KLaw: #Braves have ‘handshake agreement’ with ‘the next elite prospect’

I’m not going to try and explain the international signing process, which has spurred a flurry of transactions involving the likes of Cody Martin and 2014 2nd round pick Garrett Fulenchek. The objective, beyond signing 16-year-old prospects Cristian Pache, an OF with power potential, and speedy SS Derian Cruz, is to avoid exceeding their bonus pool and incurring penalties in 2016, when the Braves intend to make a huge splash.

According to Keith Law, the Braves already have a handshake agreement with 15-year-old Venezuelan SS Kevin Maitan, whom many scouts are comparing to a future Hall of Famer. Respected FanGraphs analyst Kiley McDaniel, in an article published last September, said they hype is legit.

Maitan has been compared to (Miguel) Cabrera by most of the scouts I’ve asked about him. He’s unusually physically mature for his age and flashes all the tools you want to see to throw that Cabrera comp around: he can play shortstop pretty well now, he’s got more raw power than most kids a few years older than him, he has smooth actions in defense and at the plate and so on.

Obviously, it’s still ridiculously early in the process to anoint a 14-year-old the next big thing, but scouts have already starting doing it, with rumors Maitan has already been offered seven figures by multiple clubs.

The kid already has at a commanding plate presence.

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2 Comments

  1. Talking Chop has a good rundown of what the Braves have done the last couple of days, and apparently what they plan in the near future:
    http://www.talkingchop.com/2015/7/3/8889511/braves-busy-during-the-opening-of-international-signing-period
    Basically, they signed two of the top free agent players in the Dominican; Cruz appears to be close to the top of everybody’s lists, while Pache, at worst, falls just outside the top 20. They quickly traded off some minor leaguers — Cody Martin to the A’s, Jordan Paroubeck and Caleb Dirks to the Dodgers, and Garrett Fulenchek to the Rays — to acquire pool allotments (and add to that which they acquired from the Cubs in the offseason) to keep from exceeding the bonus limits for this season, which would limit their ability to operate next year. Martin has pitched well this year in AAA, but he was a gopher-ball machine with the big club this year, and I don’t Hart and Co. saw him in a role with the Braves in the future. Fulenchek was a second-round draft pick last year, but considered raw, but he’s been bloody awful in the low minors — he has yet to pick up a victory professionally and had a 7.71 ERA in rookie ball when the Braves traded him — which probably says something about the scouting prowess of the Wren regime. Dirks and Paroubeck appear to be the ones we may regret losing. Dirks was a 15th-round pick last year, but he’d pitched very well in A ball, while Paroubeck is one of the prospects the Braves acquired from the Padres in the Kimbrel deal. Paroubeck is supposed to have a high ceiling, but after the Padres picked him in the second round in 2013, he appears to have only played professioinally in 34 games of rookie ball (striking out in more than 25% of his plate appearances), so maybe the team decided he had little chance of meeting his enormous potential.
    By keeping within the international free agent bonus pool limits for 2015, the Braves face no restrictions on international signings in 2016, which promises to offer a broader class of talent than 2015. But more to the point, MLB is expected to adopt an international free agent draft after 2016 (which means crappily run orginazations that have lousy international operations — I’m looking at the Used Car Salesman’s team here — will be on the same footing as those who make an effort), meaning that the bonus pool limitations will be going out the window, and there will be little, if any, penalty for spending like drunken sailors come next year. Which, by all accounts, is the Braves’ plan. But spending on international free agents carries a lot more favorable risk-reward than spending on MLB free agents. For the salary of a Jonny Gomes, for instance, a team could probably sign at least 5-6 teenagers from the Caribbean, and if only one or two pan out, you’re still ahead of the game. Money spent on international free agents can go pretty far.

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