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July 2 Notebook: Top Prospects To Watch

Ynmanol-Marinez-2017-SJG

While scouts in the United States are lamenting the quality of the 2017 draft, there’s a strong group of talent in Latin America this year that’s eligible to sign on July 2. Here are more 16-year-old prospects to watch for the 2017-18 international signing period:

Raimfer Salinas, of, Venezuela Salinas was an early standout in the 2017 class, playing for Venezuela in 2014 at the COPABE 14U Pan American Championship as a 13-year-old then in 2015 when he hit well as a 14-year-old on at the 15U Pan Am Championship. Salinas has an athletic frame (6 feet, 170 pounds) and projects as a true center fielder with plus speed and a plus arm. Salinas has good bat speed with a sound righthanded stroke and hits the ball hard when he connects. The split camp on Salinas swings on how well a scout saw him hit in games. Salinas does have a track record of performing well in games, though a lot of clubs that evaluated him saw stretches with a lot more swing-and-miss. There is some uncertainty as to where Salinas will sign, though the Rockies look like they might be his landing spot. Salinas trains with Francisco Ortiz. 

Ronny Rojas, ss, Dominican Republic Rojas is one of the best pure hitters in the class and also one of the youngest, as he’s still 15 and can’t sign until he turns 16 on Aug. 23. A switch-hitter, Rojas is around 6-foot-1, 175 pounds with good hitter’s actions, sound bat path, a selective approach and a knack for making hard, loud contact at a high clip with a line-drive approach. There are better defensive shortstops in the class and Rojas might eventually move to second base, though his speed, defense and arm have all ticked up, giving him a better chance to possibly stick at shortstop. The Yankees are the favorites to sign Rojas, who trains at the MB Academy.

Juan Querecuto, ss, Venezuela Querecuto is the younger brother of shortstop Juniel Querecuto, who signed with the Rays out of Venezuela in 2009, reached the major leagues last year, then in the offseason signed with the Giants as a minor league free agent. The baseball bloodlines are evident in Querecuto’s advanced baseball IQ for his age. Despite below-average speed, he should stick at shortstop, where he has soft hands and, at an age where many young shortstops try to do too much, a knack for slowing the game down and playing under control. More steady than flashy, Querecuto is a 6-foot righthanded hitter who tracks pitches well and has a short swing, though he will need time for his strength to develop to be able to do more damage against live pitching. Querecuto trains with Robert Perez and is expected to sign with the Mariners.

Ynmanol Marinez, ss, Dominican Republic Scouts who like Marinez the most say his bat is his best tool. He has a loose, simple stroke from the right side with the loft and strength potential to hit for power as well. While some scouts saw up-and-down performance, he’s generally been one of the better game hitters in the Dominican Republic. Marinez has a compact build (6 feet, 175 pounds) with fringe-average speed and likely goes to third or possibly second base. He trains with Basilio Vizcaino, who is known as “Cachaza,” and is projected to sign with the Marlins.

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Ynmanol Marinez, ss, Dominican Republic Scouts who like Marinez the most say his bat is his best tool. He has a loose, simple stroke from the right side with the loft and strength potential to hit for power as well. While some scouts saw up-and-down performance, he’s generally been one of the better game hitters in the Dominican Republic. Marinez has a compact build (6 feet, 175 pounds) with fringe-average speed and likely goes to third or possibly second base. He trains with Basilio Vizcaino, who is known as “Cachaza,” and is projected to sign with the Marlins.

Keyber Rodriguez, ss, Venezuela Rodriguez is on the smaller side (5-foot-10, 160 pounds), but he’s an instinctual player with a good combination of athleticism and game skills. He’s a switch-hitter with a short, quick stroke that produces line drives and he has performed well in games, though power will probably never be part of his skill set. Rodriguez is an above-average runner, though he might swing over to second base unless his arm strength improves. The Rangers are likely to sign Rodriguez, who trains with Johan Ocanto.

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