Three players – Domingo Leyba, Willy Adames, and Anthony Castro – are of no surprise among this year's crop of talented youngsters. Leyba and Adames were in Lakeland for the Fall Instructional League in 2013 and Castro continued to make strides in the VSL last summer.
Leyba, ranked the #34 prospect in the Tigers system by TigsTown, is a smaller middle infielder with good feel for the game and solid tools across the board. You can read his full scouting report here. Ranked just one spot ahead of Leyba, Adames is a more physical player with a chance to stay on the left side of the infield while also offering impressive power potential (Adames Scouting Report).
Ranked #30 in the system, Castro is a strong armed right-hander that sits in the 92-93 mph range and will reach higher when he needs it. His curveball has very strong potential and he is beginning to show some signs of figuring out his changeup. Castro is extremely raw but he could be one of the more intriguing arms in the system over the next couple of years.
Additional players coming stateside from the Dominican Republic include right-handed pitchers Sandy Baez, Carlos Lara, and Gerson Moreno. Baez has the best raw stuff of the trio, reaching 95-96 mph with his fastball and sitting in the low-90s. His curveball and changeup can both show as quality pitches and Baez could develop into a quality arm as he learns to harness his power arsenal.
Moreno can also reach back for a little more on his fastball with the ability to touch 94 mph and show one of the best curveballs in the Tigers lower minors. Lara does not offer the same power stuff that Baez and Moreno can boast, but he still shows good command of an average fastball and a quality slider.
TigsTown ranked Perez the #49 prospect in the Tigers system this off-season, on the basis of his potential on both sides of the ball. His full scouting report from late last year can be found here.
After serving as the closer for the VSL Tigers in 2013, Belisario finally gets his chance to come stateside after four seasons in Venezuela. Still just 20-years old, Belisario shows strong command of a low-90s fastball and a slider with good deception. He projects to remain in the bullpen with his two-pitch arsenal.
Eduardo Jimenez offers more of the young power arms that the Tigers like, reaching 94 mph with his heater and shorting good promise with his slider and changeup as well. Oswaldo Castillo is more of a touch-and-feel guy with a fringy fastball and a good feel for his craft. Both pitchers should see plenty of innings this summer.
Rounding out the stateside crew this year will be Australians James Philipbossian and Zach Shepherd. Philipbossian was an under-the-radar signing by the Tigers last year and they are in the process of shifting him behind the plate to take advantage of his strong arm. There are high hopes for his bat if he can develop an approach that allows him to find quality pitches to drive.
Shepherd, a good friend of Philipbossian's, is a highly intriguing player and quality athlete. Though he may not stick at shortstop long term, he has the actions and arm strength to handle either third base or second base down the line. Shepherd has solid offensive potential and exceptional makeup on the field, giving him a chance to maximize his tools.
All told, this year's crop of new players traveling to the States for the first time represents an intriguing group of raw, high-upside talents that could begin to move up prospect lists over the next couple of years. Most of these players will spend the bulk of the 2013 season in the Gulf Coast League, but a few talented kids could see time in Connecticut or West Michigan with strong early showings during extended spring training.