Three players in the Tampa Bay Rays organization make the Top 20 Prospects in the Dominican Summer League list by Baseball America. Pedro Diaz, Ronaldo Hernandez, and Carlos Vargas are the ones named.The Dominican Summer League is usually the first appearance outside of complex ball for young international free agents.
Ben Badler notes that many more teams are asking for players from the DSL to be included in trades even though they are so far away from having any potential impact in the majors. It isn’t often that any of these guys are traded this early, but the Rays did pry one from the Seattle Mariners in the Drew Smyly trade.
Baseball America has been doing the list since 2010 and the inaugural list includes major league impact players such as Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Martinez.
OF Pedro Diaz
Pedro Diaz is an 18 year old outfielder that the Rays signed out of the Dominican Republic for a $300,000 bonus on July 2, 2015. Badler writes, “In a small sample, Diaz flashed his offensive upside, with an intriguing blend of hitting ability and power potential.” Diaz’s professional debut was shortened after being hit in the hand by a pitch.
C Ronaldo Hernandez
Ronaldo Hernandez is a 19 year old catcher. Hernandez was the youngest member of the U18 Columbia team in 2013 at 15 years old. He was an infielder that the Rays have moved behind the plate. He was signed for $225,000 in August 2014.
According to Badler:
“Hernandez had the third-lowest strikeout rate in the league among qualified hitters, showing superb bat control and plate coverage. Hernandez has a good offensive approach (he walked more than he struck out) and is more than just a contact-oriented hitter. There’s strength to his swing, with a good combination of pure hitting skills and power for a catcher.”
He missed most the 2015 DSL season after taking a foul tip to the groin that required surgery.
SS Carlos Vargas
Carlos Vargas is an 18 year old shortstop that was acquired along with Mallex Smith and Ryan Yarbrough in the Drew Smyly trade last winter. Vargas received a $1.625MM bonus from the Mariners in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic. Power is his loudest tool according to Badler as he wrote:
“He tied for third in the DSL with seven home runs with plus raw power that could grow into a 70 tool as he physically matures. What separates Vargas from his peers who can hit the ball a long way is that he can discern the difference between balls and strikes with a patient plan at the plate.”
Vargas showed better defensive range at shortstop than was expected although he is expected to move to third base eventually.
The Rays have done well to have three show up on the prospect list despite being limited to giving out bonuses of $300,000 the last couple of years. It will be exciting to see these guys stateside in short order.