By NAN Sports Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 14, 2017: Perhaps Caribbean youth should give up the dying sport of cricket and turn seriously to baseball. After the recent MLB signings, many may do just that.
Eleven talented and lucky young Caribbean-born baseball players have been signed to million dollar contracts by several Major League Baseball clubs. Nine are from the Dominican Republic and two from The Bahamas. According to Baseball America they are:
1: Wander Franco
The Tampa Bay Rays outshined all other MLB teams, raising the bar and signing Wander Franco of the Dominican Republic to an astonishing US $3.825 million. Franco’s signing at that figure makes him the highest paid of any of the 2017 signings from the Caribbean or internationally. Franco, 16, comes from a baseball family, with two older brothers; both also named Wander, playing in the Astros and Royals minor-league systems and an uncle, Erick Aybar, playing his 12th season in the majors. The teen is considered the best prospect of the three brothers, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound switch-hitter with what Baseball America described as “ferocious bat speed” and “above-average raw power.” This is only the second time in three years that the Rays have spent big for the top international prospect, after signing SS Adrian Rondon in 2014 for around $3 million.
2: Jelfry Marte
Jelfry Marte, 15, of the Dominican Republic was signed to a whopping US $3 million contract by the Minnesota Twins. At the plate, he makes consistent hard contact, from both sides of the plate, with well above average speed while at short it is easy to tell that he will be a gold glove winner one day. Marte was ranked as the third-best prospect in the 2017-18 international signing class by MLB.com, with Baseball America slotting him 13th in their top 50 ranking.
3: Luis Garcia
The Philadelphia Phillies signed Luis Garcia, also of the Dominican Republic to a US $2.5 million contract. Garcia, 16, is a highly-touted shortstop who Baseball America ranks as the 12th-best international free agent.
4: Kristian Robinson
Kristian Robinson of the Bahamas, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The teen signed the most lucrative deal of any Bahamian player this period as he reached an agreement of US $2.5 million. Cesar Geronimo, the Diamondbacks’ Latin American Scouting Director, said the next step for Robinson is to watch his progression toward the major leagues.
5: Ronny Mauricio
Ronny Mauricio of the Dominican Republic was signed to a US $2.1 million contract by the New York Mets. Mauricio, 15, is a very athletic, switch-hitting shortstop, whose actions are similar to Jurickson Profar. For a switch-hitter this young, he shows a very advanced feel from both sides.
6: Julio Rodriguez
The Seattle Mariners signed Julio Rodriguez, also of the Dominican Republic, to a US $1.75 million contract. Rodriguez, 17-year-old, is a top hitter.
7: Larry Ernesto
Larry Ernesto, of the Dominican Republic was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers for US $1.7 million. At age 16, Ernesto is already 6’2″ and weighs in at 175 pounds. According to Dominican Prospect League, Ernesto is a better left-handed hitter than right-handed hitter and is currently an average runner.
8: Ynmanol Marinez
The Miami Marlins signed Ynmanol Marinez of the Dominican Republic to a whopping US $1.5 million contract. Marinez, 16, is 6’0” and weighs 170 pounds has shown good arm and soft hands. He’s a developing hitter but has shown the power potential. He has a line-drive swing that kills fastball but still needs to learn how to hit secondary pitches.
9: Adrian Hernandez
The New York Mets also grabbed up Adrian Hernandez of the Dominican Republic for US $1.5 million. Hernandez, ranked #18, has the makeup of an elite defender but also exhibits some speed and raw power. He projects as a center fielder, but could spend time in right field, as well.
10: George Valera
Dominican Republic George Valera has been signed to a US $1.3 million contract by the Cleveland Indians. The 16-year-old is a left-handed hitting outfielder.
11: Trent Deveaux
Trent Deveaux of The Bahamas has been signed to a US $1.2 million contract by the Los Angeles Angels. Deveaux, 17, moved from shortstop to center field last year, where he has shown an arm that’s touched 93 MPH from the outfield. At the plate, Deveaux has a line-drive swing with limited power.
In a showcase, Deveaux ran a pair of 60-yard dash, with his times ranging from 6.3 to 6.4 seconds, but has been tracked as fast as 6.2 seconds. Some scouts have graded his speed at 70-or-better, on a 20-80 scouting scale. Carlos Gomez, the Angels Director of International Scouting, said Deveaux’s will to succeed and his charisma on and off the field are some of the factors that will be keys to his success in the future.
MLB International Signings
The MLB signing period covers foreign-born players who are not eligible for the MLB Draft. A player must be 16 years old when he signs and turn 17 either by Sept. 1 or the conclusion of his first pro season (whichever is later).