2015-16 International Reviews: Miami Marlins
Top signing: OF Mario Prenza, Dominican Republic, $550,000.
Total signings: 27.
Miami's biggest international bonus last year went to Mario Prenza, who had showcased in the Dominican Republic as a shortstop but will be a corner outfielder for the Marlins. Prenza, 17, is 6 feet, 160 pounds, with the Marlins drawn to his offensive combination of hitting ability and average raw power from the right side. He's a fringe-average runner with a slightly above-average arm that should fit in right field. Prenza trained with Ramon Genao (known as "Papiro") and played in the International Prospect League. He's expected to start the year in the Dominican Summer League.
Venezuelan catcher Luis Arcaya, 17, signed for $220,000 on July 2 after training with Eduardo Urdaneta. With a thin, athletic frame (6-foot-2, 175 pounds), Arcaya has been catching for a while and looks natural behind the plate, with an excellent arm and advanced catch-and-throw skills for his age. Arcaya has a quick bat from the right side, but he has work to do to shorten his swing for his hitting to catch up to his defense.
Another Venezuelan July 2 signing, 17-year-old center fielder Wilkerman Rasquin, is a 5-foot-9, 145-pound lefty who got $150,000. Rasquin is undersized, but offers a promising blend of athleticism, plus speed, good bat control and feel for the game at a premium position. Rasquin has good bat-to-ball skills, mostly for line drives with limited pop, which along with his speed makes him a potential table-setter at the top of a lineup. He's a definite center fielder, showing good instincts, jumps and routes for his age, though his arm is below-average. Rasquin trained with Yohan Ocanto.
Another Venezuelan center fielder, 17-year-old Jose Vilera, signed for $150,000 on July 2. Vilera's baseball skills aren't quite as polished as Rasquin's, but he's another good athlete who fits as a true center fielder, showing plus speed and a strong arm. At 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, Vilera's raw tools and athleticism stick out more than his righthanded hitting ability right now. Vilera trained with Giovanni Perozo.
The biggest bonus the Marlins gave to a Latin American pitcher last year was $140,000 in July to 17-year-old Dominican lefty Edison Suriel. He has some similarities to Jarlin Garcia, another Dominican lefty the Marlins signed who reached Double-A last year and ranks as their No. 3 prospect. Suriel is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with quick arm speed, loose arm action and generally good delivery for his age despite finishing with some recoil. He throws 85-88 mph, and while he doesn't project to be a power arm, he should grow into an average fastball and stands out for his feel for both his curveball and changeup. His curveball in particular is his best pitch, with tight spin to become a swing-and-miss offering.
The Marlins signed five players to $100,000 bonuses, most notably righthander Edward Cabrera in July. Like Prenza, Cabrera also trained with Papiro, but Cabrera was a previously passed over player from 2014 who turns 18 on April 13. Cabrera has a tall, projectable frame (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and has already seen his stuff tick up since he signed, going from touching 91-92 mph last summer to 95-96 mph last fall at Dominican instructional league with good life and downhill plane. His fastball might blow up even more and he could develop average secondary pitches, including a mid-to-upper 70s curveball with good depth and a firm changeup. Given his age and how he threw at Dominican instructs, Cabrera will likely come over to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League for his pro debut.
Another $100,000 July 2 signing, 17-year-old Juan Urena, is a bouncy, athletic Dominican shortstop with plus speed and arm strength and a lot of quick-twitch actions at shortstop from his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. The Marlins were also drawn to his ability to hit from both sides of the plate and recognize pitches in games, with good bat speed and gap power.
Enmanuel Rodriguez, 17, came out of the program of Raul Valera (known as "Banana") when he signed for $100,000 on July 2. He's an above-average runner who impressed the Marlins with his righthanded hitting ability, with a quick, direct swing that produces line drives to all fields. Rodriguez is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds and his defense probably fits better at second base, with third base or perhaps the outfield another possibility.
Rayner Rodriguez, a 17-year-old righthander signed for $100,000 on July 2, has an athletic frame (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), loose arm action and quick arm speed, so he should be able to add to his 85-88 mph fastball. He has flashed a tight curveball with good finish, but the stuff with him is still a projection.
In September, the Marlins signed Dominican righthander Yeremin Lara for $100,000. He's the 17-year-old brother of Marlins 22-year-old righthander Erick Lara, a converted shortstop who has had trouble staying healthy but has been up to 94 mph, reaching the GCL last year. The Marlins took a flier on Yeremin in case he can develop similar arm strength, as he throws 83-87 mph from a skinny but athletic 6-foot-1, 165-pound body, with his curveball his best secondary pitch.
One other name to watch from the Marlins' 2015 signings is Panamanian righthander Javier Garcia, who got $65,000 last year in February. He's 18 and already 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, but he's more athletic than he looks (he also played the corner infield spots as an amateur) and is able to repeat his delivery and throw strikes with a low-90s fastball, mixing a curveball and changeup as well. He was effective last summer in the DSL, where he had a 1.65 ERA in 49 innings with 35 strikeouts and 14 walks.
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