Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez, who rated No. 3 on MLB.com’s rankings of international prospects, is still weighing multiple options, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Gutierrez has reportedly bounced around to multiple agencies and had a lengthy stay on the free agent market (he was declared a free agent last July) and may now pitch in Japan or wait until next year’s international signing period to strike a deal. That seems like an awfully lengthy wait for a pitcher who has drawn some pretty solid reviews in the past and as recently as March was said to have re-established himself as a prospect after briefly seeing his stuff take a step backward. Gutierrez is 20 years of age, so he’s subject to international spending limitations for now, although if he does wait until next year to sign, the international free agency process could look markedly different, as it’ll be discussed at length in the upcoming wave of collective bargaining negotiations.
That said, there are also a pair of international signings that merit mention…
- The Padres have signed Cuban righty Ronald Bolanos for a bonus that will be worth a bit more than $2MM, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that Bolanos, 20, played mostly as an outfielder in the 18U leagues in Cuba but converted to the mound in 2014 and has seen a substantial uptick in velocity as he’s filled out, with his heater now ranging from 90 to 96 mph. Badler praises his slider as a potentially above-average pitch and gives a less flattering review of Bolanos curveball, adding that the right-hander won’t pitch for the Padres this season but could open with one of San Diego’s Class-A affiliates in 2017. For those keeping score at home, the Padres’ total international expenditures (including the 100 percent overage tax with which they’re being hit on each of these signings) is now in the range of $65MM (as the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin points out, on Twitter).
- Lost a bit amid last week’s trade deadline chaos was the fact that the Cardinals signed Cuban shortstop/outfielder Randy Arozarena for a bonus of $1.25MM, as Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald first reported (Twitter link). Following the signing, Badler wrote about the 21-year-old’s plus speed and plate discipline, noting that he could eventually develop enough pop for 10 to 15 homers but figures to derive more value from his OBP than his power. He’s advanced enough to jump right into the mix at Class-A Advanced, in Badler’s estimation. Sanchez’s rankings listed Arozarena as the No. 16 prospect on this year’s international market.