Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #40 Gabriel Cenas

Everyone likes to point to Adonis Cardona as a top international prospect that the Jays were able to land during the 2010 season, but many forget the potential that exists in the bat of fellow Venezuelan..

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#40: Gabriel Cenas

17 years old / 6’1″ 175 lbs

Born: October 16th 1993, in Maracaibo Venezuela

Bats Right    Throws Right

High School Team: Unknown

College: N/A

Drafted: Signed by the Jays as an International Free Agent in 2010 for $700,000

Wears: no number taken yet as he did not play in 2010

Quick Facts:

  • One of 3 major international prospects signed by Alex Anthopoulos in 2010, also the lowest ranked of the 3.
  • Was ranked as the 14th best international free agent by Baseball America before the signing season began in July of ’10.
  • Is said to be very close to his family.
  • Although he was assigned to the DSL Blue Jays in 2010, he didn’t play in any games that season.He will likely begin the 2011 season there as a result.
  • The Jays were very happy to land both Cenas and Adonis Cardona. But, as Marco Paddy stated “We’re not going to get into a race that we’re not willing to win.”, so it shouldn’t surprise fans of the Jays any longer!

Stats:

  • NA

Interviews:

  • NA

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • NA

To tell you all the truth, I have little to go on in terms of assessing Gabriel Cenas and his full potential. But then again, not many people do, perhaps a handful. Other highly rated international signings, like Juan Duran and Michael Ynoa for example, have signed for more money and fizzled ever since. So, ranking Cenas any higher than this point without more to go on who be ludicrous. However, from all accounts that the Jays will give you, Gabriel’s potential is real and his bat is what will carry him through the system.

The Jays have tried twice before to sign international FAs for similar money than Cenas when they signed Balbino Fuenmayor and Gustavo Pierre. The results have been mixed and underwhelming to tell you all the truth, but Pierre in particular is still very young and able to break out now that he’s ready for a full season. Balbino, on the other hand, is going to be 21 in 2011, has not been able to hit more than 9 HRs in a season and hasn’t had an OBP over .280. The results are mixed and still are ongoing, but my feeling is that it will take a big leap for Balbino to become a regular in MLB at any point and his road is becoming stiffer with other 3B in the system (Christopher Hawkins, Kellen Sweeney, and Sean Ochinko), while Pierre still has some time to prove himself. Balbino has starter playing some 1B as a result, a position where he may be able to develop a little more at higher levels due to the lack of depth the Jays have there.

Here’s what Baseball Americawas able to provide us with in terms of Gabriel Cenas:

  • He trains with Carlos Rios, a controversial scouting evaluator who was fired from the NYY organization when he was linked to possibly taking kick backs from international signings. He wound up successfully suing the NYYfor wrongful termination. What this means in terms of his influence on Cenas remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting part of the equation.
  • How he gets the barrel of the bat through the strike zone is credited for his power potential.
  • He’ll have to do a lot of growing to get his power up, but he is expected to be able to do so with ease.
  • He’s not going to steal many bases, but he could be an average runner.
  • His arm will play very well at 3B as it ranks as “a plus arm”.

After watching so many other international FAs struggle, it’s hard to rank Cenas above the #40 spot. I’ve put him ahead of Balbino Fuenmayor since I believe his opportunity may have passed and in order to give Cenas the benefit of the doubt. I will definitely be watching his season in the DSL closely and do hope that he makes a big impact during the 2011 season. The Jays can use all of the help he can get at the hot corner!

If all goes well, Cenas is still 3-4 years away from being considered for The Show, so it’ll take a while to see him in the Jays lineup if he makes it there. But, as Alex Anthopoulos stated wisely:

“There’s risk to all these signings,” Anthopoulos said. “If you don’t take any of these chances, and you don’t sign any of these players, you never have a chance of getting the high-impact players, the high-ceiling players.”

Once again, Alex is entirely correct. It’s sort of like playing the lottery. If you don’t buy a ticket, you’re never going to win. Now, the international market is not that risky, but it does carry the same kinds of risks as you could find on the stock market when picking out investments. I’m sure the Jays have done their homework on both of the young Venezuelan signees of 2010 and wouldn’t be surprised to see Cenas have more success than Pierre and Fuenmayor.

Marco Paddy, the Director of Latin American operations for the Jays who did a lot of the work to get Gabriel Cenas signed, said it best when he added that:

“We’re going to be everywhere and we’re going see whoever we’ve got to see and we’re going to evaluate the players and try to sign every one that we think is going to help us win a championship. We’re covering every inch of the world to try to get the best players.”

That bodes well for us Jays fans, for the franchise, and for the chances of Gabriel Cenas turning out to be one of those best players. In reference to Cenas himself, Paddy added that:

“We feel he’s got a very special bat with the ability to play third base. A lot of natural tools. We’ve seen him grow, develop and get stronger and improve every day. We’re fortunate to have him and we’re very happy that we do.”

We hope you’re right Marco, because Cenas will have to beat out some hefty competition to make it all the way to The Show. As stated above, the Jays have added 3 prospects recently who could all turn out to be long term 3B options in Ochinko, Sweeney, and Hawkins. The good thing is that Ochinko and Hawkins do have some positional flexibility as they both have time at other positions (1B/C and SS respectively). Still, it’s a long and hard road for Cenas, and one that Jays Journal staff will keep a keen eye on every year.

Expected 2011 Team: DSL Blue Jays, with a possible move to the GCL in late 2011 or 2012.

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Full-time 3B who can hit anywhere from the #3-6 spots in the lineup.

That’s our first big unknown of the list thus far. We like his potential to shine and hope he comes through in 2011 with the promised bat potential!

– MG

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Tags: Balbino Fuenmayor Christopher Hawkins Gabriel Cenas Gustavo Pierre Kellen Sweeney

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