The international market is ready to get cranking again, with a new July 2nd class just around the corner. As usual, Ben Badler of Baseball America and Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com are providing plenty of insight. Badler just released his ranking of the 50 best international prospects, with lengthy scouting reports as well as anticipated signing teams and bonuses where available (a BA subscription is required). Sanchez, meanwhile, has his own top 30 rankings and scouting reports posted. On the top of Badler’s rankings is Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa, who has yet to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. The other key distinction in his case is that he’s much older and more advanced than the bulk of the available talent. Indeed, Badler believes that Mesa is ready for an upper-minors placement, meaning he may not actually be far from the majors if he can translate his skills into professional production. Sanchez pegs Venezuelan catcher Diego Carataya as the top talent in the class, though perhaps only by way of technicality; because Mesa is not yet formally a free agent, he’s absent from the MLB.com list entirely.
Of course, when it comes to bringing in new talent, the immediate action remains centered around the 2018 amateur draft class:
- With a deadline of July 6 to work out bonuses, there’s still plenty of time left for unsigned players to come to terms. At present, there are a fair number of first-rounders who’ve yet to lock up agreements. That includes four first-round players: No. 4 pick Nick Madrigal (White Sox), No. 5 pick Jonathan India (Reds), No. 7 pick Ryan Weathers (Padres), and No. 8 pick Carter Stewart (Braves). There’s no indication to this point that the respective teams will have trouble finalizing things. As always, you can catch up on the latest signings with our 2018 Amateur Draft tag.
- Over the coming weeks, of course, we could begin to see some situations develop that warrant closer attention. It seems there’s at least a bit of uncertainty between the Brewers and their top pick, Brice Turang. The same can be said with regard to a few other talented young players. Ethan Hankins, the No. 35 overall selection, is still in talks with the Indians, as GM Mike Chernoff says and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. But he also has an arrangement in place with Chipola College’s JuCo baseball program that would enable him to play a year and then re-enter next year’s draft, Doug Freeman of Prep Baseball Report tweets. Similarly, Pirates draftee Gunnar Hoglund — who went one pick after Hankins — has begun attending summer school orientation at Ole Miss, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
- Elsewhere, the status of Oregon State lefty Luke Heimlich remains uncertain as he participates in the finals of the College World Series. But Royals GM Dayton Moore had some noteworthy comments on the situation recently, leaving many to wonder if the Kansas City organization will make a move to add a player whose abilities aren’t questioned, but carries a highly controversial status as a convicted sexual offender. Indeed, Moore has already spoken on Heimlich quite a bit, as Rustin Dodd of The Athletic explains (subscription link). It’ll ultimately come down to an ownership call that has yet to be made, according to Dodd, who writes: “The Royals are not close to signing Heimlich, nor do they have any framework for a deal in place, according to a source familiar with the situation.” It’s hard to know just why the organization (or, perhaps, Moore personally) decided to air its feelings on this subject before reaching a decision. Now that he has, though, perhaps the public reaction will help inform the ultimate course of action.