All this week, we have been breaking down the top Dominican players and figures in MLB history, for their impact on the game and legacy beyond it, including infielders, outfielders, pitchers and the coaching staff and front office. While those lists are evergreen in terms of historical players, there are still plenty of players that have yet to make or complete their legacies.
To finish off our weeklong series, we take a look at some of the top prospects and active players whose stories are not yet completely told; with time, these guys may end up forcing themselves onto the all-time list.
Does your favorite young stud make the list? Keep reading, and be sure to let us know!
San Cristóbal Provence
A key member of the Oakland Athletics’ starting rotation, Montas has shown flashes of dominance in his early MLB career. The 28-year-old has posted a 4.38 ERA over 76 games and won nine games over 16 starts in 2019, enough to earn the nod as the Opening Day starter for the A’s in 2020. With a 96 MPH sinker and a dangerous slider, Montas may soon become the ace of the Oakland staff.
At 27 years old, Valdez has already captured the hearts of Astros fans. First appearing for the team in 2018, the left-hander became a sensation during Houston’s 2020 campaign, posting a 3.52 ERA over ten games started and helping carry the Astros deep into the postseason, including five gutsy innings of relief in Game 1 of the Wild Card series, and subsequent round wins against Oakland and the Tampa Bay Rays. Valdez is continuing his excellence in 2021, posting a 5-1 record and 2.86 ERA; Houston’s in good hands.
At 22 years old, Sánchez has already got fans across MLB buzzing. Formerly the number one prospect in the Miami Marlins’ system, Sánchez made his debut in 2020 and became one of the most feared pitchers in the NL East. With a 100 MPH fastball and good control, he struck out 36 batters and walked just 11 over seven games started and 39 innings pitched in 2020. His top highlight came in the postseason, when he helped the Marlins clinch their first series win since 2003 with five innings of shutout ball against the Chicago Cubs. We’re excited to see his return from injury: maybe he can become the Marlins’ first true ace since the late José Fernandez.
Márquez has seen only one game of MLB action so far, but his skill and continuing development cannot be ignored. With his fastball peaking at 102 MPH in 2020, the 22-year-old is considered a top prospect for the Chicago Cubs, who have worked with the left-hander to improve control and add an effective curveball to his resume. While it’s unknown if Márquez will earn a starting role, northersiders are watching the southpaw with great interest.
Despite only playing in parts of seasons for the Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and Tampa Bay Rays, the 25-year-old catcher is already getting attention for his cannon for an arm and consistency with the bat. While playing in the Cleveland minor league system, the switch-hitting Mejía went 50 straight games with a hit, good for the fourth-longest streak in Minor League Baseball history. While he hasn’t been able to find consistent playing time, he has shown promise with the bat, batting .265 in 79 games in 2019 and already batting .300 in the 2021 season. Rays fans are hoping that Mejía may finally fill a role they’ve never had: franchise catcher.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr
Born in Montreal, raised in Nizao, Peravia province in the D.R.
The son of the first Dominican position player to be enshrined in Cooperstown, Guerrero was MLB’s top prospect in 2019 and has become part of a young Toronto core that could keep the city buzzing for years to come. While his swing is as dangerous as his father’s, Vladdy Jr. exhibits a patient approach at the plate that is as disciplined as his father’s was unruly. The 22-year-old has already had some fantastic performances at the MLB level, including three home runs in a single game on April 27, 2021, and, in 2019, one of the most impressive home run derby performances in the event’s history.
Mercedes splashed onto the scene in 2021 with the Chicago White Sox by rapping eight straight hits to start the season; it was the most consecutive hits to start a season in MLB history. The 28-year-old rookie was subsequently named AL Player of the Week and Rookie of the Month for April 2021. While he was sent down to AAA recently and then shockingly seemed to announce his retirement before reporting for duty, we hope that he is able to restore himself mentally and physically. Sox fans do too, especially as the team gears up for October.
One of the few bright spots on a dismal 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks squad, the 27-year-old Marte busted out in 2019, when was an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting after posting a .329 batting average with 32 home runs 92 RBI. A dynamic player with both power and speed, Marte led all players with 12 triples in 2018 and has become part of the Diamondbacks’ core to build around (or a highly desirably trade chip) as they rebuild for the future.
A model of consistency and speed, the 30-year-old Villar has become a much-valued asset for multiple MLB teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Mets. He led the Major Leagues in stolen bases in 2016 with 62, and had arguably his best season in 2019, playing in all 162 games and batting in 73 runs while stealing 40 bases, in addition to hitting for the cycle on August 5.
The number one prospect in baseball today? Absolutely on our list. At just 20 years old, Franco has been described as having the “tools and ability to become the top switch-hitter of his generation,” according to MLB.com. In addition to a .336 batting average over two seasons of Minor League Baseball, Franco has shown unprecedented discipline for a hitter of his age, tallying 83 walks to just 54 strikeouts. While questions have arisen about his ability to stick at shortstop, the Rays are working with him to build his versatility, and called him up recently to dazzling results.
Fernando Tatis, Jr
San Pedro de Macorís
The most exciting player in baseball today (just see for yourself). Tatís, who has played in just three MLB seasons and is still only 22 years old, is already cemented as one of the most powerful and feared hitters in the game. In 2020, his first full season (although the COVID-19 pandemic shortened it), he scored 50 runs, whacked 17 home runs, and batted in 42, all amongst the MLB leaders. Anxious to lock their top prospect down, San Diego signed Tatís to a 14-year, $340 million contract in the offseason– the third richest in MLB history and largest for anyone his age. Padres fans will be happy to see him breaking records (and unwritten rules) for a long time in San Diego.
Born in Los Angeles, raised in San Cristobal, D.R.
One of the few players of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals still with the team (he made his MLB debut in the Series at just 20 yearsold), Mondesí is considered the franchise’s shortstop of the future. At just 25 years old, Mondesí is one of the fastest players in baseball, and uses his speed effectively on the field, leading MLB in triples (10) in 2019 and stolen bases (24) in 2020. As the young Royals continue to build for the present and future, Mondesí will be a fascinating player to watch. We look forward to seeing him develop into a leadoff-hitting, All-Star shortstop that a winner can be built around.
San Francisco de Macorís
Are you ready to feel old? Luciano was born in September 2001 (even younger than the undergrad writer of this listicle). Luciano, while just 19, is the top prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization, with scouts saying he has impressive bat skills and athleticism. He is unafraid to beat the shift by going the other way or hitting the ball over the fence, and could consistently bat .300 with 40 home runs if he reaches his ceiling as a player. While it may be at least a couple of years before Luciano makes his MLB debut, it will certainly be an exciting day for the league once he does.
While the 31-year-old may be an “old soul” compared to other players on this list, we could not leave him off because if he keeps producing for long enough, he could nudge his away amongst the all-time players. Segura, a two-time All-Star (2013, 2018), is a true two-way player, with fantastic speed and contact hitting ability – he led the National League with 203 hits in 2016, and stole more than 20 bases each season from 2013 to 2018 – as well as his fielding abilities at shortstop. With a lifetime WAR of 23.2, Segura has quietly become one of the better Dominican players in recent MLB history.
Known for his contact hitting and speed, Rosario first made his name with the New York Mets as their top prospect, debuting in 2017. His best season with the club came in 2019, when he tallied 177 hits, batted in 72 runs, and scored 75 of his own. With 24 stolen bases in 2018 and 19 in 2019, Rosario is a dangerous presence on the basepaths. Currently with the Cleveland Indians and 25 years old, the converted shortstop is now playing center field and has a lot more left in the tank, leading MLB in triples this season; we can’t wait to watch what he does in the second half.
Two-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, member of the 30-30 club, and consistent MVP finalist; yeah, he had to be on here (heck, he almost made the cut for the all-time team!). Ramírez, who is currently the face of the Cleveland Indians, is a dangerous combination of speed and power, hitting an MLB-leading 56 doubles in 2017 and 39 home runs in 2018, while also leading the American League in runs scored in 2020 with 45. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as he’s come third in MVP voting in 2017 and 2018 and second in 2020, and was named an All-Star in 2021. One of the top players in the league, the other 29 MLB teams will certainly be keeping their eye on him this offseason, as he becomes a free agent for the first time shortly after turning 29 years old.
Already one of the best third basemen in Boston Red Sox history, Devers, at just 24 years old, has shown fantastic skill with the bat. Called up in 2017, Devers quickly became one of the top players in the organization with clutch hitting and an ability to hit almost anything, posting a .284 batting average over 58 games. After winning the World Series in 2018, he had arguably his best season in 2019, leading the American League in doubles (54) and MLB in total bases (359), and was named an All-Star in 2021.
A consistent power hitter, Franco hit more than 20 home runs in three straight MLB seasons (2016-2019) and earned respect from opposing defenses, drawing 19 intentional walks in 2019 – second in MLB. Franco is also well-known for his ability to make contact; in 2018, he struck out just 62 times – an MLB best for a batter with more than 20 home runs. At 28 years old and currently with the Baltimore Orioles, Franco has struggled to live up to his early-career hype. However, he still has youth- and tremendous strength and bat skills – on his side.
The “Childish Bambino.” The youngest player in MLB when he debuted at 19 years old in 2018, Soto has already become one of the elite hitters in baseball and one of the top players in Washington Nationals history, helping the team win their first World Series title in 2019. With a lifetime on-base percentage of .414, Soto is a regular hitter for both contact and power, winning a Silver Slugger in 2020 while leading the National League in batting average (.351). At 22 years old, Soto is already drawing comparisons to Ted Williams and perhaps should already be on the All-Time Dominican team. He has provided more than his share of memorable moments, including his game-winning hit in the 2019 Wild Card game that sparked the Nats’ run to the title. With his trophy case already filling up, is MVP next for the slugger?
With one of the most dangerous players on Chicago’s South Side since Frank Thomas, Jiménez is a vital bat in the lineup for the White Sox, winning his first Silver Slugger in 2020 after bursting onto the scene with 31 homers as a rookie in 2019. Just 24 years old, Jiménez has already demonstrated his prodigious power, hitting 14 home runs in just 55 games in 2020 while posting a .296 batting average. Jiménez, who was injured early in spring training this season, is already a fan favorite and will likely stay an important member of the Sox for years to come.
Despite just one all star appearance, if the 32-year-old Marte keeps performing as he has for another few years, he just might earn a spot on the All-Time Dominican squad. The underrated, versatile outfielder is known for his all-around game. He shows off his world-class athleticism in the outfield, winning the Gold Glove in 2015 and 2016, and on the basepaths, stealing more than 20 bases each season from 2013 to 2019. Now with the Miami Marlins, Marte is the reliable stalwart, guiding a young, rebuilding Marlins core.
Domínguez is even younger than Luciano, being born in February 2003. When the New York Yankees signed him at just 16 years old, he was the top-ranked prospect on the international market. The Yankees are certainly excited about his development, with one scout writing that he is “the most-hyped and tooled-up international prospect in recent memory.” With a sweet swing and raw power, Domínguez has already drawn comparisons in they hyperbolic prospect coverage world to players like Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle, with the athleticism of Bo Jackson. At 18, it may be a while before we can find out if that’s the case, but the hype around him is too good to ignore for this list.
A fiery, aggressive batter with “unbelievable” arm strength, ” Laureano has become the regular everyday center-fielder for the Athletics in recent years, emerging as an important member of their exciting, new core. With a solid career batting average of .269, Laureano has consistently shown surprising power and clutch hitting, whacking in 67 runs in 2019 with 24 home runs and consistently coming up with big hits in key situations. Opponents and fans around the league are taking notice of what those who follow the A’s already know: “Lazer Ramon” is an underrated performer on a trajectory to becoming one of the game’s premier talents.
A defensive wizard joining an already-elite Atlanta Braves’ outfield, Pache is a young stud who is the modern-day answer to Andruw Jones (a comp that we don’t take lightly). A true centerfielder, Pache was ranked as the eleventh-best prospect in baseball in 2019 based mostly on his glove and was named to the MLB Pipeline’s All-Defensive Team, in addition to gaining attention at the All-Star Futures Game. Pache made his MLB debut in 2020 and became a regular on the club during their postseason run. While his bat still has to catch up to his glove, his speed and abilities in the field alone will make the 22-year-old one to watch for years to come.
Polanco has become a beloved member of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past eight seasons. In his MLB debut in 2014, he became the first player in franchise history to notch a hit in his first eight games, passing the record set by Pirates’ legend Roberto Clemente. While he’s been limited by injuries in several MLB seasons, Polanco is a standout hitter when healthy, posting 86 and 81 RBIs in 2016 and 2018, respectively. He was also a clutch performer for the Dominican team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. At 29 years old, Polanco has the talent of a keystone player that the Pirates are hoping to build a consistent winner around.
At the time of this article’s writing, Reyes has already hit 14 home runs and batted in 39 runs in just 48 games played this season. At 25 years old, the massive Reyes is one of the young studs of the Cleveland Indians, becoming their primary right-fielder and playing in 59 of 60 games in 2020. With a career slugging percentage of .507, Reyes is a powerful hitter when he can get his barrel on the ball, and continues to develop as he sees more playing time.
Making his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers at just 21-years-old in 2016, Mazara finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, with 20 home runs and a .266 batting average. It was only the sign of more to come, as Mazara would hit 20 home runs again in 2017 and 2018, while also batting in 101 runs during the 2017 campaign. Mazara has some of the most dangerous power in the game, including hitting the longest home run of 2019, a 505-foot shot. While Mazara struggled to find consistent playing time this year for the Detroit Tigers and was subsequently released due to inconsistent performance, there are certainly plenty of MLB teams who will be willing to give the 25-year-old a chance. If Mazara can make the appropriate adjustments, he can still emerge into the star-level home run hitter that many have envisioned since he received the then-highest signing bonus as an amateur prospect in 2012.
Manager: Luis Rojas
The son of Felipe Alou and the current manager of the New York Mets, Rojas is the only Dominican skipper in MLB this season. While it’s early in the 39-year-old’s career, Rojas has already experienced success with New York’s NL squad, keeping them in MLB’s power rankings and competing for a playoff spot. There’s plenty of excitement on Long Island for the Mets this year, and Rojas’ leadership just may very well be critical come October.
Third Base Coach: Rodney Linares
Born in Brooklyn; raised in San Pedro de Macorís
Tampa Bay’s current third base coach, Linares is known for his ability to foster young talent. While in his first position with the Houston Astros, Linares oversaw the development of players such as Jose Altuve, George Springer, J.D. Martinez, and Carlos Correa. Now, on a team filled to the brim with young talent – including fellow Dominican Wander Franco – Linares’ coaching skills will be on full display. Linares played two years in the minor leagues, but it is clearly in the dugout rather than on the field where this son of a coach shines brightest.
First Base Coach: Ramón Santiago
Las Matas de Farfan
A longtime roleplayer for the Detroit Tigers, Santiago is now settling into his fourth season on the Tigers’ coaching staff, and his third at first base. A defensive whiz and big believer in analytics, Santiago has been called by the Detroit Free Press as “the pathway between the analytical department and the team’s on-field performance,” and has helped the Tigers become one of the most efficiently shifting teams. With a farm team filled with hot prospects, perhaps this analytical coach can help bring the Tigers back to the postseason.
Hitting Coach: Luis Ortiz
Ortiz has served as a coach with multiple teams, including the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but now sits in a steady role with the Texas Rangers. In 2019, his first year with the club, he helped awaken the bats of players like Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, and a rejuvenated Hunter Pence, plugging the Rangers into competition in a top-heavy AL West. While it may be a while before Texas returns to the playoffs, Ortiz’s contributions to the club will certainly play a role.
Scout: Ismael Cruz
The son of longtime scout Pablo Cruz – who made our list for the All-Time Dominican Front Office – Ismael is currently serving as the international scouting director for the Los Angeles Dodgers, after previously serving in the same role with the Toronto Blue Jays. Cruz already has many significant signings under his belt, including players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Jays, and Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores for the Mets. With perhaps multiple decades of scouting ahead of him and two sons (Brian with the Angels and Jonathan with the Braves) already scouring the landscape for talent, Cruz is doing his father’s legacy justice.
General Manager: René Francisco
Currently in his 15th season with the Kansas City Royals, Francisco has been a critical member of the front office for years, and helped the team build their World Series-winning core in 2015. Currently the Royals’ Vice President / Assistant GM of Major League & International Operations (what a title!) Francisco is one of the rare international scouts to have worked his way up to the top rungs of an MLB organization, and there’s a decent chance that he’ll be next in line for the throne in KC or another MLB organization. For more on Francisco’s story and for a peek into this humble and talented evaluator, we recommend listening to this interview on MLB’s Executive Access podcast.