June brings a ton of youth to Deep Dynasty Fishing, as we take an in depth look at some teens such as Abraham Almonte, Kennil Gomez, and Marcus Lemon. Many of these players may establish themselves as exciting prospects long before they can legally drink alcohol. This list contains some obscure names, but others are becoming familiar.
Abraham Almonte, CF - 6/27/1989, Low-A, New York Yankees: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, Abe Almonte is in his first year of full season ball. The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter has been holding his own as the leadoff man for the RiverDogs. Almonte has shown flashes of power, average, and speed, but his .759 OPS leaves more to be desired. The same can be said for his 6.7 BB%. Still, 5 HR and 15 SB through 193 at-bats are both more than fellow 18-year-old Engel Beltre at the same level. Considering his age, speed, pop, and organization, Almonte could be one whose stock could increase significantly if he maintains the productive season he is having. Almonte is still raw, but his upside is the reason that his prospect status is on the rise.
Felix Doubront, LHP - 10/23/1987, Low-A, Boston Red Sox: The ace of the Greenville rotation, Doubront is a Venezuelan lefty who signed with the Red Sox back in 2004. Although slightly old for the level as a 20 year old pitcher, and repeating the league for the second year, Doubront still has the potential to be a thrilling prospect. The lanky lefty who stands 6-foot-2, 166 pounds had a horrible time last year in the South Atlantic League, posting an 6.24 FIP in 42.1 Innings. Things are clicking much better this year for Doubront, as he is off to a great start. Doubront has shown pin-point command in ’08 (3.1 BB%), while striking out a great percentage (26.0 K%) which leads to a 59-to-7 K/BB ratio in 57.0 innings pitched. His 3.02 FIP shows just how superb he has been, and although his next step in the California league will be quite a challenge, he is still worth keeping an eye on.
Juan Francisco, 3B - 6/24/1987, High-A, Cincinnati Reds: Francisco is one of the most interesting prospects on this list, albeit one of the most acknowledged. Signing with the Reds in 2004 out of the Dominican Republic, Francisco broke onto the scene last year, having a respectable season in a pitcher’s league, the Midwest. Stroking 25 homers as a 18-year-old in the league certainly was impressive, but his abysmal 23-to-161 BB/K ratio in 534 at-bats tainted his stock drastically. Francisco may never learn to take a walk, and may never be an elite prospect because of this, but an improvement in his discipline would launch him up the charts. With his line drive rate at 25%, and .461 slugging as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League, Francisco shows glimpses of what he could potentially be in the future.
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP - 10/2/1988, High-A, Cleveland Indians: Gomez isn’t going to excite anyone with his FIP, currently standing at 5.20, especially after coming off a similarly poor season last year. The fact is that a kid who is holding his own in the Carolina league at the ripe age of 19 deserves to be mentioned. A Venezuelan product, Gomez is only seven months older than Deolis Guerra, who is at the same level, but with a much more impressive line. Gomez has solid command (8.9 BB%), strikes out a good portion (19.0 K%), to go along with a respectable 45 GB%. Gomez boasts an impressive 69.8 Dominance Factor, which is in the upper echelon of prospects this season. Look for Gomez to post stronger FIP’s as he matures, and keep tabs on him even if he is not really on the radar – yet.
Kennil Gomez, RHP - 4/8/1988, Low-A, Texas Rangers: Another exciting arm in the Texas system, Gomez is the third member of this list of the Dominican Republic. The 21-year-old has been very effective in his first full-season, currently standing at 8-1 with a 3.68 FIP. There is much more to be excited about besides these numbers. Kennil commands the ball well (6.0 BB%), strikes out a strong amount (19.3 K%) and also is a ground ball machine (2.05 GO/AO). The 6-foot-3 righty has 88-90 MPH sinker, as well as an excellent curve-ball. Opposing batters are hitting a meager .211 against Gomez, and his Dominance Factor sits at 71.3, residing in the top 40 of minor leaguers this season. Gomez is a good bet to continue success in the upper minors due to his ground ball tendencies, so grab Gomez is you have the room for it.
Daryl Jones, RF - 6/25/1987, High-A, St. Louis Cardinals: Selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft by the Cardinals, Daryl Jones was tabbed as a raw athlete. Now, he is a raw athlete with a lot of promise of being a good hitter too. Jones struggled all season long in the Midwest league last year, to the tune of a round .600 OPS in 419 at-bats. Jones is breaking out in a big way in 2008 in the FSL. Through 187 at-bat, Jones is producing a .833 OPS, to go along with 5 dingers and 9 swipes. Plate discipline remains an issue for this toolsy outfielder, although his 9.3 BB% in ’08 in respectable. Pair this with his 23.1 K%, and Jones still has some issues. Still, he is hitting line drives at a 20% clip, and showing the speed and power that the Cardinals looked for when they drafted him. Jones’ progressions are very optimistic, and look for him to continue his success in the future.
Marcus Lemon, SS - 6/3/1988, High-A, Texas Rangers: In an organization that seems to have endless talent, Marcus Lemon is a name you may not be familiar with yet, but chances are you will hear much more of in the future. Lemon was a 4th round pick in 2006, and spent all of ’07 in the Midwest league where he had his struggles. With a .709 OPS, 10.5 BB%, and 18.7 K%, the discipline was there for Lemon but not much else. Flash forward to ’08, where Marcus has greatly improved upon these numbers in the California league. Dramatic improvements to his BB and K percentages (14.4 BB%, 11.7 K%) lead to an OPS that is hovering around .800. Power is still lacking from this lefty-hitting shortstop, but his improvements as a freshly turned 20-year-old in High-A allow Lemon to be a kid whose name you may want to remember.
Vincent Mazzaro, RHP, 9/27/1986, AA, Oakland Athletics: A 3rd round pick in 2005 out of high school, Mazzaro is on the fast track to the major leagues. After having a rough year in the California league last year as a 20-year-old (as many do), Vinnie has been excellent in AA this year. Mazzaro is 7-3 with a 3.48 FIP in the Texas league, and is still only 21 years old. None of his rates are eye-popping (6.7 BB%, 17.5 K%, 54 GB%), but his 72.8 DF is in the top 25 of the entire minor leagues, and hints that he is a very safe bet to be a big league starter in the future. Oakland’s pitching depth in the minors is incredible right now, but Mazzaro could be one of the first to make it to the show. Watch his next few starts closely, as AAA is not too far away.
Jose Ortegano, LHP, 8/5/1987, Low-A, Atlanta Braves: Overshadowed by fellow lefties Cole Rohrbough and Jeffrey Locke, another southpaw that deserves some praise for the Rome Braves is Jose Ortegano. After dominating the Appalachian league last year to the tune of a 6-1 record, 3.29 FIP and 5-to-1 K/BB ratio, Ortegano is following that season up with another very strong year. 2 numbers that stand out to me when I look at Ortegano is his combination of high BABIP (.345) and low FIP (2.62), which show that he is limiting his damage. His rates are all very strong (6.7 BB%, 22.5 K%, 53 GB%), although at nearly 21-years-old, Ortegano may need to be further challenged at Myrtle Beach. A handful more of impressive starts, and Ortegano will likely be moving up in the organization. He has been very strong recently, so look for him to continue that trend.
Jose Vallejo, 2B, 9/11/1986, High-A, Texas Rangers: Although the California league has been known to inflate a players statistics, the quantity of attributes that Vallejo brings to the table are very intriguing nonetheless. First and foremost, we see a switch-hitting second baseman, which is always of value. Add to that the ability to dominate the base-paths, as seen by his 24-to-3 SB/CS tally through 266 at-bats. Next, Vallejo shows decent discipline at the plate, with a 7.4 BB%, and 12.2 K%. And finally, we see the ability to hit for power. With 9 HR even in the hitter-friendly league, Vallejo shows the ability to put a strong and forceful swing on the ball. Overall, Vallejo is a solid prospect that does a lot of things well, but is not incredible in many areas. At second base, a player like Vallejo is valuable as a prospect, and it figures that he is in the Texas organization.
Brett Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.