The 2015 minor league season is now fully under way. I say that because every affiliate is now playing games for the Arizona Diamondbacks – all eight of them. Full season Kane County, High-A Visalia, Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno have been in action since April, but the rookie and complex teams have just begun their seasons, too. The DSL D-backs (Dominican Summer League), AZL D-backs (Arizona Rookie League), Missoula Osprey (Pioneer League) and Hillsboro Hops (Northwest League) are now doing their respective things. More baseball – that’s always good if you ask me.

And that adds a lot of names to the watch list for those keeping up on the minor league efforts in Arizona’s system. Yeah, they’re far away from the majors and that means Dave Stewart and Tony LaRussa could conceivably trade them at any moment, but for now, let’s check in on two complex-level squads and identify who we should have our eyes on for the rest of the summer.


DSL D-backs – Dominican Summer League

In a league where most players are completely unheard of and most are three or more years away from escaping their teens, it can be tough to know what to look for in the DSL. While the league is probably the most volatile of any organized professional baseball league, the one indicator available is bonus figures. It makes sense: teams are usually willing to pay more for highly-prized talent. But when many of these deals are negotiated at 15-years old (or younger), a lot can change. Still, we’ll use signing bonuses to guide us for the most part since there aren’t scouting reports available yet.

Top Targets

Oswaldo Garcia (19), C, $430,000 – Garcia signed back in 2012 and is still in the Domincan Summer League, which is not a good thing. This is his third pass through the league and although he’s a big dude at 6’3”, 210-pounds, he hasn’t hit for any power and has struggled to make contact. That said, he’s 19-year old catcher, so patience may still be in order, although it’s probably starting to run short.

Mailon Arroyo (17), 3B, $350,000 – One of three guys signed for six figures in 2014, Arroyo is in his first pro season at just 17. He’s shown a little bit of pop as a switch hitter, and at 6’0”, 200-pounds he’s already a pretty physical prospect. He’s striking out a bunch and walking very little, which might foreshadow some concerns.

Remy Cordero (17), OF, $350,000 – Cordeo is a lefty-swing outfield prospect who checks in at 6’2” and 170-pounds. His arm is rated as plus and he may end up in right field, but can play center for now. His ability to hit was not highly regarded and he’s struggled in 16 games in his inaugural campaign, but at 17, there’s an obviously a very long way to go.

Others of Note

Juan Araujo (17), OF, unknown six figures – Araujo is an athletic 6’2” and 195-pounds. He’s done a relatively good job of making contact in the first 20 games of his debut.

Robert de Leon (17), RHP, unknown six figures – de Leon is a projectable 6’5”, 200-pounds and presumably throws hard. It would appear that he’s a project for now based on his first six games.

Jhoan Duran (17), RHP, bonus unknown – any time you have a starting pitcher prospect who’s 17-years old and stands 6’5”, 175-pounds, that’s worth taking note of because it screams projection. Better yet, he’s been decent in four starts.

 AZL D-backs – Arizona Summer League

Because the Diamondbacks didn’t draft any high profile high school players this year – a questionable strategy to say the least – that means that there aren’t a lot of top domestic names playing for the AZL D-backs. Instead, it’s a collection of guys who’ve graduated from the Dominican Summer League and are now stateside. Here bonuses still matter, but by now, they matter a little less and it’s becoming a question of projection and results. Luckily, there’s plenty of both present in this group.

Top Targets

Ismael Pena (19), 1B – Pena signed for $750,000 back in 2012 and is repeating the AZL this season after struggling mightily in 2014. He has some thump, but at this point the Canadian (yes, from Montreal) has seen his stock drop considerably, although he is physically projectable at 6’3” and 175-pounds swinging from the left side.

Francis Martinez (17), RF – Martinez received an attractive bonus in 2013 and showcased his big, raw power in his DSL debut last season. The switch hitter is listed at 6’4” and 187-pounds, but after an up-close and personal viewing of him this spring, I’d suggest that he’s at least 10-15 pounds heavier than that. He doesn’t move particularly well and a corner outfield spot is his long-term home, but if he can make more consistent contact, strikeout less and keep the power, he could become a legitimate dude.

Luis Madero (18), RHP – the 6’3” Venezuelan pitched extremely well in his debut season in the DSL last year. He doesn’t throw particularly hard but has been noted for having advanced pitchability, something that will generally work against low level competition. In his first start of the season, he did not fare well, but this is his first taste of the States and he’s doing a lot of adjusting. Having just turned 18, he’s even a touch young for the league.

Merkis Montero (19), RHP – a six-figure 2012 sign, Montero has made steady, albeit slow progress. Working primarily as a starter, good ERA’s, strikeout and walk numbers during his climb. At 6’2” and 155 pounds, he’s got room to add strength and velocity, so the best may be yet to come considering he’s already proven he can get hitters out.

Jose Herrera (18), C – Herrera is the rare D-backs international prospect who recieved more than a million dollars, getting $1.06 million back in 2013. The switch-hitting catcher is short and stocky at 5’10” and 185-pounds, but hit a little bit last year in his debut and showed some nice plate discipline. I was lucky enough to see him in Spring Training and he showed a short, line drive stroke that should result in gap power. He has a plus arm and looks like a guy who will remain behind the plate for the bulk of his career.

Others of Note

Melvin Mezquita (20), SS – a touch old for an international AZL player, Mezquita hasn’t done a ton on teh stat sheet as of yet, but he appears to have the tolos at 6’3” and 175-pounds. If he can stay at short defensively, this could be interesting.

Rafael Pujols  (19), RHP – Pujols got $120,000 back in 2012 but has made slow progress as he repeated the DSL last year and only has a single out under his belt this season. At 6’6”, 175-pounds, one figures it’s all about refinement and growth right now, plus he’s generated some K’s in the past.

Chester Pimentel (19), RHP – Pimentel was an older international sign in 2014 who’s making his debut. He’s projectable at 6’5” and 210-pounds, but he’s only thrown one professional inning to date, so there’s not much to go on just yet, although he did receive a six-figure signing bonus.

It’s obviously important to keep perspective with these guys and realize that the vast, vast majority of them will never see the majors. Still, you can’t strike it big if you don’t try and the names above would appear to have a great chance of making it to the top of the baseball heap than many of their peers. Still, you never know where the next Ender Inciarte might come from and we all know he was never highly-praised. Regardless, put these guys on your radars and hope for the best as that’s about all you can do with 17 and 18-year old international players.


After the writing of this  piece, the author was received some recent snippets from Chris Kusiolek of The Afroed Elephant, an Oakland A’s blog, regarding some AZL prospects. I’ll post them here, just in case you’re interested.

4 Responses to New International Signs Debut for the Diamondbacks

  1. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    I saw Mezquita play in the AZL opener this year, and he was having trouble throwing out guys on fairly routine ground balls. Seemed to have a slow release. It was noticeable enough to make an impression on me.

    • Lamar Jimmerson says:

      Man, I just looked at the stats. And in 8 games Mezquita has 9 errors. Next highest on the team? 1.

  2. […] are now in full swing, which has given the Diamondbacks four new affiliates to watch. Whereas the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie League teams are full of international prospects to k…, the Missoula Osprey and the Hillsboro Hops are a more balanced blend of international and domestic […]

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