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General  | General  | 2/2/2012

Dom. Prospect Lg. Top Prospects

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Perfect Game
David Rawnsley and Ben Ford were in the Dominican Republic this week for the Dominican Prospect League workout and All-Star Game, one of the top scouting events in this baseball-crazed country.

Perfect Game in the Dominican Scout Blogs

Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com Feature: Dominican Prospect League brings hope

The year listed below indicates the year the player becomes eligible to sign as of July 1. If a player is listed as “eligible” that means he can sign immediately. Most of these players would be 2013 or 2014 players for the draft if they attended US high schools. Instead of a team listed (i.e. Marucci Elite, Jesuit High School, etc.), the player’s trainer is listed, as this is the most important identifier in the Dominican.

A player is judged to be eligible to sign if he turns 16 years old by the final day of the Minor League rookie league season where he is rostered when signed, which varies between August 28 and September 1 year to year.

It goes without saying that all these players would be top prospects as well if they attended top events such as the Perfect Game National or Junior National Showcase. Hopefully many similar players will be doing just that over the next few years.

1. OF Gustavo Cabrera (1/23/96, 2012, 6-2/190, R/R, Christian “Niche” Bastista)

Cabrera ran a 6.5 60, which obviously stands out in any crowd of prospects. His bat speed also ranks among the top players at the event, as does his raw arm strength. He does a very good job of exploding his hands at contact and driving the ball to the middle of the field. His game swings and approach were also among the most mature of any of the DPL players.

2. MIF Wendall Rijo (9/4/95, 2012, 5-11/180, S/R, Victor Brus)

I was told that Rijo was the most polished player in the League prior to the workout/game as his father, Rafael is a scout for the Reds and he’s learned how to play the game. I then found out watching everyone play that he also had some serious tools, especially on offense. Rijo ran a 6.62 and took the best BP on Wednesday of any player either day. He has very quick, strong hands and pulls the ball very hard and doesn’t lack for aggressiveness in any area. Second base is likely his best future position.

3. 3B Amaurys Minier (1/30/96, 2012, 6-2/190, S/R, Jaime Ramos)

Minier has immense power from both sides of the plate and is fully capable of 450-foot type bombs when he hits the ball to the middle of the field instead of getting pull happy. He gets more rotational than you would like to see at times but its generating bat speed. He plays shortstop now but doesn’t have the athleticism for that position.

4. LHP Kelyn Jose (5/19/95, Eligible, 6-4/190, L/L, Fausto “Chiki” Mejia)

Jose threw a bullpen at the workout but didn’t throw in the All-Star Game. He has an extreme slope-shouldered build and very long arms and fast and loose arm action. Jose topped out at 94 mph a couple of times and even touched 96 on one gun, which is pretty special for a 16 year old southpaw. On the other hand, he had no idea how to throw a curveball or change up, leaning his body back severely on both and not giving his arm a chance to get through. I’m told that until a week or two ago he has never worked with a pitching coach before and that’s obvious. If he has aptitude, and his pitching coach has helped develop such standout big leaguers as Carlos Marmol and Juan Cruz in the past, he could be an impact player.

5. C Deivi Gurllon (2/17/96, 2012, 6-1/185, R/R, Luis Coranado)

Gurllon’s defensive tools really stood out in every aspect. He’s quick and balanced behind the plate, has very strong hands receiving the ball and has a plus/plus throwing arm, the type that would measure around 85 mph at a PG Showcase. He plays with some flair on defense, which might have cost his pitchers a few strikes on inside corner breaking balls but which is a positive thing overall. While he doesn’t have the same offensive tools, he battles at the plate, showed the ability to foul off multiple pitches and ended up with a couple of line drive hits in the game.

6. 3B Natanael Javier (10/10/96, 2012, 6-3/185, R/R, Basilio “Cachaza” Vizcaino)

Javier is the youngest player here but has one of the best swings, especially his game swing approach. He uses his lower half very well in generating bat speed but also showed a mature ability to short up his stroke with 2 strikes and drive the ball the other way. His defensive actions at third base are a bit young but are still athletic.

7. 3B Julio DelaCruz (10/5/95, 2012, 6-1/190, R/R, Luis Polonia)

DeLaCruz is a bit stronger than many of his age mates and uses that strength to create very good bat speed, although he has long arms for his height and will get long in his swing at times. DelaCruz’s defensive actions were outstanding, especially his hands, and he showed plenty of arm strength on a throw from deep behind the bag.

8. SS Frandi DelaRosa (1/24/96, 2012, 6-1/170, S/R, Valentin Romero)

A number of the All-Star middle infielders have the classic Dominican actions (very fast hands, quick balanced actions on the move) but DelaRosa is the most projectable and athletic defensively, although his arm strength is still developing. His bat from the left side definitely stood out among that group, as he has a nice, easy swing that squares up the ball consistently and will keep improving as he gets stronger.

9. OF Ignacio Valdez (7/16/95, Eligible, 6-3/185, R/R, Josue Mateo)

Valdez is eligible now and for me was the best position prospect of the seven eligible position players at the event. He has a very projectable and athletic build, ran the 60 in 6.84 and had perhaps the best outfield actions at the event. Valdez is a right handed hitter with present bat speed and hits ‘em high and deep to the alleys. I’m told that he was offered $200,000 to sign a few months ago but did not take that offer.

UPDATE:  After his impressive showing, Valdez signed with the Tigers for $280K.

10. RHP Branly Crisotomo (10/25/94, Eligible, 6-1/180, R/R, Juan Sid)

Brian Mejia from the DPL told me that Crisotomo doesn’t create much buzz among the scouts, which is unfortunate and misguided in my opinion. He’s realistically about 5-11/175 but was 88-90 on his fastball with nice cut glove side from a high three-quarters to over the top release point. Both his 74 mph curveball and 80 mph change up were potential plus pitches and he pounded the strike zone and overmatched hitters. If Crisotomo were a high school junior in the United States every college in the country would be after him and he’d end up a top-five round pick out of college.

Note: Overall, the talent level of the players was far ahead of the pitchers. Only one other pitcher, Juan Uribe, touched 90 mph (actually, 91) and most pitched in the mid-80s with raw command and offspeed skills. Taken in the context of 15-16 year olds who have very little game experience, this isn’t surprising at all.

Others in the Conversation: SS Jancarlos Baez, OF Luis Barrera, 3B Joaquin DelaCruz, RHP Wilfredo Magallanes, OF Jose Pujols, OF Rafael Santana, SS Richard Urena, RHP Rafael Uribe