Giants ink 3 international prospects

No. 23, southpaw Vinicio, among San Francisco's signees

July 3rd, 2019

A teenage shortstop and left-handed pitcher headline this year’s class of international prospects for the Giants.

The Giants on Tuesday announced they have signed 25 international players -- 13 from Venezuela, nine from the Dominican Republic and one each from Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama.

One player among the signees is on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list, No. 23 Esmerlin Vinicio, a 16-year-old left-handed pitcher from Venezuela who agreed to a $750,000 deal, according to industry sources.

The Giants reached a $1 million deal with 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Aeverson Arteaga, according to sources, and a deal worth $800,000 with Anthony Rodriguez, another 16-year-old shortstop from Venezuela. Hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Manuel Mercedes, 16, of the Dominican Republic, who signed for $400,000, was also among the signees.

Vinicio is known for his advanced approach on the mound and sound mechanics. He’s a consistent strike-thrower with a feel for the zone. The teen throws his fastball in the low 90s, and he has the makings of a plus breaking ball. Vinicio also shows enough of a solid changeup that it projects as an average Major League pitch.

“There’s a big upside for him with that breaking ball,” said Joe Salermo, the Giants’ international scouting director. “He’s 88-92 easy [with the fastball]. Left-handed pitcher is a premier position.”

Overall, Vinicio has all the ingredients to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter at the big league level if he continues to grow and develop at a normal pace.

Arteaga is an athletic shortstop with solid defensive actions and a solid offensive package.

“He’s extremely athletic,” Salermo said. “He runs a 6.8 60, easy swing, quick hands. His father was a professional basketball player, so he’s from an athletic family.”

Salermo was making monthly trips to check in on the Venezuelan prospects until March, when the U.S. withdrew staff from its embassy because of the political instability in the country. The Giants have seven staffers based in Venezuela, however, and they continued to scout and negotiate.

Three of the 13 Venezuelan signees are shortstops -- Arteaga, Rodriguez and Wueslly Lopez.

“Our philosophy has been to get players at premier positions,” Salermo said.

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 international prospects, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive $5,939,800.

The Giants have a bonus pool of $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 Giants also reached deals with Yeison Lemon (Dominican Republic, $600,000), Adrian Sugastey (Panama, $525,000) and Elian Rayo (Nicaragua, $350,000).