The Rockies made a splash in international free agency this past weekend, signing five notable prospects to add to an already stacked farm system.
Those players are often forgotten about for a while since they won’t debut in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) until next year, and it will be 2018-2019 before they play a game stateside for a Rockies affiliate. During that time, it’s easy for those prospect to be overlooked in prospect rankings even though they will play an important part of the team’s future.
Daniel Montano and Wander Cabrera represent the next couple of prospects that may be making the transition from the DSL to affiliated ball in the US. Combined with the players the Rockies draft next June, these players will form a wave that will hopefully extend the Rockies contention window through the next decade.
Montano, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, signed with the Rockies last summer out of Venezuela for $2 million. He has had a strong debut in the DSL this summer with 11 extra-base hits in 22 games. On the surface, a .247 batting average might not seem that strong, but his overall slash of .247/.318/.532 and .850 OPS is very impressive for a league in which pitching dominates. Montano’s five home runs are good for second in the league, behind 20-year-old Brian Sanchez’s league-leading six.
Montano won’t turn 18 till next March, and there is a chance that the Rockies may have him repeat the DSL next year, which is common for players that young. However, he may also follow Pedro Gonzalez’s lead and move stateside in his second year of pro ball if he continue to hit.
The Rockies didn’t sign Cabrera, but instead he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Rex Brothers trade. The Cubs signed the 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for $250,000 and had a solid DSL debut for them last summer. He pitched in 14 games (seven starts), and struck out 47 batters in 42 ⅓ innings. In five starts this summer, Cabrera has struck out 23 in 23 innings while allowing only 24 base runners (18 hits and six walks).
With Cabrera playing in the DSL for his second summer, he’ll be expected to be make his stateside debut for either Grand Junction or Boise next summer.
How long the Rockies next contention window lasts will depend on their ability to continue to produce waves of talent. While the Rule 4 draft in June receives most of the attention every year, the Rockies ability to augment those draft with a constant stream of quality prospect from the DSL is just as critical for maintaining a strong farm system.