10:04am: The Braves have officially announced the Maitan and Gutierrez signings.
9:04am: The Braves have agreed to terms with five top international prospects, including top overall prospect Kevin Maitan, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (Twitter links: 1 2 3 4 5 6). Maitan will receive $4.25MM. The Braves also nabbed catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, No. 18 on MLB.com’s international prospects list, for $3.5MM. Dominican righty Juan Contreras, not ranked on MLB.com’s list but ranked No. 41 on Baseball America’s list, will receive $1.2MM. Dominican shortstops Yunior Severino (No. 19) and Yenci Pena (No. 22) will each receive $1MM apiece, as will Venezuelan infielder Livan Soto (No. 24).
The big prize here is Maitan, who MLB.com writes is “the best international prospect since Miguel Sano” and compares to Miguel Cabrera and Chipper Jones. He’s a switch-hitter with good power and a mature approach at the dish, and he also has an excellent arm and solid range. As the Jones comparison suggests, he ultimately projects as a third baseman. Baseball America also rates Maitan the top international prospect available this signing season, with their scouting report (subscriber only) noting that he could eventually have 70-grade raw power on the 20-80 scale. Maitan has long been connected to the Braves.
Gutierrez wins praise for his arm, receiving skills and line-drive stroke. Via Baseball America, Contreras rates as a potential power arm, as he already throws 89-94 MPH and has the projection to reach into the high 90s, although his secondary pitches lag behind his fastball. Severino has good bat speed and looks like an “offensive-minded middle infielder,” according to MLB.com’s scouting report. He struggles with offspeed stuff, although that’s hardly surprising given his age (16). Pena appears solid on both offense and defense and might be able to stay at shortstop, although he’s tall, at 6’2, and might eventually move to third. Soto’s hitting is more of the line-drive than home-run variety, although he has a good approach at the plate and could wind up playing shortstop at the big leagues if all goes well.
Needless to say, the Braves’ spending spree projects to incur penalties, including a 100 percent tax on overages beyond their assigned bonus pool of $4,766,000 and a restriction on signing any player for over $300K in either of the next two signing seasons. The addition of Maitan, however, along with the rest of their prospect haul, appears to be more than enough to make up for that.