Rays Prospects

DSL Rays Season Review

By Drew Jenkins
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By the time you get down to the foreign summer leagues, a majority of the players on the team, if not all of them, are names that even an avid prospect enthusiast would not recognize. That does not mean that these players don’t come without intrigue, however. After all, many players currently playing in the big leagues got their start in foreign summer leagues years ago. With any luck, the Rays will have some players on their 2014 Dominican League Squad than can end up making an impact in the big leagues. Though they went just 30-40 in 2014, there are still plenty of takeaways from the 2014 DSL Rays’ season.

Best Performers

Though he only played in 39 of the DSL Rays’ 70 games, utility man Joseph Astacio certainly left an impact. In that time, he hit an outstanding .392/.443/.441. At 20 years old and never having played stateside, Astacio certainly has his work cut out for him, but this performance at least bought him another chance in the organization.

Also with a nice season was 17-year-old first baseman Gilbert Marrero, who hit .284/.390/.443 in his 53 games. Marrero was not a highly touted signing, but he’s shown a smooth left-handed swing, and that could make him an interesting player in the future. His biggest question will be whether he can hit for enough power to be valuable as a first baseman.

Pitching-wise, Ariel Gracia was solid, putting up a 3.11 ERA with a 7.1 K/9 and a 2.4 BB/9 over 63.2 innings of work. Gracia will certainly have to prove himself against better competition, but he showed nice polish as just a teenager. Showing even more polish, however, was reliever Genesis Cabrera. Over 29.1 innings Cabrera walked just three batters, resulting in a measly 0.8 BB/9. He also added a solid 2.45 ERA and an 8.0 K/9 on top of it. Also with nice years in relief were Luis Nunez (1.64 ERA), Miguel De La Cruz (1.89 ERA), and Francisco Mena (2.66 ERA).

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Biggest Disappointments

The Rays originally agreed with catcher Eric Maria on a $300k bonus in 2011, but he was suspended for falsifying his identity and the contract was not made official. The Rays clearly thought highly of Maria though, because they came back and gave him the same bonus in 2012 after his suspension was over. Maria has only disappointed, though, and he hit just .198/.289/.233 for DSL this season. As a 20-year-old who has never been able to solve DSL pitching, Maria is running out of time to make a significant advancement with his game.

Carlos Guzman was a six-figure international signing for the Rays in the 2013-2014 signing period, but he struggled in his first taste of pro ball. Primarily playing shortstop, Guzman hit just .228/.398/.309 for the DSL squad. Still, Guzman is just 17 years old, and he has shown ability in the past. He is known for his speed, and if he can add a bit of muscle to his 6’1”, 155 pound frame, then his swing mechanics should get much more consistent.

Other Players To Watch

Catcher Rafelin Lorenzo was tied for the Rays highest bonus in the 2013-2014 signing period, and he certainly is intriguing moving forward. Lorenzo stands out for his plus arm despite the fact that he’s only 17 years old, and he threw out a solid 36% of runners for the DSL Rays. His bat was thought to be more of a work-in-progress, but he managed a solid .274/.329/.446 line. Lorenzo is certainly a player to keep an eye on as he moves stateside in 2015.

Third baseman Juan Carlos Arias is another player to watch. The Rays inked him for six figures in the 2013-2014 period. His .239/.329/.391 line was hardly awe-inspiring, but Arias got on base at a surprisingly nice clip considering his low batting average. Arias stands out for his plus raw power, though to get it to show up in games his hit tool and approach need some work. Defensively, he has the arm and hands to stay at third, but limited range might eventually move him to first.

When all is said and done, we could end up seeing a couple of these players make a big league impact for the Rays. That said, everyone mentioned is far off from the big leagues, and it will be at least a couple of years before any of them are heavily talked about in the Rays system. Many of them will move to the Rays’ GCL or Appalachian League affiliate in 2015, and they are certainly work keeping track of for the time being.

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