Baseball America

2013 Futures Game: World Roster

PITCHERS

Miguel-Almonte-2013-mugMiguel Almonte, rhp

Royals (Low Class A Lexington)

Born: April 4, 1993. Height: 6-2. Weight: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Royals out of Dominican Republic, 2010.

Background: Once he signed with the Royals, Almonte didn’t take long to clean up flaws in his delivery and unlock some of the best stuff in Kansas City’s system. He made the jump to full-season ball this year after just 27 innings in the Arizona League last year.

What To Look For: Almonte still needs to improve his curveball, but his fastball and changeup are potentially plus pitches, especially his 92-93 mph fastball that touches 96.

 

Miguel Almonte’s Statistics

 

Carlos ContrerasCarlos Contreras, rhp

Reds (High Class A Bakersfield)

Born: Jan. 8, 1991. Height: 5-11. Weight: 205. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Reds out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: The Reds have had plenty of success with signing undersized Dominican righthanders, most notably Johnny Cueto. Contreras is the latest success story. A reliever in 2011-2012, he has successfully moved to a starting role this year.

What To Look For: Contreras can succeed with two pitches at his best, with a 93-94 mph fastball and plus changeup, and both can be swing and miss pitches.

 

Carlos Conteras’ Statistics

 

Rafael DePaulaRafael DePaula, rhp

Yankees (High Class A Tampa)

Born: March 24, 1991. Height: 6-2. Weight: 212. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Yankees out of Dominican Republic, 2010.

Background: DePaula has waited a long time to make his U.S. debut. The Yankees then signed him in 2010, but he had to wait until 2012 to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, and he made his domestic debut this year to rave reviews.

What To Look For: DePaula’s stuff is well worth the Yankees’ wait. He has a mid-90s fastball and a breaking ball that’s devastating at times. He was too good for the low Class A South Atlantic League, and likely will breeze through the Florida State League as well.

 

Rafael DePaula’s Statistics

 

C.C. Lee, rhp

Indians (Triple-A Columbus)

Born: Oct. 21, 1986. Height: 5-11. Weight: 190. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Indians out of Taiwan, 2008.

Background: A veteran of international play who has represented Taiwan in both the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic, Lee appeared big league-ready in 2012, but Tommy John surgery has slowed down his timetable. He has bounced back quickly however.

What To Look For: At his best, Lee has more velocity than one would expect for a pitcher with a low arm slot. He can run his fastball up to 93-95 mph while getting lots of ground balls.

 

Chen Lee’s Statistics

 

rafael-montero-2013-mugRafael Montero, rhp

Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas)

Born: Oct. 17, 1990. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Mets out of Dominican Republic, 2011.

Background: Montero signed at age 20, then rocketed from the Dominican Summer League in May 2011 to Triple-A in less than two years. He gets overlooked in an organization with Futures Game participants Matt Harvey (2011), Zack Wheeler (2012) and Noah Syndergaard (2013), but Montero has the stuff to distinguish himself in front of the hometown crowd.

What To Watch For: Montero’s clean arm action and impeccable fastball command have resulted in exemplary career walk (1.5) and hit (7.2) rates per nine innings. He bumps 95 mph and gets swings and misses with his slider and changeup.

 

Rafael Montero’s Statistics

 

Andre Rienzo, rhp

White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)

Born: June 5, 1988. Height: 6-3. Weight: 190. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by White Sox out of Brazil, 2006.

Background: If Rienzo earns a callup to Chicago, he would become the first native Brazilian pitcher to pitch in the big leagues. He made a strong impression in Brazil’s 5-2 loss to Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, giving up two runs in five innings to keep Brazil in the game.

What To Look For: Rienzo’s skinny build doesn’t scream out “starter,” and his low 90s fastball and cutter might eventually be more effective in a relief role, but he has proven durable throughout his minor league career.

 

Andre Rienzo’s Statistics

 

Eduardo Rodriguez, lhp

Orioles (High Class A Frederick)

Born: April 7, 1993. Height: 6-2. Weight: 200. Bats: L. Throws: L.

Career Transactions: Signed by Orioles out of Venezuela, 2010.

Background: The Orioles signaled their return to aggressively scouting the international market by signing Rodriguez three years ago. He has repaid them by quickly turning into one of their best pitching prospects.

What To Look For: Rodriguez was a touch-and-feel lefty who threw in the mid- to high 80s when he signed, but he has developed into more of a power pitcher who can dominate with a nice combination of a 90-95 mph fastball and hard slider.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez’s Statistics

 

Enny Romero, lhp

Rays (Double-A Montgomery)

Born: Jan. 24, 1991. Height: 6-3. Weight: 165. Bats: L. Throws: L.

Career Transactions: Signed by Rays out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: Hitters have struggled to catch up to Romero’s fastball from the first time he took a professional mound. He led the Appalachian League in ERA (1.95) in 2010 and followed that up by leading Midwest League starters in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1) in 2011.

What To Look For: Romero is one of the hardest-throwing lefthanders in the game, with a fastball that can touch 97-99 mph even late in games. He commands it reasonably well, but his breaking ball and changeup still need work.

 

Enny Romero’s Statistics

 

yordano-ventura-2013-rg1Yordano Ventura, rhp

Royals (Triple-A Omaha)

Born: June 3, 1991. Height: 5-11. Weight: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Royals out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: When the Royals signed Ventura he was a 17-year-old with a high-80s fastball. Just two years later, he was touching 100 mph regularly. He showed that in last year’s Futures Game in Kansas City when he touched triple digits.

What To Look For: Ventura has one of the game’s best fastballs, but he has improved his breaking ball to the point that more scouts are willing to project him as a future starter instead of as a power reliever.

 

Yordano Ventura’s Statistics

 

Michael Ynoa, RHP

Athletics (Low Class A Beloit)

Born: Sept. 24, 1991. Height: 6-7. Weight: 210. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Athletics out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: Ynoa set a record at the time with a $4.25 million signing bonus in 2008, but injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2010, slowed his career as he lost almost three full years. Now that he is finally healthy he’s getting stretched out for the first time at low Class A.

What To Watch For: Ynoa is showing what all the hype was about in 2008. He has an easy motion and fires fastballs topping out in the mid-90s. His late-breaking curveball gives him a second true weapon, and his changeup has shown promise.

 

Michael Ynoa’s Statistics

 

CATCHERS

Jorge Alfaro, C/1B

Rangers (Low Class A Hickory)

Born: June 11, 1993. Height: 6-2. Weight: 185. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Rangers out of Colombia, 2010.

Background: Alfaro pulled down a record bonus of $1.3 million for a Colombian amateur following a shift from third base to catcher. While catcher remains his primary position as a pro, he has an infield background and also plays first base for Hickory.

What To Watch For: Alfaro and third baseman Joey Gallo are opponents in this game but form the heart of the order in Hickory, where each player had already reached double digits in home runs. Alfaro has exciting raw power, great athleticism and an undisciplined hitting approach.

 

Jorge Alfaro’s Statistics

 

Christian Bethancourt, C

Braves (Double-A Mississippi)

Born: Sept. 2, 1991. Height: 6-2. Weight: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Braves out of Panama, 2008.

Background: The Braves snared Bethancourt for $600,000 five years ago, and he has developed into perhaps the most talented defensive catcher in the minors. His bat has not yet caught up at Double-A, though he has been young for every level where he has played.

What To Watch For: Bethancourt won’t need to hit much to make an impact in the big leagues, given his plus-plus arm, quick transfers and receiving skills. He’s a quick-twitch athlete who runs surprisingly well for a catcher and occasionally exhibits gap power.

 

Christian Bethancourt’s Statistics

 

A.J. Jimenez, C

Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)

Born: May 1, 1990. Height: 6-0. Weight: 210. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in 9th round of 2008 draft; signed June 9, 2008.

Background: Drafted out of high school in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Jimenez had Tommy John surgery in 2012, but he returned at full strength this May and got off to a blistering start with the bat. He has been recognized as the best defensive catcher in the Jays farm system for the last two seasons.

What To Watch For: As is the case with Christian Bethancourt, Jimenez combines plus arm strength, unusual athleticism for the position and a contact-oriented, gap-to-gap hitting approach.

 

A.J. Jimenez’s Statistics

 

INFIELDERS

Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS

Cubs (Double-A Tennessee)

Born: Oct. 29, 1991. Height: 5-10. Weight: 160. Bats: B. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Cubs out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: Four years in the making, Alcantara’s offensive breakout at high Class A Daytona in 2012 elevated him to the top of the heap among Cubs middle-infield prospects (non-Javier Baez division).

What To Watch For: Alcantara’s strong arm and positional flexibility could make him a valuable big league contributor, even if his power and speed don’t continue to develop. That he ranked among the Southern League leaders in extra-base hits and total bases suggests his bat still has potential.

 

Arismendy Alcantara’s Statistics

 

Xander BogaertsXander Bogaerts, SS

Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)

Born: Oct. 1, 1992. Height: 6-3. Weight: 185. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Red Sox out of Aruba, 2009.

Background: Bogaerts reminds some of former Red Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez as a physical shortstop with the ability to hit for extra-base power. Bogaerts has taken the minors two levels at a time in 2012 and ’13, reaching Triple-A at age 20.

What To Watch For: Bogaerts may require another half-season at Pawtucket in 2014 to catch up to the speed of the game, but he’s a remarkably precocious talent who has few weaknesses in the batter’s box.

 

Xander Bogaerts’ Statistics

 

Maikel Franko, 3B

Phillies (Double-A Reading)

Born: Aug. 26, 1992. Height: 6-1. Weight: 180. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Phillies out of Dominican Republic, 2010.

Background: The Phillies signed Franko three years ago with an eye toward moving him behind the plate. But he has found a home at the hot corner and his bat has taken huge leaps forward. He earned a promotion to Double-A in June after bashing 16 home runs in the high Class A Florida State League.

What To Watch For: Franco doesn’t have a textbook swing, but he does find the barrel consistently, and his all-fields hitting approach has made him tougher for opposing pitchers to handle. He doesn’t run well, but he throws well and should be a solid defender.

 

Maikel Franco’s Statistics

 

Dilson Herrera, 2B

Pirates (Low Class A West Virginia)

Born: March 3, 1994. Height: 5-10. Weight: 150. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Pirates out of Colombia, 2010.

Background: The undersized Colombian made a loud U.S. debut when he led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in extra-base hits and runs in 2012.

What To Watch For: Just as fellow Pirates middle-infield prospect Alen Hanson did in 2012, Herrera has showcased a bit of power and speed at West Virginia this season. He will need to show a little more in each department to fit the profile as a second baseman, where he is limited by a below-average arm.

 

Dilson Herrera’s Statistics

 

Jordan Lennerton, 1b

Tigers (Triple-A Toledo)

Born: Feb. 16, 1986. Height: 6-2. Weight: 217. Bats: L. Throws: L

Career Transactions: Selected by Tigers in 33rd round of 2008 draft; signed June 16, 2008.

Background: Lennerton was one of the stars of the 2008 Oregon State team that won the College World Series, in part because he homered in both games of the finals against North Carolina. As an unheralded 33rd-round draft pick, Lennerton spent four years in Class A before speeding his ascent.

What To Watch For: Lennerton has average power, but he pairs that with an excellent ability to get on base thanks to a judicious eye at the plate. He’s also an excellent defender at first.

 

Jordan Lennerton’s Statistics

 

Francisco Lindor, SS

Indians (High Class A Carolina)

Born: Nov. 14, 1993. Height: 5-11. Weight: 175. Bats: B. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in 1st round of 2011 draft; signed Aug. 15, 2011.

Background: Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Lindor moved to the U.S. in his early teens and was the eighth overall pick in 2011 out of high school in Florida. He’s the best all-around shortstop prospect in the minors, with his defensive instincts separating him from the field.

What To Watch For: The second-youngest position player in the Carolina League this season, Lindor has showcased a wide toolset by hitting .300 with gap power, stealing bases, walking as often as he strikes out and ranking among the defensive leaders in assists and double plays at his position.

 

Francisco Lindor’s Statistics

 

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano, 3B

Twins (Double-A New Britain)

Born: May 11, 1993. Height: 6-3. Weight: 195. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Twins out of Dominican Republic, 2009.

Background: No minor leaguer has more raw power than Sano, who has ranked as either the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect in every league he has played in. He has already jumped from high Class A to Double-A in just his second full season.

What To Watch For: Sano’s top-of-the-scale power will be one of the prime attractions at this year’s Futures Game. With a career slugging percentage north of .550, he can hit the ball out to any part of the park, though he also has a sound batting eye and a terrific arm.

 

Miguel Sano’s Statistics

 

OUTFIELDERS

Yeison Asencio, OF

Padres (Double-A San Antonio)

Born: Nov. 14, 1989. Height: 6-1. Weight: 225. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Padres out of Dominican Republic, 2009.

Background: Asencio earned top prospect honors in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2011, though he did so using a different name (Yoan Alcantara) and age (he actually was three years older). He bounced back to win the Midwest League batting title last year and earn a quick promotion to Double-A this season.

What To Watch For: Asencio has the raw tools to shine in a showcase like the Futures Game. He squares up balls anywhere near his hitting zone, hitting them with authority. Asencio has one of the strongest throwing arms in the minors, logging 29 assists in the past two seasons.

 

Yeison Ascencio’s Statistics

 

gregory-polanco-2013Gregory Polanco, of

Pirates (Double-A Altoona)

Born: Sept. 14, 1991. Height: 6-4. Weight: 170. Bats: L. Throws: L.

Career Transactions: Signed by Pirates out of Dominican Republic, 2009.

Background: In the Pirates’ minds, Polanco’s career took off the day he got into a major league spring training game in 2012. Even though he was just an emergency callup, the glimpse of the big leagues jumpstarted Polanco’s career after three years in short-season ball.

What To Watch For: Polanco possesses one of the best blends of power and speed in the minors. He hits for average, hits for power and gets on-base, and he’s a legitimate center fielder. In other words, he’s one of the best prospects in the game.

 

Gregory Polanco’s Statistics

 

jorge-soler-2013Jorge Soler, OF

Cubs (High Class A Daytona)

Born: Feb. 25, 1992. Height: 6-4. Weight: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Cubs out of Cuba, 2012.

Background: Soler made one unsuccessful attempt to defect from Cuba in 2011, but attempt No. 2 proved to be successful—and lucrative, when he signed a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs.

What To Watch For: Slick-fielding shortstops are no longer the paradigm for Cuban position players. Now it’s run-producing corner-outfield bats such as the Athletics’ Yoenis Cespedes and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. Soler has similar tools and profiles as an impact right fielder when he reaches Chicago, perhaps as early as the second half of 2014.

 

Jorge Soler’s Statistics

 

Oscar-Taveras-2013-mug-bmOscar Taveras, OF

Cardinals (Triple-A Memphis)

Born: June 19, 1992. Height: 6-2. Weight: 200. Bats: L. Throws: L.

Career Transactions: Signed by Cardinals out of Dominican Republic, 2008.

Background: With a Double-A Texas League MVP award and two minor batting titles under his belt, Taveras is one of the more accomplished prospects in the game. He hasn’t quite dominated the same way in the Pacific Coast League this season because he missed several weeks with an ankle injury.

What To Watch For: Taveras has that rare combination of plus power and exceptional feel to hit—he’s a career .320 hitter in the minors—that only elite prospects possess. He can also play center field, though he probably fits best in right.

 

Oscar Taveras’ Statistics

 

Henry Urrutia, OF

Orioles (Double-A Bowie)

Born: Feb. 13, 1987. Height: 6-5. Weight: 200. Bats: L. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed by Orioles out of Cuba, 2012.

Background: The oldest member of the World team at age 26, Urrutia also has one of the most interesting backstories. He played for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but did not play in Cuba’s professional league for the next three seasons as he served a suspension for one defection attempt. He struggled to secure a visa following a second, successful attempt before signing with the Orioles.

What To Watch For: Even allowing for his advanced age, Urrutia has been impressive after a long layoff. He hit .356 through his first 49 games at Double-A to rank fourth in the minors, and with his line-drive stroke that’s probably no fluke.

 

Henry Urrutia’s Statistics