Which Dominican Winter League prospects should we expect to see making major contributions to big-league clubs next season?
Limited action again on the Caribbean Winter League schedules, so I'll take this time to tell you about the five Dominican Winter League prospects most likely to make an impact in the majors next season. No surprises here. These are pretty big names in the prospect world, and all but one spent time in the majors last season. All five maintain rookie status, however, and don't necessarily have clear paths to regular playing time in the majors. So how will this quintet make an impact?
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The ultimate showdown of premier outfield prospects in the Dominican Winter League happened on Wednesday night when Starling Marte's Leones del Escogido faced off against Oscar Taveras' Aguilas Cibaenas. Of course, neither player disappointed. The 24 year-old Marte had three hits, including a double and a three-run triple while the 20 year-old Taveras had a double, two singles, and a walk. What? You want to know who won the game? It doesn't really matter. Every fan who was in the stands wins because they got to see Marte and Taveras before they were stars on the same field as former big league greats Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejeda. Incidentally, the two veterans who have 18 All-Star selections between them, each had a pair of hits.
25-man roster of top prospects playing in the Dominican Winter League
With only three makeup games going on in the Dominican Winter League and all of the other leagues off on Monday, I have no player updates for you today. Instead, I put together a 25-man roster of DWL prospects because I really enjoy organizing things into 25-man rosters whenever possible.
Jurickson Profar was eight years old when future Licey teammate Jesus Colome made his major league debut in 2001 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. More than 11 years later, Profar was directly responsible for the 34 year-old Colome winning his first game of the 2012 DWL season. Details below ...
Jason tries his hand at his own top prospect list, with rankings and commentary.
It’s not that I’m against prospect rankings; it’s just that they’re not my bag. I stand in awe of those who excel at the process of these classifications, as it takes a balanced approach, one measured against the overall subjectivity of the operation. You have to look at the tools and projection, but you also have to respect and appreciate game production, with each prognosticator assigning their own weight to each variable. National writers like Kevin Goldstein, Keith Law, and Jim Callis have established their bones in this particular brand of prognostication, and I always look forward to their lists.
Last week, a Twitter question coerced me to suggest that Jurickson Profar is the top prospect in the minors, a comment that soon prompted a series of follow-up questions about the prospects who would round out my top five. I never intended to execute a formal ranking, mostly because I like to assign tools and projection more weight than I probably should, and once I fall in love with a prospect, I’m hitched for the long haul. I’m a hypocrite: I try to be as objective as possible when scouting a player, but I struggle to remove the thorns of love when it comes to ranking players against each other. Francisco Lindor was going to be in my top 10 regardless of what he did on the field in 2012. I really like Francisco Lindor, and it’s my article, and that’s my approach. Admittedly, it’s not the best approach. But I’m honest about my intentions, and I did try my best to make this more than just a prospect popularity context. As requested, here are the top 10 players in the minors, with detailed write-ups of the top five.
St. Louis might not have Pujols, but they do have some prospects whose worst case scenarios are still pretty good.
Prospect #1: OF Oscar Taveras Background with Player: Industry sources Who: Signed for a low six-figure bonus in 2008, Oscar Taveras has blossomed into one of the minors' purest hitters, with offensive projections that could make him a perennial All-Star at the major-league level. With a violent, torque-heavy swing and an aggressive approach, the early word on Taveras was that the same characteristics that allowed him to hit .386 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League would ultimately be his downfall against superior pitching, the kind that can use sequence and location to disrupt a hitter’s bat speed.
As it turns out, Taveras’s brand of violence is calculated, as he wields his weapon with a controlled fury; to the eye, his swing looks haphazard and aggressive to a fault, but his elite hand quickness and strength allow him to command his swing with more touch than is realized. He can barrel balls to all fields from all hands and has improved his pitch recognition skills, leaving him with an offensive skill set that has few weaknesses. The hit tool receives sevens and eights in reports, and some scouts have even put sevens on his future power, a tool that will continue to mature. His defensive game isn’t nearly as remarkable, but his routes and angles continue to improve, and he has logged time at all three outfield spots, which gives him some positional versatility. Taveras’s offensive potential is the truth, and if he hits his projections he will be a superstar. He isn’t a finished product, but his time in the minors is nearing its conclusion, as the 19-year-old Dominican is more than holding his own in Double-A and should compete for a job in the majors at some point in 2013.
The major league power outage could have its cause in the minor leagues, writes Kevin Goldstein.
Home runs are down nearly twenty percent from their 2004 peak, and scouts have made it clear that, based on what they are seeing in the minors, the downward trend is going to continue. With Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the big leagues and Seattle's Jesus Montero beginning the year there, all of a sudden there are precious few power hitters in the minors. While there are plenty of theories as to the cause, there's no obvious answer as to why.
OMG, you've never heard of Hanser Alberto? You totally should.
Hanser Alberto, SS/3B, Rangers (Low-A Hickory)
When I visited the Rangers minor league camp this spring, they were playing a pair of games with their Low- and High-A squads about 20 feet from each other. With one of the best systems in baseball, including a plethora of expensive draft picks and big ticket international signings, it was an impressive display of expensive talent, but it was Alberto who stole the show, as he just barreled everything. I hadn't even heard of him, but I got a quick primer from Jason Parks, who thinks he can hit, and that seems to be the universal opinion. That's with good reason as after eight hits over the weekend, including four on Sunday, the 19-year-old Dominican is now hitting .369/.396/.476 while seeing time at both left-side infield positions. It's always fun to see the big name players, but it's equally good to find new names as well.