DSL MLN: Scouting the Dominican Prospects

With the Dominican Summer League season now underway, it's time to take a peek at several of the new prospects on the roster, as well as the progress of some returning players. The Tigers made plenty of noise when they signed six-figure shortstop Hector Martinez last summer, and they continued to make some waves with a few under the radar signings throughout the off-season.

On the rubber, the Tigers inked several very intriguing right-handed arms, including Enrique DePena, Francisco German, Winder Novas, Andres Tejada, Jorge Baez, and Victor Mueses.

DePena is one of the more projectable arms of the bunch, sitting in the upper-80s at the time of his signing, with a long, loose arm action and more fastball in the tank. His curveball and changeup both have average potential but are still developing. At 6-foot2 and 175 pounds, DePena has the lean, athletic frame to project down the line.

Another projectable arm is Andres Tejada, who already stands 6-foot-4, 190 pounds and will pitch this summer at 19-years old. His fastball already sits in the average range with some potential for another tick down the line, and he shows aptitude for commanding his heater to both sides of the plate. His changeup is a little ahead of his short curveball, but both have enough potential for him to project in the rotation.

At just 17-years old all summer, Francisco German will be one of the Tigers younger pitchers in the Dominican this year, and he has a lot of projection in his lean 6-foot-2, 160 pound frame. He has broad shoulders and the room to hang additional mass after some time in a professional strength and conditioning program. German shows early feel for a changeup that is ahead of his curveball.

Jorge Baez and Victor Mueses are similar prospects with solid pitcher's frames, average fastballs that can reach 92 mph already, and slurvy breaking balls. Baez is more of a thrower than pitcher at present, but he shows some feel for a sinking changeup. Mueses generates good angle to the plate and has a harder changeup that needs some work to fool hitters.

With a high-80s fastball that has exceptional life, Winder Novas has a different profile than many of the other signings in this class. Novas locates the ball very well for his age and he compliments his fastball with a quality curveball that has tight overhand rotation. His feel for a changeup lags behind at this point.

From the left side, Derlin Espinal is a highly intriguing 19-year old prospect that sits in the upper-80s with his fastball. He has a smaller 6-foot, 160 pound frame that is very thin and could force him to the bullpen down the line. His curveball and changeup are both very promising pitches, with the breaking ball ahead of the change-of-pace offering at this time.

The Tigers also signed a couple of interesting hitters to help compliment Hector Martinez in the DSL lineup, including third baseman Randel Alcantara and outfielder Sauris Mejia.

Alcantara was a high profile player entering the international signing period but he slipped through the cracks and signed late out of the International Prospect League. A 6-foot, 180 pound left-handed hitter, Alcantara has good size and strength, and the raw pop that would naturally be associated with those traits. He is an offense-first player that could slug his way into prospect status down the line.

Mejia was a low profile player that the Tigers pulled in right around the opening of the international signing period last year. A small, slappy player with a 5-foot-9, 150 pound frame, Mejia is a plus-plus runner with instincts to handle center field long term. He will need to stay in the middle of the outfield to have a prospect future, as his offensive approach is likely to be too light for a corner spot.

Among the prospects the Tigers already had in their system, three arms stood out as the DSL season was ready to get underway. Right-hander Jhonny Mateo saw an off-season velocity bump, sitting in the 92-94 mph range this spring and ranking as one of the most improved players on the DSL club. The Tigers considered him as a late addition to the Stateside crew this year, but ultimately decided to get him innings in the Dominican. Don't be surprised if Mateo surfaces in Lakeland for the Fall Instructional League.

In addition to Mateo, right-handers Gregory Soto and Rusbell Cabrera are both still enticing arms. Soto is sitting comfortably in the 90-92 mph range with improved feel for his craft, and while Cabrera stuff flattened out a bit as last season progressed, he has added some strength and is learning to handle the grind of a professional season, and could be a breakout candidate this summer.

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