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Scouting Reports For Top International Prospects For July 2

These are Baseball America’s rankings and scouting reports for the top international prospects eligible to sign on July 2. In the next few days, we will be adding more rankings and scouting reports to this list. Players with the best combination of tools, baseball skills and positional value rise toward the top of the list. The top three players separated themselves as the elite players in the class, with the top five all earning widespread praise for their well-rounded combination of tools and game skills. While there are thousands of players looking to sign with teams and at least 600 or so who sign annually, every player is on this list because there were scouts who liked them. The lower you go down the list, the thinner the spread in talent becomes. Some teams prefer premium athletes with loud tools and raw skills, while others place a higher value on players with more present feel for the game, instincts and hitting ability, even if the tools don’t stand out as much. Then there are players who combine the best of both worlds but had a lower profile and managed to fly under the radar, like Victor Robles, who end up being huge bargains.
Projecting the futures of players who are 15 and 16 involves a tremendous amount of risk and failure, with significant disagreements among scouts on players who are often evaluated in private workouts and can look different from one month to the next. This year, one of the most challenging aspects in putting together this list is that many of these players reached oral agreements to sign with teams last year—some even before July 2 last year—and haven’t been seen as much recently. A player’s signing bonus is not necessarily his value on July 2, but what a team felt he was worth at the time they reached an agreement. Due to the unique circumstances of Cuban players and how they become available to sign with major league teams, we have not included them in these rankings. We have covered those players in our rankings of the top Cuban players before they left the country, with follow-up reports elsewhere on BA about their progress since then, with many players still waiting for MLB to clear them to sign. 1. Kevin Maitan, ss, Venezuela Born: Feb. 12, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 175. B-T: B-R. Video Lefthander Ricardo Sanchez was one of the top pitching prospects in Venezuela when he signed with the Angels for $580,000 on July 2, 2013. He trained with Henderson Martinez, who also had Venezuelan outfielder Brayan Hernandez, a $1.85 million signing with the Mariners a year later. When scouts went in to see Sanchez and Hernandez, they were already getting looks at Maitan, who even at 13 began commanding the attention of major league teams. He has so far lived up to expectations, becoming the best international amateur prospect since Miguel Sano signed with the Twins in 2009 and one of the best Venezuelan amateur prospects several scouts have seen going back even further. While it’s not unanimous, there was widespread agreement among teams that Maitan was the best prospect in this year’s class. Maitan makes everything look easy, combining physicality, athleticism, tools, hitting ability and a high overall level of baseball awareness to apply his tools in games. He’s a switch-hitter who has frequently performed well against live pitching, showing the ability to recognize pitches and stay within the strike zone well for his age. He has plus raw power, drives the ball out of the park now in games and could grow into 70 raw power. Both of his swings are good, though scouts prefer his righthanded stroke, which generates more loft. There is some swing-and-miss that comes with Maitan’s power, which some scouts said was a product of swing plane, but those strikeouts should be manageable and he’s still regarded as one of the best hitters in the class. The biggest split among scouts is where Maitain projects best defensively. He’s a shortstop now and should be able to stay there at least early on in his minor league career. He’s athletic and a plus runner underway, though with his body type he will probably slow down a grade. Maitan has good hands, footwork and body coordination at shortstop. His arm is another plus tool, though his arm strength can get funky when he drops his elbow, but that’s nitpicking for his age. Whether Maitan stays at shortstop long-term depends on how his body develops. Given the way Maitan is built and how much room he has to add size to his frame, many scouts expect him to outgrow shortstop and slide over to third base, where he has the tools to be an above-average defender. Others think if he can stay lean and loose, there’s no reason he can’t play shortstop. He’s more athletic than Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, while Xander Bogaerts is another example of a shortstop who stayed agile enough to defy early-career expectations that he would move off the position. Maitan is an exciting, high-upside talent who has a chance to hit in the middle of a lineup with impact OBP and power potential while providing value on the defensive side as well. He is expected to sign with the Braves for more than $4 million and shatter the Venezuelan bonus record of $2.8 million for Blue Jays righthander Adonys Cardona in 2010. 2. Luis Almanzar, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Nov. 1, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 188. B-T: R-R. Last year, Lucius Fox ducked out of the draft by moving from Florida to the Bahamas, where he was able to sign with the Giants for $6 million as an international free agent. Almanzar’s story isn’t quite the same, but he also spent time playing high school baseball in the United States before moving back to the Dominican Republic to sign through the international free agent system. Almanzar was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, where he grew up playing plenty of organized baseball, including a trip to Aberdeen, Md. in 2012 for the Cal Ripken World Series. When he was 15, Almanzar enrolled at American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) High, one of the premier high school baseball programs in the country, and he played well there in his only season there before he moved back to the Dominican Republic. He now trains with Ivan Noboa and will be eligible to sign as an international free agent on July 2. Almanzar is one of the best hitters in the class. He’s a calm, balanced hitter with good rhythm and timing. He has good bat speed and takes a quick, direct cut with clean path to the ball. Almanzar doesn’t swing-and-miss much and has a sharp eye to recognize balls and strikes, which is why he has consistently performed well against good pitching in games. He uses right-center field with a line-drive approach. His forearms are strong and he strikes the ball with good exit velocity already, so he could hit for power as well to complement his pure hitting ability once he learns which pitches to turn on with authority. Almanzar has a mature body type for his age with a thick lower half, which is why many scouts think he will fit better at second or third base. He has a solid arm and can make off-balance throws on the run, though he can be erratic in the field at times. Other scouts think there’s a chance Almanzar can play shortstop, noting that he’s already showed more athleticism and improved his speed from where he was last year. While he doesn’t have the traditional shortstop look, he has a similar build to Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, who transformed his body by losing at least 20 pounds his senior year of high school and has answered questions about his ability to stay at the position, so Almanzar could follow in that path if he keeps his conditioning in check. Noboa is the trainer who had Nomar Mazara when he signed with the Rangers for $4.95 million in 2011. Padres general manager A.J. Preller was with the Rangers at the time, and it looks like Preller’s Padres are going to sign Almanzar this year for a bonus of at least $4 million. 3. Luis Garcia, ss, Dominican Republic Born: May 16, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 170. B-T: L-R. Video Garcia’s father, also named Luis Garcia, played in the majors for the Tigers in 1999. He was a shortstop who played in eight games, going 1-for-9 in his big league career. He has handled the tryout process for his son, who has seen his stock take off over the past year and evolve into one of the elite 2016 prospects. Born in the United States, Garcia was still 14 last year when teams were already aggressively scouting and trying to secure the top 2016 players. At the time, he had his hands set up low and would bail out when he swung, but he has since raised his hands, changed the way he loads and altered his hitting mechanics to become one of the better pure hitters in the class in addition to be of the most explosive athletes. He showed that in February at the MLB international showcase, where he went 4-for-6 with two walks, no strikeouts and two stolen bases. Garcia has a flat, simple swing geared for line drives with good bat-to-ball skills and he uses the middle of the field. He still has a tendency to step in the bucket, but he hits in games and shows signs of emerging power, driving the ball with loud contact against live pitching and flashing occasional over-the-fence pop in batting practice. Garcia combines performance and tools, as he’s also a quick-twitch athlete with plus-plus speed and a hard-nosed, high-energy style. Scouts highest on Garcia said he had good range, soft hands and an above-average arm. Others thought his actions and overall defensive polish would need more work and thought there was more risk that he could move off the position. If he does move, he still would stick up the middle at either center field or second base, and even the scouts who saw more room for improvement in his defense thought he showed the athleticism, work ethic and aptitude to make the adjustments to stick. Almanzar ranks one spot ahead of Garcia because Almanzar has a more extensive track record of game hitting, but Garcia is the superior athlete and runner. Garcia is expected to sign with the Nationals in the $1 million to $1.5 million range. 4. Gabriel Arias, ss, Venezuela Born: Feb. 27, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R. Video Kevin Maitan left little debate over who was the best player in Venezuela this year, but several clubs had Arias as the No. 2 player in the country. He trains with Ciro Barrios, whose program has graduated Franklin Barreto and Gleyber Torres. At 14, Arias was the youngest player on Venezuela’s 15U World Cup team in August 2014, when he made the most of his playing time by going 4-for-9 with two doubles and four walks. Two months later, Arias played shortstop and hit third in the lineup for the Venezuelan team at the COPABE 14U Pan American Championship in Nicaragua. Arias is not the same type of explosive athlete as Luis Garcia or Freudis Nova, but he has a good blend of size, tools and baseball skills, with a high overall level of game awareness that helps him apply those tools in games. He has a lean, physical frame with a lot of room to fill out. Arias puts together quality at-bats, managing the strike zone with sound swing mechanics and bat path. There are times when he gets caught out front and rolls over groundballs to his pull side, but he’s comfortable using right-center field with loud line drives the other way. With his physical projection and the way he syncs up his hands and hips in his swing, Arias could grow into 15-20 home run power. Given how big Arias projects to be, some scouts expect him to outgrow shortstop and slide over to third base, but many others think he can remain a shortstop. An average runner, Arias has quick, fluid movements, with good hands and footwork. He gets quick reactions off the bat, reads hops well and has the internal clock for the position, slowing the game down to play under control. Arias’ best tool is his plus arm, which could get stronger, with a fluid release and good accuracy. Arias is a well-rounded player who earns comparisons to Mets shortstop Amed Rosario. He’s expected to sign with the Padres. 5. Freudis Nova, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Jan. 12, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. Video Nova established himself as one of the elite players in the class with his diverse set of explosive tools and athleticism at a premium position. He initially looked like he would sign with the Marlins for a little more than $2.5 million, but that’s no longer the case. Nova tested positive for anabolic steroids in February, and while he has since taken multiple drug tests that did not detect any banned stances, the Marlins backed away. Now it looks like the Astros will sign Nova for around $1.5 million. It’s hard to know exactly how to account for anabolic steroid use in an evaluation. Other players in the class have also tested positive, while many others have certainly used steroids and simply not been caught. Some players from previous years have seen their tools or stuff decline after testing positive, yet these players are so young that some players who used steroids ended up becoming faster, stronger and better overall players after they signed. Nova, who trains with Rudy Santin, is a quick-twitch athlete with a lean frame, excellent bat speed and power over the fence in batting practice. His swing is compact and stays through the hitting zone, with his head staying locked in throughout his swing to help him recognize pitches well for his age. He’s not as polished of a pure hitter as the players above him, but he has generally performed well, both in the International Prospect League and the MLB Amateur Prospect League. His speed and arm strength are both plus. He has good hands, makes the routine plays and has a high probability to stick at shortstop. He will need to improve his footwork and sharpen his fundamentals on certain plays where he’s going to his backhand or having to throw on the run. Despite the positive drug test, there is still plenty of reason to believe that Nova is one of the elite players in the class, with a well-rounded set of impact tools at a premium position. 6. Jeisson Rosario, of, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 10, 1999. Height: 5-11. Weight: 175. B-T: L-L. In a year where there wasn’t a great selection of premium outfielders, Rosario stood out as one of the best all-around outfielders in the class. He’s the type of player whose whole is greater than the sum of the parts, with no single elite tool that jumps out, but no glaring weaknesses either and strong baseball instincts. Rosario’s quick hands generate snappy bat speed with a short path to the ball. He stands upright and his weight will drift out front, so he can get pull-conscious, but he tracks pitches well and takes a line-drive approach in games. Rosario has strong hands and wrists to flick balls with loft and the ability to go over the fence in batting practice, showing signs of emerging pop to grow into 15 home run power. Rosario’s offensive profile fits well in center field, if he can stay there. He’s athletic but not a burner, with average speed that could tick up, though the lack of plus wheels is a risk factor of him moving to right field for some scouts. Others believe he’s a true center fielder because he has some of the best defensive instincts in the class, with good actions, crisp routes for his age and the ability to make diving catches. Rosario’s best present tool is his above-average arm, with a longer arm stroke and good carry to his throws. After playing in the Dominican Prospect League and training with Pedro Nivar, who is known as “Nube,” Rosario is expected to sign with the Padres for a little less than $2 million, which should make him the top-paid outfielder in the class. 7. David Garcia, c, Venezuela Born: Feb. 6, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R. Video A year ago, Garcia had a small, frail build at around 5-foot-9, 145 pounds with limited strength, so he wasn’t getting as much attention at the time as other catchers like Abrahan Gutierrez. Now that Garcia has grown taller, gotten stronger, shortened his swing and improved behind the plate, several scouts consider him the best catcher available for July 2. He’s a switch-hitter with a low-maintenance, simple stroke that’s compact and direct to the ball with good swing plane from both sides. His lefthanded swing used to get long, but he’s shortened up to the point where now some scouts consider him a better hitter from the left side. Garcia has a sound hitting approach and good bat-to-ball skills, though with his medium frame he’s focused on line drives and working the gaps and using the middle of the field, projecting as more of a doubles threat than a home run hitter. After spending some time at shortstop when he was younger, Garcia committed to catching full time a year and a half ago. Scouts are now comfortable projecting him to stay behind the plate, where he’s a smooth receiver for his age with quick hands and feet. His arm is about average, with good arm action that could lead to his arm strength improving. Garcia has a fast exchange that helps him get rid of the ball quickly and makes accurate throws. He’s a steady defender all-around and a high level of overall game awareness. Garcia, who is represented by Felix Olivo, is expected to sign with the Rangers. 8. Yunior Severino, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 3, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R. Severino, who trains with Rudy Santin, is an offensive-minded infielder with big power potential. Between the MLB international showcase in February and a game against the Canadian junior national team in May, Severino went 2-for-6 with a double, two walks and no strikeouts. His quick wrists generate excellent bat speed, with a swing geared for power. Severino starts up with a leg kick and has a lot of movement in his swing, looking to launch balls from both sides of the plate. When those movements are all in sync and he’s able to connect, the ball jumps off his bat with good exit velocity and he could grow into 20-plus home run power since he’s still fairly lean. The parts don’t always line up on time though, which led to some up-and-down performances against live pitching. A fringe-average runner, Severino might start his career at shortstop with a chance to stay there, but most felt a position change is in his future. Severino plays under control, but his athleticism and footwork aren’t ideal at shortstop. His hands are fine and his arm is a 45-50 tool on the 20-80 scale with an easy release. Either third or second base could be a future defensive home for him. The Braves are expected to sign Severino for a bonus close to $2 million. 9. Jose Sanchez, ss, Venezuela Born: July 12, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R. Sanchez is still 15, so he can sign once he turns 16 on July 12, with the Nationals expected to land him. Other players have louder tools, but Sanchez is a favorite among many scouts for his ability to play shortstop, hit in games with outstanding all-around baseball instincts and refinement for his age. Sanchez has a thin frame lacking strength, but he has quick hands and a simple, sound swing with a flat path, leading to a high contact rate. He’s a smart hitter with a line-drive approach, using the middle of the field and taking pitches on the outer third the opposite way. His power is limited to the gaps, but once he gets stronger he should be able to do more damage upon contact. At shortstop, Sanchez has some of the best hands and feet in the class. He’s an average runner with good athleticism, actions and fluidity for the position. His internal clock for the position shows, with a knack for slowing the game down and being in the right place at the right time. He has a good arm with true carry on his throws to first base. How much stronger Sanchez gets will be key to his development, but he should be able to perform well right away in the Dominican Summer League next year, with a skill set similar to fellow Venezuelan shortstop Diego Castillo, who had an outstanding pro debut in the DSL last year for the Yankees. Sanchez trains with Jose Carrasquel. 10. Victor Garcia, of, Venezuela Born: Sept. 16, 1999. Height: 6-2. Weight: 225. B-T: R-R. Video Garcia separated himself with a huge showing at MLB’s Venezuelan national showcase in November, where he showed off his power and performed well in games. For Garcia, his value lies in his ability to mash. He has arguably the best power in the class, with plus raw power that generates one of the loudest BPs in his age group. While a lot of 16-year-olds with big thunder mostly show their power to the pull side, Garcia distinguishes himself by showing power to center field with a middle-of-the-field approach. There is some stiffness to his game, but several scouts said Garcia showed good feel for hitting against live pitching. The game hitting wasn’t always consistent, with times where he might have tried to do too much to show off his power and got fooled expanding the strike zone against offspeed pitches. But even scouts who saw those moments from him saw other times where he stayed back on breaking balls, stayed within the strike zone and hammered live pitching. Garcia is a large individual already, so even in a best-case scenario he will likely be limited to left field. He does record solid 60-yard dash times for his size, but he’s a below-average runner with a restricted gait who will likely slow down. Garcia doesn’t show much arm strength, and with some scouts thinking he might add another 25-40 pounds, he might end up at first base. The lack of positional value adds risk, but that will be fine if Garcia can hit and translate his impact power in games to hit in the middle of the lineup. The Cardinals are expected to sign Garcia, who trains with Francisco Ortiz. 11. Yorbin Ceuta, ss, Venezuela Born: Jan. 14, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R. Ceuta isn’t the biggest or flashiest shortstop, but he’s one of the savviest players and one of the better hitters among middle infielders this year. Ceuta hit leadoff for Venezuela in the championship game of the COPABE 14U Pan American Championship in Nicaragua in 2014, one game after he went 3-for-4 with a home run in the semifinal. Power isn’t typically part of Ceuta’s game, but racking up hits is common for Ceuta, a switch-hitter who barrels balls consistently. He has excellent bat-to-ball skills with solid bat speed, good swing path, a line-drive approach and gap power. Ceuta has good pitch recognition and plate discipline, so while he doesn’t project to crank too many home runs, he should have strong on-base skills. Ceuta doesn’t have the speed or twitchy athleticism of other shortstops like Freudis Nova or Luis Garcia, but he does have a chance to stay at shortstop and should at least start his career there. He’s has soft hands, good footwork and smooth actions, with slightly below-average speed and a near-average arm. Ceuta isn’t flashy, but he’s a fluid, highly instinctive player with a good internal clock. He’s not that physical right now, so if he gets stronger and the tools improve, Ceuta could stick at shortstop, but if not that increases the probability of him moving to second base. He ranks behind fellow Venezuelan shortstop Jose Sanchez because Sanchez has a higher chance to remain at shortstop. The Astros are expected to sign Ceuta, who trains with Rafael Moncada. 12. Francisco Morales, rhp, Venezuela Born: Oct. 22, 1999. Height: 6-5. Weight: 200. B-T: R-R. Morales jumps out immediately for his size, with a tall frame, broad shoulders and a wide back. All of the arrows have been trending in the right direction since last year for Morales, who has always had a big fastball for his age. Last fall, Morales was touching 91 mph, then started reaching 94 earlier this year. Now he sits at 90-94 mph with late life and has even reached 96, which is rare for a 16-year-old. He slings the ball from a three-quarters slot and has a tendency to get underneath the ball, but when he stays on top of the ball he delivers his fastball with downhill plane. The split among scouts on Morales swung based on their view of his control and slider. Last year, Morales had trouble syncing up his mechanics to be able to throw strikes, but scouts who saw him more recently have liked his delivery and improved control. While some scouts thought Morales was mainly an arm strength guy, others saw a good slider with good shape, spin and late action, with early signs of feel for a changeup as well. Morales, who trains with Yasser Mendez, is expected to sign with the Phillies. 13. Marcos Brito, ss, Dominican Republic Born: March 6, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 150. B-T: B-R. Video Brito’s brother is Rockies second baseman Antony Brito, a 21-year-old who hit .316/.352/.381 in 42 games last year in the Rookie-level Pioneer League and is playing in the short-season Northwest League this year. While Antony signed three years ago for just $15,000, Marcos appears to be in line for a bonus of at least $1 million, with the Athletics expected to sign him. Brito has shown polished baseball skills while training with Decarte Corporan and playing in the Dominican Prospect League. His swing is compact from both sides with good plate discipline for his age. He’s a high-contact hitter who sprays the ball around and uses the whole field, though with his small frame he doesn’t have much power and probably won’t ever be more than a gap threat, with a chance for 6-10 home runs at his peak. With fringe-average speed and average arm strength with a quick release, Brito isn’t a toolsy shortstop, but he has smooth defensive actions, quick hands and advanced all-around baseball instincts for his age. He is athletic and some scouts think he can stay at shortstop as a steady defender, especially if the tools tick up once he gets stronger, though others think he could end up at second base. Brito’s all-around game has similarities to Michael De Leon, another switch-hitting shortstop from the DPL who entered the 2016 season as the Rangers’ No. 14 prospect. 14. Yasel Antuna, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 26, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 173. B-T: B-R. Jaime Ramos consistently ends up with some of the most expensive players, including outfielder Jonathan Sierra (Cubs, $2.6 million) last year, shortstop Gilbert Lara (Brewers, $3,097,500) in 2014 and outfielder Jose Almonte (Rangers, $1.8 million) and shortstop Lucas Tirado (Dodgers, $1 million) in 2013. That trend will continue this year, with Antuna expected to score a bonus near $4 million from the Nationals. Scouts have been tracking Antuna since he was 13, and the biggest draw for those who liked him is his bat. Between the MLB international showcase in February and a game against the Canadian junior national team in May, Antuna went 3-for-10 with two walks and two strikeouts. He’s a high-waisted switch-hitter who’s more advanced from the left side, as he only started hitting righthanded around seven months ago. While other players gear up and try to yank the ball for power in BP, Antuna has a calmer hitting approach with fewer moving parts and solid bat-to-ball skills. He has a good hitting mentality and could grow into average power, though his swing plane isn’t geared for loft. Antuna isn’t especially athletic or toolsy and probably won’t stay at shortstop too long. He showed better speed and athleticism a year ago, but he ran below-average at the MLB international showcase in February. His range would fit better at third base, where he has the arm strength to play, while others think second base could be another option, as could the outfield if he outgrows the infield altogether. Antuna is still one of the better players in the Dominican Republic, but for a player who lacks big tools or quick-twitch athleticism, he just hasn’t dominated in games the way a lot of scouts would like to have seen for a player in line for a top-end bonus. 15. Abrahan Gutierrez, c, Venezuela Born: Oct. 31, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 205. B-T: R-R. Video Between training at Carlos Guillen’s academy and playing alongside older players at international tournaments, Gutierrez has been on the radar as a high-profile prospect for a while. When Gutierrez was 11, he played catcher in the 12U World Championship in Taiwan. Then in 2014, he was a 14-year-old starting catcher for the Venezuelan team at the 15U World Cup in Mexico, where he hit .250/.348/.400 in 22 plate appearances. Gutierrez benefitted from a lot of hype and exposure early in the process and is still expected to receive one of the top bonuses in the class, but he hasn’t progressed the way many scouts had hoped and is one of the most difficult players on this list to rank. While David Garcia has passed him as the top 2016 catcher, Gutierrez is still one of the best catching prospects this year. He’s grown into a thicker-bodied catcher, so while he’s not as athletic or agile as fellow Venezuelan catcher Alison Quintero and will have to keep his conditioning in check, he is an experienced receiver with good catch-and-throw skills. Reports on Gutierrez’s pure arm strength were mixed, but those highest on him saw him flash a strong arm last year with accurate throws. Gutierrez is a solid hitter for a catcher, but he hasn’t shown a standout carrying tool or dominant game performance scouts would have liked to seen given his expected price tag. There’s some stiffness and length to his swing with a tendency to expand the zone, but he has solid contact skills for a catcher and uses the opposite field. He can occasionally pull a ball over the fence, but his power is mostly to the gaps. While there are scouts who will think this ranking for Gutierrez is generous, he is expected to sign with the Braves for what will likely be the second-highest bonus in Venezuela this year after Kevin Maitan. 16. Livan Soto, ss, Venezuela Born: June 22, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 165. B-T: L-R. Soto, who trains with Yasser Mendez, was a small, skinny, shortstop at 5-foot-9, 145 pounds last year, but he has grown taller and added more strength since then. He’s still not very physical, but he has a simple hitting approach and keeps his hands inside the ball with good bat control from the left side. It’s an efficient swing without much thump, as he’s mostly a singles hitter who doesn’t project to hit for much power. He steps in the bucket at times but he sprays the ball to all fields with good contact skills. A high baseball IQ guy with a gamer mentality, Soto can pick it at shortstop with good hands and instincts for the position. He’s an average runner with an average arm that should continue to tick up with natural strength progression, which would make it more ideal for shortstop. The Braves have been all over Soto since last year and are expected to sign him. 17. Luis Noguera, lhp, Venezuela Born: March 20, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 165. B-T: L-L. Few senior-level decision-makers got many looks at Noguera, who didn’t go to the MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic in February or even MLB’s Venezuelan national showcase in November. Yet Venezuelan scouts who were able to see Noguera said he was the best lefthanded pitcher in the 2016 class. Noguera has an excellent, highly projectable frame for a pitcher with room to add weight and increase his fastball. That’s already started to happen, with all the projection indicators pointing toward more velocity coming thanks to a smooth, compact delivery and loose, easy arm action. Noguera wasn’t blowing up the radar gun last year like some other prospects who are more thrower than pitcher, but he has superior pitchability and his fastball has already started to climb, going from the mid-to-upper 80s last year to sitting in the upper-80s and touching 91 more recently. He should be able to cruise comfortably in the low-90s within the next few years. Noguera also shows good feel for his secondary pitches, including a curveball with sharp snap and good depth and a changeup with late dive and good separation off his fastball. His pitching savvy is advanced for his age, with the athleticism to repeat his compact delivery and locate his fastball well for a 16-year-old. Noguera, who trains with Juan Villegas , projects as a starter with a three-pitch mix and is expected to sign with the Rockies. 18. Diego Infante, of, Venezuela Born: Oct. 22, 1999. Height: 6-2. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. Several clubs had Infante ranked high on their list of the top outfielders for this year. He’s long and lean with a lot of room to add strength to his athletic, high-waisted frame. His righthanded swing is short and simple with good bat speed, clean path to the ball and good extension. Infante doesn’t have the same thunder in his bat as fellow Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, but he the ball already jumps off his bat with good exit velocity and he has the physical projection to grow into 15-20 home runs with a chance for more. He has performed well against live pitching too and shown the ability to use the middle of the field with good rhythm, though some scouts said his game performance slowed down some, with concerns about swing-and-miss against breaking pitches. Most scouts project Infante as a corner outfielder, where he has the tools and athleticism to be an average to above-average defender. He’s around an average runner for now with long, athletic strides and good outfield actions. Infante trains at the PDW Academy and is expected to sign with the Rays. 19. Brayan Gonzalez, ss, Venezuela Born: Jan. 14, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R. Video Gonzalez, who trains with Ciro Barrios, is one of the smarter, more polished players in the class, combining solid tools with good instincts. Gonzalez has strong legs and a compact, relatively filled-out frame for a 16-year-old shortstop, built along the lines of Diamondbacks shortstops Jean Segura and Domingo Leyba. He’s a switch-hitter with good bat speed who performed well in February at the MLB international showcase, where he went 4-for-6 with a walk, no strikeouts and two stolen bases. Scouts highest on Gonzalez liked his ability to make contact, track pitches and control the strike zone, showing a line-drive approach with gap power. Others had more concerns with swing-and-miss, some of which could be because his lefthanded swing gets uphill with more holes, while his righthanded swing is cleaner and more efficient. Gonzalez has a chance to stay at shortstop and some scouts liked his defense there, but because of the way he’s built and what that might mean for his range, some view him as a future second baseman. Some scouts even wondered whether he could be a catcher, noting that he has the build, arm strength, footwork and intelligence for the position, though he’s expected to start his career as a shortstop. Gonzalez is an average runner with quick hands, footwork and actions and shortstop. He has a 55 arm on the 20-80 scale, with good throwing mechanics and the ability to make accurate throws on the run. The Phillies are expected to sign Gonzalez. 20. Jean Carlos Carmona, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 31, 1999. Height: 5-11. Weight: 180. B-T: B-R. Carmona is one of the most advanced hitters in the International Prospect League. He performs well in games, racking up hits with plenty of loud line drives from both sides of the plate and a good swing especially from the left side. He has a strong, stocky type build that’s already mature for a 16-year-old, so there isn’t a ton of physical projection to expect a big power spike, but he could have average power. His hitting ability should allow for a smooth transition to pro ball next year. He runs surprisingly well for his body type, with average speed and solid athleticism. He will likely slow down, but he has good instincts on the basepaths. While Carmona might start out at shortstop, most scouts don’t expect him to stay there too long. Several clubs viewed him as an offensive-minded second baseman, while others thought third base would be a possibility. He throws from a lower slot but has a solid-average arm with good carry. The Brewers are expected to sign Carmona, who trains with Angel Gonzalez. 21. Yeikel Blandin, of, Venezuela Born: Jan. 9, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 160. B-T: L-R. Blandin played center field and hit leadoff for Venezuela in the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship last year in Mexico, where he went 13-for-30 (.367) and slugged .533 with more walks (6) than strikeouts (4). He was one of the few Venezuelan hitters who performed well in a 19-2 loss to the United States, going 2-for-2 with a walk in that game. Blandin’s two main tools are his bat and his speed. He’s a skinny lefthanded hitter who doesn’t have premium bat speed but does have a knack for putting the ball in play with a sense of timing at the plate. Scouts who liked Blandin the most saw a contact-oriented hitter who sprayed line drives around the field with occasional sneaky pop into the gaps. With plus speed and good bat control, Blandin has the attributes to be a table-setter toward the top of the lineup, though he will have to get stronger to do more damage on contact. Blandin is fast enough to play center field, but his defensive reactions and routes have to improve for him to stay there, while his arm is below-average but fine for the position. Blandin trains with Johan Ocanto and is expected to sign with the Rockies. 22. Alison Quintero, c, Venezuela Born: April 22, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R. There are a lot of Venezuelan catchers who will sign for six-figure bonuses this year, but none of them is as athletic as Quintero, who trains with Yasser Mendez. Quintero has a lean upper half with great flexibility and agility throughout his body, which helps him bounce around behind the plate to block and receive well. His pure arm strength flashes average at best, but with his short, compact arm action, he gets rid of the ball quickly in under 2.0 seconds and puts his throws right on the bag at second base. He runs surprisingly well for a catcher with average speed, though he will slow down soon. He will likely be a favorite among managers for his high energy, leadership and all-around toughness that they are fond of having in a catcher. Quintero is a true catcher, it just remains to be seen how much impact he will have at the plate. He did hit well at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship in Mexico last year, when he went 9-for-16 (.563). His swing will need some adjustments, though it’s not a long stroke and he’s not a big swing-and-miss guy either. He has an aggressive hitting approach geared toward line drives with mostly singles and doubles at this point. The defensive tools Quintero has should allow him plenty of opportunities to stick around over the years ahead to figure it out at the plate. The Padres are the favorites to sign Quintero, who some scouts preferred to fellow Venezuelan catcher Abrahan Gutierrez. 23. Wenceel Perez, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 30, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R. Other shortstops will end up getting bigger bonuses, but Perez has one of the more enticing mixtures of athleticism and baseball instincts at a premium position. With a wiry build, Perez’s bouncy athleticism jumps out immediately, with plus speed that plays well in games. While some other players in the class with comparable quick-twitch are still raw athletes, Perez is a gamer with feel for hitting. He’s a potential table-setter at the top of the lineup who puts the ball in play consistently, slapping the ball around the field with a lot of line drives from both sides of the plate and gap power. Perez has good first-step quickness and turns the double play well at shortstop. He has a chance to stick at the position, with an average arm that could improve once he gets stronger. The Tigers are expected to land Perez, who trains with Christian Batista (known as “Niche”) and plays in the Dominican Prospect League. 24. Yerdel Vargas, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Feb. 17, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R. A lot of scouts liked Vargas, but he drew a wide range of opinions for what they liked about him. Some scouts thought he was one of the better defensive shortstops in the class, with smooth hands and footwork to with a strong, accurate arm. He’s not a big runner, but he’s an athletic, high-energy player who can make the flashy play. Other scouts didn’t see the body control or consistency on the routine plays to project him as a true shortstop, believing he would fit better at second or third base, though most liked his fielding ability at shortstop. Vargas has a strong build already and quick bat speed. Some scouts thought Vargas showed signs of progress at the plate as July 2 approached, but he was an up-and-down performer against live pitching. He cranks his back elbow and wraps his bat when he loads, creating a loop with some length and uppercut in his swing, leaving him especially vulnerable when he lunges and gets caught out front. In BP he can occasionally pull a ball over the fence, but he’s more of a gap hitter in games with a chance to hit 10-15 home runs. The Athletics are expected to sign Vargas, who played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with “Jayson.” 25. Roancy Contreras, rhp, Dominican Republic Born: Nov. 7, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. Contreras won’t be the top-paid pitcher in the Dominican Republic or even the top-paid Dominican pitcher named Contreras this year, but some scouts considered him the best 2016 pitcher in the country. Contreras had a strong showing at the MLB international showcase in February, when he struck out five of the nine batters he faced. Contreras has a smaller stature but a good delivery and arm action. His fastball has crept up, sitting at 88-91 mph with good movement and bumping 93. He has good balance over the rubber, which helps him create downhill plane on his fastball. Contreras’ big-breaking curveball gives him a secondary pitch to miss bats. It’s a true curve with tight spin and top-to-bottom action, flashing above-average already, while he’s shown early signs of feel for a changeup. Some teams saw erratic control from Contreras early on, which might contribute to his price not ending up higher, but others saw him throw strikes and even those who didn’t thought the delivery, arm action and strong lower half boded well for his future control and ability to remain a starter. Contreras, who trains with Basilio Vizcaino (known as “Cachaza”) and played in the Dominican Prospect League, is expected to sign with the Yankees. 26. Yefri Del Rosario, rhp, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 23, 1999. Height: 5-11. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R. There are questions about whether Del Rosario’s future is as a starter or a reliever, but he has some of the best present stuff among 16-year-old pitchers in the class. He showed that at the MLB international showcase in February, when he struck out five of the 14 batters he faced with four swinging strikeouts. Del Rosario’s fastball sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94. His breaking ball already flashes plus, with hard, sharp action to get swing-and-miss. It’s a pitch he’s comfortable throwing when he gets to two strikes or when he’s behind in the count. Del Rosario also throws a changeup that he shows some feel for with good action on that pitch as well. The risk with Del Rosario is his future role. He has excellent arm speed and an athletic delivery, but there’s effort to his mechanics and his arm action isn’t the cleanest because of the way he stabs his arm in the back. When Del Rosario is in a groove, some scouts have seen him throw strikes, but his command can be scattered, which could be tied to his delivery and arm action. Between the mechanics and his smaller stature, a lot of scouts think he’s a future reliever, but he should get every opportunity to develop as a starter. While Del Rosario has slightly better present stuff than Roancy Contreras, he ranks behind him because Contreras has an easier delivery and less bullpen risk. Where Del Rosario signs is a source of intrigue, as he’s been tied to both the Braves and Indians leading up to July 2. He trains with Carlos Guzman. 27. Marcos Gonzalez, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 22, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 160. B-T: R-R. Gonzalez is one of the more underrated players in the class. Coming into the year, he didn’t have the loud tools as a 15-year-old that typically grab people’s attention, but he has been one of the top offensive performers in the Dominican Prospect League with his strength and tools steadily picking up along the way. Gonzalez has a medium frame with solid athleticism and a mature approach to hitting. His hands are quick with a short, flat swing path geared for line drives. He doesn’t swing-and-miss much and he consistently puts together quality at-bats to find a way to get on base. His power is mostly to the gaps with a chance to hit 10-plus home runs in the future. There are flashier shortstops than Gonzalez, but he’s a fundamentally sound player who projects to stick at the position. He has improved his speed a grade to become a solid-average runner and his arm strength also ticked up to a 50-55 on the 20-80 scale. He can get flat-footed in the field, but he has soft hands and is a smart player who has a habit of being in the right place at the right time. Players who stood out earlier in the tryout process will end up getting paid more than Gonzalez, but he’s one of the better players in the class because of his chance to hit and stick at shortstop. The Indians are expected to land Gonzalez, who trains with Hector Evertz. 28. Justin Lopez, ss, Venezuela Born: May 9, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R. Lopez was Venezuela’s shortstop at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championships in Mexico last year, where he went 8-for-27 (.296) with one extra-base hit and no strikeouts. Lopez is a tall, gangly shortstop whose future will be dictated by how he develops physically. His lack of strength inhibits him now and might take a few years to come around, so there’s a lot of uncertainty and long-range projection on Lopez, but he already has some of the smoothest hands of any infielder in the class and does things easily at shortstop. He has good defensive actions, moves his feet well and has good instincts for the position, making up for below-average speed with good reads off the bat. Lopez also has a plus arm with a quick transfer to get rid of the ball quickly and a clean release, with the ability to throw for different angles. Lopez has the arm and the actions for shortstop, but he’s still not a lock to stay at the position. He has limited foot speed, which some scouts hope will improve as he gets stronger, but he’s big enough he might end up 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4 and simply outgrow the position and move to third base. Lopez has to stick at shortstop to have value, since his glove is ahead of his bat. He’s a switch-hitter who has more pop from the left side but better bat control hitting lefty. There were some scouts who liked Lopez’s swing, but even they said he had trouble keeping it together consistently because of his lack of strength. He gets himself closed off and might need to tweak his hand setup to cut down on some of the loop and sweep in his swing, but at his best he shows the ability to use the middle of the field with line drives and occasional gap power. The Padres are the favorites to sign Lopez, who trains with Jose Montero. 29. Luis Veloz, of, Dominican Republic Born: Dec. 15, 1999. Height: 6-2. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R. Video Veloz is a strong player with mature physical tools and a projectable body. His quick bat speed is what stands out at the plate and he should grow into at least average power once he gets stronger. While he has shown the ability to hit in games at times, it might be a power-over-hit profile because of the risk factors in his swing. He has a hitch in his stroke, which works as a timing mechanism for some players, but there’s length and loop to the hitting zone that creates holes and causes his swing to get bigger in games, leading to strikeout concerns. Veloz might be able to start out in center field, but he profiles as a right fielder with a strong arm and average speed, which will likely slow down as he fills out. There’s has been some uncertainty as of late regarding where Veloz will sign, but the Mariners look like the favorites. Veloz trains with Jaime Ozuna and played in both the Dominican Prospect League and the International Prospect League. 30. Ricardo Mendez, of, Dominican Republic Born: Jan. 24, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 160. B-T: L-L. Mendez didn’t get much exposure over the past year, as he didn’t even go to MLB’s Venezuelan national showcase in November, but he is one of the top defensive center fielders for 2016. His speed earns 65 to 70 grades on the 20-80 scale. He’s an instinctive center fielder who works hard at his craft, getting quick reads off the bat with gliding strides and plenty of range. His arm is below-average, with a funky motion of throwing across his body that he might have to correct, but that’s enough arm to stay in center field. Mendez is still skinny and some thought even frail, so he might need time for strength to kick in for his bat to come around, but there were scouts who liked his hitting ability with a simple lefthanded swing. He has good hand-eye coordination and uses the middle of the field with a solid plan at the plate, just without much extra-base thump at this point. Mendez is a better defender than fellow Venezuelan center fielder Yeikel Blandin, though Blandin is more advanced at the plate. Mendez, who trains with Carlos Rios, is expected to sign with the Nationals. 31. Roimer Bolivar, of, Venezuela Born: Dec. 10, 1999. Height: 6-1. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R. Bolivar has one of the louder tool sets in Venezuela. He’s athletic with a projectable frame, above-average speed and one of the stronger arms in the class. It’s a defensive package that should give him a good chance to stay in center field, though his outfield actions and instincts will need improvement. There’s quite a bit of physical upside for Bolivar, who will have to smooth out some of the rough edges to his game. He has strong hands and good bat speed, so when the pitch is in the strike zone, he can make contact with loud line drives at high exit velocity. He has a chance to his for power, but his approach is still raw and he’s still learning to slow the game down. Bolivar trains with Wilmer Becerra (the father of Mets outfielder Wuilmer Becerra) and is expected to sign with the Red Sox. 32. Yenci Pena, ss, Dominican Republic Born: July 13, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R. Scouts who liked Pena considered him an offensive-minded prospect, though he drew a wide range of opinions. The scouts who were highest on Pena liked his swing and upside at the plate. He has good bat speed and a technically sound, compact swing in BP. Some scouts liked his ability to hit live pitching, while others thought he was inconsistent in games when he would lose his balance and get big with his swing. He has a wiry strong, athletic body, with loud line drives right now and room to grow into solid-average power. Pena won’t spend much time at shortstop, if he plays there at all. He probably migrates to third base soon after signing and in a perfect-world scenario remains there, but he has a ways to go to improve his defensive actions and the way he moves in the field. Pena has a funky throwing stroke but flashes an average arm. While he has a chance to play third base, some scouts think he will end up in left or right field. The Braves are expected to sign Pena, who trains with Victor Baez and played in the Dominican Prospect League, once he’s eligible to sign on July 13. 33. Josue Guerrero, of, Dominican Republic Born: Nov. 23, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R. We aren’t at the point where we can field an entire lineup of professional players related to Vladimir Guerrero, but we’re not far off either. The latest in line is Josue, who is one of Vlad’s nephews. Josue is the brother of Diamondbacks outfielder Gabby Guerrero and a cousin of Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Mets shortstop Gregory Guerrero, both of whom signed seven-figure deals last year. Like Vladdy Jr. and Gregory did, Josue trains with his uncle, former major leaguer Wilton Guerrero. Josue too is expected to be in line for a seven-figure bonus, with the White Sox expected to sign him for a little more than $1 million, though scouts didn’t consider him to be at the level of Vladimir or Gregory. Guerrero is a corner outfielder whose best tool is his power. It’s not huge raw power, but he’s strong for his age and the ball carries well off his bat. Early on, there were some scouts who thought Guerrero showed natural hitting ability, though he didn’t look the same at the MLB international showcase in February. Some scouts thought he showed a short swing when the ball was in the strike zone, but he has an aggressive approach and will expand the zone with a tendency to get big with his swing, leading to strikeouts. Guerrero is a limited athlete and runner with a below-average arm that might restrict him to left field, though his arm could get stronger. His skill set has some similarities to his brother Gabby’s when he signed with the Mariners for $400,000 in 2011, and Josue could develop along those same lines. 34. Tirso Ornelas, of, Mexico Born: March 11, 2000. Height: 6-3. Weight: 185. B-T: L-R. Ornelas is the top 2016 prospect in Mexico, with the Mexico City Red Devils holding his rights. The owner of the Red Devils is Alfredo Harp Helu, who is an investor in the Padres’ ownership group, and it’s the Padres who are expected to sign Ornelas for around $1.5 million. The calling card for Ornelas is his bat, which is about rhythm and timing over pure bat speed. He doesn’t have much quick-twitch in his hands or his athleticism, and he bars his arm out when he loads, which adds length to his swing. Yet Ornelas keeps the bat head through the hitting zone a long time with the hand-eye coordination to make consistent contact and hit to all fields. He’s able to catch up to good velocity and recognizes pitches well for his age. Ornelas mostly showed gap power, with a flatter swing plane that isn’t geared toward loft. The bat will have to carry Ornelas and the power will have to emerge later on, as he’s limited defensively. A below-average runner who will likely slow down, Ornelas has a 40-45 arm that might tick up to get him to play right field but might limit him to left field. His outfield routes are fine, but given his body type and athleticism, a lot of scouts wonder whether he might end up at first base, which would place even greater demands on his offensive output and future power. 35. Carlos Soler, of, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 29, 1999. Height: 6-3. Weight: 165. B-T: L-R. Soler’s physicality and tools give him a high upside if everything clicks. He’s long, lean, athletic and moves well for someone his size, with the physical projection for his already impressive tools to continue to improve. He’s around an average runner, floating in the outfield with easy strides, which combined with his athleticism is why some scouts project him as a center fielder. He has one of the strongest outfield arms in the class, earning 60 to 70 grades on the 20-80 scale. Soler has slightly above-average raw power that should be plus soon. There’s length to the swing, however, and his habit of lunging at the ball gets him out on his front foot and leads to swing-and-miss that concerned some clubs. The Cardinals are expected to sign Soler, who played in the International Prospect League and trains with Laurentino Genao. 36. Luis Mieses, of, Dominican Republic Born: May 31, 2000. Height: 6-4. Weight: 185. B-T: L-L. Mieses is a big lefthanded hitter who stood out for his offensive upside. He has a large frame and could put on another 40-plus pounds, with the ability to drive the ball with authority already in games. For someone with long arms, Mieses does a good job of keeping his hands inside the ball with a short, quick stroke and smooth hitting actions and a slight uppercut stroke. Some scouts had concerns about his pitch recognition—Mieses will expand the strike zone and swing through high fastballs—but he has a chance to hit and hit for power. Mieses is a below-average runner with an above-average arm that should fit in right field. Hitting comes more naturally to Mieses than fielding, so he will need a lot of work to improve his reads and routes in the outfield. The White Sox are expected to land Mieses, who trains with Christian Yrizarry of Athletes Premier and played in the Dominican Prospect League. 37. Anderson Comas, of, Dominican Republic Born: Feb. 10, 2000. Height: 6-4. Weight: 170. B-T: L-L. Seven years ago, Christian Batista (the trainer known as “Niche”) has a tall, skinny, lefthanded outfielder named Gregory Polanco who wasn’t getting much attention at the time, but saw his tools spike once he filled out and got stronger after signing with the Pirates. This year, Comas is another outfielder in Niche’s program with a similar long-limbed build to Polanco at the same age. Comas is tall and physically underdeveloped, especially in his legs, but with the frame to grow into a lot more physicality. For someone who looks like he would struggle to have enough strength to consistently hold his swing together, Comas has a remarkably smooth, easy stroke. He’s a calm hitter with a short, clean swing that has minimal effort, consistently barreling the ball with good bat control. He has feel for the strike zone and a knack for hitting, using the middle of the field and going the opposite way. Comas makes hard line drive contact in games and should be able to drive the ball with more power once he fills out. Some scouts didn’t see that same type of contact frequency, but still were drawn to his upside and the way the ball traveled off his bat when he got ahold of one on the sweet spot. A corner outfielder, Comas doesn’t run or throw that well yet, but those tools could still tick up just with normal strength progression. The White Sox are expected to sign Comas, who played in the Dominican Prospect League. 38. Leuri Mejia, of, Dominican Republic Born: Aug. 30, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 145. B-T: B-L. Players who are 16 can sign when the international signing period opens on July 2. If a player is 15 but turns 16 by Aug. 31, he can sign beginning on his 16th birthday. Mejia was born on Aug. 30, 2000, which means had he been born 48 hours later, he would have been part of the 2017 class. Given the uncertainty of what might happen with the international signing system in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, perhaps that’s an advantage, but it’s also difficult for him competing as one of the youngest players in the class. That’s especially true now that teams are doing much of their scouting for the 2016 class in the summer of 2015, when Mejia was still 14 and it looked like the bat was swinging him. Mejia’s youth shows in his limited strength and physicality, but he does have excellent speed and athleticism. He’s at least a plus runner and projects as a true center fielder. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the class with good instincts and range, along with a solid-average arm that should get stronger, even though there’s some effort to the arm swing. Mejia’s defense at a premium position drives his value, but scouts are still waiting on his bat to come around. Mejia does show some plate patience and he did have his believers with the bat, but he has work to do on his swing and doesn’t do much damage on contact. The Rangers are the favorites to sign Mejia, who trains with Felo and Mendez and played in the Dominican Prospect League. 39. Kevin Richards, of, Dominican Republic Born: Jan. 8, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 160. B-T: R-R. Richards is one of the premier athletes in the class. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.52 seconds at the MLB international showcase in February, the fastest time at the event. He has plus-plus speed and plenty of fast-twitch coming form his lean, wiry, highly projectable frame, with a strong arm in center field. If scouts felt comfortable that Richards could develop into an average hitter, he would be in one of the top 10 spots on this list, but his swing and overall feel for hitting are still crude. His bat speed is good and he can hit hard line drives when he runs into the sweet spot, but he bails out and hits from his heels frequently, with a long stroke and pitch recognition that will need improvement to cut down on his swing-and-miss. To his credit, he did go 3-for-6 with a double and a walk (though he also struck out three times) at the MLB international showcase in February, so the upside is exciting if the bat comes around. The A’s are expected to sign Richards, who trains with Nelsy Brito and Kelvin Nova. 40. Angel Macuare, rhp, Venezuela Born: March 3, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. Macuare, who trains with Francisco Ortiz, is one of the top power arms in the 2016 class. He performed well at the MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic in February, when he didn’t allow a run and struck out three of the eight batters he faced. Macuare is strong, projectable and athletic, throwing 89-94 mph, with a loose arm and room to add more velocity, although it can come in on a flatter plane. Macuare also shows feel to spin a hard curveball with tight spin to give him a potential out pitch, with the curve ahead of his changeup. Macuare has a durable frame for starting, but scouts would like to see him throw more strikes and show better overall feel for pitching, though some thought he had better command than people give him credit for. There’s some effort to his delivery and bullpen risk, but he has power stuff potential. The Astros are expected to sign Macuare. 41. Juan Contreras, rhp, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 8, 1999. Height: 6-1. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R. Luis Mejia trains two of the top Dominican pitchers this year in Contreras and Michell Miliano. Contreras projects as more of a power arm and already has one of the best fastballs in the class, ranging from 89-94 mph and delivering the pitch with downhill angle. With his arm speed and the projection to his body, Contreras should be able to reach the upper-90s within the next few years. Scouts would like to see more touch and feel from Contreras for him to remain a starter. The rest of his arsenal beyond his fastball is inconsistent, with scattered strike-throwing ability. While several scouts preferred Roancy Contreras or Yefri Del Rosario as the No. 1 pitcher in the Dominican Republic, Contreras is expected to be the top-paid pitcher with a bonus of a little more than $1 million. The Braves are expected to sign him. 42. Diego Blanco, rhp, Venezuela Born: Sept. 14, 1999. Height: 6-2. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R. Blanco has been off the radar for a while, but he was trending in the right direction. He has a projectable starter’s build with a quick arm and loose arm action. Blanco throws 87-91 mph with good movement from a high three-quarters arm slot. Once he adds weight and strength, he should be able to pitch at least in the low-90s. When he’s at his best, Blanco shows feel for a slider with tight spin. Blanco’s athleticism should help him repeat his delivery as he gains more experience on the mound, though he’s not as refined with his pitchability as fellow Venezuelan pitcher Luis Noguera. Blanco trains with Ivan Suarez and is expected to sign with the Rockies. 43. Nerio Rodriguez, c, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 21, 1999. Height: 5-11. Weight: 205. B-T: R-R. There aren’t many Dominican catchers in major league history, but Rodriguez isn’t a typical Dominican catcher. His father, also named Nerio Rodriguez, signed with the White Sox out of the Dominican Republic as a catcher and made it to Double-A before converting to pitching. His first full season as a pitcher was 1996 and he reached the major leagues that year, then ranked as the No. 96 prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list after the season. He pitched five seasons in the major leagues between 1996-2002, mostly as a reliever for the Orioles and Blue Jays. He went on to pitch in the Mexican League and in winter ball in the Dominican League through 2012 when he was 41. His son, who trains with Edgar Mercedes, is a fluent English speaker who has spent time in the United States. He’s a mature, heavy-framed catcher who stood out for his bat. There’s strength and leverage in his swing with a slight uppercut and a knack for getting the barrel out on time to hit in games. There isn’t a ton of physical upside, but with his present strength, the ball jumps off his bat well right now. Rodriguez is an offensive-minded catcher who some scouts thought was a solid defender for his age with an average arm. Others thought his defensive agility and throwing would need time to catch up and that he would need to stay on top of his conditioning to remain behind the plate. The Astros are expected to sign Rodriguez. 44. Pablo Abreu, of, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 19, 1999. Height: 5-11. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. The first thing scouts usually point to with Abreu is his above-average bat speed. There’s nothing else plus in Abreu’s skill set, but he has the quick bat and present strength to flash occasional over-the-fence power in batting practice. Some clubs thought Abreu showed solid feel for hitting, but he’s still learning to translate the bat speed into consistent game at-bats, with a loop to his trigger that adds extra length to the zone. There’s some stiffness to his swing and he tends to leak open with his hips too early, with a mentality of trying to hit everything out of the park, though scouts said he was showing signs of progress there. Abreu is a fringy runner with a solid arm, so he might rotate between all three outfield spots. His profile is caught between a center fielder and a corner guy, without the true defensive skill set for center and questions if the offense will be enough on a corner. The Brewers are the favorites to sign Abreu, who trains with Amauris Nina and played in the International Prospect League. 45. Nicolas Torres, ss, Venezuela Born: Sept. 23, 1999. Height: 5-10. Weight: 155. B-T: R-R. The phrase “good little player” comes up often when scouts talk about Torres. He’s a medium-frame, high-energy player with excellent speed. Torres is the fastest Venezuelan player on this list and one of the fastest players in the whole market, running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. Torres has some baseball know-how and is able to apply his speed to the game, getting out of the box quickly and stretching singles into doubles, with high stolen base potential. His BP won’t draw much attention, as he has limited power and probably won’t ever deliver much sock. He swing can look mechanical and pull-oriented in BP, but in games he does have solid bat-to-ball skills. There’s a chance Torres could stick at shortstop because he is athletic and does have good hands, but his below-average arm might lead him to second base. Torres, who trains with Henderson Martinez, is expected to go to the Phillies. 46. Deurys Carrasco, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 20, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 165. B-T: L-R. Carrasco trains with Luis Mejia, whose program also has righthanders Juan Contreras and Michell Miliano for this year. Carrasco is the top position player in Mejia’s program, showing a good balance of offensive and defensive skills to the scouts who liked him the most. Carrasco isn’t a fast runner but he is athletic, with good instincts, actions and footwork in the field, along with a plus arm. Carrasco is a lefthanded hitter with a short, quick stroke and uses the whole field. His hips tend to slide open early and there was some disagreement on the bat, but scouts highest on Carrasco felt he made consistent contact in games with a line-drive approach and doubles power, generating more damage upon contact once he got stronger as the signing process progressed. He showed a sense for staying within the strike zone as well. Carrasco played in the Dominican Prospect League and is expected to sign with the Astros. 47. Juan Aparicio, c, Venezuela Born: May 26, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R. Aparicio, who trains with Emiro Barboza, looks to be following in the footsteps of Rafael Marchan. In 2014, Marchan excelled at the plate for Venezuela’s 15U national team, then moved from shortstop to catcher before signing with the Phillies. Aparicio was also a standout hitter on the international stage, going 12-for-30 (.400) and slugging .767 (second in the tournament) at the COPABE 15U Pan American Championships in Mexico last year. His two home runs tied for the tournament lead, he walked three times and didn’t strike out. Aparicio was a third baseman at the time who has converted to catching, and like Marchan did last year, he’s expected to sign with the Phillies. He is relatively new to catching so he’s still learning the position, but his bat is what stands out. Aparicio doesn’t swing-and-miss much and uses the whole field with a line-drive approach. For someone who’s not that big, he makes consistent hard contact with surprising power for his size, with a chance to develop 10-15 home run power. 48. Michell Miliano, rhp, Dominican Republic Born: Dec. 22, 1999. Height: 6-3. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R. Luis Mejia trains righthander Juan Contreras, who is expected to be the top-paid pitcher in the Dominican Republic this year. He also has Miliano, who doesn’t have the same velocity but stood out as one of the better pitching prospects on the island. Miliano has a tall, thin frame with long arms and loose arm action, with lots of projection indicators that he will throw harder once he gains weight. His fastball right now sits at 87-90 mph and can reach 92. He has feel to spin a curveball that flashes average now, with his changeup still in its infancy. Miliano has a loose, fairly easy delivery, though he can be a bit upright and throws across his body. He’s a good athlete and generally a solid strike-thrower, though he’s had times where his control gets erratic. The Padres are expected to sign Miliano. 49. Alexander Campos, ss, Venezuela Born: Feb. 20, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 155. B-T: R-R. Campos trains with Ciro Barrios, whose program this year also has Venezuelan shortstop Gabriel Arias, the No. 4 international prospect for July 2 this year. Arias and Campos were teammates on Venezuela’s COPABE 14U Pan American Championship team, with Arias getting the everyday nod at shortstop. Campos isn’t at Arias’ level as a prospect, but he impressed scouts with his athleticism and speed. He’s a plus runner with a quick first step and good footwork at shortstop. There was a split camp on whether Campos would stay at shortstop, with some liking his athleticism and instincts there, while others thought his arm and range would move him either to second base or center field. Campos has a level, inside-out swing with gap power, occasionally putting a surprising charge into the ball for someone his size, though his speed and athleticism stand out more than his bat. The Mariners are expected to sign Campos. 50. Yordy Barley, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Dec. 3, 1999. Height: 6-0. Weight: 160. B-T:
Nationals 2021 Top 10

2021 Washington Nationals Top MLB Prospects

Ranking the 10 best prospects in the Washington Nationals farm system entering 2021.

R-R. Barley has a big gap between his pure athleticism and his baseball skills. He is one of the best athletes and fastest runners in the class, with scouts clocking him anywhere 6.4 to 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash. It’s plus-plus speed, though he’s still learning how to apply that speed to baseball situations and play under control. Barley has good bat speed and the loose, whippy swing itself looks nice in batting practice with gap power. Against live pitching, there’s a lot of swing and miss with a longer, uphill swing and a crude hitting approach. In the field, he’s a high-energy shortstop with bounce in his step when he fields a ground ball. He has an average arm that could get stronger, though he needs to keep his arm angle up to prevent his throws from sailing away. He has a chance to stay at shortstop, though a lot of scouts look at Barley’s speed and think he’s a future center fielder. There are a lot of different players who could go in this last spot. Some clubs will think No. 50 is too high for Barley, since there’s risk he might never hit his way past the complex leagues, but the Padres are expected to sign him for around $1 million. Barley trains with Javier Rodriguez, who also has outfielder Jorge Ona and lefthander Adrian Morejon, two top Cuban prospects the Padres have scouted extensively and are also expected to sign. Out of deference to the Padres perhaps having seen something more from Barley, he ranks No. 50 in this list.

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