Among position players in Latin America, outfielders Rafael Rodriguez and Yorman Rodriguez are getting the most buzz in advance of the international signing period, which begins on July 2.
Scouts say the two of them have unmatched raw tools in terms of their combination of athleticism, power, speed and arm strength, but those same scouts still have questions about whether their hitting ability will ever materialize in the big leagues.
While Yorman and Rafael Rodriguez (no relation) ooze tools, there is a pair of outfielders from Latin America who may lack their raw physical attributes, but who scouts expect to receive seven-figure bonuses.
One of those outfielders is Julio Morban, a lefthanded hitter from the Dominican Republic who scouts say will sign with the Mariners, likely for somewhere near $1.1 to $1.2 million. The Mets appeared to have some interest in Morban, but all indications are that Morban will end up with the Mariners on July 2.
Morban doesn't have imposing size—he's about 5-foot-11, 180 pounds—but he's a good athlete with fluid actions and an advanced feel for hitting.
"He's a good hitter," said one international scouting director. "He's not real big, but he's got a real good swing—he can really swing the bat well. The swing is a little long, but it's a good swing with good plane and he's got some power."
Morban receives comparisons to a younger Jacque Jones. Morban's present position is center field, where he has an above-average arm and average to above-average fielding skills, but there's a chance he might end up moving to a corner outfield position.
"He's a pretty good player who seems like he's getting better all the time," said one international scout. "He's about a 6.8 or maybe a 6.7 runner now (in the 60-yard dash) ... at 16 it's to judge if his speed is going to improve or not."
"It's a pretty good bat," added another international scouting director. "He's not very physical, but he's a very good hitter with a good approach."