“We want to be THE destination for top international talent.”
That was the sentiment spoken by Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during the Mesa Brothers press conference in Miami last October after completing the biggest deal in team history in the International market. Miami wheeled and dealed for months to put themselves in position to sign the top international prospect, and they finally succeeded. It was a change in the plan that Marlins fans were used too.
The new regime realized this untapped international market is where the future is and dove in head first. July 2 marked the first day of the 2019 open international market, and the Fish came prepared. Loaded with a bonus pool of 5,939,800, Miami had been connected to a few guys, and they stuck to the plan and then some.
Marlins 2019 IFA signings
Venezuela SS Jose Salas- 2.8 mil (Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com)
Dominican SS Junior Sanchez 1.15 mil (Ben Badler/Baseball America)
Bahamas SS Ian Lewis 950k (Craig Mish)
Dominican RHP Eury Perez and SS Miguel Rodriguez (Badler)
Venezuelan RHP Jean Reyes, RHP Cristian Millan, SS Reny Hildago (Badler)
Venezuelan SS Javier Sanoja
Panamanian OF Germain Ruiz
Panamanian RHP Jose Bazan
Well, if that isn’t sticking to a plan, I don’t know what is. Gary Denbo loves his up-the-middle athletes and knows how to develop them. He may have got some special ones here. I gave you a small profile on Ian Lewis earlier this week.
Now, I want to talk about their 2 highest bonus signees and an extremely interesting pitcher.
SS Jose Salas
6’1 150 – 16 years old
(Ben Badler/Baseball America)
Scouting Report (MLB Pipeline)
Hit: 55 / Power: 50 / Arm: 55 / Run: 60 / Field: 50
I’m actually taking that scouting report a glass half empty look. When you watch video of Salas, you can instantly see why he was a consensus top 25 prospect for the 2019 pool. He’s switch hitter with an extremely relaxed look at the plate and showcases possibly the best bat speed in the class. He ropes balls across the field with easy, and already is showing advanced plate discipline. Reports show he can be a 30-30 type player at his peak.
The speed is a deceptive 60 grade that possibly will be higher after being regraded. Salas put up a near sub 7 second 60-yard-dash as a 14 year old. I can only imagine he’s picked up speed the past 2 years. That speed has only enhanced his fielding as well with his lateral speed being at the next level. He moves so well to the ball, and finishes with a plus arm. He has all the makings of an elite player if development goes to plan.
SS Junior Sanchez
6’0 160- 16 years old
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Scouting Report (MLB pipeline)
Hit: 55 / Power: 50 / Run: 50 / Arm: 55 / Field: 50
This is the guy I’m most excited about from this year’s class. Ranked 24th on MLB Pipelines Top International prospects, Sanchez was a frame you can only dream of. He’s wide bodied left-handed batter who has easy power off the bat. Just like Salas, he’s a player with plus bat speed and advanced discipline. He offers a slight leg kick in his swing that reminds me of a left handed Alfonso Soriano.
In the field, he projects to have the ability to stick at shortstop with good instincts and solid arm strength. Some though have already mentioned he could be served better long term at second base, where his offense could shine. With a nickname like La Melaza or “Sweetness” at the age of 16, you can only expect great things.
RHP Eury Perez
6’6 170 – 16 years old
In the moments right after this signing was announced, I was sent a video by my colleague Luis Davila of Perez from 2015. I was instantly blown away. Perez is possibly the most interesting player from this years IFA class.. Standing a massive 6’6 at 15 years old, he pumps mid-80s fastballs and breaks off a curveball that already looks plus at 75 mph. He’s slight of build at only 160 lbs, but clearly can put on upwards of 40-50 more pounds as he matures. A fastball that’s already popping the glove with force while controlling his large frame, I couldn’t help but see a larger Edward Cabrera with possibly better offspeed over time. Credit to Ben Badler for the video below, and you can see why the excitement for this kid is justified.
Overall, I think Miami has taken a great approach to this years international market. It’s still a breath of fresh air to most Marlins fans after missing out for so long, but these kids look special. 10 months after being beyond giddy in the room watching the Mesa brothers put on Miami jerseys for the first time, I sit here unapologetically excited for this year’s class and where this new movement can go.