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Paulino's bat is one not seen in Indians system in some time

Paulino's bat is one not seen in Indians system in some time
April 9, 2013
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It has been some time since the Indians have had a hitter with such promise pass through their lower levels.  There have been some good young prospects to pass through Low-A Lake County over the years, but none with the upside and potential to impact a game with the bat like that of shortstop Dorssys Paulino.

So much so, Paulino could be the best young hitting prospect to come into the lower levels of the Indians’ system since Manny Ramirez. That is not a direct comparison to Ramirez as they are both different players, but more to what Paulino brings to the table compared to what the Indians have been unable to unearth and develop in the minors as a high level impact bat over the past 20 years since Ramirez departed from the system.

The Indians mined Paulino out of the Dominican Republic, a place where their scouting efforts there over the past two to three years have been much stronger than in years past. Second baseman Jose Ramirez was also a recent signing out of Latin America and Lake County fans saw what kind of prospect he is with his amazing second half showing last season. Overall, the Indians international efforts have been much better of late, and Paulino is at the head of all of that.

The Indians held a private workout for Paulino in 2011 and signed him on July 2nd that same year for $1.1 million during the International Signing Period. With the signing bonus came higher expectations, and so far he has lived up to them.

In his eyes, playing baseball has been the easy part. It was the pressure of having to tryout and compete with so many other Dominican players that was the hard part for him.

“The process was very difficult because there was a lot of competition in the Dominican,” Paulino said.  “The competition is fierce because there are a lot of players at the same position, so I tried to do the best I could to stand out. I needed to help my family. That’s who I thought about. I need to work hard for my future and my family.  I give thanks to the Cleveland Indians organization for signing me and giving me a chance to play for them.”

To date Paulino has made the Indians look good as he had a sensational 2012 season at rookie level Arizona and short season Single-A Mahoning Valley where he hit a combined .333 with 7 homers, 38 RBI and .938 OPS in 56 games. The Arizona League numbers can be deceiving because of the much lower quality of pitching and the dry summer air that supports big numbers offensively, but he did it all at the age of 17 years old which was quite impressive.

“Last season was my first year [in pro ball] and I tried to learn and play well,” Paulino said.  “It was a great year because I felt very comfortable.  I had a good season because I really worked on my hitting, so that is why I think I did so much better there than on defense.  Now, I want to get better at defense.”

Paulino is a natural born hitter with a good feel for the bat head who has the potential to be a special offensive player with his ability to make consistent, hard contact, hit for power, and be disciplined enough in his approach to draw some walks and limit strikeouts.  The entire package is there with the approach, swing, and power to be an impact bat for the Indians down the road.

But the biggest question mark at the moment is Paulino’s defense. Not only how good of a defender he can be, but what position he may end up at as he continues to mature. He lacks consistency with his fielding and the game tends to speed up on him at times which leads to rushed reactions and poor throws.  However, while he may one day end up at third base or a corner outfield position, the Indians are still very committed to developing him as a shortstop.

With that in mind, Paulino wants to continue to work on improving his defense at shortstop. He spent the entire offseason at the Indians’ academy in the Dominican Republic refining his defensive game and hopes to show some strides there this season.

“I feel good and I am working on what I worked on last year,” Paulino said.  “In the offseason I spent a lot of time working on my defense.  I worked on my legs and strength to make sure that my legs are in good position because last year it was one of my problems.”

The grind of a long year affects every player differently, but for Paulino it mostly affected his defense last year.

“Sometimes I felt a little bit tired out there, but then I would think about my family,” Paulino said.  “My family depends on me, so I kept telling myself to get up and get better every day. I learn something new every day on how to play the game.  I’m just working on that consistency day in and day out.  I will never stop working.”

Whether he is working on the field with his defense, in the cages with his hitting, or in the classes with his English – which is improving by the day – Paulino continues to make strides and showcase the talent that has him unanimously listed as one of the Indians’ top three prospects entering the 2013 season.

Paulino has the pedigree as his father Jesus Sanchez was a big league pitcher for seven seasons with the Cubs, Marlins, Reds and Rockies from 1998-2004. If he continues to improve and make big strides each year, then the sky is the limit on what he can become, and he could even become as good of a player as the two players he has idolized over the years, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes.

“I have prepared my body to pay 140 games this year,” Paulino said.  “I am bigger and stronger this year.  I’m just going to keep working hard no matter what happens.”

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

Tbone
April 10, 2013 - 12:21 PM EDT
Yeah 88 - I agree. This sends up a red flag if he's supposed to be supporting his family. Remember the Cecil and Prince Feilder feud...
League Park
April 9, 2013 - 4:38 PM EDT
Don't see any other way to improve our SP except via the trade route. It's a huge weakness.
Would not trade Lindor for anyone.
Andy
April 9, 2013 - 3:53 PM EDT
Santana played A-ball through his age-22 season and was originally at 3B before going to C. Paulino may not be as jaw-dropping of a hitting prospect at LF (or wherever) as he is at SS, but he's only 18.
Tony
April 9, 2013 - 3:49 PM EDT
There are no untouchables. Lindor might be the only one, though in the right deal that brings back a proven stud pitcher that is around for several more years, I would consider it.

Santana was a good hitter. But was also not a hitter they developed. He was a guy they traded for and who spend about a year and a half in their system. They have not drafted/signed and then developed a better hitter since Ramirez. Now, Paulino may fall flat on his face, but they have not had a hitter in the system with his upside since. At his age though, they haven't had a hitter this exciting and this developed with his swing, approach and with the bat in 20 years. Easily. That's not hyperbole either. It's the general consensus I hear from people outside the organization. Time will tell if he lives up to it.
League Park
April 9, 2013 - 3:42 PM EDT
Tony-who are the untouchables?

To me it would be Lindor, Paulino and any good SP prospect such as Brown and Salazar.
Canadian Joe
April 9, 2013 - 3:41 PM EDT
If Paulino's bat is so advanced, a position change should be considered as early as possible.I don't believe either he or Lindor would be looked at as trade material, so why not a corner outfield position so they can both move up quickly and be in Cleveland as early as late '14 or early '15. Would sure be nice to see a couple of prospects on the big team in their 20th or 21st year. If they are ready.
OhioBaseball
April 9, 2013 - 3:28 PM EDT
I think it's ridiculous to say Paulino is as good as a hitting prospect since Manny Ramirez. First, I've seen Paulino hit and it's not that impressive and second it's misleading b/c the Indians have had really bad hitting prospects since.

Sorry. Paulino isn't nearly that good. Santana was a lot better hitting prospect than Paulino -- Santana's bat speed and extension was clearly more impressive when he was in the minors for the Indians. Not even close.
MT88 in WI
April 9, 2013 - 2:48 PM EDT
I am definitely a Paulino fan and look forward to seeing him in person later this year. That said I was in favor of Paulino moving positions coming into this spring training. I fear his bat being ready to move up but his ability to play up a level curtailed by Lindor being right ahead of him.

One aspect of the article I find curious: Paulino's mindset of having to do it for his family. At this point he already has the 1.1M from the initial signing and his father is a former big leaguer (and at that point, even league minimums is a significant amount of money). Compared to many, that family already has plenty of money to do what is needed. His wanting to do more is admirable but not in the same vein of a kid signing for $10K and the family has always been under the poverty line.

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