MLB Showcase: More International Shortstops To Watch

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic—Major League Baseball’s international showcase last week included infielders from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia and Curacao. After reviewing every Dominican shortstop yesterday, today we have reports, videos and the teams linked to the rest of the infielders at the event. All of the players below are 16, unless noted otherwise.

Gabriel Rodriguez, Venezuela
Vitals: 6-2, 174, R-R
Trainer: Javier Mendoza
60 yards: 7.04 seconds
Games: 1-for-3, 3 BB

Some scouts consider Rodriguez the best infield prospect this year out of Venezuela. He was one of the most impressive players at the MLB international showcase, showing improved power and speed from last summer.

Rodriguez is one of the best hitters in the class. He has a balanced, efficient swing and drove the ball well to right and right-center field in his first round of BP, then in the second round flashed more power to his pull side. Rodriguez has a mature offensive approach and mostly demonstrated sound strike-zone judgment in games.

At shortstop, Rodriguez showed good body control charging a slow chopper to get the out at first base. He could begin his career at shortstop, but with his range and first-step quickness, several scouts think third base would be a better defensive fit. Rodriguez is the Indians’ top 2018 target.

Branlyn Jaraba, Colombia
Vitals: 6-2, 196, R-R
Trainer: Orlando Cabrera
60 yards: 7.07 seconds
Games: 1-for-4, 2 BB, 2 SO

Jaraba, a 15-year-old third baseman, is expected to be the top-paid player this year from Colombia, with the Brewers tied to him. While several hitters had uneven BPs, Jaraba stood out more than most. He made loud contact, using his strength to drive the ball well from center field over to his pull side.

In games, Jaraba showed a mature hitting approach, mostly staying within the strike zone without much swing-and-miss, and he narrowly missed a double on a line drive roped down the left field line that went foul by two feet. Jaraba has to work at his defense to stay at third base, but he was one of the more interesting offensive players at the showcase.

Rainer Polonius, Curacao
Vitals: 6-0, 137, L-R
60 yards: 6.74 seconds
Games: 0-for-4, 2 BB

Polonius and his twin brother, Ryson, are both extremely skinny, quick-twitch athletes. An above-average runner who stole two bases, Rainer has a tendency to rolls over his wrists early in his swing, but he showed good bat control and a patient hitting approach that should help him get on base. During batting practice, Polonius hit hard line drives with surprising carry for his size, but he will need to get stronger to do more damage on contact. Some of his throws looked better suited for a second baseman, but more arm strength could come once he adds weight.

Ryson Polonius, Curacao
Vitals: 6-0, 140, L-R
60 yards: 6.61 seconds
Games: 1-for-5, BB, 3 SO

Ryson has the same skeletal frame and quick-burst athleticism as his brother. A plus runner, Ryson ran a tick faster than his brother in the 60-yard dash and turned around a 94-mph fastball for a single to right field, though he showed more swing-and-miss tendencies and misplayed a couple of routine groundballs at second base. Like his brother, Ryson’s all-around game will benefit from strength gains that should come over the next few years.

Alexeis Azuaje, Venezuela
Vitals: 5-10, 160, R-R
Trainer: Carlos Yanez
60 yards: 6.41 seconds
Games: 1-for-7, 4 SO

Azuaje, a 15-year-old connected to the Phillies, ran the fastest 60-yard dash at the showcase. Azuaje showed plus-plus speed and good athleticism, making a nice diving catch on a ball hit to his right at shortstop. Azuaje hit solid line drives during batting practice but had trouble making contact in games.

Eduardo Garcia, Venezuela
Vitals: 6-2, 156, R-R
Trainer: Jose Montero
60 yards: 7.08 seconds
Games: 0-for-6, 3 SO

Garcia doesn’t have a tool that sticks out right now, but that could change once he gets stronger. Eligible to sign when he turns 16 on July 10, Garcia is one of the youngest players in the class and has a lot of space to fill out a projectable frame with a thin lower half and stick in the middle of the infield. The Brewers are likely to sign Garcia.

Miguel Droz, Venezuela
Vitals: 6-0, 164, R-R
Trainer: Jose Guacaran
60 yards: 6.94 seconds
Games: 1-for-5, 2B, HBP, SO

Droz should stick in the middle of the infield, where he shows good body control and a good internal clock. An average runner, Droz is a line-drive hitter with doubles power right now who will have to improve his pitch recognition and contact skills against live pitching. The Dodgers are tied to Droz.

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