BERNIES BASEBALL WORLD is on internet video-you can get involved

I’m really pleased to announce that I will be teaming with Bob “Kingpin” Eres to bring BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD to internet video.  The show begins Friday February 5th.  The plan is to do the videos every Friday in February and March and then determine if we are going to continue during the season.  At that is missing now is you.

Bob “Kingpin” Eres is a professional bowler. He has his own production studio and has been interviewing sports related individuals for years at Pro Sports Broadcasting. He owns the company and designs and produces all the shows.

BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD will be produced on Friday morning and be ready to be viewed by 1PM each Friday afternoon. The show will always be available at two sites and can be viewed at your leisure at any time.

You will be able to view BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD at:
Prosportsbroadcasting.com or on YouTube. Just look for BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.

Bob will be engaging in conversation with me and interviewing me each week. We will have an emphasis on FANTASY BASEBALL information as well as personal scouting/player analysis and evaluation.

Companies, individuals or anyone wishing to purchase advertising on the show may do so by calling 480-436-1620. Advertising rates are reasonably priced at $50 per minute. There is no limit to the number of minutes or weeks that must be purchased. A pre-recorded advertisement may be submitted or the advertisement can be read on the show by either Bob or myself. A third advertising option is available. An ad card may be placed on the screen. That is also priced at $50.

UNIQUE MESSAGE BOARD OPPORTUNITY

Here’s the fun part. We are offering the opportunity for an individual to share a personal message on the show. Messages will be similar to those placed on the scoreboard of a ball park. For example:

Happy Birthday Uncle Leo-from Rollie and Jill

Linda, will you marry me?–I love you. Skippy

Follow me on twitter @cubsfan

Happy Anniversary mom and dad-The kids

To the Arizona Diamondbacks-good luck this season from Gina

Wishing you a Happy Easter-Big Bubba’s Bakery

You get the idea. Each message will cost only $15. We want it to be a fun experience.
Be creative and have fun. This is a great and very inexpensive way to send a message to someone.  Cheaper than a greeting card in today’s world.

All advertisements and personal messages will be paid for via Pay Pal.

When you call 480-436-1620 you will be asked to leave your name and your personal contact information. I will return a call to you and respond to your advertisement or personal message request.

We hope you will support this new concept by watching the show each week. Bob and I will be open to your ideas and suggestions. I will be happy to answer any of your player related questions as well.

We hope this helps you win your FANTASY BASEBALL league or that it just gives you another perspective/opinion about a player.

So- you can begin calling today with your advertisements or personal messages. Start the ball rolling and get in on the ground floor. Help us make this a great place to talk baseball and share messages each week.

Thanks in advance for your support of BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD on video. Remember to tune in to Prosportsbroadcasting.com or YouTube each week. And please—tell your friends.

We start tomorrow-February 5th. We may have a few bugs in the first show, but we’ll work them out.

Call 480-436-1620 and leave your name and contact info to advertise or leave a personal message.  We will begin posting ads and messages on our 2nd show-February 12th.

Thanks so much! And please-have fun with the show. Make it a destination stop each week and enjoy the content and the messages.

And thanks for following me @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done. Until the show starts tomorrow.

 

“Knocking On The Door” Part 6- National League West

Service time is a very important issue to both the players and the owners. Service time is one factor impacting future salaries. The time he begins to accumulate service time dictates when he is eligible for arbitration. It’s all uphill from there.

Because service time is so important, clubs use their own standards regarding player promotion to the parent club. As a result, there is no consistent approach to handling promotions. We may see players promoted sooner or later than had been projected.

In the last of my series profiling players I believe will be playing in the big leagues at some point this season, I look at the National League West. Players must have Rookie status remaining or be international signings to be included.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Socrates Brito-OF-age 23- Besides loving his wonderful name, I really, really like all the tools he brings to his game. He has speed to steal bases, a very strong arm, a loud and powerful bat, and an ability to drive in runs. A left-handed hitter, I think he’ll get plenty of opportunities to play right field for the Dbacks. He’s still under the radar.

Peter O’Brien-C/OF-age 25- What to do with Peter O’Brien? That’s the question the Yankees had before trading him to Arizona. He has improved behind the plate, but he still has work to do to be a big league catcher. But he hits long, long home run bombs. There has to be a place for his power-especially at Chase Field. But where? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dbacks field plenty of calls from AL clubs seeking DH help.

Brandon Drury-3B/2B-age 22- If Jake Lamb continues to be Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate, we could see a lot of Drury at third base. Or, he could fit nicely at second. It really is just a matter of time and circumstance before Drury brings his line-drive bat the the big league club. He has a sweet swing, is a gamer and he should fit nicely.

Zack Godley-RHSP-age 25- I can not stress enough how impressed I was with the relatively unknown Godley when he arrived at Chase Field last year. Everything he threw moved. Everything darted. Everything sunk. He was very poised and mature on the mound and I think he should be pitching in the rotation as soon as possible.
But I don’t set the roster. Godley threw to a 3.19 ERA in 36 2//3 innings. A winner.

Braden Shipley-RHSP-age 23- The Dbacks traded Aaron Blair to Atlanta to get SP Shelby Miller. Blair, like Godley is among my favorite young starters. Shipley was rated higher than Blair by many. He may get a chance to help the big club if there is a rotation melt down or injuries hit. He should be a solid performer for a long time.

Kaleb Fleck-RHRP-age 27- There is no question Fleck can throw hard. He could be a late inning reliever in the near future. Much of the Dbacks season depends upon how the pen holds up. Fleck could add some in-season help if needed.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Dustin Garneau-C-age 28- The right-handed hitting Garneau could claim the back-up catching role. He hit well at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2015 and smoked 15 Pacific Coast League home runs. He hit .274 and got a late look in Denver.

Tom Murphy-C-age 24- Murphy may be the competition for Garneau. He also hit well at Albuquerque with 19 homers. He’s younger. Much will depend upon which of the catchers is deemed to handle the pitching staff and offer defense as a back-up. He has a shoulder injury in his history, but if healthy, he could get the nod.

Christian Adames-SS-age 24- I think the switch-hitting Adames will see plenty of big league playing time. He will help fill-in if (when) Jose’ Reyes is suspended. He is a very good defensive shortstop with offensive potential. The Rocks will need that defense.

Trevor Story-2B/SS/3B-age 23- I think Story profiles best at second base. I think he’ll be playing in Denver at some point in the season. I like his hustle and his drive. He’s a good infielder with a chance to help the club with his versatility.

Jon Gray-RHSP-age 24- There was a time I thought Eddie Butler and Jon Gray would rid the Rockies of their endless pitching woes. Not so fast. I think Gray will be in the rotation, but I’m not sure he is that “can’t miss” guy anymore. I still like his stuff, but I have to remember that Coors is one tough, tough place to pitch. He;; make command strides Note: Butler has exceeded rookie limits.

Jeff Hoffman-RHSP-age 23- One of the pitchers who came from Toronto, Hoffman may be needed as early as this coming season. He’s the real deal. Tall and thin at
6-foot-4, 185 pounds, he is a former first rounder with good stuff. Long shot for 2016.

Miguel Castro-RHRP-age 21- Castro also came from Toronto. He has a big arm and can become the closer of the future for the Rockies. He could find his way to the team’s bullpen this coming season, but probably not in the 9th inning role.

Kyle Freeland-LHSP-age 22- It would probably be better for Freeland and the Rockies to give him another full year of development. However, pitching circumstances may dictate an earlier than expected arrival for him. He has deception and great late life on his fastball and follows that with a very good slider and changeup. This is an excellent pitcher who may be needed too soon.

Jairo Diaz-RHRP-age 24- He could help the club as an emergency reliever.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Corey Seager-SS/ age 21- Seager still has rookie eligibility and he should be among those considered for Rookie Of The Year honors. He’s got everything a club could want in a player. He can hit, hit for power and run a bit. He could be a doubles machine. Not the greatest defender and big for a shortstop, Seager will remain at shortstop for now.

Julio Urias-LHSP-age 19- Following eye surgery, Urias should be able to step up and help the rotation once the Dodgers feel he is ready to roll. When he arrives, he will be a fixture in the rotation. Throwing a very good fastball, and excellent curveballs and changeups to complete his arsenal, the lefty has sharp control and maturity.

Frankie Montas-RHSP- age 22- Part of a major trade, Montas came from the White Sox in the off season. He has a wicked fastball/slider combination but currently lacks command and control of his arsenal. When I scouted him I saw a great arm, but he couldn’t throw strikes. Montas needs refinement, but if he’s needed during the season he could step up and offer rotation innings. But watch out in 2017.

Trayce Thompson-OF-age 24- Coming from an athletic family, Thompson is the outlier. He chose baseball as opposed to basketball. He’s tall and thin and plays a very good center field. He came from the White Sox where he began to hit in his late season call up. I think there is more consistency waiting in his bat. A good 4th or 5th outfielder.

Austin Barnes-C-age 26- Barnes was with the Marlins. He can be the guy in the organization that gets the first call if the club needs a catcher.

Jharel Cotton-RHSP-age 24- Cotton offers starting pitching depth from the right side. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League where he got valuable experience.

Micah Johnson-2B-age 25- Also coming from the White Sox, Johnson as very, very good speed and could be a base running threat. If he gets on base. I’ve seen both the good and the bad Johnson in his development. He is a marginal defender, but his quick hands at the plate and his off the charts speed project him as a starting type player. However, Howie Kendrick is back. That impacts Johnson’s immediate future.

Chris Anderson-RHP-age 23- A former first round selection, Anderson is making progress, getting innings under his belt and refining his very good fastball. His time may come as a late season call-up.

Shane Carle-RHSP-age 24- Carle could provide in season pitching depth if needed.

Yaisel Sierra-RHSP-age 25- Sierra came from Cuba as an international free agent. He is on the 40-man roster and will likely be given a good look in Spring Training.

Kenta Maeda-RHSP-age 27- Maeda was purchased from Japan and is a likely candidate for the starting rotation. He has logged 1509 2/3 innings in Japan. I have not seen him pitch and generally hold my evaluations until I have scouted a player in person.

Zach Lee-RHSP-age 24- Lee has long been touted as a potential Dodgers starter. This year he could serve as a potential right-handed starter if help is needed in the rotation. I think he might be among the first called upon to fill-in.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Jabari Blash-RHOF-age 26- A Rule 5 selection from Oakland (trade), I was surprised the Padres took him with their outstanding outfield depth. Of their many Rule 5 selections, Blash may be the one that sticks. He could be a right-handed bench option. He has a very nice power/speed combination that could surprise. He grew up in the Mariners organization and was made available. Oakland took him in Rule 5 and flipped him to San Diego.

Josh Martin-RHRP-age 26- A Rule 5 selection from the Indians, Martin would have to stick or be offered back to Cleveland. It would seem he could win a job in the pen.

Taylor Lindsey-2B-age 24- Lindsey hits left-handed. He isn’t on the 40-man roster and has not been invited to Spring Training. But it is possible he may be needed later in the season. He came over in a trade with the Angels.

Travis Jankowski-CF-age 24- I am very bullish on Jankowski. I hope he gets a chance to prove he can play a very good center field. He hustles and plays the game right. He’s a former first round draft pick, so he’ll get a big time look.

Manuel Margot-OF-age 21- Part of a huge deal with the Red Sox, this may not yet be his time. But he is a prized prospect and another piece of the Padres CF depth. I do believe he needs another year of development, but the Padres could call him in 2016.

Hunter Renfroe-OF-age 24- He’s a quality hitter. The Padres have lots of good outfield options, and like Margot, he could have to wait his turn. He is not on the 40-man and has not been given an invitation to Spring Training.

Colin Rea-RHSP-age 25- He could make his debut by mid-season if he is needed in the rotation.

Tayron Guerrero-RHRP-age 25- He offers the Padres depth from the bullpen and could be available if needed.

Blake Smith-RHRP-age 28- Smith is a Rule 5 acquisition from the White Sox. He may be a long shot to stick with the club. Spring Training will be huge for him.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Mac Williamson-OF-age 25- This could be the time for the powerful Williamson. He’s big and strong at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He can punish a pitcher’s mistakes. I think the Giants can use his power in LF. He may strike out some, but he’ll pound the ball.

Jarrett Parker-OF-age 27-Parker could provide some left-handed hitting outfield support.

Hak-ju Lee-SS-age 25- An injury on a slide into second base while he was with the Rays hampered his development. Lee remains a marginal prospect that could help in the middle infield if his defense is needed.

Clayton Blackburn-RHSP-age 23- Blackburn offers right-handed organizational starting pitching depth.

Adelbert Mejia-LHSP-age 22- Still very young, Mejia can be an insurance policy as a left-handed starter. He needs more development time but is there if needed.

Steven Overt-LHRP-age 24- Okert throws nice and easy and could be an early recall candidate as a lefty bullpen prospect.

Kyle Crick-RHP-age 23- Still young, Crick has not lived up to the expectations scouts and the Giants had for him. Projected as a quality starter, the former supplemental first round selection has a high velocity fastball and a good slider. However, he hasn’t harnessed the command and control required of a top-notch starter. I still think he has the arm to compete and I think we’ll see better days ahead for Crick. He may find his form as a bullpen arm and then revert back to a starting role. My jury remains out on Crick.

This Friday I will begin my new project with ProSportsBroadcasting.com. Watch my twitter site @BerniePleskoff and this blog for details on how you can watch BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD on video. In my first show, I will discuss my choices as the best of the 2016 NL rookies. I will go in detail and will include fantasy expectations and value as well. Friday February 5 we will roll it out.

Thanks for reading this series and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

 

“Knocking On The Door”part 5- American League West

Depth is a critical component of every successful baseball organization. Having players available in the Minor Leagues to cover poor performance or injury is part of the lifeblood of each club.

Many of the players listed in the series may play only a game or two. They may fill in for a week at a certain position or make one start on the mound or have one performance from the pen. Their contributions are critical. The teams that are best prepared for adversity can weather the storm and proceed without much trepidation.

Today I take a look at the American League West. Some teams have greater organizational depth than others. Graduations last season and the use of prospects in a flurry of major trades this year have had an impact upon every division.

HOUSTON ASTROS

A J Reed-1B-age 22- He may need more development time and may not make an impact this year, but Reed is a left-handed hitter with some power and an ability to drive in runs. Based upon what I’ve seen in the Arizona Fall League and elsewhere, Reed is getting close to the point of graduation. He can become very relevant.

Matt Duffy-1B/3B-age 27-Older and more advanced than Reed, Duffy may be able to make the club as a right-handed hitter off the bench.

Colin Moran-3B-age 23- I admit I’ve never been a big fan of the former Marlin. He has been invited to Spring Training and has a chance to play at some point this year.

Tony Kemp-2B-age 24- Kemp is 5-foot-6, not unlike the man blocking his path, Jose Altuve. Kemp is not Altuve. He is a marginal defender, a line-drive hitter and he can accept a walk. He has speed and can get on base. He may need more development.

Tyler Heineman-C-age 24- It would be a long-shot for him to get his chance, but he may be in line as a backup behind Jason Castro and Max Stassi. He’s a switch-hitter.

Joe Sciafani-2B/3B-age 25- The non-rostered Sciafani is a switch-hitter with an invitation to Spring Training. He provides organizational depth.

Nolan Fontana-2B/3B/SS-age 24- The switch-hitting Fontana is on the 40-man roster and will be able to get a look in Spring Training.

Andrew Aplin-OF-age 24- Aplin hits left-handed and has played at Triple-A. He may be among those that are recalled at some point if an outfield bat is needed in season.

Juan Minaya-RHRP-age 25- Minaya has seven years of experience but has not made the big league club. He will likely be on call if needed for the pen.

Chris Devanski-RHSP-age 25- Devanski has been invited to Spring Training and could see big league action if he’s needed at some point.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

note: RHRP Deolis Guerra is a Rule 5 selection from Pittsburgh. He has used his rookie eligibility. He is no longer a prospect.

Ji-Man Choi-!B-age 24- He came from Baltimore as a Rule 5 selection. He’ll get every chance to stick with the club as switch-hitting 1B and pinch-hitting depth.

Jett Bandy-C-age 25- He is a right-handed hitter with a 25-man roster spot. However, Carlos Perez and Geovany Soto are ahead of him on the depth chart.

Alex Yarborough-2B-age 24- He’s a switch-hitting infielder who is not currently on the 40-man roster. However, circumstances could dictate a shot for him at some point.

Kaleb Cowart-3B/SS.LF-age 23- He’s certainly still young enough to get it going, but Cowart has been very underwhelming so far. I see more of that continuing. He hit better at Triple-A last year so there is still hope for the former first rounder.

Rafael Ortega-OF-age 24- A left-handed hitter, Ortega has a spot on the 40-man and will be in Spring Training. He came over from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Buss-OF-age 29- Buss hits left-handed and has been invited to Spring-Training.
He has been with the Dodgers, the A’s and the Dbacks. It’s time got for him to rev up the engine.

Nate Smith-LHSP-age 24- Smith offers a left-handed arm to the organization. He could show up at some point in the season. Not on the 40-man, he has not been invited to Spring Training as of this writing.

Kyle McGowan-RHSP-age 24- See Smith. They are in the same situation and came from the same 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Matt Olson-1B-age 21- A left-handed hitter with power, Olson may make his debut this year. I’ve seen what he can do with the bat, and it can be impressive. He has to gain more pitch recognition and add some patience, but he has a bright future.

Sean Manaea-LHSP-age 23- The big lefty has a chance to be a fixture in the team’s rotation. I see him as a late season call-up with a complete repertoire. He has had health issues and has to prove he can stay healthy and repeat his delivery .

Renato Nunez-3B/1B-age 21- Like Manaea, I got to see lots of Nunez in this past Arizona Fall League. He has a powerful bat and can really add some much needed pop to the club from the right side of the plate. I like his chances later this year.

Joey Wendle-2B-age 25-Wendle came from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss deal. He’s a scrappy player who needs a chance. He can hit. Line drives and gap doubles in his big home park should be in his future. He’s a left-handed hitter, and that helps.

Chad Pinder-2B/SS- age 23- He’s a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. I see him more of a 2017 grad, but it’s very possible the infield situation with the A’s could lead to them needing him this year. He’s a right-handed hitter. I saw him in the AFL.

Rangel Ravelo-1B-age 23- He’s on the 40-man roster and was originally in the White Sox organization. He provides depth at first base as a right-handed hitter.

J B Wendelken-RHRP-age 26- He could offer organizational bullpen depth. He came over in a trade with the White Sox.

SEATTLE MARINERS

D J Peterson-3B/1B-age 24- He may need another full year of development. The Peterson I saw again in the Arizona Fall League did not impress. He’s a former first rounder and much was expected. There is time for him to find a louder bat.

Boog Powell-OF-age 23- No relationship to THE Boog Powell, this Powell is a left-handed hitting CF with a nice swing, a complete game, some real speed and a chance to help off the bench as a 4th or 5th outfielder during the season. Plays good defense.

Mayckol Guaipe-RHRP-age 25- He will serve as right-handed pitching depth. He’s on the 40-man roster and will been seen during Spring Training.

Jonathan Aro-RHRP-age 25- Like Guaipe, Aro can use his spot on the 40-man to show the club his stuff during Spring Training. He came over from the Red Sox.

Steven Lerud-C-age 31- He was a free agent signing from the Nationals. Because he hits left-handed, he could have some value if a need arises at the catching position.

TEXAS RANGERS

Joey Gallo-3B/OF-age 22- This will be a tough call for the club. There is no doubt about his light tower power. There is great doubt about his ability to play defense. Still very young, I think he will benefit by an entire year of Minor League play. But fans will clamor for his booming bat. The left-handed hitter can be a game-changer. If he arrives at all, I think it will be late in the season. This debate could be intense.

Nomar Mazara-OF-age 20- Another bright light in the Rangers system, Mazara will benefit by another year in the Minors. However, I think we’ll see him in September. He can be a middle-of-the-order impact bat. He could claim LF for years to come.

Lewis Brinson-CF-age 21- I actually saw Brinson come to life and improve dramatically in the Arizona Fall League. He reminds me of OF Chris Young with a more consistent bat. He plays excellent defense, has speed, and has pop in his bat. I think he’s close.

Tony Barnette-RHRP-age 32- Barnette was with the Diamondbacks organization, went to Japan and has now returned. I think he has a shot to make it to the Rangers pen.

Drew Robinson-INF-age 23- A left-handed hitter, Robinson can serve in a utility role at some point in the season because of his versatility. He’s a non-roster invitee.

Patrick Kivlehan-3B/OF-age 26- Kivlehan may be called upon at some time during the season as a a right-handed hitter with some versatility. He came over from Seattle.

Beginning Friday February 5, 2016 I will be bringing BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD to video on the internet. I’ll be doing a video cast with Pro Sports Broadcasting that can be viewed at prosportsbroadcasting.com, iTunes and elsewhere.

Please watch my twitter feed @BerniePleskoff for details of the new show.

Thanks so much.

That’s it. I’m done.

“Knocking On The Door”-Part 4-National League Central

Some say the prospect roster is not as great as in the past two years. I totally agree. However, how often do we see players like Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor come along. We still have some very good prospects on the cusp, but not like we have seen the past two or three years.

Today I will share my thoughts on prospects on the verge of making the big leagues from the National League Central. I may miss a few, but it’s tough to get them all correct. Players with rookie eligibility and international free agents are included.

CHICAGO CUBS

Dan Vogelbach-1B-age 23- Vogelbach is in a tough situation. He has Anthony Rizzo in front of him and a host of other young Cubs players that are capable of playing first base already on the roster. So, Vogelbach could be a big trade chip as a left-handed hitter with power. Then again, he’s a great insurance policy for the organization.

Jeimer Candelario-3B-age 22- The switch-hitting Candelario showed some skill at the plate in the Arizona Fall League. I see some room for growth in his defense, but he can help with the bat. Problem? He’s behind Kris Bryant and others right now. He too has excellent trade or organizational depth value. This could be a year too soon.

Albert Almora-CF-age 21- Almora is a talented, athletic guy who needs a chance to play agains quality pitching every day. Like every other Cubs prospect he is in an organization loaded with quality young players. But if given a chance, I think he will be a productive outfielder with hustle and a great feel for the game.

Billy McKinney-CF-age 21- Another in the long line of high draft picks that have a chance to succeed if given the chance to succeed. McKinney, like Candelario, may be a year away. But he brings good speed and good baseball instincts. He will have to get on base regularly to be successful. He has a future but maybe more in 2017.

Pierce Johnson-RHSP-age 24- Johnson is among the Cubs pitchers with a chance to help the rotation in an emergency this season. He may get a call if there is a hole in the starting pitching. He has a very good, complete and reliable repertoire.

Carl Edwards, Jr.-RHSP-age- He has shown an ability to get the opposition out with good command. Pitching to contact, Edwards, Jr. doesn’t get that many strikeouts, but he is reliable and could offer help at some point this year.

Andury Acevedo-RHP-age 25- Signed in the off season as a free agent, he can offer some organizational pitching depth.

Christian Villanueva-3B/1B-age 24- The right handed hitter smoked 20 home runs and drove in 95 last year. He also walked 39 times, showing some plate discipline.
He’s the type of guy that could be a real sleeper for some team’s future.

CINCINNATI REDS

Jake Cave-OF -age 23- A Rule 5 left-handed hitter who came from the Yankees. The club will have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to New York. He hit .278 with two homers last season.

Chris O’Grady-LHP-age 25- Another Rule 5 selection, O’Grady is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He worked in relief in the Angels organization. If he sticks on the roster he will add a left-handed component to the Reds bullpen.

Yorman Rodriguez-OF-age 23. Rodriguez got a brief look last year. He hit two homers in only 27 at-bats. I think his home park is built for his right-handed swing and he could offer the club some much needed outfield pop. He may get an opportunity.

Jose’ Peraza-2B-age 21- I admit I can’t wait to see the combination of Billy Hamilton and Peraza at the top of the lineup. Peraza can flat-ot fly. Like Hamilton, he will have to get on base to realize his supreme value. Speed kills and he has it.

Jesse Winker-OF-age 22- It may not quite be the time for Winker yet, but I think the Reds have nothing to lose by playing this very good left-handed hitting outfielder either in a platoon or regular situation. He has a sweet stroke and has some pop.

Scott Schebler-OF-age 25- Schebler came over from the Dodgers. He can put the ball of out the park from the left-handed batter’s box and has some real value in a rebuilding Reds organization.

Kyle Waldrop-OF-age 24- Like Rodriguez, Winker and Scheduler, Waldrop offers the Reds real and viable solutions to their outfield issues. A left-handed hitter, Waldrop should be in the hunt for a role on the big league club.

Robert Stephenson-RHSP-age 22- A bit of self disclosure here. While there has always been buzz about Stephenson being a potential ace, I don’t see it. I think he can be a rotation starter, but more at the back end than front. The jury remains out on him.

Tim Melville-RHP-age 26- The clock is ticking on the big 6-foot-4 inch Melville. He was drafted by the Royals and is now a part of the Reds organizational pitching depth.

Matt Magill-RHP-age 26- Magill came from the Dodgers. He, like Melville may be given a chance to crack a spot on the pitching roster with a good spring.

Tim Adleman-RHP-age 28- See Melville and Magill. Adleman will be in Spring Training and can open some eyes.

Caleb Cotham-RHP-age 28- Yet another right-handed pitching hopeful with a chance to help on the mound at some point during the long season.

John Lamb-LHP-age 25- The tall, think former Kansas City Royals prospect will really have a good chance to pitch with the Reds. If he can command his pitches, he has the motivation to use his four-seam fastball to retire hitters without flash and pizzaz.

Ramon Cabrera-C-age 26- Catching is a position of depth with the Reds. The stocky Cabrera has lots of competition, but the fact he is a switch-hitter may help.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Orlando Arcia-SS-age 21- Arcia is among the best defensive shortstop prospects in the game IMO. He is a wizard with the glove. Excellent range, quick feet, soft hands and a fine arm are on display daily. Will he hit enough against quality pitching? I think the Brewers are in a position to let him play. I look for a mid-season call for him.

Colin Walsh-2B-age 26- Walsh was a Rule 5 selection from Oakland. I don’t know if he can stick all year, but the Brewers have a need for depth, and he has a history of being able to get on base.

Zack Jones-RHP-age 25- Jones was a Rule 4 selection from the Minnesota Twins. It may be a reach, but Jones will certainly get his chance to stick with the club out of Spring Training. But don’t the Twins always need pitching? They didn’t protect him. Hm.

Zach Davies-RHSP-age 22- Davies has a legitimate chance to claim a spot in the Brewers rotation. If he has a strong spring he can be a guy that can build up his arm strength and give the team some innings as a back end starter.

Andy Wilkins-1B- age 27- The Brewers are always looking for first baseman. Left-handed hitting Wilkins’ contract has been sitting on the desks of the White Sox, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Orioles, Mariners, Rangers and now the Brewers. All since he signed with the White Sox in 2010. Is this a place he will get his chance?

Yadiel Rivera-2B/SS-age 23- He should be able to provide some organizational infield depth for the club. Doesn’t have the ceiling or tools of Arcia, but can play.

Keon Broxton-OF-age 25- Broxton is a speedy right-handed hitting outfielder with a bit of pop. If he gets his chance, his value will be his good defense and running ability.

Garin Cecchini-INF/OF-age 24- A very tough year at the plate in the Red Sox system and that club’s organizational depth made him available. Now he has new life with the Brewers. But there is plenty of competition in Milwaukee as well.

Jorge Lopez-RHSP-age 23- Lopez is a legitimate top flight pitching prospect who may be able to help by mid-season. The Brewers need rotation help, and he may be ready to offer that assistance.

Adrian Houser-RHSP-age 22- Houser is a big, strong righty with an imposing profile on the mound. I saw lots of him in the Arizona Fall League. If he isn’t quite ready to start the season with the parent club, I think he’ll be there by mid-year. Bulldog presence.

Tyler Cravy-RHSP-age 26- Cravy could be ready for an extended look. If nothing else, he is another organizational arm waiting for a mid-year call.

Tyler Wagner-RHSP-age 25- Wagner completes a group of pitchers that could be called upon during the season.

Josh Hader-RHSP- age 21. Hader is different than the pitchers I listed above. He came over from Houston in a mid-season trade. He has electric stuff and I think he can be a force in the bullpen, if not as a starter. I think he has what it takes to be a huge success on the mound. I hope he gets a chance to strut his stuff. He’s got to command his pitches-but if he does, watch out!

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Alen Hanson-2B-age 23- Hanson can play both middle-infield positions. I think his time has come. The switch-hitter could win a starting role until Jung-ho Kang returns.
I am not as bullish on Hanson as many scouts.

Jake Goebbert-OF/1B- age 28- Goebbert could win a role on the bench due to his versatility. He was signed as a free agent from San Diego.

Elias Diaz-C-age 25- Now here’s a guy I really, really like. He has a gun for an arm and his offense has been improving. He could win a back-up role or be called upon to fill-in. He has a bright future and will make a name for himself at some point.

Josh Bell-1B-age 23- A switch-hitter, Bell is making strides at first base. Not known for power, Bell will have to show he can stand in against top quality pitching. I’m not as sold on him yet, but he has some tools and is still young.

Max Moroff-2B/SS/3B- age 22- A good year at Altoona may give Moroff an extra look this spring. If he continues his fine hitting in development, he may get a late call to the parent club. But he put himself on the map with a .293 Double-A season.

Gift Ngoepe-2B/SS-age 26- A good defender with speed, can he hit?

Antoan Richardson-OF-age 32- A switch-hitter, he has an invite to Spring Training. He came over as a free agent from Texas.

Tyler Glasnow-RHSP-age 22- The cream of the crop in the Pirates organization, Glasnow may get a mid-season look to bolster the pitching. The big guy is 6-foot-8 but and 225 pounds. When he pitches downhill and repeats his delivery, he’s very tough.

Jameson Taillon-RHSP-age 24- The other half of the “twin pitching towers” is 6-foot-5 inch Taillon. He and Glasnow could form a very good one-two punch at some point. It may not be in 2016, but they both have the tools to shine.

Trey Haley-RHRP-age 25- When I saw Haley pitch, he was a dominant back end of the bullpen type guy. The Pirates got him from Cleveland, and I hope they give him a chance. He has a power arm but he needs to keep his control in check. Sleeper.

John Holdzkom-RHRP-age 28- He still has rookie eligibility, but he has to be able to command his pitches better. I’ve always liked his arm and I think he can be very useful in the pen-provided he can become more consistent.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Matt Bowman-RHSP-age 24- Bowman was a Rule 5 selection from the New York Mets. Maybe the Cards are hoping some of the Mets pitching magic will rub off. I don’t see a spot for him in the rotation, but they have to keep him on the roster all season or offer him back to the Mets. I see a deal coming with NY to keep him in St. Louis.

Seeing-hwan Oh-RHRP-age 33- The Cardinals signed him from Japan to assume a role in middle relief on the big league club.

Michael Oilman-C-age 25- He was acquired from Baltimore and has a chance to serve the organization as right-handed hitting catching depth.

Dean Anna-2B/SS-age 29- Anna is a left-handed hitter who came to St. Louis from the Pirates organization.

Jacob Wilson-2B/3B-age 25- Wilson provides infield depth as a right-handed hitter. He is a non-roster player but was invited to Spring Training.

Patrick Wisdom-3B/1B-age 24- Wisdom played in the Arizona Fall League and could serve the Cardinals as corner infield depth. He’s a right-handed hitter.

Aledmys Diaz-2B/3B/SS-age 25- Another Arizona Fall League player. I liked him more than most of my scout colleagues because I saw some quick bat speed, a good hit tool and solid defense. He’s from Cuba and I think he’ll be given a look by the brass.

Charlie Tilson-OF-age 23- Still another Arizona Fall League alum. I must admit I wasn’t as enthused about him, but his left-handed bat could prove helpful to the club.

Jayson Aquino-LHSP-age 23- He came over on waivers from Cleveland and provides an organizational southpaw that could help at some point. Maybe not yet though.

Sam Tuivailala-RHRP-age 23-He may be ready for a role in the bullpen at some point later in the season.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

This series continues next Monday and Tuesday (February 1 and 2) as I go over the American League West and finally, the National League West.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

“Knocking On The Door”-Part 3-American League Central

The leap from playing Minor League baseball to graduating to the big leagues is much more difficult than some may realize. The gap between Minor League and Major League baseball is a wide as the Grand Canyon. The basic reason is pitching. Instead of seeing one or two good pitchers a week, hitters face multiple pitchers every day in the big leagues. The pitchers have confidence. And complete repertoires that include wicked breaking balls. And yes, it is still the breaking balls that spell the difference between success and a lack of success for both pitchers and position players.

Today, in my third edition profiling players I think will graduate to the Major Leagues this year, I look at the American League Central. I may miss a few, but that has to be expected. Players with rookie status remaining or international free agents are listed.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Tim Anderson-SS-age 22- He may only be 22, but the right-handed hitting Anderson has the potential to play shortstop at some point this season. Once he emerges, I think he will be around a long time. He still has some ragged edges on defense, but his bat and his speed play very well. Not yet on the 40-man roster, I think Anderson has a chance to play himself on to the club with a big Minor League first half.

Jacob May-OF-age 24- May isn’t on the 40-man yet either, but the fact he is a switch-hitting outfielder with excellent speed who is capable of stealing bases figure in his favor. However, he may need another year of development before he is promoted.

Daniel Fields-OF-age 25- Fields came over from the Dodgers on waivers. The left-handed hitter has a marginal shot to help as an extra outfielder type. He’s already on the 40-man roster.

Will Lamb-LRP-age 25- Lamb was acquired from the Rangers. He can serve as a lefty out of the bullpen at some point in the season. He’ll be a phone call away.

Jason Coats-OF-age 25- Coats is a non-roster Spring Training invitee. He is a right-handed hitter with a bit of pop.

Matt Davidson-3B-age 24- It seems Davidson has been around forever. He was highly touted by the Dbacks but traded to Chicago in 2013. The right-handed hitter still has a chance to make some noise, but the clock is beginning to run a little quicker.

Kevan Smith-C-age 27- He would be a long shot to leap over Rob Brantley as the third catcher waiting in the wings. Brantley is younger and is a left-handed hitter. But?

Chris Beck-RHSP-age 25-Beck offers the club organizational right-handed starting pitching depth.

Zach Phillips-LHRP-age 29- Phillips is an organizational lefty capable of offering bullpen help at some point in the season. He is on the 40-man roster.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Jesus Aguilar-1B-age 25- It’s hard to believe Aguilar has not had extensive opportunity to use his first base power. He still has rookie status and now may be thwarted by the arrival of Mike Napoli. I wonder what he would do with consistent playing time?

Tyler Naquin-OF-age 24- The left-handed hitter may get his chance at some point this season. The team needs outfielders that can drive in runs. I’m not sure that’s him, but he’ll be given the chance. He could arrive late in the season.

Bradley Zimmer-OF-age 23- An injury kept him from playing in the Arizona Fall League and that cost him some development time against quality pitching. However, he has all the tools to help the Tribe in the outfield. A left-handed hitter, once he gets back to complete health and puts numbers on the board we may see him in Cleveland.

James Ramsey-OF-age 26- Ramsey has always intrigued me. Even when he was with the Cardinals. He’s a guy that has to play every day to hone his skills. I’m not sure that’s in the plans for this year, but I like the left-handed hitter’s profile.

Shawn Armstrong-RHRP-age 25- I’m not sure the Indians are as bullish on Armstrong as I am. I love his big arm, his composure and his ability to miss bats. At some point soon I think he will pitch at the back end of the bullpen. I think he has closer potential. I look for him to start the season in the Tribe’s bullpen out of Spring Training.

Ryan Merritt-LHSP-age- Along with T J House, Merritt provides the Indians with left-handed organizational starting pitching depth. He is capable but likely needs more development time. But he is emerging and can’t be neglected.

DETROIT TIGERS

Steven Moya-OF-age 24- Moya has the ingredients to be an impact hitter in the big leagues. Tall and thin at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, the left-handed hitter can smoke pitches down in the zone. The problem? He strikes out way too much and has to learn to recognize pitches and be more disciplined. In time, he will improve his contact rate and be able to handle breaking balls. I like his future. Maybe he arrives late in 2016.

Dixon Machado-SS-age 23- We could see Machado late in the year. He is an excellent defender and will really help the Tigers pitchers if his glove is needed at some point.
He has good speed, a good arm and excellent range. His bat is an issue.

Montreal Robertson-RHRP-age 25- An organizational reliever that could be called upon at some point. He pitched well in the Fall League and has five years of experience at the Minor League level.

Dean Green-1B-age 26- Green offers organizational depth as a left-handed hitting first baseman.

Jose Valdez-RHRP-age 25- Valdez is on the 40-man roster and could serve nicely as an insurance policy for the relief corps.

Michael Fulmer-RHSP-age 22- Will we see the man most people feel is the Tigers top prospect at some point this year? I’m not so sure. If the team is in the heat of a pennant chase, a late season graduation may not be in the cards. If the staring pitching holds up, he will benefit much more by another season of development. But Fulmer is part of the future. A big part. I list him here because it is possible that we’ll see him in 2016. But frankly, I doubt it. The wait will be worth it.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Raymond Fuentes-OF-age 25- Fuentes was once considered a high level prospect. I think he will add to the Royals bench as a left-handed hitter with speed and some power. If given a sustained chance, he can really help. But I think he’ll be more of a 4th or 5th outfield type with the big league club.

Scott Alexander-LHRP-age 26- Alexander could win a spot in the Royals pen as a left-handed specialist.

Ramon Torres-2B/3B/SS- the switch-hitting Torres played well in the Arizona Fall League and provides some organizational infield depth. His versatility helps as he will be available if needed to bolster the infield at some point.

Cheslor Cuthbert-1B/3B-age 23- Cuthbert is on the fringe and would need an organizational melt down at the corners to see regular season playing time. He may get a September look, but he doesn’t bring much power.

Brett Eibner-OF-age 27- He had a nice year at the plate at Triple-A this past season and may be ready for a bigger challenge. A right-handed hitter, Eibner hit 18 homers and drove in 81 at Omaha. Those stats are worth taking a good long look this spring.

Bubba Starling-OF-23- I commend Starling for the dramatic positive change I saw in his offense this past fall. He is much more selective at the plate, drives the ball well and is figuring out how to hit pitching. This may not be his time, but he has a future as a big league player. Maybe another year of seasoning will finish his development.

Jose Martinez-OF/1B-age 27- Martinez came to the club from Atlanta. In 2015 at Omaha he hit .384/10/60 in 396 plate appearances. He struck out only 55 times. He played in Mexico this winter and hit .322. Is he for real? If I’m the Royals, I try to find out if the Braves made a mistake and if those numbers mean he’s the real deal.

Miguel Almonte-RHSP-age 22- He has a good arm and has had a taste of pitching in the Royals bullpen. He could be a useful late season call-up.

Kyle Zimmer-RHSP-age 24- If Zimmer is fully recovered from shoulder issues, he can really help the Royals rotation depth. Can he stay healthy? That’s the issue. I like what I’ve seen of him, but he has to prove he can stay on the mound and command pitches.

Brian Flynn-RHP-age 25- Flynn came over in a trade with the Marlins. He can serve as either a starter or reliever if needed during the season.

Christian Binford-RHSP-age 22- This is a guy I’ve seen throw really, really well. I would say he’s probably a year a way from a sustained role, but he’s someone to keep an eye on. He can pitch IMO.

Sam Selman-LHRP-age 25- Selman is on the 40-man roster and could prove in Spring Training that he can be trusted with a situational role in the bullpen.

Balbino Fuenmayor-1B-age 26- No discussion of Royals prospects can be complete without mentioning the jumbo Fuenmayor. He’s out with a torn ACL, but the man has some power, has strength in his forearms and legs and has a great name.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Byron Buxton-OF-age 22- The injury bug has plagued him so far in his career. He still has rookie status remaining. If he can stay healthy, Buxton could put up huge numbers. He is scary fast, has power, plays great defense and will hit for average.
There is so much to like. But he has to prove he can stay on the field.

Byung-ho-Park-1B/DH age 29- Park was a big bopper in Korea and could be a force in the Twins lineup. Look for him to DH with Joe Mauer playing more at first. But if he lives up to his reputation, the Twins lineup will be longer and tougher to handle.

Jose Berrios-RHSP- age 21- With shaky starting pitching, the Twins can certainly use any boost Berrios can offer. He is likely ready for graduation, as he has compiled 440 career Minor League innings over parts of four seasons. He finished 2015 with a good performance at Triple-A Rochester. It really is time for him to get a shot.

Jorge Polanco-SS-age 22- Polanco has a nice bat and should be ready to claim a utility role or serve as an early infield call. He’s had a taste of big league baseball, but he’s ready for more.

Wilfredo Tovar-2B/SS-age 24- He was a free agent signed out of the Mets organization. He has a Spring Training invitation.

Heifer Meneses-2B.3B.SS-age 24- He was a free agent signed out of the Red Sox organization and has been invited to Spring Training.

Max Kepler-OF-age 23- Kepler is a good line-drive hitter. I’ve seen lots of him in the Arizona Fall League. I think his power and plate discipline are emerging. I’d keep an eye on him, because he could surprise at some point. Hustles and plays hard.

Alex Meyer-RHP-age 26- We’ve been waiting for Meyer to catch on and pitch like scouts had projected. He’s huge at 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds. I’m not very bullish on him, but maybe he can thrive in relief if not in the rotation. Command issues have caused me to question his original high ratings.

Taylor Rogers-LHRP-age 25- Could be considered at some point to help out of the bullpen as a left-handed specialist.

Pat Dean-LHRP-age 26- Is in a similar situation as Rogers. He will provide organizational bullpen depth from the left side.

Tomorrow: National League Central

I hope you will follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. I always appreciate your comments and questions and I try to answer every question or comment I receive.
Thanks for following me and for reading BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

 

Knocking On The Door (Part 2)-NL East

In my previous post I spoke of some possible changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Negotiations should begin soon. Commissioner Manfred has now indicated that the potential for expanding the designated hitter to the National League may not be as imminent as we may have thought.

Spring Training is a time for players to hone their conditioning and for player evaluations to take place. For the front offices, it is the time to construct the roster that will begin the Major League Championship Season.

Today I take a look at those prospects from National League East teams I feel will make it to the big league club at some point in the 2016 season. There are no guarantees, and of course, I may miss some. All players listed have rookie eligibility.

ATLANTA BRAVES

A brief note here: The Braves have done a tremendous job of collecting pitching. Every trade seemed to focus on building pitching for the future. Some of the arms may be ready now, but 2017 and 2018 will be an awesome time for Atlanta pitching.

Aaron Blair-RHSP-age 23- I see this as the “one that got away” from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has terrific command and control and huge upside IMO. I think we’ll see him pitching for the parent club at some point in 2016.

Evan Rutckyj-RHP-age 24 at the end of this month. A Rule 5 acquisition from the Yankees, if he sticks he will add a left-handed reliever to the Braves pen. He’s from Canada. Another Rule 5 pitcher, RH Dan Winkler (Rockies) has exceeded rookie status.

Mallex Smith-OF-age 22- Left-handed hitting Smith came over from the Padres in trade and may get a call later in the season.

Hector Olivera-LF/3B- age 30- After a trade with the Dodgers, Olivera certainly must figure in the Braves plans. From Cuba, he was highly touted and should see big league action at some point in the season—maybe sooner than later.

Tyrell Jenkins-RHSP-age 23- Big and strong, I saw lots of Jenkins in the Arizona Fall League when he was still with the St. Louis Cardinals. He adds depth as an emergency or spot starter if needed.

Lucas Sims-RHSP-age 21- I’m not sure we’ll see him yet, but Sims gives the club yet another potential arm to deploy if needed. He has good stuff and the poise to win.

Rio Ruiz-3B- age 21- He’s likely not ready yet, but Ruiz is a left-handed hitting third baseman with some power. That’s attractive. Traded from the Astros, if he has a good first Minor League half, it wouldn’t surprise if he gets a big league look at some point.

Chris Ellis-RHP-age 23- A long shot to stick because of the great Braves pitching depth, Ellis may not be ready yet for the big stage. He can start or relieve.

Daniel Castro-2B/SS/3B- age 23- Castro may get a look as a utility infielder due to his versatility. A right-handed hitter, he has some pop and could help as infield depth.

The future: Ps Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Kolby Allard, Max Fried, John Gant, etc.
INF Dansby Swanson, Ozhaino Albies, just to name a couple. Yikes!

MIAMI MARLINS

Kyle Barraclough-RHRP-age 25- He could play an important role as a mid-inning reliever from the right side.

Tomas Telis-C- age 24- A converted shortstop, the switch-hitting catcher gives the club some depth behind the plate. May see some playing time with the parent club.

Xavier Scruggs-1B- age 28- He never made it with the Cardinals, but the right-handed hitter plays a position of need in the game. Adds depth and could help.

Brady Shoemaker-1B/OF- age 28- Also offers depth at first base

Dan Black-1B- age 28- The third in the trio of Minor League first basemen that could see action. Black is a switch-hitter which may strengthen his case.

Austin Nola-SS-age 26- A right-handed hitter, he offers infield depth.

Nick Wittgren-RHRP-age 24- I saw him pitch in the Arizona Fall League and I really liked his stuff as a closer. I think he can translate good command and stuff to the big league bullpen. All he needs is the opportunity.

Austin Brice- RHSP- age 23- Big right-handed starter with a very good fastball. Has to refine the rest of his repertoire. Has a chance to help if called upon.

Nefi Ogando- RHP-age 26- He has a tremendous fastball, but like Brice, he has to refine his secondary pitches. If he does that, he can be a force in the bullpen.

Kendry Flores- RHSP- age 24- A control pitcher, he has a chance to be a back end of the rotation starter.

Brian Ellington- RHSP-age 25- Another big starting pitching option from among a host of Minor League pitchers. He will be available if needed down the road.

Tim Berry-LHSP-age 24- Among all the right-handed pitching depth is lefty Tim Berry. He came over from Baltimore on waivers and could find a home with the Marlins.

METS

Steven Matz-LHSP- age 24- The injury bug caught him last season, but he has rookie status remaining. A terrific starter, he will compliment the outstanding Mets rotation with poise, deception, repertoire, command, control and moxie. A winner!

Ty Kelly-OF/3B/2B-age 27- He’s been around with a few clubs, but the switch-hitting Kelly may be offer help due to his versatility.

T J Rivera-2B,#B, SS-age 27- Rivera has hit well in his Minor League career. He offers infield depth with a nice right-handed bat.

Brandon Nimmo-OF-age 22- Nimmo is a left-handed hitter without much home run power. He does have the ability to make contact and hit the gaps. Plays CF well.

Darrel Ceciliani-OF-age 25- A left-handed hitter like Nimmo, Ceciliani plays left field and offers the team a nice outfield option if needed.

Gavin Cecchini-SS-age 22- Still very young, Cecchini has reached Double-A and may get a late call to bring some help to the shortstop position.

Andrew Barbosa-LHP-age 28- Signed as a free agent, a team can’t have enough left-handed pitching in the organization. He would be helpful in an emergency.

Gabriel Ynoa-RHSP-age 22- Ynoa is among the Mets pitchers that offer spot starting assistance. He has a solid fastball with a good complimentary repertoire.

Dario Alvarez-LHRP-age 27- Alvarez is a nice option to work out of the bullpen. He has tasted the big leagues, but has rookie eligibility remaining.

PHILLIES

Tyler Goeddel-OF/3B-age 23- He is a Rule 5 selection from Tampa Bay and will have to stick all year as a bench player if the Phillies intend to keep him long term.

Daniel Stumpf-LHRP-age 25- A Rule 5 selection from Kansas City, Strumpf figures to win a spot as a middle reliever.

Jorge Alfaro-C-age 22-A huge acquisition for the Phillies from the Rangers in trade, Alfaro can really hit. He has a chance to be the team’s catcher for years to come.
I think he’ll get his first call to the parent club later this season.

Brock Stasi-1B-age 26. The left-handed hitter was invited to Spring Training, but I think he is a long-shot.

Darnell Sweeney-2B/OF-age 24- The switch-hitting Sweeney came over from the Dodgers in August and may offer the club a nice fill-in player at times.

J.P. Crawford-SS-age 21- I’m not sure this is the year we see Crawford, but he is the heir apparent at shortstop. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League he lacked energy and didn’t play with enthusiasm at all. But he has talent.

Roman Quinn-OF-age 22- We may see the switch-hitting Quinn as early as this year. Still very young, the Phillies need offense and he may be able to help.

Nick Williams-OF-age 22- Like Quinn, Williams may offer some outfield help. He hits from the left side and has some pop. He has to find more consistency.

Mark Appel-RHSP-age 24- Who is the real Mark Appel? He has good stuff, but he hasn’t put it all together yet. Maybe a change of scenery from Houston will help.
Once he gets in rhythm he can be a steady performer.

Jake Thompson-RHSP-age 21-At this young age he has been traded from Detroit to Texas and now to Philadelphia. I like his potential as a big, strong right-handed starter. Once he refines his repertoire more I think he’ll find a permanent home.

Zach Eflin-RHSP-age 21- Another trade acquisition, this time from the Dodgers, Eflin has a chance to help the pitching staff as a starter. Not the same upside as Appel and Thompson IMO.

Alec Asher-RHSP-age 24-Asher is pretty far advanced and has pitched for the Phillies. He has rookie eligibility remaining and could figure in as a starter this year at some point.

NATIONALS

Trea Turner-SS-age 22- The speedster came from San Diego in a trade and is poised to battle for the starting shortstop position. He can fly. If he gets on base regularly and can cover enough ground, he could retain the position for years to come.

Chris Bostick-2B/SS-age 22- Bostick came over from Texas in a trade. The right-handed hitter could be a fill-in type player at some point.

Wilmer Difo-2B/SS-age 23- The switch-hitter may arrive late in the season if needed.

Brian Goodwin-OF-age 25- A left-handed hitter, Goodwin has scuffled a bit at higher levels. He hit well in Venezuela this winter. He will remain outfield depth for the club.

A J Cole-RHSP-age 24-He may be a year away, but the highly regarded starter will be available if the club feels his development is complete.

Lucas Giolito-RHSP-age 21- I really questioned myself about including him on this list. I think the Nationals have to be very careful with his arm. He’s the highest ranking right-handed pitcher on my top prospect list, and I think the club may do well to wait a bit in 2016 or even until 2017 for his debut. That said, his arrival this year is a distinct possibility. The big righty is a big part of the Nationals future. The Nationals rotation is strong as is, but if Giolito is on board, it becomes even stronger.

Tomorrow: American League Central

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work here at BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

 

“Knocking On The Door”- American League East

I begin the New Year with my annual review of players I believe are “graduating” and are close to making the Major League club. Some have greater impact than others. Of course, I may miss a few.

I am including players with rookie status remaining and those players new to Major League baseball as international free agents.

First, a couple of general thoughts as I begin this series:

I am among those who believe the next Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners will include some drastic changes. First and foremost, I believe the momentum is great enough for the National League to transition to the designated hitter. It is a drastic change, but one that teams like the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks will welcome with open arms. Players like Kyle Schwarber and Yasmany Tomas are picture perfect for that role.

I believe we will see revenue sharing of some sort to even the playing field between the markets that choose to spend and those that don’t.

I think there will be some support for shortening the season back to 154 games and finding some manner to make up the financial difference for 8 lost games. However, the media money now flowing to most teams has done a good job of adding revenue to the bottom lines for many clubs. How they choose to spend that revenue is an individual team decision.

The Basic Agreement between players and owners will have an impact on how rosters are constructed in the future. With that in mind, the graduation dates and time spent in Minor League development for players may change as well.

For this year, here are players I see ready to graduate to big league rosters at some point in the year. That could mean early, mid-year or late. But they should be there.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Dylan Bundy-RHP-age 23. A cloud hangs over Bundy due to health issues. Is he ready to assume a role in the rotation and realize his potential? I saw him pitch briefly in the Arizona Fall League before he was shut down with forearm stiffness. If healthy, he can earn a spot in the rotation by throwing strikes and commanding his fastball.

Joey Rickard- OF-age 24- A Rule 5 selection from Tampa Bay, Rickard may stick for the year as a 4th outfielder. A right-handed hitter, he hit well at both Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham last season. Not much power at all. Speed though.

Christian Walker-1B-age 24. The right-handed hitter could see some time in mid-season or later. He provides first base depth. He has a bit of power to help out.

Mike Wright-RHSP- age 26. He could help either as a spot starter or in relief. Has a nice repertoire but inconsistency has been an issue.

Francisco Pena-C-age 26- Acquired from Kansas City, Pena may claim a role as a backup catcher for either Matt Weiters or Caleb Joseph.

Mychal Givens- RHRP- age 25- Givens should be in a middle relief role to start the season. He has the upside to work in the later innings as he develops.

Parker Bridwell-RHP-age 24- Bridwell can probably start or relieve and he would be available in the event the club has to dig deeply for mid-season pitching help.

Hyun-soo Kim-OF-age 28-The left-handed hitting Kim is targeted as an outfielder, but he can also play first base if need. Signed from Korea, he could leadoff for the club.

BOSTON RED SOX

Yoan Moncada- IF-age 20- The talented young Cuban infielder may not stick with the big league club until 2017 or even 2018. Much will depend upon how much he develops this season at multiple levels. There is a chance-albeit slight- that the 20-year old switch hitter could be on the big league roster in September.

Devin Marrero-SS/2B-age 25- It will be very difficult, if not impossible for Marrero to nudge either Xander Bogarts or Dustin Pedroia from a full-time gig. However, there is a need for backup middle infielder types, and that’s where Marrero may fit.

Sean Coyle-2B/3B-age 24- A right-handed hitter like Marrero, Coyle’s best shot will be as a utility player. He has shown some inconsistency. A long shot IMO.

Brian Johnson-LHSP-age 25- Johnson has the ability to work as a starter or reliever, but he may fit best in the rotation. He had some elbow nerve issues that set him back a bit, but he provides early reinforcement depth.

Matt Barnes-RHP-age 25- Barnes is among the pitchers that can help if needed. He can work either as a starter or reliever.

Bryce Brentz- OF- age 27- The right-handed hitting outfielder has long been in the Red Sox prospect conversation. He will have to have a sustained opportunity to show he belongs. Outfield ABs will be tough to come-by, as will DH chances.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Gary Sanchez-C- 22- It will be interesting to see if Sanchez sticks after he had a mammoth Arizona Fall League. Strong and powerful, he has improved as a defensive catcher and can become a force at the plate. I like his chances.

Rob Refsnyder-2B-age 24- Welcome to New York, Starlin Castro. And how about the presence of Dustin Ackley? Refsnyder may well find himself waiting for graduation. He can hit, but he has limited defensive versatility and that may hurt his chances to stick.

Nick Rumbelow-RHRP-age 24. He could stick as a middle reliever on a club that isn’t deep with pitching prospects. He has a solid arm and got a taste of the pen in 2015.

Lane Adams-OF-age 26- A speedster type who came from the Royals. He can provide organizational depth from the right-handed batter’s box.

Ben Gamel-OF-age 23- Gamel provides outfield depth from the left side of the plate.

Luis Cessa-RHSP- age 23- Cessa would be a long shot to make the club early in the year. Obtained in a trade with the Tigers, Cessa adds starting depth.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Blake Snell-LHSP-age 23- I’m all in on Snell. I think he will add a great deal to the Rays pitching depth. He will have his work cut out, as the Rays pitching is their greatest strength. But he’s waiting in the wings and I think we’ll see him at some point.

Richie Shaffer-1B-3B-DH-age 24- The right-handed hitting Shaffer is versatile and has some pop. He is blocked at his best positions. But he can offer depth along the way.

Ryan Brett-2B-age 24- Brett is a scrappy type guy, but is fairly limited to playing 2B. He is a switch-hitter, but also faces competition from the likes of Ryan Franklin for utility role playing time.

Daniel Robertson- SS/3B-age 21- I’m not sure his time has come, but Robertson has shown an ability to hit. He came from the Athletics and has hit at every level. He may be at least a year away, but he may be able to help with his bat.

Dayron Varona-OF/2B.3B-age 27- From Cuba, Varona is not yet on the 40-man roster. But he’s the type of player that can play his way to the big league club. He has some pop, is versatile and adds depth.

Mikie Mahtook-OF-age 26- It’s time for Mahtook to step up and show why he was a first round draft pick. If given the chance, I think he will hit. But he needs to play regularly against quality pitching to see if he can make the grade. I think he can.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Joe Biagini-RHP- age 25- A Rule 5 selection from the Giants, the big righty has a chance to stick in the Blue Jays pen or as a spot starter. He has 86 Minor League starts.

A J Jimenez-C-age 25- Jimenez has played eight Minor League seasons and adds depth the the Blue Jays catching corps.

Dwight Smith, Jr.- age 23- Smith, Jr. may get lost in the shuffle with so many good outfielders emerging in the system. Soon players like Anthony Alford, DJ Davis, Dalton Pompey and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. will be knocking on the door as well. But the left-handed Smith may help at some point in the season.

Jiovanni Mier- 2B/SS/3B- age 25- A right-handed hitter, the versatile Miller isn’t on the 40-man yet, but he’s a player that can help if needed.

Next: National League East.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Please bring your friends along to listen to DVR and me on our Short Hops podcast (on iTunes and at RotoWire.com).

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

Adios 2015

Every year on New Year’s Day my wife and I follow our tradition of eating sauerkraut to bring good luck. In 2015 the sauerkraut must have been an off brand or too old. it didn’t work. In most respects, it was a lousy year for the two of us. We are ready to turn the page and welcome 2016. A fresh start is needed. Better luck. Exciting challenges. Good health.

The year will begin with a change in BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD. For now, this blog will be the primary communication outlet for my scouting reports and opinions on players. Beginning at the end of January I will be writing this blog with more frequency. The main focus will be scouting information on both prospect and big league players. I am grateful to MLB.com for providing me this opportunity to write on this great blog platform.

You and I will still be able to communicate via twitter @BerniePleskoff. I am committed to responding to those who take the time to ask questions or make comments. Twitter will be my primary two-way communication home.

Derek VanRiper and I will still be doing our ShortHops podcast. It will return at the end of January. The response has been fantastic and we will continue the same format. Thank you to our loyal listeners. We’ll offer more of the same in 2016.

I will still be doing my weekly radio spot with RotoWire every Wednesday on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports radio. I’ll return at the end of January as well.

As I have done for years, I will be contributing my thoughts on players for 2016 to the annual RotoWire Baseball Preview magazine which will be available later on newsstands or by subscription to RotoWire.

While I won’t be posting weekly articles at MLB.com Pipeline, I will be attending just as many baseball games and sharing my scouting thoughts with you as I noted above.

From time to time more outlets may be added. I will share those with you if they occur.
——————

I really think the White Sox-Reds-Dodgers trade has tremendous ramifications for the future. Especially for the White Sox.

Todd Frazier gives them an All Star third baseman with a loud power bat to fit next to Jose Abreu in the lineup. An excellent defender, Frazier gives them the third baseman they have needed for years. U.S. Cellular is made for Frazier’s right handed power.
And what did they give up to change the fortunes of their franchise?

Frankie Montas has solid upside with a fastball, slider, changeup mix. For now, however, he needs to gain confidence on the mound and throw more strikes. In the times I have seen him he has been wild and has not repeated his delivery. He has been more a thrower than a pitcher. I think the Dodgers will eventually use him in the rotation, but he has development remaining. He’s talented with a big arm, but he’s raw. He’s probably a 55 in scouting terms in my opinion.

Trayce Thompson has always been seen as a good defensive outfielder with speed. He surprised some last September with a solid bat. I’m not sure that will continue. I see him as a 4th or 5th outfielder at best or as a 4-A player. I see him as a 45.

Micah Johnson has very, very good speed. His left-handed bat can offer a solid batting average with little to no power. I think his defense is the question. Will he yield more runs than he produces? He can be an everyday player if the Dodgers are willing to concede some defense for speed and a good hitting tool. I have him at a 50.

The Reds get blazing fast Jose Peraza to team with the speedy Billy Hamilton to form a solid one-two punch of guys that can (hopefully) get on base, steal and score. They won’t just steal second. They’ll steal third. If they can get on. Peraza has a good hit tool and is a No. 1 prospect for sure. He will really help the Reds put pressure on the opposing pitcher. He was a major acquisition. I see him as a 60.

Scott Schebler has a solid bat with some power from the left side. But he has little to no speed as his defense is just meh. He may be a 4th outfielder on most clubs, but given the Reds outfield situation, I think he’ll see playing time in a platoon or as a corner outfielder full-time. For now. Players like Winker and Ervin wait in the wings.
I would put a 45 on him at present with a possibility to grow to a 50.

Brandon Dixon’s most comfortable position is second base. I haven’t seen him play and I don’t know anything about him.

I think the Reds could have gotten more for Frazier, but I wasn’t in the conversations. I think in their minds they made the best deal possible. Frazier could lead to more player movement in Chicago. They still need a shortstop until Tim Anderson arrives, probably late this year. But even if they do no more, they have jumped into contention in the AL Central. But it’s early.

With limited resources to play in the deep end of the pool, I think the Indians did very well to sign Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis and Joe Thatcher. Each can help in his own way.
Napoli can still hit the ball out of the park if his hips are healthy. Davis adds good speed and defense in center field, a team need. Thatcher adds a left-hander in the pen. If he has something left in the tank and if not overused by Terry Francona, he can be very useful.

I will transition to the New Year by taking a month away from normal life. I will be on hiatus. No blogs, no radio, not many tweets after December 20th. Discover me again on January 20th or thereabouts.

Thank you for all your wonderful support of my work. Until we meet up again, I wish you great health, great happiness, great holidays, a very Happy New Year and…..peace. Peace, please.

@BerniePleskoff

A Certain Comfort Level

Chronologically advanced readers may remember the days when the Kansas City Athletics (now Oakland) and the New York Yankees had a working relationship that saw many of their players changing uniforms between the two clubs. There was a certain comfort level that had developed. That same type relationship now exists between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves. A trust exists between the two clubs. The connection is critical to the fortunes of both organizations.

Just to review a bit-Justin Upton went from Arizona to Atlanta along with others. Martin Prado (and Nick Ahmed) came to the Dbacks, along with others. That may have been the most dramatic of the deals. However, it is amazing to consider that three first round Diamondbacks draft selections have been part of transactions with the Braves. Not just any three–three highly regarded prospects. In order, Aaron Blair, Touki Toussaint and Dansby Swanson now adorn the Braves Top Prospects list.

Toussaint’s departure in a deal for Bronson Arroyo cleared the Dbacks financial books of money that could have held them back for years. They have used those resources to obtain Zack Greinke via free agency. But Toussaint may ultimately become a star in his own right. However, at this point he is still a prospect and therefore, unproven.

In obtaining Shelby Miller the DBacks gain yet another starting pitcher to help them put a winning team on the field NOW-not two or three years from now. With Greinke and Miller in the fold to compliment Patrick Corbin, the team has a legitimate one-two-three combination- you pick the order behind Greinke.

I have said in this space that prospects serve three purposes: strengthen your big league lineup, help fill out your organizational Minor League rosters or to use in trade to accomplish either of the other two purposes. Prospects are unproven.

The Diamondbacks package for Miller was a shock to me. Ender Inciarte is becoming a really viable everyday player with the ability to hit, hit for power, field his position and run well. What more can one ask? Yes, the DBacks have outfield numbers. I really like Pollock, Peralta, and Brito. But Inciarte was a catalyst.

Dansby Swanson was a No. 1 draft pick. 1-1. He had outstanding upside as a hitter and defender. He was seen by most scouts as scrappy and talented. Now he’ll take his numerous tools to the Braves. Nick Ahmed (who came to Arizona from Atlanta) is now firmly entrenched as the Arizona shortstop. I think. Swanson may become a star. Will Ahmed hit? And lets not forget the DBacks traded Didi -in my opinion a star on the horizon.

Blair was a first rounder. My rub in this deal revolves around Blair. I think Aaron Blair is going to be a bulldog on the mound. I think he’ll be a very solid No. 3 starter. But now he’ll take the ball in Atlanta. Maybe not this year, but soon enough.

I don’t know anything about Gabe Speier, the other pitcher coming to Arizona. When I haven’t seen a prospect I do not comment. Perhaps he’ll be really, really good. Perhaps not.

Shelby Miller is a mid-rotation starter. He’s a good pitcher. He was moved by the Cardinals because they had too many pitchers. He was fine for Atlanta. Mid-rotation in my opinion. So-here’s my rub. You traded for Shelby Miller, a proven pitcher for Aaron Blair, a potential mid-rotation starter who may be half a year to a year away. And it also cost you Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte. What’s wrong with that picture?

I think patience is a virtue with prospects. I live prospects. I know they don’t all come through. But I think Blair will.

I believe the Diamondbacks could have cobbled together a good enough pitching staff without Miller to contend this year. And they still would have Inciarte, Swanson and Blair. Three very good players for their future.

By the way, Greinke is the closest pitcher I have seen to Greg Maddux. It was a very good signing. However, as it turns out, it cost them Touki. I can live with that. It is now easier to accept than when he was traded to get Bronson Arroyo’s money off the books.

There is a certain comfort level between the Braves and the Diamondbacks. But we need to watch the Braves organization very carefully over the next few years. How will they develop with several of Arizona’s top prospects? Will they be patient with Toussaint, Blair, and Swanson? Will they flip any of them for more seasoned veterans? I don’t think so. Shelby Miller was not going to take them to a title anytime soon. The DBacks guys may–within a few years. The bigger question in this. Will Shelby Miller help take the Diamondbacks to the title they seek NOW? Will Shelby Miller join Zack Greinke in helping put a ring on the finger of Paul Goldschmidt? Man, I hope so.

I wish that little voice in my head that I always trust wasn’t screaming at me. In full disclosure—I really, really like Aaron Blair and Touky. Almost as much as I like Didi.
And believe me, my followers know how much I like Didi. I really, really like Inciarte.
And Shelby Miller you ask? Talk to me in nine months. I hope it works. I really do.
For Goldy’s sake. I really, really like Goldy.

Calm So Far

Good morning from The Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville. Believe me, this place is all dressed up and ready for Christmas. Beautiful decorations all over the place. This is hotel is so big you can check in on Sunday and not find your room until some time on Monday.

The Winter Meetings have been here several times, so we really know our way around. But-there is so much to see and do that my fitbit might blow up. It’s not used to me walking so many steps.

In case you missed my Top Ten Prospects for 2016 as posted at MLBPipeline.com, here they are:

No. 10- Steven Matz-Mets

No. 9- Orlando Arcia- Brewers

No. 8- Tyler Glasnow- Pirates

No. 7- J P Crawford- Phillies

No. 6- Joey Gallo- Rangers

No. 5- Lucas Giolito- Nationals

No. 4- Yoan Moncada- Red Sox

No. 3- Julio Urias- Dodgers

No. 2- Byron Buxton- Twins

No. 1- Corey Seager- Dodgers

Like you, I was blown away when the Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke. I have a couple thoughts about the deal: First and foremost, Chase Field, like Coors Field in Denver is a very tough place to pitch. However, Greinke fits for a couple reasons. He can keep the ball down in the zone and keep the hitter off balance. He has struck out 200 men a season more than once. Remember-he has pitched in hitter-friendly Miller Park. Chase Field is difficult, but he’s a cut above. A six year deal may be two years too long, but the buzz and the immediate improvement to contending status makes the deal more than viable for the Dbacks-who just signed a huge, huge TV contract worth lots of $.

Yes, the Dodgers lost Greinke and have more than one hole in the rotation. But getting Aroldis Chapman allows them to shorten the game for all their pitchers-including Clayton Kershaw. I think they’ll get at least one more starter. But it won’t be an ace like Greinke or Price, we know that.

The Giants have to re-tool their pitching staff. Age has crept up on them. I see them getting two starters some way, some how. And Justin Upton would really help their offense and outfield needs.

Take Mike Pelfrey out of Minnesota and put him in Detroit and he is…still Mike Pelfrey.
I like his stuff, but the results have been…meh.

David Price to the Red Sox. The ace they need. But they have to have the rest of their rotation improve for them to keep up with Toronto, etc. They have other questions as well in December—Hanley to 1B, Sandoval’s weight, etc. ??

David Dombrowski never really replaced Joe Nathan as a closer and suffered for it. It’s ironic that his first major move for Boston was getting a closer.

The Indians have to sign one from among (in order of my preference): Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter or….Yikes…Ike Davis. Doing so will bring some much, much needed power without yielding a starting pitcher.

If they do have to yield a starter to get a hitter, they better get a power hitter with some RBIs in his bat. I clearly wouldn’t trade Kluber or Carrasco. That leaves Salazar, or Bauer. One of those may be worth a healthy sum of RBIs IMO.

I’m really happy Peter Bourjos has signed a contract with the Phillies. He’s a good guy, a great defender and he can run. But he has to hit more and get on base. He’ll help the Phillies pitchers.

I like Nori Aoki in the Seattle outfield. He can slap the ball around that big outfield, get on base and score. But they really need lots of offensive production from their entire lineup, top to bottom.

My miss of the year? Will Middlebrooks. Wow, was I wrong. In Spring Training he did a fine job with the bat. But his bat is slow and he may well be a 4-A player. I admit when I’m wrong, and I thought he would hit.

Collin Cowgill can help the Indians outfield defense late in games.

Watch this space for Winter Meetings blogs once or twice a day until Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks for reading my columns at MLB.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it-I’m done for this first blog from Nashville.

 

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