NL International Signings: Mets, Braves, Nats, Reds

Here are the day’s notable international signings from the National League. Rankings courtesy of Ben Badler of Baseball AmericaKiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

  • The Mets have landed two top international shortstops, according to Badler. Venezuelan product Andres Gimenez, the second overall prospect on Badler’s list, is headed to New York. The bonus will be for $1.2MM, per Sanchez (via Twitter), for a player that Badler called the second-best available prospect based upon his excellent batting skills from the left side of the plate, decent power potential, and strong overall defensive profile. And Dominican shortstop Gregory Guerrero will also join the club after agreeing to a $1.5MM bonus, per Badler. Guerrero, cousin of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and nephew of Vlad Sr., rated 9th among July 2 prospects in McDaniel’s estimation. Per McDaniel, the Mets signee has a more advanced hit than power tool, but could increase his pop over time. He is ultimately expected to move off of short to the hot corner. Having entered the day with $2,531,300 in spending capacity, these two deals put New York at just over 6.6% above their pool. That would line the team up to face a one-year ban on signings of over $500K, making a deal for another bonus slot appear likely.
  • The Braves have a deal in place with shortstop Derian Cruz for $2MM, Badler reports. McDaniel was high on Cruz, rating him the 8th-best player available, citing his outstanding speed, good hitting tools, and potential ability to stay at the shortstop position or otherwise play up the middle defensively. Atlanta also agreed to a $1.4MM bonus with outfielder Christian Pache, per Sanchez (via Twitter), the tenth-rated player on MLB.com’s top-thirty list. While these signings will put pressure on the team’s total spending allotment of $2,458,400, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the club will attempt to trade for about $1MM in extra capacity to steer clear of future signing restrictions.
  • Dominican outfielder Juan Soto will join the Nationals after agreeing to a $1.5MM deal, Sanchez tweets. That’s the team’s largest-ever bonus for a young international signing, James Wagner of the Washington Post notes on Twitter. Soto’s appeal lies more in his feel and approach at the plate than in pure bat speed, Baseball America writes in rating him 13th in the class. Though he does not offer much on defense and looks to be a corner outfielder in the future, Soto is said to have the potential to be an above-average offensive producer both in terms of pure hitting and power.
  • The Reds have agreed to a $1MM bonus with outfielder Christian Olivo, according to Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com was highest on Olivo, rating him 23rd on the international market and noting that he has a fairly high power ceiling that he has yet to fully tap into. The left-handed hitter has drawn mixed reviews in the baserunning and defensive departments.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin Considering New Role With Club

Brewers GM Doug Melvin is actively discussing a move into a new role within the organization, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported earlier (on Twitter) that he expects Melvin to move into a role similar to that of recently-signed Phillies president Andy MacPhail. Per Haudricourt, that move could come at the end of this year, in time for Melvin to take up his new post for the 2016 campaign — presumably with a new GM serving underneath him.

All said, it appears that noting is imminent, with the organization apparently plotting a measured transition. Melvin has been in discussions with club owner Mark Attanasio for several weeks, says Heyman, about what a new front office structure might look like. Change “could happen” after the end of the current season, per the CBS Sports report.

Milwaukee has had rather a disappointing season and currently carries the league’s second-worst record. The team already dismissed manager Ron Roenicke earlier in the season. But Melvin has been in his post since way back in 2002, and it seems that he’s more likely to shift into a senior capacity than follow Roenicke out of the organization.


Blue Jays To Sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The Blue Jays have reached agreement with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ben Badler of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Guerrero, son of the famed big leaguer of the same name, was the first overall international prospect on BA’s pre-July 2 board.

Toronto had been widely expected to land the highly-touted Guerrero, who bears a striking resemblance to his father. While he doesn’t quite reach Vlad Sr.’s “all-around tools,” in Badler’s estimation, that’s hardly a knock. The younger Guerrero is said to have a very promising bat with contact ability to go with good power potential.

On the other hand, Guerrero is not a strong runner and does not appear to possess his father’s cannon of an arm. Those current limitations, including at least some question of whether he’ll ultimately be a serviceable corner outfielder, led both Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez to rate Guerrero fourth among eligible July 2 prospects.

The Blue Jays entered the day with $2,324,100 to spend without incurring any penalties, per Baseball America, and it appears likely that the club will go well beyond that to get Guerrero. While his bonus has yet to be reported, McDaniel predicted that Guerrero would sign for $3.45MM.



Giants To Sign Lucius Fox

10:10am: When the deal is official, it will be for $6MM, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter.

8:34am: The Giants have agreed to sign shortstop Lucius Fox to an approximately $6.5MM bonus, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Fox, who’ll officially sign out of the Bahamas, entered the July 2 period as a consensus top-five prospect.

Fox had been said to be a Dodgers target, but news emerged yesterday that he was likely heading to their NL West rivals. He was a consensus top-five available player, with Sanchez and Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel placing him third and Ben Badler of Baseball America slotting Fox in the fourth spot.

This signings demonstrates some of the interesting interplay between the draft and international market. Fox is a native of the Bahamas, but had been playing high school ball in Florida. But he was successfully able to sign as an international free agent after returning to the Bahamas and winning a petition with Major League Baseball. That gave the MVP Sports Group client a chance to cash in on a much bigger bonus than he likely would have achieved through the draft.

Fox is said to be an excellent athlete, and he offers a high-contact bat — though he lacks power. He could be a quality up-the-middle defender, per Badler (subscription link), who says there’s a possibility that Fox will end up in center. McDaniel notes that Fox could also play second, but may also have a chance at sticking at his natural shortstop and will likely begin his professional career there.

San Francisco had just $2,130,900 in available pool capacity coming into the day, per Baseball America, meaning that it will owe a significant penalty fee on top of the dollars owed to Fox. And the Giants will be among those teams that is heavily restricted from major spending (bonuses of $300K or more) over the next two signing periods.


Cubs Sign Slate Of International Prospects To Large Bonuses

The Cubs have made a splash early in the international market by locking up a lengthy list of players to significant bonuses. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez first reported the bulk of the signings.

Among the players inked, the biggest bonus goes to Yonathan Sierra Estiwal, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic, who’ll get $2.5MM. Another $2MM will go to countryman Aramis Ademan, a shortstop, whose signing was first reported by Ben Badler of Baseball America with Sanchez adding the cash value.

Also checking in with seven-figure bonuses were Venezuelan shortstop Yonathan Perlaza ($1.3MM), Panamanian catcher Miguel Amaya ($1.25MM), and Dominican corner infielder Christopher Martinez ($1MM). Sanchez adds that righty Yunior Perez is also going to Chicago for $600K.

Tally up those deals, and the total outlay stands at $7.65MM. That’s over double the club’s $3,230,700 total pool allocation (via Baseball America), meaning that the Cubs will sacrifice the ability to hand out any $300K+ bonuses for the next two years and incur a 100% tax on its overage. The club could still trade for some additional spending slots to offset some of those penalty fees.


Twins To Sign Wander Javier

The Twins have agreed to a deal with Dominican shortstop Wander Javier, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Javier rated as the No. 9 prospect in this year’s international class, per Badler. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs ranked him fifth, and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez ranked him eighth.

Javier will earn a $4MM bonus, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports on Twitter, matching the figure reported by McDaniel dating back to early Spring. Sanchez’s scouting report indicates that Javier has plus raw power and a plus throwing arm with a chance to stick at shortstop, though there’s also a possibility that his 6’0″, 165-pound frame could grow to the point where he’ll have to move to third. McDaniel writes that he ran a 7.01 in the 60-yard dash in February (50-grade) and could pick up a step or two as he matures. He has a raw hitting approach writes Badler (subscription required), and while his swing can get long and flatten out, some scouts project above-average power down the line. Badler notes that tools like Javier’s are tough to come by in the draft, causing multiple teams to be drawn to his ceiling.


Rangers To Sign Leodys Taveras

The Rangers have reached a deal with highly-regarded Dominican outfielder Leodys Taveras, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. He is the cousin of former big leaguer Willy Taveras.

BA had the highest grade on Taveras among international prospect evaluators, ranking him third overall on the basis of his strong overall skillset. Indeed, Badler writes that the youngster could ultimately possess five average or better tools when all is said and done. He is a switch hitter with a nice stroke and good strength given his frame. While he’ll need to work to improve his instincts to stick in center, says Badler, he has the speed and arm strength to develop into a good defender.

Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs largely concurred with that assessment, placing Taveras seventh on his board. MLB.com took a somewhat dimmer view, rating him 18th, due to the fact that Taveras could use some polishing at the plate.

Taveras will earn a $2.1MM bonus, Badler tweets. That is a good deal less than the $3MM expected for Taveras, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, and could leave some additional space for the Rangers, who have just over $4.5MM in total pool allocation.


Phillies Agree To Terms With Jhailyn Ortiz

The Phillies have an agreement with Dominican first base prospect Jhaily Ortiz, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on Twitter. Agreement is still being “finalized,” per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, who tweets that the bonus is for an estimated $4.2MM.

Ortiz ranked sixth on Sanchez’s list of top international prospects, with Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranking him 14th and Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranking him 18th. Already listed at 6’2″ and 260 pounds, raw power is Ortiz’s best tool. He’s currently a left fielder, but most expect him to move to first base. Ortiz as the type of power “that does not come around very often,” per Sanchez. McDaniel gives Ortiz 70-grade raw power and notes that he’s surprisingly fleet of foot at the time being, though he figures to eventually slow down some. Badler notes (subscription required and recommended) that Ortiz showed a lot of swing-and-miss at events in February and March, leading to some concerns among scouts. There’s a lot of risk, per Badler, but there’s 25-plus homer upside if Ortiz can make similar adjustments to the ones Nomar Mazara made after signing with the Rangers.


Dodgers To Sign Yadier Alvarez, Other Top International Prospects

The Dodgers have indeed agreed upon a $16MM bonus with Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (links to Twitter). That is expected to be the single largest payout given a single player on this year’s international market.

Alvarez popped onto the scene earlier this year with a big fastball and exciting slider. He has drawn some mixed reviews, but obviously the Dodgers are believers. The opportunity to sign Alvarez, among other players, was cited as a primary reason that the organization declined to top the Red Sox’ offer for Yoan Moncada this spring.

In the eyes of Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Alvarez was the best player available on the basis of his mid-to-upper nineties heater, plus slider, and promising change. He also possesses good athleticism and good overall physical tools, leading McDaniel to believe that he has a good chance of harnessing his stuff. Ben Badler of Baseball America expresses more concern with Alvarez’s lack of a track record and current tendency toward being wild, explaining that there is plenty of risk to go with the obvious upside.

Los Angeles has also agreed with outfielder Starling Heredia on a $2.6MM bonus and with infielder Ronny Brito on a $2MM bonus, per Sanchez. Those players, both hailing from the Dominican Republic, also rated amongst the thirty best international prospects available according to most analysts. MLB.com placed Heredia fifth on its list, citing his “raw power and projectable body.” McDaniel had Brito in the 15th place on his board, noting that he has the upside to develop into a prospect on the order of J.P. Crawford if he can pair a useful bat with good speed and fielding ability.

With just these three signings alone, Los Angeles will easily land well over its fairly meager international spending allocation of $2,020,300. Every dollar spent above that mark will be taxed at a 100% rate, meaning the Dodgers are already nearing $40MM in total obligations.


2015-16 International Signing Period Now Open

Today marks the opening of the 2015-16 international signing period, during which so-called “July 2″ prospects can begin inking deals with MLB clubs. Every MLB team has been allocated a series of bonus slots, all of which may be traded, with certain restrictions. Baseball America provides a tally of each team’s total available pool this year. Clubs that spend over their allotment face escalating penalties, ranging from 100% taxes on overages to a two-year ban on $300K+ international bonuses (for going over 15% above the total allocation). This year, the team with the top overall pool allocation — the Diamondbacks ($5,393,900) — is ineligible to spend more than that amount on any single player, and is expected to deal away some of its capacity since it cannot put it to full use. Likewise, the Angels, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees face that limitation due to budget-busting deals in the 2014-15 July 2 period. And numerous additional clubs are expected to incur future signing limitations in the coming signing period. While most of the players subject to the signing rules are a long ways away from the big leagues, there are undoubtedly impact players among them — some of whom could come up in trade talks long before they’re close to the majors.

Here’s the latest on the market, which will gear up quickly, as well as some key resources to get acquainted with:

  • As has been widely expected — and as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reported several months back — the Dodgers are set to sign Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez to a $16MM bonus, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). Passan does caution that it’s best to wait until Alvarez formally signs to declare his market closed. Los Angeles has just over $2MM in spending capacity, meaning that it would start off with a $14MM overage tax on its bill and take on a two-year signing ban for adding Alvarez alone.
  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez just provided one major market shift, reporting that the Giants appear to be in the lead for shortstop Lucius Fox, who landed third overall on Sanchez’s list of the thirty best international prospects available on the market.
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler provides his final top-thirty prospect list, with detailed scouting reports on all those players ranked as well as notes on the teams favored to sign them. He also breaks down each MLB team’s expected overall approach heading into July 2.
  • Likewise, McDaniel has produced his final pre-signing board, which also includes his own assessments of many of the most highly-regarded names and projections of their landing spots. While Badler rates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. first overall, McDaniel places him fourth, giving the top spot to the aforementioned Alvarez.

Giants The New Favorites To Sign Bahamian Shortstop Lucius Fox

Though the industry expectation has long been that the Dodgers would reel in highly coveted international shortstop Lucius Fox, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez now reports (via Twitter) that the division-rival Giants have leapfrogged the Dodgers as the favorites to land Fox when tomorrow’s signing period kicks off. In fact, according to Sanchez, the Dodgers are no longer even in the race to sign Fox.

Fox, a native of the Bahamas, moved to the United States and attended American Heritage High School in Florida. However, the 18-year-old recently moved back to the Bahamas and petitioned with Major League Baseball to be an international free agent as opposed being subject to the draft. The league approved his request and declared Fox a free agent, making the MVP Sports Group client eligible to sign as an international free agent, beginning tomorrow.

Sanchez ranks Fox third among this year’s class of international prospects — a ranking with which Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel agrees. Ben Badler of Baseball America recently ranked Fox as the No. 4 prospect in this year’s international class. Fox is projected by McDaniel to land a $6MM signing bonus, although it’s certainly possible that the change in likeliest landing spot has come as a result of an increase in the Giants’ willingness to spend.

In Sanchez’s free scouting report, he notes that Fox is considered by some to be a five-tool player and the best athlete in the class. A switch-hitter, Fox has a line-drive stroke and has a knack for putting the ball in play, per Sanchez. Badler notes in his own scouting report (subscription required and highly recommended) that some scouts feel he’ll move to center field. He adds that Fox has little power, but calls him a plus-plus runner with a chance to hit at the top of a big league lineup. McDaniel feels that second base is a possibility as well, but says he should start his career at shortstop and has a real chance to be a regular contributor at any of the three up-the-middle position


Angels Name Bill Stoneman Interim GM

9:09pm: The Angels have officially announced that Dipoto has resigned as the team’s GM and that Stoneman will serve as the GM for the remainder of the season. The team also confirmed that Klentak and fellow assistant GM Scott Servais will remain with the team in their previous roles while assisting Stoneman.

5:54pm: The Angels will name senior advisor of baseball operations Bill Stoneman as their interim GM, following Jerry Dipoto’s sudden resignation, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links). Assistant GM Matt Klentak will act as Stoneman’s No. 2 in the new arrangement, per Gonzalez, who adds that a full search for a permanent replacement will begin in the offseason. Promoting Klentak is also an option, according to Gonzalez.

Stoneman, 71, has a lengthy track record in front offices, including within the Angels front office. He served as the team’s general manager from the 1999 through 2007 seasons prior to stepping down and ceding the role to Tony Reagins. Stoneman oversaw the construction of the Angels’ 2002 World Series roster and has been working in front offices dating back to 1984, when he was a member of the Expos’ front office. He, of course, is also the GM that initially hired manager Mike Scioscia, whose reported refusal to utilize data provided by the team’s analytics staff served as a catalyst for Dipoto’s decision to resign.

Stoneman and the young Klentak (34) will run point on the team’s baseball operations decisions as the trade deadline looms. While Klentak himself seems likely to be a consideration for the permanent GM’s chair, he’s also been speculatively mentioned as a candidate to join the Phillies’ front office in some capacity. Klentak has a strong relationship with new Phillies president Andy MacPhail, who gave him a prominent role in the Orioles’ front office back in 2008. Those looking to learn more about Klentak can check out an early episode of the MLBTR Podcast, where Klentak joined to discuss the Angels’ offseason goals with host Jeff Todd.


NL Central Notes: Brewers, Aramis, Alvarez, Guerra, Cards

The Brewers are being realistic about their status as sellers, pro scouting director Zack Minasian tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy“We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren’t honest with ourselves about where we’re at [in the standings],” Minasian told McCalvy. He adds that his message to his scouting team is that it’s OK to be both frustrated and angry with the team’s struggles this year, but times like this are the scouts’ chance to make an impact on the future of the club. As McCalvy notes, Adam Lind, Aramis Ramirez, Gerardo Parra and Kyle Lohse are all logical trade targets for the Crew, and if the team wanted to target a bigger deal, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez represent more controllable options that could be dealt. Minasian tells McCalvy that when he sees scouts from other clubs on assignment, he has no qualms about being straightforward: “I don’t have a problem going up to them and asking, ‘What are you here for?’ … We are straightforward with clubs about what we can and can’t do.”

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • The Mets scouted Aramis Ramirez during the Brewers‘ recent series with the Twins but came away unimpressed with his play on both sides of the ball, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Sherman adds that the Mets weren’t all that interested in Ramirez even prior to that series, making a trade fit seem particularly unlikely.
  • There was once a time where Pirates fans may have feared losing Pedro Alvarez to free agency, writes Brian O’Neill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the Alvarez question has now shifted to whether or not he should even be tendered a contract this winter. O’Neill notes that Alvarez’s offensive profile over the past season-and-a-half is remarkably similar to that of two platoon-challenged first basemen on whom the Pirates have recently cut bait: Ike Davis and Garrett Jones. A trade of Alvarez, be it this month or this winter, wouldn’t bring much of a return without significant improvement at the plate, and giving him a raise on his $6MM salary after he’s shifted to first base and hit .236/.316/.417 over his past 694 plate appearances may not be worth it.
  • O’Neill’s colleague, Stephen J. Nesbitt, spoke with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and right-hander Deolis Guerra about Guerra’s long road to the Major Leagues. One of the key pieces in the 2008 blockbuster that sent Johan Santana from the Twins to the Mets, the now-26-year-old Guerra had never reached the Majors until this Sunday with Pittsburgh. Minnesota released him after six seasons in the organization this November, but Guerra worked with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason and refined the control of his secondary pitches at Triple-A this season. Guerra called his MLB debut “the greatest feeling,” adding that he experienced “so many emotions going on at the same time” that he couldn’t even put it into words. Hurdle said this type of debut is the type that gives veteran players and coaches alike goosebumps. “One of the biggest blasts you can have is watching a kid that’s had to fight, scratch and claw get out there, get the ball,” said Hurdle.
  • Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the upcoming outfield logjam that will face Cardinals manager Mike Matheny once Matt Holliday returns from the DL. With Holliday and Jason Heyward locked into the outfield corners, the Cards will be left to divide the center field at-bats between Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Grichuk’s excellent power numbers and sound defense should earn him at-bats, writes Miklasz, but he also notes that Bourjos’ offensive game has improved a great deal in 2015. Bourjos is, historically, the best defender of the bunch as well. Jay’s track record with the team is the lengthiest, but as Miklasz writes, his offense hasn’t been the same since undergoing wrist surgery this offseason. Miklasz observes that Matheny is typically loyal to his players almost to a fault, which could lead to continued playing time for Jay despite his offensive struggles. He also notes that last season, when a similar situation occurred with the struggling Allen Craig, GM John Mozeliak intervened and traded Craig to Boston.
  • From my vantage point, a trade of Bourjos is at least something worth exploring for the Cardinals. A team in need of a center field upgrade could be appealed to Bourjos’ strong defensive track record and improved offensive output, and while Bourjos is highly affordable, he’s also controlled through just the 2016 season. Jay’s contract and defensive decline will make him difficult to trade, and Grichuk’s status as a cost-controlled piece with both power and defense in his skill set make him a highly appealing long-term piece for the Cardinals. If Mozeliak is looking to address some needs on his 2015 roster — fifth starter, bullpen, first base — flipping Bourjos to a contender with a hole in center could help to fill the need without dipping into his farm system (or, at least, not dipping as far as he’d have to without including an MLB-ready asset).

Orioles Designate Delmon Young For Assignment, Will Seek Trade Partner

5:44pm: Kubatko says that GM Dan Duquette sounded confident that he’ll be able to trade Young, though a deal won’t be completed today (Twitter link).

5:20pm: The Orioles announced (Twitter link) that they have designated outfielder Delmon Young for assignment. A little more than an hour ago, manager Buck Showalter indicated to reporters that a move was coming soon in order to clear a spot on the roster for right-hander Tyler Wilson. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that the O’s will try to trade Young, and GM Dan Duquette has spoken to execs in both the AL and the NL about him.

The 29-year-old Young is in the midst of his second season with the Orioles after signing a one-year, $2.25MM contract this offseason to return to Baltimore. However, after enjoying a nice run as a part-time player with the Orioles in 2014 when he batted .302/.337/.442 in 255 plate appearances, Young has struggled to a .270/.289/.339 batting line in 2015. Though he has a strong throwing arm, Young’s range is limited in the corner outfield spots. He is still owed $1.19MM through season’s end and would earn $125K bonuses for reaching 250 and 300 plate appearances, with another $100K kicking in for every 50 PAs beyond that point — up to 600 PAs.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier today that the Orioles have been exploring trade possibilities for Young, and he again tweets that one NL club has shown some definite interest in Young. It’s not known at this time which team is showing the most interest, but from a speculative standpoint, I’d think that both the Giants and Pirates make some sense. San Francisco recently lost both Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki to the disabled list, and over in Pittsburgh, Gregory Polanco has looked overmatched by left-handed pitching all season. Young, for all of his flaws, is a weapon against lefties; he’s batted .302/.337/.461 in his career when holding the platoon advantage.


Twins To Promote Miguel Sano

The Twins will promote top prospect Miguel Sano prior to tomorrow’s contest, an industry source tells MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). It would seem, then, that Sano will be recalled to replace DH Kennys Vargas, who was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga earlier today.

Miguel Sano

Sano, 22, is considered the best right-handed power prospect in the game and draw scouting grades for his raw power that are parallel to those of Joey Gallo. He entered the season ranked as the game’s No. 11 prospect by MLB.com and placed 12th and 13th on the respective lists of Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America. Fangraphs ranked the Dominican third baseman 15th among all prospects, as did ESPN’s Keith Law. Baseball America’s Ben Badler tweets that in eight seasons covering the July 2 international prospect market, Sano is, to this day, the best position-player prospect that he’s covered.

As mentioned, Sano’s calling card is what most scouts rank as 80-grade power (on the 20-80 scale). MLB.com’s scouting report notes that Sano has “as much power as anyone in the minor leagues,” adding that his 2013 output of 35 homers between Class-A and Double-A could become an annual occurrence. Defensively speaking, Sano was signed as a shortstop but quickly outgrew the position and moved to third base, where the 6’4″, 260-pounder is said by most to be below average.

Third base is presently occupied by Trevor Plouffe for the Twins, and while Plouffe isn’t necessarily a star-level player, he’s quietly developed into a solid regular at the position. It seems possible, especially since he’s taking Vargas’ spot on the roster, that Sano will cut his teeth in the Majors primarily as a designated hitter, though he could certainly spell Plouffe at the hot corner on occasion.

Sano missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery and opened the 2015 campaign at Double-A for a second stint as he reacclimated himself to the rigors of playing every day. He started the season slow, but since the beginning of May, Sano has been an absolute juggernaut for the Lookouts. In that time, he’s batted .315/.400/.601 with 11 homers in 210 plate appearances.

If Sano is to stick in the Majors from this point forth, he’ll accrue 97 days of big league service, leaving him well shy of Super Two designation. As such, he’d be arbitration-eligible the standard three times before qualifying for free agency following the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.