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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Alexis Rios

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 2/18/81, Age: 21, Bats/Throws: R/R, Height: 6’5’’, Weight: 200. Acquired: Blue Jays - Drafted in the 1st Round of the 1999 Draft (Guaynabo HS, Guaynabo, PR). 2001 Stats: (Low-A - Charleston) .263 AVG, 480 AB, 28 2B, 8 3B, 2 HR, 22 SB, 24 BB, 59 K, .301 OBP, .381 SLG. 2002 Stats: (High-A - Dunedin) .305 AVG, 456 AB, 22 2B, 8 3B, 3 HR, 14 SB, 27 BB, 55 K, .344 OBP, .408 SLG.
Alexis Rios was a budget draft choice for the Jays in 1999, but he has a chance to become more than a budget player. During the period of time following Interbrew’s denial that they were attempting to sell the team, the Jays became much more frugal with their draft picks, selecting Rios in 1999 and Miguel Negron in 2000. Both players were deemed to be projects, in an attempt to put a positive spin on the fact that they were not first-round caliber talent. Negron has shown very little thus far, but Rios has definitely improved to the point of being a legitimate prospect. At 6’5’’, 200 (or less, I’ve seen reports from 185-205), Rios has a wiry frame that creates a long swing. From this swing, one would expect more power and less contact, but Rios has shown quite the opposite thus far. He finished fourth in the FSL in batting average this season, despite dealing with numerous hand and arm injuries that probably hampered his power more than his stroke. He will hit for average, and might swing at any pitch, regardless of type or location, a la Vlad Guerrero. That fact, coupled with the hand injuries, have hampered his power production at this point. He certainly has the build and swing to become a power hitter, as everyone witnessed when he bashed seven homers in spring training. A greater amount of patience would certainly assist him in reaching his potential in this category, but that trait seems to be a long way off. Rios does not strike out a tremendous amount, but he walks even less, drawing only 27 free passes this year in nearly 500 plate appearances. He still loves to swing at the first pitch he can reach, and until he curbs that desire, he won’t hit nearly as many balls with authority as he is capable of. His speed might be his best tool, although he only stole 14 bases in 2002. Scouts think he is capable of being a legitimate basestealing threat, which I would take to mean a 25-30 steal per year player. In the field, his combination of skills make it difficult to determine where he might best fit. His arm is average, but perhaps a bit poor for right field, where he has been playing. His range is decent, but maybe not quite center-field material. He may actually be best suited for left, but his range and arm are both a bit better than is necessary for that part of the outfield. In time, he may become a better than average center fielder, which is of course the toughest position to fill, and would give him the greatest value. He needs to show some home run power and some patience soon, though, or it won’t matter which outfield position he is best suited for.
The Blue Jays have quite a bit of hitting, both at the major league level and in their minor league system. The infield has the corner stone in Delgado, a pair of up-and-comers in Hudson and Hinske, and a free-for-all at short between Lopez, Woodward, and the newly signed Bordick. The catching position is loaded, with youngsters Cash and Phelps (DH) sitting next to old men Huckaby, Wilson, and Myers. A Myers/Cash platoon might be the best option, with Phelps as the full-time DH. In the outfield, Shannon Stewart is still around (despite countless trade rumors), and he is still only 28. Vernon Wells looks like a future star, and Jayson Werth (yet another potential catcher) could play anywhere. I like Gabe Gross as well, so that does not leave too many spots open for Rios. The Jays are still very thin on the pitching side of things, so the ranks will likely thin out somewhat, but unless both Stewart and Werth are assigned elsewhere (which could easily happen), or Gross reverts to first-half ’02 form, I do not see a spot for Rios. My comparison for Rios is Gerald "Ice" Williams, an athletic outfielder that never quite harnassed his physical gifts, but has been moderately useful off and on over a rather lengthy career. Rios should start 2003 at AA, which will be a real test for him. At age 22, he needs to make progress in the power and patience areas very soon, or risk losing any semblance of prospect status. He has, as Hubie Brown would say, tremendous upside, but I expect him to be an ancillary part of Toronto’s plans rather than a focal point.


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