Braves close to signing two top international prospects
The Braves are on the verge of adding a pair of high-profile international prospects to their Minor League system.
According to industry sources, the Braves agreed to $1.4 million signing bonus with outfielder Cristian Pache, ranked No. 10 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, and a $2 million bonus for infielder Derian Cruz, ranked No.24. Atlanta also signed Venezuelan shortstop Juan Morales for $450,000.
The Braves did not confirm the agreements. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool with four slot values based on the team's record in 2014 for the international signing period, which started Thursday.
Atlanta's initial overall pool total for this year's signing period was $2,458,400. But on Thursday afternoon, they acquired an additional $388,400 in pool money from the A's (the value of Oakland's slot No. 53) in exchange for right-handed pitcher Cody Martin. Then they added another $249,000 in pool money from the Dodgers, the value of Los Angeles' slot No. 87, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Caleb Dirks and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck. Later Thursday night, the Braves acquired an additional $494,200 in pool money from the Rays, the value of Tampa Bay's slot No. 73 and No. 103, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Garrett Fulenchek. On Monday, Braves the acquired an additional $167,000 in pool money from Oakland, the value of Oakland's slot No. 113, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Aaron Kurcz to bring the total amount of pool money acquired to $1,298,600.
Teams that exceed the pools by zero to 5 percent have to pay 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by five to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period. They also have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period, and have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.
The Braves are expected to be big players in the international signing period that starts July 2, 2016.
Many scouts consider 6-foot, 170-pound Cruz as the best athlete at his age, and the best runner in the entire class. One evaluator compared him to a young Jose Reyes. Cruz has not shown a ton of power, but he has received praise for a line-drive swing, and ability to hit into the gaps. The shortstop is versatile enough to play second base, and athletic enough to play centerfield.
Pache can run. He glides to balls in the outfield, often making a difficult play look easy. He can hit, too. The teen rarely strikes out and he's been praised for his approach at the plate. He wants to be the best player on the field at all times.