The Dodgers signed two of the top Venezuelan prospects in the 2020 international class on Jan. 15, but the last few months have been bittersweet for the organization.
Jairo Castillo, who had been scouting for the Dodgers as an international crosschecker based in the Dominican Republic, died from complications due to Covid-19 in December at 31. Castillo had previously worked for the Blue Jays and Brewers, leaving the Brewers in 2019 to join the Dodgers.
In February, Luis Marquez, a rising star in the industry who had re-joined the Dodgers as an international crosschecker in January, died in Venezuela at 41. Marquez, who previously worked for the Mets and Blue Jays, joined the Dodgers in 2016 and spent three years with them, then spent two years with the Mets as their Latin American scouting director before returning to the Dodgers this year.
Top Of The Class
With catcher Diego Cartaya in 2018 and outfielder Luis Rodriguez in 2019, the Dodgers signed the top ranked Venezuelan prospect two years in a row. In their 2020 class, they signed Wilman Diaz, who along with Rays shortstop Carlos Colmenarez is someone several scouts considered one of the top players in Venezuela in this class. Diaz trained with Alexis Quiroz in the same program where the Dodgers signed Cartaya and 2019 catcher Yeiner Fernandez, so the Dodgers had scouted Diaz from a young age. Diaz has a good balance of tools, skills, athleticism and physical upside. He’s 6-foot-2, 165 pounds with a loose, low-effort swing, good bat speed and plate discipline with good performance in games. He hits for power in games too, showing the ability to backspin balls to the pull side and drive the ball with impact to the opposite field as well. He still has a lean, athletic frame with a lot of space to fill out, so his power should climb once he gets stronger. Diaz also has the athleticism and actions to give him a good chance to stay at shortstop. He takes pride in his speed, which has improved to a plus tool, and he plays under control in the field with good hands, footwork and an above-average arm.
For a long time, Venezuelan catcher Jesus Galiz was expected to sign with the Yankees, but the Dodgers ended up signing him instead. After signing with the Dodgers he spent a month in Arizona, where he was able to get work catching bullpens for pitchers in the organization getting ready for spring training. Galiz is one of the top catchers in the class, with a promising bat for the position. He has hit well in games in Venezuela, showing the ability to recognize spin, control the strike zone and put the ball in play consistently with a line-drive approach and a chance for 15-20 home run power once he gets stronger. Galiz is a good bet to stick behind the dish, where he’s quick, flexible and agile with soft hands, good receiving skills and an average arm. He trained with Emiro Barboza.
Names To Know
Rayne Doncon, SS, Dominican Republic: Doncon signed for less money, but he fits with Wilman Diaz and Jesus Galiz as one of the Dodgers’ big signings. Doncon is 6-foot-2 with a high waist, long limbs and promising physical upside. In 2020, he got stronger while staying lean, improving both his power and the chance that he could stay at shortstop. He has fast bat speed and good contact skills in games. As he’s gotten stronger, he has quieted down some of the extra movement he previously had in his trigger to get his swing started, with a chance to grow into average or better power. A near-average runner, Doncon could still end up outgrowing shortstop, but he has shown good instincts in the field. Doncon trained with Aguila.
Jorge Carpintero LHP, Venezuela: Carpintero, who trained with Kevin Moscatel, is a 6 foot, 160-pound lefty who showed good pitchability for his age while pitching in games in Venezuela and Colombia. He’s not a power arm, relying more on his polish and ability to change speeds, with a mid-to-upper-80s fastball, curveball and changeup.
Carlos Avila, C, Venezuela: Avila is a smart, heady player who is a student of the game with high-level baseball acumen, especially on the defensive side. He’s already fluent in English and draws praise for his leadership skills and his work behind the plate, with a defensive-oriented profile. Avila trained with Jose Montero.
Roger Lasso, OF, Panama: Lasso has a strong, muscular frame with good strike-zone judgment and power. He’s a corner outfielder whose offensive game will drive his value.
Misael Soto trained with Juan Herrera (known as “Mon”) as a shortstop, but later in the process moved to the mound. He’s new to pitching, but his velocity has already grown from 85-88 mph when he started pitching to 92 mph now. His fastball has good life and he has the arm speed and physical projection in his 6-foot-2 frame to throw significantly harder over the next few years.