2020-21 MLB International Reviews: Detroit Tigers
After spending one of the top bonuses in the 2019 class to land Cuban outfielder Roberto Campos, the Tigers followed up in 2020 by paying for one of the top shortstops available.
Top Of The Class
The Tigers landed one of the top shortstops in the class by signing Cristian Santana out of Niche's program in the Dominican Republic. Santana, a cousin of Tigers' shortstop prospect Wenceel Perez, is an advanced hitter for his age with a good chance to stay at shortstop. At 6 feet, 175 pounds, he has a quick, compact swing and a mature approach for his age, with the ability to recognize breaking balls and control the strike zone. He's mostly a line-drive hitter who has performed well in games, driving the ball well to both gaps with a chance to grow into 15-20 home run power. An average runner with a strong lower half, Santana has quick feet, good hands and an above-average arm that could tick up with more strength gains.
The Tigers added a second high-profile shortstop in the class with Abel Bastidas from Venezuela. Compared to Santana, Basidas has a taller, lankier frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, with smooth defense at shortstop. Some scouts thought Bastidas might outgrow the position and end up at third base, but others thought as long as he stayed lean and agile he would be able to handle shortstop. Bastidas, who trained with Cesar Izturis, is a fundamentally sound fielder with soft hands and fluid, easy actions. He plays calm and under control for his age with a good internal clock, an above-average arm and speed that has trended up to above-average, though he might slow down as he fills out. Bastidas is a switch-hitter with a loose, easy swing from both sides of the plate with good hand-eye coordination. The ball carries off his bat well with occasional over-the-fence juice to his pull side and the physical projection to grow into significantly more power once he fills out.
Names To Know
Rayner Castillo, RHP, Dominican Republic: Castillo generated attention when he came do the United States for Perfect Game events, where he stood out for his size with a durable, projectable 6-foot-4 frame and a fastball in the upper 80s that should increase as he gets stronger. He pitches with good angle on his fastball from a sound delivery and has shown feel for both a curveball that misses bats already and a changeup with good fade.
Carlos Pelegrin, OF, Cuba: Scouts saw Pelgrin, 20, playing for Cuba in international tournaments as a teenager, and the Tigers targeted him as a priority player after he left the country. He has a lean, athletic build in center field, where he moves around well with good routes, above-average speed and arm strength. If he can maintain his speed he could stay in center field, though there's a chance as he gets bigger he could shift to right field. He has a quick bat, handles velocity well and has shown big power in BP, though in games his approach is geared more to spreading the ball around the field rather than trying to launch.
Yimmy Diaz, SS, Venezuela: Diaz is a high-energy shortstop with a compact, lively 5-foot-10 frame. He's an average runner and a steady defender with quick reactions off the bat. He has good bat speed and balance from both sides of the plate, with a line-drive, contact-oriented approach and gap power. Diaz trained with Henderson Martinez.
The other Venezuelan shortstop to watch from the Tigers class is Justin Rodriguez. He's an aggressive hitter who makes frequent hitter and generates surprising power with his swing for his medium build. Rodriguez is an offensive-oriented player, but he makes the routine plays at shortstop with quick arm speed that's enough to project for an above-average arm. He could stick at shortstop, though depending how he fills out he could flip over to second base too.