The Chicago White Sox have kicked off the July 2 period with the signings of the following five prospects; Franklin Reyes ($1.5m), Fernando Tatis Jr. ($700k), Santo Vasquez ($300k), Harvin Mendoza and Brayant Nova ($100k). Reyes and Tatis were both first reported by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Vasquez by the Dominican Prospect League, Mendoza by Baseball America, and Nova by the White Sox.
Update: There have been mixed reports on Fernando Tatis Jr's bonus. Some have it listed as $700k (Ben Badler, Dominican Prospect League, John Heyman) and others have it as $825k (Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com). The Dominican Prospect League later stated that it was $700k with a $100k scholarship, so that may be where some of the confusion came from.
Reyes is the top rated prospect and received the largest bonus of the five. He ranks within the top 30 international prospects this year by Fangraphs (#30), MLB.com (#30) and Baseball America (#27). Tatis Jr. ranks outside Fangraphs’ top 47 prospects, and likely falls somewhere in the 50-60 range. MLB.com are the highest on Tatis Jr., ranking him at #27, above Reyes, and Baseball America have him somewhere in the 31-60 range. Harvin Mendoza only appears in Baseball America’s “more prospects to watch” section, along with Tatis Jr., which would also put him somewhere in the 31-60 range. Santo Vasquez and Brayant Nova were both unranked by all three outlets.
The White Sox have an allotted signing pool of $3,443,000, which is the seventh highest bonus pool this year. With these signings the Sox have already committed at least $2.6m, or 75.5% of their total pool. They could potentially trade for an additional 50%, bringing their total pool up to $5,164,500, but they haven’t opted to do this in the past and it’s probably not going to happen this year. As always, we should expect more signings over the coming months. Last year the Sox announced 4 signings on July 2, but ended up inking at least 14 additional players during the rest of the signing window.
Below you can find scouting reports and information on the prospects signed today. Make sure to keep checking back throughout the day, as well as following our Twitter feed, as we will continue to update both with more information as/when/if it becomes available.
Franklin Reyes, OF, Dominican Republic:
Reyes, 16, possesses big power from the right side of the plate. Kiley McDaniel rates Reyes’ raw power as a 60/65 tool (current grade/future grade), which ranks second in this international class behind only hulking 1B Jhailyn Ortiz, and in a tie with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. MLB.com credit him as having the best raw power in the entire class, placing a 70 FV grade on his power tool, ahead of both Ortiz and Guerrero Jr., who each received a 65 grade. Baseball America’s lack of tool grades makes it a little more difficult to compare player-to-player, but they do note “Reyes’ plus raw power ranks among the best in the class.” It’s easy to see why the White Sox are enamored by Franklin Reyes. His raw power is a potential game-changing tool.
Power is not Reyes’ only standout tool. He also has an excellent arm. Kiley McDaniel gives his arm strength a 55 grade, which is tied for sixth best in the class. Baseball America likes his arm a little more, saying that it “earns 60 to 70 grades, and he earns praise for his accuracy as well.” MLB.com also place a 60 grade on his arm. This strong power/arm combo allows Reyes to profile as a prototypical right fielder.
After the power and arm, things start to fall apart a little for Reyes, hence why he is ranked towards the back of the top 30 lists. He’s slow and projects to be below average defensively. BA says that he “has limited speed and agility in the outfield” and that he’s “nowhere near the same athlete as Micker Adolfo.” MLB.com and Kiley McDaniel give Reyes’ run/speed tool a 30 and 40 grade respectively, both significantly below average. They also both gave him below average fielding grades of 40 and 45 respectively. Reyes is 6’3”, 235, and if he continues to get any bigger (he put on 30 pounds over the past year per Baseball America) then he could start moving into DH territory.
The real concern for me when it comes to Franklin Reyes, however, is with his hit tool. Baseball America describes his approach as being “aggressive, raw, with a lot of swing-and-miss, especially against breaking pitches” and they call his swing “long and loopy.” MLB.com give his hit tool a 30 grade, which equates to something like a .220 batting average, though their write-up is rather more promising as they say, “He's also shown the ability to hit in games” and “he continues to makes strides on that front.” Kiley gave him a 45 future hit tool grade (.250 AVG), which doesn’t sound too bad, but it was tied for the lowest future grade that he gave to any prospect. Baseball America did mention that he was perhaps selling out for power on the showcase circuit, so he could see big improvements once he enters the system and starts receiving better instruction, though the White Sox don’t exactly have a strong track record for developing this type of raw hitter. Reyes does have the plus bat speed to hit for average, and may just need to make a few adjustments to his swing.
Overall it’s no surprise that the Sox coveted Franklin Reyes. He possesses the raw power that they love and if he can become even a 45-grade hitter, then he should be an impact bat for this team somewhere down the line. That said, the risk level and bust rate for Reyes is extremely high, even relative to the typical high profile international signing. As Kiley McDaniel mentions “the track record of July 2nd prospects who can’t even play an up-the-middle position at age 14 or 15 isn’t encouraging.” Hopefully Reyes will prove to be the exception.
Franklin’s bother, Franmil Reyes, is currently a prospect in the Padres system. Franmil signed for $700k back in 2011.
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Dominican Republic:
Tatis Jr., apparently nicknamed “Bebo,” is the son of the Fernando Tatis that you are probably already familiar with. Tatis Jr. is is a well-rounded prospect who can do a bit of everything, but he doesn’t have the big impact tools of a Franklin Reyes type.
Tatis Jr. is currently a shortstop, though most scouting reports indicate a move off the position is likely somewhere down the line. 3B and RF/LF have all been mooted as possible landing spots due to his strong arm, but with raw power that is rated as below average, his bat would probably be a better fit a second. MLB.com and Kiley McDaniel both give Tatis a 50 future grade for his speed and defense while listing him as a SS and a 3B respectively.
At the plate, Kiley McDaniel gives Tatis 45 future grades for both his hit and power tools. MLB.com give him a 50 hit grade and 40 power grade, noting his ability for “barreling up balls and his repeatable swing” as well as his “raw power to his pull side.” Baseball America say that he has “some trouble keeping his swing short and making contact from the right side, but at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, he has a chance to come into some power.” It sounds like he has decent potential at the plate to be a contributor with both power and average, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him develop more power and he continues to fill out.
Tatis is noted as having a “game-oriented mindset” with “off the charts makeup” per MLB.com and a “gamer mentality” per Baseball America. Ulises Cabrera, co-founder of the Dominican Prospect League, praised Tatis for his “really good baseball acumen,” his “ability to make some loud contact” and said “He already carries himself like a professional.”
Tatis clearly doesn’t have the same upside as Franklin Reyes, but his well-rounded skillset, high baseball IQ and professional mentality mean he likely comes with less risk than Reyes and is a better bet to maximize his potential as a possible everyday player.
Santo Vasquez, SS, Dominican Republic:
Ben Badler at Baseball America wrote the following about Vasquez:
Vasquez has a compact, 6-foot frame and impressed the White Sox with his ability to hit from the right side of the plate and good speed. He played in the Dominican Prospect League and trained with Hector Evertz.
Harvin Mendoza, OF, Venezuela:
Ben Badler wrote the following about Harvin:
Mendoza is limited to an outfield corner, but there were scouts who liked his lefthanded swing, ability to use the opposite field and hang in well for his against lefthanded pitching. He trained at Carlos Guillen’s academy.
Using the opposite field and hanging in against lefties both sound like the traits of a prospect with a strong hit tool. Being relegated to a corner outfield spot likely indicates a lack of speed/athleticism, but Badler also noted that Mendoza made an American Championship all-tournament team as a pitcher, so he likely has a strong arm.
Mendoza's bonus is currently unknown, but Badler has previously speculated that it would be "in the $300,000 area."
Brayant (or Bryant) Nova, SS, Dominican Republic:
Ben Badler, again, wrote the following on Nova:
Nova is 16, though he turns 17 on Aug. 28, so while he became eligible to sign last year, he was one of the youngest players in the class, only a week older than some of the players who become eligible to sign in 2015. He’s a switch-hitter who could move off the position, but the White Sox liked his bat, especially from the left side. He was represented by Rafael Montero (known as “Spilman”) and Kelvin Nova. They also represented Colombian catcher Jhoandro Alfaro, who signed with the White Sox last year for $750,000.
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