Season 23 International Free Agent Report

1. Montreal Maroons, $28.2 million 
Eliezer Perez

Montreal must either of thought highly of 18 y/o Perez or had little confidence in the upcoming IFA crop.  Young Eliezer was the first star IFA pitcher to show up and the Maroons took no chances as they spent $5.1 million more than they have ever spent on one IFA to lock him up.  This is the 3rd consecutive season that they have used the overwhelming majority of their prospect cash on a Pitcher.  In the past 2 seasons they have elected to shovel buckets of money that they have at their disposal to Relief pitchers.  This signing -like the previous seasons signing- seems to have landed the Quebec based franchise an elite arm adept at preserving leads and keeping the team in games that they are behind in.  Perez should be able to only contribute 30-35 pitches every other day, though with his projected stuff, that might be good enough for 3+ innings. All of his pitches have progressed nicely during his full season at Low A.  His slider and cut FB need some re-fining to be used regularly as a set-up or strikeout pitch in the majors.  Perez's money pitch is the 4 seam FB.  The only thing that should be able to hurt this athlete is his lack of ability to keep that sphere shaped white thing out of the air, however if his Low A numbers are any indication (2HR allowed in 40+ innings) Maroon fans have yet another stud to cheer for at the stadium less than affectionately referred to as "The Big O"

2. Louisville Sluggers, $27.9 million
Ezequiel `Zeke` Manzanillo

This is the first season in 8 years that the Lobsters have made a significant financial commitment to a position player through IFA, when they shelled out $15.4 million in bonus money to Santo Figureoa.  Like Montreal, Louisville spent more this season on one player than they ever have.  In fact, Manzanillo's bonus is $9 million more than the previous title holder Oswaldo Rodriguez. The only ballclub representing the moonshine state, like many other clubs, they love what this 4-5 tool Dominican is all about.  Though being groomed as a SS at Low A, his 51 Errors in 91 games implores me to go out on a limb to predict that Zeke will play above average defence at either CF, 2B or 3B when he inevitably makes it to "the show"  His bat is what should be worth the price of admission at Louisville Slugger Field and visiting ballparks regardless of where he plays.  Zeke already has better plate vision than most current major league infielders.  This young right-handed hitter will almost without a doubt be a superb contact hitter, capable of facing righties as effectively as south-paws.  If that isn't already enough to please a manager, Zeke will make the lives of pitchers and catchers miserable with his speed and baserunning.  There may be 2 factors that keep this dude from being a top 10 player in the bigs and that is his lack of durability and power.  Manzanillo only managed to hit 10 homers last season and if there isn't significant improvement in his durability, he will only be able to play in approximately 120 games, though to be sure, they will be 120 exciting games.

3. Cincinnati Red Army, $23.1 million
Rigo Sandoval

With the exception of the past 2 seasons, The Red Army Franchise have rarely been able to convince ownership to commit a large portion of their operating budget to IFA spending.  In fact, the last time they spent significant money on an IFA was back in season 9 when they snatched up Tony Servet for $16.8 million.  Other than Servet, Vin Castillo (now in the twilight of his career) and 3 time Gold Glove CF, 2 time All Star Pedro Cedeno are the only biggish IFA signings by this Title-less Rust-Belt situated Franchise.  GM Douch La Rouche has seemingly been taking a risky approach to signing IFAs.  Over the past 2 seasons he has waited almost to the end of the signing period, each time lucking out by signing a gem and not being stuck with a huge chunk of prospect cash having nobody worth spending it on.  The 19 year old, brother of star Football (Soccer) striker Luis Alonso,  from Victoria Mexico grew up idolizing 2 of the best pivots in the history of the game Joe Morgan and Roberto Alomar.  Though his bat closely resembles the formers, his defence is not nor will it ever be in the realm of the latter.  Sandoval has good range and a decent glove.  His arm is his main weakness, especially when it comes to accuracy. The only other blight on his resume might be base-running. Cincinnati will likely take a patient approach with the late season signee's development as he was assigned to Low A for the playoffs where he won a Championship.  He is expected to play 2B at High A with a bunch of The Red Army's prospects this season.  Cincinnati fans will be looking for improvement from Rigo defensively, though their main concern is likely that his major league ready bat improves leaps and bounds.  There is no reason why this guy shouldn't hit at least above .280 in the majors, and stepping up to the plate at the "matchbox"  that is The Great American Ballpark, hit easily 30 homeruns and maybe as many as 50.  

4. Vancouver Vampire Bats, $22 million
Olmedo `Bob` Villa

The first significant IFA position player to show up in Season 23, Olmedo "Bob" Villa signed for $22 million.  Like The Red Army, the V-Bats are relatively new to spending large amounts of prospect money on IFAs.  Their only other large purchase was in Season 21 when they laid out $17.5 million in bonus cash for Maicer Reyes.  Villa will not blow you away with his defensive abilities from LF, though his right handed bat will make up for those short-comings.  He split time between Rookie ball and Low A, hitting over .300 at both levels.  He also took advantage of his wheels, victimizing pitchers and catchers for 22 bags in a mere 80 games.  Though with a small sample size, it is worth noting that he hit .375 in the Low A playoffs.  Not blessed with great power, this pull hitter should improve to the point where he could hit 10-15 homers a season depending on how many ABs he gets.  His greatest strength is his ability to make contact, as evidenced by his minor league numbers.  He has also shown an above average ability to bunt for an 18 y/o.  Scouts like his ability to handle both lefties and righties, and despite his deficiencies as a fielder it looks like Vancouver made a safe and solid investment.

5.  Atlanta Spartans, $17.2 million
Jose Delgado

What looks to be possibly the second best relief pitcher in the Season 23 IFA pool signed for a $17.2 million bonus and an invite to spring training.  The Spartans will need Jose's control to get significantly better.  Delgado spent all of last season at High A throwing 20 innings over 11 appearances.  In his limited action, he amassed 12 Strike Outs and 11 Base on Balls giving him an unimpressive WHIP of 1.60 and a 5.66 ERA.  The Spartans should take heart in the fact that statistics (especially minor league stats) have little bearing on how someone will perform in "the show"  However, they should be concerned that his durability and stamina are low, and that even at the tender age of 18, Jose has had a lot of health troubles.  Mr. Delgado was signed near the end of the IFA signing period, Atlanta for that reason is likely pleased to have gotten him as opposed to nobody.  Atlanta should have a better than average set-up man in their bullpen of the future if Delgado can stay off the DL and get his control close to his other abilities.

6. Nashville Catfish, $16.3 Million
Bartolo Nieto

Nashville grabbed this 18 y/o CF/2B from Cotui of the Dominican Republic.  Nieto is an average defender with potential to be very good.  His best attribute is clearly his power, which for a man of his age and who plays in the middle of the field, is off of the charts.  His glove and base-running abilities should improve enough to be, at the very least, adequate for the big leagues.  Unfortunately, all is not roses in the Music City.  Nieto is far from a contact hitter by nature, despite his .349 average in rookie ball.  He did wear a couple of golden sombreros last season, striking out 22 times in 109 at bats.  Despite this, Nashville has to be happy with the ten doubles, three triples, seven homers and thirty RBI in his 1st professional season.  The crystal ball foresees many dented billboards in outfield of Hershel Greer Stadium off of Bartolo's bat.

7. Helena Phantom der Nacht $15.4 million
Jose Infante

Mr. Infante was pleased to see Helena offer him a major league deal at the tender age of 18, almost assuring that he will never sent to the minors once he makes it to the big leagues.  Pitching in AAA is not in this kids future as he is almost good enough to throw in the majors right now.  Only time will tell, but he looks like he could be as good or better than the richer Jose Delgado.  Infante sure can keep the ball down, has very good control, and has a scary 4 seamer.  Lefthanded hitters will not look forward to seeing Infante, and it won't be a picnic for righties either.  If this guy can improve his average slider, and I don't see why he won't, then he can be an elite set-up guy or closer.  His lone weakness is a lack of velocity.  Jose kept hitters to a .206 OAV, .283 OBP and rumour has it that he averaged 18 K9  in Cuba's top league despite topping out at 72 MPH on the radar gun.  If the birth certificate is correct, Helena scored big time with this Cuban defector.  Fidel has to surely be pissed about this one.

8. Charleston Cannons, $13.7 million
Ivan "The Terrible" Suarez

Not far behind Infante and Delgado is this 19 y/o Dominican. Suarez is good enough as I write this to pitch in the majors.  Good splits, velocity, the ability to keep the ball down and a devastating  4 seamer are the keys to "Ivan the Terrible's" success.  Charleston is taking a patient approach with Ivan.  The Cannon's late signing
pitched in 2 regular season and 4 playoff games.  He was 7 for 7 in save opportunities giving up 0 runs in 6.1 innings.  If there is one thing to criticize about Ivan's game it is his lack of control.  During the playoffs he plunked 2 guys, one of which charged half-way to the mound before realizing that the 6ft. 205 lb lefty might rearrange his face like a Picasso.  Overall the Cannons are likely pleased to add this guy to their young corps.

9. Las Vegas Numa Numa, $13 million
Junior Molina

No stranger to spending significant money on IFAs, Xavier shelled out $13 million for Junior Molina SR., which should buy a lot of diapers for his young family.  He and his wife Penelope have twins Esmeralda and Junior JR.  The Numa Numa have to be pleased that their large investment has a young family as it might help keep this young man grounded while in Sin City.  Molina possesses 2 very good pitches, a devastating 12-6 curveball and a slider with absolutely sick movement.  He has shown an uncanny ability to throw those 2 pitches and his unpolished change-up and cutter with above average accuracy.  Junior has good splits for a man of his age, but his velocity leaves a lot to be desired.  At High A he had an impressive 110 strike outs a 1.29 WHIP, and a 6-6 record in 25 starts and 127.1 innings.

10. Philadelphia Pheremoniacs, $12.1
Louie "Armstrong" Valentin

Max made Louie "Armstrong" Valentin the second highest paid Cuban defector in Season 23.  Valentin hails from Remedios, a hot bed for star ball players in Cuba's top league.  "Armstrong" agonized over whether to or not to defect from the beautiful city in the Villa Clara province, fearing what might happen to his family.  Like his fellow countryman Infante, Valentin has really good accuracy, unlike Infante, Louie can saw off a lot of bats with his 91 MPH heater.  He had some growing pains at Low A, where he had a 5.05 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.  He gave up 14 homers while notching 97 K in 98 innings.  Max would surely like to see this youngster learn how to keep the ball down a lot more and find away to put away the lefties.  This multi-lingual hurler has a ridiculous change-up and a darn good 4 seam fastball.  His slider might become good enough to show major league batters, though his forkball and curve likely won't become useful tools.  This guy will almost surely make it to Philly as a long reliever.  The 3rd highest paid IFA in Philly's history looks to be a good one folks.

11.  Oklahoma City Rodeo Clowns,  $10.1 million
Melky Matos

Two good, possibly great in the future pitches, a 4 seamer and a slider.  The 18 year old is a good groundball reliever with decent splits and excellent control.  This late signee would do well to find a way to improve his velocity and ability to send lefthanded hitters back to the dugout with a frown.  A gym rat, look for him to improve most aspects of his game.

12. Toronto Trout,  $8.2 million
Javier Garza

This portly 18 year old has been asked to shed a few lbs by the Trout, scouts say they think he is onboard as they have seen his conditioning improve and they like his attitude and work ethic.  A cousin of Cubs ace Matt, Javier had a tremendous first professional season at Low A.  He has 3 good pitches and good splits.  Needs to improve his control and would be better if he could find more velocity.

13.  Oklahoma City Rodeo Clowns,  $8.1 million
Fautino Bastardo

Many GMs were displeased to see OKC pick-up this youngster, especially for this price.  Good contact, plate vision, baserunning and power make this outfielder a good prospect.  The main flaw of the Clowns slugger would be his splits which should hurt his average.  In 377 ABs at Low A he maintained a .294 average while swatting 30 doubles, 28 Home Runs, and 105 RBI.  One of the better bargains of Season 23.

14. Mexico City,  $7.5 million
Shin-Soo Suzuki

This 24 year old from Japan threw at AA and 2 starts in the big leagues where he performed very well.  A good value at $7.5 million, Suzuki has no real deficiencies.  The 6 foot 2 inch 211 pound starting pitcher has shown an ability to keep the ball down, has good durability, stamina.  He also has very good control, and great velocity to go with his serviceability splits and pitches.

15. Sioux Falls Screw Balls,  $5.5 million
Carlos Sardinha

An above average defender as a corner outfielder with good contact.  Possesses good speed and baserunning skills yet made no successful attempts at Low A last season.  Good bang for the buck, should make an appearance in the big leagues one day.

16. (C) Montgomery Burns,  $5 million
Alfredo Rosado

Good control, splits and 4 seamer despite poor velocity.  Unfortunately his forkball, and curve generally show up at the plate looking like meatballs.  His change may save him if he can improve it by another 15 points or more.  A poor combination of durability and stamina will probably keep this fellow from becoming a regular on the 25 man roster   Montgomery has a good major league staff and did well when they drafted  20 year old Chad Richard from nearby Homer Louisiana with 30th pick, so they are not fretting this forgettable signing.

17. Oklahoma City Rodeo Clowns,  $4.7 million
Victor Garza

OKC grabbed another 18 year old with good control and splits.  His virtually non-existent velocity does not seem to diminish the effectiveness of his 4-seam fastball.  He also has a substandard curve and forkball.  Despite being a flyball pitcher, he managed to not allow any homeruns in Low A last season.

18. Chicago Crushers, $4.6  million
Wilkin Vazquez

This light throwing groundball inducing 18 year old has a good work ethic, good control and splits.  He throws three pitches - a mean sinker, an average curve, and his change-up needs some work to be used effectively.  He did manage a K per inning while splitting time at the Rookie and Low A levels.  Arguably the best signing under $5 million.

19.Boston Red Sox,  $4 million
Vic Aguilera

Vic is a 19 year old SS that is fast on the basepaths but lacks the skill to become a true  base stealing threat at Fenway.  Although he would be a good defender at the hot corner, his bat is severely lacking for that position.  His range will never become good enough to become a major league SS or CF.  His glove, arm strength and plate discipline must have been what convinced Mike45 to throw 4 bills at him

 20. Toronto Trout,$3.6  million
Eli Gandarilla

An un-healthy dwarf with a passion for defence, the Trout may have found a bargain.  Though not a threat with the stick, there are a lot of more useless hitters making money playing SS in the majors.  Not an ideal bench player due to his lack of speed.

21. Florida Gators, $3.3 million
Joakim Rios

Florida went a slick defending pivot.  A nice pick up for a NL team, especially for the price, Rios will be useful off the bench by utilizing his very good speed, baserunning and the ability to lay down a bunt for a base hit.  He will put the ball in play a lot, it just won`t leave the infield unless there is an error on the play as he has a 0 rating for power.

22. Boston Red Sox, $3 million
Placido Morales

Rather then throw their prospect money away,  Mike45 signed Morales.  He will help out the minor league system.

23. Las Vegas Numa Numa, $ 2.8 million
Davey Bennett

As an 18 year old he projects to have excellent major league skills.  Sadly for the Numa Numa, he will most likely never throw more than 30 innings in a season.  A good value, nice to have on hand in the playoffs where Vegas often ends up after the regular season ends.

Honourable Mentions under $2.5 million go to:

Pat Sasaki

Carlos Santana

Don Tamura

Tony Candelaria

Delino Vincente

Josias Guerrero

Vic Cruz

Jair Alomar

Lorenzo Ayala

Jose Soriano

Mariano Ozuna

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Way to go Dude, you did abide!