The Dominican Prospect League and Perfect Game are once again working in concert to help young Latin American prospects gain as much exposure as possible. This time they are using as their model the just-completed Perfect Game National Pre-Draft Showcase.
The first DPL-Perfect Game International Series will be played May 28 through June 1 at the New York Yankees’ Dominican Republic academy and training complex in Boca Chica. The five-day tournament will conclude just four weeks before the July 2 date international amateur free agents are eligible to begin signing professional contracts.
“(Perfect Game) has its Pre-Draft Showcase, well, this would be like a ‘Pre-July 2nd Showcase,’” said Brian Mejia, the Founder and President of the DPL. “This is basically, ‘OK, here are the guys and here’s a last look at having them play against each other.’ … In this scenario, we can say, ‘Here’s the best guys, let’s go out and play’ and (the scouts) can get a true evaluation on these guys in their last event playing together.”
Six teams will compete in the five-day tournament that will include players not only from the Dominican Republic but also Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and possibly Puerto Rico. Mejia said a young Cuban defector is also expected to be on hand although he’s still waiting for free agency clearance from Major League Baseball.
“We’ll have players representing four or five countries and I think it’s going to be a good event for scouts to evaluate the guys,” Mejia said. “They’ll be able to get their last look at the 2012 guys and a fresh start with evaluation time for the 2013 guys.”
Because Dominican and other Latin prospects are eligible for free agency as 16-year-olds, their class designation refers to the year they will turn 16. Therefore, the members of the 2012 class are prospects who are currently 16 years old, and the 2013 prospects are 15-year-olds.
The 2012 DPL class is brimming with talent, and six of the top 10 top international prospects (according to PG scouting reports and MLB.com rankings) are expected to be in attendance at this event. They include top-ranked outfielder Gustavo Cabrera, along with shortstops Amaurys Minier, Richard Urena and Frandy De La Rosa; middle-infielder Wandell Rijo and third baseman Nathanael Javier.
Perfect Game had this to say about Cabrera after DPL prospects performed for scouts in a series of workouts and in several games during a tour of Florida and Arizona in March:
“Cabrera 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.”
The DPL and PG were motivated to establish this tournament by the desire to give prospects like Cabrera additional exposure in front of the July 2 signing period while also encouraging other young players to pursue their dreams.
“We want to create some buzz in the Dominican and Latin America about the affiliation between DPL and Perfect Game and the collaboration that we have started, just to get more of the top players involved,” Mejia said. “We also want the 2013 class evaluated so they can participate in Perfect Game events the following year or even this coming year.”
Ideally, Mejia said, the early exposure for the 15-year-olds will lead to more opportunities for them at Perfect Game events as early as this summer. The main issue for the youngsters is working through the process involved in securing a U.S. travel visa.
“The idea is to evaluate the player first and then know his situation and know what (PG) event might fit him,” Mejia said, adding there are efforts under way to include elite Dominican prospects in the Perfect Game All-American Classic and also to send a DPL team to the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in late October.
“We’re looking to have more of the DPL guys participate in (PG) events throughout the summer and into the winter and spring,” he said.
Louisville Slugger and Red Bull are collaborating sponsors for the DPL-Perfect Game International Series.