Little League World Series Day One

August 17th, 2017

The Little League World Series has completed their first day. Below are the results:

Latin America (Venezuela) 4 Mexico 1

Despite the chaos in Venezuela they were able to send a team to participate in the Little League World Series. Jonney Rosario pitched five innings, allowing just one run and striking out seven in the Venezuelan victory. Juan Faria contributed two RBI singles on a 2 for 3 day to contribute to the win. Andre Garza hit a solo homer for Mexico in the second inning to give them a brief 1-0 lead.

Canada 12 Europe/Africa (Italy) 2

Canada scored 7 in the third, a Chase Marshall grand slam the big hit of the inning. Chase finished the day with 5 RBIs after a solo shot. Robert Orr drove in three runs in a game that went only four innings. Ty Fluet had a perfect 3 for 3 day with three runs scored.

New England 7 Mid Atlantic 6

New England was able to withstand a four run sixth inning to hold off Mid-Atlantic. Tai Mann hit a two run homer in the sixth and Chris Cartnick made it back to back, but New England fell one run short. New England scored in every inning but the fifth, Matthew Vivona one of three players to drive in two runs for New England. He also scored twice.

Southwest 5 Great Lakes 1

Southwest went deep four times with Hunter Ditsworth driving in two with his blast. He also pitched a six inning, one run complete game, striking out eight to get the win. Collin Ross hit two solo shots and Clayton Wigley also added a solo shot. Ditsworth gave up two hits, one of them a solo shot from Will Pfaum in the final inning.

Howie Homers Twice in Nats Win

August 16th, 2017

Howie Kendrick had hit a walk off grand slam on Sunday. After taking the day off Howie went deep twice in the Nationals 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. Gio Gonzalez pitched another near no-no, allowing his first hit on a Cameron Maybin infield single with two out in the sixth inning.

Tyler Skaggs pitched well for the Angles. He threw close to 50 pitches after two innings, putting himself in three ball counts to three batters in the second inning. Only Howie Kendrick could cross the plate against Skaggs, hitting solo homeruns in the third and fifth innings. He was pinch hit for in the top of the sixth with a pitch count of 91.

The Nationals scored a run in the sixth inning off Bud Norris in the sixth inning. Anthony Rendon led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Matt Wieters hit a ground ball underneath the glove of Albert Pujols, allowing the ball to trickle into right field, enough for Rendon to score from second. Pujols was given an error on the play.

Gio Gonzalez scrambled out of the sixth inning. After giving up a two out infield single to Maybin, Mike Trout lined a single into centerfield. A wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third. When Gonzalez got behind Pujols 3-1 the Nationals chose to intentionally walk him. Jefry Marte hit a screaming liner that appeared to be heading towards the right centerfield gap, but Daniel Murphy made a leaping catch to end the inning.

The Nationals bullpen retired the Angels in order in the last three innings, except for a one out solo shot by Cliff Pennington in the eighth off Brandon Kintzler. For Pennington it was only his second homerun of the year.

Game Notes: Anthony Rendon finished the game with three hits to elevate his average back over the .300 mark…Ryan Madson has not been available for relief because of a finger issue. Matt Albers pitched the seventh inning in his place…Brian Goodwin was placed on the disabled list because of a groin issue…Myworld was a day late in reporting this game. Volleyball tryouts kept us busy.

2017 Top Ten Prospects Carolina League

August 13th, 2017

These are the players myworld would rate as the top ten prospects in the Carolina League. A pretty impressive group at the top of the list with some impressive names at the lower end. These prospects have put up the numbers to earn a spot on this list and are not named for just potential.

1. Tristan McKenzie RHP (Indians/Lynchburg) - Myworld remembered when we watched the then 19 year old Clayton Kershaw pitch in an early spring training game at Vero Beach. That is the same kind of Wow we had watching Tristan pitch in a short season game at Williamsport last year. The supplemental first round pick in 2015 reminds me of a praying mantis, all arms and legs as his 6′5″ stick frame comes at you with a mid-90s fastball. There were a lot of swings and misses in that game. Those swings and misses continue in the Carolina League with 150 in 118.2 innings. While the opposition is hitting only .199 against him, some of those balls have gone a long way, with 13 homeruns given up. His command could use some improvement, but as his body fills out with maturity that fastball could be impressive if the secondary pitches improve with it.

2. Victor Robles OF (Nationals/Potomac) - Myworld likes Victor over Eloy because of his speed and ability to play a quality defense in centerfield. As he matures the power should increase. The Dominican has the five tools you look for in a superstar. The Nationals signed him for $225,000 in 2013. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in centerfield. A .289 average with a .872 OPS resulted in a promotion to AA. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps where he blasted 25 doubles and 7 triples. The 9 homeruns he has hit over the two levels is a career high. Expect him to fit into a crowded Nationals outfield sometime in September of next year.

3. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The Cubs signed the Dominican Eloy for a splashy $2.8 million in 2013, the same year they signed Gleyber Torres for $1.7 million. Now both have left the Cubs, Eloy traded to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana trade. Eloy has a power bat but his lack of blazing speed or a strong arm will restrict him to left field. The trade from the Cubs to the White Sox has seemed to give him a power surge. He batted .271 with 8 homeruns in 42 games for Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. For the White Sox he is hitting .362 with 8 homeruns in 28 games. It may be too late in the season to promote him to AA, but Eloy appears to be ready for that level now.

4. Forrest Whitley RHP (Astros/Buies Creek) - The 2016 first round pick was called up from Low A after 10 starts. He has not had a lot of time in the Carolina League but in six starts he has struck out 50 in 31.1 innings. At 6′7″ with a mid to high 90s fastball he can dominate games with above average breaking pitches (curve and slider) and a decent change. Opponents still get some hits off him with a .243 opposition average between the two levels. Forrest has shown good command of his pitches, walking just 9 in his 31.1 innings. Drafted out of high school it will take him a couple more years before he reaches the Astros.

5. Austin Hays RF (Orioles/Frederick) - The third round 2016 pick did not last long in the Carolina League after hitting .328 with 16 homeruns. That batting average (.350) and power (12 homeruns) have improved since his promotion to AA. He did hit 16 homeruns for Jacksonville his junior year to lead the Atlantic Sun Conference in homeruns. After being drafted he slugged another four homeruns and hit .336 in the New York Penn League. The Orioles had him skip Low A to move to the Carolina League. Austin has a right fielders arm and decent enough speed to cover ground out in right field. That speed will not result in a lot of stolen bases. The way he is tearing up each league in the minors expect Austin to be with the Orioles sometime next year. They do not have a lot of players there right now to hold him back.

6. Michael Chavis 3B (Red Sox/Salem) - Michael was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 2014. It has been a disappointing first three years for Michael. The Red Sox have a need for a third baseman and if Michael had hit like he has this year perhaps he would get the call. It has been a breakout year for Michael with 17 homeruns in just 59 games with a .318 average and a 1.029 OPS in the Carolina League. His strikeouts are still prevalent, but they have been reduced from his first three years. In AA he has added 12 homeruns to give him 29 for the year. His defense at third is still a little suspect with 14 errors, which could result in a move to first base or left field.

7. Zack Collins C (White Sox/Winston Salem) - Zack was a first round pick of the White Sox in 2016. The 117 whiffs in 110 games has kept his average down at .220, but he does have 17 homeruns with 75 walks for a .362 OBP. His bat should always play but a thick lower half and plodding feet has resulted in 16 passed balls. He has thrown out 45 runners so he can sling it to second. The White Sox will be patient with him. The power will play well behind the plate, but if his defense remains weak he could move to first. It is still way too early for the White Sox to give up on his catching tools.

8. Alec Hansen RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The White Sox drafted Alec in the second round of the 2016 draft. At 6′7″ with a mid to high 90s fastball he can dominate games, with frequent double digit strikeout outings. He started the season in Low A and after dominating there was promoted to High A, where he had back to back 12 K games. His secondary pitches need improvement (slider, curve and change) but that will come with time. The opposition hits him at a .210 clip with 155 whiffs in 119 innings.

9. Kyle Tucker OF (Astros/Buies Creek) - Kyle was a 2015 first round pick of the Astros. His brother Preston plays in AAA for the Astros Fresno affiliate. Kyle got the height (6′4″) while the shorter framed Preston inherited the Popeye arms. Kyle has the greater prospect potential. He has the speed to cover the ground necessary in centerfield and the arm and power to play right. He didn’t last long in the Carolina League, promoted to AA after hitting .288 with 9 homeruns and a .932 OPS in the Carolina League. AA has been a bit more of a struggle but expect Kyle to show case his outfield abilities at Minute Maid park some time next year.

10. Dane Dunning RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - The Nationals drafted Dunning in the first round of the 2016 draft, then traded him to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade. He was the lessor of Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito but in the long run he may turn out to be the greater. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid 90s but his secondary pitches need improvement (slider/change). Dunning started his season in the South Atlantic League but needed only four starts to get his 0.35 ERA promoted to the Carolina League. His numbers (3.43 ERA) would be a little better if not for an 8 run outing in July when he coughed up four of his 12 homeruns. His command is good but a .260 opposition average could be indicative of being around the plate too much.

Other Players to Watch

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles/Frederick) - We talked about him in the AA Eastern League top ten prospects. He was leading the Carolina League in batting average at .314 but after his promotion he will not carry enough at bats to win the title. He also slugged 15 homeruns. His eventual position may be third base but the Orioles will keep him at short until he proves he can’t play it.

Ademar Rifaela OF (Orioles/Frederick) - The native of Curacao leads the Frederick League in homeruns with 22. Last year he broke out with 13 homeruns but this year he could double that quantity. The batting average (.290) and homeruns are a career high. It will be interesting if he can continue to produce as he rises up the minor league ladder.

Chase Vallot C (Royals/Wilmington) - A lesser version of Zach Collins the supplemental first round pick does not hit for average (.231) but has some pop (12 homeruns). He also has the patience to draw walks (.380). His defense with 10 passed balls and 12 errors may force a move from catcher. He only has thrown out 13 baserunners.

Josh Ockimey 1b (Red Sox/Salem) - The 2014 fifth round pick has shown the ability to hit for power. After hitting .275 with 11 homeruns in 100 games he was promoted to AA. Josh is not afraid to draw walks (.388).

A.J. Puckett RHP (White Sox/Winston Salem) - A second round pick of the Royals in 2016, he was traded to the White Sox mid year in the Melky Cabrera trade. He has not had a great year in the Carolina League (4.01 ERA) with a .262 opposition average, but 102 whiffs in 112 innings shows a swing and miss quality.

10 PM Start Too Much for Myworld

August 13th, 2017

Myworld was at the Nationals game last night but we were done by 9 PM. Our own personal policy is that if a game does not start an hour after the scheduled time of the game then we are gone. An earlier departure could not be done because of the deluge that started at 8 PM.

Myworld is a little surprised that the player’s union does not have in the collective bargaining agreement that no game should start past 10 PM. Players biorhythms get used to certain start times. A 10 PM start time can not be too enjoyable, especially when you have a double header the next day. It could be why relievers perform better in certain innings because they are used to getting into a game around that time. Mess with those biorhythms and performance suffers.

Bryce Harper was injured in the game last night, slipping on the wet bag when crossing first base trying to beat out a grounder. It was the first inning of the game last night. One has to wonder if Bryce would have planted himself better on the bag if not for the long layoff and late start time. Or was the wet bag the main culprit in the injury.

It appears the Nationals escaped a serious injury with Bryce. They will lose him for a month, but this will give Brian Goodwin more opportunity to play. And it will provide a spot for Jayson Werth to play when he gets healthy for September. Michael Taylor was called up to replace Bryce to play centerfield. Brian Goodwin will probably move to left. The Nationals will rotate Andrew Stephenson, Adam Lind and Howie Kendrick in right, although with Kendrick his weak arm may be better suited for left.

Volleyball camps prevented myworld from attending two National games earlier this week. The rain prevented me from staying for a third. Hopefully we can get in one Angels game when they come to town next week.

Little League World Series Participants

August 12th, 2017

The Little League World Series is around the corner and most of the games have been played to determine the participants. Canada and some of the United States regions have championship games that will be played today to determine the Little League World Series representative.

International

The Asian Pacific Region was played in Korea. The two powers of that area Korea and Taiwan were placed in the same pool. South Korea blasted Taiwan 12-0 and eventually won the pool with Taiwan finishing second. Hong Kong was the winner of the other pool. In the playoffs the championship round found Taiwan playing Korea again. Korea wins 6-1 to advance to the Little League World Series.

Australia had 20 teams battle it out in four different pools. In the end Hills Little League played Swan Hills, two teams without a loss. Hills was the winner 8-4 and will represent Australia in the Little League World Series.

The finals for Canada will be played today between White Rock Little League in British Colombia and Diamond Baseball Little League in Quebec. White Rock is undefeated while Diamond Baseball has lost twice, to Port Arthur Little League in Ontario 9-4 and White Rock 6-5. Diamond Baseball got into the finals beating Port Arthur 8-5.

In the Caribbean tilt the Dominican Republic got upset by Aruba 6-2. That put them in second place in their pool where in the semi-final they had to play an undefeated Puerto Rican team. They downed Puerto Rico 5-4 and then got revenge by beating Aruba in the championship match 8-4 to advance to the Little League World Series.

In the European/Africa division there were no African teams represented in the series. Myworld has to wonder what happened to the feel good story of Uganda from a couple years ago. A number of European teams battled it out with Italy remaining the lone undefeated team with their 12-2 win over a United Kingdom team. The two teams had played earlier in pool play where Italy also won 11-2. A team of American military kids from Germany found the going tough finishing the series 1-2, failing to advance to the playoffs. The UK eliminated baseball powerhouses Netherlands, Spain and Czech Republic as they advanced to the finals. Since no African teams participated in this round the “European/Africa” name was a bit inaccurate.

Japan will be represented by Tokyo Kitasuna. They won the championship game 17-0 and breezed through their four opponents by scores of 53-6.

In the Latin American series it was Colombia Falcon versus Venezuela in the finals. Venezuela had beaten Colombia earlier in pool play 9-2. Colombia Falcon was able to upset a strong Panama team 4-3 to get to the finals. Panama had beaten Colombia Falcon earlier 3-0 and their only loss had been to Venezuela. Guatemala was a surprise to make the semifinals but Venezuela disposed of them 8-3 and then shutout Colombia Falcon 8-0 to make it to the Little League World Series.

Guadalupe Trevino rolled through their competition to represent Mexico in the Little League World Series. They beat a team from Matamoros 3-1 in the championship game.

United States

The Great Lakes will see Hinsdale Little League in Illinois play Gross Points Woods Shore Little League in Michigan. Michigan has a loss to Westside Little League in Ohio, which Illinois beat in the semi-finals to get to the championship. Michigan had to beat Ohio 11-3 to advance to the finals.

The Mid-Atlantic finds Thurmont Little League in Maryland playing Holbrook Little League in New Jersey in the championship game today. Maryland had to beat Upper Providence Little League in Pennsylvania, a team they had lost to earlier to make it to the finals. Their bats were smoking in their 14-4 semi-final win.

The Midwest has Sioux Falls Little League in South Dakota playing Webb City Little League in Missouri in the finals. South Dakota had beaten Missouri earlier 6-5.

New England will see Fairfield American Little League in Connecticut play South Portland American Little League in Maine in the finals. Connecticut beat Maine 8-0 early in the double elimination tournament but Maine pulled out three games in the loser’s bracket to make it to the championship.

The Northwest will see Walla Walla Valley Little League in Washington play La Grande Little League in Oregon in the championship. Oregon had beaten Washington earlier 8-4 to knock them into the loser’s bracket.

The Southeast will be represented by North State Little League in North Carolina who beat Peachtree City National Little League in Georgia 8-6 in the championship. Georgia had lost to Goodlettsville Little League in Tennessee earlier 12-3 but came back in the semifinals to beat them 4-1.

In the Southwest it was an all Texas final with Lufkin Little League representing Texas East beating McAllister Park National Little League representing Texas West 2-1 in the finals. The two had played each other earlier in the tournament with Texas East again beating Texas West 11-10 to knock them into the losers bracket early.

The West will see Santa Margarita Little League in Southern California play against Dixie Little League in Utah in the finals. Utah had been knocked into the loser’s bracket early 14-5 by Hilo Little League in Hawaii but was able to fight through the loser’s bracket and beat Hawaii 12-6 in the semifinal match.

Bay Sox Rout Senators with Impressive Offensive Prospects

August 10th, 2017

The Bowie Bay Sox slugged five homeruns from four different players in their 14-2 clobbering of the Harrisburg Senators. It is an impressive group of prospects not seen at Bowie since Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop manned the left side of the infield. This current group mainly patrols the grasses in the outfield, though the left side of the infield is well represented.

The first inning was started by Cedric Mullins, who led it off with a monster shot over the high second fence in right field. At 5′8″ Cedric is not a big man but he has some big pop. The homerun was his 11th, pretty good since he missed a good chunk of the season with an injury. He is also hitting .315 with 17 doubles and a .899 OPS. Cedric patrols centerfield with speed and grace, though that speed does not seem to translate into stolen bases.

Ryan Flaherty, on rehab followed the homerun with a single up the middle. An Austin Hays pop up was the first out. That brought up Anthony Santander. He was a Rule V pickup for the Orioles this year but has spent most of his year rehabbing from injury in extended spring training. One look at him and you recognize he is a strong dude. He proved it by powering a pitch over the second fence in right field for what would be the first of two homeruns on the evening. He was hitting .400 coming into the game but had only played 10 games. He also homered in the eighth for his fourth homerun in 11 games. What is impressive about Santander is his seven walks and six whiffs during that time. What appears not impressive about him is his left field play. He did try to leap over the fence to rob Drew Ward of a homerun but lost his glove over the fence. He seemed tentative out in left, letting Cedric make the plays out there.

D.J. Stewart made it back to back and three homeruns off poor Taylor Hill in the first inning. Myworld is not as enamored with D.J. but he does have 16 homeruns and he was a first round pick. The big concern with D.J. is his below average defense will keep him in left field and the power isn’t really there to justify a below average glove. He does have a .356 OBA, showing the ability to take a walk.

The most impressive of the prospects is Austin Hays. He went deep with the bases loaded in the sixth. It was his 11th homerun in AA and his second grand slam in eight games. Combine that with his 16 homeruns in High A and he has 26 homeruns on the season. He also hit a triple, showing pretty good speed as he rounded the bases. His play in right field looked pretty solid, though it is difficult to assess after one game. What myworld likes about Austin is he hits without a batting glove. His mom grew tired of him tearing his batting gloves after weekend tournaments and told him she would buy no more. Since that time he has hit without them.

A prospect recently brought up but who failed to hit a homerun last night was Ryan Mountcastle. He was the Orioles first round pick in 2015. Earlier this year he played shortstop for the Frederick Keys, hitting .293 with 15 homeruns. He has only played 17 games in AA with a .161 average. Last night he was playing third base and handled a couple balls cleanly. He had an infield single and a double into the gap, a multi hit game that could be a confidence booster for him as the season progresses.

As a team the Bay Sox were hitting a league leading .288, an offense that has vaulted them into first place in the Western Division. Because of the rehab appearances of Flaherty and Santander other pretty good hitters have been forced to sit the bench. Garabez Rosa is leading the Eastern League in batting average at .320. Stephen Wilkerson hit .323 in High A and since his promotion is hitting .294 for the Bay Sox. His power (5 homeruns) has been better in AA than High A (2 homeruns).

The Bay Sox are also sporting some pretty good pitchers on their roster. David Hess pitched tonight. His fastball was hitting the mid-90s but towards the end of his appearance he struck out five of his last six hitters, many on a good breaking pitch the Senator batters were taking for a called third strike or swinging and missing at the pitch. Super prospect Victor Robles was a strikeout victim on a Hess breaking pitch.

Two other arms throw some heat. Jesus Liranza consistently hits 100 miles per hour with his fastball but has difficulty finding the plate. The Bay Sox appear to have moved him to the bullpen where he carries a 5.14 ERA. Tanner Scott is another impressive arm that hits the mid to high 90s with his fastball. The Bay Sox were limiting him to three inning starts, though lately they seem to have increased that amount. He has struck out 74 in 59 innings, but like Liranza has trouble finding the plate.

Mike Bordick was at the game last night with his two sons. Kudos to Mike for picking up all his trash and giving warm smiles to all who approached him.

Michael Taylor was on a rehab assignment as well. He went hitless in four at bats, but a couple of the balls were tagged hard.

Myworld got a chance to watch Victor Robles play. He also went hitless and did not do anything to make me think of him as a super prospect. He was playing left field in deference to Michael Taylor, ran a long way, reaching out for a ball and taking it away from Michael Taylor, who appeared to have settled underneath it. Robles will have to learn to yield to a centerfielder if his ultimate position is a corner outfield.

Yadiel Hernandez was playing right field. He is a 29 year old Cuban defector. His bat has been hot, hitting .413 since July 8. Hernandez is hitting .287 with 8 homeruns and a .372 OBA. If the Nationals have room on their 40 man roster he could get a September callup, if they need outfielders.

NPB Pacific Turns Into Three Team Race

August 8th, 2017

The two top teams in the Pacific were the Rakuten Golden Eagles and the Softbank Hawks. A recent 13 game winning streak by the Seibu Lions have put them in the rearview mirror. Since only three teams from each conference make the playoffs, these three teams are almost guaranteed to make a playoff appearance, a full 14 games ahead of their closest pursuers. Since the number one seed gets to play all their playoff games at their park the race is not over yet. Each team will try to win games to become that number one seed.

Softbank Hawks (65-35-0)

Considering the Hawks have made the playoffs the last two seasons it was quite disturbing for fans to see them near the bottom of the division after a good chunk of the season had been played. After winning the conference the previous two years they were beaten out by the eventual champion Nippon Ham Fighters last year. This year the Fighters have been without Shohei Otani for most of the year and find themselves at the bottom of the conference.

The Hawks are led on offense by Yuki Yanagita, who in 2015 had a fabulous season hitting .363 with 34 homeruns and 32 stolen bases as a 26 year old. He got off to a slow start to this season but has now upped his average to .325 and his 26 homeruns is close to approaching his 2015 career high. It is a nice bounce back from what was considered an off year last season. Alfredo Despaigne is one of the few Cuban sluggers who has not defected to the major leagues. His participation in the NPB limits the number of games he plays for his Cuban team. Alfredo does not hit for the average of Yanagita (.253) but the power is there with his 23 homeruns. Seiichi Uchikawa is the veteran presence of the group that provides consistency in the lineup. He will fall short of the 106 runs he drove in last year but at .294, 12, 49 his production is valuable.

The top pitcher on the staff is Nao Higashihama, whose 11 wins is tied for the lead in the Pacific Conference and his 2.26 ERA is third in the conference. The 11 wins for the 27 year old is already a career high and the ERA is his lowest in his five year NPB career. Rick Vanden Hurk has made a career pitching in the Netherlands, Korea, the United States and Japan. The Dutch born hurler is in his third season in Japan where his nine wins has already achieved his career high. His ERA sits at 3.18.

The top closer in the NPB is perhaps Dennis Sarfarte. He is approaching his third straight season with 40 or more saves (34), a skill most major league teams would pay millions for. His ERA is a microscopic 1.20. He has one of the best setup men in the NPB this year in Sho Iwasaki (1.94 ERA, 26 holds) to get the game into the ninth. After nine rather unimpressive years this is the best season for Iwasaki.

Rakuten Golden Eagles (59-32-1)

The Eagles have made a living off their starting pitching. Two major leaguers Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka both have had success in the major leagues and Japan. Add Takahiro Norimoto to that list soon. This year he is 10-3 but his 3.37 ERA is a tad high compared to previous years. The last three years he has struck out more than 200 hitters. This year he sits at 151 whiffs and should have no problem making it a fourth year with 200 or more K’s. Takayuki Kishi (8-4, 2.18) and Manabu Mima (9-3, 2.80) give the Eagles a big three in the rotation. Kishi is second in the conference in ERA and was a free agent signing from Seibu where he had accumulated 103 wins in a 10 year career. Mima is perhaps having his best season since 2012. He has already tied for his career high in wins.

Yuki Matsui would be a dwarf when standing next to major league pitchers. His 5′9″ height is not what scouts look for in pitchers. They would not complain about a pitcher who has a 0.20 ERA, corralled 29 saves and gives up just 22 hits in 44.2 innings. Walks can still be a problem but he is having a nice bounce back year after his 3.32 ERA last season. Hiroyuki Fukuyama (6-0, 0.96) does a pretty good job of getting the ball to Matsui with a lead.

Fans have been excited about the energy second year player Eigoro Mogi has put in the lineup batting from the leadoff position. He is hitting .303 with 14 homeruns and a .375 OBP. The one thing he does not do is steal bases. The power in the lineup is provided by the foreign trio of Zealous Wheeler (.283, 24, 57), Carlos Peguero (.307, 21, 63) and Japhet Amador (.224, 17, 42). Amador is a big man who came from Mexico. The Astros signed him but after struggling in the major leagues he returned to the Mexican League where Rakuten found him.

Seibu Lions (57-38-2)

The Seibu Lions were once a proud franchise that brought the major leagues Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kaz Matsui. They are starting to get some of their mojo back heading towards their first playoff appearance since 2013. Shogo Akiyama is their big hitter this year with a league leading .332 average. He has also contributed some power with a career high 20 homeruns, six more than his previous career high with 40 more games of the season to play. Hideto Asamura (.309, 12, 74) give the Lions a good 1-2 punch at the top of the order. They have been disappointed in the foreign bat of Ernesto Mejia (.245, 16, 49) sending him to their minor leagues to get his swing back. Takeya Nakamura (.224, 24, 68) is another big power hitter whose hitting skills have been declining.

The Lions have perhaps one of the best pitchers in the league this year in Yusei Kikuchi, who was the Shohei Otani from a number of years ago, telling Japanese teams he did not want to be drafted because he wanted to pitch in the major leagues. With a mid-90s fastball he is 11-4 with a 1.90 ERA, the wins tied for first in the Pacific Conference and his ERA number one. His 146 whiffs falls short only of Norimoto. This is his best NPB season after struggling early in his career. Brian Wolfe (9-2, 2.61) has been a good foreign pick up as has set up man Brian Schlitter (0-3, 1.53 ERA).

2017 World Cup Under 12 All Tournament Team and Other Deserving Players

August 7th, 2017

Below are some of the awards that were given out to players for their performance in the 12 and under World Cup. These awards were normally handed out to players who performed on winning teams. Below the all tournament team myworld lists some other players who performed well in the tournament.

All Tournament Team

MVP Kai Caranto (United States) - .391 average, 2 homeruns and 17 RBIs with 9 stolen bases

Top Hitter Reiji Toi (Japan) - .706, 1, 7 with 7 stolen bases

Top Pitcher - Chia-Cheng Chao (Taiwan) - 2-0, 0.69 with 15 K’s

Top Defensive Player - Pai Chen An (Taiwan) - .556, 5, 14

Starting Pitcher - Chao Chia Cheng (Taiwan) - 2-0, 0.69 with 15 K’s
Relief Pitcher - Joshua Atomanczyk (United States) - .381, 5, 12, 2-0, 1.24 ERA
Catcher - Pai Chen An (Taiwan) - .556, 5, 14
First Base - Raffaele Velazquez (United States) - .455, 1, 8
Second Base - Cesar Monjeras (Mexico) - .393, 3, 15 with 11 runs scored
Third Base - Chan-Seo Lee (Korea) - .385, 0, 4
Shortstop - Kai Caranto (United States) - .391, 2, 17, 9 stolen bases
Outfield - Adan Sanchez (Panama) - .750, 4, 7 with 15 runs scored
Jose Tirado (Mexico) - .654, 5, 15 with 13 runs scored
Toi (Japan) - .706, 1, 7 with 7 stolen bases

Other Players to Recognize

United States

Benjamin Reiland - .643, 1, 9 with 16 runs scored and 9 stolen bases
Spencer Butt - .600, 1, 3 with 6 stolen bases
Brad Burnes - .391, 2, 9 with 10 runs scored and 11 stolen bases
Brandon Olivera - 1-0, 1.71

Taiwan

Yi-Lei Sun - .524, 2, 5 with 11 runs scored and 9 stolen bases
Yu-En Chien - .467, 2, 6 with 13 runs scored and 8 stolen bases
Yi-Cheng Yang - .444, 2, 10 with 14 runs scored and 10 stolen bases
Shuo-Heng Han - 1-0, 0.75 with 15 K’s, .409, 4, 12 with 11 runs scored
Sheng-Wei Yang - 1-0, 1.06

Mexico

Juan Saldana - .450, 2, 9
Antonis Macias - .417, 2, 8 with 13 runs scored
Juan Hernandez - 4-0, 1.32

Japan

Koki Yamaguchi - .563, 1, 9
Daisuke Mori - .348, 2, 7 with 13 runs scored and 7 stolen bases

Korea

Jeong-Gyu Woo - .474, 0, 3
Seong-Mu Jang - .444, 0, 6

Nicaragua

Bryant Machado - .417, 1, 7 with 8 runs scored

Panama

Dimas Oda - .529, 0, 4 with 5 doubles
Emanuel Villarreal - 2-0, 1.44 12 K’s

Czech Republic

Lukas Hurta - .450, 1, 4 with 4 doubles

Brazil

Gabriel Ota - .412, 0, 5

Australia

David Hyde - .409, 0, 5, 1-1, 1.33

Russia

Jared Riffel - .417, 2, 5

Germany

Kilian Redle - .333, 1, 3

Myworlds Top Ten Texas League Prospects

August 6th, 2017

Myworld struggled to find ten quality players to make a top ten. Not an impressive lot. These are prospects based on their production while in the Texas League. A number of Dodger pitchers filter this list.

1. Walker Buehler RHP (Dodgers) - Walker was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2015. Tommy John surgery prevented him from playing in 2015 and in 2016 he was limited to five regular season innings and two playoff starts that also was five innings. The Dodgers have been aggressive with him this year, starting him in High A ball where it only took five starts and a 1.10 ERA to get him promoted to AA. It took him 11 AA starts with a 3.49 ERA to get him promoted to AAA. Combined opponents are hitting only .190 against him with 112 whiffs in 80 innings pitched. Don’t be surprised to see the Dodgers limit his innings, shutting him down after August to protect his arm. As is, his starts have only averaged four innings per start, limiting his ability to produce victories. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with a combination curve/slider and a change that he throws for strikes. He has a good shot of making the Dodgers rotation sometime next year.

2. Jack Flaherty RHP (Cardinals) - Jack was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014. He started the season in AA and was almost unhittable in his 10 starts, stitching together a 1.42 ERA. That resulted in his promotion to AAA where he has not been as dominant (3.21 ERA) but he has still been effective. Despite his 6′4″ frame he is not overpowering, hitting the low 90s with his fastball with a plus changeup that gives the fastball the appearance of greater velocity. He also has little difficulty throwing strikes, though this has resulted in a greater homerun stroke by the AAA opposition. With continued success expect a September promotion by the Cardinals.

3. Magneruris Sierra CF (Cardinals) - This Dominican was a bargain sign when he inked his $105,000 bonus in 2012. Defense in centerfield and speed will be his calling card. There is very little power in his bat but he does have the ability to hit over .300. His speed can turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He started this year in High A, was quickly promoted to AA and after hitting .286 with 13 stolen bases in 61 games he was promoted to the major league club. In the majors he is hitting .365 with no extra base hits in 13 games. If he is not to become a fourth outfielder he needs an OBA of .330 or better, something he was able to accomplish in the minor leagues except for this year.

4. Yohander Mendez LHP (Rangers) - Yohander was signed out of Venezuela in 2011 for $1.5 million. Last year he made his major league debut, pitching two games of relief for the Rangers but showing great difficulty retiring hitters. Despite his dominance at AAA last year the Rangers have placed him in AA again where he has started 20 games with a 3.86 ERA. The opposition is hitting him at a .230 rate. The fastball can reach the mid-90s but mostly sits in the low 90s, good enough velocity for a lefthander. His change may be his best pitch but he lacks a third pitch which could keep him in a bullpen role. Expect a September promotion this year.

5. J.D. Davis 3B (Astros) - J.D. was a third round pick in 2014. His two biggest tools are a rocket arm and the ability to hit for power. Last year he hit 23 homeruns in AA. With Colin Moran in AAA J.D. repeated AA and slugged 21 homeruns in just 87 games, still tops in the Texas League. That led to a promotion to AAA after Moran was promoted to the Astros where J.D. added five dingers in 16 games. The 26 homeruns match his career high he set in 2015. With Moran and Correa injured the Astros have promoted him to the major league club to provide some depth in the infield. He will stay there until Correa gets healthy.

6. Grant Holmes RHP (Athletics) - Grant was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2014. The Dodgers included him in a trade to the Athletics for Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. While his ERA is not good (4.90) he does lead the Texas League in whiffs with 115. Opponents do seem to make hard contact off him (.279) despite his ability to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. The trade of Sonny Gray gives Grant a better opportunity to work his way into the Athletics rotation. For a first round pick he has been a disappointment but expect him to find a spot in the Athletics rotation sometime next year.

7. Luis Urias SS/2B (Padres) - Luis was signed out of Mexico in 2013. His slow foot speed probably makes him a better fit for second base. This year he has seen more games at short (56) but 34 games at second. His best shot of making a major league team is in a utility role. He lacks power but can hit for average. Last year his .330 average won the California League batting title. This year he is hitting .314. His slow foot speed will not result in stolen bases so the only tool he has is his ability to hit for average and solid defensive play at second base. Expect him to get an opportunity with the Padres in September.

8. Dakota Hudson RHP (Cardinals) - Dakota was a first round pick out of Mississippi State in 2016. He leads the Texas League in ERA by more than a run. His 2.53 ERA has already led to a recent promotion to AAA. Despite his impressive numbers his whiffs are not prevalent (77 whiffs in 114 innings) and the opposition seems to have the ability to make hard contact off him (.255). He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball with a curve, slider and change combination. He has already reached 121 innings pitched so expect the Cardinals to slow down the number of innings he eats.

9. Richie Martin SS (Athletics) - Richie was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2015. The Athletics appear to have a surplus at shortstop, but if they want defense Richie is the man. The concern for him is whether he will have enough bat to play in the major leagues. This year he is only hitting .224 in AA. With the acquisition of Jorge Mateo from the Yankees the Athletics demoted him back to High A to find his bat while at the same time putting Jorge at short.

10. Samir Duenez 1B (Royals) - Samir was signed out of Venezuela in 2012. While he shows good ability to hit for contact and average he plays a position where teams look for power. Until this year he had yet to show that power. The power increase seems to have come at a lowering of his batting average (.267). The 15 homeruns is a career high but the average is down below normal. His slugging average of .429 is still a bit below average. His below average speed makes a move to the outfield difficult so if he is to make it to the majors he must continue to carry the balls over the fence at the cost of 20 to 30 points to his average.

Others to Watch

Yasiel Sierra RHP (Dodgers) - Yasiel was signed out of Cuba in 2016 for six years and $30 million that included a $6 million bonus. At 25 years of age the bonus did not count against the Dodgers international cap, but it does put pressure on the Dodgers to promote him quickly to get some bang for their buck. The Dodgers moved him to the bullpen this year after he struggled as a starting pitcher last year (6.20 ERA). It only took him 26 relief appearances with a 2.54 ERA to get him a promotion to AAA. He struck out 64 in 50 innings but a .244 opposition average is alarming. His fastball hits the mid to high 90s. Without a third pitch it might be best he work out of the bullpen. Though the Dodgers do not appear to need any help a September callup may be a possibility just to get him exposure to major league hitters.

Yadier Alvarez RHP (Dodgers) - Myworld might find room for him in the top ten with more starts and less walks. The Dodgers paid him a $16 million bonus in 2015. Only Hector Olivera and his $28 million bonus is higher. At 21 with a fastball that has hit triple digits the Dodgers can be patient with him. He got a promotion to AA despite his struggles with command at High A that was responsible for his 4.88 ERA. In three starts in the Texas League his ERA sits at 2.84 but with 12 walks in 12.2 innings pitched he needs to find the plate more. Coming into this season the opposition average last year was .185. This year it is .268. For some reason his pitches are easier to hit and with a 1.57 WHIP that is too many runners on base.

A.J. Puk RHP (Athletics) - Performance wise the first round 2016 pick may not deserve to be here. His 5.88 ERA in eight starts is a bit high. But he has pitched games with 11 and 13 whiffs and has struck out 46 hitters in 35 innings. Opponents are hitting only .229 against him but 19 walks has given him too many baserunners. At 6′7″ he has good height which makes his mid to high 90s fastball that much more intimidating when it comes to the plate. The down side of that height is it makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery making command of the fastball difficult. He also needs to develop his secondary pitches (slider and change) if he wants to stick as a starter.

Jorge Mateo SS (Athletics) - A new comer to the league since his acquisition from the Yankees. Jorge would probably be in the top five if he played more games. A toolsy player with speed and surprising power. When the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres it forced Mateo to move to second. Some feel a average arm may make second base the best position for him. In six Texas League games Jorge has already accumulated three triples and is hitting .267. The Athletics will see how he handles short, demoting Richie Martin, their best defensive shortstop to give him opportunities.

Orioles Rout Tigers with Five Taters

August 6th, 2017

The two starting pitchers were Ubaldo Jimenez for the Orioles and Anibal Sanchez for the Tigers, two pitchers who came into this game with ERAs over 6.00. Myworld expected a lot of runs to be scored. It was the Orioles who scored the runs in their 12-3 rout of the Tigers. The Tigers wasted their opportunities.

It was not a good start for Sanchez. In the first inning he gave up back to back to back homeruns to Jonathan Schoop, Chris Davis and Trey Mancini to fall behind 4-0. His fastball does not have any zip to it and when it is not located well hitters can get the barrel of the bat on the ball.

In the second inning Joey Ricard led off the inning with a single to center. He stole second, advancing to third when the throw from John Hicks sailed into centerfield. Down 4-0 the Tigers chose to play the infield in. Manny Machado drove a pitch that hit the base of the fence for an RBI double, his second hit of the day. Manny had started the first inning rally with an opposite field single to right.

The Orioles knocked Sanchez out of the game in the fourth. Joey Rickard led the inning off poking one down the left field corner. It flew just inside the foul pole and bounced against a seat four or five rows in, rebounding back to the field. Adam Jones grounded a single past the diving Dixon Machado at short. Manny Machado finished the day for Sanchez by blasting a pitch into centerfield just to the left of the bullpen for a two run shot to make it 8-0.

Ubaldo held the Tigers scoreless but he did not pitch well. He left seven runners on in the first four innings, which would have been one more if Dixon Machado had not grounded into a double play. He finally gave up a run in the fifth inning when Nicholas Castellanos blasted one into left centerfield just to the right of the bullpen. After putting two runners on in the sixth Ubaldo was gone.

The Orioles piled it on in the eighth with a four spot. Caleb Joseph got the inning started blooping a double to right field. An infield single by Rickard after a diving stop by Castellanos and a single to left by Adam Jones loaded the bases off reliever Chad Bell. Manny Machado sent Bell to the showers bouncing a single past his namesake Dixon for a two run single. A ground out by Chris Davis scored a third run and a Trey Mancini single off the right field scoreboard made it 12-1.

The Orioles brought out Donnie Hart to finish the game. The Tigers were able to string three hits together to score two runs to make it 12-3.

Game Notes: Some fan can say that he got a homerun ball sitting in the upper deck in left field. Myworld is not aware of any hit reaching the upper deck. When Nick Castellanos homered into left centerfield the fan who caught the ball threw it back on the field. Adam Jones picked it up, then threw it into the upper deck of left field…Tim Beckham made some impressive plays at short. The former number one pick in the draft a number of years ago now seems to be maturing, turning into a decent ballplayer. The Orioles traded for him to play short while J.J. Hardy is on the disabled list. Once Hardy gets healthy it will be difficult to see him back at short…Dixon Machado also played some nice defense at short. He has also got his batting average over .300…Joe Jimenez did not impress in relief. He has a mid-90s fastball but the Oriole bats had no problem making contact against it…The Tigers collected 14 hits and stranded 12 runners on base…Myworld predicted Manny would get hot after watching him with a more balanced swing in the first Sunday home game after the All Star break. His four hits was a triple short of the cycle and increased his batting average to .257. Expect that batting average to keep rising.