The wait is over. July 2nd has arrived, and Atlanta’s handshake agreements have finally come to paper. By the way, our 2 big prizes from last year’s international period are blowing up as well. Here are the stats:
Derian Cruz: .393, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI (6 Games)
Christian Pache: .345, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI (6 Games)
These are the breakdowns and contract details:
INF Kevin Maitan (Ranked #1): $4.25 Million
C Abrahan Gutierrez (Ranked #18): $3.5 Million
SS Yunior Severino (Ranked #19): $1.9 Million
3B Yenci Pena (Ranked #22): $1 Million
INF Livan Soto (Ranked #24): $1 Million
RHP Guillermo Zuniga: $350k
RHP Juan Contreras: $1.2 Million
RHP Yefri De Rosario: $800k-$1 Million
The Braves will be paying the penalty for this, 100% tax and they are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300k next signing period. The front office was aware that this would happen, but this period was so stacked that they really didn’t care. There are rumors that the International Draft will actually BECOME a draft in the next year or two, so the bonus pool signing rules will become irrelevant. Now, on to the players.
We’ve all heard of Kevin Maitan. 16, 6’2, 165 pounds. Rocket arm, switch hitter, and can absolutely mash a baseball. His 2 comparisons? Chipper Jones and Miguel Cabrera. The kid plays like he was built in a laboratory. If he plays to his potential like Andruw Jones or Miggy, we could see him as soon as 2019.
Abrahan Gutierrez has been revered as a very athletic catcher with a good frame who can manage a staff. He’s been working on his skills as a backstop since he was very young, and is another power hitter who likes to find the gaps. MLB.com has his arm graded at a 60 and his fielding as a 70. He draws comparisons to defending World Series Champion Salvador Perez.
Yunior Severino is an offensive, switch hitting shortstop who loves to swing the bat. Even though he isn’t very speedy, strong, or big, he can be developed in a similar way that Ozzie Albies was. He hits well from both sides of the plate, and projects to play 2nd base.
Yenci Pena is a very big kid, and he’s only 16. Standing 6’3, 181 pounds, Pena has the potential to pack a lot of muscle onto his frame and become a power hitter at 3rd base or Left Field. Maitan projects to end up at 3rd, so Pena will likely change positions. Pena has been praised for his natural swing and good defense, and scouts think that his fluid swinging motion will bring him a lot of power. My comparison would be to Luis Valbuena or Anthony Rendon.
Livan Soto is a “high energy” prospect who likes to play the gaps and drive the ball to the opposite field. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but he’s a well rounded athlete who is one of the players in this class who will need to be developed more. He reminds me a lot of Kansas City Shortstop Alcides Escobar offensively, let’s hope he can match Escober on the defensive side too.
Juan Contreras is a tall, lean, power pitcher who is “fearless” on the mound. He lives and dies by his mid 90s fastball. He’s also developing a changeup and curveball, but his slider is what is impressing a lot of scouts. Contreras was ranked 25th on the MLB top 30, but has slid out of the rankings in the past few days. Scouts are saying if his secondary pitches fail to develop, he’ll become a late innings specialist like Arodys Vizcaino. If not, he projects as an MLB Starter. His pitches and delivery remind me a lot of New York’s Luis Severino.
Guillermo Zuniga and Yefri Del Rosario are new names to most Braves fans. Like Julio Teheran, Zuniga is a Colombian native with a live arm. De Rosario has a low 90s fastball and decent control, but could develop into a 5 starter or valuable bullpen guy. These two are adding to a prospect system that is rich with pitchers, and if they can navigate their way through the meat grinder, they will be well worth the $350-$800k, even if they only become relievers.
Most of these guys are only 16, which means they will start next year in Danville or the GCL. None of these signees will put on a uniform in 2016. However, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the new Braves. We added a couple of new arms and a lot of bats to the system today, and some of these guys may be here sooner than you think.