2013-14 International Reviews: Los Angeles Angels
Top signing: LHP Ricardo Sanchez, Venezuela, $580,000.
Six-figure signings: RHP Crusito Mieses (Dominican Republic), OF Junior Pedie (Dominican Republic).
Total signings: 23.
Scouts were in Mexico in August 2012 at the 15U World Championship, where they watched lefthander Ricardo Sanchez hold Cuba to two runs (one earned) over seven innings with six strikeouts to lead Venezuela to a 10-2 victory in the gold-medal game. Sanchez continued to progress and was arguably the top lefthander on the July 2 market last year when he signed for $580,000 after training with Henderson Martinez.
Sanchez, 16, is on the smaller side (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), but he had one of the best arms in the 2013 class and is trending in the right direction. Sanchez threw 87-90 mph and scraped 91 when he signed. A couple of months later at Angels instructional league in Arizona, he sat at 90-92 mph and topped out at 94. He has throws a good curveball with tight spin that he'll add and subtract from, but it's a true curveball that he can throw up to 80 mph. The curveball is Sanchez's best secondary pitch, so the Angels have had him focus on his changeup. The organization taught him a new grip on the pitch from his amateur days and he seemed to pick it up quickly.
Sanchez has clean arm action, he's athletic and scouts like his delivery, so it's surprising that his control has been erratic. Even against Cuba, he walked six batters, hit three others and threw three wild pitches. The attributes are there for Sanchez to be a strike thrower, so some scouts think his control will improve once he settles down and learns not to overthrow. Even with inconsistent command, scouts praise his feel for pitching, ability to work inside and intelligence on the mound. The entire package draws comparisons to fellow Venezuelan lefthander Alex Torres, now with the Padres. Sanchez is advanced enough that he's expected to begin his career in the United States.
The Angels signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Junior Pedie for $175,000 in August. Pedie has a familiar profile of a Dominican corner outfielder, with size, power, arm strength and a lot of crudeness to his game. He's 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and can put a charge into the ball during batting practice. There are some elements of his swing that work well, but he's going to need more experience to learn to translate his power in game situations with more frequency. Pedie is an average runner with a strong arm and should fit defensively in right field, where he will play this year in the Dominican Summer League. Pedie trained with Nick Harada.
On June 15, right as the 2012-13 international signing period was closing, the Angels gave $180,000 to Dominican outfielder Crusito Mieses. Mieses, who played on the Dominican team that won the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) junior division World Series in 2012, originally agreed to a $180,000 deal with the Angels in August 2012. That contract never became official, however, as Major League Baseball declared Mieses ineligible to sign due to issues with his age. The normal penalty for age issues is a one-year ban from signing, but MLB made him eligible to sign again last year on Jan. 24. After Mieses originally presented himself as being born April 8, 1996, he signed with the Angels in June for the same bonus from his original agreement using a September 5, 1995 date of birth, which makes him 18 now. After MLB approved that contract, Mieses pitched briefly in the DSL after signing, posting a 2.13 ERA and a 10-6 K-BB mark in 12 2/3 innings.
Mieses throws the ball with extreme downhill angle from his 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame. He signed throwing 87-88 mph and early this year his velocity started to creep up to 91-92 mph. His changeup is his best secondary pitch right now, with the breaking ball a pitch he's still trying to learn. Mieses played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Christian Batista, who goes by the nickname "Niche."
Another Angels international signing to keep an eye on is 17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Torres, who received a $95,000 bonus in July. Torres is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and separates himself with his instincts and feel for the game more so than his tools. He's a righthanded hitter with solid bat-to-ball skills and sneaky power from his thin build. He's not a burner, but his reactions off the bat give him more range than his speed would suggest, along with an average arm. Torres trained with his father, Jaime Torres (the Venezuelan trainer, who is of no relation to the agent of the same name for several Cuban players), and also was handled by Ciro Barrios.