DSL Indians 24-44 (last in division)
The Dominican 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.
The most notable DSL alumni to make it to the current Indians roster was All-Star pitcher Danny Salazar (DSL 2007) while a few other have tasted the majors in Jesus Aguilar (2008-09), Giovanny Urshela (2009) and Erik Gonzalez (2009-10). Current top Tribe prospects who were in the DSL include OF Luigi Rodriguez, 2B Erlin Cerda, 3B Jorma Rodriguez and OF Oscar Gonzalez as well as speedster OF Gabriel Mejia, who tore up the New York-Penn League this year after performing a similar feat in the AZL in 2015 and the DSL in 2014.
Gonzalez was one of 10 imports from the DSL to Arizona this year. There were two other hitters (SS Elvis Perez, 1B Jose Vicente), five starting pitchers (LHP Francisco Perez and RHP Gregori Vasquez, RHP Felix Tati, RHP Cesar Ventura, RHP Jhonleider Salinas) and two relievers (RHP Luis Santos, RHP Dalbert Siri). Of those 10 prospects, two were promoted to the Scrappers (Gonzalez and Siri). Francisco Perez won Pitcher of the Year for the AZL while Gonzalez won the AZL MVP award. Elvis Perez and Jose Vicente both had solid seasons offensively and will likely be promoted next year while Gregori Vasquez also had a standout season. Salinas was having a great year but was traded to Tampa Bay in the Brandon Guyer deal.
The DSL Indians started strong this year, jumping out to a 15-12 record at one point, but then everything entered a complete tailspin after top free agent Jose Fermin went down with an injury and several of the promising young pitchers like Felix Tati, Luis Santos and Cesar Ventura were promoted to Arizona. The team went 9-32 over the final two months of the season, finishing dead last in the North Division.
Here's a roundup of the notable performers of the 2016 DSL season:
2B Wilbis Santiago repeated a year at the DSL and it definitely served him well. After having a pretty solid season offensively in 2015, he improved his numbers pretty much across the board, leading the Indians in hitting with a .320/.381/.424 mark. He is definitely moving to the AZL Indians next season.
CF Ronny Dominguez wasn't the most productive player on the team or the most powerful, but he was certainly a stat-filler. Dominguez carried a .266/.316/.338 line through the season, stole 12 bases (while getting caught 10 times), hitting two home runs. He had an impressive 12 outfield assists defensively (although also had nine errors).
C Christopher De Jesus was also repeating at the DSL and he had a great season, improving his batting average from .214 to .282. He carried a very low strikeout rate of 13 percent and is a prime candidate for a promotion to the AZL.
LF Pablo Jimenez is just 17 years old in his debut season with the DSL and he led the team in home runs with four. He had a decent year offensively, with a .257/.303/.388 stat line but he also struck out in 23 percent of his at-bats. Thankfully he's very young and there's plenty of time to work on that as I expect him to repeat a year in the league.
RHP Luis Araujo was by far the most effective pitcher on the roster this season, but he was cut short at the end of July with an undisclosed injury. Araujo at the time of his injury was carrying a 1.01 ERA, was striking out 8.3 per nine innings and had a 0.67 WHIP. As long as he's healthy, he'll be in Arizona next season.
RHP Juan Mota had the best full season of any of the DSL starting pitchers. He had a 3.15 ERA on the season, although his walk rate of 4.5 per nine innings was a bit troublesome, as was his 1.30 WHIP. He managed to keep the baserunners from circling the bags, but he'll have to improve his ability to keep them from getting on base in the first place if he wants to keep advancing.
RHP Jose Oca was a relief pitcher but may be moved to a starter as he develops considering he's just 17 years old. He was one of the team leaders in strikeouts this season with 32 over 37.2 innings. He also only walked 10 batters, which is a very promising sign considering how wild most of the prospects in the DSL are.
RHP Luis Oviedo on the surface didn't have a great season, holding an ERA of 4.00, but he was a starter the whole season, leading the team in strikeouts with 56 over 63 innings pitched while only walking 17 hitters. Like Oca, he's also just 17 years old so there is plenty of room for development and growth.
RHP Alejandro Izaguirre spent his third straight season with the DSL Indians but he's still just 19 years old and he's steadily improved each year, dropping his ERA from 5.09 to 4.91 to 3.14 in 2016. He had one of the highest strikeout rates on the team this year, fanning 26 batters in 28.2 innings pitched I wouldn't be shocked to see him on the AZL in 2017.