July 2nd Content
The new CBA's draft spending pools went into full effect for the first time this year and some clubs are scrambling late in the process to manage their budgets. The big story are the clubs that appear to have over-promised pool money to players in pre-July 2nd deals that will need to trade for more cap space. The four teams coming up most often are the Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Cubs, all tied to multiple players in my rankings and seemingly needing to cut some amazing deals or acquire more money to make it happen. The only club everyone seems to agree will be dumping pool money is the Marlins, but it could becomes a seller's market with the demand some club's aggressive approaches have created. That said, sources continue to emphasize that baseball is slow to embrace change, so most expect only a few trades to include international pool space, probably as part of bigger trades to minimize possible miscalculations.
Some of the players below are projections based on deals that are supposedly done, some many months ago. Depending on who you talk to, 15 of my top 23 players had deals done in advance of July 2nd and should have confirmations trickling out either in the first few days, or, for those players with later birthdays, announcements when they become eligible (see July 2nd Basics for an explanation). A few players that seem to have their bonuses contingent on possible bonus trades are Yankees targets Leonardo Molina and Jesus Lopez; Rangers targets Marcos Diplan, Yeyson Yriazzi, Jose Almonte and Michael DeLeon; Nationals targets Carlos Hiciano and Anderson Franco; and Cubs targets Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez and Erling Moreno. Given that the Cubs are heavily tied to two top players (Torres and Jimenez) who together could cost them their entire bonus pool and the Rangers appear to be acting like they have at least $1 million more than they have and trading for cap space fits the organizational strategy of both clubs, I have those teams as most likely to add pool money.
Some of the above mentioned players could go to other clubs (Lopez to Houston and Almonte to the White Sox, for instance) for quicker and/or better offers, but some other clubs seem to have more money than they can spend right now. Houston has the biggest pool and appeared to have Venezuelan catcher Jose Herrera locked up until Arizona swooped in and beat out the Astros and Brewers with a superior offer. The Diamondbacks would be spending most of their roughly $2.3 million pool to give the Herrera the rumored $1.5 million bonus. Houston was rumored all along to be staying away from the top few players and spreading bonuses around, but after appearing to lose Herrera, the Astros are looking to be re-focusing and spending that money elsewhere with Jesus Lopez looking like the new top target. The Indians also look to not have a big money deal lined up yet and a hefty $3.6 million pool to spend after a late run at Dominican OF Micker Zapata didn't work out.
Two players worth noting before signings start getting announced are Dominicans infielders Cecilio Aybar and Lucas Tirado. Aybar was previously thought to be 16 years old and one of the top players in this class before rumors I reported first in March came true a month later when he was revealed to be 19. Aybar isn't eligible to sign for nearly a year due to the automatic yearlong identity fraud suspension by MLB, but could still be a high six or even seven figure player when he becomes eligible again. He has plus-plus speed, true shortstop actions and some feel to hit but is still raw at the plate.
Tirado is a guy I saw a good bit in January and March of this year and was completely underwhelmed. He isn't the issue as there's other players I think are about to get overpaid (Lewin Diaz and Greifer Andrade are a few others) but is a stand-in for concerns fan have when reading about July 2nd prospects. Tirado is rumored to be receiving seven figure from the Dodgers and is a good example of two things: the vastly divergent opinions on 16 year olds and the value of private workouts. You probably know scouts disagree more the younger players get, but the difference in the July 2nd market is much of the inputs to the disputed projections are private workouts/games, so clubs don't even have the same information. I would caution you as a fan to not overreact to what happens in the next few weeks as players start signing and these are two big reasons why. At least one team said they wouldn't give Tirado $100,000 and I'm not sure I would either from what I saw. There are more than a few players that clubs disagree about that strongly, so try to remember that when you read something very positive/negative about your team's haul or lack of action.
To be clear, the top 10 players are ranked in order of my preference from talking to scouts and scouting nine of the ten in person while the rest of the list is ordered by my projected bonus. More blurbs/reports will be added soon.
Top 10 July 2nd Prospects
Projection: Chicago Cubs, $1.8 million
Actual: Chicago Cubs, $1.7 million
Projection: Boston Red Sox, $1.4 million
Projection: Chicago Cubs, $2.8 million
Projection: Chicago White Sox, $1.6 million
Actual: Chicago White Sox, $1.6 million
Projection: New York Yankees, $1.5 million
Actual: Unsigned, Eligible August 1st
Projection: Toronto Blue Jays, $1.1 million
Actual: Toronto Blue Jays, $1.29 million
Projection: Houston Astros, $1.0 million
Actual: Oakland Athletics, $950,000
Projection: Philadelphia Phillies, $1.1 million
Actual: Unsigned, Eligible August 9th
Projection: Texas Rangers, $1.0 million
Actual: Texas Rangers, $1.3 million
Projection: Washington Nationals, $900,000
Actual: Oakland Athletics, $750,000
Next 22 Prospects By Projected Bonus
11. Jose Herrera, C, Venezuela
Quick Take: The sturdy 5'10, 180 pound switch-hitting backstop is new to the position but is the consensus best all around catcher in this year's class. The D'Backs made a late move to sign Herrera, who scouts like for his athleticism, raw power and above average arm, though he still has some work to do on his bat and receiving.
Projection: Arizona Diamondbacks, $1.5 million
Actual: Arizona Diamondbacks, $1.06 million
12. Marten Gasparini, SS, Italy
Quick Take: The 6'0, 175 pound Gasparini is arguably the best ever European prospect, now with a bonus to back up that claim. He's a great athlete and plus runner who is understandably raw but he has shown the ability to make adjustments. He has a chance to stick in the infield but his awkward throwing motion likely moves him to second base or center field.
Projection: Kansas City Royals, $1.3 million
Actual: Kansas City Royals, $1.3 million
13. Lewin Diaz, 1B, Dominican Republic (Video)
Quick Take: Diaz is a well-known and older prospect in this class but the 6'4, 220 pound lefty hitter didn't make a huge impression on me when I scouted him. He's got average raw power you could project to above average and a good swing that's geared for power but doesn't always produce in games. I had him as a mid six figure type prospect and it sounds like many scouts did as well, but the Twins are betting that the power plays.
Projection: Minnesota Twins, $1.2 million
Actual: Minnesota Twins, $1.4 million
14. Lucas Tirado, SS, Dominican Republic
Quick Take: Like Diaz, Tirado is another player from the Dominican Prospect League that I had lower than his signing team, as I and some scouts I talked to had Tirado as a low six figure talent. He has a solid swing with gap power to all field that could produce double digit homers but Tirado really stuggled in games I saw, going 0-for-12 with 9 K's in a DPL tour of Florida spring training sites. His below average speed and arm limit him defensively where his hands and footwork would normally play in the infield and I'm sure the Dodgers will try him there, but he's more of a left fielder for me.
Projection: Los Angeles Dodgers, $1.2 million
Actual: Los Angeles Dodgers, $1.0 million
15. Greifer Andrade, 3B, Venezuela
Quick Take: Andrade has bat speed, strength and some feel to hit, but a very linear bat path and limited projection in his 6'1, 185 pound frame undermine his raw power, which should come short of average. He's an average runner with an above average arm that looked like a right field fit, but some clubs think he can play the infield, including Seattle, with third base being the best fit.
Projection: Seattle Mariners, $1.1 million
Actual: Seattle Mariners, $1.05 million
16. Yeyson Yrizarri, SS, Dominican Republic
Quick Take: The 6'0, 175 shortstop has good hands, average speed, an above average arm and some power projection remaining. He has below average power now, but has improved a good bit since many executives saw him at the MLB Showcase in January, as these very young players tend to do. Yrizarri has a fluid line drive stroke and some feel to hit in games but his average speed may end up moving him to second base long term.
Projection: Texas Rangers, $1.0 million
Actual: Texas Rangers, $1.335 million
17. Edgar Arredondo, RHP, Mexico
Quick Take: He's a 6'3, 190 pound projectable righty with a clean delivery and a fastball that's hit 92. Arredondo currently plays in the Mexican League and his changeup show average to above potential while his curveball projects to average with some work.
Projection: Cleveland Indians, $1.0 million
Actual: Texas Rangers, Unknown Bonus
18. Anderson Franco, 3B, Dominican Republic (Video)
Quick Take: The 6'1, 182 pound third baseman has average speed, an above average arm and some feel to play the position, though his footwork is a little choppy at times. He has broad shoulder and some projection that could add to his current gap power but he takes a long path to the ball and has a high maintenance leg kick that harms his ability to hit for average.
Projection: Washington Nationals, $950,000
Actual: Unsigned, Eligible August 15th
19. Franly Mallen, SS, Dominican Republic
Quick Take: The skinny 6'1, 150 pound shortstop has surprising power for his size that could be average if he continues adding weight, although he has a narrow frame. He does this with a high leg kick and deep hand load that is more of a power hitter's approach that he'll need to tone down. Mallen is an average runner with an above average arm and good hands, giving him a chance to stick at shortstop with second base a backup option.
Projection: Milwaukee Brewers, $850,000
Actual: Milwaukee Brewers, $800,000
20. Christian Vasquez, LF, Venezuela
Quick Take: He's more of a now-skills guy as a 5'11, 180 pound lefty hitting left fielder with average speed and a below average arm. That said, Vasquez's now skills with the bat really stand out and he has enough excellent patience and some power so you can imagine a big league role.
Projection: Kansas City Royals, $850,000
Actual: Kansas City Royals, $750,000
21. Erick Julio, RHP, Colombia
Quick Take: The 6'1, 150 pound righty topped out at 85 mph in January at the MLB Showcase but has since added enough velocity that he can sit in the upper 80's and hit 91 at times. His curveball that showed promise in January has added some bite for above average potential and his rudimentary feel for a changeup now shows average potential. He had good command early in the year that survived the added arm speed, making him one of the more well-rounded arm in the class.
Projection: Colorado Rockies, $750,000
Actual: Colorado Rockies, $700,000
22. Jose Almonte, OF, Dominican Republic (Video)
Quick Take: Almonte's bonus was a shock to some scouts who, like myself, saw him as more of a high risk mid-six figures type talent. Almonte's BP swing in January's MLB Showcase was a mess but still produced average raw power that has more projection given his fixable flaws and 6'4, 205 pound frame. Almonte loads his hands high and deep, cocks the bat around his head, leaks his front hip, bars his lead arm and tries to pull everything; other than that his mechanics are great. He's a below average runner with an above average arm that fits in right field. There's certainly some potential and many of those mechanical flaws are fixable but swing-and-miss long-armed outfielders don't have much of a track record on July 2nd.
Projection: Texas Rangers, $700,000
Actual: Texas Rangers, $1.8 million
23. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP, Venezuela
Quick Take: The 5'10, 160 pound lefty is a good athlete with a fluid delivery but some effort and inconsistent command. He works in the high 80's and has hit 92 with a three pitch mix that shows average potential across the board with his curveball ahead of his changeup.
Projection: Boston Red Sox, $650,000
Actual: Los Angeles Angels, $580,000
Quick Take: Perez is one of the more famous players in the class, playing in the Perfect Game All American game last August, pitching in a high school tournament in August, at the DPL All Star Game in January, in a tour of Florida spring training stadiums in March and at the Perfect Game National in Minneapolis in June. He's a big kid at 6'5, 205 pounds but isn't very athletic so the end of his otherwise fine delivery is awkward and his command is inconsistent. Perez has a clean arm and sits 89-92 at his best, hitting 93 mph but at times will work 87-90 mph, usually with above average arm side run. He throws a solid average slider at 78-81 mph and a fringy curveball at times while his changeup flashes average potential but isn't used much.
Projection: Toronto Blue Jays, $625,000
Actual: San Diego Padres, $634,000
25. Erling Moreno, RHP, Colombia (Video)
Quick Take: Moreno is a projectable 6'3 righty with broad shoulders and long limbs, likely adding a few ticks to his high 80's fastball that will get into the low 90's at times. He has a smooth delivery and arm action so the velocity is easy to project and Moreno will show three pitches with a big-breaking mid-70's curveball and changeup that both flash average to above potential, enough to project as a starter.
Projection: Chicago Cubs, $600,000
Actual: Chicago Cubs, $800,000
26. Yoan Aybar, OF, Dominican Republic
Quick Take: The skinny 6'1, 150 pound outfielder is pretty raw right now but has projection in his frame and is a very good athlete. He's a solid average runner with an above average arm that's a tweener right now but is young enough that his tools are still developing. He has a loose cut from the left side with some bat speed and power projection but has some trouble in games right now, which could change with more strength and experience.
Projection: Boston Red Sox, $600,000
Actual: Boston Red Sox, $450,000
27. Luis Barrios, LHP, Colombia(Video)
Quick Take: The 6'2, 190 pound lefty is from an out-of-the-way place for many executives to get to, but Colombia has a number of high-end prospects in this year's class. Barrios is a good athlete with a clean arm, fluid delivery and good command. His value is tied in his projectable frame as he works 82-86 mph, hitting 88 mph and his off-speed offerings, with his high 60's curveball the best right now of a four pitch mix, would improve with further physical development and added arm speed.
Projection: Seattle Mariners, $550,000
Actual: Atlanta Braves, Unknown Bonus
28. Carlos Herrera, SS, Venezuela
Quick Take: Stop me if you've read this already but Herrera is a skinny 6'0, 150 pound shortstop but is a very good athlete with a line drive approach and sound hitting mechanics. He's an above average to plus runner with good hands but which of the three up the middle positions he ends up at is still an open question.
Projection: Colorado Rockies, $500,000
Actual: Colorado Rockies, $1.2 million
29. Freddy Rodriguez, OF, Venezuela (Video)
Quick Take: The 6'1, 180 pound lefty-hitting outfielder that trains with Carlos Guillen has a wide base of skills but no standout tool. Rodriguez is a solid average runner that still could fit in center but also may end up in left field long-term due to a fringy arm. He has a sound swing with some pop that could be average down the road so if he really hits, he could still profile in left field.
Projection: Minnesota Twins, $500,000
Actual: Toronto Blue Jays, $500,000
30. Yonauris Rodriguez, SS, Dominican Republic
Quick Take: Rodriguez is another skinny, narrow-framed shortstop with the present skills to stick at the position long term. He has a solid average arm, good hands and footwork and solid lateral quickness helped by above average speed. At the plate, Rodriguez has some feel for the bat head and flashes surprising raw power for his size in BP but his high leg kick affects his timing to hit in game situations and his power plays to below average power in games.
Projection: Oakland Athletics, $500,000
Actual: New York Yankees, $575,000
31. Michael DeLeon, SS, Dominican Republic (Video)
Quick Take: The 6'0, 160 pound shortstop has fluid actions but his longer release and fringy arm fit better at second base where his fringy speed also profiles better. DeLeon is a switch hitter with more power (still below average) from the right side but better feel for contact from the left side, where he's performed well in the games that I saw, hitting the ball mostly to the middle of the field..
Projection: Texas Rangers, $500,000
Actual: Texas Rangers, $550,000
32. Bryan Lizardo, 3B, Dominican Republic (Video)
Quick Take: The Lizard is a mature-framed, switch hitter that flashes average raw power to his pull side and is one of the youngest players in the class. The 6'1, 180 pound third baseman has a very patient approach with above average bat speed and some looseness to his swing but some scouts are turned off by his at times passive approach. Defensively, Lizardo has an above average arm and good hands but is limited some laterally by his below average speed.
Projection: Cleveland Indians, $450,000
Actual: Unsigned, Eligible July 26th