== A lot of international guys in the desert ==
Teens from the international leagues and kids drafted out of high school usually end up in the Arizona Rookie League, and this year is no exception. There are only a couple of college guys on the roster.
There will be three monster prospects in Peoria, however, at least at the beginning:
- Brazilian teen sensation Luiz Gohara
- Top draft pick Alex Jackson
- Other top draft pick Gareth Morgan
General Jackson just signed and has yet to arrive in Peoria. Captain Morgan is listed on the active roster but has yet to appear in a game.
But Gohara, who blazed through Pulaski with 11.2 K/9 in six starts at age 16, has already made his presence felt: ringing up 9 K in his first outing (1 R, 0 ER). He’s big (6-3, 210 as a teen), throws hard, and was tutored in pitching approach by Japanese coaches. Baseball in Brazil is historically centered around Japanese immigrant communities, and is therefore a fascinating mix of Latin and Japanese cultures. Gohara captures that mix perfectly.
[Whereas in the past they’ve viewed Pulaski as a “higher” level of rookie ball, they seem to be viewing them as more “interchangable” this season. Gohara being Exhibit A.]
Jackson was, for whatever reason, added to the roster as a catcher, but his catching days are probably over, since he was drafted as purely a “bat.” He’ll play in the outfield (probably in right), as will Morgan (probably in left).
Also in the outfield mix is Isaiah Yates. He’s one of our favorite prospects, and he was quite young when drafted. Even so, he’s moved like a snail (like Gohara, he’s a Pulaski-to-Peoria lateral move), while other teenagers have moved up more aggressively.
Whatever the reason, he’s put up good numbers while on his snail trail.
Among the interesting infielders is Lachlan Fontaine, a former Team Canada teammate of Morgan’s (and also Clinton’s Tyler O’Neill). Fontaine didn’t do much with his first taste of rookie ball last year, but he and O’Neill made an early exit to play for Canada in the 18-and-under world championships.
There are also a couple of intriguing catchers:
- Alexander Capriata struck out just four times in 26 games in the Dominican last year, while putting up an OPS of .840. He’s a bit old for a Dominican prospect, but you have to like those numbers.
- His Venezuelan counterpart behind the plate is Johan Quevedo, a switch-hitter who is a year younger. Quevedo also walked more than he struck out (20 vs. 16) while lashing out 14 doubles for the VSL Mariners. He had OPS of .790 and .774 his last two seasons in Venezuela.
High school pitcher Jeremiah (Jay) Muhammad was the first pick in the “second good part” of the draft (starting with Round 11 — it’s complicated). He’s raw but with a lot of upside.
Fellow prep draftee Marvin Gorgas (13th round) is also there.
And from Venezeula, I’m very interested in Osmel Morales, who was brilliant last year (1.86 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, 5 saves in 53.1 IP). He’s a 6-3, 196-pound righty.
Yet the most fascinating name on the pitching roster is Ramon Morla, who spent seven seasons in the organization as a third baseman, peaking out at AA Jackson last year at age-23. He had decent power, but struck out a ton, and decided to go back to square one as a pitcher.
In his first appearance, he went 1.1 IP without giving up a hit or a walk or getting a strikeout.