With increased activity throughout the Caribbean and South America this off-season, the Tigers have added two more position players to what could be a strong Dominican Summer League squad. While still extremely raw, catcher Raynolds Guzman has the pure ability to become a solid prospect. With excellent arm strength and above-average power potential, there are signs that this well-built catcher could develop nicely over the coming years.
Joining Guzman on the DSL squad will be the most recent Tigers signee; shortstop Javier Azcona. Despite his youth, the 16-year old Azcona has already displayed an uncanny knack for making consistent, hard contact in workouts. The true test of this ability will come in game action this summer, but early signs are encouraging. Along with this ability, Javier has good size, a strong arm with some carry to his throws, and he is a slightly above-average runner at this time. Both players will likely be handled cautiously to start their pro careers, but if they are able to demonstrate a feel for the game early on, they'll likely garner more playing time as the seasons continues.
Another catcher, Luis Sanz (another Luis Sanz, not the pitcher coming stateside this spring), could become a devensive stalwart down the line. With excellent catch-and-throw skills for such a young player, he will likely distinguish himself quickly behind the plate. Sanz's understanding of the game and general baseball IQ are also advanced for his age. Sanz will work with the Venezuelan Summer Tigers in 2008.
Joining Sanz in the VSL will be two recently signed right-handed pitchers; Josue Carreno and Bruce Rondon. Carreno doesn't have a big time fastball at this time, but he does have some projection that could lead to an average fastball with very good sinking action down the line. His curveball lags significantly behind at this time, but he has demonstrated an ability to spin the pitch reasonably well. Carreno's change-up is his second best pitch, with good arm action and some solid late sink. Rondon's stuff is much better right now and he projects to have a power arsenal down the line. With good velocity in the 89-91 range, Bruce has a quick arm and some solid explosion towards the plate. Bruce also flashes a very good curveball with late, hard bite and a change-up that has good late fade. Both pitches have shown flashes of being above-average to plus pitches, but additional consistency will be needed.
All five players are still very raw and will likely need substantial time to develop, but there is a broad base of skills amongst the players; a base of skills that shows promise for the future of the Tigers minor league system.