Image credit: Misael Urbina (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
This is part of Ben Badler’s 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 23
The Twins committed a large chunk of their 2018-19 bonus pool to infielder Yunior Severino, one of the former Braves prospects Major League Baseball removed from Atlanta as a penalty for the team’s international signing violations. Severino signed with the Twins in December 2017 for $2.5 million, but the Twins were able to apply his bonus toward their pool for the 2018-19 signing period that opened last year on July 2.
Aside from Severino, the Twins signed just two players last year during the 2018-19 signing period for bonuses of $150,000 or greater. They spent the majority of their remaining bonus pool space to sign Misael Urbina, an athletic center fielder from Venezuela. Urbina, 16, is 6 feet, 175 pounds and was one of the top defensive center fielders in the 2018 class. He’s a conscientious worker on his defense, which shows in games. He gets good breaks off the bat with a quick first step, efficient routes and strong overall defensive instincts for his age. He’s a plus runner with good closing speed and range, giving him a chance to be a plus defender with a slightly below-average arm. Those who liked Urbina the most saw him hit well in games with a compact swing from the right side, though his bat drew a split camp among scouts, some of whom saw uneven game performance and had concerns about his swing path. Urbina has good bat speed and surprising power for his size, with the ability to drive the ball out of the park to his pull side. Urbina is represented by Yasser Mendez.
The Twins also signed 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Alexander Peña in July after he trained with Jackson Melian. Those highest on Peña liked him for his offensive upside, with a projectable frame (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) and mostly gap power with the ability to drive the ball over the fence. Given his build, more impact should come once he packs on more weight. Peña has a strong arm, though at his size, he looks like he will grow outgrow shortstop and could end up at third base.