On Thursday, Baseball America released their Dominican Summer League Top 20 Prospect list. The Cincinnati Reds were shut out of the list. That’s not terribly surprising for a few reasons. The first is that the DSL has 45 teams in the league and the rosters are large. Each franchise has at least one team. That leaves less than one prospect per organization in the league in an even split. It means even less than that per actual team in the league. And then if you toss in that the Reds spent two seasons in the proverbial penalty box when it comes to signing players on the international market and everything comes together as to how Cincinnati was shut out.
With that said, there were some players in the Dominican Summer League this past year with the Reds that are worth keeping your eyes on. The most well known one is likely Jose Acosta, who was just written about earlier this week in the Top Prospects series. The infielder hit .403/.503/.611 with the Reds in the league this season with 24 stolen bases (without being caught). From a pure performance standpoint, this stands out to a level the organization hasn’t seen in decades. On the field the hit tool and speed stand out above his other tools.
Another big offensive performer in 2019 was 18-year-old Darlin Guzman. Like Acosta, he was repeating at the level. His plate discipline wasn’t quite what Acosta showed, walking just 10 times with 44 strikeouts in 198 plate appearances. But where he stood out was what he did when he made contact. He hit .357/.394/.616 with 18 doubles, six triples, and six home runs. His slugging percentage, .616, was only 79 points lower than the LEAGUE OPS. The power is real. He hit 6th longest homer in the farm system in 2019, a 454-foot shot – which really stands out for his age. Defensively he’s going to need to work on some things. Splitting time between left and right field, he made seven errors and had a .922 fielding percentage in 2019.
Two summers ago, Ilvin Fernandez was the top signing by the Reds on the international market. As a 17-year-old in his professional debut he hit .274/.361/.301 with 18 walks and 27 strikeouts in 170 plate appearances. He’s a 6′ 1″ and 160 lb. shortstop who should be able to remain at the position. His athleticism sticks out, and as he matures there should be some more power – though the hit and defense will likely be the tools that stand out more.
Catcher Daniel Vellojin took a big step forward in his second professional season. After hitting .198 in his debut in 2018 he returned to the DSL in 2019 and hit .314/.444/.451 with 31 walks and 24 strikeouts in 216 plate appearances. He also threw out 41% of attempted base stealers on the year. He’s also playing in the Colombian Winter League this offseason and hitting .274/.385/.368 against competition that’s significantly older than he is. There’s some projection for his bat and he’s considered to be a quality catcher.
On the mound Jose Franco stood out among the group. The right-handed starter was 18-years-old during the season, but turned 19 in November. He posted a 2.20 ERA in 57.1 innings last year with just one home run allowed, 14 walks, and he struck out 59 hitters. His fastball got up to 94 this season, working in the 89-92 range. His curveball shows promise, and he also has a solid change up. The control he showed in his debut was