Diamondbacks Witness Otani Shutout

August 18th, 2015

Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and a couple other Arizona Diamondbacks were in attendance when Shohei Otani handcuffed the Chiba Lotte Marines, pitching a complete game 6-0 shutout. He struck out 12 for his seventh double digit strikeout performance this year. The complete game shutout was his third of the year.

The 12 wins puts him on top in the NPB with the 12 whiffs leaving him on top in the Pacific League with 151 strikeouts in 123 innings. Shintaro Fujinami has 152 whiffs in 140 innings in the Central League. Cuban slugger Alfredo Despaigne was 0 for 4 with two whiffs and two groundouts to second off Otani. Wonder what kind of scouting report Randy gave the team.

Myworld considers Fujinami and Otani two of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Both are just 21 years old with 95 plus fastballs.

South Korean Signs with Cubs

August 17th, 2015

The Cubs are one of the more active teams in South Korea. MyKBO links an article from Yonhap News that discusses the signing of Korean outfielder Kwang-min Kwon for $1.2 million, an amount that is usually reserved for Latin American players. According to Yonhap his high school career ended with a .339 batting average with one homerun and a .458 OBA. At this point he appears to be a speed guy.

Kwon is the 14th Korean to sign with the Cubs. The best of that bunch has been Hee-Seop Choi who they signed in 1999 but there have been no impact players since, though they have a couple players now percolating in the minors.

Diamondbacks to Japan to Scout Kenta Maeda

August 17th, 2015

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in Japan to visit the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. During that trip they will be looking at one of the better veteran pitchers still pitching in Japan Kenta Maeda. Last year the Carp did not think the $20 million posting price was high enough to let the 26 year old pitcher become a free agent. Since Maeda will earn his international free agency at the end of 2017 (and possibly his domestic free agency a year prior) the Carp may be more willing to post him after this season.

Maeda and Hiroki Kuroda (who pitched for the Yankees last year) are making for a solid 1-2 in the rotation. Maeda is 9-7 with a 2.31 ERA while Kuroda is 7-5, 2.89. They also have Kris Johnson who is 9-5, 1.96. Despite this trio of solid pitchers the Carp are three games under .500 and in fourth place, two games behind the Yomiuri Giants. Only three teams make the playoffs in each division.

With Kuroda at the age where retirement is a possibility and if Kris Johnson is unwilling to sign an extension because of his interest in still pitching in the major leagues it could be the time where $20 million will come in handy to rebuild the Carp.

The article for this trip can be found at the link below:

Diamondbacks Interested in Maeda

Little League World Series United States Teams

August 17th, 2015

The following Little League teams qualified for the World Series in their respective regions. They will play against the other Little League teams to meet the International representative in the championship game. Last year a team from Chicago won the finals on the United States side, but was later proved ineligible because they used players from outside their District. South Korea defeated the team from Chicago in the finals but a team from Las Vegas, Nevada was later declared the winner of the United States championship, but they did not get an opportunity to play the team from South Korea.

Great Lakes Region

Bowling Green Little League in Kentucky was spanked by a team from Wisconsin (Burlington Little League). 10-0. The two teams squared off in the finals and Bowling Green returned the favor 13-0 to advance to the Little League World Series.

Mid Atlantic Region

Red Land Little League in Pennsylvania carried some hot bats, scoring in double digits in all three games they played in winning every game by at least 8 runs or more.

Midwest Regional

Webb City Little League won their championship game 10-0 against Coons Rapids Cardinals Little League from Minnesota. This after losing their first game 3-2 to Memorial Little League in Nebraska. They later beat this Nebraska team 15-4 to advance to the semifinals.

New England Regional

Cranston Western Little League in Rhode Island defeated Bedford Little League from New Hampshire 10-4 to advance to the Little League World Series. Rhode Island had also lost the first game they played 3-2 against Waterford Little League in Connecticut. Rhode Island later reversed the score to eliminate Connecticut to advance to the semi-finals.

Northwest Regional

Wilshire Riverside Little League in Portland Oregon went undefeated in their round to advance to the Little League World Series. They also scored in the double digits in all four games they won.

Southeast Regional

Northwood Little League from South Carolina went undefeated in their round.

Southwest Regional

Pearland West Little League in Texas East went undefeated in their round to advance. Last year it was Pearland East that advanced.

West Regional

Sweetwater Valley Little League from Bonita in Southern California went through their opponents without a loss. They also mashed with double digit scoring in all four of their wins. Two of those wins they needed all those runs after giving up 9 and 10 runs.

Canada Results

White Rock South Surrey Little League in British Columbia won their regional. They lost to the hosts East Nepean Little League in Ottawa, Ontario. They rolled through two of their opponents 22-1 and 31-0 before meeting Ottawa again in the championship game and winning 16-0.

Winter Baseball League to Return to Taiwan

August 17th, 2015

Taiwan will start the winter baseball league that had initially began in 2012 and then dropped in 2014 after the change in leadership with the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association. The leagues will begin November 28 and run through December 22, playing 40 games with six playoff games. Five teams will participate in the league, two from Taiwan, one from the Japanese NPB, one from the Korean KBO and the fifth a European United team.

Information was obtained from Focus Taiwan at the link below:

Taiwan winter league

First Base Prospects

August 16th, 2015

These are the ten first baseman myworld would like to have in the minor leagues ready to make a contribution to the major league club.

1) A.J. Reed (Astros) - While in college swinging the aluminum bat Reed led the nation in homeruns (23). Many questioned whether he could do the same with wooden bats. In his first year he clubbed 12 homeruns playing half a season (68 games). In his first season of full season ball he has hit 29 homeruns and driven in 107. He is also not shy about talking a walk (79). The speed is non-existent, but his glove is adequate for first base. Jon Singleton may not be the answer at first base so Reed could be the next in the depth chart to take the position.

2) Greg Bird (Yankees) - Greg is a solid defensive player with the potential to win Gold Gloves. He also is not afraid of taking walks with 107 in 2013. Back issues limited him to just 102 games last year. Greg will hit for adequate power and good average while carrying a solid glove, something Don Mattingly was able to do with the Yankees beforel back problems ended his career. This year the OBA (.356) is fifty points below his career average (.407), but he is also facing a higher level of pitching. The Yankees recently promoted him to the major leagues where he has yet to draw a walk in nine at bats.

3) Josh Bell (Pirates) - Josh has the speed to play the outfield, but that position is not open with the Pirates. So they stuck Josh at first base. The Pirates signed him for $5 million as a second round pick because of his athletic prowess. The power has still not appeared on a consistent basis with only six homeruns and a .433 slugging average, but he is hitting .307 between AA and AAA with a 51/58 walk to whiff ratio. Defensively, Bell is still learning to play first base, having played outfield for most of his career.

4. Trey Mancini (Orioles) - Some will question his power, but the man can hit. He is terrorizing Easter League pitchers at a .357 rate. The strikeout numbers are not high, but the walk numbers are low (23 in 115 games) so there are some who question whether he can maintain at this pace. He does have a career .298 average, but the power numbers have been absent. His nine homeruns this year are one behind the number he hit last year. A senior signing from Notre Dame drafted in the eighth round also makes one wonder how long the bat will continue to smoke as he rises up the minor league ladder.

5. D.J. Peterson (Mariners) - After slugging 31 homeruns last year D.J. got a little power happy this season, trying to pull outside pitches over the fence. The results have usually been easy grounders to second base. His average has also fallen from his career average of .298 to .223. His homerun production has also dropped to just seven with his slugging average also dropping almost 200 points. Myworld thinks it will not be hard for him to change his hitting approach once he reflects on his poor season. Defensively, he began his professional career as a third baseman, but the Mariners have played him a lot at first, where he is still learning the position. Most believe this will be his final resting place.

6. Bobby Bradley (Indians) - A third round pick in the 2014 draft Bobby is showing power. Last year in the Arizona Rookie League he won the triple crown with a .361 average with 8 homeruns and 50 RBIs. His average has dropped a little in the full season league (.259) but his power is apparent (25 homeruns). Like any power hitter strikeouts appear to be a problem (128 in 91 games). He is still learning to play first base.

7. Dominic Smith (Mets) - Dominic was the Mets first round pick in 2013. His bat has been slow to progress, especially in the power area. This year he is hitting doubles (32) which some hope will translate to homeruns as he matures. The batting average has also climbed (.313) despite spending the full year in the Florida State League. Dominic shows the ability to play with the glove at the position.

8. Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays) - Tellez was drafted in the 30th round in 2013 with only 8 homeruns in his first two years. This year he has bashed 14 homeruns, while hitting .289. At 6′4″ and 245 pounds he can be an intimidating presence at the plate. If he doesn’t hit his lack of a glove will prevent his advancement to the major leagues.

9) Matt Olson (Athletics) - The Athletics go through first basemen like Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends. After hitting 37 homeruns and drawing 117 walks last year Olson is another player destined for the position. This year his power has tapered off to 14 homeruns, but his walk numbers remain high (89). We all know how the Athletics love to take walks. Matt will probably always struggle to hit for a high average because of his propensity to strike out, but that is to be expected from a run producer with big time power. Matt is a capable first baseman.

10) Balbino Fuenmayor (Royals) - Signed out of the Independent League Balbino is mashing in AAA with a .377 average. At 230 pounds he needs to watch his weight or he will end up being a masher in the Mexican League. This year he seems to be sacrificing strikeouts (59) for a higher average with his power dropping to 17 homeruns. He has also yet to collect a walk in AAA after 69 at bats. He is listed as a shaky defender, but myworld was impressed with his defense in the Series del Caribe. The Royals have Kendrys Morales at the DH spot and Eric Hosmer at first base, so they will have to make room for him if they want to promote him by dropping someone from the 40 man roster and deciding who he is to replace in the lineup.

Stick a Fork in Them - Nats are Done

August 16th, 2015

Rounding August and coming into September, if someone had told Bryce Harper that the Nationals would be 58-59 he would call them crazy and comment what have these people been smoking. The signing of Max Scherzer seemed to have clinched a World Series appearance for them. Someone forgot to tell the Nationals as they have limped their way through the 2015 season. Their only hope is the Mets fall apart and the Nationals can catch them by losing less games. August is turning into September and the Nationals are 58-59. It is not an illusion.

Some of the problems haunting the Nationals:

Injuries

Injuries to Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon have hurt the lineup. These players have been prone to injuries and Werth and Zimmerman are hitting that age where 15 to 30 days on the disabled list is to be expected. The injury that has hurt them the most is the one to Denard Span. The Nationals are far over .500 when Denard is in the lineup and they are a last place team when he is not in the lineup. Michael Taylor covers his ground defensively but his bat is still inconsistent. Yunel Escobar has been acceptable in the leadoff spot, but is better in the number two spot. With Denard Span they have one player that can fill both spots. The bad news is Denard may be out for the season.

Stephen Strasburg has also been on and off the disabled list. It is unclear how much his ineffectiveness this year can be attributed to injury. The bullpen has also been decimated with the season ending injury to Craig Stammen. No one in the bullpen has been able to replace him.

Bullpen Problems

The Nationals traded Tyler Clippard to the Athletics for Yunel Escobar. They thought Blake Treinen or Aaron Barrett could handle the eighth inning duties with less cost. Both have been failures. The Nationals had to trade for Casey Janssen and Jonathan Papelbon to fill the seventh and eighth inning roles. Unfortunately, as he did when Rafael Soriano arrived to close a couple years ago, Drew Storen has melted in the set up role when the Nationals showed a lack of confidence in the closer role, seeing his ERA rise from 1.50 to 3.50. Jonathan Papelbon might as well go on a vacation. The Nationals have not been able to give him a lead so he can pick up a save. Ironic Tyler Clippard is now pitching for the Mets and filling the role he did for the Nationals, protecting leads for the Mets closer to finish. The Nationals are still looking for a pitcher to fill that role.

Costly Fielding Mistakes

The Nationals booted their way to losses at the beginning of the season. Those losses will come up big as the season winds down. Ian Desmond made the majority of errors, losing three of four games on his own with critical boots or dropped catches. As the season has progressed the errors are not as prevalent, but poor fundamental plays still persist. The errors they make seem to be in critical parts of the game when it means the most. As Cardinal and Giant players have commented during the playoffs, the Nationals have players whose character has to be questioned when playing the big games. The Nationals have yet to prove those comments are not true. The same was said of Lebron James for a number of years but he was able to overcome those comments. Fans are still waiting for the Nationals to do the same.

They also have their best fielders playing out of position. Anthony Rendon is a much better fielder than Yunel Escobar, but Yunel is uncomfortable on the right side of the diamond, so Anthony plays second and Yunel plays third. The injury to Jayson Werth had two slow footed firstbasemen trying to play left field. Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson did not cover a lot of ground when put in the grass showing the range of a redwood.

Overrated Starting Pitching

With the signing of Max Scherzer this was supposed to be the best starting staff ever in the history of baseball when you take into account the starting five, and then consider the sixth starter, Tanner Roark was one of the best starters on the team last year relegated to the bullpen. As the season has progressed they have shown their starting pitching is not even the best in the NL East. At this point, most people would take the Mets rotation over the Nationals.

Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister saw drops in their velocity which also saw rises in their ERA. Fister was eventually moved to the bullpen because of this. When Zimmermann gets tagged they seem to come in bunches. Stephen Strasburg has not been himself, injuries forcing his ERA to rise above 5.00. Gio Gonzalez is a five inning pitcher because he has an inability to throw strikes. When fans go to a game they have to wonder which Gio will show up, the one who can’t go five or the one who can at least finish six. Unfortunately, the former seems to show up the most. Even the ace of the staff Max Scherzer has not been pitching like an ace. When the Nationals need to stop a losing streak he pitches the worst game of his career. That has happened at least twice. He has gotten to that point where hopefully the worst game of his career has gotten more difficult to reach.

Poor Situational Hitting

The Nationals do a poor job of getting productive outs, moving runners from second to third or scoring runners from third. They have too much swings and misses in their bats. Ian Desmond is a big proponent of grip it and rip it, but his hitting has regressed for five straight years. A change in his hitting approach would seem to be logical especially in his free agent year. He will find it hard for a team matching the $100 million the Nationals offered him at the beginning of the season.

Everyone wondered what kind of numbers Wilson Ramos could put up if he stayed healthy all year. He has answered those questions. A batting average of less than .250 with less than 15 homeruns. Jose Lobaton has gotten more starts because he is a better pitch framer. If Wilson is not hitting Lobaton is the better catcher (though Wilson still has the better arm).

Ian Desmond used to be one of the better clutch hitters on the team a couple years ago. That clutch has disappeared with his propensity to swing and miss at pitches in the dirt. Pitchers know this so they continue to feed him the poor pitches. He takes the fastball down the middle, gets behind in the count and swings and misses at a pitch out of the strike zone.

If the Mets play their way out of the playoffs to allow the Nationals to sneak in, myworld does not see them going far in the playoffs. When the Nationals were having trouble scoring runs the excuse was they were facing some pretty good pitchers from the Dodgers and Pirates. Myworld news flash - if they make the playoffs they will be facing those same pitchers. Add in the Giants and Cardinals, two other pitching staffs they struggle against. If they can’t hit them during the regular season they are not going to hit them during the playoffs. They have already proven that in 2012 and 2014 when the Cardinals and Giants bounced them out of the playoffs.

Suzuki Surpasses Ty Cobb in Hits

August 15th, 2015

Ichiro Suzuki collected two hits to surpass Ty Cobb for the second most hits by a ball player. Only Pete Rose has put together more hits. Because 1,278 of his hits were in Japan and 2,915 hits have been in the United States this will not be considered a record. Imagine what his hit total would be if Japan played a 162 game season and not 144 games.

Ichiro is now only 63 hits behind Pete Rose in total career hits. At 41 years of age he does not have a lot of years left. The Marlins have talked about signing him for one more year, but he would continue to be a back up. The injury to Giancarlo Stanton has given Ichiro a lot of playing time this year. His .253 average is far below his career .315 average. When Ichiro arrived in the major leagues he had 10 consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits, breaking the major league record for hits in one season with 262.

Myworld will go out on a limb and predict Ichiro will be the first player selected to the major league Hall of Fame and the NPB Hall of Fame. That is, if he ever chooses to retire.

Ten Catching Prospects

August 15th, 2015

It is difficult to put together top tens. These top tens are constantly evolving as players leap frog each other. Some people prefer offensive catchers, others prefer defensive skills. For myworld we identify ten catchers we like, in no particular order. This list does not mean that there is not a catcher or two not on this list who is better than a catcher list below.

1) Aramis Garcia (Giants) - Aramis hit his way out of the South Atlantic League, bashing 15 homeruns in 83 games. The California League has shown his struggles from last year returning to hitting .211 in just five games. The Giants second round pick in 2014 still has some work to do on defense. His arm is average. Buster Posey and Andrew Susac are ahead of him in the major leagues so his best opportunity to play would be at another position or with another team.

2) Chance Sisco (Orioles) - Another catcher who has a vicious bat. Last year he hit .340 at Delmarva to raise his minor league career average to .345. Another second round pick, but in 2013, he continues to hit with a .308 average at Frederick. Like Garcia his offense is far ahead of his defense, but he has a better arm. This year his walk to whiff ratio is pretty impressive (33/41). His power has yet to show with only 19 of his 81 hits going for extra bases.

3) Jorge Alfaro (Phillies) - Jorge was the principal player in the trade for Cole Hamels, though an injury has sidelined him for most of the year. The Rangers signed the Colombian back in 2010 for $1.3 million. Injuries have been a problem for him. An ankle injury in June has cut down on his 2015 season. He was hitting .253. Like most Latinos, his ability to show patience does not exist with a 9/61 walk to whiff ratio.

4) Gary Sanchez (Yankees) - During the same year Miguel Sano was looking to sign for a team out of the Dominican Republic Sanchez was considered the top prospect on the island in 2009. Now Sano is in the major leagues while Sanchez still toils in the minors. Most feel his catching defense is better than Jesus Montero, who was traded to the Mariners. His bat is still ahead of his glove with 4 homeruns and a .315 average in AAA. The Yankees signing of Brian McCann has slowed down his progression to the major leagues. His best bet for playing time in the major leagues may be with another team.

5) Elias Diaz (Pirates) - Reese McGuire is ahead of him in the Pirates depth chart. McGuire was a first round pick while Elias was signed out of Venezuela. Last year Diaz had a breakout offensive year (.328 with six homeruns). This year he is finding it a little more of a challenge in his attempt to hit AAA pitching with a .265 average and three homeruns. His defense is superb so if he doesn’t hit he should still make it to the major leagues as a backup.

6) Justin O’Conner (Rays) - Justin was expected to be catching for the Rays this year. An .807 OPS got him a late promotion to Montgomery. Justin has a penchant for striking out (106 in 88 games) which has kept his average down at .227. His defense is solid and next year he should see some time in the major leagues. The Rays could still select him as a September callup but for now he needs to improve his hitting to get a promotion.

7) Wilson Contreras (Cubs) - Kyle Schwarber can hit but is questionable defensively. Contreras is better defensively but doesn’t have the big bat of Schwarber. This year he has been one of the offensive stars of the Smokies, hitting .337 with 6 homeruns and 54 RBIs. He has a very impressive 46/54 walk to whiff ratio. Wilson is a third baseman that has moved to catcher, but he has a cannon for an arm.

8) Max Stassi (Astros) - The Astros acquired Max from the Athletics when they traded away Jed Lowrie. His bat is supposed to be his strength, especially his power. While he has 13 homeruns his average is only .202 with 87 whiffs in 73 games. His arm is not strong with a 26 percent success rate in banging runners, but he runs a pitching staff well. The Astros have been looking to trade Jason Castro the last couple years, but now that they are in a pennant race any trade discussions have been put on hold.

9) Andrew Knapp (Phillies) - Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp do not appear to be the answers. Carlos Ruiz is getting up in age. Knapp is the second Phillies option behind the plate. Knapp was a second round 2013 pick who had a breakout year last year with a .290 average in Low A. His arm will not stop a running game so the bat needs to stay hot to get in the lineup. His bat is on fire in the AA Eastern League with a .410 average, seven homeruns and 42 RBIs in just 37 games.

10) Reese McGuire (Pirates) - Reese was the Pirates first round pick in 2013. His upside is a strong arm with the ability to work a pitching staff well. His offense has not really broken out. Last year he hit his first three homeruns of his professional career. This year he has yet to see a ball travel over the fence, with only 15 extra base hits (all doubles) for his 85 hits. For a catcher he shows some speed with 14 stolen bases.

Extra Innings Movie Production for Next Year

August 15th, 2015

Simba Productions is planning on producing a baseball movie for next year titled Extra Innings. Myworld is always excited about new baseball movies. You can read about the story at the link below. You can also follow them on Twitter at Follow@extrainningsmov.

While they do have a corporate sponsor in Mountaingirl Productions to assist them in getting the movie out they are looking for other partners to invest, assist in branding or get the word out about the production of the movie. For those who want to get involved in the movie business this could be your opportunity.

Myworld would recommend you contact them at the link below. Albert Dabah is the writer and director of the movie. Good luck.

Extra Innings