Reviewing the Yankees 2011 int’l signings

Minor Moves: Duff, Corona, Mattingly released
2012 Season Preview: The Closer
Unheralded international signing turned superstar. (J. Meric/Getty)

Baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to put a serious damper on international spending, capping teams at $2.9M this year before shifting to a sliding scale in the future. To more you win, the less you get to spend. The Yankees have traditionally been one of baseball’s powerhouses in Latin America, and last year they dropped close to $3M on international prospects. Baseball America’s Ben Badler published his AL East spending review yesterday, looking at the players the Yankees and their division rivals signed in 2011. You do need a subscription to read the article.

The Yankees largest international signing last year was 17-year-old Dominican third baseman Miguel Andujar, who received $750k. “Andujar doesn’t have one huge carrying tool or do anything flashy, but he doesn’t have a glaring weakness either,” wrote Badler. “He’s a right-handed hitter with good bat speed, a sound swing and a good approach to hitting for his age. His hands are quick and he could hit for average and power. Andujar is an average runner and a solid defensive third baseman.” Expect him to spend this year in the Dominican Summer League before making his stateside debut in 2013.

Andujar headlines the position player crop, which also includes a trio of Dominican prospects — shortstop Abi Avelino ($175k), outfielder Wascar Rodriguez ($150k), infielder Victor Rey $135k) — and one Colombian catcher (Alvaro Noriega at $175k). Rodriguez offers big raw power while the others do their best work on the defensive side of the ball. Noriega does enough things well that he should remain behind the plate long-term and is likely the best all-around prospect of the bunch. Interestingly enough, the Yankees also signed catcher Dan Vavrusa for $10k out of the Czech Republic. He appears to be the team’s first real foray into Europe.

Right-handers Moises Cedeno (Panama), Luis Severino (DR) and Giovanny Gallegos (Mexico) highlight the pitching crop. Cedeno didn’t turn 16 until late-August, making him the youngest player to sign with any of the 30 clubs last year. He signed for just under $355k and already shows three pitches. The 16-year-old Severino signed for $225k and has touched 95 with a power slider. Gallegos, 20, was part of a package deal similar to one that brought Al Aceves and Manny Banuelos to the Yankees in 2007. He is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but when healthy he’s sat in the low-90s with two breaking balls. Gallegos signed for an even $100k.

Of course, the Yankees just landed what figures to be their most significant international prospect before the new spending restrictions kick in this July. That would be 21-year-old right-hander Rafael DePaula, who was finally able to secure a visa last week. DePaula still has to pass a physical before his long-awaited $500k deal is official, but he’ll instantly become one of the team’s better pitching prospects despite missing so much development time due to a suspension and his visa delay. He and his mid-90s gas could see time with a full season affiliate this summer.

Four of the Yankees top ten prospects originally signed as international free agents, not including trade import Jose Campos. The new spending limitations will impact the Yankees more than most clubs because they’ve relied on the international market to land elite talents like Jesus Montero, which usually aren’t available to them late in the draft. The worldwide appeal of the Yankee brand works in their favor, but there will be a much greater emphasis on pure scouting now.

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Minor Moves: Duff, Corona, Mattingly released
2012 Season Preview: The Closer
  • Chris

    Now we will see the Yankees flex their true muscle. 125K from the New York Yankees seems a hell of a lot better than 125K from the Kansas City Royals. Its like a throw back to the days before the draft. If the Yankees came a callin’…it was a thrill and they usually got their man. I bet small market teams try to push for blind contract offers next because the interlocking NY is something they can’t tax or limit.

    • crawdaddy

      There will be certain teams that will invest most of their IFA allotment into one prospect if they think he’s the real deal. That’s a big gamble on a 16 year old and the past record of IFA failures.

      I don’t see the Yankees doing that and will spread their monies around based on their scouting results.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Absolutely. I think the complaints as to the changes have absolute validity to them, but they shouldn’t be a crutch for this franchise. They’ll just out-scout everyone.

      • JMK

        Historically, we have no reason to believe the Yankees can out-scout everyone. Like everyone, they’ve had their hits. But they’ve also had their misses.

        Something equally important is player development; most seem to have less confidence in that aspect than the raw scouting element.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      How can 125k from one team be worse than 125k from another team?

      • Short Porch

        Because everybody wants to play for the Yankees?

        • Rainbow Connection

          Not Cliff Lee.

          • 50 rupee

            or Greg Maddox. Or Walter Young.

    • FIn

      Hmm, if I’m a prospect the last place I want to be is in the Yankees farm system. They will always have long term, big contract, superstars, blocking a significant portion of roster spots. More likely than not you end up playing for another team. You have to have the stars align to make it to the Yankees (a hole at position you play and you being MLb ready the year that hole opens).

      • Short Porch

        Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, Robbie Cano, Edwardo Nunez, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson say ‘hi.’

        • Plank

          You had to go back 17 years to make the list that long.

      • Chris

        Unless you are a pitcher.

      • Plank

        I was about to make the same comment. I doubt it would have much of an impact, but if any team gets a benefit because of their city/brand, I would assume it would be Miami (Spanish and weather.)

  • JohnC

    DePaula was in Tampa yesterday to take his physical. Another kid they signed who sounds interesting is 17 year old RHP Dallas Martinez, who has been compared somewhat to Manny Banuelos. These new restrictions are why they should make a big play for Jorge Soler when he is declared a FA since it will be their last chance to make such a big splash before the new restrictions kick in

    • JMK

      I’m not saying the Yankees shouldn’t pursue Soler (I think they absolutely should), but money is still money. If we’re talking Cespedes cash, is that worth it?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….for a kid who, according to the people I trust on this forum, probably wouldn’t start above A-ball? Of course it’s not worth it, but he’s the bone to chew on, International-Non-Dom-Brown Division.

        I’d say I could see the team spending quite a bit above the norm for him, but I could also see another team recklessly opening up the moneybags just as easily.

        • JMK

          So what’s that tipping point? Obviously we’re not in a position to accurately assess how good he is, or rather, what sort of potential he actually has.

          But assuming the Yankees believe he can be a perennial All-Star (again, just an assumption for argument’s sake), is $25 million over say, 7 years worth it? Even if all goes well, he’ll probably need a minimum of 3 seasoning years on the buses. And it goes without saying, that’s absolutely no guarantee.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Good question.

            Can you imagine paying this dude seven years from now, any amount of money, if he flames out in three? If he’s THAT much of a prospect, maybe you go five on him (and a small part of me does die while saying that out lout)?

            What does Soler offer that the Yankees can’t find in the Int market for less? I don’t know the answer to that, as I probably wouldn’t have even known of Soler’s existence if it wasn’t for this place.

            • Robert

              Many in Baseball say if were in the draft he would be the top pick in many years.Also many think he is ALOT better than Cespedes.He is projected as a Matt Kemp,Mike Stanton,Montero type bat.

      • jsbrendog

        exactly, if he wants a 40 man spot and big money then im not sure that makes too much sense..

    • Reggie C.

      Soler must’ve pissed someone off at the consulate because the man has been waiting awhile. If the Cubs dont really have Soler already wrapped up, then Cashman should definitely take a shot at the last great Latin American prospect free to sign before the restrictions take effect.

      • JohnC

        A few people have even suggested that Selig wants to wait til July 2 to declare Soler a FA so that he will be subject to the new IFA signing restrictions. Don’t know how true that is.

  • STONE COLD Austin Romine

    I’m sure Pat McMahon will have his intl’ scouts do their due diligence when finding the next wave of talent.

    For every Gary Sanchez there is a Kelvin de Leon.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      For every Gary Sanchez there are like, ten Kelvin DeLeons.

      • A.D.

        Wonder what the attrition rate of 6 figure bonus guys is to actually make it to MLB

        • JMK

          I’d love to see that study.

          • Don W

            I would too, I doubt it’s anywhere near 10-1 as Mike suggested.

            • Ted Nelson

              Unfortunately most of these guys are really really recent:

              http://www.baseballamerica.com.....13092.html

              This list is a little better since it’s from 2009:

              http://www.beyondtheboxscore.c.....an-signing

              There are some very promising prospects on the list (Montero, Profar, Sanchez, Sano), but Cabrera is the only real proven stud compared to past flops like Joel Guzman, Jackson Melian, Ricardo Aramboles and marginal guys like Pena and Aybar). There are a whole lot of guys I’ve never heard of or forgot about a long time ago. Even a kid from 2006 is only like 22, so the book’s not closed on many of these kids… but some have shown very little in the minors.

              If things go well for him Jesus would be the first of 5 Yankees to really have any MLB success (Pena had a little, but not much… Sanchez might make it two of six).

              • YankeeGrunt

                I think the Yankees have really picked up on this. The only two times they’ve given out the largest bonus in a given year over the last ten were for Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez. Otherwise they’ve doled out a couple of high-six bonuses a year (apparently just Andujar last year) and a lot of smaller sums.

  • crawdaddy

    Dallas Martinez is the one kid pitcher I’ll be keeping an eye on.

  • crawdaddy

    The IFA budget hurts Texas and Toronto worse than it does the Yankees. Gary Sanchez was the last big IFA signee in the July signing period and that was three years ago.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      When’s the last time Texas and Toronto turned an IFA into a meaningful big leaguer? Between those two teams, it’s basically Ogando over the last half-decade.

      • JohnC

        Where did Elvis Andrus come from?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          The Braves.

        • Fernando

          Texas got Andrus in a trade with Atlanta. He was part of the package for Mark Texieira.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          *sits JohnC on knee*

          • thenamestsam

            First time I’ve ever actually laughed out loud at a post here. Well played.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              You have low standards, my friend.

          • JohnC

            *while JohnC sh*ts on Robinson Tilapia*

            • Robinson Tilapia

              You still shit in your pants? Gross.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Take solace, John, in the fact that, right after this joke, I had to go change my eight month-old’s massively poopy diaper.

              • JohnC

                Take heart. Been there. Done that

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  *high-five*

      • Ted Nelson

        Not sure how guys they signed 7-15 years ago with development staffs that may not even be in place anymore are particularly relevant. Point is that those teams (and others) have been devoting a lot of resources to signing huge bonus guys recently. They will have to adjust their strategy somewhat. The Yankees won’t have to adjust their strategy from the last few years. In fact, the way they’ve approached IFA the last few years I’d guess the Yankees might have been one of the champions of capping spending (though probably not of the regressive cap for winning teams).

  • JohnC

    When did Gallegos have the TJ surgery? Is he expected to pitch this year?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Sometime after signing, so late in the summer or early fall. Might pitch at the end of the season, but I doubt it.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I assume Melvin is still considered an intergalactic prospect?

    • Barry

      The apocalypse has a calendar that says when Melvin is coming.

    • jsbrendog

      melvin pitched in a pickup game last week. he had 6 strikeouts in half an inning of work.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….and then the first guy came to bat.

  • Tcmiller30

    What would be high and reasonable expectations for DePaula? Are there any pitchers he can be compared to in terms of what he throws?

    • pat

      Ever heard of Nolan Ryan? Or Walter Johnson? Like them, but actually good.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I’m still holding out hope for Renzo Martini.

    • JMK

      The name alone makes him an exciting prospect.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      You had to have just made that name up.

    • jsbrendog

      i’ll take mine dirty, 3 olives. and don’t skimp on the plastic toy sword.

  • Reggie C.

    I hope this isn’t too far off base because this comment is related to international signings …

    Anyone have any new information about MLB’s investigation into the Jairo Beras – Rangers signing? I thought MLB was going to void the signing on grounds Beras failed to inform all ML clubs except the Rangers when he discovered he was actually 17.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    “Interestingly enough, the Yankees also signed catcher Dan Vavrusa for $10k out of the Czech Republic. He appears to be the team’s first real foray into Europe.”

    In related news, this just in. The Yankees have signed every baseball player under the age of 19 from the Czech Republic for a total of $90k.

    • jsbrendog

      they bought the czech league. 4 teams. $90k

  • vin

    Just out of curiosity… Does the dollar stretch further in some Latin countries than others? Like would an good 16 year old in DR get a bigger bonus than a similarly talented Panamanian? Does supply and demand in each country impact bonuses, or are all the IFA’s grouped together?

    • Rick in Boston

      Good question. I think you’re right about a Dominican prospect getting more money than a Panamanian, all things being the same. Without doing too much research, I would think that the history of success each country has in producing major leaguers is a major factor.

      • Chris

        After Mo retires I hope the Yankees use him to sign Panamanians. Imagine a God knocking on your door and asking for you to sign with his team.

  • Now Batting

    Severino is 16 and has touched 95? Sounds drool worthy

  • Brian

    Will Dan Vavrusa play in the DSL?