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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Puerto Rico

By John Manuel
June 1, 2005


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The continued rise of basketball as Puerto Rico’s favorite sport—followed closely by volleyball—has continued to thin the baseball talent on the island. The Puerto Rican Baseball Academy may help make up for the loss of athletes to other sports in the long run. In the short run, Ivan De Jesus Jr., the son of the former big league shortstop, is the only Puerto Rican sure to be drafted highly. Still, most clubs had several representatives at the Excellence Games showcase in late April.

(National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks

None

Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
1. Ivan De Jesus (108), ss, P.R. Military Academy
Others Of Note
2. Hector Pellot, ss, P.R. Baseball Academy
3. Carlos Rodriguez, c, P.R. Baseball Academy
4. Gabriel Fargas, rhp, P.R. Baseball Academy
5. Julio Rivera, c, P.R. Baseball Academy
6. Brian Contreras, of, P.R. Baseball Academy
7. Francisco Ortiz, rhp, P.R. Baseball Academy
8. Eric Santiago, ss, Natividad Rodriguez HS, Arroyo
9. Miguel Alicea, of, Caguas
10. Orvil Aviles, lhp, Fernando Callejo HS, Manati

1. IVAN DE JESUS (National rank: 108)
School: Puerto Rico Military Academy.
Hometown: Guaynabo, P.R.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: May 1, 1987.
College Commitment: None.
Scouting Report: With a resume that includes a polished bat, a big league father and a lack of a strong college commitment, De Jesus could be drafted well and a bit higher than his talent might warrant. De Jesusí father Ivan was a shortstop for the Cubs and Phillies in the 1970s and '80s but with a different type of game from his son. Where the father was a slasher and speed player, the son fits the modern game better with more power in his bat and average speed (4.3 seconds to first base). The current De Jesus model has a good idea at the plate, and his bat gets above-average grades from scouts in the 55-60 range (on the 20-80 scale), projecting him to be a .280-.300 hitter. Whether De Jesus hits for power will determine his ceiling. He has some present jolt in his swing due to strong wrists and forearms. Scouts are mixed on him defensively. He has good hands and instincts, and he could handle second base easily. Whether he has enough arm to consistently make the play in the hole will determine whether he plays shortstop in the big leagues like his father.


OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Puerto Rico)

While De Jesus is motivated to sign, the islandís No. 2 prospect, SS Hector Pellot (2), may not be. Pellot made several college visits, including one to Southern California, before committing to Santa Clara. He has a bit more speed and arm than De Jesus, meaning heís more likely to stay at shortstop, but heíll need to work on his hands. Theyíre a little stiff. Pellot needs work at the plate as well, where he lacks strength and can get the bat knocked out of his hands. A team that believes in his bat will take Pellot with a single-digit pick.

SS Eric Santiago (8) is a premium athlete with 6.5-second speed over 60 yards and a powerful arm (he throws in the high 80s off the mound). Santiago also is an excellent athlete who excels at basketball and volleyball, leaving him raw on the diamond, especially at the plate. Heís going to take two years in Rookie ball to iron out the kinks in his swing.

A pair of Puerto Rican catchers could be drafted in the first 10 rounds. Julio Rivera (5) has a modest arm but a feel at the plate, and is still improving after moving from third base. Carlos Rodriguez (3) is athletic with more arm strength, while lacking much of an approach at the plate.

The islandís pitching is as thin as LHP Orvil Aviles (10), who has a fringy fastball from his 6-foot-4 frame complemented by a good changeup and decent curveball. Area scouts didnít seem to agree with the Major League Scouting Bureauís assessment of Gabriel Fargas (4), who got a 65 overall grade (highest in Puerto Rico and among the highest in the 2005 draft class) on the 20-80 scouting scale. Garcia couldnít throw strikes at the Excellence Games, and one scout said the converted outfielder, who topped out at 93 mph in a fall showcase, threw 27 straight pitches out of the strike zone. He topped out at 89 mph and might be a draft-and-follow.

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