The Mets are hoping they’ve found their center fielder of the future in this year’s crop of international signings.
According to sources, the club has agreed to a $2.1 million deal with teenage outfielder Alexander Ramirez, No. 26 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list and a $350,000 deal with Eric Santana, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic. The club has not confirmed the deals.
Ramirez is a tall and large-framed teen who already shows advanced hitting skills and knowledge of the strike zone. He makes solid contact at the plate and he’s known for hitting line drives to all fields. He has shown flashes of emerging power and projects to be an average hitter.
The teen is a true center fielder and has the skill set to stay at the position as he grows and develops. He projects to be a plus runner, and that ability will help make him into an above-average defender.
“What we liked about him was he was a young man who’s athletic,” said Mets special assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya. “He’s a lean-built outfielder. His body’s going to fill out really well. He’s a big kid, a lean, athletic looking kid who’s going to develop physically -- the type of ideal body that we like.”
The Mets have also been linked to outfielder Yeral Martinez, and are also expected to sign left-handed pitcher Fraudy Vizcaino and right-handed pitcher Jose Dominguez of the Dominican Republic.
“The group of scouts that are there are trying to get lean, athletic, middle-of-the-field players,” Minaya said. “We’re very happy with the guys. Our scouts are happy with the players. I think in this day and age, if you don’t have production from international, it’s almost impossible to be a competitive team in the Majors year in and year out.”
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft receive a pool of $6,481,200 for spending on international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive $5,939,800. The Mets' pool totals $5,398,300.
Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 60 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.
Under the previous system, teams were penalized for exceeding their bonus pools with consequences that ranged from taxes on their spending to the maximum penalty, which was being prohibited from signing any prospect for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. That’s no longer the case and there are no longer penalties. Teams can only spend their allotted bonus pools and the monies acquired via trade.
The Mets certainly know the value of the system; recent international signing days have netted them players including Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio and Shervyen Newton, their first-, second- and fifth-ranked prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Starting shortstop Amed Rosario was also a July 2 signing.