Not a lot changed with the top Dominican prospects from the National League. No player graduated to the major leagues. Myworld could have cut and pasted from the 2016 list and added it to the 2017 list. Below are the top Dominican prospects with a few new additions.
1. Alex Reyes RHP (Cardinals) - Last year his season was delayed by a drug suspension. This year his season will not get started because of Tommy John surgery. Throwing three digit fastballs can put a lot of stress on that elbow. In his 14 starts last year he put up the worst numbers of his career with a 4.96 ERA and a .252 opposition average. Perhaps his elbow was bothering him then. It will be interesting to see if he can recover all the velocity on his fastball when he returns but it will be at least until mid 2018 before Cardinal fans will see that. Since he has not pitched over 111 innings in his minor league career his pitch counts will be strictly monitored upon his return.
2. Amed Rosario SS (Mets) - Met fans will know how Yankee fans felt when they compared the defensive range of Derek Jeter in his final year at shortstop to that of Didi Gregorius. Amed has gold glove tools for a defensive player at the position far greater than what Asdrubal Cabrera or Wilmer Flores will ever show. He can also hit for average with a .341 average in a 200 at bat trial in AA. The power is short but the speed and the patience to take walks is there for him to be an effective lead off hitter. Expect him to start the season in AAA and when the contract of Cabrera expires after 2017 he will be the Mets shortstop.
3. Victor Robles OF (Nationals) - Robles has yet to show the power but it should come as he matures. He won’t be a slugger but he has the other four tools to create havoc on the opposition. His arm is plus for right field, his speed could play in center and his bat should consistently sit in the .300 neighborhood. Once the power comes Robles has the opportunity to be a 20/20 player on a good year. The Nationals expect Robles to take the place of Harper after Bryce leaves for free agency.
4. Eloy Jimenez OF (Cubs) - Eloy is another one of those 6′4″ giants who can extend his arms and hit the ball a long way. Eloy lacks the speed or the arm to play anything but left field, so that will limit him. Last year in his first year of full season ball he hit .329 with 14 homeruns, putting together a .901 OPS. The Cubs can show a lot of patience with Eloy. Expect him to spend a full season in High A. He will probably not see the Cubs outfield until 2018.
5. Manuel Margot OF (Padres) - The Padres acquired Margot in the Craig Kimbrel trade. His tools and upside are much greater than current centerfielder Travis Jankowski. Last year he had a 10 game September debut and held his own with a .243 average. The power has yet to come but Manuel easily has the other four tools, good speed, ability to hit for average, ability to cover ground in centerfield and the arm to fit in right field should that be a need. Until his power develops he will start his career as a leadoff hitter, but he could move into the number three spot in a couple years.
6. Raimel Tapia OF (Rockies) - Raimel has hit .300 every place he has played. His one failure was his major league debut this year when he only hit .263. His arm fits well in right and he has the speed to play center but the Rockies do not use him there. He may fit the Ichiro role by becoming a .300 hitting right fielder who does not hit for a lot of power. The Rockies outfield situation is a bit crowded so until they get rid of an outfielder Tapia is destined for AAA where he can improve on his .317 minor league career average. The one skill he needs to improve on is his ability to successfully steal bases. His success percentage is very poor.
7. Jeimer Candelario 3B/1B (Cubs) - The nice thing about the Cubs is they like moving players around to different positions. For Jeimer that is a good thing since he plays the same position as Kris Bryant. Jeimer does not have the speed to play the outfield so he will be limited to the corner infield positions. His power has also not shown yet to profile well at the corner infield, though he did slug .542 with 9 homeruns in a 260 at bat debut in AAA. Once he learns to turn on pitches the power will come. His batting average will always be around .300.
8. Aristides Aquino OF (Reds) - Another 6′4 outfielder but Aristides has the arm to play right field. He has already shown his power bat with 23 homeruns in the Florida State League. His lack of burner speed profiles him best as a right fielder, with a plus arm. One thing Aristides can improve on is his walk to whiff ratio (34/104). That could restrict his average to the .250s once he faces major league pitching. Expect him to play a full season in AA in 2017.
9. Dinelson Lamet RHP (Padres) - There is a lot of swing and miss in his pitches, with 11 whiffs per nine innings in AA. Myworld likes his 6′4 inch height and his mid-90s fastball. His slider is plus but he just started throwing his change up last year. If that pitch does not become at least average he could move to the bullpen. Last year Dinelson moved from High A to AAA. In 2017 he could make his major league debut.
10. Juan Soto OF (Nationals) - Rafael Bautista just missed making this list. That gives the Nationals three good outfielders in a couple years. Soto may have the most power among this trio but his speed plays below the other two. His arm is good enough for right field but it falls short of Robles so he may be destined for left field if all three patrol the Nationals outfield in a few years. The 2017 season will be his first in a full season league so it will be interesting to see what numbers he puts up. Last year he hit .368 at the two rookie level leagues in 190 at bats. If he can continue that the Nationals will move him up quickly.