynn got the runner at third and Matt Carpenter grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Drew Storen came on to pitch the ninth and the Cardinals continue to haunt his world. Fans will not let Drew forget the 2012 playoffs in which the Cardinals came back in the fifth game off Storen to advance to the playoffs, completing a 6-1 comeback victory. Storen also coughed up a 1-0 lead against the Giants in the playoffs last year that turned the series around. Matt Carpenter started the nightmare by flaring a single to left field. Storen struck out Jason Heyward, but the third strike bounced in the dirt and traveled to the backstop. Wilson Ramos did a good job of getting to the ball fast enough to throw out Heyward at first, but Carpenter advanced to second. Another wild pitch advanced Carpenter to second. Matt Holiday, who was 3 for 3 for the day with one walk lined a single into left field to tie the game. A strike out throw out double play ended the inning.

Game Notes: Ian Desmond had a stellar fielding day. He made a spectacular play in the hole to throw out John Jay, showing Nats fans why he is a good shortstop. He fielded all four balls hit at him, turned two double plays, one on a low throw from Gio Gonzalez that he had to submarine to first base…Matt Adams did not have a good fielding day. He was a late replacement coming in on a double switch. In the three innings he played a dropped a popup and booted a grounder, but none led to a run…The fans booed the results of the President’s race with the racing Presidents using joy sticks to control their automated selves on the video board. George won, but the fans booed the results wanting to see the real Presidents race, not the automated figures on the scoreboard…Most of the fans had departed the game after the ninth inning to take the Metro home, missing the walkoff homerun by Escobar. In Japan they start their games at 6 because most fans have to take the trains to get home and the trains shut down at midnight. They also end them after 12 innings, regardless of result, which makes for the ties in Japanese ball. If the Nationals do not want to pay Metro to stay open later, perhaps they can start the games sooner. Many of the fans take the Metro back home to Virginia…Ryan Zimmerman should have had four hits, but was robbed twice by Jon Jay. He finished the day with two hits…Yunel Escobar dove headfirst into home plate after hitting his walkoff. A player appeared to rain some orange power drink onto the home plate area as soon as he went into his dive. The walk-off was the third of his career, six behind Ryan Zimmerman…Anthony Rendon could be ready for a rehab game by Friday. If all goes well he would be available to the Nats sometime next week.

Cuban All Stars and Gold Gloves

April 21st, 2015

They announced the All Stars at each of the positions for the 54th Nacional Series. Alfredo Despaigne was voted the MVP of the year. Below are the All Stars by position:

Catcher - Yosvani Alarcon (Las Tunas - Artemisa)
First Base - Yordanis Samon (Granma)
Second Base - Dainier Galvez (Isla de la Juventud)
Third Base - Michel Enriquez (Isla de la Juventud)
Shortstop - Adrian Moreno (Granma)
Outfield - Urmari Guerra (Granma), Roel Santos (Granma) and Yadiel Hernandez (Matanzas)
Designated Hitter - Alfredo Despaigne (Granma)
Pitcher (right side) - Lazaro Blanca (Granma)
Pitcher (left side) - Yoanni Yera (Matanzas)
Relief - Danny Aguilera (isla de la Juventud)
Rookie of the year - Alfredo Rodriguez (Isla de la Juventud)
MVP - Alfredo Despaigne (Granma)
MVP for playoffs - Yander Guevara (Ciego de Avila)
Manager of the year - Roger Machado (Ciego de Avila)

No love for Ciego de Avila who won the playoffs. They had no players named to the All Star team. The gold glove awards were given to the players listed below and again not a lot of love for the champion Ciego de Avila:

Catcher - Yulexis la Rosa (Villa Clara - Granma)
First Base - Luis Rivera (Isla de la Juventud)
Second Base - Michael Gonzalez (Mayabeque - Artemisa)
Third Base - Jefferson Delgado (Matanzas)
Shortstop - Alfredo Rodriguez (Isla de la Juventud)
Outfield - Orlando Lavandera (Mayabeque - Ciego de Avila), Dairon Blanco (Camaguey - Industriales) and Livan Monteagudo (Sancti Spirutus - Artemisa
Pitcher - Yander Guerra (Ciego de Avila)
Utility - Luis Yander La O (Santiago de Cuba - Matanzas)

Not a lot of known players among the gold glover winners, or a lot of players who played for winning teams. Most of these players did not play for teams that advanced to the second round and were drafted later by the playoff teams.

Baker One Strike from Perfect Game

April 21st, 2015

Two hitters with good days yesterday who are having a good start to the season deserve mention. Pete O’Brien went 3 for 4 with his fourth homerun. He has hit three homeruns in his last four games and has seen all his time rotating between left field and right field. The Diamondbacks have a crowded outfield and O’Brien has had some challenges handling responsibilities behind the plate so he may stay in AAA awhile until a position opens for him. Eventually, it will be hard for the Diamondbacks to ignore a player hitting .404 with at least one RBI in his last five games, or 10 RBIs in his last five games.

Brett Phillips is one of the less heralded prospects with the Astros. That may change if his bat continues to smoke its way from April into May, churning along at a 40 homerun pace. He went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs yesterday, clubbing his fifth homerun of the early season. He has at least two RBIs in his last four games and 14 RBIs in his last six games. Brett has also rotated between left and right field. If Evan Gattis or Chris Carter do not get hot with the sticks Brett may be called up to add some juice to the Astros lineup.

A couple strong pitching performances before we get to our minor league player of the day. Robbie Ray was competing for the fifth spot in the Diamondbacks lineup but toiled through a tough spring that put him in AAA. Yesterday he had the best stuff of his 2015 season, working five innings, allowing six hits and one run, but striking out 10. He threw 109 pitches, 72 of which were strikes, the best his command has been this year. He needs to have a couple more good starts like that to show the Diamondbacks he has figured it out with his command.

Mike Foltynewicz had his fastball hitting 99 miles per hour, going a full 8 innings and allowing just three hits, one run and striking out 9. His first two outings he failed to get out of the fifth inning. In this game he threw more strikes and debuted a new pitch to his arsenal, a hard slider. The big issue with Foltynewicz has been the lack of a second pitch to keep him in the starting rotation. Hitters can sit on his fastball in the zone. Yesterday, with the slider working they were guessing most of the day. Unfortunately for Mike, he lost his second game of the year yesterday to go 0-2, despite not giving up more than a run in each of his three starts. His teammates could not generate any offense against his opposing pitcher Mike Wright and the Norfolk bullpen, losing 1-0 to the Norfolk Tide.

The minor league player of the day goes to veteran pitcher Scott Baker, who was just one strike away from completing a seven inning perfect game. Addison Russell, who was rewarded with a surprise call up to the Cubs today bounced an 0-2 count up the middle for a single. Mike Baxter followed with a double, but Baker completed the shutout in the 8-0 win by Oklahoma City over the Iowa Cubs. Perfect games are not new to Baker. He almost had a nine inning perfect game when he pitched for the Twins in 2007, but he allowed a walk and a single in the ninth inning. The best season in the major leagues for the 33 year old veteran was in 2009 when he won 15 games for the Twins, working 200 innings in 33 starts. The Dodgers may need a fifth starter and if Baker can continue his success in AAA he could be the first alternative. For the outing yesterday, he wins the minor league player of April 20.

2015 Japanese Update - Pacific League

April 20th, 2015

The Central League is the favorite league for many fans in Japan because of the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants. Myworld prefers the Pacific League because our favorite team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles reside there. The Eagles have developed Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka for the major leagues. The Nippon Ham Fighters sired Yu Darvish, and may have a better pitcher developing through their system in Shahei Otani. Only one team in the Pacific League has a losing record, but the teams have the Orix Buffaloes to thank for that.

Nippon Ham Fighters (12-6)

They have three players flirting with .300, Kensuke Kondo (.300), Kensuke Tanaka (.299) and Takuya Nakashima (.290). Nakashima has stolen five bases in six attempts and leads the team in runs scored with 10. The big bat has been provided by Sho Nakata, who has slugged six homeruns and driven in 16, tops on his team and three behind the league leader, despite a .227 average. Brandon Laird is having some success with his .227 average, hitting three homeruns and driving in 10 runs, second on the team. Jeremy Heredia is struggling with 24 whiffs in 73 plate appearances and a .234 average. Shohei Otani is still light with the bat (.208, 1, 7) compared to his numbers last year.

On the pitching front Shohei leads the NPB in wins with a 4-0 record and a 0.94 ERA. The twenty year old has been humming a three digit fastball that has contributed to his NPB leading 33 whiffs. He may be a better pitcher at this stage than Yu Darvish. Mitsuo Yoshikawa (3-0, 1.93) is also undefeated and putting up solid numbers. Yohei Kagiya (0.00) has been the setup man with 4 holds and Hirotoshi Matsui (1.80) has been the closer with four saves. Foreigners Victor Garate did not give up a run in his five inning start, allowing only two hits and picking up the victory. Luis Mendoza (1-2, 3.80) has not been so effective.

Softbank Hawks (10-8-1)

Yuki Yanagati is second in the Pacific League with a .361 average. He has scored a team leading 12 runs. Akira Nakamura is not too far behind him in average (.347) and he has crossed the plate 11 times. Nobuhiro Matsuda (.309) has been the big slugger with three homeruns and 11 RBIs. Seichi Uchikawa (.319) leads the team in RBIs with 17. He has seven doubles and two homeruns, giving him a .500 slugging average. Korean Dae-Ho Lee (.191) finds himself south of the Mendoza line with only one homerun. Smooth fielding shortstop Kenta Imamiya (.153) needs to break out of his no hit funk. He does have six sacrifice hits, but he is hitting worse than a pitcher in a league that uses a DH.

Kenji Otonari (2-0, 0.40) leads the Pacific League in ERA. He has only allowed one run in 22 innings and three starts. He has also only struck out 7 in 22 innings, so he relies on weak contact. Jason Stanridge (3-1, 2.17) and Tadashi Settsu (2-2, 2.25) are the other two big starters. The Hawks are soon hoping for the addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka to their rotation, but he is still rehabbing in the Ni-gun league. Dennis Sarfate has one win and six saves in nine appearances. He has yet to give up a run. Edison Barrios is the top setup man with 9 holds in 9 appearances, allowing only an unearned run to score.

Seibu Lions (9-8)

Shogo Akiyama leads the Pacific League in hitting with a .397 average. He is only second on the team in runs scored with 11. Hideto Asumura (.317) tops all Lions with 12 runs scored. He has also walked 12 times to put his OBA at .425. Takeya Nakamura (.246) with his four homeruns and 11 RBIs shares the team RBI lead with Tomoya Mori (.293) who has hit three homeruns. Ernesto Meija (.246) has yet to break out the power with just two homeruns and 9 RBIs. He is only slugging .404.

Wade LeBlanc (2-1, 1.96) is finding his slow stuff effective in Japan. He has only allowed 9 hits in 18 plus innings. Kazuhisa Makita (2-1, 2.00) and Ryoma Nogami (2-1, 1.42) are also having success in the rotation. The kid from Taiwan Chun-Lin Kuo, who shut down Japan in the championships of the 21 and under tournament in Taiwan had two good starts followed by two poor starts that evened his record to 2-2 and saw his ERA climb to 4.32. His command has been an issue with 10 walks in just 16 innings. Tomomi Takahashi has picked up five saves in a closing role with a 1.29 ERA.

Chiba Lotte Marines (9-9)

Alfredo Despaigne has arrived (.188) but after four games he is still looking for his first RBI. Luis Cruz (.294) leads the Pacific League in RBIs with 17. He has hit 7 doubles to go with his one long ball. Ex-major leaguer Tadahito Iguchi (.323), Katsuya Kakunaka (.328) and Toshaki Imae (.357) are hitting for average. Imae only has two extra base hits, both doubles, among his 25 hits. Takashi Ogino leads the team in runs scored with 11 despite a .217 average and .260 OBA. Daichi Suzuki is a good field little hit (.246) shortstop.

Dae-Eun Rhee (3-0, 3.33) left the Cubs to pitch for the Marines. He is undefeated but he has been hit (31 hits in 24 innings). Hideaki Wakui (2-2, 1.86) and Ayumu Ishikawa (2-0, 2.05) are providing the best starts for the Marines. Yuji Hishino (2.70) is the closer with his five saves. Takahiro Matsunaga (1.29, 4 holds) and Carlos Rosa (0.00, 2 holds) have alternated at setup.

Rakuten Golden Eagles (8-8-2)

Eagles are still looking for a power bat. Wily Mo Pena (.246) has yet to go deep and Gaby Sanchez (.152) has gone deep twice but only has three other hits. No player has double digits in RBIs. Kazuya Fujita (.328) has been getting on base. Ginji Akamin (.319) has only two doubles from his 23 hits, far short of the power teams look for in their first baseman. Motohiro Shima has providing a solid bat (.288) for a catcher. Zelous Wheeler (.150) has been absent with his offense. Kaz Matsui is still hanging around with an anemic .235 average.

Kenny Ray (3-0, 1.06) has been a find for them in the starting rotation. Takahiro Norimoto (1-2, 2.17) is taking over the mantle of Iwakuma and Tanaka. Takahiro Shiomi (0.86) has three dominating starts with no decisions. Yuki Matsui (0.00, 5 saves) has had success converting from starter to closer. Rhiner Cruz has been used in a setup role and has yet to give up a run in his five appearances, with two holds.

Orix Buffaloes (5-14-1)

The Buffaloes have been struggling to score runs. Francisco Caraballo (.355, 2, 10) has provided them with a productive bat. He is tied with Yoshio Itoi (.247) for the team RBI lead with 10. Too many hitters below the Mendoza line and no production from Tony Blanco (.067) who has just one hit in 16 appearances. Esteban German (.217) has yet to drive in a run and has only crossed the plate one time.

Bryan Bullington (0-1, 1.80) and Brandon Dickson (1-3, 2.17) have provided consistent starts, but they have been hit with four losses. Not a lot of saves to divvy up in a losing season. Alessandro Maestri from Italy has been provided some good long relief (0.84) and Tomoyuki Kaida (0.63) has 10 appearances in short relief.

Pan Am Games in Ajax, Ontario in July

April 20th, 2015

The Canadians are preparing to defend their gold medal championship hosting the Pan Am this year near Toronto (Ajax) beginning on July 11 and running through July 19. On July 20 the women begin their play with the gold medal game bringing it to a climax on July 26.

The teams that will appear in the men’s game are:

Canada, United States, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The United States has their opener on the second day of the tournament against Cuba.

For the women this will be the first ever Pan Am games for baseball. The teams that will compete in this event are Canada, Cuba, United States, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

For the complete schedule you can go to the link below:

Pan Am Schedule

Duvall Hits for the Cycle

April 20th, 2015

A cycle trumps all. Pedro Severino of the Nationals Harrisburg AA team had a nice 4 for 4 day and Trevor Clifton of the Cubs Low A Kane County Cougars threw five innings of one hit ball, striking out seven, but it paled in comparison to the cycle hit by Adam Duvall. Adam actually had the cycle plus, hitting two doubles, a single, triple and homerun in a 5 for 6 day in the Sacramento Rivercats 15-7 rout of the Salt Lake Bees. San Francisco could use a bat like that, despite the offense possibly being assisted by the elevated grounds of Salt Lake.

The cycle is the first in the 16 year existence of the Sacramento franchise. They almost had two in the same game as teammate Darren Ford finished a single short of hitting for his cycle. Duval drove in his first run with a double on top of the centerfield wall in his first at bat in the first inning that just missed being a homerun. He hit his second double in the third and polished off his homerun in the fifth. The hardest hit was accomplished in the seventh when he legged out a standup triple. The easiest hit he saved for the ninth, but he gave himself a challenge with a slow chopper over the head of the pitcher that he had to leg out for an infield single.

Darren Ford did not get his opportunity to hit in the ninth. He was stranded in the on deck circle when the last out was made. Ford finished his day 3 for 5.

2015 Top Ten South and Central America

April 19th, 2015

These are the top ten prospects not from Venezuela, Cuba or the Dominican Republic that are from countries south of the Mexico. Colombia and Panama seem to be the two emerging markets. They may soon replace Venezuela as a country of choice to travel to as it becomes more difficult to get into Venezuela. The high crime rate, political grand standing and visa requirement are making teams think twice before going to Venezuela. Some of the Venezuelan baseball camps feel obligated to send players to the Dominican Republic camps to improve their chances of getting greater exposure. Nicaragua seems to have taken a bit of a stall with their top prospects.

No major leaguers have emerged from last year’s list, though Christian Bethancourt appears to be the Braves starting catcher. Many of the players who appeared on last year’s list appear on the 2015 list, though some new players emerged.

1. Touki Toussaint RHP (Haiti/Diamondbacks) - There are not a lot of players born in Haiti playing in the major leagues. Toussaint came to the United States as a six year old and didn’t begin to play the game until he turned 11. Despite the late start the Diamondbacks made him their first round pick in the 2014 draft, shelling out $2.7 million to sign him. That kind of money would buy a hotel in Haiti. He has the long arms to whip a fastball up to 95 miles per hour, but it normally sits comfortably in the low 90s. He mixes that heat with a curveball and changeup. Last year was his first exposure to the minor leagues. There was a bit of a struggle with command with 18 walks in 29 innings and Pioneer rookie league hitters mashed him around at a .381 clip in five starts. The Diamondbacks should start him at a full season league and hope he harnesses some control to his pitches. If he finds the plate more often he has ace like potential.

2. Christian Bethancourt C (Panama/Braves) - Bethancourt is in a perfect position with the rebuilding Braves. They are developing a young pitching staff that he can grow up with, and he has the cranky A.J. Pierzynski to mentor him. A.J. is an old school player who does what it takes to win. Christian has a reputation for being a bit lackadaisical in his approach to the game. It is hoped a bit of A.J. rubs off on him. No one questions the defensive attributes Christian brings to the game. He has a plus arm, quick feet and good athletic ability behind the plate allowing him to throw out 36 percent of those base runners who attempted to steal against him. The question with Christian is whether he will have enough bat to earn a starting job. His defense is good enough to make it as a backup, but teams want their catchers bringing some kind of bat to the offense. Last year he hit .248 in a little over 100 at bats in his major league audition. The red flags for Christian are 25 of his 28 hits were singles, with three doubles the only hits for extra bases and a 3/26 walk to whiff ratio showing a lack of patience. An OBA of .274 has to improve.

3. Jorge Alfaro C (Colombia/Rangers) - The top prospect on this list last year. The Rangers do not really have an All Star catcher to stand in his way. Jorge has a plus arm and a power bat that makes him attractive to the Rangers. What he lacks is an ability to recognize pitches and allowing balls to hit back stops. He also has only a 28 percent success rate despite having a powerful arm to rifle the ball to second, but this may be more a reflection of the pitcher’s inability to hold baserunners. His 29/123 walk to whiff ratio needs to improve or the higher level pitchers will exploit his impatience. He also allowed 23 passed balls last year. The Rangers will start him in AA. If he can prevent balls from hitting the backstop he has a good shot of making his Rangers debut in 2015.

4. Dilson Herrera 2B (Colombia/Mets) - Currently the Mets have a second baseman who can hit but is a bit weak defensively. If they want to replace him with a younger version who has similar skills, but a little more speed they can replace him with Herrera. Dilson hit .340 in 250 AA at bats at Binghamton which earned him a promotion to the Mets. He struggled a bit with the Mets hitting only .220, but he showed a little juice in the bat with three homeruns. The power will be limited mainly to the gaps but he will hit enough over the fence to hit double digits in homeruns. All that will be needed for another major league opportunity is a Daniel Murphy injury or a Met slide and a mid season trade. In the meantime he will bide his time in AAA to show the Mets he is ready for the major leagues. The Mets acquired Dilson from the Pirates for Marlon Byrd.

5. Giovany Urshela 3B (Colombia/Indians) - A new player on this list, Giovany broke out the power bat last year with 18 homeruns. The Indians already knew he was one of their better defensive players at third base. For a power hitter he also showed an ability to make contact. Giovany struck out just 67 times in 128 games. If not for an injury in spring training he may have won the third base job for the Indians this year. Once he gets healthy the Indians will start him at AAA where he slugged .473 last year, hitting 13 homeruns. If he replicates that offense he will be with the Indians by mid-season.

6. Luiz Gohara LHP (Brazil/Mariners) - Luiz had a bit of a stumble last year. In 11 starts in the Northwest League he went 0-6 with a 8.20 ERA. At 18 years of age he was a little over matched for the league. His fastball can hit the mid-90s but he sits in the low 90s with secondary pitches that still need some work (curve and change). The Mariners signed him for $800,000 in 2012 and he saw his first spot of the limelight pitching for Brazil as a 16 year old in the World Baseball Classic. Life has gotten a bit routine after that. The Mariners will start him in extended spring and depending on his development his first appearance may not be until the rookie leagues which begin in July. Luz turns 18 in July so youth is on his side.

7. Harold Ramirez OF (Colombia/Pirates) - The Pirates outfield is a little crowded and injuries limited the 2014 season to 49 games. Leg injuries kept him in the dugout instead of enhancing his skills on the playing field. In his three minor league season he only has 7 career homeruns in 159 games. The power in his bat should eventually eclipse that as he learns to show a bit more of an upper cut in his swing. Currently his power is gap to gap, which has given him a .287 career average. Defensively he can cover a lot of ground, which makes centerfield a possibility for a home, but Andrew McCutchen, who is expected to be a Pirate for life plays that position. Ramirez best hope for a starting job will be as trade bait, unless the Pirate payroll gets too foreboding and they need to trade either Starling Marte or Gregory Polanco to promote a cheaper option. Based on his success in Low A Harold should start his 2015 season in High A. Don’t expect a major league debut until sometime in 2016.

8. Johan Camargo SS (Panama/Braves) - Not good to be a shortstop and a Brave with Andrelton Simmons hogging the position for the next ten years. Even second base should be covered by Jose Peraza for the next decade. The Braves will keep Camargo at short where he has all the tools to survive defensively. His bat is a little short, especially in the power department where his slugging average last year did not exceed .350. A 34/50 walk to whiff ratio does show some discipline at the plate, but that disappeared when he was promoted to High A (1/13). There is no blazing speed to steal bases so his best hope for a major league career may be as a utility player. The Braves will start him in High A and hope he makes enough progress there to be promoted to AA.

9. Javier Guerra SS (Panama/Red Sox) - The Red Sox are filled with shortstops at the minor league level and a pretty young shortstop filling the major league job (Xander Boegarts). What separates Guerra from those shortstops is his outstanding defense, where it is believed he could win a Gold Glove if his bat progresses enough to be promoted to the major leagues. Last year was his debut playing in the United States and his patience suffered. He went from a 33/40 walk to whiff ratio in the Dominican Summer League to a 5/42 ratio in a similar number of at bats in the Gulf Coast League. His power improved, going from .290 to .408 slugging average, enhanced by 11 more extra base hits. Speed is one tool lacking in his game. The Red Sox may repeat his time in the short season league since he will not turn 20 until September.

10. Cheslor Cuthbert 3B/1B (Nicaragua/Royals) - Each year Cheslor drops lower in the Royals prospect rankings. He used to be in the top ten, now he has dropped to the second tier of prospects. When the Royals signed him they expected him to develop some power for third base. That power finally reached double digits this year with 12 homeruns, with a slugging average in AA about 40 points higher (.420) than his career average. His defense at third is not strong enough to justify putting his popgun bat in the lineup. Last year he made 19 errors in 60 games for an .891 fielding percentage. The Royals played him a little bit at first base and second base last year. His foot speed is way too slow to patrol the outfield. The best bet for Cheslor to make it as a major leaguer may be as a bench player, but to get there he needs to improve his bat.

The link from the list last year is below:

2014 Top Ten South and Central America

Difo with the Slam

April 19th, 2015

A couple big name prospects had some good hitting days. The Cubs Albert Almora had a perfect 5 for 5 day for the Tennessee Smokies with a double and stolen base. The hits though were not terribly productive as they only drove in one run and allowed Almora to score one time. For Almora it was his fourth five hit game of his professional career. The five hit game raised his batting average 100 points, from .206 to .308.

The Red Sox Blake Swihart had a career day, slashing four hits in five at bats for the AAA Pawtucket club. His hits were a little more productive, driving in two runs and allowing him to score twice. He is now hitting .406 with nine hits in his last 13 at bats. He still has yet to walk and including his two doubles yesterday only three of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases, all doubles.

The biggest bat of the day goes to the Nationals Wilmer Difo, which gets him selected as the April 18 minor league player of the day. He was the only player other than Almora with a five hit day, but a grand slam homerun was a big chunk of his 5 RBI day. He also stole two bases and scored three times. He fell a triple short of the cycle. His offensive production allowed the Potomac Nationals to beat the Lynchburg Hillcats 15-8. For Difo this was his second career five hit game. Last year at Hagerstown Difo split his time between shortstop (70 games) and second base (66). So far for Potomac this year he has played all his games at shortstop.

Ball Throws Six Hitless Innings

April 18th, 2015

There were a number of good hitting performances, but one pitching performance outshined them all. Drew Dosch had a perfect 4 for 4 day for the Delmarva Shorebirds in Low A. The 15th rated prospect of the Orioles needed the perfect day to up his average to .222. Another perfect day was had by Dan Vogelbach who went a perfect 3 for 3 for the Cubs AA team the Tennessee Smokies. For Dan he is hitting .556 in his first eight games. The powerfully built 6′0″ 250 pound DH/firstbasman has yet to hit a homerun, but he has four doubles, three RBIs and a 6/3 walk to whiff ratio. He has five consecutive multi hit games in a 12 for 17 streak. The Cubs would like to trade him to an American League team where he could become the second coming of Prince Fielder.

Two big name prospects are having good starts. Raimel Tapia went 3 for 5, all of them doubles to drive in five runs. He now has 12 RBIs for the young eight game season. This was his third three hit game and his average now stands at .368. The only concern is the free swinging Tapia has yet to walk in 38 at bats.

Carlos Correa was considered the best prospect in baseball by many. His season was cut short last year in AA by a broken fibia. His return to the AA league does not appear to be much of a challenge. Yesterday he went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs to up his average to .394. Carlos has spanked eight doubles and driven in 12 runs in his eight games.

The minor league player of April 17 will be given to the Red Sox pitcher Trey Ball who threw six innings of hitless ball, the second Salem pitcher to accomplish that feat this year. Jake Dahlstrand did not allow any hits for Salem on opening day but failed to win minor league player of the day because Ramon Flores hit for the cycle on that same day. Salem went on to beat the Carolina Mudcats 6-2, allowing five hits before the day was done. Trey Ball walked two and struck out five in his second start of the year. The 6′6″ lefthander was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 2013. He looks to be rotation ready in 2016.