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- East Notes: Papelbon, Warren, Victorino
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Luis Encarnacion Rumors
The Phillies have signed Dominican third baseman Luis Encarnacion for a $1MM signing bonus, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Badler ranked Encarnacion as the No. 4 international prospect in this year's class, while MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez ranked him 12th. Earlier in the week, Badler reported that he'd be "shocked" if the Phillies didn't sign Encarnacion, who just became eligible to sign today — his 16th birthday.
Encarnacion's value is all in his bat, Badler writes, as defensive limitations will cause him to move to left field or first base eventually. He has plus raw power from the right side of the plate and has shown that power off to scouts in games already. Over at MLB.com, Sanchez's scouting report notes that Encarnacion hits the ball to all fields with a solid line-drive stroke and already has shown home run power to his pull side. Scouts like Encarnacion's makeup and aggressive approach on the field as well.
While most of the top international prospects from this year's July 2 crop have signed, a few notables remain unsigned. Here's the latest on some of Latin America's top prospects, courtesy of Baseball America's Ben Badler…
- The Red Sox are expected to officially sign No. 3 international prospect Rafael Devers on Friday, Badler tweets. Boston reportedly reached a $1.5MM agreement with the Dominican third baseman back on July 2.
- Badler also tweets that No. 4 international prospect Luis Encarnacion turns 16 on Friday, at which point he will be eligible to sign. Badler adds that he will be "shocked" if the Phillies don't sign the power-hitting third baseman.
- One more from Badler, who writes that 19-year-old Cuban right-hander Norge Ruiz has cemented himself as a rising star in the eyes of scouts (subscription required). He's just 5'10" and 170 pounds, but Ruiz worked at 89-94 mph and flashed terrific command of two plus breaking pitches against the U.S. College national team last month.
The latest out of baseball's Eastern divisions…
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee was noncommittal when asked by reporters (including CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury) if he'd like to stay in Philadelphia even if things don't turn around: "I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win." Lee did go on to say he preferred to win in Philadelphia, but avoided discussing the possibility of pitching for another team.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com reported yesterday that Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sox deliberated on the decision, but with Jose Iglesias sticking on the roster, the decision was made to move Baseball America's No. 8 prospect up a level. The shortstop hit .311/.407/.502 in 56 games at Double-A Portland.
- The Red Sox and Phillies are both interested in Dominican prospects Rafael Devers and Luis Encarnacion, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required). Devers and Encarnacion are thought to be two of the best hitters on this year's July 2 market, and Badler expects both to sign for over $1MM. Badler says that early reports on Devers liken him to Hank Blalock as a teenager.
- Evan Drellich of MassLive.com adds that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is placing a large emphasis on this year's international market, and confirms with team sources that there is heavy interest in Devers.
The July 2nd international signing period is less than two months away. Every team had a $2.9MM bonus pool for 2012-13, but as Baseball America's Ben Badler outlined here, the 2013-14 pools "will be tiered based on reverse order of 2012 major league winning percentage." The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies each have at least $4.2MM to spend, plus teams can trade for additional money. The Twins, Indians, Marlins, and Red Sox each have more than $3MM to spend, while the Royals and Blue Jays are close to that figure. Badler has the latest on ten prospects who are expected to sign for at least $1MM apiece.
- The highest bonus is likely to go to Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, potentially $2.6-2.8MM with the Cubs as the "heavy favorite." The Cubs are also the frontrunners to sign one of the top Venezuelan players, shortstop Gleyber Torres.
- Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers "might be the best hitter on the international market," writes Badler. He's the primary target of the Red Sox. Another contender for the best bat is third baseman Luis Encarnacion, who is most likely to sign with the Phillies.
- The Yankees are the most likely suitor for Leonardo Molina, perhaps the best athlete in the class. He can sign when he turns 16 on August 1st. The Yankees' preliminary bonus pool is reportedly $1,877,900.
- The biggest raw power belongs to Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata, who has been connected to the White Sox and Padres.
- Badler's article has much more information, so be sure to give it a click and a read.