Something I have really struggled with in making the minor league more accessible is unmasking the mystery that is Latin American prospects. For the most part these players are well off the radar of casual and hardcore fans because there is so little information about them. Outside of the big money signings there is no pre-signing information and if they don’t start stateside there is likely a year without information. This can give the illusion that a prospect comes out of nowhere and may be doing something unsustainable. So I am going to try a little experiment to see how opinions change, in order to do this the facts about the player’s arsenal are the same, the context of those facts has been changed (let’s treat them like drafted players).
Player A: Born December 1996 (Age 18)
Player A first popped up on to radars when this spring in a showcase he showed a big velocity jump from the 88-90 he showed last fall to sit 93-96 in a couple inning showcase. He has flashed a plus curveball and above average changeup. There was a ton of hype coming into the draft about what Player A could do when he got stretched out. In his first taste of pro-ball he has sat 91-94 and touches 95. He is a bit undersized at 6’1″ but has a solid frame. He has limited his walks in pro ball, walking batters at only a 6.0% rate. The curveball still shows plus potential and the changeup could get there as well. On his good days he looks like there is a chance to be a #2 starter if he can continue his growth. The future is very bright.
Player B: Born October 1996 (Age 18)
Player B had a disappointing year his senior year after showing promise before that. He still has the raw tools that he has flashed in the past. He is a prototype right fielder with a plus arm and a chance at plus power. He has shown good bat to ball skills, but has seen his strikeout rate spike in August (31.7%) but his high walk rate (19.5%) points to him working on his approach. He has really good bat speed, but the approach has limited most of his contact to the pull side. He has shown that he can hit a monster shot occasionally, but he still needs to grow into his power. There is not the sky high ceiling of Player A, but there is enough here that Player B could emerge as a major league regular in a few years.
To see who these players are just look in the Tags at the bottom of the article. Where do you think these players would have been drafted? Does this change your opinion of them at all hearing them described in this way?
Image by Baseball Betsy of Felix Paulino who is not player A (or B)