International Scout's View: Itaniel Arias Guzman




The international free-agent market opens on July 1, when teams can sign players over the age of 16 internationally.

In the past, we at Baseball America would hear news of a signing and then get a breakdown on each player. This season, we hope to get ahead of that curve somewhat, breaking out scouting reports on international players prior to the July 1 opening date.

We started the international free-agent frenzy with Julio Teheran, a 16-year-old righthander from Colombia who is being courted by both the Braves and Yankees according to several sources.

This week, we move to the Dominican Republic, where one scout says, “I go every month . . . if you want to catch the big bass, you have to go where the fish are.”

Dominican outfielder Itaniel Arias Guzman is currently one of the biggest names in his home country, garnering interest from at least eight teams.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound outfielder is wiry strong, and while he can play all three outfield spots, he’s likely to wind up on a corner because of his frame.

We caught up with a veteran American League scout to give us the rundown on the 16-year-old prospect after seeing him last week.

“To me, he’s a young Jermaine Dye--that’s what he looks like body-wise,” the scout said. “He seems like he’s got quality makeup and he swings the bat very well.

“He’s very accurate with his throws wherever he is and has above-average arm strength. My only real problem with him is he has such long arms that I think he might struggle with inside pitches. He’s got good plate coverage, and when he extends them he can really get the barrel out.

“But the key for him is being able to handle that inside fastball. He’ll see a straight fastball on the inner half and be OK, but I’m not sure how he’s going to be able to handle the inside fastball that runs and rides up into his hands.

“He shows some power. He’s got line-drive gap power right now, and that will come. He’s an interesting kid, big kid with a lot of upside. With all these kids, it’s so much about projection, though.

“This kid’s already 6-foot-5 and still has some growing to do. His body hasn’t maxed out. If everything comes together for him and he can lay off balls on his hands and deal with breaking balls on the outer half--because that’s how guys are going to pitch to him--he could really be something.”