Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect we took into account of not what the players did this year, but their age and ability to improve.
Level: The Dominican Summer League is where many Latin American players get their first taste of professional baseball. Games are played during the day and this year featured realignment within the divisions, adding a bigger rotation of teams. Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters at this level.
Hitter of the Year:
Velazquez led the team in nearly every major offensive category. He had a fun time knocking in this year’s runner up, notching 45 RBI and registering 23 extra base hits. He was a .366 hitter with runners in scoring position and also stole 12 bases in 15 attempts. While there have been some concerns about his maturity, the Padres are excited about this 19-year-old’s bat. A Mexican native, Velazquez has a short, compact stroke. He will need to continue refining his pitch selection.
No player came further in one season than Lopez. Playing a majority of the season at 17, Lopez flashed gap power that should develop into homer potential as he matures and a rare ability to work the count and look for his pitch. Had he been in a lineup that produced more consistent opportunities, Lopez would have knocked in more than the 18 RBI show. He notched 15 extra base hits and posted a 38-to-46 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Lopez also has speed that he will need to learn how to utilize.
Hitter of the Year:
Velazquez had a huge July, hitting .409/.452/.742 with four of his five home runs coming in the month, but also showed some good plate discipline in August with a .283/.392/.400 line. He struggled in limited at-bats against lefties at .214/.333/.286, and, as most young players, he could tighten up a little more on defense with 10 errors in 57 games. Still some nice potential for a middle infielder.
Bean pole thin at 6-foot-3, 150-pounds, Lopez performed much better in July, hitting .347/.426/.474 than in June, hitting .217/.394/.301; but his most impressive asset was a fairly consistent plate discipline. As noted above, he’s only 17 with plenty of projection left in his body and will be fun to watch down the road.
Others of Note: Alvaro Aristy hit the first homer of the season for the DSL Padres and would later get suspended for 50 games for violating the substance abuse policy. His pitch selection was a positive sign. Carlos Garcia has all the potential in the world and made progress but this is his third year in the DSL. Luis Domoromo is still learning the professional game. While he didn’t show the power many expect, he had a positive year of development. Manny Nuno had a disappointing year. In his third year in the DSL, he didn’t separate himself from the pack and take a necessary step forward. While he has tremendous power, the bat has not been consistent. Felix Cabrera was lost at third base – a natural second baseman – but has a great body, is a hard worker, and is someone to watch for the future.
Manager’s Comments: “He did what I expected. He saw a lot of breaking balls and changeups away.” – Evaristo Lantigua on Luis Domoromo.
Top Prospect: Luis Domoromo
The Padres top positional prospect out of the 2008 July 2 signing class, Domoromo hit just one homer and 10 extra base hits this year. He did, however, show promise in all facets, and, at 17, the power will come. The Venezuela native has a fantastic batting eye and a feel for pitch recognition. He is in good hitting position and will make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He will be a power hitter as he matures and can steal some bags as well, taking eight in 11 chances this season.