Top 2018 International Prospects At MLB Showcase: Shortstops
San Pedro de Macoris, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—Several of the top 2018 Dominican prospects who will be eligible to sign next year on July 2 participated in Major League Baseball's Dominican national showcase on Nov. 1-2.
For Baseball America subscribers, below are reports and videos on the notable shortstops at the event, with reports and videos on outfielders and pitchers coming later. While I saw the event myself and have seen several of the players previously, the reports incorporate information from conversations with scouts about what they saw at the showcase and what they have seen from the players throughout the course of the year.
One of the tricky things about this showcase is that, at this point in the process, some players have been out of game action for a bit and have not been facing live pitching regularly. As a result, similar to any hitter at the beginning of spring training, their timing at the plate may have been off, which sounds like an excuse but I think in some cases is a legitimate factor to keep in mind.
Marco Luciano (6-1, 184, R-R)
Of all the 2018 Dominican prospects I saw over three weeks, Luciano looked the best. In two games at the MLB showcase, Luciano went 1-for-5 with a walk and pulled a home run. Then in a National Prospect League game the next week, Luciano flicked a home run to the opposite field in his first at-bat, going 1-for-2 with a walk. Luciano is a 16-year-old who generates plus power with minimal effort. He has fast hands, strong wrists and a compact, powerful swing with good rhythm. While he’s not as flashy defensively as some of the other shortstops in the class, Luciano looks comfortable at shortstop. With broad shoulders and a lean, athletic frame, Luciano is a solid-average runner with a chance to stick at the position as a physical, power-hitting shortstop. Luciano, who trains with Ray Castillo, is one of the premium prospects in the 2018 class and he’s in the conversation for the top overall player. The Giants are linked to Luciano.
Noelvi Marte (6-0, 187, R-R)
Scouts flip back and forth on who they prefer between Luciano and Marte, the standout 2018 prospects in the Dominican Prospect League. At the MLB showcase, Marte showed plus speed and big power, though with a less aggressive leg kick than he used this summer. Marte, 16, has a good performance record in games, though at the MLB event his bat stayed quiet, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. What Marte showed during the DPL’s trip to Illinois this summer and in other games is probably more in line with his true talent level than what he showed at the MLB showcase, as he’s one of the top overall prospects in the 2018 class. The Mariners are the favorites for Marte, who trains with Banana.
Orelvis Martinez (5-11, 175, R-R)
While a Cuban player like outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez or righthander Osiel Rodriguez could change things, the expectation in the international scouting world is that Martinez will be the top-paid player this year on July 2, with the Blue Jays the favorites to sign him. During batting practice, Martinez generated easy power and drove the ball well to right-center field, though he didn’t do much in games. Martinez went 1-for-5 with a walk, hitting five groundballs to the left side, one of which snuck through the infield for a single, but he has shown better hitting skills in previous games this year. Martinez, 15, ran below-average in the 60-yard dash and looks like he’s going to be a big, strong player as he matures physically. He will probably start his career at shortstop and see how long he can stay there, but there’s a good chance he outgrows the position and goes to third base. He trains with Rudy Santin.
Alejandro Pie (6-4, 171, R-R)
Pie sticks out immediately because of his body type. He has long arms and legs with a high waist and thin lower half, along the lines of shortstop Ronny Mauricio, who signed with the Mets for $2.1 million this year. Pie was the top defensive performer at the showcase, making all the routine plays and several above-average ones all over the field that showcased his range, instincts and ability to slow the game down, with impressive body control especially for a 15-year-old with his build. A plus runner, Pie showed good lateral range and charged in on balls well too. Pie has performed well at the plate in games, with mostly singles and doubles. At the MLB showcase, he went 1-for-5 with an opposite-field double, a hit by pitch and three strikeouts. The biggest area for Pie to improve is his pitch recognition. He swung and missed through five curveballs and was frozen for a called strikeout on another one. Pie is expected to go for a similar price tag as Mauricio, with the Rays the frontrunners to sign him. Pie trains with Astin Jacobo.
Adinso Reyes (6-0, 190, R-R)
Reyes was one of the strongest players at the MLB showcase. He has a compact frame that’s relatively physically mature for 16 with broad shoulders and a strong upper body. While he had a tendency to get underneath a lot of balls resulting in high pop-ups, his strength helped him drive the ball out of the park during batting practice. In games, he went 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. Reyes moved surprisingly well for his size in the 60-yard dash, where he showed average speed, but with his body type he’s likely to slow down and looks like he should fit best at third base. He made a nice defensive play at third base, cutting off a groundball in front of the shortstop to get the out at first base. Reyes, who trains with Jay, is connected to the Tigers.
Junior Sanquintin (6-0, 181, B-R)
Sanquintin is an offensive-minded switch-hitter, though he went just 1-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts. There is some swing-and-miss to Sanquintin’s game—he had empty swings on a surprising number of 85-88 mph fastballs in the strike zone—but when he got the barrel on the ball, it was usually loud, quality contact. A below-average runner, Sanquintin isn’t a natural defender and might not see any time at shortstop after he signs. He struggled making the routine play at the MLB showcase and he has a lot of work to do to clean up his defense to stay in the infield. The Indians are the favorites to sign Sanquintin, a 15-year-old who trains with Wilkin Ramirez.
Wilmin Candelario (5-11, 159, B-R)
Candelario didn’t get the same defensive opportunities in games as Alejandro Pie, but he has the prettiest actions to watch taking infield. He’s light on his feet and floats around at shortstop, where he has good body control, slick hands and a fast exchange. Candelario, 16, stands out more for his glove than his bat. He’s a switch-hitter with a simple swing, but he he will have to cut down on his strikeouts, especially for a player who doesn’t project to have much extra-base thump. He went 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. The Royals are linked to Candelario, who trains with Miguel Tejada.
Rafael Morel (5-11, 167, R-R)
Like Candelario, Morel is a defensive-minded shortstop. He went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and a hit by pitch, and while his bat will need more time to develop, he was one of the best defensive shortstops there. At 15, Morel is an above-average runner who showed good body control in the field and read hops well. The Cubs are connected to Morel, who trains with Bolsia.