The Best Mariners in Latin America

The Mariners haven't had the best of luck in the Dominican Republic in recent years, though their success in Venezuela, which includes the signings of Felix Hernandez and Jose Lopez, has been remarkable. Joseph A. Yencich fills in the blanks with the best M's prospects in Latin America.

Dominican Summer League

Gregorio Rosario, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-4 180 Right Right 08.26.88 2007 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

Rosario, who signed a contract in late 2004 just months after gaining the rights to negotiate - at an age where pitchers are typically raw in talent - the teen was tied for the league lead with a perfect 7-0 record. The unusual combination of youth and polish were part of what netted him the title of staff MVP, but he still has some distance to go. Giving up just 44 hits and 15 walks in 54 innings, striking out almost a batter per inning is great for most levels of the minor leagues, but in the Dominican, it just means you're a little bit ahead of the competition.

Eddy Fernandez, LHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-2 175 Left Left 11.22.86 2006 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

Fernandez proved himself to be the more dominating pitcher, at least for the 2005 season. Fernandez tore through the Santo Domingo Norte division, ending the season with the second-lowest qualifying ERA at 1.44, leading in strikeouts with 80, and taking home the innings pitched crown with a 81.1 total. The left-hander also held the competition to a paltry .178 line, the best of any starter on the roster. His walk rate, however, puts him in a class of his own, as he gave out a free pass only once every six innings.

Carlos Javier, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-3 170 Right Right 05.28.87 2007 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

The 18-year-old was second on the staff with 58 innings pitched, while showing the versatility for rotation and bullpen work. Javier fanned 58 and limited batters to a.179 average. But Javier was issuing walks almost as often as he was giving up hits. This made for a 58-33 K/BB ratio and a 1.24 WHP, which doesn't cut it against competition of this caliber. He still has some work ahead of him.

Victor Duarte, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-2 155 Right Right 10.21.86 2007 Nicaragua L. Molina, N. Porras

An 18-year-old for the duration of the '05 season, Duarte led the team in losses with six and had the worst overall earned-run average at 3.57, but while doing so, he held opposing batters to a .203 BAA over 35.1 innings - well below the team average. That's a nice enough start, but the area where he really stood out was the frequency with which he sent opposing batters walking back to the dugout, shaking their heads. His K-rate was the highest of any summer leaguer, standing at 12.2/9, with his walk-rate a quarter of that. The competition wasn't even close.

Edwards Paredes, LHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-0 175 Left Left 09.30.86 2006 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

Through 26.2 innings of work, the southpaw did just about everything you could ask of a reliever; He won games (3-0), he stopped hitters in their tracks (.160 average against), and he got strike three at a solid rate (28 Ks on the season). This all accounted for a 2.02 ERA and lower rate stats on the whole, when compared to Duarte, but you can't really underestimate the impact of a K/BB ratio bolstered by an absurd amount of Ks, and in that, Paredes loses the battle for psychological dominance over the hitter.

Welington Dotel, OF
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-1 180 Right Right 10.02.85 2006 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

Though he turned 20 in the offseason and isn't a young player for this level, this was Dotel's first go at affiliated competition and he tore it apart, leading the division in average (.373), RBI (39), hits (90), triples (9), and home runs (10), while placing second in runs scored (47) and doubles (14). For those of you who don't have a calculator handy, that's good for a .631 slugging percentage, isolated to .258, give or take a few thousandths of a point. At this stage, no summer league hitter appears more ready to make the leap to the States than Dotel.

Maximo Mendez, OF
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-2 150 Left Left 11.24.86 2006 Dominican Rep. P. Guerrero, B. Engle

Dotel wasn't the only power hitter on the roster, the whole outfield corps accounted for more than sixty percent of the team's home run production and second up on that list was Mendez, who hit seven homers and ranked second in the division. Mendez' line of .268/.375/.465 won't drop as many jaws, but his K/BB ratio of 39-24 in 157 at-bats is quite solid for the level of production he was achieving. He might get one more tour of the league, but there's a chance that he'll end up with the Peoria Mariners in the Arizona League, where he might break out, as did Eddy Hernandez and Ronald Garth last summer.

Venezuelan Summer League

Jose Escalona, LHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
5-11 170 Left Left 01.06.86 2006 Venezuela E. Carrasquel, P. Avila

Not satisfied with taking home the MVP title just once, the 19-year-old southpaw outdid himself from the previous season in almost every category, dropping his ERA from 2.30 to 1.35, increasing his strikeout rate from 8.79 to 9.96, and improving his control with a walk rate that dropped from 4.81 to 2.86. His BAA did climb 20 points to .204, but on the whole, he's allowing fewer baserunners and is on a clear upward trend. He also had a couple of stints in Venezuela's winter league without embarrassing himself too badly. It's highly unusual for a player with his level of experience to make an impact there, but it's just one of the reasons you'll hear his name come up as one of the Mariners' better Venezuelan returns in years.

Kervin Montbrum, LHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
5-11 175 Left Left 06.03.88 2008 Venezuela E. Carrasquel, L. Martinez

Montbrum was a newcomer to the VSL this year, but there are a number of parallels between the splash he made in the '05 season and the splash Escalona made during the '04 season. The 17-year-old closed out the year with a 2.16 ERA over 50 innings pitched, was punching out more than a batter per inning, and other teams only hit .222 off of him, just better than average for the team. He'll still be looking at another go at the VSL this coming year, though, and there are good reasons behind that. He's prone to fits of wildness, as evident in his nine wild pitches, five hit batters, and 24 walks on the season. He possesses the talent, but he's going to need another year of work before he'll be ready to make the move up north.

Alfredo Venegas, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-1 180 Right Right 05.11.86 2006 Ecuador C. Wallace

Venegas is said to have some of the best raw stuff in the organization, outside of a select few, but there's just one problem; He hasn't quite mastered it yet. His control ratios are startlingly good for a power pitcher, with seven strikeouts for every two walks, but given his stuff, there's just no reason that he should have only 43 strikeouts in 55 innings. Part of it could just be his approach, which decidedly follows the "here it is, hit it" mantra. The Ecuadorian gave up 47 hits on the year, and his BAA was a bit worse than the team average. It'll take some adjustments to get him where he ought to be, but there have been some pitchers with similar profiles who've gone on to have their own share of success, notably, fellow M's prospect Yorman Bazardo.

Ronald Uviedo, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-2 150 Right Right 10.07.86 2007 Venezuela L. Martinez

A year removed from being one of the least reliable pitchers on the staff, Uviedo pulled off a stunning reversal and came back to lead the staff in innings with 62, going deeper into games than any other staffer, and went on to post the lowest hit rate (6.1 per nine) and second-lowest walk rate (2.5 per nine, behind Venegas' 2.0). Still, he came up short in the ERA department, with a 2.76 average, which placed him ninth out of fifteen pitchers on the staff. Chalk that one up to him giving up extra-base hits at a slightly higher rate than his peers, but overall, he's built the start of something interesting.

Edlando Seco, LHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-2 178 Left Left 07.23.88 2007 Venezuela E. Carrasquel, P. Avila

One of the youngest players in the summer leagues this past season, Seco made a splash as a reliever for the Aguirre team and went into the final game of the season with a 0.00 ERA - and proceeded to have his one bad outing of the year. His final mark came in at 0.35, he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings, and his average against was a stingy .150, and he allowed just one extra-base hit all summer. But Seco he did have his Achilles' Heel, the free pass, as evident in the final game. In 25.2 innings, Seco issues 20 walks, or about seven per nine innings. He'll need some time to clean that up, but time is another thing the 17-year-old has on his side.

Diomny Gaetano, RHP
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-3 185 Right Right 11.14.84 2006 Venezuela E. Carrasquel

The right-hander, who turned 21 in the offseason, allowed a .212 average against for the season, but his own run at a perfect season ERA can't be attributed to "effective wildness," as Seco's might. Gaetano allowed just one base runner per inning, which no doubt helped him net a league-high 11 saves in 26 appearances. He probably doesn't have the same ceiling as the other pitchers on the list, but it's not unusual to see a guy who "clicks" after a few years and goes on to have success with a U.S. affiliates.

Humberto Espinoza, 2B
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-1 175 Right Right 11.01.86 2007 Venezuela E. Carrasquel

The team's offensive MVP, Espinoza hit .286/.372/.354, which is an accomplishment, as is leading the team in runs scored with 31 and racking up a solid number of doubles in a rigorous 60-game schedule. It was also a marked improvement from the weak, slap-hitter of yesteryear, who seemed to have only earned a starting spot on the infield due to the attrition of the previous team. The 19-year-old's defense also took a big step forward, posting a .983 fielding percenatage, up 60 points from 2004, showing better instincts and better footwork.

Jair Fernandez, C
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-1 170 Right Right 12.10.86 2006 Colombia C. Wallace

At the midway point of the season, Fernandez was Aguirre's best offensive player, hitting well above .300. But as the season progressed, his bat began to slump noticeably, as did the bats of many others. The .250/.354/.304 marks he ended up with wouldn't garner him much attention when looking at the offensive performances of the league, but he did hit .301/.394/.397 in ‘04 and could rebound if given the chance. Now 19, the Colombia native has made major strides defensively, dropping the number of passed balls he allowed from eight to two, while still getting the bulk of the time behind the plate.

William Ortiz, OF
Ht Wt BatsThrows DOB ETA Homeland Signed By
6-1 190 Right Right 09.22.85 2006 Colombia C. Wallace

Hitters coming out of Latin America are rarely known for their ability to draw walks, but Ortiz is a curious exception to that rule. A catcher for his first two years in the league, the Colombian moved to left field and took off running, or rather, walking. He earned 42 free passes on the season, while striking out just 33 times in 121 at-bats. Ortiz's on-base percentage finished at .461, an incredible differential to his .264 batting average. His .397 slugging percenatage isn't exciting, but the league is known to suppress power numbers.
ETA is calculated by Joseph A. Yencich and Jason A. Churchill and is based on the player's likely first appearance in affiliated ball - stateside.

Joseph A. Yencich is the author of the M's blog at Mariner Minors as well as being a regular contributor at InsideThePark.com.

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