Lewin Diaz Rumors
7:33pm: The Twins have also signed Dominican third baseman Roni Tapia for a $550K bonus, Wolfson tweets. Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that Tapia generates "easy power" but added that a position change is all but inevitable.
5:01pm: The Twins have signed Dominican outfielder Lewin Diaz, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). Diaz ranked as MLB.com's No. 10 international prospect in this year's class and was 15th on Baseball America's Top 30. According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter), Diaz signed for $1.4MM -- a significant chunk of the Twins' $3.9MM bonus pool.
The 16-year-old Diaz's frame reminds some scouts of Ryan Howard, and MLB.com praises his power and approach: "Overall, Diaz has notable raw power and one of the best rhythm and timing approaches among all hitters in the international market this year."
Wolfson also adds that the Twins like Cuban defector Dariel Alvarez, but he will likely be too expensive. Signing Alvarez wouldn't count against Minnesota's bonus pool, because he's over 23 years of age and has more than three years of experience. There is no restriction on how much teams could spent to sign him. It was reported last week that Alvarez is eligible to sign with any team as a free agent.
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.