Joined: 14 May 2006 Posts: 5046 Location: Lake Worth, FL
Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:14 pm Post subject:
International Signing Season Set To Open
Top prospects seeking seven-figure signing bonuses
By John Manuel
July 1, 2006
As the July 2 start date for international free agent signings approached, word continued to spread through the scouting community that clubs were ready to spend significant amounts once again in Latin America for premium talent.
That would leave the industry picking up where it left off last year, when clubs such as the Braves, Rockies, Brewers, Rangers and Mets were among those using six- and seven-figure signing bonuses to sign players out of the primary Latin American hotbeds of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The Mets made the biggest splash last year, signing outfielder Fernando Martinez ($1.4 million) and righthander Deolis Guerra ($700,000) for two of the largest bonuses of the year.
This year's top targets include some big names, both in terms of length and in terms of big league name recognition. Dominican catcher Francisco Pena has received the most attention, as the youngest son of former big leaguer Tony Pena, now a coach with the Yankees. Pena has been pursued by teams such as the Yankees, Mets, Nationals and Reds, and rumors swirled that he was expected to sign for a bonus as large as $2 million. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Pena has power and arm strength behind the plate, like his father. He's not considered as athletic as his dad or brother, Tony Pena Jr., now a shortstop in the Braves system.
One international scouting director termed Pena's body as "heavy and thick." Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo, who knows the Pena family well, told the Kansas City Star in a recent interview that Pena "throws almost as well as me, and he has good size. I knew from seeing him he would be a professional. Tony Pena has baseball in his blood, and his kids are the same."
Another big name involved is Scott Boras, the agent whose domestic clients so often are major factors in the draft. Boras takes much the same approach to Latin America as he does to the draft, signing only a few players his talent evaluators consider to be elite talents. The player he represents generating the most talk this year is infielder Carlos Truinfel, a shortstop with a large body at 6-foot-2 and present offensive potential. Boras also represents righthander Jose Luis Areas, a 6-foot-8 righthander who Boras said already throws in the low 90s, and third baseman Carlos Villanoa, though he said they were still waiting on paperwork to determine the proper spelling of Villanoa's name.
"We call him Big V," Boras said jokingly. "What I do know is he is the best third baseman we've seen in the Dominican since Adrian Beltre," another Boras client.
Boras added that while Martinez set the top end of the market last year at $1.4 million, he expected at least Truinfel (if not his other players) would garner at least as much if not more in this year's market. One international scouting director said the asking price he'd heard for Truinfel was $3 million.
Three other names that had emerged as hot prospects who could sign significant contracts were Venezuelan third baseman Balbino Fuenmayor, Nicaraguan righthander Danilo Alvarez and Venezuelan catcher Jesus Montero. While Alvarez and Montero have been making the rounds since spring training with workouts for clubs, Fuenmayor was garnering the most interest because of his line-drive bat and excellent hands, which work well at the plate and in the field. Fuenmayor's speed is below-average, likely limiting him to first or third base.
"Of that group, Fuenmayor probably has the best chance to be something special," another international scouting director said. "He reminds me a little of (Angels infielder) Kendry Morales in that he doesn't have good range and is limited defensively, but unlike Morales, I think he has enough power, arm strength and soft hands to stay at third.
"I like Montero's bat some, but I don't know if he can catch long term. He's kind of stiff-bodied and probably winds up moving to first or maybe right field. Pena's definitely the better catcher of the two."
1. Jesus Montero, C, Venezuela (16 years old)
He can hit with power to all fields. He has powerful arms, though he will probably end up playing first base.
2. Engel Beltre, OF, Dominicana (16)
A left-handed hitter with extra-base power. He has a powerful throwing arm and plays great defense in the outfield. There's a rumor that he has a verbal agreement with the Boston Red Sox.
3. Angel Villalona, 3B, Dominicana (16)
A five-tool player (hits for average, hits for power, has speed, fields well and has a good arm). Villalona is 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds.
4. Moises Tejeda, SS, Dominicana (16)
He could be the most athletic of them all. He's a stunning pitcher, a great runner and a good hitter.
5. Larry Suarez, RHP, Venezuela (17)
A tall pitcher (6-3) with an explosive fastball. The right-hander hasn't had a big show this year. He is believed to have a preliminary agreement with the Chicago Cubs.
6. Euclides Viloria, LHP, Venezuela (16)
Sort of like Johan Santana but with less power. Viloria has a great combination of pitches, with a curveball and a changeup, and his fastball varies between 88 and 91 mph.
7. Esmeily Gonzalez, SS, Dominicana (16)
A great player who can hit from both sides of the plate. Because of his size, good defense and powerful arm, he's compared to Rafael Furcal.
8. Carlos Triunfel, SS, Dominicana (16)
Somewhat similar to Miguel Tejada when he was signed. He has great power and knows how to hit. Scouts say "he bounces the ball off the bat."
9. Balbino Fuenmayor, 3B, Venezuela (16)
An athlete. He's 6-3, has soft hands, but above all things is a great hitter. He has a very good temperament and a willingness to learn.
10. Jason Smit, SS, Australia (16)
Smit is a very disciplined and intelligent player. He's got unlimited power but doesn't fan bad pitches and defensively makes all the ordinary plays.
11. Francisco Pena, C, Dominicana (16)
The son of ex-catcher Tony Pena is considered a great prospect because of his bat. There are rumors that he has shortened his list of favorite teams to the Yankees, Mets and Braves.
_________________ Franco (Hoboken): Is Jose Reyes still the ďWorst Everyday Player in baseballĒ?
Rob Neyer: Clearly, heís not.
"He thinks every woman in the world is in love with him, so we give him some shit, keep his feet on the earth." -LoDuca on Wright
Joined: 19 May 2006 Posts: 2832 Location: CoUnTy Of KiNgS
Posted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:12 am Post subject:
Anyone know Spanish?
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I put it into babelfish for a really crappy translation. It seems like there's some SS prospect,Juan Lagares, in the Academy who they claim is better than Reyes was at the same age.
says pretty much that.. he is 16 and was just recently signed.. he is in his first year of professional ball... and that the same guy who described reyes talent and that he could end up even passing him in the long run... aalso another player who the guy signed was carlos gomez....
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