International Reviews: Chicago White Sox
Top signing: OF Franklin Reyes, Dominican Republic, $1.5 million.
Total signings: 11.
The upper levels of the organization are largely depleted in terms of homegrown international talent, so most of the organization’s Latin American prospects are concentrated in the lower levels. Power bats have been a draw for the organization in recent years, including last year’s top signing, 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Franklin Reyes.
Reyes is the younger brother of Franmil Reyes, another corner outfielder who signed with the Padres for $700,000 in 2011 and is now a monster-sized 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. Franklin isn’t quite that heavy yet, though he shares several traits in common with his older brother and is slightly more advanced at the same age. Reyes is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds with a pair of plus tools in his power and arm strength that could both be well-above-average tools.
Reyes has good bat speed and can punish a fastball, though he’s still learning to translate his power from BP into the games. Several scouts had reservations about Reyes’ long righthanded swing and vulnerability against breaking pitches, with an overaggressive approach that led to too much swing-and-miss. Reyes is a slow runner and isn’t the same caliber of athlete as Micker Adolfo, another strong-armed, power-hitting corner outfielder the White Sox signed recently, but he should be an adequate defender to stay in right field and take advantage of his arm strength and accuracy. Reyes, who trained with Juan Valera and Basilio Vizcaino (known as “Cachaza”) and played in the Dominican Prospect League, is ticketed to open the year in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Fernando Tatis spent 11 seasons in the major leagues from 1997-2010 mostly as a third baseman, including stints with the Cardinals, Expos and Mets. The White Sox signed his son, 17-year-old third baseman Fernando Tatis Jr., for $700,000 on July 2 after he played in the DPL. Tatis has grown to 6-foot-3, 175 pounds and earned praise from scouts for his overall baseball IQ and gamer mentality. He has the physical projection to grow into power and the White Sox had conviction in his ability to hit from the right side of the plate, though others had concerns about his balance and length in his swing leading to swing-and-miss, particularly on the inner third. Tatis spent some time at shortstop, but he is going to play third base, where he has the hands, flexibility and arm strength to fit there. The White Sox are planning to start Tatis in the AZL.
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The White Sox signed another DPL player, 17-year-old shortstop Santo Vasquez, for $350,000 on July 2. Vasquez, who trained with Hector Evertz, is 6 feet, 170 pounds and impressed the White Sox for his combination of hitting ability and speed. He’s a righthanded hitter who’s adept at using the opposite field and is a plus runner. His bat and wheels stand out more than his defense, but he has a strong arm and the White Sox believe he can stay at shortstop.
Harvin Mendoza made the all-star team as a pitcher on Venezuela’s COPABE 12U Pan American Championship team in 2011. In 2014, he was an outfielder on the country’s 15U World Cup team in Mexico, where he went 5-for-25 (.250) with a double, three walks and two strikeouts. The White Sox were drawn to his lefthanded bat and ability to hang in well against lefthanded pitching in that tournament, then signed him for $300,000 on July 3. Mendoza, 17, has a strong build (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) with room to grow into more power, which will be key because he’s a corner outfielder for now who might end up at first base. He trained at Carlos Guillen’s academy.
Brayant Nova is a 17-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop the White Sox signed for $100,000 on July 2. He’s 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and impressed the White Sox with his hitting ability, particularly from the left side, though he might ultimately slide over to second base. He trained with Rafael Montero (known as “Spilman”) and Kelvin Nova, who is his cousin and also had catcher Jhoandro Alfaro when the White Sox signed him for $750,000 in 2014.
In November, the White Sox gave $100,000 to Venezuelan righthander Yender Silva. Still 16, Silva is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds and comes from the academy run by Henderson Alvarez’s father. Silva had been a catcher previously, but he converted to pitching and has taken to it quickly, touching 91-92 mph with feel for his breaking ball and changeup and solid strike-throwing ability for his age and experience level.
That same day, the White Sox also signed Venezuelan catcher Ulises Martinez for $50,000 out of Carlos Guillen’s program. Martinez coming into the year had been a third baseman, but he moved behind the plate and impressed the organization with his power and arm strength.