Top Puerto Rican Prospects

The 2014 list will probably be one of the greatest top ten list for any country. Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Eddie Rosario, Victor Caratini, Edwin Diaz and Jose Berrios have all made their marks on major league rosters. The list from last year revealed some questionable players who may not make a lasting mark such as Joe Jimenez, Victor Caratini (finally graduating), Jorge Lopez and Tomas Nido. They will not have the impact of the 2014 class, filling roles as back end starters, middle relievers and back up catchers with minimal time in the major leagues. Since the 2014 list a number of academies have located in Puerto Rico, but it has not yet resulted in the appearance of any big time superstars that can match the players from that list.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - He was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017. His first year he hit .348 with a 1.049 OPS. Those numbers dropped last year to .245 with a .709 OPS. To be an impact player he will have to fall somewhere in between those numbers, preferably falling nearer the former. The speed is there to fit in centerfield, but as he gets bigger his best position may end up in right. The power is there to hit 30 plus homeruns in the majors but he will need to do a better job of making contact. A 35/136 walk to whiff ratio is evidence he will not hit for a high average and his 2018 numbers will be closer to his mean. Early this season the walk/K numbers have been promising (14/20) for his 19 games and his average (.270) and his OPS (1.009) have been closer to his 2017 season.

2. Isan Diaz 2B (Marlins) - Isan was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks back in 2014. His power numbers have always been impressive but his batting average and ability to make contact have been disappointments. His defense is not that strong and second base or left field may be his only defensive options. He also lacks the speed to do any damage on the bases. If he wants to be in the starting lineup he will need to hit. The Diamondbacks and Brewers have already traded him, though players like Jean Segura and Christian Yelich have been players going to other teams. This year with the Marlins his average has been low (.248), his power disappointing (.390 slugging) but his strikeouts reduced (24 in 27 games). This will be the year he should make his major league debut if he puts up good numbers.

3. Tomas Nido C (Mets) - The Mets released Travis d’Arnaud to bring up Nido to be their back up catcher to Wilson Ramos. Those are the tools Nido has, the ability to be a back up catcher. His bat does not possess much major league power and will hit around .250. His defense is above average behind the plate, with a good ability to frame pitches to give pitchers more strikes than they may deserve. Last year Nido got 84 major league at bats but only hit .167. With his recent callup he will have too many at bats to appear on this list next year. An injury to Wilson Ramos could give him an extended opportunity to show what he can do. There are a lot of defensive catchers surviving in the major leagues.

4. Nelson Velasquez OF (Cubs) - The best tool of this fifth round pick in 2017 is his arm. His below average speed will make right field a perfect position for him. The bat has some pop, with the ability to hit for 20 plus homeruns, but he has not shown he can hit for a high enough average to be an impact player. Last year he had a 30/124 walk to whiff ratio in rookie/Low A. He will need to improve on that patience to raise the average. This year after 24 games the power has disappeared, but he has hit for a better average (.326) even though the patience is not there (3/25). The power needs to be plus for him to make an impact in the major leagues. He still has some time to mature and develop that power.

5. Edwin Rios 1B/3B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers will need to find a position for him. He lacks the speed to play outfield. At 6′3″ and 220 pounds the mobility is lacking to play third, though his arm is strong. If he wants to play first the power needs to come out. The 2015 sixth round pick has hit for 27 and 24 homeruns in 2016 and 2017. Last year injuries limited him to just 88 games where he was able to hit 10 homeruns and slug .482. His career minor league slugging percentage is .528. He does hit lefthanded, which is an advantage for those power hitters who wish to play first. This year in AAA he has gotten off to a slow start (.219 average and .354 slugging) but a 4/36 walk to whiff ratio could be a cause for that.

6. Jose Miranda 2B/3B (Twins) - Jose was a second round pick of the Twins in 2016. His range is limited for a middle infielder but if his bat works out he could become an offensive second baseman. The power may be lacking to play third. Last year he did hit 16 homeruns split between High A and Low A. His best use may be as a utility player. The arm is strong enough to play short over the short haul and he could take a liking to the grass if given an opportunity to roam the outfield. This year he has gotten off to a slow start with no homeruns and a .226 average in High A.

7. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - He was number two on this list last year after being a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016. He was compared to Carlos Correa. Things have not gone well for him since then. A violation for performance enhancing drugs stained his drafting position. An inability to get out of Rookie ball has dropped his prospect status. Last year he hit only .213 with a .272 slugging percentage. That will make you a footnote in the pages of prospect handbooks. Myworld puts him in the top ten because he carries some tools so perhaps they will begin to emerge. There are many players he will have to leap frog over on the depth chart if he hopes to make an impact.

8. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - A second round supplemental pick in 2016 Mario has enough defensive tools to make it as a back up catcher. Shoulder issues limited him to just 46 games last year resulting in surgery. The bat will not be super impactful, with occasional pop and the ability to hit in the .250 range. Prior to his surgery his arm was strong. Last year he saw an increased propensity to swing and miss, which could impact his ability to hit for a decent average. This year he continues to strikeout at a higher pace than is desired (38 whiffs in 28 games) but his average has not suffered yet (.272). Depending on how he develops he could make a career out of being a backup catcher or a lower level starter on a team that continues a search for a top notch catcher.

9. Jonathan Rodriguez OF (Indians) - The third round 2017 pick has all the tools that scream out fourth outfielder. At 6′3″ he could develop power, but his lack of speed will limit him to the corners, where power is expected. A strong arm will make playing right field viable. Currently his power is restricted to the gaps. The last two years in rookie ball he has hit just one homerun with a .382 slugging average. He needs to carry more balls over the fence if he wants to shake that fourth outfielder look.

10. Emmanuel Rivera 3B (Twins) - A 19th round pick in 2015 who may get an opportunity on a rebuilding club. The speed and range are not there to fill a middle infield slot and the power may be lacking to fill a corner. He could end up one of those tweener/organizational slugs that fills out the minor league rosters for a number of years. Last year he hit for a decent average (.280) and shot enough balls into the gaps (25 doubles) to fill the corner position. This year his slugging average has fallen below .400 (.381), a location you don’t want to be when trying to fill a corner infield position.

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