I was told a few players with the DPL didn’t make this stateside trip and likely won’t be working out for scouts anymore because they’re believed to already have verbal deals worked out. The best prospect of this bunch not making the trip has a name you’ll recognize: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. I won’t mention the team that every scout I talked to said Guerrero has a deal with, but the rumored price tag is $3.2 million. Here’s a video from the only time I scouted him, in January 2014 in the DPL underclass showcase.
CF Starling Heredia may be the top prospect in this class and his price tag is rumored to be around $3.5 million, with multiple scouts mentioning the Cubs as the most interested team, though that isn’t a done deal by any means. Heredia hit some balls out to center field in BP and ran a 6.62 time in the 60, both plus tools to go with his plus bat speed. His speed plays down a bit in games right now, but it’s common for kids like this to get a little faster in the next few years.
He’s advanced at the plate for his age because, despite a leg kick some coaches would want to immediately tone down, Heredia does a good job staying balanced, keeping his head very still and tucking his hands in to get around on the inside pitch. His swing still breaks down in a couple game swings above, but some teenage toolsheds never show that level of feel for a swing, especially with that Manny Ramirez-style swing that’s so common on the island.
Other top prospects:
- SS Wander Javier - possible $2 million bonus
- RF Franklin Reyes - possible $2 million bonus
- RHP Luis Medina
- RF Juan Soto
- RF Robert Barreras
- SS Onil Cruz
- Jeffey Ramos
- 3B Welin Liriano
- SS Jeison Guzman
And looking at 2016-17:
I’m often asked way before July 2nd if that year’s international signing class of Latin 16-year-olds has a franchise type, once-a-decade player—Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Sano, Felix Hernandez, etc.—which is the question I often find myself asking scouts to open a discussion about the top players in the class. In short, there isn’t that player (yet) for next July 2nd, though I’ll get another look at many of the top players in the class next month. There are already rumors of a player in the upcoming class having a deal for $3 million, but multiple players get about that much every year, even with the new international pools in place, so that doesn’t automatically make him that super elite prospect.
However, there is a player for the 2016 July 2nd period, 22 months from now, that is drawing that kind of scouting attention. He’s 14 years old and he’s a Venezuelan shortstop named Kevin Maitan.
You hear almost every star player from a Latin country eventually used as a comparison for a raw teenager, but international scouts generally don’t invoke Miguel Cabrera. That’s the Bo Jackson-type talent you don’t use to compare to teenagers. Even Vladimir Guerrero gets comp’d sometimes, though with Vlady’s son being in this year’s July 2nd crop and having similar mannerisms, that at least makes some sense.
Maitan has been compared to Cabrera by most of the scouts I’ve asked about him. He’s unusually physically mature for his age and flashes all the tools you want to see to throw that Cabrera comp around: he can play shortstop pretty well now, he’s got more raw power than most kids a few years older than him, he has smooth actions in defense and at the plate and so on.