Top Puerto Rican Prospects

Compared to previous lists, last year’s Puerto Rican prospect list only graduated one player because of major league service time. Rio Ruiz got 150 at bats with the Braves, but a .193 batting average did not guarantee a return. Five players saw some major league time but not enough to lose their rookie status. Jorge Lopez got one major league appearance with the Brewers while Joe Jimenez pitched in 24 games for the Tigers, rewarding them with a 12.32 ERA. Jose Deleon got one appearance for the Rays. Tomas Nido saw a few games behind the plate for the Mets as did Victor Caratini see some plate action with the Cubs. That is six major leaguers from the top ten, but none of them with the potential impact of Carlos Correa, Joes Berrios, Francisco Lindor or Javier Baez, players who had appeared in previous lists. Below are the top ten prospects from Puerto Rico in the minor leagues.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - Heliot has the tools to be a difference maker, something not seen from the list last year. He was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017. His power and speed, with a plus arm make him a potential five tool player. One cause for concern was his lack of patience in the Arizona Rookie League where he had a 10/48 walk to whiff ratio in 35 games. Those whiffs did not prevent him from hitting .348 with six homeruns and a 1.049 OPS. The Giants started his 2018 season in Low A where the cold weather in Salem has quieted his bat (.259 average, .397 slugging). When the weather warms up the bat should start producing.

2. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Perhaps the comparisons to Carlos Correa were unfair. A failed drug test also dropped his draft status. The Cardinals still made him a first round pick in 2016 but at the back end of the first round. It’s been two years and he has yet to clear the fence. He struggled last year in rookie ball hitting just above .200. A hit by pitch broke a bone in his hand and mercifully ended his season early. His defense is above average but if his bat doesn’t produce a utility role may be his best bet. Delvin could see a third year in the rookie leagues. He has yet to appear in a game in 2018.

3. Joe Jimenez RHP (Tigers) - With his mid-90s fastball Jimenez was being groomed to be the closer for the Tigers. A 12.32 ERA in 24 appearances with the opposition hitting him at a .356 pace tempered those expectations. Command has been a problem and major leaguers will take advantage. Joe made the Tigers roster to begin the 2018 season with promising results. He has yet to give up an earned run in 10 appearances, with the opposition hitting him at a .171 clip. That is quite a bit of improvement from his numbers last year. At this rate he should stick in the Tigers bullpen and graduate from this list.

4. Victor Caratini C (Cubs) - Caratini can hit, but Wilson Contreras is ahead of him behind the plate. A move to first is a possibility but the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo there. So Caratini will take his bats where he can get them, filling a utility role. His bat is much better than his glove. Last year at Iowa he hit .342 with 10 homeruns and a .558 slugging percentage. To start the season he will play as the back up to Contreras and Rizzo. The at bats will not be plentiful but it should be enough to lose his rookie status. Expect him to be a role player for his career.

5. Isan Diaz 2B/SS (Brewers) - Isan has not been able to replicate his .360 average from his rookie league season in 2015. Last year he struggled with a .222 average. The power is there with double digit homeruns all three seasons. His defense is not stellar so he needs to hit to get in the lineup. The Brewers have been playing him at short, but his best position is second base. Last year he committed 21 errors at the two positions in just 102 games, 14 of them at second base. The Brewers have started him at AA to begin the 2018 season and his .198 average would be a further decline of his batting average. His prospect status is fading.

6. Jorge Lopez RHP (Brewers) - The Brewers appear to be moving Lopez to the bullpen. A 6.81 ERA at AAA Colorado Springs in 2016 dropped his prospect status. His fastball may be better suited for the bullpen, with his curveball a quality second pitch. The key is being able to find the plate. His move to the bullpen last year saw him lower his ERA. This year he has returned to AAA where he has picked up two saves. At 25 years of age the Brewers may put him on the roller coaster, calling him up from AAA when they need an arm for the bullpen.

7. Jose Deleon RHP (Rays) - Drafted by the Dodgers they traded him to the Rays for Logan Forsyth. The Rays were hoping to use him in their rotation last year but injuries limited him to eight minor league starts. His mid-90s fastball from previous years had trouble reaching 90 last year which made has change less effective. He also had some issues finding the plate. The Rays were hoping to get some starts from him in 2018 but Tommy John surgery will end his season. The Rays will have to hope that his fastball will return when he is healthy for the 2019 season.

8. Tomas Nido C (Mets) - Nido is an above average defensive player with a strong arm good enough to gun down 45 percent of those runners attempting to steal against him in AA last year. There is some power in his bat when he connects but there is still too much lack of barrel of bat on ball contact. Last year he hit just .232 at Binghamton. The Mets have had some injuries behind the plate, with Travis d’Arnaud out for the year, giving Nido an opportunity to show what he can do. Currently he is hitting only .182 but his ability to play defense will give him more opportunities.

9. Edwin Rios 1B/3B (Dodgers) - At 6′3″ and 220 pounds Edwin has big time power that is not seen often in Puerto Rico. Last year he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA but with Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner ahead of him at first and third his opportunity for playing time with the Dodgers may be limited. He is much better defensively at first base, with below average skills at third base. Left field is a possibility but his speed is limited there. An injury to Justin Turner this year seemed like an opportunity for Rios, but he has started the season dinged up and has yet to appear in a game. The injuries were said to be minor but he has yet to appear in a game this year.

10. Nelson Velasquez OF (Cubs) - Nelson was a fifth round pick in 2017 by the Cubs, but he was the first position player they drafted. He showed some plus power in the rookie leagues with eight homeruns with the speed to steal five bases. His poor routes may prevent a centerfield option but the arm is powerful enough to fit in right. He still is quite raw as a player but shows great potential. The 2018 season has been spent in extended spring where he may need to wait for the rookie leagues to begin play in July.

2017 top Puerto Rican Prospects

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