The Dominican Summer League (DSL) is the lowest level of the minors. Players in this league are inexperienced, raw, and have a lot to learn. Most of them will never see or throw a major league pitch. Even the best players at this level are years away from contributing and more likely to bust than to even make the major leagues, let alone be an everyday player.
So why do we care what is going on with the two Yankees affiliates in the DSL? This year there are about 26 million reasons to follow them. That’s right, the Yankees spent $26 million on international free agents last year. Most of the players they signed are playing in the DSL. It’s not just the big name signings from last year who are having success either. There are other, more unheralded signings who highlight the vastly impressive Yankees international program.
These kids are young and have a long way to go, but many of them will start showing up in box scores for the stateside Yankees minor league affiliates.
Ricardo Ferreira – 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, SH, SS, 20-years-old – Ferreira was a low profile signing last year who had some success in limited action in 2014. He just started switch hitting last year, and he has already shown he is quite adept at it. This season he hit .382/.513/.492/1.005 with a homerun, nine doubles, and seven triples in 62 DSL games. He also stole 35 bases and was only caught five times. Even more impressive, his splits as a switch hitter are basically equal. He’ll bring his act to the US next season and is yet another impressive shortstop in an already stacked system at the position.
Diego Castillo – 6-foot-0, 170-pounds, RHB, SS, 17-years-old – Speaking of promising young shortstops, Castillo is another guy who you will be hearing more about next year. He was one of the big ticket items in the 2014 international free agent (IFA) class. In his first year in the DSL, he has hit 331/.373/.444/.817 with 11 doubles, eight triples, and five stolen bases. He has only scratched the surface on his talent and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table next season in the GCL.
Estevan Florial – 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, LHB, OF, 17-years-old – Here’s a name no one had heard of prior to the 2015 season. He was obviously part of the 2014 IFA signing class, but he didn’t get big money and wasn’t one of the big names. He has certainly played like his name belongs in that category though. He hit .313/. 394/.527/.921 with 11 doubles, eight triples, seven homeruns, and 15 SB. He was one of the best performers in the DSL this year. He’s only 17, and I haven’t heard much of a scouting report on him but clearly he has some speed and some power. I would imagine he’ll be in the GCL next year and hopefully we’ll have more info on him soon.
Leobaldo Cabrera – 6-foot-1, 170-pounds, RHB, OF, 17-years-old – Cabrera was not one of the big name guys, but he did get a big signing bonus. In 59 games in the DSL he has played like one of the better signings. He hit .298/.367/.382/.748 with eight doubles, four triples, and one homerun with seven stolen bases. He has a high ceiling and good athleticism, so it will be fun to watch this kid grow up and develop.
Nelson Alvarez – 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, LHB, OF/1B, 19-years-old – In his first professional season Alvarez impressed. He’s already 19 but he’s also a big kid and may have just needed a bit more time to develop. He hit .279/.405/.423/.828 with four homeruns, five triples, and seven doubles this season. We won’t know what the Yankees have in him until next year, if/when he is playing stateside. Of note he was signed in 2014 but was not one of the major signings.
Lisandro Blanco – 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, RHB, OF, 18-years-old – Another high ceiling outfielder the Yankees picked up in 2014, he showed little to no power this year in the DSL. He did manage to hit .277/.381/.355/.745 though, with six doubles, one triple, and one homerun. He has a lot of development left and could become a top prospect if everything breaks right for him.
Pablo Olivares – 6-foot-0, 160-pounds, RHB, CF, 17-years-old – As young as he is, he may still grow and fill out. As things are right now though he’s a small guy who had some good success in his first DSL season. Not one of the marquee signings for the Yankees, but he did get a solid bonus. He hit .267/.370/.359/.729 with seven SB, four doubles and four triples this season. Another one who will be a wait and see proposition as we watch him grow and develop.
Frederick Cuevas – 5-foot-11, 185-pounds, LHB, LF, 17-years-old – Cuevas was one of the bigger name signings the Yankees made although not in the top five or anything like that. He performed okay this season and definitely showed he has some speed. He hit .256/.376/.365/.740 with three homeruns, five doubles, and four triples in his debut season. He has a ton of potential. The Yankees are hoping he matures into another big time outfield prospect. Only time will tell.
Nelson Gomez – 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, RHB, 3B, 17-years-old – Gomez looked promising this season. While his average was too low at .243, he did have an OBP of .350 and a SLG of .435. He hit nine doubles and 11 homeruns this season, with one more in the playoffs. He has the kind of power you can’t teach. If he can cut down on his strikeouts going forward he could become a top prospect.
Algeni Mateo – 5-foot-9, 170-pounds, RHB, C, 20-years-old – It’s hard to tell in the DSL who is a legitimate prospect and who is just organizational filler. Mateo is a great example of that. His numbers have been fantastic for the past two seasons, yet he still has not been stateside and he’s 20. This year he hit .338/.415/.461/.876 with one homerun, five triples and six doubles. He’s done all he can do in the DSL so if he’s not in the GCL (at least) next season we will know for sure that he is a nonprospect.
Jose Polonia – 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, RHB, SS, 19-years-old – Polonia is a nice little shortstop prospect. The problem is the system is currently loaded with these. In any other system he probably is already playing in the USA rookie leagues. Instead, for the Yankees he hit .318/.371/.395/.766 for the DSL Yankees. It remains to be seen if he can get some playing time in the USA next season, but he will be 20 next year so he’ll have to make the move soon or he’ll be a long shot to ever be a legit prospect.
Miguel Flames – 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, RHB, C, 17-years-old – Flames was one of the big name, big dollar signings from 2014. He has not disappointed. He hit .317/.398/.454/.852 this season with three homeruns, nine doubles, and five triples. He caught and played first base in the DSL. If he can continue to hit like he has, next season will be his coming out party in the GCL. I look forward to seeing him there soon.
Welfrin Mateo – 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, RHB, 2B, 19-years-old – The Yankees sent Mateo over to the states right after the DSL season was over, which is a good sign for him. He had a productive season in the DSL where he hit .297/.384/.436/.819 with 10 SB, 18 doubles, two triples and two homeruns. Another solid middle infielder who will be fun to watch develop.
Erick Mendez – 6-foot-0, 185-pounds, RHB, CF, 19-years-old – Mendez was part of the 2013 crew, and finished off the season strong. He hit .281/.381/.465/.846 with nine doubles, eight triples, three homeruns and six steals. He’s a bit on the older side so time is not on his side.
Brayan Emery, Juan De Leon, Antonio Aria, Jonathan Amundaray, and Raymundo Moreno have all been disappointments in their debut seasons, but many of them were seen as long term projects when they signed so anything can happen.
Gabriel Giron – 6-foot-0, 172-pounds, RHP, 21-years-old – He’s older but he’s in just his second season in the DSL. He has really dominated this season pitching 70.2 IP, with 46 K, just 21 BB, a .169 average against and a 1.40 ERA. Who knows if the Yankees view him as a legitimate prospect or not, but one way or another those are really good numbers.
Freicer Perez – 6-foot-8, 190-pounds, RHP, 19-years-old – He’s a really big, tall kid and he put up good numbers in his first professional season. He pitched 69.2 innings, hat 68 K to 17 BB, and finished with a 3.23 ERA. Those are impressive numbers for such a big man, so hopefully he’s got some stuff to go along with it.
Carlos Diaz – 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, LHP, 20-years-old – He just finished his fourth season in the DSL, also his best. You have to wonder why he has been at this level for so long, and question if he will ever be a real prospect. Regardless, he threw 67.2 IP, had 69 K, and 19 BB with a 2.79 ERA this season. If he is ever going to be ready to go to the USA, it’s going to be next year.
Alexander Figueredo – 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, LHP, 19-years-old – Figueredo apparently has great stuff and he finished his first season with 57 IP, 52 K, 22 BB, and a 1.89 ERA. He did what he had to in the DSL and now hopefully he gets a shot with the GCL in 2016.
Isaac Padilla – 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, RHP, 19-years old – In his second season out of the Dominican Republic, the big, 6-foot-5 kid did not disappoint. He threw 31.2 IP, with 31 K, and a 2.56 ERA and 12 walks.
Carlos Espinal – 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, RHB, 18 – He’s young and he appears to have a rubber arm. He threw 69 IP with 59 K and just 10 BB this season. He had a 2.22 ERA. He appears to be a promising young kid and hopefully he’ll be in the GCL next year.
Daniel Alvarez – 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, RHP, 19-years-old – Alvarez is out of Venezuela and had a fine season. He threw 58 IP, had 62 K, and 20 BB with a 2.48 ERA. He greatly improved from last season and appears poised to hit the USA next season.
Miguel Yajure – 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, RHP, 17-years-old – Another kid out of Venezuela, Yajure is an intriguing prospect. He is young and he performed really well in his first action He threw 57 IP with 36 K, 20 BB and a 1.42 ERA in his first professional season. His next test should be the GCL, but we will see in 2016.