We present the July 2, 2018 Board. It features scouting reports on players we have evaluated as a 40 FV prospect or better at the current moment (and we might add more reports over the weekend) as well as tool grades and some video. Specifics on the players in the class are reserved for the board itself, so head there if that’s all you’re looking for.
This is the second year of international amateur free agency under the current CBA, the rules of which were discussed here after they were first implemented. In short, teams now have a finite amount of money to spend on players. Here is each club’s cap for the period. The total pool space across baseball is about $159,000,000, or roughly $6 million above last year’s total.
Teams with an asterisk next to their abbreviation (see below) are still in the “penalty box” that prohibits them from giving a bonus over $300K to any single player — a punishment for exceeding their formerly soft-capped bonus pool back when that was allowed. The Braves have to sit out for another two years due to their recent international scandal, one which included illegal acquisition of players in 2016 who have since been granted free agency and signed with other teams, as well as an illegal early agreement with 2019 Dominican SS Robert Puason, which they were forced to void. Oakland is now considered the industry favorite to land Puason (the early favorite for top player next year), who could net around $5 million, as estimated by industry sources in international scouting.
|$6,025,400||CIN*, MIA, MIL, MIN, OAK*, TBR|
|$5,504,500||ARI, BAL, CLE, COL, KCR, PIT, SDP*|
|$4,983,500||ATL**, BOS, CHC, CHW*, DET, HOU*, LAA, LAD, NYY, NYM, SEA, SFG, TEX, TOR, WAS*|
** denotes Braves, serving punishment for scandal.
The last dominoes to fall during this international period will probably be the most interesting. Cubans enter into eligibility at varied, odd times because of the United States’ political relationship with Cuba and when they eventually do, a lot of the now finite money is already spoken for, some of it for over a year. This year, the top player on our board, Victor Victor Mesa, is in that very situation. We’re not even sure what country he’s in right now, what day his open workout will be (probably within a month or two) or any idea when he’ll be cleared to sign. Once early signings are done and some early accounting dust has settled, we’ll be able to see who has money left to make a conceivable run at Mesa and monitor trades for pool space.
This applies to Victor Victor, as well as his brother Victor Mesa Jr. and fellow Cuban Alex Vargas. Vargas is a talented shortstop whose skills befit a $2.0-$2.5 million dollar player, but he might have to wait until the 2019 period to get that kind of money because teams had already committed money to other players before he became eligible. Chatter amongst scouts is he just struck a deal for that amount or more, but for a deal in the 2019 signing year, for which he would wait 12 months to sign.
It’s also worth noting that signing players generally at age 16 is too early for many teams to feel comfortable committing seven figures to a pitcher, due to the greater associated risk. The top of our July 2 boards, in general, will be hitter-heavy and the bonuses lean that way, as well, with Marlins target fire-balling Cuban righty Sandy Gaston the only exception this year.