2020-21 MLB International Reviews: Arizona Diamondbacks

The D-backs have added several international signings in recent years who have developed into prominent prospects, both inside and outside the organization. Shortstop Jazz Chisholm (Marlins), righthander Jhoan Duran (Twins) and shortstop Liover Peguero (Pirates) are all either Top 100 Prospects or on the periphery of the Top 100 who signed with the D-backs before getting traded, while shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and outfielder Kristian Robinson remain two of the organization’s best prospects.

Top Of The Class

Shortstop Manuel Peña built a reputation as one of the top pure hitters from the Dominican Republic in the 2020 class. He has a lot of hitterish habits in the box. He has a compact swing with good bat path from the left side and the ability to barrel balls consistently against live pitching. He has an advanced offensive approach and has hit well in games, including in a trainer-organized league in San Cristobal last year. Peña has a hit-over-power profile, but he makes hard contact for his age, has a swing geared to hit the ball in the air and the physical projection in his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame to develop 20-25 home run power in the future, possibly more given his knack for putting the sweet spot on the ball. Peña is an offensive-oriented player who many scouts thought would go to third or second base. Long term, that is probably still the case, but he has improved defensively in terms of his ability to read hops and use better technique to field the ball with good balance and body control, giving him a chance to keep developing as a shortstop. A slightly below-average runner, Peña has soft hands but needs to improve his footwork. His range probably leads him off shortstop as he gets bigger, with a 50-55 arm that could be plus in the future. He trained with Pablo Sosa.

Venezuelan shortstop Jefferson Peña packs impressive tools and well-rounded baseball skills into a small but strong 5-foot-8, 155-pound build. He’s athletic and toolsy, with plus-plus speed and a plus arm. He doesn’t have natural defensive actions at shortstop, so while he might develop at the position, a lot of scouts think he could end up at second base or move out to center field if he can maintain his speed, something that might slow down given his body type. Peña hit well in games in Venezuela, with an aggressive approach and a quick, compact swing. He has the strength in his swing to drive the ball well for his age and size, though he’s not a big power threat. Peña trained with Francisco Ortiz.

Names To Know

Jose Fernandez, SS, Venezuela: Fernandez could end up one of the best value signings in the 2020 class. He has a tall, lean, ultra-projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 165 pounds, with an exciting mix of skills on both sides of the ball and the strength projection left for those tools to continue trending up. He’s a righthanded hitter with a good swing who has hit well in games and had a high contact rate. It’s gap power now but he hits the ball hard with back spin to all fields and the strength projection to grow into above-average power once he packs on size. Fernandez is athletic with slightly above-average speed and is a fluid mover at shortstop. He has good actions and fields the ball with sweet hands and an arm that’s flashing plus and could get even stronger with physical maturity. If he outgrows the position, he could go to third base, but he has the ability to stick at shortstop as long as he maintains his agility and athleticism. Fernandez trained with Dennys Suarez.

Kenny Castillo, C, Venezuela: Castillo is an offensive-oriented catcher who has hit well in games with hard contact and occasional over-the-fence power. He has a solid-average arm and his hands are good enough to catch but he needs to bring along his receiving and blocking. Castillo trained with Javier Mendoza.


Ezequiel Surun, SS, Dominican Republic: A year ago, Surun was an athletic, true shortstop. He has since grown three inches to a wiry 6-foot-3, retaining his good glove work and actions to stay at the position, ranging well to all angles with plus speed and a 55 arm. Surun is taller now but he’s still physically underdeveloped, so getting stronger will be important for him to hold better hitting positions and help his bat develop. Surun trained with Josue Herrera.

Alexander Benua, OF, Dominican Republic: Benua is an athletic player with promising tools between his big raw power, speed and arm strength. Benua had been training with Alfredo Arias as a shortstop but didn’t have natural infield actions, so he moved to center field.

Kevin Santos, OF, Dominican Republic: Santos’ best tool is his speed, with the athleticism and wheels to play center field as long as he can maintain that speed. He’s a lefty with occasional power to his pull side, though his pure hitting ability is still on the raw side. Santos trained at the Quality Baseball Academy.


Sleeper Watch

Adrian de Leon is a smaller but strong, square 5-foot-8 catcher from the Dominican Republic with an aggressive, hard-nosed playing style. He has short arms and a compact swing that makes frequent contact in games. He’s not a power hitter, but the strength he brings through his wrists and forearms helps him sting the ball with surprising impact for his stature. He’s a high-energy player who is quick behind the plate with a strong arm and good baseball intelligence, projecting to stick at catcher.

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