On September 10th the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) held their anual player draft. Players are eligible for the draft once they have played at least low-A ball and were on roster thru the month of August. The Dominican Prospect League had an oustanding group of Alumni in this years LIDOM draft class, number 1 over all pick Manuel Margot-Toros (BOS), Willy Adames-Licey (DET), Domingo Leyba-Aguilas (DET), Wendell Rijo-Toros (BOS), Aviatal Avelino-Estrellas (NYY), Miguel Andujar-Gigantes (NYY), Michael Deleon-Licey (TEX), Elier Hernandez-Gigantes (KC), Alex Reyes-Licey (STL), Yoel Araujo-Licey (TB), Michael Feliz-Licey (HOU), Franmil Reyes-Escogido (SDP), Dawell Lugo-Licey (TOR).
The Dominican Winter League consist of six teams spread across the Dominican Republic; Tigres del Licey (Santo Domingo) Leones de Escojido (Santo Domingo) Aguilas Cibaeñas (Santiago) Estrellas Orientales (San Pedro de Macoris) Gigantes del Nordeste (San Francisco de Macoris) and Toros del Este (La Romana). The league consist of players from MLB, MiLB, Independant legues and Dominican players who have contracts in Asia.
Each team plays a fifty-game round-robin schedule that begins at the middle of October and runs to the end of December. The top four teams engage in another round-robin schedule with 18 games per team from the end of December to the end of January; the top two teams in those standings then play a best-of-nine series for the national title. The league’s champion advances to the Caribbean Series to play against the representatives from Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.
High Class A Salem (Carolina) & Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)
When Margot signed for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, he had a reputation as one of the best athletes on the international market that year. He has lived up to that billing and more than held his own as the youngest regular in the short-season New York-Penn League last year. Margot has very quick hands and a patient approach at the plate, which, along with his well-above-average speed, should allow him to hit for high averages. A legitimate basestealing threat, Margot has the skills desired in a leadoff man. He makes consistent hard contact, and he could develop some pop if he can add strength to his lean frame. Margot’s speed plays well in center field, too, and he throws better than most players at that position. He already has skipped a level, and he could continue to advance rapidly, putting him on track to reach the Majors at age 22.
If you’re looking for a sleeper for 2015, then look no further than Margot, who received a mid-August promotion to the Carolina League and continued to rake. The center fielder’s speed stands out now—he ranked fifth in the South Atlantic League with 39 steals—but after slamming 15 extra-base hits and driving in 24 runs in 28 games down the stretch, Margot could be poised for breakout with the bat next season.
Class A Bowling Green
The Tigers’ most expensive pickup during the 2012-13 international signing period, Adames received a $420,000 bonus to turn pro out of the Dominican Republic. Though he didn’t tear it up in his professional debut in 2013, his advanced feel for the game made Detroit comfortable enough to send him to low Class A this season as an 18-year-old, and he held his own. Some scouts from other organizations thought he was Detroit’s top prospect, and his value showed when he became a key piece in the blockbuster deal that delivered David Price to the Tigers as the Trade Deadline. The youngest everyday player in the Midwest League, Adames has maintained his patient approach at the plate. His bat speed portends average power once he adds more strength, and he could be a solid hitter once he makes more consistent contact.
After seeing time at third base in 2013, Adames has played exclusively at shortstop this year. He has the hands and arm strength to remain there, though he lacks the quickness desired at the position and could move to second or third base down the road.
Class A Peoria (Midwest)
Everything clicked into place for the power-armed Reyes in the second half. He went 3-2, 2.48 in 10 starts while striking out 12.1 batters per nine innings and allowing two home runs. The arrow pointed most conclusively in the right direction in terms of his control. Reyes walked 4.0 batters per nine innings from mid-June onward, compared with a first-half rate of 6.1 per nine. One of the top strikeout pitchers in the Midwest League, Reyes sharpened his control dramatically in the second half by improving his direction to the plate at low Class A Peoria. His stuff never was in question. Reyes pitches at 92-95 mph with good life and rotates a power curveball for a second plus pitch. He will need to improve his changeup and keep refining his control, but the 19-year-old has frontline stuff.
Class A West Michigan (Midwest)
Signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Leyba had a spectacular pro debut the following summer. He led the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in batting (.348), slugging (.577) and OPS (1.023), creating plenty of anticipation for his arrival in the United States in 2014. Leyba has an advanced approach for such a young player, showing deft control of the strike zone and ability to hit line drives all over the field. As a bonus, he’s a switch-hitter, and he has the potential to produce double-figure home run power once he adds strength. An average runner, Leyba fits best at second base but also saw action at shortstop in the DSL. He has good defensive instincts and reliable hands to go with average arm strength and range.
Class A Greenville (South Atlantic)
Rijo is extremely polished for his age, in large part because he grew up around the game as the son of Dodgers scout Rafael Rijo. Wendell tore the ACL in his right knee in March 2012, four months before he became eligible to sign, but that didn’t stop Boston from inking him for $575,000. Sent to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League at age 17, Wendell had a solid debut last summer, despite being one of the youngest regulars in the league. Rijo has the bat speed and already-mature approach to hit for average, and he could have double-digit home run power as he gets stronger. Rijo can get off balance at the plate from time to time, but that’s a correctable flaw. While Rijo isn’t as fast as he was prior to knee surgery, he still has average speed, and he knows what he’s doing on the bases. Rijo’s instincts shine as well on defense, where he has sure hands, but he lacks the arm strength to play on the left side of the diamond.
Class A Quad City
Feliz’s fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s, and it has touched 98 mph. His slider flashes plus potential, and his changeup gives him a third quality offering. Feliz throws a lot of strikes, but he may need to refine his delivery to truly command all of his pitches. Though Feliz is still raw, he demonstrates a good feel for pitching. He won the New York-Penn League ERA title as a 19-year-old in 2013, and he earned a spot on the World roster at the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game this year.
Class A Lansing
Lugo was regarded as one of the best hitters in the international signing class of 2011 and the Blue Jays have pushed him aggressively so far. He’s responded well and led short-season Bluefield in home runs as an 18-year old in 2013. Lugo is a natural hitter with a knack for putting the bat on the ball. His exceptional feel for the barrel makes him a good bad-ball hitter and difficult to strike out. He creates good bat speed and has a surprising amount of raw power in his small frame. Defensively, Lugo has good hands and is a capable shortstop. He’s a below-average runner, however, leading some scouts to think he is destined to move to third base. His bat looks like it’ll be good enough to profile no matter what position he plays.