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Top prospect countdown: #20 Leonardo Rivas

Leonardo Rivas (SS/2B)

I, admittedly, didn’t know anything about Rivas before doing this. In fact, my very first impression was, “holy crap! This dude is tiny!” He would look like me out there, 150 lbs., but a few inches shorter. Heck, we even almost have the same birthday. The similarities are uncanny.

Onto the actual scouting report, Rivas maybe small, but he can ball. As a 19-year old, he’s shown an advanced approach at the plate (36 BB’s vs. 39 K’s, along with an identical 16 BB’s vs. 16 K’s when he get promoted to more advanced AZL Angels, his first taste of stateside baseball). It’s a very encouraging thing to see from a 19-year old and that should help him be a decent hitter from the beginning. However, at only 150 lbs., he doesn’t hit the ball with authority (which is seen in his career .377 SLG% so far). Not surprising with the lack of size and muscle, but that’s something that can be added with time. Per Taylor Blake Ward, he does have a nice line drive swing with some decent bat speed, but he’ll have to gain some weight behind that swing in order to take his bat to the next level. But a great approach at the plate, a nice level swing, and plus speed is a place to start for a 19-year old shortstop.

Speaking of which, there were concerns about his ability to stick at shortstop because of his arm strength (or lack thereof), but he’s been able to silence those critics a little bit. He has the instincts, foot speed, first step, and athleticism to play there, but you gotta get it across the diamond to play short. At the very least, this could lead to him becoming a second baseman (or his very possible future as a utility infielder). Hopefully, with more strength, he’ll be able to at least have an average arm.

So the final tally? A very young and raw shortstop with a good-to-great approach at the plate, no power, a weak throwing arm, good speed, and the instincts and feel to play shortstop. If he can continue to add weight and muscle to hit the ball with more authority, he could become a legitimate prospect to follow, and while it is hard to project these really young international kids at the lowest levels of the minors, you cannot help but be somewhat intrigued by his skillset. Be sure to track his development with the AZL Angels in 2017 and, perhaps more importantly, his weight to produce more hard-hit balls. That could change his ceiling from a utility infielder, to a full fledged shortstop prospect. Could be important since around that time, Andrelton Simmons’ contract will be up.