TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
Image courtesy of Jon TarrThe first time a Twins scout watched Wander Javier play, he was just 13 years old. The Dominican Republic native trained with Josue Mateo. They continued to watch him grow and they saw enough to warrant the $4 million signing bonus. That bonus became the highest paid by the Twins to an international signing (ignoring Japan and Korea, of course), topping the $3.15 million bonus the Twins signed (SS) Miguel Sano to in 2009.
When the Twins signed him, he was the #9 ranked international prospect according to Baseball America. While he was shy of 6-0 and 160 pounds, the tools were all there. Since signing, he has added an inch and about 20 pounds of muscle.
What's To Like
The tools. The terrific tools.
Javier is considered a plus fielder. He handles the routine plays well. In his debut, he had just one error in 25 chances in the Dominican Summer League (DSL). He has plus arm strength, able to make all of the throws a shortstop needs to make. The belief is that he should be able to stick at shortstop.
Offensively, he has plus bat speed. Because of that, he has plus raw power. Most believe that he will be able to develop above average power for a shortstop.
In his professional debut in the DSL, he did show some offensive capabilities. He hit over .300, got on base 40% of the time, showed a strong approach at the plate, and hit for power. He had just 30 plate appearances and he had five extra-base hits and four walks.
Unfortunately, he was limited to those 30 plate appearances because of an injury. After just seven games he hurt his hamstring. He didn’t play for over two weeks. When he returned, he played in two games and then re-strained the same hamstring and missed the remainder of the season. Fortunately, he was healthy enough to come to Ft. Myers for the Instructional League in September.
What's Left To Work On
Everything. I mean, come on… The kid is just 18 years old.
While the potential is there for Wander Javier to become a star, he’s got plenty of room for growth. Physically, he will likely continue to grow and gain strength and power.
The biggest question mark regarding Javier is the hit tool. Javier has a big leg kick, and there are times he can be off-balance. That could affect him, especially on breaking pitches. That isn’t an unusual for most hitters coming out of the draft, but it’s almost ‘normal’ for a 17-year-old. He needs to work on his swing mechanics, his timing and his balance. The reality is the Javier is just very raw. (You can see some of the good and bad in the below video)
I asked Fred Guerrero, the Twins top scout in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, what Javier needs to work on most. His response was “He needs to play a lot. He needs to get a lot of at-bats.”
Javier will come to minor league spring training in Ft. Myers in a couple of weeks. When the full season teams start in early April, Javier will remain in southwest Florida and participate in extended spring training.
It is most likely that he will start in the Gulf Coast League. However, if he gets off to a fast start the first three or four weeks, he could jump up to Elizabethton by the end of the season.
Read up on our previous installments in the Twins Daily top prospects series:
TD Top Prospects: #20-16
TD Top Prospects: #15-11
TD Top Prospects: #10 Lewin Diaz
TD Top Prospects: #9 Travis Blankenhorn
TD Top Prospects: #8 Kohl Stewart
TD Top Prospects: #7 Adalberto Mejia
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 (Coming Monday)
TD Top Prospects: #4 (Coming Tuesday)
TD Top Prospects: #3 (Coming Wednesday)
TD Top Prospects: #2 (Coming Thursday)
TD Top Prospects: #1 (Coming Friday)