DR Instructs - Stock Rising, Stock Falling

There are two main agendas to Dominican Instructs. The first is to give players an opportunity for more coaching and in-game experience, both for the American born players and the Latin players. The other is to see which if the prospects from the Dominican Summer League might be ready to to play in the United States next season.

This article will focus on the Latin American players who didn't play above the Gulf Coast League level this past season and who will either be ready for the United States for the first time next season or should be ready for a better showing at the GCL rookie level.

Stock Rising

CF, Kelvin Duran: Duran plays a flawless centerfield and defensively he doesn't have much work to do to prepare himself for a potential big league career down the road. His combination of plus speed on the base paths, good line-drive power, and run scoring abilities are more than ready to tackle the Gulf Coast League next season. He was one of the more impressive players at Dominican Instructs and all he did was prove he's ready for the next stage.

CF, Eduardo Sosa: Sosa's .200 average in the Gulf Coast league should be taken with a huge grain of salt. A naturally shy kid, it was his first year in the United States and it takes time for most Latin American players to adjust to the cultural differences and language barrier before finding their comfort level. He was extremely comfortable at Dominican Instructs and he quickly squashed any concerns over his abilities with an impressive showing. All signs point towards a huge bounce-back season next year.

LF/CF Ramon Flores: Like Sosa, 2009 was Flores' first year in the United States and he too had to battle the many cultural and lingual differences. The difference with Flores, however, was it was his first minor league season as well. The 17-year old, who has plus plate discipline, found himself too passive in the GCL. He was monumentally more aggressive at Dominican Instructs and his game was at a completely different level. Forget his numbers this past season, once he finds his comfort level in the United States he has the chance to be a very, very good player.

C, Gary Sanchez: One thing is certain, Sanchez's game is already too polished to begin in the Dominican Summer League next season. In fact, poll some team officials and the majority of them would tell you that his game is farther advanced at a similar stage in their careers than Jesus Montero. His showing at Dominican Instructs proved that point and even though he just signed this past summer, his stock is clearly on the rise.

OF, Kelvin De Leon: The slugger has come an extremely long way in refining the other areas of his game, especially defensively. He is taking much crisper routes in the outfield and he is reading the ball coming off of the bat much better. And through two Instructional League camps thus far, he has transformed himself from a passive player to a highly energized one seemingly overnight. He still has to do better making better contact on breaking pitches, but the fact he has gotten better laying off of the ones out of the zone should not be overlooked. Even though he had a solid year this past season, he has just scratched the surface of his talent.

C, Damian Taveras: Easily one of the more impressive hitters at Dominican Instructs, the former third baseman has endured an adjustment period after moving to catcher. Finding the right balance between focusing on the innumerable defensive responsibilities of the position and still staying fresh and focused offensively hasn't been easy, but he seems to have found that equilibrium. He still has work to do receiving the ball better, but his combination of arm strength, work ethic, and power potential are more than ready for the United States next season.

CF/2B Erickson Leonora: Leonora is an interesting case. He's more of a 'tweener' as to whether or not he's ready for the United States next season. Offensively, while he could stand to have better strikezone discipline, his quick bat and aggressive nature seem ready. Defensively, however, especially since he's learning to play second base, it's not a given that he'll be ready to come stateside next year. He was one of the more impressive hitters in camp and he definitely sees his stock on the rise either way.

1B, Reymond Nunez: The huge first baseman doesn't have much left to prove at the Dominican Summer League level after hitting .296 with ten home runs in just 59 games. The fact that he has taken his conditioning to a whole new level, losing nearly 30 pounds from a year ago, and the fact he shaved his strikeouts down nearly in half over one year, are two clear signs he has what it takes to make significant adjustments. The numbers might not be there at Dominican Instructs right now, but the overall approach has him more than ready for the United States next season.

RF, Ravel Santana: The last player signed in 2008, the toolsy outfielder might get buried by the incoming depth of Latin American outfielders coming stateside next season. His .234 batting average in 2009 is quite misleading though. He has a very good idea of the strike zone and he flashes a great combination of power, speed, and defensive ability. He might have too many people to leap over to get his shot at the U.S. next year, but his stock is definitely up with a strong showing at Dominican Instructs.

LF, Henry Pena: Pena was signed two years ago because of his advanced hitting approach and plus patience and selectivity. There's no denying the fact that he clearly knows the strike zone as well as anyone, so in that regard he's more than ready for the jump to the Gulf Coast League. He might, however, be a little too patient in the batter's box and that could hurt him at the higher levels. He'll need to be a bit more aggressive and show a bit more development defensively to make the leap, but his discipline is superb.

Stock Falling

3B, Elio De La Rosa: Signed the same year as Henry Pena and also known for his advanced hitting approach, De La Rosa didn't have a great season in the Dominican Summer League this year. His plate discipline is still a little raw, and while he shows decent power, it hasn't developed into a reliable tool at a power-hitting position. He has been very average at Dominican Instructs and he could be slated for another DSL season next year if the current trend continues.

C, Jackson Valera: Now long-term his stock hasn't been altered any by his play, especially given his advanced strike zone discipline. However, he still pounds the ball into the dirt a bit too much and his progress defensively has been slow and steady. There's nothing wrong with his game that would prevent him from being one of the better prospects, but he might still need some more seasoning before finding his way to the U.S. next season and now he has both Gary Sanchez and Damian Taveras to compete with for playing time in the GCL.

LHP, Juan Heredia: The tall left-hander has a big-time curveball and that just might be enough for him to get his shot in the United States next season. But even if he gets the opportunity, he'll need to show a bit better power with his 86-88 MPH fastball to withstand a chance of matching his amazing DSL totals this past season. The talent is there to make the jump but it might not be to the same degree of success he's accustomed to and that will require a mental adjustment.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nThis article will focus on the Latin American players who didn't play above the Gulf Coast League level this past season and who will either be ready for the United States for the first time next season or should be ready for a better showing at the GCL rookie level.
\r\n
\r\nStock Rising
\r\n
\r\nCF, Kelvin Duran: Duran plays a flawless centerfield and defensively he doesn't have much work to do to prepare himself for a potential big league career down the road. His combination of plus speed on the base paths, good line-drive power, and run scoring abilities are more than ready to tackle the Gulf Coast League next season. He was one of the more impressive players at Dominican Instructs and all he did was prove he's ready for the next stage.
\r\n
\r\nCF, Eduardo Sosa: Sosa's .200 average in the Gulf Coast league should be taken with a huge grain of salt. A naturally shy kid, it was his first year in the United States and it takes time for most Latin American players to adjust to the cultural differences and language barrier before finding their comfort level. He was extremely comfortable at Dominican Instructs and he quickly squashed any concerns over his abilities with an impressive showing. All signs point towards a huge bounce-back season next year.
\r\n
\r\nLF/CF Ramon Flores: Like Sosa, 2009 was Flores' first year in the United States and he too had to battle the many cultural and lingual differences. The difference with Flores, however, was it was his first minor league season as well. The 17-year old, who has plus plate discipline, found himself too passive in the GCL. He was monumentally more aggressive at Dominican Instructs and his game was at a completely different level. Forget his numbers this past season, once he finds his comfort level in the United States he has the chance to be a very, very good player.
\r\n
\r\nC, Gary Sanchez: One thing is certain, Sanchez's game is already too polished to begin in the Dominican Summer League next season. In fact, poll some team officials and the majority of them would tell you that his game is farther advanced at a similar stage in their careers than Jesus Montero. His showing at Dominican Instructs proved that point and even though he just signed this past summer, his stock is clearly on the rise.
\r\n
\r\nOF, Kelvin De Leon: The slugger has come an extremely long way in refining the other areas of his game, especially defensively. He is taking much crisper routes in the outfield and he is reading the ball coming off of the bat much better. And through two Instructional League camps thus far, he has transformed himself from a passive player to a highly energized one seemingly overnight. He still has to do better making better contact on breaking pitches, but the fact he has gotten better laying off of the ones out of the zone should not be overlooked. Even though he had a solid year this past season, he has just scratched the surface of his talent.
\r\n
\r\nC, Damian Taveras: Easily one of the more impressive hitters at Dominican Instructs, the former third baseman has endured an adjustment period after moving to catcher. Finding the right balance between focusing on the innumerable defensive responsibilities of the position and still staying fresh and focused offensively hasn't been easy, but he seems to have found that equilibrium. He still has work to do receiving the ball better, but his combination of arm strength, work ethic, and power potential are more than ready for the United States next season.
\r\n
\r\nCF/2B Erickson Leonora: Leonora is an interesting case. He's more of a 'tweener' as to whether or not he's ready for the United States next season. Offensively, while he could stand to have better strikezone discipline, his quick bat and aggressive nature seem ready. Defensively, however, especially since he's learning to play second base, it's not a given that he'll be ready to come stateside next year. He was one of the more impressive hitters in camp and he definitely sees his stock on the rise either way.
\r\n
\r\n1B, Reymond Nunez: The huge first baseman doesn't have much left to prove at the Dominican Summer League level after hitting .296 with ten home runs in just 59 games. The fact that he has taken his conditioning to a whole new level, losing nearly 30 pounds from a year ago, and the fact he shaved his strikeouts down nearly in half over one year, are two clear signs he has what it takes to make significant adjustments. The numbers might not be there at Dominican Instructs right now, but the overall approach has him more than ready for the United States next season.
\r\n
\r\nRF, Ravel Santana: The last player signed in 2008, the toolsy outfielder might get buried by the incoming depth of Latin American outfielders coming stateside next season. His .234 batting average in 2009 is quite misleading though. He has a very good idea of the strike zone and he flashes a great combination of power, speed, and defensive ability. He might have too many people to leap over to get his shot at the U.S. next year, but his stock is definitely up with a strong showing at Dominican Instructs.
\r\n
\r\nLF, Henry Pena: Pena was signed two years ago because of his advanced hitting approach and plus patience and selectivity. There's no denying the fact that he clearly knows the strike zone as well as anyone, so in that regard he's more than ready for the jump to the Gulf Coast League. He might, however, be a little too patient in the batter's box and that could hurt him at the higher levels. He'll need to be a bit more aggressive and show a bit more development defensively to make the leap, but his discipline is superb.
\r\n
\r\nStock Falling
\r\n
\r\n3B, Elio De La Rosa: Signed the same year as Henry Pena and also known for his advanced hitting approach, De La Rosa didn't have a great season in the Dominican Summer League this year. His plate discipline is still a little raw, and while he shows decent power, it hasn't developed into a reliable tool at a power-hitting position. He has been very average at Dominican Instructs and he could be slated for another DSL season next year if the current trend continues.
\r\n
\r\nC, Jackson Valera: Now long-term his stock hasn't been altered any by his play, especially given his advanced strike zone discipline. However, he still pounds the ball into the dirt a bit too much and his progress defensively has been slow and steady. There's nothing wrong with his game that would prevent him from being one of the better prospects, but he might still need some more seasoning before finding his way to the U.S. next season and now he has both Gary Sanchez and Damian Taveras to compete with for playing time in the GCL.
\r\n
\r\nLHP, Juan Heredia: The tall left-hander has a big-time curveball and that just might be enough for him to get his shot in the United States next season. But even if he gets the opportunity, he'll need to show a bit better power with his 86-88 MPH fastball to withstand a chance of matching his amazing DSL totals this past season. The talent is there to make the jump but it might not be to the same degree of success he's accustomed to and that will require a mental adjustment.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
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