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Top 2019 International Prospects To Watch From DPL Showcase

LAKE WORTH, Fla.—The opening of the 2018 international signing period is still eight months away.

Yet much of the focus for international scouts right now is on the 2019 class. When the Dominican Prospect League went to Florida last month, many of the top 2019 prospects outshined the 2018 players. For the scouts in attendance—more than half of all international scouting directors were there, in addition to several other high-ranking international scouts—many of them were bearing down on the 2019 players.

These were some of the standout 2019 prospects at the event. Baseball America subscribers can also read about notable 2018 players there as well.

Adael Amador, ss, 5-11, 160, B-R

Bayron Lora showed the most power. Robert Puason was the best athlete. But Amador was arguably the most complete player at the event, checking off a lot of boxes scouts want to see. When Amador traveled with the DPL to Joliet, Ill. in July, he showed smooth hitting and fielding actions, though he went just 1-for-6 in games. Then he went to Colombia in August and won a gold medal for a Dominican team of mostly 2018 players at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship, where he made the all-tournament team by hitting .500 (12-for-24).

He performed well in Florida, going 2-for-5 with an opposite-field double from the left side and one strikeout. Amador’s swing is quick, simple and compact from both sides of the plate. He’s a balanced hitter with good bat control and showed an advanced approach for his age, staying within the strike zone and recognizing breaking pitches. Amador is a line drive hitter who makes quality contact with gap power, and given his age, physical projection and strong hands, he should grow into more power in time. Amador isn’t a burner, but he looks comfortable at shortstop with smooth hands, good footwork and a quick exchange. He showed sharp reactions off the bat as well, robbing two hits on sharp line drives at third base. It was an impressive balance of tools, skills, high overall game awareness and physical projection at a premium position from a player already building a strong track record at a young age. Amador trains with Cristian Pimentel.

Bayron Lora, of, 6-4, 210, R-R

Lora looked like a man among boys, both in terms of his build and the way the ball flies off his bat. Lora, 15, generates easy, plus raw power (if not more) to all fields during batting practice with a combination of bat speed, strength and leverage. In BP he hit one ball out for a laser over the right field fence and launched balls out deep to his pull side. Lora isn’t a pure hitter—he had trouble with his upper and lower halves getting disconnected during his swing, which affects his balance and creates swing-and-miss risk—but when he’s in sync he generates scary exit velocity and went 2-for-6 with a double in games. A corner outfielder, Lora is a below-average runner who moves well in the outfield and showed good defensive instincts for his age. He’s a potential middle of the order bat in the mold of fellow Dominican outfielders Jhailyn Ortiz (though Lora is in better physical condition) and Julio Rodriguez, who signed with the Mariners this year for $1.75 million. Lora trains with Hector Evertz.

Robert Puason, ss, 6-2, 185, B-R

Puason, who turned 15 after the event on Oct. 30, had the best combination of pure tools and athleticism at the DPL. He has a lean, athletic, projectable frame and stands out in a showcase setting with speed and arm strength that are both at least plus tools. The physical traits are all there for Puason to stick at shortstop as his internal clock improves over time. A long-armed switch-hitter, Puason went 1-for-4 and drove a double to center field for hard contact from the left side, but his raw tools stick out more than hitting ability, as he’s still learning pitch recognition to maintain his balance on offspeed stuff. Puason’s tooled-up profile has some similarities to Wander Javier, a Dominican shortstop who also played in the DPL and signed with the Twins for $4 million in 2015 (though Javier only hits righthanded). Puason trains with J.D. Ozuna.

Jhon Diaz, of, 5-9, 160, L-L

Diaz trains with German Rosario, the father of Amed Rosario, and he spent the week leading up to the DPL series working out with Amed. At 15, Diaz has a smaller build (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) but showed the most advanced baseball skills of anyone at the event, including the 2018 players. He’s a lefty with a calm, balanced swing and a mature hitting approach for his age. He drove hard line drives all over the field in BP and in games, going 1-for-4 but with hard contact on balls in the air for two of his outs, building off a strong performance when the DPL went to Illinois this summer. His polished instincts show in all facets of the game from the basepaths to the outfield, where he got good jumps off the bat and ran sharp routes. Then Diaz showed a solid-average arm charging a groundball single to him in center field to throw out a runner trying to score from second base.

Jose Pastrano, ss, 6-0, 160, B-R

Pastrano didn’t get any hits (0-for-5 with four walks and one strikeout), but his short swing and keen eye for the strike zone should be conducive to him being a successful hitter. While some of his four walks were due to the pitchers' wildness, Pastrano showed a mature approach and the best plate discipline of any player here. He’s a switch hitter with a compact, fluid swing from both sides of the plate. He drives the ball well for a 15-year-old shortstop, though it’s a hit-over-power profile with mostly gap power for now. Pastrano did make a couple of off-target throws to first base from shortstop, but he showed quick footwork and actions at the position. Pastrano is a Venezuelan player who has been training with Banana.

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