International Free Agency Preview

Game 68: Chi-Town
Gammons: Yankees tried to tamper with Andrew Miller
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Although the draft gets most of the attention and rightfully so, the lifeblood of the Yankees’ farm system has long been international free agency, particularly Latin America. The top three and six of the top ten players on my preseason top 30 prospects list were acquired via international free agency, a talent market the Yankees can dominate with just money and not have to worry about draft position or slot recommendations. Ben Badler of Baseball America covers the IFA market like no one else, and this week he rolled out his early coverage of the International Signing Period, which officially begins on July 2nd each year. All of his preview content is behind the subscriber wall and can be found here: top talents, outfielders, shortstops, and pitchers.

Three Dominican outfielders highlight this year’s crop of talent, which is headlined by Ronald Guzman. He’s the best pure hitter and top offensive talent on the market this season but is likely to be relegated to left field down the line. Elier Hernandez is the tools freak with big time foot speed and huge batting practice power. Nomar Mazara also puts on displays in batting practice, but he doesn’t carry the same swing into games and is prone to swinging and missing, always a red flag with amateurs. Guzman has been connected to the Rangers, Red Sox and Blue Jays, Hernandez to the Royals. All three are expected to command seven figure signing bonuses.

The top two arms are righties Victor Sanchez (Venezuela) and Roberto Osuna (Mexico). Sanchez stands 6-foot-1 and has run his fastball as high as 94 while showing decent offspeed stuff, but the concern is that he doesn’t miss as many bats as someone with his stuff should against the competition he’s been facing. Osuna is the nephew of former Yankee Antonio Osuna, and he’ll offer low-90’s fastballs with a curveball and changeup. He turns 16 on July 2nd (so he just made the cut off), but he’s already pitching in the Mexican League and holding his own as a 15-year-old playing against guys ten years his senior. Sanchez could command as much as $3.5M, Osuna less than that but still seven figures.

We’ll hear much more about the Yankees and specific players in the coming weeks, but here’s a quick recap of the guys connected to the Yankees according to Badler. Also check out the Dominican Prospect League’s site for more info on way more players…

Manny Marcos, OF, Dominican Republic
A center fielder with a wiry strong 6-foot-0, 175 lb. frame, Marcos figures to stay at the position long-term and has good speed. He does have some power, but it’s more to the gaps than over the fence right now.

Yairo Munoz, SS, Dominican Republic
Munoz is a “shortstop” more than a shortstop, meaning he’s likely to wind up at another position down the road. Perez trains with former Yankees’ infield coach Rafael Perez, and he’s a switch hitter that has shown power from both sides of the plate, though his best tools are above-average speed and arm strength. Here’s video.

Luis Reynoso, SS, Dominican Republic
Another “shortstop,” Reynoso doesn’t have one true standout tool according to Badler and is instead solid at everything. He has some athleticism and projection, and his offensive game relies more on contact from the right side than power. Here’s video.

* * *

I recommend clicking through and watching the videos for no other reason to see how young and physically immature these kids are. They’re just babies, and yet scouts and teams are trying to project who will grow into a big league body and develop big league tools. Much respect to all the scouts out there.

Game 68: Chi-Town
Gammons: Yankees tried to tamper with Andrew Miller
  • mj

    my bet is on Roberto Osuna

  • Scott

    Helsin Martinez is a name that I have heard and he has HUGE power and a lot of speed

  • xnyles

    Get them all!!!


  • AnthonyD

    I love that the kids are talking about getting to the hall of fame. It’s important to set reasonable goals.

  • Reggie C.

    Yanks have signed a fair share of decent SP prospects in recent years. Hopefully this class yields the next A-Vizcaino.

  • kenthadley

    Yanks spent “middle of the road” last year on IFA’s. Trend has been for several years. In spite of the ability to dominate in this arena, they haven’t.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Except that they do, because they’re (1) getting better bang-for-their buck, (2) getting the superior talent. People blasted the Yankees for passing up on big-bucks Ynoa a few years ago (although Yanks reportedly had a deal he reneged on), and his prospect status has dimmed since he couldn’t stay healthy.

      • kenthadley

        Except that they do what? The numbers released last year put the Yanks in the middle of the pack in spending. This article talks about how the Yanks could dominate IFA signings…they don’t.

    • Mike Axisa
      • kenthadley

        Mike, the numbers released last year in the fall indicated differently…if your numbers are accurate, then I am happily wrong.

        • Mike Axisa

          They’re not my numbers, they’re BA’s and they’re from March.

          • kenthadley

            So with the 5 mil plus Yanks spent last year, who should we be watching on DSL rosters this year? Any up to GCL? Just want to know who to follow.

          • Reggie C.

            Any idea when Rafael DePaula will debut stateside? He’s not getting any younger.

  • CMP

    You would think the Yankees will invest more on international FAs since they didn’t have a first round pick or any real high priced players from the draft.

  • reed

    has anyone seen the video on tabata jimenez 6ft 4in 220 lbs throws 90-94 miles per hour. you can go to dominican players site to find him.
    type papucho luis taverez who i think is the guy taking the video or go to youtube type again papucho luis taverez. i like his mechanics.
    anybody know if yanks have a shot at him.. i think he is part of this year’s free agent international class. i checked to see if anybody signed him ,and no one has signed him i think. if he’s available i think yanks should sign him. Can someone do research on this guy can’t find much info on this guy. Again just type papucho luis taverez on you tube and you will see what a specimen this guy is!!!