Apologies for not posting an update yesterday, as my Dominican internet situation went from precarious to non-existent. It's now back to precarious, so I'll have to wait to post scouting videos from this trip until I get home on Sunday. I'll cover the last two days (the two days of the MLB showcase in San Pedro de Macoris) in a few updates. First, I'll focus on my top player, as there's plenty to talk about here: I have some history with him, some scouting thoughts to share and some analysis on rumors about which team will sign him.
The most impressive overall prospect at the MLB event and the top July 2nd prospect I've seen thus far is Dominican SS/3B Dermis Garcia. I have some history with Garcia, scouting him at this time last year. His agent told me then that Garcia was one of his top guys for next year and I confirmed he had a potential seven figure guy on his hands. It's worth noting that Garcia's buscone/trainer Moreno Tejada is considered one of the best in the business, also training Robinson Cano and Miguel Sano, among others. The pedigree is good and that also means Garcia has been seen early and often by scouts.
Note: the last few swings at the end of the video in the blue uniform are from January, 2013
Last January, Garcia's swing was upright, narrow and somewhat lazy while yesterday, he showed the best combination of hitting tools and balanced swing mechanics I've seen this week. Garcia is stronger now but also matured, growing into his 6'2/190 frame and leveraging those newfound abilities in a more efficient swing. Garcia launched a number of homers to his pull side yesterday, flashing plus raw power that was also the best I've seen this week.
It's not all positives, as Garcia didn't get a hit in his two at-bats, striking out and flying out. His in-game approach didn't look like anything to worry about as his fly out was against a well-placed changeup from one of the top July 2nd pitchers on the market. While his balance and hitting tools are both very good, I'm not nuts about how he loads his hands and how his hands' first movement from the loaded position is sometimes down, though both should be fixable with pro instruction given Garcia's age.
Garcia has enough defensive ability that you can't rule out him sticking at shortstop. There have been examples, like Xander Bogaerts and Reid Brignac among recent AL East examples, of bigger athletes that look ticketed for third base in A-Ball that eventually worked their way into becoming big league shortstops with work. If I had to guess, I'd say Garcia ends up at third base and that seems to be the assumption with scouts, but the bat easily profiles if that happens.
Garcia's arm strength and speed are both about average now, though many 16-year old prospects improve those tools from this young age with physical maturity (which is why SS is still a possibility). That improvement is much rarer to see at at older ages, like at age 18 (high school) or 21 (college) with domestic amateurs. Garcia recently turned 16 and his January 7th, 1998 birthdate makes him younger than many of the top prospects in his class. To readers of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers it won't come as a surprise that the top July 2nd prospects tend to be born near the beginning of the window that, for this class, ranges from September 1, 1997 to August 31, 1998.
I think the part of this that fans will find most interesting is where Garcia is expected to sign. I was asked on twitter this week when I"ll start reporting club/player connections and I said it would be much closer to July 2nd, since many of them don't materialize until then anyway and I like reporting them in bulk. That said, it wasn't hard to figure out Garcia's market. He is one of the players that is widely believed in the industry to have a deal in place and every source I talked to said Garcia has a verbal deal with the Yankees.
As mentioned in basically every article I've written on this year's July 2nd market (see links at the top of the page), the Yankees are widely expected to shatter international spending records this year and sources indicate all their verbal deals so far are with hitters. I'll reemphasize as I've said before that these verbal deals are non-binding and still fall apart for various reasons but, anecdotally speaking, deals done this early in the process stick something like 90% of the time. Multiple sources have indicated the deal with Garcia is for $3.0 million.
In my opinion, that isn't an inflated offer the Yankees used to blow the market away, though New York did appear to do this in other rumored deals. I'm betting multiple other clubs would offer something close to $3.0 million for Garcia; often players take slightly lower than what they may get later in the process to get a deal done early. This would be the biggest international bonus for the Yankees since they gave Dominican C Gary Sanchez $3.0 million.