Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mo' money, mo' imports

This season's international market provided hope for the future to many franchises. Almost half of Camp budgeted to spend at least $20 million on prospects this season meaning that every worthwhile international prospect discovery sparked a bidding war. As the season begins to wind down and teams unload what's left of their prospect budget, let's take a look at the top international signings in what has been another strong market in season 8.

Richard Jiang (SS) - Tucson Sands (MILB w/invite, $26.1 million bonus)
One season after forking over a whopping $32.2 million for Miguel Siquieros, Tucson again spent far more than any other team when they locked up Jiang for a shade over $26 million. Jiang projects to be a gold glove caliber 3B if that's where he ends up, though he could hold his own at second base as well. The switch hitter isn't too shabby with a bat either as he is excellent at making contact and excels against righties. Already 22-years-old, Jiang isn't far from his major league debut. ETA: season 9 roster expansion
David Johnson (SP) - Atlanta Regulators (4-yrs @ 55K per, $16.3 million bonus)
Probably the most over-paid player in this year's market, Johnson is tough on both righties and lefties and a very good slider and curveball. The problem is his control as Johnson, as one GM put it, has the ability to plunk the guy in the on-deck circle while he's on the mound. Having only those two pitches (he does also have a far below average change-up) could pose a problem once he gets to the ML level, so Johnson may be better off coming out of the bullpen eventually. But Atlanta didn't want to take the chance of having to lose their prospect money, so they emptied the bank for Johnson who, in the end, will probably be a serviceable long relief guy. ETA: season 11 roster expansion.

Virgil Reyes (SP) - Tampa Bay Boozers (5-yrs @ 55k per, $15.1 million bonus)
The Boozers made the franchise's first big splash in the international market this season when they snagged starter Virgil Reyes from the Dominican with a 5-year big league deal. Reyes projects to have excellent control and great success against righties, though he may struggle against lefties from time to time. Reyes' great control goes well with his three above average pitches, a 4-seam fastball (with great velocity), a slider and a splitter. Reyes also has a circle change and a curve but isn't nearly as effective with them. At 20-years-old, Reyes will be a solid middle of the rotation starter sooner than you think. ETA: season 10 roster expansion.

Jose Alicea (SP) - Montreal Alouettes (5-yrs @ 327k per, $13.4 million bonus)
Montreal hauled in a future big league starter when they signed Alicea to a five year major league deal. The big 6'3" lefty has great control and an elite sinker to go with a good slider and curveball. Alicea will struggle at times, more with righties than lefties but if his control and pitches develop he could overcome the shortcomings in his splits. With great makeup and good health, Alicea will be a solid major league starter for Montreal once he develops. ETA: season 12.

Oswaldo Alomar (SP) - Seattle Grunge (5-yrs @ 327k per, $12.5 million bonus)
In a market full of starting pitching, Seattle got theirs when they signed Alomar to a big league deal. Alomar comes with a bit of a health concern but boasts excellent stamina, good control, a good sinker and is effective against righties. On the flip side, he'll struggle against lefties and, aside from the sinker, the only other pitch worth mentioning in is repertoire is a decent splitter. He's only 18-years-old and has a chance to exceed projections if he can stay healthy. If he does that, he'll be a solid major league starter. ETA: season 12

Jin-Che Masato (3B) - Hartford Minutemen (MILB, $12.3 million bonus)
Position players who command big money have been few and far between this season but Hartford signed a solid bat in Masato. He's probably destined for RF when he reaches the majors but Masato projects to have great power and hitting ability against right handers. His batting eye leaves a bit to be desired but other wise he's solid in the rest of the offensive categories. Health shouldn't be an issue and Masato has very good durability. As long as he develops Hartford should get their money's worth. ETA: season 12

Harry DeLeon (SP) - Trenton RoadRunners (MILB, $11.5 million bonus)
DeLeon may have the best pitches of any international pitcher signed this season. He has two great pitches (sinker and slider) to go with a good curve and an above average change up. He also has a cutter but it's not nearly of the same quality as his other pitches. He projects to have great control and solid L/R splits. Only 18-years-old and with great makeup he should reach his projections and become a very good ML starter for Trenton down the road. ETA: season 12 roster expansion

Quilvio Marichal (SP) - Scranton Coal Miners (MILB, $11.2 million bonus)
Much like Atlanta, Scranton emptied the bank instead of taking the risk of being stuck with the rest of their prospect money. They ponied up for Marichal who looks like he'll be a big inning eater at the ML level. Aside from his excellent stamina, Marichal has good control to go with a good sinker and cutter. He does project to have above average splits but health could be a minor concern. His biggest asset is that, at 21-years-old, he's very close to already meeting his projections and with a couple of seasons of good coaching at the minor league level he could possibly exceed them. Only having two good pitches however may mean bullpen duty at the ML level. ETA: season 11
Those are the big money internationals so far this season. Stay tuned for a list of under the radar bargain internationals from season 8.

No comments: