International Reviews: Los Angeles Angels
Top signing: RHP Reyember Mendoza, Venezuela, $200,000.
Total signings: 14.
After signing Cuban shortstop Roberto Baldoquin for an $8 million bonus during the 2014-15 signing period, the Angels began their first of two years in the penalty box last year when the 2015-16 signing period opened on July 2. The Angels were restricted to pool-eligible signings of no more than $300,000 last year and will face the same restrictions again during the upcoming 2016-17 period.
While some teams under the penalty still opted to spend their entire pool allotment, the Angels instead chose to use their slot values in trades. Each team is given a $700,000 base pool allocation plus four individual slot values, which comprise a team’s total bonus pool.
The Angels had the best record during the 2014 season, so they started with the lowest overall bonus pool in baseball at $1,968,600. They then proceeded to trade away all four slot values, leaving them with just $700,000 in their bonus pool (that amount can’t be traded). They sent their top two slot values (a combined $879,500) to the Rangers for 23-year-old low Class A righthanded reliever Jason Hoppe. They sent their No. 3 slot value ($239,400) to the Mets for 24-year-old low Class A righthanded reliever Gaither Bumgardner and their No. 4 slot value ($149,700) to the Cubs along with lefthander Manuel Rondon in exchange for 27-year-old catcher Rafael Lopez.
None of those players rank among the Angels’ Top 30 prospects in the game’s worst-ranked farm system. With just $700,000 to work with overall and a $300,000 maximum bonus they could pay, the Angels were handcuffed internationally last year, so getting any big leaguers from this group would be a win.
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Their biggest bonus went to 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander Reyember Mendoza, who got $200,000 on July 3. He’s 6-foot-1, 175 pounds with a good delivery and nice spin on his curveball from a high arm slot. Early in the scouting process, Mendoza had been throwing in the mid-80s, but he spent time in the Dominican Republic before July 2 to gain more exposure and saw his velocity hop up to the upper-80s and peaked at 92 mph. His mechanics work well though he’s still learning to repeat them to be able to throw more strikes.
On July 2, the Angels also spent $125,000 on another Venezuelan righthander, 16-year-old Wilkel Hernandez. He’s pitched at MLB’s International Prospect Series in North Carolina in March and was only reaching the mid-80s with his fastball, but the Angels liked his physical projection (6-foot-4, 160 pounds) and have since seen him sitting in the upper-80s and touch 90 mph. He should have a few ticks left to add to his fastball as he fills out. His fastball can come in somewhat straight but he gets good downhill plane and is a good athlete who throws a lot of strikes. He shows feel for his secondary pitches too, with the ability to spin a curveball and sell a changeup well for his age, with his curveball his No. 2 pitch right now.
Among the organization’s lower-level signings, 16-year-old Dominican lefthander Hector Yan has already improved since signing for $80,000 in August. He was throwing a lively 87-90 mph fastball with late armside run and a good breaking ball for his age when he signed, but since then he’s started to sit in the low-90s and touched 95 mph. Yan is just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds and will need to develop a changeup and improve his control, but he has two weapons already in his fastball and curveball.
In May just before the 2015 Dominican Summer League season began, the Angels also gave $10,000 to 20-year-old Dominican center fielder Yefry Santana. He played just seven DSL games before he broke his arm diving for a ball, but he hit .429/.480/.810 by going 9-for-21 with four extra-base hits. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Santana is an excellent athlete and top-of-the-scale runner who is still fairly raw but could come over to the Rookie-level Arizona League this summer.