Normally myworld starts out with the top ten prospects of Europe and then by June we get to the Dominican Republic, struggling to find the time to put together the lists as the baseball season is in full swing. This year we thought we would start with the Dominican Republic since the Series del Caribe is being played there this year. This is an informal list since we don’t see all the players, but those players who we do see who make an impression get rated highly. So below is the list of top prospects from the Dominican Republic who still have rookie eligibility if they should make a major league roster.
1) Raul Mondesi Jr SS (Royals) - The only player in major league history to make his debut in a World Series game. His father is the slugger of the same name who played outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Raul is more a defense/speed type of player relying more on hitting the gaps than launching balls over the fence. His defense is gold glove but his bat is tough to measure since he hits against pitchers four years older than him. Last year he hit just .243 in AA as a 20 year old. His career walk to whiff rate has been poor, averaging about four whiffs per walk. His OBP was only .279. Alcides Escobar plays ahead of him in Kansas City. He plays a solid defense, hitting .257 with a .293 OBP, but Mondesi is expected to have more power. If Mondesi wants a major league role he will need to learn to take more walks to up the average and OBP, otherwise the Royals will stay with what they have.
2) Jorge Mateo SS (Yankees) - Mondesi has good speed. Mateo has game breaking speed, stealing 82 bases last year between Low A and High A. Stolen base numbers tend to drop as players reach the higher levels and catchers get better with throwing out runners and pitchers are more proficient at keeping runners close to the base. His defense will not be stellar but he has the range and arm to play the position. The bat is expected to develop some power, though last year he only carried two balls over the fence. With Didi Gregorius at shortstop for the next couple years the Yankees can be patient with him, giving him a full year in AA. If his bat shows he is ready for the major leagues now they can also move him to second base. Jorge is one month older than Mondesi.
3) Nomar Mazara OF (Rangers) - Another 1995 birther the Rangers shelled out $4.95 million to sign him. That first year there were some concerns with his bat. Those fears have been erased after last year when he hit .296 between AA and AAA while slugging 14 homeruns. He is not a fast runner so his defense in the outfield is a bit suspect. His arm is strong enough to play right field. Nomar needs to exhibit power to justify the Rangers putting his subpar defense in the outfield. Expect to see him in the outfield with the Rangers next year with no superstars blocking his path.
4). Rafael Devers 3B (Red Sox) -Devers is a hitting machine who appears to have the tools to play the hot corner. If he slows down he could move to first, though his offensive game will not make him as attractive as a first baseman. Last year his average dipped below .300 at Low A for the first time in his career. He did show gap power with 38 doubles and 11 homeruns. Rafael will still be a teenager as he debuts in High A next year so he should only get stronger. Some of his 38 doubles may climb over the fence.
5) Gary Sanchez C (Yankees) - The good news is he is better than Jesus Montero at the catcher position. A strong arm should keep him at catcher. His other tools such as calling a game and framing a pitch are not as strong. The Yankees signed Brian McCann as a free agent so Sanchez could use McCann as a mentor in a valuable role as a back up. A move to first base would lesson his bat potential. Gary made his major league debut last year achieving two at bats and failing to get a hit. His bat should be good for 20 plus pops per year and his arm can neutralize a running game. Expect a few more major league at bats and he gains experience in the minor leagues. Sanchez was signed the same year as Miguel Sano, who was considered a better prospect but Sano appears to have passed Sanchez having played the major leagues and almost winning the rookie of the year award.
6) Willy Adames SS (Rays) - Willy was the targeted player the Rays received for trading David Price. He was a bit young for his league last year, playing High A at 18 years of age, when most players will be first exposed to the minors in a short season league. The arm is there to play shortstop and there is no player blocking him at the position. Realistically, he will make his debut sometime late in 2017. Currently his game is mainly gap power (24 doubles). Speed is not his game and he swings and misses too much with 123 whiffs in less than 400 at bats. His walk rate is high putting his OBA at .342. Next year Willy will begin the season in AA. Whether he gets promoted to AAA or the majors will be dependent on how far his bat advances.
7) Francis Marte RHP (Astros) - Francis was acquired from the Marlins in the Jarred Cosart trade. His fastball has hit the triple digits but generally sits around the mid-90s. His curve is major league quality, but he lacks a third or fourth pitch. He still has time to find a third pitch to stay in the rotation. Last year he rose from Low A to AA, averaging over 9 whiffs per nine innings. His walk rate is low but AA hitters did hit him at a .311 clip. That will be where he starts in 2016. At 6′1″ 225 he will need to watch his weight.
8) Michael Feliz RHP (Astros) - A lack of a secondary pitch may relegate Feliz to the bullpen. His fastball can hit the high 90s, but in a starting role he sits in the mid-90s. A slider/change combination are his other pitches. Last year he made his major league debut with a 7.88 ERA in five bullpen appearances. He seems to bounce around between a starting and a relief role. The major leagues is a tough place to learn a second pitch so expect him to start the season in AAA.
9) Adrian Rodon SS (Rays) - The Rays normally do not break the bank signing international prospects. They did for Adrian, signing him for a $2.95 million bonus. Last year he made his professional debut but as a 17 year old he only hit .166, striking out in more than a third of his at bats. He has all the defensive tools to play short with a strong arm and soft hands. The one concern is his lack of speed which could relegate him to second base. It would not hurt for Adrian to repeat the Gulf Coast League to achieve some success.
10. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. OF (Jays) - Myworld started it with the son of an ex major leaguer and we will end it with the son of an ex-major leaguer. The father will be eligible for the Hall of Fame this year. The son is just getting his career started, signing last year for a bonus of $3.9 million. At 6′1″ and 200 pounds he is more solidly built than his father but whether that will translate to a better bat only time will tell. He did not play in the minor leagues last year and will probably begin his season in a short season league. He lacks the arm of his father so he could be relegated to left field. The Jays have indicated a move to third base, interesting for a player with a below average arm.