Monday, June 28, 2010

International Free Agency

MLB's International free agent signing period begins on July 2nd, which is fast approaching. I'm no expert on the international free agents, but it is an aspect of baseball that has always interested me. I'm of the opinion that teams need to spend less money in free agency and more money in the draft and on international amateurs, and seeing as the Giants' draft was pretty underwhelming, I'm hoping they invest a fair amount in the international market. The Giants have dipped into the international free agency pool before of course, signing Angel Villalona for $2.1 million in 2006. He never really played too well and, uh, he could very well be going to prison for alleged murder, so I guess that didn't work out very well. Since then they haven't done much besides signing Rafael Rodriguez for $2.55 million in 2008. Anyway, here are a few names that seem like intriguing options for the Giants:

Eskarlin Vasquez, OF - Vasquez is a right fielder from the Dominican Republic with a very strong arm. Potentially a five-tool prospect, he has good power and many scouts believe he's the best position player available. Back on May 17, Frankie Piliere of MLB Fanhouse said the Giants were the favorites to land him.

Vicmal De La Cruz, OF - Others might think De La Cruz has the best bat of anyone in this class. He is a potential five-tool prospect with maybe the highest upside of anyone on this list.

Phillips Castillo, OF - Castillo is another outfielder from the Dominican Republic who's calling card is his power. He could be the best power bat in this class and he could come cheaper than others.

Martin Steylon Peguero, SS - Tools, tools, tools. That's what this guy is all about. He's raw and athletic but supposedly has huge upside and power potential. A power bat at a premium position sounds good to me. Too bad the Giants never go after raw hitters, probably because they know they are too incompetent to develop them.

Elvis Sanchez, 3B - Sounds a little like Pablo Sandoval. He's improved his body a lot but still may have to move off third in the future. His main tool is POWER. He's got lots of it, and I yearn for a time when the Giants will have a legit power hitter.

Luis Heredia, RHP - Maybe the best pitcher from this class of free agents, this kid is only 15 years old. He's already 6'4" and is extremely projectable. He'll be tough to sign though. His team in Mexico owns his rights and according to MLBTradeRumors, the Giants, Pirates, Dodgers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Rangers are all interested.

Geronimo Fransua, LHP - He's thin and projectable like a lot of the guys on this list. His velocity is already in the low-90s and he may have room to fill out and reach up into the mid-90s. He's also got some decent secondary pitches that will improve over time.

Luis Abad, RHP - Abad, also from the Dominican Republic, is really interesting because he's another pitcher with high upside. He's 160 pounds and can run his fastball up to the mid-90s with extremely good movement.

Jorge Feliz, RHP - Feliz throws in the low-90s with an already good curveball. These prospects don't normally have plus secondary pitches, so Feliz could be interesting.

Roughned Odor, SS - This guy is mostly on the list because of his name. Besides his awesome, or terribly unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) name, Odor is expected to be a high average hitter who can stay at shortstop. Those guys are always nice to have.

The farm system is fairly weak right now, so the Giants could use some young talent. Expect them to sign one or two guys from this list.


  1. By whose standards is the farm system weak? In terms of top prospects yes, but the entire system has been on fire. Some names come to mind: Bond, Noonan, Connor Gillepsie, Pucetas might be a nice bullpen help. Burress could be a backup short stop (I'd have him over Rentaria any day on the roster). Ford is fast, and there are two other OF's I'm forgeting. Give some love to the Minors.

  2. Hey man, thanks for commenting!

    In my opinion, the farm system right now is somewhat depleted. As for the guys you mentioned, Brock Bond is having a good season. His .298/.413/.396 line is impressive. But I believe in scouting circles he's not seen as much of a prospect because he has very little power and is limited athletically.

    I do have some hope for Noonan, but he hasn't shown much so far this year. His line is currently .256/.302/.341 with a .643 OPS. Gillaspie also hasn't played too well this year, but he does have some upside. And before this year I had some hope for Pucetas as a fifth starter down the road, but his 6.29 ERA in AAA is a little scary.

    I think one of the outfielders you're talking about is Thomas Neal and he is probably our best prospect at this point. He's really been on fire lately. We do have some talent in the low minors like Zack Wheeler, Ehire Adrianza, Rafael Rodriguez and our new draft picks but they are far away from contributing.

    I just think that with Bumgarner and Posey now in the big leagues, our farm system is lacking in high impact prospects.

  3. "I just think that with Bumgarner and Posey now in the big leagues, our farm system is lacking in high impact prospects."

    I sorta don't want to look at it that way as prospects don't quite pan out - Wheeler hasn't been all that good this year. Panda went undrafted. Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams were the Tim Alderson and the Madison Bumgarders of their time. I believe more in how the players perform then what the scouts say (ex. Torres).

  4. I agree with you that the scouts aren't always right. But more often than not a player who is thought of highly by scouts will turn out better than a guy who isn't highly regarded.

    When I say the farm system is fairly weak, I mean there aren't many guys who are likely to be anything special. Other teams like the Red Sox, Rangers, and Angels have farm systems loaded with players who have the potential to be stars someday. I agree that we can't know that they'll reach their potential, but it's better than having no guys at all who are projected to be above-average big leaguers someday.

    Sandoval was undrafted but he also had numbers in the minors that would suggest he could be a very good big league hitter. Who of the guys that you mentioned have the stats that suggest they can become a big impact, star player? Yes, Zach Wheeler is struggling, and I can't know if he'll ever be good, but his natural ability does matter. Because he has the ability to to control his pitches and throw up to 95 mph he is more likely to be successful than someone like Pucetas who can only get to 90 mph on his fastball.

    The key is having star players. The only guys in our farm system right now that look like they could be very good players are maybe Brandon Belt and Thomas Neal. That doesn't mean someone won't defy the odds and become a star, but it's probably unlikely. Those teams that I mentioned above have lots of players that have huge potential to be stars.

    I think you have to trust the scouts somewhat, because it's their job to evaluate players.