2023 International Reviews: Arizona Diamondbacks

The D-backs built a balanced, well-rounded class centered around position players from all over the diamond. With a pair of shortstops, multiple center fielders, one of the better third base prospects in the Dominican Republic and a promising Venezuelan catcher, the D-backs should have one of the deeper lineups of prospects to watch this year in the Dominican Summer League. 

Top Of The Class

The D-backs signed Dominican shortstop Jeremy Rodriguez for $1.25 million. Rodriguez is 16 until July, so he’s one of the younger players in the class, but his ability to control the strike zone is advanced for his age. At 6 feet, 170 pounds, Rodriguez has an easy lefthanded swing and consistently manages his at-bats well with a disciplined approach, squaring up good fastballs with the ability to recognize spin. He performed well against live pitching as an amateur with gap power that has ticked up over the past year and should continue to climb as he gets stronger. Rodriguez looks like he should be able to stick at shortstop too, defending his position well with a plus arm. 

Dominican outfielder Gian Zapata, 17, signed with the D-backs for $950,000. He’s 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, a long, lanky athlete who already has good tools for his age with considerable strength projection remaining. Some scouts had concerns about his long levers creating length to his swing, but scouts who liked Zapata the most saw a combination of patience and power potential, praising his ability to control the strike zone, string together quality at-bats and drive the ball from alley to alley with the physical upside for more power to come as he fills out. He’s an above-average runner too, giving him a chance to at least start his career in center field and potentially continue there if he can retain his speed. Given how much bigger Zapata could get, it’s possible he loses a step and ends up in right field, where he has a plus arm that could tick up as he packs on more strength. 

Names To Know

Yassel Soler, 3B, Dominican Republic: The son of former Rays minor league second baseman Ramon Soler, who reached Triple-A, Yassel made a name for himself at the plate before signing with the D-backs for $425,000. Soler has a strong frame (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) at 17 with a good offensive track record from the right side against live pitching, demonstrating the ability to barrel fastballs and recognize spin. He’s a high baseball IQ player with a mature approach for his age and makes hard contact, with a chance for more of his doubles to start jumping over the fence over the next few years. Soler’s bat is his calling card and he won’t play a premium position, but he should be able to stick at third base, where he’s a sound defender for his age with a 55 arm.

Enyervert Perez, SS, Venezuela: An elbow issue has kept Perez off the field recently, but he should be ready to go for the Dominican Summer League and has the offensive skill set that could translate right away. A 17-year-old signed for $250,000, Perez is a bat-oriented shortstop at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, making frequent contact from the right side with good bat speed and gap power. He’s a smart, instinctive player with the actions to stick in the dirt, potentially as an offensive second baseman. 

Jeison Calvo, RHP, Panama: Calvo is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds at 17 and signed for $250,000, the top bonus ths year for a Panamanian pitcher. It’s a strong frame with the delivery, arm action and three-pitch mix that give him the building blocks to be a starter. Calvo has been a solid strike-thrower with a fastball up to 92 mph and shown feel for both a curveball and changeup with the curveball more advanced right now. 

Carlos Virahonda, C, Venezuela: The D-backs have Gabriel Moreno now, but the farm system is light on catching. Virahonda has a sneaky chance to develop into one of the organization’s best catching prospects. A prominent player as an amateur, Virahonda ended up signing at 17 for $200,000. He’s a stocky, compact 5-foot-11, 180 pounds and immediately draws attention for his defensive skills. Virahonda is athletic, agile and flexible behind the plate and an advanced receiver for his age. He has an outstanding arm that’s a 70 on the 20-80 scale, producing pop times that cut into the low 1.8-second range on his best throws in games. He runs well for a catcher too, with above-average speed underway, though that tool will likely back up. At high-profile showcases in front of big decision-makers, Virahonda didn’t have his best offensive showings, but he has a simple, direct swing from the right side with gap power, with more encouraging signs in the batter’s box over the past year.

Pedro Catuy, OF, Panama: Catuy, 17, was one of the best prospects this year from Panama. Signed for $200,000, Catuy played for Panama at the U-18 World Cup in Bradenton, Fla, in September 2022, and while he didn’t hit well there, he has shown the ability to catch up to good velocity. More than anything, the righthanded-hitting Catuy stands out for his quick-twitch athleticism and wheels. At 6-foot-2, 160 pounds, Catuy glides around center field with plus-plus speed and an easy gait, leading to good range along with a tick above-average arm. 

Leo Gallardo, C, Venezuela: Gallardo signed as a catcher, but his bat is his calling card. He signed for $175,000 at 17 after showing the ability to hit well in games as an amateur, making a lot of contact from the left side with gap power that should increase as he adds more weight to his 6-foot, 185-pound frame. Gallardo could see time behind the plate, though his future could be in left field or at first base. 

Dauwin Gonzalez, OF, Dominican Republic: Gonzalez signed relatively later in the process, joining the D-backs at the end of February for $175,000. He’s 17 with a power-over-hit profile from the right side, above-average speed and an average arm, giving him the tools to develop in center field though he could end up in a corner as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame. 

Sleeper Watch

One of the more intriguing arms from Arizona’s signing class is Walvin Mena, a 17-year-old Domincan righthander with a fast arm who got $90,000. He has been up to 95 mph and could have more in the tank as he fills out a 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame with broad shoulders. He has shown the makings of a potential above-average slider and early signs of feel for a changeup as well. 

Among position players, one lower bonus Venezuelan shortstop Eliesbert Alejos is a sleeper to monitor. He’s another $90,000 signing and still 16 with impressive instincts for his age. He’s 6 feet, 175 pounds with a chance to stick at shortstop depending on his physical development, as he has soft hands, smooth actions and a good internal clock. He’s a righthanded hitter with solid bat-to-ball skills and doubles power. 

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