Juan Yepez was signed as a 16-year old third baseman out of Venezuela last season, and was the prize of our international signings. We gave him a bonus that exceeded $1 million, the first time we hit 7 figures on a bonus in team history. Yepez came over this season and was a little younger than most kids playing in Rookie ball. Despite being 17 this past season, Yepez made a nice debut in the Braves’ farm system in 2015. Across 201 at bats in the Appalachian League and Gulf Coast League, he hit .299 with 4 home runs and 31 RBI. He also had 16 doubles. Given the small sample size, that’s very impressive. He is going to be a great compliment to a draft class that looks to be shaping out nicely.
Yepez has been praised for his contact bat, and has some power to back it up as well. Considering his age, it’s not hard to imagine him adding some more power to his 6’1″, 195 lbs frame. What’s also impressive is his consistency. He hit .302 against southpaws and .297 aganst righties, and got really hot towards the end of the season, hitting 20-for-44. Yepez has been moved to first base since coming to the U.S., and yes that Freddie Freeman guy is going to be around for a while. However, the team lacks any serious prospects at the first base position. A move to first can highly benefit Yepez with Austin Riley coming on hot at the hot corner. I expect him to start the year with Rome next season.
Yepez has not hit many top prospect lists, but I currently have him ranked 19th in the system. Given his age, he can fly up this list in the coming years if he continues to showcase a plus bat. I think he will grow into his power as he starts to play more guys his age and gets comfortable in the minors.