The White Sox affiliate in the Dominican Summer League began play this past Friday. The DSL club is made up mostly of teenagers, ranging in age from barely 17 to early 20’s. The players are raw, which isn’t surprising considering these are often high school-aged prospects. Any stats you may see should be taken with a heaping pile of salt, though sometimes things can stand out enough to be indicators. Age, calendar and developmental, as well as playing time and position are the key factors, aside from of course raw tool evaluations where they can be found (and they are not easy to find, as media access is nearly non-existent).
As interesting as the roster is, what may be more telling is who is not on it. Some big name signings from the 2014 and 2015 classes – Franklin Reyes, Jhoandro Alfaro, Carlos Perez and Jose Colina – aren’t on the roster and likely begin the season with AZL. One of the key 2016 signings, shortstop Lenyn Sosa ($325k) is apparently in the same boat.
But there are still plenty of legitimate prospects on this club. The team is managed by Julio Valdez. Here’s a link to the full roster. In case you want to feel old, there are three players who were born in the year 2000. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting players…
NOTE: The scouting-type information is almost entirely from the unparalleled Ben Badler of Baseball America. You can read his reviews of the White Sox’ 2015 and 2016 signing classes at those links. It’s just easier to put this here, than say “Badler Said” a dozen times within the article. They are behind the paywall, but a subscription is well worth your money.
There are four relatively high bonus recipients in this group. The highest was Jorgen Rosas, who received $380,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela. Signed as a shortstop, he’s been playing second base primarily, and this is his third year in the Dominican. Those factors tend to be negative indicators, but he’s still a 19-year old who the White Sox felt had good bat to ball skills.
Then there are three 2015 signees. Harvin Mendoza was inked for $300k in 2015, as an outfielder, also from Venezuela. Mendoza was seen as a strong bat with some power potential, but defense was a question, and sure enough he’s been moved to first base. That substantially narrows his development path, but he did show well statistically in the DSL in 2016 and is only 18.
Santo Vasquez was signed for $200,000 as a shortstop, and so far that’s where he’s played. This is worth noting because the early reports were more glowing about his bat and speed than his glove work. On the other side of the middle infield, Brayant Nova (sometimes listed as Bryant) put up some strong offensive numbers as a 17-year old last year in the DSL. He was signed for $100,000.
This is by far the most interesting unit on the club, in terms of prospect stock. The field is led of course by recently-signed Luis Robert, currently the second or third best prospect in the entire system. Inked for a $26M bonus (plus about $24M in penalties), the 19-year old Robert is probably above this level of play but has been assigned to the DSL for a couple reasons. One is to ease him into pro ball, but the other seems to be some sort of tax break the team gets for doing so, according to multiple reports. Robert likely sees a stateside rookie affiliate sometime during 2017, and should be in full season ball in 2018 if all goes to plan. He hasn’t played yet in the first few games of their season, but should appear any day now.
Josue Guerrero, signed for a $1.1M bonus (second highest every by the Sox for a foreign amateur, at the time), leads a trio of significant 2016 acquisitions in this outfield crowd. He’s only 17 years old for the 2017 campaign, and is just starting his pro career. The nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, Josue is noted for substantial raw power and the Sox feel his hit tool has a good chance to play. His other tools, such a speed and arm strength, don’t seem to rise to the level of a Micker Adolfo, but there is still plenty of time for development.
Then we have a pair of players born in the year 2000, both 2016 signees who received similar bonuses. Anderson Comas signed for either $425k or $450k depending on which source you go with, and was already listed at 6’4″ when he signed as a 16-year old. His 170 pound frame is said to be lanky, and Ben Badler of Baseball America described him as “a calm hitter with a short, clean swing that has minimal effort, consistently barreling the ball with good bat control.”
Luis Mieses signed for $428k and is three months younger, just turning 17 on May 31st. He’s also listed at 6’4″, and while his athleticism doesn’t seem to grade out quite as high as Comas, his power potential is seen as more significant.
There are three backstops on the roster, none of whom received a six figure bonus. Kleyder Sanchez and Jhoneiker Betancourt are both 17-year olds making their pro debuts this year, with the latter having just turned 17 about a month ago. Ulises Martinez is a relative veteran at 18 years old, and he did play 19 games in the DSL last year (Colina was getting most of the playing time). Interestingly, both Sanchez and Martinez were converted to catcher after signings, coming from the outfield and third base respectively. They were both given $50,000 bonuses at signing.
If offensive talent in the Latin American pipeline is hard to project, then pitching is nearly impossible. It seems to take longer for them to be ready for stateside play, and the Sox haven’t spent much high-level bonus money on arms. Most of the pitchers who have made it to full season ball out of the region did not sign large bonuses. That said, as the team continues to invest more in the pipeline generally, they have made a few notable signings that are on the Dominican squad this year.
Right-hander Jendersson Caraballo made his first professional start on the 3rd, as a 17-year old. Inking for a $350,000 bonus last summer, Caraballo represents the largest bonus the Sox have given to a pitcher in a number of years. He was listed at 6’3″ at signing time, and BA notes his fastball velocity was up to 92 at that time, to go along with a “power slider”.
Brayan Herrera was also a 2016 signee, getting a $70,000 bonus to join the White Sox organization. Previously a position player, on the mound he’s been said to hit as high 95 mph with his fastball. Ramon Pineda is also a conversion (from third base in his case), signing for $10,000. He hasn’t shown the same velocity as Herrera, but apparently is seen as having a higher likelihood of remaining a starter.
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