2019 Dominican Summer League Top 20 Prospects
For most Latin American signings, their first official games on their way up the minor leagues come in the Dominican Summer League.
It's also a level that continues to become more heavily scouted, with clubs hoping to pick the pocket of another organization for a far-away prospect before he has a breakthrough. Players now are getting traded out of the DSL and frequently come up in trade discussions and proposals, though most of them never come to fruition or become public knowledge.
The 2018 list of the top 20 Dominican Summer League prospects included Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, now one of the game's elite prospects, as well as third baseman Luis Toribio (Giants), shortstops Liover Peguero (D-backs), Jose Tena (Indians), Miguel Hiraldo (Blue Jays) and Eddy Diaz (Rockies), outfielders Gilberto Jimenez (Red Sox) and Carlos Rodriguez (Brewers) and Tigers catcher Eliezer Alfonzo (Tigers), all of whom went on to rank among the top 20 prospects in their respective short-season and Rookie-level leagues one year later.
To quality for this list, a hitter must have at least 70 plate appearances and a pitcher must have pitched at least 20 innings in the DSL. Older Cuban players who were in the league just to get a tuneup, like White Sox 22-year-old shortstop Yolbert Sanchez, weren't included on this list.
1. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Born: Oct. 16, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 181. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
In 2017, the Mariners' prized international signing was Julio Rodriguez, who dominated the DSL the following year and tore through the minors in 2019 as an 18-year-old. In 2018, the Mariners again landed one of the premier international prospects, signing Marte out of the Dominican Republic for $1.55 million, and the early returns have again been fantastic. For most teams, Marte probably would have played in a Rookie-level complex league in the United States last year, but the Mariners start all of their first-year international signings in the DSL, where Marte showed an exciting combination of athleticism, hitting ability and power. Marte hits with good rhythm and balance, sequencing his swing well from his leg kick to his fluid, explosive swing. He has fast bat speed and plus raw power that plays in games with a swing geared to hit the ball in the air and good strike-zone discipline, making him a threat to get on base at a high clip with the potential for 25-plus home runs. An above-average runner, Marte got bigger and stronger last year without losing his athleticism. Marte has a strong arm that fits well at shortstop, but he still needs to improve his hands and footwork at shortstop and learn to play more under control at the position. If that doesn't happen or he outgrows the position, his offensive upside would fit well at third or second base. Nicaraguan third baseman Milkar Perez and speedy Dominican center fielder Jonatan Clase are two other DSL prospects to watch from the Mariners.
2. Luisangel Acuña, SS, Rangers
Born: March 12, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-10. Wt: 160. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
The younger brother of Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña, Luisangel signed with the Rangers for $425,000 in 2018. Acuña is small but made a big name for himself in his pro debut, making the DSL all-star team and establishing himself as one of the top prospects in the Rangers' system. Acuña has a compact frame packed with quick-twitch explosiveness and an aggressive mentality. His swing mechanics resemble Ronald's, from his load to his quick, whippy barrel action through the zone. He swings with aggression, to the point where he drops down to his back knee at times, but he seldom swings and misses. He tracks pitches well and controls the strike zone, leading to a high contact rate with more walks than strikeouts in his debut. Acuña has enough pop to occasionally pull one out of the park, but it's mostly gap power now with an offensive skill set that will rely more on his on-base skills, with the potential to hit at the top of a lineup. He's also a plus runner and a good athlete with a plus arm, though his future position is still in question. While a lot of amateur scouts felt Acuña was a future second baseman or center fielder, he made impressive strides at shortstop in 2019. There's still a chance he might play somewhere else in the middle of the diamond, but he increased the probability he will be able to stay at shortstop.
3. Luis Matos, OF, Giants
Born: Jan. 28, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 160. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
The Marco Luciano signing alone would have given the Giants an exciting 2018 international signing class. But their two other big signings that year—Cuban outfielder Jairo Pomares ($975,000) and Matos ($725,000)—have made it even better. Matos earned a reputation among international scouts as one of the top offensive performers in the 2018 class and he showed why in his pro debut, with a 1.000 OPS that ranked third in the DSL and a late-season promotion to the Rookie-level Arizona League. More skills than raw tools, Matos has a mature hitting approach for his age and consistently manages his at-bats well. He was never a free-swinger, but his strike-zone discipline improved last year. He continued to show quick hands, a fast bat and strong bat-to-ball skills. More of a doubles hitter with a hit-over-power profile as an amateur, Matos demonstrated surprising power in his pro debut. An average runner with a solid-average arm, Matos doesn't have typical burner speed in center field, but he's an instinctive defender who reads the ball well off the bat. With more power than initially expected, he looks like he could have enough offensive upside to profile in right field if he has to move there.
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4. Misael Urbina, OF, Twins
Born: April 26, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
The Twins spend $2.75 million to sign Urbina in 2018, when he was one of the elite players in his class. He only enhanced his stock in his first season, with strong numbers despite tailing off in August as fatigue set in, which is why the Twins held him back from games during instructional league. Urbina drew a split camp among scouts for his offensive ability as an amateur, but he rewarded the Twins' belief in his bat last year. He has good bat speed and a compact swing with an advanced ability to track pitches. Between his bat-to-ball skills and eye for the strike zone, Urbina walked nearly twice as often as he struck out, with a strikeout in just six percent of his plate appearances. Urbina has occasional over-the-fence juice to his pull side, with a chance to grow into 15-20 home run power. A high-energy, instinctive player, Urbina shined defensively, no surprise given his reputation among scouts as one of the best defensive center fielders in his signing class. He breaks well off the bat and takes crisp routes, with above-average speed and a tick below-average arm.
5. Alexander Mojica, 3B, Pirates
Born: Aug. 2, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 195. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
Mojica turned 16 on Aug. 2, 2018 and he celebrated his birthday by signing with the Pirates for $390,000 on the day he became eligible to sign. Had Mojica been born a month later, he would have been a 2019 international prospect, but instead he spent most of 2019 as a 16-year-old in the DSL, where he was one of the league's best hitters. He led the DSL in OPS, ranked fourth in OBP and second in slugging. Mojica has a promising mix of patience and power. He possesses plus raw power and he's able to tap into it in games with a compact swing with good bat path through the hitting zone. He showed a selective approach, walking more than he struck out, with the mix of OBP and power upside that could fit in the middle of a lineup if everything clicks. At third base, Mojica has good hands and a plus arm, but he's a bigger-bodied player who will need to maintain his conditioning and mobility to stay at the position. Sergio Campaña, an athletic center fielder, is another Pirates DSL prospect to watch.
6. Gabriel Rodriguez, SS, Indians
Born: Feb. 22, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 185. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
Rodriguez was Cleveland's top international signing in 2018, landing a $2.1 million deal. By the all-star break, Rodriguez was hitting .263/.348/.474. He slowed down in the second half, but the Indians still saw enough to promote him to the Rookie-level Arizona League for the final month of the season. Rodriguez still has some things to refine with his swing that led to some inconsistencies in his first year, but he's a strong offensive-minded player with a knack for barreling baseballs. It's a fairly short, balanced swing and he does a good job of recognizing pitches and controlling the strike zone for his age. He makes hard contact and uses the whole field, with home run power to his pull side now and flashes of future average power. He recognizes pitches well, controls the strike zone and has a knack for barreling balls with a short swing from the right side. It's a simple stroke with good balance and bat speed, helping him square up high-end velocity. He has an advanced, all-fields approach, makes consistent hard contact and could develop into a plus hitter. As Rodriguez has gotten stronger, that has helped him hold his posture better in his swing, with his power growing to near average and potential 20-plus home run pop in the future. When Rodriguez was an amateur, a lot of scouts expected him to move off shortstop, but the Indians think he can stay at the position. So far, Rodriguez has been able to keep his body lean, which helps his chances to remain a shortstop. He's a fringe-average runner whose first-step quickness and range might lead him to third base eventually, but he has the hands, instincts and body control to play either spot along with a strong arm.
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7. Angel Martinez, SS, Indians
Born: Jan. 27, 2002. B-T: B-R. Ht: 6-0. Wt: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
Martinez hasn't leapfrogged Gabriel Rodriguez in the Indians system yet, but he has certainly narrowed the gap between them. Signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, Rodriguez is another instinctive player with an advanced bat the Indians have added to their farm system in recent years. It's no surprise that Martinez separates himself with a high baseball IQ. His father is Sandy Martinez, who spent parts of eight seasons in the majors as a catcher and now is the Dominican Summer League manager and field coordinator for the Nationals, and as a little kid, Angel used to tag along and pepper his dad with questions about the nuances of the game. His baseball acumen shows in his fundamentally sound play in all areas of the game. He has a direct, efficient swing from both sides of the plate and a good eye for the strike zone. That results in a high contact rate, with a line-drive approach and gap power that should increase as he gets stronger, but his offensive value will probably always come more from his on-base skills than his slugging ability. A fringe-average runner, Martinez doesn't have the quick-twitch explosiveness some teams prefer at shortstop, but he's a heads-up defender with a solid-average arm and a good internal clock. He has a chance to stay at the position, though there's a possibility he could flip over to second base.
8. Brainer Bonaci, SS, Red Sox
Born: July 9, 2002. B-T: B-R. Ht: 5-10. Wt: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
Bonaci signed a $290,000 deal with the Red Sox when he turned 16 on July 9, 2018. He weighed around 140 pounds at the time and has since put on another 25 or so pounds, though he's still wiry and physically underdeveloped. In his pro debut, he showed advanced game skills offensively and defensively and was hitting .344/.413/.480 at the all-star break, though he ran out of gas and battled through fatigue the final month of the season. Bonaci lacks strength but still has the whip in his bat to generate sneaky power, which he showed with three home runs, though he's mostly a line-drive hitter. His approach is advanced for his age and he has good bat control from both sides of the plate. Bonaci has the ability to play with a calm, under control tempo, slowing the game down well with fundamentally sound defense for his age. He reads hops well, has secure hands, easy defensive actions and a plus arm that might still tick up in the next few years as he gets stronger. Wilkelman Gonzalez, a 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander whose velocity jumped to 95 mph this year, is another DSL Red Sox prospect to watch.
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9. Benyamin Bailey, OF, White Sox
Born: Sept. 18, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-5. Wt: 225. Signed: Panama, 2019.
Despite his standout physicality and being one of the top performers in Panama as an amateur, Bailey signed with the White Sox for just $35,000 last year in April. Bailey didn't have much time to get ready for the DSL season, where he was facing better velocity than he was used to seeing in Panama, but that didn't seem to matter. He dominated the league as a 17-year-old, ranking first in the DSL in OBP. Bailey walked more than he struck out and has numbers that look like they might come from a little guy, but he's a physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, with a chance to be a power/speed threat, though more so for power. He hit just two home runs during the season, but he has above-average raw power that he should tap into more with experience. Given how big and long Bailey is, there is probably always going to be some length to his swing, but his strike-zone discipline helps and he has good bat-to-ball skills for his size. A corner outfielder, Bailey is an above-average runner underway, but at his size, he's probably going to lose a step as he gets older and even bigger.
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10. Yohendrick Pinango, OF, Cubs
Born: May 7, 2002. B-T: L-L. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
Pinango was one of the best pure hitters in the DSL, ranking fourth in the league in batting average and striking out in just seven percent of his plate appearances. Signed for $400,000 in 2018, Pinango has excellent hand-eye coordination, which shows up both in his high contact rate and ability to control the strike zone. Pinango didn't hit any home runs in his debut, but he has a fairly strong and physical yet compact frame and makes hard contact, with his 20 doubles tied for second in the DSL. He can hit balls out in BP but his approach in games is to put the ball in play and spread the ball around the field, staying inside the ball well and especially shooting the ball to left field and center. If he gains a better understanding of which pitches to try to pull for damage and get more lift in his swing, more power should show up. Pinango is also a plus runner whose 27 stolen bases tied him for eighth in the league. He runs well enough to handle center field now, though given his body type, it's probable that he ends up either in left or right field.
11. Jerming Rosario, RHP, Dodgers
Born: May 8, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
The Dodgers' 2018 class included catcher Diego Cartaya ($2.5 million) and infielder Alex De Jesus ($500,000), both of whom debuted last year in the DSL but were promoted in season and finished as top 20 prospects in the Rookie-level Arizona League. That 2018 class also included Rosario, who signed for $650,000 and spent the full season in the DSL. Rosario didn't pitch enough innings to qualify for the league leaders, but he posted a sparkling 0.79 ERA in his pro debut. When Rosario signed, he was throwing 88-91 mph with a projectable body and a loose, fast arm, indicators that he would throw harder once he filled out. By the end of 2018, he reached 93 mph and his velocity continued to climb in 2019, reaching 95 mph. Rosario has the attributes to project as a starter as an athletic pitcher who repeats his delivery, fills the strike zone and shows feel for two secondary pitches. His best offspeed pitch is his changeup, which has plus potential and consistently fooled DSL hitters. Rosario sells that pitch well by maintaining his arm speed and throwing it in the low-to-mid 80s to get good separation off his fastball. That's his primary strikeout weapon, though his upper-70s curveball has good depth and shape as well, although he can get around the ball at times.
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12. Rafael Morel, SS, Cubs
Born: Nov. 22, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
The Cubs paid $800,000 to sign Dominican infielder Christopher Morel in 2015 when he was 16. Three years later, they signed his brother, Rafael, for $850,000. The son of a former professional basketball player in the Dominican Republic, Rafael is a quick-twitch athlete who impressed the Cubs as an amateur with his hitting ability. Some scouts with other clubs considered Morel more of a raw athlete, but he rewarded the Cubs' conviction with a strong offensive debut. He did a bit of everything in the DSL, showcasing a mix of hitting ability, power and speed all at a premium position. Morel has quick hands, good bat speed and puts an impressive charge into the ball. There are times he gets too pull-conscious and gets off balance, but when he's in sync and on time, he makes hard contact and shows potential for average power and could grow into 20-plus home runs. He's a plus runner with a plus arm who some scouts thought might fit better in center field, but he enhanced his chances to stay at shortstop last year. He has the hands, arm, first-step quickness and ability to read hops for the position, with improved footwork helping his development in 2019.
13. Jesus Parra, 3B/2B, Brewers
Born: Aug. 30, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-3. Wt: 190. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
Milwaukee's best prospect in the DSL was shortstop Eduardo Garcia, though he played just 10 games and didn't meet the playing time cutoff for this list. Outfielder Eduarqui Fernandez still has loud power/speed tools—he hit 11 home runs (including three in one game) and stole 15 bases—though he also struck out 98 times in 72 games. Parra, meanwhile, started off slowly, but after the all-star break he hit .275/.398/.486 with four home runs in 34 games. That's even more impressive considering that Parra played every game as a 16-year-old, as he only turned 17 on Aug. 30. Had Parra been born 48 hours later, he would have been a 2019 signing who wouldn't play until 2020, but instead he signed with the Brewers for $210,000 last year on his 16th birthday. A strong, physical player, Parra has above-average raw power and a good offensive approach for his age. His 26 percent strikeout rate was high, though somewhat mitigated by his youth relative to the league. He has a good track record of hitting going back to his amateur days as well. Parra split time between third base and second in the DSL, with a defensive skill set that fits the traditional third base profile well. He has below-average speed, a plus arm and his hands and feet work well for his size, with range better suited for third base than second.
Noelvi Marte Shows Off Tantalizing Skills In Instructs
After struggling somewhat against major leaguers at the alternate training site, Marte impressed against less experienced players at instructional league.
14. Wilmin Candelario, SS, Royals
Born: Sept. 11, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
Candelario signed with the Royals for $847,500 in 2018 out of the Dominican Republic. At the time, Candelario dazzled with his defensive actions, but his propensity to swing and miss during games was frightening. Since then, Candelario has grown from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-1, added significant strength while staying lean and driving the ball with more impact, which led to him becoming one of the top offensive performers in the DSL. Added strength helped Candelario's power and ability to maintain his swing consistently, with home run juice to the middle of the field over to his pull side. An average runner, Candelario still had a 29 percent strikeout rate, something he's going to have to improve as he faces better pitching. Where Candelario shines is at shortstop. He floats around the position, where he's light on his feet with soft hands and an extremely quick exchange to a strong arm. He's a slick, acrobatic defender, though he did commit 26 errors in 48 games, so like a lot of flashy young shortstops, he's still learning to slow the game down. Once he does that, he has the attributes to develop into a plus or possibly better defender.
15. Rayner Santana, C, Giants
Born: Aug. 15, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-2. Wt: 190. Signed: Venezuela, 2018.
The Giants' dynamite 2018 international class included Marco Luciano and Jairo Pomares, who went straight to the Rookie-level Arizona League for their pro debuts, as well as outfielder Luis Matos, the No. 3 prospect on this list. There's impact talent and depth beyond them from that 2018 group, with left fielder/first baseman Victor Bericoto hitting .344/.472/.485 in the DSL before a late-season promotion to the AZL and catcher Ronaldo Flores batting .325/.370/.408. Another catcher, Santana, is a prospect to watch after signing for $375,000 in 2018 and hitting 10 home runs in his debut, tied for fourth in the league, and posting a .992 OPS that ranked fifth in the DSL. Even more impressive, Santana did it as one of the youngest players in the 2018 class, since he only turned 17 at the end of the season on Aug. 15, meaning he was only a few weeks away from being in the 2019 class instead. Santana stood out for his power and arm strength as an amateur, and he showed plenty of power as a 16-year-old pro. He gets to that power in games, driving the ball out of the park to the middle of the field against live pitching, with a chance to be a 25-plus home run threat. He does get too pull-oriented at times and that leaves him with some holes. He will have to cut down on his whiffs after posting a 27 percent strikeout rate, but his youth mitigates some of that and he has the patience to draw walks. Santana has an above-average arm, though he will need to clean up his footwork and receiving after committing 18 passed balls in 37 games behind the plate.
16. Jose Bonilla, SS, Angels
Born: April 2, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2019.
Bonilla was eligible to sign in 2018, but instead of signing with the Angels then like he was initially expected to do, he ended up signing with them on July 2, 2019 for $600,000. He received the third-largest bonus of any signing in the organization last year behind shortstops Arol Vera and Adrian Placencia, but unlike those two, Bonilla was old enough to play right away in the DSL after signing and had a strong showing. A strong, physical player, Bonilla didn't homer in his 20-game DSL stint, but he flashes average raw power that should develop into a plus tool. There is some swing-and-miss to Bonilla's game, but he has a good eye for the strike zone to give him patience and power. Bonilla primarily played shortstop last year, but he also spent time at third base, which is where he probably ends up due to his footwork and range. He positions himself well in the field and gets quick reactions off the bat, which would suit him well at third base. He also has an outstanding arm, which is at least a plus tool now and shows signs of becoming a 70 in the near future.
17. Adinso Reyes, SS, Tigers
Born: Oct. 22, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 195. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
Reyes was one of Detroit's two big international signings in their 2018 class, landing a $1.45 million bonus from the Tigers on July 2. He's a physical shortstop who is strong for his age, with the combination of strength and bat speed that produces plus raw power. Unlike a lot of power hitters at his level, Reyes isn't just a pull-heavy masher. He has an unusual ability to let the ball travel, hit it where it's pitched and hammer pitches on the outer third to the opposite field. It's an all-fields hitting approach, and while his swing is geared more for line drives than big lift, he has legitimate home run power to all parts of the park, not just in BP but in games as well. Reyes isn't an all-or-nothing slugger; he struck out in 19 percent of his plate appearances, which is reasonable, and he does have a good two-strike approach. However, he's an aggressive hitter and would benefit from being more selective to enhance his OBP. A fringe-average runner, Reyes has more work to do to clean up his defense, where he has a strong arm for the left side of the infield, but a lot of scouts view him as a future third baseman, and he committed 19 errors in just 39 games at shortstop.
18. Jose de la Cruz, OF, Tigers
Born: Jan. 3, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-1. Wt: 195. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
De la Cruz was a famous player early on as an amateur because of his athleticism and loud tool set. He joined shortstop Adinso Reyes as Detroit's top two international signings in 2018, getting $1.8 million. De la Cruz's tools ranked among the best in his class, though a lot of scouts had concerns about the rawness in his game. In his pro debut, de la Cruz showed those electric tools and an ability to translate them into games—his 11 home runs tied for the league lead and his .307/.375/.556 line was impressive—though with some of the red flags in his pure hitting ability he will have to address. De la Cruz has a strong, compact frame with explosiveness that shows at the plate and in the field, with an intense, high-energy playing style. His raw power, speed and arm strength all grade out as plus tools, with the mix of fast bat speed and strength to smash the ball with impact when he finds the barrel. However, there is some stiffness to his swing and his pitch recognition issues cause him to swing and miss frequently, with a strikeout in 30 percent of his plate appearances. If de la Cruz can cut down his strikeouts, he has a chance to be a power/speed threat in the middle of the diamond. With his body type, there's a chance he might slow down and end up in right field as he gets into his 20s, but right now he looks the part of a center fielder and looks like he could stay there.
19. Maikol Escotto, SS, Yankees
Born: June 4, 2002. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
The Yankees pushed their top three 2018 international signings—shortstop Alexander Vargas, center fielder Kevin Alcantara and catcher Antonio Gomez—to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019. Escotto, who signed for $350,000, wasn't as advanced as a prospect, but he bolstered his stock after a big year in the DSL, ranking eighth in the league in OPS at .981. There's a lot of quickness to Escotto's game, both at the plate and in the field. He has fast hands at the plate and he hit for surprising power in his first season. He has a compact swing and has a solid sense of the strike zone for his age, but he has to cut down on his strikeouts after punching out 26 percent of the time last year. An above-average runner, Escotto has a quick first step and good hands at shortstop, along with a plus arm and a fast, short throwing stroke.
20. Albert Inoa, 2B, Cardinals
Born: Dec. 4, 2001. B-T: R-R. Ht: 5-11. Wt: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
The Cardinals had a mix of interesting prospects in the DSL last year. One was outfielder Diowill Burgos, a famous prospect early on in the amateur scouting process for the 2017 class who ended up signing for $300,000. Burgos struggled his first year in 2018, then improved his pitch recognition in 2019 to bat .382/.481/.725 with nine home runs in 36 DSL games this year before struggling upon a promotion to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. First baseman Fernando Diaz, a 2019 signing from Mexico, hit .270/.378/.420 with six home runs in 54 games. Burgos probably has the most impact upside if everything clicks for him, but Inoa has a promising mix of hitting ability and all-around instincts for the game to go with his positional value. Inoa, who signed for $70,000 right before the season last year in March, is an advanced hitter for his age. He has a simple, efficient swing with quiet hands and good plate discipline. That leads to consistent quality at-bats and ability to get on base at a high clip, as he tied for fourth in the DSL in walks and ranked fifth in OBP. He probably won't develop much home run juice, with a line-drive approach and gap power. Inoa is an offensive-oriented player who went straight to second base after signing, and he's a below-average runner who will need time for his defense to catch up.