2013-14 International Reviews: San Francisco Giants
Top signing: SS Kelvin Beltre, Dominican Republic, $650,000.
Six-figure signings: RHP Kendry Melo (Dominican Republic), OF Mikey Edie (Venezuela), SS Manuel Geraldo (Dominican Republic), RHP Rodolfo Martinez (Dominican Republic), RHP Raffi Vizcaino (Dominican Republic), C Alilzon Rodriguez (Dominican Republic).
Total signings: 19.
One of the Giants' most important international additions last year signed before July 2, when they added Dominican righthander Kendry Melo for $500,000 in June just as the 2012-13 signing period was closing.
The circumstances behind Melo ending up with the Giants are bizarre. He originally signed with the Blue Jays for $100,000 in November 2011 as a 17-year-old after training with Eury Soto. That contract never became official, however, as Major League Baseball declared Melo ineligible to sign due to issues with his age. Yet when Melo became eligible to sign again last year on June 12, he signed that day using the same identity and the same date of birth (January 7, 1994) that he used on his Blue Jays contract, and MLB approved his contract.
When Melo originally agreed to sign with the Blue Jays, he topped out at 92 mph. Now he's 20 years old and throwing 91-94 mph with plus life from his strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. Some scouts call his breaking pitch a curveball and others call it a slider because of its in-between break, but he may end up with a true slider with more experience. He hasn't needed to use his changeup much, but he has shown feel for the pitch and some scouts project it to be at least an average pitch. He's an aggressive pitcher who some think may fit better in the bullpen, but for now he has the three-pitch upside to move along as a starter.
San Francisco's biggest international bonus last year went to Dominican shortstop Kelvin Beltre, who signed for $650,000 on July 2 after training with Alfredo Arias. Beltre is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and showed good bat speed from the right side. Scouts from other clubs were mixed on his game hitting, but the Giants saw him perform well against live pitching. He's a line-drive bat who makes hard contact when he connects, though his raw power is below-average. Beltre has an above-average arm and is a solid-average runner. He's a high-energy player who scouts from other teams felt might have to change positions, perhaps sliding over to third base, though the Giants believe he's a shortstop.
The Giants tried to pursue players with high-end athleticism last year. Venezuelan outfielder Mikey Edie (video), who signed for $400,000 out of Carlos Guillen's program when he turned 16 on July 3, was one of the best athletes on the international market. Edie has plenty of baseball experience, playing in the 2009 Little League World Series when he was 12 and winning a gold medal at the 15U World Championships in 2012 in Mexico, where he hit .393/.484/.607 in 28 at-bats.
Scouts refer to the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Edie as a track-and-field athlete with plus-plus speed and quick-twitch actions. He has a plus arm, so he has the tools to be a quality defender in center field, though his reads and routes will need work. Despite Edie's extensive baseball background, he's still raw in all phases of the game. Power isn't part of his offensive package and his hitting in games held back his price tag. A natural righthanded hitter, Edie had tinkered with switch-hitting in the months leading up to July 2, but for now the Giants are having him hit exclusively from the right side.
Dominican shortstop Manuel Geraldo signed with the Giants on July 2 for $375,000. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, the 17-year-old Geraldo is a 60 runner and has plus arm strength. With good actions, range and footwork, he has a chance to be a quality defender at shortstop. Geraldo is a switch-hitter who's defense is ahead of his bat, but he's a good athlete with a chance to hit for average with more development. He trained with Laurentino Genao.
At 19, Dominican righthander Rodolfo Martinez is on the older end of the scale for an international amateur signing, but the Giants gave him $350,000 in September after Martinez impressed them with his power arm. He's 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with impressive arm strength, working at 92-96 mph and peaking at 97. The fastball has good life to it and is his best pitch, followed by a good changeup and a slider he's still working to develop.
In August, the Giants gave Dominican catcher Alilzon Rodriguez a $125,000 bonus. He's a 17-year-old who has strength and solid righthanded power from his heavy 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, though the hit tool still needs to catch up. He has a solid arm but will need to improve defensively to be able to stay behind the plate.
During the 2012-13 signing period, the Giants gave $200,000 to 18-year-old Dominican righthander Raffi Vizcaino. He is the nephew of prominent Dominican trainer Basilio Vizcaino, who goes by Cachaza and also was involved with Giants Dominican third baseman Natanael Javier, who signed for $500,000 in 2012 then was suspended 50 games when he tested positive for steroids last year. Vizcaino had a solid debut in the DSL, with a 3.80 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 17 walks in 47 1/3 innings. Vizcaino is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and the Giants saw him throw 87-92 mph.