Twins swap pool money for 2 top prospects

Minnesota acquires catcher from Mariners, outfielder from Angels

December 7th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing out on Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, the Twins took advantage of having the third-most international pool money available, trading $1 million of that money to the Mariners for catching prospect David Banuelos and $1 million to the Angels for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson.

The Mariners and Angels remain firmly in the mix for Ohtani and acquired the pool money to be able to increase their offers to the two-way player. And if either one is not the team Ohtani picks, the additional money would serve the clubs in pursuit of other international free agents. While Ohtani is regarded as a grand prize, additional players are available and could very well be highly coveted in a uniquely deep market. (Prospects until recently controlled by the Braves, for example, were declared free agents as part of penalties handed down when their GM, since dismissed and banned, was found to have acquired them improperly. The Angels have already agreed to terms with two of them.)

MLB Pipeline: Top 30 International Prospects

The Twins took advantage of the Angels and Mariners looking for more resources, acquiring Seattle's 10th-best prospect and the Angels' fifth-ranked prospect per Minnesota had saved bonus-pool money to make a run at Ohtani but were notified last week they were not one of the seven finalists. With $3.245 million available, the Twins decided it was best to use $2 million of it for two prospects who were both drafted in 2017 and are closer to the Majors and easier to evaluate than the 16-year-olds that are usually signed with international bonus money.

Banuelos, known as a strong defender, was a fifth-round pick out of Cal State Long Beach. The 21-year-old hit .236/.331/.394 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 36 games at Class A Short-Season Everett. He also threw out 18 of 48 attempted basestealers (38 percent).

Banuelos, 21, is considered to be a leader and is projected to be above average behind the plate going forward. Offensively, he's more adept at getting on base than hitting for power. The 6-foot, 205-pounder was one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the best collegiate catcher last year and received a $300,000 bonus from Seattle.

Pearson, 19, was selected by the Angels in the third round out of West Monroe High School in Louisiana. He hit .226/.302/.284 with seven doubles and a triple in 40 games with the Rookie-level Angels.

Pearson was Louisiana's Gatorade state Player of the Year in 2017, and the Angels signed him for above slot value at $1 million. The left-handed hitter possesses both speed and power with the potential to be a 20-20 offensive player. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder's lone negative tool is a below-average arm after undergoing labrum surgery as a sophomore.