International Reviews: Arizona D-backs
Total 2017 Signings: 38.
Top 2017-18 Signing: OF Kristian Robinson, Bahamas, $2.55 million.
Arizona’s biggest signing of 2017 was outfielder Kristian Robinson, a 17-year-old from the Bahamas who received a $2.55 million bonus. Robinson has one of the highest ceilings in the class if everything clicks, with a combination of size, power, speed and athleticism that immediately sticks out. Robinson trained at the Max D Sports Academy in the Bahamas, though the D-backs built a lot of scouting history on him in Florida when he played travel ball with the Midland Redskins and Florida Stealth.
Robinson is one of the fastest and one of the most physical players in the 2017 class, a dynamic athlete with a strong, well-proportioned build (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and plus-plus speed. He drives the ball with authority right now with good bat speed and should grow into plus power. Robinson has a direct righthanded swing and some teams did see him perform well prior to signing, though his lack of baseball experience shows at times, especially as he learns to recognize breaking balls and adapts to seeing high-end velocity on a more regular basis.
Since Robinson is already so big at a young age, some scouts saw risk that he might end up in right field, but the D-backs will develop him as a center fielder, and as long as he retains most of his speed and improve his footwork, he should be able to stay there. He’s in Arizona right now for extended spring training, though there’s a good chance he could open in the Dominican Summer League.
Wilderd Patino, a 16-year-old Venezuelan center fielder who trained with Francisco Ortiz, looked like he would be headed to the Rangers. However, a right elbow injury clouded his status, and he ultimately signed with the D-Backs in October for $985,000. After signing, Patino had surgery and has yet to return to baseball activities. He’s expected to miss the start of the DSL but should be ready to play by the middle of the season.
Patino was one of the better athletes in the 2017 class. A lean 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Patino is a well above-average runner who glides around center field with an easy gait and good range. Patino showed an inconsistent arm before signing—understandable given his injury—but he flashed average arm strength at his best. A righthanded hitter, Patino has a short, flat bat path, but his swing can get stiff and shoulder-heavy at times, with his defense ahead of his bat. Patino can drive the ball to the alleys on occasion and should be able to grow into more power given his youth, size and bat speed.
Neyfy Castillo, 17, signed with the D-backs for $600,000 on July 2. Castillo trained in the Dominican Republic as a shortstop but is at third base now. He has a tall, lean frame (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) and is a better athlete than most young third baseman. An average runner, Castillo should be able to stick at third base and handle the position well, with a 50-55 arm. A righthanded hitter, Castillo’s bat is still raw and might take more time to develop, but with his physical projection he has a chance to grow into more power. Castillo trained with Josue Herrera.
The D-backs signed 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher Sergio Gutierrez for $565,000 on July 2. He’s an advanced defender for his age with good catch-and-throw skills. He’s a solid receiver who controls the running game well with a 55 arm that flashes 60 and should be consistently plus soon. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Gutierrez is a switch-hitter whose defense is ahead of his bat, but he’s a solid hitter for a catcher with gap power. Gutierrez trained with Roberto Vahlis.
Minor League Realignment Should Lead To Unorthodox Prospect Returns
With the minor league realignment in mind, here are six teams we believe could welcome back multiple prospects this summer.
The arrows are pointing up on Liover Peguero, a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop the D-backs signed for $475,000 on July 2. Peguero, who has grown two inches over the past year to 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, sticks out for his athleticism and ability to hit in games from the right side. Built with a wiry, high-waist frame, Peguero makes frequent contact with innate feel for the barrel. He has strong wrists, quick bat speed and uses his hands well at the plate, with a good approach and advanced instincts for hitting. Peguero has alleys power now and can occasionally sneak one over the fence in BP, with a knack for generating a lot of backspin. Between his bat speed, strong forearms and physical projection, Peguero’s power should jump once he gains weight. Peguero has the athleticism and tools to play shortstop, though he’s more advanced as a hitter and still cleaning up his defense. He’s a plus runner with long legs and strides to go with a 55 arm, which could make center field another option for him.
Jorge Barrosa, a 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder signed for $415,000 on July 2, is only 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, but he was one of the best hitters and smartest players in the 2017 class. As an amateur, Barrosa hit from both sides of the plate, but leading up to July 2 he began hitting exclusively righthanded, making him the rare lefthanded thrower who hit only from the right side. After signing, Barrosa went back to switch-hitting.
Barrosa has excellent hand-eye coordination that helps him produce a high contact rate and hit well in games. He starts his swing by wrapping his bat behind his head, but with his quick bat and short arms he’s able to get his bat head into the hitting zone quickly and consistently finds the barrel. Barrosa makes frequent quality contact, though with a strong lower half and limited physical projection, he probably won’t ever hit for much power. He’s an above-average runner with good instincts running the bases and playing center field. Due to Barrosa’s build, some scouts weren’t sure how much of his speed he will retain, but his defensive reads and routes were among the best in the class. His high baseball IQ and hard-nosed, high-motor style should endear him to future managers. Barrosa trained with Hender Martinez.
In November, the D-backs signed 17-year-old Dominican righthander Luis Diaz for $205,000. Diaz has a large frame (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) and ran his fastball up to 93-94 mph last year, though he hurt his back before signing and was only throwing scattered strikes for a while. After the D-backs signed Diaz, they helped him use his legs better into his delivery, which improved his balance and unlocked more velocity, with his fastball jumping up to touch 98 mph. Diaz shows feel for slider that breaks like a hard slurve that’s inconsistent but has tight bite when he snaps it out front. Diaz has a power arm, though he will still have to work on repeating his delivery to improve his control. He trained with Chiqui Mejia.
Another 17-year-old Dominican righthander, Fredely de Dios, signed for $125,000 in December. A wiry 6-foot-1, de Dios throws with ease, showing loose, easy arm action on an 89-91 mph fastball. A former position player, de Dios is still learning to pitch but has shown early signs of feel for a curveball and changeup.