We’ve had a lot of news of players leaving Cuba of late, but two of the country’s most prominent names — brothers Yulieski and Lourdes Gourriel, rated first and fourth among the island’s players as big league prospects — have thus far not made any public moves towards the big leagues. As Ben Badler of Baseball America explains, however, both players are now set to miss the Cuban national team’s upcoming appearance in the Pan American Games. The younger of the two, Lourdes, was surprisingly left off the original roster, while Yulieski (the country’s biggest star) is said to have taken himself out of the tournament — after both recently seemed to have passed on chances to earn significant money playing in Japan. For now, it’s entirely unclear whether there is any movement afoot for the brothers to come stateside, but Badler notes that MLB clubs are watching with keen interest.
Here are some more amateur notes as we enter the final weekend before the draft:
- As he prepares to join the professional ranks after being declared a free agent, Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez has moved into the top spot on MLB.com’s international prospect list, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. It’s unclear as yet whether Martinez will sign in this period or the new one beginning July 2, but he’ll have to put pen to paper in short order if he’s to head to the Yankees or Angels. Those two clubs will be unable to spend more than $300K after this July 2 class closes, and they are among the teams who Sanchez lists with interest. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers, Dodgers, and Giants have also reached out to Martinez’s camp, per the report. “I’m working hard to get to my goal to play in the Major Leagues, ” says the 20-year-old. “That’s what I have always wanted to do.”
- The makeup of the amateur draft has changed over time, as Ben Lindbergh of Grantland explains. Mocking the draft is a more-or-less hopeless endeavor, says Lindbergh, but some trends have emerged. For one thing, the number of pitchers has continued to rise rather significantly. While this year’s class lacks premium talent, Christopher Crawford of Baseball Prospectus tells Lindbergh, some teams — the Rangers (who have the fourth overall pick) chief among them, based on their recent history — could well continue to stockpile arms. The Diamondbacks, who of course sit at first overall, have leaned toward position players recently, although they have an entirely new front office installed this time around. Meanwhile, the percentage of high school players taken has plummeted in the long run, but has jumped more recently. In particular, says Lindbergh, the Red Sox and Blue Jays have moved toward heavy drafting of prep players, who of course represent generally riskier but (in some cases) higher-upside investments. The Nationals have skewed most heavily toward college players — the spread is rather amazingly wide — though that could be due in part to draft circumstances. There are plenty more details in the piece, and I highly recommend a read to prepare for the coming draft.
- Bonus allocations (which come with the penalty of stark limitations in future drafts) have had a marked impact on clubs’ total outlay on draft-eligible talent, argues Ronald Blum of the Associated Press (via the Denver Post). Draft spending has remained flat over the last three years, with Blum calculating that an analogous increase of total cash commitments to that observed in free agency — which was often the case prior to the new rules — might have delivered an additional $100MM to amateur players over that span. This area is obviously full of complicated questions, including considerations of an international draft, and it’s extremely difficult to identify clear-cut solutions. The piece is full of interesting quotes from notable figures around the game, and is well worth a full read.