The Red Sox have one of the biggest international bonus pools this year and are known to have strong interest in Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers. They have also been connected to Dominican outfielder Yohan Aybar (video), a lefty who trains with Juan Herrera (known as “Mon” in the Dominican Republic). Aybar can sign when he turns 16 on July 3 and could be in line for a mid-six-figure bonus. Aybar’s 6-foot-1, 150-pound frame offers plenty of projection, and he already shows good bat speed and doubles power now with the potential for more pop down the road. He’s an inconsistent hitter right now and an average runner with a strong arm and good actions in center field, although he could end up on a corner.
“He’s one of the top outfielders in the class,” said one scout. “He has crazy upside. He just kept improving and was trending up. I don’t care what the money says on some of these other guys, to me, he’s one of the top guys.”
• Some sources believed the Red Sox were showing interest in Venezuelan center fielder Freddy Rodriguez, but now the Rockies might be in the lead. Rodriguez, a 16-year-old lefthanded hitter who trains at Carlos Guillen’s academy, is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with a sound swing, an advanced hitting approach for his age and projectable power. His arm is below-average at best.
• Another one of Guillen’s outfielders drawing attention for his hitting is Carlos Talavera (video), who can sign once he turns 16 on July 3. At 6 feet, 160 pounds, Talavera is a switch-hitter who some scouts like for his bat and ability to play center field. He has shown a bit of power to his pull side, though he mostly works the gaps and might not have as much power potential as Rodriguez. He might end up in a corner, but some scouts say he can play center field, with average to a tick above-average speed and a solid arm, so he could end up along the lines of Angel Pagan. Several sources said Talavera is one of the Cardinals’ primary targets and should be able to draw a mid-six-figure bonus.
• A third outfielder with Guillen, Mikey Edie (video), has been connected to the Giants. Edie, who also turns 16 on July 3, traveled to Williamsport, Pa., to play for Venezuela in the Little League World Series in 2009. He has developed into one of the best athletes and fastest runners in Venezuela this year, with excellent speed and quick-twitch actions. At 6 feet, 165 pounds, Edie has the tools to project as a center fielder, but his righthanded bat and baseball instincts will need time to catch up.
• Several teams felt the Astros were the team most likely to sign Venezuelan catcher Jose Herrera, with the Diamondbacks lurking. Now the belief is that the Diamondbacks are the most likely destination for Herrera, who should command a bonus of around $1 million. The switch-hitting Herrera is 5-foot-10, 180 pounds and has been catching for about a year, so his receiving is still a work in progress. Scouts say he should be able to stick at the position and offers offensive upside.
• Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and has more raw power than any hitter in this year’s July 2 class, earning a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale from some scouts. Whether he can make contact with enough frequency for it to come out in games is a question. At a May 30 game organized by MLB between July 2 prospects and Canada’s junior national team, Zapata went 1-for-4 with triple to right field, and he just missed a home run in his first plate appearance when it went foul. He’s expected to sign for more than $1 million, with the White Sox the favorites to land him.