Top Prospects from the Dominican Republic in the American League

This is the first of our top prospect lists from each country or continent. The Dominican Republic has the most prospects in baseball so it is pretty easy creating a top ten list, so we break it off into the American League and National League. Other countries or continents require a deep dive into the minor leagues just to find players. Some countries may have less than ten players and if they are not included in a continent rating they will probably not be mentioned.

There were two successes among the Dominicans from last years list in the American League. The top prospect Vladimir Guerrero did not make the big splash as many expected, but he still earned the starting third base job for the Blue Jays. He had a decent year but may have been upstaged by rookie teammate Bo Bichette. Eloy Jimenez, the fourth rated prospect hit 31 homeruns and made an impact for the White Sox. One player who made the American League list (Jesus Sanchez) was traded to the National League. Wander Javier, Albert Abreu and Seuly Matias did not perform to expectations and were surpassed by newer prospects.

1. Wander Franco SS (Tampa Bay) - Like Guerrero on the list last year, Wander appears on many publications as the top prospect in baseball. Others who have appeared on the list include players like Jurickson Profar, Yoan Moncada and Bryan Harper. Franco plays a solid shortstop and can hit for average (.327) and power (.487). Even if he fills out and loses the range to play short his bat will play at third base. He has yet to play AA so the Rays have another year to decide what to do with him. They still have a couple cheap years of Willy Adames as their current shortstop, but once he reaches the age of arbitration they may look to trade him to make room for the cheaper and more productive Franco. Franco has hit over .300 at every level he has played and is expected to make his debut with the Rays sometime in 2021, depending on how Adames is taking to the shortstop position.

2. Julio Rodriguez OF (Seattle) - Last year Rodriguez was rated eighth. That was based on his 59 game debut in the Rookie League in 2018 where he hit .315 with a .526 slugging. The Mariners had forked over $1.75 million to sign him. He only elevated his stock after his 2019 season when he hit .326 with a .540 slugging, reaching High A as a 19 year old. His lack of speed will limit him to a corner, but he has the arm to play right. He could become the Mariners version of Juan Soto. If he takes the same path as Soto he will reach the Mariners next season, but expect him more in 2021.

3. Jasson Dominguez OF (New York) - Jasson is a mystery since he did not play last year. The Yankees signed him for $5.1 million. At 16 he still has a ways to go to reach Yankee Stadium. In the States he would still be eligible to play for the Junior Varsity baseball team in high school. Jasson carries all five tools, with the speed to play center and the power to bat in the middle of the order. If he should fill out the arm is strong enough for right field. Yankee fans will have to wait until 2023 before they will see him in the major leagues, but he could rise quickly.

4. Vidal Brujan 2B (Tampa Bay) - Vidal is more a speed guy. In the last two years he has stolen over 100 bases. Coming into the 2019 season he carried a .300 career average, but last year he hit .277. There is not a lot of power in his bat and it would be better if he could fit at short. With Adames and Franco playing there and a fairly average arm his best fit may be second base. Franco would bat in the middle of the lineup while Brujan would bat leadoff. Since he played 55 games in AA he could be ready to make his Rays debut sometime late in the 2020 season.

5. Noelvi Marti SS (Seattle) - Marte has not yet played state side. The Mariners signed him in 2018 for $1.55 million. Last year he played in the Dominican Summer League and hit .309 with 9 homeruns and a .511 slugging percentage. He also has the speed to steal bases, pilfering 17 last year. His arm is strong enough to fit at short but a lot will depend on how is body fills out. The power is there where a move to third would fit. Noelvi is still probably four to five years away from playing in the major leagues, so Mariners brass will have plenty of time to evaluate him to determine his ultimate position.

6. Deivi Garcia RHP (New York) - One Yankee pitcher dropped from the list (Albert Abreu) and two rise from the lower levels of the minor leagues to replace him. Garcia has a lights out arm that can throw a fastball in the mid-90s. He also has the finesse to buckle knees with his curve ball. What he lacks is the height (5′9″) that many like to see in a righthander. Last year he rose three levels, finishing with six starts in AAA while striking out 165 hitters in just 111 innings and limiting the opposition to a .231 average. He was hit a little harder in AAA (.262) and that could be a problem as he reaches the major leagues. If the Yankees have the need for bullpen or starting pitching help in 2020 expect Garcia to be one of the first pitchers to be considered for a promotion.

7. Luis Gil RHP (New York) - His 6′3″ height is more what scouts look for in a starting pitcher. Gil was not signed by the Yankees but acquired from the Twins in 2018 for Jake Cave. The Twins only paid $90,000 to sign him. Since signing in 2014 Gil had yet to pitch in the full season leagues, missing all of the 2016 season after shoulder surgery. Last year he jumped to the Florida State League, dominating at the Low A level (2.39 ERA with 112 whiffs in 83 innings). His fastball can hit triple digits, but it sits in the mid-90s range. Throwing strikes can be a bit of an issue for Gil. He also needs to find a third pitch to stay in the rotation. Luis will start the season in the Florida State League and if he does well he could see the Yankee bullpen in 2022.

8. Leody Taveras OF (Texas) - He is a stellar defensive player who is normally one of the youngest players at the level he has played. If he can carry a decent bat he could win gold gloves in centerfield. He came into the 2019 season with a .253 minor league career average but last year broke out to hit .279 average, good enough to get a promotion to AA. Last year he also elevated his stolen base game, stealing a career high 32 bases. There will not be a lot of power in the bat so he will need to rely on his glove and legs to win a major league job. If that happens he should see the Rangers as a September callup in 2020.

9. Jorge Mateo SS/OF (Oakland) - Myworld cannot give up on his potential. He shows some sneaky power, good enough to hit 19 homeruns last year and his legs can cover a lot of ground if the Athletics decide to move him to centerfield. He no longer appears to be the 50 stolen base threat he was early in his career, but he can still get over 20. Last year he was one homerun shy of being 20/20. Making contact can still be a challenge and a 29/145 walk to whiff ratio may lead to a number of extended slumps. The Yankees made him part of the Sonny Gray trade in 2017. Next year he could make the Athletics as a utility player, fitting in centerfield and the middle infield positions. The recent acquisition of Tony Kemp seems to have hurt his cause in the short run, but he has too many tools not to be given the opportunity.

10. Jose Soriano RHP (Los Angeles) - He only signed for $70,000 in 2016, at 18 fairly old for a Dominican. He sprouted to 6′3″ and last year sprayed his fastball to the plate into the high 90s, a significant increase from last year. He got more swings and misses, finishing with more than a strikeout per inning for the first time in his career. In Low A he limited the opposition to a .197 average. The big area of concern is his inability to find the strike zone. He normally goes above 4.5 walks per nine innings. Until he finds more consistency finding the strike zone his major league debut could be delayed, but expect it to happen sometime in 2021.

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