Angels Making Big Splash In Cuban Market?

Tick tock, tick tock. The clock is counting down closer and closer to zero on the Los Angeles Angels, but what's the clock counting down to?

The Los Angeles Angels are on the clock. The Major League Baseball Draft is over. There's no more picks to be made. So, what exactly are they on the clock for? How much time is left on the clock?

The clock runs out on June 15, when the current international signing period ends. But why is that the time limit? What could be so important as to worrying about making a decision before the metaphorical clock runs out?

How about a 20-year-old prospect who scouts have compared to a guy who hit 434 home runs, stole 152 bases, made five All-Star Games and won ten Gold Glove Awards? Yeah, that's decent incentive to make a decision before the clock strikes zero.

Eddy Julio Martinez is a Cuban outfielder who was declared a Major League free agent in late May. Martinez has drawn comparisons to former Atlanta Braves slugger, Andruw Jones. Martinez has all five tools you want in your best young prospect; speed, power, contact, arm, and defense. Martinez's swing has been listed as quick and compact with power as the drawing focus and the ability to hit to all parts of the field. His defense, helped by a strong and accurate arm, is noted with his baseball instincts and ability to cover ground with his quality speed. Oh yeah, Martinez can steal bags for you too with his speed, and his "grinder" style.

MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez brought attention to the baseball world that Martinez is eligible to sign after leaving Cuba in November and establishing residency in Haiti. Martinez has been training the Dominican Republic since gaining residency in the shared island country of Haiti, and has been able to impress scouts in multiple individual workouts.

"I'm feeling really good right now, and I'm in great shape," Martinez told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. "I'm working hard to get to my goal to play in the Major Leagues. That's what I have always wanted to do."

Here's the interesting part... the Angels are interested and have a shot at taking the top international prospect.

Here's the problem...

There's nine other teams openly interested in Martinez and possibly more remaining quiet. The Halos are in the maximum penalty for the current international signing period and after July 2, won't be able to sign international players for more than $300 thousand. Martinez will want quite a bit more than that.

Luckily, during this last draft, the Angels took a few players under slot value and saved quite a bit of money, that could go towards Martinez. Also, of the nine vocal teams that have expressed interest in Martinez, four are in the max penalty zone as well.

It may be high-risk/low-reward if the Angels do sign Martinez, being that he's been out of organized baseball for nearly a year and has a minimal scouting report compared to all the American born players. However, the Angels have a chance that they haven't in quite some time, and have less than a month to make a bold decision to pull the trigger and nab Martinez for their future. Oh, we forgot to mention, Martinez's favorite baseball player is Mike Trout, and wants to play just like him.

There are other Cuban options that wouldn't be international pool-eligible players, and would give the Angels no restrictions on signing them. Guillermo Heredia, who is four years older than Martinez, but nearing Major League ready, is a speedy outfielder with a middle of the lineup bat. Another option could be right-handed pitcher, Yaisel Sierra, who is 23 and throws his fastball in the mid 90's with a wipeout slider. Another option is to not go for any of them.

Regardless of the decision Jerry Dipoto and the Angels make on Martinez, one thing is for certain. Time is running out on their clock to make a move like this, and it might be the biggest international move in Angels history. The clock is counting down to zero every second. Tick tock, tick tock.



Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.



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