The Dominican Summer League team the Braves fielded a few months ago had a lot of talent, and now some of those players will be poised to make the jump to the Gulf Coast League in the states next year.
Johnny Almaraz, the Braves' Director of Latin American Operations, was thrilled with the talent level on the DSL team.
"We're really focusing on good-sized kids," Almaraz explained via the phone from his office in the Dominican. "We're looking for the frame, so we can get them strong and develop strength."
That goes for both pitchers and position players, but as usual the arms on the mound got most of the attention for this year's DSL team.
The players of the year for the DSL team were outfielder Anthony Feliz and pitcher Dimasther Delgado. Feliz hit .279 with 3 home runs and 30 runs batted in, while his OBP was .348. Feliz is a 6'2", 210-pound outfielder who can throw, run, and hit. The Braves believe he's going to develop much more power. They are trying to work with him now in the Dominican on his fundamentals. Feliz just turned 19 years old.
Delgado was a signee from Panama last year. The lefty was 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 13 games (12 starts). Delgado allowed 49 hits in 59.1 innings, with only 12 walks and 86 strikeouts.
"He can really pitch," Almaraz said. "He's in the 88-90 mph range right now. He's got an above-average changeup and curve and can really command the ball. He's gotten stronger. He'll be in that 90-92 mph range when he physically matures and will really be able to pitch."
Luis Avilan is very similar to Delgado in that he's a lefty that has an above-average changeup. They both also have good curveballs. Avilan was 6-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 14 games (13 starts), 54 hits allowed in 70 innings, 16 walks, and 71 strikeouts. The Venezuelan will turn 19 years old next July 19th.
Julio Surinach is a kid the Braves signed last year and converted from the infield to the pitcher's mound. He's a right-hander who was 4-2 in 15 games (9 starts) and posted a 2.11 ERA. Surinach allowed 35 hits in 59.2 innings, 15 walks, and 49 strikeouts.
"He really exploded on the scene this season," Almaraz said. "He's got a good breaking ball and has learned the changeup. Right now it's just average. But his fastball is in the 88-92 mph range and has good deception and life. Julio's really learned how to command it."
Daniel Lopez is a six-foot-four right-hander who was the DSL's top reliever in 2007. Lopez was 3-4 with a 1.17 ERA in 16 games (two starts). He allowed only 20 hits in 46.1 innings, 15 walks, and 37 strikeouts. Lopez turns 21 next May. He's got a power arm with a fastball in the 94-96 mph range.
Along with the other five players, right-hander Randall Delgado will make the jump to the Gulf Coast League in 2008. Delgado is 6'3", 165 pounds and was 1-2 this season with an ERA of 2.00. He pitched in 11 games (10 starts) and allowed 34 hits in 45 innings, with 12 walks, and 50 strikeouts. Delgado has a power arm with a fastball in the 90-92 mph range now, and extremely good life on his two-seam fastball.
The Braves DSL team had a team ERA of 2.86, which really encouraged Almaraz and the team's coaches and scouts. They put an emphasis on the young kids learning the changeup this summer, even limiting the pitchers for a while to just throw that pitch along with the fastball and to hold off on the breaking pitches. The end result was more of the young arms looking much more polished as pitchers toward the end of the year.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braves DSL team full of talent
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