Sunday, October 25, 2009

Southern Flava'

Wagner Mateo
AFter the showcase Mateo went stateside to play with a prospect scout team (in florida I believe) and also competed in and won the Bo Jackson 5-Tool contest:

Mateo, from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, did not win any of the five individual contests, but he had the highest composite score for the entire 5-Tool Competition with impressive results in all five categories, including several massive home runs.

If a club is sold on his vision, the kid merits 7-figures, but you know clubs are going to low ball him. I say he signs for 1.6 million with a big-market team - SF is rumored to be the front runner at the moment. I wonder how TX feels about major leaguers and coke-bottle lenses...?

Kiley MCDaniel Tweets:
Tweet: "20-year-old Dominican OF Eladio Moronta worked out last weekend post age-gate & ran a 6.3 & flashed a 60 arm, but age/bat will hold him back. KM thinking Low 6 figures."

Tweet: Columbian catcher Jorge Alfaro Eligible now, plus arm, impressive bat/pwr, has SEA on him & offers over $500k.

Tweet: one more from the showcase: 2010 eligible Dominican SS (soon 3B) Estailon Peguero. Big pwr, good hands, 7 figure talk.

Tweet: video of 2010 bonus baby, CF, Vicmal de la Cruz, 7 figure area code.

(subscriber): Bello said his agency now represents Ruby Silva, a 20-year-old Cuban CF, who hit .276 with four home runs for Havana. Silva, Bello said, was a member of the Cuban junior national team. One of Bello's other clients, Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz, continues to impress scouts and could get a multi-million dollar bonus.

Jose Iglesias:
This Cuban SS signed by Boston for a cool 3million bonus (4/8.2) might very well have been the primary target for TX given previous reports of their interest and their demonstrated interest in signing some high level SS talent this spring. Iglesias, only 19yo, is said to have had a decent bat during his surprising assignment to the AFL. The knock on this year's best intl FA SS was that he couldn't hit, but scouts now think that he can be a fringe average hitter and that will be enough given his stellar glove:

Arangure (subscriber): Jose Iglesias has had a promising start to his professional career. The Red Sox shortstop is hitting .333 with one home run in five games for Mesa of the Arizona Fall League. Scouts continue to rave about Iglesias' glove skills.

Jason Grey (subscriber):
"Jose Iglesias, the 19-year-old Cuban defector the Boston Red Sox inked to an $8.25 million contract, already looks like a future Gold Glove candidate at short, with tremendous actions at the position. The ball just disappears into his glove. He's also had a couple of chances to show some range. However, the bat is still a work in progress. He squared three balls up on the barrel on Opening Day, but they didn't really go anywhere. First impressions are that he could get the bat knocked out of his hands right now against advanced pitching."

And, as an aside (to one blogger at least) you can't compare this year's Cuban class (all 19-21) to previous defectors who were older and possibly past their prime: these kids could prove to be a special group (Arguelles, Iglesias, Chapman) and Chapman may very well prove to be worth 60 million over 5 years. I think he gets that much if he projects as a TORP down the road - only the workouts he has with clubs over the next month will sort out which teams believe in the ceiling. It should also be noted that the Cuban FAs (and Tazawa last year) set into relief the advantages of being Boston and the Yankees: they are always able to sign (and willing to overpay for) talent that is closer to being ML ready while other teams are often relegated to signing high ceiling but much riskier (read younger) talent. I'd much rather have Iglesias than Sardinas, but Boston probably put in high bid/bonus, and if not, they got him solely on cachet.

Noel Arguelles:
Kiley McDaniel says that some saw him at 91-94 "recently" (before the DR showcase). Others claim he was consistently 92-94 last year (before defection) and imply that his workload in Cuba as an amateur and in international competitions has caught up to him. Remember that Kiley had him at 88-91, with 2 usable secondary pitches and good command.

Arangure, who wasn't at the showcase, has a largely negative assessment (of other peoples assessments, thus making JA a supermegametatweeter) of the kid's performance that largely overlooks the obvious: LHP, sits 90, 2 ususable secondary pitches, age 19, international and amateur experience, pitched 90-95 at some point during the last 2 years, out of shape. So unless there are some injury concerns here, the only thing that is preventing some team from signing him are his bonus demands.

UPDATE: Kiley McDaniel says 4 teams are showing renewed interest as of this week...

Rafael DePaula (by way of Felix Perez):
Last week Cuban CF Felix Perez was reinstated after having been suspended for lying about his age sometime during the spring. He was slated to sign with Boston for 7 figures, scouts touting the kid as a 5-tool player. This was the explanation from MLB (Arangure, subscriber): "This action was taken because it was concluded that circumstances existed that allowed the Commissioner's Office to exercise some discretion in the reduction of the suspension," wrote Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international operations, in an e-mail.

Following Moronta, Perez's reinstatement makes him the second kid in a month to be reinstated, when the newly hardened (in fall of 2008) penalty for lying about one's age and identity is a mandatory suspension. Couple this apparent weakening of the stricture in these 2 cases with the fact that the consulate effectively negated MLB's investigation of Sano's age, and you have an investigative regime whose reforms might be put into question. However, from a selfish standpoint - and as I indicated after Moronta was resinstated - maybe this gives Dominican pitcher Rafael DePaula new life.

He was also suspended in the spring for misrepresenting his age, and, as I have posted before, there has been talk all along that this suspension might lack merit (some claim his documents are legit, and some claim he was cleared by Dominican officials who work with the MLB investigative unit). At the very least, many feel there are extenuating circumstances around his case that merit reconsideration, the same vague justification for lifting the suspensions of Perez and Moronta. One has to wonder if agent malfeasance is the source of the mitigating circumstances for these two. While this may be true in part, the rumor circulating at this point is that these 2 kids admitted to lying about their age while DePaula insists that he is not lying.

So having said all of that, there is some evidence that MLB might be moving to reinstate DePaula or at least there are a # of teams out there who believe in his case enough to risk signing him while suspended in order to take his case to the consulate for their imprimatur. At least 1 source confirms that 4-6 teams have requested that DePaula throw for them in the next week, suggesting that he will throw at the Boston academy on Monday. Remember, that NYY were the front runners to sign the kid before his suspension, while TX spoke to his family during his suspension so likely remains an interested party.

Oh, I forgot to mention, DePaula was throwing 92-95 this spring with a good curveball and he will likely go to Japan if he cannot get a US work visa.


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