Covering a Dominican Summer League team is kind of tricky. It's the first professional baseball league that a bunch of 17 year old players are going to experience and there can be some disparity in the competition.
I recently took a trip to the Dominican Republic and I visited the Washington Nationals Academy as I watched the baby Nationals play a series against the Los Angeles Angels affiliate.
Back in January of this year, the Washington Nationals agreed to terms with 14 amateur free agents, most of which are in the DSL affiliate now and I got a chance to see.
First off, the DSL Nationals have lost 14 games in a row to begin the season. Most of the awful start is due to them having the worst offense in the league, posting the worst OPS, K/BB ratio along with not having hit their first home run yet. The team has scored just 34 runs in those 14 games.
However, there are some intriguing players that I would like to talk about. Three kids that hopefully won't be on that DSL team at the end of the tournament and, in the worst case scenario, will start the 2024 season in the Florida Complex League. Here are three Nationals you guys should have to keep an eye on in the Dominican Summer League:
Andy Acevedo, CF
The Nationals signed Andy Acevedo out of the Dominican Republic for $1.3 million. He was ranked as the 45th international prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Andy is an athletic, left handed center fielder with an above average hit tool. He makes good choices in the batter's box, compared to most of his peers on the team. He seems to be conscious of the strike zone despite being only 17 years old. Acevedo began the season batting leadoff, but in the last couples of games was moved to the second spot. He was able to use the whole field as a hitter in the at bats I saw. The aspect I liked more about him was the confidence fielding some line drives in a sunny, pretty humid weather. He is able to get a good read on the baseball, thus picking a good route and his good speed helps him in order to make that possible.
He doesn't have that power at the plate, however, and is just a skinny 17 years old that needs time to gain muscular weight. He has time to bulk up and then I will worry about that tool.
The results do not reflect the good things he is doing in the process, as his triple slash line is .100/.200/.100 in 11 games, but he definitely looks like one of the best defensive players on the team.
Carlos Batista, CF
Batista was signed for $375,000 out of the Dominican Republic.
An unranked international player, I honestly didn't know anything about him before watching him, other than a little paragraphs Ben Badler wrote for Baseball America. So, I didn't know what to expect.
I was nicely surprised with his plate discipline. Not as polished as Acevedo, but he doesn't chase that much for his age.
Batista is hitting .400 with a 1.055 OPS in 30 at bats, so let's keep an eye on how he develops throughout the season. This is the kind of player that makes me reconsider the way some scouts evaluate certain players. However, it is still early on in the process, but Batista has done enough to warrant keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Manuel Cabrera, SS
The Washington Nationals agreed to a $500,000 contract with Manuel Cabrera, a 16 years old short stop who was ranked #39 on the top 50 international players ranking made by MLB Pipeline.
He has played mostly second base, and showed good range making plays routinely there. He also has a really good arm, and I think that's why the DSL Nationals tried putting him on the third base at times. The team also has Edwin Solano, who was signed with a $1.3 million bonus, playing as the primary short stop.
On the other hand, he is still in the process of understanding his weaknesses and strengths in the infield. He did a couple of mistakes, both fielding, when he did a little bit too much trying to catch the ball. His good range can cause that sometimes.
There is no way I could know how fast his swing is, but as soon as you see him swinging you realize it is way above average. He is just not as disciplined at the plate as Andy Acevedo and that's okay, because, again, I am writing about 16-17 years old kids. That's the normal.
The La Romana native only has a .316 OPS in 13 games, but with three of his four hits being doubles. We'll look for him to develop consistency and get back on track.
Fun fact: teams in the Dominican Summer League use Trackman and Rapsodo. Some teams use Trackman in game and the edgertronic cameras in batting practice. It would be awesome if someday, at least a little bit of that data, is open to everyone throughout the MiLB portal.