Last summer, TigsTown.com provided a full update on several early signings, including Elys Escobar, Anthony Pereira and Hector Hernandez. Initial scouting notes on those three players can be found here. Since that time, the Tigers have continued to add talent to the VSL roster, including three position players and five new pitchers.
Third baseman Luis Torrealba could be jewel of this year's international signing class. Originally shopped to teams as a catcher, Torrealba struggled to profile at the position defensively and failed to find a team willing to agree to his loft bonus demands. After significant money had been spent in the early stages of the international signing period, the Tigers moved aggressively to ink Torrealba to a small bonus reported to be less than $100,000.
Now a third baseman, Torrealba stands out more for his bat than his glove. As a switch hitter, Torrelba offers power from both sides of the plate, and members of the Tigers organization have hinted that he could hold his own in an MLB batting practice round right now. Standing 6-foot, 180 pounds, Torrealba has a mature body with natural strength and room to continue growing. He is learning the ropes at the hot corner and has fall-back options on either outfield corner because of his athleticism, as well as first base down the line.
Another infielder, Keyder Aristigueta immediately ranks among the best names in the system, but he also brings some tools to the table. An instinctual player that goes hard all the time, Aristigueta shows the ability to handle several different infield positions and should see most of his time at second and third base this season. On the smaller side at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, Aristigueta needs to get stronger for his offensive game to develop, but he could be a solid contact hitter with decent speed down the line.
Rounding out the VSL position players, outfielder Franklin Arias was a late signing during this year's period, but that shouldn't speak to his talent. A 6-foot-1, 160 pound athlete, Arias doesn't get down the line well now but should improve his running speed as he adds strength and matures physically. He has instincts for the game and should handle center field long term. His bat speed stands out among his tools and he has a chance to hit for average and some pop as he develops.
On the mound, the Tigers signed several arms that are worth paying attention to. Left-hander Ken Figueroa doesn't have the prototypical size that the Tigers look for, but he is an advanced arm that will start the 2014 season at just 17-years old. Figueroa's fastball sits in the 89-91 mph range now and has reached 92 on occasion. He is extremely aggressive with his fastball and pitches with attitude on the mound. His curveball is more advanced than his changeup, but both pitches could be average offerings in the future.
Right-handers Victor Guillen and Jose Lopez could both be physical arms that develop quickly for the Tigers. Guillen is slightly larger now at 6-foot, 180 pounds with intriguing projection remaining. His fastball currently sits in the mid-80s but could gain velocity down the line, and he backs it up with a quality changeup and raw curveball.
Lopez has better velocity at present, sitting in the 88-91 range and reaching 92 mph on occasion. His slider is ahead of his changeup and will show some sharp, late break that can miss bats. Some scouts believe his slider has a chance to be a plus pitch at his peak. The Tigers comped Lopez to Anibal Sanchez physically, noting he had that shorter, stockier looking body.
Two more arms that TigsTown reported as signing last summer, Luis Ledezma and Wildensen Yanez have both drawn more intrigue after showing some promise in the Liga Paralela. Ledezma is a projectable right-hander with the potential for big-time velocity down the line, and a curveball and changeup that have both made progress since signing.
Yanez doesn't have the velocity projection of Ledezma, but his curveball and changeup both have above-average potential, while his fastball could be an average offering once he matures. Yanez has the long limbs and loose delivery that the Tigers love.
All told, the Tigers will add at least 13 new names to the VSL roster this year, including the players previously reported, as well as players like Jheyser Azuaje and Moises Bello who were discussed at length last summer.