The Rays have reached an agreement with former Twins international signee Jelfry Marte. Darren Wolfson of KSTP was the first to report the news; Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com confirmed later in the day and reminded his followers that Marte originally signed with the Twins. LaVelle Neal of the Star Tribune adds that Marte’s guarantee is around $800K.
Notably, the Rays have only about $440K left in international bonus pool funds (hat tip to Sanchez), which could mean they have plans to acquire more international money in a trade.
The 16-year-old Marte’s original deal with the Twins was worth about $3MM. However, Minnesota voided that deal when they discovered an alleged vision issue following his physical. Shortly thereafter, he began showcasing once again for interested teams. Clearly it didn’t take him long to find another club willing to pay for his talents, though his new deal comes at a steep discount; he’ll be paid roughly a quarter of what the Twins were going to give him.
Baseball America ranked the switch-hitting Dominican shortstop as the #13 international prospect in this year’s crop. “Marte is a bouncy, quick-twitch athlete with a chance to develop into a plus defensive shortstop,” BA’s Ben Badler writes. “He’s quick and agile with good body control and range to both sides, along with soft hands and an above-average, accurate arm.” You can read Badler’s full scouting report here (insider subscription required and recommended).
While scouts generally agree that Marte is an above-average defensive shortstop with some stolen base upside, some have questions as to how his bat will develop. He doesn’t have much power at the moment, but MLB.com’s scouts seem to believe he can improve on that over time. BA, on the other hand, hears from some scouts that he’s likely to be a bottom-of-the-order hitter at the MLB level.