Where are the players the Braves lost due to international restrictions?

Daniel young Braves

Nearly five years ago, Major League Baseball handed down their punishment on the Braves organization for violating international signing rules from 2015 to 2017. Here are more details regarding exactly what Atlanta’s brass was charged with: 

Manfred said MLB’s investigation determined the Braves funneled extra signing bonus money to five players in 2015-16 by giving the funds first to another player considered a foreign professional under baseball’s rules and having the money redistributed to the other five. If the money had been counted for the other five, the Braves would have exceeded their pool by more than 5 percent and been restricted to signing bonuses of $300,000 or under for international amateurs through June 15, 2019.

Major League Baseball didn’t hold back in their punishment. In fact, it was one of the harshest punishments I’ve ever seen for something that most likely goes on fairly frequently under the table.

The Braves general manager at the time, John Coppollela, was banned from the game for life, and other members of the organization were suspended for lengthy periods. Beyond that, the league placed restrictions on the Braves future ability to participate in signing international free agents — sanctions that are just now coming to an end. They also voided the contracts of 12 players who had already signed with the Braves. It was a crippling punishment, but Baseball America recently broke down the 12 players the Braves lost, and only one of them has made it to the majors, Livan Soto, while the rest don’t seem like they will be following in his footsteps.

Soto made his major-league debut for the Angels over the weekend, going 2-for-4 with a homer. It’s a promising start to his career, but he doesn’t project as anything more than a utility man or reserve piece.

At the time of the sanctions, Kevin Maitan was the highest-graded international prospect. Losing him was supposed to sting for the next two decades, but he went on to gain a ton of weight, and most people no longer even expect him to make it to the majors.

Of the other ten players, two have already been released from their respective organizations, and two are considered top 30 prospects. The others remain in organizations but aren’t ever expected to be anything more than backups at the major-league level. The two top 30 prospects are Abrahan Gutierrez, who is currently with the Pirates organization, and Brandol Mezquita, who actually re-signed with the Braves following the sanctions and is now their 22nd-ranked prospect.

I guess when looking back at it, the moral of the story is don’t cheat. None of these players look to be worth the massive penalties handed down by Major League Baseball. Lifetime bans, year-long suspensions, and lengthy future restrictions on international prospects were given to the Braves because they were skirting the rules for 12 players that will likely never even make one All-Star game. Thankfully, these sanctions haven’t prevented the Braves from turning into a championship-caliber organization but just think about the spot they would be in had this not happened.


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