Here's a look at the top prospects in the 2014 International class based on the relatively sparse amount of information available this year. The Yankees are reportedly going to blow through the signing limits, but other teams will be active as well.
The 2014 International signing period opened this morning. Here's my take on some of the key names to watch this year.
With some players, it is easy to see the talent immediately. I wish I had run times on some of these guys to have a bit more information on whether they can play up the middle or have to move to a corner but I will have to just make judgement calls based off of body style and actions. I did not do an overall rating but I have them in the order I like them by position.
Christopher Acosta, R/R, 6'3", 170, D.R.
Acosta is long and lean. He has a nice loose arm and a clean delivery. His breaking ball has some bite too it and he looks like he should gain a few ticks on his fastball. I'd be surprised if he isn't a 7 figure guy. He seems like a safe pick with high upside and I think he will be generally regarded as the best arm in this class until these guys start making an impact stateside in 2015-2016.
Huascar Ynoa, R/R, 6'2", 190, D.R.
Huascar is Michael's younger brother but isn't quite the prospect the elder Ynoa was or is but he may need 4-5 years to figure it out as well. He is very raw but the stuff may project to be the most dominant in this class, it just lacks consistency and command. If I had to bet on one arm to be a future ace, I would bet on Ynoa but I would need big odds because he could be a guy who never repeats enough to make it work. On the other hand, an ace is worth 100 million+, he'll get 1 million+. 100:1 odds, I can handle that.
Anderson Espinoza, R/R, 5'10", 150, Venezuela
With MLB.com dropping a Pedro Martinez
comp on him, expectations are high. The fact he has a simple delivery, can spin a breaking ball and shows a good change, he should get 7 figures. I do not see the next Pedro in him. Martinez was an extraordinary arm with a unique physique who could do things with the baseball that few if anyone has ever done before. That means Espinoza would have to possess everything Pedro did and then some to get to that point and to just name one thing, Espinoza doesn't have the hands that Pedro did. Aim lower on his ceiling but he could still be very good.
Carlos Herrera, R/R, 6'3", 150, D.R.
Herrera is another tall, skinny pitcher with a live arm. His fastball is light compared to what some are said to possess but there is more in there. There is some effort to his delivery, so he will likely be labeled a reliever early on but I love the breaking ball and am impressed by the movement on his pitches.
Juan Meza, R/R, 6', 170, Venezuela
Meza has a nice, smooth delivery and repeats well. He looks like a good athelte and his fastball is in the mid to upper 80's like most of the top arms. His changeup looks excellent but I didn't see a good breaking ball. From his arm slot, a good breaking ball would be difficult. He may end up working on a slider but he's 16 and has a live arm. I bet he's a 7 figure guy as well.
Franklin Perez, R/R, 6', 180, Venezuela
Perez has a strong muscular frame and has good physical maturity already. He has a solid low 90's fastball with the potential to be a guy who can pop 95 in the future if he continues to improve. He is new to the mound and was mostly a 3B until recently. He has shown a breaking ball but it is rudimentary. He gets excellent downhill momentum in his pitches and uses his body well.
Tomas Alastre, R/R, 6'3", 169, Venezuela
Tall and lean, Alastre has a lot of work to do to fill out his big frame. He has a good fastball and can spin a breaking ball as well. His delivery looks awkward and mechanical to me but the arm strength is there.
Miguel Flames, R/R, 6'1", 210, Venezuela
Has a strong sweeping swing. He has a lot of potential with the bat. He is slow and built like a catcher after being a 3B in the recent past.. He's the best catcher on the int'l market and could be strong at the plate and defensively.
Lenin Rodriguez, R/R, 5'10", 176, Venezuela
Not a great athelte and is a little stiff but he has the type of bat that could turn into a superstar. It is smooth and repeatable and stays in the zone a long time. Considering he is short and stocky, he will need to watch his weight to stick at catcher. Since he is short, 1B isn't a good option so he'd be a DH type so the bat has to be really good.
Rodriguez has good footwork and catch and throw skills. He looks to be one of the better defenders in the class. I'm not a fan of the bat but he should hit for some power. He may be a defense first catcher or a backup if he makes it to the big leagues.
Brandon Benavente, R/R, 5'10", 190, Venezuela
Solid footwork. Fluid actions behind the dish. He should be able to stick behind the dish but his body will need to be watched as well. He has a solid, simple swing but he won't be a great hitter. He will struggle with off speed pitch and pitches on the outside half.
Jhandro Alfaro, R/R, 5'8", 200, Colombia
Solid defensively, Alfaro is Jorge's younger brother. He is smaller and doesn't have the loud tools but has a solid swing from both sides of the plate. He is a good defender and should be able to stick behind the dish.
Gilbert Lara, R/R, 6'3", 203, D.R.
Lara has some of the loudest power in this class. He has incredible torque in his swing. He will likely be listed as a SS when he signs but there is no chance he stays there. 3B may even be a stretch for him but the bat will play. His aggresive swing may cause some swing and miss issues but the power should play and he will be one of the highest payed players in this class.
Nelson Gomez, R/R, 6'2", 219, D.R.
Gomez is almost a bat only prospect. His thick legs and stiff hands don't look like they will let him stay at 3B in the long run. I would expect that he's a 1B/LF type as he moves up the pro ranks. He doesn't square the ball as often as I would expect from a corner bat type. He has big power and will get big money but I wouldn't put too much in on him.
Dermis Garcia, R/R, 6'2", 182, D.R.
Garcia has a long swing that has a bit of a slow trigger at times. I think he will struggle a lot with good pitching without changes to his swing. There is a lot of raw power there but he sells out a lot for power. He will be listed as a shortstop but he's a 3B and should be a solid defender there. If he can put it all together, he could be an elite talent.
Gabriel Corporan, R/R, 6'5", 200, D.R.
Good power potential from a physically mature build. Too much of a pull approach now. Stocky body could be a concern down the line but he has a solid line drive swing and should hit for average power.
Kenny Hernandez, L/R, 6', 160, Venezuela
Simple clean swing. Gets good extension through the ball. Defensively, he may be a 3B but could have to shift to 1B or the OF. I'm not sure how fast he is so I'm not sure if he could handle a corner OF spot. If he's a 1B, he will really have to hit and at this point he's a gap to gap guy. He could be an impressive average hitting prospect with solid power along the lines in a few years or be completely disregarded if he doesn't hit and has to be relegated to 1B.
Pedro Gonzalez, R/R, 6'4", 160, D.R.
There is almost no chance that Gonzalez stays in the infield without ending up at 1B. His long, lean frame that looks more like 6'6" than 6'4" already is kind of scary. He is all projection. He has a bit of a long swing but he has a lot of bat control and quick, strong wrists that guide the bat through the zone. It would not surprise me to see him as a 6'6", 240 LB first baseman in the majors with an average bat and above average power but then again he could keep growing and loose coordination very easily. He is very hard to pin down because of the physicallity.
Ricky Aracena, S/R, 5'8", 155, D.R.
Smooth and direct with his swing. His swing from the left side seems a bit more natural but both are excellent. Short and quick to the ball, he often hits it out front and hits it hard. He is small but he has good range, solid footwork and enough arm for SS.
Hyo-Jun Park, L/R, 6'2", 165, South Korea
The easy comp here is Hak Ju Lee but I don't think that works. From the video, it looks like Park has a lot more power and hits the ball with much more authority. His defensive actions look ok and he may be more well suited at 3B if he has the arm for it. He has somewhat awkward movements and long legs that make me think he won't play well up the middle. Very interesting bat to go with good athleticism though.
Wilkerman Garcia, L/R, 5'11", 168, Venezuela
Garcia has the build of a 2B and will likely move off SS to 2B in the future. He has great barrel awareness and contact ability. His easy swing is a great asset and I think he will be the kind of guy to hit for a high average and rack up doubles while knocking a few over the fence just because he squares it up well enough. He has a controlled approach which is much different than many of the international talents. It's kind of cool to see him stay within himself.
Adrian Rondon, R/R, 6'1", 175, D.R.
Rondon has a pure contact approach with minimal power. He has quick wrists but his swing looks like it can get long. He has good hand eye coordination and should be able to improve enough to have a usable bat. The defensive skills are excellent and he should be a solid defensive short stop. Some say he is the best prospect in the class and maybe with more viewings I would get it but from the videos I have seen, I can't say that.
Amado Nunez, R/R, 6'2", 178, D.R.
Nunez is a long, lean athelte that has a simple, fluid swing. Currently he doesn't have big power but as he grows and fills out, he should add power. He may have to slide over to 3B as he gains weight but he should add power as he does to become an average to above average power hitter as well. His contact ability is impressive.
Arquimedes Gamboa, S/R, 5'11", 158, Venezuela
I haven't seen video of him but he's said to be able to stick up the middle and have a solid bat.
Will move to 3B in the future but could have the bat to make that work. Simple swing with good contact ability. Uses his wrists well. I really like the polish here.
Miguel Angel Sierra, R/R, 6', 160, Venezuela
Good defender but may have to move to 2B if the arm isn't strong enough. Good footwork. He's a defense first guy as the bat is just a contact oriented approach. He looks like a gamer whose play will exceed his tools.
Diego Castillo, R/R, 5'10", 150, Venezuela
Looks smooth defensively but doesn't look to have a lot of foot speed. He may have to slide over to 2B but he has very good infield actions. His bat is below average but he makes good contact.
Christopher Torres, S/R, 6', 170, D.R.
Torres looks to have very good defensive actions and should be able to stick up the middle but I don't believe in the bat at all.
Juan De Leon, R/R, 6'1", 175, D.R.
De Leon has big time bat speed. He impacts the ball on every swing. He has solid OF actions that will allow him to be an asset wherever he plays in the OF. He has an extremely high ceiling and still looks like a fairly safe bet comparitively. I would expect he gets near the top of the bonus list this year.
Ronny Rafael, R/R, 6', 177, D.R.
Simple swing with fast hands. Muscular durable frame that looks the part of a top prospect. Good speed and solid arm from the OF. He has loud tools from his compact frame.
Antonio Arias, R/R, 6'2", 180, Venezuela
Arias has long limbs and a loose swing. I like the swing and atheticism. He doesn't have huge power but should hit his fair share of extra base hits. Without seeing him run, he looks like a center fielder based on his frame.
Brayan Hernandez, R/R, 6'1", 170, Venezuela
A great example of how difficult projecting these guys is. He has a great swing from the left side but needs about 25 lbs before his power will reach it's potential. I don't like the swing as much from the right side but it is still solid. Defensively, he looks to be a LF or CF if he has the foot speed.
Bryan Emery, S/R, 6'4", 195, Colombia
Really good athelte. Likely a RF but has the bat to make it work. Not a lot of power right now but the swing is great. He has a huge frame and is already pretty physically mature. He could have a really high ceiling.
Bryan Pena, L/?, , , D.R.
Huge power potential. Big uppercut from a strong, handsy swing. The swing doesn't lend itself to contact but all I've seen is BP, so it's hard to tell. The power alone is enough for six figures if not more. I would love to see more of this guy to give a better assessment.
Jonathan Amundaray, R/R, 6'2", 175, Venezuela
More of an athelte than a baseball player. He's an intriguing prospect to most but I don't see the hitting ability of a major leaguer. He looks like he's having a hard time even in BP.
Julio Martinez, R/R, 6'3", 183, D.R.
Good hitter. Keeps his hands inside the ball well. Really slow running. Not very good defensively in the OF. May end up at 1B so the pressure will be on the bat more.
Alexander Paredes, R/R, 6'2", 170, D.R.
Very good arm. Solid looking athlete. Squares the ball. Very pull oriented right now.
Juan Yepez, 3B, Venezuela
OF's A few other names: Daniel Brito, Eriberto Franco, Frailyn Serra, Juan Ventura, Kevin Vicuna, Wilmer Reyes, Israel Feliz
SS's Other Names: Esmerlin Gonzalez, Julio Suarez, Melvin Mendez, Rafioly Urena, Wander Cabrera, Yeremi Rosario
|2014 International Bonus Pools
|Juan De Leon
|Miguel Angel Sierra