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Dominican Summer League Indians 2015 season in review

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In the first of our MiLB season recaps we take a look at the DSL Indians, who turned their season around in fine style by winning 28 of their last 40 games.

Giovanny Urshela — From DSL Indians to Cleveland Indians in six seasons
Giovanny Urshela — From DSL Indians to Cleveland Indians in six seasons
David Maxwell/Getty Images

DSL Indians 40-32 (2nd in division)

The Domincan Summer League is essentially a feeder for the Arizona League. Each year a collection of 16- to 21-year-old prospects from around the Caribbean assembles in the Dominican Republic for a three-month season, with the top prospects earning a ticket stateside for the following year.

DSL alumni who have made it to the big leagues with the Indians include Danny Salazar (DSL 2007), Jesus Aguilar (2008-09), and Giovanny Urshela (2009), while other top prospects like Erik Gonzalez (2009-10) and Luis Lugo (2011) are also DSL imports, along with speedster Gabriel Mejia, who tore up the Arizona League this year after performing a similar feat in the DSL in 2014 .

Mejia was one of 12(!) imports from the DSL to Arizona this year. There were seven other hitters (3B Erlin Cerda, LF Juan Garcia, SS Miguel Eladio, LF Jose Medina, C Jason Rodriguez, SS Jorma Rodriguez, and CF Junior Soto), two starting pitchers (RHP Domingo Jimenez and RHP Luis Jimenez) and two relievers (RHP Henry Martinez and RHP Jose Rodriguez). Of those dozen prospects, two have already been promoted to the Scrappers (Mejia and Martinez). Jose Medina also had a decent year, while the others were disappointing.

With so many promotions from the DSL to the AZL this year, the cupboard was left pretty bare in the Dominican Republic, especially hitter-wise. Not surprisingly, it took the new group of players some time to gel. However, they ended up putting together a fine season and were still in contention for a playoff spot going into the final week.

Here's a roundup of the notable performers of the 2015 DSL season:

Hitters

CF Luis De La Rosa didn't make his debut until August, but the fact that he then quickly became the regular CF at age 16 (starting the last 19 games of the season) suggests that he might well have a promising future. One would imagine that he would probably be back in the DSL for more seasoning next year though.

SS Elvis Perez played in every game bar one (all at shortstop). A latecomer to pro ball, the 19yo hit .300/.390/.384, which isn't too shabby for a someone at a premium defensive position.

2B Wilbis Santiago, like Perez, is a late starter as he is just ten days younger than his infield counterpart. Santiago missed the first few weeks of the season, but a final line of .274/.357/.329 gives him a decent chance of a ticket to Arizona.

1B/C Jose Vicente was one of the few returning hitters, and the 19yo enjoyed a breakout season in which he hit .275/.368/.408 in 70 games, primarily at 1B.

Pitchers

LHP Francisco Perez was arguably the most promising member of the regular rotation, striking out 48 in 50.2 IP with 2.39 ERA/1.34 WHIP.  Perez is still only 18 and seems destined for a shot with the AZL indians next summer.

RHP Jhonleider Salinas put up some fine numbers: 2.66 ERA with 39 strikeouts and only 13 hits allowed in 40.2 IP. However, he also walked a whopping 40 batters! It's not clear whether that lack of control might prevent the 19yo Venezuelan from coming to Arizona next year, since clearly he has the "raw" stuff.

RHP Felix Tati improved by leaps and bounds in his second DSL season, recording a 1.40 ERA/1.10 WHIP and starting six of his 10 appearances.

LHP Ramon Tineo enjoyed a fine second season as a reliever in the DSL, striking out 37 in 34 IP. The 19yo restricted opponents to a 1.18 WHIP with an impressive 1.32 ERA.

RHP Gregori Vasquez was primarily used as a reliever, but that was likely because he is still only 17 and they may have been carefully managing his workload. He was actually given three opportunities to start, two of which were very successful, and his 50 strikeouts in 42 IP mark him down as one to follow in Arizona next year.

RHP Gabriel Vizcaino did a fine job in his second year in the DSL rotation, starting 11 of 15 games for a 2.50 ERA/1.08 WHIP. However, the fact that he is already 21 and has a poor strikeout rate might well limit his potential.