For the 2005 season the Braves will have 45 visas at their disposal, the same number they had for the 2004 season. With the addition of Venezuelan-born minor league free agent left-handed pitcher Alex Herrera, the Braves have 39 players necessitating visas. While that presently leaves only six visas remaining, it is important to keep in mind that the minor league roster will stay in flux with additions and subtractions throughout the winter and into the spring. By next summer that total visas available should be higher, but at the same time it is possible and much more unlikely that number could get lower.
Matt Timms, a 6'6' right-handed pitcher from Australia, should be assured one of the visas. Timms signed last January and spent this season in the Australian Academy. He then joined fellow Brave Donovan Hendricks on the Australian World Junior Baseball team. Timms, barring a major signing, most likely will be the only player outside Latin America to earn one of the remaining visas.
One thing to keep in mind with Dominican Summer League (DSL) players is that according to the rules they have three seasons to play in the league before they must move on or be released. Typically there aren't as many third year players as there were in 2004. When the season concluded about one-third of the players on the Braves two rosters in the Dominican needed to move on or be released before the 2005 season. Players that spend three seasons in the DSL usually have little chance of making it off the island. However there might be more exceptions then usual this season.
Pitcher Darwin Moreno is a very unique player. He's been with the Braves for five years already and was still pitching in the DSL in 2004. His 2000 season was spent in the GCL, where he pitched just over 30 innings. The 6'3", 180 pound Venezuelan was sent to the DSL for the next two seasons and was hurt all of 2003. Moreno's fifth season was his best yet, but he turns 22 at the end of the month. The Braves must think something of him to keep him around and to protect him at the AA level at this and last years Rule V drafts.
Pitchers Alexis Candelario and Eddylenso Castro have a lot in common. They both have three seasons in the DSL; they are both Dominican, both right-handed and both players names changed after September 11th. Also both players have been moved to the Rome roster and possibly will be moved to the Mississippi roster for protection before the Rule V draft. Candelario pitched three games in the GCL in 2003.
Catcher Juan Mota is also a three-year veteran. Mota is worth watching for two reasons. He led all Braves DSL players with 5 home runs and he was invited to Fall Instructional League.
A couple other three season players the Braves may give hard looks at are right-handed pitchers Jonathan Tejada and Pedro Rayo, lefties Jorge Acosta and Carlos Sencion, and catcher Jose Camarena. Sencion, a 6'6" Dominican, has always had great strikeout numbers and low ERA's. Camarena came alive at the end of the season to rank near the top in most offensive categories for the DSL I team.
Several Latin players the Braves signed in the 2003 class have already made it stateside and a few more may make it this season. Columbian middle infielder Deivis Rivadeneira may have had the best season as a whole. Rivadeneira was one of two Braves to play in the mid-season All-Star game. Rivadeneira paced both Braves teams with 68 hits and ranked near the top in most other categories.
Ernesto Mejia was the other Brave to make the All-Star team and at midseason, at the point his season came to a halt, the 6'6" Venezuelan outfielder was having arguably the best season of any Brave. Mejia didn't even play the second half and still led both teams in triples. Mejia looks to be a change of pace from the typical Braves DSL outfielder in that he looks to be more of a power player.
Pitcher Eriberto Perez won the DSL II Pitcher of the Year Award. The Dominican righty had the best statistical numbers of any pitcher on either team and should head stateside. Nicaraguan right-hander Luis Obando is another pitcher in the 2003 class that will get a look.
Position players Jose Santos and Nelson Escobar both helped their causes in 2004. Santos led both clubs in steal and RBI's. The Dominican middle infielder also finished two hits behind Rivadeneira's total. Escobar, a catcher out of Venezuela, led both clubs in doubles. Jaime Trejo spent the most of the year in the Mexican League (AAA) where he held his own. The third basemen spent the last month in the DSL.
The 2004 signing class had several players who excelled in their first seasons. Osman Marval has a strong chance of coming stateside after his first season. The switch-hitting Venezuelan catcher was nursed along early in the season. But Marval still managed to put up solid stats across the board and was awarded with an invite to Fall Instructs.
Outfielders Concepcion Rodriguez and Eliazar Carmona both won his team's Player of the Year Award. Rodriguez looks to have a higher upside. Rodriquez, who is from Panama, is almost two years younger then the Dominican Carmona. Rodriguez also upped Carmona in most offensive categories across the board. Carmona's age, he will be 20 in January, and only average stats make him a puzzling choice for MVP. Rodriguez also played this offseason for the Panamanian World Junior Baseball team.
Lefty, Jose Ortegano won the DSL I Pitcher of the Year Award. The young Venezuelan had a solid walk to strikeout ratio as well as a low ERA.
A few other names to keep an eye on after a solid first year are pitchers Francisco Mora, Juan Morel, Pedro Mauricio, and William Ramirez; infielders Jean Garcia and Frank Diaz; and outfielder Erick Medina.
It is not always easy to gauge a player after his first season. Mejia, Perez, Escobar and Santos all had bad stats in their first seasons. A young pitcher like Luis Ortega would be a prime candidate to turn it around in his second season.
The Braves probably won't have any Latin players they signed for 2005 in the GCL this year unless they sign a high profile international free agent some time this winter. But the Braves will probably go slower with their Latin players, especially after seeing Rubi Koko struggle in the GCL last season.
One last name to watch out for is Venezuelan Michael Rodriguez. Rodriguez played briefly in the GCL last year, but spent much of the year on the suspended list. Rodriguez had two very good seasons prior in the DSL and was converted to the outfield from first base last off-season.
DSL players by years they were signed.
SEVERINO, Oscar; SENCION, Carlos (L); TEJADA, Jonathan (K.Garcia); CANDELARIO, Alexis (Berroa); CASTRO, Eddylenso (MelbinFabian); PEREZ, Jesus; ACOSTA, Jorge (L); RAYO, Pedro
CAMARENA, Jose; DOMINGUEZ, Javier; HERNANDEZ, Victor; MOTA, Juan
DISLA (OTAÑEZ) , Bienvenido; LEAL, Pablo; FERNANDEZ, Ivan
LUIS, Jose Angel; PICHARDO, Oscar; VARGAS, Jose
AÑANGUREN, Hector (L); GONZALEZ, Raul; OBANDO, Luis; PEÑA, Jhonatan; PEREZ, Eriberto; RAMOS, Jorge (L); CORNEJO, Guerlain (L); GARCIA, Juan A. (L)
RIVADENEIRA, Deivis; SANTOS, Jose; TREJO, Jaime
MEJIA, Ernesto; GUEVARA, Emilet; CASSO, Jorge; LEBRON, Erickson
FERNANDEZ, Freisy; LAGUA, Eligio; MAURICIO, Pedro; MEDINA, Samuel; ORTEGA, Luis; ORTEGANO, Jose (L); ROJAS, Junior; SALDANA, Joaquin; MORA, Francisco; MOREL, Juan Carlos; PASCUAL, Rey; PRADO, Jesus; RAMIREZ, Wiliam; ROSA, Jonathan
VILLALONA, Carlos; MARVAL, Osman
BELLIARD, Nicauri; DE LA ROSA, Miguel; DIAZ, Fran Tony; MANARD, Luciano; NOLASCO, Amable; TEJEDA, Waner; DE LA CRUZ, Tony; GARCIA, Jean
CARMONA, Eliazar; MEDINA, Erick; PARRA, Camilo; OSORIO, Willy; RODRIGUEZ, Concepcion
(2005) *Braves still actively signing players for 2005
BATISTA, Jhonatan (L); BERTRE, Adrian; CASTRO, Yeliar; DIAZ, Grabiel; OSUNA, Edgar (L); MATOS, Miguel; MENDEZ, Jose; MORILLO, Estanlin; SABINO, Wandy; PORTES, Eudi; SANTANA, Jose
ESTEVEZ, Juan; HUNG, Carlos
39 visas broken down by country.
RODRIGUEZ, Ricardo; BOSCAN, Jean; PRADO, Martin; BLANCO, Gregor; DURAN, Carlos; ASCANIO, Jose; ACOSTA, Bennys; RODRIGUEZ, Michael; RIVAS, Carlos; RAMIREZ, Maximiliano; SILVA, Yohan; ROSARIO, Eduardo; GUERRA, Junior; ORTEGA, Raul; HERRERA, Alex
SANTIAGO, Jose; BERNARD, Miguel; PAYANO, Nelson; CRUZ, Ramon; GUZMAN, Carlos; PERALTA, Efigenio; MORETA, Carlos; HERNANDEZ, Diory; VILLA, Kelvin; SUERO, Ovandy; JIMENEZ, Rodny
PONCE, Angel; VALENZUELA, Sergio; TERRAZAS, Ivan
WHITE, Dean; HENDRICKS, Donovan; RICHARDS, Glen
ACOSTA, Manuel; RODRIGUEZ, Manuel
KOKO, Rubi; JANSEN, Ardley
SOUTH KOREA (1)
JUNG, Sung Ki
# Despite being signed as international free agents Brayan Pena and Jairo Cuevas have never been assigned visas
Links of relevance