On Monday, it was reported that the Chicago White Sox have signed infielder Jerrick Francees out of Aruba.
White Sox signed 17-year-old infielder Jerrick Francees from Aruba as an international free agent.
As you might have expected, this is their first international free agent signing from Aruba.
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 19, 2018
Francees will be 18 years old in May and is the son of Benjamin Francees, the Pony League Director of baseball in Aruba. Francees played for Perfect Game USA and attended high school in Florida. The right-handed hitter also played in the Colt World Series in 2017 in Marion, IL. The White Sox Director of International Scouting told James Fegan of The Athletic that getting into the Aruban market could be a promising development.
“It’s a good beginning for us in Aruba and Curacao,” says Sox international operations chief Marco Paddy in a provided statement. “I don’t need to tell you how many impact players reached the big leagues from those islands."
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 19, 2018
Aruba is an island and constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea. Aruba is the "A" in the ABC Islands with the countries of Bonaire and Curacao, and is home to almost 105,000 people. Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is the lone current major league baseball representative from Aruba. There is a much larger group of players hailing from Curacao including: Ozzie Albies (Braves), Kenley Jansen (Dodgers), Jurickson Profar (Rangers), Jonathan Schoop (Orioles) and Andrelton Simmons (Angels). It should be seen as a positive development that the White Sox international operations will now include trips to the ABC's.
Francees is a 6'0", 170 pound right-handed hitting infielder. PerfectGame.org notes that he throws from different arm slots and is best from lower slots. They also list him as a 7.62 runner on their scale. The Rotoworld Staff at CBSSports.com said that he has a hitch in his swing but they mention that he gets his hands to the ball quickly and makes the ball jump off his bat when he's "on time". The publication states that he has an accurate throwing arm and they back up Perfect Game's notes on his arm angle differentiation. He is projected to fit best at second base and he has plenty of time to fill out his thin frame, which could make his "already appealing bat even better".
On the Facebook page of Sports Zone Aruba, there is a detailed video of Francees signing his contract with scouting footage and an interview with the signing scout. Amador Arias is an international scout for the Chicago White Sox and he supervises the areas of Venezuela and Latin America. Arias called him a "very athletic kid" with "tools". He also notes that Jerrick is an aggressive player that knows how to play the game. Amador said, "he has a lot to learn but plays with a lot of passion". He also mentions that he's intelligent and always willing to learn. It was said that the infield prospect "has all the tools and ability to compete in professional baseball". Arias also said, "we think with hard work, he has a chance to be in the big leagues someday in the future, in the near future". The scout also pointed out that he's the type of player one would want on his team and he's a good teammate that gets along with everybody and loves to compete.
Below is some video from the Perfect Game World Showcase from this past January
Some more video of Jerrick Francees hitting
Under the rules of the new CBA in major league baseball, the White Sox are considered a large market club and a revenue sharing payee. The Sox were allocated $4.75 million to spend on international amateur talent during the 2017-2018 period that will end on June 15th. Paddy and his staff are limited with what they can do during this current period and the next one which will take place from July 2nd, 2018 through June 15th, 2019. When the South Siders inked Cuban phenom Luis Robert during the 2016-2017 signing period, they put themselves into the penalty phase of the process. During the next two seasons, the Pale Hose are limited to spending a maximum amount of $300,000 per prospect that is signed. There were no signing details provided for Francees but the bonus will be for $300K or less, and the team appears to have less than $500k left to spend in total.
General Manager Rick Hahn has exhausted all avenues in regards to acquiring young talent and using international bonus pool space was one of those avenues. Over the past year, Hahn has traded around $3 million in bonus pool space to acquire the likes of Yeyson Yrizarri (SS), Ryan Burr (RHP) and Thyago Vieira (RHP) from Texas, Arizona and Seattle respectively. One silver lining the organization has and will continue to use is the ability to spin off pool space to teams that are capable of using it. The limitations obviously aren't stopping Paddy and his staff from scouting though. He's going about his business like he normally would and I think we should expect more signings in the current period along with the Sox being connected to some $300,000 prospects in the next period as well.
The international market will not be a place for likely-elite-level talent procurement for the franchise over the next year but it is an avenue where depth can be acquired and that shouldn't be ignored. History shows that some of those lower bonus players could develop beyond expectations as well. Paddy and his scouts are making their presence known across the globe and this signing could indicate that the ABC triangle will be a prominent place for White Sox scouts into the future.
Francees likely starts his pro career this year in the Dominican Summer League. But it's possible, given he will be turning 18 soon, that he could jump straight to the AZL. His assignment will depend on perceived maturity.
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