On Saturday, the July 2nd, international signing period commenced and as expected, the St. Louis Cardinals were among several organizations aggressive in one of baseball's most anticipated days.
Though not officially announced, the Cardinals reportedly added nine players. Headliners include Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia (No. 10 prospect) and Dominican outfielder Carlos Soler (No. 35 prospect) as rated by Baseball America. Perhaps their most significant signings were two Cuban defectors - outfielder Jonathan Machado (No. 10 MLB.com prospect), who agreed to a $2.3 million dollar signing bonus and right-handed pitcher Johan Oviedo (unranked by both BA and MLB.com), who swung a $1.9 million dollar pact.
Garcia agreed a $1.5 million dollar deal and Soler signed for $600,000, according to industry reports, including BA and MLB.com.
Not done there, the Cardinals are reportedly adding Venezuelan outfielder Diomedes Del Rio, Mexican catcher Carlos Soto, infielder Franklin Soto of the Dominican Republic, and a pair of Dominican right-handers in Roy Garcia and Enmanuel Solano. The Mexican Soto signed for $400,000 with a reported $555,000 signing bonus going to the Dominican Soto. The others in this group are likely to have secured six-figure deals as well.
Garcia, a right-handed hitter who was born on Aug. 8th, 1999, is said to have the biggest raw power arguably in the entire international class of 2016. However, there is stiffness in his swing, and he is limited to left field as a somewhat large human being. He could be an impact middle of the order hitter with 70-grade power if everything works out.
“Garcia has a middle of the order, run-producer type profile,” Cardinals Director of International Operations Moises Rodriguez told Rob Rains of STLSportsPage.com. “We like him in a corner outfield position. He’s a big kid with a large frame with hitting ability in addition to his power. When you start projecting what he can be in the future, it’s something we are looking forward to.
“He’s got a chance to hopefully hit in the middle of the lineup somewhere down the road.”
Soler, 16, is a toolsy 6-foot-3 outfielder with high-upside. He is said to have one of the stronger arms in the international class with above-average raw power to boot. However, he has a large amount of swing and miss to his game that apparently concerned some other clubs from pursuing him.
Machado, 17, was reportedly the Cardinals’ top target in this year's class. The center fielder is known as a burner with defensive instincts and contact skills to match. Machado is an aggressive left-handed hitter, standing at a smaller 5-foot-9 frame, but with natural athletic ability and profiling as a lead-off man.
“He is a plus-plus runner and a high contact guy,” Rodriguez told STLSportsPage.com. “He can create trouble on the bases. He is an excellent fielder and can really track balls. He’s a very instinctual player. We’ve had a history with him going back to that tournament two years ago.”
Oviedo, 18, had been a relatively unknown product, not ranked by MLB.com or Baseball America, but one who received a hefty bonus from the Cardinals. Standing at 6-foot-6, Oviedo is said to sit 94-96, can touch 98, and has a "good breaking ball" and plus makeup", according to MLB.com.
Carlos Soto was eligible to sign last year, but opted to sign this year instead. While he wasn’t the highest paid player from Mexico, some scouts are said to prefer the catcher as the nation's best talent. He is a 6-foot-3 left-handed hitter who could move off the position, but is said to perform in games with a chance to hit for power. His fallback is first base.
Assuming all reported bonuses are accurate, the Cardinals have committed nearly $7 million to these nine players combined, which is almost $5 million more than their assigned bonus pool of $2,027,300. Since they blew past their allocation, the Cardinals will pay a stiff fine matching the overage.
Saturday evening, the Dominican Prospect League announced a 10th Cardinals signee, Alexander Samuel. Per writer Antonio Puesan, the outfielder received a $100,000 bonus.
Members of The Cardinal Nation can check out Derek Shore’s many interviews with Springfield newsmakers, such as his recent talk with Cardinals pitching coach Jason Simontacchi on the Double-A staff, as well as his weekly in-depth S-Cards’ team reports, which appear each Thursday morning all season long here at TCN.
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