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2019 International Signing Period Preview

As the calendar turns to July, the international signing period opens for MLB organizations. Besides the MLB Draft, this is one of the most valuable ways for an organization to add an influx of talent to their farm system. At the ripe age of 16, some players will sign for big bonuses and change their family’s lives.
Image courtesy of © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Fans can look up and down the current Twins roster to find impact players signed as part of the international signing period. Max Kepler and Miguel Sano were both signed out of the 2009 signing class. One year after Kepler and Sano signed, Jorge Polanco was inked to a deal out of the Dominican Republic. Even rookie Luis Arraez has his origin traced to the 2013 international signing period.

Minnesota’s Bonus Pool
The Twins are in the second tier of teams that have $5,939,800 to spend during the 2019-20 spending period. Compared to Minnesota, only eight teams have more money to spend and five other teams have an equal pool from which to spend. These new hard cap rules have helped to level the playing field when it comes to signing international players.

Since Minnesota had a “Competitive Balance Pick” in Round A of the draft, they were given an extra $541,500 for the current signing period. Teams in the competitive balance portion of the draft are deemed by MLB to be smaller markets or smaller revenue clubs. This helps those clubs to level the playing field.

Also, teams can trade for up to an additional 60% of their original bonus pool allotment. However, these trades can’t happen until after the signing period opens on July 2. Signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club’s bonus pool.

Players to Watch
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com expects the Twins to be aggressive in the upcoming signing period. Last year, Minnesota was able to sign Misael Urbina, MLB.com’s number six prospect in the 2018 signing class. He is an outfielder that hails from Venezuela. In Twins Daily’s Midseason Top-40 Prospects, he came in as the 19th best player. Urbina is making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League. So far this season, he is hitting .271/.380/.441 (.821) with seven extra-base hits in 16 games.

The Twins are tied to another MLB top-10 prospect for the current signing period. Emmanuel Rodriguez, a Dominican outfielder, is ranked as the eighth best player in the current class. FanGraphs places him as the 19th best prospect and provides a video look at the young outfielder.

At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, there is still room for him to grow. Multiple prospect sites praise him for his hit tool. MLB.com said, “Rodriguez is athletic with a strong body and a medium frame. He has shown a solid hitting approach and advanced knowledge of the strike zone for a player his age. He has an efficient swing that creates lots of backspin and generates power to all fields. He also has a real feel and natural instincts for the game and specifically, hitting.” FanGraphs referred to him as a “smaller tweener” type and they said he has a “good feel to hit and instincts.” MLB.com even compared his skill set to a young Eddie Rosario.

Malfrin Sosa, another outfielder from the Dominican, is also tied to the Twins. Sosa, a right-handed hitter, comes in at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. His big size means he projects as a corner outfielder, but he has the raw power to fit that mold. His hit tool is one thing to work on, but he is a little younger than some of the other potential signees. FanGraphs ranks him as the 28th best international prospect in this class.

In all reality, neither of these players will be at Target Field in the next five years. That being said, it’s tough to ignore the importance of international signees on the current Twins roster. Players signed through this method can impact line-ups throughout the game.

What are your thoughts on the two names above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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24 Comments

Thanks for the early look at who the Twins may be signing next week, Cody.

 

Look at the Twins current roster.Of the 15 position players on the team, I'm including the three on the IL as of yesterday, 8 are from Latin America and Kepler is from Germany.  

 

With 60% of the Twins position players signed as International Free Agents (not all signed by the Twins) it appears to me this is THE most important method of obtaining future talent.   

    • Mike Frasier Law, beckmt, 70charger and 1 other like this

I like that the Twins are typically always in on at least one of the top ranked guys but they also have done pretty well with no name guys as well.Here's hoping we grab some good ones this year.

    • 70charger, operation mindcrime and rdehring like this
Both fangraphs and baseball America are saying that they aren't doing much ranking here anymore.... Since many players are signed when they are fourteen....

Once players have deals in place, they only work out with their new team. Scouts haven't even watched most of these guys in two years.

Also, as BA pointed out, bodies and ability are really in flux at this age. They mention the Twins first pick this year as a guy that want even really in anyone's serious radar a year or two ago....
    • Mike Frasier Law and Dman like this
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birdwatcher
Jun 27 2019 12:42 PM

It's always been a relationship-building exercise rather than a pure scouting and signing exercise in the D.R. That's why MacPhail, Smith, and Jim Pohlad badgered old Carl until he finally coughed up the multi-million dollar budget in the 90's that allowed the Twins to finally and very slowly establish a beachhead in the D.R.

 

This required both human and physical infrastructure. It began with building relationships and a good reputation with those buscones who were what you might call beneficent exploiters. It culminated in the establishment of that fabulous 45-acre facility jointly operated by the Twins and McPhail's Phillies. Kids who live and train there receive educational and cultural benefits as well as on-field training and development.

 

The various Top IFA prospect lists have always been a bit of a farce once you get past a few extraordinary athletic specimens. But it's not a complete crapshoot either, despite the immaturity of the prospects.

 

Teams with reputable and honest relationships and a physical presence like the Twins will be privy to what's going on outside of their own complex. They see these kids up close and interact with them over time because of their relationships with the buscones.

 

Dicey stuff happens, but not all teams are cutting deals. Sometimes it's simply a buildup of trust that a buscone is transparent and that a club will take a modicum of care in their treatment of a kid.

    • Cody Christie, SwainZag, Dman and 2 others like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Jun 30 2019 04:07 AM

I like that the Twins are typically always in on at least one of the top ranked guys but they also have done pretty well with no name guys as well. Here's hoping we grab some good ones this year.


I really like a number of the no name guys from this years group.
    • Dman and operation mindcrime like this

Enmanuel Rodriguez signed for $2.7 million.

 

    • Dman and operation mindcrime like this

Ben Badler writes that the Twins have signed four players already.

https://www.baseball...gnings-tracker/

    • gunnarthor, Dman and operation mindcrime like this

Another OF signed:

 

    • operation mindcrime likes this

Enmanuel Rodriguez signed for $2.7 million.

This is a pretty good get for the Twins.
By overall grade, he'd slide into our top 6 prospects at MLB Pipeline, with a 55 overall grade. They even comp him to Eddie Rosario, which is exciting, even if his odds are long and we won't know for 5 or 6 (or more) years.

If he'd been signed before the updated top 30 series, Seth, where do you think you'd have ranked him?

EDIT: I misread his pipeline profile, they actually haven't given overall grades yet to the international prospects.
After comparing his tool grades to other prospects, I think they'll probably give him a 50 overall to start. That still puts him in the 6-13 range, which is still pretty good.

 

This is a pretty good get for the Twins.
By overall grade, he'd slide into our top 6 prospects at MLB Pipeline, with a 55 overall grade. They even comp him to Eddie Rosario, which is exciting, even if his odds are long and we won't know for 5 or 6 (or more) years.

If he'd been signed before the updated top 30 series, Seth, where do you think you'd have ranked him?

 

FanGraphs has him 38th in the org.....not a judgement, just letting people know.

FanGraphs has him 38th in the org.....


I edited my post, I think he'll slide in lower than I initially thought at Pipeline.
38th seems really bearish though... is Fangraphs always conservative with international signees, or are they just much lower on him specifically?

 

I edited my post, I think he'll slide in lower than I initially thought at Pipeline.
38th seems really bearish though... is Fangraphs always conservative with international signees, or are they just much lower on him specifically?

 

IME, they are not usually bearish. Some players signing today are definitely appearing in team top 10 lists. I just think they aren't a fan, yet. 

International is so hard to follow. Some of us might remember big money guys like Amaurys Minier, Lewin Diaz (until this year, at least) not making it and small quantity signings doing pretty well. Every year around this time, I think we should keep a list of all the players the Twins sign so we can remember how different classes did v. expectations. But I'm too lazy to do it.

    • DocBauer and operation mindcrime like this

I wonder how Yankees was able to sign #1 and #18 and a few others with its limited international bonus pool this year.

    • operation mindcrime likes this

IMO Fangraphs didn't like his physical tools (athleticism, frame).Important predictors for star players to be sure but not always accurate especially for players this young.  

 

Twins and MLB site see future growth in the body and a very strong hit tool.From what we have on the MLB site he runs above average and throws above average so its not like he lacks tools he just doesn't appear to have any really standout tools at this point which is what Fangraphs looks for and seems to give extra credit for.

 

Not that any of these write ups mean anything as they are best guesses but I am pretty sure Fangraphs and MLB didn't have Arreaz in their top 40's and it looks like he made it over a lot of guys predicted to have better tools\frame\athleticism etc.

 

The Twins went with a top guy they feel will have an elite hit tool in time.I like the pick and he wouldn't have gone for 2 million plus if other teams didn't think he had a decent future as well.It is not an exact science but the Twins have gotten good players at the top and the bottom of the international system so I'll go with what they think over the experts for IFA.

    • DocBauer and operation mindcrime like this

 

This is a pretty good get for the Twins.
By overall grade, he'd slide into our top 6 prospects at MLB Pipeline, with a 55 overall grade. They even comp him to Eddie Rosario, which is exciting, even if his odds are long and we won't know for 5 or 6 (or more) years.

If he'd been signed before the updated top 30 series, Seth, where do you think you'd have ranked him?

EDIT: I misread his pipeline profile, they actually haven't given overall grades yet to the international prospects.
After comparing his tool grades to other prospects, I think they'll probably give him a 50 overall to start. That still puts him in the 6-13 range, which is still pretty good.

 

Tough question... we always struggle with whether or not to include the DSL guys, much less guys who haven't yet played even in the DSL. What do we know? He's a strong prospect with most of the tools... It's like Misael Urbina last year. Urbina got an even bigger signing bonus, so should he be ranked higher? We have Urbina just inside our Top 20, so Mike mentioned 38 by fan graphs... that seems reasonable.

 

With prospect rankings, you try to look at tools and ceiling and upside... and contrast that with likelihood of getting there. He's 7-8 levels from the big leagues in the hardest sport to get to the big leagues... It's a long road.

    • DocBauer and operation mindcrime like this

IMO Fangraphs didn't like his physical tools (athleticism, frame). Important predictors for star players to be sure but not always accurate especially for players this young.

Twins and MLB site see future growth in the body and a very strong hit tool. From what we have on the MLB site he runs above average and throws above average so its not like he lacks tools he just doesn't appear to have any really standout tools at this point which is what Fangraphs looks for and seems to give extra credit for.

Not that any of these write ups mean anything as they are best guesses but I am pretty sure Fangraphs and MLB didn't have Arreaz in their top 40's and it looks like he made it over a lot of guys predicted to have better tools\frame\athleticism etc.

The Twins went with a top guy they feel will have an elite hit tool in time. I like the pick and he wouldn't have gone for 2 million plus if other teams didn't think he had a decent future as well. It is not an exact science but the Twins have gotten good players at the top and the bottom of the international system so I'll go with what they think over the experts for IFA.


Odds are he agreed to sign with the Twins two years ago, so whatever his body looks like now is probably different.... Most of these high price guys have been training since they were ten or twelve, almost professionally. We don't really know what they would sign for, or how teams feel about them, if they were really only signed right now.
    • operation mindcrime likes this
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operation mindcrime
Jul 02 2019 08:56 PM

I wonder how Yankees was able to sign #1 and #18 and a few others with its limited international bonus pool this year.

They'll be able to trade for additional bonus allotment.
    • jz7233 likes this
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AlwaysinModeration
Jul 03 2019 11:07 AM

Odds are he agreed to sign with the Twins two years ago, so whatever his body looks like now is probably different.... Most of these high price guys have been training since they were ten or twelve, almost professionally. We don't really know what they would sign for, or how teams feel about them, if they were really only signed right now.


What a crazy system.

 

I edited my post, I think he'll slide in lower than I initially thought at Pipeline.
38th seems really bearish though... is Fangraphs always conservative with international signees, or are they just much lower on him specifically?

I don't think 38th is too conservative for a 16 year old but Fangraphs does have him at 19th in their international rankings instead of the 8th he was in mlb.com.

 

The whole international signing period reminds me, though the players are younger, of college football recruiting. Except, of course, that money is involved. [Unless we are talking SEC and then money is definitely involved. I kid, I kid].

More than the draft, you are talking about recruiting and personal connections and ATTEMPTING to project athleticism, build and development on a different scale than a college player or HS player...couple years older than these signings...which have usually attended various camps and tournaments.

In the draft, there are dealings and relationships that deal with slot value, but you still get to draft who you want when your spot is up. This is so much more about trusting in your scouts and what they believe the future holds.
    • gunnarthor and rdehring like this

Love how this process has been imporved in the last CBA.No longer allows for big teams beating the system...just ask the Braves. This process means so much to the Twins as Polanco, Sano, Kepler, Arraez, Astudillo and Thorpe were all International players they signed.Take them out of the organization and it is a different team.  

 

Others such as Cruz, Adrianza, Gonzalez and Schoop were International, but not signed by the Twins.

    • DocBauer likes this

Love how this process has been imporved in the last CBA.No longer allows for big teams beating the system...just ask the Braves. This process means so much to the Twins as Polanco, Sano, Kepler, Arraez, Astudillo and Thorpe were all International players they signed.Take them out of the organization and it is a different team.  
 
Others such as Cruz, Adrianza, Gonzalez and Schoop were International, but not signed by the Twins.


Don't know how, but bad actually forgotten Thorpe was an international signing.

Sano, Polanco and Kepler were all signed in '08-09. Rosario was drafted the same time frame. Berrios, I believe, a year or two later. Say what you want about the previous FO, but they did a hell of a job in those couple of years.
    • gunnarthor likes this

Love how this process has been imporved in the last CBA. No longer allows for big teams beating the system...just ask the Braves. This process means so much to the Twins as Polanco, Sano, Kepler, Arraez, Astudillo and Thorpe were all International players they signed. Take them out of the organization and it is a different team.

Others such as Cruz, Adrianza, Gonzalez and Schoop were International, but not signed by the Twins.


All of those guys were signed under the old system. By, paying the most money for Sano and Kepler. It was always a choice.

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