Top Dominican Prospects in American League

You can see the 2017 list at the link at the end of this blog. The only graduates from the list were Rafael Devers, the number 3 prospect and Reynaldo Lopez at number 7. A couple players dropped off, number two Francis Martes, number eight Francellis Montes and number nine David Paulino. That leaves five repeaters and five new players added to the list, one of whom appeared on the National League list last year.

1. Eloy Jimenez OF (White Sox) - Eloy was the fourth top Dominican prospect from the National League list last year. He climbs to the top with his trade from the Cubs to the White Sox. The expectation is that when Eloy is ready he will come with 30 plus homerun power. Last year he hit 16 at High A between the two franchises, but really took off at Winston Salem with a .346 average and a .682 slugging. This resulted in a promotion to AA where his hitting continued with three more homeruns and a .353 average. A below average arm may make his best fit left field. His legs lack the speed for center, though they are adequate running the bases. Expect him to start the 2018 season in AA and if he continues to rake the White Sox will find room for him in their outfield.

2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B (Blue Jays) - His father was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Everyone wants to compare him to his father. The arm is not as strong and he lacks the propensity to swing at everything as his father did. There was some question as to whether he could hang at third but he seemed to dispel those rumors showing average defense. He may not carry his father’s power, but the power is beginning to emerge with 13 homeruns between Low and High A. He has also shown patience at the plate with a 76/62 walk to whiff ratio, evidence that he has the same ability to make contact as his father, he just waits for better pitches to hit. This will benefit him as he rises up the minor league ladder, hitting AA in 2018.

3. Francisco Meija C (Indians) - Last year Francisco made a name for himself with a 50 game hitting streak and a .342 average. The numbers were not quite as glamorous as last year but he still hit .297, .352 against lefthanders. That got him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled with a .154 average in 13 at bats. He has an arm that can stop a running game but needs to work on some of the other subtleties of the catching game, i.e. framing pitches, calling the game and preventing passed balls. He did show some power last year with 14 homeruns and a .490 slugging percentage. Since he did not play any AAA last year the Indians may start him there but if Yan Gomes continues to struggle with the bat Francisco could be called up. The Indians also worked with Francisco a little at third base, which could be another option to get his bat in the lineup and leave Gomes behind the plate.

4. Willy Adames SS (Rays) - He was at the top of this list last year but fell not because he had a bad year but the three above him had good years. Willy has the tools to play short for the Rays in 2018 and could fill that position with a good spring. His bat will hit for decent power, hitting at the lower ends of the double digits in homeruns. The gaps will be peppered with his line drives resulting in about 40 doubles per year. If he made better contact he could fit at the top of the order but he may be better suited in the six or seven slot. The Rays acquired Adames from the Tigers back in 2014 in the David Price trade and may finally be getting some reward for it four years later.

5. Leody Taveras OF (Rangers) - The first real new player on the list since Jimenez appeared on the National League list. Leody has the defensive tools to be a gold glove centerfielder with a strong arm and lots of speed to cover a wide area of green. His bat should produce but Leody still has not matured into his body yet, a teenager playing at Low A. When he fills out he could become a 20/20 player, making enough contact to fill the leadoff role but also having the power to hit in the three spot. The Rangers will show patience with him, promoting him to High A next year. Ranger fans will probably have to wait until 2019 for a major league September callup and then 2020 to see him in the starting lineup more regularly.

6. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Athletics) - The trade from the Yankees to the Athletics resurrected his career. Forced to be moved from short to second with the acquisition of Gleyber Torres and not being promoted to AA put a dent in his prospect status. He came to life in AA with Oakland hitting .292 with a .851 OPS. Jorge has sneaky power with the potential to hit in the double digits. He has yet to come close to his 82 stolen base year of 2015 but he was 13 for 16 in just 30 games at Midland. The Yankees had given Mateo some centerfield time but with Midland Mateo played all his 30 games at short. He could begin the 2018 season in AAA but a good spring would make it tempting to put him on the major league roster in a super utility role, i.e short, second and centerfield.

7. Jesus Sanchez OF (Rays) - Jesus has the potential to be a special player on offense. Coming into the 2017 season he carried a .332 average in the Dominican and Rookie Leagues. He got his first exposure to the full season league and hit .305. The power also began to show with 15 homeruns and a .478 slugging. Jesus has the speed to play center and the arm to move to right. The offense would be better served if his production could stay in center. Next year he will begin the season in High A with a promotion to AA if he should continue to rake.

8. Miguel Andujar 3B (Yankees) - The Yankees have choices for third base. With the trade of Chase Headley they could move Gleyber Torres there or Andujar. Torres may provide better defense but his natural position is shortstop. Andujar made 17 errors there between two levels and will have to reduce that number if he wants to make camp there. Torres is also recovering from arm surgery and may need some time in AAA to strengthen his arm. Andujar has the power for the position. blasting 16 homeruns last year with 82 RBIs. For a power hitter he made solid contact hitting over .300 at both AA and AAA, including a .571 average in a seven at bat trial with the Yankees. A good spring should earn Andujar a trip north with the Yankees as their starting third baseman.

9. Albert Abreu RHP (Yankees) - The Yankees have a couple of arms with flash rising up their minor leagues who hit the radar in triple digits. Albert is one of those arms sitting in the mid to high 90s. His secondary pitches are still inconsistent but he did a better job of finding the strike zone last year. Albert can overwhelm hitters with his heat but as he rises up the minor leagues his change and slider/curve need to improve for him to be successful as a starter. Last year at High A the opposition hit him at a .252 clip with 8.13 whiffs per nine innings. At the lower levels hitters were in the low .200s with more than 9 whiffs per nine innings. The Yankees could start Albert in High A to begin the season with a mid-season promotion to AA once he finds success.

10. Domingo Acevedo RHP (Yankees) - Another Yankee arm that slices the plate in triple digits, sitting in the mid to higher 90s. Domingo also has a plus change but needs to find a consistent breaking pitch. Domingo is a little more advanced than Abreu, starting last season at High A and jumping to AA before finishing with two starts in AAA. His best work was at AA (2.38 ERA). Control was a problem for him in AAA with 8 walks in 12 innings and in the Florida State League lefthanders seemed to tag him pretty well (.316). An improvement in his slider could change that. Acevedo could see some time in the Yankees rotation next year if he has success in AAA, where he should start the 2018 season.

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