Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Twins International Signing Period Preview

Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball's July 2 international signing date is quickly approaching and this signing period can be one of the most valuable ways for organizations to add talent. These players can sign for big bonuses but they are signed at age-16 compared to older ages for MLB's domestic draft.

Fans need to look no further than the current Twins roster to see valuable international pieces. Miguel Sano and Max Kepler were both signed in 2009 as part of the international signing period. Jorge Polanco is another starter who signed from the international market. Other top prospects like Fernando Romero, Felix Jorge, and Engelb Vielma were international signees and they each are already on the 40-man roster.

Overview of the Class
Many national entities feel like the 2017 international signing class is very strong with two strong players at the top, Wander Franco and Daniel Flores. Baseball America said this about the class, "While there are 5-10 players who emerge among the elite prospects in a signing class, the 2017 group has strong depth of top-end talent. Any of the players in the top 15 could fit into a top five in many years.

Hard Cap Era
Baseball has been tightening its rules when it comes to signing players. This year will mark the beginning of the hard cap era for international signings. The majority of teams have a bonus pool of $4.75 million while smaller market clubs, like the Twins, get either $5.25 million or $5.75 million. Even with this hard cap, clubs are able to trade for up to 75 percent of their original poll allotment and they can trade away all of their pool.

Minnesota has $5.25 million allotted for players in their bonus pool which means only eight clubs can currently spend more than the Twins. Eleven teams are currently under penalty for exceeding their bonus pools in previous signing periods. This means they are prohibited from signing any player for more than $300,000 during this season's international signing period.

Twins Focus
Switch-hitting shortstop Jelfrey Marte is expected to get a majority of the Twins' allotment pool. He has been linked to the Twins since this winter and he is expected to get a signing bonus around $3 million. Other sources told the Pioneer Press that a deal was "not done yet" but he should get over $2 million as a bonus.

Marte is one of the top ranking Dominican shortstops in the class. Baseball America has him as the 13th overall international prospect in this signing class and the fifth best Dominican shortstop. MLB.com has a much higher view of Marte as he ranks third in their overall rankings. The only shortstop to rank higher than Marte on this list is Wander Franco who is considered the best player in the class.

MLB.com offers some strong support for Marte. "He's a good runner with quick hands, a strong arm and the defensive tools that could make him an everyday shortstop one day. Scouts also like Marte's footwork, his polished actions and his range to both sides. On the offensive side, "Marte makes consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. He has shown good bat speed and a solid approach. What's more, Marte is a line-drive hitter now but he could develop some pop as he grows and his body matures."

According to Darren Wolfson, another name to watch is Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Aguiar. Baseball America has him as the 30th best prospect in the class while MLB.com didn't have him in their top-30. There will be other names as well but the Twins will likely use most of their bonus pool on Marte and Aguiar.

Will the Twins trade for some more bonus pool space? What are your thoughts on Marte and Aguiar? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

1 comment:

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