The Marlins are once again investing in top international talent as part of their overall plan to deepen their system and develop Major League players for the future.
The Marlins agreed to deals with 11 international free agents Tuesday, headlined by Venezuelan shortstop Jose Salas, ranked No. 10 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list, along with No. 24 Junior Sanchez, also a shortstop, out of the Dominican Republic. According to industry sources, the deal for Salas is worth $2.8 million and Sanchez’s is worth $1.5 million.
The remaining signees include right-handed pitchers Cristian Millan (Venezuela), Jose Bazan (Panama), Eury Perez (Dominican Republic) and Jean Reyes (Venezuela); outfielders Renny Hidalgo (Venezuela) and Germain Ruiz (Panama); and shortstops Ian Lewis (Bahamas), Miguel Rodriguez (Dominican Republic) and Javier Sanoja (Venezuela).
The Marlins have also been linked to No. 7 Yiddi Cappe, a shortstop from Cuba.
“Our 2019 class brings a good tools packet of athleticism up the middle of the field to our organization,” said Marlins director of international operations Fernando Seguignol. “They show great athletic bodies with upside. A hard-working group of players with passion, discipline and respect for the game. We are happy for this new group of players and excited to watch their individual development on and off the field.”
Salas is a third-generation shortstop from Venezuela with impressive bat speed and strike-zone recognition that make him one of the most advanced hitters in his class. The shortstop is a line-drive hitter now, but his power is expected to increase as he matures, and his above-average speed could eventually turn him into a 30-30 player.
Salas’ lean frame and natural athleticism project well defensively, too. The teen is a solid defender with an arm that flashes plus at times. As he continues to develop, some scouts believe Salas will turn into a plus defender in the Majors. If he doesn’t stick at short, others have suggested that his tools could play in center field.
As for Sanchez, he has a medium frame with wide shoulders and lean body that will fill out in the future. The shortstop shows plus bat speed with good timing, rhythm and a mature approach at the plate. He hits line drives to all fields and his power is starting to show. Sanchez is expected to add more strength as his body continues to develop.
On defense, the teenager has a chance to stay at shortstop because he shows good actions at the position, soft hands and good footwork. Sanchez has slightly above-average arm strength with accuracy and has shown the ability to throw from different angles.
In Lewis, the Marlins locked up a switch-hitter who is the top prospect out of the Bahamas, which has been increasing its output of high-rated talent. Nassau, where Lewis is from, has produced another pair of highly regarded shortstops in Diamondbacks’ No. 1 prospect Jazz Chisholm and Lucius Fox, the Rays’ No. 10 prospect.
The outfielder Hidalgo, meanwhile is the son of former big leaguer Richard Hidalgo, who spent time with the Astros (1997-2004), the Mets (’04) and the Rangers (’05). The senior Hidalgo hit 44 homers and had 122 RBIs in his career year with Houston in ’00.
It’s uncertain if Cappe will sign during the current signing period or the next one that starts July 2, 2020, but he has emerged as one of the most intriguing prospects on the international market. The tall and lean Cappe has an athletic and projectable body with a frame similar to the build of a young Carlos Correa or Derek Jeter.
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 like the Marlins that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive $5,939,800 for spending on international prospects.
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.