2019-20 MLB International Reviews: San Francisco Giants
The Giants pulled in a dynamite 2018 international signing class under international scouting director Joe Salermo. Their biggest 2018 signing, shortstop Marco Luciano, is already a Top 100 prospect. Cuban outfielder Jairo Pomares ranked as a top 20 prospect in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Venezuelan outfielder Luis Matos was one of the elite prospects in the Dominican Summer League, batting .362/.430/.570 in 55 games, while catcher Rayner Santana played nearly the entire DSL season as a 16-year-old and hit .294/.439/.553 with 10 homers in 48 games.
This year the Giants landed another deep group led by one of the top shortstops in the 2019 class, 16-year-old Aeverson Arteaga, who trained with Luis Blasini. Arteaga shows a balanced skill set on both sides of the ball and projects to stay at shortstop. Arteaga's father played professional basketball in Venezuela and he inherited that athleticism, which is evident at shortstop. He's 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with plus speed and good body control in the field. He has quick hands and good instincts, reading the ball well off the bat and finishing plays with an above-average arm, giving him a chance to develop into an above-average fielder. As an amateur in Venezuela, Arteaga showed good bat-to-ball skills from the right side of the plate, making a lot of contact with gap power, with the potential to grow into 15-20 home run power. While the Giants pushed Luciano straight to the Rookie-level Arizona League for his pro debut, Arteaga and the rest of the Giants' 2019 signings will likely open in the Dominican Summer League.
The other big Venezuelan shortstop the Giants added on July 2 was Anthony Rodriguez, a switch-hitter who trained with Alvaro Diaz. Rodriguez, 17, stood out for his offensive ability, generally performing well in games as an amateur in Venezuela with a patient approach and an easy swing, especially from the left side of the plate. He's mostly a line-drive hitter right now, though at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, he has space to fill out and turn more of those doubles into home runs in the next few years. Rodriguez has a solid chance to stick at shortstop, with average speed and a plus arm.
The Giants added two big arms out of the Dominican Republic. Both threw bullpens, but neither of them pitched against hitters after signing, with the Giants opting to rest their arms and focus on strength and conditioning. The first, Esmerlin Vinicio, is one of the top lefties in the class and signed for $750,000. Before signing, Vinicio trained with Alfredo Arias and ran his lively fastball up to 92 mph. At 6-foot-2, 150 pounds, getting stronger will be key for Vinicio, but he has ample space on his frame to add weight. That should allow him to eventually throw in the mid-90s, as Vinicio already generates impressive velocity for a 16-year-old with quick, fluid arm action and a smooth, easy delivery. Vinicio has a starter profile, with repeatable mechanics that should be conducive to throwing strikes and feel for two promising offspeed pitches in his curveball and changeup.
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This is Esmerin Vinicio, a 14-year-old LHP from the Dominican Republic in the 2019 class. I saw Vinicio two months ago in San Pedro de Macoris. That day, the main event was a big showcase for top 2018 Dominican prospects, but after that ended, I headed over to another field in San Pedro with a few scouts to watch another group of players. Vinicio is 6 feet, 130 pounds. He has a smooth, fluid delivery and easy arm action, with a quick arm and an advanced ability to manipulate his offspeed pitches for his age. History shows the immense challenges in forecasting young pitchers, but Vinicio has a great foundation to build off as he gains strength and experience. -- Snapchat: benbadler Twitter: benbadler FB: benbadlerbaseball -- #pitching #pitcher #pitchers #pitchingdrills #strikeout #fastball #curveball #changeup #highschoolbaseball #playball #baseballplayer #baseballplayers #baseballcap #baseballshirt
San Francisco also added 17-year-old Dominican righthander Manuel Mercedes for $400,000. Mercedes is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds with electric arm speed and a fastball that has already reached 95 mph as an amateur while training in the Mejia Top 10 program. With his projectable body and fast arm, Mercedes could end up eventually throwing 100 mph. He pairs his fastball with a slider that has hard, late tilt. Mercedes has high-octane velocity for his age, though he doesn't always know where it's going, so he has to improve his control to remain a starter down the road.
The Giants also signed one of the top players from Panama in the 2019 class, giving $525,000 to 16-year-old catcher Adrian Sugastey. After signing, Sugastey went to Japan to play in the U-18 World Cup, where he was the youngest player on the Panamanian team. He's an experienced international traveler, having played in the 2017 COPABE U-15 Pan American Championship in Cartegena, Colombia, two tournaments in Mexico, one in Nicaragua, another in St. Martin and one in Michigan. Sugastey was a standout offensive performer during instructional league, showing an advanced bat and the defensive attributes to stick behind the plate. An instinctive, high baseball IQ player, Sugastey (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has a loose, fluid stroke from the right side. He has a mature hitting approach for his age and keeps his hands inside the ball well, with a knack for driving the ball to right-center field. He does a good job of going with where the ball is pitched, making contact at a high rate, with a hit-over-power profile. Sugastey showed that skill as an amateur in Panama's junior national league this year before signing, striking out just twice in 84 plate appearances playing for Panama Metro. Sugastey's game experience shows on the defensive side as well. He has strong catch-and-throw skills for his age, with an easy plus arm that flashes signs that it could jump to a 70 tool. He also has the intangibles teams look for in catchers, with the leadership and smarts that should endear him to managers.
Yeison Lemos, who trained in the same program as Manuel Mercedes, is a 17-year-old Dominican infielder the Giants signed for $600,000. He's 6 feet, 165 pounds with strength in his swing from the right side, whipping the barrel through the zone with good bat speed to make hard contact when he connects. He has a chance to develop above-average raw power, but he's going to have to make adjustments to make more consistent contact in games, with a power-over-hit profile. Lemos signed as a shortstop and should see time there, though with Arteaga and Rodriguez in the class, he saw time at third base during Dominican instructional league. He has soft hands and a quick exchange to a strong arm, though his quickness and range may be better suited at third base.
Third baseman Elian Rayo signed with the Giants for $350,000, the top bonus in the 2019 class for a Nicaraguan position player. He's a stocky 6 feet, 202 pounds with advanced strength for his age, standing out for his his power and arm strength, though there's still some rawness to his pure hitting ability. Rayo, 16, has decent mobility for his size, but he will have to stay on top of his conditioning and mobility to stay at third base, though some scouts thought he might be a possible candidate to move behind the plate.
Systems We'd Most Like To See In Expanded Arizona, Florida Fall League
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Onil Perez, who trained with John Carmona, was one of the top 2019 catchers in the Dominican Republic, signing with the Giants for $200,000. He's 6-foot-1, 187 pounds with advanced catch-and-throw skills for a 17-year-old. He controls the running game well, with a quick transfer to an above-average, accurate arm, producing pop times in the low 1.9s in games. His intelligence and game instincts also stand out behind the plate for his age. Perez is a defensive-oriented player who probably projects to hit toward the bottom of a lineup, but he has solid bat-to-ball skills for a catcher with gap power.
While Perez sticks out for his defense, Victor Coronil is an offensive-minded catcher the Giants added out of Venezuela. Coronil, 17, is 6 feet, 175 pounds with a short, efficient swing from the right side, making frequent contact with gap power now and the strength projection to grow into 15-20 home runs. He's a bat-first catcher who has a chance to stick behind the plate with a 45 arm. Coronil trained with David Concepcion.