We're a day away from the kickoff of this year's international free agency period. Starting tomorrow, teams will be able to sign amateur free agents, many of whom will be just 16 years of age. Baseball America's Ben Badler reported each team's bonus pool back in April. The Astros ($4.93MM) have the most to spend while the Nationals ($1.85MM) have the least. Here's more on what to expect in this year's signing period...
- Badler provides his list of Top 30 international prospects to the public for free, though subscribers can access full scouting reports on each of his Top 30. Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez tops Badler's list.
- Jimenez also heads the Top 30 list compiled by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, though the two sets of rankings are quite different otherwise. For example, Mayo's No. 4 prospect -- Dominican outfielder Wasner Peguero -- does not appear on Badler's list at all.
- Mayo's colleague at MLB.com, Jesse Sanchez, provides an in-depth profile of Jimenez. The 16-year-old tells Sanchez that he wants to be like his idol, Roberto Clemente. Sanchez writes that scouts praise Jimenez's speed, gap-to-gap power (which is expected to grow), quick hands and baseball intelligence. He's expected to end up in a corner outfield position. Jimenez tells Sanchez that July 2 is a day on which "dreams come true."
- Sanchez also notes (Twitter link) that there's more to signing international free agents than just money. One current top prospect is deciding between two teams based on their GMs and how they have treated past international signees.
- The Twins are expected to sign Dominican outfielder Lewin Diaz, writes LaVelle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Minnesota is also very interested in Dominican right-hander Mayky Perez. They have interest in Italian infielder Marten Gasparini, but aren't likely to bid as highly as some other teams might. The Twins, for what it's worth, are the current record holders for largest bonus ever given to a European amateur. German outfielder Max Kepler received an $800K signing bonus in 2009.
- In a subscription-only piece, Badler explains that general managers are having a hard time valuing bonus money in trades. The new CBA allows teams to exchange money from their international bonus pools, but the difficulty in trade talks is creating dilemmas for teams who have already given players or agents the impression that they will be able to commit a certain amount of money on July 2. Once a team uses all of its spending pool, it cannot trade for additional funds; trades must be completed prior to the exhaustion of a team's pool.