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Marlins aggressive in 2019-20 international market

A busy July 2 (“J2”) for the Fish with the additions of 11 talented amateurs.

SS José Salas was the 10th-ranked prospect available in international free agency, according to MLB Pipeline.
Photo by @BenBadler/Twitter

The Marlins made a splash by signing top international free agent Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother Victor Mesa Jr. in the fall of 2018. With the new signing period opening on July 2, they showed that commitment was no fluke.

Miami Marlins News Conference Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Marlins came to agreements with the following players:

  • Venezuelan SS José Salas ($2.8 million signing bonus)
  • Dominican SS Junior Sánchez ($1.15 million)
  • Bahamian SS Ian Lewis ($950,000)
  • Dominican RHP Eury Pérez
  • Dominican SS Miguel Rodriguez
  • Venezuelan RHP Jean Reyes
  • Venezuelan RHP Christian Millán
  • Venezuelan OF Renny Hidalgo
  • Venezuelan SS Javier Sanoja
  • Panamanian OF Germain Ruiz
  • Panamanian RHP Jose Bazan

How international free agency works

Each team has an assigned slot from which they can give signing bonuses to the international free agents they sign. The Marlins were assigned a bonus slot of $5,939,800. They can spend any amount of money within that range. If they wish to spend more, they can trade for up to an additional 60% of their original assigned slot. Meaning the Marlins could technically spend up to $9,503,680 on signing bonuses. Bonuses under $10,000 do not count against the slot.

Notes on the 2019 Marlins signees

José Salas leads this class as its top prospect and the Marlins paid him accordingly. MLB Pipeline’s #10-ranked 2019 international prospect signed for a reported $2.8 million. Pipeline refers to him as this year’s “most advanced hitter” and notes he could potentially become a 30 HR-30 SB player with his above average speed and knack for making quality contact.

Junior Sánchez comes next, ranked 24th by Pipeline among this year’s class. The Dominican shortstop signed for $1.15 million. He is just as toolsy as Salas and while not as fast a runner, offers the Marlins another potential middle infielder with the ability to hit.

Salas (left) and Sanchez (right)
MLB Pipeline

SS Ian Lewis signed for $950,000 out of the Bahamas, as initially reported by Craig Mish. The 5-10, 155-pound switch-hitting shortstop came as a bit of an under the radar signing, but he is considered the top prospect out of the Bahamas in 2019.

The Bahamas, while not traditionally viewed as a baseball nation, has begun to produce some really good baseball players as of late. Among those players are Jazz Chisholm, Lucius Fox, and Marlins minor league OF Anfernee Seymour.

One of the cooler signings was that of Eury Pérez. The 16 y/o RHP already stands at a whopping 6-foot-6. His frame presents some great projectability as he can throw his fastball at 82-85mph while still weighing in at just 170 pounds, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler.

Renny Hidalgo is the son of former major leaguer OF Richard Hidalgo, who played nine years between the Astros, Mets, and Rangers.

The most interesting note is that MLB Pipeline’s No. 7 prospect, Cuban SS Yiddi Cappe, has a commitment with the Marlins for $3.5 million. Cappe has not been shy about that commitment, at one point even having “ Professional Baseball Player of the Miami Marlins” on his Instagram bio. In fact, his MLB Pipeline profile picture features him wearing a Marlins cap.

However, the Marlins cannot currently honor that commitment due to spending most of their slot on the aforementioned players. The plan is to sign Cappe at the start of the 2020-21 signing period instead. This does leave room for other teams with uncommitted 2019-20 funds to make a run for him, which could in turn force the Marlins to trade for additional slot to lock him in this signing period OR offer an even bigger bonus for the following year.

The Marlins renewed commitment internationally should be a refreshing sight for fans. For many years under previous ownership, this valuable pipeline was neglected. While these teenagers are an inherently risky investment, they represent one of the main talent pools that end up contributing in the major leagues.

Could the Marlins have just signed the next Miguel Cabrera or Fernando Tatís Jr. or Vladdy Jr.? Only time will tell.

Thank you for reading, until next time!