The Atlanta Braves are about to sign International prospects
Finally. The long nightmare is over. The Atlanta Braves are free of all penalties and are free to participate fully in the International prospect market. So here’s what’s about to happen.
The International signing handcuffs are off the Atlanta Braves. The team can once again — finally — compete on an even playing field with the rest of their MLB brethren.
So now the hunt is on for the next Ozzie Albies or Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Atlanta is free to spend up to $4.75 million to find baseball talent among kids at least 16 years of age who reside outside of the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
All that said, the hunt has actually continued even through the penalty period since all major league clubs have been courting players of interest since they were … 13, 14 years old … maybe even at 12.
That practice is supposed to be against the rules of engagement… the same kinds of rules that the Braves were stomped on in 2017 for flouting under John Coppolella’s reign as General Manager.
Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote this about that (subscription required for full piece):
"The reality, of course, is that many of these players have had a signing commitment going back two or three years. Once a player commits to a team, he generally is no longer scouted much in a competitive environment by the other 29 clubs, since the player already has a signing commitment.If you’ve read BA for years, you know that’s nothing new, even if Major League Baseball doesn’t publicly acknowledge this reality."
So why did the Braves get punished? It was basically because they took the practice to a whole ‘nother level and tried to corner the market with an entire class of players.
But let’s get back to 2022: it’s now a year where the Braves can start fresh and go after some real talent again.
Fact is, they already have: with still-limited dollars available last year, they inked shortstop Ambioris Tavarez, a Dominican teen, with virtually every dollar they had available to spend.
But 2022 brings a chance to have their first “normal” International signing period in years, which should at least help the team’s depth in the lower minors after a couple more seasons.
Atlanta Braves set to make two significant signings
Baseball America, for its part, now ranks these International teens by the amount of the signing bonus they are expected to receive when the market bell rings on January 15th.
They used to rank each player by scouted talent rankings, but these 16-to-17-year-olds are so far away from the majors that doing so is extremely difficult.
Ultimately, the money speaks fairly loudly: teams willing to spend are effectively saying that the kid is probably worth that level of commitment, so to some degree such a ranking system makes sense.
That brings us to the pair of kids from BA’s top 50 list that are expected to sign with Atlanta at the end of next week:
- SS Diego Benitez (Ranked 7th), Venezuela
- OF Douglas Glod (Ranked 31st), also from Venezuela
Don’t get hung up on the listed position for these guys. The best athletes at this age usually play shortstop or the outfield.
In fact, in BA’s Top 50 list, roughly half are shortstops and most of the rest are outfielders excepting a smattering of catchers and a single — just one — pitcher.
DIEGO BENITEZ is a 6-footer who projects (right now) to be a possible third baseman in the future. He is said to look quite smooth with his movement in the field and with the bat. It appears he has a good foundation with power to the gaps now and the chance for more later with an above-average hit tool.
DOUGLAS GLOD was the captain of the Venezuelan team in 2019 as an under-15 player. BA doesn’t seem to believe that he’s going to grow much more beyond his current 5’10″/169 stature, but might become a corner outfielder in time even as he’s skilled enough to defend from the center field position now. A line-drive hitter, it seems to be the belief of the scouts that he could be a hit-for-average guy who can nonetheless scald the ball well.
Expected signing bonus figures are apparently known, but not being revealed yet.
There will undoubtedly be a lot more signings to help fill out the Dominican Summer League team, but Benitez and Glod are the two that should garner the most interest… even as they are likely at least 5-8 years away from the majors.