International Reviews: San Francisco Giants
Total 2017 signings: 23.
Top 2017-18 signing: Several at $300,000.
The Giants blasted through their international bonus pool in 2015-16 to sign Lucius Fox, a shortstop from the Bahamas, for $6 million. As a penalty, they haven’t been able to sign anyone for more than $300,000 the following two signing periods, including the 2017-18 period that opened last year on July 2.
Jean Pena is a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop the Giants signed for $300,000 on July 2. He’s a skinny 6-foot-1, 150 pounds, with steady tools that should tick up with much-needed strength gains. He has a sound righthanded swing and solid bat-to-ball skills from the right side. He’s a line-drive hitter with occasional gap shots that should start to carry farther as he fills out, though he doesn’t project to be a power hitter. Pena has a chance to stay at shortstop, with an average arm that could tick up after he gains weight. Pena trained with Amauris Nina.
The Giants also gave $300,000 to another shortstop, Jose Peralta from Venezuela, when he turned 16 on July 4. At 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, Peralta is an athletic defender with plus-plus speed, quick actions and a tick above-average arm. Peralta stands out more for his athleticism and defense than his bat, but he’s a switch-hitter who has shown solid contact skills for a 16-year-old shortstop.
Another $300,00 signing on July 2, Johan Polanco, is a physical, 17-year-old right fielder (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) from the Dominican Republic. Polanco’s game is built around his strength, with a power-over-hit profile from the right side of the plate and a plus arm.
Jesus Gomez, 17, is a Venezuelan lefthander the Giants signed for $300,000 on July 2. He’s 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with space to fill out and add to his fastball, which sits at 86-90 mph and has scraped 91 mph. He’s working to smooth out his delivery, with a low-70s curveball that’s ahead of his changeup. Gomez trained with Javier Mendoza.
Dominican third baseman Luis Toribio signed with the Giants for $300,000 on July 2. Toribio, 17, is an offensive-oriented player whose best tool is his lefthanded bat. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, he has shown a knack for barreling balls, with gap power now but the loft in his swing and physical projection to grow into average power. He has an average arm at third base.
Yorlis Rodriguez is an 18-year-old Cuban shortstop the Giants signed for $300,000 on July 2. Rodriguez played shortstop for Cuba’s 15U national team in 2014 after hitting .366/.453/.530 in 161 plate appearances this year in the country’s 15U national league, where he struck out just nine times and also stole 25 bases in 29 attempts. At 6 feet, 187 pounds, Rodriguez is an instinctive player with good bat control and a patient hitting approach from the right side, although he probably won’t ever hit for much power. Rodriguez is an average runner who has a good internal clock at shortstop, though some scouts think he’s better suited for second base in the long term.
The Giants signed 18-year-old Venezuelan righthander Leonard Vilchez for $175,000 on July 2. Vilchez has a highly projectable build at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds. There’s a lot of room for Vilchez to fill out and throw harder, standing out more for the future projection of his stuff than his present velocity. He throws 85-88 mph and has shown feel for both a low-70s curveball and a changeup in the upper-70s.
Dominican outfielder Robert Gomez, 17, signed with the Giants for $160,000 on July 2. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Gomez’s best attribute is his hitting ability from the right side of the plate. He has gap power now but should add more extra-base thump once he gains weight. He projects as a corner outfielder with fringe-average speed and a solid-average arm.
Franklin Labour Shows All-Fields Approach
Labour's video game-like numbers in the Northwest League were the result of enhanced strike-zone awareness.
Rodolfo Bone received the highest bonus for a Nicaraguan player in 2017, signing for $150,000 on July 2. Bone has a strong frame (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) with wide shoulders and made a strong impression already during the Tricky League (an informal league for July 2 signings), especially on the defensive side. Bone has advanced baseball knowledge for a 17-year-old, earning praise for his game-calling to go with good receiving skills and a 55 arm. Bone’s defensive skills stick out the most right now, but his strength helps him at the plate and his righthanded bat is solid for a catcher his age.
Venezuelan lefthander Sonny Vargas, 17, was dominant at a Nations Baseball Showcase in the Dominican Republic in November, then signed with the Giants the next month for $150,000. Vargas has a strong frame (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), quick arm speed and throws a lot of strikes with an 88-92 mph fastball. His mid-70s curveball has average potential and is more advanced than his changeup. Vargas trained with Henderson Martinez.
The Giants gave $125,000 to 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Jesus Liscano on July 2. He’s a 5-foot-11, 175-pound lefty with an easy swing, good bat control and gap power. Liscano has good instincts on both sides of the ball, with a tick above-average speed that plays up in center field because of his reads off the bat.
They also signed Venezuelan lefty Juan Sanchez for $125,000 on July 2. He’s a long-range projection who was throwing 84-87 mph when he signed but has ticked up to 86-89 mph, with a lot of room on his wiry build (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) to throw harder in the future. His delivery is loose and easy, with a low-70s curveball and upper-70s changeup rounding out his repertoire.
One sleeper from the Giants’ signing class who is already trending up is 17-year-old Dominican righthander Ivan Armstrong, an appropriately-named power arm. When Armstrong signed with the Giants for $85,000 on July 2 he reached 91 mph, but by the end of the year at Dominican instructional league he was throwing 90-94 mph. Listed at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, Armstrong has a chance to throw even harder, with his fastball standing out more than his curveball or changeup. Armstrong trained with Chiqui Mejia.
The Giants also signed 17-year-old center fielder Richgelon Juliana out of Curacao for $50,000 in July. Two months later, Juliana played in the U18 World Cup in Canada. A righthanded hitter at 6 feet, 175 pounds, Juliana stands out for his plus speed and athleticism in center field.