The Red Sox have reached agreement with 16-year-old Venezuelan prospects Daniel Flores, Danny Diaz and Antoni Flores, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Daniel Flores, a catcher, will receive a bonus worth $3.1MM. Diaz and Antoni Flores, both shortstops, will respectively get bonuses worth $1.6MM and $1.4MM, as per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (all Twitter links).
The flurry of signings marks Boston’s return to prominence in the international signing market, as the Sox were restricted to signings of $300K or less in the last two July 2 classes as punishment for exceeding their bonus pool limit in the 2014-15 class (which saw them splurge on the likes of Yoan Moncada and Anderson Espinoza). The Flores/Diaz/Flores signings put the Red Sox in excess of their $4.75MM pool for this year’s international class, and since the new collective bargaining agreement strictly forbids teams from spending beyond their pool limit, the Sox have already made some minor trades to acquire more pool space. Teams are allowed to acquire as much as 75 percent of their original draft pool, so the Red Sox could have slightly more than $8.25MM to spend if they traded for the maximum amount of additional pool money.
Daniel Flores is the centerpiece of Boston’s signings, and possibly of the entire 2017-18 class, as most scouts consider Flores or Wander Samuel Franco (who agreed to sign with the Rays) as the top names within this international signing period. Both MLB.com and Baseball America rated Flores as the second-best prospect of this year’s class.
Flores has drawn raves for his defense, and he is described many scouts as perhaps the best defensive catcher they’ve seen for a 16-year-old player. Between his strong work behind the plate and an outstanding throwing arm, MLB.com and Baseball America both use the phrase “elite defender” as Flores’ potential ceiling as a big league catcher. He is still something of a work in progress at the plate, showing some raw power as a switch-hitter who performs better as a right-handed bat. BA’s scouting report (subscription required) noted that Flores received mixed reviews for his work against live pitching, though in game action last summer Flores displayed “a sound approach and a high contact rate.”
Diaz was rated 7th by Baseball America and 13th by MLB.com, while Antoni Flores checked in at 20th on MLB.com’s list and 35th on BA’s list. Diaz has a strong bat with a lot of power potential, as Baseball America feels Diaz should eventually merit a 60 in power on the 20-80 scouting scale. On defense, Diaz will likely move off shortstop to third base or possibly even first as he keeps growing; interestingly, MLB.com lists Diaz as 6’1″ and 170 pounds, while BA pegs him at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. Flores is said to possess good defensive tools at shortstop though a position change could be possible in the future; MLB.com’s scouting report says some scouts feel Flores could be “the next Alcides Escobar.”