Breaking Down Top International Targets

Scouting reports on the top prospects eligible for July 2




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See also: Team-by-team international breakdown


Finding a consensus on how to rank the top players in Latin America based on talent alone is a challenge.

While there is typically agreement among scouts about the pool of players from which first-round picks will come in any given draft, the variance of opinions on 15- and 16-year-olds in Latin America is considerable. One team's $1 million player can be a $90,000 guy for another club.

The players below are ranked according to their expected signing bonuses, based on conversations with international sources, and not necessarily their projected talent level. That distinction is important enough to repeat: The rankings are a forecast of the expected top 40 signing bonuses, NOT a ranking of the top talent in Latin America. Think of the top 40 as our mock draft for Latin America rather than our predraft Top 200 rankings.

More than a dozen players will likely get bonuses of at least $1 million this year. As with any year in Latin America, there are sure to be less visible players who pop up and sign for surprising amounts as well.

1. ELIER HERNANDEZ, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200
Several international sources believe Hernandez will sign with the Royals for $3.2 million, which would be the No. 2 bonus of all time for an international amateur free agent and the most ever for a hitter out of Latin America, edging the $3.15 million the Twins gave Dominican shortstop Miguel Sano in 2009. Hernandez's bat isn't as advanced as Sano's or Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez's (a $3 million Dominican signing in 2009), but Hernandez is a quick-twitch athlete with explosive bat speed and a major league body.

Hernandez, a 16-year-old out of San Cristobal who plays in the International Prospect League and trains with Amaurys Nina, has some of the best bat speed in Latin America. He's strong but not bulky. He has the potential to hit for above-average power, but for now he has a level, line-drive swing. Though he doesn't do it in batting practice, Hernandez has a tendency to leak open with his front knee and open up his hips too early in games. He sets up with his hands high and far away from his body, which creates some length in his swing, but that should be correctable. Scouts are mixed on Hernandez's pitch recognition. Though he's a good athlete, Hernandez is an average runner and projects as a corner outfielder, with enough arm strength to play right field. Many scouts see him as a high-risk, high-reward player. "If the hitting comes," said one international scouting director, "he's a superstar."
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2. RONALD GUZMAN, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195
Hernandez and Guzman have been the two highest-profile prospects in Latin America for July 2, with scouts split on which of the two is the better prospect. A 16-year-old from La Vega, Guzman plays in the Dominican Prospect League and trains with Eddy Robles. Last August in Jupiter, Fla., Guzman led his Dominican Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team to the island's first RBI championship, then played in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Guzman's brother, Edward, played in the Mets organization as an outfielder and a pitcher from 2007-09. Guzman earns attention for his size, swing and advanced hitting approach. He has a good swing path and stays inside the ball well for someone with his length, and he has the ability to stay up the middle and use the opposite field. His head stays locked in during his swing, helping him see the ball well and work counts. Guzman should have above-average raw power once he fills out (he won the DPL home run derby in January), though his power doesn't always show up in games.

Unlike Elier Hernandez, Guzman is not a quick-twitch athlete. Scouts have questions about his bat speed, which is why he doesn't usually show pull power in games. He can be a bit hunched over at the plate, though that should be correctable. He's a below-average runner with a below-average arm that will limit him to left field, though he does show solid instincts. Guzman has already graduated from high school and earns rave reviews from scouts for his makeup and aptitude. Most international sources believe the Rangers and Red Sox are the frontrunners for his services, though the Blue Jays are among the teams that have also been linked to him.
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3. VICTOR SANCHEZ, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 185
Scouts in Venezuela have viewed Sanchez as the country's top prospect for 2011 since he was 13, when he was the second-youngest player on Venezuela's 14-and-under team at the COPABE Pan American championship in 2008. That team also included Blue Jays righthander Adonys Cardona and Rangers shortstop Rougned Odor. Sanchez struck out eight in a five-inning no-hitter against Ecuador, missing a perfect game when he hit a batter. Sanchez wasn't as sharp at the COPABE 16-and-under championship in Mexico last October, but he has developed into a physically mature pitcher who combines a power arm with feel for pitching beyond his years.

Sanchez, a 16-year-old from Caracas, is an interesting prospect as a right fielder as well, due to his above-average arm and raw power, though he doesn't make enough contact for teams to take him off the mound. Sanchez isn't tall, but he has a body like a bull, with a strong, thick frame with sloped shoulders and large hands. His fastball ranges from 89-92 mph and touches 94. He has a loose arm and does it fairly easily. His athleticism helps him repeat his delivery and throw strikes with his fastball to both sides of the plate. Sanchez also throws a plus slider and has shown feel for a changeup, and he'll mix in an occasional curveball. While Sanchez likely has the most present talent in this year's pitching crop, scouts wonder how much projection he has left. His body is relatively filled out and his fastball won't gain much more velocity. Sanchez doesn't miss as many bats as scouts would expect, as his fastball can get straight. Sanchez is represented by Carlos Gavidia, who represented Cardona last year. Many scouts believe Sanchez is the better prospect, though he isn't expected to match Cardona's $2.8 million bonus. The Mariners are the frontrunners to sign Sanchez, with a price tag believed to be around $2.5 million.

4. ROBERTO OSUNA
MEXICO
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 198
Osuna is the nephew of righthander Antonio Osuna, who pitched nearly 500 innings as a big league reliever from 1995-2005, mostly with the Dodgers. Roberto represented his country in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico at the 16-and-under COPABE Pan American championship last October, when he ran his fastball up to 93-94 mph. He pitched against Team USA in the final game on three days rest and allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings in an 11-4 loss, though he struck out seven and didn't issue a walk. He finished the tournament with a 3.79 ERA in 20 innings and a 20-2 K-BB mark. He then signed with Mexico City in the Mexican League, and was already pitching for the club in games, with a 5.49 ERA with 12 strikeouts and 11 walks in 20 innings, facing hitters who are 10-20 years older than he is.

Osuna has a quick arm, advanced feel for pitching and a fastball that ranges from 88-94 mph, and his velocity has been inconsistent. He has an advanced curveball for his age, though it can get slurvy, and he shows feel for a changeup. Due to his thick frame, he'll have to keep his conditioning in check. Any team that wants Osuna will have to purchase his rights from Mexico City, a transaction that typically results in the team keeping 75 percent of the signing bonus. Several teams figure to have interest in Osuna, but a frontrunner has not emerged.

5. WILMER BECERRA, OF
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 175
Becerra's father, who has the same name, didn't play in the United States but was a well-known player in Venezuela, used to work for the Cardinals as a scout and now works for Ciro Barrios, with whom his son now trains. Becerra, 16, played in the Liga Paralela (the Venezuelan League's minor leagues) last year and went 8-for-26 (.346) with a homer, a double, no walks and eight strikeouts. He has worked out for teams at shortstop and the outfield, but his future is in the outfield. He's a good athlete with size and speed, having been clocked as fast as 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash. His game speed is slower, though, with below-average times going from home to first. Scouts are mixed on Becerra's bat. He has good size and strength, and some scouts consider him one of the best righthanded hitters available with good plate coverage and projectable power. Others say he's better in tryouts than game situations, where his swing tends to get long with an uphill stroke where he gets around the ball.

Whatever team signs Becerra will move him to the outfield immediately, as he doesn't have the actions or hands to play shortstop and his arm is below-average. He has a funky throwing action at shortstop, but he has a better arm stroke and more accuracy from the outfield. He could start out in center field, but he has an unusual frame with narrow shoulders, short arms and wide hips with present lower half strength, so it might be difficult for him to retain his speed. In that case, he would move to left field. Becerra gets good marks from several scouts for his makeup and work ethic. He had been tied to the Cardinals and had reportedly drew interest from the Twins, though most international sources now expect him to sign with the Blue Jays.

6. DAWEL LUGO, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175
Lugo, a 16-year-old from Bani who trains with Victor Franco (known as Mula) and plays in the Dominican Prospect League, is one of the better hitters in Latin America. He has a solid swing, good bat speed and makes consistent contact with natural loft, showing the potential for plus power down the road. Lugo can get pull-happy and is a free swinger, but his quick stroke, efficient swing path and hand-eye coordination allow him to make contact inside and outside the strike zone. Lugo was a below-average runner this spring but has improved  to flash average speed in the 60-yard dash at his best, though that won't be a part of his game. Some scouts say Lugo could be a playable, bigger-bodied shortstop along the lines of Jhonny Peralta, but the strong majority believe he'll move to third base early in his career. He has a solid-average arm, though his arm action get can a little long from shortstop. The Blue Jays have shown the strongest interest in Lugo.
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7. JOSE RUIZ, C
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Ruiz and Marck Malave are the two most noted catchers in Venezuela, with Ruiz getting the nod as the best defensive catcher in Latin America. A 16-year-old from Guacara, Ruiz doesn't run well but he has a more athletic body than Malave and more advanced catch-and-throw skills. He's a good receiver who can handle premium velocity, with good footwork and an above-average arm. His defense is ahead of his hitting, but he has good raw power and the ball jumps off his bat in batting practice. The question most scouts have is how much Ruiz will hit in games. He can get into a groove in BP, but in games his stroke can get long and he pulls off the ball. Ruiz is represented by Felix Olivo, the agent of several high-profile Venezuelan players in recent years, including Padres $1.2 million outfielder Luis Domoromo in 2008. The Padres have also shown strong interest in Ruiz, whose bonus also figures to be in the seven-figure range.

8. MARCK MALAVE, C
VENEZUELA
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200
Malave drew widespread notice in October 2008, when he was the youngest player on Venezuela's 14-and-under-team as a 13-year-old along at the COPABE Pan American championship, where he was teammates with righthander Victor Sanchez and 2010 signings Adonys Cardona (Blue Jays) and Rougned Odor (Rangers). Malave batted .467 (7-for-15) with a homer, two doubles and a walk in the tournament, spending time as a catcher and an infielder. Now 16, Malave trains with Ciro Barrios as a full-time catcher.

Malave's arm might be his best tool. He has a short arm stroke and delivers plus throws consistently with great carry. Scouts who like Malave see him as a catcher who can hit from both sides of the plate, but not everyone is sold on his bat. He's a better hitter from the right side, with questions about his bat speed from both sides of the plate, as the ball jumps off his bat due to his strength rather than his bat speed. He'll have to make mechanical adjustments in pro ball. Malave is strong, but his thick, boxy body raises questions about his projection and isn't the athletic frame that many scouts look for in young catchers. His below-average speed wouldn't an issue as a catcher, but his lack of athleticism and experience are evident in his receiving, so he's not a lock to stick behind the plate. Malave was connected to the Reds, who have signed a slew of Barrios' players, but now most international sources believe Malave will end up with the Cubs.

9. LUIS ENRIQUE ACOSTA, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180
Acosta, who is represented by Rob Plummer, has one of the best bats in the Dominican Republic. Acosta, 16, has a short load and gets his hands started easily with a clean, efficient swing and good bat speed. He has a good approach to hitting for his age and uses the whole field. Some scouts say his swing is shorter than Ronald Guzman's and Elier Hernandez's and that he has more power as well. He gets good extension and the ball jumps off his bat. He could have more pop once he learns to incorporate his lower half into his swing. He does have a tendency to open his hips early, leaving him susceptible to breaking balls. Acosta's speed, range, hands, arm and accuracy will force a position switch. Some scouts think Acosta has an outside chance to handle third base, though many believe he's a corner outfielder.

10. NOMAR MAZARA, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185
Mazara has been the source of the most outrageous rumors regarding what teams have offered him, with a new team popping up each time the latest rumor gets debunked. While misinformation in the Dominican Republic is nothing new, Mazara's outstanding raw power is a reality. He may have the most raw power in Latin America, with batting practice shots that leave scouts in awe. He employs a big leg kick and generates good weight transfer in BP with excellent loft and backspin. He has a projectable body with lanky limbs on a large, strong frame. The only thing that can match Mazara's epic power are his equally epic ability to rack up strikeouts.

Mazara, who is represented by Ivan Noboa, doesn't play in any of the major leagues that have popped up in the Dominican Republic and has been showcased judiciously. Several scouts have said Mazara showed up at workouts, took BP then left without facing live pitching. Those who have been seen him in games say his hit tool is nowhere near as advanced as his power. He has a massive leg kick that works for him in BP when he's in a rhythm, but it can be difficult for him to maintain his balance and timing. He's a corner outfielder with an average arm, but any team that signs him will be banking on his bat.

11. HELSIN MARTINEZ, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 190
In terms of raw power, Martinez stacks up favorably against anyone in Latin America. He has a quick bat and hits tape-measure home runs to left field when he connects and is able to get his arms extended in batting practice. He has a large, projectable frame and should be able to add significant weight. The question many scouts have is whether he'll make enough contact for that power to translate to game situations. He has a hitch in his swing, which causes him to get underneath the ball and gives him trouble against velocity. When he strides he gets out on his front foot and can blast the ball to his pull side, but he has trouble going up the middle and using the opposite field, even in BP. Like many young corner outfielders his size, Martinez is still learning to play with better body control, though he is a decent athlete. Martinez trains with Pedro Nivar, a former scout known in the Dominican Republic as "Nube," who had Mariners $2.2 million outfielder Phillips Castillo last year. The Mariners are also the team most frequently linked to Martinez.

12. ADALBERTO MONDESI, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160
Mondesi is the son of former big league outfielder Raul Mondesi, who hit 271 home runs in 13 big league seasons and is now the mayor of San Cristobal. Mondesi's older brother, 18-year-old outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr., signed with the Brewers last summer for $80,000, but the younger Mondesi is the better prospect. Mondesi, a 15-year-old who was born in California while his father played for the Dodgers, trains with Basilio Vizcaino (known as Cachasa) and plays in the Dominican Prospect League. Mondesi has a thin frame and is one of the few high-profile Latin American shortstops this year who projects to stay at the position. He's an above-average runner with good quickness, an average arm and solid hands. He doesn't have flashy tools, but they play up because he has good baseball instincts. Some scouts have seen him overmatched at the plate, while others like his swing and point out that he's one of the youngest players in this year's July 2 class. He won't have much power. The Yankees are among the teams who have shown interest in Mondesi, but the Royals appear to be the frontrunners to sign him when he turns 16 on July 27.
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13. LUIS REYNOSO, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170
A 16-year-old from San Francisco de Macoris, Reynoso trains with Victor Baez and plays in the Dominican Prospect League. He has an athletic, projectable body and combines solid tools with instincts and feel on both sides of the ball. His hitting has been inconsistent, but at his best he shows a contact-oriented bat with a good swing. He projects as more of a doubles hitter than a home run threat, but he has the projection to hit for average power in time. A 6.8-second runner in the 60-yard dash, Reynoso has good rhythm and timing in the field, and he plays solid defense at shortstop with good hands. He projects as a middle infielder, though he may slide over to second base because of his lack of arm strength. Several teams have shown interest in Reynoso, including the Yankees.
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14. DORSSYS PAULINO, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175
Paulino is the son of Jesus Sanchez, a lefthander who pitched for the Marlins, Cubs, Rockies and Reds from 1998-2004. A 16-year-old from Bani who trains at La Academia and plays in the Dominican International League, Paulino will likely move off shortstop but has one of the better bats among Dominican infielders. He has good bat speed, his hands work well at the plate and he's a quality game hitter who can use the whole field. He's strong and projects to have average power, becoming more of a doubles hitter than a consistent home run threat. He runs well and has a good arm, but his range and body type will likely make him a better fit at second or third base. The Indians have been mentioned in connection to more high-profile Latin American players than usual this summer, with Paulino one of the players they may go after.

15. HAROLD RAMIREZ, OF
COLOMBIA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 175
Colombia is a baseball country on the rise. Braves righthander Julio Teheran is one of the brightest pitching prospects in baseball, Rangers catcher Jorge Alfaro signed for $1.3 million last year and Mariners righthander Jose Torres eclipsed Teheran's $850,000 by $1,000 last year. Like Torres, Ramirez is also represented by Hugo Catrain, who brought Ramirez to the Dominican Republic to get more exposure. The move will likely pay off as Ramirez is expected to sign with the Pirates for a bonus just north of $1 million.

A 16-year-old from Cartagena, Ramirez has wide shoulders but is thick and short-legged, not the long, projectable frame of many young Latin American players. Still, he shows speed, feel for hitting and baseball instincts beyond what many young Colombians typically show. Ramirez has some explosiveness with plus-plus speed, which he showed by stealing home twice in a series of exhibition games against Mexican League teams in March. He has strong hands at the plate and a feel for hitting. Ramirez has played in the Dominican International League and played in MLB's new league, El Torneo Supremo, going a combined 2-for-5 with a walk and two stolen bases in May in the El Torneo Supremo all-star game and against Canada's junior national team. If he maintains his speed, he has a chance to be a quality defensive center fielder with a fringe-average arm.

16. MANUEL MARCOS, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 175
Marcos is one of the best athletes in Latin America, a tooled-up 16-year-old center fielder who trains with former scout Fred Ferreira. He has a wiry, athletic body with a lot of life and projection. With plus-plus speed, an arm that earns 60 to 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale and good instincts in the field, Marcos has the potential to be a premium defensive center fielder. He reads fly balls well off the bat and can make the flashy catch. At the plate, he'll show occasional power, though he's more of a line-drive hitter who works gap to gap. He has a tendency to drop his hands when he hits, but he has the hand speed to make up for it and has hit in game situations. Sources have connected the Red Sox and the Yankees to Marcos, which would make for an interesting international battle.

17. RAIMEL FLORES, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 155
Flores is the best defensive shortstop in this year's class for many scouts. A 16-year-old from La Malena who plays for the Arias and Goodman academy in the Dominican International League, Flores is a quick-twitch athlete with rhythm, timing and feel for shortstop. He has good body control, good footwork and good hands, and he reads hops well. His arm is another plus tool, with strength and accuracy. He runs above-average times in the 60-yard dash and is an average runner going from home to first, and he could get faster once he gets stronger. Flores doesn't have a big frame, but he will likely add some size and strength. Any team that signs him will be counting on it because his power is limited right now and gives scouts pause about how much he'll hit. He has a contact-oriented swing and the ability to hit line drives, but he'll need to more pop to hit against higher-level competition.

18. FRANMIL REYES, OF
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 210
Scouts can always find big-bodied, power-hitting corner outfielders in the Dominican Republic and this year is no exception, with Reyes among the better power bats on the market. A 16-year-old from Palenque who trains with Basilio Vizcaino (known as Cachasa), Reyes was the MVP of the Dominican Prospect League all-star game in January. He hit well then and has shown the ability to hit in games at other times for scouts, but like many young players his size, his hitting has been inconsistent. He can crush fastballs, though he's still learning to handle soft stuff. His lack of speed and arm strength should limit him to left field, so a team that signs him will be banking on his ability at the plate. The Mariners are among the teams that might take that chance, or possibly the Rangers if they don't land Ronald Guzman.
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19. YOHANDER MENDEZ, LHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 170
Venezuela has produced notable lefthanders in recent years, including the Rangers' Martin Perez and the Mets' Juan Urbina. The top lefty in Latin America this year is Mendez, who has a long, lanky frame and is represented by Luis Blasini, whose academy in Valencia has produced Pablo Sandoval and Felix Doubront. While many young players of his size struggle with the coordination of their deliveries, Mendez has smooth, fluid mechanics, and the ball comes out of his arm easily with good arm action. His fastball worked around 83-86 mph much of the spring, but he was up to 85-89 mph at a recent showcase. Though Mendez doesn't throw as hard as some of the other top arms in Latin America, he has the delivery and projectable body to throw in the low 90s once he fills out. He also has shown feel for a curveball and changeup. The Rangers are the team most international sources have linked to Mendez.

20. MIGUEL ANDUJAR, 3B
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180
Andujar has plenty of game experience, and it's evident in the way he plays. A 16-year-old from San Cristobal, Andujar plays in the Dominican Prospect League and has represented his country during international tournaments, including one in April in Venezuela. Andujar hit well there and has hit well most places he's gone. He doesn't have one knockout tool, but he has a good swing, good bat speed and advanced feel for hitting for his age. He has quick hands and a good swing path, with the potential to hit for average and power. Andujar is solid in the field as well, with the ability to handle third base and a strong arm. Andujar trains with Basilio Vizcaino (known as Cachasa), who also worked with Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez ($3 million in 2009) and Yankees shortstop Christopher Tamarez ($650,000 in 2010). The Yankees appear to have made Andujar one of their top targets this summer.
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21. JESUS GONZALEZ, OF
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Along with Wilmer Becerra and Marck Malave, Gonzalez is one of a handful of notable players in Ciro Barrios' academy in Venezuela. Gonzalez, 16, was getting attention early as one of the top players in the market for 2011, though some of that hype has cooled. Gonzalez's best tools are his power and arm strength. He might have the strongest arm among position players in Venezuela, a true plus tool. He's an average runner, so his arm will play well in right field. Gonzalez is strong and shows above-average power in batting practice. Scouts aren't sure how much he'll hit in games. Some like his swing, while others say it gets long. Gonzalez has a good frame, but he's well-developed for a 16-year-old, so there are questions about how much projection remains. The Blue Jays have been connected to Gonzalez most frequently, though the Diamondbacks have been mentioned as well.

22. MIGUEL GONZALEZ, RHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 185
Short righthanders rarely command premium prices in Latin America, but Gonzalez draws attention for his ability to pound the strike zone with a fastball that reaches the low 90s. A 16-year-old from La Vega with La Academia whose trainer is Raul Valera (known as Banana), Gonzalez has feel for pitching beyond his years. He has a good delivery that he repeats, throwing strikes with an 88-90 mph fastball that touches 91 with solid life. He shows feel for a curveball and a changeup, with the curveball the more advanced of the two right now. His size does give some teams pause, but he should be able to move quickly once he signs. Gonzalez would seem to fit the mold of a strike-throwing Twins pitcher, and Minnesota is the organization most often linked to him.

23. ELVIS ESCOBAR, OF
VENEZUELA
B-T: L-L Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 165
The Escobar family could nearly field a full 25-man roster with all of those who have signed professional contracts. Among those who preceded Elvis are his father, Jose, who played 10 games with Cleveland as a shortstop and a second baseman in 1991. His older brother, Giants lefthander Edwin, signed for $350,000 with the Rangers in 2008. Kelvim and Alcides are both cousins. Another cousin, Mariners righthander Vicente, is in his first U.S. season in the short-season Northwest League and touches 100 mph. Scouts have questions about Elvis' size and ceiling, but he's one of the best present hitters in Latin America with excellent instincts. Escobar, who is represented by Hugo Catrain, has hit well in the Dominican International League and MLB's El Torneo Supremo. In an exhibition game against Canada's junior national team on May 25, Escobar went 1-for-2 with a double, then five days later in the El Torneo Supremo all-star game he went 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and a stolen base. He has a line-drive stroke and a good approach, though he doesn't project to hit more than 10-15 home runs a year. A center fielder now, Escobar is an average runner with a solid arm, and some scouts think both tools have a chance to be plus down the road. Several sources expect the Pirates to sign Escobar.

24. JOSE GARCIA, C
VENEZUELA
B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180
After Jose Ruiz and Marck Malave, Garcia is expected to be the next in line among Venezuelan catchers. Garcia, who is from San Felipe, has skills on both sides of the ball with an athletic, lively frame. He's good mechanically behind the plate, with good hands and a solid arm that plays up because of his quick release. He gets high marks for the catching intangibles that scouts and managers like to see. His hands are also an asset in the batter's box. He has a level, line-drive swing and makes good contact. His power is below-average now. Some scouts think it will stay there, while others think he might have a tick more in him. He's a switch-hitter, but his righthanded swing is more advanced. The Mets have been tied to Garcia.

25. CARLOS TOCCI, OF
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 150
Tocci is one of the more intriguing prospects in Venezuela. He's one of the youngest prospects in this year's class, and he won't be able to sign until he turns 16 in August. He drew attention with a good outing at a showcase in Venezuela run by MLB in April, leaving scouts talking about his speed, swing and stick-figure body. He's skinny and also has narrow shoulders, so scouts aren't sure how he'll develop physically. For now, Tocci's a plus-plus runner who shows feel for hitting with a line-drive swing. He can get around the ball with a loopy swing at times and he doesn't have great bat speed, but he does a good job of using the whole field. Getting stronger should help his bat get quicker, though he doesn't project to hit for much power. He has the speed to play center field with a solid arm. The Phillies and Rockies are among the teams that have been connected to Tocci.

26. ADELIN SANTA, 3B
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190
Santa is a 16-year-old from Azua who trains in Santo Domingo with Javier Rodriguez, who has coached Mariners shortstop Carlos Triunfel and his younger brother, Rangers shortstop Alberto. Santa's mother lives in Spain and his older brother Johan spent two years with the Rangers' Dominican Summer League club before being released. Adelin is a big, strong-bodied third baseman who stands out for his raw power and arm strength. He hits balls hard in batting practice and will need to show more consistent contact in game situations. Santa doesn't run well and will have to keep his body in good shape to remain at third base. Multiple international sources believe the Tigers are the team most likely to sign Santa.

27. ANTONIO SENZATELA, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175
Venezuela has a promising group of pitchers this year. While Senzatela isn't at the level of Victor Sanchez, he figures to come at a far more affordable price. He has a projectable body with broad shoulders and already throws 88-92 mph, touching 93. Senzatela has a loose arm, repeats his solid delivery and pounds the strike zone with downhill angle. His offspeed stuff will need work. His breaking ball is a below-average pitch, and scouts have questions about whether he has the fluidity in his wrists for the pitch to become a reliable major league offering. The Rockies and Phillies have shown interest in Senzatela, but most sources believe the Rockies are the favorites to sign him.

28. MAURICIO SILVA, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Though he's still 15, Silva already has one of the best fastballs in Latin America. A big-bodied righthander with strong shoulders, Silva didn't have the national attention of fellow Venezuelan righthanders Victor Sanchez or Antonio Senzatela coming into the year, but his stock has risen with his fastball velocity. He pitches in the low 90s and has topped out at 93 mph with heavy sink. He also flashes a power curveball in the high 70s with occasional hard bite. His changeup gets mixed reviews, but he shows a feel for the pitch with some deception. Silva will have to wait to sign until he turns 16 on July 24.

29. ANTHONY SANTANDER, OF
VENEZUELA
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Santander has a projectable body with wide shoulders, strong legs, good athleticism and improving physical tools. A 16-year-old from Agua Blanca represented by Felix Olivo, Santander significantly improved his speed this year as he got into better shape. He went from running the 60-yard dash in 7.4 seconds coming into the year to 6.9-7.0 seconds this spring. As July 2 approached, one scout had clocked him as fast as 6.65 seconds, which would make him a plus runner. Santander's bat has been inconsistent, and he didn't have his best showing at a showcase run by Major League Baseball in April. At his best he makes good contact and shows average power. He started switch-hitting within the last year and his swing is better from the right side, though scouts have said it's funky either way. He has a below-average arm, which may limit him to left field. The Giants, Astros and Indians are among the teams that have shown interest in Santander.

30. RICARDO MARCANO, 3B
VENEZUELA
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Marcano's name popped up more as international scouting directors have said he has one of the better lefthanded swings on the market. He played well at a showcase in Venezuela run by Major League Baseball in April, and some scouts believe he has the potential to hit for average and power. His body and swing remind some in Venezuela of Victor Martinez. Whether he remains in the infield remains to be seen. An average runner, Marcano will need work on defense, as his hands and feet aren't ideal for third base. His arm also isn't strong, though it could improve. Some scouts have looked at his body and thought about him behind the plate, though he could also end up in left field.

31. MANUEL GONZALEZ, RHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205
Gonzalez was considered potentially the top pitching prospect in the Dominican Republic earlier in the year, and while some of that early excitement has cooled he's still one of the better pitching prospects on the island. A 16-year-old who trains with Amaurys Nina and plays in the International Prospect League, Gonzalez has a projectable body, a loose arm and a strong lower half. He can already run his fastball into the low 90s and throws strikes. With his size and projection, he should be able to throw harder as he incorporates his lower half more into his delivery. He throws a curveball and a changeup, with the changeup is the more advanced of the two. Gonzalez might not be a July 2 signing, but he could boost his stock with a strong summer.

32. GIALY ARIAS, RHP
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 175
Raul Valera (known has Banana) has two of the top 16-year-old righthanders in the Dominican Republic this year with Miguel Gonzalez and Arias, who also works out at La Academia. While Gonzalez is an advanced strike-thrower, Arias has a bigger frame, more present velocity and projection. Arias is thin, has big hands and a lively fastball that touches 92 mph. His breaking ball and changeup aren't as advanced. He's athletic, but his delivery has some effort to it, so he'll need to iron out his mechanics to help him throw more strikes and remain a starter.

33. MANUEL CORDOBA, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Venezuela has a host of projectable arms who throw in the mid- to high 80s now, including Cordoba, who pitches around 85-87 mph and touches 88. He has a good delivery, his arm works well and some scouts expect him to be a hard thrower down the road, though he will have to stay on top of his conditioning. He throws with downhill plane and gets solid sink on his fastball, and he has a good feel for pitching and mound presence. He has a three-pitch mix with a fastball, breaking ball and a changeup. The changeup has some promise, though the breaking ball will need more development. The Blue Jays are one of the teams sources believe could be in on Cordoba, and he could get a big bonus from a team that believes in his projection.

34. SANBER PIMENTEL, OF/1B
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195
Pimentel, a 16-year-old from Santo Domingo who trains at La Academia, is the younger brother of Rangers short-season Spokane outfielder Guillermo Pimentel. (He's no relation to be Mariners outfielder Guillermo Pimentel, who signed for $2 million in 2009). Sanber doesn't have a ton of tools, but his best one is the most important one: his bat. He has a good swing and feel for hitting, with the ability to turn on good fastballs. He has strength and can hit for occasional pull power, but he projects to have just moderate pop. Pimentel's arm is an above-average tool, but whether he can make use of it in the field remains to be seen. In an ideal world he would play right field, but he's a limited runner with an unorthodox stride, so he might have to be a first baseman.

35. JOSE GODOY, C
VENEZUELA
B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 160
Jose Ruiz, Marck Malave and Jose Garcia are the top catchers in Venezuela, but the country has a handful of other intriguing backstops, most notably Godoy, a 16-year-old from Maracaibo who trains with former Yankees international scouting director Carlos Rios. Godoy has a medium frame and a contact-oriented bat that has improved as July 2 approached. While it's not the purest swing, he shows feel for hitting, using the middle of the field and going the opposite way. He's not a big power bat, projecting as more of a doubles hitter than a home run threat. He doesn't have a standout defensive tool but he's a solid catch-and-throw guy who will remain at the position. Most international sources believe the Cardinals will sign Godoy.

36. ERIC OTANEZ, C
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195
Venezuela and Puerto Rico have been a strong source of catching talent over the years, while the Dominican Republic hasn't produced the same level of quality backstops. Gary Sanchez with the Yankees and Wilin Rosario with the Rockies might help change that, but even Indians catcher Carlos Santana began his career as a third baseman with the Dodgers. Otanez stands out among Dominican catchers for his tools and aptitude this year, as he's a 16-year-old who's set to graduate from high school. He has shown good tools behind the plate since he started catching a year and a half ago. He has a strong arm and gets rid of the ball quickly on throws to second. His defensive tools are ahead of his bat, but he could be a solid hitter and has shown the ability to leave the yard in batting practice. The Cubs, Blue Jays and Astros have been linked to Otanez.

37. YAIRO MUNOZ, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170
Munoz, a 16-year-old from Cabrera, trains with former Yankees infield coach Rafael Perez. His speed/arm strength combination is one of the best among Latin American infielders. Both are plus tools. He's an agile athlete, but for Munoz it's a matter of refining his tools. He's a switch-hitter with gap power, but he doesn't have as much feel for hitting as some of the other Dominican shortstops in this year's class. He has tools and good range at shortstop, though he's still learning the finer points of defense. It's not clear where Munoz will end up, but some team will likely take a chance on a player with his tools.
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38. SOID MARQUEZ, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 170
Marquez doesn't get as much attention as some of the other arms in Venezuela, but some scouts consider him one of the better pitchers in Latin America. A 16-year-old who trains with Ciro Barrios, Marquez has a solid delivery with some effort, but the ball comes out of his hand well. There's projection involved in his 85-89 mph fastball, and he could throw in the low 90s in time. He would be a premium prospect if he throws harder because his curveball is more advanced than most young Latin pitchers. Marquez mixes in a changeup as well and is a strike-thrower. Some scouts prefer him to the harder-throwing Antonio Senzatela.

39. JONATHAN PEREZ, RHP
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 195
Perez, 16, is a long, loose righthander from Carora who trains at the Henry Lopez baseball academy. Perez has a good delivery and a projectable body that should help him add velocity. He doesn't throw as hard as fellow Venezuelan righthanders Victor Sanchez, Antonio Senzatela or Mauricio Silva so he's more of a projection, but his velocity has jumped from the mid-80s at the start of the year to 87-89 mph more recently, touching 90. He throws with downhill angle, gets good sink on his fastball and has a good idea of how to pitch for his age. His curveball and changeup will need polish. The breaking ball has decent spin but it's inconsistent because he has a tendency to pinch his curve, which costs him speed and rotation. The Red Sox are among the teams that have been tied to Perez.
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40. ARTURO MICHELENA, SS
VENEZUELA
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 165
Venezuela is usually a hotbed for shortstops, but many international directors have said 2011 is a down year at the position. There isn't a player in this year's class on par with 2010 signing Carlos Penalver (Cubs) or 2009 signing Luis Sardinas (Rangers). Aside from Wilmer Becerra, who will likely end up as an outfielder, the top shortstop in Venezuela is Michelena. A wide-shouldered 16-year-old from Maracaibo, Michelena represented Venezuela at the COPABE 16-and-under championship last October in Mexico, where he was one of the top hitters in the tournament. He's an aggressive hitter and his swing can get long, but he has good hand-eye coordination and makes a lot of contact. He's mostly a singles hitter, but he has strong hands and will show occasional surprising power to the gaps. Like most young Latin shortstops, he'll need to add strength to his wiry frame. He's a solid-average runner who has a good chance to stay at shortstop. He has good actions in the field, good hands, turns the double play well and has a solid-average arm. He's been most frequently tied to the Astros, who had him in their Dominican academy in March.


Best Of The Rest: Pitchers

Erick Hurtado is one of a handful of lefthanders who should get six figures. Hurtado is a 16-year-old Dominican from Santo Domingo who has worked out at La Academia and played in the International Prospect League. He's a big-bodied 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and sits around 86-88 mph with the potential for more. He'll show feel for a curveball as well, though he's still somewhat raw on the mound.

An interesting lefty in Venezuela is Carlos Rodriguez, who is from Valencia. He has battled inconsistency that could be due to the movement in his delivery—he throws across his body and has a bit of a head jerk when he finishes—but he throw strikes with a fastball that sits in the high 80s. His strong frame doesn't have a ton of projection, but he has advanced feel for pitching, a good changeup and good tilt on his curveball.

Another lefthander in Venezuela is Edgar Pineda, who has been linked to the Indians. Pineda gets the occasional Tim Collins comparison because he's a small lefty who throws hard and has feel for a curveball. He's 5-foot-7 or so and pitches anywhere from 87-92 mph, though he's still learning to harness his control. His arm gets away from his body, which causes some inconsistency with his curveball, but it's one of the better breaking balls in Venezuela.

Colombian lefthander Dewin Perez, a good athlete and a former switch-hitting outfielder, came to the Dominican Republic to work with Hugo Catrain. He's a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, but scouts have seen him sit in the high 80s with a good delivery and show a feel for his offspeed stuff. Some international sources say his bonus could end up surprising people.

Venezuelan righthander Junior Flores is a cousin of Red Sox lefthander Franklin Morales. He played for the Venezuelan 16-and-under team at the COPABE Pan American championship in Mexico in October and pitched briefly. Flores, who trains with Ciro Barrios, is a lanky, lean 6-foot-1 with a quick arm and an 86-89 mph fastball. His breaking ball is slurvy at times, a sharper chase pitch at others. There's looseness to his delivery with some drop and drive to it, though like many young pitchers he's still learning to repeat and throw strikes.

Venezuelan righthander Kevin Sosa is around 6 feet, throws 85-89 mph with a high three-quarters slot and gets good sink and downhill plane on his fastball. He has a loose, quick arm, and if he learns to keep his elbow up, he'll get more consistency from his slow curve and changeup. Luis Carreno is a 6-foot, 170-pound righthander from Margarita Island in Venezuela who trains with Carlos Rios. Carreno won't be able to sign until he turns 16 on Aug. 12, but his pitchability and poise are advanced for a 15-year-old. He sits around 85-86 mph and will touch the high 80s, though his size limits his projection and hinders his plane. He throws a curveball and a changeup, with the changeup the more advanced offering.

Among Dominican righthanders, Dioscar Romero is a hard thrower who pitches in the Dominican Prospect League. He can run his fastball into the low 90s, although he has a thick lower half and is learning to become more of a pitcher than a thrower. Jesus Jones, a lanky 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander from Santo Domingo out of La Academia, is a former speedy outfielder whose athleticism has helped him make the transition to pitching, and he already throws in the high 80s. The Braves have been mentioned in connection to Jones. Righthander Jery Then is from the same program as Jones and was teammates with Guzman and Mazara in the RBI program. He's 6-foot-2, throws in the high 80s and stands out for his feel and mound presence. Francis Jesus is a Dominican righthander who trains with Felix Liriano. He pitches in the high 80s and mixes in a curveball and a changeup as well. Panama's Harold Arauz is another interesting arm. He's a 6-foot-4 righthander who was the MVP of the Dominican Prospect League all-star game in May after striking out five of the six hitters he faced. Scouts have mostly seen him in the mid-80s or a tick above, but he has a clean delivery and throws strikes with some feel for his secondary stuff.

Best Of The Rest: Position Players

Latin America is always a source of athletic outfielders, with varying degrees of baseball instincts. One of the players with better feel for the game than most is Eduar Pinto, a lefthanded Venezuelan outfielder. Pinto played in the Liga Paralela (the minor leagues of the Venezuelan League) last winter as a 15-year-old. Against professional competition, he hit .329/.396/.409 in 164 at-bats for the Navegantes, with 19 walks and 11 strikeouts. Pinto doesn't have great size and his power is limited, but his feel for hitting and putting the bat to the ball are well beyond his years. His speed is also an asset. The Rangers could have interest in Pinto.

Another Venezuelan outfielder drawing attention for his bat is Omar Sanchez, who has a flat, line-drive swing and has started to show more consistent contact with gap power. He runs the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds, though he has a heavy lower half, so whether he retains that speed is a question mark. In the Dominican Republic, Jorge Heredia is a long, lefthanded outfielder from San Pedro de Macoris who has shown some feel for hitting. Jariel Vargas, who is with the Arias and Goodman academy in the Dominican Republic, is a 6-foot-1 outfielder who has shown a feel for hitting as well with gap power and solid-average speed.

Eric Gabo, a 16-year-old outfielder from La Romana at the Arias and Goodman academy, has an athletic 6-foot-3, 185-pound body with raw power/speed potential. Jose Leal is an athletic Venezuelan outfielder whose righthanded bat and hitting mechanics are raw. He could be an interesting lower-level sign due to his athleticism and wiry 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. Victor Medina is another Venezuelan outfielder with athleticism. Medina, a former catcher who moved off the position earlier this year, runs solid-average or better times in the 60-yard dash and has power potential as a 6-foot-1, 170-pound corner outfielder. Dominican outfielder Francisco Miguel is similar to Leal with his wiry strong 6-foot-3, 190-pound body, athleticism and raw righthanded bat. Miguel, who is from La Romana, is a center fielder with an average arm.

It can be difficult for players in Panama to get attention, but Iosif Bernal is a 6-foot-3, 180-pound outfielder who has shown the ability to hit in games along with with average speed and a good arm. He'll have to iron out his mechanics at the plate. The Braves scout Panama better than anyone and have been linked to Bernal.

Among infielders, Colombian shortstop Gustavo Perinan has some of the best bat-to-ball ability in Latin America. The lefthanded hitter boosted his stock with a strong showing over a week and a half playing in exhibition games against Mexican League teams in March. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, a flat swing and gap power from a wide-shouldered 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. His bat is his best tool, and where he ends up defensively is still in question. The Rangers could have interest in Perinan.

The Nationals probably won't make any big splashes this year, though they have been tied to Venezuelan shortstop Angelo Castellanos, a righthanded hitter with good feel for the game. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Castellanos might have to slide to third base or second base because he's not a great runner, but his hands work well in the field, he has defensive instincts and he has flashed power potential. Raul Garcia is a solid-all-around shortstop from Colombia with good body control and instincts beyond what many young Colombian players typically show. Ronniel Demorizzi is a 5-foot-11 Dominican shortstop who played in the Under-Armour All-America Game along with Ronald Guzman last summer in Wrigley Field. He's not the same caliber prospect as Guzman, but he has good actions, a strong arm and switch-hits, though his bat is behind his glove. Alberti Chavez, 15, is a 5-foot-9 Venezuelan shortstop with good hands, a solid-average arm and a contact-oriented swing from the right side.

Jhoan Urena is a switch-hitting 6-foot-1, 185-pound third baseman with a line-drive swing and a good arm. Urena represented the Dominican Republic at the COPABE Pan American 16-and-under championship in Mexico last October. Victor Rey is another third baseman who has represented the Dominican Republic in international tournaments. Rey, 16, is 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and has hit well in those tournaments with a line-drive swing and gap power. Mitchel Martes is a more under-the-radar third baseman because he's from Aruba. He's raw at the plate but he's 6-foot-4, has projectable righthanded power, a solid arm and good footwork for his size. He also has experience playing for the Aruban youth national team. Behind the plate, Luis Lara is a Venezuelan catcher who international sources say has drawn attention from the Royals. He's a solid catch-and-throw guy whose defense is ahead of his bat.