PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to shortstop Daninger Perez, a guy who gets lost somewhat in the massive 2014 International class but yet had a solid debut season last year in the Dominican Summer League and also made his way States-side and held his own here. What did you see from him development-wise?
Pat McMahon: He's another one of the interesting young shortstops that we have that played himself to the United States. He vies for an infield position. He's an outstanding young player. Here's a year older than some of these guys but he's in the shortstop mix and [should] continue to perform. This is what's exciting to me, now you've got competition from within with all of these shortstops. Who performs and who plays? The names go on and on, and it's getting pretty exciting for us.
PinstripesPlus.com: Well you mentioned shortstops performing and while I know Welfrin Mateo wasn't part of that enormous 2014 International free agent class and isn't the youngest guy we'll talk about but he has OPS'ed over .800 through his first two DSL seasons as a shortstop. What can you tell us about his game?
McMahon: Welfrin Mateo really performed well and he played shortstop when Perez came across [to the United States]. He really took DSL 2 on his shoulders and really put together a tremendous year in Latin America from a leadership perspective, from a work ethic perspective; he just had a tremendous summer. He actually had come to the United States and lost his passport so he had to go back [to the Dominican] to get his visa to get that to return back to the United States. He had performed himself to the United States until an immigration issue [popped up] where he had to return to re-file his passport.
PinstripesPlus.com: We talked about Juan De Leon having a disappointing season and Antonio Arias didn't have a standout debut season either, hitting just .234. What did you see from him last season?
McMahon: Again, trust the process. He's got to get bigger and stronger. He performed very well as an amateur. We had 13 outfielders in Latin America and to play all of the guys a lot was a big issue. What we do off the field is have them play in our sim game program and we also had a parallel league program where a lot of those July 2nd guys played another 18 games. So we got a lot of time in there.
PinstripesPlus.com: Somebody who did perform well was Ricardo Ferreira. I know he's considerably older than a lot of these kids we're talking about -- and they really are kids -- and he's moving to the outfield apparently. Is him moving to the outfield a good move in your mind considering all of the depth we've been talking about at the middle infield spots?
McMahon: We think Ricardo Ferreira can play in the middle of the diamond. Carlos Mendoza and our infield coaches in Latin America did a great job with him playing second base and shortstop; he filled in for Diego Castillo at shortstop and played very well. He's a plus run guy so with the number of shortstops that we have and the number of true centerfielders that have true above-average/plus run, if he can play out there and with his age, now he's got to continue to perform, but it streamlines his development. We made a decision as a group to play him in the outfield knowing that a lot of people feel strongly that he can stay in the infield. With the way he's picked up outfield in our Dominican Instructional League program and our Florida Instructional League program we feel he gives himself an exciting chance to move forward as a centerfielder as a switch-hitter. Now having said that it puts himself in a position to move quicker. It's up to him to perform. He stole 35 bags in Latin America. He's an interesting, interesting guy, and he had an MVP season. He OPS'ed over 1.000 and worked on his short game too; bunt, steal. He puts his tool set to his advantage.
PinstripesPlus.com: On the subject of speed and stolen bases -- I wasn't planning on asking a whole lot about Wilkerman Garcia because in actuality he didn't spend a whole of time in the Dominican Summer League last year, but it does beg the question; what did you see from him so early on that made you believe he could move to the United States as quickly as he arrived and be as successful as he has been?
McMahon: He's a wonderfully talented player; an above average run guy, switch-hitter, the ball sticks in his glove. He's an advanced Latin American player and a very polished Latin American player. His tool set deserves to be in the United States and to move through the system as quickly as he can. He's going to be a big leaguer. He's got wonderful aptitude and that to me can be a real positive.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Nelson Alvarez. He had a very solid season and seems to fly very much under the radar.
McMahon: He had an outstanding season at first base. The question will be will hit for enough power or will he have to move to the outfield. He's a good defender, a good worker, and really put together a solid year in Latin America. He's solid in all phases [of the game].
PinstripesPlus.com: When we spoke last offseason I got the sense from you that Griffin Garrabito could be one of these 'sleeper' guys and his 2015 season was just okay from a numbers standpoint. Speaking with scouts, however, he seems to be garnering a lot of attention as a 'sleeper' prospect.
McMahon: Griffin Garrabito played himself to the United States. In Latin America he was playing third base, second base, and shortstop. We like him better at second base as his true position. He has the chance to be a pretty solid offensive player and he's working hard on his defensive skill set.
PinstripesPlus.com: Another guy who seemed to have solid numbers this year but not a real standout season was Erick Mendez, a guy who made it to Florida Instructs. What did you see from him last season?
McMahon: He played himself into the Florida Instructional League program. He really has impact off of the bat, he's learning to use the field, he has above average throw, and probably profiles better as a corner outfielder with his arm, and if he can piece things together from a consistency standpoint -- he can really impact the baseball. The bat exit velocity is tremendous. Can he play the game and make adjustments with his swing to handle advanced pitching? He's a strong, big-bodied guy. You look at him and go 'wow'. He's put together. He's a tank.
PinstripesPlus.com: Among the position players are there some names that I haven't mentioned that we should discuss?
McMahon: There's a kid named Pablo Olivares that played really well in centerfield. That's a name you need to be aware of. He was hurt early on but played with Florial on DSL1. He can run, he's an energy type player.
PinstripesPlus.com: He seems to be a little Carlos Vidal-like, no?
McMahon: Kind of. The bat is probably a little bit behind Vidal but Olivares runs better than Vidal.
PinstripesPlus.com: Another guy I forgot to ask about who you mentioned a year ago should be coming on the radar soon is catcher Jason Lopez. What's his status? I know the offensive numbers were just okay last season but he's an advanced defensive guy by all accounts.
McMahon: Big-time radar. He really has a chance. A converted infielder that played himself into the Florida Instructional League. He has outstanding receiving skills, catch-receive. And offensively he has the chance and he's a pretty good runner. He just needs to physically mature.
PinstripesPlus.com: After talking with Donny Rowland about this past year's International free agent class and him mentioning Leobaldo Cabrera I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about him. What did you see from him last season? He had about as solid a professional debut season as one can have it would seem.
McMahon: Yeah we got to mention him. He hit a solid .300 or close to it. He's a solid corner outfielder, has aptitude off the charts, and put him on the radar. He's got to get bigger and stronger but from a philosophical standpoint I like doubles guys in Latin America, the guys like Florial [and Cabrera] who have the types of bodies that are going to grow into them, the Diego Castillos, see how they grow and mature, the Wilkerman Garcias, the energy, light guys with potential to grow.
PinstripesPlus.com: Would Frederick Cuevas fit that mold? He too had a solid debut season last year.
McMahon: Frederick Cuevas is a good little player for us. He's a little guy that has some hit-ability that can run a little bit too. That's a name you should be aware of. He can play all [outfield] positions.
PinstripesPlus.com: I know Reymundo Moreno was hurt most of the year. Was Dario Unda the same deal?
McMahon: Yeah he was. He's got the chance to hit but he had an ankle injury that put him out all year.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's quickly talk about some of last year's signings just to get your initial impressions of them, starting with Jesus Bastidas.
McMahon: A defender where the ball sticks in his glove and plays with a ton of energy. He went to the Dominican Instructional League and performed well.
PinstripesPlus.com: I know he's a smaller guy but the book on him is he has some hitter-ish ways to him. Do you see that?
PinstripesPlus.com: What are your early impressions of Jesus Graterol? He's an older signing I realize.
McMahon: He's an interesting player. The ball sticks in his glove and he's a good little player.
PinstripesPlus.com: Could the same be said of Brian Jimenez? Another reportedly small-ish shortstop.
McMahon: He's an interesting player. He weighs like 140 [pounds] and probably touching 6-foot-0. He's got some upside when you look at his frame to fill.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Oswaldo Cabrera?
McMahon: He could possibly play shortstop; a Venezuelan guy, a switch-hitter. Like his brother he can hit.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about the newly signed third baseman; Pujols and Acevedo?
McMahon: Acevedo is a bigger, stronger kid who has some work to do defensively. Pujols has a little more upside defensively but still pretty raw. The bat has some interest.