Latin America has always been a rich source for teams searching for shortstops, and that has only become more prevalent in recent years.
Starlin Castro, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Erick Aybar and Jhonny Peralta are all Dominican shortstops still in their 20s, while Venezuela's starting shortstops under 30 include Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar and Ronny Cedeno.
This year's class of international amateurs isn't rich with true shortstops, though the Dominican Republic has several interesting shortstops who could make an impact at other positions down the line.
"I think you look at the class, it's a little light on shortstops this year," said one international director. "Teams are feeling like if you want a shortstop, you have to overpay."
Dawel Lugo has earned wide-ranging praise from scouts as one of the top shortstops in the Dominican Republic, though many of them believe he'll have to move to third base eventually. He should command more than $1 million, with the Blue Jays mentioned most frequently as his possible destination.
Lugo, a 16-year-old from Bani who trains with Victor Franco (also known as Mula) and plays in the Dominican Prospect League, is 6 feet, 170 pounds with a good swing from the right side. He has an aggressive approach with good hand-eye coordination, and his bat takes a direct path to the ball, which helps him make a lot of contact. Scouts praise Lugo's natural hitting ability, and some think he could have above-average power, as he already drives the ball well and shows natural loft in his swing. Right now he's more of a gap-to-gap guy in games.
Lugo isn't a great runner and will probably slow down as he grows, so many scouts expect him to slide over to third base. Not every scout is convinced the move is inevitable, though, as one Latin American director noted that Lugo cut his 60-yard dash time down to 7.0 seconds at his best and could be a playable, bigger-bodied shortstop.
"It looked that way early, but it's not that way now," said the Latin American director. "If you asked me six months ago, he'd definitely be a third baseman. I'm not so sure now."
The Royals have also shown interest in Lugo, but they have been more closely tied to Dominican shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi (who is now the mayor of San Cristobal). Adalberto's brother, Raul Mondesi Jr., is an 18-year-old left fielder who signed with the Brewers last summer for $80,000. Adalberto is the better prospect and could get a seven-figure bonus, though several scouts were surprised by that figure.
Mondesi, 15, was born in California while his father played for the Dodgers, and he's a thin-framed 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. He doesn't blow scouts away with his tools, but he shows savvy and instincts that reflect his baseball bloodlines. He's a switch-hitter, though his bat isn't as advanced as Lugo's or some of the other shortstops available and he doesn't project to hit for much power. Mondesi doesn't have a standout tool in the field, but he has a solid glove with good body control and an average arm, so he should have a chance to stick at shortstop. He'll be able to sign when he turns 16 on July 27.
Luis Reynoso is a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop from San Francisco de Macoris who trains with Victor Baez and has played in the DPL. Reynoso has drawn interest from several teams, including the Yankees, for his athleticism, projectable body and feel for the game.
Reynoso has an athletic 6-foot-1 frame, and while he doesn't have an obvious carrying tool, he's solid across the board. He's not a power hitter and has been inconsistent at the plate, but he makes contact with a good righthanded swing and is a 6.8-second runner in the 60-yard dash. He has good baseball instincts, and plays solid defense with good hands. Some scouts think his arm would make him a better fit at at second base, though he does have a quick release.
The scouting consensus is that 6-foot-1, 180-pound Enrique Acosta will have to move off shortstop, but the 16-year-old has one of the more promising bats in the Dominican Republic. Scouts are split on what they like the most about Acosta's offensive game. Some say he has a clean swing with a good approach, while others are drawn more to the way the ball jumps off his bat. He has a quick swing and uses the whole field. His defense needs refinement. He might be able to handle third base, but most scouts see him as a corner outfielder.
Raimer Flores, a switch-hitter from La Malena, plays in the Dominican International League and trains at the Arias and Goodman academy. Flores, 16, is 5-foot-11, 155 pounds and is one of the better defensive shortstops in the Dominican. He has good speed and fields his position well with good range, hands and instincts. His defense is ahead of his bat and he doesn't have much power, with a contact-oriented approach and a line-drive swing.
Dorssys Paulino, a shortstop who
trains at La Academia and plays in the DIL,
is the son of former big league lefthander Jesus Sanchez, who pitched for the Marlins, Cubs, Rockies and Reds from
1998-2004. Paulino, a 16-year-old from Bani, is 5-foot-11, 175 pounds
and stands out for his righthanded bat. He's a good hitter who can drive
the ball to the opposite field. He runs well now and has a good arm,
but his range and body type project better at either third base or
Rafael Perez, a former Yankees infield coach, is the trainer for Yairo Munoz, a toolsy switch-hitting shortstop who plays in the DPL. Munoz, a 16-year-old from Cabrera, has a lively 6-foot, 170-pound frame with plus speed and a strong arm. He has gap power, and his raw tools area ahead of his bat as he's an agile athlete who's still learning to play under control on both sides of the ball. The Reds, Padres and Yankees are among the teams that could be in on Munoz.