Top Prospects from Puerto Rico

A couple years ago Puerto Rico was flush with prospects like Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and the list goes on. The discussion about the major league draft stunting the development of Puerto Rican players from being drafted seemed to have disappeared (high school baseball does not exist in Puerto Rico so they rely on academies for players between 14-18). Finding prospects the last couple years has been difficult. Even having Puerto Ricans drafted higher than the second round is rare. Below are the top rated prospects that myworld was able to link to Puerto Rico.

Isan Diaz (# 2 prospect) and Tomas Nido (#3) were the only players to graduate from last year’s list. Four players dropped off. That left room for six new players to appear on the list, one of those who has appeared in previous lists when he was a Dodger.

1. Heliot Ramos OF (Giants) - The only true top rated prospect on this list, he was the number one Puerto Rican prospect last year and he will probably be number one next year. Heliot was a first round pick of the Giants in 2017, the last first round pick from Puerto Rico. The tools are average or above in all areas of his game. The speed is there to play centerfield, but he may fit better in right. Last year he hit .306 with 13 homeruns in High A but slumped to .242 in AA. The power is there but so is the ability to swing and miss. With his arrival, along with Hunter Bishop, to the major league club it would end the drought the Giants have had of developing outfielders. It will be 2021 before he wears a Giant uniform, unless he tears it up in the minor leagues.

2. Mario Feliciano C (Brewers) - The island nation has been a breeding ground for developing catchers with Ivan Rodriguez, the Molina brothers, etc. as exemplary examples. Mario hopes to add his name to that list. The Brewers drafted him in the second round (supplemental) draft in 2016. He was eighth on this list last year but his season was limited to 42 games because of injuries and he hit only .205. His strong defense and arm got him placed on this list. This year his bat showed up with a .273 average and 19 homeruns in High A for a .477 slugging. A 29/139 walk to whiff ratio is cause for concern, but the underlying factor is Mario plays a solid defense, and if that power shows up enough it will be good enough to get him in the starting lineup. He is still a year away from the Brewers.

3. Willi Castro SS (Tigers) - Myworld just assumed Willi was from the Dominican Republic, but he was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Dominican. The Indians signed him in 2013 then shipped him off to the Tigers in the Leonys Martin trade. While Martin now spends his time in Japan, Castro made his major league debut with the Tigers last year. There are not any tools that wow you with Castro. He is a decent fielder, could hit for double digit homerun power and last year in AAA slapped the ball around for a .301 average. That will probably translate to a .250 average in the major leagues, especially if he does not improve on his 6/34 walk to whiff ratio in his major league debut. While the Tigers rebuild he could fill the shortstop position, then move to a utility role once they find a better alternative.

4. Edwin Rios 1B (Dodgers) - The Dodgers drafted Rios in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Last year the souped up baseball in AAA allowed Edwin to slug 31 homeruns. He hit another four when making his major league debut with the Dodgers. Defensively there is not a lot there to make you want to play him, so the bat needs to stay alive to keep him in the lineup. The Dodgers seem to be loaded with power bats they can put at first base and at 26 the time for Rios to be playing is now. His best bet for a starting role may be a trade or movement to the KBO.

5. Matthew Lugo SS (Red Sox) - Lugo was the highest Puerto Rican selected in the 2019 draft, the last pick of the second round regular phase. He is the nephew of Carlos Beltran and trained in his facility. The bat has the potential for power, even though it failed to show last year with his .326 slugging percentage in 46 rookie league games. His lower half could be a bit thick to stay at short so a move to second is in his future. Expect him to play full season ball next year. Any discussion of the major leagues is a few years away.

6. Yan Contreras SS (Reds) - Another Puerto Rican middle infielder drafted in 2019, but Yan lasted until the 12th round. He was signed mostly for his defense but he will need to hit better than .145 for the Reds to continue to throw him out there. The bright spot was that he drew 14 walks in 20 games, so his ability to get on base (.298 OBA) was not bad. He also runs well, hitting two triples and stealing four bases. He will probably see another year in rookie ball before the Reds expose him to full season ball pitching. He is a few years away from the major leagues, and if his bat does not produce may never climb higher than A ball.

7. Victor Torres C (White Sox) - Victor was an 11th round pick in 2019. He was expected to go higher in the draft. Defense is his calling card with the arm and quickness to control a running game. He also has the ability to call a game and run a pitching staff. Last year he hit only .219, with just two of his 21 hits going for extra bases (both doubles). The Sox thnk he has the ability to hit, but he will probably need one more year in short season ball to prove that. If he can play defense making it as a backup is a possibility, but the bat will have to show up to be an impact catcher in the majors.

8. Erik Rivera OF/LHP (Angels) - Rivera was a fourth round pick in 2019. The Angels are looking at him as a two way player to take advantage of the new roster rules. The big hitting tool for Rivera will be his power, but his inability to make contact will inhibit his ability to get to that power. Last year he failed to go deep in 72 at bats, hitting just .208. His arm is strong enough to play right field, where when pitching his fastball sits in the low 90s. He needs to work on a third pitch if he wants to work as a starter.

9. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - Delvin was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2016, despite rumors that he had failed a drug test prior to the draft. Perez dominated in the Puerto Rican leagues. Once arriving in the major leagues his bat has grown silent, with just two homeruns in four years. Myworld kept him on the list because he did make the All Star team in Low A last year and the tools are there for him to play short. He needs to raise that .317 slugging percentage and lower his 24 errors to have a chance at the major leagues.

10. Jose DeLeon RHP (Reds) - Jose was drafted in the 24th round of the 2013 draft. While with the Dodgers he was considered a top prospect. The Dodgers traded him to the Rays in 2017 for Logan Forsythe and then the injuries happened. Despite being major league ready injuries limited DeLeon to one major league appearance in 2017. Tommy John surgery in 2018 kept him out of action that year. He rebounded in 2019 with 15 starts and three major league appearances. He struck out 73 in 51 AAA innings. After the year ended the Rays traded him to the Reds where he hopes to squeeze himself onto the major league roster. At 27 years of age he doesn’t have that much more time to make prospect lists.

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