MLB International Showcase: 2018 Outfield Prospect Reports
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic—The 2017 international signing class was rich in outfielders. Everson Pereira, George Valera, Julio Rodriguez, Carlos Rodriguez, Kristian Robinson and Raimfer Salinas all ranked among the top 10 prospects in a strong international class.
The 2018 outfielders aren’t as advanced. There wasn’t one outfielder who jumped out and dominated the event—the hitters in general didn’t look their sharpest—but there were a mix of outfielders from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Panama who showed promise at the showcase.
Misael Urbina, Venezuela
Size: 5-11, 171, R-R
Trainer: Yasser Mendez
60 yards: 6.70 seconds
Games: 1-for-5, HBP, SO
Urbina’s athleticism sticks out in center field. A plus runner, Urbina showed a quick first step, gliding around the outfield with good instincts. On a pop up to shallow left field, Urbina showed good range and a sharp route charging in to call off the shortstop and third baseman to make the catch, a challenging play that at this level often ends with the batter standing on second.
Urbina, 15, isn’t a pure hitter, but he has good bat speed, drove the ball for hard contact to all fields during BP and took a curveball back up the middle for a single in the second game. Urbina, who is connected to the Twins, was also one of the most high-energy, high-intensity players at the showcase.
Alvin Guzman, Dominican Republic
Size: 6-1, 166, R-R
Trainer: Alfredo Arias
60 yards: 6.66 seconds
Games: 1-for-4, BB, 2 SO
Guzman, the top target this year for the D-backs, has a lean, highly projectable frame and center field tools. He ran faster than he did in November at the MLB Dominican national showcase, showing plus speed in the 60-yard dash. And while he didn’t fully unleash his best throws, he has a plus arm that could get stronger after he adds weight. Guzman didn’t have any challenging plays in the outfield in these games, but he has shown good defensive instincts previously.
Guzman looked more polished in the field and running the bases than he did at the plate. At his best, Guzman can hit hard line drives all over the field, but during BP he got underneath too many balls, then in games his hips and front shoulder tended to fly open early, which disrupted his balance. Guzman’s athleticism should help him make adjustments, and much-needed strength gains could help some with the repeatability of his mechanics.
Jose Lopez, Dominican Republic
Size: 5-10, 167, L-R
Trainer: Fausto Garcia
60 yards: 6.64 seconds
Games: 0-for-3, 3 BB, 2 SO
Lopez, linked to the Cubs and likely to sign for a bonus north of $1 million, looked better in several phases of the game compared to what he showed in November at the MLB Dominican national showcase. At the MLB international showcase, Lopez showed more speed, a stronger arm and better power.
Lopez is an athletic 16-year-old center fielder with plus speed and an above-average arm, strong tools to project at a premium position. What immediately jumps out about Lopez is his unorthodox swing. He loads up with a big hitch, starting his hands at his shoulder, dropping them just below his chest, then shooting back up to just over the top of his head. It’s a lot of extra movement to get started, something professional coaches will likely try to simplify. Lopez did have some problems with pitches on the inner third, and while his swing leaves him with some holes, he has quick bat speed and can drive the ball with authority when he’s in rhythm and on time, with an idea for working the count as well.
Eduardo Lopez, Dominican Republic
Size: 5-11, 170, B-R
Trainer: Aldo Marrero
60 yards: 7.08 seconds
Games: 0-for-4, BB, 2 SO
Lopez sticks out his instincts and overall baseball acumen more than his raw tools. He has a mature hitting approach for his age and a sharp eye for the strike zone, working himself into good counts and laying off borderline pitches. Lopez has a fluid swing from both sides of the plate and good hand-eye coordination, swinging though only one pitch the entire event, without much power right now.
In the outfield, Lopez has quick reactions off the bat and takes good routes. That helps him compensate for below-average speed and a 40-45 arm, but to project in center field he will likely have to get faster. Lopez is still 15 and lacks much strength, so there’s a chance his tools could tick up with physical maturity. The Red Sox are tied to Lopez, whose bonus is expected to end up in the $1.5 million area.
Eduarqui Fernandez, Dominican Republic
Size: 6-2, 176, R-R
Trainer: Jaime Ramos
60 yards: 6.75 seconds
Games: 1-for-5, BB, 2 SO
Fernandez has a lean, projectable build and demonstrated a well-rounded skill set at the MLB international showcase. He showed the speed for center field along with a strong arm, and while he did drop one fly ball, he ran good routes with quick breaks off the bat. While several hitters took uneven BPs, Fernandez stood out for his ability to make consistent hard contact during his rounds. The Brewers are the frontrunners for Fernandez, who is expected to sign for just north of $1 million.
PODCAST: USA Baseball National Team GM Eric Campbell
Discussing the construction of the US Olympic qualifying roster with GM Eric Campbell.
Jose de la Cruz, Dominican Republic
Size: 6-0, 195, R-R
Trainer: El Niche
60 yards: 6.72 seconds
Games: 1-for-6, 4 SO
De la Cruz’s strength and athleticism stick out. He’s a plus runner in center field with a 60 arm, although he didn’t show it on his throws at this workout. De la Cruz, 16, didn’t have many competitive play opportunities in the outfield in these games, but he has shown good jumps off the bat in the past.
When De la Cruz squares up a pitch, he makes hard, loud contact, driving the ball well to the middle of the field. He has a fast bat but he will have to make adjustments with his swing and approach to make more frequent contact, as he took several empty swings through fastballs both in and out of the strike zone. De la Cruz’s bonus is expected to push close to $2 million, with the Tigers connected to him.
Freddy Valdez, Dominican Republic
Size: 6-3, 212, R-R
Trainer: Luis Mejia
60 yards: 7.12 seconds
Games: 2-for-6, 3 SO
Valdez was the biggest player at the showcase, a physically mature 16-year-old whose game is built around his size and strength. Valdez’s best offensive tool is his raw power, with a power-over-hit profile. Valdez doesn’t have natural hitting rhythm, so it may take time for him to improve his balance and timing to sync everything up in games to tap into his power.
A corner outfielder right now, Valdez is so big already that there’s risk he could end up at first base. He’s a below-average runner but he moved well for his size and read the ball well off the bat, showing better mobility than he did in November at MLB’s Dominican national showcase. Valdez has a strong arm too, though he didn’t show it on his throws at this showcase. The Mets are linked to Valdez, whose price is expected to be in the $1.5 million area.
Eduardo Vaughan, Panama
Size: 6-3, 165, R-R
Trainer: Sebastian Arroyo
60 yards: 7.26 seconds
Games: 0-for-6, BB, 3 SO
Vaughan, 16, didn’t perform well at the MLB international showcase, but he has a good track record playing in Panama. Vaughan was the team captain and top hitter for Panama at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship in Colombia in August. Vaughan went 14-for-34 (.412) with three doubles, five walks and seven strikeouts at that event. A below-average runner, Vaughan didn’t have one tool that jumped out at the MLB showcase, but he has a lot of space to fill out and add strength to his long, lanky frame. The Red Sox are connected to Vaughan, who is expected to go in the $500,000 area.