The Dominican Prospect League (DPL) Elite Travel team capped off their four-day tournament in front of an estimated 70 domestic scouts and front office personnel with a game against Canada’s Ontario Blue Jays on Wednesday at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium.
De Jon Watson, Arizona’s Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, was among the baseball officials in attendance at the event.
“Overall, it was a great event. The guys were really impressive and we were able to get all of the work in,” said Ulises Cabrera, co-founder of the DPL said. “It was not something that the American audience — scouts and front office people — have ever really seen before, this type of talent in this type of format where they could get eyes on them personally. From that standpoint, it was really successful.”
The event started Sunday with a timed 60-yard run, batting practice and infield and outfield practice as part of “Scout Day” for the 60 participating 15-and-16 year-old prospects from the Dominican Republic. The prospects, who will become eligible to sign when the international signing period begins on July 2, were separated into four teams and played two games per day in the final three days of the event.
The DPL, which kicked off its season with its annual Scout Day and tournament in September in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, has another event planned for the first week of December. The league also has weekly games.
Here’s how it all works:
A 16-year-old international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team from July 2, 2015, through June 15, 2016, provided the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1, 2015, or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect that is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract; resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico; and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.
Recently added guidelines state an international player must either be 16 years old, or within six months of the date he is eligible to agree to terms — whichever is earlier — to enter a club’s academy. Additionally, both overnight stays and one-day visits to team facilities will count towards a player’s total days with a club, and a total of 30 days are allowed within a six-month time period. Events sanctioned by Major League Baseball — such as RBI, educational and orientation programs or a Major League Baseball Amateur Prospect League event — are exceptions that do not count toward a player’s 30 days.
The new rules also prohibit a team from hosting a player overnight at a hotel, a property owned or rented by club personnel or any other facility not recognized by Major League Baseball as a “club” facility, such as an academy.
These players garnered the most attention this week in Florida:
Shortstops: Wander Javier (6-ft-1, 165 pounds), Jeison Guzman (6-ft-1, 165 pounds), Rafi Ozuna (6-ft-2, 170 pounds), Onil Cruz (6-ft-1, 145 pounds), Fernando Tatis Jr. (6-ft-1, 175 pounds), Carlos Vargas (6-ft-3, 170 pounds), Eguy Rosario (5-ft-9, 150 pounds)
Outfielders: Starling Heredia (6-ft-1, 190 pounds), Franklin Reyes (6-ft-4, 190 pounds), Juan Soto, David Sanchez (6-ft-1, 172 pounds)
Catchers: Daniel Santos (6-ft-1, 175 pounds), Gresuan Silverio (6-ft, 165 pounds)
Pitchers: RHP Luis Medina (6-ft-2, 175 pounds), Junior Perez (6-ft-4, 190 pounds)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — If Yasmany Tomas is nervous about this weekend’s showcase, he doesn’t show it. What is clearly on display is his size — he’s every bit of the 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds that he is listed as — and his youthful enthusiasm. The 23-year-old is already having a ball, and he’s ready for the next phase of his career.
SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic — This is Fernando Tatis.
This is not.
It appears imitation is not the greatest form of flattery to Tatis and he wants the Fake Fernando to stop pretending to be him. It was funny at first, Tatis said, but now it’s not. Well, it still kind of is, but it’s really kind of not, he says.
“I had people saying they had conversations with me on Twitter and even some reporters from New York would say they talked to me on Twitter,” Tatis said with a smile. “Some of those things he wrote were pretty stupid and I was like ‘What is that?’ People who know me could tell it was fake and I would never do that. I have to get on Twitter because of that guy. He was crazy. No, I’m not mad, but I don’t think anybody would like that stuff.”
There was a real reason why Tatis was sitting in the stands.
Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., 15, was one of 100 prospects to participate in the first day of the DPL Showcase on Monday. More than 100 more are expected to participate in workouts on Tuesday. Games between the prospects are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The prospects are expected to be eligible to sign when next year’s international signing period begins on July 2.
“My son is so much more advanced at his age than I was and he’s going to be a way better player than I was,” Tatis said. “He’s smart and he has a lot more instruction than I did, too. He picks things up quick, a lot faster than I did. He’s coming fast.”
Monday’s workout started with a 60-yard dash, infield and outfield practice and concluded with batting practice for 50 prospects. The second group of 50 prospects had their afternoon workout cut short because of rain.
The Indians were the only team that did not have a presence at the event, according to DPL officials.
“It’s fun, but it’s the first day and they are getting some nerves out,” said Ulises Cabrera, co-founder of DPL. “Overall, it was a good day. The kids have done their part and I think scouts are intrigued by what they see.”
These are a few of the many players to watch this week:
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, 6-ft-1, 175 pounds
Franklin Reyes, OF, 6-ft-4, 190 pounds
Rafi Ozuna, SS, 6-ft-2, 170 pounds
Carlos Vargas, SS, 6-ft-3, 170 pounds
Jeison De La Cruz, OF, 6-ft-2, 190 pounds
Rafioly Urena, OF, 6-ft-4, 200 pounds
Wander Javier, SS, 6-ft-1, 165 pounds
Onil Cruz, SS, 6-ft-1, 145 pounds
Welin Liriano, SS, 5-ft-10, 160 pounds
Maykel Rabsatt, 3B, 6-ft-2, 185
Here are a few more photos from Monday:
Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas has taken another step toward fulfilling his Major League dream.
The 24-year old corner outfielder has been unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and is waiting to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, according to an industry source.
A showcase for the 6-ft-2, 240-pound Tomas is tentatively scheduled for the end of next week in the Dominican Republic.
The next top Cuban prospect is expected to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Rusney Castillo, who recently signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox, Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million dollar contract with the White Sox, and Yasiel Puig, who signed a seven-year, $42 million deal with the Dodgers.
Tomas cannot enter into an agreement with a team until he has been declared a free agent.
Here’s what we know: Tomas is known for his power and he has a reputation for launching long home runs, but he’s also prone to big swing and misses. He’s agile for his size, and he has a strong arm, but there is room for improvement on defense. As a result, he’s characterized as “high-risk, high-reward” type of player in some international scouting circles. He is said to be in much better physical shape and has worked on his approach at the plate since leaving the island.
Tomas has some experience as a member of Cuba’s international team, including the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He also played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, which means he will not be subjected to the international signing guidelines when he becomes eligible to sign.
Overall, Tomas hit 30 home runs with 104 RBI in 205 regular season games for the Industriales starting in 2008. He never played more than 69 games during the Serie Nacional’s 90-game regular season and did not play during the 2010-2011 season.
Tomas defected from Cuba in June and later established residency in Haiti.
Cuban outfield prospect Rusney Castillo put on a show during his tryout in front of Major League scouts and executives on Saturday in Miami and now teams want to see him one-on-one.
Castillo will participate in a private workout for the Phillies on Tuesday and the Red Sox on Friday, according to industry sources. The Yankees have also shown serious interest in the 27-year-old.
These tryouts come a few days after the 5-foot-9, 200-pound right-handed hitter ran the 60-yard dash, participated in live batting practice, threw from the outfield, and fielded grounders at shortstop in front of representatives from 28 of 30 teams at the University of Miami.
Here’s what we know about Castillo: He is known for his speed and considered a line-drive hitter with power. Scouts have also praised his athleticism. He’ll likely start the season in the Minor Leagues once he signs, but there’s a belief that he could be in the big leagues by the end of the season and compete for a starting job in Spring Training.
Castillo, who left Cuba six months ago, established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. government to sign with a team earlier this month. He is represented by Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture between Roc Nation and CAA Sports,
Cuban outfield prospect Rusney Castillo has been compared to Brett Gardner.
Others see him as a player similar to Jacoby Ellsbury. One scout compared him to Kenny Lofton.
What’s certain is the 27-year-old prospect is training in Florida, he’s ready to sign and will likely join a Major League team soon after his showcase on July 26 at the University of Miami. Castillo, who left Cuba six months ago, established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. Government to sign with a team last week. The 5-ft-9, 185 pound outfielder has also been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.
The Cubs, White Sox, Braves, Red Sox, and Giants are among the team to have expressed interest in Castillo, according to industry sources, but scouts and front office executives from every team are expected at his workout next weekend.
Here’s what we know: Castillo is a right-handed hitter with power, has plus-plus speed and is viewed by some as a line-drive hitter. Scouts also like his athleticism. He’ll have to start the season in the Minor Leagues, but there’s a belief that he could be in the big leagues by the end of the season. He’s expected to compete for a starting job in Spring Training.
Castillo is represented by Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture between Roc Nation and CAA Sports.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a busy day on Wednesday, signing seven 16-year-olds on the first day to sign international free agents. These are the players:
Center fielder Yondry Contreras (Dominican Republic) for $400,000.
Left-handed pitcher Domingo Robles (Dominican Republic) for $175,000
Right-handed pitcher Jerry De Lo Santos (Dominican Republic) $100,000
Shortstop Christopher Perez (Dominican Republic) $150,000
Catcher Gabriel Brito (Dominican Republic) $200,000
Right-handed pitcher Brian Souse (Panama) $160,000
Left-handed pitcher Roger Santana (Dominican Republic) $100,000
Yoan Moncada, 19, a switch-hitting infielder from the Cuban city of Cienfuegos, left the country legally earlier this month and is seeking residency in a country outside of the United States, the first step to becoming eligible for free agency, according to an industry source. Once Moncada establishes residency, the teenager must petition Major League Baseball for free agency and be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can come into a final agreement with a club.
While many Cuban players are known to leave the island in late-night escapes or defect from the Cuban national team during an international tournament, the 6-ft-2, 205-pound Moncada was a granted his release from his Serie Nacional Cienfuegos team earlier this year and cleared by Cuba’s National Baseball Commission. He was granted a visa and a passport by the Cuban government and left on an airplane.
He is believed to be in the Dominican Republic or Mexico.
Moncada is expected to sign this year and will be subjected to the international signing guidelines because he is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons. The 2014-2015 international signing period officially starts on Wednesday but several agreements have been in place for several months.
Moncada, who also plays shortstop and third base, starred for Cuba’s top team of 15-and 16-year-olds and made a name for himself at the U-16 IBAF World Baseball Championships in Mexico.
He made his debut for Cienfuegos at age 17 and hit .277 in 367 during parts of two seasons and played alongside White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and Dodgers’ infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena.
Moncada was also teammates with Abreu, Arruebarrena, and other notable Cuban players like Yulieski Gourriel, Alfredo Despaigne, and Jose Miguel Fernandez on Cuba’s national team during the 2013 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Raisel Iglesias, who recently signed a seven-year, $27 million deal with the Reds, was also one of Moncada’s teammates.
Additionally, Moncada was on Cuba’s preliminary roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
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Each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013, a figure ranging from $5,015,400 for the Astros, who had the Majors’ lowest winning percentage last year, to $1,866,300 for the Cardinals, who had the highest winning percentage.
The signing bonus pools are made up of four slot values.
Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods in addition to paying a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.
Teams that exceed the pools by 0 to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100-percent tax on the pool overage.