Daily Prospect Profile: Raul Fortunato

I rarely profile players in the rookie leagues, mostly because they’re so far away from the majors that any sort of projections are just wild guesses.  There are some exceptions, such as guys like Luis Heredia, or maybe even big bonus guys like Willy Garcia.  Even then, nothing is guaranteed.  There has been one player in the Dominican Summer League this year that has caught my eye: Raul Fortunato.

It was hard to miss Fortunato.  He’s a leadoff hitter, so he’s normally right at the top of the list.  For awhile, I noticed him getting a hit in almost every game.  Then, earlier this week, I noticed that he had a small hitting streak going.  After some research, I found that he wasn’t just getting a hit in almost every game.  He was getting a hit in EVERY game.  Fortunato, after going 2-for-4 last night, has a hitting streak of 25 games, dating back to June 29th.  That’s an entire month.  The last time he failed to reach base safely was June 22nd.  In fact, that was just one of two games this year that Fortunato has failed to reach base safely.

Fortunato has a .337/.433/.495 line this year, with five homers in 184 at-bats.  He’s got 26 stolen bases in 36 attempts.  In the month of July, he’s hitting for a .424/.479/.659 line in 85 at-bats, with four of his five homers, and 10 steals in 15 attempts.  This is Fortunato’s third year in the DSL, and it could easily be called a breakout year.  In his first two years, Fortunato combined for a .195/.278/.261 line in 307 at-bats.  He turns 21 in September, and normally third year players who are 21 in rookie ball don’t make for top prospects.

That’s not saying that the young center fielder can’t make the jump to the United States and do something with his career.  What he’s done this year is very impressive.  However, it does come with the asterisk that he turns 21 at the end of the year, and is in his third run through the league.  Considering that most players in the league are 17-19 years old, and most top prospects play a year or two at the level, that leads to skepticism that Fortunato is legit.  You don’t usually see players promoted mid-season, due to visa issues, so we’ll have to wait until the 2012 season to see what the Pirates think of Fortunato.  If they move him to the US, and give him an aggressive push to either State College or West Virginia, it will give a little more credit to the current streak Fortunato is on.