2012-13 International Reviews: Chicago White Sox
Top signing: OF Hanleth Otano, Dominican Republic, $550,000.
Six-figure signings: 3B Luis Castillo (Dominican Republic), SS Johan Cruz (Dominican Republic), OF Antonio Rodriguez (Dominican Republic), RHP Victor Done (Dominican Republic), RHP Yelmison Peralta (Dominican Republic).
The White Sox went through their first July 2 with Marco Paddy, whom they hired away from the Blue Jays to lead their international scouting. The organization focused the majority of its spending last year in the Dominican Republic, spreading its money among several six-figure signings from the island.
The most expensive international signing for the White Sox in 2012 was Hanleth Otano, a Dominican outfielder who signed for $550,000. Otano, 16, is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound corner outfielder from Santo Domingo who stood out for his above-average raw power from the right side. Otano played in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and shows good bat speed and a fluid swing. He’s a fringy runner with an above-average arm that should fit in right field.
The White Sox also signed Dominican third baseman Luis Castillo out of La Romana for $450,000. Castillo, 16, trained with Carlos Hernandez (known as “Cambo”) and played in the Dominican Prospect League. He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and attracted the attention of White Sox scouts for his plus raw power. He has a sound swing from the right side and shows the ability to drive the ball with authority to the opposite field and make adjustments. Some scouts thought Otano could end up in a corner outfield spot, but the White Sox believe he has the ability to stay at third base.
Victor Baez trained Johan Cruz, a Dominican shortstop from Puerto Plata who signed with the White Sox for $450,000. The White Sox considered Cruz, 17, the best defensive shortstop in the Dominican Republic for July 2. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Cruz has a strong arm, good range to both sides and steady hands. He’s a solid-average runner whose righthanded bat will have to catch up to his defense.
Chicago’s fourth six-figure signing after July 2 last year was Victor Done, a 17-year-old Dominican righthander who signed for $225,000 in October. Done, who is from Villa Mella and trained with Tomas Giron, is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and is built like a young Octavio Dotel with long arms and good athleticism. Done has a solid delivery for his age, a fastball that has touched 92 mph, an average breaking ball and a changeup that he’s still developing.
Before July 2, the White Sox spent $400,000 to sign Dominican outfielder Antonio Rodriguez in June. Rodriguez only played briefly in the Dominican Summer League, but he was arguably the toolsiest player the White Sox signed in 2012 and has some similarities to Pirates center fielder Gregory Polanco. Rodriguez, who trained with Moreno Tejada (the trainer who also had Miguel Sano), is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds but could stay in center field because of his plus speed and plus arm. With an athletic frame reminiscent of a sprinter, Rodriguez has a chance to retain that speed as he gets stronger. Rodriguez, who is from Hoto Mayor, offers an intriguing power/speed combination as he has shown above-average raw power from the left side. He’s advanced enough that he could play in the United States this summer.
Dominican righthander Yelmison Peralta signed for $200,000 in May, but the 17-year-old from Santiago posted a 7.26 ERA with more walks (33) than strikeouts (20) in 31 innings in the DSL. The White Sox were attracted to Peralta for his size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds after growing an inch and gaining 20 pounds since signing) and pitchability, but his control proved raw in his debut. He’s shown a fastball up to 91 mph and flashed some feel for his offspeed stuff, but he was behind in too many counts to be able to use his curveball or his changeup much last summer.
Dominican outfielder Roger Ramos only hit .185/.246/.242 in 135 plate appearances in the DSL in his pro debut after signing for $85,000 in May, but he also played through a back injury that he didn’t tell the team about. Ramos, who turned 18 in October, is from San Pedro de Macoris and trained with Felix Cueto. He split time between center field and left field last year, but he profiles best in a corner. He’s 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with plus speed (he stole 10 bases in 10 tries), a strong arm and above-average raw power from the right side, making him an interesting lower-level sign if the bat clicks.