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General : : General
Dominican Prospect League Reports
Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Perfect 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.

Because of that, we think we know them about as well as anyone in the baseball industry.

In 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.

The 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.

Seeing 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.

That’s 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.

Below 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.

Perfect 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.

Positional Players


OF GUSTAVO CABRERA

6-1/190, R/R, 1/23/96, LaRomana, DR
PG Grade: 10

Cabrera 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 $1.5 million.

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.

Cabrera’s 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.

Interestingly, 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 Florida.

One 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.”


IF WENDALL RIJO

5-11/170, R/R, 9/4/95, La Romana, DR
PG Grade: 10

Rijo 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.

The 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 tools.

He’s 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 ever seen.

Gustavo 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.


3B NATHANIEL JAVIER

6-3/185, R/R, 10/10/95, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 10

While 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.

Having 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.

It’s 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.


IF AMAURYS MINIER

6-2/200, S/R, 1/30/96, San Cristobal, DR
PG Grade: 10

Minier 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.

Minier 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 hitters.

The 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.


C DEIVY GRULLON

5-11/195, R/R, 2/17/96, Bonao, DR
PG Grade: 10

Grullon 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.

Offensively, 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.


IF RICHARD URENA

6-0/170, L/R, 1/26/96, San Pedro de Macoris, DR
PG Grade: 10

Urena 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.

At 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 shortstop.


OF JOSE PUJOLS

6-4/185, R/R, 9/29/95, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 10

Pujols 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.

On 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 some time.


IF YANCARLOS BAEZ

6-2/165, S/R, 9/21/95, San Cristobal, DR
PG Grade: 10

Baez 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.

Baez 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.


1B LEURY VARGAS

6-3/210, L/R, 8/30/96, Haina, DR
PG Grade: 10

It’s 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.

Vargas 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.

The 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 hitting.


IF FRANDY DELAROSA

6-0/160, S/R, 1/24/96, Comendador, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Delarosa 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.

Delarosa’s 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 stronger.


3B JULIO DELACRUZ

6-1/190, R/R, 10/5/95, Yamasa, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Delacruz 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.

Offensively, 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.


OF LUIS BARRERA

6-1/185, L/L, 11/15/95, Tamboril, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

There 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 18
th on one.

Barrera 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.”

Barrera’s 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 consistent accuracy.


3B JOAQUIN DELACRUZ

6-3/170, R/R, 10/13/95, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Having 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.

Joaquin 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.

Delacruz’s 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.


IF FELIX SUAREZ

6-1/170, R/R, 1/6/96, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

If 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.

Offensively, 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.


IF LUGO OCTAVIS

6-1/165, R/R, 11/19/95, Neyba, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Octavis’s 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.

Offensively, 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.


OF RONNY CARVAJAL

6-3/180, R/R, 10/9/95, Bani, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Carvajal 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.

Carvajal 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.


C YOEL GONZALEZ

6-1/175, R/R, 8/1/96, San Cristobal, DR
PG Grade: 9

Gonzalez 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.

He 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.


3B ALBERTO SANCHEZ

6-0/180, R/R, 2/14/96, Oviedo, DR
PG Grade: 9

Sanchez 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 strike out.

Sanchez 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.


OF NATHANAEL DELGADO

6-1/160, L/L, 10/23/95, Las Cacaos, DR
PG Grade: 9

Delgado 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 are.

He’s 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.


OF MIGUEL MUNOZ

6-2/175, R/R, 12/27/95, Samana, DR
PG Grade: 9

Munoz 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.

Munoz’s 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.


OF JHONNY RODRIGUEZ

6-2/170, L/L, 7/20/96, Mao, DR
PG Grade: 9

Rodriguez 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.

He 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 context.

Rodriguez 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 handed bat.


IF RAIBY BARIAS

6-1/175, R/R, 9/29/95, Bani, DR
PG Grade: 8.5

Barias 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.

He’s 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.


1B EMMANUEL TAPIA

6-2/220, L/L, 2/26/96, Santo Domingo, DR

Tapia 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.

Tapia 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


C RICHARD NUNEZ

6-1/185, R/R, 3/14/95 (eligible), Santiago, DR
PG Grade: 8

Nunez 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.

Nunez’s 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.


Pitchers

The 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.

In 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 baseball.


LHP KELYN JOSE

6-4/185, L/L, 5/19/95 (eligible), Nagua, DR
PG Grade: 10

Jose 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.

With 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.

This 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, though.


RHP BRYAN MUNOZ

6-0/190, R/R, 7/26/95 (eligible)
PG Grade: 9.5

Munoz 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.

Munoz 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.


RHP ALBERTO UCETA

6-2/170, R/R, 9/21/95, Montecristi, DR
PG Grade 9.5

The 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.


LHP BIENVENIDO MORALES

6-2/170, L/L, 6/26/96, Cibao, DR
PG Grade: 9.5

Morales 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 southpaw.

His 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.


RHP CRUCITO MIESES

6-3/175, R/R, 4/18/96, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 9

Mieses 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.


RHP JEANCARLOS MEJIA

6-2/170, R/R, 8/26/96, Gaspar Hernandez, DR
PG Grade: 9

The 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.


RHP WINDER NOVAS

6-1/165, R/R, 3/6/96, Vincente Noble, DR
PG Grade: 9

Functionally 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.


RHP ALVARO CASTILLO

6-6/195, R/R, 9/26/95, Santo Domingo, DR
PG Grade: 8.5

Castillo 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.



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