2021-22 International Reviews: Colorado Rockies
The Rockies had an enviable collection of some of the best pitching prospects in the Dominican Summer League last year. That’s before getting to league MVP Adrian Pinto (a middle infielder who ranked among the Rockies’ top 30 prospects before they traded him to Toronto with Raimel Tapia for Randal Grichuk) and outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez, now in Low-A and teammates with fellow 2019 international signing Adael Amador as two of the organization’s better prospects at the lower levels. This year’s class centered around one high-profile shortstop, but another wave of promising pitchers entered the farm system with him.
Top Of The Class
With how early teams now commit their international bonus pool space to players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, by the time shortstop Dyan Jorge left Cuba, teams had already committed most of their 2020 international bonus pool space to other players. Instead, Jorge opted to wait for the following signing period—which ended up getting delayed another six months because of the pandemic—and joined the Rockies on Jan. 15, 2022 for a $2.8 million bonus. Jorge has a long, slender, swimmer's body type and is an athletic defender at shortstop. He's a plus-plus runner with easy actions in the field, a good internal clock and a plus arm, giving him the upside to develop into a plus defender. The biggest split among scouts was his offensive upside, and while he doesn't project to be a power threat, the early returns at the plate have been encouraging. He participated in the team's Dominican instructional league and led that group in hitting, managing his at-bats well and showing good bat-to-ball skills with a line-drive-oriented stroke and a two-strike approach. At 19, Jorge is advanced enough to move faster, but he's scheduled to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League.
Names To Know
Doilin Perez, RHP, Dominican Republic: Early in the process, Perez was 6-foot-1 with a fastball that reached the mid 80s. Since then, Perez has been on an upward trend—both in terms of size and stuff—with more likely still to come. He has grown to 6-foot-5 with a strong but still lean build, pumping fastballs up to 95 mph with the physical projection to reach the upper 90s. He pitches with downhill plane, throwing strikes and showing feel for a breaking ball that’s ahead of his changeup.
Cesar Vargas, RHP, Dominican Republic: Vargas has a projectable 6-foot-3 frame with good arm speed on a fluid, compact arm stroke and a repeatable delivery that helps him throw strikes at a high rate. He has been up to 92 mph with the physical projection left to be throwing in the mid 90s, showing good feel for pitching for his age as well with a curveball and changeup in his three-pitch mix.
Luichi Casilla, LHP, Dominican Republic: Castilla has been an arrow-up pitcher, a 6-foot-1, strike-throwing lefty whose velocity has climbed to reach 93 mph with the arm speed that suggests there’s more in the tank. That would make for an intriguing mix of power stuff to go with touch and feel, with a starter look given his ability to spin a slider and advanced feel for a changeup.
Kevin Hidalgo, SS, Dominican Republic: Hidalgo has an intriguing mix of physical projection and tools in the middle of the diamond. He’s a wiry 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a lot of space to fill out and develop into a more physical shortstop, with average speed and arm strength that could both tick up. It’s a power-over-hit profile, with quickness to his swing and a chance for his power to grow as he bulks up.
Ronny Ugarte, 1B, Venezuela: Ugarte showcased for teams at third base and in the outfield, but the Rockies have him strictly at first base. That means the offensive bar is set high, but Ugarte has shown one of the more promising offensive skill sets in Venezuela for this year. He’s a strongly-built, 6-foot-3 lefthanded hitter with a good swing, a keen eye for the strike zone and has performed well in games. He has a low swing-and-miss rate, uses the whole field and shows power that should continue to get a boost from more strength gains.
Derek Bernard, 2B, Dominican Republic: Bernard was born and raised in the United States, but he moved to the Dominican Republic before signing with the Rockies as an international free agent. He worked out for teams at shortstop but has flipped across the diamond as an offensive second baseman. He has a compact build (6 feet, 190 pounds) with promising feel for hitting from the left side, a hit-over-power profile and average speed.
Ervin Torres, LHP, Venezuela: Torres is a 6-foot-1 pitchability lefty. He has a sound delivery and fills the strike zone with a fastball up to 91 mph along with the ability to mix in his curveball and changeup.
At 19, Dominican righthander Enger Sanchez was a passed over player from previous years who the Rockies signed in this class. He’s 6-foot-5 and still wiry, already reaching 95 mph with a chance he could throw 100 mph one day. He also throws a curveball with late break and good shape, giving him a chance for two power pitches that could miss bats.