Top 20 Dominican Summer League Prospects
The Dominican Summer League is a level filled with sleeper prospects and potential breakout candidates. While prospects in the DSL are seemingly far away from the big leagues, several players on this list have already come up in trade discussions, with some of them having already been traded. Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Martinez, Orlando Arcia, Manuel Margot, Jorge Alfaro, Antonio Senzatela, Ronald Torreyes, Jeimer Candelario, Francis Martes, Victor Robles, Estevan Florial, Jesus Sanchez, Franklin Perez, Andres Gimenez and Jorge Mateo, among others, all ranked as Top 20 DSL prospects after playing in the league as teenagers.
To qualify for the list of the top 20 prospects who played in the DSL in 2017, a hitter must have had at least 60 plate appearances and a pitcher must have thrown at least 20 innings. Players who jumped to the U.S. last year and ranked on a league top 20 list there—such as Astros righthander Jairo Solis—were not included. Neither was White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, who was in the league for tax purposes rather than player development reasons. Robert and Solis were two of the best prospects in the league, but there isn’t too much new to add about them, and I would rather add more value writing up players who are more under the radar.
Players are listed below in alphabetical order. Ages listed are as of today.
Alexander Campos, SS, Athletics
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
Seattle’s top international signing in 2016, Campos got a $575,000 bonus after training with Ciro Barrios. After Campos made his pro debut last year in the DSL, the Mariners traded him and righthander Emilio Pagan to the A’s for first baseman Ryon Healy in November. Campos is a quick-twitch athlete who has a chance to be a plus defender. A hard-nosed player, Campos is an instinctive fielder with soft hands, bouncy footwork and plus speed, getting good jumps off the bat with a quick first step and an above-average arm. Campos’ strengths are his defense and athleticism, and while he’s not a pure hitter, he performed well at the plate. Campos has good bat speed, solid bat-to-ball skills for a shortstop and a patient hitting approach. He can occasionally sneak a ball out to his pull side, but his power is limited and his swing is geared more for low line drives than loft.
|Minor League Totals||.290||59||207||37||60||10||0||2||26||41||39||7||10||0||.413||.367||.780|
Alexander Canario, OF, Giants
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Limited to signings of no more than $300,000 in 2016, the Giants came away with one of the bargains in the class when they signed Canario for $60,000. Canario has a broad set of tools and skills. His quick hands help him produce above-average bat speed and generate easy power from his lean, athletic frame, with the physical projection to have plus power. Canario’s swing can get big at times, but he controls the strike zone well for his age and uses the middle of the field. Canario mostly played right field, where he has the tools to be a high-end defender. He’s a plus runner underway with easy, fluid actions. He also has a plus arm with good accuracy for his age.
|Minor League Totals||.294||66||235||42||69||17||4||5||45||33||40||18||10||7||.391||.464||.854|
Jean Carmona, SS, Brewers
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Carmona was one of the Brewers’ top signings in 2016, when he got a $725,000 bonus after training with Angel Gonzalez. He came as advertised in the Dominican Summer League, an offensive-minded shortstop with a mature hitting approach. Carmona has a strong, stocky frame and a knack for making hard contact in games, with his lefthanded swing more polished than his righthanded stroke. While he didn’t hit any home runs last year, he drives the ball with authority to rack up doubles and triples, with the strength projection to grow into average or better power. Carmona has a good eye for the strike zone, although when the Brewers promoted him to the Rookie-level Arizona League, he started pressing and got away from his normal approach. Carmona has a big lower half and many scouts think he’s better suited at second base or possibly third base, but he has a good arm and so far has worked to maintain his flexibility.
|Minor League Totals||.266||60||207||42||55||10||8||1||24||28||51||10||8||1||.367||.406||.773|
Deury Carrasco, SS, Astros
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
When the Astros went over their international bonus pool in 2016-17, Carrasco was one of their top signings, landing a $480,000 bonus on July 2, 2016 coming out of Luis Mejia’s program. Carrasco packs quick-burst athleticism into a smaller frame. He’s a plus runner who projects to stick at shortstop, with a quick first step and a plus arm. Offensively, Carrasco showed his patience and speed, tying for sixth in the league in walks and ranking third in stolen bases. Carrasco doesn’t have the pure hitting ability of some of the other prospects on this list, but he works deep counts and uses the whole field with a line-drive stroke. Carrasco didn’t show much extra-base thump last year. With his bat speed he should be able to turn some of his doubles into pull-side homers, but his offensive game will be slanted more toward getting on base rather than power.
|Minor League Totals||.266||64||207||44||55||9||1||0||17||50||48||32||14||0||.407||.319||.726|
Eddy Diaz, SS, Rockies
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Signed: Cuba, 2017.
In Cuba, Diaz was one of the best hitters in the country’s 15U national league in 2015, hitting .353/.417/.504 in 153 plate appearances that year. Diaz left the country and on July 2 last year became Colorado’s first Cuban signing in franchise history, landing a $750,000 deal. Since Diaz was already 17, he was eligible to play immediately and got off to an auspicious debut. Diaz tracks pitches well and controls the strike zone. He makes frequent contact, spreading the ball around to all fields with a swing geared for low line drives and doubles power. Diaz is a quick-twitch athlete with plus-plus speed and the base stealing instincts to be a high stolen base threat. Diaz is more polished at the plate than he is in the field, but he has the tools to stick at shortstop with second base another possibility.
|Minor League Totals||.311||36||132||22||41||7||4||0||10||19||21||30||6||1||.403||.424||.827|
Ezequiel Duran, 2B, Yankees
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2017.
Based on his date of birth, Duran would have been eligible to sign in 2016, but he wasn’t registered with MLB, so he had to wait until July 2, 2017 and then signed with the Yankees for $10,000. Duran’s playing time in the DSL was limited, but he still managed to make a loud impression with his performance and offensive tools. He has easy, natural hitting actions. He has strong, quick hands to generate fast bat speed, with a compact swing and clean bat path. With a knack for the barrel, Duran has been a hard contact machine, driving the ball with impact when he connects with above-average raw power. He projects as an offensive-oriented second baseman with a chance to be an average defender. He’s an above-average runner underway, though he will have to improve his lateral agility and first-step reactions, with the athleticism that should help him make that adjustment. His arm is average.
|Minor League Totals||.393||15||61||12||24||5||4||3||11||3||15||4||1||0||.415||.754||1.169|
Marcos Gonzalez, SS, Indians
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
When Gonzalez trained with Hector Evertz, he didn’t have any standout tools that immediately grabbed the attention of scouts. As July 2 approached in 2016, however, his tools started to trend up and his performance record built up as he became one of the better hitters in the Dominican Prospect League, with the Indians signing him that year for $250,000. Gonzalez delivered as expected in his pro debut, showing game awareness well beyond his years with strong contact skills, albeit without much power. Gonzalez takes an aggressive swing, but his aggression is usually contained within the strike zone, as he does a good job of not chasing and waiting for a good pitch to hit. He spreads the ball to all fields with a quick, compact stroke, a flat bat path and a line-drive approach. A slightly above-average runner with the instincts to steal bases, Gonzalez’s offensive skill set will likely always be slanted toward his on-base skills over his power, with mostly gap power now and a chance to grow into 8-12 home runs. He should be able to stick at shortstop, where he’s a fundamentally sound player with good hands and a 55 arm that has a chance to tick up.
|Minor League Totals||.274||56||215||31||59||7||0||1||24||31||28||13||4||7||.371||.321||.691|
Ivan Herrera, C, Cardinals
Age: 17. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Signed: Panama, 2016.
As an amateur, Herrera hit well while representing Panama in different international tournaments before signing with the Cardinals for $200,000 in 2016. Herrera kept hitting in his first pro season, ranking sixth in the DSL in batting average. An offensive-oriented catcher, Herrera has a simple, balanced swing without much movement, taking a compact cut that’s quick to the ball. That short swing helps him square up good fastballs, and while it’s a pull-heavy approach and there are times he could be more selective, he makes consistent hard contact. It’s mostly doubles power right now, but there’s strength in his swing and the physical upside for more of those doubles to turn into home runs over the next few years. Behind the plate, Herrera has a 45 arm and needs to improve his receiving, but he has enough to stick at catcher with his defensive smarts and instincts.
|Minor League Totals||.335||49||170||21||57||15||0||1||27||18||36||2||2||3||.425||.441||.866|
Fernando Kelli, OF, Cubs
Age: 19. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Kelli signed with the Cubs for $60,000 in January 2016, but he struggled during the 2016 season in his first run through the DSL. In 2017, Kelli fared much better, winning the DSL MVP award. Kelli is a premium athlete with ample quick-twitch and explosion. He’s a 70 runner with a quick burst in his first step, with his 58 stolen bases by far the most in the league (the next closest player stole 35 bases). Kelli’s speed translates into good range in center field and he used his slightly above-average arm effectively to lead the league with 13 outfield assists. Kelli has quick, strong hands and a sound swing, which helps him handle premium velocity effectively. While Kelli got himself into trouble in 2016 with a free-swinging approach, he became a more selective hitter in 2017, an adjustment that helped fuel his breakthrough. Kelli has a lively, athletic frame, but he isn’t that physical and doesn’t project to be a major power threat. He could hit 8-12 home runs with a bunch of doubles and triples.
|Minor League Totals||.289||111||394||79||114||12||5||3||47||52||93||81||26||2||.399||.368||.767|
Christopher Morel, SS, Cubs
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
The rest of the players on this list check off boxes on both performance and tools. Morel’s resume lacks high-end performance, but he has promising projection at a premium position. When the Cubs went over their international bonus pool in 2015, Morel was one of their top acquisitions, signing for $800,000. Instead of playing in 2016, Morel missed the entire season after an off-field accident where he sliced one of the tendons close to his wrist in a broken glass door, an injury that required him to fly quickly to Chicago for surgery. Morel returned to the field last year and stood out defensively. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm, with all the actions and instincts to stick at the position. While Morel hit just .220 last year with a pull-heavy approach, he showed a good sense of the strike zone and power, with the lift in his swing to get to that power in games. Since the season ended, Morel has shown signs of trending in the right direction at the plate, performing well against older pitches. He speed makes him a basestealing threat, although he’s still learning how to pick his spots more effectively.
|Minor League Totals||.220||61||223||44||49||6||2||7||40||35||37||23||10||3||.332||.359||.691|
Freudis Nova, SS, Astros
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
The Marlins were initially expected to sign Nova, who trained with Rudy Santin, but after a positive test for anabolic steroids, Miami backed off and the Astros signed him instead for $1.2 million. Nova shows the same explosive athleticism and dynamic tool set he had as an amateur. With a lean, lively build, Nova has plus bat speed, a compact swing and makes frequent contact. He could grow into plus power as well, as he already drives the ball with impact both in batting practice and in games. Nova has a habit of getting underneath the ball, but when he stays on plane he delivers loud, quality contact. A plus runner with a plus arm, Nova has the tools, athleticism and first-step quickness to make the acrobatic plays at shortstop. The next phase of his defensive development will be learning to slow the game down and make better decisions in order to cut down on miscues typical of many young shortstops.
|Minor League Totals||.247||47||166||30||41||6||0||4||16||15||33||8||3||2||.342||.355||.698|
Alberoni Nunez, OF, Twins
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
The Twins picked up Nunez out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2016 for a $30,000 bonus, a deal that has quickly looked like a bargain. Nunez has a good balance of tools and game skills with a chance to play a premium position. He was one of the best hitters in the DSL, where he showed an advanced offensive approach and feel for hitting. Nunez stays through the ball well to use the middle of the field, showing good bat-to-ball skills and a patient plan. Nunez’s approach is geared toward hitting line drives with occasional over-the-fence power. Given his lean, projectable frame and quick bat speed, he should hit for power once his body fills out. Nunez split time between mostly center and right field last year. While he’s not a burner, he has average speed that might be enough for him to stick in center, along with an above-average arm.
|Minor League Totals||.352||48||165||35||58||9||7||3||38||20||35||11||8||1||.420||.545||.965|
MLB Pushes International Signing Period Start Back To Jan. 15
MLB has announced that the international signing period will be moved back six months to Jan. 15, 2021. It was scheduled to begin on July 2, 2020.
Daniel Paulino, OF, Marlins
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Paulino flew under the radar as an amateur player in the Dominican Republic, with the Marlins signing him for $35,000 in October 2016. He showed promise both as a hitter and a defender in center field during his pro debut last year. Paulino has quick hands at the plate and a stroke geared for line drives, with a comfort hitting the ball to the opposite field. He has a sound hitting approach for his age, mostly staying within the strike zone and making contact at a high rate. Paulino has a lean, projectable frame with the physical projection and bat speed to project future average power, though for now his power is mostly to the alleys. While Paulino performed well at the plate, his tools stand out most in center field. He’s a plus runner with good range, a plus arm and the athleticism to develop into an above-average defender.
|Minor League Totals||.319||64||226||39||72||8||6||0||37||34||43||16||9||2||.420||.407||.827|
Yolki Pena, OF, Rockies
Age: 18. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Pena, who trained with Aguila, signed with the Rockies for $600,000 in 2016. The Rockies were drawn to Pena because of his hitting ability, which was on display with a strong pro debut. Pena has a sweet, easy swing from the left side. It’s a loose, fluid stroke with the bat speed to square up good velocity and great hand-eye coordination, giving him a knack for barreling balls. Pena has good hitting actions and a polished offensive approach, drawing more walks than strikeouts last year. He’s a similar hitter to Raimel Tapia, though Pena has a more classic swing. Pena is mostly a line-drive hitter right now but with the frame to grow into bigger power once he fills out. With below-average speed and an average, accurate arm, Pena is a corner outfielder with good defensive instincts and actions for his age.
|Minor League Totals||.302||62||212||36||64||8||2||2||32||40||34||3||4||2||.411||.387||.798|
Geraldo Perdomo, SS, D-backs
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Perdomo signed with Arizona on July 2, 2016 for a $70,000 bonus. He’s a true shortstop, with all the athleticism and actions to stick at the position with an advanced glove for his age. He’s a tick above-average runner with smooth actions, soft hands, a good internal clock and a strong arm, making the routine plays as well as the flashier highlights. The biggest risk factor with Perdomo is his lack of strength, as he had just six extra-base hits last season. Despite his lack of damage on contact, Perdomo still led the DSL with 60 walks, showing a discerning eye and patient approach. He doesn’t swing and miss much, spraying singles around the field from both sides of the plate.
|Minor League Totals||.238||63||214||42||51||3||2||1||11||60||37||16||8||1||.410||.285||.695|
Wenceel Perez, SS, Tigers
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Perez, who trained with Niche, was Detroit’s top international signing in 2016, landing a $550,000 bonus. Perez combines high-end athleticism with a knack for squaring up all types of pitches in games. His quick twitch shows in his swing, with snappy wrists that produce fast bat speed. He can turn around premium velocity, with an all-fields hitting approach and the hand-eye coordination to make contact at a high rate. Perez doesn’t have much power, though with his barrel awareness the ball jumps off his bat well because he frequently finds the sweet spot. He’s a plus runner and a stolen base threat, projecting as a tablesetter who could hit near the top of a lineup. Perez has a strong arm with the hands, actions and athleticism to stick at shortstop. Like a lot of bouncy young shortstops, he’s still learning to corral his high energy on defense and improve things like his angles and decision making, but that should come in time.
|Minor League Totals||.314||61||226||31||71||8||1||0||22||27||21||16||6||10||.387||.358||.745|
Kleyder Sanchez, C, White Sox
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 170. Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
When the White Sox saw Sanchez working out with Alex Gonzalez as an outfielder, they liked his arm strength and asked to see him behind the plate. They liked his bat and saw enough potential behind the plate to sign him as a catcher for $50,000 on July 2, 2016. Sanchez was one of the top hitters in the DSL. He has a clean hitting approach and a short, simple swing with minimal movement. He controls the bat head well and adjusts to hit the ball wherever it’s pitched, making frequent contact and spraying the ball to all fields. Sanchez is an aggressive hitter who can put the bat to the ball on borderline pitches, but a more selective approach would help him as he faces better pitching. He doesn’t have much power and might always be a single-digit home run hitter. Despite being relatively new to catching, Sanchez ranked third in the league in caught stealing percentage at 47 percent. However, his blocking and receiving are understandably in need of a lot of work, as Sanchez caught 39 games and led the league with 24 passed balls.
|Minor League Totals||.342||43||155||20||53||6||0||0||14||5||24||1||0||6||.383||.381||.764|
Luis Santana, 2B, Mets
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-8. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Santana was a two-sport athlete: baseball and boxing. Signed for $200,000 on July 2, 2016 after training with Batata, Santana is a tenacious, fiery competitor with a small but strong, bulky build. Santana was one of the most difficult hitters to strike out in the DSL. Santana has a compact swing with great hand-eye coordination to barrel balls consistently. He’s an excellent fastball hitter who takes an aggressive swing but also shows good selectivity at the plate. While Santana isn’t tall, his strength enables him to put a strong charge into the ball, although he will probably always have a hit-over-power profile. Santana is an offensive-minded second baseman who could be an average fielder, with solid-average speed and an average arm. He’s not flashy in the field, but he committed just six errors in 65 games, which is an unusually low total for a DSL middle infielder.
|Minor League Totals||.317||87||312||50||99||16||10||3||63||37||29||16||6||15||.413||.462||.874|
Juan Then, RHP, Yankees
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
The Mariners have shown a knack for identifying projectable Latin American pitchers who take off after signing, as well as a knack for trading them away. Righthander Freddy Peralta, who they traded to the Brewers after his 2015 pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, is one example. The latest is Then, a Dominican righthander they signed for $77,500 on July 2, 2016. Then pitched well last year in the DSL, then moved to the Yankees along with lefthander J.P. Sears in the trade for reliever Nick Rumbelow. Then’s velocity rose last year to 90-94 mph and he showed excellent fastball command for his age. He locates his fastball well to both sides of the plate and mixes in an advanced changeup that’s a potential plus pitch in the future. Then was able to pick apart hitters with his fastball so effectively that there were starts he didn’t use his curveball until later in the game. It’s still an inconsistent pitch that he will need to tighten up to have success against better hitters.
|Minor League Totals||2||2||2.64||13||13||0||0||61.1||50||23||18||3||15||56||2.20||8.22||1.06|
Nicolas Torres, 2B, Phillies
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 160. Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
After training with Hender Martinez, Torres signed with the Phillies for $665,000 on July 2, 2016. While the Phillies typically push their top international signings straight to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, they had Jonathan Guzman and Brayan Gonzalez as their GCL infield, so Torres was their regular second baseman in the DSL, where he was one of the league’s top hitters. An energetic, athletic player, Torres’ best tools are his bat and his speed. Torres doesn’t have a classic swing, but he has good bat-to-ball skills. While Torres has a knack for making contact against pitches in and out of the strike zone, he will have to become a more selective hitter as he faces better pitching. He’s a plus-plus runner and a potential high stolen base threat, though he wasn’t a prolific basestealer last year. Torres isn’t that big and doesn’t have the strength to knock the ball out of the park, and it’s unlikely he ever hits for much power. Torres trained as a shortstop, but the Phillies quickly moved him to second base, where his below-average arm fits best. His athleticism, hands and actions all work well at second.
|Minor League Totals||.333||69||240||40||80||13||4||0||28||11||31||11||7||8||.383||.421||.804|