MLB Showcase: 2018 International Catching Prospects
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic—We’ve gone over the top infielders and top pitchers who were at Major League Baseball’s international showcase last month. Here are reports and videos of all of the 2018 catchers who participated in the event.
• Top Dominican Shortstops
• Top Infielders
• Top Pitchers
Diego Cartaya, Venezuela
Size: 6-1, 199, R-R
Trainer: Alexi Quiroz
60 yards: 7.11 seconds
Games: 0-for-1, 2 BB, 2 HBP
Cartaya, 16, is one of the premium prospects in the 2018 class, but he also ran into the worst luck. After getting hit by two pitches, Cartaya was behind the plate with a righthanded hitter at bat. When the runner on first broke for second, Cartaya reached out to catch the pitch on the inside corner and throw to second, but instead the swing clocked him squarely on the left elbow. Cartaya exited the game, then afterward had his arm wrapped in a sling. He’s out of the sling now and recovering back in Venezuela.
Agile and flexible behind the plate, Cartaya has a strong arm that he showed in the pre-game workout, when he registered pop times from 1.79-1.83 seconds. In BP, Cartaya showed a short swing and gap power with a middle-opposite field approach, then in games demonstrated a keen eye for the strike zone. Cartaya is linked to the Dodgers.
Francisco Alvarez, Venezuela
Size: 5-11, 220, R-R
Trainer: Javier Mendoza
60 yards: 7.05 seconds
Games: 0-for-6, BB, 2 SO
The Mets are connected to Alvarez, a 16-year-old who is one of the strongest players in the class. He has a stout, blocky frame, although he moves surprising well underway for his size. Alvarez’s swing starts with a small toe tap and he generates big raw power with an aggressive hack. He started BP hitting the ball to the middle of the field and the opposite way, then in his second round launched a ball over the left field fence for the deepest hit of anyone in BP.
Alvarez displayed a strong arm in the pre-game workout on his throws to second base, with pop times from 1.83-1.90 seconds. He will have to improve his receiving, which he had trouble with in games, and he will have to stay on top of his conditioning to remain a catcher.
Antonio Gomez, Venezuela
Size: 6-2, 205, R-R
Trainer: Felix Luzon
60 yards: 7.51 seconds
Games: 3-for-6, 2 SO
Gomez’s arm was one of the highlights of the showcase. He demonstrated remarkable quickness and arm strength on his throws to second base, both in the workout and in games. On his three throws to second base in the workout, Gomez recorded pop times of 1.70, 1.70 and 1.72 seconds.
In games, he threw out four runners—two at second base, two at third—with pop times to second base of 1.83 seconds and then 1.91 seconds on a throw from his knees. Those weren’t even Gomez’s best times. He had throws to second of 1.78 and 1.74 seconds, but those throws missed his target and both runners were safe. Gomez did have some trouble in games with his receiving, but he has an elite combination of quick feet, a fast exchange and a plus-plus arm.
Gomez, 16, doesn’t jump out immediately during BP, but he performed well in games. He uses the whole field with gap power and turned a 96-mph fastball from Sandy Gaston back up the middle for a single to center field. The Yankees are the frontrunners for Gomez.
Hiroto Takahashi Impresses In Relief For Japan In WBC Final
One night after Roki Sasaki and Yoshinobu Yamamoto impressed in Japan’s semifinal victory over Mexico, another young Japanese pitcher wowed on the world stage.
Fernando Villalobos, Mexico
Size: 6-0, 193, L-R
Trainer: Mexico City Red Devils
60 yards: 6.96 seconds
Games: 1-for-5, BB, SO
The only Mexican prospect at the showcase, Villalobos showed good hitters’ actions from the left side. Villalobos, 15, has a short, sweet swing that stays on plane through the hitting zone for a long time and made hard contact in BP. Villalobos runs well for a catcher, with near average speed underway. A former pitcher and third baseman, Villalobos did have difficulty with receiving at times—especially when hard-throwing but erratic righthander Starlyn Castillo was on the mound—but he did make some nice stops on balls in the dirt. The Brewers are connected to Villalobos.
Agustin Ramirez, Dominican Republic
Size: 6-0, 200, R-R
Trainer: Pablo Sosa
60 yards: 7.52 seconds
Games: 2-for-6, 2B, 2 SO
Ramirez, 16, packs a lot of strength into his compact swing, driving the ball to the fence in BP. He had one of the hardest hit balls of the showcase, driving a fastball on the outer third of the plate to the right-center field gap for a double. Ramirez squared up fastballs consistently, though he did have some trouble on breaking pitches. Ramirez’s bat stood out more than his defense, where Ramirez has work to do to improve his receiving and throws to second. The Yankees are the favorites to sign him.
Jose Rodriguez, Venezuela
Size: 6-0, 185, L-R
Trainer: Jorge Agudelo
60 yards: Not Available
Games: 0-for-4, SO
Rodriguez, 16, was on the initial roster but did not participate in the first day of the showcase, when the players ran the 60-yard dash, threw to second base, took batting practice and played a game. He was there the next day, but the players didn’t do any pre-game work and Rodriguez didn’t play any defensive innings. So while Rodriguez didn’t do anything to stand out in his four at-bats, there’s no way to judge him fairly based on this showcase. Scouts who have followed Rodriguez for longer are highest on him consider him a bat-first catcher, with the Rangers his likely destination.