Ranking the 7 Best Prospects in the Venezuelan and Dominican Winter Leagues

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 13, 2012

Ranking the 7 Best Prospects in the Venezuelan and Dominican Winter Leagues

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    Of the four different leagues that comprise the Caribbean Winter League, the Dominican and Venezuelan ones typically house the more notable prospects. This year is no different, as the two leagues have combined to feature seven top-50 prospects that have either participated in or are still currently active in those leagues.

    So, with only a few weeks remaining in each league, respectively, here’s a look at the seven best prospects to participate this season.

7. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 20

    Tools: Four above-average-to-plus tools with the exception of his arm, which is only average.

    Upside: Playing alongside Gregory Polanco last season for Low-A West Virginia, the switch-hitter showcased an advanced hit tool from both sides of the plate, as well as tons of extra-base potential. Given his plus speed and range, Hanson saw playing time at both middle infield positions but is likely more equipped for a career at the keystone.

    ETA: 2015

6. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 21

    Tools: Five above-average-to-plus tools.

    Upside: As a 20-year-old at Low-A last season, Polanco emerged as one of the game’s more toolsy and projectable outfield prospects. While his natural athleticism grades through the roof, it’s his advanced baseball skills relative to his age/experience that I find most impressive. He should have the bat to fit at all three outfield positions, though his defensive prowess makes him more attractive as a center fielder.

    ETA: 2014

5. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Age: 21

    Tools: Plus fastball; above-average changeup

    Upside: He hasn’t pitched well with any sense of consistency since the 2011 season, though there have been flashes of brilliance along the way. Teheran’s impact in the major leagues will ultimately depend on whether he can command pitches down in the zone to induce more ground-ball outs, as well as the much-needed development of his breaking ball.

    ETA: 2013

4. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 19

    Tools: Plus-plus raw power; plus arm

    Upside: Although Sano boasts some of the best raw power in the game, both the 19-year-old’s plate discipline and defense remain a work-in-progress and will determine how quickly he reaches the major leagues and at what position.

    ETA: 2014

3. Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 24

    Tools: Plus power; above-average hit; plus arm

    Upside: Physically strong third baseman showcases plus raw power to all fields. Although there’s some swing-and-miss to his game, Olt’s hit tool should be solid once he gets consistent playing time in the major leagues. He’s a surprisingly good athlete at the hot corner and should have no problem remaining there.

    ETA: 2013

2. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Age: 20

    Tools: Plus hit; above-average power

    Upside: The purest hitter in the minor leagues, Oscar Taveras absolutely rakes. Between his uncanny ability to barrel the ball to all fields and advanced plate discipline, the left-handed hitter has the potential to be a special hitter.

    ETA: 2013

1. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 19

    Tools: All of them.

    Upside: The top overall prospect in the game, Profar, 19, has the makings of a future superstar. Everything he does on the field is electric and his ability to make adjustments sets him apart from other prospects.

    ETA: 2013