There has been a lot of discussion about the state of the Cuban players the Dodgers signed in 2015. It has been nearly two years since the Dodgers embarked on a $43,874,000 spending spree on 11 international players, but only three are Cuban. There were also five from the Dominican Republic, one from Venezuela, and one from Nicaragua. Eight of the players are still remain in the organization with 7 being in the MLB Pipeline Organization’s top 24 prospects, and all 7 are between the ages of 18 and 21.
|Omar Estevez||Cuba||$ 6.0M||#11||19|
|Ronnie Brito||DR||$ 2.0M||#20||18|
|Starling Heredia||DR||$ 2.6M||#12||18|
Alvarez has so much arm speed and athleticism that he delivers overpowering fastballs with ease, sitting at 94-97 mph for innings at a time and touching three digits with little effort. He utilizes three secondary pitches, all of which show potential of becoming plus offerings. His mid-80s slider can be a wipeout pitch at times, he has begun working on a low-80s curveball and his changeup can throw hitters off balance when at its best.
Alvarez’s limited track record included 35 walks in 31 innings in Cuba’s 18-and-under circuit in 2014, but he issued just 11 free passes in 39 1/3 frames in low Class A last year. He still needs to learn to repeat his delivery more consistently, but he might be a frontline starter with just average command. There’s still a lot of projection remaining in his lanky 6-foot-3 frame, so his stuff could get even better. Alveraz reportedly came to camp overweight and out of shape, so he started the year in Extended Spring Training. On April 17, Alveraz was assigned to Rancho Cucumonga Quakes in the California League. On May 29, Alveraz was placed on the temporary inactive list. For 2017, Alveraz has compiled the following in the Cal League.
Challenged with an assignment to high Class A in the California League in his pro debut, he acquitted himself well but missed six weeks with recurring issues with his throwing shoulder.
With his quick right-handed stroke and good hand-eye coordination, Diaz barrels balls easily. He focuses on hitting line drives and using the entire field. He shows good discipline at the plate. Diaz does not project to be a big power hitter and figures to max out at 12-15 homers per year.
However, Diaz doesn’t need to be a slugger because the rest of his tools all grade as solid or better. He’s a plus runner who is still figuring out how to use his speed on the basepaths. He has the range and arm strength to man all three outfield spots and he’s capable of playing regularly in center field. For 2017, Diaz returned to the Cal League and his offensive numbers are:
Estevez has one of the best right-handed swings among Dodgers farmhands and precocious feel for the barrel. He scuffled with pitch recognition at times and got a little aggressive and pull-happy in the initial stages of his debut, then made adjustments and was able to take off. He has some raw power and the ability to translate it into production, which eventually could mean 12-15 homers per season.
An offensive second baseman in the mold of Howie Kendrick, Estevez has fringy speed and arm strength. He has a good internal clock on the field and has shown the Dodgers a little more defensive ability than they expected. He has seen action at shortstop and third base, but he’s not suited for the left side of the infield and doesn’t fit a utility profile.
Cruz hit well in his introduction to pro ball, batting .294/.367/.444 with 11 steals in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. With his whippy left-handed swing and the leverage provided by his frame, he has considerable power potential that he’ll begin to realize as he gets stronger. His quick hands help him make surprisingly good contact at his young age with such a naturally long stroke.
Cruz has exceptional body control for someone his size and can play a decent shortstop. His size makes him destined to be a third baseman, and he has the agility and arm strength to be a solid defender there. He has been playing more 3B and getting more comfortable at third this year. A long strider who has above-average speed underway, he’ll probably lose a step once he fills out.
His power potential quickly became evident when he homered 13 times in 52 games while batting .328/.383/.661 between two Rookie leagues in his 2016 pro debut. He made his U.S. debut ahead of schedule in late July and went deep twice in the second game after his arrival.
Already 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds when he turned pro, Rincon has impressive strength and loft in his right-handed swing. The Dodgers have faith in his ability to hit for average as well as for power, However to reach his potential, he is going to have to tone down his extremely aggressive approach and make consistent contact against better pitching.
Rincon moves well for his size, though he may lose some of his presently average speed as he matures physically. He’s raw defensively but could become an average right fielder with more experience. He has the solid arm strength desired at his position. Carlos’ started his 2017 in the Midwest League at Great Lakes, full season A League. His numbers are as follows:
Already physically imposing at age 18, Heredia carries more than the listed 200 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame. He combines bat speed, strength and leverage from the right side of the plate and can drive the ball great distances. There are no red flags with his swing or approach, though he’ll have to make the necessary adjustments as he faces better quality pitching.
Though Heredia spent most of his debut in left field and Los Angeles plans to give him more time in center in 2017, he projects more as a right fielder. He has the strong arm for the position and figures to lose some speed as he continues to mature physically. If he hones his instincts and stays on top of his conditioning, he can become an average defender in right.
He made his pro debut last summer in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, batting .228/.352/.345 but establishing his credentials as the best middle-infield defender in the system.
Though he’s years away from the big leagues at this point, it’s not difficult to project Brito as a possible Gold Glover. With his quick first step, smooth actions and advanced instincts, he covers plenty of ground at shortstop. Soft hands and a strong arm round out a complete defensive package.
Once Brito gets stronger, he could provide some offense as well. A switch-hitter, he has a patient approach and solid speed that will help him hit for average. He also has the bat speed to perhaps provide double-digit home run power as well.
At first glance, the above numbers do not appear to be very impressive or worthy of the cost allocated to these international players. However, when you factor in their age and where they have come from, you might look at their accomplishments in a different light. Each player is at least 2.0 years younger than the average age of their respective leagues. Cruz and Diaz are starting to heat up a little more. Rincon is in the top three in HRs in the Midwest League and top 10 in RBIs. I would expect to see both Brito and Heredia in the US with the AZL Dodgers this summer.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT (06-04-17)
OKC Dodgers lost to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers) 3-1 this afternoon. Justin Masterson went 6.1 innings giving up 1 run on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts and took the loss. Justin threw 98 pitches. In his first rehab assignment, Luis Avilan pitched 1 inning and allowed 2 runs on 1 hits, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Joe Broussard and Layne Somsen continued their excellent relief work with no runs allowed in their 1.2 innings. Taylor Jungmann was the winning pitcher for the Sky Sox. Some of you may remember Taylor as a very capable rookie starting pitcher for the Brewers in 2015. However he followed that season up with a not very good 2016 campaign.
As I responded to Mark in the last thread, Julio Urias has been held back just in case they need him to go Tuesday instead of McCarthy.
Tulsa Drillers won for the third time in 4 games in walk-off fashion. Going into the bottom of the 9th trailing 9-7, Edwin Rios clubbed his 11th HR with a runner on to tie the game. After Jacob Scavuzzo struck out, Matt Beatty hit the walk off solo HR with 2 outs in the 9th for a 10-9 victory. The Tulsa starter was Isaac Anderson and he went 4 innings, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits, 2 walks, strikeouts, and 3 HR. I am usually very up-beat when writing about minor leaguers, but it sure appears that Isaac is overmatched in AA this year. I cannot remember him having a good game. Shea Spitzbarth came on in the 6th in relief and went 2.1 innings. He put two runners on base in the 8th and was then relieved by Karch Kowalczyk. Karch promptly allowed a base hit to score one of the runners and send one to third. That runner then scored on a WP by Karch, making both runners Shea’s earned runs.
Besides the 9th inning heroics, the Drillers had 12 hits in total. Matt Beatty led the team with 3 hits including his 4th HR. Tim Locastro with a double (14) and HR (2) had two hits, as did Edwin Rios and Erick Mejia. Today, 28 year old FA OF Quincy Lattimore was signed to a minor league contract and started in LF. Quincy had 2 hits including his first double for the Drillers. Welcome to Tulsa and the Dodger organization, Quincy.
The Great Lakes Loons smashed 15 hits on their way to a 11-0 win over the Bowling Green Hot Reds (Rays). The pitching star was Dustin May who went 7 strong shutout innings (83 pitches) allowing 5 hits and no walks while striking out 7 for his 3rd win of the year. Sven Schuller pitched the final two shutout innings. Errol Robinson and Oneil Cruz had 4 hits each today. Robinson was one HR shy of hitting for the cycle. Cody Thomas had three hits including hi 7th double and 10th HR. Cody is now 3rd in the league with his 10 HRs.
RC Quakes lost to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 6-4. Adam Bray was not very effective in his start today. Adam allowed 6 runs on 7 hits in his 3.1 innings pitched. His big undoing was that of the 7 hits, 3 were HRs. Daniel Corcino, Tony Gonsolin, and Andrew Istler combined for 5.2 shutout innings on 1 hit in relief. The Quakes outhit the Nuts 9 to 8, but the game is decided on runs. Leading the offense was Yusniel Diaz who along with the Loons Oneil Cruz is really starting to heat up. Diaz had three hits including his 4th HR and second in back to back games. Omar Estevez hit his 2nd HR. Will Smith had a 2 RBI double to account for the final two runs.
The Quakes welcomed back Joey Curletta who spent most of last year in RC. Joey was included in the AJ Ellis and Carlos Ruiz trade last year. Joey was later traded to Seattle earlier this year.