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Seattle Mariners To Change International Scouting Directors

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Julio Rodriguez, Seattle's No. 4 overall prospect and top international signing in 2017. (Photo by Stacy Jo Grant)

The Mariners will be changing leadership in their international department, as the club has decided not to renew the contract of international scouting director Tim Kissner, who had been in that role since October 2012.

Mariners international signings over those last six years include Brewers righthander Freddy Peralta, who had been a Top 100 Prospect this season before graduating to the major leagues, and Phillies righthander Enyel de los Santos, who reached the big leagues this year and is currently the No. 100 prospect in baseball. The Mariners signed both players out of the Dominican Republic (Peralta for $137,000, de los Santos for $15,000), then traded them while they were in Rookie ball.

The Mariners signed top prospects in each of the last two signing classes. Dominican shortstop Noelvi Marte, the No. 4 international prospect this year, signed with the Mariners for $1.55 million. Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez, the No. 6 international prospect in the 2017 class, signed for $1.75 million last year. Rodriguez is one of the best prospects in the Dominican Summer League, where he’s batting .315/.404/.525 with 30 walks, 40 strikeouts and four home runs in 59 games as a 17-year-old. In the Baseball America midseason update, Rodriguez ranks as the team’s No. 4 prospect, while Marte ranks No. 6.

Given the volume of trades the Mariners have made in recent years, the team has shipped out a high quantity of international signings to try to bolster the big league club. They traded de los Santos to the Padres, along with second baseman Nelson Ward, for reliever Joaquin Benoit in November 2015, while Peralta went to the Brewers along with two other Mariners international signings (righthanders Daniel Missaki and Carlos Herrera) to acquire Adam Lind a month later.

Dominican shortstop Christopher Torres (signed for $330,000 in 2014) was part of the offseason trade with Miami to acquire Dee Gordon, Venezuelan outfielder Brayan Hernandez (signed for $1.85 million in 2014) went to the Marlins at last year’s trade deadline in the deal for reliever David Phelps, and Venezuelan shortstop Alexander Campos (signed in 2016) went to the Athletics along with righthander Emilio Pagan in the trade for first baseman Ryon Healy.

Other Mariners international signings who Seattle traded include Venezuelan middle infielder Luis Rengifo, who has hit a combined .305/.402/.460 with more walks (65) than strikeouts (61) in a breakout season, rising three levels this year to reach Triple-A Salt Lake as a 21-year-old with the Angels. Last year in August, the Mariners traded Rengifo, lefthander Anthony Misiewicz and shortstop Osmy Guerrero to the Rays for catcher Mike Marjama and righthander Ryan Garton. The Mariners also traded righthander Juan Then, one of the top 20 prospects in last year’s DSL, to the Yankees for reliever Nick Rumbelow. Then, who signed with the Mariners for $77,500 in 2016, entered the season as the Yankees’ No. 17 prospect and has pitched well for them this year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

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International League Top 20 MLB Prospects

Chicago White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez headlines the 2018 International League Triple-A top 20 prospects.

The Mariners also used Dominican righthander Juan De Paula (signed in 2014) along with righthander Jio Orozco to trade for outfielder Ben Gamel in 2016, and they included Dominican shortstop Carlos Vargas (signed in 2015) along with outfielder Mallex Smith and lefthander Ryan Yarbrough in the Jan. 2017 trade with the Rays for lefthander Drew Smyly.

One Mariners international signing the club didn’t trade and has reached the big leagues is 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia, who signed for $470,000 before the 2016 season.

Under previous rules, when teams were allowed to exceed their international bonus pools, the Mariners were one of 12 teams that never spent beyond their pool. Their biggest bonuses in that time went to Hernandez ($1.85 million), Rodriguez ($1.75 million), Vargas ($1.625 million), Marte ($1.55 million) and Venezuelan shortstop Juan Querecuto ($1.225 million in 2017).

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