SANTIAGO, D.R.–Normally at workouts or ‘showcases’ in the Dominican Republic, three or four scouts sit in the stands and watch.
But Luis Polonia, who has run an academy in the D.R. for the last seven years that has produced 27 signees, teamed up with Born To Play Sports to have an event to coincide with the Caribbean Series. More scouts and front-office personnel were in town than usual, and the workout itself had a feel to what one is like in the States.
And even though there were 25-30 players present, most scouts were there to see 16-year-old righthander Micheal Inoa, who is expected to be one of the top players when the international signing period begins on July 2.
Inoa, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound righty, creates easy velocity through relatively sound mechanics. At the workout, Inoa consistently sat at 91-92 mph with his fastball, topping out at 94. He also throws a softer breaking ball which was inconsistent at times, and will also show a splitter. Inoa turns 17 in September.
In the two innings he worked, just one hitter made contact, and that was a popup to the shortstop.
"Everything’s really easy and the fastball has good life," said one international scouting director. "For as big as he is, you’d expect him not to be able to repeat as well as he does. But he stays within himself and once he grows more into that frame, you’ll see that velocity start to climb . . . and that’s a scary thing."
Another interesting player in the workout was lefthander Carlos Perez. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound lefty has good velocity from that side, with his fastball sitting 88-91. He also throws a curveball and changeup, though lacks consistent command with both pitches.
"He commands the fastball pretty well, but the secondary pitches . . . I don’t know," said another international scouting director. "But events like this are total projection. You don’t have a stat sheet, you don’t know the background, you just show up and see what you see. Based on that, there is definitely projection."
Inoa didn’t pitch until the third inning, and once he was done, the group of 70-to-100 scouts left the formal workout and headed over to another field to see righthander Johenser Cevallos. Cevallos wasn’t invited to the event, but his agent brought him anyway, hoping to take advantage of the sheer number of eyes that would see him.
A 6-foot-5, 200-pound righty, Cevallos will likely be another July 2 bonus baby, though his stuff lags behind Inoa’s. Cevallos’ fastball sat in the 88-90 range, and there is some effort to his delivery. His command of the breaking ball lags behind his fastball right now, but most scouts liked what they saw.
"First, you love the body,but for what it is now," said another international scouting director. "With Inoa there is more long term projection. (Cevallos) is pretty maxed out. But he’s got arm strength and commanded the zone pretty good. Someone’s going to take a chance on him."
VENEZUELA: Outfielder Yorman Rodriguez has a lot of buzz in advance of July 2, and several international scouting directors have predicted he could receive the highest bonus in Venezuelan history. Rodriguez’ two best tools are his power and speed, as both grade as 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Rodriguez’ body is different than Dominican outfielder Ezdra Abreu’s (also a July 2 candidate), and he projects to hit for more power. Rodriguez is stocky, strong and athletic where Abreu is taller and wiry strong. Both are certainly names to watch in advance of this summer.
ATHLETICS SIGN ROSARIO: The Athletics made their biggest splash in their history in Latin America earlier this week, giving 17-year-old center fielder Robin Rosario $350,000–the highest bonus Oakland has handed out on the international market.
Rosario, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound outfielder, ran a 6.5 60-yard-dash and several international scouts confirmed he has a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale.