Scouting Top International Prospects For 2018, 2019 From The DPL
JOLIET, Ill.—Scouts were able to see some of the top 2018 and 2019 international prospects from the Dominican Prospect League from July 30 through Aug. 3 at the DPL Elite Underclass International series, with several international scouting directors and other high-ranking clubs officials in attendance.
For Baseball America subscribers, these are reports on some of the most notable players at the event. 2018 Prospects
Prospects from the 2018 class will be eligible to sign next year on July 2, 2018 when the 2018-19 signing period opens.
Noelvi Marte, ss, 6-2, 185, R-R
The two standout prospects at the DPL trip were Marte and Marco Luciano. Marte, 15, showed a promising combination of size, athleticism, tools and skills that translated into the games, where he went 3-for-6 with a double, a strikeout (a liberal strike zone didn’t do him any favors) and three stolen bases. Marte loads his swing with a big leg kick that he keeps in sync and on time, combining good rhythm with quick-twitch, whippy bat speed and big power. Marte showed plus speed in the 60-yard dash and a good arm from shortstop. While he didn’t get enough balls hit in the games to him to judge his defense, during infield he showed he has room for improvement with his hands, although his athleticism stuck out as a plus. Marte trains with Banana and is expected to be one of the premium prospects in the 2018 class, with the Mariners showing heavy interest in him.
Marco Luciano, ss/of, 6-2, 185, R-R
Luciano, 15, put on a show on the first day at the end of the workout, showing more raw power than any other player in attendance. He drove seven balls out of the park in two rounds of BP, showing a fast, powerful stroke, using his lower half well and generating torque to drive the ball well to all fields. In the games he went 3-for-7 with two doubles, a walk, three strikeouts and two stolen bases. He showed the ability to smoke a fastball, but he swung and missed through a pair of curveballs during one of his strikeouts, struggling to track the breaking ball and getting caught out front and off balance. A solid-average runner, Luciano is listed as a shortstop and an outfielder, which typically means a player is shaky at shortstop. Luciano didn’t get enough balls hit his way in games to judge his defense there, but during infield work he fielded his position cleanly, and aside from a couple of errant throws, looked comfortable at the position in a brief look. Along with Marte, Luciano is a high upside talent who should be one of the premium prospects in the 2018 class. The Giants are showing strong interest in Luciano, who trains with Ray.
Frankely Hurtado, ss, 5-10, 170, R-R
In two games, Hurtado made four impressive defensive plays, split across shortstop, second and third base (most infielders here train as shortstops, so they rotate around the infield during the games). At 15, Hurtado is an above-average runner who showed quick reactions off the bat, great body control, smooth hands, a quick exchange and a good internal clock, looking better in the field during games than he did during infield work. At the plate, Hurtado went 1-for-7 with a strikeout, though one out was on a bunt and another came on a tremendous diving catch in foul territory to right field. Hurtado doesn’t project to hit for big power, but he showed a short, simple swing with a line-drive approach and a high all-around baseball IQ and hard-nosed style of play. Hurtado trains with Quico Pena.
Estanli Castillo, of, 6-3, 185, R-R
Pedro Nivar (known as “Nube”) has had several players with a similar profile to Castillo, a physical corner outfielder with big raw power and swing-and-miss risk. Castillo, 15, has a swing geared to showcase his power in batting practice. His hands stay short to the ball—especially for someone his size—but his swing path gets steep uphill, which during BP leads to a combination of towering shots and high infield pop ups. In games, his hips fly open earlier and his weight shifts out to his front side too quickly, and with his bat path, that leads to him missing underneath the ball. Castillo had five swings and misses in games, but he did go 3-for-6 with a double, a pair of opposite-field singles and two strikeouts. A below-average runner, Castillo’s profile is risky, but his size and power potential figure to draw interest from clubs that place a higher value on that skill set.
Jeffrey Diaz, of, 6-1, 185, R-R
No player performed better than Diaz, who homered in consecutive at-bats on the first day and finished 3-for-6 with two home runs, a double, a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base. Diaz is strong and made hard, loud contact when he connected, and while the power did play well in games, he does it with unorthodox actions. His hands stay short to the ball but with some shoulder stiffness to his swing and some concern on the bat path. Diaz showed solid-average speed in the 60-yard dash but with an unusual gait that carried over into the outfield, where he did show a strong arm but might ultimately fit best in a corner. That made Diaz a tough player to peg, but the hard contact and game performance made him stick out as a prospect to follow. Diaz trains with Altahuapa.
The 2019 prospects can't sign until July 2, 2019 and won't play in an official professional game until 2020, which means there are nearly three full years between today and when these players will make their pro debuts. However, with the international market moving quickly, teams are already bearing down on the 2019 class.
Jhon Diaz, of, 5-9, 160, L-L
Despite being a 14-year-old prospect not eligible to sign until 2019, Diaz was the smartest baseball player on the field. Diaz has a smaller frame (though at 14, he could still grow taller) with a short, simple swing and good rhythm and balance in the box. He’s not a power hitter, but he made consistent hard, line-drive contact, going 3-for-7 with a double, a walk, two strikeouts and three stolen bases. He’s already close to a plus runner underway and a good baserunner. He showed his advanced instincts and sharp game awareness when he took off to steal third base, then upon quickly recognizing the pitch had bounced to the backstop, kept going to score on the play. In the outfield, Diaz read the ball well off the bat and took sharp routes to the ball. He played with an overall aggressive, hard-nosed intensity as well that should endear him to future managers.
Bayron Lora, of, 6-4, 190, R-R
Lora, 14, fits the mold of players who pop up early in the scouting process due to his physical maturity and power. He’s a tall, strong corner outfielder who put on a loud show during batting practice, where he showed excellent bat speed and some of the best power at the event. That power carried over into the game as well, as he went 2-for-6 and pulled a home run to left field. He did strike out three times with a habit of pulling off the ball, causing his barrel to drag, but even when he does that he has the strength to hit the ball through the infield when he’s off balance. With his power and feel for driving the ball in the air in games already, Lora is on track to be one top players available in two years. Lora is a below-average runner but moved around well for someone his size in the outfield and showed good defensive instincts in limited opportunities. He trains with Hector Evertz.
Robert Puason, ss, 6-3, 185, B-R
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Puason is 14 but stands out for his mature tool set and build. He has a lean, athletic frame and showed multiple plus tools already between his speed and arm strength. A high-energy player, Puason ran the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds and showed that speed in the game as well, going home to first in 4.12 seconds from the left side on an infield single to the first baseman. Puason only played in one game (he went 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a stolen base), but he stood out more for his frame, athleticism and present tools than hitting polish between his BP and game at-bats. Puason trains with JD Ozuna.