Despite no confirmation from the club, the Los Angeles Angels ventured into the high-end Cuban market for the first time since 2004 (Kendrys Morales), signing middle-infielder, Roberto Baldoquin. The 20-year-old doesn't come numbers, tools, or the resume like Yasiel Puig or Jose Abreu, but in a short scouting video, showed that he could be an impact with the big club in coming years.
"This is a dream come true," Baldoquin told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. "I've made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I'm ready for the next part of my journey." Sanchez first reported the deal on Tuesday morning.
WHO IS ROBERTO BALDOQUIN?
Baldoquin, 20, is a right-handed middle-infielder listed at 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds. Baldoquin has reportedly spent the majority of his time in Cuba's Serie Nacional as a shortstop, but has shown promise at third base, second base, and the outfield over his three seasons in the league. Numbers were hard to find, but what we did find was a slash of .279/.372/.324 in 79 plate appearances in the 2013 season (compliments of HalosDaily.com). He left Cuba this past Spring, and has been training in the Dominican Republic, where Angels General Manager, Jerry Dipoto, has spent the last week looking for prospects.
Baldoquin signed an $8-million signing bonus, pending a physical. The contract is the highest for an amateur player under the current international signing rules, which began on July 2, 2014. For the Angels, it was the first time since since 2004, when they signed Kendrys Morales to a six-year, $3-milion contract, that they ventured into the Cuban market. The signing puts the Angels well over their $2.383-million bonus pool for 2014. This puts the Angels in a 100% tax on the bonus overage, which means the Angels will spend around $14-million on the signing. The $14-million will not be put towards the Angels luxury tax payroll for 2015. With the contract, the Angels will not be able to spend more than $300-thousand over the next two international signing periods, but can be big spenders in the current market, while paying the 100% tax on whoever they sign from this moment onward. Because Baldoquin is under the age of 23 and has not played in the Cuban Professional League for five seasons or more, he is subject to the international signing laws.
There is no current game footage of Baldoquin and not much is known about him, but in a 10-minute scouting video, Baldoquin showed what he could be capable of.
Baldoquin has an advanced line-drive swing with good extension through the zone and a solid follow through. He is both stay inside the ball and extend his hands in the video. One concern about his swing is his wheel house type of swing which could create a strong fly ball rate, but that could be fixed easily with his advanced swing plane. In the video, Baldoquin is able to show gap-to-gap power as well as put the ball over the fences on occasions.
His range at the shortstop and third base positions can't be truly shown due to not seeing how hard balls are hit in each direction, but initial break to the ball seems to be a strong point of his defensive game. His arm seems to be average, but it is also something hard to detect immediately.
According to multiple scouts, Baldoquin is not ready for Major League work, but could be in the near future. With David Freese and Howie Kendrick under service for the 2015 season and Erick Aybar under contract through the 2016 season, Baldoquin take over any of the three positions by that time. It has been noted that Baldoquin could be sent to the Class-A affiliates out of Spring Training (Burlington Bees, Inland Empire 66ers), and with a strong Spring, could even be sent to the Texas League and show his tools in Double-A with the Arkansas Travelers.