Corey Seager at Camelback Ranch - craigminami True Blue LA
Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual was recently published and True Blue LA had the opportunity to talk to some of their authors. This is the third and final part of a summary of an interview with Jason Parks, who writes about prospects, and he talks about infielder Jesmuel Valentin and left-handed pitchers Onelki Garcia and Julio Urias. Plus Parks has very few words to say about Corey Seager and finally who was the best signing the Dodgers have made in recent years.
This is the final part of a three part summary of a conversation I had with Jason Parks about top Dodgers minor league prospects. So far we had covered Yasiel Puig and Zach Lee; then left-handed pitcher Chris Reed, outfielder James Baldwin and right-handed pitcher Garrett Gould. Now we conclude with some thoughts on infielder Jesmuel Valentin and left-handed pitchers Onelki Garcia and Julio Urias. Plus Parks less than 25 word summary of Corey Seager and finally some thoughts about the system as a whole and who is the best signing the Dodgers have made in several years.
First off, Parks was very high on the Dodgers' new vice president and head of international scouting, Bob Engel.
"Well I am going to say this about [Engel] and I am not trying to be a sensationalist or speak in hyperbole, but in all the recent years, this is the best signing the Dodgers have had in acquiring him.
"When I say it comes down to talent acquisition, it comes down to having certain people who can recognize that talent. [Engel] is one of them, [Engel] is a major, major force in the international market," Parks said. "It was a huge loss for Seattle, it was a huge gain for the Dodgers. And it is huge gain for [Dodgers] fans because who doesn't want high ceiling Latin American talent? You guys are about to get a lot of it."
Back to the players we talked about, first is Jesmuel Valentin, whom Parks named as one of his Dodger prospects on the rise. Valentin was the Dodgers supplemental first round pick in 2012, and Parks saw him in Arizona.
"He's good. Ignore the numbers that he had coming out of the gate. It's really hard to play a high school season and go on to play pro ball, there are just a lot changes a kid is going to go through at that age," Parks said. "At the professional level, at that complex level, it is very difficult."
Parks thinks Valentin has good offensive potential, saying, "We were talking about how some guys can hit and some guys can't. I think this guy can hit. I think that you will begin to see it in the numbers as he has the ability to put the bat to the ball."
Parks sees Valentin as a second baseman and thinks that it will lower his value but "he's got tremendous amount of value if he can stay at shortstop but he is a hit tool second baseman who can drive the ball, he's going to get stronger, he almost made the top ten because of what he can do with the bat."
Next we talked about Parks' No. 7 Dodger prospect, left-handed pitcher and 2012 third-round pick Onelki Garcia.
Parks was up front in saying he doesn't have a lot to go on in this evaluation, but compared Garcia to another Cuban signee.
"It is a lot like Puig. Who has seen this guy go against serious competition with a long enough look so you can put a feel into who this guy is now? I spoke to several scouts who saw him, I spoke to the Dodgers," Parks said. "They are extremely high on him, they think he is a top tier player. I wouldn't be surprised if internally and I am not suggesting that I know this, that I wouldn't be surprised if they had him as the top arm in the system."
Like Puig, Garcia has lot of positives.
"Clearly he has an electric arm, clearly he has good arm strength. He's a big man too, 6'3", 220 guy, throwing from the left side. He throws plus fastballs and just this really violent curve ball that's got a really massive break," Garcia said. "You add the slider to the mix, the change up, you can have something special or you can have nothing."
In the end, 2013 will tell us a lot but the tools are there with Garcia.
"The Dodgers are the ones who have a really good handle on this kid, so if it is hype or if it is hope, they like this kid a lot," Parks said. "It is not hard to like somebody who is 6'3", big build, left-handed, who has a plus fastball and a plus curve and a feel for pitching and a good work ethic. You have to like that combination, other than that, I don't know what he is going to be, I like what he has."
I was moving on to one more player but Parks added a few words about 2012 No. 1 draft pick and his No. 3 Dodger prospect, infielder Corey Seager.
"Seager's a serious stud, Seager can play baseball, Seager is going to be a very good third baseman," Parks said. "That was a hell of a pick."
The final player we took a look at was left-handed pitcher Julio Urias. Parks was familiar with him even before the Dodgers signed him.
"There was a lot of talk about him in Mexico leading up to July 2 [first day to sign international players] and the Dodgers obviously stepped up and got that deal signed," Parks said. "Kudos to them because signing Mexican players is usually complicated. They usually have professional agreements with Mexican teams that you have to buy out, it is a mess."
As a very young pitcher, Dodger fans will have to be patient before seeing Urias in the majors
"There is some projection, it is more pitching ability thing. [Urias has a] 85-90 mph fastball right now that a lot observers think it can fall into that more of that 89-90 maybe 92-93 plus, from the left side, [has good] movement, you know that's a plus pitch," Parks said. "[Urias] already has a feel for curve ball and change up."
Urias is going to take some time to develop, but he is someone to watch.
"He's a long way from doing anything but if this kid goes to complex league next year and starts turning heads, and when a kid has three pitches that he can throw for strikes, from left side, he's going to make some waves, he's going to turn some heads," Parks said. "It may take a couple of years but it is a good signing."
Parks says the Dodgers may not have a top system right now but recent boosts to their scouting department and their robust finances can change that quickly.
"I trust the organization, I'm a big fan of Logan White, I'm a fan of the developmental system, I'm critical of sending pitchers to the [California League] but I'm not in development so what do I know, I'm just a guy on the phone.
"Basically, it comes down to talent, it comes down to recognizing talent, developing that talent to the point of maturity so you can then use that talent as a commodity either in trade or at the major league level," Parks said. "The Dodgers may not have the best system on paper but they know how do those things."