MLB: A Look Back at 2014 Predictions

With the playoffs kicking off I thought it would be a fun project to take a look back at who I predicted would win. Here is my post from March.

I picked the Dodgers to win it all, which is still a decent pick. I actually picked four of the five National League teams, although I didn’t necessarily get them right in who wins and who makes it in via the Wild Card. In the American League, I only got two of the five.

Here were my picks in March:

AL East
1. Tampa Bay Rays (I still want to write Devil Rays)
2. *Boston Red Sox

AL Central
1. Detroit Tigers

AL West
1. Texas Rangers
2. *Oakland A’s

I couldn’t have been more off on the Rangers, but you can never predict injuries. The AL East I was totally wrong as well only getting Detroit and the A’s as a Wild Card. I predicted Tampa Bay over Detroit in the ALCS. One of those teams might make it there, but if I had to pick right now Detroit wouldn’t make it that far.

NL East
1. Atlanta Braves
2. *Washington Nationals

NL Central
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. *St. Louis Cardinals

NL West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers

My Atlanta Braves let me down this year. I think this was more of a homer pick than any other. I actually have LA defeating Pitt in the NLCS with LA winning it all in six games. I’m still confident that LA might make the World Series but time will tell. My picks this  year were much better than in the past. It will be interesting to see just how good they turn out in the end.

If you had to pick today, who do you think would win?

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A Few Thoughts on the Great Tony Gwynn

For the past few days we have all seen some great tributes to the great Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. He will definitely be missed but I feel a lot of the tributes are overlooking one thing. His impact at the amateur level.

As we all know now, and many may not have known before, Gwynn was the head coach of the San Diego State University Aztecs. It was here that he made a profound impact on, not only the game, but on the lives of young men. SDSU may not have reached the powerhouse status of some other California schools, but it made great strides while he was at the helm. He led them to the NCAA tournament three times (2009, 2013, 2014). It was the first time they reached the postseason since 1991.

Gwynn’s love of baseball was something that was simply fun to watch. As a guy who grew up not watching much Padre baseball, he was always one I loved, but disliked seeing because he was so good, watching play my favorite team the Atlanta Braves.

When I picture Gwynn I see two things. First of all, I see him lining a baseball into the left-centerfield gap for a stand up double. He was such a great hitter and used all the field so well. I always wondered how many home runs he would have hit if he just decided to load up and pull the ball more. But that wasn’t him. Secondly, I remember well him with Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston. That was one of the great moments in baseball history during my lifetime and probably will never be matched.

I do not want to get into an argument about how great a hitter Tony Gwynn was. He was great. Or if he was better than this player or that player. Gwynn had one of the best swings I’ve ever seen and was simply an amazing hitter for anyone’s generation. His numbers speak for themselves. That is where I will leave that.

If you have a few minutes I highly recommend you checking out the MLB video of the Padres tribute. It was a touching moment and I loved that they included the Aztecs in the tribute, even his Aztec jersey in the dugout. You can watch it here.

Over at Friarhood.com you can purchase a t-shirt in honor of Tony Gwynn. They have two very cool shirts with proceeds going to a charity. They do great work over there covering the Padres. Below is the graphic on one of the shirts.

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MLB Draft: Should the Astros Draft Rendon or Aiken #1 Overall?

The Houston Astros aren’t the doormat of the American League anymore. Okay let’s not get carried away, because they still aren’t very good. They still might be one of the worst teams in baseball, but don’t count them out forever. They are putting together a lot of good young talent which comes when you have the first pick in the draft year after year.

The past two years the Astros have had the first pick in the draft. In 2012 they drafted Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa who is currently tearing it up at the high Single-A level for the Lancaster Jethawks. In 2013, the Astros drafted highly regarded Stanford pitcher Mark Appel. Appel struggled to start the 2014 season but pitched well after being drafted last summer. He has a lot of upside and might be in the big leagues before too long.

Three years ago the Astros only had the #11 pick, but they made the most of it drafting George Springer. Springer would be the Astros #1 prospect had he not been called up to the big leagues earlier this year. So far in 2014 he is tearing it up for a rookie already with 10 home runs in just under 200 at bats.

This year I think tells a lot with where the Astros feel they are at at the big league level. The top two picks in most mock drafts are both left handed starting pitchers. One is a high school phenom in Brady Aiken, and the other is college standout Carlon Rondon from North Carolina State University.

Aiken is highly thought of and has a huge upside. However, Rondon may be closer to the big leagues. This is where I feel the Astros have to make a big decision. Do they choose Rondon in hopes that he could join Appel and the other rising stars in the Astros farm system in just a few years in Houston? Or do they choose Aiken and let him get some seasoning in the minors.

Aiken may take longer to get to the big leagues, but he might have a higher ceiling. Whereas Rondon might still become a quality front of the rotation starter and might do it a bit quicker than the high school pitcher.

The history of high school left handed pitchers going #1 overall has seen some bumps in the road. See David Clyde and Brien Taylor. However, this shouldn’t be taken into much consideration for Houston.

I think the Astros should take Rondon simply because he is further along in his development. Then again I am more of a proponent of taking college pitchers over high schoolers in the first few rounds, especially if you have the first pick. I think the pick will give a slight insight into where the Astros see themselves. Are they still 5+ years away from contending? Then perhaps they should stick with Aiken and go with the younger pitcher. If they feel they are five or less years away from contending, then I would go with Rondon. He gives you the better option to help out a team at the big league level in under five years. That doesn’t mean he will be the ace of the staff in three years. He still needs some polishing, but he is closer than Aiken even if Aiken has a higher upside as many people feel.

No matter who they take, it should be an interesting draft. There are some others I am anxious to see where they wind up like the hard throwing high schooler out of Texas Tyler Kolek. Or who ever drafts Alex Jackson, do they see him as a catcher or an outfielder? There is a lot of talent in the draft this year.

Who do you think the Astros should draft #1 overall?

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Fan Duel – A New Way to Play Fantasy Baseball

So I am hooked on something that isn’t necessarily new, but it is new to me – Fan Duel.

I used to play fantasy baseball every year. I even managed to win a few times (I have a banner from an ESPN league somewhere), but eventually I had to stop. I simply put in too much time and let it get in the way of other things.

These days I don’t change lineups every day depending on who is playing. I don’t even play every day. I only play when I have time and usually when I have some time to actually watch the games which for me these days is only a couple times a week. So I don’t feel the need to do it every day, and I am winning a few dollars.

FanDuel.com is a gambling site. So if you are not into gambling it might not be for you, but you can also play for free. There are multiple ways to play. I usually play head-to-head or in a 50/50 league and only for small stakes. But it is fun.

Each player is assigned a value and then you have $35,000 to purchase players ranging from $2,000 to nearly $10,000. You earn points for what they do on the field and the winners win actual money. You never get stuck with the guy who is on the DL because you pick your lineups daily.

I like it and even though it is not going to pay the rent, it might buy me an occasional beer or two. If you sign up through one of the links on our site, we get a small commission which helps keep our site up and running. You can even challenge your friends. I do it all the time. So if you sign up through us, send us an email and we can do a challenge together (low stakes of course – I’m not a high roller).

If you play, I’d like to hear what you think of it. Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2014 MLB Predictions

Every year people throw out predictions for the year. I love doing this as well even though I never come close to what actually happens. It is not an easy thing to do to predict how teams will perform over six months time. But alas it is still a fun thing to do. So here we go, the Baseball de World 2014 MLB Predictions.

* Wild Card Teams

AL East

1. Tampa Bay Rays (I still want to write Devil Rays)
2. *Boston Red Sox
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Toronto Blue Jays

This might be the most closely contested division in baseball. From one to four the separation won’t be that much. I like the Rays to win the division based on their good young pitching and hitting and their leader Joe Madden.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

The upper part of this division is good. I’m not sold completely on the Royals like some others I have seen. However, the last two teams are terrible. It is Detroit’s division to lose and the Indians will make it close most of the season but I see the Tigers claiming the Central crown again.

AL West

1. Texas Rangers
2. *Oakland A’s
3. Anaheim Angels
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

Okay, so this may be a bit of a homer pick. I kept going back and forth between the Rangers and A’s with the other team getting the wild card. I know the Rangers pitching is hurt but I think the guys filling in will do better than most expect. Plus everyone that is hurt will not be out too long aside from the Dutch Oven.

AL Wild Card Game – Boston over Oakland
AL Division Series – Detroit over Boston & Tampa Bay over Texas
AL Championship Series – Tampa Bay over Detroit

NL East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. *Washington Nationals
3. Miami Marlins
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. New York Mets

Again this might be a bit of a homer call, but I think both the Braves and Nationals make the playoffs. I know the Braves have some issues with the rotation, but I think they have enough in some good young arms to keep in the race. Plus I think their offense will be better this year. I mean B.J. Upton can’t be as bad as last year can he? Braves fans better hope not.

NL Central

1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. *St. Louis Cardinals
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs

I really hate to give the Cards the Central crown even though they may be the best team. I think both the Pirates and Cards make the playoffs with the rest of the league battling for mediocrity. The Reds may be decent and surprise some people, but the Brewers and Cubs will be terrible.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

Top to bottom I think the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Will they beat themselves again this year? It remains to be seen but they will be in the playoffs.

AL Wild Card Game – St. Louis over Washington
AL Division Series – Los Angeles over St. Louis & Pittsburgh over Atlanta
AL Championship Series – Los Angeles over Pittsburgh

World Series – Los Angeles Dodgers over Tampa Bay Rays in six games.

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Australia Releases Final Roster to Face Diamondbacks and Dodgers

Baseball Australia has announced the final roster for the team that will meet the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 20 and March 21. The team, newly named Southern Thunder, is led by MLB pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith (Arizona Diamondbacks) and former MLB outfielder Trent Oeltjen (Sydney Blue Sox).

Joining Oeltjen in the lineup will be power hitting Stefan Welch (Boston Red Sox) and Mike Walker (Milwaukee Brewers). The team features several other players with MLB experience including Luke Hughes and Justin Huber.

The Southern Thunder will take on the Dodgers on Thursday March 20th before taking on the Diamondbacks on Friday March 21st.

1-top-roster
1-bottom-roster

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Possible Changes in the Posting Process for Japanese Players

David Lennon of Newsday.com has reported that changes are apparent in the Japanese player posting system. They are reporting that the changes could come as early as November.

The new process will be more player-friendly and could greatly benefit Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka.

The current process features a bidding process where the highest bidder from MLB has the right to negotiate with the player.  The winner of the sealed bidding process has a specific window to negotiate and sign the player. However, that all could change very soon.

One proposal has the player being allowed to choose three teams among the top bidders with the player then allowed to negotiate with the team he would like to play for.

You can read more from the Newsday.com article here.

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Texas Rangers to Hold Fundraiser for Christopher Lane Memorial Fund

Nearly a month has passed since the tragic death of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane was maliciously murdered by “bored” teens.

There have been numerous benefits set up to honor the teen who was playing college ball in Oklahoma. And now another is being set up by the Texas Rangers.

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Wives Club are going to hold a special fundraiser during a game with the Angels on September 28th. Part of the proceeds will go toward the Christopher Lane Memorial Fund.

The fund was set up by friends and the Essendon Baseball Club of Australia to help pay for funeral and travel costs to repatriate Christopher. However, the fund raised over $150,000 and will now create an ongoing legacy using the raised funds.

During the Rangers fundraiser fans will be able to purchase grab bags for $50, $100, or $200 that will contain autographed items from Rangers players. In addition to the grab bags, a silent auction is being set up for autographed jerseys of Australian born players Travis Blackley and the A’s Grant Balfour.

For more information you can visit TexasRangers.com.

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MLB Says No to Cuba in Caribbean Series

In mid-June Cuba said it would rejoin the Caribbean Series after a 53-year absence. However, that may now be in jeopardy thanks to Major League Baseball.

A Major League Baseball official told the organizers of the Caribbean Series that it would not cooperate with the 2014 tournament if Cuba is allowed to play.

Consent from MLB is crucial since many of the players that play for the teams are under contract to MLB clubs. But the Baseball Confederation of the Caribbean is working on obtaining a license from the US Government to allow a Cuban team in the 2014 tournament scheduled for February 1-7 in Venezuela.

In the early years of the tournament, Cuba was dominant. It won seven titles from 1949-1960. Then Fidel Castro took over, and he dissolved professional baseball canceling the 1961 tournament. After a nine year absence, the tournament restarted in 1970 without Cuba. That is how it has been ever since.

So earlier this year when it was announced that Cuba would rejoin the Series, there were many people who were very excited. Now that all may be in jeopardy because of two governments that can’t get along.

Another hitch in the plan is the plan for the Caribbean Series to return to the United States in another four years or so. The Series has been in talks with the Miami Marlins about the possibility of using their stadium to return to the area where the tournament was played as recent as 1991.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Cuba participates in the World Baseball Classic, which partly takes place in the USA. So many are asking why MLB would try to ban a team from Cuba from playing in the Caribbean Series when it is allowed in the WBC.

It was announced on MLB’s official website on June 11 that Cuba would be joining the Series. Just over a month later, MLB sent out an ultimatum to the Confederation.

According to Diario Libre, which obtained a copy of the letter dated July 15, MLB Vice President of Operations Kim Ng wrote to Puello that MLB would grant the Confederation 24 hours to retract its agreement with Cuba. Otherwise, MLB will decline to sign its annual Caribbean Series agreement with the Confederation. U.S. sanctions, Ng said in the letter, require MLB to apply for licenses, and there is not enough time to do so before the tournament.¹

It appears that the Confederation has until August 15 to rescind the invitation to Cuba. If they fail to do so by that day, MLB will be unable to sign the annual agreement for the 2014 tournament.

¹ Cuba Standard (2013-08-07) “MLB threatens to pull plug on Caribbean Series over Cuba

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How Big is the Home Field Advantage in the World Series?

Since the 7-7 tie at the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, the winner of the Summer Classic has been awarded home field advantage for the World Series. So the fans decide the players of the teams that play for the advantage in the biggest series of the year. But how big of an advantage is it?

Let’s take a look at how the home and visiting teams have done over the course of time.

The current format of 2-3-2 started in 1924, with the exception of three years. In 1943 and 1944, the World Series used a 3-4 format due to World War II travel restrictions. And in 1994, there was no World Series due to the strike. Over those 85 World Series the team with the home field advantage have won 50 times. That is just 58.8% of the time. That may not seem like a huge advantage, and mathematically this might be a small sample size, but if I’m in the series I’ll take any advantage I can get.

However, if we look at more recent trends, the team with home field advantage has won 24 times since 1981. That is 31 World Series and a rate of 77.4%. Perhaps when MLB decided to give the winner the home field, they were looking at recent trends.

You might be thinking, well it only matters if they go to a Game 7. While I would disagree that it is more than that, let’s take a look at how teams have done in Game 7’s.

Since 1924 the World Series has gone to a Game 7 a total of 24 times. The team with the home field advantage has a record of 18-16. There was a huge shift in this trend since 1980. Prior to that year, the home team went 9-16 in Game 7’s. Since, they have gone 9-0.

While trends will change from time to time, the current trend leans heavily on the home team.

But what has happened since the change after the 2002 All-Star Game? The home team has gone 7-3 and won the only Game 7 that has been played since then.

So does having home field really give a team the advantage? I’ll leave that for you to decide. It may not be as big as people think, but I do think there is something to it in the end. There are so many outside factors that go into each series that will determine the winner. The home field is just one of those many factors.

Should the fans vote in the All-Star players to determine who gets home field advantage? That’s another story for another day that we will look at soon, but I’d love to hear what you think.

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MLB All-Star Futures Game Rosters Announced

Press Release Major League Baseball
Rosters Feature 11 Former First Round Picks; World Team Includes Players from 10 Different Countries and Territories Outside the United States
Rosters for the 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game were announced today by Major League Baseball.The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which is now in its 15th year, features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday. The U.S. Team leads the all-time series, 8-6. The game will begin at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.com.SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of Major League Baseball, will provide live play-by-play coverage of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on MLB Network Radio (XM channel 89; Sirius channel 209) in addition to SiriusXM’s other comprehensive live coverage from New York. The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smart phones and mobile devices and online at SiriusXM.com. Taco Bell All-Star Sunday is the first of three days of All-Star events at Citi Field, culminating with the 84th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 16th.

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team. Each Major League organization is represented and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.

The teams feature 11 former first round draft picks (U.S. – 10; World – 1), eight players picked in Compensation Round A (all U.S.) and four second round picks (all U.S.). Among the 11 first round picks, six were selected in the 2011 Draft, three in the 2010 Draft and two in the 2012 Draft. The World Team features players from 10 different countries and territories outside the 50 United States. The Dominican Republic is represented by 13 players, followed by Colombia (2), Cuba (2) and Puerto Rico (2). Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Panama, Taiwan and Venezuela are each represented by one player on the World Team.

For the first time, fans will determine the final player on both the U.S. and World Team rosters by casting their votes in the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists (#FuturesFinalists) ballot, available exclusively on MLB.com/futuresfinalists and the Club sites. Fans may begin voting immediately and cast their ballots until Sunday, June 30th at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

The five candidates for the U.S. are: OF Tyler Austin (Trenton/NYY; #VoteAustin); OF Nick Castellanos (Toledo/DET; #VoteCastellanos); 3B Garin Cecchini (Portland/BOS; #VoteCecchini); OF Courtney Hawkins (Winston-Salem/CWS; #VoteHawkins); and OF Brandon Nimmo (Savannah/NYM; #VoteNimmo). The players vying for the final roster spot on the World Team are: SS Javier Baez (Dayton/CHI; Puerto Rico; #VoteBaez); 1B Ji-Man Choi (Jackson/SEA; South Korea; #VoteChoi); SS Carlos Correa (Quad Cities/HOU; Puerto Rico; #VoteCorrea); 3B Renato Nunez (Beloit/OAK; Venezuela; #VoteNunez); and 2B Rougned Odor (Myrtle Beach/TEX; Venezuela; #VoteOdor).

In addition to voting on the web, fans also may use their mobile phones to cast votes via text message. To receive the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269. Individual player votes may be cast directly via text by sending a player’s code to 89269. For example, Text “U3″ to vote for U.S. Team Player 3. Player codes are as follows: Austin (U1), Cecchini (U2), Castellanos (U3), Hawkins (U4), Nimmo (U5), Baez (W1), Choi (W2), Correa (W3), Nunez (W4) and Odor (W5). All votes are final. Standard rate text messaging fees apply (check with mobile carriers for details).

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will last nine innings, and in the event of a tie, a 10th inning will be played. The game will not go longer than 10 innings, regardless of the score. Players and coaches will be outfitted in special SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game jerseys and will wear caps of their Major League organization with a SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game logo embroidered on the side.

The Minor League Baseball Umpires who will work the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game are Pat Hoberg (home plate) of the Pacific Coast League, Gabe Morales (first base) of the International League, Ryan Goodman (second base) of the Southern League and Nic Lentz (third base) of the Eastern League.

Ninety-nine players have competed in both the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In 2012, 30 Major League All-Stars were alumni of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Nine players – Jose Altuve, Adam Dunn, Neftali Feliz, Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper, Francisco Liriano, Evan Longoria, Ben Sheets and Geovany Soto – appeared in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and were named to the All-Star Game in the following season.

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Major League Baseball Opens 2014 Season in Sydney, Australia

For the first time in MLB history, the season will open up in Australia come 2014 when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks open the season in Sydney.

The two-game series will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23.

Both teams will open the doors to their training schedule as they will be in Australia for six days but play only two games.

This is a huge deal for Australia where baseball is slowly growing. There have been 31 Australian Major Leaguers over the years, and one currently plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Peter Moylan.

The Australian Baseball League was reborn during the 2010-2011 season. The league consists of six teams spread out around the country with one in Sydney.

The Major League games will take place after the 2013-2014 ABL season which runs from November to February. This will only hope to keep the baseball game growing both helping the ABL and the Australian National Team.

What it is guaranteed to help is the economy in Sydney. Bringing in money and improvements to the Sydney Cricket Ground which will be renovated to meed Major League standings prior to the opening series.

The games will also take place during the 100th anniversary of an exhibition game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants that took place at the same venue.

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MLB Advanced Media, YouTube Team Up to Offer Fans More Baseball

Archival footage to include thousands of hours of videos, in-season highlights and classic games; Two daily live games also accessible in select countries

Press Release Major League Baseball

MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, and YouTube today announced they’re teaming up to offer fans an expanded array of licensed Major League Baseball video content on the official MLB.com YouTube channel.

MLBAM, which has been streaming live and on-demand video on MLB.com for more than a decade, originally joined YouTube in 2005 as one of the earliest YouTube Sports partners. In 2010, MLBAM began offering full-game archives and highlight reels on a YouTube channel accessible exclusively in Australia, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Russia. The updatedMLB.com Channel on YouTube expands much of that content to a global audience.

This MLB.com YouTube channel will include highlight clips from every MLB game in 2013 as well as thousands of hours from MLBAM’s archives. In-season highlights will be available approximately two days after the respective games have been completed. Videos from MLB.com’s Baseball’s Best Moments library also will be included.

MLBAM also will live stream two live games daily during the regular season, available for free and accessible exclusively outside of its core live video distribution territories: North America, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

“Fans around the world are getting more Major League Baseball video than ever before on YouTube, continuing to make YouTube a daily sports destination,” said Frank Golding, Director of North America Sports Content Partnerships.

“Expanding our partnership with YouTube provides another platform for extending the reach of the thousands of hours of archived baseball content in our library and for delivering live baseball games via the Internet to fans in new markets around the world,” said Kenny Gersh, Senior Vice President, Business Development, MLBAM.

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MLB Announces Details for 2013 Amateur Draft

Day One on Thursday, June 6th to Feature Top 73 Selections Live From Studio 42 at MLB Network and Simulcast on MLB.com; Astros Select First Overall; Marlins, Yankees Each Hold Four Picks on Day On 

Press Release Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball will hold day one of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday, June 6th at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey.  The Draft will begin live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7:00 p.m. (ET).  Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a Draft preview show, also simulcast on MLB.com, at 6:00 p.m. (ET).

The selection order of the First-Year Player Draft is determined by the reverse order of finish at the close of the previous championship season.  The Houston Astros will have the first overall selection of the 2013 Draft, marking the second consecutive year, and the fourth time in Club history, that they hold the top selection (previous: 1976, 1992, 2012).  It also marks the second time ever that a Club has the top pick in back-to-back years, joining the Washington Nationals, who held the first selection in 2009 and 2010.  The New York Yankees have a league-high three first round picks (26th, 32nd and 33rd overall).  Four Clubs have two first round picks: the Pittsburgh Pirates (9th and 14th), the St. Louis Cardinals (19th and 28th), the Tampa Bay Rays (21st and 29th) and the Texas Rangers (23rd and 30th).  The Yankees and the Miami Marlins each have four of the first 73 selections.

For the first time, the Draft will feature Competitive Balance rounds, which were agreed upon as a part of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.  The Competitive Balance rounds give Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery, which was held last July at MLB Network.  The 10 Clubs with the lowest revenues and the 10 Clubs in the smallest markets were entered into a lottery for the six selections immediately following the first round of the First-Year Player Draft (picks 34-39).  The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, were entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the second round of the Draft (picks 69-73; only five picks will be made in this round for 2013 after the Cleveland Indians forfeited their pick for the signing of free agent Michael Bourn).

The Draft will have 40 rounds, and a Club may pass on its selection in any round and not forfeit its right to participate in other rounds.  Like each of the previous four years, the 2013 Draft will span three days.  For day one on June 6th, MLB Network and MLB.com will provide live pick-by-pick coverage during the first round, Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B.  The intervals between selections will last four and a half minutes during the first round, two minutes during Competitive Balance Round A, and one minute during the second round and Competitive Balance Round B.  The Draft will resume at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on both Friday, June 7th and Saturday, June 8th via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York City.  Friday, June 7th will cover rounds three through 10, and Saturday, June 8th will cover rounds 11 through 40.  Rounds three through 10 will have one minute between selections, and the remainder of the selections will be made without delays.

Beginning with the Draft preview show, MLB Network’s live coverage will feature interviews with Club front office personnel and representatives, footage from Club draft rooms, interviews with prospects and newly drafted players, and news and analysis from MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, Larry Bowa, Peter Gammons, John Hart, Brian Kenny, Al Leiter, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Bill Ripken, Alanna Rizzo, Sam Ryan and Matt Yallof, as well as Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and Jim Callis of Baseball America.

MLB.com will begin its exclusive live programming of the Draft’s final two days with a live draft show from its New York studios at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on June 7th, followed by a live pick-by-pick stream and draft and scouting expert commentary from Mayo and Callis.  It also will provide DraftCaster, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every draft-eligible player supplemented by statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.

Each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented at the Draft by one of its former players and/or a member of its front office.  Last year’s representatives included Hall of Famers Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Tommy Lasorda and Frank Robinson, along with MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez.  The Club representatives who will attend the 2013 Draft will be announced in the weeks ahead.  In addition to the Club representatives, five first round selections attended the 2012 First-Year Player Draft last year, including the number one overall pick Carlos Correa.

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International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 41-50

We have finished looking at the international players on the bottom half of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List. Today we start in on the Top 50.

In case you missed one of the other posts, there are here:

#51-60 International Players

#61-70 International Players

#71-80 International Players

#81-90 International Players

#91-100 International Players

Yasiel Puig, of, LAD – #47

Yasiel Puig hails from Cienfuegos, Cuba having defected in 2012. He is still young, 22, and has a lot of upside yet a lot to prove.

He missed the entire 2011-2012 season in Cuba (it runs during the winter months) after being suspended for trying to defect after playing at the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands. He didn’t sign until late June of last year so he has only a little time in the minors here.

However, this year he started out at Double-A Chattanooga where he has done quite well in just 14 games. So far this year he has hit four home runs and posted a line of .333/379/.648 so far.

He has good speed and shows good instincts but needs to work on his route running a bit. He is still young and learning while becoming acclimated to the US. He has a strong arm and has even drawn comparisons to the likes of Matt Kemp on his athletic ability.

Julio Teheran, p, ATL – #44

Julio Teheran, from Cartagena, Colombia, is no stranger to the Baseball America Top 100. This is his fourth year on the list dropping considerably after a poor 2012 season. After both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he was ranked as the #5 prospect in all of baseball.

Teheran had a break out year in 2011 posting a 15-3 mark with an ERA of just 2.55 at Triple-A. He got his first taste of the big leagues that year but struggled a bit. His ERA ballooned to over five in 2012 in Triple-A, but has shown flashes of brilliance.

In 2013, Teheran has started the year as the Braves 5th starter and has had an up and down season already. He has the stuff to be a top of the line starter, but hasn’t shown the consistency at the MLB level so far.

Hyun-jin Ryu, p, LAD – #42

Ryu comes from Incheon, South Korea and has been pitching in the Korean Baseball Organization for the past few years where he has been a star. In 2010, he posted a 16-4 record with a 1.82 ERA for one of the worst teams in the KBO, the Hanwha Eagles.

The Dodgers won the bidding for Ryu this past offseason and have already put him into the starting rotation where he hasn’t disappointed. So far in 2013, he is 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts.

Ryu won’t overpower you with a 95+ mph fastball, but he knows how to pitch and has a good assortment of pitches that he can control. Look for him to be a solid #3 or #4 for years to come with the possibility that he could even become a #2 starter down the line with some more experience.

He is just 26-years old and signed a six-year contract, so the Dodger will control him during his most formidable years.

Oswaldo Arcia, of, MIN – #41

Oswaldo Arcia signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2007 out of Anaco, Venezuela. He has since worked his way up to a call up from the big league club earlier this season.

He started 2013 in Triple-A and simply dominated in the short time he was there hitting .394 with three home runs in ten games. Since being called up, Arcia has hit a pair of home runs in ten games.

Scouts love his bat and see him evolving into a 30-doubles and 20-homer guy down the line.

It’s unclear how long he will remain in the big leagues, but it appears clear that while he is there, he will play.

Posted in Minors, MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List – Numbers 51-60

I know we are a month into the season, but that doesn’t change the fact that these guys are still prospects. So we continue our look at the international players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect List.

We have looked at the following already:

#61-70 International Players

#71-80 International Players

#81-90 International Players

#91-100 International Players

Now we take a look at #51-60

Gary Sanchez, c, NYY – #57

Gary Sanchez hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and is high on the prospect list for the New York Yankees ranking #3 after the 2012 season. The 20-year old catcher has drawn a lot of praise for his defensive abilities behind the plate.

Sanchez has shown some power hitting 18 home runs a year ago splitting time between Low and High-A ball. He has had a good start to the year so far in Single-A Tampa in the Florida State League getting on base at a .356 clip and smashing four home runs in the first 17 games.

Over his career he has thrown out 30% of would be base stealers. Look for him to make the move to Double-A at some point this season, and he could make his MLB debut in 2014 or 2015 if he continues to develop.

Gregory Polanco, of, PIT – #51

Polanco is also out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The  21-year old outfielder had a breakout year in 2012 posting a line of .325/.380/.455 while hitting 16 home runs and stealing 40 bases.

He finished the 2012 season in Low-A ball and was moved up to High-A this season where he is still hitting. So far through 23 games, Polanco is hitting at a .318 clip and has stolen nine bases.

If he continues this pace, he might earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona later in the year. After the 2012 season, Baseball America rated him as the best athlete, best defensive outfielder, and the best hitter for average in the Pittsburgh system.

Coming up tomorrow, players #41-50

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MLB: German Donald Lutz to Make Major League Debut

Donald Lutz will become the first German to make it to the Big Leagues out of the MLB Europe academy when he makes his Major League Debut sometime in the next day or two. He got the call yesterday, but is still waiting to be assigned to the big league club.

Lutz, welcomed by the Cincinnati Reds on Twitter today, will soon make his Major League debut.

 

Lutz was born in the United States, but at the age of one left for Germany where he grew up. Lutz played for Germany in last year’s WBC Qualifier that took place in Regensburg, Geramny. During the Qualifier, Lutz played first base and hit .308 during the four games.

He is rated at the best power hitter in the Reds organization by Baseball America, and is a Top 20 prospect. He was signed in 2007 as a free agent, and progressed through the Reds organization ever since.

In 2012, Lutz split most of his time between High-A and Double-A ball where he combined to hit 22 home runs while posting a .269/.336/.517 line. He has struggled a bit so far this year hitting just .211, but he has hit five home runs in 21 games.

I had the chance to see Lutz play with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos earlier this season. During that game Lutz went 1-for-3 with one of the hardest hit home runs I’ve ever seen. He hit a low line drive over the right-field fence that might have knocked it down had it been a little lower.

Lutz has not been activated as of the time of this post, but it looks like it could happen tonight corresponding with Chris Heisey’s injured hamstring that will probably land him on the 15-day DL.

We wish him luck whenever he gets his chance. I know he has the support of an entire country behind him.

Posted in Europe, MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

MLB Working Toward Worldwide Amateur Draft for 2014

Bud Selig said he would like to institute an worldwide amateur draft for 2014.

Under the labor contract, MLB has until June 1 to notify the player’s union of its intent to hold an international draft next year. The union would then have until June 15 to veto it.

The MLB Draft is held each year in June and consists of 40 rounds plus compensatory picks. Starting in 2007, the MLB Draft has been televised.

Currently to be eligible for the draft one must be a resident of the U.S., Canada, or a U.S. Territory (such as Puerto Rico).

An international draft would make players in other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, eligible for the draft. Currently each team has an international bonus pool with which to sign players outside of the MLB Draft.

Many people think that since the inclusion of Puerto Rico into the MLB Draft, the sport has been seriously hurt there. Puerto Rico was added to the draft in 1990 and ever since the sport has been in a downward spiral.

Will including other places like Venezuela and Dominican Republic hurt the sport in those areas? Only time will tell as officials from both MLB and the Player’s Association work together on a possible international draft in 2014.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

Major League Baseball Says It Will Not Change Schedule to Accommodate the Olympics

Baseball was an Olympic sport from 1992-2008 before it was dropped from the London Games.

The sport has been on a campaign to get it back into the Olympics for the 2020 Games. However, that effort might have taken a blow as MLB has said it will not change its schedule to accommodate the Olympics.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has said the sport needs to make its best players available just like they are in hockey and basketball.

The IOC board will meet next week to select one or more sports to put up for consideration by the IOC General Assembly for possible admission into the 2020 Games.

The international baseball and softball federations are merging in an effort to better their chances of being chosen by the IOC for inclusion in future Olympic games.

The sport has started its own international event in 2006 called the World Baseball Classic. Earlier this year the WBC was played for the third time with the Dominican Republic winning its first title (Japan won the first two).

So if baseball is to win its bid to be re-included in the Olympics, it will be without major help from MLB.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

New World Baseball Softball Body Born at Historic Tokyo Congress

Marks Milestone toward Olympic Games Inclusion

New Olympic Campaign Logo, Theme, Social Media Platforms “PlayBall2020.com” and Vision to Give Every Boy & Girl Chance to Play Ball also Launched.

Join the PlayBall2020 Lineup on Facebook and show your support!

Press Release from World Baseball Softball Confederation

TOKYO — Baseball and softball players, supporters, and fans worldwide – from professional leagues to local clubs and junior teams – have come out ‘Swinging For The Fences’ and pitching for the Olympic Games, following the launch of a global campaign to get baseball and softball back into the Games

The campaign was launched in Tokyo, one of the global power centres for the two sports. It followed an historic vote by international baseball and softball federation leaders and delegates worldwide  – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, including China, India, Iraq, Russia, Brunei, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Fiji, South Africa and many other nations – to ratify a landmark constitution that unites the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) as a single new international sporting federation, known as the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

NEW WORLD BASEBALL SOFTBALL BODY BORN

The birth of the world’s newest international sporting federation is a milestone in the campaign to rejoin the Olympic Games sports program after being delisted in 2005.

“This is an historic day”, said IBAF president and WBSC co-president, Riccardo Fraccari. “We have brought a new level of worldwide unity and determination to our quest to return to the Games.  The 65 million currently playing baseball and softball around the world now have a single federation to rally behind.”

President Fraccari said the international baseball community was “honoured and humbled” to have the opportunity to rejoin the Olympic Games in 2020,  and thanked the IOC for guidance and trust provided in forming the new federation, which he said would “provide greater support and resources for the athletes and help to develop the sports”.

Fraccari continued: “We are on a great journey to return our global sport to the Olympic stage. We’ve been listening and learning from the Olympic Family and the IOC to understand what it takes to be included as a sport at the Olympic Games.”

“This is in the best interests of the athletes and putting the welfare of the athletes and the future of sport first, and inspiring young athletes to stand on the highest podium that an athlete can aspire to—the Olympic Games,” he said.

“We have reached a milestone in our journey to put baseball and softball back in the Olympic Games, and today I am proud to announce that the full membership of the International Baseball Federation voted to ratify the new Constitution of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.”

WBSC SHARED VISION TO REACH YOUTH

The WBSC also outlined its unique vision for the campaign. “Our vision is to give every boy and girl in the world a chance to play baseball and softball and to inspire them to take up the sport through the Olympic Games,” said ISF President and WBSC co-President, Don Porter.

“Baseball-softball is a game that anyone, anywhere can play.  There are no barriers to participation.  If you’ve got a bat and ball you can play, regardless of age, gender, social, cultural or economic stature.

“Baseball and softball help to empower women and provide pathways for women and young girls to experience and participate in sport in all cultures,” said Porter.

NEW CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, WEBSITE AND LOGO

The WBSC also revealed the theme for its Olympic Games campaign, “Swing for the Fences,” heralding a global call-to-action for baseball and softball players, supporters and teams to rally behind the Olympic Games bid.

A new website for the campaign was revealed: PlayBall2020.com. Social media platforms to engage and enable baseball and softball communities worldwide were also unveiled to highlight the massive following the sports have and to share the passion to rejoin the Olympic Games.

The WBSC’s new logo for the campaign was also unveiled. It symbolizes the unique appeal that has made baseball and softball among the world’s most watched, followed and commercially successful sporting brands and experiences.

The new federation and Olympic Games inclusion campaign, has the support of players worldwide, and was launched by two of Japans softball stars, Yukiko Ueno, who pitched the Japanese team to the Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympic Games, and Nana Okamura, a new rising star who pitched Japan to victory in U16 ISF Softball World Cup and became the youngest player ever on Japan’s national team.

ATHLETE AND PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE SUPPORT OF 2020 OLYMPIC CAMPAIGN

The WBSC’s Olympic Games campaign is also supported by professional baseball and softball leagues around the word, including Nippon Professional Baseball, Major League Baseball in the United States, Korean Baseball Organization, the Chinese Professional Baseball Leagues, and numerous league partners in Latin America, Australia and Europe, who are united in their desire to participate in the Olympic Games.

“I am sure that all of my counterparts in the professional leagues share our enthusiasm for Olympic baseball and softball,“ said Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner and former Japan US Ambassador, Ryozo Kato, who said in an emotional address to the Congress, telling delegates that baseball had helped Japan to recover and grow after the devastation of the second world war, and was a catalyst for peace, uniting nations and people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Worldwide respected Japan baseball legend, Sadaharu Oh, also made a strong personal appeal for support to get baseball back into the Olympic Games, while the President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and IOC member, Tsunekazu Takeda, said he would like to see the excitement and joy of baseball experienced by people all over the world, especially among young people.

Posted in Asia, Europe, Latin, MLB, N. America, News, Oceania, Tournaments0 Comments

MLB: 2013 Season Simulation with OOTP 14

One of the hottest selling games every year is Out of the Park Baseball where you can control a team down to every detail. With the release of the game this week and baseball kicking off, I thought we would see what a simulation of the season through OOTP ’14 would bring us. This is what we got.

Final 2013 Standings:
AL East
1. x-Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
2. New York Yankees 84-78
3. Boston Red Sox 79-83
4. Baltimore Orioles 77-85
5. Tampa Bay Rays 74-88

AL Central
1. x-Cleveland Indians 88-75
2. z-Detroit Tigers 87-76
3. Chicago White Sox 78-84
4. Minnesota Twins 77-85
5. Kansas City Royals 64-98

AL West
1. x-Oakland Athletics 90-72
2. z-Los Angeles Angels 88-74
3. Texas Rangers 82-80
4. Seattle Mariners 82-80
5. Houston Astros 63-99

NL East
1. x-Atlanta Braves 95-67
2. Washington Nationals 81-81
3. Philadelphia Phillies 79-83
4. New York Mets 76-86
5. Miami Marlins 66-96

NL Central
1. x-St. Louis Cardinals 102-60
2. z-Cincinnati Reds 90-72
3. Pittsburgh Pirates 79-83
4. Milwaukee Brewers 79-83
5. Chicago Cubs 68-94

NL West
1. x-San Francisco Giants 103-59
2. z-Los Angeles Dodgers 87-75
3. San Diego Padres 79-83
4. Colorado Rockies 73-89
5. Arizona Diamondbacks 72-90

In the playoffs, both L.A. teams lost in the Wild Card game as Detroit and Cincinnati moved on to the next round.

Divisional Series
Detroit (3) vs. Oakland (2)
Cleveland (3) vs. Toronto (2)
Cincinnati (3) vs. San Francisco (2)
Atlanta (3) vs. St. Louis (0)

League Championship Series
Cleveland Indians (4) vs. Detroit Tigers (0)
Atlanta Braves (4) vs. Cincinnati Reds (3)

World Series
Cleveland Indians (4) vs. Atlanta Braves (3)

In a rematch of the 1995 World Series, Cleveland took on Atlanta but this time the outcome was different.

Season Awards:

AL Gold Gloves
Pitcher: R. A. Dickey (Toronto Blue Jays)
Catcher: Jose Molina (Tampa Bay Rays)
First Baseman: Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels)
Second Baseman: Dustin Ackley (Seattle Mariners)
Third Baseman: Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays)
Shortstop: Alcides Escobar (Kansas City Royals)
Left Fielder: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
Center Fielder: Peter Bourjos (Los Angeles Angels)
Right Fielder: Shane Victorino (Boston Red Sox)

NL Gold Gloves
Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Catcher: Ryan Hanigan (Cincinnati Reds)
First Baseman: Ike Davis (New York Mets)
Second Baseman: Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati Reds)
Third Baseman: Ryan Zimmerman (Washington Nationals)
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Left Fielder: Justin Upton (Atlanta Braves)
Center Fielder: Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee Brewers)
Right Fielder: Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds)

Rookie of the Year
AL – Nick Franklin (Seattle Mariners) .246/15/51
NL – Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds) .237/2/44 – 97 runs scored & 105 stolen bases

Cy Young Award
AL – Justin Verlander 16-7/2.61
NL – Madison Bumgarner 19-5/2.60

MVP
AL – Miguel Cabrera .325/34/120
NL – Jay Bruce .285/43/122

So there you have it. A computer simulation to see how the 2013 season might turn out. OOTP ’14 will be available later this week. You can pick up a copy of the program for PC or Mac below. We invite you to check out the #1 baseball simulation game on the market. Create yourself as a manager and start from the low minors to work your way up, or just start with the big league club and see if you can win the World Series.

OOTP14
Buy OOTP Baseball 14 PC & Mac

 

 

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MLB: Free Browser Themes for 2013

Are you a fan who sees your favorite team color in everything? Or are you a baseball fan that covers everything with your team colors?

If that is the case, then MLB has something you’ll enjoy. They have released browser themes for all 30 MLB teams, so everytime you log in  you’ll see your favorite team’s colors. Plus they are now interactive keeping you up to date with scores, breaking news, and highlights. In addition to all the news, you’ll receive exclusive promotions from MLB.

The themes are available for Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. In addition all 30 teams are available in one location.

It is the perfect compliment to all the jerseys, caps, t-shirts, bats, and balls from your favorite MLB team.

Posted in MLB, N. America, News0 Comments

MLB: 2013 Major League Baseball Predictions

With the 2013 MLB season less than 24 hours away, I thought I would give the old predictions a try. This is something that should always be taken with a grain of salt no matter who is doing it. This is for fun more than anything because teams can change throughout the season. But with that said, I still think it is fun to put together a list of who I think will win it all.

First, let us start with the American League and who will win each division.

AL East

I’m going to go with the trendy pick here and go with the Toronto Blue Jays. They added so much in the off season and nobody else in the division really seemed to get much better.

1. Toronto Blue Jays

2. Tampa Bay Rays

3. Baltimore Orioles

4. Boston Red Sox

5. New York Yankees

AL Central

I still think this is Detroit’s division to lose.

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Cleveland Indians

3. Kansas City Royals

4. Chicago White Sox

5. Minnesota Twins

AL West

This might be one of the most heated races come September.

1. Texas Rangers

2. Anaheim Angels

3. Oakland A’s

4. Seattle Mariners

5. Houston Astros

American League Wild Card

1. Tampa Bay Rays

2. Anaheim Angles

A lot of people have the Detroit Tigers winning the A.L. this year, but I am going to go with the Texas Rangers. I know I am a fan, but I also think the young guys come up and really help put this team back into the World Series.

Now for the National League

NL East

I think the best race will be this division and it will come down to Atlanta and Washington.

1. Washington Nationals

2. Atlanta Braves

3. Philadelphia Philies

4. New York Mets

5. Miami Marlins

NL Central

1. Cincinnati Reds

2. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Chicago Cubs

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

2. San Francisco Giants

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

4. San Diego Padres

5. Colorado Rockies

National League Wild Card

1. Atlanta Braves

2. San Francisco Giants

National League Champion – Washington Nationals

I see a Washington/Texas World Series with Texas finally getting their first title behind a strong year from Yu Darvish and the emergence of both Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt.

So there you have it. Take it for what it’s worth. It’s always fun to predict what will happen. If I had my way it would be an Atlanta/Texas series with Atlanta winning. I don’t see it happening though even though that’s probably as likely as a Texas victory over the Nationals.

Who do you think wins this season?

Posted in MLB, N. America0 Comments

International Players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List – Numbers 71-80

Before the World Baseball Classic we took a look at some of the international players on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect List. If you missed those, you can find #’s 91-100 here and #’s 81-90 here. Today we pick up where we left off with #’s 71-80.

Didi Gregorius, ss, ARI – #80

Hailing from Amsterdam, Gregorius was signed out of the Netherlands in 2007 as a free agent by the Cincinnati Reds. At age 18 in the Gulf Coast League, he hit just .155 in 97 at bats, but he didn’t give up there and last season got a taste of the Major Leagues.

He is a defensive middle infielder who was ranked at the #5 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization after the 2012 season. He was a part of the three team deal that saw the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks swapping players in December 2012. He is considered one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. It looks as though he will start the year at Triple-A Reno, but look for him to make an impact very soon at the big league level.

Luis Heredia, rhp, PIT – #78

Heredia, who was born in Mexico, is only 18 years old. He pitched the 2012 season in short-season A ball in the New York-Penn League for State College. In 14 starts Heredia was 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA.

Heredia signed in 2006 as a non-drafted free agent receiving a huge $2.6 million bonus from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has a huge frame at 6′ 6″ and 205 lbs, but he is still growing physically at only 18 years old.

He throws hard reaching 96 on the gun, but usually sits in the low 90s. He has good control so far, but he is still young and working on improving not only his fastball but his secondary pitches as well. He has huge upside, but only time will tell.

Look for him to start the year in Low-A ball with the possibility of moving up depending on his results.

Marcell Ozuna, of, MIA – #75

Ozuna, a power hitting outfielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, blasted 24 long balls in 2012 in High-A Jupiter in the Florida State League. He also exhibits another sought after trait for an outfielder, speed. He stole 17 bases in 2011 and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. Another tool he has is a strong arm. He has been rated with the best outfield arm in the Marlins system the past three seasons.

However, Ozuna will need to identify pitches better if he wants to continue up the ladder. He has strikeout totals of 116 and 121 the last two seasons, but he is still learning. One thing is for sure, when he hits the ball he hits it with authority.

Look for the 22-year old to spend most of the season in Double-A Jacksonville for the Marlins. He is the Marlins #5 prospect.

Avisail Garcia, of, DET – #74

The 21-year old outfielder from Venezuela got a taste of the big leagues last season with Detroit making the jump from Double-A Erie. And when he got the call, he excelled. In 23 games, he hit .319 in 47 at bats.

He is a solid defensive outfielder with a good arm. Baseball America rated him as the best outfield arm in the Tigers farm system the past two seasons. He has some power and speed and could turn into quite a threat in the Tigers lineup.

Look for Garcia to start the year in Triple-A. A heel contusion put him on the DL a few days ago, so he is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster.

Next up we will take a look at the international players from #61-70.

Posted in Minors, MLB, N. America0 Comments

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