MLB Pipeline recently came out with its updated Top 30 rankings for Dodger minor league prospects. One addition to the list, albeit at No. 27, is outfielder Romer Cuadrado who played the full 2017 season as a 19-year-old with the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League. Actually, he turned 20 on September 12 just five days before the Ogden squad won their first league championship. MLB Pipeline is not the only prospect list that includes Cuadrado. John Sickels, whose assessments I always appreciate, ranked the 6’4”/185-pound outfielder No. 21 on his prospect list. His caveat was that because the youngster is so far from the majors it is difficult to get an accurate feeling.
Cuadrado was signed as an international free agent by the Dodgers during the 2014-15 signing period. At that time the right-handed hitter was not ranked among the top 30 international prospects by Baseball America or MLB.com, but was cited as a noteworthy prospect by Ben Badler of Baseball America who described Cuadrado as, “… a raw project in the field and at the plate, where he’s still smoothing out his swing and learning to recognize pitches.”
From Maturin, Venezuela, he played his first year with the Domincan Summer League Dodgers and his second season with the Arizona League Dodgers. He experienced some difficulty at the plate hitting .222 and .236 respectively over the two seasons.
So how did those including Cuadrado on their prospect lists get even a tentative feeling he could rank on a Top 30 list in the loaded Dodger minor league organization? His 2017 statistics spoke for themselves.
The Pioneer League is known as a notorious hitter’s league as evidenced by the team earned run averages in the league. The Grand Falls Voyageurs lead the league with an aggregate ERA of 4.73, the Raptors came in at 5.46 and the Idaho Falls Chukkars topped it off with a team ERA of 6.91.
Having said that, the hitter still has to hit the ball and Cuadrado did so with the best of them. He posted a triple slash of .335/.364/.411 along with nine home runs and 60 runs batted in. His RBI total ranked second in the league as did his 87 hits. One area in which he would hope to improve in 2018 is to cut down on his strikeout total.
Cuadrado was a driving force in the Raptors surge to a league championship in 2017 and could have been described as the team’s, “Mr. Clutch”.
After a five-for-five night at the plate to lead the Raptors to the Southern Division Championship, Cuardaro’s manager, Mark Kertenian, lauded the young team leader. “He plays hard every single night on all sides of the baseball,” said Kertenian, lauding his player’s ability to contribute defensively and on the base paths as well. “He’s very young, but he’s been steady. He’s been our steadiest hitter all year. Behind all of that is a young man who’s 19 years old, turns 20 tomorrow, from Venezuela, which is a challenging place to be in our world right now. He shows grit and determination and true character every single day.”
Raptors 2017 assistant hitting coach, Justin Viele, spoke highly of Cuadrado’s approach at the plate: “Romer has a knack of driving the fastball to every part of the field. He can hit an inside fastball to right center field for a home run.”
Romer Cuadrado will no doubt begin the 2017 season with the Great Lakes Loons of the Class-A Midwest League and continue his climb on the prospect lists and upward through the Dodgers farm system.
Photo credit: Tomo San | LA Dodgers