June DSL Update – Who To Watch

The Phillies DSL affiliate is off to a relatively slow start at 6-10, 6 games behind the division-leading Mariners.  As with the VSL club, we will use this post to highlight some of the players worth watching closely this season.  The DSL team looks to have a few more prospects than the VSL squad, especially on the pitching staff.

The highlight from the early going has been the play of new signee Nevri Jimenez (age 18).  Jimenez leads off and usually plays CF (though he has made a couple of starts at SS as well).  While a little old to be a top prospect, the fact that he is leading off and playing a prominent position shows the Phillies think highly of him.  He has cooled off some, but is still hitting a well rounded .406 with 8 extra base hits, 8 BB, 11 SB and a 1.065 OPS.  The other offensive star in the early going has been Geancarlo Mendez, a 1B hitting .407.  Mendez is a lesser prospect because he is 18 months older and does not play a prominent defensive position.  Others to watch on offense include the following:

Luis Beltre (LF, age 17) – A young player holding his own hitting .237 with 2 2B, 2 3B, and a .750 OPS

Edwin Esquea (C, age 17) – A stocky catcher (6’0″, 200), Esquea is hitting .316 with a .816 OPS in the early going.

Eladio Berroa (SS, age 18) – Berroa seems to have pushed Carlos Valenzuela over to 2B.  He is also holding his own hitting .310 so far.

Yan Olmo (CF, age 18) – The newest addition to the roster plays CF when Jimenez is elsewhere and is 4-11 so far.  He has good size at 6’3″

Carlos Valenzuela (2B/SS, age 18) – High priced signee from last year has been better, but still not that good.  Hitting .237 with 7 SB and a .635 OPS.

Some other players have played well in limited playing time (like Jose Trinidad), though it is difficult to know who is considered a top prospect with such a small sample of playing time.

On the pitching staff there are several names to watch.  The two high priced signees (Basil and Arias) have had mixed results so far.  A couple of lesser names in the rotation (Cespedes and Bonilla) have pitched much better in the early going.  Most of the top prospects to watch will be the starting pitchers on the squad.  The pitchers to watch include the following:

Alvaro Basil (age 18, RHP) – Basil has been a major disappointment with a 15.00 ERA in limited time.  He was in Spring Training early this year and got sent down.  That, coupled with the poor performance, makes one wonder if he is hurt.

Gabriel Arias (age 19, RHP) – A $100K signing from 2 years ago, Arias is finally in the starting rotation with decent results: 2-0, 2.95 ERA (18.1 IP, 24 H, 2 BB, 17 K).

Felix Cespedes (age 18, RHP) – After a 5.11 ERA last year, Cespedes has made major strides.  He is 0-0 with a 1.59 ERA and strong peripheral stats (17 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 22 K)

Daniel De La Cruz (age 18, RHP) – De La Cruz was very good in the starting rotation last year (2.25 ERA in 56 IP), so it was a surprise to see him start in the bullpen as the team’s closer.  They have sinced moved him back to the rotation and he responded with a strong start.  De La Cruz has some of the best peripheral stats on the team. (0-2, 0.69 ERA, 2 SV, 13 IP, 5 H, 6 BB, 15 K).

Lisalverto Bonilla (age 19, RHP) – Bonilla is a little old to be a top prospect at 19, but he is a new signee in the starting rotation that has pitched very well.  He has a 1-1 record with a 1.50 ERA (18 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 24 K)

Any pitcher that gets put in the rotation as the year goes on is probably someone to watch.  I did not mention older pitcher Dario Alvarez who is also in the rotation.  At age 20 Alvarez is a lesser prospect though he is left-handed.  I am also intrigued by Haitian pitcher Francique Charles.  He has not pitched that well (6.75 ERA) and is way too old (20), but he misses bats with 16 K in only 9.1 IP and he should probably be given a little more time because of his background.  We will check back in with both leagues in a couple of weeks.

13 thoughts on “June DSL Update – Who To Watch

  1. Thanks, this is interesting. How rare is it for DSL guys to get called up to the RK or SS leagues mid-season? And based on this list, who may fit the bill for a promotion?

  2. It is very rare to see a midseason promotion. Usually it is because of an injury or other type of roster numbers game rather than performance. The last time the Phillies did it was in 2005 with Alberto Cambero (VSL/2B). He was not really a top prospect. He had come off a decent year in the VSL, but was a second tier prospect. His competition at GCL in the middle infield was Fidel Hernandez and Phillip Cuevas, a couple of defense-first players. I can’t remember if we failed to sign another infielder in the draft, but this may have been as simple as wanting some offense on the squad. Derrick Mitchell was also added in mid-season though his signing was a little bit of a surprise.

  3. any news on Garcia? i know he was pitching with the DSL for a while waiting for his visa to get sorted out.

  4. Garcia probably would not pitch in any real games, even if he is working out down there. He is far too advanced a pitcher for the DSL. I have not heard any updates as to his visa status.

  5. After checking today’s boxscore, I see they are trying Nevri Jimenez at the blank spot that was 3B. That looks like how they are going to go: Jimenez-3B, Berroa SS, Valenzuela 2B.

  6. Esquea looks interesting, if he can keep that production up. I’ll admit I haven’t looked, but is there information on him?

  7. Andy thanks for the follow-up…..so do these guys graduate on to Rookie ball or full season A ball at the start of a new season when they are ready? And at what age do the better DSL prospects “graduate?”

  8. Usually each team graduates 3 or 4 players to GCL each year. If I had to guess the DSL might have 4-5 players who move up and the VSL 2-3 at this point. Occasionally you will have an older player like Freddy Ballestas a year ago or Siulman Lebron this year that will get jumped straight to Williamsport or Lakewood.

    The top prospects never play in the VSL or DSL, however. For instance, it looks like Domingo Santana will go straight to the GCL this year. In recent years Freddy Galvis, Carlos Carrasco, Edgar Garcia, and others all bypassed the complex leagues and went straight to GCL or Wiliamsport.

    That does not mean there are not good prospects in these leagues. The best ones are usually 16 or 17, like Nerio Rios and Bernardo Solarte in the VSL. That is why we need Nevri Jimenez to show us he can play against prospects his own age before we deem him a prospect. That can only happen next year in the GCL.

    Pitchers and catchers do sometimes take longer to develop. Yohan Flande, for instance, spent 3 years in the DSL and 1 more year at GCL before triple jumping to Clearwater this year and showing us he might be a decent prospect. He pitched at age 19-21 in the DSL. Many pitchers still need to mature and build arm strength, so many of them come over a little later. That being said, if a player is age 20 or more in these leagues he is rarely a prospect. The same is true of 19-year-olds, but not quite to the same degree.

    While these are general rules of thumbs, we also have to note that each player can be different. Sometimes players mature relatively late, especially if they grew up with poor nutrition or little coaching. That is why someone like Francique Charles is worth at least watching. He grew up in Haiti, a place that plays little baseball. He is also striking out guys at a high rate, suggesting he might have decent stuff. At age 20 he is probably not going to be a prospect, but he is at least worth watching because one never knows. It took C Carlos Ruiz about 5 or 6 years before anyone took him seriously as a prospect (he is from Panama, another place where kids may not play as much baseball as those in the Dominican).

  9. With the rise of Bastardo and Flande I have become fascinated by the current starting rotation of the D-Phillies and who might be next to make it to the mainland? Bonilla 6’1″ leads the 33 team DSL in strike outs, the lone lefty Alvarez 6’1″ is third, Cespedes and De la Cruz are 6’3″ and both are averaging better than a strike out an inning. Arias at 6’2″ is at just about a strike out an inning pitcher. Cespedes is a strike out, ground ball pitcher with 2.50 GO/AO as is Alvarez at 2.27 GO/AO. All except the 20 year old Alvarez are 18 or 19 and seem to have the size and stuff to get off the island and pitch on the mainland in the not too distant future.

  10. If I had to guess, Basil is still the top prospect because he got the largest bonus. His performance has been very disappointing (after he dominated in limited time last year). After that I would guess Cespedes is the next best prospect with De La Cruz and Bonilla worth watching. De La Cruz was very good last year, so it might be a strike on his prospect status that they did not bring him over. That might mean he has lesser stuff than some other prospects. Alvarez being a year old is probably a lesser prospect as well (though some older pitchers turn into Yohan Flande types).

  11. I was wondering if anyone knew of this guy Yeisson Morales, 3B, made his debut yesterday. He only had one AB but he only turned 17 in April and he is 6’3. I wonder if he is someone to keep an eye on.

  12. You’re right Felix Cespedes seems to be one of the top pitchers so far not only on the D-Phils but in the DSL. He is now third in the league in K’s after another quality start by him today: 8 K’s in 6.1 innings with 8 ground outs and only 3 air ball outs. Not bad for a young right hander who just turned 18 less than two months ago.

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