The 19-year-old made his stateside debut in Boise in 2019, which is an incredible show of faith by the Rockies
26. Bladimir Restituyo (84 points, 10 ballots)
Restituyo is a talented 19-year-old up the middle player who was moved aggressively by the Rockies in 2019, including time at both Short Season A Boise and Rookie ball Grand Junction as an 18-year-old. The right-handed hitter was signed out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2017 (which also happened to be his 16th birthday) for $200K and immediately made a positive impression with his tools and feel for the game. Playing in his age 16 season in the DSL against pitchers who were on average 1.8 years older, Restituyo quickly showed he belonged with a .300/.337/.456 line in 258 PAs (125 wRC+).
That was enough for the Rockies to move Restituyo all the way up to Short Season A Boise as a 17-year-old in 2019 (he turned 18 mid-season). That’s an incredible show of faith in a prospect’s readiness to face college draftees in the tough hitting environment of the Northwest League. There, in 235 PAs against pitchers who were on average 3.7 years older than him, he hit .259/.266/.368 including 4 HR, good for a 78 wRC+. Sure, there are some warts — for instance, Restituyo posted a ghastly 56:2 K/BB ratio and he hit just .170 on the road — but to even approach that kind of line as a teenager against this competition was a great achievement.
Restituyo was knocked down to the Pioneer League for the stretch run, where he improved to a .310/.326/.476 line with eight extra base hits and a 13:2 K/BB ratio in 90 PAs for Grand Junction (106 wRC+). Defensively, Restituyo played mostly center field in 2019 but also some second base in deference to the defense of fellow PuRP Ezequiel Tovar at shortstop (Restituyo played some shortstop in the DSL). He was listed as an outfielder on the fall instructs list, so I expect center field will be his position entering 2021.
Here’s some footage of Restituyo uploaded in June 2019 by Prospects Live that looks like it came from Extended Spring Training:
If you look at that approach and see a right-handed Raimel Tapia (especially the two strike crouch), you’re not alone.
Restituyo has been highlighted multiple times by Baseball America. In BA’s 2020 Digital Prospect Handbook, they had him 26th in the system:
In the NWL, Restituyo showed evaluators the quick hands to turn around high-velocity fastballs and the foot speed to play centerfield. He’s rough around the edges in the outfield but has plus speed to make up for some of the mistakes he makes running routes and chasing down balls in the gaps. He’ll need to iron out his strike-zone discipline and learn to take a few more pitches to get to ones he can drive, but there’s plenty of upside in a high-energy package. Restituyo’s future could be at second base or on the infield, but he has the profile of a player who could be pesky at the top or bottom of a lineup.
Here’s Ben Badler of BA with a 2018 scouting report on Restituyo:
Restituyo is a wiry 6 feet, 160 pounds with quick-twitch in everything he does, from his plus-plus speed to his fast hands that help him generate terrific bat speed. Restituyo has the physical projection to add a lot of strength but already generates impressive power and already shows it in games. He has a compact, handsy swing from the right side and performs well against live pitching, staying under control and squaring up premium velocity. While some scouts think Restituyo might ultimately end up at second base, he has a chance to stick at shortstop, where he has an average arm.
Restituyo was lumped into an unranked group of prospects by Fangraphs titled “Young Sleepers” in their pre-2020 list:
These are all frame-based projection lottery tickets, though Restituyo is also a 70 runner who might be an impact defender in center one day.
The 19-year-old is still a long ways away from the Show, but the Rockies moved him much faster than a typical international free agent. You know, before he lost a year of development. Restituyo’s invitation to fall instructs is a great sign for what the Rockies think of him as a prospect though. His 2021 placement will be a good indicator of this as well — do the Rockies think he is ready for full season ball or will they send him to their newly formed Complex team? My bet is the former, and if he succeeds in full season ball as a teenager I guarantee he’ll show up much higher on this list in its mid-season form.
Bladimir Restituyo represents a potential impact player who, though he is far away (likely at least three years), has played very well in a challenging situation. I was intrigued enough by the package of tools combined with the role and age/level combo to rank him 26th on my list as a FV 35+ player.