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Breaking Down the 2018 International Free Agent Class

One of the biggest days on the amateur calendar for all organizations is the July 2 International Signing period. It is a chance for teams to acquire young talent that can help boost the depth in their respective farm systems. The New York Yankees might’ve done that with the players they brought in during this period on Monday.

Update (7/12/18 – 5:45 P.M ET) On Thursday afternoon, the New York Yankees officially announced their 20 signings for the International Signing period. Here is the full list of the 20 players that were announced via the team’s public relations:

If you go off of Ben Badler’s tracker on Baseball America (subscription needed), the Yankees brought in four of BA’s Top 50 international prospects. Those four players were right-handers Osiel Rodriguez and Denny Larrondo and catchers Antonio Gomez and Agustin Ramirez.

Rodriguez is the most highly ranked out of the four prospects. The 16-year-old right-hander from Cuba is the ninth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. As you will see in their description of him, the fastball can get up to 97 miles-per-hour on the radar gun and how he has different arm slots:

“A strike-thrower, Rodriguez has a good mound presence and demeanor. He changes his arm slot and throws several different pitches at different angles, which has proven to be both a blessing and a curse as far as scouts are concerned.”

As for the other highly touted pitcher, Larrondo got the more lucrative signing bonus out of everybody as he signed for $550,000. If you compare him to Rodriguez, he doesn’t have the best fastball (91-92 mph), but his offspeed pitches could be the key to his success. Check out how MLB Pipeline described the 29th best prospect in the class:

“Overall, Larrondo is an elite athlete with a projectable body and a quick arm. He has tight spin on his emerging curveball, his second-best pitch. The teenager is an aggressive strike-thrower with a working changeup that is expected to improve once he signs with a team and receives daily instruction in a club’s academy.”

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Catching has been the main theme these last two months as the Yankees acquired more amateur talent. Back in June, the Yankees drafted Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux in the first two rounds of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle all of this young catcher depth in the lower levels of their farm system.

If you go to the catcher position, Gomez got a $600,000 signing bonus according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. His claim-to-fame is going to be his arm as you will see in this video by Badler of the 16-year-old throwing out runners in games:

The other notable catcher that the Yankees signed was Agustin Ramirez out of the Dominican Republic. Here is what Badler wrote about Ramirez in March and how he is more of an offensive catcher right now:

“Ramirez squared up fastballs consistently, though he did have some trouble on breaking pitches. Ramirez’s bat stood out more than his defense, where Ramirez has work to do to improve his receiving and throws to second.”

In the outfield, the Yankees gave Bonifacio $800,000 and he has the size and speed to be successful. Here is more info from Badler (subscription required) about the speed that the 6”5 outfielder has:

It’s hard to miss Bonifacio. He’s built like a tight end in football at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds and he moves well for his size, running the 60-yard dash as fast as 6.7 seconds, which is above-average speed at his best. A righthanded-hitting corner outfielder, Bonifacio shows promising power potential and can take balls out to his pull side in BP, but his swing isn’t the most fluid and he will need to make adjustments to perform better against live pitching.”

While this signing can’t be official until July 12, Sanchez reported on Monday that the Yankees are the favorites to sign outfielder Kevin Alcantara out of the Dominican Republic, which will only add to the strength of the class. He can not sign yet because he doesn’t turn 16 until Thursday, July 12.

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The other notable signing so far in this class is right-hander Rafael Severino. The name might sound familiar because he is the younger brother of current New York Yankees ace Luis Severino. Before Monday’s game (July 2), Luis told the media about his brother:

Time will tell as to how many of these players turn out to be big contributors in the New York Yankees organization. However, all of these players get set to begin their professional journeys and it will be interesting to watch how they develop.

Written By

I am an alum of St. John's University, where I majored in sports management.

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