This is the Prospects Live All Stars series, where we settled on All Stars from all 17 professional leagues, giving credit where it was due. To be eligible for a list, a player must have played the majority of his season in said league and not exceeded 60 IP/300 PA in the majors. Players are listed under the position they played the most.
The Appalachian League, which hosts rookie level teams for the Rays, Yankees, Pirates, Blue Jays, Mets, Royals, Braves, Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, and Twins, is always sure to have an interesting array of talent. From international signings who’ve been assigned aggressively, to 2019 MLB draftees getting their first taste of professional baseball, and everything in between, the Appalachian League is always a hub for breakouts and potential across the board. While there was no Wander Franco level talent this year, there were still plenty of solid players to paint an interesting landscape for the league. While most of the league is dominated by college players making their pro debuts, plenty of talented young international players, like many featured on this list, also use the Appalachian League as a launchpad to catalyze their breakouts. - Will Scharnagl
C - Francisco Alvarez (NYM)
.282/.377/.443, 5 HR, 1 SB, .160 ISO, 21.9 K%, 11.3 BB%
The Mets were very aggressive with their top international signing from last year, sending Francisco Alvarez straight to the Gulf Coast League, skipping the DSL. They were quickly rewarded for this decision, as it took only six games for him to prove that he was ready for a new level, so they promoted him to the Appalachian League, where he continued to hit. Despite being the youngest player in the entire league, the Venezuelan mashed to the tune of a 129 wRC+, demonstrating a solid all around bat. Questions remain about his defense, but his bat alone makes him one of the most intriguing catching prospects in all of baseball.
1B - Logan Porter (KCR)
.352/.481/.648, 9 HR, 0 SB, .297 ISO, 18.4 K%, 16.8 BB%
Porter was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Dixie State following the 2018 MLB draft, and put up a great performance in the Arizona League. In 2019, he returned to rookie ball, but this time in the Appalachian League with Burlington, where he flat out dominated. His .481 OBP is the highest of any minor leaguer, and his 201 wRC+ is by far the highest in the Appalachian League. I almost didn’t include him because of his age, as 24 is quite high for rookie ball, but his numbers were just way too good to ignore.
2B - Miguel Hiraldo (TOR)
.300/.348/.481, 7 HR, 11 SB, .181 ISO, 14.1 K%, 5.5 BB%
In a 2017 international class that included Wander Franco, Julio Rodriguez, George Valera, Kristian Robinson, Aaron Bracho, and plenty more top prospects, Miguel Hiraldo was seen as one of the best pure hitters, leading the Blue Jays to give him a $750k signing bonus. After a solid showing in the DSL last year, which earned him a promotion to the Gulf Coast League to finish out the year, the Blue Jays started the 18-year-old in the Appalachian League, where he performed very well. Hiraldo posted a 126 wRC+, while keeping his strikeouts down against significantly older competition, and also demonstrating his power and speed potential. Like Alvarez, Hiraldo is one of the top prospects in this league, but also comes with some defensive concerns.
3B - Chandler Redmond (STL)
.287/.382/.552, 12 HR, 4 SB, .265 ISO, 25.9 K%, 11.8 BB%
After a breakout senior year at Gardner-Webb where he put up a 1.072 OPS and hit 18 home runs, the Cardinals took Redmond in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft. At 6’2” 230, Redmond is a big guy, and uses his size to generate a lot of power. Between his professional debut and his last three years of college, he’s hit 60 home runs in about 900 PA. Redmond was extremely impressive in his debut, albeit against younger competition, hitting 12 home runs and 12 doubles, while putting up respectable ratios across the board. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to first base, but for a 32nd round pick he’s exceeded expectations so far.
SS - Jesus Valdez (PIT)
.292/.377/.431, 5 HR, 7 SB, .139 ISO, 17.6%, 8.8 BB%
After signing with the Dodgers as a 19-year-old in 2017, and putting up solid numbers in his DSL debut, Jesus Valdez was shipped to the Pirates in exchange for David Freese. He made his Pirates debut this summer in the Appalachian League, where he continued to play solid all around baseball. Valdez does a little bit of everything. He chipped in some power, with five home runs and 12 doubles, while also stealing seven bases, walking at a decent clip, and not striking out a lot. He also played a bit of SS, 2B, and 3B, so positional versatility isn’t an issue for him.
OF - Diego Infante (TB)
.288/.344/.504, 12 HR, 4 SB, .217 ISO, 27.1 K%, 6.1 BB%
Despite being restricted to a maximum of $300k signing bonuses in 2017 due to going over the limit in a previous year, the Rays managed to sign a very interesting prospect in Diego Infante. Despite being praised for his power potential, the Venezuelan showed very little power in his first two years, only hitting one home run in about 300 PA. That changed this year in the Appalachian League, where his power was on full display, as he hit 27 extra-base hits. This power increase helped Infante to a 129 wRC+, and put him back on the map in terms of power prospects to look out for.
OF - Nick Schnell (TB)
.286/.361/.503, 5 HR, 5 SB, .218 ISO, 30.7 K%, 10.8 BB%
The Rays drafted toolsy OF Nick Schnell with their second pick last year, taking him in the end of the 1st round at pick #32. Schnell is seen as a guy who could have both above-average raw power and speed, and could also be a plus defender in RF. He showed off a bit of that raw power and speed in the Appalachian League, hitting five home runs and stealing five bases in only 166 PA. One thing he has struggled with to start his career is his strikeouts, which were above 30 percent in rookie ball, and jumped to 40 percent in his short stint in Class A. If Schnell can get his strikeouts down, he has top prospect level tools.
OF - Scott Ota (NYM)
.273/.355/.519, 7 HR, 0 SB, .246 ISO, 18.0 K%, 10 BB%
Scott Ota was statistically one of the best hitters in all of college baseball this year, as he hit 20 HR and posted a 1.207 OPS in his senior year at UIC. The Mets liked his bat enough to take him in the 10th round, and he rewarded them by continuing to hit in his professional debut to the tune of a 133 wRC+, as he chipped in seven home runs, 14 doubles, and five triples in just over 200 PA. Ota doesn’t provide much with the glove or on the bases, but he has a great approach at the plate, and solid power. It’ll be interesting to see how he hits as he moves up the ladder.
SP - Cody Laweryson (MIN)
41.0 IP, 1.76 ERA, 2.26 FIP, 38.3 K%, 5.8 BB%, .174 BAA
After a very successful first season as a starter in his junior year at Maine, the Twins selected Cody Laweryson in the 14th round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Despite being drafted as a college junior, he’s still only 20 years old, and still below the average age in the Appalachian League, so while he was a college pitcher, it’s not like he played against significantly inferior competition. That being said, he certainly made his opponents seem inferior, as he dominated, posting ridiculous ratios across the board. You’d be hard pressed to find a pitcher in the entire minor leagues who dominated more than Laweryson did in his debut. His stuff isn’t quite good enough to be a highly touted prospect, but his start to his professional career is certainly encouraging.
SP - Adrian Alcantara (KCR)
51.0 IP, 2.47 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 28.4 K%, 8.5 BB%, .150 BAA
Adrian Alcantara is a fairly under the radar international signing from the 2017 class for the Royals. After struggling in the Arizona League last year, he came back with a bang this year, dominating the Appalachian League. His BAA of .150 was by far the best in the league, with Laweryson’s .174 ranking 2nd. His K% and BB% both saw massive improvements from last year, as he became a completely different pitcher. Very is little known about Alcantara, but from what I’ve seen he’s very wiry and athletic, and the stats he put up this year speak for themselves.
SP - Tahnaj Thomas (PIT)
48.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.0 BB%, .217 BAA
Tahnaj Thomas might’ve been the most gifted in the entire Appalachian League this year, and for the most part, he pitched like it as well. After a rough start to the season, allowing 5 ER in his first two starts across only 1.2 IP, he finished the year dominant, posting a 2.31 ERA and a 58:9 K:BB in his last 10 starts. After acquiring him for very little in a trade last summer, the Pirates are surely happy with this performance. Thomas is 6’4”, extremely athletic, as projectable as they come, and has electric stuff when he’s on. He’s very raw, but if he manages to put it all together, the Pirates could have a stud on their hands.
RP - Jonah Dipoto (KC)
28.2 IP, 0.94 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 30.4 K%, 9.8 BB%, .112 BAA
After getting passed on by his dad’s Mariners 34 times, Jonah Dipoto was selected in the 35th round by the Royals out of D2 UC San Diego. In his professional debut at the Appalachian League, he was borderline unhittable, only allowing 11 hits in 28.2 IP. His stuff doesn’t jump out at you, as he usually sits low 90s, but both his curveball and slider are high spin rate pitches, which allow him to keep hitters off balance without an electric fastball. He’ll probably need to add some velocity to be a reliever at the next level, but his debut has given people reason to be hopeful.
MVP: Francisco Alvarez
When you do what Alvarez did as a 17-year-old in this league, you get to take home this award.
Besides having some of the coolest team names in all of Minor League baseball, the Pioneer League is home to plenty of talented young players ready to jump start their professional careers. Offense took control of this league for the most part, but there were a handful of pitchers that saw some success in 2019. Nonetheless, here is your Pioneer League team of the Year for 2019 - Diego Solares
C - Michael Emodi (KC)
.331/.410/.663, 12 HR, 3 SB, .331 ISO, 26.5 K%, 8.0 BB%
An 11th round pick by the Royals in 2018, Emodi put together a strong 2019 campaign in his age 23 season. The former Creighton Blue Jays’ calling card is his defense behind the plate with some clear power in his swing. While there is some fairly evident swing-and-miss, Emodi slugged .663 and blasted 12 home runs in just 200 plate appearances. He’s fairly aggressive at the plate, sometimes too aggressive, but with some more development there’s reason to believe his bat could something. Pair the improvements offensively with an above-average glove and the Royals might have something here.
1B - Rhett Aplin (KC)
.310/.410/.502, 10 HR, .192 ISO, 18.4 K%, 13.1 BB%
Applin was selected in the 28th round by the Royals in 2018 out of Florida State as an outfielder, but has since then only seen time at first base. He made his professional debut last season and put together a quality campaign, but really made some strides at the dish this year. He’s a left/left prospect with a physical frame at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. For as inexperienced as he is with professional pitching, Applin showed an advanced approach at the plate striking out 52 times and walking 37. There’s not as much pop in his bat as you’d want for a first baseman, but he’s got enough barrel feel to still spray the baseball.
2B - Clay Dungan (KC)
.357/.427/.494, 2 HR, 9 SB, .137 ISO, 10.9 K%, 9.6 BB%
Kansas City used their ninth round selection of this past year’s draft on Dungan, a left-handed hitting middle infielder out of Indiana State. Primarily a three-year starter with the Sycamores, Dungan began hitting Pioneer League pitching from the very beginning. He finished third in the league in plate appearances (255) and still managed to post the second highest batting average (.357) in regular season play while also leading the league in hits (91) by a fairly large margin. Dungan displayed an advanced feel for the strike zone, walking nearly as much as he struck out and has a short, simple swing that consistently makes contact with the baseball.
SS - Jeremiah Jackson (LAA)
.266/.333/.605, 23 HR, 5 SB, .340 ISO, 33.0 K%, 8.2 BB%
The highest touted prospect on this list, Jackson comes in at No. 12 on our Angels Preseason Top 30. He was selected by the Angels in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft and is one of the youngest hitters on this team at just 19 years old. Jackson presents an athletic build, standing at 6-foot and 165 pounds, but he’s got some serious bat speed with present pop to all fields. He set the Pioneer League record with 23 home runs this past season, showing that his power does translate in-game. Defensively, he’s got the actions to stick at shortstop in the long-term and would be more than capable of holding his own if a switch to second base did occur.
3B - Christian Koss (COL)
.332/.447/.605, 11 HR, 10 SB, .274 ISO, 18.1 K%, 14.7 BB%
Koss was selected out of UC-Irvine in the 12th round of this year’s draft by the Colorado Rockies. The right-handed hitting Koss batted nearly .400 in his final year with the Anteaters and didn’t stop hitting once he reached the Pioneer League. His 175 wRC+ was the second highest in the entire league and Koss was near the top in most offensive categories. He’s got quick hands with a smooth swing and the ability to spray the ball to all fields. Defensively, Koss played 115+ innings at third base, second base, and shortstop, while only committing four errors in 159 innings at the hot corner.
OF - Brenton Doyle (COL)
.383/.477/.611, 8 HR, 17 SB, .228 ISO, 21.9 K%, 14.4 BB%
You could make a serious case that Brenton Doyle was the best offensive player in the Pioneer League this season. A fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft out of a Division II school, scouts had concerns that Doyle would struggle against professional pitching due to the low-level of competition he faced in college. He silenced those doubters almost immediately, leading the league in batting average (.383), wRC+ (185), OBP (.477), and OPS (1.088). He’s incredibly relaxed at the plate with a simple load and quick hands that he uses to consistently pull the baseball. Doyle is going to need some time to make adjustments against professional pitching, but he’s certainly an intriguing prospect moving forward.
OF - Andy Pages (LAD)
.298/.398/.651, 19 HR, 7 SB, .353 ISO, 28.3 K%, 9.3 BB%
A J2 signing by the Dodgers in 2017, Pages is the youngest player on this list and one of the youngest in the entire Pioneer League. His calling card is his power, as Pages hit 19 home runs with a .651 slugging percentage in 279 plate appearances with the Ogden Raptors. He’s still fairly raw and is adjusting to this new level of competition, but Pages has the potential to have 60-to-65 grade power once he fully develops, which is fairly remarkable considering he doesn’t possess a fairly powerful build. Pages has to take strides defensively and find a true position for himself, but the 18-year-old’s upside is undeniable.
OF - Colin Simpson (COL)
.309/.383/.667, 18 HR, 5 SB, .357 ISO, 29.2 K%, 10.6 BB%
Simpson was a 29th round pick by the Rockies in this past draft out of Oklahoma State University. Primarily a catcher in college, Simpson saw some time behind the dish this season, but played mostly outfield and first base. His calling card has always been his power, as Simpson smashed 18 home runs and posted a .667 slugging percentage in 236 plate appearances for Grand Junction. Simpson will more than likely not hit for a high average as he sees better competition and he’s too aggressive at the plate, but his power is undeniably a legitimate tool.
SP - Miguel Medrano (CIN)
60.1 IP, 3.13 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 27.3 K%, 5.8 BB%, .228 BAA
Acquired from the Rangers last February, the 21-year-old Medrano bounced back from a tough 2018 season to being arguably the best pitcher in the Pioneer League this year. He has a fairly lean, athletic frame that should fill out fairly well as he matures, potentially leading to an uptick in velocity. Medrano is a strike thrower, with a 66/14 K/BB in 60.1 innings pitched this season. He’s got clear command of his fastball that plays at 90-94 mph with some movement to it. His changeup is his best secondary offering as it’s thrown with fastball arm speed and has downward movement with a chance to be an above-average offering in the future. Medrano’s third off-speed pitch is a curveball that is fairly behind his changeup, but he’s shown the ability to spin it for strikes at times.
SP - Elio Serrano (LAD)
59.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 26.3 K%, 6.2 BB%, .208 BAA
An international signing by the Dodgers in 2015, Serrano spent time at High-A Rancho Cucamonga as well as with the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. He’s not overpowering on the mound, by any means, but Serrano throws a lot of strikes and finds a way to get outs. His batting average against (.208) was the second-lowest in the Pioneer League and he also led the league with a 1.04 WHIP.
SP - Jeronimo Castro (LAD)
69.2 IP, 3.62 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 25.4 K%, 5.2 BB%, .232 BAA
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Castro started the season out at the Single A level but after struggling to hold his own, found himself pitching for the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League. He’ll use that large frame of his to create great downhill extension and has some deception in his delivery. His fastball is hard and is difficult for hitters to pick up because of how well he hides it throughout his delivery. Castro has both a slider and a changeup that are currently average pitches, but the slider is his swing-and-miss pitch that he throws from the same arm slot as his fastball and plays up because it’s deceptive. He finished second in the Pioneer League with 74 strikeouts and has a fairly high ceiling if he can put it all together.
RP - Omar Conoropo (CIN)
59 IP, 3.36 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 23.5 K%, 5.6 BB%, .225 BAA
Signed by the Reds as an international free agent in 2015, Conoropo played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League making his Arizona Rookie League debut in 2018. He did make three starts for the Billings Mustangs but saw most of his work in the bullpen as a reliever. Similar to Serrano of the Raptors, Conoropo isn’t overpowering but he throws strikes and doesn’t allow much hard contact.
MVP - Brenton Doyle
It was hard to pick between Doyle or Jackson, but leading the league in most offensive categories secures this award for the Grand Junction outfielder.
Gulf Coast League
The GCL, along with the AZL, serves as the first rest stop for a professional baseball player within the country. High school prep players usually head there first as they get acclimated to facing players their age. But it also serves as the first home for DSL players. This year’s GCL All Stars were almost all from the latter camp, with a ton international signees peppering the list. Given that I only got live looks at one of these names, I’ll be pulling from reports and videos to fill in the gaps. If you have any additional info, feel free to drop in the comments. -Eddy Almaguer
C - Yoandy Rea (DET)
.400/.453/.653, 5 HR, 1 SB, .253 ISO, 9.4 K%, 6.6 BB% in 106 PA
Rea, who turned 19 in June, made a hell of a first impression stateside this year. So much so, he got a late season bump to the New York Penn league (though that might have coincided with the GCL season being cut short due to a hurricane). Unlike some catchers at this level, he doesn’t have a soft body and looks like there’s average athleticism in the frame. Like all of the names below, we’ll need some more info on him.
1B - Leandro Emiliani (WAS)
.299/.467/.480, 4 HR, .181 ISO, 25 K%, 20 BB% in 167 PA
Signed in 2017 as a 17-year-old out of Colombia, Emiliani showed a very patient approach at the plate. He played exclusively first base which isn’t ideal for the helium of a prospect, but at the very least he’s left handed. He’s played some corner outfield spots in the past.
2B - Junior Martina (WAS)
.338/.461/.515, 4 HR, 4 SB, .176 ISO, 16.7 K%, 12 BB% in 168 PA
The Nats drafted Martina in the 16th round of 2019 out of a JUCO school in Oklahoma and he wasted little time impressing up the middle. Like Emiliani, he showed a patient approach the plate but wielded better bat control. It’s worth noting he’s 21 so one would hope he did this well. He got a bump up to the NYPL to finish off the season and naturally struggled.
3B - Curtis Mead (PHI)
.285/.351/.462, 4 HR, 4 SB, .177 ISO, 13 K%, 7.4 BB% in 175 PA
Signed out of Australia, Mead played 2B/3B/SS but at the hot corner in most of his games. He has a projectable frame and I can see him maintaining athleticism has he puts on muscle. Could be a 50 power/50 speed player at peak.
SS - Orelvis Martinez (TOR)
.275/.352/.549, 7 HR, 2 SB, .275 ISO, 18 K%, 8.6 BB% in 163 PA
The most recognizable name on this list didn’t disappoint in his stateside debut. The $3.5 million dollar man skipped the DSL altogether and more than held his own as a 17-year-old in the GCL. He’s got an easy swing that stays long through the zone where he’s able to barrel up plenty of pitches. His upside is the highest of anyone in this league.
OF - Kennedy Corona (NYM)
.311/.401/.483, 5 HR, 11 SB, .172 ISO, 14 K%, 9.4 BB% in 181 PA
Signed last year out of Venezuela, Corona actually made the jump from the DSL to the GCL mid season. It’s always an encouraging sign when an org forces a mid-season jump. Information is sparse on Corona, but stats showed he was a dead pull hitter in the GCL, a habit he’ll have to break if he hopes to find success as he climbs.
OF - Wilfredo Flores (PHI)
.342/.365/.425, 0 HR, 9 SB, .082 ISO, 12 K%, 3 BB% in 130 PA
Flores is the one guy I saw live from this list. Here’s what I wrote in my live looks post.
19- year-old diminutive player but has thump in his bat (he’s a lefty). Sizable leg kick lets him get some good gap power. But he also spoils plenty of pitches, even if it means chasing them out of the zone. Strong bat control leads me to believe he won't strike out too often, but I could tell he was aggressive, pouncing on first pitches. Won't walk much. Pleasantly stood out thanks to quality of contact. Likely settles into an outfield spot.
OF - Alberto Rodriguez (TOR)
.301/.364/.422, 2 HR, 13 SB, .121 ISO, 16 K%, 9.7 BB% in 195 PA
Signed out of the DR in 2017, Rodriguez is a 5-foot-11 outfielder who swings from the left side and looks like he might be more of a speed first player with solid contact skills.
SP - Luis Palacios (MIA)
40.1 IP, 1.12 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 29 K%, 1.4 BB%, .175 BAA
A 19-year-old Venezuelan, I’m not sure why the Marlins made Palacios repeat the DSL in 2018 after going through it in 2017. Regardless, his sparkling 2018 numbers carried stateside this year. He’s building a reputation as a control darling. Velocity reports show his fastball sits 88-90 mph, but I expect that to climb thanks to his projectable 6-foot-2, 160 pound listed frame.
SP - Jorge Rodriguez (BOS)
47 IP, 1.91 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 31.7 K%, 5 BB%, .202 BAA
A Mexican born righty, Rodriguez signed with the Sox in 2017 and spent last year in the DSL. His strikeout rate jumped this year from the DSL. A lefty with some drop and drive, I don’t have velocity reports, but the numbers sure were nice. Could be a reliever future if he has a dominant breaker.
SP - Yoelvis Guedez (BOS)
33.2 IP, 1.60 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 27.5 K%, 4 BB%, .198 BAA
Signed out of Venezuela in 2017, Guedez might ultimately profile as a reliever. He came out of the pen in 2018 in the DSL and went back and forth in the GCL this year. A 5-foot-11 righty, he’ll have an uphill climb if he wants to stay on the mound.
MVP: Orelvis Martinez
It’s not often the most recognized name in a league takes home the honors, but this was an easy choice. Though his numbers might not have been as explosive as others’, Orelvis Martinez’s age and pedigree earn him the honors.
Few folks covering the minor league baseball saw as much of the Arizona League as our own Jason Pennini. With his AZL Top 50 ranking on the horizon, Jason took some time from his forthcoming coup de grâce to put together the following list of his AZL All-Star team. All AZL All Stars met the following minimums - Hitters min 100 PA. SP min 40 IP - Stay tuned for the forthcoming AZL Top 50.
C – Diego Cartaya (LAD)
.296/.353/.437, 3 HR, 1 SB, .141 ISO, 7.3% BB%, 20.7% K%
Cartaya is a well-rounded catcher with a chance to be average or better on both sides. Offensively, his bat projects more favorably in the power than hit department. As an 17-year-old in the AZL, Cartaya was among the youngest qualified hitters in the league; he is very physical for his age. Cartaya has solid bat-to-ball skills and makes a reasonable amount of contact. He doesn’t have to sell out to generate power and lets his strength play. Cartaya moves well laterally on defense, is more flexible than you might think for his size and has a fringe-average arm at present.
Considered: Andres Melendez (MIL), Randy Florentino (TEX)
1B – Jhonkensy Noel (CLE)
.287/.349/.455, 6 HR, 5 SB, .169 ISO, 8.6% BB%, 18.7% K%
Noel is a certified man-child, an enormous human, considering he turned 18 on July 15. He was signed at 6’1” 180 but looks closer to 6’3” 240 now. As you might imagine based on this physical description, he projects for big all-fields power. Defensively, Noel has nimble feet and is surprisingly quick for his size. He projects to above average to plus defense at first and should hit for serious power.
2B – Aaron Bracho (CLE)
.296/.416/.593, 6 HR, 4 SB, .296 ISO, 16.8% BB%, 15.3% K%
This was a toss-up. Keithron Moss and Bracho are both worthy candidates. Bracho is a stocky switch-hitting second base prospect who rakes. You could make a case he was the most-polished hitter in the AZL this year. Bracho controls the zone; he walks as much he strikes out and makes an inordinate amount of contact considering the violence in his swing. His goal is to crush the ball, and he makes a good amount of hard contact. Defensively he is below average and his body might not age well. He still had one of the best sticks in the league and deserves this spot due to it.
Strongly Considered: Keithron Moss (TEX)
3B – Luis Toribio (SFG)
.297/.436/.459, 3 HR, 4 SB, .162 ISO, 19.2% BB%, 23.1% K%
Toribio emerged from relative obscurity in 2018 with a strong showing in the DSL, and he has put up good numbers in the 2019 AZL. Toribio has good plate discipline and a powerful rotational swing that projects for plus raw. He is very selective and will lay off pitches that are near misses, tracking pitches well and spitting on spin. When he barrels up contact is loud, but he also swings with a lot of effort. The max-effort swings could eat into his contact rate as faces more advanced pitching.
Considered: Yenci Pena (TEX), Joshwan Wright (OAK), Bryan Ramos (CHW)
SS – Marco Luciano (SFG)
.322/.438/.616, 10 HR, 8 SB, .295 ISO, 15.2% BB%, 21.9% K%
Lots of good candidates here, but Luciano was the best one. Luciano has some of the best hands/bat speed on the planet; they power his swing and should help him maintain reasonable contact rates without having to sell out for power. He projects to be an above average hitter with double-plus game power at maturity. Luciano’s defense needs some work; a few fairly-routine balls ate him up, bouncing off his glove. His defensive actions looked better in INF practice than in games. Worst case scenario is a move to the outfield where Luciano’s bat is so special, it would still play. The most-likely outcome is 40-grade defense at the hot corner.
LF – Jairo Pomares (SFG)
.368/.401/.542, 3 HR, 5 SB, .170 ISO, 6.0% BB%, 15.6% K%
Any Pomares writeup should start with his bat, which was one of the most advanced in the AZL this year. Bat speed is plus and Pomares has good feel for the barrel; he shoots balls to all fields and effectively defends both sides of the plate. His offensive approach is aggressive; Pomares hunts fastballs early in counts and goes after the first pitch often (to wager a guess 40% of the time). Defensively, Pomares is below average. His speed is average but range is around 40-grade because his reads and reactions are below average. Pomares is good enough to stick in the outfield, but he does not look special there.
Considered: Darryl Collins (KCR)
CF – Corbin Carroll (ARI)
.288/.409/.450, 2 HR, 16 SB, .162 ISO, 17.5% BB%, 21.2% K%
Carroll put a lot of pressure on AZL defenses with his 70-grade speed. At the plate, I liked his overall approach; Carroll takes a lot of pitches and tracks pro-caliber secondary pitches reasonably well for his age. The swing is short to the ball, and Carroll has plus bat speed/hands. Carroll’s in-game power output belies its future potential. He displayed 50 raw in BP and looked even better than that last summer at the Under Armour Game workout in Chicago. Carroll is a polished defensive CF. He covers significant ground in center, and his reads were also generally good.
RF – Heriberto Hernandez (TEX)
.344/.433/.646, 11 HR, 3 SB, .302 ISO, 12.1% BB%, 25.4% K%
Hernandez is a bat-first prospect with 50 hit, 60 power potential but an uncertain defensive home; he couples immense strength with easy plus bat speed. The swing stays fairly short to the ball as Hernandez lowers his hands to slot, then rips them through the zone. His lower half is thick with massive thighs and glutes that power the swing. The impending decision between 30-grade defense at catcher and 40-grade defense in right isn’t too appealing. I think he is destined for a corner OF spot, where his reads are ok, but his range is below average. Full Report, Video
Considered: Junior Perez (SDP), Joshua Mears (SDP)
SP – Hyun-il Choi (LAD)
65 IP, 2.63 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 27.1% K%, 4.2% BB%, .235 BAA
Choi is a pitchability guy who keeps hitters off balance by changing speeds and working the full zone. He repeats his mechanics and throws a lot of strikes. I liked Choi’s mound presence; he works quickly and confidently, going after opposing hitters. He has an array of pitches that start with his four-seamer. The pitch sits 90-92 and touches 95.
SP – Adolfo Ramirez (LAD)
49 IP, .73 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 34.7% K%, 5.1% BB%, .146 BAA
Ramirez is a Mexican righty with good feel to pitch. He notably led qualified AZL pitchers in K-BB% at 29.5%. Ramirez wasn’t overpowering but showed four pitches and threw a lot of strikes. The fastball topped out at 92, and he could also cut it in the high 80s. My impression of Ramirez was he is polish over projection, and he put up good AZL numbers largely due that polish.
SP – Miguel Rondon (SDP)
40.1 IP, 3.79 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 27.8% K%, 7.5% BB%
Rondon is a thin, but athletic 5’11” Venezuelan righty. Rondon threw five innings on 7/17, and I quickly became smitten. Rondon repeats his mechanics well and has borderline-plus command. He is very advanced for his age boasting three pitches with a chance to get to 55 or better. Rondon maintained arm speed for all pitches and was a master of sequencing. He would use any pitch in any count. Rondon is a bull dog that throws strikes and attacks hitters. Size be damned, I look at him and think backend starter.
RP – Carlos Alejo (LAD)
26.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 22.9% K%, 11.9%, BB%, .235 BAA
The Dodgers signed Alejo in April of 2016. He was listed at 6’1” 165 and has added significant weight since signing day. He is now solidly built (guestimate -> 200 lbs) and sits mid 90s with his fastball, touching 98. The fastball has some life to both sides. Alejo’s delivery has little effort considering how hard he throws. His slider (85-88) flashed above average, and he showed a mid-80s change. It is control over command for Alejo and the Rangers knocked him around on 8/14. His walk rate on the season was uninspiring, but I think there is enough here for a role-35 middle reliever.
MVP: Marco Luciano (SFG)
Consider Luciano and Abrams 1A/1B here. There are strong cases to be made for both players and I slightly prefer Luciano. Luciano has a higher ceiling but both players are immensely talented and profile as role 60s. Abrams will likely have more defensive value. I think both players will hit and Luciano projects for more power . For this reason I’m leaning Luciano.
Dominican Summer League
The Dominican Summer League has been the only foreign-affiliated summer league for three seasons now since political instability forced the cancellation of the Venezuelan Summer League. Teams often send their young Latin players to the DSL to get their first taste of professional ball, often with the top July 2 signings not even seeing the league, getting their first pro instruction at stateside complex leagues.
The 2019 season saw unusually stable weather for the DSL, where often rain can wash away entire days of play across the league with all of the games located in a very compact geographic footprint. That allowed many players to exhibit their talent! This will be primarily be based on performance, with some nod to age if performances are close. -Ben Chase
C - Rayner Santana (SF)
Stats: .294/.439/.553, 10 HR, .259 ISO, 17.3 BB%, 27.1 K%, 170 wRC+
Rayner Santana signed out of Venezuela last summer when he turned 16 on Aug. 15. In spite of being one of the youngest players in the entire DSL, he showed his above-average power and surprised with his approach at the plate. His arm is impressive behind the plate, but at 6'2" and already filled out some, he'll have to work to remain at backstop.
1B - Victor Bericoto (SF)
Stats: .344/.472/.485, 5 HR, 10 SB, .141 ISO, 18.7 BB%, 19.7 K%, 169 wRC+
A guy who wasn't on a lot of radars before performing well in pre-July 2 camps, Bericoto signed for a light bonus out of Venezuela, but his 6'1", 155-pound listed frame indicates his athleticism, something he was noted for around the bag. Excellent athleticism showed even after a promotion to the Arizona Rookie League, where he stole three bases in just five games.
2B - Maikol Escotto (NYY)
Stats: .315/.429/.552, 8 HR, 13 SB, .238 ISO, 14.7 BB%, 26.1 K%, 167 wRC+
The Yankees signed Maikol Escotto last summer loving his athleticism. He played some third base and shortstop as well but spent the heavy majority of his time at second in 2019. With an impressive power/speed combination, Escotto will be one to track.
3B - Alexander Mojica (PIT)
Stats: .351/.468/.580, 8 HR, .230 ISO, 17 BB%, 15.6 K%, 183 wRC+
Listed at 6'1" and 195 pounds, Mojica is likely 10-20 pounds beyond that already, and it's been good weight. The added muscle led to some of the most impressive power in the DSL this season while also flashing a plus arm at third base.
SS - Luisangel Acuna (TEX)
Stats: .342/.438/.455, 2 HR, 17 SB, .114 ISO, 14.7 BB%, 10.8 K%, 151 wRC+
The younger brother of Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuna, Luisangel has not shown that level of power yet, but he showed incredible athleticism and feel for the game. At just 5'8", he's not likely to develop into a monster power threat, but he'll potentially move quickly in 2020.
OF - Darlin Moquete (STL)
Stats: .390/.459/.571, 5 HR, 23 SB, .182 ISO, 9.4 BB%, 8.8 K%, 178 wRC+
One of the oldest in this group, Moquete is in his second season in the DSL, and he made a huge leap in 2019. His arm profiles in right field, though he's perhaps shy of the power of a traditional corner outfielder profile. He'll get a chance to show more stateside in 2020.
OF - Luis Matos (SF)
Stats: .362/.430/.570, 7 HR, 20 SB, .209 ISO, 7 BB%, 11.1 K%, 171 wRC+
The Giants signed a fairly young class in 2018-2019, as discussed previously, but Matos was one that was immediately noted as a potential steal. While the power was expected in his profile, his incredible bat control was a surprise, and it propelled the Giants to push him up to the Arizona Rookie League, where he continued hitting while avoiding strikeouts.
OF - Darlin Guzman (CIN)
Stats: .357/.394/.616, 6 HR, 5 SB, .259 ISO, 5.1 BB%, 22.2 K%, 169 wRC+
Chatting with a scout in the Dominican, Guzman drew a lot of Aristides Aquino comparison. He has incredible raw power and has plenty of athleticism along with that big stick, but he has an aggressive approach that could plague him as he advances. For 2019, however, his combination of tools and approach led to big numbers.
SP - Juan Pichardo (MIN)
Stats: 58 2/3 IP, 1.69 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 3.8 BB%, 27.3 K%, .243 BAA
A lefty with low-90s stuff that is the oldest on this list, but this was his first season in the DSL and a great example of the difference between scouting bats and arms in Latin countries. Guys can pop up with enough velocity to make things work at 19 or 20 years of age whereas a good hitter is tough to hide on the island in the Dominican.
SP - Nixson Munoz (BOS)
Stats: 60 IP, 2.40 ERA, 2.24 FIP, 2.1 BB%, 25.8 K%, .242 BAA
Small-framed 5'10" lefty already showing plus control, though without premium velocity could find sledding more difficult stateside, but he carved through the DSL in his first exposure in 2019. He should get a shot to show more in 2020 stateside.
SP - Israel Puello (PHI)
Stats: 65 2/3 IP, 1.92 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 7.4 BB%, 32.3 K%, .187 BAA
Righty with good size (6'3", 200 pounds) and velocity (sit 92-94, touch 95 per reports) had big control issues last season in his first exposure to the DSL. He cut his walk rate by nearly half while adding 10 percent to his strikeout rate. He's got a plus slider to go with his fastball, and if he can work in a fringe-average change with more consistency, he could really shoot up Phillies lists.
RP - Juan De la Cruz (LAD)
Stats: 23 G, 37 IP, 1.70 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 13.1 BB%, 31 K%, .201 BAA
A lot of energy packed into a small (5'11", 160 pounds) package, De La Cruz was in his first season in the Dodgers system this year, turning 19 during the year. He's primarily using a fastball that generates a lot of groundballs (nearly 63 percent of all batted balls) right now, but he's shown a slider with good shape and could have some potential as a reliever.
MVP/Top Prospect - Mojica/Noelvi Marte (SEA)
Already mentioned above that he flashed a plus arm as well as big power, Mojica has the profile to be an impact bat at the hot corner, though he will need to keep up his body to stay on the dirt. He does have a frame that could add quickly, so the outfield would be in question if he added too quickly, which would be a shame with his big arm. However, in talking to a scout from the Dominican, it's quite clear that the hitter that teams were talking about is not on this All-Star list.
While Mojica had the best performance by numbers and impression and would be a worthy choice, the guy everyone came away talking about was Seattle Mariners shortstop Noelvi Marte. His numbers were not quite to Acuna's at short, but they were certainly no slouch - .309/.371/.511 with 9 home runs and 17 steals.