2023 International Reviews: Atlanta Braves

The Braves’ penalties from Major League Baseball for the club’s international signing violations are behind them, but they continue to have an impact on the team’s international prospects throughout the system. That has started to change in the last couple of years as the Braves return to normalcy, with another high-end hitter leading their 2023 signings and one of the premier pitching prospects in Latin America for this year joining the organization.

Top Of The Class

The Braves spent nearly half of their international bonus pool to sign Venezuelan outfielder Luis Guanipa for $2.5 million. Guanipa packs explosive athleticism into a strong, compact frame (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) with an impressive mix of power and speed. He’s a 70 runner on the 20-80 scale, cutting his 60-yard dash times under 6.4 seconds at his best. He gets solid reads off the bat for a 17-year-old with his speed allowing him to cover a lot of ground in center field. His arm is below-average but with enough strength projection left where that tool could still tick up. At the plate, Guanipa’s swing used to have a bigger hitch to it, but he has since smoothed that out and improved his balance at the plate. His raw power stands out, with explosive bat speed from the right side and the juice to drive the ball over the fence to any part of the field. He’s still learning to fully tap into that potential plus raw power in games, with an aggressive mindset that will require a more selective approach, but he has the hand-eye coordination that enables him to make contact when he swings. 

Names To Know

Carlos Monteverde, OF, Venezuela: Signed for $600,000, Monteverde had a good offensive track record against live pitching in Venezuela and during events in Colombia. A 17-year-old lefty, Monteverde is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds and stands out for his offensive upside. He has a patient approach, drawing a lot of walks to get on base and can drive the ball for damage to the pull side with more power to come given the strength projection left in his frame. Monteverde projects as a right fielder whose offensive game will drive his value. 

John Estevez, OF, Dominican Republic: Estevez, 16, signed for $310,000 on the strength of his hitting ability. He has a wiry 6-foot-2 frame with broad shoulders and a lot more physical upside, but for now it’s his on-base skills that stand out the most. He’s a disciplined hitter for his age with good bat-to-ball skills from the left side and doubles power. His below-average speed and arm strength will restrict him to left field, so it’s his hitting ability that will have to carry him. 

Jeremy Reyes, RHP, Venezuela: Reyes, signed for $250,000, has been one of the bigger risers among international pitching prospects for this year. Reyes originally worked out for teams at third base and then right field before moving to the mound a couple of years ago. When he started pitching, his rawness was evident, but he touched 90 mph at 15, threw a solid amount of strikes for someone with his lack of experience and threw a hard breaking ball. Now 17 and 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Reyes has elite velocity for the class, sitting in the low-to-mid 90s and touching 97. He doesn’t throw with much effort and there could be another jump in velocity still to come once he learns to incorporate his lower half more into his delivery. Reyes is still refining the shape of his slider, but he shows feel for that pitch and already throws it with power. 

Mario Baez, SS, Dominican Republic: Baez is 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, a smaller, stocky strong infielder with a high-energy style who signed for $240,000. He’s a plus-plus runner whose game is built around his speed and hitting ability from the right side of the plate, with some occasional sneaky power for his size. Baez trained at shortstop as an amateur but projects better at second or possibly third base long term. 

Luis Arestigueta, RHP, Venezuela: Arestigueta has a host of projection arrows pointing in the right direction. Signed for $240,000, Arestigueta is 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, a lanky 17-year-old with big hands and an athletic delivery that helps him throw a lot of strikes. His velocity has already started to trend up, reaching 93 mph with what should be mid-90s or better velocity still in the tank given how much more room he has to add weight. Arestigueta shows feel for a slider as well and does a good job of landing in the zone for a pitcher his age.

Carlos Cordero, SS, Dominican Republic: Cordero, a switch-hitter who signed for $200,000, is starting to fill out a wiry 6-foot, 170-pound frame. There’s no one plus tool right now, but he’s a steady player with more strength projection remaining and looks like he should be able to handle shortstop. 

Sleeper Watch

The Braves have signed more than 20 players so far in their class. One of those signings is John Gil, an athletic shortstop who could fit in the infield, the outfield or serve in a utility role. He has a good mix of strength, athleticism and ability to play under control on both sides in games. 

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