International Reviews: Los Angeles Dodgers
Total 2017 signings: 63.
Top 2017-18 signing: Several at $300,000.
As a penalty, they haven’t been able to sign anyone for more than $300,000 the last two years, a restriction that ends this year on July 2. Despite their limitations, the Dodgers remained aggressive adding international players to their system, with one of the largest signing classes of the year. All of them are scheduled to start this year in the Dominican Summer League.
The Dodgers gave their $300,000 maximum bonus to seven players, including Dominican outfielder Yunior Garcia when he turned 16 on July 29. Garcia signed from Franklin Ferreras’ program, which also produced Dodgers outfielder Starling Heredia, and he packs a well-rounded tool set into a strong, compact frame at 6 feet, 198 pounds. Garcia generates quick bat speed in a short righthanded swing. The ball jumps off his bat at high exit velocities for his age. He drives the ball with authority to all fields, with a chance to hit for both average and power. Garcia is an above-average runner underway, and if he can maintain his speed as he fills out, he has a chance to stick in center field, with an above-average arm that would fit in right field as well. Garcia has trended up since signing, with the only setback a hamate fracture in January camp, but he’s back on the field now.
The Dodgers signed 17-year-old Venezuelan infielder Yorbit Vivas for $300,000 in July out of Yasser Mendez’s academy. Vivas has spent time at shortstop but projects as a bat-first second baseman. He’s not physically imposing (5-foot-10, 145 pounds), but he has hit well in games and generates surprising sock from the left side of the plate. He uses his hands well at the plate with good hitters’ actions, barreling balls at a high rate against live pitching. Vivas is an above-average runner underway as well.
Dominican outfielder Gorge Heredia signed with the Dodgers for $300,000 in July after training with Alfredo Arias. Heredia, 17, is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and makes loud contact when he connects from the right side of the plate, though his pure hitting ability will need refinement. He projects as a right fielder with below-average speed and a strong arm.
Amin Valdez is a wiry shortstop (6 feet, 155 pounds) the Dodgers signed for $300,000 on July 2. Valdez, 17, lacks strength right now, but has shown a promising balance of skills on both sides of the ball, along with a good all-around game awareness. He’s an average runner and has a good chance to stick at shortstop, where he has a plus arm. Valdez is a lefty hitter who has shown good bat-to-ball skills, albeit without much damage on contact at this point. Valdez trained with J.D. Ozuna.
Three Cuban players received $300,000 deals from the Dodgers last year, including 18-year-old Miguel Vargas in September. Vargas left Cuba nearly two years prior to signing. In 2014, Vargas played in Cuba’s 15U national league, where he batted .382/.444/.591 in 127 plate appearances, then after the season made the all-tournament team at third base in the 15U World Cup. The next year when he was 15, Vargas played in Cuba’s 18U national league, where he hit .287/.379/.465 in 124 plate appearances, and the 18U World Cup in Japan, where he stood out for his bat. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Vargas is still an offensive-minded player who has played third and first base, with a chance he ends up in left field. He’s a righthanded hitter with a short, simple swing and good balance, putting the ball in play at a high rate and controlling the strike-zone well for his age with solid-average power. He’s a below-average runner who lacks first-step quickness or much range in the infield.
Andy Pages, an 18-year-old who signed with the Dodgers for $300,000 in October, was one of the top hitters in his age group in Cuba. In the country’s 15U league in 2015, Pages batted .364/.484/.581 with 25 walks and just three strikeouts in 161 plate appearances, ranking third in the league in slugging percentage. He played the 2016 season as a 16-year-old in the 18U league, hitting .248/.384/.376 in 129 plate appearances, with his three home runs tied for second in the league. Pages’ bat is his best tool. He has an efficient swing and good hand-eye coordination, leading to a high contact rate in games with average power. A below-average runner with a stocky frame, Pages is still finding a position, with time at third base and the outfield corners.
Julio Enrique is a speedy 18-year-old center fielder the Dodgers signed for $300,000 in July. In Cuba’s 15U national league in 2015, Enrique hit .327/.465/.464 in 147 plate appearances, then in the 18U league the next year he batted .182/.302/.364 in 54 plate apperances as a 16-year-old. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Enrique’s best tool is his plus-plus speed, which gives him good range in center field to go with an average arm. The Dodgers liked his ability to hit and get on base in games from the right side, with gap power and the strength projection for more to come.
The Dodgers signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Brayan Rodriguez for $215,000 in July. Rodriguez stands out for his size (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and potential to grow into power from the right side. He’s a below-average runner who fits best in an outfield corner.
Righthander Axel Acevedo was born in the Dominican Republic, but he spent time in the United States, where he played both baseball and football in high school. He signed out of the Dominican Republic in July as an international free agent, landing a $200,000 bonus from the Dodgers. At 17, Acevedo has a projectable 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame and good feel for pitching, working off a fastball that has reached the low 90s and feel for a breaking ball that’s ahead of his changeup.
Yhostin Chirinos, a 17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop, signed with the Dodgers for $200,000 in July after training with Yasser Mendez. He’s a skinny 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and projects to stick at the position, where he has good instincts, actions and an above-average arm. Chirinos is a defensive-minded player who is physically underdeveloped, so getting stronger will be important to help his righthanded bat come around. After signing, Chirinos injured his knee sliding into a base during a Tricky League game last summer. He had surgery but is back on the field now.
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The Dodgers signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Eddys Leonard for $200,000 in July. Leonard is 6 feet, 160 pounds, a good athlete with plus speed. While some scouts thought Leonard would fit best in center field, the Dodgers have kept him at shortstop after seeing promising strides with his fielding. Leonard has fast bat speed and good swing path from the right side, and while he’s not a big home run hitter, the ball carries off his bat well with a change to develop average power.
Venezuelan shortstop Eynar Machin, who trained with Vampirin, signed with the Dodgers for $200,000 in July. Machin, 17, isn’t that big (5-foot-10, 155 pounds) but he’s an offensive-oriented player with a sound hitting approach, good bat-to-ball skills and gap power from the right side. Machin’s bat is ahead of his glove, with a below-average arm that could eventually lead him to second base.
One of the more advanced lefthanders in the 2017 class was Luisneyer Perez, who trained with Carlos Guillen and signed with the Dodgers for $200,000 in July. A 17-year-old from Venezuela, Perez is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds with a fastball that has reached the low 90s, throwing it for strikes and locating it well to both sides of the plate for his age. He has shown feel for a curveball that’s further along than his changeup.
The Dodgers signed Venezuelan shortstop Carlos Santiago, who trained with Cesar Izturis, for $150,000 when he turned 16 on July 24. He’s a tall, skinny shortstop with below-average speed, but as long as he doesn’t keep growing he could stick at shortstop, where he has soft hands and a plus arm. Santiago is a switch-hitter with a knack for making contact, but he needs to get stronger to be able to drive the ball with more impact.
In August, the Dodgers gave a $150,000 bonus to Jeans Garcia, a 16-year-old Dominican third baseman who trained with his father, Lucas Garcia. He’s a stout 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, sticking out right now for his lefthanded power, with a power-over-hit profile. He’s split time between third and first base.
Rushenten Tomsjansen is an athletic, 16-year-old center fielder from Curacao the Dodgers signed for $125,000 on July 2. He should stick in center field, where he has above-average speed and a plus arm. Tomajansen’s baseball skills aren’t as refined as some of his peers from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, but the ball carries well off his bat from the right side when he connects.
Among the Dodgers’ lower-dollar signings, one player to keep an eye on is Colombian catcher Andres Noriega, who signed for $70,000 in July. Noriega, 17, is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and stands out for his defense, with good receiving skills and a strong arm.