This is the weakest of the two conferences for Venezuelan prospects. Barretto repeats at the top of the list while the number two prospect Eduardo Rodriguez graduated to the major leagues. Bruce Rondon and Carlos Sanchez, the number four and five prospects also saw too much time in the major leagues to repeat this list, though both are back in the minor leagues to get more seasoning. The sixth rated prospect Hernan Perez was traded to Milwaukee in the National League but saw too much time in the major leagues to make the list. You can see the 2015 list at the link below.
1. Franklin Barreto SS (Athletics) - The number one American League Venezuelan prospect on this list last year is the number one prospect this year. With the political chaos currently enveloping the country it may be more difficult to identify top prospects in the future. Franklin was signed by the Blue Jays but included in the Josh Donaldson trade. Since he was the premier piece the Athletics acquired for Donaldson they hope he reaches his potential. There is power in his bat but 34 errors last year and lack of strength in his arm may make a move to second possible. The Athletics will keep him at short and hope he develops more consistency with the glove. The hit tool should keep him in the .300 neighborhood.
2. Anderson Espinoza RHP (Red Sox) - As a 17 year old he was hitting the mid-90s with his fastball. If he was in the United States that would make him a lock as a first round pick. The Red Sox signed the Venezuelan for $1,8 million. He has a small frame (6′0″) which could impact his durability. A curve and change give him three pitches to remain in the rotation. If he can remain healthy as he pitches up the minor league ladder the Red Sox see no reason to remove him from the rotation. If arm problems question his durability for long stretches expect him to be used as a closer.
3. Renato Nunez 3B (Athletics) - A slugging corner infielder. The Athletics have a lot of them in their minor league system. Where Renato goes, to first or third depends on where the other prospects settle. Renato will leave the yard for 30 plus homeruns a year. This would be excellent if he settles at third, but his defense is a question mark there. The Athletics have three more advanced prospects (Max Muncy, Matt Olson and Rangel Ravelo) who also play there. Last year he only played 93 games, missing the month of April because of a calf injury.
4. Wilkerman Garcia SS (Yankees) - The Yankees signed Wilkerman for $1.35 million. They like the tools he gives them at short with a bat that has the potential to produce some power. Jorge Mateo, a similarly gifted shortstop is a step ahead of him on the prospect ladder and Didi Gregorious shows consistency on defense in the major leagues. Wilkerman did not hit any homeruns last year but as he fills out the power is expected to come. A 24/19 walk to whiff ratio is evidence of hit tools that will rake in the .300 or above. As he rises up the Yankees minor league system his name will become as popular as Mateo on the prospects list. Potential exists for Wilkerman to exhibit all five tools, with greater power than Mateo but not as much speed.
5. Jose Martinez OF (Royals) - His best shot for making the team was this year when the Royals were looking for a right fielder. His arm may be better suited for left so the 26 year old will spend some more time in the minor leagues. If he continues to hit .384 at AAA Omaha with 10 homeruns and a .563 slugging percentage the Royals will find room for him in the lineup. He lacks the speed to play centerfield. If the Royals had not resigned Alex Gordon for left field in 2016 the position would have been his to lose in spring training.
6. Luis Torrens C (Yankees) - The Yankees are always signing offensive oriented catchers who they hope develop defensively. Luis signed out of Venezuela in 2012 for $1.3 million. A torn labrum in his shoulder and surgery prevented him from playing the 2015 season. Prior to the shoulder issues Luis had a strong arm. How that arm bounces back after the surgery will be key to his progress. There is power in his bat so the Yankees will show patience with his progress. His 20th birthday will come May 2 (today with this writing) so he has plenty of time to recover.
7. German Marquez RHP (Rays) - The fastball hops to the plate in the mid-90s, hitting as high as 97. The big concern is his 6′1″ frame, which is borderline slight for a right handed starter. There are also only two other pitches in his repertoire, the curveball his second pitch with a change still in the developmental stage. In 2015 in the Florida State League he appeared a bit hittable, with the opposition hitting him at a .272 clip. The previous year the opposition average stood at a slight .228. He needs to improve on missing the bats, or pitching more to weak contact to fit into the Rays rotation.
8. Miguel Aparicio OF (Rangers) - Miguel was a $500,000 signing last year. His bat may be his best tool, though he will hit more for average than power. The instincts are there to play center, but the speed for him to be an ideal defensive player is short. The arm may not be strong enough for right so left field appears to be his best position if his tools do not develop enough to play center. He will begin the 2016 season as a 17 year old, the age where most United States kids are surviving their junior year in high school. So Miguel has a lot of maturing to do to exceed his current projection as a fourth of fifth outfielder based on present tools.
9. Luis Alexander Basabe 1B (Red Sox) - Luis will not turn 20 until August. The potential exists for him to develop five tools, with good power and speed to play center and be a run producer in the lineup. Injuries and short season ball have prevented him from playing in more than 72 games. The seven homeruns he hit last year were a career high but it was also accompanied by his worst strikeout rate, more than once whiff per game.
10. Engelb Vielman SS (Twins) - Myworld was tempted to add Rafael Ortega since he is getting regular playing time n left field for the Angels. Engelb has more potential to be an impact player in the long haul. Signed for just $90,000, his strength is his defense. His errors are few and his arm is strong. He will go as far as his bat will allow him. The power is absent so don’t expect a lot of balls to leave the park. Last year only 12 of his 119 hits went for extra bases. There is enough speed in his legs to steal 35 bases last year, so a top of the order spot could be a possibility if his bat improves.
2015 top ten Venezuelan prospects in American League