July 2nd Links
I picked up some additional notes on what the Yankees are up to after I did my initial reporting. Sources indicate the first wave of six verbal deals that I learned of in the middle of December all happened on one day. On a day in late November/early December, the Yankees struck all six deals at once, after rumors had already spread in the industry that New York had a much heavier scouting presence in Latin America in the fall. For competitive reasons, this plan makes sense so that other clubs and agents couldn't adjust their actions based on word of one or two big, early deals the Yankees had struck.
My first article on the topic quoted sources describing the Yankees plan as having about a half dozen prospects for about $12 million already locked up with more coming later. A couple sources are now saying they've heard a "second phase" is coming with a significant amount of bonus commitments. This also makes sense as I noted earlier that committing all of the money so early in the process may be necessary but creates problems as 15 year olds' talent level can change before the signing day, new players can emerge, etc.
One source says he has heard $20 million mentioned as a possible high end of bonus spending, which seems high to me, but it's not like there's a precedent to look at right now. I assumed there would be a few more notable bonuses handed out, but some rumors are pointing to there being another coordinated wave on the horizon.
Players I Didn't See Last Week
Nelson Gomez is a Dominican third baseman that played in the Under Armour Game in Chicago this summer with top rising seniors from the American high school class. I've learned that Gomez is another of that first wave of Yankee verbal deals, with the number mentioned most often being $3.0 million.
Gomez is a little more mature physically (6'2/195) than the typical July 2nd big bonus type, but brings plenty of tools. He has a shot to stick at third base, with good hands and an solid-average arm but his range and speed are a little fringy, so the outfield is a possibility. Gomez's calling card is his plus power and fluid cut with above average bat speed.
A couple more players who weren't at the showcases this week are rumored to have deals, some for big bonuses and some I'm more confident to throw out there than others. Venezuelan RHP Anderson Espinoza is the pitcher I referenced earlier in the week that has a lot of similarities to Dominican RHP Marcos Diplan (who signed with the Rangers for $1.3 million last year). The rumor is that Espinoza's deal is for $2 million and is with the Red Sox. Rumors have Dominican SS Adrian Rondon with a bonus over $2 million and three other Dominicans (SS Ricky Aracena, SS Amado Nunez and OF Jose Zabala) all apparently off the market with sizable deals.
I've also learned that in addition to Gomez, Dermis Garcia, Juan De Leon, Jonathan Amundaray and Chris Torres, the sixth Yankee verbal deal is for $1 million with a Venezuelan shortstop who wasn't in the Dominican last week. The six deals I'm aware of are for $11.5 million, with a chance I'm off by a bit but jiving with the 5-7 players for about $12 million I heard in December from multiple sources. I've also heard rumors of a potential top prospect for this July 2nd (that I haven't written about yet) being suspended earlier this month for age/identity reasons. Last year's example of this, Dominican SS Cecilio Aybar (formerly Obispo Aybar) will be eligible to sign April 24th and despite being 20 years old now, but could still be inline for $1 million.
Top Prospects From The Trip
With all of these players mentioned above that I haven't seen and in some cases don't have a great feel for as players, I don't want to do a pure ranking of the players I saw last week. You could go through the prior articles and get this my impressions on these players, but I'll rundown the top players I've seen and put them in potential bonus groups.
The clear top three that I saw was Dominicans 3B Gilbert Lara, 3B Dermis Garcia and RHP Huascar Ynoa. Since Ynoa is a pitcher, I'd make him third and I change my mind about Lara and Garcia every time I go back over my notes, so you can pick the one you like better; their bonuses should end up being very close. I should add I still haven't heard Ynoa tied to the Yankees and it's unclear who will be targeted in their rumored next round of bonuses. This group should all get over $2 million.
The next group for me is Dominicans CF Juan De Leon, SS Pedro Gonzalez, RF Bryan Pena and Venezuelan RHP Juan Meza. These players should all get $1.4 million (Meza's rumored deal with Houston) or more and I liked what I saw from them in short looks last week. The next group would be low seven figure/high six figure bonus players and, at this point, there's a lot of guys you can throw in that group. Some of those to look out for include Venezuelan OF Jonathan Amundaray, Dominican SS Chris Torres, Dominican RHP Chris Acosta, Venezuelan SS Miguelangel Sierra, Venezuelan CF Brayan Hernandez (one scout's top riser from last week's events), Dominican SS Elwin Tejeda, Venezuelan SS Arquimedes Gamboa, Dominican SS Esmerlin Gonzalez, Dominican SS Juan Ventura and at least 10 more players I saw last week. I didn't want to go too deep on these names right now as the list will surely change between now and July 2nd and very few of them already have deals.