With an increased presence in Latin America in recent years, the Tigers continue to bring plenty of players to the US each spring for their first taste of stateside ball. That trend continues this year with nine players coming to Lakeland for spring training, and a few additional players possible in the coming weeks and months.
As previously reported by TigsTown, highlighting this year’s crop of new players in the US will be outfielder Danry Vasquez. Vazquez will report to spring training and continue to gain exposure to the coaching staff and style of play in the US.
Also coming over from Venezuela will be infielder Eugenio Suarez and right-handed pitcher Endrys Briceno.
Suarez has played all over the diamond in the VSL the last couple of years, including second base, shortstop, third base, center field, and left field. His second year in pro ball saw his bat come to life as he posted a .311/.389/.396 line in 61 games.
Contrary to the type of numbers Suarez put up last year, Briceno’s numbers don’t look like they merit a move to the States, but his scouting reports continue to impress for a teenager and he could be in line for a big of a velocity jump in 2011. The 6-fot-4 right-hander has the type of frame and quick arm that could lead to low-90s velocity in short order.
Coming from the Dominican Republic, the crop of new players will be led by the powerful right arm of Benny Paulino. Numerous scouts have raved about his raw arm strength and believe he could have the potential to have what they dubbed a “special arm” once he matures physically. Command will be an issue for Paulino as the then 17-year old walked 45 in 46 1/3 innings in 2010.
Joining Paulino in Lakeland this spring will be fellow right-handed pitchers Edgar De La Rosa and Emmanuel Del Orbe, left-handers Darlyn Duran and Bill Castillo, and infielder Carlos De Los Santos.
De La Rosa is a massive 20-year old that stands 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. His velocity has gotten into the low-90s in the past, but doesn’t sit there regularly. In two seasons spanning 118 2/3 innings Edgar has posted a 5.01 ERA with nearly eight strikeouts per nine innings.
Del Orbe made just five starts (eight innings) in 2010, missing time with arm trouble that kept him off the mound. He was reportedly healthy heading into the Dominican Fall Instructional League, and should be ready to go when he arrives at spring training. In three years as a pro, Del Orbe has been lauded for his heavy power sinker that forces opponents to beat the ball into the dirt.
The two left-handers that are coming stateside have taken very different paths to this point. Duran will be making his second trip to the US after spending the 2008 season in the Gulf Coast League. Since returning to the DSL, he has posted ERAs of 2.52 and 2.88 with 10 strikeouts per nine innings in 2009 and over 11 in 2010. Duran will be 23 by the time minor league camp gets underway.
The 21-year old Castillo signed with the Tigers in July 2010, and promptly turned in a fantastic campaign with a 1.93 ERA and38 strikeouts in just 23 1/3 innings. Castillo is a bit of a curveball specialist with below-average velocity and some minor projection for more thanks to his natural strength and quick arm.
The final player whose trip stateside is set in stone, De Los Santos, should get time at both up the middle positions in the GCL. In his first summer of pro ball the switch hitter posted a .261/.310/.296 line with just 17 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances. De Los Santos profiles much better at second base and will likely spend most of his time at the keystone once rosters settle out.
The Tigers could always decide to bring additional players stateside this spring and/or summer, so stay tuned to TigsTown.com for the latest on roster moves throughout the system!