MINNEAPOLIS – Dominican Prospect League (DPL) founder and president Brian Mejia confirmed late Tuesday that two of the DPL’s top prospects will be here Thursday and will take part in the final four days of the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase June 14-18 at the downtown Metrodome.
Middle-infielder Richard Urena and first baseman Leury Vargas have secured travel visas and will be here for the most prestigious amateur baseball showcase in the country. Several other top Dominican prospects were invited to attend, but ran into problems with travel visas or had other obligations.
The addition of the two Dominicans further enhances a dynamic field of prospects that already includes almost all of the top 50-ranked prospects from the class of 2013. Dozens of the players on hand will also receive invitations to the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 12.
What follows are the scouting reports compiled by PG’s David Rawnsley, Ben Collman and Todd Gold after a group of DPL prospects completed a swing through Florida and Arizona in March. Urena and Vargas were part of that traveling contingent:
IF RICHARD URENA
6-0/170, L/R, 1/26/96, San Pedro de Macoris, DR
PG Grade: 10
Urena is a nice combination for scouts, a left handed hitting middle infielder with some polish to his bat and all the tools to stay at shortstop for a long time. He’s a 6.8 runner, and while he may not be a big base stealer at the upper levels, his speed will turn plenty of singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Urena is the most patient hitter of the DPL hitters and has the best bat control. Most of his hard contact comes up the middle and to the left side, but it wasn’t soft contact, as he drove one ball over the left fielder’s head against a very good Yankees minor league pitcher and consistently drove the ball to the left centerfield gap. He had another at-bat against a Red Sox minor leaguer where he fouled off four straight 2-2 pitches, then took two additional pitches just off the plate to draw the walk.
At shortstop, Urena doesn’t lack for either flash or tools. He throws from a quick side arm release but consistently registered 85-88 mph on the gun without really letting the ball go. He showed outstanding range up the middle on a couple of plays. If there is any fault to his defensive game it’s that he’ll get a bit casual and flashy on routine plays and his hands will swipe at the ball instead of taking it in. But all the tools are there to be a top flight big league shortstop.
1B LEURYS VARGAS
6-3/210, L/R, 8/30/96, Haina, DR
PG Grade: 10
It’s somewhat ironic that the youngest player on the DPL roster, Vargas, is also the biggest and most physically imposing. The 15-year old is listed at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, but that appears to be on the conservative side. If you’ve seen Keon Barnum from the 2012 class, you have an idea of what Vargas’ body looks like physically.
Vargas isn’t as good an athlete as Barnum, with 7.32 present speed that is going to slow down and arm strength that will likely limit him to first base. He will be challenged to maintain his mobility defensively as he gets older, although he shows very good hands on low throws at first base and maintains his balance well.
The offensive comparison between Vargas and Barnum is very tight. The bat speed and power potential are obvious, but Vargas has a surprisingly short game swing and has the ability to stay inside the ball and square it up to the middle of the field. He lined two singles off Boston Red Sox minor league pitchers, both solid line drives registering in the mid-90s off the bat over the shortstop’s head, which was impressive work for a 15-year old facing A and AA pitchers. Vargas can unleash a power swing with more length and lift during batting practice and the results are impressive, especially given his age. But he doesn’t show that approach in games and there is really no reason for him to worry about doing it now. The tool and ability are there when he starts learning more about hitting.