Rangers sign Diplan among quartet of DR prospects
Dominican right-hander ranks eighth on MLB.com's international list
The Rangers inked a quartet of MLB.com's top 30 international prospects on Tuesday, including the eighth-best prospect on the list, according to a source.
Dominican right-hander Marcos Diplan (No. 8) highlights the signings, which included outfielder Jose Almonte (No. 13) and shortstops Yeyson Yrizarri (No. 23) and Michael DeLeon (No. 27), all of the Dominican Republic.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels couldn't comment specifically on the signings as the club awaits physicals from Diplan, Almonte, Yrizarri and DeLeon.
"I can't specifically address the rumors on an individual basis, but I think the big thing from an organizational standpoint is our ownership continues to support baseball operations every way possible," Daniels said. "They've got a big picture vision and want to build a long-term winner, so they've given us the resources when we've asked for them and invest in our infrastructure."
Diplan signed for $1.3 million, while Almonte agreed to a $1.8 million deal. Yrizarri signed for $1.35 million and DeLeon agreed to a deal for $550,000. The Rangers had $1.94 million in international pool space, but the club hasn't announced any trades at the moment.
"We've not made any transactions we haven't announced," Daniels said. "If we would've made a trade, we would've announced it."
Diplan, 16, has a slight frame (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) but a loose arm and quick arm action that generates a fastball that can reach 94 mph. His repertoire also includes a changeup and power curveball. Because of his size, durability is an issue to some scouts.
The 16-year-old Almonte can play outfield or third base, and he reminds some scouts of Miguel Cabrera because of the way the ball jumps off his bat. He also has exceptional opposite-field power, good bat speed and a compact swing.
Though he has a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, he's athletic and projects as an above-average runner, and his arm should improve as he matures.
"I think our scouts, and the work they've done, put us in a great position to hopefully take advantage of what is an opportunity in the international market to strengthen the organization," Daniels said. "They had quality talent. That's where our heads are at. Any chance we get with the best players in the world, we want to put our best foot forward, do our best work, and if our evaluation matches up, go out and get them."
Yrizarri, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop, quickly made a name for himself as a top international player. The 16-year-old impressed with his baseball IQ and instincts, with his arm being his best tool. He can also run, and although there are some questions about his range, Yrizarri is expected to remain in the middle infield.
DeLeon's stock steadily increased in the past several months. Scouts believe that he'll grow into his 6-foot-3 frame, and he's a solid middle-infield defender with soft hands, good footwork and baseball instincts. He has a strong arm and projects to stay at shortstop because of his overall defensive package.
On offense, DeLeon has been praised for his quick hands and his smooth swings from both sides of the plate. He sprays the ball to all fields, and his approach should allow him to hit for average. He has average speed but is a good baserunner, and scouts like his makeup and competitive streak.
"We always said we want to build this thing from the ground up to keep a strong base," Daniels said. "I think it allows you to do different things at the big league level. This time of year with the Draft, July 2 and the Trade Deadline, I'm constantly reminded how fortunate we are there."
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. Master Tesfatsionis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.