Right after one of the Blue Jays’ high-profile international signings at No. 36 comes another at No.35…
No. 35: Wilmer Becerra
Outfielder / 17 years old / 6’4″ 190 lbs
Born: October 1, 1994 in Bejuma, Venezuela
Bats Right Throws Right
High School Team: N/A
Signed: July 6, 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays as an international free agent for $1.3 million
Pre-2011 Rank: N/A
- His father, of the same name, was a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals and a well-known player in Venezuela
- Went 8-for-26 with one double, one home run, and eight strikeouts while playing in the Liga Paralela in Venezuela last year
- Was ranked No. 5 by Baseball America on their list of highest projected Latin American signing bonuses
Extra Information and previous experience:
The Toronto Blue Jays signed their fair share of marquee international players in 2011, and the best position player from the group could turn out to be right-handed hitter Wilmer Becerra. Along with pitcher Roberto Osuna and infielder Dawel Lugo, Becerra was ranked among the top available players in last year’s international class and one that the Blue Jays had been eyeing for a couple of years.
Coming from a baseball family, Becerra is a toolsy player and gifted overall athlete that possesses a combination of power and speed. At 6-foot-4 with a wide lower half and good strength, he was considered, by some scouts last summer, one of the best right-handed hitters available given his good plate coverage and projectable power. A mature hitter for his age, the 17-year-old Venezuelan drew positive reviews for his overall makeup and specifically his work ethic, something that he’ll need if he hopes to reach his power potential.
In a subscriber-only interview with Scout.com last year, former Blue Jays director of Latin America Operations Marco Paddy mentioned that Becerra could develop into a 30/30 player or better. When I asked Baseball America’s Ben Badler about that tidbit, though, he said that, in addition to it being unlikely, he hasn’t heard anything from anyone outside the Blue Jays organization on that front.
On the Baseball America website, Badler also wrote that there’s a divide among scouts when it comes to Becerra’s bat with some feeling that his swing tends to get long in game situations and is better in tryout settings.
A shortstop his entire life, Becerra worked out primarily in the outfield prior to signing, as it was a foregone conclusion that he’d be converted to the new position by whichever team that signed him given his frame and quickness (Badler added that he didn’t have the hands to play shortstop anyway and, even though he had a poor arm as an infielder, a better throwing action in the outfield made him more accurate there instead).
Running the 60-yard dash in a blistering 6.5 seconds, Becerra was considered one of the fastest players in Venezuela, and it’s likely that he’ll begin his professional career as a center fielder because of his speed. According to Badler, though, there’s a concern of how much of his speed he’ll retain as he adds weight to his frame and, combined with a weak throwing arm, a move to left field down the road isn’t out of the question, either.
After signing in July, Becerra worked primarily on the fundamentals of his new position at the Blue Jays’ training complex in the Dominican Republic for the rest of the summer. After that, he made his way to instructs in Dunedin, Florida during the fall, something that implies that he could receive the Adonys Cardona treatment and start his professional career in the Gulf Coast League and avoiding Dominican summer ball altogether.
Expected 2012 Team: GCL Blue Jays (Rookie)
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Big-league LF, 30/30 hitter
As toolsy and touted as Becerra is said to be, like all teenaged prospects, it’s impossible to predict his future given his age, which is why the 30/30-hitter ceiling above shouldn’t be taken too seriously right now.
That being said, the early scouting reports on him are mostly positive, and hopefully he cracks the GCL roster in 2012 so we can get more information on him this season.