International Reviews: Miami Marlins

See Also: 2015 Marlins International Review

See Also: 2014 Marlins International Review

See Also: 2013 Marlins International Review

Top signing: OF Albert Guaimaro, Venezuela, $800,000.

Total signings: 29.


The Marlins looked poised to strike for one of the top international prospects in the 2016 class, but when Dominican shortstop Freudis Nova tested positive for anabolic steroids, their plans changed.

After shifting their focus away from Nova, who ultimately signed with the Astros for $1.2 million, the Marlins were left with the seventh-highest bonus pool ($3.57 million) and still had the majority of it available to spend as July 2 approached. It turned out to be fortuitous timing for the organization when the day before the 2016-17 signing period opened, Major League Baseball removed five Venezuelan players from the Red Sox as a penalty for what the commissioner’s office labeled as bonus pool circumvention. One of those players, Albert Guaimaro, quickly signed with the Marlins for $800,000 on July 7. Per MLB’s ruling, only the amount over $300,000 (the player’s original signing bonus) counts towards the team’s bonus pool, so only $500,000 counted against Miami’s pool. Guaimaro’s performance in his debut was underwhelming—he hit .225/.282/.331 in 42 games, though an aggressive MLB investigation, switching teams in-season with a pause in the middle during his free agency create some mitigating circumstances.

When Guaimaro was younger, he had experience as a catcher, though his trainer showcased him as an outfielder and he had been playing in the outfield for the DSL Red Sox. The Marlins liked Guaimaro as an outfielder, but when he signed with them, the organization offered him the opportunity to catch if that was something he wanted to pursue. After a brief experiment with that, Guaimaro decided he wanted to stick with the outfield instead.

More than anything, though, Guaimaro’s at his best in the batter’s box. He’s an 18-year-old righthanded hitter with a strong, sturdy build (6 feet, 205 pounds) and a short, simple stroke. His strength helps him drive the ball with authority, but he has a good hitter’s mentality, using the whole field instead of just trying to pull the ball for power, though he would benefit from a more selective approach. His home-to-first times are fringe-average, but he’s a better runner underway in the outfield, moving better than his thick lower half would suggest. Combined with his ability to read the ball well off the bat and get good jumps, Guaimaro could stick in center field at least through the lower minors. His best fit ultimately might be right field, where he could be an above-average defender with a plus arm.

Miami also signed Cuban outfielder/first baseman Lazaro Alonso for $100,000 in November. Alonso, 22, performed well in different leagues in Cuba at a young age, although scouts were lukewarm on him when they saw him at showcases in Mexico and then Miami. As a 19-year-old with Pinar Del Rio in the 2014-15 season in Serie Nacional, Alonso batted .299/.436/.494 with four home runs, 20 walks and 19 strikeouts in 110 plate appearances. The summer entering the season, Alonso played in Cuba’s national 23U developmental league and hit .395/.495/.535 in 104 plate appearances.

While Alonso has experimented with switch-hitting, he now exclusively hits lefthanded, with a lot of strength packed into his huge 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame that makes him look like a defensive end. He has big power, though it’s more strength than pure bat speed, with some concerns about swing-and-miss against offspeed pitches. Alonso’s speed improved after leaving Cuba, so he will probably split time between the outfield corners and first base, though first base is probably his best fit. At either spot, his bat will have to carry the way as he works to improve his fielding and agility to become a playable defender.

Aside from Guaimaro, Miami’s top addition among the more traditional international signings for July 2 last year was Bryan Pineda, a 17-year-old Dominican center fielder who got $300,000. He’s an athletic, gangly 6-foot-3, 165 pounds and stands out most in the batter’s box. Pineda’s a righthanded hitter with an calm, easy swing with good rhythm and balance. His power is mostly to the gaps right now but he has quick hands and plenty of room to fill out. A fringy runner when he signed, his speed has already improved to average to a tick better.

Dominican righthander Leudy Martinez signed for $175,000 on July 2. Still 16, Martinez is trending in the right direction, throwing 87-89 mph when he signed and ticking up to 88-92 mph in the fall after making tweaks to get better direction to the plate and freeing up his lower half. He has a projectable build (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) and a loose arm that works well, portending more velocity gains in the future. He shows feel for a breaking ball at times, though that’s still inconsistent.

Christopher Martinez, a 17-year-old Dominican third baseman, signed for $150,000 on July 2. Martinez is a righthanded hitter who stands out for the strength in his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, though he will need time for his game skills both at the plate and the field to catch up.

Franklin Brioso, a 16-year-old Dominican lefthander, signed for $135,000 on July 2. He has a big frame (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) but wasn’t a hard thrower, ranging from 82-86 mph when he signed. He has since reached 88-89 mph, with physical projection left to add more to his fastball. The pitch already plays better than the pure velocity suggests, with a funky arm action that creates sneaky deception to get on hitters faster than they anticipate. Brioso still needs to develop his breaking ball and changeup, but he’s a solid strike-thrower for his age.

Dominican shortstop Daivy Rosario signed with the Marlins for $125,000 shortly after he turned 16 in July. He’s an aggressive, high-energy player who stands out in the field. He has a good inner clock at the position for his age, with fringe-average speed and an average arm with a quick release. He’s a thin-framed 6 feet, 160 pounds, so getting stronger will be important for his righthanded bat to develop.

Arquimedes Cumana, a Venezuelan catcher signed for $120,000 on July 2, stood out more in games than workouts, particularly behind the plate. He’s an advanced receiver for a 16-year-old and a savvy player who already handles a pitching staff well. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, he’s athletic behind the dish with an average, accurate arm. Cumana is a righthanded hitter who manages his at-bats well with a line-drive swing and doubles power.

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