The Major League Baseball season ends in October, but that doesn’t mean that baseball goes to sleep. All around the world baseball is still played in various winter leagues from places like Australia to Arizona. One of these leagues is the Dominican Winter League, which features a host of both former and current professional talent. This league just recently held their annual draft, and seven Tampa Bay Rays prospects were selected. Here’s a look at who they are and where they were picked.
*Note, these players are not required to play in the league by any means. The draft is simply a way for teams to reserve the rights to players who probably aren’t ready for the league yet, but who could be ready and decide to play in the league in the future. Most are in the lower minors in MLB organizations, but some come from foreign leagues or independent leagues. There were 27 rounds in the draft this year for the 6-team league, and 148 players were taken.
SS Willy Adames– 1st round, 4th overall to Tigres Del Licey
Adames, acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the David Price trade, got quite an honor going so high in the draft. Only Manuel Margot, Raimel Tapia, and Wilmer Difo were taken higher than him. Adames is known for his advanced feel for the game, as he was an 18-year old that held his own at Low-A this season. In 125 games combined between the Tigers and Rays’ systems, Adames hit .278/.377/.433, showcasing a great plate approach and solid power for someone so young. His range is nothing special at short, but great instincts, solid hands, and a strong arm give him a chance to stick there. Overall Adames could be an All-Star shortstop, but he is still just a teenager and has quite a ways to go to get there.
OF Yoel Araujo– 4th round, 19th overall to Tigres Del Licey
Araujo stands out for one reason- his immense raw power. Despite hitting just .226 in 61 games at Low-A this year, Araujo managed to slug .406. His bat has 30+ home run potential, but his swing is erratic and he has a poor plate approach (he struck out 90 times this year against 11 walks). At 20-years old there is time for him to figure it all out, but there is plenty of work to be done.
RP Isaac Gil– 10th round, 56th overall to Aguilas Cibaenas
Gil was a 31st round pick in 2011. The 22-year old experienced mixed results this year, not allowing a run in 18.2 innings at Short Season-A Hudson Valley and having a solid 11.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9, but allowing a 5.88 ERA at Low-A Bowling Green, though with a solid 9.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
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IF Alexander Simon– 12th round, 68th overall to Leones Del Escogido
Simon, 21, was Low-A Bowling Green’s regular first baseman this year, but his first go-around at full-season ball was fairly unimpressive. He hit .281/.323/.374, which is not bad in and of itself. But, a 110-25 K-BB ratio proves he has issues with his plate approach, and he is going to have to have some major improvements if he wants to hit more advanced pitching. Also he is limited to playing first base, but does not have the power to profile as a regular there.
OF Elias Torres, 17th round, 101st overall to Aguilas Cibaenas
Torres, 22, played for both Short-Season A and Low-A this season with fairly underwhelming results. In 59 games (17 with Short Season-A and 42 with Low-A), he hit .263/.312/.356 with 10 stolen bases. His numbers have never been too impressive in the minors, but the Rays have shown enough faith in him to move him up the ladder anyways.
UT Ariel Soriano– 19th round, 111th overall to Gigantes Del Cibao
The 22-year old utility man was nothing special with the bat in 33 games at Low-A this year, hitting .250/.284/.398 in 33 games. But the Rays promoted him to High-A regardless, and he actually showed some potential, slashing .276/.330/.429. He also is versatile as he has seen time at second base, shortstop, and all three outfield spots this year.
SP Jorge Rodriguez– 22nd round, 127th overall to Toros Del Este
Rodriguez showed potential in 2013 with Advanced Rookie Princeton Rays, throwing to a 3.90 ERA and a 51-9 K-BB ratio in 60.0 innings. But at Low-A and in a High-A cameo this year he struggled mightily, throwing to a 6.07 ERA and a 33-16 K-BB ratio in 43.0 innings.
All-in-all this is an interesting list. There are plenty of players that have already gotten themselves recognized in the Rays’ system, and a few are interesting sleepers to keep an eye on. Overall, it is great to see some Rays prospects getting some recognition in the Dominican Winter League Draft.