Some of the biggest -- and youngest -- stars in the game are going home for the winter. The Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, also known as the Dominican Republic Winter League, will be waiting for them when they arrive.On Thursday, the league held its annual rookie
Some of the biggest -- and youngest -- stars in the game are going home for the winter. The Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, also known as the Dominican Republic Winter League, will be waiting for them when they arrive.
On Thursday, the league held its annual rookie draft in front of 500 fans, family and friends in a mall lobby in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The draft, which is for players in Class A Advanced or higher, who had not been previously selected by a winter league team, was broadcast live on national television and online.
Players from Japan were also eligible for the rookie draft.
"Everybody knows how big baseball is in the DR, and we all know this is an important day," said former Major League outfielder Moises Alou, the general manager of the Leones del Escogido. "It was a good draft, and there was lots and lots of talent."
San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (the club's No. 4 prospect and No. 55 overall) was taken by the Estrellas Orientales with the first overall selection. The Toros del Este followed with Tampa Bay outfielder Jesus Sanchez (the club's No. 4 prospect and No. 69 overall) with the second pick. The Leones del Escogido selected Toronto's top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (who ranks No. 4 overall) with the third pick.
The Aguilas Cibaenas picked Rangers top prospect Leody Taveras (who ranks No. 29 overall) and the Tigres del Licey followed with Washington outfielder Juan Soto (the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 39 overall) with the fifth overall pick. The Gigantes del Cibao selected Reds outfielder Jose Siri (the club's No. 22 prospect) with their first pick to complete the first round. Overall, more than 100 players were selected in the draft.
Tatis Jr. thanked the Estrellas and fans with a prerecorded video message after he was selected. His father, former Major League player Fernando Tatis Sr., represented his son at the event.
Vladimir Guerrero Sr. wished his son luck with a message on social media earlier in the day and then congratulated him later that night. The younger Guerrero is expected to play at least one month in the Dominican Republic.
"Vladdy Jr. could have easily been the first pick and we are very blessed to have been able to pick him," Alou said. "I've seen him grow up and around ballpark, and I know he's a kid that loves to play baseball. He's a guy that I need right now and I'm going to play him. We are so happy to have him on our team."
It was quite a year for the young Guerrero. He led the Minors with a .425 OBP and finished with a combined .323/.425/.485 slash line across two levels of A ball.
Guerrero is expected to be in camp next week. Games begin on Oct. 13.
"Next year, my honest wish is that he doesn't play here again, because that means he's the starting third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays," Alou said. "And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I want people to succeed and become established big league players. This year, we are going to love having him as long as we can."
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Padres' No. 4/MLB No. 55
Christian Pache, OF, Braves' No. 11
Lewin Diaz, 1B, Twins' No. 10
Stephen Alemais, SS, Pirates' No. 21
Adrian Rondon, 3B, Rays' No. 14
Freicer Perez, RHP, Yankees' No. 11
Yennsy Diaz, RHP, Blue Jays' No. 27
Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays' No. 4/MLB No. 69
Aramis Ademan, SS, Cubs' No. 11
Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies' No. 2/MLB No. 49
Merandy Gonzalez, RHP, Marlins' No. 6
Carlos Rincon, OF, Dodgers' No. 24
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays' No. 1/MLB No. 4
Oneil Cruz, 3B/SS, Pirates' No. 15
Sandro Fabian, OF, Giants' No. 9
Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers' No. 1/MLB No. 29
Adrian Valerio, SS, Pirates' No. 30
Gregory Soto, LHP, Tigers' No. 13
Breiling Eusebio, LHP, Rockies' No. 23
Carlos Herrera, RHP, Brewers' No. 30
Michael Beltre, OF, Reds' No. 28
Juan Soto, OF, Nats' No. 2/MLB No. 39
Anderson Tejeda, SS/2B, Rangers' No. 14
Adonis Medina, RHP, Phillies' No. 9
Anderson Franco, 3B/1B, Nats' No. 25
Jose Siri, OF, Reds' No. 22
Dermis Garcia, 3B, Yankees' No. 22
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.