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International Reviews: Chicago White Sox

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Luis Robert (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Total 2017 signings: 5.

Top 2017-18 signing: Several at $300,000.

As July 2 approached last year, the White Sox had to put their 2017-18 signing class on hold. While other teams were securing commitments for top players who would become officially eligible to sign on July 2, the top priority for the White Sox was to sign Cuban outfielder Luis Robert. The White Sox at that point had yet to exceed their 2016-17 international bonus pool, but signing Robert would put them over and trigger a two-year penalty of being unable to sign anyone for more than $300,000 for two years beginning on July 2.

So the White Sox waited, with Major League Baseball sending out word in April that Robert would be cleared to sign the following month. Once Robert became officially eligible to sign, the White Sox landed him for a $26 million bonus, with the White Sox paying nearly double that amount in total as a 100 percent overage tax to the commissioner’s office for exceeding their pool. As a result, the White Sox added a Top 100 prospect to their farm system in Robert, but couldn’t sign anyone for more than $300,000 in the 2017-18 signing period that opened last year on July 2.

The White Sox signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Sydney Pimentel out of Moreno Tejada’s program for $300,000 on July 2. He’s 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with good bat speed and a simple swing from both sides of the plate. He keeps his swing under control with good rhythm and balance, putting the ball in play with a line-drive approach and gap power, and has enough physical projection to grow into 10-15 home runs. Pimentel is an athletic, high-energy player with a chance to stick at shortstop. He’s an average runner with a 50 arm that flashes better at times and could tick up more consistently with strength gains.

Jefferson Mendoza, a 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher who trained with Alex Gonzalez, signed with the White Sox for $300,000 on July 2. Mendoza has a lot of catching experience for his age and it shows when he’s behind the plate. He blocks and receives well, with a plus arm to help him control the running game, giving him the ingredients to develop into an above-average defender. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Mendoza has a solid righthanded bat for a catcher. He has a chance to develop average power but doesn’t get caught up overswinging too much, staying with a middle-of-the-field approach in games.

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In September, the White Sox signed 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Camilo Quintero for $300,000. Quintero played for Santiago de Cuba in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2015, when he batted .304/.439/.330 in 140 plate appearances. Quintero is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds and impressed the White Sox with his defense. The White Sox saw above-average speed and arm strength to go with a simple, line-drive approach from the right side of the plate, though without much power.

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