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Braves ink 13 international prospects to contracts

The Braves have more prospects on the way, as they have signed 13 international free agents.

For over a year, Braves’ fans have heard about Kevin Maitan. His name has been out there as the top international prospect for 2016. And the Braves have been linked with him ever since.

The day to sign Maitan finally arrived, as Saturday morning the Braves got Maitan’s signature on a contract. He will be paid a reported $4.25 million dollar signing bonus.

Most believe he’s the best international prospect since Miguel Sano, signed by the Twins seven years ago. Maitan has been compared to Chipper Jones, Juan Gonzalez and even Miguel Cabrera.

Maitan is a shortstop now, but at 6-2 he’s likely to grow big enough to be a third baseman. Outfield has also been mentioned as a possibility.

He’s a switch-hitter, with a great swing and expected power from both sides of the plate. Scouts refer to Maitan’s athleticism and the ease with which he plays the game.

The Braves have signed several big-name international prospects through the years (Andruw Jones, Elvis Andrus, Julio Teheran, Bruce Chen), but Maitan may be the biggest coup in the history of the franchise.

HERE is Ben Badler’s outstanding article on Maitan from Baseball America.

Here are the prospects who signed to a contract with the Braves Saturday:
(amounts reported by @jessesanchezmlb)

KEVIN MAITAN – SS – Venezuela – AGE: 16 – DOB: 2/12/2000 – B:S – T:R – 6-2, 175
$4.25 m
Ranked 1
st by MLB.com – Ranked 1st by Baseball America
COMMENTS: He will likely be at the Instructional League this fall and then in spring training next year. The Braves will probably then place Maitan in the Gulf Coast League next summer, as they have done with Derian Cruz and Cristian Pache, the two top international signees from last year. Maitan could become a top prospect in the next 18 months, especially as more of the current prospects graduate to Atlanta. Expect the Braves to eventually move him to third, with Dansby Swanson soon to take over at short in Atlanta. With all the other shortstops signed, it will be interesting to see when the Braves make that decision. But they will likely keep Maitan at short to keep his value at a premium. So at best, when could Maitan make it to Atlanta? Well, Andruw Jones was signed on July 1, 1993 and made it to the big leagues a little more than three years later at 19. Elvis Andrus was signed in January, 2005 by the Braves. After being traded to Texas a little over two years later, Andrus made his big league debut in 2009 when he was 21 and after four years in the minor leagues. Both Jones and Andrus were in the GCL in the season after they signed and again, that’s likely the timetable for Maitan. But if Maitan develops quickly like Jones, he could be in Atlanta in 2019. If he spends four full years in the minors, like Andrus, he could be ready in 2021. So he’s anywhere from 3-5 years away from being ready for Atlanta if he develops as advertised.

ABRAHAN GUTIERREZ – C – Venezuela – AGE: 16 – DOB: 10/31/1999 – B:R – T:R – 6-1, 200
$3.5 m
Ranked 18
th by MLB.com – Ranked 15th by Baseball America
COMMENT: Last year he was being called “another Mike Piazza.” Gutierrez’s status has dimmed a bit, but the Braves still believe he could become an elite prospect. His fielding gets the best grades as of now, with a strong arm and good mechanics behind the plate. But the feeling is he can become an offensive player – maybe not to the level of Piazza, but perhaps better than Christian Bethancourt.

YUNIOR SEVERINO – SS – Dominican Republic – AGE: 16 – DOB: 10/3/1999 – B:S – T:R – 5-10, 160
$1.9 m
Ranked 19
th by MLB.com – Ranked 8th by Baseball America
COMMENT: Severino is not very big, but scouts seem to love his offensive potential from both sides of the plate. Some believe he could move to second base in the field, as his range is questionable at shortstop.

LIVAN SOTO – SS – Venezuela – AGE: 16 – DOB: 6/22/2000 – B:L – T:R – 5-9, 140
$1 m
Ranked 24
th by MLB.com – Ranked 16th by Baseball America
COMMENT: Here is a player that will likely stay at shortstop with his size, but Soto should get a little taller. His video is impressive at shortstop, with good hands and a solid arm. Offensively, Soto may be a slap hitter with little power. Could he become an Elvis Andrus-type player?

JUAN CONTRERAS – RHP – Dominican Republic – AGE: 16 – DOB: 9/8/1999 – B:R – T:R – 6-1, 180
$1.2 m
Ranked 41
st by Baseball America

GUILLERMO ZUNIGA – RHP – Colombia
$350,000

LISANDRO SANTOS – LHP – Dominican Republic

JOEL REYES – OF – Dominican Republic

ANTONIO SUCRE – OF - Venezuela

VICTOR DE HOYOS – C – Colombia

ADRIAN ADRIANZA – C – Venezuela

JEFRY RAMOS – OF – Dominican Republic

FRANGER CARRILLO – OF – Dominican Republic

Here is a player expected to sign with the Braves once he turns 16 in two weeks:

YENCI PENA – 3B – Dominican Republic – AGE: 15 – DOB: 7/13/2000 – B:R – T:R – 6-2, 180
$1 m
Ranked 22
nd by MLB.com – Ranked 32nd by Baseball America
COMMENT: Pena may have the body right now to move to third base, and if he gets bigger that will only become more inevitable. He’s athletic and gets good grades on defense, so he may remain at short for now. Offensively, Pena will have the strength to develop power as he matures.

And here’s one more player that is still a possibility for the Braves:

YEFRI DEL ROSARIO – RHP – Dominican Republic – AGE: 16 – DOB: 9/23/1999 – B:R – T:R – 5-11, 165
Ranked 26
th by Baseball America

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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