International Team-By-Team Forecast
What your favorite team will do this July
See also: Breakdown of Top 40 international prospects
With the international signing period opening at midnight, the market for this year's July 2 class is beginning to fall into place.
How the top players are lining up and where they might be headed are becoming clearer. All signs point to a market elevated from last year's in Latin America, with records likely to fall in the coming days.
Here is a preview of what to expect for all 30 teams once the international signing period begins.
These teams should have the biggest international budgets this year. The High Rollers section is more crowded than usual this year, with 10 teams that have a good chance at handing out at least one seven-figure bonus.
Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox have the resources to spend as much as any team in the international market, though they scaled back on international teenagers last year and were more active with Cuban defectors. The Red Sox have given million-dollar bonuses in the past, though they've had more success finding players for six-figure bonuses like Aruban shortstop Xander Bogaerts or righthander Roman Mendez, who went to Texas in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade. This year they could be competitive for some of the more expensive talent in Latin America, including Dominican outfielders Ronald Guzman and Manuel Marcos. Venezuelan righthander Jonathan Perez could also be a target.
We'll have to wait a decade to know how well each team did with its 2010 international signings, but the early returns for the Cubs have been outstanding. Dominican third baseman Jeimer Candelario is playing like an MVP candidate in the Dominican Summer League, Venezuelan shortstop Carlos Penalver has an OBP over .400 in the DSL and Venezuelan outfielder Jeffrey Baez is among the DSL leaders in hits, stolen bases and runs. This year the Cubs' target appears to be Marck Malave, a switch-hitting catcher from Venezuela, and they'll likely be active for other Latin and Pacific Rim players as usual. They have also been linked to Dominican catcher Eric Otanez, and with two DSL teams and a Rookie-level Arizona club, they would have the roster space to pull it off.
In recent years the Indians have stayed out of the July 2 race, preferring to sign players who were passed over in previous years or waiting until later in the year for players' asking prices to drop to more reasonable levels. This year the Indians have been mentioned as a possible destination for several high-profile players. Their top target seems to be Dorssys Paulino, an offensive-oriented Dominican shortstop who should get around $1 million. The Indians have also been linked to Edgar Pineda, a little Venezuelan lefthander who can touch the low-90s and should get a low six-figure bonus. Righthander Mauricio Silva, outfielder Anthony Santander and possibly Ricardo Marcano are other Venezuelans who have been attached to Cleveland.
Kansas City Royals:
After ranking 11th in international spending in 2010, the Royals appear to be making a push to be one of the top international spenders in 2011. The Royals gave seven-figure bonuses last year to Venezuelan shortstop Humberto Arteaga and Dominican shortstop Orlando Calixte, and this year they could hand out another pair of bonuses of $1 million or more. Their top target, Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez, could be the No. 1 player this year with a bonus expected to be $3.2 million. Adding Hernandez and Bubba Starling to their outfield depth chart would be quite a haul for the Royals. Adalberto Mondesi getting seven figures would surprise a lot of scouts, but many expect the Royals to land him for a bonus in that neighborhood once he turns 16 later this month. Kansas City could also play on lower-level talent, including Venezuelan catcher Luis Lara.
New York Yankees:
Surprise! The Yankees are here to play. Even in a year like 2010 when they backed off the most expensive talent, they still found a way to spend more than any team but the Mariners. They've already been busy signing players before July 2, most notably Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua for $1.1 million in March. With no first-round pick in June, the Yankees will flex their muscles in the international market. They always get linked to a slew of players, but their top targets this year appear to be in the Dominican Republic. Third baseman Miguel Andujar is expected to become another Basilio Vizcaino (Cachasa) player to sign with the Yankees, while outfielder Manuel Marcos and shortstop Luis Reynoso have been mentioned as their other prime targets.
The Pirates were among the top five spenders abroad last year, with an estimated budget of $5 million, highlighted by the signing of Mexican righthander Luis Heredia last August for $2.6 million. Don't expect Pittsburgh to spend that much on a player or in total in 2011, but they have been connected to Colombian outfielder Harold Ramirez, who should command around $1 million, and Venezuelan outfielder Elvis Escobar, who will probably get around half that. They're likely to make some lower six-figure signings as well.
San Diego Padres:
Since opening their Dominican academy in 2008, the Padres haven't been afraid to go after expensive players overseas. This year they have been all over Venezuela's Jose Ruiz, widely considered the top defensive catcher (and for some the top catcher overall) in Latin America. Ruiz is represented by Felix Olivo, who also represented Venezuelan outfielder Luis Domoromo when he signed with the Padres for $1.2 million, and Ruiz's bonus is expected to be in the same vicinity.
How valuable has the Mariners' international program been to the organization? Try imagining their rotation without Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. Or how much better their lineup would be had they held on to Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera. The Mariners consistently lock on to a top target and find a way to make him a Mariner, and that should be the case again if they sign Venezuelan righthander Victor Sanchez as expected. The Mariners have gone after expensive, power-hitting corner outfielders from the Dominican Republic the last couple of years with Phillips Castillo in 2010 and Guillermo Pimentel in 2009. Several international sources expect that trend to continue this summer, with the Mariners connected to Dominican outfielder Helsin Martinez and Franmil Reyes.
Though they dealt with an ownership situation in flux for most of 2010, the Rangers remained active internationally. Colombian catcher Jorge Alfaro, a January 2010 signing, is already in the short-season Northwest League, as is Venezuelan shortstop Rougned Odor (technically a January 2011 sign). The Rangers didn't have a first-round pick this year, though they got a first-round talent in Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin already. On the July 2 market, their priority appears to be Dominican outfielder Ronald Guzman, who should command one of the top bonuses in Latin America. Several international sources also expect Venezuelan lefthander Yohander Mendez to sign with the Rangers. Beyond those two, the Rangers could also be involved with Dominican outfielder Franmil Reyes, Colombian shortstop Gustavo Perinan and Venezuelan outfielder Eduar Pinto, among a host of other players they'll likely add for low six-figure amounts.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays are often linked to more players on the international market than they could sign, but their pockets are among the deepest in Latin America. They have spent on aggressive hitters before and are likely to do so again with Dominican shortstop Dawel Lugo and Venezuelan shortstop/outfielder Wilmer Becerra. Dominican outfielder Ronald Guzman could be another top target, though the Rangers and Red Sox are heavily involved as well. Some international sources believe Toronto is the favorite for Venezuelan outfielder Jesus Gonzalez and Venezuelan righthander Manuel Cordoba. Dominican catcher Eric Otanez is another player the Blue Jays could have interest in.
These teams have money to spend, but they haven't been closely tied to any of the players who will command seven-figure bonuses. They could jump up and surprise, though.
The Braves have gone after top-dollar international free agents in the past, including Colombian righthander Julio Teheran as well as shortstop Edward Salcedo and lefthander Carlos Perez. They haven't been mentioned with the high-dollar players this year, though it wouldn't be a surprise if they make a late move. The Braves have found quality prospects for lower and mid-range prices, and they have been mentioned as a team with interest in Dominican righthander Jesus Jones and outfielder Iosif Bernal from Panama, a country the Braves scout better than anybody. Lower-level Venezuelan catching could also be on their radar.
The Tigers spent $1.2 million on Venezuelan outfielder Danry Vasquez a year ago, and they should have money to spend this year. The Tigers didn't pick in the draft until 76th overall and had a conservative, college-heavy draft overall, so they could try to make up for it by going after a high-upside player in the international market. Some international sources think they could go after Dominican power-hitting third baseman Adelin Santa.
The Astros spent $2.6 million last year on Ariel Ovando, and the organization was so high on him that he skipped the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and began his career in the more advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League until he came down with elbow soreness. They were one of the top spenders last year, though they're unlikely to sign anyone for Ovando money this year. After spending mostly in the Dominican Republic in 2010, they could branch into Venezuela for a player like shortstop Arturo Michelena or possibly outfielder Anthony Santander. Catcher Eric Otanez could be a possibility in the Dominican Republic.
St. Louis Cardinals:
International sources mentioned the Cardinals in connection with Venezuelan shortstop/outfielder Wilmer Becerra, but more recently those sources have said they're expecting the Blue Jays to sign Becerra instead. The Cardinals have shown they're not afraid to strike when they see a player they love, as they did in 2009 with Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo (whose contract was later voided) and last year with Dominican righthander Carlos Martinez, who has come as advertised. They don't have a player like that on their radar this year, but they have been mentioned as the favorite to sign Venezuelan catcher Jose Godoy.
San Francisco Giants:
Last year was generally considered a down year for international amateurs, and the Giants drew back their spending considerably, with an estimated budget under $1 million. Prior to that, they had aggressively pursued big, power-hitting Dominicans, including Rafael Rodriguez ($2.55 million in 2008) and Angel Villalona ($2.1 million in 2006). A handful of big-framed power hitters fit that profile this year, but none has been tied to San Francisco. The Giants have already been more aggressive in 2011 than they were a year ago, with the signings of Dominican righthander Simon Mercedes for $400,000 and Dominican lefthander Adalberto Mejia for $350,000. Venezuelan outfielder Anthony Santander might be a possibility, but they also could have something bigger in the works.
These teams probably won't dive into the million-dollar waters, but if they see a player in the next tier that they like, they could strike for something in the mid- to high six figures.
Every year it seems like the Rockies are bringing along a new Latin American pitcher, either at the major league level with Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio or with their plethora of promising arms in the lower levels of the system. Several sources say Venezuelan righthander Antonio Senzatela is a player the Rockies would like to add to that mix. Venezuelan righthander Carlos Tocci could be another target. The Rockies have had tremendous success signing players later in the year after the July 2 hype passes, and they're a good bet to wait it out for prices to drop on this year's players as well.
The Twins' increasing presence in Latin America is evident, with Miguel Sano their crown jewel. The million-dollar guys might be out of the picture, but they could be involved in the next tier of players. International sources believe one of their top priorities is Dominican righthander Miguel Gonzalez, a strike-thrower who would seem to fit well into their organizational philosophy. They should make a handful of low six-figure signings as they did in 2010.
New York Mets:
Though ownership might be in a financial mess, the Mets still figure to be active internationally in their first July 2 under general manager Sandy Alderson, who had previously been in charge of MLB's efforts to reform its operations in Latin America. They spent in the middle of the pack for international talent last year and are expected to be around the same level in 2011, with Venezuelan catcher Jose Garcia mentioned most frequently as their top priority.
approach in 2010 landed Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez
and Dominican outfielder Vicmal de la Cruz. Nunez is hitting for average
and power in the Dominican Summer League, while de la Cruz is one of the most exciting Latin
American position players the organization has had in a long time, with
an on-base percentage that ranks among the best in the DSL. The A's should be competitive in the market
again, be it for a July 2 guy like Nunez or someone who waits longer to
sign like de la Cruz.
These teams will make moves in Latin America, but don't expect any million-dollar fireworks. Low to mid-six figures is likely the ceiling for these teams, who will be opportunistic and pounce if asking prices for some of the top guys fall.
Aside from the unusual exception of getting Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo for $512,500 early in 2010, Arizona's top signings last year were Venezuelan infielder Ronny Mejias ($320,000) and outfielder Yorman Garcia ($200,000). There's a good chance they land more players year in that price range. Jesus Gonzalez is the main player the Diamondbacks have been linked to, though several sources believe Gonzalez could end up with the Blue Jays.
The Reds backed off the high-end international amateur market last year and went hard in the Cuban market for lefthander Aroldis Chapman. What they're planning to do this year isn't clear, though they're typically most heavily involved in Venezuela. They were frequently linked to Venezuelan catcher Marck Malave early on, but now most international sources believe Malave will sign with the Cubs.
Two of Milwaukee's top international signings from 2010 are off to fast starts in the Dominican Summer League. Dominican righthander Milton Gomez, who signed for $350,000, has a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings, while Venezuelan shortstop Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia) has been one of the league's best hitters. The Brewers are likely pursuing players for similar money again in 2011.
They didn't have a pick in the draft this year until 39th overall, but don't expect the Phillies to make up for it on the international market. They typically work with a more moderate international budget, and they've used some of their better signings like righthander Carlos Carrasco and shortstop Jonathan Villar to acquire Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee. This year they've been mentioned with Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Tocci and Venezuelan lefty Carlos Rodriguez. They typically find a way to add a toolsy guy whose price falls or whose skills come on later on in the signing process.
Tampa Bay Rays:
The Rays are active in Latin America and landed Dominican outfielder Yoel Araujo for $800,000 as their big-ticket signing a year ago. With three first-round picks and 11 of the top 100 picks in this year's draft, the Rays' financial flexibility figures to be more restricted than usual. Their name was popping up less than in previous years, but they could have a few surprises or lower-level signings after July 2.
These teams haven't been mentioned in connection with any of the big-name prospects in Latin America. They will make smaller signings, but their international budgets figure to be among the lowest in the game.
Orioles management has talked for years about wanting to get more involved internationally, but so far those efforts have been limited. Venezuelan lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez was a good 2010 signing who pitched well last year in the Dominican Summer League and is off to a nice start in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but their actions in Latin America figure to be on the lower end again this year.
Chicago White Sox:
The Dave Wilder bonus skimming scandal decimated the White Sox's international program. After hiring Jerry Krause to rejuvenate their international department last year, they suffered another blow when Krause left before the season began to join the Diamondbacks as a special assistant. The White Sox ranked 29th in spending abroad last year, and they're likely to be in that range again.
The Marlins allocate their international scouts with a limited budget each year. This year will be no different, as the organization hasn't been mentioned as a player for any of the top names. They will likely sign some lower-level players and wait until after the July 2 frenzy to see if prices fall into their range.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
What do you expect? The organization ranked last in international spending a year ago and since then has gone into bankruptcy proceedings. Rubby de la Rosa making his major league debut this year after signing for $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic was a source of pride for the Dodgers' international scouts, but they will have to hope for another bargain basement find in 2011.
Los Angeles Angels:
The Angels are making slow progress in Latin America since firing international scouting director Clay Daniel shortly before July 2 in 2009. They might take a chance on passed over players who show present tools or stuff, but their name hasn't come up at all with any of the high-profile names on the market.
Ownership is understandably hesitant to jump back into the high-end international market after getting burned for $1.4 million by the Esmailyn Gonzalez/Carlos Alvarez fraud, though Alvarez remains in the organization with their Rookie-level Gulf Coast League squad. They hired Johny DiPuglia away from the Red Sox to lead their international program, and some expect them to become more active in 2012. Their signs will be smaller-dollar guys this year, with Venezuelan shortstop Angelo Castellanos believed to be one of their targets.