By Jared Stanger
The opening of the MLB international signing period isn’t until July 2nd, 2017 but as the least suspenseful piece of any sports’ amateur-to-pro process; this is more set in stone, and more of a report than a projection.
MLB recently made some changes to their international process, which are mostly beyond my interest to study up on. Suffice to say; Seattle began with a signing bonus pool of $4.75 million (the minimum). Jerry Dipoto traded an international slot worth approximately $320K to Tampa in exchange for MILB pitcher Bryan Bonnell about a week ago. So let’s call Seattle’s pool $4.43 million now.
MLB.com currently has their top-30 international player rankings up, and I think I counted 27 of those already understood to have agreements with respective major league teams. Seattle is associated with 3 of the top 30 (which is more than they have gone after international targets recently).
The highest-ranked player connected to the Mariners is R/R, Dominican OF Julio Rodriguez who comes in at #9 for MLB.com. MLB has him listed at 6’1″/170 lbs with his best tool his bat, while other sources say he’s now more 6’3″/200-205. There’s a bit of an odd timing mechanism early in his swing (like one of Cal Ripken Jr’s least-successful stances), but Rodriguez seems to have enough bat speed to compensate for it.
Oddly, though he’s ranked much higher than Seattle’s other two top-30 INTL’s, Rodriguez is actually my least favorite.
Ranked #26 in this class, my favorite of Seattle’s expected signings is Venezuelan IF Juan Querecuto. MLB has him at 6’0″/155 lbs and listed as a shortstop. Something about my limited view of him tells me he’s more of 2B (maybe 3B if the bat plays up more as he grows). I love how free and easy Juan’s swing is:
MLB says he’s got a 60-grade arm, which could also suggest 3B in the future.
Finally, at #29, MLB is connecting Venezuelan OF Stir Candelario to the Mariners. Listed 5’11″/170 lbs with 60-grade in both power and arm-strength; from the video, I’m actually wondering if Stir isn’t a potential future pitcher. Arm looks REALLY live.
I didn’t specifically count the number of players in the top 30 from the Dominican vs Venezuela (the two primary signing bases), but with the well-documented struggles MLB has had finding safe ways to scout players in war/crime riddled Venezuela; it’s interesting that Seattle found 2 of their 3 guys there. It made me wonder if Seattle has made a more concerted effort to risk going to VZ than other teams.
It also made me wonder if Seattle is the mystery team behind any of the players currently not reported as attached to any one team. The #6 player for MLB.com is from Venezuela (OF Raimfer Salinas), as is the #8 player (C Antonio Cabello). Both unattached and, in fact, both of those kids are trained by the same man: Francisco Ortiz. There is also #24, SS Osleivis Basabe from Venezuela without an attachment.
I think Cabello is the most interesting of the three. Honestly seems undervalued at #8 because he looks like a young Ivan Rodriguez to me. I like him behind the plate, and I REALLY like his swing. Super athletic kid.
Getting 4 of the top 30 (and moreso 2 of the top 10) seems far-fetched, especially for a team that now has less than the minimum international bonus pool, but who knows…maybe kids are eager to come to the home of the King of Venezuela: Felix Hernandez.