2014 Top Ten Venezuelan Prospects American League

Last year Bruce Rondon topped this list.  He made his major league debut last year but Tommy John surgery has put a delay to his career.  Players who have graduated from this list include Martin Perez, Oswaldo Arcia and Avisail Garcia.  You can take a look at last year’s list here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/wordpress/?p=1710

With the departure of players from Cuba they seem to be surpassing the Venezuelan prospects quality wise.  Puerto Rican and Colombia players also seem to have more talented players.  This could be due to the unrest in Venezuela creating an environment that give team’s hesitancy for sending scouts into an area they perceive as volatile.

1. Roughned Odor 2B (Rangers) - There was talk of sending Odor to the major league team to replace the injured Jurickson Profar.  Odor has the speed to steal twenty plus bases, hits for average and power with 41 doubles and 11 homeruns, but needs more development to take the major league job.  He got one hundred plus at bats in AA last year hitting .306 but he repeats AA as one of the younger players in the league, getting off to a slow start with a .253 average and only four extra base hits (one double and three homeruns).  His defense also needs improvement, which is not something the Rangers want to see him work on when playing on the major league roster.

2. Eduardo Rodriguez LHP (Orioles) - A young lefthander the Orioles signed for only $175,000.  At 6′2, 200 pounds he has matured to the point where his fastball easily hits the low 90s in velocity, sometimes hitting 95.  Eduardo pitched well at Frederick (6-4, 2.85), struggled early when promoted to Bowie but ended the season well.  A slider and changeup give him two other good pitches to put him in the starting rotation.  With Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy ahead of him in the rotation he may see all his 2014 season in the minor leagues, where he has again gotten off to a slow start in AA (1-2, 6.75).

3. Luis Sardinas SS (Rangers) - One of the better defensive players for the Rangers his bat will keep him in a utility role.  He reached AA last year where he and Odor were double play partners.  Sardinas also has the speed to steal twenty plus bases, but his inability to get on base may limit his opportunities.  His power will limit him to a mid 300 slugging percentage and his lack of patience could make him a less than 700 OPS.  But when the game is on the line and you need a top notch glove man in the game Sardinas is the man.   This year his bat has started out slow in AA with a .226 average and .519 OPS.

4. Bruce Rondon RHP (Tigers) - He will miss all of the 2014 season after Tommy John surgery.  He had a triple digit fastball, but last year when Jim Leyland gave him opportunities to close he showed a lack of command.  He needs to get more consistency on his slider and improve the change to give the hitters another speed to look at.  That will all have to wait as he recovers from Tommy John.  He pushes 300 pounds with his 6′3″ frame so he will need to watch his conditioning while he remains inactive.

5. Victor Sanchez RHP (Mariners) - Victor will start the season as one of the youngest players in the Southern League, skipping High A. At 6′0″ 255 he carries a lot of weight for a 19 year old.  His fastball is in the low 90s but should increase and he has a good changeup.  He needs to work on his breaking pitches.  Pitching in Low A Victor only struck out 6.7 hitters per nine innings but walked just 1.4 batters per nine innings last year.  Excellent command is what dictates his success.  He made two starts at AA (5.40) before being put on the disabled list.

6. Jose Campos RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees acquired Campos along with Michael Pineda from the Mariners in the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi trade.  With Montero reporting to camp overweight and Noesi being designated, while Pineda pitches in the major leagues (if he can stay away from getting pine tar on certain parts of his body) and Campos is back from his elbow issues, this could be a steal for the Yankees.  The fastball only sits in the low 90s, with inconsistent breaking pitches and change to go with it, giving him a lot to work on in 2014.  He repeated Low A last year (3.41 ERA) and did well enough for the Yankees to protect him on the 40 man roster.  He has yet to throw more than 100 innings in a season because of injury issues.  This year he starts the season on the disabled list.

7. Carlos Sanchez 2B/SS (White Sox) - Carlos can play either second base or shortstop, which could make him a utility player in the future.  He is currently one of the youngest players in AAA, where he played last year but hit only .241 with a .589 OPS.  Power is lacking with only three homeruns in his five year minor league career and a .347 career slugging average.  This year he has started his AAA season stronger with a .280 average.  To become a starter he needs to get the OBA up to .340 plus.  The White Sox are in a rebuilding mode and could trade either shortstop Alexei Ramirez or Gordon Beckham to make room for Carlos.

8. Josmil Pinto C (Twins) - Joe Mauer has moved to first for the 2014 season to open the catching job to Pinto, who last year hit .342 in 76 major league at bats with a .566 slugging percentage.  Twin fans should not expect those kind of numbers to be the norm for Pinto though he did hit in the low .300s in AA/AAA last year with 15 homeruns.  Right now he is an offensive catcher so the Twins need a strong defensive alternative to back him up if they are going to give the starting job to him in 2014.  In his first 17 major league games he has slugged four homeruns but has only hit for .222 average.  What is impressive about his season is his 16/15 walk to whiff ratio, giving him a .408 OBA.

9. Renato Nunez 3B (Athletics) - Renato still has a long ways to go before the Athletics consider him for the major league team, where they currently have Josh Donaldson manning the position.  The Athletics signed Nunez in 2012 for $2.2 million and last year he rewarded them with a 19 homerun season, hitting .258.  Renato needs to taper down his strikeouts to bring that average up (136 in 128 games).  Last year he made 39 errors so he will have to cut down on those to stay at the position.  This year he is playing in High A where strikeouts (25 in 19 games) has kept his average down (.250) but his power has stayed in place with four homeruns.

10. Franklin Barreto SS (Blue Jays) - The Blue Jays signed Barreto for $1.45 million in 2012 and brought him to the United States to play in the rookie leagues.  He hit .276 with four homeruns last year but made 28 errors in just 42 games.  He lacks the outstanding defensive tools to stand out at short, so second base or the outfield may be his ultimate position.  That will all be predicated on his ability to hit.  He does have the tools to become an above average hitter.

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