Brewers Prospects

Milwaukee Brewers: Dominican Summer League Standouts

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As September draws near, the minor league baseball season has started to wind down. The first Milwaukee Brewers’ farm team to complete play this season was the franchise’s Dominican Summer League club. The DSL could be considered the minor league’s lowest level – it is mostly used as a way to begin integrating international signees into the organization during a short season that runs from June to August in the Dominican Republic. Most of the players in the DSL are still in  their teens, looking to prove themselves before making the jump to the mainland.

Because the Brewers spent their entire 2014-15 bonus allotment on the talented Gilbert Lara (who started this year in the Arizona Rookie League), the organization had to scramble a bit to fill out their roster. As such, the Brewers had the third oldest average hitter age (19.1 years) and second oldest average pitcher age (20.2) in a league where the average hitter is 18.2 years old and the average pitcher is 19.0. The 2015 DSL Brewers finished fourth in the San Pedro de Macoris division with a 32-40 record, 13.5 games back of the division winning Red Sox affiliate. The offense was slightly better than league average, posting a collective .697 OPS (league average .680) and 5.06 runs per game (league average 5.02). The pitching staff ranked among the lower half of the league, however, with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.396 WHIP. The Brewers were unable to match their Pythagorean W-L record of 36-36.

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Despite a losing record this season, the DSL Brewers had several players that put together standout campaigns. The focus of this piece will be more on young players who had strong seasons in the league, rather than someone like Yerison Pena, who finished second in the league with a .975 OPS but is in his age 23 season and is four or five years older than most of the competition. While these players are still years away from the majors, the international market has become increasingly vital for adding talent that could make an impact down the road. Plus, isn’t it fun to dream big on a prospect’s potential once in a while?

SS Ignacio Otano
Age: 18 || B/T: R/R

2015 was Otano’s debut season in the DSL, and he made it a memorable one. Otano collected 220 plate appearances, slashing .322/.359/.462 and ranking second in the league with 20 doubles. Otano added 17 stolen bases to his ledger as well, had a solid 20.6% line drive rate, and his .821 OPS was 141 points better than league average. The bat is far ahead of the glove at this point, however, as Otano committed 35 errors and posted just an .830 fielding percentage in 40 games at shortstop, so a position change could likely be in his future.

2B/SS Franly Mallen
Age: 18 || B/T: R/R

Mallen was a big money international signee for Milwaukee in 2013, receiving a then-club record $800k bonus. After a disappointing showing in the DSL last season (.618 OPS), Mallen looked much better in 2015, posting a .268/.351/.421 slash in 265 plate appearances. Mallen showed plenty of power, slugging 20 doubles, two triples, and four home runs , while also walking at a solid 9.4% clip for a .772 OPS that was nearly 100 points better than league average. Mallen split time between second base and shortstop (though posted better fielding numbers at 2B), and was rewarded with a promotion to the Pioneer rookie league Helena Brewers after his strong summer in the DR.

1B Nicol Valderrey
Age: 18 || B/T: R/R

Valderrey put up a pedestrian .657 OPS in his first DSL campaign last season, but his numbers improved in 2015 as he slashed .300/.360/.375 in a team leading 289 plate appearances. Valderrey didn’t show the same power that he demonstrated last season, but still managed to hit 14 doubles and a home run while playing solid defense at first base. Nicol doesn’t have much speed and doesn’t walk much (6.4% this year), so he’ll need to learn to elevate and drive the ball some more (54.3% ground ball rate this season) if he hopes continue getting on base at an above average rate in the future. At 6’2″ and just 180 pounds at age 18, Valderrey could grow into some more power as he fills out.

RHP Carlos Luna
Age: 18 || B/T: R/R

Luna posted a solid 3.51 ERA in 33.1 innings in the DSL last season as a 17 year old, and developed into one of the top pitchers on the circuit this season. Luna ranked 14th in the league with his sterling 1.46 ERA, and posted a stellar 1.006 WHIP and just a 4.5% walk rate in 55.2 innings this season. He allowed just one home run all season, posting a strong 52.5% ground ball rate, a .218 batting average against, and striking out 49 opposing batters. Luna was named the MVP of the DSL All-Star Game this season, and appears primed and ready for a jump to the mainland in 2016.

Next: Brewers Should Audition Zach Davies in Rotation in September

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