O’s Break Nine Game Losing Streak

June 17th, 2018

It was tough for myworld to be motivated to drive all the way to Baltimore to watch two of the worst teams in baseball battle it out for the second round pick in the 2019 draft. The Orioles had lost the first two games, but the Sunday performance their bats came alive for a 10-4 win. Jace Peterson had a big day with a two run double in the second and a two run homer in the fifth, his first homerun of the year.

Trevor Richards got the start for the Marlins. The rookie had nothing, giving up six runs in less than four innings. The first inning he retired the O’s in order. The subsequent innings were less than glamorous. Mark Trumbo started the second inning slapping a single to right. Jonathan Schoop grounded a pitch down the third base line to the left field corner for a double. Jace Peterson drove them both in with a blast into center field that bounced into the bleachers for a ground rule double, driving in the first two runs.

In the third Richards retired the first two hitters. Manny Machado lined a single to left field. Mark Trumbo followed by driving a pitch deep to left. Derek Dietrich ran back for the ball, leaped at the wall, but the ball fell short, dropping below his glove for a double. After Jonathan Schoop walked to load the bases Trey Mancini grounded a single up the middle to score two more runs.

Dylan Bundy has been susceptible to the homerun ball. In the first three innings he shut down the Marlins. With one out in the fourth Justin Bour drove one into the right field bleachers to score the Marlins first run.

The Orioles responded in the bottom of the fourth, Craig Gentry and Austin Wynns starting the inning with back to back singles. Adam Jones drove a pitch into centerfield that one hopped the wall for a double driving in two runs and increasing the O’s lead to 6-1. The double ended the day for Richards.

Merandy Gonzalez came in and saved the Marlin bullpen, working two outs into the eighth inning. His work was not without blemish. Jace Peterson lined a pitch over the right field scoreboard to give the Orioles another two runs for an 8-1 lead.

Justin Bour tried to make a game of it in the sixth. Dietrich started the inning with a bloop single into center and Brian Anderson walked. With one out Justin Bour tagged a Bundy pitch over the right field bleachers hitting the gates behind the bleacher seats. Starling Castro followed with a double down the right field line. Bundy was able to retire the next two hitters to keep the Orioles ahead 8-4 but his day was done.

Miguel Castro started the seventh for the O’s. He could not get anyone out, giving up back to back singles and then walking the next hitter to load the bases with no outs. Mychal Givens came on to pitch, striking out Brian Anderson and then getting J.T. Realmuto to fly to shallow left. Buck went with lefty Tanner Scott to face the lefty swinging Bour, despite his trouble finding the strike zone. Scott ran the count 2-2, freezing Justin Bour on a 96 mile per hour fastball for strike three. A third homerun would have tied the game.

That was it for the Marlins. Mark Trumbo hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Manny Machado drove in a run with a single in the eighth. Zach Britton came on in the ninth to preserve the lead and end the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Game Notes: The O’s gave all the males coming to the game father’s day ties with the word Orioles scripted into the tie. Myworld wears a tie once every four years or so…The Orioles have a steal second base contest in the bottom of the fifth as the grounds crew replaces the bases. As a girl was running toward second base Cameron Maybin, the Marlins centerfielder grabbed the wrong base (the replacement base) and handed it to the girl. The grounds crew was able to retrieve the base and replace the second base bag in the bottom of the sixth…Derek Dietrich has shown me he does not play left field well. He allowed the double to fall in front of him as he leaped at the fence, and he almost missed a routine fly ball in the fourth, landing to his knee as he caught the ball…Journeyman Corban Joesph played first base instead of Chris Davis. He batted leadoff going 0 for 4. Chance Sisco was optioned to the minors and his brother Caleb Joseph was promoted. That has got to be a thrill for the two brothers, to be in the major leagues for the first time together. The Orioles do not have much else to play for so why not make two brothers happy and put them both in the lineup for the Nationals game.

Franco Homer Leaders Stripers Over Punchless Bulls

June 15th, 2018

Carlos Franco hit a two run homerun in the opening frame and it proved to be the difference in the Gwinnett Stripers 3-2 win over the Durham Bulls. In the three days myworld was in Durham the Bulls only scored four runs in three games, losing them all. Management helped me pack my bags for departure last night (kidding).

Kolby Allard got the start for Gwinnett. He is another small pitcher (listed at 6′1″ but not big of frame) with a fastball that sits in the high 80s and low 90s. The Braves drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. If he makes the rotation it will be back end. Myworld does not think he will be as effective against hitters the third time through the order. He has a nice curve ball and locates his pitches well, but the stuff appears too predictable the third time through the order.

That proved true last night. Allard allowed two hits and one walk in his first four innings of work. One of those runners was picked off in the second when he broke for second as Allard tossed to first. In the fifth the Bulls seemed to have figured Allard out. The first four hitters in the lineup got hits to score one with an out recorded when leadoff hitter Andrew Velasquez tried to stretch a single into a double. With two out Kean Wong blooped a hit over short to score the second run to close the 3-0 Striper lead to 3-2. The Bulls got two hard outs in the sixth and Allard did not come out for the seventh. He did strike out seven in the game.

The Bulls started Yonny Chirinos. He is an extremely slow worker, especially with runners on base. His fastball can hit 95 but sits in the low 90s. In the first he gave up a leadoff single to Danny Santana. A wild pitch advanced him to second, but with two out it did not matter when Carlos Franco blasted his eleventh homer to straight away centerfield to give the Stripers an early 2-0 lead.

They scored another run in the fourth, two singles and a walk loading the bases. Chirinos walked Xavier Avery to force in a run and it appeared his day was about done. Sean Kazmar Jr grounded a pitch up the middle. Second baseman Brandon Lowe made a nice diving stop, then glove flipped the ball to shortstop Andrew Velasquez at short, who threw to first to complete the double play and keep Durham in the game. Chirinos retired the first two hitters in the fifth and was removed from the game one out from pitching five innings, throwing 72 pitches. Perhaps Jared Sandberg had something to do last night and couldn’t wait for each pitch from Chirinos.

Defense continued to play a big part of the remaining part of this game. Xavier Avery made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth inning to prevent a blast by Justin Williams from hitting the top of the wall, or at least going over. Shortstop Sean Kazmar made a nice play in the ninth on a slow roller hit by Velasquez, his throw barely beating the runner to first with Brandon Lowe advancing to third. If he doesn’t make that play it would be first and third with one out in a one run game with the tying run on third. Catcher Nick Ciuffo made an excellent play behind the plate on a ball that hit the dirt and bounded away from him. He was still able to retrieve the ball and gun it to second to retire Michael Reed. Second baseman Phil Gosselin made a good play on a hard grounder that went off the glove of Carlos Franco in the sixth for a rare 3-4-3 play to get one out.

In the ninth the crowd witnessed a scary incident. Josh Ravin came on to pitch the inning to close out the game. His first pitch was lined up the middle by Justin Williams, hitting Ravin in the forehead. After stumbling off the mound he collapsed to the third base side of the mound. Eventually he was able to get up on his own power, holding a towel to his forehead and hopped on a cart to take him to a hospital.

Evan Phillips came on to finish the game. He stranded Lowe at third, striking out Ji-Man Choi swinging for the third out. It was the second time in two days Choi struck out when a homerun would have won the game.

Game notes: Gwinnett changed their name from Braves to Stripers. Don’t know if the lime green uniform jerseys are new but they certainly are flashy…Yuta Okazaki was born in Tokyo, Japan and is listed as a catcher for the Stripers. He went to college in the United States (Rollins and University of Connecticut), played in the Independent League for a couple years and signed with the Braves for the 2018 season. He is 26 years old…Myworld enjoyed the empanadas sold at the park. They have six flavors and myworld would recommend them. You get three for $9…At the game a girl was wearing a t-shirt with “Cocks” in big letters. Below that was University of South Carolina. I know the Gamecocks have played the USC Trojans in a football game headlined “Trojans Smother Cocks” but myworld does not know if the Gamecocks have ever played the Oregon State Beavers?…Jason Hursh struck out the side in his inning of work for the Stripers…In the third inning myworld noticed Nick Ciuffo looking at a tablet he pulled from his back pocket after the Bulls recorded the second out. Myworld is pretty certain he was not looking at his email while behind the plate but he may have had notes on this tablet and reviewed it to remind himself how they were going to pitch to the next hitter Dustin Peterson…Jamie Schultz has some good stuff for the Bulls. His balls dance at 96-98, but he has trouble locating them. The three hitters he faced in the seventh and eighth failed to put the ball in play as he struck out two and walked one. Just watching him warmup four or five balls hit the back stop…Andrew Kittridge was not as impressive with his stuff, but he faced six hitters in the fifth and sixth innings and no hitter put the ball in play. He walked two and struck out four…The nine pitchers combined for 22 whiffs, 11 for each side.

2018 Top Ten Venezuelan Prospects - National League

June 14th, 2018

This completes our top ten lists from around the world. I put this together before the season started so players like Ronald Acuna might not be considered prospects anymore. Eiias Diaz and Jose Martinez graduated from this list because of their major league time last year.

1. Ronald Acuna OF (Braves) - Hard to believe he was only number four on the list from last year. After one year in the minor leagues he shot up to the best prospect in baseball (tied with Shohei Ohtani from myworld’s list). After a short 17 game warm up in AAA where he looked a bit rusty, hitting just .232 Acuna was promoted to the Braves. He started out strong but has cooled down to a .265 average with 5 homeruns. A knee injury in late May put him on the disabled list. He will be a player who provides all five tools, gold glove defense in centerfield, a strong arm, power, speed and the ability to hit for average.

2. Keibert Ruiz C (Dodgers) - When the 2017 list was put together Keibert was playing in rookie ball. Maybe myworld should have noted his .374 average in 56 games. Last year in full season ball his bat kept on raking, hitting .316 between Low and High A. He also showed a little bit of pop with 8 homeruns and good patience at the plate with a 25/53 walk to whiff ratio. He needs a little work on his defensive game and teams are not afraid to run against him. Last year he only caught 26 runners while 91 achieved success. This year he is 11 for 43 in catching base stealers. The bat has also cooled this year in AA (.255). At 19 he is one of the youngest players in AA and playing at a very demanding position. The Dodgers will show some patience with his development.

3. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Padres) - Last year he appeared at the top of the list but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2017 season and dropped him down a couple notches. Ironic the Padres acquired Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, then complained about a pre-existing injury and it was Espinoza to miss the 2017 season because of injury. He still has not started the 2018 season and will probably pitch a rehab in rookie ball before he sees full season. Prior to the surgery Espinoza hit mid to high 90s with his fastball and threw a plus change. Only time will tell whether those pitches will be impacted after the surgery.

4. Andres Gimenez SS (Mets) - Many consider him the best fielding shortstop in their system, and that is including Ahmed Rosario. Whether he can push Rosario off of shortstop once he establishes himself is another story. The big question with Andres is whether he can hit. There is very little power in his bat, but last year he showed a good ability to make contact in his first season at Low A, hitting .265. This year in the pitcher friendly Florida State League he has shown some pop in his bat, hitting .273 with four homeruns, 13 doubles and a .421 slugging percentage. A move to second base is still a possibility, but Andres is still a couple years away from seeing the major leagues.

5. Gabriel Arias SS (Padres) - Another gold glove potential shortstop with a rocket for an arm. The Padres paid him a $1.9 million bonus in 2016 to sign him. Last year he got his first exposure to playing in the minor leagues, hitting .265 with nary a homerun. Still a teenager at 18 entering the 2018 season he is hitting just .212 in Low A, but he did hit his first homerun. The Padres would like to see him make better contact as he strikes out like a power hitter (61 times in 55 games). His fielding has been a little erratic with 16 errors in 49 games at shortstop.

6. Eduardo Diaz OF (Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks got a bargain when they signed Eduardo, shelling out just $10,000 on him. Last year he exhibited some power, hitting .312 with 7 homeruns and a .510 slugging percentage. He has the speed and the arm to play center or right field. As he gets older and packs some more muscle on his frame there could be more juice from his bat. This year that juice is absent, with a .226 average and only two homeruns in 31 games. A poor 3/36 walk to whiff ratio shows a lack of patience and possible pitch recognition.

7. William Contreras C (Braves) - The brother of Wilson with similar tools. The bat can hit for power and the arm is above average. The last three years since his signing he has only played rookie ball, hitting .295 with a .414 slugging percentage in those three years. This is his first year in full season ball and he is impressing with a .290 average and .410 slugging percentage. The power will improve as he matures. There are still some things he needs to work on from his defensive side of the game, such as lessoning his 8 errors in 22 games at catcher, but he has a long ways to go before reaching the major leagues.

8. Yonathan Daza OF (Rockies) - A late bloomer since he signed in 2010. Last year he broke out for a .341 average. His power is restricted to the gaps, but it did get him 34 doubles with 87 RBIs, a lot of runs driven in for a player who only hit 3 homeruns. He also showed some speed with 31 stolen bases. That speed will allow him to play centerfield. This year in AA Yonathan is hitting .306 but the stolen base speed has been absent with more caught stealings (5) than stolen bases (4). The Rockies outfield situation is very crowded so he will probably stay in AA the entire season.

9. Ranger Suarez LHP (Phillies) - Last year his velocity jumped to the Low 90s and his strikeout rate increased to over one per inning, putting him on many prospect lists. He also dominated at Low A with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts. Signed in 2012 Ranger shows control and pitching smarts from having to survive with a less than explosive fastball. In 2017 he only got 8 starts in AA but the Phillies thought that was enough and promoted him to AA to start the 2018 season. The numbers have not been awe inspiring but with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts the results have been good.

10. Arquimedes Gamboa SS (Phillies) - Arquimedes has the tools to be a solid defensive shortstop. There was some questions about his bat, but last year at Low A he hit .261 with 6 homeruns, respectable numbers for someone with his defensive chops. His power will stay below average, but with the speed to steal double digits and the ability to hit over .260 would put him at a utility role at worst and a starting shortstop job at best. This year in High A his hitting is making progress (.273) and he shows enough patience at the plate to have his OBA rise to .351.

2017 top Venezuelan Prospects - National League

Roach Silences Bulls

June 14th, 2018

Donn Roach is one of those short righthanders (listed at 6′0″) who doesn’t dazzle you with velocity. His fastball hit 93 but got no further. The curveball is what kept the Durham Bulls off balance as the Charlotte Knights shut them out 1-0. The Bull was silenced as Roach pitched seven shutout innings, striking out 9 and scattering just five hits.

Ryan Weber is also a short righthander who offered an excellent breaking pitch. His fastball stayed in the high 80s, rising up to 91 on occasion. He went six innings, striking out six. The only run he allowed was in the third inning when Eddy Alvarez blasted a two out double to the warning track in centerfield. Jacob May followed by bouncing a seeing eye single into centerfield. May was gunned down at second for the third out when the throw home was cutoff and thrown to second, but the run scored.

The closest the Bulls got to scoring was in the third and sixth innings. In the third a walk and single put runners on first and second. A ground out to second saw Alvarez lose his balance when he tried to make the throw to second, so he opted for the sure out at first. With runners on second and third Jason Coats popped out to second to end the threat. With two out in the sixth Brandon Snyder hit a two out double into right centerfield. Justin Williams struck out but the ball eluded the catcher and hit the back stop, allowing Williams to reach first. With runners on first and third and two out Ji-Man Choi struck out.

Thyago Vieira came on to pitch the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Kean Wong. A wild pitch advanced Wong to second but Vieira struck out the last two hitters with his fastball hitting 95-99. He did get a swing and miss for strike three on a good curveball that lacked consistency with its break.

Rob Scahill came on in the ninth. Just like Vieira he gave up a leadoff single to Justin Williams. A wild pitch advanced Williams to second. Scahill struck out the side to earn the save and preserve the shutout.

Game Notes: A man in a spiderman outfit filtered through the crowd in the late innings. A number of people stopped to pose for pictures with him. Judging by the reactions of the ushers he appeared to make regular appearances at the game…Micah Johnson was once a prolific basestealer, stealing 84 bases in 2013. That speed appears to have disappeared at the age of 27 and with little power and a .178 average myworld does not think there is anything left to attract a major league team…Avisail Garcia played right field in his second rehab start. He went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts…Myworld had the Pork barbecue and the hush puppies. The Pork barbecue was tasty but the hush puppies were a little crisp. The good ones are supposed to melt in your mouth…Ji-Man Choi made a nice diving catch at first. He looks a bit plump to be a major league regular but if he can get on a homerun streak as he did in spring training he could find a role with the Rays. The Brewers just had no position for him. The Rays acquired Choi for Brad Miller in a waiver deal claim…Hunter Wood looked good in his inning plus of relief. He shows a fastball with some velocity (94) and a sweeping curve that got three whiffs to the four hitters he retired.

Top Second Base Prospects in the Minor Leagues

June 13th, 2018

Second base prospects are usually shortstops shifting over later in their minor league careers because someone else has taken over the position, or they lack the arm or range to play the position. It is not common a player is drafted or signed as a second baseman, eventually making it to the major leagues at that position. Yoan Moncada is one of the few players who started as a second baseman after he fled Cuba and he stayed there. Any player who has significant major league time or just got called up like David Fletcher are not considered for this list.

1. Nick Sezel (Reds) - He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft as a third baseman. The Reds just signed their current third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a long term contract. One of those players will have to move to second. This year Nick has played more games at second than third. What has prevented him from being called up is Scooter Gennett and his .340 plus batting average. Nick will provide big time power wherever he plays. Last year he mashed 14 homeruns with a .521 slugging percentage. This year he is a little down with three homeruns and a .452 slugging percentage in AAA. He has yet to make an error at second and his speed is deceptive. Last year he stole 14 bases in 20 attempts. This year he is seven for eight. Expect him to be an impact player with the bat no matter the position.

2. Keston Hiura (Brewers) - Keston was a first round pick in 2017, despite playing most of his season in college as a DH. An elbow injury kept him from throwing. He has avoided Tommy John surgery and returned to playing second base in the minor leagues. Last year he led Division I college hitters in batting average at .442. He also hit .371 in his 42 game minor league debut, 27 of those games in Low A. In only three of those games did he play second base. This year the Brewers have been aggressive with him starting him at High A where he hit .320 with seven homeruns and recently promoting him to AA where he has not missed a beat (.341). In those 61 games 25 have been played at second base while the rest were played as a DH. His range factor has not been good but the 25 game sampling has been limited and he has committed two errors. He will not be a stellar defensive player but he will supply some potent offense at the position.

3. Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) - Brendan was a first round pick of the Rockies in 2015. He has played most of his games at shortstop but he has played 17 games at second and 12 at third. With Nolan Arenado at third and Trevor Story at short, second base seems to be his best alternative, especially with Ryan McMahon struggling with the bat at the major league level. The bat has supplied some decent power with 18 homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage last year. This year in AA he has supplied 13 homeruns and a .537 slugging percentage. The defense should be above average for second but the bat will play at any position. Expect him to get a callup, September at the latest and be used as a utility player.

4. Luis Urias (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. He started as a second baseman, then moved to shortstop. The Padres have returned him to second, but he continues to play both third and short as well. Luis has a nice contact bat. With his defensive versatility he can be used as a super utility player. He does not have a lot of power in his bat but he has a tremendous ability to make contact, walking more than he has struck out. Coming into this season he carried a .310 average with a .396 OBA. This year at AAA he is struggling a bit with a .262 average but still carries a respectable .380 OBA. He has shown a little bit of power, hitting a career high six homeruns. The speed is not there for him to steal bases. With Fernando Tatis Jr. expected to take the future shortstop position the Padres have given Luis more playing time at second base than short.

5. Nick Gordon (Twins) - Nick is the half brother of Dee Gordon, both of them sharing the same father Tom, who was a pitcher in his major league career. Dee also started as a shortstop but his inconsistency on defense forced him to move to second. Nick does not have the speed of Dee but was considered a better defensive player. With Royce Lewis behind him and expected to be the future shortstop of the Twins and Nick lacking the range to be a stellar defensive player at short, many feel that second will be his best position. He is still playing most of his games at short, but he has played many games at second. Last year he struggled to make contact, striking out 134 times in 122 games to lower his average to .270. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence so the Twins would like to see him make better contact. This year that was accomplished and he raked in AA with a .333 average with five homeruns and a .525 slugging. That resulted in a promotion to AAA where he is hitting .289 but without any homeruns and a .398 slugging. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins promote him before the year is out.

6.Jahmai Jones (Angels) - The Angels shifted Jones to second this year because of the surplus they saw in their outfield. His arm was considered fringe relegating him to left with Mike Trout in center. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are two outfielders with more powerful arms so it made sense to move Jones to second. Last year his power started to develop with 14 homeruns and he hit near his career minor league average of .281. His power is still more to the gap and with decent speed he can turn a lot of singles into doubles. Learning a new position has been a challenge this year. He has already committed 10 errors in 51 games at second and has struggled with the bat (.246). The Angels consider this a long term project and will be patient with him, expecting some set backs.

7. Domingo Leyba (Diamondbacks) - Last year Domingo was limited to 23 games because of a shoulder injury. It kept him out for the first part of 2018. The injury has forced a move to second base. The Dominican signed in 2012 has shown a solid bat. He played mostly at short but many figured that with a below average arm his best position would be second. Coming into the 2018 season he carried a .287 career average with a .408 slugging. This year Domingo is hitting .289 with a .447 slugging and a 10/11 walk to whiff ratio. If he can continue to make solid contact his bat will be an offensive weapon at second base.

8. Max Schrock (Cardinals) - Another contact hitter but drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. The Nationals traded him to Oakland (Marc Rzepczyski) who traded him to St. Louis (Stephen Piscotty). Everywhere he goes he shows he can hit with a .331 average in 2016, a .321 average last year and .285 this year. His bat has been a little less potent in AAA this year. He does not have the best defensive qualities but reminds me a lot of Daniel Murphy, who has yet developed the pop.

9. Isan Diaz (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2014 the Puerto Rican burst onto the scene with a .360 average in his first season at Rookie ball. Replicating those offensive numbers has not been easy, with his average dropping to .264 the following year and further dropping to .222 last year. The good news is his bat is showing signs of life with a .424 average in his last 10 games, raising his overall average to .238. The bad news is he plays the same position as Keston, and like Keston his defense is not that strong to win the position with his glove. He still has too much swing and miss in his bat. If he can solve that the bat will take care of itself.

10. Lourdes Gurriel (Blue Jays) - The younger brother of Yuli and a defector from Cuba in 2016, Lourdes did not show his bat in a brief appearance in the major leagues (.206). He did get 68 at bats but myworld is confidence that another callup will not happen until September. His fielding is too inconsistent to play short, though he only made one error in 19 games this year after making 10 in 28 games last year. His bat should get him back to the big leagues. This year he is hitting .306 between AA and AAA. The power should come as he gets stronger. Expect him to compete for the second base position next year, especially if Devon Travis continues to struggle.

Draft Picks in the Top 100

June 13th, 2018

Fangraphs did an updated top 100 (actually 133) including recently drafted players on the list. Myworld would not be bold enough to create a top 100 including draft picks until we see them play in rookie leagues and their familiarization to the wood bats. Below are the players listed in the top 100. There is no Brady Singer even after he outdueled Casey Mize in the Super Regional game.

31. Casey Mize (RHP) Detroit
33. Nick Madrigal (2B) White Sox
57. Joey Bart (C) Giants
68. Travis Swaggerty (OF) Pirates
77. Alec Bohm (3B) Phillies
93. Matthew Liberatore (LHP) Rays
95. Nolan Gorman (3B) Cardinals
96. Jarred Kelenic (CF) Mets
97. Jonathan India (3B) Reds
98. Carter Stewart (RHP) Braves
100. Cole Winn (RHP) Rangers

If this list proves accurate this should be a nice draft for third baseman.

Knights Polish off Bulls

June 13th, 2018

Last year myworld travelled to Durham and was impressed with outfielder Johnny Fields, pitcher Ryan Yarborogh and the top prospects on the team Willy Adames and Jake Bauers (though we are not sold on Bauers power). All four of those players are now up with the Rays. Watching them last night we don’t know who will impress us. The recent callup of Adames and Bauers leaves no one who sticks out.

The Charlotte Knights easily disposed of the Durham Bulls 6-2. Jordan Stephens went six shutout innings for the Knights. The righthander from Rice is not particularly overpowering, sitting in the low 90s and his breaking pitches did not seem to overwhelm. But he had good location, getting enough swings and misses to strike out seven. He also showed a good pickoff move getting Keon Wong leaning off first.

The Knights scored first on a Matt Skole solo shot into the centerfield berm in the third inning. Andrew Moore got the start for the Rays and went 4.1 innings. A one out walk issued to Eddy Alvarez brought out the bullpen.

The first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Rays was Kyle Bird. He was not particularly effective. His first pitch to Jacob May was lined into left center for a base hit. A double steal and passed ball allowed Alvarez to score the second run. Alvarez is the speed skating silver medalist who is playing third base but appears to lack the power for the position. His best bet is to make it as a utility player.

A lack of control by Bird let the game get out of control in the sixth inning. Jake Elmore led the inning off with a single. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Back to back walks loaded the bases. Dustin Garneau drove a ball down the left field line to drive in two. Another walk loaded the bases. Jacob May swung at a 3-0 pitch and rolled one back to the pitcher. That ended the night for Bird. Mike Franco came on to strike out pinch hitter Michael Saunders and get Matt Skole to ground to first to end the inning with no further damage, keeping the score at 4-0.

Ian Gibut came on to pitch the top of the ninth. He hit 97 on the radar but walked the first two hitters. A one out Alex Presley single went between the legs of right fielder Jason Coats to allow two runs to score. That put the Knights up 6-0.

In the bottom of the ninth Justin Williams gave the bull something to get excited about. He drove a pitch over the left field wall for a two run homerun. The power was impressive but he showed a lack of speed on a slow grounder hit to short and lumbering to first. He was at DH last night so myworld could not assess his defense. At 22 he shows potential, especially if he can manifest the power to bring out the smoke and the red eyes in the Durham Bull.

Keon Wong hit two line drive singles up the middle. He also got picked off and caught stealing once so two of his three times on base were wasted. He is the younger brother of Kolton Wong who plays second base for the Cardinals. He is not supposed to possess the same tools as his older brother.

Game notes: The Bulls stadium is one of the nicest in the country. Myworld is disappointed that the once vacant blue wall is dotted with advertisements and now has a big video screen covering it. I can’t imagine the Red Sox covering the Green Monster with advertising but perhaps I have not been paying attention…The food selection at Bulls park is varied. Myworld settled for the fruit cup of watermelon last night. We will venture out a little more tonight….Michael Saunders struck out in his two at bats. At 30 years of age the Canadian’s days as a major leaguer appear to be over if he does not correct the holes in his swing. His batting average has dipped below .160…Avisail Garcia was hitting at the DH spot on a rehab assignment. He went 1 for 2 with a walk, hitting a dying quail single into right field his first time up…Andrew Velasquez, who was playing short after the Adames promotion, made a leaping attempt at a line drive. The ball glanced off his glove. As he was hitting the ground he was able to twist and catch the ball before it hit the ground…At last nights game too many players who myworld recognized as ex-major leaguers. The Knights had Jake Elmore hitting fifth, which is not a testament to the awesomeness of the Knights power in the lineup.

Super Regional Results

June 12th, 2018

Myworld has travelled to Durham to watch the Bulls play three games, two against Birmingham and one against Gwinnett. While driving down here the Super Regionals have been completed and the College World Series participants have been determined. Myworld is debating a trip to Omaha to see the College World Series. Below are the results for the Super Regionals.

Fullerton Super Regional

The Washington Huskies pulled out the opener 8-5 taking advantage of five Cal State Fullerton errors to score two unearned runs. Levi Jordan and A.J. Graffanino each collected three hits and two RBIs to lead the offense. Nick Kahle also had three hits, allowing him to cross the plate three times. Joe DeMers pitched the ninth to earn the save.

Fullerton got it to game three with a 5-2 win. Tommy Wilson limited the Huskie offense to one run, a Joe Wainhouse solo shot. Wainhouse would hit another solo bomb in the ninth to account for the only Huskie runs. Daniel Cope had two hits including a double to score twice to lead the Fullerton offense.

Game three was about as exciting as a game could get. The Titans rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 4-3 lead. Three two out RBI singles by Sahid Valenzuela, Jake Pavletich and Chris Prescott put Fullerton ahead. The Huskies tied it in the bottom of the ninth, Jonathan Schiffer getting the RBI single after a Kaiser Weiss double to lead the inning off. Hank LoForte hit a two out solo homerun in the tenth to put the Titans up by one again. The Huskies never quit. Wainhouse led the inning off with a single. A throwing error on a bunt put runners on second and third with no out. An infield single by Grafanino scored one and an error by shortstop Valenzuela loaded the bases with no out. Weiss hit the ball deep enough to right field to score the winning run and send the Huskies to the College World Series.

Nashville Super Regional

Both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt got their offenses churning with five spots. Elijah MacNamee had a big three run homer in the third to fuel the Mississippi State five run outburst. Vanderbilt tied it at 7-7 with five in the fifth, Pat DeMarco hitting a two run homer and four walks energizing the Commodores. A Jake Mangum single in the bottom of the eighth gave State an 8-7 lead. Vanderbilt tied it in the top of the ninth on a two out triple from DeMarco, who completed the trot home after a throwing by the shortstop. In the bottom of the ninth MacNamee delivered a two run one out walk off homerun to give Mississippi State the opening day win.

In game two Vandy got the walkoff, a one out solo blast from J.J. Bleday to give them a 4-3 win. The Commodores had tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a Harrison Ray triple and an Ethan Paul RBI single. The Bleday solo shot ended an 0 for 4 day for J.J.

There were no walkoffs in the final, but Mississippi State scored four runs in the top of the 11th to earn a 10-6 win. Tanner Allen had the RBI double to give State the lead. A bases loaded walk scored the second run and Luke Alexander delivered the knockout punch with a two run single. Both teams scored three runs in the 9th, Paul a two run blast for the Commodores to send the game into extra innings.

Chapel Hill Super Regional

North Carolina dominated Stetson in the opener 7-4. Cody Roberts had a dinger with three RBIs and Michael Busch drove in two runs with his homerun. The three run dinger by Roberts in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie and the Tar Heels never found themselves behind after that.

The Tar Heels scored four in the first to prevent a third game, hanging on for the 7-5 win. Roberts smoked a double in the inning to drive in one of his two for the game. Stetson rallied with a run in the ninth and had a walk off opportunity with the go ahead run at the plate but Brooks Wilson flied out to center to put the game to a close.

Gainesville Super Regional

Florida dominated Auburn in the opener 8-2. Brady Singer went 6.2 innings to get the win, limiting the Tigers to two runs. Deacon Liput and Nelson Maldanado gave him all the support he needed with solo shots. Will Dalton was the RBI leader with two. Number one pick Casey Mize got assaulted for six runs in just five innings of work.

The less heralded Tanner Burns limited the Gators to just one run in his six innings of work. The Tiger offense failed to support him and a Austin Langworthy homerun in the top of the ninth tied the game at 2-2. That gave Luke Jarvis a chance to be a hero with a walkoff RBI single to give Auburn the 3-2 game two win.

Games can be decided by inches. In the bottom of the 11th Langworthy blasted a ball deep to right. A leaping attempt by right fielder Steven Williams and the ball clanks off his glove and goes over the fence for a walkoff homerun and a 3-2 win for the Gators. Gator closer Michael Byrne pitched four shutout innings to get the Gator win.

Lubbock Super Regional

Gabe Holt delivered the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth to give Texas Tech a 5-4 lead. A double by Brian Klein gave them an insurance run. Ty Harpenau pitched a scoreless top of the ninth to give the Raiders a 6-4 win over Duke. Zack Kone drove in three of the four runs for Duke.

The Blue Devils strung together 16 hits to blast Texas Tech in game two 11-2. Joey Loperfido and Max Miller drove in seven of the 11 runs, Loperfido driving in two runs with a triple in the fourth and Miller driving in three with his triple in the fifth. Graeme Stinson pitched six shutout innings to lead Duke.

Texas Tech got homeruns from Holt, Klein and Michael Davis in the finals to win game three 6-2.

Fayetville Super Regional

Arkansas popped South Carolina in the opener 9-3. Carson Shaddy drove in four runs to lead the offense.

The Gamecocks turned the table on the Razorbacks with an 8-5 win. L.T. Tolbert got the big blow with a grand slam homerun. Hunter Taylor made it back to back to complete the five run inning. Justin Row also homered for the Gamecocks. Shaddy drove in two more runs in a losing cause for the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks scored seven runs in the first two innings to plow through South Carolina in game three 14-2. Luke Bonfield drove in four runs and Shaddy continued his RBI spree driving in three more to give him 9 for the three game series. Shaddy also homered in game two and three. Eric Cole scored five runs from the leadoff spot with three hits and two walks in a perfect 3 for 3 day. One of his hits cleared the fence.

Austin Super Regional

Tennessee Tech made it tough for the home town faithful with a 5-4 win over Texas. Brennon Kaleiwahea and Chase Chambers each drove in two runs to drive the Tech offense.

The Longhorns got it to game three with a 4-2 win. Kody Clemens, son of Roger provided the difference with a homerun and two runs driven in.

Texas won the final 5-2 with Clemens again going deep to supply the 5-2 win. D.J. Petrinsky also hit a solo shot for the Longhorns. Matteo Bocchi pitched five innings of one run ball to lead the Longhorn pitching staff. Tech loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth on a single and two walks but a ground out ended the game and began the pile on.

Corvallis Super Regional

Luke Heimlich was one out from a complete game, striking out nine to give Oregon State an opening round 8-1 win over Minnesota. Heimlich is a top five pick but was bypassed in the early rounds of the draft because of a sexual assault case he committed as a 15 year old. A solo blast from Toby Hanson in the eighth was the only run scored off Luke. Oregon State got two RBIs each from Steven Kwan, Trevor Larnach and Adley Rutschman.

The Beavers scored a run in the eighth to tie the game 3-3 on an RBI single by Kyle Nobach, then erupted for three in the ninth, Rutschman with a two run single for the big hit and back to back hit by pitches to score the third run. Jake Mulholland shut down Minnesota in the ninth to give the Beavers a 6-3 win.

Crawford Leads Giants Over Nats

June 10th, 2018

There were eight hits in the game today. Brandon Crawford had four of them, two doubles, a homerun and a single. His two run homer in the upper deck in centerfield off Max Scherzer in the fourth inning was all the scoring in the game as the Giants took the rubber game 2-0.

Scherzer was not as sharp as he was his last game walking three batters, including Pablo Sandoval twice. The second time he walked Sandoval was to lead off the fourth inning. Brandon Crawford ran the count to 2-2 then buried a pitch into the second deck in right field for a two run homerun. Scherzer struck out nine in his seven innings of work, giving up only four hits, three of those to Crawford.

Derek Holland was more effective than Scherzer. He only went five innings before turning it to his bullpen, allowing just three hits. Two of the hits were back to back singles in the second inning by Mark Reynolds and Juan Soto. Michael Taylor crushed any hopes of a big inning by grounding one to Even Longoria at third, who stepped on the base for one and threw to first to complete the double play.

The Nationals were helpless against the Giant bullpen. Four different relievers worked one inning each without allowing a hit. There were two walks. Hunter Strickland retired the heart of the order in the ninth to pick up the save.

Game Notes: O’s fans scream out “o” when the National Anthem is played and that lyric comes up in the Star Spangled Banner. National fans are playing copycat and scream out “red” when that lyric is sung in the National Anthem…At the end of April Brandon Crawford was struggling with a .189 average. The month of May he hit .412 to raise his average to .307. With his 4 for 4 day he is now hitting .533 in June with an overall batting average of .338…The Bryce Harper versus Hunter Strickland match up was uneventful in the 9th. Harper grounded out to short. Last year Hunter hit Strickland, resulting in a brawl and both players getting a suspension.

Future Major Leaguers from Each NPB Pacific League Team

June 9th, 2018

Last Sunday we looked at the more popular Central League. This Sunday myworld will take a look at the Pacific League. Despite its lack of popularity it is still considered the better conference. In interleague play the Pacific usually wins the majority of the games.

Seibu Lions (34-21-0)

During the 1980s the Lions won five NPB championships in 10 years and started the 90s with three championships. They went fallow after that but still brought the major leagues players like Kaz Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kazuhisa Ishii. The money from those posts have revitalized the franchise and they returned to the championship in 2004 and 2008 but also qualifying for the playoffs in a couple of those years. The last four years the team has been short of the playoffs, but this year they have gotten off to a strong start.

Yusei Kikuchi LHP - Before Ohtani it was Kikuchi who created controversy by declaring his intent to avoid the Japanese draft and bolt to the major leagues. As a high school lefthander he had scouts drooling with his 96 mile per hour fastball. It has been a struggle for Yusei but last year he had a career year with a 16-6 record with a 1.97 ERA. He struck out 217 batters in 187.2 innings. The 2018 season is his eighth in the NPB. He has started that season 7-0 with a 2.95 ERA with 54 whiffs in 55 innings. He can request to be posted after this year or pitch one more year and become an international free agent for the 2020 season at 28 years of age.

Sosuke Genda 2B - Last year he was voted rookie of the year in the Pacific League hitting .270 with three homeruns and 37 stolen bases. This year he has raised that average to .288 with 19 stolen bases with zero homeruns. As his stats tell you he has very little power but lots of speed. Those kind of players usually do not transfer over to the major leagues unless they have batting title numbers like Ichiro Suzuki.

Hotaka Yamakama 1B - Last year in 78 games he seemed to have a breakout season hitting 23 homeruns. This year he is showing the 2017 season was no optical illusion, already slugging 18 homeruns in 55 games. He is just four RBIs short of his 61 RBIs from last year. He will be 27 years old after the end of this season and will need to be posted to have any major league dreams meant. If he waited for his nine year free agency he would be too old for any team to take an interest in him.

Nippon Ham Fighters (32-25-0)

They finished in last place last year with Shohei Ohtani. This year they are playing better without their star hitter and pitcher. The year before the Figthers won their third Japan Series. Yu Darvish has been their big major league contributor. It may be awhile before another player crosses the Pacific to play in the major leagues.

Naoyuki Uwasawa LHP - An elbow injury forced the 24 year old to miss the 2016 season. It is now 2018 and Uwasawa is a pitcher to watch. He is 5-2, 2.10. He may not be able to hit like Ohtani but his lefthanded arm has put the Fighters back into the playoff race.

Kensuke Kondo C - It is tough to sign a catcher because of their inability to communicate with the pitching staff. Only one catcher has come from the NPB to play in the major leagues and he made a minimal impact. Last year Kondo hit .413 in 57 games with an OBA of .567. This year he is at .347 with his bat getting him in the lineup every day. At 24 years of age the power is now restricted to the gaps but it could give him double digit homerun power.

Softbank Hawks (29-27-0)

Since they won a championship in 1999 they have replaced the Giants as the most consistent NPB team. They have won five more championships since then while the Giants have won four. The Hawks have also won their conference 8 times while the Giants managed to take the Central seven times. The Hawks have won the championship three of the last four years, losing to the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2016. Put them in the American League Central and they would be very competitive. They had the only catcher Kenji Johjima to jump to the major leagues.

Yuki Yanagita OF - He may to be best position player in the NPB. He was voted the MVP of the Pacific League in 2015 and the MVP of the Japan Series that same year after hitting .363 with 34 homeruns and 32 stolen bases. He has hit over .300 his last four years and this year he is at .353 with 14 homeruns and 13 stolen bases. Yuki has yet to have a 100 RBI season but has had two 99 RBI seasons. At 29 years of age he is ripe to start in the outfield for any major league team.

Nao Higashihama RHP - Last year the 28 year old was the ace of the staff going 16-5, 2.64. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff but he throws strikes. This year has been a struggle with his 1-5 record and 4.88 ERA. With those numbers he may have to wait until the 2019 season before any positing.

Kodai Senga RHP - The 25 year old pitcher has had two consistent seasons winning over 10 games with ERAs around 2.60. He strikes out more than a batter an inning. This year he is 4-2, 3.27, which would be his highest ERA since his first year in 2012 when he pitched only two games.

Orix Buffaloes (29-28-1)

The fact that the Orix Buffaloes are above .500 is an accomplishment. The last time the Buffaloes were in the playoffs was in 2014 when they made it as a wild card team. The last time they won a Japan series was in 1996 when they were called the Blue Wave. In 2004 they merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes to form one team. They currently split their home games between the two franchises stadiums. Ichiro Suzuki played for the Blue Wave.

Masataka Yoshida OF - The 25 year old outfielder appears to have earned a starting spot this year with the Buffaloes after hitting in double digits in homeruns the last two years as a part time player. This year he has started with a .299 average and 9 homeruns. He is a player to watch.

Daiki Tajima LHP - The 21 year old rookie has started his rookie season 5-2 with a 3.08 ERA. He is one of the reasons the Buffaloes find themselves over .500.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto RHP - The 19 year old made five relief appearances last year. This year he has appeared in 21 games with 11 holds and one save with a 1.29 ERA. Soon, the Buffaloes may consider him for the starting rotation.

Lotte Marines (26-29-0)

Bobby Valentine managed the Marines to a 2005 Japan Series championship, their first since 1974 when they were called the Lotte Orions. They also won another championship in 2010 without Bobby, becoming the first third place team to ever win the Japan Series. The 2005 season is the last year in which they have won the Pacific. Hideki Irabu pitched for the Marines.

Shogo Nakamura 2B - Not a lot to get excited about on this roster. Nakamura is hitting .302 with 14 stole bases. There is not a lot of power in the bat but he is only 26 years old.

Rakuten Golden Eagles (19-37-1)

They are the newest Japanese team. After struggling with a number of last place finishes after their formation in 2005 they finally won a Japan Series in 2013. This came two years after an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged their stadium in 2011. This was also a year after their star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma left as a free agent for the major leagues. Their new ace Masahiro Tanaka led the team to a Japan Series when he finished an incredible 30-1 when you count his post season appearances.

Takahiro Norimoto RHP - One of the more prolific strikeout pitchers in the NPB. The last four seasons he has struck out more than 200 batters. In 2014 against major leaguers in an exhibition game he pitched five perfect innings in what turned out to be a combined no hitter. At 5′10′ he is not a tall pitcher but he does hit the mid-90s with his fastball. In a down season this year for the last place Eagles, Norimoto is 4-6 with a 3.59 ERA. This would be the year for the Eagles to post him.