After spending the last four months in the Dominican Republic attending numerous tryouts and speaking with MLB executives and scouts, I have compiled a top ten list for this year's July 2nd class. These rankings provide a reflection of the industry's perspective. Before we delve into the top ten, here's a brief explanation about the Latin American market.
Scouting Latin Americans is starkly different than scouting players for the MLB amateur draft in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Since the vast majority of Dominican prospects do not play in organized leagues, teams frequently host private tryouts at their respective complexes to judge these players. The goal of these workouts is to showcase and evaluate the players' five tools. A typical tryout consists of running the 60 (speed), throwing and fielding from their position (arm and defense), a few rounds of batting practice (bat and power), and maybe a simulated or live game. These workouts usually last for less than half a day and players can easily be evaluated incorrectly with a stronger or weaker-than-usual showing. Sometimes prospects are invited to stay and work out with the team for up to a month, but the highest-profile players are usually in too high demand to stay in one place for more than a day or two.
Because there is no draft in the international market, every player is a free agent. Mix identity issues with six or seven-figure bonuses, and rumors and name changes abound. My goal is to deliver accurate information on the top Dominican players for July 2nd, with more detail to come.
1. Vicmal De La Cruz, OF. Has the best toolset of any player in this class. Upside as high as anyone.
2. Martin Steylon Peguero, SS. Hands down the best shortstop of this year's class.
3. Ariel Ovando, OF. – When two different scouts drop Darryl Strawberry comps, you take notice.
4. Phillips Castillo, OF. This outfielder is a lock for seven figures.
5. Wilmer Romero, OF. Still a bit of an unknown, but has the potential to move up on this list.
6. Eskarlin Vazquez, OF. Perhaps the most publicized player in this year's class. At 6'3", Vazquez has a projectable frame with good pop.
7. Jorge Feliz, RHP. A 92 mph fastball and feel for a curve earns him the highest pitcher’s spot.
8. Alberto Triunfel, SS. Little brother to Carlos Triunfel, Alberto also has Scott Boras as his agent.
9. Elvis Sanchez, 3B. His body has improved tremendously over the past year, allowing the possibility of sticking at third base for the long haul. If he continues to show off-the-charts power, it may be irrelevant.
T-10. Edwin Moreno, OF. Left-handed outfielder with pop and a strong body.
T-10. Luis Abad, RHP. Hitting 92 mph and weighing 160 pounds soaking wet, the 6'3" Abad is one of the most projectable pitchers you'll see.
T-10. Javier Pimentel, SS. A wide-shouldered shortstop with a solid bat and plenty of room for improvement.