The Rays have made a notable investment in Latin America over the last few seasons, and they're hoping it yields some top prospects. Although they didn't receive the largest bonuses of the bunch, 17-year old outfielder Moises Gomez (VSL) and 18-year-old Jesus Sanchez (DSL) are two that have drawn my attention after strong performances in 2015.
Here I'll focus on Gomez, who may be the more intriguing of the pair.
Moises Manuel Gomez | CF | 17 years old
MLB Farm has him listed at 5'11" 196 lbs, but at his age he has plenty of room for growth
Advanced Stats (from Fangraphs)
- Born in Caracas, Venezuela
- Played in VSL in 2015. He could jump to either the GCL or Short-Season ball in 2016.
- Playing the year as a 16-year-old, he managed a .178 ISO, wOBA of .420, and wRC+ of 153
- His performance under pressure should also be noted as he hit .424/.500/.727 with 2 outs and RSIP
- BB rate 11.1%, SO rate of 13.5% led to above-average 0.82 BB/K ratio
- Was 3rd on the team with 9 SB, 2nd in HR, Runs, and Walks, and 4th in wRAA, doubles, and triples
- Hit .303/.410/.364 against LHP and .326/.395/.522 against RHP
Now let's get into more specifics on his performance aside from the broad overview. Here's his hitting spray chart from 2015:
2015 Spray Chart
You can see that most of his power is to left field, but it's also interesting to note his gap power to center-right, indicating his potential as a doubles machine. While most of his hits went to LF, he still showed a decent ability to get hits to the opposite field.
2015 Plate Appearance Breakdown
This is a good representation of his PA outcomes and displays just how effective his plate appearances were. His ability to limit ground outs is an encouraging sign for such a young player.
2015 Hit Location Breakdown
This chart does a great job of indicating how evenly Gomez used the field overall. First, the majority of hit balls went up the middle, whether in CF (38), SS (16), or 2B (10). Secondly, the difference between LF (27) and RF (23) isn't significant and indicates that he does a great job of powering the ball to all fields. Only the 1B and 3B discrepancy is notably large, but that's to be expected and generally isn't a cause for worry.
Overall, Gomez does a great job hitting, does even better with runners on, rarely grounds out into double plays, uses the entire field, and has displayed the ability to hit he ball hard to all fields.
There's a lot to like about him.
Rays International Investment Paying Dividends
The Rays generally have a reputation for taking their time developing young players. However, since they've become more aggressive in Latin America they've also become more aggressive in promoting young players.
Angel Moreno is one recent example of that shift as they allowed him to leap from the DSL to the Appy league, bypassing the GCL in the process. Yonny Chirinos also made the same move in 2014, although he was older at the time of the promotion.
"Gomez is much more exciting, can really run and has power, and take a look at his splits by month, very exciting progress. Played the whole summer as a 16-year-old. Good chance that he skips the GCL and heads to a short season affiliate this year. I’m excited to see his stateside debut."
It's always fun to get such exciting feedback about Rays prospects, but in this case it's even more significant as it would seem to indicate some clear benefits from the team's more aggressive international strategy.
Keep an eye out for Gomez in 2016 whether he makes the jump to one of the short-season US leagues.
Wherever he winds up, he's going to electrify the crowds and could prove to be one of the better international investments the Rays have made.