In the last article, I shared my report and history on Dominican SS/3B Dermis Garcia and said he was my top July 2nd prospect that I had seen so far. There are a couple other candidates to challenge Garcia for my top prospect in the class that weren't present at the events this week. One other challenger was at the MLB showcase and went blow-for-blow with Garcia during BP, then stood out on day two in a game setting: Dominican SS/3B Gilbert Lara.
Lara is similar to Garcia in a few ways. Both are right-handed hitting infielders with above average present power that likely end up at third base, though Garcia is a more fluid defender. Lara is a little more fluid at the plate, which is why some scouts prefer him to Garcia and Lara is a little bigger at 6'3/203.
Lara had some trouble in games, as many other top July 2nd bats of the past have, with max-effort swings at high fastballs. Lara'a swing is sound, and it may have less technical flaws than Garcia's; the approach seems fixable and could just be a kid trying to hit a home run in front of a big crows. Lara had a triple in the game (which I caught on video and will be up soon) that should've been a homer if not for a strong wind in his face and he then later hit a huge homer in the 3rd game of the event.
Once I get home and have time to review all my notes, video and information on other players that weren't at these events, I'll have a better sense of how I rank the players currently. I could end up swapping Lara and Garcia and either one could end up being my top player, but both sound like they are easily in the top 5 in the class right now.
Like with Garcia, there's plenty of intrigue about where Lara will land on July 2nd. The rumor I heard first was that Lara was still on the market, with some saying he had a deal, but Lara came back for day two of the MLB event, which Garcia and another player with a verbal deal skipped.
The consensus is the Yankees, Brewers and Royals are in the mix, with the Brewers showing the most interest and the rumored bonus ranging from about $2.5 million to over Garcia's $3.0 million bonus. Just before I left the island, I heard Lara had a deal done with Milwaukee for $3.2 million, which obviously jives with what I had heard earlier and may end up being what happens.
The third player that stood out for me a definite seven figure hitter at the MLB event was Dominican OF Juan De Leon. De Leon is a 6'1/175 outfielder that is a solid-average runner currently (and could improve on that) with a plus arm that would easily play in right field should he end up in a corner.
De Leon has above average bat speed and a loose, handsy swing with a direct bat path and a lanky frame that could still add strength. He flashed average raw power (that plays down a bit in games right now) that could also improve a notch with maturity, which gives him five current average or better tools that could start creeping toward 60's with time.
According to sources, De Leon has a verbal deal with the Yankees for $2.0 million. Some think that's a solid price, some think it's a slight overpay, but everyone agrees De Leon is a seven figure player, so the exact price doesn't matter much given the money New York is spending this year. It turns out there were 4 of the 6 most-rumored Yankees with verbal deals at the MLB showcase, so I'll share the next two names and some top pitchers in the coming days.