Top 2018 International Prospects To Watch At MLB Showcase
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic—The rosters for Major League Baseball’s annual international amateur showcase are stacked with most of the top players in the 2018 class.
The event, which is Wednesday and Thursday at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, typically has not included Cuban players. This year, the showcase includes two big arms from Cuba—righthanders Osiel Rodriguez and Sandy Gaston—who will be eligible to sign on July 2.
Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, the top international player subject to the bonus pools, won’t be there, since he turns 22 in April. He’s not yet a free agent, so he could figure into either the current 2017-18 signing period or the upcoming 2018-19 class.
The rosters are mostly players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, but the showcase will also include prospects from Brazil, Curacao, Mexico, Colombia and Panama.
These are 12 of the key players to watch at the showcase, with the full rosters below. All of the highlighted players are 16, unless noted otherwise.
Osiel Rodriguez, rhp, Cuba
Rodriguez dazzled at the Nations Baseball Showcase in San Pedro de Macoris in November, reaching 96 mph and flashing a sharp, above-average curveball, all shortly before his 16th birthday later that month. Before he left Cuba, Rodriguez led the country’s 15U national league in ERA (0.39) in 2016, with 127 strikeouts and 27 walks in 69 innings.
Sandy Gaston, rhp, Cuba
Gaston and Rodriguez are the two players who will be of the most interest to scouts at the showcase. Multiple scouts said they have seen Gaston touch the upper 90s, which is uncanny velocity for a 16-year-old. He has battled with his control at times, but he has shown enormous arm strength for his age. It’s not clear where Gaston will end up yet, though the Marlins have shown interest.
Orelvis Martinez, ss, Dominican Republic
Martinez is expected to be the highest paid player this year, with a bonus likely to push past $3 million. He’s 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with good bat speed, generating power with ease from right-center field over to his pull side. Martinez is a shortstop for now, though he projects to be a strong, physical player who would profile well at third base.
Noelvi Marte, ss, Dominican Republic
Marte, who is linked to the Mariners, is one of the top offensive threats in the class. He has performed well in games, showing a sound sense of the strike zone and big power, though a position switch could be in his future.
Misael Urbina, of, Venezuela
Urbina, 15, is one of the better athletes in the class, a righthanded hitter with plus speed and good range in center field. The Twins are connected to Urbina.
Francisco Alvarez, c, Venezuela
Alvarez has a stout build, and while some scouts think he will need to improve his defense to stay behind the plate, he has one of the best track records of hitting and hitting for power in games in Venezuela. The Mets are linked to Alvarez.
Marco Luciano, ss, Dominican Republic
Luciano is a premium prospect with a sound swing, good bat speed and plus power, driving the ball out of the park to all fields with ease during batting practice. He has taken it to the games as well, hitting opposite-field home runs against live pitching and pulling one over the fence in MLB’s Dominican national showcase in November. The Giants are tied to Luciano.
Diego Cartaya, c, Venezuela
Cartaya looked as good as advertised at MLB’s Venezuelan national showcase in Cartagena, Colombia last month, when he went 2-for-4 and drew three walks. Arguably the best Venezuelan prospect this year and one of the top overall 2018 prospects, Cartaya has a short swing, good plate discipline and strong defensive tools as well. The Dodgers are the favorites to sign him.
Gabriel Rodriguez, ss, Venezuela
Rodriguez, who turns 15 on Thursday, is one of the most advanced hitters from Venezuela. He has a simple swing from the right side and a long track record of hitting well in games, including at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championships last year. Rodriguez lacks speed and he could slide over to third base. Rodriguez is linked to the Indians.
Alvin Guzman, of, Dominican Republic
The Diamondbacks are the frontrunners to sign Guzman, who sticks out for the high physical upside in his athletic 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame. He has shown good defensive instincts, a plus arm and good bat speed from the right side.
Jose Rodriguez, c, Venezuela
While Rodriguez will have to improve his defense to remain at catcher, scouts highest on him see an offensive-minded catcher with an advanced bat from the right side of the plate. The Rangers are connected to Rodriguez.
Eduardo Lopez, of, Dominican Republic
Lopez, 15, is 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, and while he’s not physically imposing, he’s one of the most polished players in the Dominican Republic. He has a short, easy stroke from both sides, with feel for the barrel and the strike zone, and while he’s not a burner, he has shown good defensive instincts. Lopez is linked to the Red Sox.
MLB, Cuba Reach Signing Agreement
The new system essentially turns Cuban signings into a hybrid between the Mexican League and Asian professional leagues.
Francisco Alvarez, Venezuela
Diego Cartaya, Venezuela
Antonio Gomez, Venezuela
Agustin Ramirez, Dominican Republic
Jose Rodriguez, Venezuela
Fernando Villalobos, Mexico
Jose Bonilla, Dominican Republic
Warming Bernabel, Dominican Republic
Marco Luciano, Dominican Republic
Noelvi Marte, Dominican Republic
Orelvis Martinez, Dominican Republic
Adinso Reyes, Dominican Republic
Junior Sanquintin, Dominican Republic
Alexeis Azuaje, Venezuela
Miguel Droz, Venezuela
Eduardo Garcia, Venezuela
Branlyn Jaraba, Colombia
Rainer Polonius, Curacao
Ryson Polonius, Curacao
Gabriel Rodriguez, Venezuela
Jose de la Cruz, Dominican Republic
Eduarqui Fernandez, Dominican Republic
Alvin Guzman, Dominican Republic
Eduardo Lopez, Dominican Republic
Jose Lopez, Dominican Republic
Freddy Valdez, Dominican Republic
Deivis Alvis, Venezuela
Gabriel Martinez, Venezuela
Luis Matos, Venezuela
Misael Urbina, Venezuela
Eduardo Vaughan, Panama
Gabriel Barbosa, rhp, Brazil
Lisander Brito, rhp, Dominican Republic
Carlos Carballo, rhp, Nicaragua
Juan Carela, rhp, Dominican Republic
Starlyn Castillo, rhp, Dominican Republic
Justino Dominguez, rhp, Dominican Republic
Gabriel Jackson, rhp, Dominican Republic
Andy Maldonado, rhp, Dominican Republic
Fernando Ortega, rhp, Dominican Republic
Carlos Reyes, rhp, Dominican Republic
Jerming Rosario, rhp, Dominican Republic
Jose Ruviera, rhp, Dominican Republic
Arthur Sabino, rhp, Brazil
Diomedes Sierra, lhp, Dominican Republic
Joalbert Angulo, lhp, Venezuela
Javier Atencio, lhp, Venezuela
Abraham Calzadilla, rhp, Venezuela
Luis Carrasco, rhp, Venezuela
Richard Gallardo, rhp, Venezuela
Sandy Gaston, rhp, Cuba
Carlos Gimenez, rhp, Venezuela
Jorman Gonzalez, rhp, Venezuela
Wuilliam Hernandez, rhp, Venezuela
Francisco Lucumi, rhp, Colombia
Adrian Mendez, lhp, Venezuela
Johangel Ramirez, rhp, Venezuela
Angel Rivero, rhp, Venezuela
Osiel Rodriguez, rhp, Cuba
Rolando Sirit, rhp, Venezuela