2018-2019 White Sox J2 International Preview

The 2018-2019 international signing period begins on July 2nd. This period provides an opportunity for the White Sox to add some talent to the lower levels of their highly-ranked minor league system after being forced to operate in a less deliberate manner during last year's period. The White Sox still face restrictions for going over their bonus pool during the 2016-2017 signing period to sign Luis Robert. Due to the uncertainty of when Robert would become available to teams, the White Sox weren't able to offer deals to players of note during the last period. The Sox still being in penalty phase for one more year-period means that they cannot sign any single player for more than $300,000.

Jerrick Francees, signing with the White Sox, March 2018 (photo credit to Noel Werleman for 297 Sports)

Jerrick Francees, signing with the White Sox, March 2018 (photo credit to Noel Werleman for 297 Sports)

The organization ended up signing 5 players including Venezuelan catcher Jefferson Mendoza and Dominican shortstop Sidney Pimentel on July 2nd, 2017. The organization also added Cuban infielder Camilo Quinteiro and Aruban infielder Jerrick Francees during the calendar year. Quinteiro and Pimentel are currently playing in the Low Rookie Level AZL while Francees and Mendoza are members of the White Sox affiliate in the DSL.

How it Works

The last signing period was the first under the new rules established by major league baseball's most recent collective bargaining agreement. In year one, the bonus pool amounts per team were hard-capped. Small market clubs receiving Competitive Balance Round B picks in the amateur draft were awarded a bonus pool allotment of $5.75 million in international space. Revenue Sharing recipients that received Competitive Balance Round A picks were allowed to use a bonus pool of $5.25 million and large market revenue sharing payees were allowed to spend $4.75 million. The bonus pool amounts for the upcoming signing period have increased. Revenue Sharing recipients that received Competitive Balance Round B picks will have a bonus pool of $6,025,400 for international signings. Revenue Sharing recipients that received Competitive Balance Round A selections will have a bonus pool of $5,504,500 and large market clubs will be allowed to spend $4,983,500 on international amateurs during this next period.

Teams can trade their entire international bonus pool if they choose to do so and receiving teams can trade for an additional amount equaling 75% of their previous pool number. For example, a team with $6,025,400 could trade for an additional $4,519,050 for a total of $10,544,450. Teams in the middle category can max out at $9,632,875 after trading for additional space and large market teams can trade for up to $3,737,625 more for a total of $8,721,125. Teams that are still facing penalties on the international market will likely be looking to trade some pool space in a similar fashion to what the Sox did last year. Bonuses of $10K or less are exempt from pools as are players at least 25 years of age and ones that have played at least six seasons in a foreign professional league.

2018/2019 International Bonus Pools

$6,025,400

  • Cincinnati Reds ($300K per player max penalty)
  • Miami Marlins
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Oakland Athletics ($300K per player max penalty)
  • Tampa Bay Rays

$5,504,500

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • San Diego Padres ($300K per player max penalty)
  • St. Louis Cardinals ($300K per player max penalty)

$4,983,500

  • Atlanta Braves ($300K per player max penalty)
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox ($300K per player max penalty)
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Houston Astros ($300K per player max penalty)
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • New York Mets
  • New York Yankees
  • Seattle Mariners
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Texas Rangers
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Washington Nationals ($300K per player max penalty)

$3,949,000

The Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals are still in the penalty phase under the old international system. These teams can spend their entire bonus pool but they can't sign any one player for more than $300K.

This Year's Class

Ben Badler of Baseball America is the best in the industry at reporting information in regards to the international marketplace and he has released his top 50 prospects list for the upcoming period. Jesse Sanchez of mlb.com has compiled his list as well. This is considered to be a rare year due in part to there not being a consensus top 16-year-old prospect. Dominican shortstop Marco Luciano is one of the top names in the class and he will reportedly receive a $2.5 million bonus from the Giants. Well-rounded Venezuelan catcher Diego Cartaya is the top player on the list over at MLB Pipeline and he has a rumored agreement in place with the Dodgers. Dominican shortstops Noelvi Marte and Orelvis Martinez are also highly regarded players to follow on J2. Marte is a 6'1", 180 pounder and is likely to get a $2 million deal with the Mariners. Marte's bonus could be for upwards of $3 million with the Blue Jays. The top pitchers in the signing class are Cuban righty Oseil Rodriguez and Venezuelan right hander Richard Gallardo. Rodriguez has a rumored agreement with the Yankees for more than $1 million and Gallardo has been linked to the Cubs.

As is customary, many of these amateurs have agreements already in place with major league clubs. Multiple teams have already allocated much of their international budget for this year. Similar to previous years though, there is a large elephant in the room. Luis Robert's status was uncertain in the 2016 period. Shohei Ohtani and Julio Pablo Martinez were cleared late in the process last year as well. This year will be no different. Even though he's not cleared to sign with clubs and hasn't even held a showcase to this point, 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Victor Mesa checks all those boxes this year. He's the big time guy for this signing period that clubs will be vying for once available.

The 5'11", 185 pound outfielder is the son of Cuban legend Victor Mesa Sr. The newest Cuban sensation goes by the name "Victor Victor" and he's drawn comparisons to Nationals' prospect Victor Robles. Ben Badler of BA calls him a "premium athlete". He is an elite defender in centerfield and is regarded as a plus-plus runner with a 70-grade arm. He is said to have "quick bat speed with an aggressive approach". During the 2016-2017 season while in Cuba, Victor hit .354/.399/.539 in a 70-game sample. He could likely play in High-A or Double-A upon signing and he likely will be agreeing to a deal for much less money than players of his ilk have gotten in the past. Julio Pablo Martinez signed for $2.8 million with the Rangers last year and Victor could end up with a bonus in the $2.5-$4 million range.

White Sox Outlook

The White Sox have been linked to 5 international prospects according to Badler. Miguel Tejada Jr. is the son of former big leaguer Miguel Tejada and he's drawing heavy interest from Marco Paddy and his staff. The Dominican player had been training as an outfielder but recently moved to shortstop. Venezuelan shortstop Anthony Espinoza has more experience in the middle of the diamond and is also linked to the Sox. Badler reports that the club is also expected to sign Cuban third baseman Bryan Ramos and catcher Alberto Lemay Bernal along with Venezuelan backstop Luis Pineda. None of these players are among the top 50 international prospects for this next period according to Baseball America. Tejada was listed as an honorable mention for Jesse Sanchez of mlbpipeline.com.

The White Sox have $4,983,500 to spend on international amateurs during this period. Due to being in the 2nd year under penalty restrictions they will not be able to sign any player for more than $300K. They could still get some help for their system though. During the previous international period the front office decided to use the bonus pool space to acquire minor league talent from other organizations. The White Sox traded a little more than $3 million in international pool space to acquire 4 prospects in total. The organization can trade as much of their pool as they decide but deals cannot be consummated until after July 2nd. Rick Hahn didn't waste much time into last year's period before striking on a deal. The club acquired infielder Yeyson Yrizarri on July 15th, 2017 for $1.5 million in pool space. The 21-year-old has 4 homers and has played all over the infield in High-A with the Winston-Salem Dash.

The White Sox made another trade on August 11th of last year. They acquired RHP Ryan Burr from the Arizona Diamondbacks for $1 million in international pool space. The 24-year-old right hander currently has a 3.69 ERA in Double-A Birmingham. In November, the organization sent $500K in international pool space to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Thyago Vieira. The 25-year-old Brazilian is averaging just over 12 K/9 with the Charlotte Knights and has posted a 3.77 FIP to date. Vieira was just named as an International League All Star as well. The 4th trade occurred back in March when the Sox acquired RHP Ricardo Pinto from the Philadelphia Phillies for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool space. Pinto is currently pitching in Charlotte with the Triple-A affiliate.

This is an excellent way for the White Sox to add talent to their system by not really trading anything. In those deals, the Sox don't actually send money to the acquiring teams. What they are shipping out is just the right to spend more of their own money on international amateurs. Rick Hahn was an adept trader of other people's funds last year. With the expected arrival of Victor Victor on the market sometime this year, trader Rick should be able to help some contenders in that pursuit.

The international signing period begins on Monday and we will have you covered with all White Sox related news and official signing announcements with quotes and scouting reports.

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