Game has been able to track the top prospects from the Dominican
Prospect League (DPL) over 10-12 games and workouts over the last two
months at fields in the Dominican Republic, Florida and Arizona.
We’ve received plenty of feedback on the young men from the
directors of the DPL, Brian Mejia and Ulises Cabrera, and have been
able to watch the players not just on the field but in hotel lobbies,
locker rooms and just hanging out at the various ballparks.
of that, we think we know them about as well as anyone in the
scouting these players it’s easy to forget how young they are in
comparison to what we feel their peers are in the United States. As
these Dominicans are, with a few exceptions who are immediately
eligible, all eligible to sign on July 2, we tend to compare them to
the high school players in the 2012 draft class, many of whom will be
signing professional contracts around the same time as their
Dominican counterparts. But realistically, most of the DPL prospects
would be class of 2014 players if they attended US high schools, and
in some cases, class of 2015 prospects.
tools and physical builds on many of the Dominican players make it
even harder to maintain the age perspective. These are some very
gifted young men with plus physical tools and the type of athleticism
that makes you excited as a talent evaluator. Watching batting
practice or infield drills isn’t just a scouting exercise, it’s
fun. And it’s easy to forget those are 15- and 16-year olds when
they are launching 400 foot bombs on Major League fields.
these young prospects over a period of time and in different baseball
situations has also enabled us to do something that is far more
difficult with Dominican players: Evaluate their skills and ability
to play the game instead of just their physical tools. That is
frequently a real scouting quandary with players from across Latin
America, seeing them in situations where you can evaluate both
physical tools and baseball skills.
why the Dominican Prospect League is such an important development in
the overall dynamic of baseball in not only the Dominican, but
potentially across Latin America. It really gives this kids a step
up in their baseball development that otherwise wouldn’t be
available to them. The top 16-year olds in the United States play
upwards of 100 games a year whereas these young Dominicans are just
now reaching a point where they play in a quarter of that.
are reports on all the DPL players, listed in prospect order
according to their Perfect Game Grade. The grade is consistent with
what would be given if these were young players at a conventional
Perfect Game Showcase.
Game has established quite a track record with the Perfect Game
(formally Aflac) All-American teams and our ability to evaluate
players a year before the draft and essentially predict who are going
to be first rounders. It will be very interesting to look back on
this list later this summer and see if these rankings and grades
accurately reflect the signing bonus order for these players. We’ll
make sure to make that happen and share the results.
R/R, 1/23/96, LaRomana, DR
is the player that all the scouts want to see and is going to perhaps
be the prospect who will lose the most by the new international
signing rules. In the previous unlimited free market system he was
likely a $4-to-$5 million dollar player. With the $2.9 million limit
per team, he’ll be looking at something more in the neighborhood of
has a tightly wound athletic body reminiscent of Justin Upton. In
fact, Cabrera’s tools at the same age are very reminiscent of
Upton’s. He ran the 60 in 6.34 seconds in Arizona and has an
explosive first step that enables him to steal bases at will (he had
5 steals in one game in Florida) and the aggressiveness and instincts
to use his speed. He throws 90-plus mph from the outfield with a
very quick release and his speed will give him well above average
range at any outfield position.
hitting mechanics from the right side are still on the raw side, with
an early drift to his front side in games and some back side collapse
on his swing, but he has electric bat speed and as much home run
power as any player on the DPL roster. Any scout who saw his batting
practice in Dunedin will remember the line drive he hit off the Blue
Jays minor league building in left centerfield.
scouts following Cabrera may have been left a bit frustrated by his
game at-bats, as he walked in a majority of his plate appearances in
both Florida and Arizona. That’s obviously not a negative, but he
walked in 5 of the 7 plate appearances that PG scouts saw him in
Arizona, plus drawing 2 walks and a HPB in the DPL/Red Sox game in
PG scout remarked after seeing Cabrera for four days, “I haven’t
been to Japan (or anywhere else) but I suspect that this is the best
16-year old baseball player on the planet.”
R/R, 9/4/95, La Romana, DR
sprained his knee during a rundown in the game at the Red Sox Complex
in Fort Myers and was unable to play for the rest of the trip. The
injury looked more serious when it occurred and it’s very fortunate
that it wasn’t worse. Rijo is an outstanding prospect from a
number of different perspectives. He is the son of a scout and has a
deeper and mature understanding of the game than his fellow DPL
prospects. He’s also the oldest of the players, having just missed
being eligible to sign July 2, 2011 by four days, and is clearly the
leader and most respected player of the group.
first thing we were told in the Dominican was that Rijo was the best
“player” we would see but his tools wouldn’t stand out. We
respectfully disagree; this young man has some really high level
a 6.6 runner with a quick first step. You look at him and
immediately thing second base defensively as his arm strength isn’t
a plus and he has a fairly stocky build. However, he has plus range
and a very quick release at shortstop and the instinctive ability to
make plays. Offensively, Rijo has surprising pull power from the
right side of the plate and it’s present usable game power. He
approach is similar to Dustin Pedroia’s in that there’s a coiled
aggression and explosion at the ball that generates more bat speed
and carry on the ball than what you would expect from a player that
size. A distinguishing part of Rijo’s hitting mechanics is that he
keeps his hands above the ball as well as any young hitter we’ve
Cabrera has a higher ceiling than Rijo physically, but if there was
one player from this DPL group you would want to bet is going to be a
very good Major League player, it would be Rijo.
R/R, 10/10/95, Santo Domingo, DR
Javier didn’t have the flash of some of the other top Dominican
prospects, he might end up being the best all around player aside
from Cabrera or Rijo eventually. While his 6-foot-3, 185-pound
square shouldered, squared jawed look fits the young prospect
prototype, Javier has a look about him that says, “I get this.”
He has a very mature gait and rhythm to his demeanor and actions on
and off the field and really carries himself like a ball player.
tools helps, too. Javier has easy, low maintenance hitting
mechanics, with a smooth right handed swing with plus bat speed.
He’s the type who one can project to hit for both high average and
big power in the future. He’s a prototype third baseman in his
build and in his defensive tools as well. Javier runs a 7.10 60 and
threw 87 mph across the infield with an easy, clean release and sound
footwork. Unless he really gets big and slows down, he should have
no trouble staying at the position for the next two decades.
somewhat of an uncomfortable comparison to make, as Josh Vitters
hasn’t had huge success in the minor leagues since being the third
pick in the 2007 draft (although he did hit .283-14-81 in AA as a 21
year old, which is certainly not bad), but Javier has a lot of the
same tools, the same actions and the same profile that Vitters did as
a 17-year old.
S/R, 1/30/96, San Cristobal, DR
is a very difficult player to scout and get a firm feel for, much
like OF Jose Pujols (below). He is playing out of position in the
middle of the field on the ill-advised requirement of his trainer in
the Dominican, as he has a third base build with a thick lower half
and 7.12 speed. He does have good lateral mobility, soft hands and
90 mph arm strength across the infield, and he would be best served
by playing third base full-time right now and letting scouts see him
at his future position.
is a legitimate switch-hitter who has the same type of bat speed and
power from both sides of the plate, a real rarity in any 16-year old
switch-hitter, but even more so for a player with plus/plus power
potential. His left handed swing is more polished right now and he
takes most of his BP swings left handed, but it is easy to see that
with more frequent repetitions from the right side there would be
little difference in his relative ability. Minier will get pull
happy at times and his best swings are when he’s driving the ball
to the alleys and not opening up his front side early. In addition,
the alleys get much closer when he’s swinging than they do for most
issue with Minier is how well he sees the ball at the plate. He
doesn’t track the ball well and is pretty helpless on offspeed
stuff at present. He’s even a severe keyhole hitter during batting
practice. It’s something that has to be addressed at some point.
But on raw tools, Minier is as high a ceiling prospect as you will
find and will probably be paid accordingly.
R/R, 2/17/96, Bonao, DR
suffered a hairline ankle fracture on the DPL’s last day in Florida
and, and like Wendall Rijo, wasn’t able to play in Arizona, which
is unfortunate for both he and the scouts. He has a classic
catcher’s build, with a thick trunk and heavy thighs and above
average present strength, but has surprising one spot lower half
quickness behind the plate and is an exceptional blocker. In fact,
Grullon will get flashy blocking the ball at times and will trust his
hands too much, much like a shortstop fielding a ground ball.
Grullon’s raw arm strength is exceptional. We did not get a radar
gun reading on the velocity of his throws, but they were comfortably
in the mid-80s if one had to make a professional guess. He does have
a hitch in his throwing release which keeps his pop times
consistently around 1.95, but that is only a very minor concern.
Grullon has some length in his swing but has the strength to create
raw bat speed and shows gap power. Most impressively, he showed a
very good ability to make adjustments to his swing within an at-bat
and was one of the few DPL hitters with a two-strike approach. That
kind of aptitude bodes well for his future development.
L/R, 1/26/96, San Pedro de Macoris, DR
is a nice combination for scouts, a left handed hitting middle
infielder with some polish to his bat and all the tools to stay at
shortstop for a long time. He’s a 6.8 runner, and while he may not
be a big base stealer at the upper levels, his speed will turn plenty
of singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Urena is the most
patient hitter of the DPL hitters and has the best bat control. Most
of his hard contact comes up the middle and to the left side, but it
wasn’t soft contact, as he drove one ball over the left fielder’s
head against a very good Yankees minor league pitcher and
consistently drove the ball to the left centerfield gap. He had
another at-bat against a Red Sox minor leaguer where he fouled off
four straight 2-2 pitches, then took two additional pitches just off
the plate to draw the walk.
shortstop, Urena doesn’t lack for either flash or tools. He throws
from a quick side arm release but consistently registered 85-88 mph
on the gun without really letting the ball go. He showed outstanding
range up the middle on a couple of plays. If there is any fault to
his defensive game it’s that he’ll get a bit casual and flashy on
routine plays and his hands will swipe at the ball instead of taking
it in. But all the tools are there to be a top flight big league
R/R, 9/29/95, Santo Domingo, DR
is one of the more difficult players to scout in the DPL group and
there is a significant difference of opinion on him among scouts. On
the plus side, Pujols has a big and very projectable athletic build
and should end up in the 6-foot-5, 225-pound type range. He runs the
60 in 6.88 seconds and has right field type arm strength with
improvement in his throwing fundamentals and footwork.
the plus/plus side, Pujols has the type of raw power you rarely see
in a teenager. He hits balls in BP to the middle of the field that
are routinely 400-plus feet making it scary to think about his power
when he matures physically (Giancarlo Stanton is a name that has been
mentioned). While some hitters have bat speed, Pujols has bat
acceleration. He gets it moving the quickest right in the middle of
the hitting zone. On the negative side, Pujols has a somewhat
unconventional swing that has surprisingly little extension for a
power hitter and isn’t on plane with the ball long through the
zone. Game contact is a definite issue right now and could be for
S/R, 9/21/95, San Cristobal, DR
is the most projectable of the Dominican infielders and has a higher
ceiling defensively than any of them. He’s long and rangy at
6-foot-2, 165-pounds and one almost fears that he’ll grow too tall.
Baez runs a 6.7 60 that could get faster as he gains some body
strength and you can really see his speed and athletic ability on
defense. He has an exceptional ability to accelerate through balls
hit in front of him to cut off bad hops and shorten the distance on
his throws. He is sometimes too quick on his release and can look a
bit frenetic at times, but when he stays back and shows his arm
strength it shows plus potential with a present 87 mph gun reading.
is a switch-hitter who has similar swing mechanics and bat speed from
both sides, with a bit of an edge on the right side at present. He
currently lacks the upper body strength to drive the ball
consistently but should continue to improve as he gets stronger.
L/R, 8/30/96, Haina, DR
somewhat ironic that the youngest player on the DPL roster, Vargas,
is also the biggest and most physically imposing. The 15-year old is
listed at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, but that appears to be on the
conservative side. If you’ve seen Keon Barnum from the 2012 class,
you have an idea of what Vargas' body looks like physically.
isn’t as good an athlete as Barnum, with 7.32 present speed that is
going to slow down and arm strength that will likely limit him to
first base. He will be challenged to maintain his mobility
defensively as he gets older, although he shows very good hands on
low throws at first base and maintains his balance well.
offensive comparison between Vargas and Barnum is very tight. The
bat speed and power potential are obvious, but Vargas has a
surprisingly short game swing and has the ability to stay inside the
ball and square it up to the middle of the field. He lined two
singles off Boston Red Sox minor league pitchers, both solid line
drives registering in the mid-90s off the bat over the shortstop's
head, which was impressive work for a 15-year old facing A and AA
pitchers. Vargas can unleash a power swing with more length and lift
during batting practice and the results are impressive, especially
given his age. But he doesn’t show that approach in games and
there is really no reason for him to worry about doing it now. The
tool and ability are there when he starts learning more about
S/R, 1/24/96, Comendador, DR
has outstanding middle infield skills and may have the quickest and
softest hands of the group, but falls behind some others in the
prospect department due to his lack of present run/throw tools. That
isn’t to say that he won’t improve in those areas in the future,
as he just turned 16-years old. But Delarosa ran a 7.33 60 without a
clean stride and topped out at 79 mph throwing across the infield.
He projects as a second baseman due to his arm strength but has a
lightning quick double play turn due to his hands.
hand speed shows at the plate as well, especially from the left side.
He has a drifting load, not uncommon among the Dominican hitters,
but keeps his hands back well and explodes them at the ball at the
last minute. He lacks the strength to drive the ball consistently in
game action, although he flashed pull power in batting practice, but
squares the ball up well and will continue to improve as he gets
R/R, 10/5/95, Yamasa, DR
has a combination of a thick, strong core and lower half and a more
slender upper half, with long arms for his height. He’s a 6.87
runner with easy defensive actions at third base, very soft hands and
plenty of raw arm strength. He’s not as physically talented
defender as Joaquin Delacruz (below) at third base, but should be a
solid average defender at the position in the future.
Delacruz has a very good weight shift through contact and uses his
hips and lower half very well in generating bat speed. He has a bit
of a hand hitch getting his swing started and will get long and loopy
at times, especially when looking to pull the ball, but is an
advanced hitter who can drive the ball hard to the alleys and
occasionally lift the ball out of the park.
L/L, 11/15/95, Tamboril, DR
is no player on the DPL roster that generated a bigger difference of
opinion between the three Perfect Game scouts and the scouts who are
responsible for signing players from the Dominican Republic.
According to the DPL officials, Barrera is considered a top 5-to-7
talent among the DPL players and is in constant demand for workouts
when scouting directors and cross checkers are in the country. When
the three PG scouts turned in their top prospect lists, Barrera
didn’t rank in the top 10 on any list and was 18th on
is a hitter. He has a mature, somewhat thick build with very good
present strength and limited projection. His left handed swing is
neither smooth nor easy, with big rotation and lots of moving parts
and effort. But when you watch him hit over an extended period of
games, it’s easy to notice that all he does is mash the ball. And
it doesn’t matter if it is against a right hander or left hander, a
flame thrower or junk baller, Barrera consistently hits the ball
hard. He tries to hit the ball hard and expects to hit the ball
hard. He’s the type of hitter who when he strikes out, he probably
thinks, “the pitcher got lucky, I’m going to destroy him the next
at bat.” One MLB scout remarked in Arizona, “He’s a pedigree
hitting guy. His doesn’t really have the tools but if you put him
in the ACC or SEC he’s going to hit .375 for three years. All he
does is hit.”
other tools aren’t bad taken in context. He splits time between
first base and right field and is a 7.14 runner. He threw 89 mph
from the outfield in Arizona but his release is slow and labored and
his throws have a huge tail that makes them difficult to control with
R/R, 10/13/95, Santo Domingo, DR
Joaquin Delacruz and Julio Delacruz lining up at third base next to
each other created an occasional confusing moment, but the two
players are different types of athletes and prospects, making it a
bit easier to identify them.
Delacruz has a taller and leaner build that is often more associated
with outfielders. He doesn’t have an outfielder’s speed at 7.49
in the 60, but has a very quick first step defensively and far
ranging actions on ground balls. His hands are soft and fluid and he
has very good arm strength from an over the top release point.
Defense is not going to be a problem at the professional level.
right handed swing will take more refining, though. He has the
leverage and raw bat speed to be a hitting prospect, but is
inconsistent in his present approach, leading to some long and
fruitless swings. Delacruz has a big deep hand load to set up his
swing and doesn’t start his swing path from a consistent point.
When he’s hitting with his hands above the ball and driving it to
the middle of the field the ball explodes off the barrel hard.
R/R, 1/6/96, Santo Domingo, DR
you had to pick a sleeper among the infielders on the DPL roster
Suarez would be one. He more strongly resembles an above average
American high school shortstop who ends up at a major college program
and is a top 3-5 round draft pick as a junior. Although he’s a 6.8
runner, Suarez doesn’t have the infield first step quickness or
flash that his teammates have and his arm strength is currently
fringy to stay on the left side of the infield. But he’s
fundamentally sound and projectable in all areas.
Suarez has a simple right handed approach and will flash surprising
pull power in batting practice when he’s able to turn on the ball.
His game approach is well balanced and one of the highlights of the
Red Sox game in Fort Myers was when Suarez looped a double down the
right field line off of a 98 mph fastball. He has a sound overall
game and will definitely keep improving.
R/R, 11/19/95, Neyba, DR
physical tools match up well defensively with other DPL middle
infielders such as Richard Urena and Yancarlos Baez. He’s a 6.78
runner with a quick first step, an exceptionally quick release at
times and plenty of arm strength to stay at shortstop. However,
Octavis doesn’t have the same level of skills and fundamentals yet,
especially when it comes to his footwork, and is often caught between
steps or off balance on plays.
Octavis does a very good job of keeping his hands above the ball in
his swing and staying away from the common Dominican hand hitch to
start his swing. He does have a deep handset and a long stride to
the ball, which creates some length that he doesn’t have the
strength to compensate for yet. All the tools are there for Octavis
to become a solid professional player, it just might take a bit
longer than his DPL middle infield peers.
R/R, 10/9/95, Bani, DR
flashes tools in every area and has an outstanding 6-foot-3,
180-pound build that should fill out and get really strong. He has
easy athletic actions and shows good instincts in centerfield but ran
between 6.93 and 7.19 in his three 60s, so he’s not going to be any
more than an average runner in the future. That will likely limit
him to a corner outfield position and put pressure on him to develop
his hitting potential.
hits with a big leg raise trigger, which can negatively affect his
timing, but has a long, loose swing that generates very good bat
speed at times. He has plenty of lift in his swing, although he
doesn’t quite show the power that a Jose Pujols or Amaurys Minier
can generate. Carvajal is a mature player who shows lots of energy
on the field and looks to have some leadership abilities.
R/R, 8/1/96, San Cristobal, DR
is very young physically and is one of the youngest players in the
DPL group by date of birth as well. However, he is a very mature
receiver who sits calmly and comfortably behind the plate and
receives the ball cleanly and blocks with good fundamentals and
quickness. His arm is loose and clean and he’ll pop his throws
consistently in the 1.9 to 2.0 range, which is pretty impressive for
a 15-year old. He handled the 96-98 mph fastballs from one Boston
Red Sox pitcher without much problem, although it was obvious he
hadn’t seen too many 90 mph hard sinkers in the Dominican when
another pitcher was on the hill.
doesn’t have the strength to create real bat speed at present but
his swing is loose and extended and he does a good job finding the
barrel in games. There’s plenty of projection here and the more
you watch Gonzalez play in games, the more you feel he’s going to
be a pretty good player in a couple of years and well worth an
investment by a Major League club.
R/R, 2/14/96, Oviedo, DR
has a mature body for his age with good physical strength, especially
in his hands and shoulders. He shows much better in games than in
workouts and is one of the most mature hitters on the team, with a
short and crisp right handed swing that produces consistent line
drive contact against good stuff. He has present gap power but
doesn’t have much loft in his swing and will be more of a high
average, doubles type of hitter who will draw some walks and rarely
is a 7.1 runner who is a get-the-job-done type defender at third
base. He is somewhat awkward in his footwork at the ball and has a
pie throwing type arm action, but registers 86 mph on the gun across
the infield and makes all the routine plays. Teams that
traditionally spend their draft money on college players will likely
be the most interested in Sanchez. He doesn’t have a high ceiling
physically but his maturity on the field and ability to hit and make
contact right away in professional ball will serve him well.
L/L, 10/23/95, Las Cacaos, DR
may be the least physically imposing player of the DPL prospects,
with a slender build that doesn’t project to fill out that much.
He’s a polished hitter from the left side with a sound, aggressive
approach and creates some bat speed with power to the pull side.
Delgado hit a grand slam off the right field foul pole in Arizona off
a hanging curveball and it was a good illustration of what his skills
a 6.9 runner who shows some outfield arm strength (85 mph) and has
fundamentally sound defensive actions as a corner outfielder. If
Delgado played in the United States he’d be the type of player who
every major college in the country would have significant interest in
recruiting, as he wouldn’t have the tools to be a high draft out of
high school but would be a potential impact college player and a
fourth-to-sixth round pick as a college junior.
R/R, 12/27/95, Samana, DR
is a very intriguing prospect but might be the farthest away from
being able to compete professionally at this point. In fact, he
might be a player that is better off waiting a year to mature and
develop his skills before signing. Munoz’s outfield tools and
skills are very good, although he shows some young immaturity in
maintaining game concentration on all plays. He has good hands at
the ball and made some nice running catches with his glove/arm
outstretched. His throwing arm and release are loose and easy and he
showed well above average accuracy both in drills and on his game
throws, which was impressive.
right handed swing and overall approach, along with the fact he was
wearing No. 12 in a blue and red uniform, is very reminiscent to
Alfonso Soriano. He has a drifting swing with an early lower half
but a loose, extended swing that generates huge power to right
centerfield in particular. Unfortunately, there isn’t an offering
in a game that a pitcher can throw that Munoz won’t swing at. High
fastball, fastball in the dirt, outside fastball, curveball anywhere,
Munoz is going to take a full hack. While that’s also something
that Soriano does, Munoz has yet to learn how to dominate the
fastball that wanders over the middle of the plate.
L/L, 7/20/96, Mao, DR
is not only one of the youngest prospects on the DPL travel squad, he
may be the least mature physically. He looks like a 15-year old
freshman, with undefined muscles and a kid’s face. But he’s a
particular favorite of the DPL organizers and grows on you as a scout
the more you watch him play. The physical run/throw tools have not
started to kick in yet, as Rodriguez runs a 7.7 60 and threw 78 mph
from the outfield, but everything he does is fundamentally sound and
with low effort.
has a busy hitting approach but gets his hands in very good position
to hit when starting his swing and consistently squares up the ball.
Because his swing is smooth and you’re looking at a slender 15-year
old, his bat speed is deceptive as well. He cracked one line drive
in Arizona that registered 98 mph off the barrel, then followed that
up with a home run over the 385 foot sign at the Peoria ballpark.
That home run might have been his best bolt, as he doesn’t show
that type of raw power in BP, but it was still very impressive in
run/throw tools will definitely have to improve over the next couple
of years, and they should, but his best future tool will be his left
R/R, 9/29/95, Bani, DR
has solid middle infield actions and tools, with his best single tool
being his raw arm strength. He’s a bit awkward in his exchange and
arm action but they work for him and he makes the routine plays
without any problem. His right handed swing comes from a high hand
set and is somewhat rotational, but he stays on a line-drive plane
with the ball and has some present bat speed.
a 7.23 runner right now and doesn’t have the athletic stride to
project to get much faster as he gets stronger, so shortstop range
could become a question. Barias is a solid player but it’s a
testament to the overall quality of the DPL talent that he falls near
the bottom of this prospect list.
L/L, 2/26/96, Santo Domingo, DR
is an absurdly strong young man, with square shoulders, thick hips
and well defined muscles. He has a short swing for his size and the
ball comes off the barrel very hard when he squares it up. Tapia
starts with his hands low in his swing and raises them up at the last
second, which makes his timing frequently late and means most of his
solid contact on fastballs to the left side. It also resulted in a
couple of good swings against offspeed pitches when he was getting
his hands started late.
played some outfield but is a 7.27 runner with marginal arm strength
and will likely be limited to first base at the professional level.
Scouts will compare him to Leury Vargas among the DPL players, with
Vargas having the edge in most areas. PG Grade: 8.5
R/R, 3/14/95 (eligible), Santiago, DR
is eligible to sign immediately and was brought along on the trip as
the third catcher behind Grullon and Gonzalez to provide depth in
case of injury. That was fortunate planning, as Grullon suffered an
ankle injury in Florida and missed the Arizona portion. Nunez has
solid skills across the board but lacks the physical tools to be
considered a top level prospect. He’s a sound blocker behind the
plate with good hands receiving. His raw arm strength grades out
below average but he is a very accurate and consistent thrower, with
drill pop times in the 2.05 to 2.10 range and game pops around 2.30.
right handed swing is somewhat rotational and long, but he does a
good job of finding the barrel against good pitching and maintains
good balance through contact.
Dominican Prospect League pitchers did not throw a comparable amount
to the time put in by the position players and their evaluations are
on the shorter side because of it.
fact, in a perfect scouting world, it would be ideal if the pitchers
became eligible to sign on a different and later date than the
position players. They are, as a group, not as physically strong or
advanced as the position players and their relative lack of game
experience puts most of them behind in the skills area as well. If
Major League Baseball were able to say, “The signing dates and
guidelines remain the same for position players but we’re going to
move it back a year for pitchers,” it would give scouts a much
better window and opportunity to make accurate evaluations and
signing decisions. That’s obviously not realistic, however, and
for that reason we would anticipate that there will continue to be a
significant number of pitchers from the Dominican Republic who sign
well after the date they first become eligible to enter professional
L/L, 5/19/95 (eligible), Nagua, DR
is a fairly unique case in that not only was he not signed last July
2 when he first became eligible, but he wasn’t even known as a
prospect. He has exceptionally little time on the mound facing
hitters and the innings he threw in Florida and Arizona were
realistically among the first times he has thrown in game situations.
that being said, Jose throws with an exceptionally loose and easy arm
action and has touched 94-96 mph out of the strike zone while showing
the ability to sit at 91-92 mph in the strike zone during bullpens.
His delivery is neither in balance nor consistent and he has yet to
develop any real feel for his curveball or changeup, although they
have improved by leaps and bounds since late January when he began to
receive coaching for the first time.
will be an interesting evaluation and decision making process for
teams over the next three months. Jose obviously has a million
dollar arm, but just as obviously is that he is far from being able
to compete at the professional level, with no guarantee that he ever
will be able to do so. It’s an open market from now until July 2,
R/R, 7/26/95 (eligible)
signed with the Dodgers at the end of the Arizona trip for a $300,000
signing bonus. He has a mature and strong 6-foot, 190-pound build
and a compact, quick arm action with a close and high three-quarters
release point that hides the ball effectively. He sat at 88-90 in
both appearances and didn’t throw with a lot of effort while
maintaining his velocity well. His fastball is mostly straight but
he showed the ability to spot the ball down and create cutting action
at times. He threw a 78-80 mph slider that had down downer depth to
it and showed feel for an 83 mph changeup that was a bit firm at
times but was in the strike zone with good arm speed.
showed pretty advanced pitchability and was able to hit the corners
and create bad swings from the hitters, along with breaking a few
bats. He’s near his physical ceiling but should be a fast mover in
the lower minors with his present stuff and command.
R/R, 9/21/95, Montecristi, DR
16-year old Uceta is where his fellow DPL 15-year olds should be in
another six-to-eight months. He threw consistently 88-89 mph with an
arm slot that was a bit higher than the other DPL pitchers and caused
him some lean off the plate on release. Urceta’s release point
enabled him to get on top of a 77-80 mph slurve type breaking ball
with some consistency which showed hard spin and bite at times.
There’s more velocity in his arm and body and he can spin the ball,
which is a good combination on a loose 16-year old.
L/L, 6/26/96, Cibao, DR
has the familiar 6-food-2, 170-pound loose build for a young
Dominican pitching prospect but had a different arm action than his
peers. He throws from a compact, quick three-quarters arm stroke
that hides the ball well and creates lots of deception on release.
Morales doesn’t look like he’s throwing hard but the radar gun
said 87-89 mph and that’s very good velocity for a 15-year old
breaking stuff was less impressive and it may take lots of work and
repetitions to develop consistency with his release point when
spinning the ball. He threw both an 80 mph slider and a 73 mph
curveball but both were flat and loose. Morales did show some feel
for an 81 mph changeup which could become a valuable pitch for him.
R/R, 4/18/96, Santo Domingo, DR
has pretty much the same build and present stuff as Jeancarlos Mejia
and Winder Novas as detailed below, but gets a small edge with the
potential power in his arm when his mechanics hang together and he
keeps his front side closed.
R/R, 8/26/96, Gaspar Hernandez, DR
15-year old Mejia has a slender, loose body, but has some width in
his hips and you can project that he’s going to fill out well and
be a pretty good sized athlete. He threw in the 84-86 mph range with
a long and loose arm action, and there wasn’t much effort on his
release. We didn’t get too good of an overall look at Mejia, but
what we saw was very promising.
R/R, 3/6/96, Vincente Noble, DR
Novas is the same prospect as Jeancarlos Mejia at this point, with a
young body, loose easy arm, mid-80s fastball and tons of projection.
R/R, 9/26/95, Santo Domingo, DR
passes the eye test very well, with a big athletic body that is
probably nowhere close to filling out yet. He throws a heavy sinking
fastball at 81-84 mph, but more impressively he throws a true
curveball with good spin and some depth in the 73-76 mph range, and
he also throws a 74 mph changeup. Castillo’s delivery has some
pause and drift in it and he hasn’t started growing into his big
body’s coordination. Like many oversized pitchers, he might mature
a year or two later in his mechanics than his smaller peers would.
He’s an interesting follow who isn’t close to showing the talent
he might have down the road.