The 2019-2020 international signing period begins on July 2nd. This period provides an opportunity for the White Sox to add some more talent to the lower levels of their well-regarded minor league system. The franchise has been in the penalty box in regards to high dollar international expenditures in the previous two classes. The organization, while possessing a full bonus pool of available resources, were limited to signings of just $300K for any individual signing of specific international amateur players.
During the 2018 international signing period, the White Sox signed around 30 players according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Harold Diaz and Bryan Ramos are both Cuban infielders who have debuted stateside in the AZL already this year. Others like Alfredo Bernal (1B), Luis Pineda (C), Anthony Espinoza (SS), Benyamin Bailey (OF) and Ronaldo Guzman (LHP) are main cogs for the White Sox's affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. The White Sox have also traded international bonus pool space over the past couple of seasons to enhance their farm system in other areas. Many signings from the 2016 and 2017 classes are playing affiliated ball as well.
How It Works
This is the third signing period since Major League Baseball implemented the new signing rules on the international market in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. This is the first year in which the White Sox will be afforded the right to compete in earnest with the other 29 clubs in the sport. For the third straight year, the international bonus pools have increased as well. Small market clubs that received Competitive Balance Round B selections in the 2019 amateur draft will be able to use $6,481,200 during the international signing period. $5,939,800 can be spent by the six clubs that received Competitive Balance Round A picks in the draft. The large market revenue providers will be allowed to spend $5,398,300 in the upcoming period.
Last year's total were slotted at $6,025,400, $5,504,500 and $4,983,500. Three teams have had bonus pool space subtracted from their allotment due to signing free agents with draft pick compensation attached to their services. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies can use $4,821,400 and the Washington Nationals can spend $4,321,400. The Atlanta Braves are prohibited from spending any money on the international market and their bonus pool has been allocated to the other 29 clubs. For example, a team with $6,481,200 could trade for an additional $4,860,900 for a total of $11,342,100. Teams in the middle category can max out at $10,394,650 after trading for additional space and large market teams can trade for up to $4,048,725 more for a total of $9,447,025. 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. There are no longer any teams serving penalties on the international market and trades involving pool space may become much more rare.
2019/2020 International Bonus Pools
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Baltimore Orioles
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies
- Kansas City Royals
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- St. Louis Cardinals
- San Diego Padres
- Cincinnati Reds
- Miami Marlins
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Minnesota Twins
- Oakland Athletics
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Boston Red Sox
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Detroit Tigers
- Houston Astros
- Los Angeles Angels
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Seattle Mariners
- San Francisco Giants
- Texas Rangers
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Philadelphia Phillies (they forfeited $500K in pool space to sign Bryce Harper)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (they forfeited $500K in pool space to sign AJ Pollock)
- Washington Nationals (they forfeited $1 million in pool space to sign Patrick Corbin)
This Year's Class
Ben Badler of Baseball America is the best in the industry at reporting information in regards to the international marketplace. He has released signing information on many of the top prospects here. Jesse Sanchez of mlb.com has compiled his list of the top 30 prospects as well. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs have compiled their international reports also. The top prospect in the class is 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Jasson Dominguez. The switch hitter is reportedly signing a $5 million deal with the New York Yankees. Dominguez could become one of the top 50 or so prospects in baseball almost immediately. Dominican shortstop Robert Puason is another 16-year-old switch hitter. His combination of size and speed makes him a special prospect. Puason had an agreement with the Atlanta Braves previously but it was taken off the table after some of their illegal practices in the market were revealed. The infielder is still expected to land a deal with the Oakland Athletics for $5 million however.
Bayron Lara and Erick Pena are two Dominican outfielders expected to receive significant bonuses as well. Lara will reportedly receive in the neighborhood of $4 million from the Texas Rangers while the left-handed hitting Pena should end in Kansas City with the Royals. Venezuelan outfielder Luis Rodriguez is expected to end up with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The best catcher in the class is Ronnier Quintero from the Dominican Republic. He's a left handed hitting catcher with enormous power potential. Quintero is expected to sign with the Chicago Cubs. Andry Lara and Brayan Medina are both Venezuelan pitchers and they're the two best hurlers in the 2019 class. Lara has a mid nineties heater with a power breaking ball and he's expected to sign with the Washington Nationals. Medina has a prototypical pitcher's build and he's going to sign with the San Diego Padres.
Yiddi Cappe is a 16-year-old infielder from Cuba. He's the 7th ranked prospect in the class according to MLBPipeline and the 9th ranked according to Fangraphs. Kiley McDaniel of said publication expects teams to make an attempt at signing Cappe during this year's period despite the fact that he already has a reported $3.5 million agreement for the 2020 signing period. Po-Yu Chen is a 17-year-old right handed starter from Taiwan and he could factor into this class as well. 21-year-old outfielder Yoelkis Cespedes is the brother of Yoenis and he should be a candidate to reach agreement with a club as well after defecting from the island recently. As is usually the case, many players not known to the general public will come available during this period as well which runs up until June 15th, 2020.
Chicago White Sox Outlook
The White Sox have $5,398,300 to spend in this signing period and have only been linked to two players at this juncture. 22-year-old Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez and 17-year-old Dominican infielder Elijah Tatis are expected to be part of the club's signing haul on July 2nd. We had the story here at FutureSox back in March in regards to Yolbert Sanchez and Enrique Rojas broke the story on Fernando Tatis Jr.'s younger brother.
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
— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) April 10, 2019
Sanchez is a 6'0" 180 pound infielder that is a right handed hitter and thrower. The Cuban was ranked as the #5 player in the 2018 international class according to Jesse Sanchez. Yolbert's glove is said to be "major league ready". He is an elite defender with 65-grades on his fielding with a plus arm and plus speed. His pipeline scouting report notes that he can spray balls from "line-to-line" with the ability to hit up to ten homers on an annual basis. His offensive game almost assuredly needs work though to become an above average part of his repertoire. The infielder is atypical to most international prospects due to his age but he comes with less risk and should be closer to the majors. Sanchez was a teammate of Luis Robert in Cuba and we profiled the slick fielder earlier this year. Sanchez's bonus is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million.
Some of Yolbert's defensive plays on display
Tatis is signing a deal for $500K according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes. Jesse Sanchez says that Elijah "possesses a strong and accurate arm and has impressed scouts with the way the ball jumps off his bat". He has the ability to square up fastballs as well. He has drawn comparisons to his father more often than his brother Fernando Jr. Marco Paddy, the Director of International Operations for the Sox, has a solid relationship with the Tatis family dating back years and we wrote about that connection previously. Tatis hasn't been featured prominently as a member of this international class by publications but the club is making an informed gamble on upside and bloodlines in this case. Elijah Tatis will likely join the White Sox's affiliate in the Dominican Summer League upon signing.
The White Sox have made solid use of their international funds over the last two seasons despite being limited to signings under $300K per player. They've added solid prospects at low dollar figures and Farm Director Chris Getz has pushed players through the system aggressively. In addition to Diaz and Ramos, infielders Sidney Pimentel, Samil Polanco and Jose Rodriguez have made their stateside debuts playing for the AZL White Sox as teenagers as well. They've also used some of their funds to acquire established players from other farm systems and lefty relievers Caleb Frare (from the Yankees) and Hunter Schryver (from the Rays) were acquired using last year's theoretical dollars too. The White Sox could attempt to acquire more international funds during this period but it would be a surprise to see them trade any away now that they can use it to sign more impactful prospects.
The international market in general is considered to be similar to the wild west and Baseball America is changing the way they report on these prospects because of the changes in market dynamics. Badler reports that clubs are already skirting the rules to sign players that won't be eligible until the 2020, 2021 and 2022 signing classes. Many directors and international scouts are chasing their proverbial tails in order to try and conjure up reports on 13 and 14 year old players. Badler notes that there's an increasing likelihood of an international draft finally being put into place in the near future. Clubs, agents and scouts alike feel that a draft would be a better alternative than the free-for-all gunslinging that has occurred in this mode of talent procurement.
Paddy is a respected voice in the international scouting community and the White Sox operation has improved substantially from where it was a decade ago. The approach the organization has used isn't beyond reproach though and critics might prefer more quality in general. Paddy focuses on a quantitative approach when signing players as young as 16-years-old because a mass of players increases the potential hit rate on landing quality talent. Players like Lenyn Sosa, Anderson Comas, Josue Guerrero, and Luis Mieses are playing at stateside affiliates. Fernando Tatis Jr. who is playing in the major leagues for the San Diego Padres is another example of a player Paddy signed using his approach focused on quantity. Exceptions have obviously been made however. The organization gave Luis Robert a $26 million bonus to sign and paid a tax as well equaling the same sum. Micker Adolfo was given a relatively high bonus in relation to the rest of his signing class as well. Jose Abreu, while not a prospect, was also an unknown commodity at the time that Marco recommended giving him $60 million plus on a major league deal.
Money has been spent internationally but an organization that has operated in a risk averse fashion only really dips into the deep end of the pool for more advanced international prospects. Yolbert Sanchez is another guy that falls into this category. An organization has never had too many infielders that play plus defense. The addition of this 22-year-old Cuban should never be described as a bad signing. He appears to be a solid player that should slide right into the club's top 30 prospects list for most outlets. The allocation of resources is questionable however and dispersing available funds in this regard can leave something to be desired. With no apparent holes on the middle infield in Chicago, it's fair to question the need for a close to the majors infielder with a suspect hit tool.
Yolbert could replace Yolmer in short order and take on a potential utility role for a playoff contender. And if that happens, nobody would ever question the decision making process. If it doesn't work out though, the decision to use a limited amount of resources on an older prospect while not capitalizing on the depth of talented teenagers in the class could look puzzling down the road. Regardless of this outcome though, Robert, Tatis Jr. and Adolfo to a lesser extent are pretty big notches on the belt of Marco Paddy. Hopefully Yolbert Sanchez will fall into a similar category. Even after these agreements are in ink, the White Sox will have money left in their budget to spend on this year's international class. More signings that aren't currently being reported could filter in next week and we'll have you covered as we receive more details.
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Filed under: International Coverage
Tags: Alfredo Bernal, Anderson Comas, Anthony Espinoza, Benyamin Bailey, Bryan Ramos, Elijah Tatis, Harold Diaz, Jose Abreu, Jose Rodriguez, Josue Guerrero, Lenyn Sosa, Luis Mieses, Luis PIneda, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Ronaldo Guzman, Samil Polanco, Sidney Pimentel, Yolbert Sanchez