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MLB Draft Preview: Puerto Rico

Draft : : State Preview
David Rawnsley        
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.



Puerto Rico State-by-State List

Much has been written and discussed about the huge drought of top baseball prospects that impacted Puerto Rico through the first decade of the 2000s, but that dip in talent seems to have disappeared the past few years. Puerto Rican natives Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez were top 10 draft picks in 2011 from Florida high schools, while Carlos Correa famously became the first Puerto Rican ever drafted number one overall as part of an outstanding 2012 Puerto Rican draft class.

Although the 2013 class lacks the star power of the previous two classes despite the presence of 2012 Perfect Game All-American infielder Jan Hernandez, it is a deep group full of premium position talent and plus raw tools. There are also a number of Puerto Rican natives, like Lindor and Baez before them, who are playing at Florida high schools, including PG All-American catcher Brian Navarreto.

Perhaps the most exciting development on the prospect/draft front in Puerto Rico over the past year, though, was the dramatic increase in the number of Puerto Rican prospects involved in Perfect Game showcases. The first PG Caribbean Showcase was held in San Juan in mid-November and attracted 137 players, blowing away Perfect Game’s estimated attendance while organizing the event. Over 100 Puerto Rican prospects then made the trip to Florida in early January for the PG World Showcase. Not only does that give the top Puerto Rican players much more and varied exposure to the professional scouts, it has had the result of many more Puerto Rican players signing scholarships with colleges and junior colleges in the United States to continue both their educations and baseball careers.


STRENGTH:
  Middle of the field position prospects
WEAKNESS:  Pitching
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 3

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Xavier Fernandez, c, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
Fernandez comes from an impoverished background and hasn’t been able to play frequently in heavily scouted events. He took full advantage of his opportunity to shine at the Excellence Games in early May, however, standing out both offensively and defensively and being named that highly scouted event’s Most Valuable Player.

WILD CARD: Edwin Diaz, ss, Ladislau Martinez Otero HS, Vega Alta.
Diaz is the type of prospect that it is very easy to dream about. He has present strength in his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame with big power to the middle of the field. If a team thinks that Diaz can remain in the middle of the field defensively, where is actions and arm strength play above his speed, he could easily go before his 4-6 round projection.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Puerto Rico Connection:
 Brian Navarreto, c, Arlington Country Day, Jacksonville, Florida (born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida to attend high school in 2010)
Top 2014 Prospect: Marco Rivera Rios, of, Carlos Beltran Academy, Vega Alta
Top 2015 Prospect: Alex Diaz, rhp, Caguas Military and Sports Academy, Naguabo

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History:
Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Astros/2012/1st round, 1st pick)
2008 Draft: Javier Rodriguez, of, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Mets/2nd round)
2009 Draft: Reymond Fuentes, of, Fernando Callejo HS, Manati (Red Sox/1st round, 28th pick)
2010 Draft: Eddie Rosario, of, Rafael Lopez Landon HS, Guayama (Twins/4th round)
2011 Draft: Jorge Lopez, rhp, Academia de Milagrosa, Cayey (Twins, 2nd round)
2012 Draft: Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Astros/1st round, 1st pick)

2012 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
 0/0
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/1
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 15/15

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete: 
Jan Hernandez, ss, Carlos Beltran Academy
Best Hitter: Jan Hernandez, ss, Carlos Beltran Academy
Best Power: Jan Hernandez, ss, Carlos Beltran Academy
Best Speed: Johneshwy Fargas, of-ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Best Defender: Rene Melendez, c, Caguas Military and Sports Academy
Best Velocity: Joe Alexander Jimenez, rhp, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Best Breaking Stuff: Roy Morales, rhp, Carlos Beltran Academy
Best Command: Roy Morales, rhp/3b, Carlos Beltran Academy


TOP PROSPECTS - GROUPS 1 and 2

GROUP 1 (rounds 1-3)

1. JAN HERNANDEZ, ss, Carlos Beltran Academy, San Lorenzo
Hernandez became the second Puerto Rican after 2012 top draft pick Carlos Correa to be named a Perfect Game All-American, and there was some early speculation that he could move on to become the island’s next first-round pick in this year’s draft. While Hernandez put on a very good showing at the Excellence Games despite being pitched around consistently (seven walks in four games), including hitting the event’s only home run, he seems to fit best in the second or third rounds. The consensus is that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hernandez will have to move off shortstop to third base immediately in professional baseball, although his easy plus arm strength and overall athleticism should make him an above average defender at that position. For more on the young right handed power hitter, read his Perfect Game Draft Focus profile here.


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