12:48pm: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (via Twitter) that the Cardinals have interest in Victor Victor Mesa and have long been monitoring his performance. Of course, St. Louis is one of the eight teams listed below which can only invest $300K in either brother, so it seems quite likely that another club could push bidding past that level.
11:39am: Outfield prospects Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. have left Cuba with the intent to pursue contracts with Major League clubs, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link). The elder Mesa brother is 21 years of age, while the younger is still just 16. Victor Victor seemingly confirmed as much this morning by tweeting a picture in which he is wearing a Team USA jacket alongside his younger brother. They’re being represented by Magnus Sports, per Sanchez.
Both brothers will be considered amateur players under the collective bargaining agreement and will therefore be subject to Major League Baseball’s international bonus pools, despite the fact that the older of the two does come with six seasons of pro ball in Cuba under his belt. As such, they’ll be limited to minor league contracts and signing bonuses that are relatively minimal when compared to the top prices paid for prior Cuban stars.
The Mesa brothers are the sons of Victor Mesa, a 19-year veteran of the Cuban National Series who has in the past served as the manager of Cuba’s team in the World Baseball Classic. Scouting info on the pair is somewhat sparse, especially as pertains to the 16-year-old Mesa Jr.
Prior to last year’s WBC, however, Sanchez called the elder Mesa brother one of the top prospects in all of Cuba, reporting that he was one of the main draws for MLB scouts to the international spectacle. Per Sanchez’s brief report, Victor Victor is a plus runner and defender in the outfield with a strong throwing arm. He enjoyed a terrific campaign in the 2016-17 season in the Cuban National Series, hitting .354/.399/.539 and swiping 40 bases in 70 games — lending credence to reports on his impressive speed. In all, he’s a career .275/.334/.378 hitter in his six professional seasons in Cuba. His aggregate numbers are weighed down, to an extent, by the fact that he made his professional debut at the age of 16 and, unsurprisingly, endured some struggles against the island’s top pitchers in his first couple of seasons.
There’s obviously a fair ways to go before either will be able to sign with a big league organization. The Mesa brothers will first need to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball — a process that could take several months but has, at times, also taken as much as a year for some players. Even if they’re cleared in short order, it stands to reason that they’d likely wait to sign until at least July 2, when the 2018-19 international signing period kicks off, thus resetting the bonus pools for teams throughout the league.
Eight teams — the Reds, A’s, Nationals, Braves, White Sox, Astros, Cardinals and Padres — will still be in the metaphorical “penalty box” for previously shattering their league-allotted pools by more than 15 percent and will subsequently be barred for signing any international amateur player for more than $300K. The other 22 clubs will be able to allocate as much of their pool space as they wish to either or both brothers — it’s not clear if the two are set on signing with the same organization — though the new CBA placed a hard cap on signings and no longer allows clubs to exceed their bonus pools in any capacity.