What Is July 2nd?
The international amateur market, known as the July 2nd signing period, is getting attention from scouts and executives in the industry right now, with the domestic baseball schedule not getting started in earnest for a few more weeks.
Players born outside North America are first eligible to sign at age 16, with the signing period opening on July 2nd. The overwhelming majority of signees come from Latin America, led by the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Recent ChangesThere used to be no spending limits on the market, but two years ago MLB gave each club a spending pool based on their record the previous year as an attempt to keep bonuses down. Penalties for exceeding your pool are in place but are only monetary, so some big market clubs like the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs have already blown past their spending pools in recent years.
Yankees Gone Wild
The talk of international baseball right now is a story I broke in December, that the New York Yankees plan on shattering their spending limits this year, spending over 10 times their bonus pool. See the links above for more details on this story.
2014 Top ProspectsThere were a series of showcases in the Dominican Republic late last month featuring the top players in this year's class and I, along with hundreds of scouts from all 30 teams, were in attendance.
Gilbert Lara has the loose, handsy, fluid swing that scouts are looking for with the plus bat speed and raw power to project as a future All-Star. He hit a number of balls out to left field at the heavily scouted MLB showcase and hit a triple and homerun in the game portion of the event. The chatter among scouts is the Dominican third baseman has an agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers for a $3.2 million bonus.
Dermis Garcia is a Dominican shortstop that should start there in pro ball but likely ends up at third base, like Lara. Garcia has above average bat speed and raw power along with a swing that's more balanced and mature than many of his peers. Scouts say Garcia has a deal in place with the Yankees for $3.0 million, making him one of the headliners of what will be a deep class for the Bombers. Scouts believe the Yankees already have 6 deals in place and I have scouting reports on all of these players at scoutingbaseball.com.
The top pitcher in this year's class is Huascar Ynoa, who has a famous older brother in A's righty Michael Ynoa, who holds the record for the top July 2nd pitcher bonus at $4.25 million. At the MLB showcase, Huascar worked at 91-93 mph with a chance for three plus pitches, including an advanced changeup and improving curveball. He doesn't have a deal in place yet, but is likely to receive a bonus of $2 million or more on July 2nd.
Check out scoutingbaseball.com for videos and scouting reports on dozens of other July 2nd prospects, more details of the Yankees plans and intel from scouts on the players that clubs are targeting and the bonuses they may receive.