About two months ago, I looked at the O’s efforts on the international market and came to the conclusion that the O’s are both investing a bit more internationally and developing international talent better.
In the article linked above, I noted a number of international players that were showing signs of potential. Since then, I’ve seen most of these players live and we’ve also had the chance to see their performance over an extended period of time.
As we near the end of the minor league season, I thought it would be a good time to look at all of the legitimate international prospects in the system. What follows is a list of all Orioles international prospects that I believe have major league potential.
Schoop is the most obvious player on this list, as he’s easily a top 75 prospect in all of baseball and has received national exposure at the Futures Game.
There are two things that make Schoop a special player: 1) he takes coaching well and is one of the hardest working players in the system and 2) has crazy bat speed.
For those who have been to a GCL game, you know that the setting is extremely laid back and you can essentially watch the game leaning on the backstop. I was lucky enough to catch Schoop in the GCL before he was promoted to Bluefield, and he was the only player constantly itching to learn and improve. Between every at-bat, he would grab a bat and ask players how his swing looked and what he needed to fix. I had never seen a player do this between every single at-bat and downtime throughout an entire game.
Now back to Schoop’s ability. His bat speed is absolutely off the charts and is the reason he is showing power at such a young age. It’s also the reason that scouts like Keith Law come away impressed with his batting practice — because he can absolutely murder baseballs.
At this time, Schoop’s only average tool is his speed. I expect him to move to third base eventually, but with plus arm strength and good footwork, he should become an above-average defender at the hot corner.
With an above-average hit tool and plus power, Schoop projects as the Orioles’ third baseman of the future and, like Manny Machado, could become a cornerstone player.
Be sure to check out Don’s article looking at the drastic improvements Schoop’s swing has made over the past year.
Rodriguez is a guy I have not seen pitch, but I spoke with some scouts who had seen him and they came away impressed with the Venezuelan lefty.
He works with an 88-91 mph fastball with sink and run, and it could jump to 91-93 mph as he fills out his frame (see picture). His curveball has sharp, late break and is currently an above-average pitch that should become plus. He has an easy arm action, gets good extension out in front, and is also very deceptive.
Rodriguez’s GCL stats indicate his talent level and he’s advanced enough to handle Delmarva next season. He projects as a #3 starter.
I knew nothing about Rivera prior to seeing him pitch, but he certainly made a lasting impression. Rivera, a 20 year old lefty, popped the mitt with a 91-94 mph fastball and even touched 96 mph once.
While I have not seen Lino play, it was hard to ignore his 6′ 3″, 195 pound frame during my time in the GCL — a true big league body. I spoke with two scouts who had seen him previously, but only briefly. They noted his power potential and above-average arm strength.
Dan spent a week in the GCL and will eventually have some notes on Lino.
Chalas is a guy that’s still a little bit under the radar. He hasn’t quite received the hype that Rodriguez has, but that’s mostly due to his small 6′ 0″ frame.
In one of his first GCL outings, I watched Chalas blow a 91-95 mph fastball by hitters while commanding an above-average, late breaking curveball to both sides of the plate. His ability to hit corners and spots is rare from someone his age, and he does all of this with an advanced feel for pitching.
The primary knock on Chalas is his size and that he may eventually be forced to the bullpen. However, his mechanics don’t show any significant red flags, but his delivery is max-effort. There is some hope he can stick as a starter, but if not, he has late inning relief potential.
Most fans are fully aware of Veloz due to his $300,000 signing bonus, which was a franchise record for largest signing bonus given to an international amateur player.
Veloz is extremely raw and is struggling in the DSL, but has potential on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, he has an above-average arm with good hands, but has spotty footwork with too much “happy feet” before the throw.
Offensively, Veloz has plus power potential. His bat goes through the zone quickly and he has solid arc. He has a smooth swing and his head and body stay balanced through. He also uses his hips well.
Like most bonus babies, Veloz has star potential but also could drop out of baseball when he reaches Double-A. Veloz has the potential to become an above-average defensive third baseman that hits 30+ home runs a year.
In a system lacking legitimate corner outfield prospects, Bernadina stands out as a right fielder with a high ceiling.
Bernadina is extremely raw in nearly every aspect of the game at this point, but all five of his tools are, or have, the potential to become above-average.
Bernadina has already showed some pop in the GCL, and he’s done so with a very slight 160 pound frame. When he adds additional weight he should obtain enough power for a corner outfield spot.
With well above-average bat speed and tremendous hand speed, Bernadina punishes fastballs and mistake pitches, but has trouble with off speed stuff. He’s mainly a mistake hitter at this stage, but could be dangerous with additional patience.
Like Schoop, Bernadina is extremely coachable and could become a solid regular at the big league level.
Guzman is another guy that I had no knowledge of prior to watching him pitch. At 6′ 0″, 160 lbs., I expected a high 80s fastball at best from the slender Dominican righty. But as soon as I watched him throw a few warm up pitches, I knew I was in for a surprise. Then he hit 93 mph on the players’ radar gun.
He works with a 91-93 mph fastball that could regularly sit in the mid-90s with additional weight and proper eating/workout plans.
While Guzman has an above-average 77-79 mph curveball (with good depth and late drop) it plays down due to mechanical differentials compared to his fastball. He slightly exaggerates his arm action and decelerates when throwing his curve, which could get picked up by more advanced hitters.
He is a potential big league reliever, and quite possibly a setup man.
Others of Note: Luis Lebron, Dudley Leonora and Luis Noel