Top 2017 International Prospects Scouting Reports
The 2017 international signing class is a strong one. This year, two players—Dominican shortstop Wander Franco and Venezuelan catcher Daniel Flores—separated themselves at the top of the class.
While typically there are 5-10 players who emerge among the elite prospects in a signing class, the 2017 group has strong depth of top-end talent. Any of the players in the top 15 could fit into a top five in many years.
Players can sign once the 2017-18 international signing period opens on July 2. Prospects with the best combination of tools and skills push their way to the top of the list, particularly if they project to play a premium position and hit at the top or the middle of a lineup. Forecasting the futures of international amateur players who are 15 and 16 involves a tremendous amount of uncertainty, so the lower you go on the list, the thinner the spread in talent becomes, and the more teams’ internal preference lists diverge, particularly on pitchers.
Due to the unique nature of how Cuban players become available to sign, they are not included in these rankings, though they are subject to the bonus pools. We will take them on a case-by-case basis to write them up as they sign or become available to sign.
1. Wander Franco, ss, Dominican Republic Born: March 1, 2001. Height: 5-10. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R.
Franco comes from a baseball family. His uncle is Erick Aybar, a 12-year big leaguer and current Padres shortstop. He has two older brothers—both also named Wander Franco—who are minor league third basemen, a 20-year-old with the Astros in low Class A and a 22-year-old with the Royals in high class A. Franco has separated himself as the best prospect in the Dominican Republic this year with his polished hitting ability, power potential and high overall game savvy while playing in the middle of the diamond. Several scouts consider Franco the best hitter in the 2017 class. He has a compact but powerful swing from both sides of the plate with premium bat speed. He keeps the barrel on plane through the hitting zone for a long time with excellent bat control, squaring up both fastballs and breaking pitches in all areas of the strike zone with a high contact rate. He has the hand-eye coordination to make contact even when he expands the zone, but Franco has a mature hitting approach, good pitch recognition skills and controls the strike zone well for his age. Franco isn’t tall, but with the strength in his forearms and legs, he flashes above-average raw power in batting practice, though in games he takes more of a contact-oriented, all-fields approach. His speed underway in the 60-yard dash belies his body type, grading out at least solid-average for now, though that might slow down in the next few years.
Franco has a physically mature frame for his age with a strong, thick lower half. He doesn’t have a typical wiry, slender build for a young shortstop, so because of his body type, many scouts expect him to slide over to second base eventually. Franco should start out at shortstop and some scouts do think he has a chance to stay there. His defensive actions don’t have any glaring red flags, as he’s surehanded with the glove, his feet work well, he has quick reactions off the bat and the internal clock for the position. He approaches groundballs on his heels at times and his arm stroke is just fair, but he has at least an average arm that could play at shortstop. If Franco does go to second base, he has the tools to develop into an above-average defender there. Beyond the tools, Franco is a baseball rat with game intelligence and savvy beyond his years, playing with a calm, under-control tempo but also a fiery, competitive intensity.
Franco trains with Rudy Santin and is expected to be the highest paid player in the class, with a bonus that should check in just under $4 million. The Rays are expected to sign Franco.
2. Daniel Flores, c, Venezuela Born: Oct. 21, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 190. B-T: B-R.
Some clubs have Flores ranked as the No. 1 player on their boards. Watch him throw to second base and it’s not hard to see why. He’s one of the best defensive catchers scouts have ever seen at his age. Flores records pop times to second base of 1.8 seconds in games, which is elite even for major league catchers, and even has crept in the 1.7s. He operates at a different speed than his peers, with supremely quick, light footwork and a fast transfer. He has a clean, fluid arm stroke with plus arm strength and the accuracy to throw low ropes on the bag at second base. He’s aggressive in showing off his arm and at times he rushes his throws when he doesn’t need to, but he can throw behind runners and catch them if they wander too far from the bag. Flores blocks balls well. Some scouts liked his receiving ability while others had more technical concerns, but the total package could make him an elite defender at the major league level eventually.
For scouts who saw Flores perform offensively at a high level, he was a no-brainer No. 1 prospect in the class, though others saw more inconsistent performance. Last summer, Flores hit well in games, showing a sound approach and a high contact rate. As July 2 got closer, multiple clubs said Flores didn’t perform as well when they saw him against live pitching, though some who saw up-and-down performance did note he put together quality at-bats even if he wasn’t getting hits. His swing lacks much rhythm at the plate, with his hands getting too still and stiff. He’s a strong, physical player for his age, with a more advanced stroke from the right side, and he flashes above-average raw power during batting practice.
Flores has a lot of similarities to Padres catcher Austin Hedges when he came out of high school, and if everything clicks he could develop along the lines of Salvador Perez. Flores’ camp had big bonus demands early on before the announcement of the new international hard caps, then didn’t back down once the new rules came out. At one point, the Rangers looked like they were likely to sign Flores, but now it appears the Red Sox are his most likely landing spot. Flores trains with Jose Salas.
3. Ronny Mauricio, ss, Dominican Republic Born: April 4, 2001. Height: 6-2. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R.
Mauricio is a favorite among many scouts for his combination of shortstop defense, feel for hitting and immense physical upside. He looks different than the other top shortstops in the class with long arms and legs on a skinny, high-waist frame that oozes physical projection. Mauricio is a below-average runner, but he’s an instinctive defender with quick reactions and good range. He has good body control and loose, fluid actions with clean hands and a quick transfer to a plus arm. He has a nose for the ball and a good internal clock, making plays to both sides and charging the ball. Mauricio has so much physical projection that there’s risk he could get so big that he outgrows shortstop, a concern several evaluators shared. As long as he maintains his agility, though, he should be able to stick at shortstop and field his position well. He’s a high-motor player with a high baseball IQ in all facets of the game.
At the plate, Mauricio isn’t as advanced as fellow Dominican shortstop Wander Franco, but he’s shown feel to hit in games with a smooth stroke from both sides. Mauricio has long arms but he keeps his hands short to the ball with quick, whippy bat speed, and he doesn’t get out and around the ball or sweepy. It’s a loose stroke without much effort and he shows good bat-to-ball skills. Even when he’s not on time, he doesn’t swing and miss much, usually putting together quality at-bats. Mauricio is a better hitter with a more refined stroke from the left side, where his swing stays more compact, though he has more strength from the right side. His path to the ball is good with enough lift in his swing for the hard doubles he’s hitting now to turn into more home runs once he packs another 25-plus pounds on his frame. The Mets are the favorites to sign Mauricio, who trains with Carlos Guzman and is expected to get around $2 million.
Twins Void $3 Million Contract Of Dominican Shortstop Jelfry Marte
One of the top 2017 international prospects is a free agent again.
4. Everson Pereira, of, Venezuela Born: April 10, 2001. Height: 5-11. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R.
Pereira has one of the most balanced, well-rounded skill sets in the 2017 class, with a promising combination of tools and game awareness. Though not as physical as fellow Venezuelan center fielder Raimfer Salinas, Pereira has a lean, athletic build and projects as a true center fielder. He’s a plus runner who fields his position well, showing good defensive instincts with the ability to lay out for the diving catch. He has a strong arm for his age that earns 50-55 grades with the projection to tick up to a 60 on the 20-80 scale.
At the plate, Pereira performs well in games with a short, pure swing and good bat speed. It’s a loose, whippy swing with a good bat path, and Pereira shows the bat control to make frequent contact. He has good rhythm and balance and is able to recognize breaking pitches well for his age, consistently putting together quality at-bats with a line drive, all-fields approach. Pereira can occasionally drive a ball over the fence but his power is mostly to the gaps right now. There’s lift in his swing to project for more pop once he gets stronger, though his offensive value will be tilted more toward his hitting and on-base skills than power. He should be a basestealing threat, already showing the instincts to take advantage of his speed on the basepaths. The Yankees are the favorites to sign Pereira, who trains with Jose Montero.
5. George Valera, of, Dominican Republic Born: Nov. 13, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. B-T: L-L.
Two years ago, Juan Soto was a lefthanded Dominican outfielder who established himself as one of the best hitters in the 2015 class after performing at a high level in the Dominican Prospect League. This year, Valera is another lefthanded outfielder who has played in the DPL and separated himself as a premium hitter, showing the ability to hit, draw walks and drive the ball for power in games. Valera, though, was born and raised in New York and speaks English fluently. At age 13, Valera moved to San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic with his parents and has been training with Alfredo Arias.
Valera has a beautiful swing. His hitting mannerisms in the way he sets up and rocks his hands back look like Robinson Cano, with a loose, relaxed, rhythmic stroke. It’s a compact, handsy swing with great bat path, whipping the barrel into the hitting zone quickly and staying on plane through the hitting zone for a long time. He has an innate feel for the barrel with good plate coverage. Valera’s pitch recognition skills help him square up all types of pitches, and his strike-zone discipline is among the best in the class, which should make him a high OBP hitter. Valera isn’t as physical as some of the other outfielders in the class, but he combines a high contact rate with the ability to hit for power, flashing above-average pop in BP and the ability to translate it in games. Valera is a corner outfielder with fringe-average speed at best and will likely slow down. He has an average arm that could allow him to play right field and has solid defensive instincts for his age, though what he does at the plate will drive his value. Cleveland is the favorite to sign Valera, who should get north of $1 million.
6. Julio Rodriguez, of, Dominican Republic Born: Dec. 29, 2000. Height: 6-3. Weight: 205. B-T: R-R.
A year ago, Rodriguez was in the conversation as the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 class, thanks largely to his easy power. He’s still one of the premium prospects for this year, though some roller-coaster game performances affected his stock. Rodriguez is a tall, strong hitter who sticks out immediately during batting practice. He has quick hands, a loose trigger and good bat speed on a rhythmic swing with good bat path through the zone. It’s loud thunder when Rodriguez squares it up during BP, launching balls out of the park with ease to all fields. He shows at least plus raw power now with a chance for 70 power in the future, without having to sell out to generate that power.
At his best, Rodriguez shows feel for hitting in games, driving the ball with authority and over the fence against live pitching. There were times, though, that Rodriguez showed more swing-and-miss in games. Some scouts thought Rodriguez was a good fastball hitter who would have to adjust to offspeed pitches, while others thought he was jumping at the ball because he was pressing. While the game performance wasn’t as consistent as some scouts had hoped for, at his best, Rodriguez has an impressive combination of hitting ability and power that could make for a future middle of the order bat. Rodriguez is big for a 16-year-old and already getting bigger. He has run average times in the 60-yard dash, but that won’t last long. He’s a corner outfielder who will have to watch his heavy body to stay out there, but Rodriguez takes pride in his defense and has an average to a tick better arm strength that could allow him to play right field. Rodriguez, who trains at the MB Academy, should be in line for a bonus close to $2 million. The Mariners are the favorites to sign him.
7. Danny Diaz, ss, Venezuela Born: Jan. 2, 2001. Height: 6-3. Weight: 200. B-T: R-R.
Diaz is an offensive-minded shortstop who’s likely to move to third base quickly into his pro career. He’s one of the best hitters in the class, with a promising combination of pure hitting ability and power potential. Diaz generally has performed well in games, putting together quality at-bats and driving the ball for hard contact to all fields. He shows at least average raw power now and should have future 60 power. There are times when his swing can get long and he tries too hard to show off his power, but he mostly looks calm and balanced in the box without chase or swing-and-miss.
Diaz is already big and strong for a 16-year-old, with a heavy body type that should only get bigger. He’s surprisingly mobile for his size, with average speed over 60 yards (though that will slow down) and good footwork at shortstop. There’s little chance he sees much time at shortstop, though, as he will likely slide over to third base quickly. His plus arm is among the strongest infield arms in the class and he has the hands to stick at third. Given his build, there is risk that Diaz could get so big that he outgrows third base and moves over to first base, putting more pressure on his bat, but he should be able to handle third base as long as he keeps his conditioning in check. The Red Sox are expected to sign Diaz, who trains with Jose Montero.
8. Carlos Rodriguez, of, Venezuela Born: Dec. 7, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 155. B-T: L-L.
Rodriguez has a lot of similarities to Rangers center fielder Miguel Aparicio, who like Rodriguez also comes from Felix Olivo’s program. He is one of the most polished hitters and instinctive players available this year. With a slender build and minimal present strength, Rodriguez lacks the physicality of some of the other top players on this list, but few can match his hitting ability and high-level game performance. Rodriguez has a deep, firm hand load that leads to an arm bar, but when his hands come forward it’s a short path and an adjustable swing with a slight uppercut. He has excellent bat control and hand-eye coordination, which leads to a high contact rate, and a solid understanding of the strike zone. A tablesetter who could bat toward the top of a lineup, Rodriguez hits line drives to all fields but doesn’t have the strength for more than gap power right now, though he could grow into an 8-12 home run hitter.
Like Aparicio, Rodriguez isn’t a burner but he has a chance to stick in center field because of his instincts. Rodriguez is an average runner who has a chance to get faster because of his body type. He gets good reads off the bat, takes sharp routes, covers more ground than his pure speed would suggest and doesn’t make many defensive miscues. The scouts who aren’t as sold on Rodriguez in center field due to his speed see more risk that he might be a fourth outfielder, as he probably won’t have the power to go to a corner. The Brewers are expected to sign Rodriguez.
9. Kristian Robinson, of, Bahamas Born: Dec. 11, 2000. Height: 6-3. Weight: 200. B-T: R-R.
The Max D Sports Academy has become a burgeoning program for prospects from the Bahamas. Recent graduates include Rays shortstop Lucius Fox, who signed with the Giants for $6 million in 2015, and Diamondbacks shortstop Jazz Chisholm. Their latest prospect is Robinson, whose electric, powerful athleticism runs in the family. The Thomas Robinson stadium in the Bahamas is named after his grandfather, a former Olympic sprinter in the 100-meter dash. Kristian Robinson, a multi-sport star who excelled in basketball and track, was born and raised in the Bahamas but has also spent time playing travel ball in Florida for the Midland Redskins and the Florida Stealth and was at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla. in October.
Robinson is an outstanding runner with plus-plus speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.3 seconds. Other than fellow Bahamanian outfielder Trent Deveaux, who is a year older, that’s the fastest speed in the class, and he’s also one of the most physical players in the group. He’s a potential power/speed threat in center field, driving the ball well to his pull side and to center field already with flashes of 60 raw power.
Robinson has a simple, direct swing, and those who saw him perform well in games had him pushed even higher on their lists. Others thought his breaking ball recognition skills were still crude and that has bat was more of a long-term projection. Then others had trouble figuring out how to evaluate Robinson’s hitting ability because they didn’t see him face any good pitching in the Bahamas. Robinson has a big frame for a center fielder. Even he doesn’t retain all of his speed, he would have the wheels for center field, though some scouts looked at his footwork and his size and wondered whether he might eventually outgrow the position. His arm is below-average with some funkiness to his throwing stroke. Robinson has one of the highest upsides in the class and is expected to be one of the top-paid players this year, with a bonus likely to check in a little under $3 million. The Diamondbacks are the favorites to sign him.
10. Raimfer Salinas, of, Venezuela Born: Dec. 31, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R.
Salinas has been on the international scouting radar for a while. As a 13-year-old in 2014, Salinas played in the COPABE 14U Pan American Championship in Nicaragua, where he was teammates with top 2016 prospects Gabriel Arias (Padres), Yorbin Ceuta (Astros) and Brayan Gonzalez (Phillies). The next year, Salinas again played above his age group as a 14-year-old in the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship in Mexico, where he ranked seventh in the tournament in batting average (.457) and sixth in slugging (.686).
Salinas has one of the best toolsets in the class. He has a lean, well-proportioned frame and is a premium athlete who can play center field with plus speed, a smooth running gait and a plus arm. As a hitter, Salinas takes a polished batting practice, showing good bat speed, a sound swing and the ability to use the whole field. He flashes fringe-average raw power now, striking line drives with good carry and backspin, and his power could tick up a grade once he gets stronger.
While there was little disagreement on Salinas’ tools and athleticism, there was a strikingly split camp on him that stemmed from how well scouts saw him perform in games. Salinas has a track record of hitting well both at international tournaments and in games in Venezuela. However, several high-ranking scouts said they also saw times where he struggled badly with a high swing-and-miss rate. Some scouts thought it might be a pitch tracking issue that led him to expand the strike zone too frequently. Others thought his chase rate might have been him pressing as July 2 approached and that he would settle back in and perform at a high level once he signed. If the bat clicks, Salinas could develop into a toolsy center fielder along the lines of Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna. Salinas trains with Francisco Ortiz, and it’s not clear yet which team will sign him or whether he might even wait until 2018 to sign.
11. Ronny Rojas, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Aug. 23, 2001. Height: 6-0. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R.
Rojas turns 16 on Aug. 23, which makes him one of the youngest players in the 2017 class. He’s also one of the most polished hitters in the group. Rojas is a pure hitter from both sides of the plate, taking a selective hitting approach without many strikeouts. He has natural hitting actions with a good feel for getting the bat head started and a simple, repeatable stroke with a good swing path. Rojas can backspin line drives to all fields and makes consistent loud, hard contact in games. With his wide shoulders, strong hands and future strength projection, Rojas could grow into average or better power and hit 15-20 home runs.
Early on, Rojas looked like an offensive-minded second baseman. That still might be his future, though his defensive skills have progressed over the last year. He’s not as polished defensively as fellow Dominican shortstops Luis Garcia, Jelfrey Marte or Ronny Mauricio, but Rojas has steady enough actions to stay at shortstop at least in the lower levels. His speed has improved to a tick above-average and his arm went from fringy to solid-average. The Yankees look likely to sign Rojas, who trains at the MB Academy, once he turns 16.
12. Luis Garcia, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 1, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R.
Garcia jumped out early in the scouting process last year as a switch-hitting shortstop with a smooth glove while training in Carlos Guzman’s program. He’s among the best defensive shortstops this year and some scouts consider him the best fielder in the group. While he has more of a compact build than the typical wiry shortstop his age, Garcia is extremely light on his feet, floating around in the field with quick hands and a 55 arm that could tick up to plus. A solid-average runner, Garcia is fundamentally sound for his age and can make the flashier barehanded plays as well.
Scouts highest on Garcia saw him hit well in games, though he struggled at the MLB international showcase in February, when he went 0-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts. Garcia’s swing is better from the left side. Both swings are short and quick, and he uses his hands well. He hits to all fields but his swing comes straight down and results in a lot of balls on the ground, with a line-drive approach and occasional doubles power. Scouts highest on Garcia thought he was a well-rounded player who had a chance to hit at the top of a lineup, though several others thought he was more of a defensive-oriented player who was more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter. Garcia is expected to be one of the highest paid players in the class with a likely price tag around $2.5 million. He’s likely to sign with the Phillies.
13. Jelfry Marte, ss, Dominican Republic Born: March 27, 2001. Height: 5-10. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R.
While a lot of shortstops who will sign on July 2 are shortstops in name only, Marte is a safe bet to stay at the position. With a medium build and a thin frame, Marte is a bouncy, quick-twitch athlete with a chance to develop into a plus defensive shortstop. He’s a plus runner with slick actions in the field, where he does things with ease. He’s quick and agile with good body control and range to both sides, along with soft hands and an above-average, accurate arm. Marte has good defensive instincts but he has times where he plays out of control and tries to be too flashy rather than making the secure play.
Marte is a true shortstop and scouts who believed in his bat had him higher up their lists. However, many scouts questioned how much impact he will provide at the plate and predicted he would hit toward the bottom of a lineup. Those scouts had concerns about both Marte’s pure hitting ability and his power, though getting stronger could help him become a better hitter. He’s mostly a singles hitter for now with occasional gap power and could grow into a 6-10 home run hitter in his prime. Marte is a potential high stolen base threat who causes havoc on the bases with an aggressive style and sharp baserunning instincts for his age. Marte trains with Alberto Fana and is expected to be one of the highest paid players in the class with a bonus likely to be around $3 million. The Twins are linked to Marte.
14. Eric Pardinho, rhp, Brazil Born: Jan. 5, 2001. Height: 5-9. Weight: 160. B-T: R-R.
Pardinho made his mark last year in July at the COPABE 16U Pan American Championship in Panama. Pitching in front of a slew of high-ranking scouts against a Dominican team that featured top 2017 prospects, Pardinho struck out 14 batters with only one walk in six innings. The in September as a 15-year-old, Pardinho pitched out of the bullpen for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in New York.
No 16-year-old pitcher this year has a better combination of present stuff and pitchability than Pardinho. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and can reach 94. He throws a sharp, tight-spinning curveball with true top-to-bottom action that already flashes plus and gives him an out pitch. Pardinho throws with minimal effort from an easy delivery with smooth arm action and good extension. He repeats his mechanics, throws strikes at a high rate and has feel to pitch well beyond his years.
There’s little disagreement among scouts about Pardinho’s present ability, but the common risk factor most cite is how much better he will get. He has a small stature and doesn’t have a large frame on his upper body to fill out while his lower half is already strong, so his physical projection to gain velocity may be limited. Compared to other shorter righthanders at the top of recent classes, Pardinho doesn’t have the same electric upside as Anderson Espinoza, but he has a better delivery and better chance to start than Marcos Diplan. The Blue Jays are certainly comfortable with smaller righthanders with homegrown Marcus Stroman in their rotation. They’re expected to sign Pardinho, who is represented by Rafael Nieves.
15. Antonio Cabello, c, Venezuela Born: Nov. 1, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R.
It’s hard to find a comparable to a player as unusual as Cabello, an athletic catcher who is physically mature for his age and is also one of the faster runners in the class. Cabello has a strong, muscular build for a 16-year-old on a somewhat blocky frame with a strong lower half. Relative to his peers, Cabello doesn’t have much physical projection left, but his present tool set is already impressive. He’s a plus or better runner who several teams have clocked at 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash, making him the rare catcher who has center field as a fallback option.
At the plate, Cabello has been one of the top game performers in the class, even though he doesn’t have a fluid, easy swing. Cabello starts his swing with his hands at a near standstill with little rhythm, relying on his explosive hand speed, strength and short path to the ball. While it’s not the prettiest swing, Cabello has shown good bat-to-ball skills and the strength to hit hard line drives in games. His hitting mechanics aren’t geared for loft and homers, but he could produce more power if he learns to generate more load and separation when he starts his swing, with a chance to hit 15 home runs. While some scouts think Cabello has succeeded in part because he’s just more physically advanced than his competition and muscling balls for hits, Cabello does have one of the most patient hitting approaches in the class, which should help him get on base.
Cabello’s athleticism, quickness and aptitude help him behind the plate, though he will need more development if he’s going to stack back there. He’s not a soft receiver, with a tendency to box balls and get jammed with the glove. Cabello has around an average arm but will need to improve his exchange to be more effective controlling the running game. Based on his body type, Cabello is likely to lose some of his speed, especially if he stays behind the plate, but he should be a legitimate stolen base threat as a catcher or an outfielder. Second base could be another option. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty regarding where Cabello will sign, though some think it’s possible he might wait for 2018. Cabello trains with Francisco Ortiz.
16. Adrian Hernandez, of, Dominican Republic Born: Feb. 8, 2001. Height: 6-0. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R.
If Hernandez had been born in the United States, he might be a star recruit as a running back. A hard-nosed, aggressive player, Hernandez is athletic with a strong, compact build, with his advanced strength for his age leading to a mature tool set. His explosive bat speed is among the best in the class. He can jump on a fastball and drive the ball over the fence to his pull side and the middle of the field in batting practice, with a chance to grow into above-average power. Hernandez is more tools than skills right now. He has work to do to smooth out a swing that can get rigid, with an uphill path that gets in and out of the zone too quickly. Breaking pitches have also given him trouble.
If Hernandez can make those adjustments at the plate, he has a chance to be a power-hitting center fielder. He has shown well above-average speed in the 60-yard dash with quick bursts of acceleration. Scouts were mixed on his outfield instincts and, because of his body type, some saw risk that Hernandez might have to move to a corner if he slows down. He has an average arm. The Mets are the favorites to sign Hernandez, who should get more than $1 million. Hernandez trains with Pedro Nivar, who is known as “Nube.”
17. Aaron Bracho, ss, Venezuela Born: April 24, 2001. Height: 5-11. Weight: 178. B-T: B-R.
Bracho is from Venezuela, but he spent a considerable amount of time last year working out in the United States, including a handful of Perfect Game showcases. Bracho has been one of the top offensive performers in games from the 2017 class. He has a polished approach and a smooth, sweet swing from both sides of the plate that’s especially pretty from the left side. It’s a pure, compact stroke with good bat speed and stays on plane through the hitting zone for a long time. Though Bracho isn’t that big, he has strong legs and swings hard while staying balanced, showing surprising sock for his size. Bracho will probably always have a hit-over-power profile, but he could have average power.
Though he’s a shortstop for now and might get a chance to develop there in the minors, he probably won’t stay there long. He is a slightly above-average runner and he has decent hands, but his footwork, first-step quickness and arm strength aren’t ideal for shortstop. Most likely he flips across the diamond and develops into an offensive-minded second baseman. Cleveland is expected to sign Bracho, who trains with Carolina Andrade.
18. Ynmanol Marinez, ss, Dominican Republic Born: April 12, 2001. Height: 5-11. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R.
Marinez doesn’t jump out immediately in a showcase because he doesn’t have any loud tools and isn’t a quick-twitch athlete at shortstop, but those who saw him a lot said he stood out more in games as one of the better hitters in the Dominican Prospect League. Marinez has long arms but keeps his hands inside the ball well with has a loose, compact swing. It’s mostly a simple swing with lift and torque that he uses to make hard, quality contact games from right-center field over to his pull side. Marinez doesn’t have huge power but drives the ball well for his age and has a frame that projects to pack on a lot of strength with a high waist and thick lower half, so he could develop into a 20-homer guy.
Marinez might get a chance to start his career at shortstop, though there’s a high probability he ends up at another position, with many scouts projecting him as a third baseman. He’s a fringe-average runner who lacks the ideal first-step quickness, footwork and athleticism for shortstop. Martinez has an unorthodox style of throwing from an arched, upright position that costs him accuracy, but he has a strong arm that should tick up to plus as he gets stronger and refines his throwing mechanics. He has good hands, body control and makes the play on the run well, so his defensive skills profile well at third base. Marinez draws comparisons to Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar, who like Marinez also trained with Basilio Vizcaino, known as “Cachaza.” The Marlins are the favorites to sign Marinez.
19. Trent Deveaux, of, Bahamas Born: May 4, 2000. Height: 6-3. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R.
Born and raised in the Bahamas, Deveaux became eligible to sign in 2016 and made an appearance that year at the MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic. At the time, Deveaux was an athletic shortstop with plus speed, but he lacked strength, didn’t look natural at shortstop and his hitting was still raw. After spending time training in Florida, Deveaux moved to the Dominican Republic in 2016 and his stock jumped as his hitting improved and he transitioned to center field.
Deveaux is an outstanding athlete with a strong but lean, projectable build. There’s quick burst in everything he does. He’s an 80 runner who has been clocked as fast as 6.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash. When Deveaux went to the Dominican Republic, he began training full-time in center field, which has been a better fit for his skill set. He glides to balls and covers a lot of ground quickly. With an average arm and an easy throwing stroke that could allow his arm strength to improve, Deveaux has the attributes to develop into an above-average defender at a premium position. Scouts highest on Deveaux said his hitting ability has taken a huge leap forward. Last year, Deveaux had an upright, open stance and a tendency to either slice or roll over too many balls. He closed off his stance, improved his balance and did a better job of staying through the ball and using the middle of the field. He also shows a solid understanding of the strike zone. Deveaux has the frame to add more power later on, though right now he’s mostly a line-drive hitter who can occasionally hit a ball out. A fluent English speaker, Deveaux picked up Spanish during his time in the Dominican Republic, and his aptitude and athleticism have likely contributed already to his ability to make adjustments. He trains with Nolan Pena and is expected to sign with the Angels for at least $1 million on July 2.
20. Roberto Chirinos, ss, Venezuela Born: Sept. 8, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R.
Chirinos is a high-energy player with a promising blend of solid tools and high overall game awareness for his age. With sloped shoulders on a wiry strong frame, Chirinos has performed well against live pitching with a compact swing and good bat speed. He has strong hands and uses them well in his swing for consistent quality contact. He’s a line-drive hitter who can occasionally pop one over the fence in batting practice but mostly shows doubles power right now, with the potential to grow into 10-15 home runs.
Chirinos has showcased all over the field. He was originally at shortstop, moved to the outfield, then back to the field. He’s an average to a tick better runner with solid hands and footwork and an arm that’s at least a 60 on the 20-80 scale. His range and overall defensive package might not be good enough to play shortstop every day, so second base or third base could be options. He can play the outfield as well to add versatility, though some scouts thought he would have a tweener profile if he went there on a regular basis. Given his tools, energy and overall baseball smarts, Chirinos would be an intriguing candidate to convert to catching, though he’s expected to sign as a shortstop. He trains with Carlos Rios, formerly the Yankees' Latin American scouting director, and is linked to the Yankees.
21. Juan Querecuto, ss, Venezuela Born: Sept. 21, 2000. Height: 6-3. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R.
Querecuto comes from a baseball family. His father Juan played in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays from 1990-95. His older brother Juniel signed with the Rays in 2009, reached the big leagues last year for four games with Tampa Bay and is now the Giants’ Triple-A shortstop after signing with them as a minor league free agent in the offseason. So it’s little surprise that Querecuto’s baseball instincts are among the best in the class.
Querecuto has a projectable build and a high baseball IQ in all phases of the game. While many shortstops his age tend to play out of control, Querecuto is calm and collected in the field, with a good internal clock and a knack for slowing the game down. He’s fundamentally sound with soft, secure hands and is usually in the right place at the right time. Querecuto has the arm for shortstop, though he is a below-average runner, so his lack of quick twitch concerns some scouts about him staying at the position long term, even while others saw him as a true shortstop.
At the plate, Querecuto hasn’t lit it up in games, but he has a simple swing, uses the whole field and tracks pitches well with good strike-zone discipline. Querecuto is mostly a gap-to-gap hitter right now, so getting stronger will be important for him to do more damage upon contact and possibly improve his bat speed. While Querecuto isn’t fast, his baserunning acumen is advanced for his age. The Mariners are expected to sign Querecuto, who trains with Robert Perez.
22. Ezequiel Tovar, ss, Venezuela Born: Aug. 1, 2001. Height: 6-1. Weight: 160. B-T: B-R.
Tovar is from Venezuela, and he has been training in the Dominican Republic with Roberto Vahlis. Tovar is a skinny 15-year-old who lacks strength, but he is a high baseball IQ player who has performed well in games. He has a clean, simple approach and a sound swing from both sides of the plate, using his hands well and following through with good extension. Tovar is a line-drive hitter with a high contact rate and the ability to handle good fastballs. He’s a patient hitter with good strike-zone discipline for his age. Tovar can drive balls to the gap for occasional doubles and triples, but his game is more about getting on base than power.
With speed and arm strength that both grade out around average, Tovar doesn’t do anything flashy in the field, but he’s a steady, fundamentally sound defender. He’s a solid fielder with good actions for the position and a chance to stay at shortstop, though some scouts thought he might end up at second base. Tovar is one of the youngest players in the class and can sign once he turns 15 on Aug. 1. The Rockies are tied to Tovar.
23. Miguel Hiraldo, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 5, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R.
Several scouts consider Hiraldo one of the best game hitters in the class. He has a strong, stocky frame with a lot of strength in his forearms, shoulders and legs. Hiraldo has been a high-level performer in games, including the MLB international showcase in February, where he went 4-for-8 with two doubles. Hiraldo swings hard and has the strength and barrel awareness to punish fastballs with loud line drives. Scouts who liked Hiraldo the most praised his short swing, consistent bat path and feel for the strike zone. Others had concerns about how his swing would play at higher levels, as his hands start at his ears and come straight down, with questions on his ability to use the opposite field and adjust to soft stuff. Even when he is off balance, he has the bat speed and wrist strength to drive balls with high exit velocity to get through the infield, and the power to launch balls over the fence to his pull side when he’s in sync in batting practice.
Hiraldo is an offensive-oriented player who’s spent more time focused on his hitting than his defense. Where he plays is to be determined, though it’s unlikely to be shortstop. Hiraldo is built like a catcher, which is the position he played in the COPABE 15U Pan American Championship in Mexico in 2015, though he’s been working out as a shortstop while training with Juan Herrera (known as “Mon”). Most likely he slides over to third base, where he will have to maintain his body and improve his defensive actions and funky throwing stroke to stay there. The Blue Jays are expected to sign Hiraldo.
24. Keyber Rodriguez, ss, Venezuela Born: Oct. 4, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 160. B-T: B-R.
Rodriguez is a gamer with high-level instincts and a good performance record against live pitching. Small and wiry, Rodriguez has a good swing from both sides of the plate. It’s short, quick and Rodriguez has the bat-to-ball skills to put the ball in play at a high rate. He generally controls the strike zone well for his age to help him get on base. Rodriguez is mostly a singles hitter now and, while he does have some room on his frame to get stronger, he might never have more than 30 power. He is an above-average runner with the baserunning savvy to steal bases.
Rodriguez is an instinctual player with the athleticism to play in the middle of the diamond. While he should start his career at shortstop, many scouts expect him to move over second base due to his below-average arm and throwing stroke. Rodriguez trains with Johan Ocanto and is expected to sign with the Rangers.
25. Victor Vargas, rhp, Colombia Born: Sept. 3, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R.
Most of the talent for July 2 is concentrated in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, but Colombia continues to produce a handful of prospects each year. Vargas is one of the top pitchers in the class because of his combination of stuff, mechanics and feel for pitching. He projects as a starter with a fluid delivery, good arm action and the ability to locate his stuff well for his age. Vargas has a four-pitch mix, working off a fastball that sits at 89-91 mph and has reached 93, with the physical projection to be sitting at least in the low-90s once he gets stronger. He throws two breaking pitches, including an advanced curveball that flashes average and is ahead of his short, cutter-like slider. Vargas has shown good feel to throw a changeup as well. The Phillies are the favorites to sign Vargas.
26. Larry Ernesto, of, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 12, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 175. B-T: B-R.
Ernesto has one of the best combinations of athleticism, speed and a highly projectable frame in the class. He looks like a young wide receiver, with good size on a sleek, lean frame with a lot of room to add good weight in the future. Ernesto is an excellent athlete who has shown 70 speed underway, running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. The rest of Ernesto’s game is still raw. He runs well in a straight line but doesn’t move as well side to side in the outfield due to his footwork and agility. Ernesto has the speed for center field but his instincts, reads and routes are still very raw, so some scouts see a high risk of him moving to a corner, possibly left field because of his below-average arm.
While Ernesto had some strong showings last summer against live pitching, he’s still a project at the plate. At the MLB international showcase in February, he went 2-for-8 with a double and five strikeouts. He’s a switch-hitter who is better from the left side—some scouts think he might eventually drop the righthanded swing—and will flash solid raw power for his age. However, Ernesto swings and misses frequently in games. He lacks natural rhythm and timing at the plate, with a long, loopy swing that lacks balance and fluidity. There’s a lot of head movement when Ernesto swings and he struggles with plate discipline and pitch recognition, as he’s vulnerable to chasing fastballs outside the zone and swinging through breaking balls. Ernesto’s baseball skills might take more patience to develop, but he’s expected to be one of the top-paid players in the class, with a price projected to top $1.5 million. He trains with Cristian Batista, who is known as “Niche.”
27. Wilderd Patino, of, Venezuela Born: July 18, 2001. Height: 6-1. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R.
Patino is one of the best athletes available . With a lean, lively frame that offers physical projection, Patino is a strong bet to stay in center field. He’s a plus-plus runner with a good gait, actions and range in the outfield. Scouts had conflicting reports on Patino’s arm strength, and he suffered an elbow injury to his throwing arm that clouded his status somewhat, though he returned to throwing again in May.
Patino’s athleticism and defense at a premium position are intriguing, though his bat isn’t as advanced compared to fellow Venezuelan center fielders Everson Pereira and Raimfer Salinas. Patino has a short, flat swing path but his stroke can get arm-heavy and stiff at times, with his feel for hitting further behind than his defense. His power is mostly to the gaps but with his youth, bat speed and a frame that should hold considerable strength, he should show more over-the-fence sock eventually. Patino will be eligible to sign when he turns 16 on July 18. The Rangers are the favorites to sign Patino, who trains with Francisco Ortiz.
28. Anthony Garcia, of, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 5, 2000. Height: 6-5. Weight: 205. B-T: B-R.
The arrows are pointing in the right direction for Garcia, an extra-large outfielder whose tools have improved as July 2 gets closer. Garcia sticks out immediately for his size. He trains in the same program as fellow Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez and is even bigger, with a tall, physical frame and surprising athleticism for his size. Garcia has a strong lower half and above-average raw power. He’s a switch-hitter who is more advanced from the left side. Like a lot of young hitters his size, Garcia’s long arms lead to some swing-and-miss, and some scouts thought he would need to improve his breaking ball recognition, but he can hammer a fastball and has shown feel for hitting in games. Garcia has gotten faster over the past year, showing plus speed underway. If he can retain that speed, he could be a power-speed threat, though at his size it’s more likely he slows down as he continues to add weight. He runs well enough to start his career in center field but probably will end up in a corner with an average arm. Garcia trains at the MB Academy and is linked to the Yankees.
29. Florencio Serrano, rhp, Mexico Born: Feb. 23, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 180. B-T: R-R.
Serrano pitched at Robstown (Texas) High as a freshman in 2016, but after the school year he moved to Mexico and joined Tijuana in the Mexican League. International players have to be registered with the commissioner’s office prior to a given signing period to be eligible to sign, so while Serrano is already 17, he had to wait until July 2 this year to sign. A fluent English speaker with a strong lower half, Serrano has trended up with his stuff over the past year. He has good arm speed on a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph and has topped out at 94 mph. He throws a curveball and a changeup, with his hard curveball a potential out pitch that some scouts project as a future plus pitch. Serrano has some effort to his delivery that adds some risk he might end up in the bullpen, but he should get the opportunity to develop in the minor leagues as a starter. By MLB rules, for players signed from the Mexican League, only the amount of the payment that goes to the player (typically 25 percent) counts against a team’s bonus pool, and teams that are under the $300,000 penalty limit in that situation are allowed to sign a player for up to $1.2 million. Serrano’s price tag could land around that level, with the Cubs the favorites to sign him.
30. Carlos Aguiar, of, Venezuela Born: Aug. 28, 2001. Height: 6-3. Weight: 190. B-T: L-L.
Aguiar is from Venezuela, though he has been training in the Dominican Republic with Mayobanex Cedeno. Aguiar was the co-MVP with Julio Rodriguez at the Dominican Prospect League’s tournament in Florida in October, where he showed big power and a swing geared to lift the ball. Aguiar loads his lower half with a big leg kick and takes a steep uppercut path to the ball. It’s a swing that can produce towering home runs in batting practice with his above-average raw power, particularly to his pull side, though it’s a long, uphill cut with holes that leaves him vulnerable against live pitching. With a power-over-hit offensive profile, Aguiar has a strong, athletic frame, though he’s a below-average runner who will be a corner outfielder. His arm is below-average but with his physical projection and youth that could tick up to an average tool. Aguiar is one of the youngest players in the class—had he been born four days later, he would be a 2018 prospect—and will be eligible to sign once he turns 16 on Aug. 28. The Twins are expected to sign him.
31. Julio Machado, ss, Venezuela Born: Sept. 12, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R.
Machado didn’t participate in a prominent program or league, so his profile wasn’t as high as some of the other shortstops in the class, but scouts who did watch Machado generally liked what they saw. Machado has a promising blend of size, tools and skills. He has a strong, athletic frame with good bat speed. Machado has worked diligently to shorten his swing over the past year. It’s now a compact, balanced stroke with a flat plane that stays through the hitting zone a long time, and he uses his lower half well. He swings hard and can knock the ball out of the park at times, but he’s mostly a line drive hitter with loud contact and a chance to develop average power. Machado is a slightly above-average runner with an average arm that shows flashes of growing into a 55 tool. Machado has good range to his right into the hole and a solid chance to stick at shortstop. The Marlins are expected to sign Machado, who trains with Carlos Yanez.
32. Alejandro Melean, rhp, Venezuela Born: Oct. 10, 2000. Height: 5-11. Weight: 160. B-T: R-R.
Venezuela has several pitchers who aren’t top-tier prospects but have positive projection indicators, with little consensus from clubs on who they like the most. One pitcher who has earned praise for his combination of stuff and feel for pitching is Melean. The risk factor scouts point to on Melean is his size, but he has a simple, fluid delivery that’s easy to repeat and a three-pitch mix to project as a starter. Melean has been up to 92 mph with his fastball, which has solid sinking action, and he does a good job throwing his fastball for strikes. His curveball is among the best in the class, a mid-to-upper 70s pitch with sharp break and good depth to miss bats or freeze hitters, giving him a potential out pitch. Melean’s curveball is his go-to secondary pitch but he has shown feel for his changeup as well. The Blue Jays—who are tied to another smaller-framed righthander in Brazil’s Eric Pardinho—are linked to Melean, who trains with Victor Grasso.
33. Fadriel Cruz, ss, Dominican Republic Born: Nov. 12, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 170. B-T: L-R.
With a high waist and a projectable frame, Cruz is a bouncy athlete with explosive first-step burst and plus speed. He plays with high-motor energy and combines his athleticism with good instincts for the game. At the plate, Cruz is a slash-and-dash hitter whose swing is geared for line drives, with occasionally sneaky power to his pull side, but he’s mostly a gap hitter. Some scouts liked his swing and thought he would hit well immediately in pro ball, though others thought his swing mechanics, which start off his ear and slice down to the ball, made him too pull-minded and left him vulnerable to breaking pitches. While some scouts felt Cruz’s speed and quick-twitch athleticism would fit better in center field, others believed he was a steady enough defender to remain at shortstop. The Rockies are expected to sign Cruz, who trains with Jaime Ramos.
34. Mauro Bonifacio, of, Dominican Republic Born: Aug. 31, 2001. Height: 6-5. Weight: 205. B-T: R-R.
You can’t miss Bonifacio when he steps on the field. He’s an extra-large outfielder built like a young tight end in football, even though he’s the youngest player in the class (had he been born one day later, he would be a 2018 prospect). Bonifacio draws attention for his physicality and how well he moves for his size, showing above-average speed underway by running the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds. Bonifacio’s blend of size and athleticism are intriguing, though he doesn’t quite have the monster raw power to match his size. He has large, strong hands and does make hard contact in BP, where he flashes average raw power. Scouts highest on Bonifacio thought he had a relatively short swing for someone his size with explosion at contact, though the most frequent risk factor scouts pointed to was his ability to hit against live pitching. It’s not the easiest or most fluid swing, with a tendency to get choppy through the zone without consistent lift. Combined with a big strike zone to cover, that’s led to a high swing-and-miss rate in games. Bonifacio shows sound defensive actions for his age with an average arm that would fit in either left or right field. Bonifacio, who trains with Wellington Gonzalez and can sign once he turns 16 on Aug. 31, has been linked to the Twins.
35. Antoni Flores, ss, Venezuela Born: Oct. 14, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 160. B-T: R-R.
Flores doesn’t stick out immediately for his tools, but scouts highest on him like his overall game awareness and baseball intelligence. Flores has wide shoulders and room to fill out his skinny, projectable frame. Flores has good defensive actions, though he is a below-average runner and doesn’t have the quickness a lot of scouts want to see in a shortstop. He has a solid arm but tends to throw from a lower slot, which costs him accuracy.
Flores has to stay in the middle infield to have value. At times he performed well, though many scouts projected him to hit toward the bottom of a lineup. When he’s at his best, he stays inside the ball with a short swing and uses the middle of the field, though he doesn’t have the same bat speed as the shortstops higher up the list and has some swing-and-miss tendencies. Getting stronger will be key for Flores, who is still physically underdeveloped and mostly a line-drive hitter with occasional pop to the gaps. Flores trains with Henderson Martinez and Jose Ovispo and is expected to sign with the Red Sox.
36. Leonardo Jimenez, ss, Panama Born: May 17, 2001. Height: 6-0. Weight: 165. B-T: R-R.
Panama typically produces a handful of signings each year, and the best of the bunch for 2017 is Jimenez. He played for Panama in the 12U World Cup in 2013 in Taiwan, the COPABE 14U Championship in 2015 in Venezuela and again at the COPABE 16U Championship last year in Panama. Scouts highest on Jimenez liked his hitting ability and overall game awareness, believing he stood out more in games than in a workout. He makes frequent contact and has a good approach, staying on the ball well to use the middle of the field. He sprays the ball around the field with gap power. Jimenez is a steady defender with good hands and actions at shortstop. While Jimenez is a solid athlete, he’s a slightly below-average runner who doesn’t have the quick-twitch and explosiveness some scouts want to see in a shortstop. The Blue Jays are expected to land Jimenez.
37. D’Shaun Knowles, of, Bahamas Born: Jan. 16, 2001. Height: 5-11. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R.
The Bahamas doesn’t produce the same volume of prospects as the Dominican Republic or Venezuela, but three Bahamian prospects this year are among the best pure athletes in the class. One of those is Noles, whose twin brother Devaughn is also a 2017 prospect. D'Shawn is a high-end athlete with plus or better speed underway. Knowles is not as good of an all-around prospect as fellow Bahamian outfielder Kristian Robinson, though he looks more natural in center field with better footwork and projects to stick at the position, with a fringe-average arm. Knowles is a high-energy player with promising athleticism, though several clubs felt he was still raw as a hitter. Like Robinson, some scouts had a hard time getting a sense for Knowles’ hitting ability due to the lack of quality competition they saw him face, though his overall feel for hitting still lags behind many of the other top players in the class. He’s mostly a line-drive hitter with gap power that should increase as he gets stronger. Knowles, who trains at the Max D Sports Academy, is expected to sign with the Angels for a high six-figure bonus.
38. Alberto Rodriguez, of, Dominican Republic Born: Oct. 6, 2000. Height: 5-10. Weight: 170. B-T: B-R.
Rodriguez had a high profile early on in the process, and while he hasn’t maintained his status among the top tier prospects in the 2017 class, he remains an intriguing player. Rodriguez has a medium but compact, squatty build with a heavy lower half. He had plus speed last year, but at the MLB international showcase in February he showed average speed in the 60-yard dash. To develop into more than a fourth outfielder, Rodriguez has to stick in center field, which some scouts think he can do, though others question whether his speed will slide back further. He has a loose throwing stroke and an average arm.
Rodriguez didn’t show the offensive skills to match the top prospects in the class, though he did help himself at the MLB international showcase in February, when he led the events in hits by going 5-for-7 with a double. Rodriguez has good bat speed but his path gets steep and his barrel is in and out of the zone too quickly. He will expand the strike zone, but he keeps his hands back well and has the hand-eye coordination to put the bat to the ball even when he is off balance. He’s a line drive hitter with doubles power and doesn’t project to be a major home run threat. The Blue Jays are linked to Rodriguez, who trains with Luis Mejia and Jaime Ramos.
39. Alvaro Gonzalez, ss, Venezuela Born: Sept. 16, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R.
Gonzalez trains with Henderson Martinez, who had Kevin Maitan last year before he signed with the Braves, so Gonzalez had plenty of scouts watching him from an early age. He has a strong, athletic frame with the projection to get stronger. His best tool is his plus arm, though it’s a high-effort arm stroke that costs him accuracy. An average runner with good hands, Gonzalez should begin his career at shortstop and get the opportunity to stay there, though some scouts think his quickness and coordination in the field will fit better at third base. Scouts highest on Gonzalez believed in his hitting ability, though several others expressed concerns about his funky hitting mechanics and tendency to spin off balls with a pull approach. Gonzalez is a line-drive hitter who can occasionally pop a ball into the gap but doesn’t project to be a power hitter. The Tigers are the favorites to sign Gonzalez, who trains with Henderson Martinez.
40. Stanly Consuegra, of, Dominican Republic Born: Sept. 26, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R.
Consuegra isn’t a burner but he is one of the better quick-twitch athletes in the class. He has a long, rangy frame that’s highly projectable with a lot of room to add good weight and strength. Consuegra initially trained at shortstop but has moved to center field, where he has an outstanding arm. It’s a 60 arm conservatively and flashes a 70 on the 20-80 scale with a loose, easy throwing stroke. A solid-average runner, Consuegra’s swing can get a little deep on him at times, but he finds the barrel consistently for a high contact rate with hard, loud line drives. The Mets are the favorites to sign Consuegra, who trains with Edgar Mercedes.
41. Carlos Betancourt, rhp, Venezuela Born: March 27, 2001. Height: 6-1. Weight: 165. B-T: B-R.
Between his arm speed, present stuff and athleticism, Betancourt’s upside is among the most promising for 2017 pitchers. A fiery competitor, Betancourt has excellent arm speed on a fastball that has reached 94 mph and sits in the low-90s in short stints. With his clean arm stroke, room on his frame to add weight and the way the ball already jumps out of his hand, Betancourt could eventually throw in the upper-90s. Betancourt complements his fastball with a breaking ball that flashes as a 55 pitch on the 20-80 scale. That pitch can get slurvy at times, but Betancourt has feel to spin the ball and get swings-and-misses, with some scouts projecting it as a future plus offering. One of the risks with Betancourt is his control, which can be erratic, but he’s an above-average athlete for a pitcher, which should help him make adjustments to repeat his delivery with more frequency. Betancourt trains with Julio Guevara and is linked to the Phillies.
42. Cesar Rodriguez, c, Venezuela Born: Dec. 26, 2000. Height: 5-8. Weight: 180. B-T: L-R.
Rodriguez has a small, stubby build but should stick behind the plate and has been one of the better offensive performers in Venezuela. Rodriguez has a sound swing, quick bat speed and good barrel control. He makes frequent contact in games and has hammered hard-throwing, older pitchers when he’s faced them. Rodriguez uses the whole field with a line-drive approach and racks up plenty of doubles, though at his size he probably won’t ever be a big power hitter. He has a mature hitting approach for a 16-year-old with sharp strike-zone discipline. Behind the plate, Rodriguez doesn’t have the athleticism some scouts prefer in a catcher his age, but he’s a steady defender with an average arm and an aggressive, hard-nosed playing style. Rodriguez, who trains with Luis Blasini, is linked to the Phillies.
43. Carlos Irigoyen, ss, Venezuela Born: March 21, 2001. Height: 6-1. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R.
Irigoyen, who trains with Jose Bellorin, had a relatively low profile and wasn’t seen by a lot of teams. Those who did get to watch Irigoyen liked what they saw. He has a lean, highly projectable frame that lacks strength now but should allow him to get significantly stronger in time. He has a quick, compact swing and a good approach to hitting for his age. He’s mostly a line-drive hitter at this point with gap power, but given his physical projection, there should be more power coming. A fringe-average runner, Irigoyen hs good footwork and defensive actions along with a solid arm at shortstop. The Tigers blanket Venezuela as well as anyone and are linked to Irigoyen.
44. Jorge Barrosa, of, Venezuela Born: Feb. 17, 2001. Height: 5-7. Weight: 160. B-T: R-L.
Barrosa does a lot of things well, but it’s difficult for scouts to talk about him without immediately pointing to his size. He’s maybe 5-foot-7 with a strong lower half, so he doesn’t offer much physical projection, but he’s one of the best hitters and most skilled game players in the class. He’s a lefthanded thrower who has switch-hit in the past but prefers hitting righthanded, so he’s the rare lefty who bats only from the right side. Barrosa starts his swing by wrapping his bat behind his head, but he has short arms and his swing comes into the hitting zone quickly. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and one of the highest contact rates in the class, consistently performing well in games with few strikeouts. Barrosa has a quick bat and makes consistent quality contact in games, though he doesn’t project to hit for much power and will probably be more of a singles and doubles hitter who relies on his ability to hit, get on base and his plus wheels. Due to Barrosa’s body type, scouts are uncertain how much of that speed he will retain, but his outfield instincts are among the best in the class, giving him a chance to stick in center field. A high-motor, hard-nosed player with a high baseball IQ, Barrosa should also be a favorite among his future minor league managers. The Diamondbacks are connected to Barrosa, who trains with Henderson Martinez.
45. Juan Pie, of, Dominican Republic Born: April 1, 2001. Height: 6-2. Weight: 170. B-T: L-L.
Pie’s best tool is his bat. It’s a fast, compact swing from the left side and while some scouts noted times of hot-and-cold performance, he’s generally been among the better game hitters in the class. He already hangs in well against lefthanded pitching and does a good job of going with where the ball is pitched, taking pitches on the outer third the opposite way. He has a patient approach and will draw walks to help him get on base. Pie has the frame the suggests future power may come, but right now he’s mostly a line-drive hitter with gap power. Coming into more power will be important for Pie, who is limited to left field. He’s a fringe-average runner who moves around awkwardly in the outfield, and his overall defensive instincts will need a lot of work. Getting on a throwing program will be critical for Pie, who has a well-below-average arm. The Pirates are expected to sign Pie, who trains with Raul Valera (known as “Banana”).
46. Osleivis Basabe, ss/of, Venezuela Born: Sept. 13, 2000. Height: 6-0. Weight: 155. B-T: R-R.
On pure athleticism, Basabe is one of the best in the class. He has quick-twitch explosion in his actions, including plus-plus speed that he shows running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. Basabe has moved around between shortstop and center field. He has a plus arm that plays better at shortstop than it does in the outfield. Several clubs preferred Basabe in center field, where his speed should translate to above-average range, though he is expected to sign as a shortstop. Basabe is a great athlete with good bat speed but his hitting remains a project. He loads up with a leg kick and often gets caught off balance with a choppy swing path through the zone, leading to a lot of balls on the ground and a higher swing-and-miss rate. He’s still skinny and lacks much power. The Yankees are the favorites to sign Basabe, who is represented by Cesar Suarez, although there’s also chatter that he might wait until 2018 to sign. He’s a cousin of shortstop Olivier Basabe, the Padres’ eighth-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Faulkner (Ala.).
47. Luis Verdugo, ss, Mexico Born: Oct. 12, 2000. Height: 6-2. Weight: 170. B-T: R-R.
Verdugo is the top Mexican position prospect this year. He played shortstop as a 15-year-old for Mexico’s team at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in Monterrey, Mexico last year in October and has played against older competition this year in the Mexican Northern League, batting .271/.328/.318 in 118 plate appearances. Verdugo has grown taller over the past year into a wiry 6-foot-2 frame, and scouts highest on him believe he’s a true shortstop, despite a tick below-average speed. He has a funky throwing stroke with his arm tucked in tightly to his body, but he has a strong arm for the left side of the infield, with a good internal clock and a nose for the ball. Verdugo doesn’t have a loud tool or explosive athleticism some scouts want to see from a shortstop, and some scouts saw risk in his pure hitting ability. Verdugo had been switch-hitting but has been batting only from the right side recently. He swing has whip and stays compact during batting practice, though some scouts thought his hands shot away from his body and added length to his stroke in games. He’s mostly a singles hitter but has the frame that should allow him to grow into solid power for a shortstop. Verdugo is with the Mexico City Red Devils, so because of MLB’s rules regarding Mexican League signings, only 25 percent of the amount an MLB team pays the Red Devils will count against its bonus pool, and a team under the $300,000 penalty could sign him for up to $1.2 million. That appears to be the plan for the Cubs, who are expected to sign Verdugo and others from Mexico City.
48. Karlo Seijas, rhp, Venezuela Born: Sept. 6, 2000. Height: 6-1. Weight: 185. B-T: R-R.
Seijas has a promising combination of present stuff and feel to pitch for a 16-year-old. That was evident at the MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic in February, when Seijas fired 2.1 scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks and only one hit allowed. Seijas has good arm speed on a fastball that’s reached as high as 93 mph during the tryout process. His curveball gets swings and misses, and it has a chance to be an above-average pitch in the future. Seijas also shows feel for his changeup. His delivery is relatively simple and repeatable, and he commands his pitches well, giving him a starter’s profile, although his lower half is already relatively filled out, giving some scouts pause about his physical projection. The Nationals are linked to Seijas, who trains with Alexi Quiroz.
49. David Marcano, rhp, Venezuela Born: Aug. 28, 2001. Height: 6-2. Weight: 175. B-T: R-R.
Marcano is one of the youngest players in the class. He will be eligible to sign once he turns 16 on Aug. 28, which means had he been born a week later, he would have been a 2018 prospect. Marcano has experience pitching for Venezuela at international tournaments, including the 15U World Cup in 2016 in Japan, where he pitched well, and in Panama at the COPABE 16U Pan American Championship. His fastball at the time was in the mid-80s, but as he’s gotten stronger, he’s reached 92 mph, though his velocity has been up and down. It’s a fastball with heavy life and he complements it with a curveball that has top-to-bottom action and could develop into an above-average pitch. Marcano’s curveball is ahead of his changeup, but he shows feel for the changeup as well. Marcano is an excellent athlete for a pitcher with power and projection in his body and an arm that works well in the back and generates good extension out front, which along with his youth suggests there’s more velocity coming. The Mets are the favorites to land Marcano, who trains with Francisco Ortiz.
50. Heitor Tokar, rhp, Brazil Born: Oct. 25, 2000. Height: 6-7. Weight: 250. B-T: R-R.
Brazil has produced two flamethrowers in the minors in Mariners righthander Thyago Vieira and Braves lefty Luiz Gohara, who also originally signed with Seattle. Clubs still have little scouting presence in Brazil, especially compared to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, but scouts did see Tokar pitch in the COPABE 16U Pan American Championship in Panama last year in July and then in Mexico at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship. He also had an impressive outing at the MLB international showcase in the Dominican Republic in February, when he threw 2.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no walks or hits allowed, after which multiple scouts said he was one of their favorite pitchers in the class. Tokar is enormous pitcher with a heavy build. Yet unlike many young pitchers his size, Tokar has relatively clean, easy actions on the mound, and he’s able to repeat his delivery fairly well to throw strikes at a high rate. His fastball sits in the upper-80s and has bumped 91 mph with steep downhill plane and the ability to generate groundballs. He already has feel for a solid, low-80s changeup that’s advanced for his age. The changeup is further along than his breaking ball, a slurvy pitch at 70-75 mph, with the attributes to remain a starter. The Astros are linked to Tokar.