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  1. #1
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    July 2, 2012 International Signings - Mets likely to sign Germán Ahmed Rosario(SS)

    Thought there was a thread for this...didn't find it.

    Outlining New International Rules For 2012-13

    By Ben Badler
    May 8, 2012 -- Baseball America

    With July 2 eight weeks away, baseball officials are still operating without finalized language of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but teams do have an outline of the new rules for international amateur signings.

    By now, players who will be old enough to sign on July 2 must have registered with Major League Baseball by May 1. Otherwise they will have to wait until July 2, 2013, to sign. Players who were already eligible to sign—mostly anyone 17 or older, or anyone born before September 1995—do not have to register, but if they sign after July 2, their bonuses will count against a team's bonus pool.

    Until July 2, teams can spend whatever they want on international bonuses and none if it will count against their bonus pool. After that, the new spending rules will be in effect.

    Every team has a $2.9 million signing bonus pool for the 2012-13 signing period. Any team that spends more than $2.9 million will be subject to a variety of penalties:

    • Teams that go 0-5 percent over will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage.
    • Teams that go 5-10 percent over will pay the 75 percent tax on the overage and won't be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
    • Teams that go 10-15 percent over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won't be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $500,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.
    • Teams that go 15 percent or more over will pay a 100 percent tax on the overage and won't be able to sign any player for a bonus of more than $250,000 in the 2013-14 signing period.

    The 2012-13 signing period begins July 2, 2012 and ends June 15, 2013. The dates from June 16, 2013 through July 1, 2013 will be considered a "closed period" when no one will be able to sign. MLB said it will need time to calculate each team's total spending and potential penalties. Also, due to the new mandatory registration system, the commissioner's office will need time to prepare and disseminate information about registered players to clubs.

    The $2.9 million bonus pool does have a few exemptions that will allow a team to spend a little bit more. A team's six highest signing bonuses of $50,000 or less will not count toward its total. For 2012-13, players signed for $7,500 or less also won't count (in 2013-14 that number goes up to $10,000). So there's enough wiggle room to spend up to $3.2 million without facing any penalties. All players must sign a standard minor league contract, so no major league deals are allowed.

    The bonus pool limits probably won't affect the majority of teams, because only a handful have gone well beyond $2.9 million-$3.2 million in 2011 or in 2010. Teams like the Rangers, Blue Jays, Royals, Pirates and Cubs may have to scale back, but even those teams will have to make small adjustments rather than drastic changes.

    The international signing pool includes any player not subject to the draft, which includes anyone from outside the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico—with a couple of exemptions. One is that any player who had previously signed with a major league club will not be subject to the bonus pool. It's a corollary to the draft rule, where if a player has already signed with a team out of the draft, he's no longer draft eligible and any contract he signs thereafter will not count against an organization's draft bonus pool. So a Dominican player released out of Triple-A who signs as a minor league free agent won't have his contract count against his new team's international pool.

    The other exemption involves players coming to MLB from foreign professional leagues. Players who are at least at least 23 and have played five years in a recognized professional league, such as Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, will be exempt.

    For the next two years, Cubans will be exempt as long as they are 23 and have played in a Cuban professional league for at least three seasons. Beginning in 2014-15 Cubans must have five years of pro experience to be exempt. So if Yoenis Cespedes had still been unsigned by July 2, he would have been exempt from the new rules anyway, where 20-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler will be subject to the new rules unless he can get all of his paperwork pushed through and sign before July 2.

    One area of confusion among international scouts is how the league will treat Mexican League transfers, including players like Blue Jays righthander Roberto Osuna and Pirates righthander Luis Heredia, who were acquired from their Mexican League teams at 16 years old.

    According to an MLB official, the league will count only the amount that goes to the player against the team's bonus pool. Typically, that is 25 percent of what a major league team pays to a Mexican League to purchase his rights. So a club paying $400,000 to a Mexican League team for a player would only have $100,000 count against its pool. The rule applies to Mexican citizens only, the official said, so teams can't send a Dominican or Venezuelan player to a Mexican League team to try to get around the new bonus rules.

    MLB officials have said that any team that attempts to circumvent the new signing regulations to get around the bonus limit will be subject to severe penalties.
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today...2/2613345.html
    John Maeda@johnmaeda

    Knowing the overall *shape* of an idea, argument, situation requires as many facts, models, opinions as you can take/make to see a whole.

  2. #2
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    Teams Dig For Ways Around New International Rules

    By Ben Badler
    May 8, 2012

    Whenever Major League Baseball changes the rules, people throughout the industry learn how to adjust.

    As soon as MLB announced the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in November that will limit each team to a $2.9 million international bonus pool from July 2, 2012, through June 15, 2013, people in the international baseball community got started thinking of ways to game the system.

    "There are going to be loopholes everywhere," said one international director. "It's my biggest fear working in this arena. You're doing all this work to get it right, but in this arena, guys find loopholes and it just turns into a dumpster fire."

    Team officials say that some of these methods aren't necessarily cheating, just creative ways to develop an advantage within the language of the rules. In many of these cases, however, MLB disagrees.

    A senior MLB official who spoke with Baseball America said that because the league now has to protect the integrity of its signing bonus pool, it's incumbent upon the commissioner's office to give clubs confidence that the new rules have teeth. If MLB catches any team attempting to circumvent the bonus rules or doing anything else that the league considers to be cheating, officials say those teams will receive severe penalties.

    Punishment is one thing, but catching teams is another, as is defining what constitutes cheating in a system where there's already confusion about what's allowed and what isn't.

    Some things are obvious, such as helping a player manipulate his paperwork. Obviously that would violate not only MLB rules but the federal laws of pretty much every country. All international amateurs are required to sign the minor league uniform player contract, so giving a player a major league deal or easily attainable performance bonus clauses would also be out of the question.

    But teams will be mostly working in shades of gray, murkier areas where some teams and player representatives think they should be able to find an advantage.

    "It just puts the microscope on the rules even more so," said a second international scouting director. "It might be a situation where you're put under pressure to sign these players, then all of a sudden you're out of funds and you've got to find a way to get the player signed. There certainly are creative ways, and the more creative you are, the harder it is to find out."

    After speaking with officials from MLB, teams and player representatives, here are some of the ways teams and players might try to get around the $2.9 million limit, and how MLB would view these ideas.

    • Sign players before July 2 as an advance payment


    While the new international rules kick in on July 2, before then a team can sign currently eligible players—pretty much anyone 17 or older—and not have the money count against its signing bonus pool.

    If a trainer has an outfielder who previously might have commanded $3 million in an unrestricted market, he could still get his $3 million by agreeing to a package deal with a team. Before July 2, the team will reach an oral agreement to sign the trainer's outfielder when he becomes eligible, say for $2.2 million, and to sign a couple of 17-year-old players from the same trainer before July 2 for a total of $800,000, regardless of how much those 17-year-old players are truly worth.

    In the end, the team gets the outfielder it values at $3 million, and the trainer gets his commission on $3 million. While the star outfield prospect may get shortchanged, the trainer could work out an arrangement with his players to pass some of their money to the outfielder, since the 17-year-olds would know he's the only reason they're getting inflated bonuses.

    Because teams technically are not allowed to negotiate with a player who isn't eligible to sign until July 2, this maneuver is a violation of rules, even though agreeing to a deal in advance of July 2 is common practice, just as it is in the draft (where it's also prohibited).

    An MLB official said the scenario would be considered illegal because the league would view it as a club acting improperly in an attempt to circumvent the rules. Proving it, however, would seem to be difficult.

    "If I sign a guy tomorrow for $600,000," asked a third international director, "how are they going to tell me that I don't view him as being worth $600,000? They can't prove that. That's my scouting department's opinion. So there's no way they can stop that loophole."

    The league can study signing bonuses to see if anything seems out of line or if there are any patterns of teams trying to funnel money toward a certain agent or trainer. Any signing since the CBA was agree to in December could be viewed as an advance payment for a July 2 player. Some of the savvier teams may have even figured out the new rules were coming before then and planned accordingly.

    And well before the bonus pool came into effect, teams have often made a habit of signing multiple players from the same trainer. Just last year, the Rangers signed three Dominican players from Ivan Noboa: outfielder Nomar Mazara for $4.95 million, righthander Pedro Payano for $650,000 and shortstop Crisford Adames for $200,000. The Blue Jays last year spent $1.3 million on outfielder Wuilmer Becerra, $700,000 on outfielder Jesus Gonzalez and $250,000 on righthander Jesus Tinoco, all Venezuelans who trained with Ciro Barrios. The league approved all of those contracts, so what would it take for the commissioner's office to decide it saw nefarious intent in a group of signings?

    Beyond that, it wouldn't be difficult for trainers to mask where the money is going. While there is competition among trainers for players, there are also networks of trainers and agents who are friendly and collaborate. Tracing all the money isn't always so simple.

    • Overpay a released player

    Under the new rules, if a team signs an international player "who previously contracted with a major or minor league club," any bonus that player receives is exempt from the international bonus pool. The rule parallels draft rules, where a player who signed out of the draft process (including nondrafted free agents) and got released won't have his new contract count against a team's draft bonus pool.

    Just as they could by signing older players, teams could try to manipulate this rule to save money against the bonus pool. If there's a shortstop whose market value is $400,000, a team could go to the trainer and offer him $320,000, then sign a released player the trainer represents and sign him for $80,000. The trainer gets his percentage of $400,000 and the team saves $80,000 on its budget.

    The math could even work with a smaller bonus for a released player. If a trainer has a 25 percent cut in the shortstop, the team just needs to find a way to get the trainer $100,000, which could be done by giving the shortstop a $320,000 bonus ($80,000 for the trainer) and as little as $20,000 for the released player if the player is willing to give the trainer his full bonus to get another opportunity to play. A more daring team could potentially sign a released player to an even bigger bonus as part of a similar package deal.

    MLB would clearly view this as cheating. Again teams will have plausible deniability, though, because It's not outlandish that a released player could end up still being a prospect. Righthander Rhiner Cruz signed with the Tigers in 2003, was released in 2006 at 19, signed with the Mets in 2007 and is now in the big league bullpen for the Astros after becoming the top pick in the Rule 5 draft in December. Mets righthander Manny Acosta signed with the Yankees in 1998, was released in 2003, signed later that week with the Braves and is now in his sixth big league season.

    What if a team signed a Triple-A player who had been released and gave him a major league deal? Most Latin American players had a trainer at one point, or at least would have the network to know a trainer or agent and theoretically could funnel money back to a trainer of an amateur prospect. It would cost a team a 40-man roster spot, at least until the team designates the player for assignment, but it might also be tricky to catch.

    • Sign a suspended player

    Like the released player package plan, this method would stem from the rule that bonuses paid to "players who previously contracted with a major or minor league club" will be exempt from a team's signing bonus pool. There are several players who have signed contracts with a team, only for MLB to end up ruling that the player had misrepresented his age or identity and will not be allowed to sign for a year. Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua, a former Diamondbacks pitcher known as Juan Carlos Collado, signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million in 2010, only to have MLB declare him ineligible to sign for a year, a penalty that ends on July 19. Then there are players who sign contracts that don't get approved because they test positive for steroids, such as Dominican lefthander Erick Hurtado, who had signed with the Cardinals but is now a free agent subject to a 50-game suspension if and when he ever signs.

    So, since those players technically did previously sign contracts with major league teams, would their bonuses be exempt from the signing bonus pool? MLB's answer is that those types of cases would all count against a team's bonus pool. Those cases are different, according to MLB, because those players never had their contracts approved and thus those players were never officially contracted with a major league team. In other words, this plan would not work.

    • Pay agents and trainers under the table


    Paying players, their families, agents or trainers on the side is against baseball rules, but people throughout the industry say the practice is common, sometimes in conjunction with a kickback going to team officials. Even if a kickback isn't involved, paying someone on the side is a way for a team to direct more money into the hands of the person controlling a negotiation.

    The methods for hiding or laundering the money are as varied as the imagination. Hire a player's family member as a scout. Pay the trainer as a consultant. Make a donation or other payment to another business run by or friendly with the trainer. Buy him expensive cars, appliances, even a home, either to keep or sell. If a team owner has a second business, he can pay make a payment through that business.

    "It's a tall task for MLB," said the second international scouting director. "I'd hate to be in their shoes trying to police it because you just don't know how far a team is going to go to get a player done. It's one of those things where, I'm sure you can get access to a team's financial records and try to find out that way, but teams are so entrenched, especially in the Dominican Republic, that it's hard to track down money like that. I'm sure they can, it's just going to take a lot of work to do it. We've had cases where we lost a player and we thought another team put some money under the table, but how do you prove it?"

    While these tactics were already against the rules, at least in an open market teams had more freedom to outspend the competition on a player's bonus. The new system, some teams fear, will reward cheaters. MLB's department of investigations already has its hands full trying to catch players who are lying about their ages and identities, so cracking down on side deals makes their job that much harder. Still, trying to pull off this maneuver comes with risk.

    "I don't know why teams would do that, give money under the table," said a Latin American director. "Why? Just to get the player? Yeah, but then every time you sign a player now, that person is going to expect money under the table from that club that's giving out the money. Eventually somebody's going to get caught. Somebody will talk, somebody will, either from the trainer side or the player side or even the team side. Someone is going to end up giving up information. They're going to find out."

    • Divert a player to the Mexican League

    One of the first ideas people suggested was using the Mexican League to save money against the signing budget. When a team signs a player out of the Mexican League, as the Blue Jays did last year with a $1.5 million payment for Mexico City righthander Roberto Osuna or the Pirates did in 2010 for Veracruz righthander Luis Heredia ($2.6 million), that money technically is not a signing bonus. Even though Osuna and Heredia were just 16 at the time of the deals, they were professional players whose rights the Blue Jays and Pirates were purchasing from their respective Mexican League teams. The team takes a cut, usually 75 percent, and the player gets the rest.

    So the obvious loophole: Could a team purchase the rights to a Mexican League player like Heredia or Osuna without having any of it count against their signing bonus pool? And if so, what's to stop trainers from other countries from shuttling their players to the Mexican League?

    A group of Colombians even went as far as to buy a defunct Mexican League team, the Carmen City Dolphins, to bring back to the league this year. The team hired Hugo Catrain, one of the premier agents in Latin America who has represented players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia, as its president, although according to multiple sources with knowledge of that group, Catrain is no longer involved with the team.

    But MLB would view bringing in a foreign player to the Mexican League for the purposes of selling his rights to a major league team on July 2 as an attempt to circumvent the bonus pool limits. Even a foreign player who establishes legal Mexican residency would likely be viewed that way. So if a team signs a 16-year-old Dominican player out of the Mexican League for $1 million, the team will be on the hook for the full amount.

    According to an MLB official, however, if a major league team signs a Mexican player out of the league, MLB will count only the amount the player receives toward the bonus pool. So if a team signs a Mexican player for $1 million, under a typical arrangement only $250,000 will count against its bonus pool. The team will have to pay market price for the player, but it will get a discount for the pool.

    About 15 players were signed out of Mexico in each of the last two years, including a few who signed as amateurs without going through the Mexican League, like Phillies catcher Sebastian Valle. MLB doesn't want to make it more difficult for teams to sign Mexican players, so for the time being this is a viable way to save money against the bonus pool.

    • Hide a player in the United States

    To avoid being subject to the international signing rules, a trainer (possibly in conjunction with a team) could bring his player to the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico and establish residency, which would make him subject to the draft. In the case of players who have one parent in a foreign country and another in the United States, doing so would not be difficult. Instead of going through the traditional draft showcase process, the player would hold private workouts and the trainer would hope he would go undrafted. That would free the player to sign with any team and not have his bonus count against a team's international pool.

    The player would be able to execute the scheme legally, but it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. A draft-eligible player who goes undrafted is allowed to sign with any team, but MLB now has a rule that the maximum bonus a player drafted after the 10th round (including nondrafted free agents) can sign for without the money counting toward a team's draft bonus pool is $100,000. To go through all that trouble for $100,000 just doesn't seem worth the risk, unless a team or an agent figures out some other loophole.

    Rest assured, they're probably already working on it.
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today...2/2613346.html
    John Maeda@johnmaeda

    Knowing the overall *shape* of an idea, argument, situation requires as many facts, models, opinions as you can take/make to see a whole.

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    The penalty for going over doesn't really seem to be that much of a penalty at all. You could theoretically spend $30 million every other year if you really wanted.

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    Yeah, you could do what the Rangers did and sign 3 guys and spend over 10 million and sign nobody the next year.


    ..but my question is how much is 100% tax?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sick Of It All View Post
    Yeah, you could do what the Rangers did and sign 3 guys and spend over 10 million and sign nobody the next year.


    ..but my question is how much is 100% tax?
    I'm assuming it means that if the limit is 2.9 million and you spend 5 million, you pay a 2.1 million dollar penalty.

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    That is what I was thinking.

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    Baseball America
    Franklin Barreto, SS/CF, Venezuela

    Scouts love history on a player, and nobody has a better or longer track record than Barreto, who has been a standout player in international tournaments since he was 10. In 2006, Barreto helped lead a Venezuelan team to a 10-and-under Criollitos de America championship over Cuba.

    In September 2008 at the COPABE Pan American 12-and-under tournament, Barreto led Venezuela to a championship while winning MVP honors and leading the tournament in home runs. Later that month he led an undefeated Venezuelan team to a Criollitos de America title and was named the 2008 athlete of the year by the Corporación Criollitos of Venezuela.

    Barreto added another tournament MVP trophy to his collection in July 2010 at the 14-and-under Pan American championship before exploding for the Venezuelan team in Mexico last August at the 16-and-under World Championship. Barreto was Venezuela's best hitter and batted .515/.568/.978 (17-for-33), tied for the tournament lead with three home runs (including two against Team USA) and led the tournament with eight stolen bases in eight attempts. Barreto also played briefly in the Venezuelan Parallel League this winter, going 5-for-11 (.455) with four stolen bases in four tries.

    Barreto, a 16-year-old from Miranda, now trains with Ciro Barrios and has continued to draw attention for his righthanded bat. His stature (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) and lack of physical projection are concerns, but his bat makes him one of the top prospects in this year's class. He recognizes pitches well, has great hand speed, has a short path to the ball and uses the whole field. He's small but strong, hitting hard line drives and showing surprising power in game situations, with the potential for 15-20 home runs a season.

    With plus-plus speed, where Barreto ends up defensively is still up in the air. He's played both shortstop and center field and has worked out for teams at both spots. While he has spent considerable time at shortstop, his footwork and actions there aren't great, so many scouts believe he'll end up moving to either center field or second base. The most optimistic comparisons range from Rafael Furcal with less defense to Shane Victorino.

    Barreto is expected to command one of the biggest bonuses in Latin America this year, possibly in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. The Blue Jays have signed several of Barrios' most expensive players in recent years, and they were believed to be the frontrunner to sign Barreto.

    Luis Torrens, C, Venezuela

    Like Barreto, Torrens is no stranger to the international circuit. Torrens, a 16-year-old from Carobobo in Valencia, is a longtime teammate of Barreto's on Venezuelan travel teams, including the 10-and-under Criollitos de America championship team in 2006, the team that won the 12-and-under Criollitos de America title in 2008 and at the 14-and-under Pan American championship in 2010. Torrens also played at the Junior Caribbean Series in April 2011 in Barquisimeto, though he didn't go to Mexico with the 16-and-under team for the World Championship.

    Torrens trains with former Yankees international scouting director Carlos Rios, who in addition to representing amateur players was also the general manager of the Diablos Rojos in the first year of Panama's new winter league. Torrens played for the Diablos Rojos in Panama last winter and hit .255/.275/.303 in 66 at-bats, showing he could already hold his own as a 15-year-old.

    For most of his life, Torrens played shortstop, but he moved to third base about a year and a half ago. Scouts have long pictured Torrens, who is 6 feet, 170 pounds and not blessed with great speed, as a future catcher. For awhile it seemed that Torrens wanted to stay at third base, the position he played in February at the MLB showcase in the Dominican Republic, but he decided to move behind the plate later that month and will sign as a catcher.

    That will obviously increase Torrens' value if he can stick there, but he's always drawn interest for his ability to hit. He has a loose, fluid swing and a good idea of what he's doing at the plate for someone who turned 16 on May 2. He has good plate coverage, hits from right-center field over to his pull side and can generate loft. He shows doubles power in games now and could develop average power in time once he fills out, but his game will be more about hitting for average and getting on base. Torrens' defense is obviously in the early stages, but he caught a little bit when he was younger, so he does have a background that should help him with the transition.

    Some scouts prefer Torrens to Barreto, and their bonuses figure to be around the same area. The Yankees have a history of taking premium international catchers, including Gary Sanchez of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and Venezuela's Jesus Montero in 2006 (a player Rios signed when he was with the Yankees), and they have been the team most strongly linked to Torrens at this point.




    Gustavo Cabrera, OF, Dominican Republic

    In August 2010, first baseman Ronald Guzman and outfielder Nomar Mazara led the Dominican Republic to a junior division RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) World Series title in Jupiter, Fla. The following July 2, the Rangers signed Guzman for $3.45 million and Mazara for $4.95 million, the two highest international amateur bonuses of all time. Cabrera also played in the RBI World Series last summer, leading his Dominican team to the 2011 championship at Target Field in Minnesota. Cabrera earned MVP honors, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in the championship game.

    In terms of raw tools, there may not be a player this year who can match Cabrera. A 16-year-old from La Romana, Cabrera plays in the Dominican Prospect League and works out in Santo Domingo with Cristian Batista, who is known as "Niche" in the Dominican Republic. At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Cabrera has a thick build but is one of the better athletes and fastest runners in Latin America. He has plus-plus speed, which gives him good range in center field, and a strong arm. His body type has scouts questioning how much of his speed he'll retain as he gets older. At the plate, Cabrera also has above-average raw power, making him an intriguing player with power and speed.

    For all of his tools, Cabrera still leaves scouts wanting to see more from him at the plate in games. There's some length to the swing and his hitting mechanics will need to be ironed out to help him get better balance. Cabrera does a lot of things that grade out well on the 20-80 scale, but he will need to show scouts that his tools will translate. Some teams think the Royals may make a play for Cabrera.



    Jose Mujica, RHP, Venezuela

    Former big league shortstop Carlos Guillen established a Venezuelan academy in 2010, and he had enough money to build one of the best facilities and attract the best players in the country. His first gem is Mujica, whom many scouts consider the best pitcher in Latin America this year.

    Mujica, who turns 16 on June 29, was one of the top performers at the MLB showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he threw two scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and a strikeout. His raw stuff isn't quite as powerful as that of Victor Sanchez, the Venezuelan righthander who signed with the Mariners last year for $2.5 million, but Mujica combines quality stuff with clean arm action and loose, fluid mechanics, though he can get a bit upright in his delivery. He's a strike-thrower who has touched 93 mph with heavy action, and he should eventually sit with a plus fastball. He's a bit stiff-wristed and his breaking ball gets slurvy, but he already flashes a good changeup with sink that some scouts think could be a plus-plus pitch in the future.

    Mujica should be able to command a bonus just north of $1 million, with the Blue Jays the team most frequently linked to him.



    Luis Castro, SS, Venezuela

    For some scouts, the player in Latin America with the best chance to hit and hit for power is Castro, a 16-year-old who trains with Jose Aguiar. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Castro has shown ability to hit in games and has represented Venezuela in international tournaments, including the Junior Caribbean Series in April 2011 and the 16-and-under World Championship last August. Castro shined in Mexico, where he went 14-for-24 with four doubles, four walks and two strikeouts for a .583/.655/.750 slash line, tying for the tournament lead in OBP and doubles while tying for second in batting average. His performance included a 4-for-5 game with two walks and two stolen bases against Team USA.

    Castro combines a sound approach to hitting with good bat speed. He's not especially athletic, but scouts think there's projection in his body and he has more size than Barreto, so he has a chance to hit for both average and power. Castro's a fringy runner at best, so a lot of scouts expect him to slide over to third base, where he spent a lot of time at the World Championship. He'll probably never have outstanding range, but scouts have said he can field cleanly and has a solid arm with good instincts. Some scouts have even thought about putting him behind the plate, though he's expected to sign and develop as an infielder. The Rockies have shown the most interest in Castro, who will likely sign for close to $1 million.

    Alexander Palma, OF, Venezuela

    The top position player in Guillen's academy this year is Palma, another Venezuelan who has proven himself on the international circuit. Palma, a 16-year-old from Miranda, played with Barreto and Castro at the 16-and-under World Championship last August and hit .429/.462/.514 in 35 at-bats. He was a standout at the MLB showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he went 3-for-7 with a double and three walks.

    At 6 feet, 200 pounds, Palma is one of the more advanced hitters in Latin America. He has shown he can hit in games and some scouts think his righthanded swing is cleaner than Castro's. He makes a lot of contact, and while some scouts want to see him show more power in games given that he's a corner outfielder, others contend he has plenty of juice in his bat. Palma has a thick lower half and will have to maintain his conditioning, but he's an average runner with a good arm that will play well in right field.

    Palma's bonus could come close to $1 million, with the Yankees making the strongest push to sign him.



    Jose Castillo, LHP, Venezuela

    Among the Top 100 Prospects in baseball entering the 2012 season, only two players were born in Venezuela, a somewhat disturbing figure as teams continue to pull their academies out of the country. Both of them, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero and Rangers lefthander Martin Perez, trained with Felix Olivo, who now has a hot lefthander in Castillo as July 2 approaches.

    Castillo, 16, pitched at the MLB showcase in the Dominican Republic in February and threw two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and four strikeouts, the most of any pitcher at the tournament. At the time, he drew attention for his performance, clean mechanics and a projectable 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame, but scouts wanted to see more from him than a mid-80s fastball. He's peaking at the right time, with scouts reporting that he has been up to 91-92 mph, though there have been some issues with his command. He's mixing in a changeup and a curveball as well.

    The Padres and Red Sox may be the most active teams pursuing Castillo, who may also be able to command a bonus around $1 million.



    Amed Rosario, SS, Dominican Republic

    Before Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara signed for $4.95 million last year on July 2 out of Ivan Noboa's program, he grew up playing in La Javilla youth league in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. One of his longtime teammates growing up was Rosario, and while they're only seven months apart in age, Rosario's November 1995 birthdate put him in a different signing class. He trains with John Carmona, who also is the president of La Javilla.

    Rosario, 16, was one of the top performers at the MLB showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he went 4-for-7 with a double and a walk. He has grown in recent months and is now around 6-foot-3, 170 pounds with long limbs and a lanky build. Rosario is an average runner and some scouts think he may end up at third base, but right now scouts have said he shows terrific instincts at shortstop, with good hands, a strong arm and the ability to make the barehanded play.

    He has good bat speed and flashes promising raw power in batting practice that should continue to develop. He may have to make some adjustments at the plate. He has a leg kick that gets him out on his front foot against offspeed stuff, and some scouts think his stroke tends to get too uphill at times. Scouts praise Rosario for his makeup and background. His father is a lawyer who is expected to be influential in the signing, and Rosario is scheduled to graduate from high school shortly before July 2.



    Luiz Gohara, LHP, Brazil

    It was 20 years ago that the Blue Jays signed Brazilian righthander Jose Pett for $700,000, a record at the time for an international amateur player (Pett never reached the big leagues). Now Gohara, a big-bodied 6-foot-3 Brazilian lefty, is generating buzz.

    Gohara may be the biggest wild card in this year's July 2 class. Some teams have said he won't leave Brazil, a country that few teams scout and few player sign out of. However, Gohara has a track record, having played in Brazilian amateur national tournaments since he was 10. He represented his country at the 14-and-under Pan American championship two years ago and again last August at the 16-and-under World Championship. Gohara made four relief appearances there and was named the best pitcher at the tournament after throwing 7 1/3 innings with one run (it was unearned), three hits, two walks and eight strikeouts.

    If Gohara came out of the Dominican Republic, every team in the league would have seen him, but several clubs have yet to get a recent look at Gohara, though many of them did fly down to watch him pitch in a recent tournament in Brazil. Gohara's velocity and command have been inconsistent, but he has reached the low 90s with his fastball, an increase from the 86-87 mph he was showing last summer.

    A few sources have speculated that the Mariners may be pursuing Gohara, who will be able to sign when he turns 16 on July 31. Seattle is one of the teams that does have history signing Brazilian players, including righthander Thyago Vieira for $65,000 two years ago, and the Mariners haven't been noted in connection with any other high-profile players this year despite being a perennial big spender.

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    And the Mets are linked to none of the guys who would require any decent amount of money to sign. Nice.

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    Sign me up for LHP Kelyn Jose and OF Ronny Carvajal. A big projectable lefty with high velocity and a power hitting outfielder who both could be in our price range.

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    With the international signing period coming up in fewer than six weeks, here are reports on 10 more players to watch for July 2:

    Wendell Rijo, SS, Dominican Republic

    Listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds—which some scouts say may be generous by a couple of inches—Rijo is exactly the type of player who benefits from playing in the Dominican Prospect League. A 16-year-old from La Romana who trains with Victor Brus, Rijo consistently earns high marks from scouts who have been impressed by his baseball acumen and ability to hit in games wherever he goes. In terms of present ability, he's one of the best baseball players in the Dominican Republic, with quick hands at the plate and surprising pop for his size. He doesn't have the strength or speed of Venezuela's Franklin Barreto, another undersized shortstop who hits well in games, but he has a solid all-around skill set. Rijo runs well, has solid hands and is a fundamentally sound defender, though some teams think his arm will play better at second base. He sprained his knee during the DPL's spring training tour in the United States in March, but he's back on the field working his way back to 100 percent.



    Amaurys Minier, SS, Dominican Republic

    Jaime Ramos trains Minier, a switch-hitting shortstop from San Cristobal who plays in the Dominican Prospect League. The 16-year-old is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and stands out for his bat speed and power from both sides of the plate. Minier is more advanced from the left side, and while there's some noise in his setup to get his hands started, his lefty stroke is smooth, balanced and he can whip the bat head through with loft to take balls over the fence in batting practice. Some scouts haven't seen him hit much in game situations, which they believe is due to his pitch recognition. Due to his big body, thick lower half and below-average speed, Minier won't play shortstop. He has a strong arm, but some scouts don't think he looks like a natural infielder, so he'll have to put in work to avoid a move to a corner outfield spot.



    Sergio Alcantara, SS, Dominican Republic

    Alcantara is the nephew of Anderson Hernandez, who has spent parts of six big league seasons as a middle infielder with the Mets, Nationals, Indians and Astros and is currently a 29-year-old with the Pirates in Triple-A. A switch-hitter with a thin frame around 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, Alcantara is around a fringe-average runner—and his lack of quickness is a concern for some scouts—but he's fundamentally sound and shows good instincts in the field with solid hands and a strong arm. Scouts are mixed on his bat, but sources have said the Diamondbacks may make a push to sign him. Alcantara can sign when he turns 16 on July 10.

    David Rodriguez, C, Venezuela

    Catchers are always in demand in Venezuela, where this year the top backstop is expected to be Luis Torrens, though he only moved to the position in recent months from third base. There are a handful of other interesting Venezuelan catchers this year as well, including Rodriguez, a 16-year-old from Anzoategui who trains with Carlos Guillen. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Rodriguez has a good frame and approach to hitting from the right side. He makes a lot of contact, works the middle of the field and drives the ball to the alleys. He isn't a big bat-speed guy and might not hit for a lot of power, but he showed well at the MLB showcase in February in the Dominican Republic, where he went 3-for-8 with a triple. According to scouts, there isn't anything that jumps out defensively, though Rodriguez is playable back there. He should be in line for a six-figure bonus somewhere north of $500,000, with the Rays showing the most interest.



    Joshua Lopez, C, Venezuela

    Lopez hasn't been scouted as widely as Rodriguez or some of the other top Venezuelan players on the market this year, but international sources have said the Cardinals have made Lopez one of their priority guys this summer. He has a stocky 5-foot-9 frame that he'll have to work to maintain, but he has nimble feet, receives well, has a quick transfer and an average arm. Lopez isn't much of a runner, and scouts have some questions about his athleticism and stiffness in his swing, but he's shown the ability to go to the opposite field and has played better in game situations for some teams than others.

    Melvin Novoa, C, Nicaragua

    Nicaragua has a few interesting players for 2012, but the best position player in the country appears to be Novoa, a righthanded hitter who turns 16 on June 17 and trains at Nicaragua's Acedemia Cinco Estrellas. He has good bat speed and some scouts like his offensive potential and his swing, though others say he can get long and pull-oriented at times. At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Novoa throws well but most scouts have labeled him an offensive-oriented catcher, with a long transfer and some stiffness to his game. He was spotted in the Rangers' Dominican academy earlier this month.



    Julio de la Cruz, 3B, Dominican Republic

    Luis Polonia's program has produced some promising players in recent years, including Rockies righthander Joel Payamps and Pirates first baseman Edwin Espinal, both of whom ranked among the Top 20 prospects from the 2011 Latin American summer leagues. Polonia's top prospect this year is de la Cruz, a 16-year-old righthanded hitter who was born in Yamasa and lives in Santiago. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, de la Cruz has a better frame than Espinal and some scouts have called him one of the better hitters in the Dominican Republic. He has an advanced approach at the plate, showing the ability to keep his weight back on offspeed pitches and make adjustments in games, and scouts have said he makes a lot of contact with projectable power. He's a solid-average runner with a good arm and should be a solid defender. The Mets, Cubs and Pirates are among the teams who have been linked to de la Cruz.



    Carlos Belen, 3B, Dominican Republic

    Some scouts think that Belen is one of the more underrated players in Latin America. He's a righthanded hitter from Santo Domingo who has good bat speed and a smooth, simple swing with good bat path and extension, hitting the ball with plenty of juice when he connects. Belen is a below-average runner who gets mixed marks for his defense. He has a plus arm and flashes the ability to make the special plays at times, while at other times he struggles with his footwork on routine grounders.



    Luis Barrera, OF, Dominican Republic

    Barrera, a 16-year-old lefty from Santiago who trains with Kiko Pena, is one of the more polished hitters in the Dominican Republic. He has international tournament experience as well, having gone to the Junior Caribbean Series in Venezuela last April. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Barrera has a smooth swing that works well and stays in the hitting zone a long time, which helps him hit to all fields and hang in against lefties. He flashes solid power, though he gets himself into trouble by chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone. Barrera clearly has offensive aptitude, but scouts have questions about his ultimate ceiling. Given his thick body, below-average speed and below-average arm, he's a left fielder in a best-case scenario, and even then he'll have to work on his outfield routes or move to first base.



    Gabby Vizcaino, RHP, Dominican Republic

    Pitching is thin in the Dominican Republic this year, though the top bonuses for Dominican pitchers in recent years have gone to players older than 16. Vizcaino, a 16-year-old from Santo Domingo who trains at La Academia, is 6 feet, 165 pounds, and has one of the best fastballs in Latin America. He sits in the low-90s with good armside run, and scouts have clocked him as high as 94-95, though there are questions about how much projection he has left. He flashes a solid changeup with sink that's ahead of his slurvy slider, and he'll have to work on maintaining his arm speed when he throws his offspeed stuff. Some scouts look at Vizcaino's delivery and arsenal and see a future reliever. The Rangers, Athletics and Dodgers are among the teams that sources have connected to Vizcaino.

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    The 2012 draft was unusual for several reasons. Aside from the new rules, there was little consensus about who the best player in the draft was or how teams had the top of their boards lined up.

    In the world of scouting 15- and 16-year-old international free agents, that lack of consensus is more routine. One team might view a player as a $1 million prospect, while another sees the same kid as a $100,000 guy.

    The best players usually rise to the top, though there is always disagreement about even who those players are. And there are always players who sign for bonuses that leave scouts from other teams scratching their heads. There have always been bonuses given out for questionable reasons, but this year there will be a new twist with the $2.9 million bonus limit for each team—and the relative ease with which teams could bend the rules if they want.

    So in our international amateur rankings, we are doing things a little differently. In the past we have ranked players based on their expected signing bonuses, but this year we have ranked the top 20 players in the international market for July 2 based on talent, just as we do with our draft rankings. We aren't sure exactly how the bonuses will line up, but our rankings are an attempt to capture the scouting consensus of the industry—to the degree that it exists. The list does not include players who have already been eligible to sign or suspended players, like Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua.

    The players at the top of the list have separated themselves, but after you get past the top 15 or 20 you'll find a large pool of players who generate a wider variance of opinion and are fairly close together in terms of value. For that reason, we cut the list off at 20. We will continue to add more scouting reports on notable players in the coming days, as well as a team-by-team forecast for Baseball America subscribers, who can read full scouting reports on the top 20 players.

    1. Franklin Barreto, ss/cf, Venezuela
    2. Luis Torrens, c, Venezuela (video)
    3. Jose Mujica, rhp, Venezuela (video)
    4. Alexander Palma, of, Venezuela (video)
    5. Gustavo Cabrera, of, Dominican Republic (video)
    6. Jose Castillo, lhp, Venezuela (video)
    7. Luiz Gohara, lhp, Brazil
    8. Carlos Belen, 3b, Dominican Republic (video)
    9. Luis Castro, ss, Venezuela
    10. Wendell Rijo, ss, Dominican Republic (video)
    11. Amed Rosario, ss, Dominican Republic (video)
    12. Amaurys Minier, ss, Dominican Republic (video)
    13. Richard Urena, ss, Dominican Republic (video)
    14. David Rodriguez, c, Venezuela (video)
    15. Deivi Grullon, c, Dominican Republic (video)
    16. Julio de la Cruz, 3b, Dominican Republic (video)
    17. Jose Almonte, rhp, Dominican Republic
    18. Sergio Alcantara, ss, Dominican Republic
    19. Frandy de la Rosa, ss, Dominican Republic (video)
    20. Jose Pujols, of, Dominican Republic (video)

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    11. Amed Rosario, ss, Dominican Republic
    Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. B-T: R-R.


    Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara set the international bonus record last year when he signed out of Ivan Noboa's program for $4.95 million. Growing up, Mazara played in La Javilla youth league in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Rosario was one of his boyhood teammates, but because he was born six months after Mazara in November 1995, he is part of this year's July 2 class. Rosario trains with John Carmona, who is also the president of La Javilla. Ellis Pena, known as "Peñita", a former scout who was fired by the Pirates, is also one of Rosario's coaches.

    Rosario might be the most divisive player in Latin America. He has a long, lanky build, good bat speed and raw power in batting practice along with average speed. Some scouts who like Rosario enough to have him ranked as the top prospect in the Dominican Republic, seeing him as a true shortstop who with power who can hit in games. He showed that at the MLB showcase in February in games against Venezuela, going 4-for-7 with a double, a walk and no strikeouts. Supporters like his fielding instincts, hands, arm strength and ability to make the barehanded play.

    Other scouts see an upright hitter with a leg kick that gets him out on his front foot against offspeed stuff and leads to strikeouts with his uppercut stroke. His body has a lot of room to fill out, so he may end up at third base, but some scouts aren't sold on his infield actions and see him as a corner outfielder.

    Scouts are united in their appreciation of Rosario's makeup. He is scheduled to graduate high school before July 2. His father is a lawyer who will be influential in the signing, and his mother has a cousin who is married to Brewers scout Rafael Espinal. If a team sees a true shortstop with an impact bat, Rosario could end up the highest-paid player in the Dominican Republic. Some sources think the Mets will be that team, though the Astros and White Sox have also been mentioned.

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    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/0...s-yankees.html
    It’s rumored that the Mets will sign Dominican shortstop Germán Ahmed Rosario, Rojas tweets. Rosario would obtain a bonus of roughly $1.7MM.

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    1.7 would be the highest ever bonus the Mets have ever given an IFA.

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