All-Star Weekend – Home Run Derby Prediction

All-Star weekend begins today in the MLB with the Future’s Game kicking off the festivities. But today we are here to talk about the Home Run Derby that will take place tomorrow.

First of all, I love the changes they have made with the bracket format. I will miss seeing the likes of Josh Hamilton hitting 28 in a single round, but as Giancarlo Stanton showed us last year it can still be done. However, the changes do not seem as conducive to that happening much anymore.

There is just something about seeing guys hit 500+ foot bombs, and if you have never swung a bat you may not know just how hard something like that is. But what the new format does is allow talk about match ups and possible showdowns between sluggers.

Perhaps the biggest match up would be a finals match between defending champion Stanton vs. new superstar Aaron Judge. This could be a possible match in the finals, but I’m calling for a third member of the event to pull out the win.

I’m going to make the call for the no. 3 seed (players are seeded by current home run totals, except Stanton who is the no. 1 seed based on his championship last year) Cody Bellinger. There are a few reasons why I’m calling for the Dodgers rookie to pull out the upset. Firs of all, he has a swing to produce home runs which he has proven this year hitting 25 through his fist 69 games this year. Secondly, he isn’t one of the top two seeds. The top two seeds are the two guys that most are calling to win it all. Not to mention most people want to see the Stanton/Judge match in the finals. But most times things just don’t work out the way people want them.

No matter what happens, it is going to be a fun showcase on Monday night.

For more BaseballdeWorld posts on the All-Star Game, click here.

All-Star weekend

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International Players – MLB Top 100 Prospects List, Nos 1-10

We have reached the final part of our 10 part segments on breaking down the international players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects list. We have seen a lot of talent so far, but these guys are at the top of the heap and will be interesting to watch for years to come. So without further ado.

No. 10 Ozzie Albies, 2B/Atlanta Braves – Albies is one prospect that many Braves fans are both high on and will defend at every move. The speedy infielder who could play short or second will most likely end up paired with another Top 10 prospect in Dansby Swanson up the middle for Atlanta. He just turned 20 where he will most likely spend the season at AAA Gwinnett where he struggled a bit last year. He tore up AA at only 19. While the Braves traded for Brandon Phillips to hold down second base, the veteran is really holding down the spot until Albies is ready for the big leagues, so there is no need to rush him this season. Albies ranked no. 12 in 2016.

No. 7 Victor Robles, OF/Washington Nationals – Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Robles spent the 2016 season split between the South Atlantic League and the Carolina League. He possesses great speed and even stole 37 bases last season but is still learning the art of the stolen base after getting caught 14 times. He might be a few years away from the big leagues, but he could be a franchise type player. However, he won’t turn 20 until May, so he has to be given time to learn. Robles ranked no. 10 in 2016.

No. 5 Amed Rosario, SS/New York Mets – The Top 10 of the list is full of shortstops with Dominican Rosario being one of the brightest. He will play this season at just 21, and he is the future of the Mets at short, but there is no need to rush him to the big leagues. However, if he continues to impress he may force their hands. He spent half of last season at AA Binghamton impressing big time. He hit .341 with a .392 OBP in 54 games. While he might not turn out to be a 30+ home run hitter at the big league level, he plays above average defense and hits with contact and extra-base power. Rosario ranked no. 11 in 2016.

No. 3 Gleyber Torres, SS/New York Yankees – Torres is the top rated shortstop prospect in the game, and he will play the 2017 season at just 20-years old. Signed out of Venezuela in 2013, Torres was the biggest prize for the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal. He is advanced at the plate and could turn into a 20+ homer type shortstop. There is no need to rush him to the big leagues with Didi Gregorius holding down the spot in New York. Torres looks to be the centerpiece of the Yankees for years to come though when he is ready. Torres ranked no. 17 in 2016.

No. 2 Yoan Moncada, 2B/Chicago White Sox – Last season’s no. 1, Moncada is just 21-years old. The switch-hitting infielder out of Cuba has lived up to his big price tag to sign, $63 million by Boston. The big piece for the White Sox in the Chris Sale deal, Moncada could pair quite well with fellow youngster Tim Anderson up the middle in Chicago. He has the tools to be an impact player at the big league level with speed, power, and the ability to hit for average. He may not start off in Chicago to begin the season, but look for him to be there at some point this summer.

If you missed the first segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 11-20
International Players – No. 21-30
International Players – No. 31-40
International Players – No. 41-50
International Players – No. 51-60
International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

International Players - MLB Top 100 Prospects List

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MLB Top 100 Prospects List International Players – Nos. 11-20

Today we have the penultimate step on our list of international players in the MLB Top 100 Prospects list. So here we go with nos. 11-20.

If you missed the first segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 21-30
International Players – No. 31-40
International Players – No. 41-50
International Players – No. 51-60
International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 20 Francis Martes, RHP/Houston Astros – Martes, out of the Dominican Republic, is a hard throwing righty who had a solid year in 2016 at Double-A Corpus Christi. he threw 125.1 innings allowing just 104 hits and striking out 9.4 per 9. He has a plus fastball that sits between 93-96, touching 98 at times. It is his secondary pitches that still need polishing, and he will need to work on his command. While he struck out more than one hitter per inning, he also walked 3.4 per 9 which is way too high to be an effective front line starter at the big league level.

No. 17 Rafael Devers, 3B/Boston Red Sox – Devers, out of the Dominican Republic, is just a 20-year old with power to all fields. Last season he played for Salem in High-A ball where he showed some power (32 doubles and 11 home runs) but more than anything he bounced back after a slow start to finish strong. Whether or not he stays at third will remain to be seen as he continues to grow as a player with a possible shift across the diamond to first.

No. 13 Eloy Jimenez, OF/Chicago Cubs – Jimenez, who hails from the Dominican Republic, will be just 20 this season. Last year he spent the entire season in Single-A ball with South Bend in the Midwest League. There he hit .329 with 14 home runs winning the leagues MVP award. He has plus power, even drawing comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton by some. He spent most of his time in left last season, but has the arm for right as he continues to improve his defense.

MLB Top 100 Prospects List International Players

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MLB Top 100 Prospects List International Players – Nos. 21-30

We move another step closer to the Top 10 in the MLB Top 100 Prospects List international players. Today we look at nos. 21-30

If you missed the first segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 31-40
International Players – No. 41-50
International Players – No. 51-60
International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 25 Anderson Espinoza, RHP/San Diego Padres – Espinoza signed for just under $2 million. This was a new record for a prospect out of Venezuela. He impressed last season, which was his first full season in A-ball. He split time between two leagues after being apart of the trade that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston, where Espinoza was drafted. A power right arm that sits between 94-97, Espinoza has to improve on his secondary pitches though he will pitch this upcoming season at just 19-years old.

No. 23 Manuel Margot, OF/San Diego Padres – Margot is another former Red Sox farmhand to be traded to San Diego. This time it was for Craig Kimbrel. Margot is out of the Dominican Republic and was named a Pacific Coast League All-Star in 2016 before making his MLB debut in San Diego in September. He has shown great speed. Last year he stole 30 bases and hit 12 triples in AAA. With that speed he will be able to patrol centerfield in San Diego with the possibility of that coming as soon as 2017.

No. 21 Willy Adames, SS/Tampa Bay Rays – Adames worked his way to Double-A ball at just the age of 20. The Dominican prospect was named a Southern League All-Star in 2016 and played in the annual All-Star Futures Game for the World Team.  Last season in Montgomery Adames showed a little pop with 11 home runs, 31 doubles, and 6 triples. Many feel he has the makeup for a middle of the order shortstop at an All-Star-caliber. He looks to contribute to the big league club in 2018.

MLB Top 100 Prospects List international players

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MLB Top 100 Prospects List International Players – Nos. 31-40

Today we move closer to the top 10 of the MLB Top 100 Prospects List international players. Last time we took a look at nos. 41-50, and today go through 31-40.

If you missed the first six segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 41-50
International Players – No. 51-60
International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 40 Francisco Mejia, C/Cleveland Indians – The 21-year old out of the Dominican Republic has a bright future ahead of him. Last season he split time between the Single-A Midwest League and the High-A Carolina League. He hit well in both leagues. He had a 50-game hitting streak that stretched over two leagues. The switch-hitting catcher has a strong arm from behind the plate. While he might need another year of seasoning in the minors, he could compete for a spot in the big leagues as early as 2018. He ranked no. 85 on the 2016 list.

No. 34 Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B/Toronto Blue Jays – Born in Canada to future hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. is only 17-years old and already ranks at the no. 3 third base prospect in the game. Guerrero posses speed (stole 15 bases in 62 games in 2016), power (hit 8 home runs and 12 doubles), and shows plate discipline having almost as many walks (33) as strikeouts (35). He spent all of the 2016 season with Bluefield in the Appalachian League. It will remain to be seen if he can stay at third base or possibly move to first or the outfield.

No. 33 Jose De Leon, RHP/Tampa Bay Rays – The 24th Round pick in 2013 struggled a bit in his pro debut, but the Puerto Rico native found his strike in 2014 in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He tore up AAA last season before getting the call from the Los Angeles Dodgers making his MLB debut. In AAA he struck out 11.6 per 9. That did not translate over to his MLB debut, but the righty has a plus fastball that can top out at 96. He projects to be a mid-rotation starter which is why the Rays traded for him in January where he might get a shot at the rotation this spring. He will also be part of the designated pitcher pool for Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

No. 32 Kevin Maitan, SS/Atlanta Braves – The 17-year old from Venezuela has not played a game yet in the Braves farm system, but he is already being heralded as the next big thing bout of Venezuela. With a plus arm, the switch-hitter is already being compared to Miguel Sano. He has pop from both sides of the plate and excellent range. Some think he might move off shortstop eventually with a move to third base. If that does happen, he should make the transition easily when it comes to defense.

MLB Top 100 Prospects List international players

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 41-50

We are halfway through our list of the international players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List. Today we start the final 50 by taking a look at nos. 41-50.

If you missed the first five  segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 51-60
International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 50 Yadier Alvarez, RHP/Los Angeles Dodgers – Alvarez, who hails from Cuba, signed for a $16 million bonus in 2015. The hard throwing righty peaks in triple digits with his fastball while sitting between 94-97. Last season, his first in the US, he struck out 12.3 per 9 innings. He pitched well in his call up to A-ball in the Midwest League. He is still only 20 but is working on commanding his great fastball. While he may still be a few years away from the Dodgers rotation, he is one to really keep an eye on because he may be electric when he arrives.

No. 47 Jorge Mateo, SS, 2B/New York Yankees – Mateo comes out of the Dominican Republic and will be just 21 for half of this season. Last season he played 113 games in the Florida State League (A+) and showed some of his tools. He stole 36 bases, a year after swiping 82. He has the speed, although he might still need to learn the art of stealing. With his raw power, which might project out to about 15 home runs a year, he has enough tools to make him an exciting player to watch. With the arrival of Gleyber Torres from the Aroldis Chapman trade, Mateo might be forced into a second base only role.

No. 46 Reynaldo Lopez, RHP/Chicago Whitesox – Lopez comes out of the Dominican Republic and since 2014 has really proven himself in the Washington Nationals system before moving to Chicago in the Adam Eaton deal this winter. Lopez made his MLB debut his past season getting into 11 games at the big league level, including 6 starts. The hard thrower posted a 4.91 ERA over 44.0 innings and struck out 8.6 per 9. He has a power fastball, a solid curve, and a workable change but at times can struggle with control.

MLB Top 100 Prospects List

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 51-60

Today we continue our look at the international players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List for 2017. We have gone through segments look at nos. 61-100 and today we look at 51-60.

If you missed the first four segments you can check them out here:

International Players – No. 61-70
International Players – No. 71-80
International Players – No. 81-90
International Players – No. 91-100

No. 56 Yohander Mendez, LHP/Texas Rangers – Mendez hails from Venezuela where he was signed as a free agent in 2011. The 22-year old is one of the Rangers top prospects and even made his Major League debut last September pitching in 2 games out of the bullpen. Last season was a year of moves for Mendez. He started out in High-A ball and moved his way through AA, AAA, and then to the big league club. While he might not have the breaking stuff of some, his change up is quite good. Add that to his sinking low to mid-90s fastball and he could be a solid starter for years to come. Maybe not ace material, but could be a solid no. 3 starter for a long time. It remains to be seen where he will start the 2017 season, but he should contribute to the big league club very soon. This is his second straight year at no. 56 on the list.

No. 55 Leody Taveras, OF/Texas Rangers – Taveras is just 18 having played his first season at 17 last year. A legitimate 5-tool center fielder, he showed his speed last season in the Arizona League (Rookie) stealing 11 bases in just 33 games. He played at 3 different levels last year but struggled a bit at Spokane. He still has some things to learn and he is still filling out since he is still so young, but he could be a force to reckon with in the coming years if he lives up to his potential. He will definitely be one to watch as the years progress. On a side note, he is the cousin of former big league Willy Taveras.

No. 54 David Paulino, RHP/Houston Astros – The Astros took Paulino in a trade even though he was going to miss the entire next season with Tommy John surgery. It might turn out to be a great move. Paulino comes out of the Dominican Republic and at 6’7″ he has the power (tops out at 98) to go with a power curveball. He spent most of his 2016 season at AA Corpus Christi, but threw a few starts at AA Fresno before getting the call to the big leagues. He has started and finished games in the same season, but has never pitched 100 innings in a season. Last year was his high at 97 innings pitched, so health is a concern moving forward. Last season Paulino checked in at no. 70 on the list.

No. 52 Franklin Barreto, SS,2B/Oakland Athletics – Barreto was one of the key pieces in the deal that sent Josh Donaldson from Oakland to Toronto. The 20-year old middle infielder out of Venezuela has impressed at every level. He spent most of 2016 at AA Midland for Oakland where he played 119 games hitting .281 with 25 doubles, 10 home runs, and 30 stolen bases. The tools are there, but Barreto would benefit from more time in the minors to hone in on some skills like basestealing. He was thrown out 15 times last year at AA. He had a brief, but impressive, stint at AAA Nashville last year. And with him being blocked at the big league level by both Marcus Semien and Chand Pinder, look for him to gain some more experience at AAA next year. In 2016, Barreto was no. 43 on the list.

MLB Top 100 Prospects

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 81-90

Yesterday we took a look at the international players from 91-100 which contained four players from across the globe. Today we will take a look at the only international player from 81-90.

International Players – 91-100

No. 90 Raimel Tapia, OF/Colorado Rockies – Tapia signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. The lefty will be 23 for this season when he will look to continue his strong hitting. He won the Pioneer League (Rookie-level) MVP in 2013. This past season he played at AAA Albuquerque where he hit .346 over 110 at bats. He spent most of the year tearing up the Eastern League where he posted a .323/.363/.450 line with 20 doubles, 5 triples, and 8 home runs. He has speed but hasn’t quite learned the art of the stolen base being only successful in 17/31 attempts last season in AA. He did make his MLB debut last September where he played in 22 games hitting .263 over 41 at bats.

Last season Tapia landed on the top 100 list at no. 71.

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Penalties Handed Down by MLB for Illegal Hacking of Astros’ Database

The Houston Astros have been awarded two draft picks and $2 million in compensation after former employee Christopher Correa hacked into the Astros’ baseball operations database while working for the St. Louis Cardinals. But I wondered, is this enough of a punishment to deter something like this from happening again.

First of all, let’s take a look at what punishment was handed out today. The Astros are to be paid $2 million dollars by the Cardinals. While this is not peanuts it is a drop in the bucket for a team such as St. Louis. However, it appears that is the maximum the commissioner is allowed to penalize a club. In addition, the Astros will recieve pick numbers 56 and 75 in the 2017 MLB Draft from the Cardinals.

So what exactly can you get at the nos. 56 or 75 pick. Here are a few players drafted in those spots over the years.

No. 56

1997 Scott Linebrink

1999 Rob Bowen (Brandon Phillips at no. 57)

2001 J.J. Hardy

No. 75

1993 Matt Perisho

1994 Brian Rose

1996 A.J. Hinch

1997 Jason Grabowski (Chase Utley at no. 58)

2000 Grady Sizemore

2004 Wade Davis

2005 Yunel Escobar

*I only looked at the drafts from 1990-2016.

The way it was worded when it was released was it was the first two picks of the Cardinals, which just happened to be the nos. 56 and 75. So if they would have had a 1st round pick, would they have given that to the Astros?

There is definitely talent at these positions, and it is all based on scouting and let’s face it a little luck. But another way to look at is why the picks were not just forfeited but actually given to the Astros. If I work for one of the 28 other clubs, I am not too happy here with the decision from MLB.

Correa wsa sentenced last summer to 46 months in federal and ordered to pay almost $280,000 in restitution.

So what do you think? Was this harsh enough? Was it too harsh? Hit us up here by leaving a comment or shoot us a message on Twitter – we are @BaseballdeWorld.

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International Players on the MLB Top 100 Prospects List – No. 91-100

One of my favorite days of the year is when MLB releases its Top 100 Prospects list. I love to see which teams have the most on the list (Braves/Yankees with 7 each), and I love to see who is moving and of course the top 10.

However, one exercise that I love to do is look at the foreign players on the list. After all, most of what we cover here are foreign leagues. So I will leave the debate up to  you as to whether or not Andrew Benintendi should be no. 1 or not, and I will take a look at the foreign players on the list starting with 91-100. Each day over the next week or so we will look at another set of players from the MLB Top 100 Prospects list. In total there are 27 that come from international markets.

MLB Prospects 91-100:

No. 97 Cal Quantrill, RHP/San Diego Padres – Quantrill, out of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada) might be a name you already know. His father, Paul Quantrill, pitched in the big leagues for 14 seasons. But despite Paul’s solid career, Cal’s might overshadow dad’s one day. Cal was drafted this summer 8th overall out of Stanford University despite not pitching in 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. He showed why the Padres drafted him so high late in the summer when he returned to the mound finishing the year in A-ball after a few starts in Rookie League and Low-A. While he might not project to be a no. 1 starter, he has the chance to have a long solid career with his solid three-pitch-mix. I got to see him in 2012 at the 18U World Baseball Championship in Seoul, and while he did not have the best tournament (1-1, 5.63) he did enough to impress upon me that he has a long future ahead of him.

No. 96 Jeimer Candelario, 3B,1B/Chicago Cubs – Candelario was born in New York but was raised in the Dominican Republic where his father ran a baseball training center. Signed in 2010, Candelario made his MLB debut this past July. However, he remains hopelessly blocked by 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant. A switch-hitter with some pop, and the ability to walk, he has the bat to make it in the big leagues but where will he play. He has had some time at first base as well, but is blocked there as well by Anthony Rizzo. He could possibly be moved to a corner outfield spot, or he might be trade bait later in the year should the Cubs need a piece to make a run at a second title. Jeimer moves up from no. 100 on the list in 2016.

No. 94 Richard Urena, SS/Toronto Blue Jays – Urena comes out of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. He will turn 21 in just under a month. Signed in 2012, Urena reached AA at the age of 20. After fellow Blue Jays short stop prospect Franklin Barreto was traded away in the Josh Donaldson deal, Urena appears to be the heir to the shortstop thrown north of the border. Lack of focus at times causes Urena to commit a few too many errors. He does have the range and arm to stick to shortstop and has been a switch-hitter for just three years now. Despite falling from no. 74 on the list in 2016, Urena might be ready for his MLB debut in 2018.

No. 91 Delvin Perez, SS/St. Louis Cardinals – Delvin Perez comes in this year at no. 91 on the list. A newcomer on the list, Perez was drafted just last summer (1st Rd, no. 23) out of the International Baseball Academy in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. He played in just 43 games after signing, but already showed flashes of why he is in the top 100. With the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (Rookie), Perez hit .294 with 8 doubles, 4 triples, and 12 stolen bases. Despite his good offensive showing, his defense is where he will impact the game more right now. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground defensively, and when  you add in his strong arm he will be a solid short stop where he projects to stay. However, he is already been the talk of controversy having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs prior to the draft.

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Three More Players Confirmed for Team USA

Three more players have been announced to pitch for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The Colorado Rockies Jake McGee has been confirmed to play alongside teammate Nolan Arenado.

The 30-year old lefty had 15 saves in 19 attempts a year ago for the Rockies. He wound up moving out of the closer’s spot after a few rough outings and stint on the disabled list.

Joining McGee on the Team USA pitching staff will be Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson. Last season the 31-year old hurler saved 37 games in 44 attempts. That was the third straight year he had 30+ saves in a season.

And finally Giancarlo Stanton has been confirmed to play for Team USA. This will be the second time Stanton will suit up for Team USA in the WBC. He was apart of the team in 2013 as well.

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Cleveland to host 2019 MLB All-Star Game

Various news outlets are reporting that Cleveland’s Progressive Field will host the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It is being reported that the Indians will announce this on Friday.

Cleveland last hosted the Mid-Summer Classic back in 1997 just three years after it opened.

This will make the first American League park to host the game since Minneapolis did so in 2014 ending four straight years in the National League.

This summer Marlins Park will be the host when the two leagues face off on July 11th. Next year it moves to our nation’s capital at Nationals Park before returning to Cleveland in 2019.

This will be Cleveland’s 6th time to host the all-star game which trails only Chicago (7) and New York City (9). The game this summer will be the first one in Miami

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The Colorful Montreal Expos and Some Great Music

I just finished watching a short MLB Network show on The Colorful Expos which detailed, in an hour anyway, the history of the franchise. What a ride that hour was.

I was too young for Blue Monday, but seeing the heartbreak on the fans and players faces was hard to see knowing now that they would never come that close again.

One thing I do remember well was 1994. I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan, so I knew all too well how great, not good but great, that 1994 Montreal Expos team was. It was loaded, but we never got the chance to see that team make a run at a World Series title.

Looking back that team was stacked. They had power – 6 players with more than 10 home runs. They had speed – 7 players with more than 10 stolen bases. They had Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, Marquis Grissom, Rondell White, Ken Hill, Pedro Martinez, John Wetteland, and Mel Rojas. Up and down the lineup and from starters to bullpen they were good.

But by 1995, they were done. They were back to 66-78 and 5th place in the NL East. Gone were Walker, Grissom, Hill, and Wetteland. The magic was gone from the great ’94 run never to be seen in Montreal again unfortunately.

But the thing that stood out most from the show was the end when they showed hip-hop artist Annakin Slayd who has recorded several songs about the Expos over the years. That is what I want to share today.

The first one is my favorite. This is about the Expos history and the song they played in the show tonight. Enjoy.

But that is not all he has done. He also has a really cool song about “The Kid” Gary Carter who was a fan favorite and one of the greatest catchers of all time. So here you go with Kid by Annakin Slayd.

Lastly Annakin Slayd wrote a song about the 1994 season called ’94 Fall.

I’d love to hear which of these songs is your favorite. Personally, I love the first one – Remember. Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and let us know.

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Congratulations to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017

First of all, let me say congratulations to the class of 2017. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez are all worthy and deserve this honor. I want to focus on these three for the time being, then I will come back in a later post and talk about those that did not make it in.

Jeff Bagwell

Bagwell joins his fellow “Killer Bees” companion Craig Biggio. While there were others that joined these two in the rotating Killer Bees, these two were the constant force for the Astros for many years. Bagwell had some great years in Houston, but 1994 really stands out.

Even though the season was cut short, Bagwell did some amazing things in just 110 games. That year he was an all-star, Silver Slugger winner, Gold Glove winner, and the National League MVP. In those 110 games, Bagwell scored 104 runs, drove in 116, slugged .750, and had an OPS of 1.201. Not to mention the 39 home runs and while you are at it 15 stolen bases.

With 449 home runs and a lifetime .297 hitter, he was one of the most feared sluggers through the 90s. Bagwell fell just 15 votes shy of induction in 2016, but his 7th time was a charm. If you go back and look through the previous six years of voting, there was a steady climb for Bagwell. He started out with just over 41% of the vote in his first try, then slowly started creeping up. He mixed in a few years with big 15% or more jumps in the voting till finally getting in this year.

Tim Raines

One of the best lead off hitters of all-time was elected in his final year of eligibility by the writers association, and it is well deserved. A 7-time all-star and 3-time World Series champ, Raines set the table for some of the best teams in the game.

For four straight years in the early 80s Raines led the National League in stolen bases, and stole 70+ in six straight years. He ranks 5th all-time in stolen bases and ranks as one of the best all-time in stolen base percentage. But one thing that stands out to me when looking at his stats are that he walked 1330 times and struck out only 966. For a lead off hitter that is exactly what you want. Raines had a lifetime .385 OBP.

Ivan Pudge Rodriguez

Pudge Rodriguez was one of the best catchers to ever play the game, and he becomes only the second catcher of all-time to be elected on the first ballot. The 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, and 1999 American League MVP was one of the most exciting players to watch both in the batter’s box and on defense.

Making his Major League debut at only age 19, Pudge quickly established himself as a defensive force. He threw out 45% of would be thieves on the bases and led the league seven times in throwing out runners.

While he was known for his defense perhaps first and foremost, Rodriguez was quite the hitter as well. A lifetime .296 hitter, which is more impressive when you realize he didn’t walk much, slugged 572 doubles and 311 home runs over his 21 year career.

All three players are definitely well deserving of this honor. Tomorrow I want to get into those that didn’t make and where they are headed. As always please give us your thoughts either here or on social media somewhere.

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MLB: 2015 Major League Baseball Predictions

Today is Opening Day, a day which should be a national holiday in my opinion. With that being said, I am going to go through a yearly ritual that is meaningless but fun.

Last season my 2014 MLB predictions did not go all that well, as you can see here. However, it is still a fun thing to go through each year.

So without further adieu, here are my 2015 MLB predictions.

* Wild Card Teams

AL East

1. Baltimore Orioles
2. *Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. New York Yankees

I do not feel that the AL East will be all that strong. I think Baltimore will be the cream of the crop in the East and will win the division. I was torn between Boston and Toronto to pick up a Wild Card spot, but I am going with Boston.

AL Central

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

With Price taking over the head of the rotation in Detroit, they are going to be back and strong as ever. I think they win the division again with their hitting. I don’t see the Royals making it back, not with the new additions to the Sox. To me this will be a hotly contested division and should be fun to watch all year.

AL West

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

The Mariners are going to be good. Anaheim will still be strong, but the most improved will go to Houston. The Rangers and A’s will bring up the rear of the division all year battling it out for last place.

AL Wild Card Game – Chicago over Boston
AL Division Series – Detroit over Seattle & Baltimore over Chicago
AL Championship Series – Detroit over Chicago

NL East

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

I have no faith in my Braves this year. Not after the exodus that took place. The Nationals are the team to beat, perhaps in the NL. They are going to be strong. I like the Marlins to finish second and maybe even push for a Wild Card spot late in the year, but I see them coming up short.

NL Central

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

I like how the Cubs look this year, but I don’t seem them making it to the World Series like I have seen others call for. The Cardinals will be hard to beat in the division but Pitt will really push Chicago. So will Cincinnati.

NL West

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

The Dodgers are the team to beat once again. The Padres will really push them this year and the Giants will be back with a strong team. I would not have picked the Padres over the Giants for the Wild Card, except yesterday they traded for the best closer in baseball.

AL Wild Card Game – San Diego over Chicago
AL Division Series – Los Angeles over St. Louis & Washington over San Diego
AL Championship Series – Los Angeles over Washington

World Series – Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit in six games.

Posted in N. America, MLB0 Comments

MLB: Will We See a Return of Bullpen Cars?

Major League Baseball released new rules to help speed up the game play which seems to be a big concern for new commissioner Rob Manfred. I like what they have done in terms of speeding up the in between inning happenings. This is how the KBO works albeit with a shorter clock between innings at two minutes in Korea.

I think the time limits they are given give the players plenty of time to move on and off the field and get ready for play the next half inning. They will now get 2:45 in nationally televised games and 2:25 for locally televised games. Plus I like that they are going to discourage longer lingering behavior through fines and warnings. This will hopefully cut down on unneeded practices, and I bet Nomar Garciaparra is glad he is no longer in the league.

My question is will there be a return of the much missed bullpen cars of old? Wouldn’t this keep some of the slower relief pitchers in the game from not having enough time to warm up? Many of the younger generation may not remember them, or maybe they only saw one in the movie Major League.

Bullpen Car Indians

It has been twenty years, wow has it been that long, since we have seen any sort of bullpen car. And the last one wasn’t even a car, it was a motorcycle with a sidecar courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers. However, it does seem like there have been some sightings of bullpen cars in various minor league stops around the country and overseas. Perhaps the greatest one ever was dubbed the “tugboat” in Seattle

tugboat bullpen car Seattle

I do hope that the fine system is progressive in order to really hit hard the repeat offenders. For some the fine might have to get high before they take any corrective action.

There are more rules including a batter must keep a foot in the batter’s box between pitches, with some exceptions. There are also some changes to the replay rules.

For more information on these, you can view the press release by MLB here.

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MLB, MLBPA Announce Pace of Game Initiatives and Replay Modifications

Press Release by Major League Baseball

Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, the Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees, today jointly announced additions to the sport’s pace of game program, which will be effective in Spring Training, the regular season and the Postseason, and a series of modifications to the instant replay system. The World Umpires Association also has given its assent to the new efforts, which will be reviewed by the parties following the conclusion of the 2015 World Series.

PACE OF GAME

  • The pace of game program will enforce the batter’s box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs. The new rule at the Major League level mirrors 6.02(d), which was in place in Minor League Baseball in 2014.
  • A second new component to the pace of game program is the addition of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during each Major League game. One timer will be installed on or near the outfield scoreboard, and a smaller timer will be installed on the façade behind home plate near the press box. Immediately following the third out of each half-inning, the timer will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games. An MLB representative attending each game will operate the timers from the ballpark and will track the following events:

Time Remaining

Activity

40 Seconds

PA announces batter and begins to play walk-up music

30 Seconds

Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch

25 Seconds

Batter’s walk-up music ends

20 Seconds-5 Seconds

Batter enters the batter’s box

20 Seconds-0 Seconds

Pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch

  • Pitchers will be permitted to throw as many warm-up pitches as they wish prior to the point when 30 seconds remain on the clock; however, pitchers will be deemed to have forfeited any of their traditional eight warm-up pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30-second deadline. Exceptions to these rules will be made in a variety of circumstances, including if the pitcher or catcher ended the prior half-inning at bat or on base.
  • Batters will be encouraged to get into the batter’s box with 20 seconds remaining on the timer. This is the same time that the broadcasters return from commercial. The pitcher is expected to begin his motion to deliver the pitch as soon as the batter gets into the batter’s box and becomes alert to the pitcher. Batters who do not enter the box prior to five seconds remaining on the timer and pitchers who do not begin the motion to deliver the pitch prior to zero seconds remaining on the timer will be deemed to have violated the break timing rules.
  • These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators. No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season. Donations will be made to the Major League Baseball Players Trust charitable foundation based on the level of adherence to the new rules.

Commissioner Manfred said: “These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play. The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

Clark said: “The Players believe that enforcing the rules that currently exist regarding between inning breaks and plate appearances is the best way to address the issue of pace of play. We’re confident that today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the pace of the game without jeopardizing the integrity of the competition.”

Schuerholz said: “The Pace of Game Committee wants to take measured steps as we address this industry goal to quicken the pace of our great game. It is not an objective of ours to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away; it is more important to develop a culture of better habits and a structure with more exact timings for non-game action.”

Brian Lam, who represents the Major League Umpires, stated: “These strides to hone the pace of game over time will improve the natural rhythm of baseball, and we applaud and support the Players Association and the Commissioner’s Office as we all move toward this goal.”

INSTANT REPLAY MODIFICATIONS

  • Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call. Managers may hold play from the top step of the dugout by signaling to players and the home plate umpire that he is considering a challenge. A decision can be communicated verbally or with a hand signal. To challenge an inning-ending call, managers will be required to leave the dugout immediately in order to hold the defensive team on the field.
  • Whether a runner left the base early or properly touched a base on a tag-up play will be reviewable.
  • A manager will retain his challenge after every call that is overturned. Last year, a manager retained his challenge only after the first overturned call.
  • A manager must use a challenge in order to review whether a play at home plate included a violation of the rule governing home plate collisions. However, in the event that a manager is out of challenges after the start of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may still choose to review whether there was a violation of the rule.
  • During Postseason games, regular season tiebreaker games and the All-Star Game, managers will now have two challenges per game.
  • Instant replay will not be utilized during 2015 Spring Training, but it will be in place for exhibition games at Major League ballparks prior to the start of the 2015 regular season.

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

MLB: Pitchers and Catchers Start Reporting Today for Various Teams

And it begins.

The first teams reported for spring training today. Well the pitchers and catchers did. This may not seem like a big day to many, but it marks the first day toward what everyone is waiting for…..Opening Day.

Opening Night is Sunday April 5th with the Cubs and Cardinals facing off at Wrigley Field. The following day is when the rest of the league will get started with a full slate of games.

Not sure when your team will report? Well here is a list courtesy of SpringTrainingOnline.com.

2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates: Major-League Teams

Organization Pitchers & Catchers First
Workout
Position
Players
First full workout
Arizona D-Backs Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Atlanta Braves Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Baltimore Orioles Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Boston Red Sox Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Chicago Cubs Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Chicago White Sox Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Cincinnati Reds Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb.23 Feb. 24
Cleveland Indians Feb. 18 Feb. 20 Feb. 22 Feb. 24
Colorado Rockies Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Detroit Tigers Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Houston Astros Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Kansas City Royals Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Los Angeles Angels Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Los Angeles Dodgers Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24
Feb. 25
Miami Marlins Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Milwaukee Brewers Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Minnesota Twins Feb. 22 Feb. 23 Feb. 27 Feb. 28
New York Mets Feb. 19 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 26
New York Yankees Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Oakland Athletics Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Philadelphia Phillies Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Pittsburgh Pirates Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
St. Louis Cardinals Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
San Diego Padres Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
San Francisco Giants Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 23 Feb. 24
Seattle Mariners Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25
Tampa Bay Rays Feb. 21 Feb. 22 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Texas Rangers Feb. 20 Feb. 21 Feb. 25 Feb. 26
Toronto
Blue Jays
Feb. 22 Feb. 23 Feb. 26 Feb. 27
Washington
Nationals
Feb. 19 Feb. 20 Feb. 24 Feb. 25

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

MLB: Alex Rodriguez Apologizes in Letter

On Tuesday Alex Rodriguez released a statement via a letter apologizing to the fans, his teammates, and the Yankees organization.

How fitting that the day Arod refuses the Yankees offer to use Yankee Stadium for a press conference that Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s founder, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for illegally supplying steroids.

The Yankees still owe Rodriguez some $61 million over the remaining three years of his career. He enters the 2015 season at the age of 39 having sat out the entire 2014 season.

Let’s forget about the need of the Yankees for him to return to something that resembles his former self. Instead I’d like to focus on the fact that Rodriguez took the easy way out, again, by not facing the press. The Yankees wanted him to apologize before spring training started to avoid the circus. This just isn’t going to cut it. Expect day one of spring training to be a circus regardless.

If you have not read what is in the letter, I feel the best way is to hear it read in the voice of Morgan Freeman. After all, Alex is just a huge joke anyway, and this is really funny.

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

Today in Baseball History – February 17th

February 17, 1964

Former Chicago White Sox shortstop Luke Appling is elected into the Hall of Fame.

Appling was a seven-time All-Star who collected 2,749 hits over his career. His career was interrupted by World War II in 1944-45.

He won two batting titles (1936 & 1943) and was a good leadoff hitter for many years topping the .400 mark in OBP eight times.

Born on this day:

1893 Wally Pipp

1915 Rod Dedeaux

1944 Dick Bosman

Died on this day:

1986 Red Ruffing

1989 Lefty Gomez

Posted in N. America, MLB, Today in Baseball History0 Comments

MLB: 1920s Footage of Babe, Ty, Dazzy, and the Big Train

If you missed Jonah Keri’s article over at Grantland the other day, well you missed something good. Keri took a stroll through the MLB Production headquarters recently and got to see how all the old film is getting digitized.

But the best part was he shared some of the stuff he saw.

Probably the most popular out of the short videos he shared was just under two and a half minutes, but it features four of the greatest players to ever don a uniform in Dazzy Vance, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Walter Johnson.

It is such a great video, in what has been called an instructional video by many because of the content, but it is great in that it shows these great players as human. Here you can see Babe Ruth taking horrible swings we have all taken popping up balls, or Ty Cobb lunging at a ball. But you be the judge. Here is the video.

You can check out the other footage Keri shows off in his article here. It includes a young Bryce Harper playing junior college ball, some 1982 Montreal Expos highlights, some 50’s Reds spring training action, and my favorite some footage of the 1905 Giants.

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

MLB: Miami Marlins to Host 2017 Midsummer Classic

According to a report from the Miami Herald, the Miami Marlins will host its first MLB All-Star Game in 2017. This will mark three straight years of NL teams hosting the game with Cincinnati this summer and San Diego in 2016.

The Marlins were to hold the 2000 All-Star Game but were stripped of that honor after the team won the 1997 World Series and subsequently had a fire sale ridding itself of all its high priced talent. Instead, Atlanta held the game in 2000.

Marlins Park opened in 2012 after the team left Pro Player Stadium where it hosted games along with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

New commissioner Rob Manfred has stated in the past he would like to start a bidding process for the midsummer classic, but outgoing commissioner Bud Selig had already made certain promises to teams with newly built stadiums.

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

USA: ABCA Officially Supports Pitch Smart

Press Release USA Baseball

The American Baseball Coaches Association board of directors votes unanimously

DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball, Major League Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association announced on Tuesday that the ABCA is officially supporting USA Baseball and MLB’s joint youth arm care safety initiative, Pitch Smart. The announcement follows the ABCA’s board of directors unanimously voting in favor of supporting the initiative that was launched in late 2014.

“Major League Baseball is pleased that the ABCA has endorsed the Pitch Smart pitching safety program,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who received the 2015 ABCA Honor Award on January 4, 2015 at the ABCA Convention. “Keeping pitchers healthy should be a common goal of everyone in baseball. Pitch Smart is a great example of the entire baseball community, professional and amateur, coming together to make our game better.”

The Association is involved in numerous programs that promote the integrity of the profession and the development of the game of baseball, and, each January, the ABCA hosts the largest baseball convention in the world. Approximately 4,000 coaches attend the convention, which is held at various locations around the country. The 2015 iteration was attended by commissioner, Rob Manfred, as he continues to further engage the amateur baseball community.

“With its endorsement of Pitch Smart, it is clear that the American Baseball Coaches Association is making player health and safety a priority in everything it does,” said USA Baseball’s executive director/CEO, Paul Seiler. “It is the support of the ABCA and other organizations that confirms our belief that baseball has united in protecting our young athletes.”

The ABCA is committed to the success and growth of baseball through youth baseball. In the past 12 years, thousands of young people have gone through ABCA sponsored youth clinics. Each year, several hundred young players attend ABCA clinics in Montgomery, Alabama; Lewiston, Idaho; and Grand Junction, Colorado.

“The ABCA is proud to endorse Pitch Smart along with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball,” said ABCA executive director, Craig Keilitz. “Education is one of our organization’s cornerstones and the health and safety of our young players is a major priority. Pitch Smart provides clear guidelines for our coaches, particularly those who are new to the profession, and we look forward to being involved in the further development of this initiative for years to come.”

The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 6,600 members represent all 50 states and 24 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College, Pacific Association Division, High School and Youth.

Posted in N. America, News, College, MLB0 Comments

MLB: New Commissioner Manfred Open to Eliminating Defensive Shifts

Okay commissioner Manfred, let’s slow down and take a deep breath. I like the idea of speeding up the game. No it will never be basketball or hockey. Baseball is a talking sport. That is one of the beauties of it. To be able to reflect and talk with people around you during a game. It adds to the drama. That doesn’t mean it can’t be sped up some. When I lived in Korea I saw games with time limits between innings and I really liked it. There was a clock on the scoreboard and you had two minutes. Things like this can be used to speed up games.

But, let’s not go talking about eliminating defensive shifts. If you want to add more offense to the game, that is not the way to go about it in my opinion. Apparently the people who are playing the game feel there is enough offense or they would do something else. There is a simple way to go about changing it, if the teams want to, bunt. A few hits the other way or bunts laid down will stop the shifts. The players are up there trying to hit home runs because that is what they are paid to do. This is why they continue to hit into the shift.

If you want to change it, start emphasizing something other than just a home run. When people realize that a few hits the other way, or bunts that way, will stop those shifts. I don’t feel that the game should be regulated like this. I think it is a terrible step in the wrong direction. I know it is only talk for now and only a thought, but it is a bad one.

Continue working on speeding up the game, but don’t force teams into things like this. I’m actually looking forward to what the new commish can accomplish.

Here is the interview on ESPN where Manfred talked about eliminating the shifts.

Posted in N. America, News, MLB0 Comments

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Who will win the 2017 World Baseball Classic?

  • Puerto Rico (31%, 27 Votes)
  • Dominican Republic (13%, 11 Votes)
  • USA (13%, 11 Votes)
  • Mexico (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Cuba (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Venezuela (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Netherlands (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Japan (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Chinese Taipei (1%, 1 Votes)
  • South Korea (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Canada (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 88

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