Scouting Report and Video: Jairo Beras
At this point, last season's Jairo Beras saga is relatively well documented. The Texas Rangers initially announced they'd signed the talented outfielder during spring training in 2012. That came as a surprise to baseball's 29 other organizations, who were all working under the assumption that Beras was born on December 25, 1995, and thus was ineligible to sign until the July 2 international signing period began that coming summer.
When Beras inked with the Rangers last February, Major League Baseball was working with a birth certificate that listed the prospect's birth date as December 1995. He'd also starred earlier that month at the MLB's Dominican Republic showcase, which is geared toward 16-year-old players who will become eligible to sign later that summer.
The Rangers did some quiet sleuthing of their own, however, and discovered that Beras may have already been 17 and eligible to sign. The club tracked down his father, Harold Herdocia, who happens to currently live in the Metroplex. A former Angels farmhand, Herdocia played at the organization's Dominican Republic complex in March 1994, when he supposedly met Beras' mother. Nine months later would have been December 1994.
After obtaining the sufficient documents and a DNA test, the Rangers submitted their evidence to Major League Baseball last March and awaited a decision.
The investigation finally concluded in July, when MLB announced that it would uphold the Rangers' contract with Beras, including the $4.5 million bonus. However, Beras received a one-year suspension from game action for providing a false birth date.
Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports summed up the ruling:
Following an investigation that involved multiple DNA tests, the league ultimately agreed that Beras was not 16, according to sources, which bolstered the Rangers' argument not to void the deal. . .MLB could not determine Beras' age with any certainty. Therefore, the league disciplined Beras for initially claiming he was 16.
Dominican amateur prospects don't often wish to be older, a definite unique aspect of the Beras case. But MLB's new Collective Bargaining Agreement enacted a $2.9 million spending cap on clubs in the international amateur market, beginning with the 2012 July 2 signing period. A 17-year-old Beras meant he was eligible to sign prior to that date, and free to sign for whatever amount a club wished to give him. As it turned out, Beras received that $4.5 million, the second-largest bonus ever given to a Latin American amateur prospect. The biggest, of course, is outfielder Nomar Mazara, who signed with the Rangers for $4.95 million on July 2, 2011.
The signed-but-suspended compromise was one the Rangers will happily take. Beras' suspension, which ends on July 1 of this year, does not restrict him from playing in unofficial complex games. That means he was free to play in the unofficial July 2 "Tricky League" in the Dominican Republic last summer, and he played at the Rangers' fall instructional league in Arizona.
Beras will also be in Surprise at spring training this year; he'll play in games there before continuing to ply his trade in extended spring training. After July 1, Texas can assign him to any of the club's minor league affiliates.
Note: If you're in Surprise for spring training this year, you'll be able to see Beras in action. He will likely report to camp during the second week of March. Last spring, games ran from March 15 through the 30th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. There are also morning workouts every day in March, and gates to the back field open at 10:00 a.m.
Listed at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, Beras is long and lanky with a presently immature frame; his arms and legs are exceptionally long. There's strength in his body despite the thin build. While he's a good athlete, the 18-year-old is also a bit awkward, though that shouldn't be an issue down the line. Many players at Beras' age and body type are awkward athletes who smooth out as they grow into themselves.
Beras should be at least an average athlete at full development. He presently flashes average speed, but that will likely drop a tick (from about 50-grade to 40-grade) as he grows.
With decent athleticism and a future plus arm (in addition to his bat), Beras has a classic right field profile. He manned that position during fall instructional league, flashing present solid-average arm strength that should become at least a 60-grade tool, if not a half tick higher. While he moved around well out there, his reads and route-running were definitely crude.
Beras' money-maker tool is, without a doubt, his power. The Dominican has no-doubt elite raw power; it's an 80-grade tool on the 20-80 scouting scale. He puts on an impressive display in batting practice given his age, showing big-time pop to all fields. The ultimate question is whether or not Beras' hit tool will enable the gargantuan power to reach its full utility.
That hit tool lags further behind at this stage of Beras' developmental process. With the pure ability for an average hit tool, the prospect can flash a compact swing with quick hands (excellent bat speed) and strong wrists. His swing can get a bit long at times, as is often the case with long-armed youngsters. The tools for success are there, and they show in spurts against live pitching.
But there is a good deal of present inconsistency and immaturity in his game at the plate. Beras' hips and legs were often a bit funky in game action at instructs, causing him to pull off the ball and rendering solid contact a challenge. Offspeed stuff generally left him off-balance, and he became an upper-body hitter at times.
The bottom line on Beras: he has a true right field/middle-of-the-order profile with a sky-high ceiling. Elite pure power bats are difficult to come by these days, and between Beras, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo, the Rangers have stockpiled three in their system's lower levels. He's also a long, long way from the big leagues and is probably a long shot to see a full-season affiliate this summer.
Comparing and judging solely from their first fall instructs impression, I would put Beras' level of polish directly between 1B Ronald Guzman and Mazara. Beras didn't show quite the polished swing and approach that Guzman displayed at his debut instructs in 2011. However, he also doesn't need as much work as Mazara did.
Having said that, Mazara, showing extreme aptitude and work ethic, progressed more than any young player in the Rangers' organization during the course of last season. But that's for another story.
As mentioned, Beras will play in spring training and extended spring games at the Rangers' complex between March and June. His performance and polish (or lack thereof) will determine where he's assigned when the suspension is lifted in July. Right now, I'd say a short-season destination is most likely, whether it be the rookie Arizona League or more advanced Northwest League. It's too early to predict with much certainty, though.
It's also difficult to project what Beras will do statistically in his debut summer. I wouldn't expect big numbers from the outset, regardless of his destination. He probably has enough strength to flash a little game power, but the other numbers may not be sexy yet. As my good friend and colleague Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus likes to say: "It's going to take time, and development isn't always pretty."
The following video comes from a Rangers fall instructional league game against a team of prospects from Korea's SK Wyverns and Lotte Giants. In the video, Beras takes four at-bats, the first two of which come against a Lotte sidearming right-hander. This particular four at-bat sample happens to provide a nice microcosm of what he did well and what he struggled with during the month at instructs. There's also a legitimate chance Beras had never faced a true sidearmer prior to these two at-bats.
There will be more videos and updated reports of Beras to come during spring training. Be sure to stay tuned between late February and March.
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