There were no games yesterday. Not only did the majors take a break for the All-Star Game, so did every single affiliated league in the minors from the Arizona Rookie League on up.
Since I don’t have any content to put in my usual format, I’m scrapping that format for today. There isn’t much point in talking about Yesterday’s Scores or Performances of the Day when there were no scores and no performances to talk about. The usual Minor League Daily will be back tomorrow, but today I have to do something different. Instead of your usual dose of prospecty goodness, I am going to take this opportunity to check in on the Dominican Summer Leagues again.
Last time we looked in on the DSL I brought up the interesting case of Kevin Encarnacion. On the one hand, the switch hitting outfielder was putting up some very nice numbers, but on the other hand, he was starting his third year in the DSL and was somewhat old for the league. After 27 games, he is still cranking out the numbers. His 5 home runs lead the DSL Cubs 2, as do his 10 stolen bases. He has 22 walks and 17 strikeouts, a ratio similar to the one that brought Jeimer Candelario to my attention last summer. He has an OPS of 1.045.
But despite that, I remain skeptical. This guy turns 21 in the fall. He’s definitely on the old side for the league. That’s not to say that there isn’t any late blooming talent there, but until I see similar numbers repeated at a higher level against players his own age, I am not going to be excited.
So let’s talk about a switch hitting outfielder that might give us reason to be excited. Robert Caro will turn 19 in September; this is his first season as a professional. He has spent time with both DSL Cubs teams and is hitting a combined .360/.462/.480. He does not appear to have much power yet, but his 6’0″, 185 lb holds the promise of at least some power to come. He seems to have plenty of speed, though. Five of his seven extra base hits have been triples, and he has stolen 14 bases in 21 tries. Best of all, he has 17 BB against just 14 K.
Also in the category of players who walk more than they strike out, take a look at Jhonny Pena. Pena, a catcher, is in his second DSL season and turned 20 in May. Through 24 games he is hitting .418/.577/.618 with two home runs and three steals. He has a staggering 20 walks against just 9 strikeouts. He is edging towards old for the league, but only just. I would stay cautious on Pena for now, but definitely keep an eye on him.
There is good news on the mound, as well. RHP Daury Torrez has struck out 34 in 39.2 innings this season. He may be challenging hitters to a fault right now (4 HR allowed, and only 2 BB), but at least he is throwing a lot of strikes.
Carlos Rodriguez is a smallish lefty (5’11”), but since he won’t turn 17 until July 18th, he may have a few more inches to grow. Rodriguez has 36 K and 9 BB in 31 innings this season. Given that he is so young, I would not be surprised if the Cubs left him in the DSL for another year regardless of how well he pitches, but unless things change significantly I think we’ll see this guy stateside no later than 2014.
And this is only the cream of the statistical crop. There may be players with more talent and better raw tools playing for the Cubs in the Dominican, players like Mark Malave, Luis Acosta, and others, but until those tools start to show up on the box scores we may have a hard time spotting them. Until these players get to the states where we can get some in person scouting reports, the numbers are the best we can do.
Even so, the numbers highlight the fact that the Cubs’ efforts in the Caribbean are producing fruit. It will take time for this crop of prospects to work their way up the system, but it appears that the same talent pipeline that produced Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Arismendy Alcantara, Marco Hernandez, Jeimer Candelario, and Gioskar Amaya (among others) still has plenty of prospects to pump into the system. That can only be a good thing.