According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Braves have shown interest in Cuban prospect Eddy Julio Martinez:
Signing bonus for Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez, 20, could reach $10M. Braves, Giants, Yanks, Cubs, Nats, D-backs, White Sox shown interest.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 16, 2015
With John Hart now at the helm, it’s clear that the Braves are beginning to put a stronger emphasis on the international market. He continues to stockpile international pool money to make a big splash (he acquired pool money from the Cubs and Padres this past offseason in trades). While many speculate the Braves may not be buyers until next season, here the Braves are linked to a top 3 prospect in this year’s international prospect class. With teams such as the Cubs, Yankees and Angels ineligible to offer Martinez big money, the time to strike may be now. Of course, the Dodgers are the time many speculate will sign the 20-year old outfielder. Martinez has been compared to one of the greatest Braves of all-time, Andruw Jones:
One international scout here in Panama told me Cuban OF prospect Eddy Julio Martinez reminded him of a young Andruw Jones."He's legit, man."
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) May 20, 2015
There is very little statistical data on Martinez, as he has only compiled 116 at bats at Cuba’s highest level, hitting only .232 with a lone home run and 23 RBI. These numbers won’t wow you, but he was doing this at 18 and 19 years old. Martinez is eligible to sign now, but it’s unclear how much his current value is on the market. Also being connected to fellow Cuban Hector Olivera, the Braves are a serious dark-horse team to watch in regards to Martinez. He reportedly has top notch speed and above average player, and he could have a huge impact on the Braves’ future plans if brought in.
So why might the Braves hit the brakes on Martinez? If they aren’t sold on him as the absolute top international talent that they could have a shot at in the next couple seasons, they will likely hold out. A player with talent like Martinez will yield a team to go over their international bonus pool. This means that the next two following international signing periods, that team cannot spend over $300,000 on international prospects.
He’s an international prospect that Braves fans should definitely keep their eyes on.