The White Sox are interested in signing Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez, FutureSox has learned. Potential interest was first mentioned by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com back in January.
Source: The #WhiteSox are interested in Cuban SS Yolbert Sanchez. Bonus amount would likely be in $2-$2.5 million range. 21 year old with plus arm, speed and defense. Sanchez would have to wait until 7/2 to sign.
— James Fox (@JamesFox917) March 26, 2019
Sanchez is a 6-foot 180-pound infielder who bats and throws from the right side. The recently turned 22-year-old is currently ranked as the #4 prospect available in the 2018 international signing class. In pipeline's scouting report, Sanchez is said to have a "polished glove" that is major league ready. Yolbert is an elite defender with a 65 grade on his fielding and a 55 grade on his arm tool. He also possesses 55 grade speed. He sprays balls from "line-to-line" and is considered to be a line drive hitter with the potential to hit 8-10 homers annually. His offense is significantly behind his defense with 45 grade tools in the hit and power department. Scouts also like Sanchez's game instincts and track record.
Yolbert Sanchez was most recently the starting shortstop for Havana Industriales of the Cuban Nacional Series. He was teammates with current White Sox prospect Luis Robert on Cuba's 18U team in the past. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs echoed similar sentiments to Jesse Sanchez about Yolbert's offensive shortcomings and defensive prowess. The guys at Fangraphs did note that Sanchez would be atypical to most international signings due to his advanced age but they also surmised that he's less risky with a quicker major league timeline. Scouts see him as a prospect that should land a deal in the $2-$4 million range.
Scouting Video from bandicam.com
It was assumed that Sanchez would sign in this current international period which ends on June 15. He was cleared to sign on Feb. 5 and many in the industry speculated that the Baltimore Orioles would be a preferred landing spot. Baltimore had a front office change and possesses the most international space to use in the current period. The Orioles have since traded away some of their space to acquire prospects and it appears as if this latest Cuban defection will wait until the 2019 international period to sign a contract with a new team.
Multiple sources: Yolbert Sanchez's trainer/rep has told teams that Sanchez has $2mil on the table from a team with 2019 pool space. This likely prices out all but Baltimore during the current signing period. Sanchez is eligible to sign starting today. https://t.co/AXEufeakqL
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) February 5, 2019
What This Means for the White Sox
The White Sox have been unable to swim in the deep end of the international pool in recent years due to going into the penalty phase for signing Luis Robert as a member of their 2016 class. The organization has been awarded a slot of roughly $4.75 million as a large market club over the past two seasons. Marco Paddy and his crew have signed multiple players in that span (26 in the 2018 class and 5 in the 2017 class) but none were able to be signed for greater than $300,000. Rick Hahn and the front office did use the excess bonus pool space to acquire prospects from organizations that could actually put the money to good use. Adding pitchers like Caleb Frare, Ryan Burr and Thyago Vieira worked out as a solid alternative, but the organization would be better off spending their international pool space on amateur talent annually.
Final bonus amounts are not set at this time, but the White Sox should have just under $5 million to allocate in the international amateur market. One of the leading voices in the industry is Ben Badler from Baseball America and he didn't link the Sox to any of the 20 names he's mentioned so far that will sign in the 2019 international class. This fact was frustrating for some followers even though we don't have the entire story yet. One of the silver linings of essentially sitting out the previous two periods was that the international scouts could focus their time and resources toward this upcoming signing period. If the organization presently has $2.5 million laying around to sign Sanchez, their strategy is fair game to be questioned.
Allocating resources to acquire a close to major league ready shortstop isn't a negative. Sanchez would likely be a top 10 prospect in the 2019 international class and likely jumps right into the top 20 of the White Sox system if signed. Critics will openly wonder why Paddy and his scouts don't have the 2019 cash slotted with potential signings already. It's possible that the organization has targeted Sanchez and held back funds for this particular reason. It's also possible that the club will look to acquire bonus pool space from a team looking to trade it away like the Atlanta Braves. The White Sox have had two years to prepare for this class and while there will likely be a bevy of 16-year-old players added, signing major league ready middle infielders with the unallocated funds could be construed as a puzzling decision.
The bottom line is that the White Sox will spend on international amateurs this year after sitting out the last two periods. Sanchez would offer infield depth in the higher levels of the minor leagues and could profile as a major league contributor in short order. His presence would add to the critical mass that Rick Hahn always speaks of and an organization can never have too much depth in the infield. This is one way for the club to spend some of their international pool. It's just not the way many observers originally envisioned.
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