We next take an inside look at some of the notable prospects that played for the Nationals on their Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team in 2019.
The 18-year-old is ranked as the Nats No. 6 prospect on the MLBPipeline.com top 30 for 2020.
“We signed him a couple of years ago for, I think, $100,000,” DiPuglia said. “He’s a wide-shoulder guy, kind of low-key personality, but arm works really well, throwing 87-88 mph. He didn’t really have much feel for pitching, but his arm was clean and it was quick.”
DiPuglia said Yean grew from his 6-foot-1, 180-lb., frame after consuming lots of protein and working out in the Nats’ nutritional and strength program.
“He got really physical eating at the Nats Dominican Academy,” DiPuglia said. “At the academy, we had him on our nutrition program and weight program. This guy looks like a linebacker from the states. He’s probably 6-foot-2, 215 lbs. He is an animal. He is scary looking.
“Yean’s got a good feel for pitching now. He’s got real good feel with his off-speed stuff. He throws his fastball to the four quads. He is working on his changeup. If he gets his changeup, he will be a fast mover. He has already been asked for in a couple trades. He stands out, definitely.”
Former Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson said Yean stood out in the cafeteria at spring training just because the kid had filled out. DiPuglia agreed that Yean now looks like an NFL football player with his body type.
“He’s 18. He definitely had a growth spurt,” DiPuglia said. “This guy looks like (former New York Giants star and Hall of Famer) Lawrence Taylor. He’s big. Yean went to short-season Auburn and pitched under the lights for the first time and actually did very well. That’s a positive. Those guys usually first time under the lights they don’t do well with a few exceptions.”
Right-hander Mirton Blanco, 18, is one of a dozen or so players from Venezuela who are staying in a hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., during the coronavirus pandemic. The Nats decided to keep these players stateside because the airport in Caracas was shut down and Venezuela required a 14-day quarantine.
The Nats found out that the building they were to quarantine these players in upon arrival in Caracas was not the safest place for them for a full two weeks. The team decided it was better to have their players remain in South Florida.
Blanco has some of the best stuff in this group.
“Blanco is 6-foot-5, a lean guy,” DiPuglia said. “He has touched 98 mph and he just turned 18 years of age.”
Here is a rundown of some of the other pitchers DiPuglia wanted to talk about that played for the DSL Nationals last season:
“Right-hander Bernardo Hiraldo has got a good fastball and power breaking ball. He’s just turned 20. Another right-hander in Andres Castro, he’s 19. He’s another guy with a power fastball with a good curveball. Bryan Sanchez is probably one of the most exciting young arms that we have. He’s got a really good curveball and he just turned 17 and he was up to 93-94 mph, probably the quickest arm that we have. Blanco with the power fastball up to 98 mph, he’s 17. He’s is going to be a horse, more of a reliever than a starter. Those other three guys I see them more as starters.”
DiPuglia scouting profiles continues with a rundown of some of the catchers, infielders and outfielders from the 2019 DSL squad: “We have a couple of young kids who can catch. You have Jeisel Acosta who we like and Jose Colmenares. Then on the infield, we like Angel Geraldo and Yoander Rivero, who reminds me of little bit of former Phillies second baseman Placido Polanco.
“There is a kid named Isan Castillo, who is a really good athlete with limited playing experience but he has a lot of upside,” DiPuglia said. “Castillo made a lot of strides in instructional league. He doesn’t have a real good baseball IQ yet, but has a real live body. He can run. I don’t think he stays at shortstop but he is a good athlete and he has a chance to hit. The ball is coming off his bat really good.”
“In the outfield we had a really good group,” DiPuglia said. “We had a big, strong kid named Yeuri Amparo who just turned 18. He’s a corner guy, probably left field, and is showing signs of some power. He’s going to be a physical kid. You got Christopher De La Cruz. He’s a really thick kid, but he’s probably got the best swing on our whole club down there. He just needs to build strength. He’s got to get physically stronger to come over, but he’s got a really good swing.
“Daniel Marte is a center fielder, kind of in the mold of Victor Robles. He has five tools, a little bit of a thicker body, but he can really throw and can run. Marte ended up hitting five home runs his first year in DSL.”
DiPuglia remembers his first interaction with Marte and what the young outfielder promised him during their meeting in Dominican.
“When I first saw him down there, he was hitting like .160 and he was asking me to take him to the states,” DiPuglia said. “I told him: ‘You ain’t going to the states hitting .160.’ He said: ‘When you come back I’ll be hitting .260.’ I said: ‘Well, if you hit .260, I’ll try to get you in instructional league.’ I came back two months later and he was hitting .260, so he went to instructional league.
“He’s a cocky kid. He is always bragging about what he does. I kind of like that kind of stuff.”