In this part of the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays report, we’ll cover the hitters. Despite the absence of some of the top players from the 2013 International Free Agent class like Yeltsin Gudino and Freddy Rodriguez, both of whom skipped the DSL and played in Florida this year, there were several intriguing names who suited up for the DSL Blue Jays.
We’ll cover the DSL Blue Jays hitters, going around the horn by position, covering players who logged the most playing time at each position before we get to the substitutes a bit later on.
Behind the plate, the team leader was 17-year-old catcher Javier Hernandez who showed himself to be an outstanding defender, throwing out 40% of potential base stealers and earning a call up to the GCL by the end of the year. Hernandez hit .241/.290/.354 through 216 plate appearances with the DSL Jays and went 5/13 with a walk in six games in Dunedin. Hernandez is still very young and showed marked improvement over 2013, particularly in his developing power. He only had five extra-base hits in 2013 in the DSL but had 20 (18 doubles and two triples) in just three more games in 2014.
At first base, Enmanuel Moreta played the most by far, 65 games out of the club’s 71 matches. Moreta’s offensive production was outstanding as the 6-foot-3, 19-year-old right-handed hitter hit .287/.367/.437 in 286 plate appearances with 21 doubles, seven triples and one home run. With a pretty acceptable walk rate and strikeout rate (7.3% BB%, 20.3% K%), Moreta has probably done all he needs to do in the DSL and should see time in rookie ball next year.
Second base was generally manned by 17-year-old Miguel Almonte. In his first year as a pro, Almonte had some solid numbers, particularly when it came to his walk rate of 11.7% which elevated his .242 batting average to a .358 OBP and he was fairly successful when stealing bases, going 11 for 14 in attempts. Without a scouting report, it’s hard to tell if scouts think that he’s going to develop more power as he matures but he could definitely either return to the DSL for another year of development or he could jump over the GCL next year.
One of the better known prospects to sign with the Blue Jays in the last IFA signing period, third-baseman Bryan Lizardo had an up and down season, starting as a 16 year old. He played in almost every game for the Jays, getting almost 300 plate appearances (292 to be exact) and put up a respectable line of .263/.379/.375, showing signs of potential as a power hitter who has a good sense of the strike zone taking walks at a 14% rate (although walk numbers in the DSL don’t necessarily translate). He struck out a little much but the 25.7% rate isn’t too worrisome, particularly since Lizardo was one of the youngest players in the league. Lizardo finished the season very strongly, hitting .350/.443/.534 with 16 of his 22 extra-base hits over the final 28 games. Expect to see Lizardo with the GCL Jays for his Age-17 season in 2015.
The every day shortstop for the DSL Jays was Jesus Severino whose defense is likely still a work in progress (thanks to 32 errors in 62 games). Severino was also signed last year and had barely turned 17 before the season started. He’s a little more raw, hitting .211/.317/.260 with 10 stolen bases and just eight extra-base hits over 63 games and he’ll likely return to the Dominican Republic for another year.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see outfielder Rodrigo Orozco in rookie ball next year after his second consecutive solid year at the plate for the DSL Jays. The 19-year-old Panamanian switch hitter put up a .274/.385/.355 line with 20 stolen bases. From the numbers, Orozco’s defense is pretty solid with just one error and 10 assists in 59 games played in center field.
Playing the most games in right field was Edward Olivares, an 18-year-old, right-handed hitting Venezuelan who the Blue Jays signed quite late, on July 2, to be exact. Getting into 40 games with the DSL Jays, Olivares set the league on fire, hitting .314/.436/.414 with nine extra-base hits (including one home run) and 12 stolen bases. He also had eight outfield assists, good for second on the team, despite being fourth in games played. From his low strikeout rate (13.3%), solid walk rate (11.6%) and strong numbers all around, I would expect to see Olivares in the US next year in rookie ball.
Playing 49 games in the outfield was 20-year-old Eddy Alcantara. The 6-foot-3 Dominican appears to have regressed despite getting more than twice the amount of plate appearances that he had in 2013. He still took a lot of walks but his rate was down slowly from last year while his strikeout rate fell a bit too, though it was still somewhat high at 24.5%. His slash line was .244/.340/.298 without a home run and 10 stolen bases.
Francisco Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Dominican outfielder, had a solid season for the Blue Jays, hitting .259/.398/.387 with 21 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases (but was caught stealing nine times). Rodriguez took a lot of walks (15.1%) and had a reasonable strikeout rate at 23%. Rodriguez could very well head to the GCL next year after being a steady contributor for the DSL Jays in 2014.
Switch hitter Ronniel Demorizi played a third season in the DSL and improved a bit over his numbers last year, cutting down on his strikeouts but regressed in walks, posting a .238/.325/.337 line.
The rest of the at bats went to a variety of back up players, all of whom were 18 or 19 years old. In just 38 plate appearances, back up outfielder Antony Fuentes hit .323/.447/.429 while catcher Manuel Herazo put up solid numbers, hitting .250/.330/.283 over 109 plate appearances. Herazo, 19, caught 22 games and threw out 30% of potential base stealers.