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...Duran, who bats and throws righthanded and checks in at roughly 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, likely will not play a game this year in the PL, however, where at 16 years old he would be by far the youngest player in the league. The Reds cannot assign him to the Gulf Coast League, since the GCL season ends on Aug. 27, so sending him to the GCL would void his contract.
Buckley and Arias were both with the Blue Jays when the team drafted outfielder Alex Rios as an 18-year-old with the 19th overall pick in the 1999 draft.
"He compares favorably, only he's bigger and stronger at this age than Rios was," Buckley said. "He's more physical, and he has shown some of the same feel for hitting that Alex displayed.
"I've never seen a 16-year-old with this type of ability. I talked to some people in the Dominican Republic who crossed paths with Vladimir Guerrero at that age, guys who have been scouting in the Dominican for more than 20 years, and they said they've never come into contact with a bat like this. He's got 80 power potential (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and just gets tremendous loft. In my opinion, in terms of his bat and his body, he's a better overall package than Angel Villalona. We wanted to change the perception in the baseball industry that Cincinnati is a cheap organization. We want to get back to being the Big Red Machine."
Another AL international scouting director said his team was also interested in Duran.
"We liked him," another AL international scouting director said. "We saw him as a corner outfielder, big, long-limbed, real bat potential. He's definitely a guy a lot of people liked."
One National League international scouting director compared Duran's body to that of a young Juan Gonzalez.
"He might end up being in center field because he's a plus runner. It's all going to come down to how big he gets and if he slows down," the scout said. "He's going to put on some weight, so whether he retains that speed will tell if he ends up at a corner.
"He's got some bat speed, and the power will come from the bat speed, but it all comes down to how thick he grows."
At 6-foot-5, 198 pounds, Rodriguez has good raw power and a projectable hitter's frame. A righthanded batter, Rodriguez has plenty of tools—he's an above-average runner with an above-average arm—but some scouts weren't sold on his hitting mechanics and overall feel for hitting.
"From a tools perspective," said one international scouting director, "you're not gonna find a better kid."
Almanzar was one of the big prizes in last year’s international signing period. The Red Sox spent mid-first-round money ($1.5 million) on the Dominican slugger, betting on his excellent swing mechanics and tons of physical projection. Making his pro debut in the Florida complex league, Almanzar began his career with four consecutive two-hit games, and extended his hitting streak to eight games by reaching base in all five of his plate appearances on Sunday, going 3-for-3 with a triple and a pair of walks. Now batting .412/.474/.500, Almanzar is having little difficulty hitting, while on defense the reports are "so far, so good" on his transition from shortstop to third base. It’s far too early to call, but Almanzar’s talent is looking like it was properly valued by Boston.
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