According to Baseball America, the Toronto Blue Jays signed a handful of international free agent youngsters
The Toronto Blue Jays worked within their International Free Agency constraints to add a large collection of youngsters to their organization. According to the list profiled by Ben Badler of Baseball America, the total shopping spree netted the organization 53 players, none of whom could be signed for more than $300,000 due to the penalty in place when Toronto signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr and put themselves in a situation where they would be penalized for one year. It is this penalty that had them waiting for Lourdes Gurriel Jr to reach his current age to sign him without penalty.
Blue Jays signed Jeison Contreras, Roither Hernandez and a bunch of other promising pitching prospects. Reports here https://t.co/YH91Cj7xyy
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 28, 2017
Here are a few of the IFA players to keep your eye on as they begin their time with the Blue Jays organization.
Joseph Reyes was signed back in July and is someone we might want to keep an eye on. Signed for $300k, he is a lefty bat that comes with a nice swing and patience. The 19 yr old already had some pop, but the consistent home run type power is usually the last thing to come and he will fill out his 6′ 3″ frame, so that should not be a problem. It is not clear whether he will stick at 3B or move to the outfield.
Shi Davidi already spoke to Andrew Tinnish about Reyes and the assistant GM had this to say: “He shows an advanced approach at the plate, we saw him against good competition, pitchers throwing anywhere from 87-95 and he had good at-bats, he can recognize spin. There are a lot of ingredients from an offensive perspective that were interesting.” Below is a sample of his bat. Pay no attention to the bat flip on what he thought would be a home run that was actually a double…
Another name that stands out on the list is Hugo Cardona. The 17 yr old is 5’11”, 160 lbs and should fill out a bit, but wiry frames don’t suddenly expand into brick walls. The shortstop is said to have a good arm and speed. It seems folks are high on his speed on the basepaths, which is certainly something we can’t understate, but we should also look for him to develop a bit more power as he’s a singles kind of guy at the moment, with a few gap shots now and then.
Many IFA signings feature kids who are so young that an organization can’t fully anticipate exactly what the player will be by age 20, let alone 24. It is hard work and brain power on the part of the organization that goes into taking chances on these kids. One example is 16 year old, Brayan Mejia. Signed for $75k out of the Dominican Republic, Mejia is 6’2″ and had showcased as an outfielder. But, the Blue Jays saw him on the mound where he showed what Badler describes as a low to mid 90’s, easy fastball that will more likely sit around 91. He’s learning to throw a curveball and change, but is young and athletic, so there is no rush.
Based on the description that Badler provides, Elieser Medrano stands out, also: “He’s a lean, projectable 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a loose arm and a fastball that jumped from 88-93 mph when he signed to touching 97 mph this summer. When he signed he threw a slurvy upper-70s slider that he has worked to modify into more of a true curveball with more depth and downer action.”
Obviously, setting aside the injury concern with young pitchers incorporating slurvy sliders and whatnot, if he can touch upper 90’s and complete the transformation of that slider into a real curve, he certainly does look to be rather exciting. Signing in July for $15k makes this a potentially very nice addition for the Blue Jays.
Pumping 53 players into an minor league system that is looking more and more exciting is worth paying attention to. Just how many of those 53 players will make an impact remains to be seen, obviously. The challenge of being limited by a spending penalty means that the club had to work extra hard to bring in talented youngsters. At 16, 17, 18, they are still a long way off from knowing exactly what the organization has.
But, the sum total looks to be very good for the Blue Jays. They have a mix of exciting upside arms and interesting bats. The organization’s front office staff have done a decent job with what they’ve had to work with thus far. While the upper minors look to house exciting talent, the lower levels very well could be sending more up the ladder in years to come.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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