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Prospectos Dominicanos de San Diego

A hearty look back at a handful of young standout players signed from the Dominican Republic; and where they left off last summer.

San Diego and its baseball fans are no strangers to Latin America. Nestled on the border of Mexico, and the owners of one of the only 100%-Spanish team names in American sports, the Padres have been connected to many Hispanic communities in a lot of different ways. But it wasn't until as recently as 2008 that the Padres began connecting to an important source of baseball talent in the beautiful Dominican Republic.

To start with a familiar name that Padres fans would easily associate with the República Dominicana: Rymer Liriano. Originally a top-ranked prospect in San Diego's farm system; Rymer has slowly started to level out. Although posting decent-to-average numbers since being signed back in 2007, it was his Tommy John surgery that kept him out of seeing any 2013 action and dented his progress.

Liriano is currently hitting .248 for the San Antonio Missions with a .794 OPS, seeing 117 at bats and only having 29 hits, but he is certainly not alone in our farm system when it comes to Dominican League talent.

Carlos Belen (18), a less-familiar face and a solid DSL-prospect, signed for the Padres when he was 16 for $1M as a third basemen during the 2012-13 international signing period. He was a player who drew attention because of his offensive potency. He's a right hander, standing at 6 foot 2 and almost 200lbs. He has shown a compact swing with good bat speed, combined with his raw power and strength to shoot sharp line drives and has the ability to hit for both a good average and good power.

Carlos Belen - 2013 Dominican Summer League & Arizona Summer League
Games Played At Bats Runs Hits Home Runs RBI's Walks Strikeouts AVG OPS
69 250 37 61 8 28 27 67 .244 .740

His 2013 performance for the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and Arizona League (AZL) Padres showed him fitting that archetypal 3B role of a right-handed hitter with some power and a strong arm in the corner. After some fundamental adjustments to his overall mechanics, Belen has the potential to fill both an offensive and defensive spot in the corner not very typical from somebody of his larger build; but whether or not he stays at third base remains to be seen.

Where Belen is considered a large guy with a large bat, right fielder Euri Minaya (18) and first baseman Jonas Lantigua (19) keep things in perspective. Minaya (6'4", 200lbs.) and Lantigua (6'5" 205lbs.) both tower over most in their plate presences.

Euri Minaya - 2013 Dominican Summer League & Arizona Summer League
Games Played At Bats Runs Hits Home Runs RBI's Walks Strikeouts AVG OPS
44 159 23 28 5 15 16 77 .176 .593
Jonas Lantigua - 2013 Dominican Summer League & Arizona Summer League
Games Played At Bats Runs Hits Home Runs RBI's Walks Strikeouts AVG OPS
110 405 30 98 1 52 25 100 .242 .621

While Minaya was able to make adjustments that impressed Padres scouting, Lantigua, despite posting decent numbers, will still have to find a way to make his long-extending build work in the batters box. Both players will also find their focus towards learning to hit off-speed pitches. Minaya hasn't put up any impressive numbers yet, but the mechanical improvements he is making keep him relevant.

Euri Minaya shown making good contact,
but struggling with breaking pitches.

Minaya along with Belen are contact-oriented low-power hitters of which Padres have the potential to reap the benefits, with Lantigua providing some serious power potency. Couple that with the young Elys Ugueto (17), who, despite not putting up any serious numbers yet, has shown a good glove; and you've got a decent amount of position players who can fill infield roles.

Moving to the center of the diamond and beyond, our organization also signed a couple of players still rattling around the Dominican League. Right handed pitcher Starling Ynfante (20) is a 6'2" 200lb. with a three-pitch tool. In his 38.2 innings he has only allowed 20 hits, walked 33, and has struck out 45. He throws low 90s and works around with a changeup, curve, fastball that will dip down hard. Ynfante has posted a 2.33 ERA in the nine games that he has started.

Along with former Padre Edinson Volquez and current relief pitcher Joaquín Benoit, these new young pitchers would be some of the first Dominican players to grace our starting rotation. San Diego has also locked on to righthander Mayky Perez (17), another towering 6'5" player who throws in the low 90's, and was also in the top 20 for international prospects last year. Perez has stayed around the high 80's low 90's, which is what he has been throwing since around the age of 15. He continues to develop in Arizona, trying to kick up his velocity to what scouts were projecting when first signed, and also got his first taste of Petco throwing in the Perfect Game All-America Classic in 2012.

"Mi nombre es Mayky Perez, tengo dieciséis años de edad, soy de San Pedro de Macoris. Mi pelotero favorito es Pedro Martinez"

There are also the recent signings of righthander Jaimito Lebron (17) and shortstop Ruddy Giron (17). Giron was a speedy bat that the Padres found appealing, with a good eye at the plate and ability to make contact. Lebron on the other hand is another tall pitcher with great mechanics that is throwing low 90s and starting to rise. Both Giron and Lebron are going to be starting this year in Arizona to show off what they've been working on.

Other signings in and out of the AZL and DSL that haven't exactly broken into any top twenty lists are:

Luis Asuncion (17) - A corner outfielder that hits for some power. Another beastly 17-year-old standing at 6'4", is expecting to see his raw power fine-tuned and fully realized.

Ramon Reyes (18) - One of the many lanky 6'3" righties that flirt with the 90mph range, posting a 6.00 ERA in his 27 innings pitched but hasn't found good control of his arm quite yet to be a consistent starter.

Ronaldo Contreras (17) - Has a 6'3" frame and power similar to Asuncion, but also requires a bit of mechanical tweaking so that power can be applied.

Westhers Magdaleno (17) - A quick-hitting 6'1" shortstop and potential second baseman. He's another hopeful contact-hitter and puts a lot of energy into his game. Speedy and fast on his feet.

So what outlining information can be taken away from this healthy amount of players? Personally, I think the same that can be taken away every year when it comes to Dominican Prospects.

We're seeing players who were signed at a young age start to mature and develop into the type of performers that they were and were not projected to be.

The risk/reward of Dominican League signing has always been very high. Hoping any 16/17 year old fulfills the potential they show is just as much of a baseball adventure as any you'd find in the States.

Carlos Belen $1,000,000
Euri Minaya $700,000
Starling Ynfante $200,000
Ronaldo Contreras $140,000
Jonas Lantigua $150,000
Ruddy Giron $600,000
Jaimito Lebron $410,000
Westhers Magdaleno $400,000
Elys Ugueto $50,000
Luis Asuncion $350,000
Ramon Reyes $500,000
Mayky Perez $634,800

Though the Padres are certainly late to getting as deep into foreign amateur-league baseball as other organizations, we have at the very least arrived at a good start in tapping its potential. Streaming a constructive amount of money from our new, much larger financial pool into these very talented Dominican players; fans can hope to see a very diversified group of prospects filling San Diego minor-league rosters in the near future.