Puerto Rico's Top MLB Draft Prospects
1. Kevin Vargas, SS, International Baseball Academy, Salinas, P.R. (BA Rank: 231)
HS • 6-2 • 173 • R-R •
Perhaps the most well-known Puerto Rican player in the 2018 draft class because of his participation in high profile showcases like the Under Armour All-America Game and Perfect Game All-American Classic in 2017, Vargas is a 6-foot-2, 173-pound shortstop who has shown exciting defensive potential but has a light bat. Scouts who saw him this spring at Puerto Rico’s Excellence Tournament—one of the biggest events of the spring for P.R. draft-eligible players—thought he had backed up across the board, however. After showing solid defensive actions and above-average raw arm strength throughout the summer, Vargas didn’t stand out defensively at the event, and also struggled with the bat. If his defensive ability has gone backwards, it’s a much tougher profile for Vargas since teams were already projecting heavily on his bat improving. Vargas is committed to Florida International.
2. Erick Rivera, OF, Escuela Manuela Toro Morice, Caguas, P.R. (BA Rank: 290)
HS • 6-0 • 180 • L-L •
Rivera was one of the few Puerto Rican players who stood out to scouts at this spring’s Excellence Tournament, showcasing an impressive bat which projects for above-average power down the line. A lefthanded hitting outfielder who has shown a good ability to hit, with a whippy, uppercut bat path. Rivera profiles as a corner outfielder with some present strength, but room in his 6-foot, 180-pound frame to add more. In the outfield, he’s an average runner who has a fringe-average arm with a big crow hop and a high effort release on throws. He’s also shown some instincts on the base paths.
3. Xavier Valentin, C, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. (BA Rank: 418)
HS • 5-10 • 183 • L-R •
The son of former major leaguer Javier Valentin—who had a 10-year major league career with the Reds, Twins and Devil Rays—Xavier stood out to scouts at this spring’s Excellence Tournament in Puerto Rico. He was one of the best receivers at the event, showing soft hands and an average arm, and there are teams that like the fact that he has major league bloodlines. There are questions about whether or not Valentin truly wants to catch, as he regularly plays other positions in the infield and gets lazy at times behind the plate. At Perfect Game’s National Showcase last summer, Valentin dropped easily catchable balls and did a poor job blocking balls in the dirt. He could be a better fit at second base if he doesn’t wind up behind the plate.
4. Yomil Maysonet, RHP, PJ Educational HS, Carolina, P.R. (BA Rank: 434)
HS • 6-2 • 187 • R-R •
A Miami-Dade JC commit, Maysonet is a loose, athletic righthander who has reached the low 90s with a heavy fastball that has natural sinking movement. He’s also shown solid strike-throwing ability and some feel for an upper-70s, low-80s breaking ball.
5. Yeankarlos Lleras, RHP, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-0 • 165 • R-R •
A short righthander with a whippy-quick arm, Lleras was up into the 93-94 mph range at Puerto Rico’s Excellence tournament this spring, and showed that sort of arm strength last summer at Perfect Game’s National Showcase as well. It’s a tough sell in the top 10 rounds for pro teams though, thanks to his height and a below-average slider that has sweeping shape in the upper 70s. Lleras hasn’t held his velocity deep into games, which is another area of concern. He could improve his stock with a few years at Florida International, where he is committed.
6. Brayan Hernandez, OF, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-4 • 185 • R-R •
Hernandez has a slight frame despite standing 6-foot-4 and has some talent defensively, with impressive arm strength. However, without present physicality or much conviction in his bat, he’s more of a late-round option for teams.
7. Jose Mercado, SS, Beltran Baseball Academy, Florida, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-0 • 170 • R-R •
8. Kenen Irizarry, SS, Aurea Quiles Claudio HS, Guanica, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 6-0 • 165 • L-R •
9. Manny Gonzalez, OF, Escuela Basilio Milan Hernandez, Toa Baja, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
10. Victor Torres, C, - (BA Rank: N/A)
11. Edward Ortiz, SS, American School, Bayamon, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
12. Dyan Rodriguez, SS, Eloisa Pascual HS, Caguas, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
13. Kenneth Folch, LHP, Colegio Eugenio Maria de Hostos, La Vega, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
14. Luis Roberto Guzman, 3B, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
60-Man Player Pools Give Insights Into How First-Rounders Have Panned Out
We looked at which first-round picks from the 2015, 2016 and 2017 drafts have been added to 60-man player pools and which players were left out to see which first-rounders worked out.
15. Ezequiel Pagan, OF, Pro Baseball High School Academy, Cayey, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
16. Francisco Ruiz, C, Beltran Baseball Academy, Florida, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
17. Edward Guzman, C, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
18. Oscar Santos, SS/2B, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)
19. Kevin Perez, OF, Unidad Epifanio Estrada, Aguada, P.R. (BA Rank: N/A)