2018-19 International Reviews: Los Angeles Dodgers
This is part of Ben Badler's 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 signings: 37
The Dodgers couldn't sign anyone for more than $300,000 in the 2015-16 or 2017-18 signing periods, so they aggressively attacked the 2018-19 period when they were out of the penalty box. That allowed them to beat other teams to the punch on Diego Cartaya, who ranked as the No. 3 international prospect for July 2 last year and the top player available from Venezuela. Some teams considered him the top overall international prospect in the class.
There's a lot to like with Cartaya, both in terms of his tools and his game skills, along with his physicality and intangibles as a catcher. Cartaya represented Venezuela at international tournaments when he was 10, and his extensive baseball background shows in his advanced baseball acumen for a 17-year-old. He's a well-rounded player for a catcher, with a good balance of skills on both sides of the ball. He's 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and projects as a potential above-average defender. He's agile and flexible behind the plate with a plus arm and a quick exchange, getting the ball to second base with pop times in the low 1.9s at his best. His blocking and receiving are advanced for his age too.
At the plate, Cartaya's righthanded swing is short and quick. While a lot of young hitters get pull-conscious, Cartaya focuses in batting practice on driving the ball to right-center and the middle of the field. He tracks pitches well and stays disciplined within the strike zone. He's a good hitter who doesn't swing-and-miss much, giving him the on-base skills to hit toward the top of a lineup. As an amateur, Cartaya mostly showed gap power, but that's already ticked up some, which he showed with a home run off Tony Cingrani at instructional league. Cartaya, who trained with Alexi Quiroz, is expected to open the season in the Dominican Summer League, though he could jump to the Rookie-level Arizona League at some point this year.
Righthander Jerming Rosario, who signed with the Dodgers for $650,000 on July 2, was one of the top Dominican pitching prospects in the 2018 class. Rosario was trending up as July 2 approached, and he's continued to improve since then. At 16, Rosario is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds with fast arm speed and a lot of room to fill out and add more velocity. He signed throwing 88-91 mph, with that fastball jumping to touch 93 mph. Rosario projects as a starter with solid strike-throwing ability and feel for two secondary pitches. He sells his low-80s changeup well with good arm speed, separation off his fastball and action to disrupt hitters' timing. His curveball is inconsistent, but when it's on it shows sharp bite with good depth and shape. Rosario trained with Franklin Ferreras.
The Dodgers paid $600,000 to sign 17-year-old Cuban righthander Osvani Gutierrez in October. Gutierrez pitched for Santiago de Cuba in Cuba's national 15U league in 2016, when he posted a 2.16 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 29 walks in 75 innings. He's 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with a fastball that's been up to 93 mph and an array of offspeed pitches, though the Dodgers will have him focus primarily on his breaking ball and changeup, with his changeup his most advanced secondary pitch.
Alex De Jesus was one of the top third base prospects in the 2018 international class, when the Dodgers signed him in July for $500,000. The Dodgers saw enough from De Jesus on the defensive side that they have moved him to shortstop and plan to develop him there. At 16, De Jesus is a bilingual speaker who impressed the Dodgers with his combination of hitting ability and power from a 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame, with his power ticking up as he's added more strength since July. He's a sound defender with the arm to play on the left side of the infield. His range will need to improve to play shortstop, but if his bat clicks he would profile at third base as well. De Jesus trained with Niche.
The Dodgers signed righthander Jorge Gonzalez for $390,000 in November. Gonzalez was a converted outfielder who moved to the mound before signing. He was also one of the youngest players in the 2018 class, turning 16 on Aug. 30, so he will play the entire 2018 season as a 16-year-old. His size belies his youth, however, as he's 6-foot-5, 205 pounds with a power arm, reaching 94-95 mph with his fastball. As a conversion guy, he needs to develop his secondary stuff, but he has an intriguing combination of size and arm strength. He trained with Juan Rodriguez.
While major league clubs were unable to sign Mexican League prospects during this signing period until MLB ended its ban this month, Mexican shortstop Jesus Ibarra wasn't affiliated with a Mexican League team, so the Dodgers were able to sign him direct for $300,000 in December. (When a team signs a Mexican League prospect direct, the full signing amount counts against the club's bonus pool.) As an amateur, Ibarra spent time as an infielder and as a pitcher. At 16, Ibarra (6 feet, 170 pounds) reached 91-92 mph off the mound, so some teams preferred him as a pitcher, which could still be a backup option for him down the road, though he's going to develop with the Dodgers as a shortstop. He has a strong arm at shortstop, with solid at-bats and contact skills from the right side against live pitching.
Hyun-il Choi is an 18-year-old righthander from South Korean the Dodgers signed for $300,000 in August. He has a big, athletic build (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) who stood out for his feel for pitching and a fastball that reached 94 mph. He has an array of pitches, led by his changeup and splitter, as well as a fringy slider. He will make his pro debut this year in the United States.
Before the end of the 2017-18 signing period, the Dodgers signed 6-foot-7, 230-pound Dominican righthander Carlos Duran for $300,000 last year in March. For a 17-year-old with a long, extra-large frame, Duran has impressive body control to throw frequent strikes, posting a 1.50 ERA with a 30-3 K-BB mark in 42 innings last year in the DSL. He sits in the low 90s and reaches 94 mph, throwing strikes to both sides of the plate and backing it up with a solid curveball for his age.
One sleeper prospect to watch from the class is 17-year-old outfielder Jose Ramos, who got $30,000 out of Panama in July. The 5-foot-11 Ramos is an athletic, tooled-up center fielder whose speed and arm strength are both plus, with good bat speed and hard contact from the right side of the plate.
13 Breakout MLB Prospects With Top 100 Potential
Ben Badler's breakout picks of young prospects who could follow in the footsteps of Julio Rodriguez and Marco Luciano.
See also: 2017-18 Dodgers International Review
See also: 2016-17 Dodgers International Review
See also: 2015-16 Dodgers International Review (Notable prospects Yusniel Diaz, Yadier Alvarez)
See also: 2014-15 Dodgers International Review (Notable prospect Keibert Ruiz)
See also: 2013-14 Dodgers International Review
See also: 2012-13 Dodgers International Review (Notable prospects Yasiel Puig, Julio Urias)
See also: 2011-12 NL West International Review