Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oakland A's Dominican Summer League Preview

With the acquisition of several teenaged farmhands hailing from Venezuela, Columbia and Panama, the Athletics have once more bolstered their ranks at the Santo Domingo academy with inking of Santiago Rodriguez (RHP), Gerardo Vilchez (RHP), Jorge Martinez (6'0", 160 pounds, LHP/1B) and Jean Carlos Ruiz Torres (6'2", 170 pounds, RHP) as additional assets accompanying Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan, Jesus Monserratt and Gean Rigby as organizational rookies set to debut after Miggy Mercedes, JC Rodriguez, Jhonny Rodriguez and Robert Mullen were welcomed just prior to the 2013 campaign. The additions usurp the absences of Jesus Zambrano and Victor Veliz, who have since ascended forth towards the AZL Papago facility following outstanding efforts previously while playing under the Caribbean affiliate, with Zambrano amassing a 3.16 FIP between his 14 outings (61 1/3 IP) as the youngest player in the organization by 51 weeks (Born 8/23/1996, Iolana Akau 8/31/1995). Zambrano equally produced a 48:12 K/BB as a 16 year old (18.8% K%/4.7% BB%) while permitting a mere 4 HRs (0.59 HR/9) to entrench himself within the 2014 AZL rotation. Joining shall be Victor Veliz after a sensational third campaign while participating amongst fellow Caribbean Oakland prospects, bursting through with a 2.91 FIP through his 71 frames with a 46:18 K/BB and a lone dinger allowed for the now 20 year old southpaw. Jesus Lopez, Oakland's $950,000 switch hitting second base acquisition hailing from Nicaraugua, shall debut domestically within Arizona as well, diminishing the buzz surrounding the DSL crop for the impending season. However, the ballclub still wields Carlos Hiciano, Juan Mendoza, Ivan Andueza, Robert Mullen, Eric Mariñez, and Luis Barrera as premier international farmhands represented in the Dominican this June. While not honed in upon by traditional MiLB outlets, the DSL is still a prominent league where numerous potential for the A's shall be housed through their summer crusade upon the island with recent successes such as Yairo Muñoz and Santiago Chavez and boasts a significant bounty of prospects Oakland fans ought to acquaint themselves with for upcoming years. 

Headlining the attendees, Carlos Hiciano arrives as another July 2nd asset snatched by the Athletics to complement Jesus Lopez as the center field and shortstop prospect inked for $750,000 and revered for his sensational athleticism, garnering 70 grades for his speed while possessing a tremendous amount of arm strength, plus bat speed, and line drive tendencies that are projected to develop gradually into dingers as the 6'2", 175 pound 17 year old Dominican physically matures. Easily the most anticipated prospect for the A's present within the academy, Hiciano ought to star for the DSL bunch while grappling with the adversity that will accompany his initial foray into the professional ranks. Amongst this cast of DSLers however, Hiciano is undoubtedly the centerpiece for the Athletics, with the potentiality to emerge as a top 20 organizational prospect for the green and gold. 

Despite the absences of Jean Carlo Rodriguez and Miggy Mercedes with their departures to Arizona to compete within the AZL circuit, the teenage contingent still is heavily represented positionally between the thunderous might of Luis Barrera and the blooming potential of Jhonny Rodriguez who each rightfully demonstrated their raw capabilities throughout to Dominican schedule during the 2013 campaign. Luis Barrera, the hefty 6'1", 195 pound 18 year old surged forth to lead the ballclub in HRs (4) while finishing forth to Eric Mariñez and the afforementioned duo of Jean Carlo and Jhonny Rodriguez with a cumulative XBH (13) within a truncated professional debut for Barrera, who was absent for the entirety of August with a hand fracture. Still, within his 149 plate appearance sample size, the then 17 year old firmly established himself as one of the premier short season power oriented farmhands for Oakland, amassing a .198 ISO in the often oppressive DSL confines as the righty corner outfield and potential first base prospect strung together a .190/.302/.389 slash line with a 12.1% BB% (18:22 BB/K) and an additional 107 wRC+. The lackluster average was attributable to a sour .196 BABIP that wasn't the slightest bit indicative of Barrera's potentiality as the highest grossing amateur signee of the 2012 period ($450,000) and DPL alumni promises to establish himself as an offensive juggernaut and assured AZL participant for the 2015 campaign once completed with this upcoming assigmment. 

While significantly less developed than Barrera, Jhonny Rodriguez additionally inked for a six figure sum ($300,000) out of the Dominican Republic and was bestowed with the honors as the youngest positional individual within the organization (Born 7/20/1196) and proceeded to partake with his initial DSL campaign as a 16 year old, primarily manning all outfield posts while acquiring a lone and perculiar outing at second base. While severely inept for durations throughout the season, Rodriguez still was able to compile admirable stretches to offset his predictable struggles, hitting .313/.329/.450 during his final month through August (82 PAs) to boost his cumulative statistical marks to a 92 wRC+, .247/.283/.363 slash, .116 ISO and .301 BABIP despite only walking in a mere 11 instances through his 267 PA organizational opening debut. Regardless, Rodriguez still demonstrated his offensive worth despite the subpar discipline with a squad best 15 doubles and short season leading seven triples that reinforces his potential approaching his sophomore stint all prior to his 18th birthday. 

Complementing the positional headliners upon the ballclub are returning assets that drove the Caribbean bunch through their most recent attempt, including the rather stunning retainment of Rodolfo Penalo after a phenomenal breakthrough crusade during his fourth try within the island academy, producing a .311/.422/.404 slash, .415 wOBA, 151 wRC+, and 13.6% BB% (25:21 BB/K) and an organizational leading 29 stolen bases (39 attempts) despite only playing in 51 contests for the DSL Athletics. The 5'7", 130 switch hitting 2B/CF leadoff specialist is one of the most unique individuals under contract for Oakland, and seemingly established himself as an AZL applicant for the 2014 campaign. However, possibly due to injury, Penalo shall not debut instantly with Phoenix for the time being, although could ascend towards Papago at some instance during this calendar year. Joining Rodolfo, another intriguing prospect that has been restricted to the Dominican has been Sandber Pimentel, the consistent corner outfield asset that slotted second behind Penalo upon the DSL wRC+ leaderboard (129) while accumulating a .255/.353/.422 slash line, .377 wOBA and .167 ISO for the stout 6'3", 220 pound 18 year old after showcasing an outstanding amount of improvement comparatively to his initial attempt in regards to his power rate, smacking 10 XBH (2 HR) within his 119 PAs with a respectable 12.6% BB% (15:22 BB/K) that was actually worse than his 18.5% BB% rate during his 2012 go-around. Still, despite maintaining his discipline while bolstering that with a revitalized approach and definitive physical maturation at the plate, 19th round draftee from the 2012 Draft, Robert Martinez, had graduated towards Arizona in favor of Pimentel, who seemingly shall have to grapple once more with competition he is blatantly superior to. With another stellar trot through the DSL, Oakland will be unable to deny the sibling of the former Texas farmhand, Guillermo Pimentel, entry to the stateside rookie league facility. 

Rounding out the offensive contingent, Robert Mullen, Barry Hernandez, Andys Silva, Eric Mariñez, and Raymond Rivas shall undoubtedly be stalwart contributors for the bunch through the 2014 campaign, with none above the age of 20. Mitchell Martes, Javier Godard and Miguel Guzman additionally reacclimate to the competition as now practical veterans to the facility, with each unfortunately struggling through their previous attempts. For Robert Mullen however, the 6'0" Panaminian backstop who shall usurp starting duties following the triumphant departure of Santiago Chavez, the soon-to-be 18 year old's sophomore campaign could very well propel him to the forefront of international prospects within the Athletics organization, after his sterling defensive exploits coupled with plus contributions at the plate for a newly acquainted teenager find him in a similar position to the now notable Santiago Chavez, who has graduated the DSL academy and found himself assigned directly to Midland to momentarily serve as a cog for the ailing Ryan Lipkin after sustaining a knee injury and has since been rewarded for his brilliant performance with a permanent post within Wisconsin. Mullen, the Panaminian brotherin of Jean Carlo Rodriguez, shined with his .267/.340/.367 slash and 115 wRC+ while bursting through August with a feverish 13-39 stretch with 5 XBH to close his campaign after finally settling into a groove. Now on the verge of a breakthrough, Mullen is assuredly a pivotal asset to the ballclub now having been bestowed with catching duties the the entirety of 2014 while occasionally divvying opportunities with Miguel Guzman, Barry Hernandez, and newly inked Jesus Monserratt. Eric Yoel Mariñez, the switch hitting DPL bred middle infield plug lassoed in for $95,000 by Oakland, additionally flashed promising performances for the Dominican cast to finish with a .246/.293/.351 mark (12:53 BB/K) while bashing 12 doubles and three triples to make him one of the more prominent offensive threats throughout the academy. While originally being pronounced as the switch hitting asset, Yoelie Mariñez floundered against lefties while batting right handed, going 3-43 with 18 strikeouts and a lone walk while batting .305/.354/.430 versus righties as a left-hander thus possibly prompting the organization to shift him should the trend be prolonged. Luis "Barry" Hernandez, nicknamed after Barry Bonds for his awe inspiring batting practice shows while participating with the Columbian national squad, and Andys Silva each impressed with their discipline capabilities through their initial stint for Oakland, with each amassing BB% rates north of 13.0% that didn't necessarily salvage their overall statistical measures thanks to BABIP percentages each below .270. Andys Silva, the Venezuelan middle infield asset, was far superior against southpaws during his debut romp last summer and features primarily as a defensive and utility specialist with line drive capabilities at the plate. Raymond Rivas, another Venezuelan infielder, possesses greater physical potential than Silva, standing 6'1", 185 pounds compared to Silva's modest 5'11", 160 pound frame and equally weilds an entirely different approach, rather opting for a swing first mentality as opposed to Andys' patience with beneficial results as Rivas amassed a .323 BABIP to rank fourth upon the entire club despite his horrendous eight cumulative walks drawn through his 194 plate appearances. Miguel Guzman and Mitchell Martes, both humongous teenage farmhands (6'2", 210 and 6'5", 215) have each struggled thus far offensively for the DSL bunch, with Martes featuring as an intriguing asset hailing from the Netherlands after inking for $50,000 from Aruba to coincide with Shawn Duinkerk as another Aruban pressence for Oakland. 

Alongside these shall be debuting rookie acquisitions such as Yhoelnys Gonzalez, Jesus Monserratt and Gean Rigby, with Rigby and Momserratt being the first individuals signed by Oakland to have been born in 1997. Yhoelnys, inked on July 25th, was the corresponding transaction following the splash of Carlos Hiciano and Jesus Lopez for a cumulative $1.7M. Yhoelnys, the 6'1", 170 pound center field prospect deviously participated in Miami showcases with his travel ballclub out of Venezuela and has recieved acclaim for his smooth swing mechanics and athleticism. Gean Rigby, another center field asset and the second Nicaraguan addition following Jesus Lopez, bolsters a potent outfield cast as a 6'1", 180 pound developing offensive weapon with current gap power for the teenager having just recently turned 17. Another 17 year old, the Venezeulan backstop of Jesus Monserratt complements a solid catching contingent and shall shadow Guzman, Hernandez and Mullen behind the plate as he gradually garners professional experience within the academy. 

Upon the mound, losses of the remarkable sensation of Jesus Zambrano and outstandingly consistent southpaw, Victor Veliz, still don't squander the potential upon the ballclub with sophomores Ivan Andueza and Juan Mendoza figuring to anchor the rotation after once more following admirable initial stints within the starting bunch for the Venezuelan lefty in Andueza and the Dominican All-Star representative in Mendoza. Andueza, formally a teenage injury replacement option upon the VWL Lara squad, is hardly an imposing pressence upon the mound as he conjures comparisons to another diminutive Venezuelan arm in Ronnie Herrera; despite Andueza actually being older than the Snappers rotation staple (2/7/1995). Andueza, standing at 5'11", 175 pounds, neutralized opposing offenses with a 2.93 FIP amassed between his 67 IP with a 49:23 BB/K (17.2% K%/7.7% BB%) to coincide with a lone HR permitted and a 1.39 GB/FB produced thanks in part to a plus changeup. It was a stellar performance that firmly places the lefty in consideration for Arizona duties even prior to the opening of the Papago schedule for 2014 should he dominate initially, attempting to become the first mid-season promotion from the DSL academy since Gregory Paulino. Juan Mendoza surprisingly enough even exceeded the southpaw's output himself: 

"Want an international sleeper that's even more so hidden than Ronald Herrera or Jesus Zambrano? Look no further. Mendoza, also born in 1996, was 17 throughout the previous DSL campaign in what was his debut professional season as well. In the process of his debut, he received a DSL All-Star game berth alongside Jean Carlo Rodriguez and featured as one of the more reliable producers of a developing Dominican bunch. As he accumlulated his 71 2/3 IP, he would amass one of the most outstanding groundball rates of any rookie league Oakland prospect while walking 21 (7.1% BB%) and allowing a minuscule two dingers to compensate for a less than desirable 42 strikeouts (14.1% K%). The numbers translate to a 3.44 FIP, and a even more pristine 1.88 ERA for the Venezeulan. Unlike his fellow countrymen, Zambrano and Herrera, Mendoza has a greater physical potential (6'2", 175 pounds) and has optimistism revolving amongst his projection. But despite that recent success, the organization seems skewed towards retaining Mendoza in the Dominican for another campaign, with a probable AZL promotion in July/August. He'll turn 18 on April 15th"

Accompanying the rotation assets are intriguing potential riddlied pieces such as Jesus Rivas, a recently converted arm from his previous outfield post in an attempt to reciprocate Jensi Peralta's conversion success after the righty went 13 2/3 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 7 K as the squad's closer through 2013. Anderson Mata, inked alongside Jose Torres as another Venezuelan lefty, shall attempt to finally congeal and ascend to Arizona while the former Miami farmhand Kevin Ferrera (27 2/3 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 12 BB, 36 K) attempts to duplicate his previous dominance. Yonalis Delgadillo and Elihoref Suniaga return following absences while Wilfredo Magallanes, Jose Trejo, and Argenis Blanco, and the Puerto Rican Philip Ortiz return after debut campaigns during 2013. Yordy Alejo, Angel Duno and Reynaldo Hoyos reacclimate as DSL juniors present at the facility while Emerson Nelo and Jhenderson Hurtado attempt to debut alongside Ruber Aquino, Enmanuel Sullivan, Jorge Martinez, Santiago Rodriguez, Gerardo Vilchez and Jean Carlo Ruiz Torres despite being present but unable to contend through the 2013 calendar year. 

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