Top Dominican Prospects in American League

Last week myworld identified the top ten prospects from National League teams from the Dominican Republic. Sixto Sanchez, Jesus Sanchez, Luis Garcia, Christian Pache, Brailyn Marquez and Edward Cabrera all made their major league debuts from that list. From that group all reappeared on this year’s list except for Luis Garcia, who lost his rookie eligibility.

The top three from the American League list remains unchanged. Leody Taveras, Jorge Mateo and Deivi Garcia all played in the major leagues. Below are the top prospects from the American League from the Dominican Republic.

1. Wander Franco SS (Rays) - For many he is considered the top prospect in baseball. Wander was denied a 2020 season so he went to the Dominican Republic to play in the winter league. An injured bicep ended his season early. There is no question that Wander can hit. In his two minor league seasons his career average is .336/.405/.523. He also has a walk/strikeout ratio of 83/54. The main question around Wander is whether he can stick at shortstop. The arm is strong enough to play there but there is some concern about whether the range to cover the position exists. If he is not a fit at short the bat is potent enough that a move to third would not be a problem. The Rays already have a decent shortstop in Willy Adames. If Franco is promoted in 2021 it will probably be to play third or fill in for an injured Adames.

2. Julio Rodriguez OF (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Rodriguez for $1.75 million in 2017. Power will be his calling card. The 2019 season was his debut in the minor leagues and he hit .326 with 12 homeruns in just 84 games playing in Low and High A. The walk to whiff ratio was 25/76, which could result in an average more in the .270s once he hits the major leagues. He should be good for 30 plus homeruns. The speed is a better fit for a corner outfield position and his arm is strong enough for right field. If he is tearing it up in AA he could make his major league debut in 2021. The Mariners are rebuilding and Julio is one of their most important pieces in this project.

3. Jasson Dominguez OF (Yankees) - It has been a long time since the Yankees have had a superstar center fielder. Jasson could change all that. Little is known about Jasson from a stat perspective since he was not signed until 2019 for $5.4 million. His tools have had him compared to Mike Trout but at 17 years of age he has some growing up to do. He is a five tool player with the speed to steal 30 plus bases and the power to hit 30 plus homeruns. He should provide quality defense in centerfield and have the arm to fit in right. There is no short season league in the minor leagues, so the Yankees could keep him in extended spring and then promote him to Low A later on in the season.

4. George Valera OF (Indians) - The Indians outfield has been short of quality players the last couple years. They hope to change that with Valera, who was signed for $1.3 million in 2018. The hitting tools are there for him to hit over .300 and slug 30 plus homeruns. His speed and arm rate about average, making him a better fit for a corner outfield spot. Valera actually lived in New York until his teenage years when he moved back to the Dominican Republic. In 2019 he started at short season. He only hit .236 but still slugged 8 homeruns. Too many swing and misses resulted in a low average. A promotion to Low A was even worse, where he only hit .087 in 23 at bats. Valera will probably only play A ball in 2021. An Indians debut is not expected until late 2022.

5. Vidal Brujan 2B (Rays) - Sometimes players who rely mainly on speed can turn into major league disappointments. Jose Peraza is an example of that. Brujan is one of those players with tremendous speed but very little power. That speed resulted in stolen base totals of over 100 the last two seasons. He did have pretty good walk to whiff ratios, but that digressed in 2019 to 37/61, dropping his average to .277. The previous year he had hit .320. To utilize his speed Brujan needs to get on base to be effective. He did play 20 games down in the Dominican in the Winter Leagues where he hit just .254 with a .691 OPS but he did steal 10 bases in 13 attempts. He is an above average defensive player for second base so that is on his plus side. He also has a strong enough arm to play short making a utility role another possibility. Vidal should make his major league debut in 2021.

6. Deivi Garcia RHP (Yankees) - Last year he made his major league debut, performing in six starts. His ERA was not that stellar (4.98) and opponents hit .254 against him with six homeruns. He did have an impressive 6/33 walk to whiff ratio, showing an ability to hit the plate that he struggled with in 2019. Perhaps he was around the strike zone too much. His minor league career shows a .202 career opponent average. Deivi stands only 5′9″, which is usually a death height for right handed pitchers. His fastball is not overpowering and can ride the plate in the mid-90s. It is his breaking pitches, both the slider and curve that will grade his success higher. If a starting role does not pan out Deivi always could be used in relief. Expect the Yankees to go north with him in their rotation in 2021. How long he stays there will depend on his success.

7. Noelvi Marte SS (Mariners) - The Mariners signed Marti for $1.55 million in 2018. He was considered one of the top international prospects for that year. In 2019 he only played in the Dominican Summer League, but he put up some pretty impressive numbers, hitting .309 with a .511 slugging. He showed enough speed to steal 17 bases in 65 games. Noelvi will hit for power. His defense is a bit shaky for short. Whether he stays there or not will depend on keeping his consistency. He could move to third, or if he keeps his speed a move to the outfield is also a possibility. The 2021 season should see him play A ball. Noelvi will probably not see the Mariners until sometime during the 2023 season.

8. Gilberto Jimenez OF (Red Sox) - Over the last couple years the Red Sox farm system has turned a bit bleak. They hope Gilberto is one of many players who can change that prognosis. They only had to shell out $10,000 to sign him in 2017. For that they could have their centerfielder who can run with the wind. The last couple years Gilberto was able to combine for 30 steals in the Dominican Summer League and short season ball. He hit an impressive .359 in his short season debut. Gilberto does not carry a lot of power in his bat, slapping the ball into the outfield instead of driving it into the gaps. He did hit three homeruns in 2019, with 17 of his 84 hits going for extra bases. It appears that speed will bring Gilberto to the major leagues. That speed has not resulted in a lot of stolen base success, but it could help him fill the centerfield role. Don’t expect him to fill that role for the Red Sox until 2023.

9. Robert Puason SS (Athletics) - Like Dominguez, Puason was a major international signing for 2019 with a $5.1 million bonus. With no 2020 season not a lot is known about Puason. At 6′3″ he could develop some power, but at this point in his career that could be the weakest part of his game. There is speed, an arm and the tools to play a quality shortstop. The Athletics will probably keep him in extended spring or perhaps have him play some Dominican summer league ball before rushing him to full season ball. He will probably not see the Athletics until sometime late in 2023.

10. Anderson Tejeda SS (Rangers) - The Rangers are talking about moving Isiah Kiner-Falefa from third to short. Last year Anderson played 23 games there, hitting .253 with three homeruns. Anderson does not carry great range at shortstop, but he has an excellent arm. With some power in his bat he could ultimately become a utility player. The one big question with his hitting skills is his patience at the plate. Last year he had a 2/30 walk to whiff ratio, giving him a poor .273 OBA. He did play eleven games in winter ball, slugging .500 with half of his hits going for extra bases. He hit .300 with a .348 OBA, enough to stick with the Rangers if he can keep plugging those numbers. With a good spring Anderson could convince the Rangers to keep him with the club as their shortstop or as a utility player. Otherwise he will play in AAA to further enhance his game.

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