Written by Mark Nikolov photo by Mike Blake
As I get ready for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, I’m trying to familiarize myself with players from other countries and I couldn’t help but notice the amount of highly skilled players on this year’s Dominican team. Rather than focusing on the current superstar players though, I’m more interested in who the up and coming stars might be. I started my search on Facebook.
Today I spoke with a young man from the Dominican Republic named Jesus De La Rosa. He’s from Las Matas de Santa Cruz, the same hometown where Yankees prospect Jorge Guzman was born. I have no idea how good of a player Jesus is but he told me that he can through low 90’s which is obviously very impressive for an 18 year old. I checked out his Facebook profile before we spoke and he didn’t seem to have any character issues: no pointing middle fingers, no pictures of naked women, nothing concerning at all. Most of his recent posts were photos of him with family and friends. He has a training video that he posted a few days ago where he’s doing an upper body workout.
This was the first time I’ve ever spoken to De La Rosa and I can’t say that I know much about him. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if he could get a personal trainer (in his video post he was working out by himself) and some good coaching, he should be able to excel in any MLB organization. He currently stands at 6’1 and he still has many more years of growth ahead of him. At 18 years of age he has some more maturing to do but he seems to be on the right track. I really hope someone notices this guy and gives him an opportunity.
Jorge Guzman initially got his opportunity with the Astros and he’s currently trying to make his way up the Minor League ranks in the Yankees Farm system. A trade this past November sent him and Albert Abreu to New York for Brian McCann. In an article written by Robert Pimpsner of Pinstriped Prospects, Guzman is described as “a hard throwing pitcher who can touch 101-103 miles per hour.”
In Baseball America’s 2017 Prospect Handbook, Guzman is profiled as a relief pitcher down the line but “he could have a big time impact if everything develops as planned. He’s likely to begin the year at low Class A Charleston.” I’ll have to tell John Calvagno to keep an eye on him in the South Atlantic League.
Albert Abreu is a native of Santo Domingo and he profiled very well in the BA Prospect Handbook. They ranked him as the ninth overall prospect in the Yankees farm system which is loaded with premium talent right now. One thing he was criticized for was his control but that is completely normal for a young pitcher his age. Judging from his training videos that he has posted on Facebook, Abreu seems to have a high work ethic. He appears to have added some strength while lowering his body fat. With his conditioning he should be able to pitch long innings as a starter or he’ll be a beast coming out of the bullpen.
A name that went missing from this year’s BA Prospect Handbook was Gerson Moreno. I’ve seen Moreno ranked as high as 13 on some of Detroit’s prospect rankings and I’m not sure why Baseball America left him out. Moreno is from Santo Domingo, as well, and he fits the profile of an MLB closer. His fastball reaches 100 miles per hour on the radar gun and he’s had a lot of success in the lower levels of the Minors. In 2015, he helped the West Michigan Whitecaps win the Midwest league, closing out the 9th inning in the Championship Game.
The level of potential talent in the Dominican Republic is amazing to me. It seems like the Dominican has an unlimited amount of talented players that come from these small areas like Las Matas de Santa Cruz. I’m sure if I did some further research I could find dozens of guys from that same area that could be groomed into big league players. They just need the guidance and the opportunities. I hope some organization gives Jesus De La Rosa an opportunity. It would be well deserved for him and relatively low risk for any MLB team.