Last year myworld did a breakout of the top prospects from Colombia. Most of those players struggled last year and it would be pointless to create a top ten of players, many of whom struggled to get above the Mendoza line. So we added a couple players from Brazil and created a top South American prospect list.
1. Jorge Alfaro C (Phillies/Colombia) - Injuries have slowed his ascent to the major leagues. Last year he got 16 at bats in a September call up but struck out in about half of them. His defense is solid with an arm strong enough to throw out 44 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him. There is power in the bat with 15 homeruns last year with a .458 slugging percentage. One major weakness is his lack of patience at the plate with a 22/105 walk to whiff ratio. This could keep his average down once he hits the majors. The 2017 season has not seen an improvement in his walk to whiff ratio (2/32 in 26 games). Cameron Rupp is ahead of him in the major leagues so the Phillies can show patience with his development. He won’t turn 24 until June.
2. Luiz Gohara LHP (Braves/Brazil) - The Mariners signed Luiz in 2012. For a pitcher who can hit triple digits with his fastball the Mariners seemed to trade him on the cheap, obtaining Shae Simmons and Mallex Smith for him. Hard throwing lefthanders are tough to find. Luiz is currently in the starting rotation but with only two pitches (fastball/slider) he could eventually move to the bullpen. He can be tough to hit if his command is right, but that is not always the case. This year in seven starts his ERA sits at 1.98 with just 10 walks in 36.1 innings. Luiz has a body type that can pack on the pounds so he needs to watch his weight to stay effective.
3. Meibrys Viloria C (Royals/Colombia) - Last year was a break out season for the player signed out of Colombia in 2013. He led the Pioneer League in hitting (.376), doubles (28) and RBIs (55). He also threw out 34 percent of those base stealers who tried to take the extra base against him. His arm is not a gun and he still has a lot of work to do to enhance his craft but his left handed bat would be valuable behind the plate. He started out slow this year but a recent hot streak has brought his average up to .263. His power is more towards the gaps than over the fences.
4. Bo Bichette SS (Blue Jays/Brazil) - The son of Dante Bichette and the younger brother of Dante Bichette Jr. His mother is from Brazil. The Blue Jays drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft. There is some question whether he can stay at short. The arm is strong but the range could be lacking. In his debut season he hit .427 in the Gulf Coast League with four homeruns and a .732 slugging percentage. His bat has the pop to make him an offensive oriented shortstop should he stick at the position. The Blue Jays have him playing in the Low A Midwest League where he continues his assault on pitchers with a .360 average and three homeruns. Myworld witnessed Dante Bichette Jr hit three homeruns in three at bats in a rainy spring training game, so Blue Jay fans should not get too excited with the offensive exploits of Bo until he reaches the higher levels.
5. Thyago Vieira RHP (Mariners/Brazil) - The Mariners signed Vieira in 2010. Vieira can also hit three digits with his fastball, but he pitches out of the pen where it is easier to show velocity. The Mariners are grooming him to be their closer. He still has trouble finding the plate with 9 walks in his first 12 innings of work this year. An improved curve ball has made him tougher to hit, with the opposition hitting him at only a .200 clip. The lack of command has kept his ERA at 5.67. Depending on how he progresses this year Vieira could see a September call up.
6. Tayron Guerrero RHP (Marlins/Colombia) - At 6′7″ Tayron has some impressive height, especially when he is throwing his fastball in the high 90s. The Padres signed him in 2009 then traded him to the Marlins last year with Andrew Cashner for Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps. Last year Tayron made his major league debut with one appearance. With all the long limbs he has trouble keeping to one delivery so it is easy for him to get out of whack. He walks a lot of batters with six walks in just three innings this year before being placed on the disabled list with a sore foot. At 26 years of age Tayron needs to advance past AA. With only two pitches and no command Tayron has been pitching out of the bullpen since 2014.
7. Harold Ramirez OF (Blue Jays/Colombia) - Last year myworld put him at the top of the list. An inability to stay in shape soured the Pirates on his potential and they traded him to the Blue Jays to rid themselves of the salary of Francisco Liriano. The last three years he has kept his average above .300 but has hit for very little power. The added weight eats into his range and the below average arm makes him a better fit for left field, which isn’t suited for slap hitters. This is a big year for him to punch up that power.
8. Erling Moreno RHP (Cubs/Colombia) - The Cubs signed Moreno in 2013 but lost a season because of Tommy John surgery. As a starter the most innings he has pitched was last year when he threw 62 innings. The velocity is coming back with his fastball hitting the low 90s, still a little down from his pre surgery heat. His change is a pretty good pitch. In his first start this year he was hit hard giving up six hits and three runs in three innings. The Cubs put him on the disabled list shortly after the outing.
9. Luis Escobar RHP (Pirates/Colombia) - Signed by the Pirates in 2013, Luis has the three pitches necessary to make it in the rotation. His fastball hits the mid-90s with a change and curve to complement those pitches. The opposition is hitting only .222 against him but he has bouts of inconsistency where he can not find the plate, hitting 8 batters last year in only 62 innings. This year he pitched well in his first five starts but a seven walk outing ballooned his ERA to 4.99 when he gave up seven runs in less than four innings.
10. Mauricio Ramos 3B (Royals/Colombia) - Signed by the Royals in 2010 Ramos may lack the power to play a corner position. He has a minor league career .391 slugging average and has yet to reach double digits in homeruns. He also needs to work on his patience with a 19/92 walk to whiff ratio which could stunt his average with good pitching. Mauricio is repeating the AA Texas league but is not improving with a 4/29 walk to whiff ratio and a .354 slugging percentage. At age 25 he needs to have his break out season or become a journeyman minor leaguer.