July 2 Notebook: Family Matters
In Latin America and in the draft, scouts often evaluate not just a player but his family as well.
A 16-year-old kid who is 5-foot-11 but has much taller parents might give scouts reason to believe that the player will continue to grow physically. The education level of a player's parents and his family environment can be of particular importance to some scouts in Latin America when trying to predict the impact a large signing bonus and a transition to a new country and culture will have on a player.
Another factor that can work in a kid's favor is the athletic background in his family, particularly if baseball is involved. Mets lefthander Juan Urbina, Red Sox third baseman Michael Almanzar and Mets catcher Francisco Pena are just a few examples of high-profile prospects from recent years whose parents played pro ball.
Three prominent prospects in the 2010 class—Dominican shortstop Alberto Triunfel, Venezuelan shortstop Rougned Odor and Mexican righthander Luis Heredia—all have baseball bloodlines. Triunfel is the younger brother of Mariners Double-A shortstop Carlos Triunfel. Odor is the nephew of Rouglas Odor, a former minor leaguer and the current hitting coach with high Class A Kinston in the Indians system. Heredia's father was a longtime Mexican League pitcher who reached Triple-A with the Dodgers in the late-1980s.
We've covered those three players
earlier, but there are other players as well with relatives who might be familiar to Baseball America readers:
• Vladimir Guerrero's nephew Gabriel Guerrero
is a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic. Guerrero has good approach and raw power from the right side, though his below-average speed and arm strength limit him to left field.
• Hipolito Pichardo pitched 10 seasons in the big leagues, throwing most of his innings for the Royals in the 1990s. His son, Christopher Pichardo
, is a 16-year-old third baseman who was born in Iowa but moved to Santiago in the Dominican Republic when he was a little boy. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Pichardo's best tool is his righthanded power, though his swing can get long at times. Pichardo has a plus arm, though he is a below-average runner and his size leads some scouts to project him as a future first baseman or possibly a corner outfielder. Pichardo is believed to have drawn some interest from the Tigers.
• Dominican righthander Dioni Volquez
is a cousin of Reds righthander Edinson Volquez. With a strongly-built 6-foot-3 frame at around 200 pounds, Volquez has a quick arm and can pitch in the high-80s, though he's still ironing out his mechanics.
• Mauricio Cabrera
is the younger brother of Alberto Cabrera, a 22-year-old righthander pitching for Double-A Tennessee with the Cubs. At around 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Mauricio Cabrera is also a righthander, and he's been able to get his fastball up into the high-80s. Cabrera also throws a curveball but his changeup is advanced for his age and might be his best pitch. The Red Sox and Braves are among the teams that have reportedly shown interest in Cabrera.
• Israel Alcantara played in 51 big league games over three seasons with the Red Sox and Brewers, though he became more widely known for his unique method of charging the mound
while in Triple-A. Alcantara has two relatives who are July 2 prospects this year—his son, Ismael Alcantara
is a 6-foot shortstop and his nephew, Angel Alcantara
, is a 6-foot-1 third baseman.
• Raul Mondesi Jr.
is a 17-year-old outfielder who signed earlier with month with the Brewers. Mondesi doesn't have his father's tools but at 5-foot-11 he has good pop for his size.
NEWS AND NOTES
• This past week has been a difficult one for scouts to get looks at players in workouts or in their academies. Heavy rain and thunderstorms all week in the Dominican Republic have thrown off many players' schedules and teams' plans to get a few last looks at players before July 2.
• More international sources have continued to chime in that it's been a slow-developing market this year in Latin America as July 2 approaches, particularly in the Dominican Republic. Among the possible explanations is that teams are waiting to hear the results of Major League Baseball's pilot program in which 40 of the top Dominican prospects eligible to sign this summer had to officially register with MLB.
Those 40 players selected by MLB were required to consent to a drug test and provide information to help the league's department of investigations verify their ages and identities. Clubs have received the list of 40 players from MLB but have not yet heard which players failed their age and identity background checks, information that would be disseminated to all teams. If a player fails a drug test, according to multiple international directors, that information would only be available upon request to general managers and assistant GMs.