The Dominican Summer League kicks off later this morning. With the closure of the Venezuelan Summer League, this is the only foreign Rookie league in Minor League Baseball.
As the name implies, the league is located in the Dominican Republic, and all 30 Major League teams have bases set up throughout the country. The rosters of these teams primarily consist of international signings from Latin America and the Caribbean, and for many of these players, it is their first foray into professional baseball. They have spent countless hours preparing for this day, and today, they finally have an opportunity to showcase their skills. Although this is the lowest rung on the Minor League ladder, these kids are just like the guys in Corpus or Quad Cities: They're chasing their dreams of becoming Major League Baseball players.
For many of us, this is the first time that we have heard of guys like Renaigel Martis, or Jose Orta, or Samir Caraballo. It may not be the last time, either. From here, Minute Maid Park seems like it's a universe away, and many of these players may never advance past this league. On the other hand, some of these kids may emerge to become top prospects, and we will be able to talk about them in the same vein as Carlos Correa, A.J. Reed, Joe Musgrove, and Lance McCullers. Some may even become stars in the majors, whether it is with the Astros or another organization. You just never know who might emerge to become an impact player.
Plug time: Some of these players have already been mentioned in the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook, and to celebrate DSL Opening Day, the book is now available on Amazon for the scant price of $6.04.
We at What the Heck, Bobby? would like to wish the Domincan Summer League Astros best of luck on the upcoming season. We hope to see some of you guys in Houston down the road, as well.
For the third year running, the Astros will field two teams in the DSL; they will be one of 11 teams that will have 2 DSL squads. Let's start off with the Blue team.
Asterisk: Player bats or pitches left-handed.
Bold italics: Player is making professional debut.
Hashtag: Player is a switch hitter.
All players are Dominican unless otherwise noted. If there is signing information available for the player, it will be listed as well. These are the rosters listed on MiLB.com.
DSL Astros Blue
The Blue team will play in the DSL Northwest division. The 8-team division will also include the Marlins, A's, Phillies, Royals, Rays 1, Red Sox 1, and Dodgers 2. They are the team that usually has the more advanced players.
Last year, the Blue team finished 43-29 and won the Boca Chica Northwest division. They fell to the Rangers 1 in the playoffs. They'll start their campaign against the Dodgers 2 at 10:30 A.M. Eastern.
Manager: Russ Steinhorn
Pitching Coach: Rick Aponte
Hitting Coaches: Omar Rosario and Danny Ortega
Coaches: Erik Acevedo and Melvi Ortega
Russ Steinhorn is now embarking on a new chapter of his baseball career, as this is his first opportunity to manage a team, and he's doing it in the Dominican Republic. He was previously the hitting coach at Tri-City (2013-15). Before joining the Astros organization, Steinhorn was an assistant coach at Delaware State and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Rick Aponte has been a member of the Houston Astros organization for nearly 40 years as a player, manager, and coach. He played in the Astros system from 1976-81, reaching Triple-A on three separate occations.
Johsson Arias (4/3/94); signed December 2015
Jesus Bernaez (Venezuela, 5/6/97); Astros' transaction page says he signed on March 1. The contract may have been formalized on that date; he most likely signed before March 1.
Ronel Blanco (8/31/93); oldest player on either DSL roster, signed April 2016
Jheyson Caraballo (Venezuela, 10/16/95); signed November 2015
Juan Corniel (1/2/96); signed October 2015
Robert Corniel (6/23/95); signed July 2012
Juan Cuevas (5/4/94); signed April 2014
Edwin Fidel (12/14/94); signed in September 2015
Harlen Florencio (9/24/95); signed in December 2014
Yulian Frontado (Venezuela, 12/29/97); signed March 2016
Jose Antonio Hernandez (Venezuela, 6/18/1999); youngest player on either DSL roster
Adoni Kery (2/18/96); signed April 2016
Juan Lopez (Mexico, 6/25/97); signed in March 2015
Ezequiel Madera (3/22/96); signed November 2013
Javier Navas* (Venezuela, 2/3/98); signed July 2014 for $175,000
Jose Orta* (Venezuela, 5/22/99); signed April 2016
Carlos Perdomo (4/25/98); signed November 2015
Leovanny Rodriguez (6/13/96); signed June 2015
Maikel Sepulveda* (12/31/96); signed February 2015
Felipe Tejada (2/27/98); signed sometime before 2015 season
Luidin Toribio (2/13/96); signed February 2015
Carlos Canelon (Venezuela, 12/14/94); signed April 2014
Jose Carrillo (Venezuela, 1/24/98); signed sometime before 2015 season
#Gerry Castillo (10/3/97); signed May 2016
Orlando Marquez (Venezuela, 3/12/96); signed July 2014
#Alfredo Angarita (Venezuela, 11/16/96); signed November 2015
#Samir Caraballo (Colombia, 9/12/98); signed November 2015
Eduardo Guzman (Venezuela, 12/6/94); Astros' transaction page says he signed on March 1. The contract may have been formalized on that date; he most likely signed before March 1.
Ronny Jimenez (9/19/94); signed sometime before 2015 season
Felix Lucas (3/27/97); signed July 2013 for $225,000
Nicolas Miranda (Panama, 6/12/96); signed February 2015
#Anardo Peralta (5/11/96); signed June 2014
Juan Piñeda (Panama, 1/31/98); signed July 2014 for $100,000
Ozziel Sanchez-Galan (Panama, 10/30/97); signed July 2014
Jose Benjamin (12/16/95); singed July 2014
Cesar Cortez (Panama, 4/1/99); signed July 2015 for $100,000
Angel De Leon (5/26/96); signed July 2014
Ronny Rafael (10/14/97); signed July 2014 for $1.5 million
Nestor Tejada* (Venezuela, 4/17/97); signed July 2013 for $300,000
Angel Tejeda* (1/22/97); signed sometime before 2015 season
DSL Astros Orange
The Orange team is the Astros' 2nd Dominican Summer League team and mostly consists of the rawer players. In 2015, they finished 28-44, which put them in 9th place in the 11-team Boca Chica North division. They will now be in the Northeast division, a 6-team division that also includes the Phillies 2, Rays 2, Mets 2, Rangers 2, and Red Sox 2.
Gilberto Celestino, who signed for $2.5 million last July, is the name to watch on this team. In addition, Yeuris Ramirez and Enmanuel Valdez are a couple of other kids who received sizeable bonuses on July 2.
The Orange team will open the 2016 season against the Rangers 2 at 10:30 A.M. Eastern.
Manager: Carlos Lugo
Pitching Coach: Gerardo Olivares
Hitting Coach: René Rojas
Coaches: Alejandro Martinez and Selin Aquino
Carlos Lugo is also a first-time manager. A catcher during his playing days, Lugo was signed by the Angels in 2007 and played in their minor league system until 2012, mostly in the lower levels. He played in one game at Inland Empire in the California League in 2012.
Gerardo Olivares was originally signed as a catcher by the Devil Rays in 2007. He played in the Rays system until 2011, reaching Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League. The Red Sox signed him in 2012 and converted him into a pitcher. Olivares played two seasons in the Red Sox system; in 2013, his final season as a player, he pitched at both of Boston's Class A affiliates, Greenville and Salem.
Alejandro Martinez played for the DSL Angels from 2006-08. He played all four infield positions, but was primarily a third baseman.
Gerardo Bojorquez (Mexico, 10/23/97); signed December 2015
Humberto Castellanos (Mexico, 4/3/98); signed July 2015
Luis Castro (5/11/95); signed February 2015
Carlos Espinoza* (Mexico, 8/16/94); signed May 2015
Diosward Gonzalez (7/7/95); signed sometime in 2015
Miguel Matos (9/29/96); signed December 2015
Cristofer Melendez (9/16/97); signed July 2014
Hansel Paulino (1/3/96); signed January 2014
Kilvio Peralta (3/6/97); Astros' transaction page says he signed on March 1. The contract may have been formalized on that date; he may have signed before March 1.
Gabriel Pirela (Venezuela, 5/1/94); signed December 2013
Yonatan Quintin (11/18/96); signed sometime before 2015 season
Jose Ramos (Panama, 8/4/96); signed December 2013
Michael Richez (5/15/97); signed March 2014
Cesar Rosado (6/22/96); signed December 2014
Jacques Sambo (Curaçao, 7/27/98); signed May 2015
Cosme Zapata (Venezuela, 10/23/96); signed July 2015
Alvaro Alvarez (Venezuela, 11/23/97); signed January 2016
Bernardo Heras (Mexico,11/3/95); signed September 2015, played 27 games in the Mexican League in 2015
Vicente Mota (6/8/94); signed July 2015 for $7500
Fredy Medina (9/26/97); signed July 2015
Kendy Moya (12/14/98); Astros' transaction page says he signed on Wednesday. He probably actually signed earlier.
Yeuris Ramirez (11/28/98); signed July 2015 for $500,000
Anthony Rodriguez (7/23/96); signed February 2015
#Ronaldo Urdaneta (Venezuela, 11/18/98); signed July 2015 for $60,000
Enmanuel Valdez* (12/28/98); signed July 2015 for $450,000
Gilberto Celestino (2/13/99); signed July 2015 for $2.5 million
Darlin Figueroa (9/9/95); signed July 2015
Jose Miguel Hernandez (3/12/96); signed February 2015
Juan Infante (Venezuela, 11/9/96); Astros' transaction page says he signed on March 1. The contract may have been formalized on that date; he may have signed before March 1.
Hector Martinez (7/6/98); signed July 2014 for $300,000
Renaigel Martis* (Curaçao, 11/26/97); signed November 2015
Ramiro Rodriguez* (Panama, 2/2/98); signed October 2015