The Twins have agreed to terms with Javier Pimentel, a 17-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, for $575,000. A righthanded hitter, Pimentel has a wiry, projectable frame and was considered one of the top prospects in Latin America for this year's July 2 international signing period. Baseball America subscribers can read more about Pimentel and more than 30 of the other top Latin American prospects from this year's signing class.
This time: Nov. 16-21
For more immediate updates on key minor league free agent signings, follow me on Twitter: @eddymk
If you're a Rule 5 draft buff, you can find a complete record of every player added to 40-man rosters this offseason.
Signed: 3B Sean Burroughs
Traded: RHP Scottie Allen to Yankees for 1B Juan Miranda
Since Kevin Towers assumed the reins in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks have acquired three players with ties to the Padres, Towers' longtime employer. Sean Burroughs (the ninth overall pick by San Diego in ’98) is the latest, joining Geoff Blum (who signed a major league deal) and Brian Sweeney (a waiver claim from the Mariners).
Once a highly-touted prospect, Burroughs washed out with the Padres, batting .282/.340/.360 in parts of four seasons. He proved unwilling or unable to adjust his batting approach to hit for more power. Burroughs last played for the Mariners' Triple-A Tacoma affiliate in ’07, appearing in just four games. [...] Continue Reading »
Major league trades and free agent signings dominate offseason headlines, but behind the scenes each November all 30 organizations make crucial decisions about players in their minor league systems. The choices they make help shape the big league club’s roster in the near term.
This year, clubs had two dates to keep in mind for minor league maintenance:
• Nov. 6: On this date, minor league players who have accumulated at least six years of professional service can become minor league free agents if they have no deal in place for 2011. Teams added 12 such players to 40-man rosters prior to Nov. 6 in order to prevent them from leaving via free agency—they’re marked with an asterisk (*) below. The list includes the likes of Robinson Chirinos (Cubs), Cole Garner (Rockies) and Melky Mesa (Yankees).
[Note: The uniform minor league contract runs for seven years—one year plus six renewals. As commenter Mike Andrews notes, at the conclusion of the seventh year players become free agents, so long as no other deal is in place. For 2010 draft picks, their contracts will expire following the 2016 season. Most every player will have between 6 and 6.5 years of service at that time. — ME, Nov. 26.]
• Nov. 19: Qualifying players left off 40-man rosters after this date are eligible for selection in the major league Rule 5 draft. The qualification rules are difficult to condense, but Rule 5 eligibiles can broadly be sorted into two groups: 1.) Two- and four-year college players (19 and older) who signed their first pro contracts during the 2007 minor league season (or earlier), and 2.) High school and international prospects (18 and younger) who signed their first pro deals during the 2006 minor league season (or earlier).
[Note: Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after five minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after four seasons. Thank you, commenter with the screen name darryl0 for the tip. — ME, Nov. 26.]
The bulk of the players here (125) fit into the second group. Those shielded from December's Rule 5 draft include a bevvy of intriguing prospects such as Chris Archer (Cubs), Engel Beltre (Rangers), Joe Benson (Twins), Dellin Betances (Yankees), Zach Britton (Orioles), Simon Castro (Padres), Alex Cobb (Rays), Zack Cozart (Reds), Randall Delgado (Braves), Nick Hagadone (Indians), Thomas Neal (Giants), Michael Pineda (Mariners), Wilin Rosario (Rockies) and Oscar Tejeda (Red Sox).
Arizona Diamondbacks (2)
RHP Josh Collmenter, RHP Yonata Ortega
Atlanta Braves (5)
RHP Juan Abreu*, RHP Erik Cordier*, RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Cory Gearrin, OF Matt Young [...] Continue Reading »
The Yankees have agreed to terms with Dominican righthander Jose Rafael DePaula, one of the top pitchers available on the international market.
DePaula's contract with the Yankees is still contingent on him passing his investigation with Major League Baseball and subsequently obtaining his work visa. In DePaula's case, that's a fairly significant contingency.
One of the top unsigned pitchers in Latin America since 2008, DePaula was suspended for one year in May 2009 by MLB for misrepresenting his date of birth, which he had presented as April 1, 1992. This June, DePaula came forward with a new date of birth—March 24, 1991, making him 19—and a new name, switching from Rafael DePaula Figueroa to Jose Rafael DePaula.
While DePaula still needs to pass his investigation and acquire a work visa for the deal to become official, his talent made him one of the most sought-after pitchers in Latin America regardless of questions about his age. DePaula, who is around 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, has a plus fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s. He also flashes a good breaking ball with sharp bite and shows solid mechanics.
To the commenter who noted that Cubs catcher Mark Johnson ought to be a free agent: You were right. Johnson shows up as a free agent in this installment of transactions.
Six other players qualified for minor league free agency, if only briefly, before re-upping with their prior organizations: SS Christian Lara (Dodgers), SS Mario Lisson (Royals), LHP Drew Rundle (Philllies) and the Rangers trio of 2B Travis Adair, RHP Chris Mobley and SS Guilder Rodriguez. That is to say, these players technically hit the free agent market and then quickly re-signed one or two days later.
Signed: OF Ryan LaPensee (NDFA—Wayne State (Mich.))
A native of LaSalle, Ontario, Ryan LaPensee finished a four-year career at Wayne State University as the school's all-time leader in hits, runs and doubles. He went undrafted in June and signed on to play in Canada's semipro Intercounty Baseball League. From there, LaPensee earned a tryout with the Padres, who did not offer him a contract. But the Diamondbacks caught word and signed him.
Released: C Chris Anderson, 1B Alberto Odreman, 3B Samuel Sime, OF Luis Sumoza
Removed from 40-man roster: RHP Kenshin Kawakami [...] Continue Reading »
The Miami Herald's Spanish language edition, El Nuevo Herald, had the story of Cuban outfielder Yasiel Balaguer, a 17-year-old who was a member of the island nation's 2010 18U national team. Balaguer has shown up in Nicaragua after defecting and intends to become a free agent.
This story has played out recently, back in 2008, when lefthander Noel Arguelles and shortstop Jose Iglesias defected while the Cuban 18U squad was in Edmonton. Both of those players signed major league contracts—Arugelles for a reported $7 million with the Royals, Iglesias for $8.25 million with a Red Sox-record $6.25 million bonus.
Balaguer, however, should not command anywhere near what those players received. First, he's an outfielder, not a scarce commodity like a slick-fielding shortstop or hard-throwing lefthander. Second, the scouting reports on Balaguer are just solid, rather than filled with upside like those of Arguelles and Iglesias.
According to two scouting reports obtained by Baseball America, scouts who saw Balaguer in Thunder Bay during the World Junior Championships in August weren't blown away. Instead, they rated Balaguer as a player with average tools across the board with one important below-average tool—his bat. [...] Continue Reading »
The A's have agreed to terms with Vicmal de la Cruz, a top center field prospect from the Dominican Republic.
De la Cruz, who turns 17 on Nov. 20, is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound lefthanded hitter from Santo Domingo who trained at the La Academia complex in the Dominican Republic. While his skills are still raw, some scouts said de la Cruz had some of the best all-around tools of any prospect from this year's international signing class.
Baseball America subscribers can read a complete scouting report on de la Cruz and more than 30 of the other top international prospects. De la Cruz is the second major signing for the A's on the international free agent market this year, as the club also signed Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez on July 2 for $2.2 million, tied for the third-highest bonus for any international amateur prospect signed this year and tied for 11th all time. The club also signed Argenis Raga, a top catcher from Venezuela, later in July.
Major League Baseball has declared six Venezuelan players ineligible to sign for one year for misrepresenting their ages and identities and placed a seventh on the disqualified list.
Ruben Alvarado, Fabian Marqua, Osmir Medina, Serio Nieves, Omar Viloria and Jose Ramon Wefer were found to have lied about their ages and in some cases their identities. Erickson Salaya, a seventh Venezuelan player who was found to have lied about his age and identity, was placed on the disqualified list for one year after he agreed to a contract, though MLB did not specify the team.
Be sure to check out the complementary Minor League Free Agents list, where you can view all 533 free agents on one screen.
Teams have until Nov. 20, that's a week from Saturday, to finalize 40-man rosters in preparation for the Rule 5 draft. So what you're seeing in this installment is teams adding players to the 40-man, such as Melky Mesa (Yankees), Erik Cordier (Braves) and Cole Garner (Rockies), so that they would not qualify for minor league free agency.
The players here who elected free agency earned that right by virtue of their removal from the 40-man roster. The first time this happens they have no recourse—it's either minor league assignment or a new organization on a waiver claim. Upon second removal from the 40-man (and all subsequent outrights), he can elect free agency once he clears waivers. This is the case for Eddie Bonine (Tigers), Mike Hessman (Mets) and Steven Jackson (Pirates), among others.
Removed from 40-man roster: RHP Leo Rosales, LHP Clay Zavada
Signed: OF Brent Clevlen (re-signed), OF Beau Torbert (Sioux Falls (American Association))
Added to 40-man roster: RHP Juan Abreu, RHP Erik Cordier
Beau Torbert hit .394 with 24 home runs and 100 RBIs in just 95 American Association games to win his second league MVP award as well as the BA Independent Leagues Player of the Year award. The Braves become the third organization to sign the 27-year-old Torbert, an Astros 17th-round pick from Faulkner (Ala.) University in ’04. He also went to spring training with the Tigers in ’09. [...] Continue Reading »
Former White Sox director of player personnel Dave Wilder is among three former White Sox employees indicted today on federal charges for allegedly skimming approximately $400,000 in signing bonuses from international signings.
A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment alleging that Wilder and former White Sox international scouts Victor Mateo and Jorge Oquendo Rivera defrauded the organization by artificially inflating the value of players and skimming money off the bonuses from players between December 2004 and February 2008. Wilder and Oquendo are both charged with seven counts of mail fraud. Mateo is charged with three counts of mail fraud.
“The defendants were supposed to recruit players by paying amounts of money that matched their skills and were no greater than the amount needed to sign the players," said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois. "Instead, the indictment alleges that the defendants secretly inflated those signing amounts to fund kickbacks for themselves."
The indictment did not name specific players or the specific amounts of the kickbacks the three allegedly took, but the seven mail fraud counts allegedly stem from the mailing of checks ranging from $30,000 to $525,000. On Nov. 15, 2007, the White Sox signed Dominican outfielder Rafi Reyes, 16 at the time, to a $525,000 bonus. Reyes, now 19, has never made it out of the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, where from 2008-2009 he hit .182/.244/.261 in 77 games. The White Sox moved Reyes to the mound this year, where he allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings in the DSL.
Major league free agents hit the open market at midnight on Nov. 6, five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Baseball America readers know that this date also ushers in the minor league free agency period. The number of MiLB free agents has declined steadily in the past four years, falling from 602 in 2007 to 561 in ’08 to 536 in ’09 to 533 this season.
Any player who was not on a 40-man roster on Nov. 6 qualified for free agency if he had accumulated at least six years of service time (minors and majors inclusive) while still bound by his first uniform minor league player contract. That contract is broken if the player is released or granted free agency by other means before he logs six years. [Update: Teams also can re-sign players to minor league deals prior to Nov. 6 to prevent them from joining the free agent ranks. This is what we've seen in the past few installments of Minor League Transactions. ME.]
Nine free agents spent the entire season (equal to 152 days) on the disabled list. They’re denoted with a double plus sign (++). Players with a single plus sign (+) spent at least half the season (76 games) on the DL. Alfredo Amezaga (four plate appearances) and Clay Zavada (three innings) effectively missed the entire year.
Notes and explanations follow the team-by-team listings.
Arizona Diamondbacks (11)
RHP: T.J. Beam (AAA), Jose Marte (AAA), Kasey Olenberger (AAA), Leo Rosales (AAA)
LHP: Clay Zavada+ (AAA)
C: Carlos Corporan (AAA)
1B: Jeff Bailey (AAA)
SS: Ed Rogers (AAA)
OF: Doug Deeds (AAA), Drew Macias (AAA), Byron Wiley (Hi A)
Atlanta Braves (10)
RHP: James Parr+ (AAA)
LHP: Mariano Gomez (AAA)
C: Orlando Mercado (AAA), Clint Sammons (AAA)
2B: Joe Thurston (AAA)
3B: Christian Colonel (AA), Eric Duncan (AA), Wes Timmons (AAA)
SS: Luis Bolivar (AAA)
OF: Mike Daniel (AA) [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz.—At 29, Cuban defector and Rays farmhand Leslie Anderson was the oldest player at Saturday's Rising Stars Game.
He's seen more baseball than any of the other players, and he seemed to know he got all of the changeup Bruce Billings (Rockies) threw him on the 1-0 pitch of their bottom-of-the-ninth showdown.
Anderson connected and threw his arms up in the air as he started rounding the bases. Billings, though, didn't think he got all of it, nor did his first baseman, Brandon Belt (Giants).
"I thought he got in on him," Belt said. "I guess he's a big strong guy, though, and got enough to get it out."
The high fly to right just scraped over the wall, and Anderson's West Division teammates tumbled out of the third-base dugout to greet him at home plate after his walk-off homer gave them a 3-2 victory in the Arizona Fall League's all-star showcase game.
Anderson doesn't speak much English, but his teammates were more than happy to talk about how his game-winning shot earned them an extra $500 bonus for getting the victory.
"It definitely was different from other games out here, more fans, different atmosphere," said lefthander Patrick Urckfitz (Astros), who as a non-drafted free agent was one of the more unlikely Rising Stars roster members. "I signed for $15,000, so for me the extra $500 definitely helps." [...] Continue Reading »
SURPRISE, Ariz.—The Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game will feature most of the top players in the AFL, but it doesn't have the one player everyone wants to see.
Bryce Harper, the Nationals' No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, just missed being the youngest player in Fall League history. When made his debut in the AFL, he was four days older than Mets prospect Fernando Martinez was when he played here in 2006.
Harper has bigger tools than Martinez, who has reached the big leagues but hasn't established himself as a regular yet. It's not easy to say when Harper will establish himself, but he has already set himself apart from many of his AFL peers with his hard play and effort, not to mention his tools.
"He plays the game the right way and has baseball instincts," said East manager Randy Knorr, who managed Harrisburg in the Nats' system this season. "He goes hard at all times. He's fun to watch for sure." [...] Continue Reading »
Released: RHP Randy Rodriguez, 2B Yunesky Sanchez, OF Alberto Diaz
Assigned to Arizona Fall League: RHP Josh Collmenter, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Daniel Stange, RHP Bryan Woodall, C Ed Easley, C Konrad Schmidt, OF Marc Krauss, OF A.J. Pollock
Released: OF Jaynnertt Melenciano
Added to 40-man roster: C Robinson Chirinos
Removed from 40-man: RHP Jeff Gray, OF Jim Adduci
Signed as a second/third baseman out of Venezuela, Robinson Chirinos converted to catcher in ’08, his eighth pro season, and has made terrific strides offensively and defensively. After catching a career-high 85 games combined at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, the 26-year-old stands on the cusp of the big leagues now that he's been added to the 40-man. Chirinos gunned down 30 percent of basestealers with Double-A Tennessee with average arm strength, and he made the Southern League all-star team for batting .318/.412/.580 with 15 homers in 264 at-bats. He doesn't run, but he does just about everything else, such as make contact, draw walks and hit for power. [...] Continue Reading »
The World Series is over, but there is still baseball on TV this weekend.
The Arizona Fall League announced the rosters for its annual Rising Stars all-star game, which will be televised live on MLB Network and on MLB.com on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET from Surprise Stadium.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the all-star rosters is the West Division's infield, which is loaded with talent at the plate in the field with Eric Hosmer, Dustin Ackley, Zack Cox, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias.
WEST DIVISION ALL-STARS
Brad Brach, Padres
Anthony Carter, White Sox
Fabio Castillo, Rangers
Josh Fields, Mariners
Carlos Gutierrez, Twins
Colt Hynes, Padres
Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers
Mike Montgomery, Royals
Chance Ruffin, Tigers
Patrick Urckfitz, Astros
Philippe Valiquette, Reds
With the Giants winning the World Series last night and Edgar Renteria being named the World Series MVP, I thought it would be fun to dig up one of Renteria's old scouting reports. This one comes from the Dec. 24, 1995 issue of Baseball America, when Renteria was the No. 1 prospect in the Marlins organization. The scouting report was written by Tracy Ringolsby. . .
Background: With a large Latin population in Miami, the Marlins want nothing more than to have a true Latin star. Renteria could be the first one from the system. He spent two years at the full-season Class A level, but after struggling some with the bat at Kane County in 1993, he put together an all-star season in '94 in the Florida State League. He improved off that at Double-A Portland in 1995. He has begun to fill out, having added 20 pounds to his frame the last three seasons.
Strengths: Renteria is a defensive whiz. He had the instincts the day he signed, and despite growing he has gotten quicker and developed more arm strength. He's going to make all the routine plays and throw in the dazzlers too. The most encouraging aspect of Renteria's development has been with the bat. His .289 average at Portland was third on the team and the highest of his career. He even showed some power with seven home runs after hitting only one the three previous years combined. He runs a touch above average and is getting more comfortable stealing bases. [...] Continue Reading »
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